One of the original stable of artists at the Ferus Gallery in 1960s Los Angeles, painter and musician Llyn Foulkes’s considerable influence is often thought to be under-recognized. He is best known for his “bloody head” series, macabre paintings that depict mutilated figures, whose identifying facial features are obscured by blood, collages, and geometric shapes. Foulkes’s work, which encompasses landscapes, mixed-media assemblages, tableaux, and portraits, frequently delivers biting social commentary, targeting corporate America and the military-industrial complex. In The Corporate Kiss (2001), Mickey Mouse stands on a man’s shoulder and kisses him on the cheek; the harried-looking man, a self-portrait of the artist, appears to emit a sigh. Reinterpretating the biblical kiss of Judas, Foulkes presents a metaphor for the betrayal of art by popular culture. Influenced by music, as well as Pop and Expressionism, Foulkes created his own one-man instrument, known as the Machine, consisting of horns, cowbells, bass, organs, pipes, and other elements. His relief paintings and assemblage works have been compared to those of his contemporary Ed Kienholz.
American , b. 1934, Yakima, Washington, based in Los Angeles, California
Who is Llyn Foulkes and Why Does He Matter?
New Museum Presents Llyn Foulkes: In Conversation with Assistant Curator Margot Norton