Curation, the care for and display of collections, used to be the exclusive province of museums. No longer. We’ve mentioned the blur between retail and museums before, and the Moss design store in New York offers as good a chance to catch up on the latest trends in the decorative arts as any museum. Murray Moss has been at this for 14 years and his store even has the look of a museum with sleek cabinets, guard rails and attendants telling you not to take photographs. All the objects on view are carefully selected and beautifully displayed thematically, chronologically, or according to some order more mysterious than either. It’s fitting that the first Moss store was opened in a space previously used as a dealer gallery.
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
When the New York dealer galleries moved to SoHo in the sixties and later to Chelsea and the meatpacking district, no one would have fingered the Bowery as potential real estate for a major art museum. Looking back there were some signs of course. The Bowery had been home, even through its roughest times, for a number of artist studios. Cheap rents weighed up against a wide and sometimes hostile avenue of broken glass, ominous shadows, fires burning in 40 gallon drums and constant requests for handouts. One artist who stayed the distance with a Bowery address was new Zealand-born Max Gimblett. His studio now butts up against the New Museum, the smart SANNA-designed building that will no doubt accelerate change on the Bowery and its neighbourhood. The New Museum has already purchased the building that houses Gimblett’s studio and home. Gimblett appears to have responded with one of his signature quatrefoil shapes marking his patch in the dark of his studio window.
The New Museum has come for some criticism that its galleries are overly understated, too small and lack finish. To us they are close to perfect with the subtle touch of the building’s screened facades expressed deep into its interiors. Marcia Tucker, the founding director of the New Museum, never confused the importance of flash and finish with the showing of art. Her legacy is a museum where form, quietly, elegantly and intelligently, follows function.
Images: Left the New Museum. Right Max Gimblett’s studio with quatrefoil.
Monday, December 29, 2008
It’s a familiar story. Artists or art galleries find a cheap part of town to live and work in and the money follows. The result – in New York anyway – is kinda gross. Take 24th Street in Chelsea. First time we visited Dia: Chelsea the street was full of taxi garages and busy. A few years later it was art galleries and stretch limos and busy. Today it was apartments, including our favourite “Limited Edition: apartments with en suite garages (that’s on all floors). Many of the galleries have moved out to the Meat Packing district (guess what activity doesn’t happen there anymore). One other thing, the day we went the Chelsea dealer galleries were definitely not busy.
Image: From the left, the West, middle and East end of Chelsea’s 24th Street, New York.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
The idea of Museum Quality framing is a strange one. Museums often have in-house specialists who spend their time replicating the frames of paintings from the outside world. Come to think of it all works come into museums from the outside world and most of them are framed when they enter. We’ve even seen museum replicas of those slender aluminium frames that artists used to put around big abstract works in the seventies. Maybe it refers to museum quality, non-reflecting glass. While the effect is certainly impressive, the expense usually puts it way beyond the amount people who use framing shops are prepared to spend. Chances are ‘museum quality’ has become another brand attribute: the sort of quality you expect to find in museums whether they are responsible for it or not.
Posted by jim and Mary at 6:59 AM
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
If you’ve been with OTN for the last year or so you’ll know we had a run on versions of The Raft of the Medusa by Théodore Géricault triggered by Auckland Art Gallery’s The Arrival of the Maoris in New Zealand by Louis J. Steele and Charles F. Goldie. If not, you can catch up with them here, here and here. So how could we resist the versions of the well known Géricault poses of anguish and despair in Los Angeles we saw at the Martin Kippenberger survey? Typically Kippenberger had put a couple of layers between him and the nineteenth century French painter. His paintings were based on drawings that were in turn based on photographs taken of Kippenberger posing as the raft survivors by his wife Elfie Semotan. As Kippenberger created his Medusa series he was only a year away from dying of cancer. The Medusa self portraits are generally agreed to reflect his own deterioration.
Images: Top, Elfie Semotan photographs of Martin Kippenberger in Medusa poses from the MoCA catalogue. Bottom, Elfie Semotan.
