August 4, 2022
A Tarot art show (sort of) + a Warhol movie . . .
I’m usually happy to discover that “mainstream” artists have engaged the Tarot. A very nice example is Outrageous Fortune: Artists Remake the Tarot, a 2011 gallery project in which 78 artists were each assigned a Tarot card, and asked to produce their own interpretations of its concept and/or imagery.
I didn’t like all of the works from that show—but I didn’t hate any of them!
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Not so when it comes to a similar show staged in 2011 by socialite Stacy Engman: Contemporary Magic: A Tarot Deck Art Project.
On the one hand, Engman’s artworld connections enabled her to attract some big names. And there was a lot of hype around the project, which traveled to several upscale art venues.
On the other hand . . .
Some of the individual works I’ve been able to track down seem to lack any creative connection with the Tarot. Others seem conceptually/artistically lazy. But you can see an assortment here, and draw your own conclusion.
I’ll just show two that I actually like.
(1) The 3 of Cups card, interpreted by a fashion collective known as “threeASFOUR.” Here’s the design, followed by a conceptual description:
The downtown NYC trio’s interpretation of this card fuses three free radicals in microbiology together, which symbolize each of them as distinct parts. The intersection of the three circles represents their common ground. The circles may also be interpreted as the top rim of communal wine glasses coming together in a celebratory toast.
(2) And here’s The Devil, interpreted by German sculptor Thomas Schütte, along with its conceptual description.
Schütte’s iconic practice, embodying elements of the dark and sinister juxtaposed against qualities of the glossy, alluring, and fantastical, is evocative of the dichotomies represented in the Devil card - such as temptation and urge and how these qualities manifest. Schütte's brilliant use of clay to articulate evil narrates the capacity for mutation into infinite contexts of diabolical incarnations.
Bonus item: In conjunction with Engman’s show, the Andy Warhol Museum offered showings of Warhol’s 1966 film The Velvet Underground Tarot Cards.
Originally shot as background footage for The Velvet Underground and Nico during their Exploding Plastic Inevitable performances, this Warhol premiere kinetically documents each member of the band having their cards read at a big apartment party.
The tarot reader is continually interrupted in her readings by the chaos created by the characters around her.
I don’t know where you can find the film, but there are some still shots here. For example:
See you tomorrow. C