Artists Jonathan Terranova and Matthew Mahler opened Small Black Door
in late 2010 to mount some interesting shows by emerging artists and
make a few friends. Their current exhibition, “The Unfunny Show,”
curated by Matthew F. Fisher, features small work on paper by artists
whose idiosyncratic humor comes across not just in the images, but in
their choice of materials, in the marks they make, and even the
self-effacing installation strategy for this engaging show.
Artists have long used sarcasm, irony, whimsy, and satire in their work to be both critical and amusing, and there’s a remarkable amount of nuance in being funny. Fisher’s selection is an exploration of what he calls side-door humor. “What you see might not make you laugh out loud. Maybe it will. But over time, a slow belly laugh will rise up and become a smile long after you have walked away. Which is the power of humor. And art.” So true.
Artists include Liz Ainslie, Jameson Brosseau, Andy Cross, Ariel Dill, Alicia Gibson, Andrew Guenther, Daniel Heidkamp, Margaret Lanzetta, Billy Malone, Christopher Moss.
I stopped by the Guggenheim yesterday to check out the Cattelan retrospective. Taxidermied dogs that look like they are sleeping are displayed on small platforms hanging throughout the installation. I found the whole spectacle brilliant and incredibly sad, so I was surprised at how much fun everyone else was having. Cattelan has spent his career examining the unfunny, the pathos, lodged within humor. Whether you like his previous work or not, definitely go see the show–the entire installation turns the Guggenheim inside out and is absolutely unforgettable.
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