There’s a physical component that I’m chasing—a sense of unease, or a sense of confusion, transcendence, bewilderment, titillation, humor.
Rooted in modern American grotesquerie, the work of Miami-based artist and filmmaker Harmony Korine has proven influential and divisive in equal measure. A lover of slapstick and vaudeville, he coined the term mistakism to describe his deployment of wayward aesthetics and non sequitur wit. Korine’s early appearances as a guest on The Late Show with David Letterman, introducing startled television viewers to a confrontational master of everyday beauty and repulsion, are the stuff of legend. In his paintings, drawings, assemblages, and movies, backwoods surrealism and narcotic abstraction collide to produce a perverse, disorienting vision.
Born in Bolinas, California, in 1973, Korine was raised on a commune before moving with his family to North Africa and settling, at age seven, in Nashville, Tennessee. Having started making art as a teenager—he once painted, at the car wash where he worked, a neon dragon inside Roy Orbison’s trunk—Korine attended film school at New York University. An encounter with photographer and filmmaker Larry Clark let him to write the screenplay for Clark’s controversial movie Kids (1995). He went on to direct Gummo (1997) and Julien Donkey-Boy (1999) before spending much of the next eight years “mowing lawns and shooting guns,” emerging only to write Clark’s 2002 feature Ken Park. Korine returned to directing in 2007 with Mister Lonely (codirected with his brother Avi Korine), also writing and directing Trash Humpers (2009), Spring Breakers (2012), and The Beach Bum (2019).
In 2004, Korine’s artwork was included in Beautiful Losers: Contemporary Art and Street Culture, which traveled through 2009 from the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, to venues throughout the US and Europe. The exhibition featured Korine’s work alongside that of other artists, including Mark Gonzales, Barry McGee, and Chris Johanson, to whom the youth subcultures of skateboarding and graffiti were of critical significance. Also in 2009, Korine was the subject of an important solo exhibition, Pigxote, at Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery, Nashville. The following years saw him exhibit periodically, with a major survey exhibition of his work taking place at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, in 2017.
Korine in paintings and mixed-media works that incorporate materials such as leftover household emulsion and old videotapes mirrors the deliberate confusion of staging and improvisation that characterizes his films, producing designs and images united by their hypnotic restlessness. In works that range from the swirling psychedelic grids of the Checking Madness series (2014) to those on display in his 2019 exhibition Young Twitchy, in which he fused photo-based and hand-drawn imagery, he is consistently driven by memory, emotion, and sensation as opposed to rational thought.
In the “fazor” paintings of 2016, Korine employs allover patterning to generate compositions in which repetition and looping, or “phasing,” generates a trancelike physiological reaction, an unmistakably psychotropic edge. In BLOCKBUSTER, a series of paintings from 2018, he makes more explicit reference to film by repurposing VHS cassettes and boxes acquired from a Nashville branch of the now-defunct titular rental chain, arranging them into grids and altering their covers, often by adding renderings of his ghostlike “friend” icon. Riffing off forgotten plots and actors, these works reflect with affection on a realm that is “nearly obsolete, lost in the fog of analog.”
Such projects join Korine’s efforts in other media—these include A Crackup at the Race Riots (Mainstreet/Doubleday, 1998), the artist’s attempt to write “the Great American Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Novel”—to reinforce an ongoing but aesthetically consistent movement between forms and genres. “It all comes from the same place, inside me,” he says, “and it’s all speaking the same language.”
Fashion and Art: Proenza Schouler
Derek Blasberg speaks with Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough, the designers behind the New York fashion brand Proenza Schouler, about their influences and collaborations, from Mark Rothko to Harmony Korine.
Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2020
The Spring 2020 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Cindy Sherman’s Untitled #412 (2003) on its cover.
