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GEORGE STOLL

by Jody Zellen

(Grant Selwyn Gallery, Beverly Hills) George Stoll fabricates by hand that which is factory produced and presents these everyday objects--sponges, Tupperware, toilet paper and paper towels--en mass, creating evocative installations that ask us to reconsider that which we take for granted. Since his first exhibition in Los Angeles (in 1994, entitled Tupperware) Stoll has continued to create reproductions of ordinary household objects, transforming them into extraordinary works of art.

Born in 1954 in the suburbs of Baltimore, Stoll spent his twenties and thirties in New York City working in a variety of art related jobs. He studied design, made rubber jewelry, worked as an artist's assistant as well as a set designer on horror films, before moving to Los Angeles and committing himself to his art practice. Once he began to exhibit his Tupperware sculptures, he quickly earned a name for himself, appearing in exhibitions on both coasts, as well as in Europe.

When viewing Stoll's work one is immediately drawn into its subject. The pieces at first glance appear to be ordinary household objects arranged on shelves or on the wall. Upon closer examination one realizes that these are not store-bought objects assembled together, but carefully cast and sculpted objects. The tromp l'oeil effect is important to Stoll but he also allows the human element--the artist’s hand--to enter into his work. He states, "It was a matter of making something imperfect. Something that has a human, man-made quality." Stoll is drawn to the banal--to everyday objects like sponges, toilet paper and Tupperware--that have a specific function and use, yet are not considered valuable. Stoll elevates what is usually considered disposable to art by asking viewers to take another look at those objects that surround them.


“Untitled (5 Cup Sketch)”, #1
hand-cast parrafin/beeswax/
pigment, 1999.





“Untitled (5 Cup Sketch)”, #2
hand-cast parrafin/beeswax/
pigment, 1999.



“Untitled Sponge Painting” #1,
burned balsa wood and
alkyd, 6 x 6 3/4 x 1", 1998.





“Untitled Sponge Painting” #2,
burned balsa wood and
alkyd, 6 x 6 3/4 x 1", 1998.
Like Andy Warhol or Jasper Johns, Stoll is interested in the relationship of high art to consumer culture. In the 1960’s Johns made a bronze cast of an ale can and presented it as an art object. It became an icon. Likewise, Warhol made facsimiles of Brillo boxes and Campbell's soup cans, and presented these replicas as sculptures and paintings. This changed the way we looked at both art and consumer culture: By taking an object out of its everyday context and representing it in an art gallery, it be-came art. Stoll's motivation is similar. Yet for him, how the work is made (the presence of the artist's hand), as well as how the work is displayed, is as important as what the work depicts. Each of Stoll's Tupperware sculptures is hand-cast in paraffin and beeswax. They are arranged on the presentation shelf according to shape and color. A single shelf might hold two, four or more than twenty discreet objects. Often cup-like containers are stacked, one inside the other, making a colorful and seemingly rickety tower. Unlike the Tupperware pieces, the toilet paper rolls are not made of wax, but cut from wood and wrapped in hand drawn paper. When Stoll draws single sheets of toilet paper or paper towel he is careful to copy the color, texture and pattern of the original, giving the fabricated art object the illusion of being mass produced.

The newest object in Stoll's household repertoire is the sponge. These works, made out of balsa wood, have had holes burned into them to give them the puckered texture of a sponge. Each Sponge Painting is then painted in a pastel tone--green, yellow, orange or pink, just like the packages of sponges one finds in the grocery store--and hung on the wall as a single object or in groups of two or four or nine (again to evoke the store bought version). When presented on the wall these sponge-works initially appear to be small monochrome paintings.


Also on view will be a work from a new series of Holiday products. In the back gallery Stoll will present a recreation of a Halloween costume. For this work Stoll has made a skeleton costume, an exact replica of the white bones on black fabric that is so popular among children at Halloween.

Stoll is interested in what happens when tromp l'oeil and representational works become abstractions. In this work he investigates the poetics of household objects, and by so doing creates beautiful sculptures that have the immediacy of Pop art, the spare elegance of Minimalism, the appearance of a monochrome, and the telling ability to transcend their domestic function.
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