Episode 2 Clark Fox Icon Chains at Biggs Museum of American Art


The Biggs Museum of American Art is
hosting an exhibition of work by Clark Fox called Icon Chains. In this episode
the artist discusses two additional paintings about Native Americans. All right. This painting is kind of in the form of a pictograph. There’s four different sections basically. And it’s the title
1844 which is a year that portrait up on the top was painted in 1844 by George
Catlin who actually painted he thought that all of the Native Americans were
going to be exterminated in 1844 they thought they were all going to be
exterminated so he wanted to capture them and a lot of people thought that
Catlin was not really that great of an artist. What did they know? He
actually took a whole group of paintings to London and they were shown there and
you can actually see him at the Renwick [in Washington D.C.]. They have a whole wall. He had these
big black frames on them with numbers. And he actually he was married to a
socialite in New York but George died penniless. Penniless artist he actually
painted in Washington up in the Castle tower for a while. They had a number of
artists that got to paint up there and I think he really he tried to catch the
soul of the Native Americans although he was painting pretty fast. They were
painted from life and they had to sit still while he painted and, of course you
know, you get very restless pretty fast. Um, in this one, as I said 1844
Catlin thought they were going to be exterminated, so he was out there running around as well I mean how he did it, I mean you know, without modern medicine or anything
like that. He actually passed away and he’s buried in Brooklyn in Green
Hill Cemetery over in Brooklyn. And they didn’t even have money for a stone. They had to borrow money to bury him. His family was not too keen on him and just about a
year and a half ago they put up a monument to him. They raised the money and there’s actually a cool monument in the in the graveyard and if you wanted to
try to guess the name of this Chief take a look at though over to the left of him
is a white cloud. Yes, Chief White Cloud. Down on the bottom another that’s off of a painting off of a buffalo skin, bison skin, the correct name of the animal.
That’s a warrior and as you can see he’s got a shield.
He’s got eagle feathers. It’s pretty high up on the tribe all those
feathers on there or [means] he’s a pretty high up person and sometimes I mean
they like to put red on there and use red pigment and so sometimes they’ll be going to battle basically nude, all painted up. That would be just another example of gringo version of Native American versus real Native American on the bottom. And then on the background of the, uh, Mr. Peanut, is actually I kinda really like the abstract expressionist Clyfford Still. It’s not really like a total Clyfford Still, but in a way . . . . In my Mr. Peanut paintings, the idea was that modern art’s been co-opted by Wall Street type people, people with a lot of
money, and my Mr. Peanut paintings are usually [will] be an abstract painting in the
background and Mr. Peanut in the foreground and then the titles are the names of rich collectors. So it’s portraits, they’re portraits of rich collectors. And I
guess you could say that George Catlin down in the bottom because he was trying to make money on um, off his paintings when he was criticized for that like it seems
like anytime anyone does anything it’s controversial. You get this great idea
and you think it’s great but everybody else thinks you’re a scoundrel trying to
rip everybody off. And he actually took a number of Native Americans went over. He had this sort of little sideshow thing going and people would pay to get in to
see the exhibition and get to hang out with real Native Americans. The exhibition consists of artwork from 2000 to the present, influenced by pop art and social movements. Clark Fox is known throughout the contemporary art circles of New York, Washington DC, and Los Angeles. This is a real interesting one. You know in my opinion George Washington was the
greatest president and I’ve done an extensive study on him. He wasn’t, he
didn’t really didn’t trust Native Americans but he liked Native Americans
better than he liked German, German settlers which I thought was pretty
hilarious which that says quite a bit. He tried to get the Confederations of
nations to fight against the British in the war in 1776 but they were loyal they
thought they’d get a better deal with George the Third and so they had hell to
pay after the war. Down here on the bottom you have the capitalists behind
George Washington you know you can look into how they got the the money actually
came from France and it broke the Treasury basically and ended up why
Louis the XVI got his head chopped off but down here is from a drawing that I did.
It’s a chief, reaching for a bottle of alcohol where they were
cutting the deal. They usually got the Native Americans drunk and then get
them to sign off on anything and uh here you have some abstraction. I started
off as an abstract artist so I anything that I do I kind of see through an
abstract art mind. I think that a lot of the art if you just if you’re just doing
pictures of people it does seem to be kind of like illustration so I uh, I really
am have a lot of admiration for abstraction and I think it is a great
way to you know deal with when you have subject matter that’s when you say
figurative and this painting is kind of cool it’s from bhende dots or like Roy
Lichtenstein it’s got a lot it’s got about four different styles
and it’s uh, you never get tired of looking at it. That’s why I didn’t want to make art
that’s like wallpaper I think art should be living and sort of like in my oranges
paintings you can look at it, it always changes and you always see something
different in what, ah, what I do, because I spend a lot of time in contemplation
when I do these works. (music & credit roll)

2 thoughts on “Episode 2 Clark Fox Icon Chains at Biggs Museum of American Art

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