Why is there such a hunger for Ivy Haldeman’s paintings of human hot dogs and hollow suits?
The objects in Ivy Haldeman’s larger-than-life paintings also have aspirations.
Disembodied figures in pointed-shoulder blazers with matching pencil skirts appear to have strolled out of earshot after a board meeting to discuss how they really feel. Anthropomorphic hot dogs with delicate features loung suggestively, read, apply moisturizer and talk on banana phones inside their golden buns.
“I find them very close,” Haldeman said on a call from his Brooklyn Navy Yard studio in New York. The artist, 36, has been painting quirky, everyday moments of animate and inanimate things for half a decade, though his work seems increasingly relevant after a few years indoors.
The human gestures of his slightly bored hot dogs and empty power suits simultaneously convey lethargy, desire and luxury, while addressing issues of gender and identity in a way that now places Haldeman among artists. the most demanded of his generation.
“Ivy focuses a sort of spellbinding attention to visual codes of aspiration and self-reliance,” said gallerist Alex Ross. He is the director of Downs & Ross, which represents Haldeman in New York. “It’s hard to think of a practice that more subtly marbles the relationship between desire and consumerism in a way that’s both seductive and elegantly complex.”
He added: “All of his recent solo exhibitions, worldwide and without exception, have sold out.”
Prices have risen with demand. Last year, for example, Haldeman’s acrylic on canvas Two suits, folded cuff, pocket cuff (purple, peach), which is part of his Capsule Shanghai 2019 exhibition “(Hesitate)”, had been estimated at $20,000 to $30,000 at auction. Instead, it grossed over $138,000.
Today, Haldeman’s works are held in public and private collections around the world, from the Dallas Museum of Art to the Institute of Contemporary Art in Miami, to the X Museum in Beijing and the Yuz Museum in Shanghai. .
While planning Haldeman’s first solo exhibition at Downs & Ross in September 2018, Ross said, “It was apparent that she was advancing a new language for portraiture that would prove hugely important.
Haldeman’s paintings speak an idiosyncratic yet universal language. Inspired by the way color reads in Ukiyo-e woodblock prints by Japanese artists such as Kitagawa Utamaro, she uses pigments to create a backlit effect, as if you are viewing her works through a screen.
When she paints, she lets thin layers of acrylic dry for 24 hours straight, to help her canvases reflect light. “I think a lot about the materials in my work,” she said. “Acrylic is a type of plastic, and it’s really funny because my grandfather was a plastic salesman,” Haldeman said. “The plastics company financed my mother’s artistic studies. now i am here [creating] plastic paints.
The artist has long reflected on the visual culture of capitalism. “When I was five, I was thinking about costumes,” she said. “I was like, How do we become adults? How to usurp power in the world? This imagery enters the psyche very early.
By then, she had already received her first sketchbook, a gift from her textile artist mother, who took Colorado-born Haldeman to museums wherever her military family moved – Boston, Maryland, Germany and beyond. of the. “I remember falling asleep at her big printing tables where she was painting silk scarves,” she said. “She really encouraged me to engage in art.”
Haldeman then studied at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York. “I didn’t really know if I wanted to do art, but I felt like I needed to expand my world,” she said. After graduating, still uncertain, she took legal and medical writing jobs and trained as an EMT.
Then she said, “I had this funny moment where I was like, Do you know what I like to do? I like to dream of all the things that I could be.” So she chose the life of an artist.
While Haldeman began sketching her hot dogs after a trip to Buenos Aires in 2011, inspired by a hand-painted snack advertisement she spotted on the side of a convenience store in town, her experience of living or surviving New York as a young artist gave new meaning to the initial drawings.
“A very important part of me coming to paint this hot dog figure was realizing that the hot dog was not a figure to be laughed at,” she said.
“I know what it’s like to try to be a person, but you find you’re just caught up in the grind of work and commercialism. I know what it’s like to feel very masculine, but I don’t know what to do with my femininity. I know what it’s like to be a brutal human, but I yearn for some sort of upper-class elegance. His hot dog buns are sometimes shaped like fur coats.
Long fascinated by Hellenistic works, Haldeman has always imagined her hot dogs as colossal figures. Over time, his studio space and his works grew to accommodate this dream. she now employs two assistants in her Brooklyn Navy Yard studio, whose 14-foot ceilings and 10-foot doorways allow her increasingly large canvases to be transported.
This summer, Shanghai’s Yuz Foundation will host a solo exhibition by Haldeman featuring his largest paintings to date, measuring up to 20 feet in length.
Lily Wang, associate director of the foundation, compared Haldeman’s work to that of sculptor Claes Oldenburg Two cheeseburgers, with everything (two burgers) and also to the theoretician of French literature Roland Barthes Mythologies. “People can easily see themselves in his paintings,” she said.
Haldeman’s more recent works grapple with the constant encounters one has with one’s self-image these days, when the intention may be “to project oneself into other social spaces, but you are actually looking at yourself while you do it,” she said. It’s a relevant pursuit for anyone navigating a progressively digital and isolated world that simultaneously invites constant visibility.
Last year an anonymous donor purchased Haldeman’s Twice colossus, head tilted left, little finger up, head tilted right (look) for the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art. It features two hot dogs looking at each other or, perhaps, a hot dog looking at its own reflection.
Either way, as Jennifer Carty, Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, said, “During our incredibly unpredictable and tumultuous times, it seems only right to turn to the surreal.”
The real world is exhausting indeed, filled with power trips and all-too-real interactions, both online and IRL, that feel less human than hot dogs and hollow suits. Haldeman’s work offers a sense of respite from everything, residing in an “imaginary space where nothing happens”, as she put it.
“It takes on new meaning when everyone’s home, maybe lounging on a sofa that looks remarkably like this bun.”
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