Friday, November 15, 2013

The Last Time Art Changed the Way I See the World Was...

...yesterday, but I'll get to that in a moment.

As Jerry Saltz recently observed about the decision to bring a work to auction while its artist was having a major museum retrospective (a serious context in which we would expect the artist's lifework to that point to receive a full appreciation), the seller was essentially "shifting discussion from art to money, while exploiting the market as much as possible." Indeed, this past week has seen a huge shift in the discussion from art to money, with art journalists publishing such breathless quotes about the auctions they would make Victorian romance novelists blush. Everywhere we went this week, the record-setting prices were the main art world talking point. Hell, they even mentioned them repeatedly on 1010 WINS all news radio station, which despite broadcasting what's going on in New York 24/7, otherwise never seems to have space to cover the arts.

Looking at the subject lines of three emails that arrived in my inbox just this morning, I see what's demanding my attention is indeed heavily slanted toward money: 
  • Investment Pieces: 6 Artworks You Should Collect This Month
  • Living Artists: A Week of Records Sees Strong Performance by JeffKoons [sic], Christopher Wool, and Gerhard Richter
  • Art Miami and CONTEXT Excel at All Levels of the Art Market
Murat noted the other day that we barely have an "art world" in New York any more. It's been replaced almost entirely with an "art industry." 

This, however, is a choice New York can make or reject.

We run a business and we're are not at all opposed to discussing money, but we chose this business (rather than other more sensible ways to make money) because we also enjoy discussing art. But to do that requires creating a context in one's own mind worthy of the art. It requires setting aside the time and space to do so. It requires turning off the noise emanating from the non-stop market coverage, and carving out room for a different dialog to co-exist. In other words, with things moving as quickly as they do and all the demands of simply surviving, it requires discipline to stop and let yourself truly look at what artists are spending their lifetimes trying to get us to see. We do this as part of our jobs within the gallery, but I realized from Murat's comment that I need to make sure I do so more outside the gallery as well. And so, I made a conscious decision yesterday, between countless emails and phone calls about money, to enact some discipline in my own life. 

And I will challenge you to do so as well. It's not hard to put yourself in the frame of mine to be open to art over money. Just ask yourself "When was the last time art changed the way I see the world?" and what remains of the "art world" in New York immediately begins to look quite different. 

The answer to that question need not be monumental. Discipline is gained through repetition and awareness, not necessarily through some huge life-changing epiphany. Simple observations accumulate into a new world view over time. But the commitment to practicing is essential.

So, when was the last time art changed the way I see the world? Yesterday. 

We attended the opening of Sarah Morris' exhibition at Petzel. We had been lucky enough to see Morris' exhibition at White Cube in London a month ago or so, where we first saw her new film, the installation of which looked spectacular and really impressed us with its scale and resolution (being the moving-image-art installation geeks that we are). We know directors/artist liaisons in both galleries and were discussing the New York installation of the film a few nights ago with one (before the show opened), wondering how it might differ in what's a very nice but considerably smaller gallery. So we entered the installation with a business-minded agenda, thinking we had seen the film, but realizing when we stopped to look last night that we hadn't yet quite "seen" the film. This time we both realized why this piece needs to be projected so large, it's not the grandeur that we left thinking about, but the way the scale showed us more about the use of big shapes of solid color against geometric grids or patterns (much the way Morris focuses on such in her paintings). The scene in which this popped for me involved the camera moving around a lime green VW Bug, with the architecture behind it serving as grid/ground, which clicked for me as an echo of the shapes in her painting Casa das Canoas [Rio]. Not that the VW had anything to do with the Niemeyer classic, mind you, as much as how it revealed a bit the way Morris sees the world around her, and how I might do so too.

The scale of the projection was critical to this. On a smaller monitor, I'm not sure we would have so readily connected the film (which we hadn't slowed down enough to see in London) to the paintings. Moreover, though, doing so stayed with me such that when, later, after a birthday celebration with a Prohibition era theme (which I note only to explain the hat [see below]), I was reminded of the VW scene when Murat stepped in front of this car in the West Village. At first I was struck merely by the palette of autumn browns, but then the big shapes of solid color became more apparent to me, and how they stood out against the geometry of the fence across the street. 