There is a long history of books that attempt to capture the artist in the studio. Starting with Alexander Liberman’s The Artist in his studio via Anthony Armstrong Jones’s Private View with tributaries including our Contemporary New Zealand Painters A-M – you can read the N-Z list here. To sneak a peek into these private places paradoxically intended for the creation of public imagery, spaces designed to both show-off and conceal, is always fascinating. By now just about every country must have a version of the Lieberman original. We’ve seen an Australian one, or maybe two, and Eamonn McCabe (photographs) and Michael McNay’s Artists and their studios must be one of many UK efforts. Since magazines started taking an interest in artists and how they lived books like these have lost much of their old immediacy. But it’s still fun checking out what’s in the background, guessing at the dates of the early work stacked against the wall, studying exactly how the materials are arranged, and seeing the books, postcards and notes important enough to be kept close. Having said that, McCabe and McNay’s version is a pretty bland example of the genre. McCabe gets in too close editing out the mess and detail; he revels but forgets to reveal. Still, if you have a streak of the voyeur in you, books like Artists and their studios always have charm.
Images: Bottom Bridget Reilly, who also appeared in the Armstrong Jones book also gets a couple of pages in the McCabe, McNay effort.
Monday, December 22, 2008
If you want to know what art people actually do in Wellington, go to Auckland. Departing the plane via the connecting bridge, we passed through an Air New Zealand guide to New Zealand, each city and major town stripped to its essentials. So what do the “arty types” of Wellington get up to in the cultural capital? It’s not good. Apparently you will find them either “drinking coffee on Cuba Street” or at Te Papa “gazing at paintings.”
Posted by jim and Mary at 11:59 AM
Something we often ask ourselves when we see great work is whether we might have purchased it at the time it was made. In the case of the amazing Martin Kippenberger show on at MoCA in Los Angeles, we had to admit, that as painful as it is, the answer would have to be no. Maybe we might have grasped his extravagant talent if we had been in Berlin or Cologne at the time…. ok probably not then either. Kippenberger’s sweeping shifts of focus and deeply connected subject matter remain remarkably challenging as art. The major retrospective exhibition at MoCA and the Geffen Contemporary is astonishing. There is one of the crucified Fred Frogs (Feet First 1990) made during his time in LA and the cause of such a stir in Italy; there’s two life-sized figures of Kippenberger faced into the corners of the gallery (Martin Into the Corner. You Should be Ashamed of Yourself 1989) that have echoes in Michael Parekowhai’s mannequins Rich man Poor man; there are arrays of postcards, brochures, posters, catalogues; there are paintings by Kippenberger and paintings he commissioned to execute his ideas. And there’s the great installation The Problem Perspective marooned in the Geffen. Here multiple confrontations/ interviews are expressed in arrangements of (mainly) furniture. Bleachers at both ends of a floor painted like a soccer field along with a riotous video and sound track of cheer leaders who sing, “We love you Martin, oh yes we do.” Same.
Image: Martin Into the Corner. You Should be Ashamed of Yourself 1989
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Neil Dawson once told us that one of the reasons for hanging his sculptures in the air was to keep them out of the way of climbers, drunks and thieves. The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles probably thought its public sculpture (or should that be, temporary installation?), seeing as how it featured the baby Jesus, was safe from that sort of thing. Not so. We came across another example of Nativity nabbing when we were working on the exhibition When Art Hits the Headlines. In Taihape, a whole life-sized Nativity scene was stolen in the sixties, never to be recovered. The stolen figures were sculpted by a guy called Rosenberg, the same artist who made the giant concrete Madonna who greets drivers heading South into Paraparaumu.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
If you only buy one gift this Christmas, here’s the one to go for. The Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) Spectroscope. It’s used by the FBI to test fabrics and determine fake artworks without having to chip off samples. Our style editor tells us this handy little machine also does a better than good espresso.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Sculpture doesn't get too much press, but today not one but two photos of a public sculpture are featured in the Otago Daily Times. It turns out that a giant eagle is to join works by John Reynolds (cabbage trees) and Gavin Hipkins (billboards) at the Macraes Heritage and Art Park. Er... why an eagle? Apparently Michael Hill (the jeweler) was up at the Park one day and mentioned his son a) liked birds and b) was a sculptor. The eagle sculpture has a span of 12 meters, not the 54 meters of Antony Gormley's Angel of the North, but not too bad wingspan wise. The park will open to visitors next year.
