PAVEL ZOUBOK GALLERY invites you to a retrospective exhibition of collages and poured plastic assemblages by BUSTER CLEVELAND (1943-1998), a New York artist with roots in post-Dada performance and Mail Art, and an iconic figure of the downtown scene of the 1980s. Please join us for the opening reception on Thursday, November 15, 2012 from 6-8pm or during the run of the exhibition, which continues through December 22.
This exhibition takes its name from the words “OK BUSTER” that were BUSTER CLEVELAND’s signature over decades of work, which ranged from intimate paper collages, to sheets of invented artist stamps, to intricately wrought assemblages of glittering found objects. A poet and romantic who literally wore his heart on a sleeve—the word DADA tattooed into a heart on his forearm—Cleveland’s work can best be described as visual poetry, in the tradition of artists such as Ray Johnson and John Evans (both close friends and associates). Cleveland was (in)famous for his striking and often playful juxtapositions of popular images that included celebrities, advertising logos (like the Kool and Lucky Strike cigarettes he smoked for years), photographic self-portraits, stamps, record albums and Artforum magazine covers – what New York Times critic Holland Cotter referred to as “zany, meticulously made Dadaist collages.”
During the 1980s, Cleveland’s association with art dealers Gracie Mansion and Sur Rodney (Sur) firmly established his reputation on the Downtown scene, leading to numerous successful exhibitions. His poured plastic assemblages of pop-up collages embellished with accumulations of toys, plastic jewels and other found objects display his distinct fascination with the celebrity culture that has come to dominate the popular imagination. His 1990 series of collage, aptly titled A Century of Art – Almost, pays homage to the intersection of art and film. These humorous postcard-sized images represent 100 films through visual evocations of 100 well-known artists. Cleveland is perhaps best known for his iconinc ART•FOR•UM series, a kind of art-by-mail service for which collectors could purchase annual or “lifetime” subscriptions. These were widely collected by artists, collectors and institutions that included the MoMA library, the Getty and the Alternative Traditions Collection at the University of Iowa, where Cleveland’s archives are available for research. Begun in 1993, the series is based on collaged covers of Artforum magazine (similar in size to a record album sleeve) that he would embed in poured plastic resin. From these maquettes Cleveland created 5¼ x 5 ¼ inch reproductions mounted onto foam core, which he dutifully mailed to subscribers.
Buster Cleveland’s work has been exhibited internationally and is in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art, NY, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, NY, The Walker Art Center, MN, and the University of Iowa, IA. He has been represented by Pavel Zoubok Gallery since 1997. The exhibition is accompanied by a full color catalogue with essay by Sur Rodney (Sur).