Application + Theme Los Angeles 2023

SPRING/BREAK will return for its fourth edition in Los Angeles in February 2023. 

The 2023 Los Angeles theme is NAKED LUNCH (see below for theme description and inspirational "required" reading/viewings/listenings)


“In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”

                            - Orson Welles as post-war mass-murderer ‘Harry Lime’, The Third Man (1949)


Renaissances are often complicated, culled in crucibles of oppression and bloodshed as Orson Welles suggests; movements born from generally unfavorable circumstances and often not given their due till long after they’re over, their revitalizations long tired, their magi’s long dead.

Take, for example, Jules Michelet’s 1855 coining of the French term ‘renaissance’ to start with, a cultural appellation meant to describe an, on-paper, Italian phenomenon—an Italian phenomenon, that is, highly reliant on the cultural cross-pollination of Greece with Egypt, Persia, and Asia almost 2000 years before Italy’s ever occurred. The idea of ‘renaissance’ was first put into words by Italian Giorgio Vasari in 1550 with its more parochial phrasing: ‘rinascita’ (renewal). That term was not to take hold until our anti-clerical Parisian Michelet dusted it off to renew it in his own language exactly 300 years after, and only light stabs at everyone recognizing the artistic revolution they were undergoing by writers like Vasari at the time, diluted in impact by the warring principalities jockeying for power all over Italy simultaneous to this seemingly grand artistic event (see, Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince’). Point being: already, even in the evolution of the term ‘renaissance’, prior ages are referenced and belle époques pinpointed ~2000 years after-the-fact.

Alain LeRoy Locke too, who coined the “New Negro Movement” that would later become known as the ‘Harlem Renaissance’, was appropriately lauded only a decade after he left this world as well, his seminal 1925 anthology ‘The New Negro’ codifying exactly the numinous cultural silver lining to the grim racial realities of the United States, a silver lining that would transform North American identity forever, despite being of course the product of a migration forced by the racist Jim Crow South. Thankfully, it was by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that Locke was eventually memorialized. And, interestingly enough, in a speech that similarly referenced this bright spot in a Hellenistic Antiquity, ruled by Alexandrian bloodshed on the one hand and Platonic ideal on the other, King legendarily promising, “We’re going to let our children know that the only philosophers that lived were not Plato and Aristotle, but W.E.B. Du Bois and Alain Locke.”

Other Golden Ages, self-professed as they may be and well after the fact of their existence, have also been the counter-motion of a pendulum swing first towards violence and death: the so-called ‘Enlightenment’, for example, emerging from a French nobility so worshipful of class disparity it would welcome Nepoleonic despotism in the wake of feudal abolition rather than embrace ‘liberté, égalité, franternité’; the African Renaissance coined by Cheikh Diop, also, blooming in the wake of apartheid, despite the ‘de facto’ baaskskap (boss-hood) of the still not even 10% Caucasian population in South Africa remaining today; the brief light of countercultural revolt in the late 60’s/early ‘70s a reaction to idiotic Vietnam, soon to swing back towards Reaganomics and the U.S.-propelled further-fracturing of the Middle East (and Class) even after the anti-Hippie/anti-Black Panther architect Nixon and his administration were proved crooks. The Islamic Golden Age and Timurid Renaissance would sadly coincide with the Islamic Age of Gunpowder and the end of the Timurid dynasty altogether; the fall of Constantinople and the bloodshed between Ottomans and Romans what actually perpetuated the flood of Greek scholarship to Italy, and the Italian Renaissance (and the equivalent to civil war) once there. The pendulum swings one direction with Time; it wildly swings the other. And yet, though the tyranny of human action seems to stab in a new direction each and every time it returns, resuscitated by new masters with each of History’s ticks, what the positive swing restores seems always to point in the very same direction…  

Apart from simply spotlighting this yin and yang of re-births with their pre- (and re-) deaths, then (see Ursula Le Guin’s ‘Utopiyin, Utopiyang’), Renaissances tend towards a happy return to Golden Ages before them, a redirection of the compass rose back to what so often is the exact same location in History. For the 15th Century’s Italian iteration, like many others to come, there was a similar compulsion—time and again coincidental, it seems—to turn back the clock. And return to this 6th-5th Century mecca in human revelation: the Hellenistic-, Hermetic-, Taoist-, Mahaviranian-, and Zoroastrian-adjacent spontaneous global wisdom of 500-400 BCE (see, Gore Vidal’s 'Creation').

