Lee Lorenz, Matthew Barney, and more

In the New Yorker of 7/22/13 (p. 13 ), “Critics Notebook: Drawing Power” by Andrea K. Scott, beginning:

Hanging right now at the Morgan Library is a Lee Lorenz cartoon, titled “Proust Orders from the Cart,” which ran in these pages in July of 1989. The caption reads, “I’m out of madeleines, Jack. How about a prune Danish?”


Visitors on the prowl for Old Masters or medieval manuscripts may feel a bit like Marcel when they encounter the museum’s latest – and most radical – foray into contemporary art, the engrossingly abstruse exhibition “Subliming Vessel: The Drawings of Matthew Barney.”

Coming up: on Lee Lorenz; more from Scott on the Barney show; on Barney; a digression on a Barney-Flintstones mashup; on James Lee Byars; and on Hans Bellmer.

1. Lee Lorenz. From Wikipedia:

Lee Lorenz (born 1933) is an American cartoonist, most notable for his work in The New Yorker.

Lorenz is an alumnus of North Junior High School in Newburgh, NY (where he starred in student productions), Carnegie Tech and Pratt Institute. His first published cartoon appeared in Colliers in 1956, and two years later he became a contract contributor to The New Yorker, which has published more than 1,600 of his drawings. He was The New Yorker‘s art editor for 25 years, from 1973 until 1993, continuing as cartoon editor until 1997.

He is a musician who plays cornet with his own group, the Creole Cookin’ Jazz Band.

Lorenz has edited and written books on the art in The New Yorker, as well as the artists themselves, including The Art of The New Yorker (1995) and The World of William Steig (1998).

Two more cartoons from Lorenz:



#3 is an allusion to a folk tale / fable:

Henny Penny, also known as Chicken Licken or Chicken Little, is a folk tale with a moral in the form of a cumulative tale about a chicken who believes the world is coming to an end. The phrase “The sky is falling!” features prominently in the story, and has passed into the English language as a common idiom indicating a hysterical or mistaken belief that disaster is imminent. Versions of the story go back more than 25 centuries and it continues to be referenced in a variety of media. (Wikipedia link)

2. More Scott on Barney. Which is where Byars and Bellmer come in:

The artist, now forty-six, gained instant fame (and notoriety) in 1991, when, naked and harnessed, he scaled the walls of a New York gallery using a pair of ice screws, It was drawing-in-space as a mythopoetic endnurance test, coupling machismo and masochism. The pièce de résistance here is a muscular wall work, the remnants of an action that the artist performed in the space using Olympic-grade weights; it relates to his upcoming film, “River of Fundament,” which links subjects as various as Norman Mailer, Chrysler automobiles, the Egyptian gods Isis and Osiris, Harry Houdini, and the chimeric artist James Lee Byars. But even Barney’s tamest drawings exude an exquisite perversity (Hans Bellmer comes to mind), with pencil lines so fine and winding they might be strands of hair.

Two Barney drawings from the show:



3. On Barney. From Wikipedia:

Matthew Barney (born March 25, 1967) is an American artist who works in sculpture, photography, drawing and film. His early works are sculptural installations combined with performance and video. Between 1994 and 2002 he created the The Cremaster Cycle, a series of five films described by Jonathan Jones in The Guardian as “one of the most imaginative and brilliant achievements in the history of avant-garde cinema.”

A Barney photograph:



a still from The Cremaster Cycle, a series of 5 short films by Matthew Barney (Bjork’s baby daddy). The still is from my favorite part of the series-Cremaster 5. The scene is called “A Dance for the Queen’s Menagerie” (link)


4. Digression on a mashup. Found on Google images (here), this poster for a 2009 event at the Chelsea Art Museum in NYC:


(The museum closed in 2011.)

In the spirit of Mary Worth’s Howl, combining things of very disparate tone, this time via the phrasal overlap portmanteau Matthew Barney Rubble. Cremaster meets Flintstones.

5. James Lee Byars. From Wikipedia:

James Lee Byars (born April 10, 1932 – died May 23, 1997 in Cairo, Egypt) was an artist specializing in installation sculpture and in performance art. Byars’ notable performance works include “The Death of James Lee Byars” and “The Perfect Smile”.

From Byars, Tantric Figure of 1960 and The Angel of 1989:



6. Hans Bellmer. From Wikipedia:

Hans Bellmer (13 March 1902 – 23 February 1975) was a German artist, best known for the life-sized pubescent female dolls he produced in the mid-1930s. Historians of art and photography also consider him a Surrealist photographer.

Much of his work exhibits a perverse fascination with the female body. Here’s a drawing and a set of dolls:



(Much of his work would have to be posted on AZBlogX rather than here.)

Leave a Reply