As a prelude to the solo presentation of their work at Wetterling Gallery/Stockholm, at the Armory Show this week, Doug and Mike Starn invited collectors, gallerists and friends to visit their Beacon, New York studio last weekend. The artists, identical twins born in 1961 who came to notice at the 1988 Whitney Biennale, started out like most artists have: drawing at the kitchen table after school. In a recent interview for Architectural Digest, Mike said, “I’m painting on his painting, and he’s painting on my painting, and we’re perfectly happy. It’s just the way we are.”
The collaboration continues unabated, as the two have produced increasingly complex iterations of their shared vision, which springs from photo-based art transformed through media as varied as their interests. And yes, they finish each other’s sentences, as they did during a slide show of their work, introduced by David Ross, at the cavernous studio on Saturday.
On view were works in progress as well as examples of the monumental pieces for which they have become known—including the original full scale model of Big Bambú: You Can’t, You Don’t, and You Won’t Stop, which debuted at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2010 and was subsequently installed, in different configurations, in Israel, Japan, Rome and in other locations.
Also on view was a full-scale paper mockup of the 90-foot-long glass mural commissioned by the Obama administration for the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, scheduled to be installed this year; their new grid-and-photo-based murals that celebrate rock music legends, which will be on view at the Armory Show this week [below]; full-scale production mockups of a glass and steel sculpture permanently installed at the Princeton University Art Museum [left]; numerous iterations of tree images in media ranging from fiberglas embediment to paper to glass, which was first produced in mural form for the MTA’s Arts for Transit’s South Ferry Terminal; and the Blind Buddha, a collaged photographic image that combines with a laser light beam when installed as Gravity of Light in museum settings.
Visitors were invited to climb the springy but steady walkways of little Big Bambú as well as to explore the many areas of the factory building, which formerly housed the famed Tallix Fine Art Foundry. On the upper, that is street level, are offices and a new painting studio. Looking down from that area, the massive scale of the main workspace becomes evident--as well as the monumental scale of Doug and Mike’s sculpture and mural projects.
Doug + Mike Starn, Wetterling Gallery, Armory Show 2017, March 1-5, Pier 94, Booth 915, New York, NY. Info
Doug and Mike Starn in DART, here and here
Starn Studio photos, above: Peggy Roalf. Below: Mick Exodus, 2017, © Doug + Mike Starn, courtesy Starn Studio.