Nestled in the sleepy-but-pleasant suburbia of Greenwich, Connecticut, the Brant Art Foundation is an art junkie's Disneyland. The spread is complete with pristine lawns and perfect polo fields— and characters, too, if you count Jeff Koons’ "Puppy." As the latest artist to show at the foundation space, Karen Kilimnik has put her own spin on the utopic surroundings with girlish signature style and theatrical installations. Let’s just say, if Alice In Wonderland was on the Oriental Express in the ‘60s, the story would look a lot like this: outsized estate interiors, traditional Chinese lanterns, and KK’s ’89 shrine to pop culture, The Hellfire Club Episode of The Avengers.
Like a whimsical dream-book, Kilimnik’s pieces conjure up juvenile hallucinations in the CT backdrop, with blue skies and pretty faces, fluffy clouds, and princess ponies. She might look like she’s just learned to dot her i’s and cross her t’s, but her hand-written messages are more than just childish chatter, focusing instead on complex concepts like female psychology and historical overtures. That’s her thing; perfecting the art of the Crayola crayon whilst taking her lead from 18th century French portraitists.
Foreshadowing Garance Dore by sketching the streets scenes of la mode à Paris and highlighting pop-culture idolism with her Leonardo DiCaprio portrait, circa 1985, her teen-dream aesthetica doesn’t stop there. Pretty fashion pictures, Madonna soundtracks, and naïvely titled works such as “The Chic French View Of The Silkworm Invasion Of North America” contrast with her heavy references to Napoleon and World War II.
And, from country idyll to an Oriental nirvana, Paul Montgomery (AKA wallpaper whizz-kid) transformed the space for Kilimnik, with custom-made wall coverings featuring elements from her work, alongside flora and flauna to style it Cinderella chinoiserie chic. Meanwhile, the upstairs resembled the aftermath of a Prince Harry party — "Fountain of Youth" yields manicured hedges and noble water fountains, along with wilting roses watered with Dom Pérignon and littered with the contents of royal Bulgari goodie bags. On view until September, don’t let yourself go to or leave Greenwich without hitting this Disney for grownups. But don't take our word for it, either — click through for some quick views of the exhibit and you might just have a whole new set of weekend plans.
Brant Art Foundation, 941 North Street, Greenwich, CT; 203-869-0611.
Photos: Courtesy of Brant Art Foundation