I am very excited to introduce my first print series – these are 3 color photopolymer etchings with embossing.
I see a lot of art…more than most. In the past 10 years, I have seen roughly 1000 museum exhibitions and 2500 gallery exhibitions all over the world; that coupled with books, magazines, websites, television, restaurants, offices, and homes…well, it adds up to a LOT of artwork.
I enjoy looking at artwork on my own – I like to take my own time to experience and react to it without someone else telling me what I should think about the art. Even so, I find it so helpful to seek out knowledge, opinions and insights of others.
This past year I made the effort to visit with about 100 artists – going to their studios, their homes, meeting them for coffee, and seeing them at their shows. These artists are almost always willing to take the time out to talk about their work and explain the ideas and processes that go into producing their art.
When I go gallery hopping, I like to look around at my own pace without the feeling that a salesperson is hovering over my shoulder – it just seems like pressure and takes my focus away from interacting with the art. However, I do like to understand what the art is all about so once I have taken some time to see the work for myself, I engage gallerists to tell me about what I am seeing. I usually want to know about the current body of work, about how the pieces relate to other works by the artist and about why the gallerist feels like it matters. Gallerists & dealers are willing advocates for the artworks they show and the artists they represent.
When I go to museums, I read the literature – the curators take pride in revealing the ideas behind the shows they present. Usually, volunteers are around and willing to discuss the works on show, and frequently guided tours are available. Discussions by artists, curators, collectors and critics are often listed in the programs. When I know that I am going to see a show, I will ask other people about their thoughts on it and if I have the opportunity to revisit it, I find someone with interest in the show to join me so I can get their reactions to the art and hopefully learn from their observations.
I like to believe that the response to art is my own, but understanding the artist’s objectives and how it is received by others, their observations about techniques, inspirations, historial references and influences all give me clues with which I form my opnions.
I was recently in at a discussion with a group of artists and Ben Rasmussen was showing his photos from around the world – some beautiful images of rather remote locations and of totally unfamiliar customs. I remarked that I feel like I have a “tourist’s eye of the world” – I travel and I see a lot, but to be honest I’m like most and really only get the tourist view.
It’s the same with art: I do see an awful lot of art – most of it on my own, but I usually get only a superficial glance. I get the most out of it when I take the time to engage others in a shared experience.
Last Saturday, I got to go with a dozen other members of the new Clyfford Still Museum on a tour of the Kent & Vicki Logan’s art collection…what a treat! It was a terrific day – the weather up in the mountains was perfect, the group fun and interesting and the art…amazing!!
To be sure, the Logans have a lot of great contemporary art, but for me the key to the success of their collection is really that they personally enjoy the works they acquire and that they are disciplined in their focus.
The Logans are kind and generous – their collection has been gifted to SFMOMA and the Denver Art Museum and they frequently invite the museums and art schools to access the works for exhibitions and study. In 2 decades they have amassed a thousand pieces of contemporary art that represent the best examples from artists working in the past 30-40 years that have influenced the worldwide movement of art. They have a decidely modern aesthetic, interest in Asian contemporary art and frequently a leaning for pop and shock.
It was exciting to see the works & especially to see the Logans living with the art in their home: Juan Munoz in the entrance, Warhol and Hirst in the living room, Richter in the dining room, Eliasson in the kitchen, Basquiat in the hallway, Marilyn Minter in the bedroom, Yue Minjun, Neo Rauch, Ed Ruscha, Kiki Smith and on and on.
As we passed through the rooms of their home, I began to wonder if there were artists whose works they thought maybe were missing or artwork that they’d like to acquire if only their parameters were different. As a group we came up with a few – either they didn ‘t quite work with their aesthetic, or the Logans didn’t feel they influenced their peers or they were outside the contemporary period of their focus.
All week long I have found myself reflecting on the collection and the parameters they set for themselves: They only buy art that they like; they buy art of the times (1960s-present day) and they buy art from artists that are addressing issues that confront us as a society and that are influencing the movement of art. They resist the temptation to get pieces just because someone else thinks they should & they eschew pieces that they like when they don’t work in the context of their collection.
Last week I got back from a whirlwind tour of the art scene in DC. I was tagging this expedition onto the tail end of a trip to the beach for Labor Day. It turns out that my timing was not the very best – a lot of galleries and museum shows were just beginning to stage new shows for the Fall. Even so, there is always an enormous amount of art to look at – these shows represented my top 5 for this trip:
- Kandinsky & the Harmony of Silence: Painting w/White Border (Closing @ the Phillips)
- Stella Sounds: The Scarlatti K Series (Closing @ the Phillips)
- Chris Martin: Painting Big (Corcoran)
- Asian American Portraiture Now (National Portrait Gallery)
- In the Tower: Nam June Paik (Closing at The National Gallery)
Last week, I got to go on a hard hat tour of the new Clyfford Still museum. It is coming into the home stretch, opening here in Denver in just 2 short months. Really, this is great for the city and great for the art world. The museum opening and the unveiling of Still’s body of work is really the most important art event happening in the world this year. http://www.clyffordstillmuseum.org
Last month my partner & I got to go to Europe and we wound up seeing a lot of art along the way (I know, for me that is a surprise, LOL). We got to see the medieval artist village of Eze, the Mudéjar throughout Barcelona, the Moorish influences in Ibiza and Tunis, the frescos in Carthage, the mosaics in Pompei, the beaux arts in Corsica, and the Renaissance and Baroque art throughout Rome. All in all it was a satisfying dose of Art History and a glimpse into the homogenization of cultures throughout the millennia.
We were both struck by the love-hate relationship with comtemporary art & design from the controversy of the Ara Pacis in Rome, the tepid response to the Bernar Venet sculptures in Nice, contrasted with the Tête au carré, the embrace of Art Deco, Gaudi & Picasso in Barcelona, and Oscar Niemeyer’s Music Auditorium in Ravello.
We were so excited to see Renzo Piano’s Parco della Musica and Zaha Hadid’s new MAXXI museum in Rome. It was really surprising to see 3 museums in Rome dedicated to contemporary art – the buildings are great and over time, they will really grow into their programming. There were some really great things to see – my top 5:
- Michelangelo Pistoletto – “Da Uno a Molti 1956-1974.”
- Adriano Tranquilli – “All is Violent. All is Bright.”
- “Italy goes on Holiday” – curated by Francesca Fabiani
- Vittorio Messina – “Eighties are Back!”
- Tomas Saraceno – “Cloudy Dunes. When Friedman meets Bucky on Air-Port-City”
- The bathroom in the MACRO
I went to the beach over the holiday but now I am busy looking at art in Washington, DC before heading home.
So far, one of the highlights of the trip has been my visit with Royce Burton over at his gallery near the Phillips Collection. He has an extensive inventory of prints and showed me some gorgeous Diebenkorns, Rauschenbergs, and a precious little piece from Kenneth Noland’s Circle Series made out of handmade paper. However, my absolute favorite was a mixograph by Louise Bourgeois, Crochet IV. It is perfect!