the contemporary art of FAILE


Faile Savage/Sacred Young Minds is an exhibition currently at The Brooklyn Museum of Art that is getting a lot of attention in the press, so I decided to check it out. Warning: this is not your typical museum art exhibition and you are bound to have an extreme opinion of what you witness!



Faile is the artistic name under which the two Brooklyn based Patricks (McNeil and Miller) have been working for the last 15 years. They take ideas and pieces found in mainstream pop culture and put their own twist on them. Having developed their own brand of street art, their work contains veiled messages about today’s consumer culture. Their works on view at the Brooklyn Museum include prints, paintings, ceramics, marble sculpture and an interactive video arcade in collaboration with another Brooklyn artist called Bäst that is quite an experience! Apparently Faile are big into interactive experiences that allow the viewer to engage with their art. For those of us with a more classical approach to art (nowadays, even someone like Basquiat is classical!), it’s a very different concept.



I think the first thing that struck me was the crowd – there was a huge line to get into the show and the rooms were packed with young hipsters who I would not necessarily expect to see spending their weekend at a museum. It was interesting to hear their comments and see their obvious enthusiasm for the work. One admirer told me that Faile always signs their work somewhere in the piece, so it’s fun to try to spot where it is. He also noted that they include “1986” in many works, but he couldn’t explain what the significance of that was. Doing a bit of homework later I discovered that 1986 represents the date of the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster, an image often repeated in the artist’s early works.



Portions of the crowd clearly loved the bright neon colors and were attracted to works that reference pulp fiction covers and comic book. Others found the sculpture, the video arcade and the ruined temple to humanity more interesting. I think all of the hipsters liked that Faile sets out to breakdown art into terms accessible to lay people by using visuals culled from our everyday world … they carry the torch into the future for the Pop Art movement of the mid-20th century.



I have to say I wasn’t expecting much from this show, but I came away a Faile convert. I always try to get “real” art into my projects and working with younger clients who do not necessarily have an art background, I think works like this are the perfect entry point to fine art. These large canvases would look great in a modern home where they couldn’t help but to be the center of attention. A friend thought he might grow tired of the brash colors, but like with any art (Warhol’s neon images come to mind), you buy what you love because its connects with you. If you do that, you’ll never regret owning a work of art. I applaud the Brooklyn Museum for staging a show that pushes the very definition of what a museum should do.

I look forward to seeing how Faile continues to grow and develop their style.



Richard Rabel is a New York Interior Designer and Principal at Richard Rabel: Interiors+ Art, a studio offering residential design, decorating and art advising.

image credit: Faile and The Brooklyn Museum of Art.