Tue – Sat
11 – 18

26.06
22.08
2021

Mitchell Anderson
Beautiful and Damned

Beautiful and Damned

 

It is not normal for

me to be a Kennedy. 

But I am no longer

ashamed, no longer 

alone. I am not

alone tonight because 

we are all Kennedys. 

And I am your President. 

“An American Poem” by Eileen Myles 

 

Portraiture has long been the medium of wealth and privilege. In his new exhibition Beautiful and Damned, Mitchell Anderson puts together an iconic portrait of industrial society and its intricate fictions. The Kennedys—the American political family par excellence—are portrayed by Anderson as both objects of desire and as remnants of an anticlimactic post-war era. 

 

His work repeatedly complicates the distinction between art and memorabilia: campaign buttons, cigars from the White House, playing cards, and the photographs from Oliver Stone’s film JFK all walk this line between the two categories. This practice, here represented by works spanning the last decade, emerges from interest in the valuation of objects; it is a method that shares an affinity with minimalist sculpture but, in the end, it is predominantly invested in the muddy waters of content and meaning.

 

In the exhibition, several paintings of political campaign buttons line the wall, and with their shapeshifting typography, the designs of the buttons reference different decades and regional cultures where the various campaigns were run. As such, Anderson’s work nods to a form of political marketing bent on pandering to strategic demographics, guiding us through the oxymoron of liberal monarchs and plutocrats. The current iteration of Western democracy is one of the exhibition’s many subjects, and as such Beautiful and Damned resembles less the idyllic town square and more an absurd, contrived PR campaign.

 

His playing card portraits encrypt literary quotes with a simple cipher: beckoning the myths, tragedies and conspiracies that surround the Kennedy dynasty, inviting his viewers to assemble scattered clues and decipher information. The shirtless bodies of the Kennedy scions, fixed on the playing cards, express a libidinal flair for the political and a voyeuristic fixation on virile, masculine leadership. 

 

Beautiful and Damned tracks the rise-and-fall narrative of the Kennedys with an obsessive precision. Urgent and feverishly camp, Anderson’s show traverses a landscape of contradictions, mapping the end of the so-called American Century. 

Mitchell Anderson (*1985, Chicago, USA) lives and works in Zürich, where he organizes the artist-run space Plymouth Rock. Recent institutional exhibitions include Kunsthalle Bern (2021); Kunsthalle Basel; Kunsthalle Zürich (2020); Fondazione Converso, Milan (2019); MAMCO, Geneva (2018); and Fri-Art Kunsthalle Fribourg (2017). He is nominated for the Prix Mobilière 2021 and Swiss Art Awards 2021. On the occasion of his exhibition, Efremidis publishes Mitchell Anderson’s Notes. 2014-2021.

Mitchell Anderson, "Beautiful and Damned", Efremidis, 2021
installation view

Mitchell Anderson, "Beautiful and Damned", Efremidis, 2021
"Fortunate Son", 2017
acrylic on canvas
200 cm diameter

Mitchell Anderson, "Beautiful and Damned", Efremidis, 2021
"Fortunate Son", 2018
acrylic on canvas
200 cm diameter

Mitchell Anderson, "Beautiful and Damned", Efremidis, 2021
installation view (detail)

Mitchell Anderson, "Beautiful and Damned", Efremidis, 2021
"Fortunate Son", 2018
acrylic on canvas
200 cm diameter

Mitchell Anderson, "Beautiful and Damned", Efremidis, 2021
"Fortunate Son", 2017
acrylic on canvas
200 cm diameter

Mitchell Anderson, "Beautiful and Damned", Efremidis, 2021
installation view, (detail)

Mitchell Anderson, "Beautiful and Damned", Efremidis, 2021
"Fortunate Son", 2018
acrylic on canvas
200 cm diameter

Mitchell Anderson, "Beautiful and Damned", Efremidis, 2021
installation view

Mitchell Anderson, "Beautiful and Damned", Efremidis, 2021
installation view

Mitchell Anderson, "Beautiful and Damned", Efremidis, 2021
"Buddenbrooks (Zeichen und Symbole)", 2021
playing cards on panel
160 x 120 cm
framed

Mitchell Anderson, "Beautiful and Damned", Efremidis, 2021
"The Beautiful and Damned (Beautiful
things)", 2021
playing cards on panel
160 x 120 cm, framed

Mitchell Anderson, "Beautiful and Damned", Efremidis, 2021
"Fortunate Son",2021
playing cards on panel
160 x 120 cm, framed

Mitchell Anderson, "Beautiful and Damned", Efremidis, 2021
installation view, (detail)

Mitchell Anderson, "Beautiful and Damned", Efremidis, 2021
"Bobby", 2021, encaustic on panel, 80 x 60 x 4 cm

Mitchell Anderson, "Beautiful and Damned", Efremidis, 2021
"What's Past is Prologue", 2013 - 2014, color and black & white photographs, Oliver Stone's JFK (1991), custom table, 30 x 200 x 200 cm.

Mitchell Anderson, "Beautiful and Damned", Efremidis, 2021
"What's Past is Prologue", 2013 - 2014, (detail)

Mitchell Anderson, "Beautiful and Damned", Efremidis, 2021
Boy of Tears, 2017-2020, John F. Kennedy's H. Upmann Cuban cigar, c. 1963, plinth 30 x 200 x 200 cm

Mitchell Anderson, "Beautiful and Damned", Efremidis, 2021
"Boy of Tears", 2017-2020, (detail)

Mitchell Anderson, "Beautiful and Damned", Efremidis, 2021
"Beautiful and Damned", 2021, (detail), sequins, dimensions variable

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