In regards to that 1500s Pre-Garibaldian Wild West which was its Petri dish—coinciding with Columbus ravaging the indigenous Americas, mutilating a path on to the next Wild one in America here—this particular renaissance in Italy we harken to happened to be proliferated by scholarly pursuits outside of Holy Rome’s religious stronghold. This likely led to its particular flavors of a return to Nature, Logic, amorous vitality, Humanism, Confucionist aphorism, mysticism, paganism, and the Body. It articulated these themes through the pointedly non-devotional works of Titian, the mythic depictions of Botticelli, the bohemian self-portraiture of van Hemessen and Dürer, the feminist critique by Gentileschi, the architecture of Brunelleschi, the math—and polymath—of Copernicus, and more. And though the theocratic tyranny begat by Constantine still had many Inquisitions and butcherings to go before it was officially demoted as a global power in 1806, the Italian Renaissance’s “renewal” would renew, itself, also in the Enlightenment, in 1930’s Harlem, and in the dawn of Art Criticism by Victorian Oscar Wilde—a primavera predating Constantine’s Christendom, and, for that matter, the figure Jesus Christ.

Humanism, tolerance, and fraternity would be reborn yet again during the Age of Enlightenment (and with the usual biases against certain races and classes, as always). It would do so without the bohemian return to Natures both Human and Pastoral, sacred and profane, also suggested by these pagan compositions, and carry over the self-identifying of artists as subjects for the first time since the Renaissance maker had instinct also to do so—a hunch, then, not only for reconnecting the human person with its original Maker Mother Nature, but with their creative nature; as something consciously forming a world, cognizant of that act of formulation: an artist. 

This particular focus pointedly on bohemianism, mystical verdure, and the articulation of the artist as subject will get lost in the more gilded reveries of the Rococo. Kings like Louis XV would commission capricious lunch-excesses in Raicalle-environs perhaps as flimsy as the tromp l’oiel in their palaces, including, among them, Le Déjeuner de jambon by Nicolas Lancrett and Le Djeuner d’huîtres by Jean-François de Troy – just two aesthetically out-to-lunch excesses which paint the Renaissance 100-ish years before them as all but having bit the dust. But then 100-ish years after them, another déjeuner crops up, supplanting lords and ladies with artists and prostitutes, singling a renewal of the artist’s persona as taken center stage, a naked admission of chaotic freedom and moral ambiguity…

Édouard Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe (1863), an artwork depicting the al fresco lollygagging of what is seemingly a pair of dandies and sex workers, with clues that the scene is potentially being staged in an artist’s studio on top of it all, is just this moment of creative self-reflexivity, Neo-Renaissance suggestion, and moral abiguity. And this is the spot at which our hall of mirrors of re-births and revitalizations, for the purposes of our 2022-2023 theme, really peaks.

Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe was rejected by the Paris Salon at the time of its creation, and sanitized in an unfinished work by the same name by Claude Monet only a few years later. Still, Manet’s puzzling masterwork—something that, with a varying wardrobe, could have doubled as a scene from Woodstock in 1969—shows nods to the clothing-optional idylls of Renaissance fixtures: Titian’s Sacred and Profane Love (1514), Botticelli’s Venus and Mars (1483), and The Pastoral Concert (1508), an enigmatic work once attributed to Giorgio the Great, now suggested by the Louvre 100% to be Titian. All of which inspired sometimes liberatingly provocative, sometimes colonially exploitative works from Gaugin to Dalí in the era of Le Dèjeuner and just after. And the subsuming of nudity and the body into queered/gender-reversed terrain from Lynda Benglis to John Waters and on to Nicole Eisenman and Zachary Ochao now, in a further step of using body provocation and its metaphors through visual idea-making as a weapon against bourgeois Puritanism and a balm to maintain the sense of personal freedom – exactly in the way early Renaissance painters were shifting away from the hypocritical sanctimoniousness and mental subjegation from the church’s influence in Vasari’s time.

For SPRING/BREAK Art Show’s 10th Year—and 11th Exhibition in New York City—this Neo-Renaissance return to Nature, the Body, figuration, and metaphors of nudity and depictions of social encounters, depictions of “the scene” and free love hangs – often al fresco; Hellenistic fixations, the artist gaze, and pre-apparatus photorealism in paintings, drawings, and prints—in other words, all of what Pasolini felt ultimately betrayed by at the end of indulging these themes himself in his ‘Trilogy of Life’—along with the multi-practice lineage of including multiple forms in artwork that earned the ‘Renaissance Person’ title to start with, all will collectively be probed in NAKED LUNCH.

