Gallery 98

Art Ephemera 1963 – 2001

The Strange World of Neke Carson: Early Works, 1970-85

By Marc H. Miller

Neke Carson and his wife Eileen

 

When Neke Carson moved to New York in 1969 after graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design he exemplified a new type of artist schooled in the cerebral conceptualism of Marcel Duchamp and inspired by Andy Warhol’s expansion of Pop Art into film and multi-media events. Carson quickly established himself as a conspicuous participant in the Fluxus-infused downtown scene where distinctions between art and life, and the separation between performing and object making, were often blurred.  Although he was primarily a performance artist, Carson also exhibited objects in galleries.  Equally important was his realization that newspapers and magazines provided a new alternative venue through which ideas could be communicated and audiences expanded.

This online exhibition is devoted exclusively to Carson’s early art from 1970 to 1985, the period in which he first established himself as one of the art world’s original thinkers. It is a show filled with unusual masterpieces: psychologically-charged drawings that hint at impropriety; ephemera from guerilla performances staged in Soho galleries without permission; the notorious rectal-realist paintings created with a paintbrush in his behind; and objects connected with ventures like Carson’s LaRocka Modeling Agency and LaRocka Nite Club (later Armageddon) that functioned both as performance art and real-life business.  The works display Carson’s entirely individual take on things, his sense of style and humor, and the transgressive streak that has always kept him a little on the outside.

Gallery 98 is offering some of the best items from this early phase of Carson’s ongoing forty-year career. It is a challenging legacy not only because of the content of the works, but also because of the rarity of the objects due to a devastating fire in 1984 that destroyed much of Carson’s  early work.  Sometimes a printed announcement is all that remains from an important performance.  There exist now only a few drawings from these years and their intent is not aesthetic but as expressions of ideas. What survives is an intriguing and unfamiliar body of work that establishes Carson as one of the most interesting artists to emerge in the 1970s, a decade dominated by performance, conceptual and neo-Dada art.  And Carson continues to be active. For the last twelve years he has been organizing performance events at the Gershwin Hotel in New York; in 2008 he had an exhibition at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh;  and in 2009 he showed new photography at John McWhinnie @ Glenn Horowitz Booksellers, NYC.

Neke Carson

“You can’t reach me at my other number…my house burned down.”  Message left by Neke Carson on the telephone answering machine of Marc Miller, 1984

 

Exhibition Items

(Please click individual items for price and full description)

Neke Carson, Bleeding Iceskater

Neke Carson, Bleeding Ice Skater Picks Up Momentum, Pencil on Paper, 1969

Neke Carson, Cross Dressing, Drawing

Cross Dressing, 1969

water bug sketch of artist Neke Carson

Waterbug Vibrating Lifepreserver, 1970

Scalps Famous Presidents neke Carson

Scalps of Famous Presidents, 1970

Chair that Pumps Blood, Neke Carson, drawing

Chair That Pumps Blood, 1970

Neke Carson, Trampoline made of people, drawing

Trampoline Made Out of Hung Bodies, 1972

Neke Carson, Art Therapy for Conceptual Artists, original book

Neke Carson, Art Therapy for Conceptual Artists, Book, 1972

Neke Carson, Rectal realism, Painting, Warhol Portrait

Neke Carson, Anton Perich, Rectal Realism Documentation, 1973 / 2013

Neke Carson, Fed Flintsone, Rectal Realist, Painting

Neke Carson, Rectal Realist Portrait of Fred Flintstone, Acrylic on Canvas, 1973

Neke Carson, Nude Model, High Society, Photograph by Anton Perich

Neke Carson, Preps Model for Photo Shoot, Signed Photograph, 1975

Neke Carson winner poster

Neke Carson, Win $100, 1977, Poster

poster for Carson's lottery drawing

Robert Freidus Gallery, Neke Carson, Lottery Drawing, Poster, 1979

LaRocka Nightclub invitation, Neke Carson

LaRocka, Neke Carson, Card Invitation, 1980

LaRocka Model photos, Wome, Girls

LaRocka, Neke Carson, Catalog, 1980

Neke Carson, Underwear for India, LaRocka Nightclub. Ganesha

La Rocka, Neke Carson, Underwear For India Benefit Party,” Folded Card, 1980

Neke Carson, Folded invitation for Life Drawing Classes

La Rocka, Neke Carson, Real Life Sketching Party, Card, 1981