Mass Ornament: Pleasure, Play, and What Lies Beneath
Curated by Alison M. Gingeras
Alison M. Gingeras broadens the scope of her collaboration with South Etna Montauk as curator of the gallery’s latest show, “Mass Ornament: Pleasure, Play, and What Lies Beneath.” The show takes its title and conceptual starting point from a 1927 essay by German philosopher Siegfried Kracauer that calls for the intellectual redemption of what he describes as “the ostentatious display of surface”—referring to aesthetics that, while easily garnering mainstream cultural appeal, tend to be prematurely judged as trite and consequently discounted among erudite circles.
The manifestation of what Gingeras envisioned as a contemporary take on Kracauer’s argument, this exhibition highlights works from almost 20 artists and designers—from Derrick Adams and Ugo Rondinone to Rubi Neri and Gaetano Pesce [his Pratt Chair #7, 1984/2018 (Red) pictured]. The pieces on display tend toward unabashed color schemes and frequently combine abstract and figurative elements—to ends that are as visually gratifying as they are unpretentious, and thereby widely accessible, forms of culture.
As Gingeras writes:
Just as Kracauer’s most famous text pays tribute to the interdisciplinary joys of popular culture, this deliberately dense exhibition seeks to blur the lines between the traditional hierarchies of fine and applied arts, decoration and functionality, sculpture and furniture.
Gaetano Pesce, Pratt Chair #7, 1984/2018 (Red), 2019. Polyurethane resin, Smooth-On pigment; 37 x 19 x 20 inches. Courtesy the artist, Salon 94, and South Etna Montauk.