Gagosian Quarterly Films
Jerry Schatzberg and Harmony Korine
To celebrate Gagosian Quarterly’s Winter 2019 feature on photographer and filmmaker Jerry Schatzberg, the essay’s author, Carlos Valladares, led a conversation between the director and Harmony Korine at Metrograph, New York. The discussion followed a screening of Schatzberg’s 1973 film Scarecrow.
Transcendent Criminal Dream
From Kids to his new film The Beach Bum, Harmony Korine has continually revolutionized the art of cinema. In a wide-ranging discussion with film critic Emmanuel Burdeau, Korine reflects on the rewards and challenges of filmmaking and reveals what’s in store for the future.
Harmony Korine: BLOCKBUSTER
The artist discusses his latest exhibition in New York with the Gagosian Quarterly, telling the story behind the works and their connection to his larger practice.
Harmony Korine at the Centre Pompidou
The artist sat down with Alicia Knock, curator of his exhibition at the Centre Pompidou, to discuss the power of mistakes, outsiders, and the marginal.
August 3–September 7, 2021
The Bridge, Bridgehampton, New York
This exhibition features new paintings by Harmony Korine depicting American presidents in the act of playing golf, a strangely quintessential presidential activity. Each painting is sourced from an archival photograph, which Korine repaints, either in black and white or full color, thereby transforming the original expressions and gestures into almost exaggerated versions of themselves. He then adds ribbons of color that dance across each composition with childlike irreverence, enhancing the paintings’ tragicomic impression while adding a tinge of absurdity. To schedule your visit, contact email@example.com.
Harmony Korine, 37, 2019–21 © Harmony Korine
Harmony Korine: Young Twitchy is available for online reading from July 26 through August 25 as part of the From the Library series. This catalogue was published on the occasion of the 2019 exhibition at Gagosian, 980 Madison Avenue, New York, of new paintings by the artist. To make these works, Harmony Korine digitally painted different characters over iPhone photographs of his surroundings in Florida, and then re-created the compositions in oil paint on canvas. The publication includes a new text by Richard Prince.
Harmony Korine: Young Twitchy (New York: Gagosian, 2019)
Alternate Meanings in Film and Video
You’re only as young as the last time you changed your mind.
Gagosian is pleased to present Broadcast: Alternate Meanings in Film and Video, an online exhibition of artists’ films and videos viewable exclusively on gagosian.com. The exhibition will be organized into a series of “chapters,” each lasting two weeks. The first chapter begins on Tuesday, May 19, 2020.
Broadcast: Alternate Meanings in Film and Video employs the innate immediacy of time-based art to spark reflection on the here and now, taking the words of famed psychologist and countercultural icon Timothy Leary as its starting point.
Adam McEwen, Escape from New York, 2014 (still from “Battery Tunnel”) © Adam McEwen
Matt Black × Gana Art
November 1, 2019–January 5, 2020
Gana Art Center and Gana Art Hannam, Seoul
In collaboration with filmmaker Matt Black, this exhibition is centered around his short film series titled Reflections, which features conversations with contemporary artists. Through his interviews, Black paints a picture of the rapidly changing contemporary art scene, revealing the stories behind the artworks. Following the film’s theme, Gana Art has curated this exhibition to feature works by these artists, which include Dan Colen, Rachel Feinstein, Jeff Koons, Harmony Korine, Sterling Ruby, Taryn Simon, and Blair Thurman, among others.
Installation view, Reflections: Matt Black × Gana Art, Gana Art Center and Gana Art Hannam, Seoul, November 1, 2019–January 5, 2020. Artwork © Sterling Ruby
October 6–November 5, 2017
Centre Pompidou, Paris
A retrospective on the cinema, art, and creative world of Harmony Korine. The show gathers together many of his most significant projects, spanning film, writing, and art. Korine’s creative practice extends to photography and drawing as well as to figurative and abstract painting.
Installation view, Harmony Korine, Centre Pompidou, Paris, October 6–November 5, 2017. Photo by Zarko Vijatovic