Skidmore Contemporary Art is pleased to present its fourth exhibition of Scott Covert’s Monument paintings.
These works celebrate our culture’s obsession with fame and celebrity. Covert, like many of us, feels the ecstatic pull and appeal of the beautiful and the famous. His desire to become a part of their lives—and a part of their eternal mystique—has literally driven him to spend the last decades traveling around the country, visiting the graves of famous people in far-flung parts of the country. By placing a canvas on a tombstone, then rubbing the surface with oil stick, Covert revives a Victorian-era craft and transforms it into an art that transcends the limitations of time.
The artist began the series in the mid-1980s when he drove to Detroit to pay respects to Florence Ballard, a founding member of The Supremes who died in 1976 at the young age of 32. To have a keepsake of his moment with this tragic heroine, Covert did a rubbing of her tombstone, turning her memorial into a work of art. It was the beginning of what would become his life’s work.
In his hands, final resting places represent not an end, but a beginning. His paintings celebrate places of pilgrimage, where we can pay homage to the memories of the people who helped shape our lives and culture. The people captured in his paintings include names we all know well—Frank Sinatra, Andy Warhol, Houdini, Mark Twain—as well as those not as famous, such as Harriet Tubman, an escaped slave who became a leading abolitionist during the Civil War.
Covert is enjoying a much-deserved spotlight of fame himself. An exhibition of his Monument paintings in New York in 2017 earned praise and positive reviews in publications as diverse as Artforum and The New Yorker. In addition, his work was included in the important exhibition, Club 57: Film, Performance, and Art in the East Village, 1978–1983, currently on view at the Museum of Modern Art. Scott was a member of this alternative space that thrived in the counter-culture environment of the East Village in the early 1980s. His current work remains true to that period, which emphasized drawing inspiration from the streets and from the pace of everyday life.
On view: February 17 – March 17, 2018
Where: Skidmore Contemporary Art, Bergamot Station 2525 Michigan Avenue, B-4 Santa Monica, 90404