Dan Colen’s Poetry

Dan Colen Installation View Dan Colens Poetry

DAN COLEN: Poetry, Installation view. Photo by Rob McKeever

The most talked about and controversial show of the New York City Fall season: Dan Colen’s inaugural solo debut at Gagosian titled Poetry. Walking around Chelsea during the opening weeks of the season, it was hard to turn the other cheek to numerous conversations regarding Colen’s show. There was hype, expectation and tons of dissing.

Colen first appeared on the art radar on the pages of Vice Magazine along with longtime friend and roommate Ryan McGinley. The notorious ‘Dash Snow Crew’ was known for heavy drug use and their ‘hamster nests‘, a private performance where they would shred a bunch of phonebooks, do tons of drugs and act like hamsters. He was then catapulted to artist superstardom with the infamous 2007 New York Magazine article “Chasing Dash Snow”. Dubbed as ‘Warhol’s Children,’ Dash Snow, Ryan McGinley and Dan Colen were celebrated as the embodiment of art, drugs and a rampant ‘fuck you’ attitude. Now Colen has cleaned up his act and is ready for art world glorification (or damnation).

Dan Colen Installation View4 Dan Colens Poetry

DAN COLEN: Poetry, Installation view. Photo by Rob McKeever

Dan Colen Installation View2 Dan Colens Poetry

DAN COLEN: Poetry, Installation view. Photo by Rob McKeever

Known for his bird shit and gum paintings, Colen’s first formal step into the ‘serious’ art world was in the bathrooms of Gagosian Gallery. Apparently, friend and Gagosian Director San Orlofsky convinced Larry Gagosian to allow him show his work there and it was quite a financial success. Four years later, Colen has a major show at Gagosian that fills the entire gallery, a risky if not infrequent undertaking. Makes me wonder if it’s an art world fairy tale or a carefully orchestrated publicity stunt.

His show Poetry includes a couple of large-scale ‘candy’ paintings, a ramp, an installation of motorcycles and a propped up brick wall. According to the exhibition’s press release, “drawing from mass media, local environment, and subculture, Colen’s art imbues the ordinary, the disenfranchised, and the tribal with provocative new status.” Actually, skateboarding and bikers are hardly a subculture anymore. These are currently a part of the mainstream and Colen is not the first (nor the last) to use it to inform his work. So what’s with all the hype? Is it the whole mystification of the artist as a rebel/social outcast? Or the reverberating echo left from Snow’s untimely death last year? From ‘bathroom to gallery’ and from art outsider to Gagosian protégé there’s a long stretch, or is there? Regardless, I’m still curious to find out what Colen will come up with next. And I’m sure the art crowd will keep whispering while following his steps.

-Carla Acevedo

Dan Colen Installation View3 Dan Colens Poetry

DAN COLEN: Poetry, Installation view. Photo by Rob McKeever

Dan Colen was born in New Jersey in 1979. He graduated with a BFA in Painting from the Rhode Island School of Art and Design in 2001. Exhibitions include the 2006 Whitney Biennial, New York; “USA Today,” The Royal Academy, London; “Defamation of Character,” PS1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island, New York; and “Fantastic Politics,” The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo.

Images and artist bio via Gagosian Gallery

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