Paul Kasmin Gallery is pleased to present My Elvis +, an exhibition of paintings by Deborah Kass from her historic series, “My Elvis” created in the early 1990’s. Gathered for the first time in the artist’s career and presented to a new generation of viewers, the paintings will be on view at the Gallery’s 515 West 27th Street location January 24 – February 23rd, 2013.
In this body of work, Barbra Streisand is featured as Yentl from the ground breaking gender-bending movie as a re-imagined version of Andy Warhol's iconic Elvis dressed as a boy and armed with a Talmud, rather than Presley's gun. By projecting herself into Yentl’s story of cross dressing, mistaken identities, gender confusion, sex, love, and spirituality, Kass simultaneously examines the endless complexities of personal identities and ambitions, as well as her own place within culture and art history.
Kass explained in the ‘90s “Barbra as Yentl, Yentl as Anshel, me as Andy….The image of a women dressed as a man-in order to study sacred texts denied by law and tradition, a women whose love for the living history of learning, spirit, and ideas overwhelms propriety and social norms seemed to me to be the perfect metaphor for being a women artist at this time…and precisely what I was doing in this body of work.”
Griselda Pollock, the British feminist art historian and cultural analyst, widens the reading of Kass’s “My Elvis” series. She writes, “Singularity asks: ‘Who am I?’ as opposed to the collectivizing or labeled ‘What am I?’ To label: woman, Jewish, lesbian, is to impose from outside an already known frame on another and thus to contain the labeled other. To explore through one’s own chosen aesthetic field the question—what is it to be any of the above, now here, in this field a complex configuration of possibilities that are at once freighted with multiple ‘otherings’ and open to singular redefinition—is to generate new understandings for oneself and one’s culture.” Or as Roger Denson recently put it in The Huffington Post, to create “the Deborah Kass Effect.”
My Elvis + follows Kass’s mid-career retrospective, Deborah Kass: Before and Happily Ever After, presented at The Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, October 27, 2012 – January 6, 2013. A monograph published by Rizzoli on the occasion of the show includes essays by art historian Irving Sandler, Griselda Pollock, and filmmaker, provocateur and artist John Waters. Robert Storr, artist, curator and Dean of Yale School of Art, art critics Lisa Liebmann and Brooks Adams, and Eric Shiner, curator and director of the Andy Warhol Museum, have also contributed essays.
Recent press for Deborah Kass’s Warhol Museum exhibition include profiles in The New York Times’ Sunday Arts & Leisure section, The Huffington Post, ARTnews and Art in America are available online at www.paulkasmingallery.com. Kass was prominently featured in Regarding Warhol at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Fall 2012.
Deborah Kass received her BFA in Painting at Carnegie Mellon University and studied at the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. Her work is in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum of Art, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Jewish Museum, The Museum of Fine Art, Boston, and the Harvard Art Museums/ Fogg Museum as well as numerous public and private collections. Kass’s work was recently included in Hide/ Seek: Desire Difference and the Invention of the Modern American Portrait at The National Portrait Gallery (2010); The Deconstructive Impulse at The Neuberger Museum (2011); Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories at The National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Museum (2011). Paul Kasmin Gallery presented two solo exhibitions feel good paintings for feel bad times (2007) and MORE feel good paintings for feel bad times (2010). Kass is a Senior Critic in the Yale University M.F.A. Painting Program, and lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.