Beer In Art #20: Robert Melee’s Beer Bottle Cap Mosaics

I found yet another artist using discarded beer bits, in this case crowns — what most people call bottle caps — to create fine art. Robert Melee is an artist from New Jersey, who also maintains a studio in New York. The main piece for today is entitled Unrendered Quasi-Articulated Chic Substitution, and was completed in 2003. It’s made of enamel, plaster, beer bottle caps on wood, and is 48 1/2 inches in diameter.

He currently has an exhibition at Andrew Kreps Gallery in New York City. The exhibition also includes a few other beer bottle cap works, such as Anti-Disassembled Substitution.

Another art blog, Edward Winkelman, describes this work as follows.

Robert titles each of these works some sort of “substitution.” And although I’ve actually discussed what this means with him, I’m still not totally sure. Beer as a substitution for love? It’s a painful notion.

Edward Winkelman has one more Melee bottle work, Redefined Gradual Substitution.

This work described like so:

As noted, the circles are beer bottle caps sunk in plaster, and although they do reference the alcoholism, suburbia, and dysfunction explored in his photography and videos, here they obviously serve a formal function and reference Pop Art and Op Art, and eyes, and give Robert a recognizable, accessible vocabulary unit that lends the work a clunky elegance (I LOVE “clunky elegance”). Besides, polka dots have been hot for a while (think Damien Hirst or Sigmar Polke) and whenever a motif crops up in various artists’ work, it usually suggests a zeitgeist of some sort.

There’s one more bottle cap woth at the Kreps Gallery, which is a curtain of crowns entitled Substitute Anti Sucklucking Substitution.

From Wikipedia:

Robert Melee (born 1966) is an artist based in NYC and Asbury Park, New Jersey. Melee was born in New Jersey. He makes multimedia art – videos, installations, collages. – His work is often compared to that of John Waters and Andy Warhol due to its overt campness. He is also a painter. He attended the School of Visual Arts in New York from 1986 – 1990.

There’s not much else about Melee out there, though there a post about his public sculptures at School of Visual Arts’ Continuing Education Blog, a New York Times review, and a piece about an exhibition at the Milwaukee Art Museum.



  1. says

    That’s pretty cool stuff. I’ve been saving bottle caps for a few years and plan to make a mirror the shape of a beer bottle. Hopefully, this will go in my future hypothetical basement bar. Who knew bottle caps could be such a cool medium.

    • says

      Are you kidding? Or did you simply open too many beer bottles caps yourself before hitting the send button? “Clearly photoshopped?” Did you bother to read this, click on the links or Google Melee? If you’d done any one of those things, you’d have learned that Melee is a well-known fine artist and there are numerous news items about his work at exhibitions, including photographs of his art hanging in museums and galleries. But I guess it’s easier to remain ignorant and snarky. Sheesh.


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