Magazine article Artforum International

George and Mike Kuchar: 2nd Floor Projects

Magazine article Artforum International

George and Mike Kuchar: 2nd Floor Projects

Article excerpt

From Auguste and Louis Lumiere and Warner Bros. to Ethan and Joel Coen and the Farrellys, brother acts have had a mighty influence on the history of film. Commandeering the foundational basement of the frat house of cinema, twins George and Mike Kuchar have long wreaked havoc, creating fetid splendors too numerous to list, the titles of some of their earliest collaborations (The Wet Destruction of the Atlantic Empire, 1954; A Tub Named Desire, ca. 1956; and Pussy on a Hot Tin Roof, 1961) providing only a glimmer of the kind of sexy delirium that would influence Jack Smith, Andy Warhol, John Waters, and David Lynch, among many others. Certainly this tale is by now well known in the experimental film world, but in the art world?

While the Kuchars were making their mystic, mischievous movie (and video) magic out of and in response to the gamut of Hollywood genres, the brothers were, especially during the 1970s and '80s, creating parallel worlds of marvels in oil, watercolor, pastel, acrylic, and ink. George has said he made his work "ambiguously," because he liked painting; Mike liked to draw, but his work was, as Eileen Myles confirms in a sharp essay published to accompany the show, "largely commissioned": "A roommate had a friend who needed art for some gay publications. Mike did a few for them, got paid, and the word got around that he was good." Myles notes that George told her "he learned about oil paintings from the Walter Foster books you'd find in Woolworth's as a kid."

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Mike's mid-1970s to mid-'80s drawings (all pen and ink, felt pen, or watercolor) are gonzo allurements that do for all the paradoxical curvaceous va-va-vaoom of the well-built male physique what R. Crumb does for his dames' bosoms and booties. In these works, Mike escapes into a bawdy fantasy of pirates taking shore leave for a raunchy romp (Island Interlude, 1988) or of one uncircumcised Tarzan swinging another Tarzan, pietalike, through the jungle (Jungle Jeopardy, 1985). …

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