Tongue in Cheek: The Inflatable Art of Jimmy Kuehnle
The Hudson River Museum is host to Jimmy Kuehnle’s first large-scale solo installation in New York. Products of numerous renderings, Kuehnle inflatables, here in Summer 16, include three new works: Super Punch Bubbles, blossoms of bright color emerging from Glenview’svenerable tower windows that function as an illuminated clock, light blinking the change of hours;You Lick Me, I Lick You, inflatables shaped like tongues that drape the Museum’s Entrance Arch; and in the galleries, Hot Polyester Bladder Lung, that “breathing” beckons you towards its shifting form as it expends life into far reaches of the Museum. The huge neon-pink Please, no smash, a costume-sculpture hybrid, just returned from its sensational season at Cleveland’s MOCA, fills the Museum’s atrium and is joined by You Wear What I Wear and Hello Bye. The titles of the works are as intriguing as the works. I like titles that make people curious, says Kuehnle, but also offer the potential for your own interpretation by have some sort of call-to-action.
Kuehnle sculptures, which he makes from vinyl-coated polyester fabric, inflate and deflate, pulsing, and by extension breathing, like an organism. Bestowing kinetic energy on a sculpture demands of its maker a sophisticated approach to scale and movement. The installation, itself, always requires new construction and problem solving aided by programming platforms for electronics and the traditional push and pull of winches, pulleys, and rigging. When I work on projects, I always like to learn things and have new experiences. So I set up challenges, situations that require new techniques, said Kuehnle.
Kuehnle who teaches at the Cleveland Institute of Art, has had solo shows at museums, galleries and universities in the United States and internationally. In 2014 he was selected for the national survey exhibition State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. As a Fulbright Graduate Research Fellow in Japan, 2008, he pursued his interest in public art and sculpture.