New York Times Style Magazine
Art as Social Critique — With a Little Help From the Rolling Stones and Katy Perry
Dec. 09, 2015
When you walk into “No Kidding,” the artist Deborah Kass’s exhibition opening tonight at Paul Kasmin Gallery, be prepared for a strange sensation: you can almost hear Kass’s new mixed-media paintings in addition to seeing them. “The thing about music is that it’s so democratic, and art isn’t,” Kass said when T visited her studio last month. Throughout the show, the artist alludes to popular song lyrics from a wide swath of eras, from the 1895 waltz “The Band Played On” to Fats Waller’s 1929 “(What Did I Do to Be So) Black and Blue” to Katy Perry’s 2010 “Teenage Dream.” The references are diverse, but taken as a whole, their message is clear: a deep-seated, and deeply droll, cynicism about the present political and artistic climate, and about our capacity to fiddle while Rome burns. Other pieces in the show ironically deploy phrases like “GOOD TIMES” and, in several three- panel works, “WHO BLUE WHO,” to much the same effect.