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Gary L. Nickard (b. 1954), Merchandise is the Opium of the People, 1998; Iris print on Rives paper, 17 x 36 inches (Frame: 18 1/4 x 40 1/4 inches); Burchfield Penney Art Center, Gift of Gary Nickard and Patty Wallace, 1998

Gary L. Nickard (b. 1954), Merchandise is the Opium of the People, 1998; Iris print on Rives paper, 17 x 36 inches (Frame: 18 1/4 x 40 1/4 inches); Burchfield Penney Art Center, Gift of Gary Nickard and Patty Wallace, 1998

This iris print is a duplicate of a work shown at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in the Western New York Exhibition. It is from a series of two; the artist has the others and they are not for sale. Iris printing involves digital montage such as PhotoShop technology with photographic images. Artists such as Gary Nickard and John Pfahl have shown an increasing interest in producing iris prints, in part, because their images can be saved in a less physically degradable format that film negatives.

The text has been taken from The Society of the Spectacle by French theorist Guy DeBord. He is associated with the situationist movement that adhered to a revolutionary Marxist position influencing the May 1967 uprising in France that almost unseated the DeGaulle government. This text is pared with imagery appropriated from an unsophisticated 1960’s publication about how to paint the female nude. A radical conflict in these subjects from the same era is thus achieved by contrasting inflammatory political rhetoric (that today has lost its strength and survives primarily within limited academic circles) with contemporary images of the female body (that would be considered degrading and politically incorrect today.)

Gary Nickard is a highly regarded artist and intellectual who has worked internationally.  The Burchfield Art Center presented a major exhibition of his work in 1991 entitled Science as Spectacle: A Revisionist Natural History. Michael Auping, who at the time was Chief Curator at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, wrote the catalog essay. Nickard’s experience in art administration includes being a former director/curator of CEPA in Buffalo, associate curator of the Alternative Museum, and director of the Burden Gallery for the Aperture Foundation in New York.