Eric Troncy, Ed., Alex Israel, b. 1982, Los Angeles, Dijon 2017
Alex Israel, Self-Portraits, New York 2017
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2013
Dijon, Le Consortium, Alex Israel, July - September 2013
D. Creahan, 'Berlin - Alex Israel: "Self-Portraits" at Peres Projects Through June 15th, 2013', Artobserved, 12 June 2013, online
Anon., ‘Alex Israel at Le Consortium’, Mousse Magazine, July 2013, online
Robert Johnston, 'Alex Israel is the Artist Inspiring Stella McCartney’s Menswear', GQ UK, December 2016, p. 246, illustrated
This series of self-portraits found their origin in the logo created for the title sequence of Israel’s series of online celebrity portraits, As It LAys. Taking the form of interviews conducted within an old-fashioned TV talk show format, Israel, dressed smartly in a suit and tie and wearing his signature sunglasses, asks his celebrity guests a series of banal and unrelated questions in an expressionless manner. Reading from cue cards whilst sitting next to his famous interviewee, these question and answer sessions take place against the pink-blue sunset backdrop of his signature Flats – paintings manufactured for Israel by the sole remaining scenic artist still employed by Warner Bros. studios. The results are deadpan interactions that are revealing in their variance; whether the participants knowingly comply with Israel’s affected impassionate exchange or find themselves apparently irked by the one-sided and blank monotony of the conversation, As it LAys presents an intriguing dialogue on the cult of celebrity.
The present work builds on Israel’s brand of L.A.-styled Americana as presented in the title sequence of As It LAys. Following a self-consciously kitsch title sequence of sunshine drenched shots of L.A., palm trees, surfers, and panning cityscapes put to a cheesy saxophone backing track, Israel straightens his tie, shuffles his cue cards, and turns to the side – this shot in profile then transforms into a gradated candy-coloured logo, a formal schema closely approximated by the present painting. Indeed, aside from the celebrity guests that Israel proclaims are his heroes, the real star of these online videos is the artist himself. Taking inspiration from the famous opening sequence of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, where the legendary director steps into his famous cartoonesque silhouette, Israel is heavily driven by the cultivation of his own public persona. As he has explained of his self-portrait/logo: “It is a way of reducing my facial features to a graphic that can represent and symbolize the various things I do, within and outside of the art world” (Alex Israel cited in: Anon., ‘Alex Israel: Stars in his Eyes’, W Magazine, 12 January 2016, online). Of these various projects, Israel owns his own eyewear company: Freeway Eyewear is sold online through his own high fashion concept website and in select retail outlets, and is shamelessly self-promoted by the artist who is never seen without them. Picking up the legacy of Andy Warhol and latterly Jeff Koons, Israel carefully walks an ambiguous line between cynical denigrator and earnest celebrity fanboy.
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