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Jonathan Monk : t-shirts

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specific object / david platzker


Jonathan Monk : t-shirts

May 8 – June 12, 2009

Specific Object / David Platzker is pleased to announce the opening Jonathan Monk : t-shirts. The exhibition will be on view at Specific Object from May 8 – June 12, 2009.

In this project Specific Object presents a new body of works by Monk composed of fifteen unique t-shirts priced at $300 each.1

This exhibition will be the first [seventh] solo show in New York by the British artist, Jonathan Monk. Jonathan, who graduated in 1991 from the Glasgow School of Art, lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland [Berlin, Germany]. His work is concerned with shifting moments from art history and appropriating aspects of commonplace acts in daily life.2

The exhibition at Specific Object plays against Monk’s concurrent exhibition being held at Casey Kaplan Gallery where … for Monk’s 6th solo exhibition in New York with the gallery [Casey Kaplan], the artist will present his own version of [Jeff] Koons’ infamous rabbit [Rabbit, 1986] in five different poses. Similarly cast in stainless steel, Monk’s bunnies are frozen moments in time that capture five different states of deflation of what was once the taut, inflated child’s toy. With each exhalation of air, the plastic bunny droops, folds, and eventually rests in an undulating heap, recalling one of Henry Moore’s classic bronze reclining nude sculptures.3

The t-shirts at Specific Object play in concert with these sculptures, and expand upon them utilizing Monk’s charismatically sly humor and shared references to historically significant minimal and conceptual art.4

From installation to painting, performance to photography, the work of Jonathan Monk does not conform to one instantly recognizable visual style. Personal memories and anecdotal references to art history form a network of cross references which challenge the notion of genius and purity in modern art. The diversity of allusion playfully demystifies the creative process and suggests alternative models for how art and the role of the artist can be interpreted.5

Monk presents artwork that explores his own family history and his playful interest in conceptual art. These two themes continue to merge and overlap in his work.6

Approaching art history with his tongue in his cheek, Monk refers to well-known art works by appropriating conceptual elements or titles. This practice challenges the imperatives of originality and innovation and can be seen both as a homage to his artist heroes, as a gentle mockery of art history or even as a degradation of his own position as an artist. Questioning the authorities of art in a surprising, non-academic and intelligent way, his works deal with matters of identity (as an artist), of history, time, and the making of art.7

One could say by way of reference that Monk’s work often uses maxim-like sentences, often descriptive and self-referencing in the art world, which he takes mainly from conceptual artists (especially from works from between the 1960s and the 1980s). He claims with a certain amount of emphasis that they are not the product of comprehensive research but rather the result of collecting whatever he finds most interesting.8

Berlin based artist, Jonathan Monk['s] will present a new body of work that takes shape from key principles of Conceptual art -- the favoring of ideas over object-making, surrealism, the dematerialization of the art object -- interpreting them with a playful sensibility and through a variety of media ... combining influences from popular culture and art history with snippets of personal history and autobiography, the works on exhibit offer a personal and humorous twist on the aesthetic practices and the artistic concepts of the 1960's and 1970's9 [as well as Jeff Koons].10

Born in Leicester, England in 1969,11 Presently based in Los Angeles, Jonathan Monk has exhibited extensively in Europe and America.12 Jonathan Monk was recently included in the exhibition "New Photography 2006,” at The Museum of Modern Art, New York and recently had a solo exhibition entitled, “Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, etc.,” which traveled from The Kunstverein Hannover, in Germany; Kunstmuseum in St. Gallen, Switzerland; Kunsthalle Nürnberg, Germany; and Leiterin Haus am Waldsee in Berlin, a full-color catalogue was also published. Other exhibitions include: “Jonathan Monk: Continuous Project Altered Daily,” at the Institute of Contemporary Art, London in 2005 and participation in the 2006 Tate Triennial at Tate Britain, London. A volume of artist interviews, Until Then..If Not Before, was released by Domaine de Kerguehennec Center for Contemporary Art in March 2007.13 14

In 2005 Monk won the inaugural Specific Object Publication of the Year Award for his publication Cover Version.

Images of the t-shirts is available at:

A PDF of the exhibition checklist is available at:

The concurrent exhibition of new sculptural works by Jonathan Monk will be on view at Casey Kaplan Gallery,
525 West 21st Street from May 7 through June 20, 2009.

Read Roberta Smith's New York Times review of the exhibition by clicking here.

Specific Object's hours are Monday - Friday 10 AM to 5 PM, or by appointment.

Specific Object is located at 601 West 26th Street / Floor 2M / Room M285, New York, New York 10001.

Telephone (212) 242-6253.

Specific Object's website is

For additional information regarding the exhibition or Specific Object please email David Platzker at


1 From email between Jonathan Monk and David Platzker, April 24, 2009.

2 Press release, Casey Kaplan Gallery, New York, 1997.

3 Press release, Casey Kaplan Gallery, New York, 2009.

4 From emails between Jonathan Monk and David Platzker, January 12; February 25; March 23, 2009.

5 Press release, Lisson Gallery, London, 1998.

6 Press release, Casey Kaplan Gallery, New York, 2002.

7 Press release, Galleri Nicolai Wallner, Copenhagen, 2002.

8 Press release, Galeria Estrany De La Mota, Barcelona, 2008.

9 Press release, Casey Kaplan Gallery, New York, 2007.

10 From emails between Jonathan Monk and David Platzker, January 12; February 25; March 23, 2009.

11 Press release, Institute of Contemporary Art, London, 2005.

12 Press release, Lisson Gallery, London, 1998.

13 Press release, Casey Kaplan Gallery, New York, 2007.

14 From email between Frédéric Paul and David Platzker, May 5, 2009 : "Please add a footnote ... the volume published by Kerguéhennec is not only filled with interview of the artist," but contains an essay by Paul as well.