Marcel Dzama
May 13, 2005 7:33 AM   Subscribe

My first impression of Marcel Dzama was in Toronto over two years ago at the Power Plant Gallery. Shortly after getting back from Toronto I came across this little Gem. Two years go by I move, and I forgot completely about this amazing artist. When BAM! he is featured on BECK's new album Guero.
One of the many reasons I love Marcel Dzama is because of the unique characters he has in his work. Also the fact that he uses root beer to paint his subtle earthy browns. If you are interested in his work then it is not too late to grab an original it will only set you back about $1500-1800. With his work on Beck's album and people like Drew Carey, Nicholas Cage, and Jim Carey snatching it up, It won't be long before it becomes unattainable.
posted by jackdirt (16 comments total)
Here's a resume, or whatever you art types call it.
posted by sleslie at 7:50 AM on May 13, 2005


I especially love the one with the man who is standing next to the guy from Jack-in-the-Box holding his wang. Excellent juxtaposition of the 5th grade technique with the 8th grade themes.
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 7:56 AM on May 13, 2005

people like Drew Carey, Nicholas Cage [sic], and Jim Carey [sic] snatching it up

Reducing art to commerce, though inevitable, is contemptible. I think Dzama's stuff is quite good. But I'm not that interested in associating with anyone who would be convinced that his stuff is good because celebrities buy it.

Price equals artistic merit only for auction houses and for those who would buy a poster print of Water Lillies because it has the word "Monet" featured prominently at the bottom.

And then it goes in their office next to the framed picture of a eagle soaring over the word "Dedication" or "Courage" or "Platitude".

Guero's a really good album, by the way.
posted by gramschmidt at 8:02 AM on May 13, 2005

Dzama had a huge exhibit at the Montreal Bienniale in 2002 that was just amazing. It was held in huge post-industrial-type spaces in the area called "Cite du multimedia" and on that scale, in that number, his work really shone.
posted by mikel at 8:19 AM on May 13, 2005

Doesn't he have a sister that makes dolls? I think I preferred her stuff.
posted by dobbs at 8:25 AM on May 13, 2005

I spent a few minutes during a car ride with the cd. I wasn't nearly as interested in the music as I was the illustrations. The disembodied heads remind me of the court jester heads in Miyazaki's Spirited Away.

Thanks for the link.
posted by lazymonster at 8:34 AM on May 13, 2005

with the cd during a car ride. whatever. stupid words and stuff.
posted by lazymonster at 8:35 AM on May 13, 2005

I also really like this guy's stuff, but when I got Beck's new CD and started flipping through the book to look at the illustrations, I thought, "hey, Henry Darger did Beck's artwork." Anybody else see a similarity, or I am just unnaturally preoccupied with artists who are crazy and draw little girls with penises?
posted by billysumday at 8:52 AM on May 13, 2005

I first saw his work in They Might Be Giants' children's book "Bed Bed Bed Bed Bed." I really liked his octopus.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 8:58 AM on May 13, 2005

billysumday, when I saw this piece I immediately thought, "Hey, it's the Vivian Girls." I can definitely see the Darger comparison.
posted by lychee at 10:39 AM on May 13, 2005

There are similarities, fo' sho'.

Both Darger's work and Dzama's harken back to the illustrative style of the 1920s, especially line illustrations found in children's books and catalogs.

In Darger's case, he would cut out the actual catalog pictures themselves and use them in his collages... but y'all knew that.

The McSweeney's store in Brooklyn had a big Dzama-designed display in the window a few years back-- anyone know if it's still there?
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 11:17 AM on May 13, 2005

Hey, I've seen this guy perform! He did the cover art for the Weakerthans' album Reconstruction Site. Great album, btw. Here's a larger picture of the cover from Epitaph's website.

He's from Winnipeg, I believe, which is where the Weakerthans are from as well. My home town.

When they toured just after that album was released he actually opened for them at the University of Manitoba's multipurpose room in University Center. Terrible venue. I think the Paperbacks came on after him. He was really weird. He had costumes of the characters on the album cover (and liner notes) made, and he got people to dance around in them along with his music. Big dancing bears = weird. But funny.

His music was really weird too, but I kind of liked it. I couldn't make out a word he said. As I recall, he played an electric guitar over taped backing music. I liked him enough to buy the CD he had for sale. An EP, really. I still have it in its original plastic sleeve, it looked like he took comic book sleeves and folded them in half. I'll have to dig it out and give it another listen. As I recall the EP was even weirder than his live music.

Winnipegger makes good. Cool.
posted by Jupiter Jones at 11:34 AM on May 13, 2005

Marcel Dzama is one of the founding members of Winnipeg's Royal Art Lodge. They're pretty awesome too. The bulk of there work is done collaboratively, around a big table, exquisite corpse-style. They would meet every Wednesday in an apartment in the Exchange District of Winnepeg.The resulting pieces, if I remember correctly, would be filed away in a series of vintage (read: thrift store) suitcases.

My favourite though (and crappily enough, I can't seem to find it online right now), is an ongoing project two of members had going for a while: Each time one would show up at the other's house, the guy would have a new homemade mascot head on. A picture would be taken for posterity, and the mask would be destroyed.

Don't know if it still works this way, but it used to be you could avoid those overinflated gallery prices by simply trading for a Royal Art Lodge piece.
posted by UncleDave at 6:20 PM on May 13, 2005

I would hate to find myself, several years from now, faced with being unable to afford to keep something that I love because it has become too valuable. Fortunately, this brings me no closer to that position.

You a Pegger too, Jupiter Jones? You can leave the Peg (seems like most of us have sometimes) but the Peg never leaves you.
posted by dreamsign at 8:01 PM on May 13, 2005

Back in The East Village in the mid to late 80's I owned two art galleries and I always told folks only purchase something if you like it, not for the possibility of appreciation.

Art as an investment is a market fit only for rich folks; the assets are illiquid and at times very thinly traded. Price discovery is unreliable and your money will be locked up for an indeterminable period of time. Also, I don't think celebrities purchasing anyone's art would be a reliable indicator of future value.

That being said, his stuff is pretty neat.
posted by Mutant at 1:04 AM on May 14, 2005

Yes, dreamsign, I'm a pegger. Still live here too.
posted by Jupiter Jones at 8:47 AM on May 15, 2005

« Older Look out Norm, George Galloway is calling you out!   |   Car dealers' hype beaten by internet facts Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments