Artist Interview—Knowledge Bennett’s Use of History and Appropriation
Knowledge Bennett’s work featuring John Lennon holding his “cojones” is part of his most popular series to date with the eponymous title “Cojones,” featuring various celebrities and popular figures holding their, well, cojones. Bennett takes an original 1989 portrait of Slick Rick and superimposes images of celebrities ranging from artistic legends like Prince, Biggie, Madonna, and Marilyn Monroe to politicians like Obama. When faced with Knowledge’s work one must re-familiarize themselves with recent western art histories, in addition to questioning the circumstances of their immediate realities—for instance, what does a portrait of Madonna proudly fondling her “junk” say about individuality, difference, and power? —Courtesy of Julien’s Auctions
Signature: Signed and dated in pencil lower right "K. Bennett '15"
Image rights: Courtesy of Julien's Auctions
Inspired by 1960s Pop Art, Knowledge Bennett remixes Andy Warhol’s iconic silkscreens with the celebrities of today, creating graphic portraits of Rihanna, Kanye West, and Donald Trump that range from playful to political. Bennett is most known for his “Cojones” series, which casts audacious figures in a crotch-grabbing pose, appropriated from Janette Beckman’s 1989 photograph of Hip Hop artist Slick Rick. “In today’s world of social media saturation, people’s attention spans are at an all time low,” explains Bennett, “The visual artist must present something so arresting, enabling his/her statement to literally stop people in their tracks.”
American, b. 1976, Asbury Park, New Jersey, based in Los Angeles, California