Scott Musgrove: “How Is the Empire?” Preview!

by Hi-Fructose StaffPosted on

Scott Musgrove‘s (HF Vol.2 & 8) long awaited show How Is the Empire? will be opening at the Jonathan Levine Gallery in New York on May 15th featuring new paintings, drawings and large scale bronze sculptures. We’ve been tracking Musgrove’s process through his foray into bronze sculpture where he partnered with Metaphysics Studios in Tucson. More on that, here. Scott sent us a few sneak peeks of the pieces in his show soon after he shipped off the “biggest, heaviest, jam-packinest crate of my life today.” Says Scott.

“Now Comes the Mystery”

How Is the Empire?, an exhibition of new paintings, large-scale bronze sculptures and drawings in what will be his second solo show at the gallery. Musgrove’s style of figural surrealism carries themes of environmental issues and endangered wildlife concerns with unique humor, often depicting extinct (and fictitious) animal species. The artist’s imaginative work is painted and sculpted with inventive attention to the anatomical details of his subjects. Through a combination of biological attributes both real and imagined, Musgrove’s work illustrates his creative take on evolution, presenting an alternative theory of un-natural selection that would conceivably cause Charles Darwin to turn over in his grave.

“Did You Think I was Immortal?”


“Did You Think I was Immortal?” (Detail)

While he often titled previous work using the formal “binominal nomenclature” system of latin- based scientific species classification, the artist chose to title works in this show with famous last words of historical figures, instead. For example, How is the Empire?—the title of one painting and of the show itself—happens to be the final words attributed to King George V of England. Musgrove felt it fitting to use final words of dying people as titles since much of his work is about extinction, believing that giving a voice to the deceased creatures themselves might dignify their passing, rather than simply naming the beasts as they silently await their inevitable demise. Measuring 5-1/2 feet tall, the largest work in the show entitled The Great Lesser Plant Sampler, made it’s debut in December of 2009 during Chimera, an exhibition curated by David Hunt as part of the Scope-Miami International contemporary art fair. This large bronze with green patina appeared in the sculpture garden of the fair, then again during the Five Year Anniversary group exhibition at Jonathan LeVine Gallery, and was also featured in the show’s review published as a full-page Sunday Arts & Leisure feature story in The New York Times.

“Prairie Boxer” (Detail)


“No Disturbance in the World” (Detail)


“How Is the Empire?”


“Deluxe Dromedary” (Detail)


I Never Should Have Switched from Scotch to Martinis


“Plant Sampler” – bronze, approx 6′ ft high


“Prairie Boxer” – bronze approx 5′ ft high


“The Frivolous Work of Polished Idleness”


“Soul of Booted Glamor Cat” – Collaboration with Mike Leavitt

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