Kim Jones is best known for his visceral, at times disturbing, performances as Mudman. In this ongoing series begun in the 1970s, he covers his naked body with mud and sticks, transforming himself into a walking sculpture. With a nod to Joseph Beuys, Jones brings this cryptic concoction of myth, organic material, and interactivity to the public—not only to art-goers but also to those he encounters while roaming the streets.
Jones’s object-based works are no less startling and evocative. Many similarly involve mutation and a messy-ing of the everyday. An early example is Calender (1975). Jones used felt-tip markers to transfer Mudman’s three-dimensional exoskeleton onto the pages of a pin-up calendar. Intricate webs of barbed sticks mar the clean, voluptuous bodies of the nude women, ultimately hiding them from view.
A similarly thorny tangle makes its way into Jones’s installations. In A Cripple in the Right Way May Beat a Racer in the Wrong One (1999), child-sized cars adorn the walls, but are rendered unusable by the wood, foam, tape, cord, and toy dolls that encase them. The jumble operates in much the same way as the sticks do in other works—it creates a nearly unbreachable, yet altogether intriguing, barrier between the art piece and the viewer.
Kim Jones was born in California in 1944. After returning from the Vietnam War, he earned a BFA from California Institute of Arts (1971) and an MFA from Otis Art Institute (1973), both in Los Angeles, CA. He has had solo exhibitions at The Sirius Art Centre, Cork, Ireland (2003); Pierogi Gallery, Brooklyn, NY (2002); and John Weber Gallery, New York, NY (1999). Jones has been included in group exhibitions at Nassauischer Kunstverein, Wiesbaden, Germany (2001); Apex Art, New York, NY (1999); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA (1998); and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (1995, 1994). Kim Jones lives and works in New York, NY.