“I remember when I first came to New York I was living in a loft over on Greenwich Street and it was barren, there was nothing in it but a mattress on the floor, I was living on maybe $75 a month. My mother came to see me. She looked out the window at the Hudson River and said, ‘Richard this is marvellous.’ ”
Richard Serra talking to Kynaston McShine
We’ve given public sculpture some stick over the years but so much of it panders to local councils or just plain gets in the way that it’s hard to hold back. So here, to redress the balance, and on what looks like becoming Richard Serra day, is a great description on what public sculpture can achieve from Serra himself.
“I don’t think public sculpture is going to change the world, but I do think it might be a catalyst for thought. To see is to think and to think is to see. If you can change someone’s way of seeing, you might change their way of thinking. That will be impossible if works don’t exist in public spaces. Work does not have to be unanimously accepted and liked and it doesn’t necessarily have to be great. Even with failures the fact of their existence creates a chance for changing thought and attitudes.”
Richard Serra in conversation with Kynaston McShine
Thursday, December 18, 2008
No one said this recession was going to be easy, and the cake stalls are already out in LA. To help get a multi-million dollar-for-dollar grant for MoCA via Eli Broad, a couple of artists have done some baking. Their cakes, breads and buns represent various American artists. You know the score, Jasper Johns: Flag cup cake, that sort of thing. That sounded like a good game to OTN so, for any local museum who needs the inspiration, here are some NZ art cakes dragged up from the depths of Google images.
Images: Clockwise from top left, The Binney, the Gimblett, the Parekowhai and the Dawson.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
The expression ‘Jumping the Shark’ comes from an episode of Happy Days. The Fonz (for those of you who remember) wearing both his signature leather jacket and water skis jumped over a live shark signalling to audiences that Happy Days had gone an episode too far. The expression now stands for something that hits an absurd and almost certainly unsustainable level. Sharks have marked two big cultural shifts over the last 40 years. The first was Jaws directed by 27-year-old Steven Spielberg in 1975. The world was in a deep recession brought on by oil embargos and Jaws jumped the movies into the modern age. Jaws was the first movie to use mass TV advertising and the first to open in wide release (409 theatres on Day One) rather than to build over months. With the shark came the beginning of high concept movies.
Fast forward to the recession of 1991 and 26-year-old Damien Hirst. When asked to make a work by advertising mogul Charles Saatchi, Hirst reached for a shark and created The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, as an early example of high concept art. Like Spielberg, Hirst changed the economics of his chosen sphere culminating in the Sotheby’s mega-auction Beautiful Inside My Head Forever.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
0 The number of Melbourne Art Fairs in 2009.
2 The number of venues hired by CNZ for New Zealand artists at the Venice Biennale.
3 The number of Karl Maughan paintings in the Saatchi collection.
23 The average number of exhibitions reviewed by John Hurrell per month over the last year.
27 The percentage of New Zealand artists included in the book Current who live in Australia.
50 Jenny Harper’s position in the Christchurch Press’s 2008 Power List.
54 The average age of the 15 women in Te Papa’s latest contemporary art exhibition.
2169 The average value in dollars of artworks in the Govett-Brewster’s permanent collection.
Monday, December 15, 2008
In some ways art museums ask for it. The white cube strangeness of it all, the temple-like hush, the don’t-touch, the guards, they all cry out for some sort of action. Doing-weird-things-in-art-galleries-before-the guards-catch-you has found favour with amateurs and professional artists alike. Dadaists, Viennese Actionists and more recently the UK Stuckists, among others, have built up a well documented history of getting on the nerves and up the noses of public institutions.
New Zealand’s leading art museum interventionists has to be Daniel Malone. In addition to the powder room work we’ve already mentioned, Malone also had a go at digging up the floor of the Auckland Art Gallery with a jack hammer. Dane Mitchell is another contender. He once placed twenty bucks in the Auckland Art Gallery donation box and then recorded his conversation with the Director as he asked for a partial refund. The goal of such interventions is always to get it done without asking permission. In the case of Jurbal Brown (who back in the late nineties threw up brightly-coloured food over paintings in public collections, including a Mondrian in MoMA, with the aim of “protesting against the stale, obedient, lifeless crusts hanging everywhere in museums”) permission clearly was never an option. Jurbal escaped the police but got a ticking-off from his art school. "We don't see it as artistic. We don't teach things like that." In the world of amateur interventions you can’t go past Jump For Joy the website that encourages people to jump in front of artworks and share their pics.
