Eli Russell Linnetz Creates Mount Rushmore Pizza Oven at L.A. Gallery

L.A. fashion’s favorite multihyphenate Eli Russell Linnetz has added another dash to his bona fides.

The designer-photographer-writer-director, born in Venice Beach, Calif., has opened his debut art exhibition at the Jeffrey Deitch gallery in Hollywood and it’s as wonderfully wacky as you’d expect.

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Titled “Monuments,” the show looks at iconographic symbols of American culture. Chief among them is a monumental sculpture of Mount Rushmore with a fully functional pizza oven built inside, which guest chefs including star Evan Funke are being invited to try out at gallery-hosted dinners. It’s made of foam, fiberglass and car paint.

“I tried to encapsulate America into one sculpture,” said Linnetz, wearing a chef’s toque at the opening party, where naturally, pizza was served and ERL skater pants and tank tops were de riguer. “This is for people who don’t want to go to Mount Rushmore. And a few people who have been to Mount Rushmore said this is better.”

Other monuments in the show include a rack of hoodies loaded with uneasy American symbolism, and a fallen Statue of Liberty that will be familiar to guests of the 2023 edition of Pitti Uomo, where a similar work was a fixture at the menswear fair’s central hub, and Linnetz presented his first stand-alone men’s runway show for spring 2024.

Eli Russell Linnetz: "Monuments"
Eli Russell Linnetz: “Monuments”

There are also several paintings on display, which are abstracted presidential portraits of Theodore Roosevelt, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and others built to the scale of the real portraits they are based on. “I love the abstraction with the matte gray of the painting and taking something and totally flattening it. It’s also inspired by ‘North By Northwest.’ I really wanted to get Eva Marie Saint here,” he said of the Hitchcock heroine who turned 100 on July 4.

Eli Russell Linnetz: "Monuments"
Eli Russell Linnetz: “Monuments”

The gallery text for the exhibition, which is open through Aug. 3, calls Linnetz “one of the preeminent contemporary interpreters of American nostalgia…who has reinvigorated the exploration of the American past and present for a new generation.” Prices for the works start at $15,000.

“I am always interested in creative forces like Eli who are expanding the definition of art and the artist,” said Deitch of his interest. “I began following Eli’s interventions into the fashion system and saw that what he was doing was as much art as fashion. I invited him to develop a project for my gallery. When he described his concept for a Mount Rushmore pizza oven, I knew we had to make it happen. Miraculously we now have a Mount Rushmore pizza oven in the gallery, with pizza served every Saturday.”

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