How the Midwest Made Artists Out of Mike Kelley and Jim Shaw
Since the 1990s, Jim Shaw had been working on a project to record and render his dreams, making many of the artworks he had encountered in his sleep. Eventually, in 2007, the artist had a dream of an artwork that would be a Plexiglass box wherein all the Dream Objects would congregate to be represented in miniature. Atop the pile of objects was a mini sculpture of the Great Whore of Babylon in flamboyant red. Jim Shaw set out to sculpt the miniatures and print out small versions of the two-dimensional works in order to melt them together in the box, allowing the viewer to discover through the transparent plexiglass the substrate formed by the objects. Since an immense amount of labor would be rendered invisible, the artist decided to document the contents and curated a miniature exhibition in a scale model museum. The Dream Object Book is the sole proof of the exhibition that was imagined and lost. The Dream Object Book is the book and catalogue raisonné of this exhibition, uniting fantasy and reality.
Image rights: ©2011 Jim Shaw and mfc-michèle didier
Produced and published in 2011 by mfc-michèle didier
Famous as a collector of American junk, including a trove of thrift store paintings once sought by art collector Charles Saatchi, Jim Shaw draws on his vast stores of pop cultural artifacts in his work. The My Mirage (1986–91) project comprises nearly 170 drawings, silkscreens, photographs, sculptures, films, and paintings based on a Shaw stand-in called Billy, who grows from childhood to psychosis to born-again Christianity. Billy exists amid a 1960s and ’70s visual overload of pulp novels, comic books, records, and psychedelic posters. The artist’s Oism project, initiated in the late 1990s, explores his fictional religion through media including video installations (recalling both Busby Berkeley musicals and 1980s aerobics videos) and found paintings in the “Oist style.” Shaw’s richly layered practice takes liberally from both art history (Art Brut, Vincent van Gogh, Salvador Dalí, Rene Magritte, Max Ernst) and America’s vernacular of coffeemakers and zombie films.
American, b. 1952, Midland, Michigan, based in Los Angeles, California