07.23.09

Art's Yellow Period

A dynamic new exhibition inspired by Lance Armstrong features works by Ed Ruscha, Richard Prince, Catherine Opie, Shepard Fairey, and others. By Paul Laster. VIEW OUR GALLERY.

A dynamic new exhibition inspired by Lance Armstrong features works by Ed Ruscha, Richard Prince, Catherine Opie, Shepard Fairey, and others. VIEW OUR GALLERY.

As Lance Armstrong cycles toward the finish in the Tour de France, his foundation, in conjunction with Nike, has mounted a benefit art exhibition, STAGES, to engage the creative community in the fight against cancer at Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, one of Paris’ premier art venues. STAGES, whose title references the daily parts of the race and the phases of cancer, offers a lively group of artworks by 20 established and emerging artists.

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Dynamically installed in Perrotin’s main space, the show presents a marvelous mix of contemporary art by modern masters, including Ed Ruscha, Richard Prince, Christopher Wool, Cai Guo-Qiang, Catherine Opie, and Tom Sachs, and youthful artists associated with the street art and skateboard scene, such as KAWS, Shepard Fairey, Dzine, José Parlá, and Eric White.

While benefit exhibitions usually display a lopsided mix, this show sparkles with excellent pieces partly because of the “yellow” color concept—a reference to the yellow jersey worn each day by the winner of the previous day’s Tour stage—and partly because the artists Armstrong selected personally care so much for the cause. Besides the request to use yellow in their works, artists were asked to make something that either referred to the sport of cycling or to the battle with cancer.

Cai Guo-Qiang contributes one of his seminal gunpowder on paper pieces, Tree With Yellow Blossoms, on a four-panel, folding screen. Dzine made a jaw-dropping, customized lowrider bicycle, complete with 24-karat gold hand-grips, chrome and nickel-plated elements, and its own music mix. Richard Prince donated a new painting, which uniquely combines his nurse motif with his equally recognizable joke theme. The joke, which references the song “Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey,” is overlaid on a field of nurses from pulp-fiction novels.

Aaron Young has one of his burnout paintings, which is made by painting aluminum panels with layers of color and then grinding out the surface layer with a motorcycle. José Parlá used a loose form of writing, which gets layered and layered, to construct a stunning abstract painting that looks like a graffiti-bombed piece of the street pulled into the gallery. Meanwhile, photographers Catherine Opie and Andreas Gursky provide views of the asphalt roads that Armstrong actually maneuvers.

Some of the artists in the exhibition, including Kenny Scharf, KAWS, and Shepard Fairey, also made bikes for Amstrong to ride while Tom Sachs made his art from one. Titled Lance’s Tequila Bike for Girls, it comes with booze instead of water and a license plate that reads “Bitch,” which provides a moment of humor in what might otherwise be considered a serious, but awe-inspiring show.

STAGES is on view at Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin through August 8 and will travel to the Park Avenue Armory in New York in the fall. All work is available for purchase with proceeds directly benefiting the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

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Paul Laster is the editor of Artkrush.com, a contributing editor at Flavorpill.com and Art Asia Pacific, and a contributing writer at Time Out New York and Art in America.