Opening Reception: Saturday October 18, 2014 6-9 pm
Exhibition Dates: October 18 – November 1, 2014
Featuring: Ransom & Mitchell, Lacey Bryant, Carly Janine Mazur, Leilani Bustamante, Laura Buss, Chuck Sperry, Ania Tomicka, Amandalynn, Leon Loucheur, Justin Hopkins, Sheri DeBow, Jessica L.L Dalva, Megan Buccere, Caitlin Hackett, Carolyn Weber, Kurtis Rykovich, Mandy Tsung, Robert Bowen, Erica Calardo, Simona Candini, Lucy Yu, Syd Bee, Marc Le Rest, Brianna Angelakis, Jaclyn Alderete, Christina Mrozik & Zoe Keller.
Modern Eden Gallery asked me to be in their group show, “Le Chat Noir,” in tribute to the fin de siècle Paris night club, known by the famous black cat poster art of Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen. Le Chat Noir, which was situated in Paris’ Montmartre district, was the forerunner of all night club entertainment, and by corollary the forerunner of most night-life and rock concert entertainment. This form of popular, public musical expression found it’s beginning in the 19th Century club Le Chat Noir. Of particular importance to me and my work, is that Le Chat Noir’s events were often commemorated with the world’s first posters by the very first poster artists. It’s history is also the history of poster art.
There is a very subtle Japanese flavor to this piece (the figure wears a simple kimono, there is a distinct flattening and simplification of line and form, the use of pattern, and graphic black silhouette of the hair, hat, flowers and feather) which reflects the influence of the much older traditions of Japanese printing, poster art and aesthetics in the fin de siècle poster artists of France, current at the time of Le Chat Noir.
My piece “Mimi de Montmartre” reflects my connection to contemporary Paris night life, pays tribute to the roots of the world’s night club scene, while paying tribute to the roots of the poster medium.
I was introduced to the rock’n’roll night club scene in Paris through the friends of Born Bad Records, where I had my one of first Paris shows in 2005, on my poster tour promoting the new book “The Art of Modern Rock.” Born Bad is at the heart of the Parisian rock’n’roll underground. I was introduced to Born Bad by expatriate artist Sunny Buick (formerly from San Francisco). I have participated in numerous shows in a myriad of Paris night clubs (and galleries), year after year, since my introduction to this really great group of friends and rockers.
Mimi de Montmartre is a well-known, rock’n’roll burlesque dancer who performs onstage with many of the best underground Paris rock acts today. I felt it would be cool to re-imagine my friend Mimi as a 19th Century entertainer, as if she were on a poster for Le Chat Noir. After all, she is Mimi de Montmartre, I couldn’t think of Le Chat Noir, the most famous Montmartre institution, without thinking of her.
I printed this very limited edition of 25 pieces on white oak panel, in seven conventional colors, and two custom mixed interference colors (violet and green) which I mixed into a clear base from dry pigment powder. Overlayed on the dark black of her hair and hat silhouette, the interference colors have a very subtle opalescent sheen which refracts light against the light absorbing medium of a black (or light absorbing) ground.
The background pattern for my art piece is inspired by the wooden Chat Noir effigy which stood above the door of the famous club. I encountered the actual wooden cat head effigy last summer at the Musée de Montmartre in Paris (you may have seen photos from my visit to the museum last summer, if you follow my instagram), and it made it’s way into this piece as a background pattern.
About Chuck Sperry
Chuck Sperry lives in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, where he’s made his particular style of rock poster designs for over 20 years. He operates Hangar 18, a silkscreen print studio, located in Oakland. Learn More…
Sperry Books: “Color x Color” • “Helikon” • “Chthoneon”