press release

Beautiful Losers: Contemporary Art and Street Culture is a first of its kind exhibition of art and design celebrating the extraordinary creative production and cultural influence of youth cultures. Skateboarding, graffiti, and punk have not only affected fashion, music, literature, and film, they have inspired a generation of young artists who identify with the iconoclastic lifestyle and counter-culture stance of these creative forces born from the street. In addition to including works in all media by more than 50 artists, Beautiful Losers includes music, album covers, skateboards, and “zines” that reveal the spirit and vitality of street culture and its expanding influence.

The unifying traits of these young artists, whose styles and distribution channels still remain largely outside of the art world, include an interest in pop culture iconography, a sense of the absurd, and a strong do-it-yourself attitude. Beautiful Losers traces the early influences on this new generation of artists, filmmakers, and designers, and explores the broader cultural trends that inform their work.

Mark Connors, President of Total Sports Distribution Inc. (TSABrand apparel) stated, “We are privileged to have TSABrand as the primary sponsor of the Beautiful Losers exhibit. Street culture and skateboarding have always been intertwined and we are glad to have the opportunity to give back to this creative community.”

Gritty, rebellious, and sincere this loose-knit group of artists are part of a lineage that traces back to the dynamic East Village scene of the 1980s, a moment in New York City when the renegade spirit of street culture collided with the art world to dramatic effect. Beautiful Losers begins by exploring this fertile moment in New York when Jean-Michel Basquiat’s paintings capturing a unique urban perspective made him a darling of the art world, when Keith Haring was a celebrated graffiti artist tagging subway cars and posters, and when Ari Marcopoulos began photographing and filming the colorful personalities of the emerging New York Hip-Hop scene. Acknowledging activity during this same period on the west coast, where the Los Angeles punk rock and skate scene were thriving, this section of the exhibition also includes early hand-drawn skateboards by Wes Humpston, the irreverent pen and ink drawings of Raymond Pettibon, and documentary photographs of the raucous west coast music scene by Glen E. Friedman.

At the core of Beautiful Losers are works in all media—including painting, sculpture, photography, film, and performance—by more than thirty American artists who have emerged during the last decade including Shepard Fairey, Phil Frost, Mark Gonzales, Chris Johanson, Margaret Kilgallen, Geoff McFetridge, Barry McGee, Ryan McGinley, Clare Rojas, and Ed Templeton.

Highlights of the exhibition include:

- Early hand-drawn skateboard decks by the legendary Wes Humpston, best known for designing the original Dogtown skateboards throughout the 1970s. - Two motorized, spray-can wielding mannequins built by Barry McGee and Josh Lazcano that simulate the typically covert act of tagging a building with graffiti. - A 30 foot wide billboard of the head of professional wrestler Andre the Giant is a "signature" image by LA-based Shepard Fairey, one of the most visible graffiti artists today. - An installation of new works in video and digital media at the Orange Lounge by Girl Skateboard Company collective Art Dump. - Videos and films by artists and directors including Spike Jonze, Chris Johanson, Raymond Pettibon, Ryan McGinness, and Henry Chalfant.

In another part of the exhibition called Ephemera, Beautiful Losers brings together album covers, toys, t-shirts, stickers, zines, and hundred of vibrant skateboard decks featuring the designs and dynamic visual images of the Beautiful Losers artists. Ephemera, also includes a film and video program which includes works by Spike Jonze (director, Being John Malkovich), Harmony Korine, and Mike Mills, among others.

Beautiful Losers: Contemporary Art and Street Culture continues at the Orange Lounge at South Coast Plaza with a dynamic new installation of web-based projects and video works by Girl & Chocolate Skateboards, a Torrance-based skate and media collective. Complementing this new work is a presentation of films and videos that explore the history of skateboarding. A Soundscape created by pro skateboarder Tommy Guerrero installed on the Lounge's listening stations brings together a compilation of music relevant to the early roots of skateboarding culture.

Beautiful Losers is organized by the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco and the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, and is guest-curated by Aaron Rose and Christian Strike with René de Guzman, Thom Collins, and Matt Distel. The Orange County Museum of Art presentation is organized by Irene Hofmann, Curator of Contemporary Art.

Beautiful Losers is accompanied by a 272-page catalogue with essays by Alex Baker, Thom Collins, Jeffrey Deitch, René de Guzman, Carlo McCormick, Aaron Rose, Christian Strike and Jocko Weyland.

Beautiful Losers: Contemporary Art and Street Culture
Film, Video, and Sound
Ort: Orange Lounge, South Coast Plaza

mit Thomas Campbell, Henry Chalfant, Cynthia Connolly, Brian Donnelly, Shepard Fairey, Phil Frost, Mark Gonzales, Evan Hecox, Jo Jackson, Todd James, James Jarvis, Andy Jenkins, Chris Johanson, Spike Jonze, Margaret Kilgallen, Harmony Korine, Geoff McFetridge, Barry McGee, Ryan McGinness, Mike Mills, Raymond Pettibon, Stephen Powers, Clare E. Rojas, Ed Templeton, Romon Yang, Tobin Yelland ...