For SPRING/BREAK Art Show NYC 2022 specifically, the art fair that never quits seeks just these kinds of artworks of representational gambols and illicit rendezvous, depictions of artist gatherings, pastoral scenes and their anthropomorphic re-imaginings in line with antiquity’s own poeticizing (see: most-to-all indigenous religions, The Odyssey, Shakespeare’s Mid-Summer’s Night Dream…), sexual mores re-tabulated, unfettered, re-tread, and their collateral damages in culture when unchecked—via exploitation, monetization, and criminalization—as well exhumed. In all, a visual dialogue for the exhibition invited by Manet’s suggestion of both sexual freedom in the early-developing bohemian id AND the dehumanization of the potentially Magdalenist female subjects in Le Dèjeuner we may be more likely to see in hindsight – like with how Bogdanovich, Pasolini, Didion and many feminist artists ultimately critiqued the 20th Century’s temporary idea of Renaissance in the Free Love movement of the 1960s after the fact. Or we invite other less concrete Renaissance reprisals: the returning to a re-rebirth of Hellenistic tableaus, the evocation of arcadian escapades from the brutish intrusions of war, very much upon us now (if, for the past 80 years in America’s world policing, we were ever truly without it…). We are interested here also in the return to the Greco-Egyptian ideas of Humanism, early stabs at science, evocations of anatomy, and logic-based forms known as ‘beautiful’ for the first time ‘as-is’, meaning without requiring messianic permissions outside the pre-existing persuasiveness of seasons, phylums, and human situations in and of themselves—an interpretation of the theme, in these various options, in other words, purely based on the artwork’s subject.

For access to NAKED LUNCH 2022-2023 via Form, we seek Rafaelite vanishing points, voluminous bodies painted as if cut first in Donatello marble, then taken somewhere that accounts for all the other ideas that have shaped the human mind since 1500s Florence. Works that fixate literally or figuratively on the self portrait or artist-autobiography are also perfect here—artist process for the first time more removed from ecclesiastical benefactor-ship, and personal license for the first time more actively attributed to the self—now undertaken with more consistency in this period than any prior by Laviana Fontana, Dürer, Rafael, Leonardo Da Vinci (were he actually ‘Portrait of a Man in Red Chalk’)—Vasari’s own text, ‘The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects’, also helping makers of the day understand themselves as no mere laborers for overbearing Christendom alone.

Lastly, sought by NAKED LUNCH are works that epitomize our very idea of the ‘Renaissance Person’ as it has come to be known—multi-media works employing two or more mediums within themselves, artists with processes that extend beyond established norms in painting, sculpture, video work, et al—and employ these multiplied mediums together for a new direction in idea-making through visual language.

In NAKED LUNCH, what can be preserved, reasserted, rediscovered from Greek philosophy, ancient teachings, myth? Beau ideals and nude idylls have their thesis and antithesis. What intimacies—dazzlingly frank—can we cull from our bodies/ourselves in the wake of external pressures from political unrest that seek our attention from inner to outer transformations? Rainer Marie Rilke looked on the archaic torso of Apollo and had to change his life, while Shelley’s ‘traveler from an antique land’ relayed the impossibility of art to preserve the vitality of kingdoms—or even the very art that conveys them (though at least the legs of Ozymandias succeed in getting that idea across well enough). Classical printmakers like Tyler Krasowski infuse traditional pastoral scenes with intimate, anatomical events. Onyedika Chuke’s severed feet of Hermes still cock a hip, walking on water. C. Finley’s painted classical beauties imagine an antiquity fractured as if by stained glass in their oil retelling via digital flatnesses. Inventions like those of Stuart Lantry are nearly Michelangelian—those by Pippa Garner like post-war parodies of the Age of Invention Michelangelo was anticipating, only for a world of better living through advertising. Depictions of Rafael-esque forums in updated forms (like the painted hardcore shows of Todd Bienvenu), Dante-esque infernos (like the monstrous works by Aaron Johnson), More-esque utopias (aerial, representative islands by Sarah Fuhrman), not to mention all the indigenous thinking yet to be obliterated in the so-called Age of Discovery all have their place in this new year’s theme.

