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ALEX DA CORTE (B. 1980)
ALEX DA CORTE (B. 1980)
ALEX DA CORTE (B. 1980)
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ALEX DA CORTE (B. 1980)
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ALEX DA CORTE (B. 1980)

Night Vision

Details
ALEX DA CORTE (B. 1980)
Night Vision
neon, house paint, vinyl siding, laminate, plywood, epoxy clay, and hardware
72 x 72 x 6 in. (182.9 x 182.9 x 15.2 cm.)
Executed in 2018. This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.
Provenance
Karma, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Exhibited
New York, Karma, Alex Da Corte: C-A-T Spells Murder, February-March 2018, p. 150 (illustrated).

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Lot essay

That’s why we make art, to propose that these feelings should come to the surface and be harvested.”

Alex Da Corte

Raised between the sleepy suburbs and animated cities of Camden, New Jersey; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Caracas, Venezuela, multi-media artist Alex Da Corte creates works that combine surreal imagery, personal narrative, and commercial aesthetics to reexamine the familiar and explore the humor and complexity of pop culture, mythology, and consumerism.


As a child, the artist dreamed of becoming an animator for Walt Disney, evident in the artist’s use of bright hues, cartoon aesthetics, and use of children’s story characters, such as Bambi, the Wicked Witch of the West, Felix the Cat, and Frankenstein. Through his repurposing and remixing of the familiar, Da Corte creates new stories for these old characters with an added touch of comedy and criticism.

In his 2018 solo exhibition at Karma titled C-A-T Spells Murder, Da Corte combined neon wall installations, a giant orange velvet cat, Jack-O-Lantern-hued carpet, and video to create a candy-colored immersive experience pulling references from cult horror icons such as R.L. Stine and Alfred Hitchcock. Da Corte states, “’When I was growing up, I watched a lot of horror movies: Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, John Carpenter. And my family tells ghost stories and tall tales, they love to run their mouths and talk scary, spooky stuff. It’s in my nature to think about the macabre as a way of understanding the world’” (Erin Schwartz, “In Alex Da Corte's Spooky New Show, St. Vincent Co-Stars with a One-Eyed Cat,” Garage, February 21, 2018, https://garage.vice.com/en_us/article/evm5zw/alex-da-corte-st-vincent-at-karma).

It’s in my nature to think about the macabre as a way of understanding the world.”

Alex Da Corte

The present lot, titled Night Vision, was shown in this day-glo exhibition named after R.L. Stine’s 1997 teen horror classic. Equal parts conceptual and kitsch, Night Vision depicts a partially opened window with classic suburbia shutters over vinyl siding. Two ominous red eyes peer out from the deep purple darkness and pierce through the viewer’s gaze. Despite the acid-glow pink and crisp, clean forms, a deeper and darker sentiment churns beneath the surface. “’I’ve been thinking about the acronym of FEAR – false evidence appearing real – and I like the idea of what it means to leave a window open and what can come in’” (Janelle Zara, “Basking in the Day-Glo of St. Vincent and Alex Da Corte,” The New York Times Style Magazine, February 16, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/16/t-magazine/alex-da-corte-st-vincent.html). In Alfred Hitchcock’s episode “The Unlocked Window,” a woman becomes preyed upon as her basement window is left unlocked while a criminal is roaming around on the hunt. The fear is not a result of any imminent danger, but the product of constant paranoia and suspense – not what has come in through the window, but what could. Fear manifests from paranoia, anticipation, and trepidation, the chilling goosebumps and hair that stands on the back of the neck from entering darkness or an unfamiliar sound breaking the silence. But fear is not felt just from the things that go bump in the night, from ghost stories and urban legends – fear can reflect upon the realities of the political climate, where in 2018, when Night Vision was created, the country was grappling with the implications and anxieties of a polarizing presidency. Fear manifested itself not from monsters and murderers but with confronting the consequences of climate change, increased racial tensions, lack of gun control, domestic terrorism, etc. With its campy kitsch, Night Vision drew upon traditional representations of physical fear – an unlocked window, devil red eyes detached from detectable form – to unearth the psychological fears across imagined and actual realities.

Alex Da Corte received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of the Arts, Philadelphia, and a Master of Fine Arts from the Yale University School of Art. His work was exhibited in the 2019 Venice Biennale and the 2018 Carnegie International in Pittsburgh. In addition to his 2018 and 2019 solo exhibitions at Karma, New York, Da Corte has exhibited at Secession Building, Vienna, Austria (2017); Maccarone Gallery, New York (2016); the Herning Museum of Contemporary Art, Denmark (2017); and Art + Practice, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2016). Da Corte is also the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, now open through the end of October.

Lot Essay Header Image: Present lot illustrated (detail).

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