Frieze New York 2017

At Simone Subal’s Frieze New York Booth, Kiki Kogelnik Looks at Looking at Women

Kiki Kogelnik, Express, 1972.©1972 KIKI KOGELNIK FOUNDATION, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED/COURTESY SIMONE SUBAL GALLERY

Kiki Kogelnik, Express, 1972.

©1972 KIKI KOGELNIK FOUNDATION, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED/COURTESY SIMONE SUBAL GALLERY

Visitors to Simone Subal Gallery’s Frieze New York booth today were greeted by a mustard-yellow breast, its pointy tan nipple pointed directly at them. From far away, it may have seemed like a minimalist object. Up close, however, it was clearly a Kiki Kogelnik sculpture.

Titled Untitled (Breast), 1986, the work is a typical one for Kogelnik, the Austrian-American Pop artist who, until her death in 1997, explored the way technology and advertising had changed the way we look at bodies, specifically women’s bodies. Anatomically incorrect and typically rendered in various shades of neon, Kogelnik’s subjects are given human qualities, yet they feel strangely robotic.

To contemporary eyes, her work looks a lot like what young artists are creating today. Take, for example, her 1972 painting Express, in which a woman, who appears to be holding some sort of scarf, flails her arms and legs. Perhaps she is dancing, or maybe she is simply jumping for joy. Her mouth is a red O, and her eyes seem like they should belong to a reptile instead of a human. These oddball women are the kind that appear often in Jamian Juliano-Villani’s paintings.

Also on view was Bye, bye baby (1964), a lovely assemblage that includes the silhouette of a hand against a bright red background. From this rectangular work hang two red balls—one smallish, one large—that were strung together by a thin chain. Although the work may not have made noise like, say, nearby Dawn Kasper and Anri Sala works that include percussion instruments, one could imagine these works bursting into life, their cog-like pieces grinding loudly.

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