For NAKED LUNCH, new portraiture, complex realism, updates on the artist gaze, a “Renaissance” approach to multimedia, poetics and problems with objectification, and many happy Hellenistic returns are all sought in exploration of the Neo-Renaissance, as are works relating to laying nude the human person literally and metaphorically, moral ambiguities in arcadian revels, troubles in paradise both celebratory and enraged. The archaic torso of Apollo, in other words, run through the sieve of Italian dissidents, and tempered by the reality of Manet’s bohemian consciousness and syphilitic demise – this is the prima materia of the theme, NAKED LUNCH



The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, by Giorgio Vasari, Modern Library, 2006

The Lost Notebook of Édouard Manet, by Maureen Gibbon, W. W. Norton & Co., 2021

The New Negro: An Interpretation, by Alain Locke, Touchstone, 1999

The White Album, by Joan Didion, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009

The Holy Barbarians, by Lawrence Lipton, Martino Fine Books, 2010

Arabian Nights, The Book of the Thousand and One Nights, Burton Club, Special Edition, 1950

Creation, by Gore Vidal, Vintage, 2002

The Prince, by Nicollò Machiavelli, Penguin Classics, 2003

Artemisia Gentileschi and Feminism in Early Modern Europe, by Mary D. Garrard, Reaktion Books, 2020

Utopia, by Thomas More, Introduction by China Miéville, Essays by Ursula K. Le Guin, Verso, 2016

The Histories, Herodotus, Penguin Classics, 2015

Natural History, by Pliny the Elder, 77-79; re-released by Pliny the Younger, 1669, Penguin Classics, 1991

Tudors, by Peter Ackroyd, Thomas Dunne Books, 2012

The Dream Life of Balso Snell, by Nathaneal West, Green Light, 2011

Selected Poems, by Langston Hughes, Vintage Classics, 1990

The Essential Rumi, Translation by Coleman Barks, HarperOne, 2004

I Modi (The Ways) or The Sixteen Pleasures, by Marcantonio Raimondi, 1524

Oscar Wilde Writing Double FeatureThe Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde, Signet, 2007; Oscar Wilde and Ancient Greece, by Iain Ross, Cambridge University Press, 2015 

Xenia & Xenaphobia: The Odyssey, by Homer, Translated by Emily Wilson, W.W. Norton & Co., 2018; Ulysses, by James Joyce, Vintage Re-issue Edition, 1990; Contempt, by Alberto Moravia, Translated by Angus Davidson, New York Review Book, 1999; Circe, by Madeline Miller, Little, Brown & Co., 2018



Picnic At Hanging Rock (dir. Peter Weir, 115 min, 1975)

Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (dir. Chantal Akerman, 201 min, 1975)

Kiss and Make-Up (dir. Harlan Thompson, 78 min, 1934)

Querelle (dir. Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 108 min, 1982)

Contempt (dir. Jean-Luc Goddard, 101 min, 1963)

Swept Away (dir. Lina Wertmuller, 114 min, 1974)

Blind Beast (dir. Yasuzo Masumura, 86 min, 1969)

Woodstock (dir. Michael Wadleigh, 224 min, 1970)

The Picture of Dorian Gray (dir. Albert Lewin, 110 min, 1945)

Fireworks (dir. Kenneth Anger, 14 min, 1947)

Pasolini’s Free Love Trilogy: The Decameron (dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini, 106 min, 1971); Canterbury Tales (dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini, 111 min, 1972); Arabian Nights (dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini, 130 min, 1974)

And Their Ambivalent CorollaryTeorema (dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini, 98 min, 1968)

Pasolini’s Brutal Rebound from the Free Love Renaissance: Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini, 116 min, 1975)

The Agony and the Ecstasy (dir. Carol Reed, 138 min, 1965)

Before Night Falls (dir. Julian Schnabel, 133 min, 2000)

Walkabout (dir. Nick Roeg, 100 min, 1971)

Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (Albert Lewin, 122 min, 1951) *Tony Shafrazi’s favorite film

Party Girl (dir. Nicholas Ray, 99 min, 1958) 



Peter Blanchette with the Virtual Consort, Archguitar Renaissance

Dorothy Ashby, The Rubáiyat of Dorothy Ashby

Duke Ellington, Early Ellington: The Complete Brunswick and Vocellion Recordings

Chaz Bundick Meets the Mattson 2, Star Stuff

Domenique Dumont, People on Sunday / Kraftwerk, Rolf Und Florian

Susumu Yokota, Symbol

Brian Eno, Another Green World

Dolce Mémoire & Denis Raisin Dadre, L’Italie Renaissance

Joni Mitchell, Court and Spark

Ennio Morricone, Teorema / La Stagione dei sensi / Vergogna schifosi (Original Motion Picture Soudtrack)

The Swingle Singers, Jazz Sebastian Bach Volumes 1 & 2

John Zorn, Nove Cantici Per Francesco D’Assisi

The Tom Tom Club, Downtown Rockers

Donald Fagen, The Nightfly

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherezade

MGMT, Congratulations

You Must Remember This (Podcast), Porno Chic and the Brief Heyday of X Ratings