While watching this Brazilian/American documentary I started wondering what rock I have been hiding under! Who in the hell is Kenny Scharf?
I know some of his contemporaries he hung out with like Keith Haring, Andy Warhol and Jean Michel Basquiat and have seen many of their works but Scharf draws a blank. I can also see the influence on his work by Picasso, Rousseau, Peter Max and Dali which the film declines to make any connection to.
He grew up in a dull L.A. suburb in the 1960’s and was influenced by early American television which creeps out in his art. Yes there was a period in his career based on the Jetson’s television show.
His art is playful and at point cartoonish almost like Jeff Koons. A quote by Picasso at the beginning of the film rings so very true with Scharf, “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist when you grow up.”
You get a good feel about what Scharf is all about through commentary from his mother, friends, fellow artists, collectors and art critics. They portray a most interesting portrait of the man which I will let you discover.
The documentary is the best way to experience his art and his life and the documentary wraps it up like a huge juicy pastrami sandwich that will leave you full and satisfied.
You’ll go through the downtown New York art scene in the 70’s and eighties, the devastating ravages of AIDS in the artistic community, the transformation and commodification of pop art when uptown New York started to recognize downtown New York.
His style of art? I’ll go out on a limb and say pop art with humour and enormous creativity. To categorize his art as modern art might be too banal.
Best I shut up and say let his art speak for itself and there is no doubt in my mind Scharf is a modern American master. And he is a survivor unlike Haring and Basquiat who died too young.
The 77-minute 2020 documentary opens up virtually at Ted Rogers Hot Docs Cinema on April 15th. It is a film by Malia Scharf and Max Basch.
“When Worlds Collide” is a 1985 Oil and Spray Paint on canvas. When worlds collide there can be calm in chaos.