Friday, March 9, 2012

Muse of the Moment: The Joan Quinn Portraits

MUSE OF THE MOMENT: THE JOAN QUINN PORTRAITS --  Joan Agajanian Quinn is probably the most photographed, painted and sculpted persona in the history of Southern California contemporary art, if not America.  More than 200 portraits in every conceivable media created over the course of decades have sought to capture the indominable spirit that is Joan Quinn.  For the first time ever, the public was able able to see those portraits in a specially curated show "Mysterious Objects" at Santa Ana College in Santa Ana, California last September which presented works by such world-renowned artists as David Hockney, Helmut Newton, Robert Graham, Ed Moses, Don Bachardy, Ed Ruscha, Robert Mapplethorpe, Billy Al Bengston, Jean Michel Basquiat, Matthew Rolston, Milton Greene, Alice Springs, Laddie John Dill, Zandra Rhodes, Mel Ramos, Ian Falconer, Jim McHugh -- and of course, the famous Polaroid of Quinn by Andy Warhol transformed into a painting by Warhol’s assistant Rupert Smith.  Though the Santa Ana show is long over, the buzz about it (and the hefty show catalog) still remains and we at Studio of Style are longing to hear where this unique collection of portraits will make its appearance next. While some people avoid having even so much as their photo taken at a family gathering or at that dreaded company holiday party, Quinn is ever so comfortable to be immortalized for all time under the direction of our generation's top artistic talents -- in fact, her website shows the names of all the artists who have portrayed her since 1953. So just who is Joan Quinn and why have so many artists transformed her through their unique visions? Many people know her through her years of art and fashion journalism and show-curating for magazines and galleries around the world, and for her long-running television show "The Joan Quinn Profiles." She became a household name in the art world through her stint as West Coast correspondent for Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine during the 1980s.  “Though I’ve played the role of a temporary muse, I consider myself as merely the subject matter and I’ve always been fascinated to see how these incredible artists interpret what they see in me,” says Quinn to Studio of Style.  “And it’s not an ego-driven fascination.  In fact, I want to see the hand of the artist in their pieces -- not my own visage.  Therein lies the difference.” We doubt that there will ever be such a muse with such a collection of portraits in one lifetime -- so we're keeping our collective fingers crossed that the "Mysterious Objects" show will make an incarnation in one way or another here in L.A. so that even more people can see how one muse can generate so many different ways of looking at one person: the colorful Joan Quinn!  Artworks shown above: (top) 1998 watercolor and acrylic on paper by Don Bachardy; (top right) 1986 gelatin silver print by Robert Mapplethorpe; (top left) Charles Arnoldi describes his 1970s acrylic on twigs sculpture of Quinn; (center right) amazing original Polaroid of Quinn by Andy Warhol, reproduced and painted by Rupert  Jasen Smith, 1988; (center) 1980s photo by Milton Greene, best known for his portraits of Marilyn Monroe; (bottom left) 1991 Polaroid and Xerox collage by David Hockney; (bottom center) 1976 cast bronze, oil paint and gold leaf sculpture by Robert Graham; (bottom right) Quinn discusses her 1984-85 tempered glass and wood portrait with its creator, mixed-media artist Laddie John Dill.  PS: get the "Mysterious Objects" show catalog if you can -- it's a treasure trove of her portraits as well as vintage photos of artists and a mini-documentary of the Southern California contemporary arts scene as experienced by Quinn and her husband Jack Quinn!
Quinn Art Exhibit:
Photos of artworks by Ken Marchionno Photography / courtesy Joan Quinn
Photos of Chuck Arnoldi and Laddie John Dill by Greg Firlotte