Artists Take on Aircraft Nose Cones

Kenny Scharf’s work in “Nose Job”
Kenny Scharf’s work in “Nose Job”

There is something haunting and strangely evocative about seeing an aircraft boneyard in the deserts of Arizona or California. Stretches of dry land populated by retired airplanes, once powerful, metallic birds of the sky, now laid to rest on a dumping ground.

Writer and Curator Carlo McCormick has assembled an impressive group of artists to reimagine these remnants, in particular the front ends of the aircrafts. Working with raw material from boneyards in Arizona, participating artists each received the nose of an airplane to do with as they pleased. The results, varying from the decorative to the repurposed, will go on display at the Eric Firestone Gallery in East Hampton starting on July 15.  Among the nearly two dozens artists are Kenny Scharf, Dan Colen, Peter Dayton, Raymond Pettibon and Aaron Young. [expand]

The exhibit, aptly named “Nose Job,” is a tribute of sorts to the ritual of soldiers from both World Wars who would paint their own art in the form of slogans and images onto the sides of the fuselages of their planes. Firestone and McCormick worked together to pick through the bones to collect an array of nose cones from several different makes and models of aircraft.

Nose Job is a subversive update of art’s role in the collective imagination of this dream of flying in an era of increasing discomfort, delays and dread,” a leaflet from the gallery reads. “The show is simultaneously an act of aesthetic recycling, a reinterpretation of a self-taught visionary art form that both borrowed from and contributed to the course of American popular culture (with imagery that ran the gamut from pin-up girls and tattoo designs to comic and cartoon figures), and a present-day invocation of humanity’s timeless fascination with flight.”

In 1913, the first “nose art” on a military plane caught on with pilots on both sides of World War I. The ritual continued into World War II and beyond with military aircraft and even with commercial airliners, most notably with the painting that Alexander Calder was commissioned to paint for Braniff Airlines in 1975, which was put on Braniff’s fleet of 727s.

“Call it a case of post-modern jetlag, but it is a short trip from the prescient drawings of an airborne man by Leonardo da Vinci to Calder’s painted aircrafts for Braniff Airlines, which like the magic of travel today, can also take us to someplace utterly unfamiliar.”

The project also takes inspiration from the graffiti artists who have also used modes of transportation like subways and buses to express themselves.


Nose Job runs from July 15 to August 21 at the Eric Firestone Gallery, 4 Newtown Lane, East Hampton. [/expand]


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