Sunday, January 11, 2009

Stephen Sprouse

Stephen Spouse has a lovely little show right now at Jeffrey Deitch's Soho project space. I went to the 'opening' with co-worker Alex on Friday only to discover that it was a big fat fake opening, wildly overshadowed by the REAL opening the night before. We, apparently, weren't invited to the opening where Debbie Harry performed in a dress looking vaguely like a squirrel and where Marc Jacobs toasted champagne with Louis Vuitton himself. WE went to the opening that served only free postcards and florescent lighting. Ho hum.

But come on... Stephen Sprouse is completely wrong in florescent lights. His work should worn in the dark at 3am by a too-skinny model and a side of cocaine and not in bright lights at 5:30pm by a too-skinny mannequin with a side of small talk. The show wasn't brilliant... but the work was.

If you don't think you know who Stephen Sprouse is, you actually do. He trademarked the sharpie-scribble that we commonly associate with sharpies and nothing else. Marc Jacobs designed a collection of handbags showcasing the scribble inspired of Sprouse a few years ago for Louis Vuitton. This was unfortunately replaced by the horrific Takashi Murakami bags (blechk) and then again for something resembling spray paint. I, reader, actually have no idea what I'm talking about when it comes to fashion, so I'll stop here.

What I do (kind of) know is art, and without any prior knowledge, both Alex and I were pointing out Sprouse's peer influences the entire evening. We could see Gilbert & George, Keith Haring, Warhol (obvs.), and even Giotto (stretch? maybe.) Together, they held a clear world view wrapped around Studio 54, eyeliner, neon, and the New York City 'in'. (Hence Debbie Harry.)

But to me, what made this show so very fascinating was Sprouse's extreme success in such a narrow niche and seemingly lack of depth. He scribbled repeated words on Van der Rohe chairs and blew up pink Polaroid snapshots of speakers and tabloids and stood back in awe of his own brilliance. Warhol had already announced his own presence and Sprouse simply designed around an era. His muse was a decade, not a thought or a lyric. But his work is about the party and a party it was.

And if Spouse's world was about the 'in', Alex and I clearly didn't have it. And maybe that was the point. To truly experience Sprouse's greatness, we needed an in. And as we left with our free postcards and our coats never-in-check we suddenly turned into the girls who weren't invited to the party. Two confident, independent, semi-smart women immediately shrunk into the girls watching the red carpet from the sidelines, lame as can be.

And looking right through us were the original New York City glamour kids--Sprouse, Warhol, Sedgwick, Harry, and Duran Duran. Perhaps I'm biased because I don't like Jeffery Deitch (well, no one actually likes Jeffery Deitch.) but we did feel slightly taken. Yes, Sprouse succeeded in the end. His point was clearly met. For he trumped us. For sure.

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