In this otherwise self-explanatory show, Sanford has drunk and painted 99 bottles of beer, having begun the project on May 16, with a cold bottle of Heineken. He will drink and paint the final bottle on August 2, the day the exhibition opens. Over these months, the artist has sampled a great variety of ales, lagers, pilsners, and stouts (oh my!), all the while, inviting friends and neighbors for social visits to be enjoyed over their favorite brews.
After drinking each beer – whether alone or with company - Sanford painted the relic of the experience, the bottle, and each of these singular still-lifes is a meditation on Sanford’s experience with that beer and with those visitors. In line with this social practice, Sanford has posted each painting as he finishes them on his @uberkunst Instagram account.
Not dissimilar to the still-lifes of Giorgio Morandi, Sanford’s pieces depict inert objects, and the spaces in which he situates these items – both concrete and abstract – each suggest a drifting and casual movement.
And yet, the artist has set out to document not a months-long binge with friends and well-wishing strangers, but rather, offer 99 variations of something that is comforting, communal, and familiar. This body of work recalls Warhol’s daily lunch ritual, and what led to his Campbell’s Soup Cans. “I used to drink it,” Warhol said. “I used to have the same lunch every day, for 20 years...” Sanford admits to enjoying a beer every day, so the advent of 99 Bottles seems a natural fit for the artist.
Sanford is a naturally optimistic artist; his subjects are highly expressive and often voluptuous in their detailing. Every one of his new still-lifes is meant to depict a mini vacation in and of itself, a simple and singular moment of respite, rendered in acrylics that are energized and viscous. 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall immediately follows the gallery’s installation of Pushcart Books, in which the space was transformed into a makeshift used bookstore. By design, these back-to-back shows are meant to embrace the ease (and hardships) of a summer in New York, when a good book and a cold beer can be the perfect indulgence.