House Art: Six all-American stars from the Soho House collection
An inside look at some of the museum-level masterpieces from the US art scene’s heaviest hitters
Thursday 6 October 2022 By Anastasiia Fedorova
Soho House’s global art collection is one of the biggest privately owned assemblages in the world. The House Art series invites you to take a peek inside them, offering a closer look at individual works and collections, and revealing why they’re such an integral part of Soho House. Next up, we take a look at the established US stars in Soho House collections across the world, so you might revisit the House to see a particular piece or realise that in fact you were sipping your Picante next to a George Condo.
‘Pig Pen’ (1993) at Brighton Beach House
American photographer Catherine Opie is most known for her portraits. She started by documenting her immediate circle from the LGBTQIA+ community in Los Angeles in the 1990s. Transcending the documentary nature of the medium, her works challenge the mainstream notions of identity, sexuality, beauty, family and queerness – while also evoking a strong sense of empathy. Described by The New Yorker as an ‘All-American Subversive’, Opie documented queer and leather communities and her own life to critical acclaim and a retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2008. Her eponymous portrait of her friend Pig Pen has a prominent place at Brighton Beach House on the English coast, alongside works by other LGBTQIA+ artists put together by Gemma Rolls-Bentley.
‘Untitled’ (2016) at Ludlow House
The style of George Condo has been described as psychological Cubism and artificial Realism – it plays with radically different art languages, mixing the composition of Old European Masters with expressive tropes of pop art and comic strips. Condo’s creations unmistakably tap into the angst, excess and fragmentary nature of today’s culture. Immediately recognisable, his works have struck a nerve well beyond the art world: his paintings appear on the covers of Ye’s album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Jack Kerouac’s Book Of Sketches.
‘Untitled’ (2022) at Holloway House
Christina Quarles is a queer artist living and working in Los Angeles. Her abstract paintings often confront themes of racial and sexual identities, gender, and queerness. Quarles explores the potential of reinventing human figure in art often mixing digital and analogue hands-on tools. The results are fluid, embodied, unique and often evoking a strong emotional response from the viewer. Her drawing at Holloway House might seem subtle in comparison with her more colourful large-scale paintings – yet is certainly worth a closer look for its intricate mastery.
Hank Willis Thomas
‘American History X’ (2018) at DUMBO House
Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artist working primarily with themes related to identity, commodity, media, race and popular culture. In the past, he has used photography and branding to expose and challenge generalisations developed around race, gender and ethnicity. He has also worked with found and historic imagery. ‘American History X’ at DUMBO House is one of his geometric works – eye-catching and relying on context for interpretation.
Sable Elyse Smith
‘Coloring Book 89’ (2022) at Holloway House
Sable Elyse Smith is an interdisciplinary artist, writer and educator based in New York. Smith works in photography, neon, text, appropriated imagery, sculpture, and video installation. One of the central subjects in her practice is the US prison industrial complex and its endemic structures of anti-Black violence. She connects language and pop culture with autobiographical elements – she has been visiting her father in prison over approximately two-thirds of her life. Her multi-layered work has been featured in MoMA ps1, New Museum, Brooklyn Museum and MIT List Visual Arts Center, among other institutions.
‘Mural Commission (Obey Giant)’ (2019) Soho Warehouse
You might not know Shepard Fairey’s name, but are certainly familiar with his creative output cemented in contemporary pop culture. Fairey is the creator of Obey Giant – the project that originally emerged as a sticker campaign meant to make people pay more attention and interact with their surroundings. He is also the creator of the iconic Barack Obama ‘HOPE’ poster that came to represent his presidential campaign. A graffiti referencing the original Obey graphics can be seen on the shutters of Soho Warehouse in Downtown LA – a true slice of Fairey’s legacy.