Ron English (artist)
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English at the 2012 New York Comic Con.
One of the most prolific and recognizable artists alive today, Ron English has bombed the global landscape with unforgettable images, on the street, in museums, in movies, books and television. English coined the term POPaganda to describe his signature mash-up of high and low cultural touchstones, from superhero mythology to totems of art history, populated with his vast and constantly growing arsenal of original characters, including MC Supersized, the obese fast-food mascot featured in the hit movie "Supersize Me," and Abraham Obama, the fusion of America’s 16th and 44th Presidents, an image widely discussed in the media as directly impacting the 2008 election. Other characters carousing through English’s art, in paintings, billboards, and sculpture include three-eyed rabbits, udderly delicious cowgirls and grinning skulls, blending stunning visuals with the bitingly humorous undertones of America’s Premier Pop Iconoclast. English was one of the on-camera subjects interviewed for the documentary Super Size Me (2004), which showcased his McDonald's-themed artwork—inspired by English's belief about the effect of fast food franchises and restaurant chains on the American culture.
English has also painted several album covers including The Dandy Warhols album cover Welcome to the Monkey House and the cover of the 2010 album Slash. He later painted the Chris Brown album cover for F.A.M.E. Some of his paintings were used in the Morgan Spurlock documentaries Super Size Me and POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. Following the credits, he receives special thanks and is credited as "The Greatest Living Artist."
English's oil painting skills are credited to his early background as an art reproducer. English has initiated and participated in illegal public art campaigns since the early 1980s.
Culture jamming is one aspect of English's work. Although never an official member, Ron joined forces with the Billboard Liberation Front on several occasions. The B.L.F. practices culture jamming by altering billboards by changing key words to radically alter the message, often to an anti-corporate message. Frequent targets of Ron's work include Joe Camel, McDonald's, and Mickey Mouse. Ron English can be considered the "celebrated prankster father of dollar-pop", who wrangles carefully created corporate, and are used against the very corporation they are meant to represent. He is also widely considered a seminal figure in the advancement of modern contemporary art from traditional wild-style lettering and into clever statement and masterful contemporary art.
Ron's culture jamming technique forces the consumers of the world to take a harder look at corporation-dominated society. Ron does this by using his over emphasized, grotesque, and to some, offensive, characters to intrigue the consumer, luring them in to reveal the truth behind the product.
Recently Ron has refocused his culture jamming attention from billboards to another form of advertising; product packaging. Ron recreates several different packaging platforms from cereal boxes, to milk carton, to cigarette packs, to reveal truth in advertising. After designing the packaging English and his Team POPaganda infiltrate different retailers around the country and "shop gift", leaving consumers to consume the uncomfortable truth behind the products they intend to purchase. Some of Ron's most popular product packaging designs include, "Cap'n Corn Starch", "Duncan High Hash Brownies" and "Camel Kool's" THC Enriched Tobacco Cigarettes.
English is a fine art painter specializing in oils. English received his bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. After receiving his MFA from The University of Texas he relocated to New York City and apprenticed with several artists, gradually beginning to sell his own work. His dominant style is characterized by extreme photo realism, striking use of secondary color and appropriation of pop imagery. He is considered by many to be one of the more skilled renderers of his generation. Frequent themes are revisiting and reworking childhood from the vantage point of adult skill as well as examining the darker meanings behind garish pop surface imagery. English also tends to use historical imagery as a template to explore universal issues. Frequently he reworks such images as The Last Supper, Starry Night, and Picasso's Guernica.
English has appropriated many well known images and characters from pop culture, reworking them into his own signature images. Some of these include a reworking of Charlie Brown into his "Grin" character and one of his famous "MC Supersized" based on the idea that Ronald McDonald ate his own product. Another signature image of the idealized American female is his image of Marilyn Monroe with Mickey Mouse breasts.
In 2006, English exhibited "Grade School Guernica", one of his versions of Picasso's "Guernica", at the Station Museum of Contemporary Art in Houston. The painting depicts the scene acted out by his children viewed from the point of view of the bomber airplane.
"Lazarus Rising" was English's first exhibit in the UK, at Elms Lesters Painting Rooms in London.
"POPagandastan" was exhibited in 2013, also at the Corey Helford Gallery.
In 2005 English began creating designer toy versions of his iconic creatures and has been producing these collectables ever since. English has produced over 50 different designer toys since his first in 2005. Ron English has become a leading member of the designer vinyl toy movement.
Ronnnie Rabbbit was English's first designer toy, produced in 2005 by Dark Horse.
English has also collaborated with other artists to produce toys. In 2013, he teamed up with SLASH to create a limited edition fiberglass bust of the now iconic image used for the SLASH & FRIENDS album artwork.
In 2013, Ron also collaborated with rock band Pearl Jam to produce "Falla Sheep", a blind box line-up featuring 7 color variants of 3.5" sheep in wolves' clothing toys, which were distributed through stores and also sold at shows during Pearl Jam's 2013 tour.
Ron English has produced several art books:
- Death and the Eternal Forever, ISBN 9780957664920, Korero Press, 2014
- Status Factory, 2014
- Abraham Obama, 2010
- Son of Pop, 2007
- Abject Expressionism, 2007
- Lazarus Rising, 2009
- POPaganda, 2004
- Super Size Me (2004). "MC Supersized" is English's interpretation of Ronald MacDonald, a character that Ronald likely imitate; a western culture Buddha eating a diet of what is peddled by MacDonald’s in the religion of consumerism and an over-sated devotee.
- Drake, John C. (2008-07-08). "Street artist inspires too much enthusiasm". Boston Globe.
- Borrell, Alexandre (June 2010). "Peut-on greffer le visage d'une icone ?". Parlement(s), Revue d'histoire politique.
- Dodero, Camille (2008-11-14). "Ron English Might Still Have That Last Unreleased Wesley Willis Record". Village Voice.
- "Ron English Covers Art Nouveau Magazine’s Summer Issue". Art Nouveau. May 17, 2010.
- Popaganda: The Art and Crimes of Ron English (2005) at the Internet Movie Database
- Musat, Stephanie (March 3, 2012). "Artist Ron English, who resides in Jersey City, will appear on the next episode of The Simpsons as himself ". NJ.com.
- Grade School Guernica, Popaganda
- Power Pathos, June 21, 2006, Station Museum of Contemporary Art
- Ron English: LAZARUS RISING book
- Dambrot, Shana Nys (Nov 21, 2011). "Ron English's 'Seasons In Supurbia' at Corey Helford: Artist's Perverted Spoofing of Disney, G.I. Joe and Charlie Brown". LA Weekly. Retrieved 2014-01-19.
- POPagandastan, Popaganda.com
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ron English.|
- Ron English at the Internet Movie Database
- Abraham Obama - Art Project
- VIDEO Ron English talks about his work on ABC FORA
- Opera Gallery Collection
- Ron English - Surreal Art Collective
- Songs In English - Music Project
- Fringe Galleries
- Ron English: Abraham Obama DVD Trailer
- Group show of street art curated by Ron English