Commentary: “In Mark Kostabi’s The New Irascibles …”

lose your head

Barrick volunteer Helena Cohen considers
The New Irascibles by Mark Kostabi

“In Mark Kostabi’s The New Irascibles, the relationship between art and business is both analyzed and mocked, presenting a satirical take on society and the possessions it has a tendency to covet. In the piece, figurines with two heads, figurines with cash registers for heads, and heads that are nothing more than a set of lips occupy the space, along with many others. This apparent lack of interaction between these nontraditional figures acts as Kostabi’s warning to society of the dangers that desire and consumption bring and what effect they could potentially have on social interactions. Placing items atop the human figure that go against regular anatomy, like cash bundles and perfume bottles, suggests the growing importance of material goods in everyday life. In this work, humanity has been stripped down to basic impulses and items, bringing Kostabi’s sardonic social commentary to light. However, it must be mentioned that Kostabi and other New York City artists were photographed for Arts magazine in 1985 and, interestingly, named “The Next Irascibles.” The positioning of the people in Kostabi’s work is strangely, yet purposely, quite similar to those in the photograph. Without a knowledge of the photograph, one might believe that Kostabi’s piece is merely social commentary; with the knowledge, a journey into the past.”


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