Kenny Scharf’s Cosmic Cavern immerses viewers in a day-glo universe densely packed with graffiti tags, detritus, and everyday objects reimagined as cartoon personalities. This surreal world comes to life under the fluorescent black lighting reminiscent of clubs and discos of the 1980s, a central inspiration for this party environment turned art installation. In 1981 Scharf created the first version in the closet of the small New York apartment he shared with artist Keith Haring. Since then, he has transformed basements, galleries, museums, RVs, and even suitcases into this psychedelic, multi-sensory experience.
Cosmic Cavern exemplifies Scharf’s brand of Pop Surrealism, a blend of graffiti writing, cartoon imagery, dreamy futuristic environments, and bright, saccharine colors. A playful spirit and an offbeat sense of wonder abound in this democratic approach, which Scharf intentionally contrasts to the seriousness often assigned to “high art.” But his work is not without an edge. A critic writing in the early 1980s described fun as Scharf’s anti-catastrophe aesthetic: “a post-apocalyptic aesthetic for the survivors of an end that has already come following the fragmentation of culture caused by today’s material and technological reality.”
Kenny Scharf | filmed by Out of Sync | NYC Sept 2016
Camera and edit | Per Henriksen
Interview | Jesper Bundgaard
Producer | Out of Sync
© Out of Sync 2016