February 7, 2013
By Christopher Knight
Llyn Foulkes is a crank. That's a good thing, because we need cranks.
I might not want to sit next to one on the subway or listen to one give a floor-speech in Congress. But popular culture and institutional art have a way of smoothing out or even debasing life's often painful rawness. Works of art offer contemplative distance, which can make zealous eccentricity especially riveting.
Take "The Corporate Kiss" (2001), a bracing bit of strangeness that is on view in the sprawling, 50-year retrospective exhibition of Foulkes' art newly opened at the UCLA Hammer Museum. In it, Mickey Mouse stands on a man's shoulder and plants a big cheerful smooch on his cheek. The man, beleaguered and despondent, barely responds.
His careworn face expels an open-mouthed sigh, downcast eyes staring from beneath a furrowed brow. A bleak, empty brown desert unfurls behind the pair, beneath a limpid blue sky.
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