Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sandow Birk: American Artist


The following is from a series of profiles of people who have contributed something meaningful to Fullerton College for the upcoming Centennial exhibit.  The learn more or share your story, please visit www.fullertoncollegecentennial.com
"The Truce Between the Crips and the Bloods" by Sandow Birk

Sandow Birk is a Southern Caifornia-based artist whose work deals unflinchingly and satirically with problems of contemporary American life, like gangs, inner cities, riots, the Iraq war, terrorism, prisons, and consumption.  Several books and two films have been made of Birk's work, which often is a mash-up of art history and contemporary themes. His books include:
"In Smog and Thunder : The Great War of the Californias" which depicts a fictional war between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
"The Bombing of the Getty Center (Battle of LA)" from "In Smog and Thunder" by Sandow Birk

Incarcerated: Visions of California in the 21st Century, which is a series of paintings of the 33 California State prisons, depicted in idyllic and peaceful settings, a humorous commentary on the brutality of prison life.
"LA County State Prison" by Sandow Birk
Dante's Divine Comedy, in which Birk takes the epic Italian poem about Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise and transplants it into contemporary America.  The first third of the Divine Comedy was made into an animated film.
"Dante and Virgil Confront the Minotaur" by Sandow Birk
"The Depravities of War"  a series of 15 large scale woodblock prints inspired by the series of etchings by Jacques Callot's "The Miseries of War"in the 17th century, which in turn were the inspiration for Goya's "The Disasters of War" in the 19th century. This series of prints deals with the American War in Iraq
"Obsession" from "The Depravities of War" by Sandow Birk

Birk is currently working on a project called "American Qur'an" which he describes as "an ongoing project to hand-transcribe the entire Qur'an according to historic Islamic traditions and to illuminate the text with relevant scenes from contemporary American life. Five years in the making, the project has been inspired by a decade of extended travel in Islamic regions of the world and undertaken after extensive research."
"Spoils of War" from "American Qur'an by Sandow Birk
Sandow Birk was the 2009 Artist-in-Residence at Fullerton College.  His exhibit at the Fulleton College Art Gallery was entitled "The Depravities of War."  During his tenure as visiting artist, Birk screened his films, gave talks, and demonstrations to students about his methods and inspiration.
Sandow Birk at Fullerton College!

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