R.E.M. Frontman Michael Stipe to Debut Artworks at Fondazione ICA Milano

The show will be filled with photography, sculpture, ceramics, books and video.

Michael Stipe, the singer-songwriter for the iconic band R.E.M., will debut a large exhibition of multimedia artworks at the Fondazione ICA Milano from December 12 to March 16, 2024, titled “I have lost and I have been lost but for now I’m flying high.”

In a display mixing brand-new and existing, but never-shown works, Stipe will gather a “large self-portrait composed of portraits,” according to the foundation’s description of the exhibition, which marks the artist’s first in an Italian museum. All undated, these pieces will range from a series of minimalist plaster busts and rounded, abstract forms painted with pigment-filled spray bottles, to photographs made with silver gelatin on fiber, as well as ceramics, books, and a video installation.

The show is curated by the foundation’s director Alberto Salvadori and features nods to ancient Greek sculpture as well as artists such as Constantin Brancusi, Marisa Merz. It coalesces around the poem Desiderata (1927) by Max Ehrmann, which delves into our shared fragility, and why it is in fact a veritable secret power.

Work by © Michael Stipe Photo by David Belisle.

Work by © Michael Stipe Photo by David Belisle.

“Vulnerability emerges as a ‘superstrength’ in this dynamic,” stated the artist in an exhibition text. “It’s a map that describes the difficulties of our present, while highlighting new opportunities and a renewed understanding of our importance—not only to ourselves but also to those around us, to our communities, to our world. In this moment I choose to focus on the most precious commodity beyond time, which is the brilliance, beauty, and playfulness of life.”

The exhibition will also include a new book of Stripe’s photographs, published by Damiani Books and the foundation.

Stipe, born in 1960, studied art at the University of Georgia before his music career took off, but he continued to incorporate the visual arts into his rockstar life and regularly collaborated with other artists, such as the self-taught Howard Finster, to design R.E.M. album covers. Outsider art has been an important musical inspiration for Stipe, who has long collected and promoted the genre.


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