Los Angeles

Pruitt • Early

Stuart Regen

Pruitt • Early are a pure product of the art world; as naughty and wild as their art pretends to be, their intent is merely to fit in. In an effort to instantly historicize their efforts, the artists have dated each of their pieces with the phrase “Early 90’s.” Pillaging the styles and ideas of other artists, not to mention the strategy of appropriation, the work rides on the coattails of Andy Warhol, Gilbert & George, Jeff Koons, and Haim Steinbach. Pruitt • Early’s antiesthetic is cheap, low class, and heavy metal; it’s art for or about teenagers. Teenagers are shallow and dumb. They drink beer and listen to music, and the semiarticulate slogans on decals speak their minds: “Megadeath,” “Tits for kids,”“To hell with your mountains, give me your Busch,” “No fat chicks,” “Eat shit and die,” “Fuck authority.” The stance is bad boy à la Richard Prince, but the work is already safe and old-fashioned. It reeks of the conservative; in fact, the incestuous in-group nature of the art world is part of the plan. Teenage boys are the farthest thing from this work’s real theme, and Pruitt • Early’s art doesn’t produce any particularly significant revelations or “large charge,” as one of R. Crumb’s teenagers would say. (Crumb is an artist whose work does address complex elements of adolescent sensibility.)

Pruitt • Early’s favorite art material is the beer can with decal, and they present both images of them in sets of 6 or 24, and the cans themselves in groups that mimic liquor-store displays. Pabst Blue Ribbon, which is strictly blue-collar—the “dumbest” beer—is their brand of choice. The panels are shrink-wrapped, and a single can of beer with a decal is inserted in the lower right of each unit.

Mocking teenage suicide, Big Portraits of the Artists in their Studio Hung, Black Denim Border (all works “Early 90’s”) features the artists themselves, clad in custom-made Pabst Blue Ribbon button-down shirts, hung from a pair of nooses in front of a wall of their decal-covered beer cans. When Pruitt Early repeat the phrase ARTWORK FOR TEENAGE BOYS in the form of a sticker applied to most of the works in the show, the last thing they want is for an audience to believe them. True to the highart-subculture exchange at the core of the modern art game, what they really mean is ARTWORK FOR COLLECTORS WHO WANT TO IMPERSONATE TEENAGERS or SAME OLD SONG. By presenting whatever garbage products are targeted for sale to teenage consumers, Pruitt • Early assume that they are creating an accurate portrait of how teenagers see themselves, but their tone is entirely patronizing.

In the back room the duo presents ARTWORK FOR TEENAGE GIRLS. Made through consultations with the artists’ real-life sisters, the installation features white wall-to-wall carpeting, illuminated by purple-pink lights. An enormous freestanding plywood unicorn with a purple mane stands in front of a mural of a meadow of flowers and a rainbow. This nauseating image is accompanied by two piles of denim pillows, again covered in plastic shrink-wrap, printed with slogans suitable for her. “I’LL ALWAYS LOVE HIM,” “BEST FRIENDS,” “WINE, DINE, 69,” and “I’M NOT FAT, I’M PREGNANT.” The stereo-types Pruitt • Early present of both genders are one-dimensional and condescending, and the work doesn’t examine teenage life, consumerism, or the fetishizing of objects in any compelling fashion. All it ultimately amounts to is irresponsible chic.

Benjamin Weissman