Young Masters

Photographs by Gareth McConnell

Matthew Brannon, 36, Printmaker
“It’s not stuff I want my parents reading,” Brannon says of the raunchy text that accompanies some of his graphic-design-heavy images. (He slapped the label SLUT BEST FRIEND on a letterpress rendering of a shrimp cocktail, and SICK WHORE on a silk screen of a limp plant.) But the sly, kicky one-liners are both charming and marketable, especially since Brannon’s prints and silk screens are, in a medium-defying move, one-off. His work, says MoMA curator Christian Rattemeyer, plays with “an extremely underground and an extremely refined stratum of culture.” Following up on a widely praised show at the Whitney’s Altria location, Brannon is currently putting together pieces for Art Basel Miami.

Kalup Linzy, 30, Video Artist
In “Conversations Wit de Churen,” Linzy is doing to daytime soaps what John Waters did to his Baltimore childhood. Part Richard Pryor, part RuPaul, Linzy writes, directs, and stars (wigged, heeled, and often scantily clad) in this series of shorts that are tender and vulgar, hilarious and heartfelt. “It’s a real homage to the comic geniuses within the African-American community,” says Thelma Golden of the Studio Museum in Harlem, where Linzy’s work was the sleeper hit of the 2005 show “Frequency.” With new YouTube video stars popping regularly, Linzy (who received a Guggenheim fellowship this year) has been pegged as a key figure in a new generation of “queer video artists.”

Ryan Trecartin, 26, Video and Sculpture Artist
“I have that high-school thing of really believing that everything is art,” says Trecartin, whose campy, candy-colored installations are ripe with convoluted plots, existential one-liners, sexual misadventure, and an acute understanding of the fading line between actual and virtual life. “There’s a whole posse around Ryan of young artists who look up to him,” says former New Museum curator Rachel Greene. But she doesn’t think we’ll see many artists quite like him, and the art world seems to agree: Trecartin showed in the 2006 Whitney Biennial, and seven of his works now sit in Charles Saatchi’s collection of up-and-comers.

Xavier Cha, 27, Performance Artist
If performance art is having a resurgence—Performa 07, the second edition of the group spectacular, kicks off October 27—then Cha is an especially exciting soldier to the cause. Having made her mark on the West Coast (mostly by dressing up as human advertisements), she pulled out the stops for her New York solo debut at Taxter & Spengemann, inviting all kinds of performers (opera singers, jazz musicians, and strippers showed up, naturally) to join her in an over-the-top happening, embraced by gallerygoers and critics alike for its oddball update of sixties-era in-gallery high jinks.

Jamie Isenstein, 32, Performance Artist
Isenstein’s the purveyor of a new brand of endurance performance art. Like a PG version of the nailed-to-a-Volkswagen self-mutilators of the seventies, she pushes her body’s ability to withstand the most unnatural of circumstances. And the work actually sells: Her solo debut at Andrew Kreps Gallery in Chelsea—up through October 20—was bought out within its first week. The first piece she ever showed there, Magic Fingers, seems like an exercise in photo-realism—elegant golden frame surrounding an oh-so-lifelike, disembodied hand—when in fact Isenstein is cooped up within the gallery wall (she swears it’s not so bad) for hours, mimicking the hand gestures of famous art-historical subjects. Even this sold: Its buyers display a will return sign, and can call her up to perform the piece whenever they’d like.

Mika Rottenberg, 30, Video Artist
Rottenberg takes some of the most exhaustively fraught terrain of contemporary art—gender politics, post-Marxism—and makes it light, funny, and visually seductive. This Argentina-born, Israel-raised video-installation artist’s best-known works feature remarkably shaped women (we’re talking extremes here: large, tall, brawny) in factorylike spaces as they perform meaningless tasks with Sisyphean redundancy. Her Dadaesque machines— a motif that brings to mind Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times—set the stage for utter absurdity. Witness Mary’s Cherries, in which a female wrestler churns fingernails into fruit.

Huma Bhabha, 45, Sculptor
“There is political reference,” says gallerist Amy Smith-Stewart of Bhabha’s sculptures, which are made of found materials and recall a postapocalyptic movie set. “But not in a didactic way. It’s more about the human condition, which I find so much more interesting than speaking directly about Abu Ghraib.”

Seth Price, 33, Multimedia Artist
It’s hard to know what Price is best known for—his plastic vacuum-formed sculptures of breasts or contributing the same press release as his “art” to multiple shows. He insists he’s not a writer, but his essays appear in a handful of college syllabi. Last month, he got a grand prize at the Lyon Biennial.

Peter Coffin, 35, Installation Artist
“I’ll always struggle with those things about the art world that I think are limiting,” says Coffin. “Develop a signature style and cash in—it bores me to death.” Instead, his works include a nine-foot hand made of wood and chicken wire, a crop of Levi’s-clad trees, and a greenhouse in which musicians perform for plants.

Carol Bove, 36, Multimedia Artist
After an intellectual flirtation with postwar subjects (Playboy models, mostly) in her barely there ink-wash drawings, the Switzerland-born Bove has now set out to create her own historical register of a bygone era. She stocks vintage bookshelves with the artifacts—mostly lowbrow—that helped define her subjects’ lives.

Carol Bove Collage, 2007
Driftwood and metal
64 x 82 inches. Courtesy of Maccarone Inc. New York

Matthew Brannon Exterior of installation at the Whitney Museum at Altria, 2007. Lamay/Courtesy of Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York

Kalup Linzy Conversations wit de Churen III: Da Young and Da Mess, 2005
DVD, color, sound, TRT: 17 minutes 30 seconds. Courtesy of the Artist and Taxter & Spengemann, New York

Ryan Trecartin A Sally Was, 2007
Mirror, canvas, stretcher, acrylic paint, bleacher stand, wood, fabric, foam, roll of toilet paper, flood light.
100 1/2 x 98 x 64 inches Courtesy of Elizabeth Dee Gallery, New York

Xavier Cha Cornrow Hairbraid, 2006
Digital C-print.
40 x 30 inches. Courtesy of the Artist and Taxter & Spengemann, New York

Jamie Isenstein Installation views Hammer Projects: Jamie Isenstein, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA , September 28 - November 11, 2007. Courtesy of Andrew Kreps Gallery

Mika Rottenberg Composite of video stills. Courtesy of Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery

Huma Bhabha “…And in the track of a hundred thousand years, out of the heart of dust Hope sprang again, like greenness.”, 2007
Mixed media (wood, acrylic paint, clay, styrofoam, wire, leaves petals, ashes, sand, iron, rust, plastic).
168 x 144 x 73 inches. Courtesy of Salon 94

Seth Price Cheap Wall, 2006
Vacuum-formed, high impact polystyrene
48 x 32 inches. Lamay/Courtesy of Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York

Peter Coffin Untitled (Hollow Log with Model of the Universe), 2005
Hollow log with moving light.
30 X 30 X 60 inches. Courtesy of Andrew Kreps Gallery

Young Masters