When costume reveals as much as it conceals
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Artist Jayson Musson burst into the art world’s consciousness in a disguise. He was “Hennessy Youngman,” a YouTuber art critic bringing an outsider black angle to commentary on high art phenomena like the conceptual artist Bruce Nauman, the genre of performance art, and the delicate dance known as the studio visit. His moniker combined references to comedian Henny Youngman, “the king of the one-liners,” and Hennessy cognac. Art in America magazine called him “Ali G with an MFA.” He would later bring his singular, sardonic sensibility to painting by creating artworks made from Coogi sweaters, the multicolored garment associated with the rapper Notorious B.I.G. and the comedian Bill Cosby in his role as Dr. Huxtable on “The Cosby Show”; and create his own brand of television with a series about Jamel, a time-traveling character in Adidas tracksuit and a do-rag.
The Bronx-born artist lives in Brooklyn and has had solo exhibitions internationally, from New York’s Salon 94 to Zidoun-Bossuyt Gallery, in Luxembourg. Among the many group exhibitions to his credit are “Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art,” organized by the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston; “I Was Raised on the Internet,” at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; and “Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art” at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art. Musson earned a BFA at the University of the Arts, in Philadelphia, and an MFA at the University of Pennsylvania.