A new exhibition on display in New York City features work by two recognizable names: John Mellencamp and Robert Rauschenberg. Assemblages and paintings by the Grammy-winning singer of hits like “Hurts So Good” will hang next to mixed-media pieces by the late artist (who died in 2008) at ACA Galleries until December 21. The show opens to the public October 24.
“We both use bright colors,” Mellencamp jokes to Architectural Digest over email when asked how Rauschenberg’s work and his own complement each other. (Neither man’s pieces are void of color by any means, but Mellencamp especially favors a darker palette.) Of course, there’s more to the juxtaposition of these two artists. Both use a variety of materials to create highly textural, often collage-like pieces of work with plenty of shapes and images hidden throughout.
They also come from different generations—with many of Mellencamp’s featured pieces dated in just the past few years. (Calling anything “completed” would be wrong, the “Jack and Diane” singer says: “I have paintings that I have worked on for 25 years. So art is never done, only abandoned.”)
Mellencamp’s fiancée, Meg Ryan, appears in one of his paintings (above); boxing paraphernalia appears in another piece (his son Hud is a boxer); there’s a self-portrait in the mix; and he references gun control in other work, but he says that overall, his inspiration comes from one very simple place. “The need to create,” he says. “I paint or I write songs or make something every day. I’m very fortunate, I live an artist’s life.”
In April, Architectural Digest was able to see inside the SoHo loft where Mellencamp does his creating. Decorated by Trevor Goff, the space is industrial, with exposed brick and pipes, plus plenty of steel and distressed mirrors.