It was a modest observation, sure, but an immensely enjoyable one, set in motion only because I had committed myself to practicing shutting out the noise of the market for a few minutes and trying to see something new through the eyes of an artist. Some way of viewing the world that was new for me. Which is why I got into the art world in the first place.

And so...for you? When was the last time art (someone else's preferably) changed the way you see the world? If you can't's perhaps time to rearrange your daily habits just a bit. But if you can, please share.


Anonymous Liz-N-Val said...

Well said!....

11/15/2013 11:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sarah Morris , I like the precision in her work . she uses mostly feminine colors .there is a light blue she uses that is very close to a Volkswagen light blue. Every time I have seen that color on a Volkswagen it has always been the convertible beetle model with a young women driving it with her hair blowing in the wind.

In music no mater how simple, your instruments have to be in tune you have to keep proper time ,play in the right key for it to work.

Art is weird , Richard Tuttle is my current favorite artist , I had a very hard time with his work it when I first saw it . In my mind I violently rejected the work . I knew their was something there I stuck with it and figured it out.

How can a Richard Tuttle Sculpture stand up to a Richard Serra Sculpture or Bernini? It just does, fucking crazy.

11/16/2013 03:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Edit ::: What I meant to say is Sarah Morris's work has a Female Geometric vibe to it . not that she uses mostly feminine colors, she does not. sorry.

11/16/2013 03:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gosh, this is great. Thank you! The last time art changed my world was running through graduate open studios at RISD in my locale on Friday. I forget just how astonishing artists can be, and to see them all crowded together in 2-3 buildings, it is overwhelming and energizing. Talented and kind grad students baking pizzas in kilns, shucking oysters in furniture studios, and serving up a wide variety of beautiful and thoughtful objects and experiences. I was humbled by their kindness and reminded of why I make paintings.

11/17/2013 09:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Gan said...

Me its been two art works. One you've already ruled out - which is a shame for I think artists create art to fulfill that paradigm shift need. We're hooked on it almost ...

But the other which is just as inspiring is by Greg Dunn,
Diplomed in Neuroscience, he explores our neuron structures with a Zen like observation/sensibility. The juxtaposition of the asian aesthetic with neurosciences exploration/revealing of our bodies on a micro almost nano level gives me pause once more on that macro/micro lesson of simplicity within the complexity of our being. Even the gloden metallic juxtapostion to the biological messiness of our acuality gives cause for wonder. ... and then I can't get enough of the possibilities inherent in his technological exploration of mcirosculptured graving techniques for embedding different (RGB -like) channels into the print/paintings surface - I'm still hooked on techniques that allow a painting to be able to change its visual heirarchy under changing visual conditions and this new technique is something I'd like to explore in addition to what I already use.

Wonderful in itself, and inspiring in its possibilities - as art should be - open ended

11/18/2013 10:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My old Sears percolating coffee maker died Sunday I was in a panick. You know how difficult it is to find a percolator in a store? I went to 4 stores.

This Coffee pot is a work of art. Sleek Stainless Steel and a Glass top it sounds like a train when you fire it up . The cherry on top is a green emerald on light that lights up the kithchen in a green glow.

Have you ever had a dream were Lee Marvin is trying to kill you?

Maybe that's what Hell will be like, Lee Marvin chasing me thru a strange city trying to kill me.

11/19/2013 08:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Amory Blaine said...

Robert Gober in the middle of the Whitney Biennial a few years ago. The biennial with all the cock-wagging boy's club nonsense. Gober's twenty or so images were so simple and readable, but confounding in how they collapsed time and space and confused human forms and flotsam. Elegant, tragic fractured simple kaleidoscopes in black and white.

And instruction in economy and its power. Personal and political. Also, answers the question, "Why make black and white photographs?"

11/23/2013 08:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a lovely piece and comments. I bought a ceramic sculptuure a few weeks ago and it was the funniest purchase. I had no intention of really buying itanything but as I walkee past tons of stuf the complexity of all the shapes and the solidity of the overall form just popped at me and I picked it up without thinking. It was much like buying a grocery item. It hit me in such a fundamental way that it became a neccessary item not a luxury purchase. Now each day I see it and the luxury of looking at it is settling in

11/30/2013 05:56:00 PM  

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