Arkadia's Last Resort; or, Fête Champêtre Up Mnemosyne Creek
Jess ( American, 1923 - 2004 )
Jess was one of the Beat Generation artists active in the 1950s who found in American popular culture a rich storehouse of themes and imagery. He turned to literary and mystical themes, reveling in the visual products of popular culture. "Arkadia's Last Resort" is a prime example of his mind-boggling art of collage and juxtaposition, part of a series of works called Paste-Ups, which originated in the early 1950s. Here Jess collaged dozens of images lifted from jigsaw puzzles, art books, advertisements, and store catalogues, among other sources, ordering them into the rudiments of an idyllic landscape. In this Arcadia, a rushing river flows in the lower center; under a blue sky and white clouds, rowing figures, boats, swimmers, and bathers create a semblance of a picnic. But confounding this sense of "real" space are reproductions of other artworks, including Dallas's "Cubi XVII" by David Smith, flowers, kittens, playing cards, and myriad other things that evoke a multitude of wildly varying stories.