Stickers are an idealized art medium—an attempt to connect with an audience through means not acceptable within traditional art institutions. Here, in a selected retrospective of sticker art, they are organized by theme and placed with some care behind glass, which is a type of presentation that could deflate the antagonistic allure key to their interest, but the exhibition at Maxwell Colette Gallery does a good job letting them tell their own stories. All anyone who stuck a sticker wanted anyway was to reflect themselves a little bit back into the world.
The collection making up the backbone of the show is DB Burkeman’s—a pioneering drum and bass DJ—and the stickers were largely gifts from the artists themselves (though some, true to the medium, were peeled off the streets). Though the show is marketed as a history, and the subheading makes the same claim, there is little contextual information provided to help flush out the story. The information is instead provided by the stickers themselves—their topical, visceral reflections of news or music or fashion, or all at once, designed to extend the reach of brands or to create new ones using a tactic of low-level, counter-cultural vandalism—is plenty to draw from. Here, the contributors range from the anonymous, with handmade details, to the printed output of heavy hitters like Takashi Murakami and Damien Hirst. The real draw, though, is the forty-plus years of condensed history, in all its manifestations, evident in Burkeman’s collection. (Lucy Cantwell)
Through March 3 at Maxwell Colette Gallery, 908 North Ashland