We bring this up only because a regular OTN-capped reader pointed us to NZ art educated Frank Fu intervening at the Pompidou in Paris. To watch Fu’s crew in white Spandex simulating sex in front of Francis Bacon’s Female Nude Standing In front of a Doorway 1972, go here, or jump for joy here.
Images: Top, left, Fu’s people having it off at the Pompidou, right, being shown off the premises. Bottom, Jumping the Beckman.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Our Style editor has come up with another great Christmas gift idea. These natty Philip Johnson glasses are perfect for anyone with a vision for a large building or a simple glass hut out the back. Beautifully tooled in some weird sort of plastic, each lens is designed to focus the sort of piercing look that is perfect for long meetings with demanding clients. You can snap up a pair of Philip Johnsons at the $2 shop. Please note: text changes to the packaging are extra.
Friday, December 12, 2008
“Has anyone seen the Serra?”
“No, it was out the back last time I looked.”
“Well, it’s not there now.”
“Must be, it weighs 38 tonnes, I mean you can’t carry it away in a backpack.”
“Look for yourself.”
“Oh My God.”
Fortunately, Richard Serra agreed to let the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid have a replica copy of Equal-Parallel: Guernica – Bengasi constructed at a German foundry. The sculpture was last on display in the museum in 1990 and then placed in storage. When the storage company went broke, the four 1.5 metre blocks of steel were AWOL. Serra generously allowed the replacement to be purchased at cost (E83,500), a big saving on the original 1986 price of E220,000. It is now back on display.
Image: Richard Serra's Equal-Parallel: Guernica – Bengasi. 1986
When we were in Melbourne we saw the exhibition Intimacy at ACCA (Australian Centre for Contemporary Art) curated by Anna MacDonald. There was some great work, including a wry set of drawings by Mutlu Çerkez based around responses to a profile he had set up with a dating agency serviced by a call centre. The resulting text drawings of the messages left for him had some connections for us with Ronnie van Hout’s stitch pictures of signs put up in dairies. In van Hout’s case the texts were requests posted by people searching for band members and rehearsal rooms. But back to Intimacy. From the far end of the exhibition we heard a very familiar sound. Anyone who had ever given (or sat through) a lecture in the 1970s and 1980s would have picked it immediately. A Carousel projector. The projected work was Nan Goldin’s Heartbeat. She had used the simple slide show format to remove her work from the slick multi-media presentations that have recently overwhelmed so many exhibitions. Goldin’s photo essay of friends exposing their most intimate moments was punctuated by the metronome–like beat of the Carousel moving forward one slide at a time. The counterpoint between this sturdy repetitious clunk neatly undercut the Sir John Tavener composition (sung by Bjork). Two thumbs up for the old technology.
PowerPoint has almost done for the Carousel projector. They stopped being manufactured in 2004 after more than 40 years of loyal service. Loading slides (upside down and back to front) into the 81 slots in the tray was a rite of passage for every aspiring presenter. And so was the inevitable moment when the metal ring at the base of the slide holder slipped and dumped every slide on the floor minutes before you were to go on. The Carousel projector was an icon. If you want to snap one up before they all vanish you might try Trademe. When we last looked one was going for $80.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
More on the White Heart hotel. Terry Urbahn tells us that the video we mentioned was in fact shot just around the corner from us in the Columbia Hotel in Cuba Street. So much for our knowledge of Wellington hotels. You can catch Terry’s installation The Sacred Hart at The Auckland Festival and The Film Archive as part of Terry Urbahn - Selected Works 1994 - 2008 in March next year.
Posted by jim and Mary at 2:10 PM
In the late 1970s and 1980s no visit to the Govett-Brewster was complete without a session in the White Hart. The art people crammed themselves into the public bar with the locals without any bother. We once went up for a show and one of our mothers insisted on staying at the White Hart rather than at our regular the Flamingo. Big mistake. The beds were way past their use-by date and the band didn’t stop until three in the morning. Now the White Hart only operates as a public bar, but the stag on the roof has just had a makeover. After all, it’s one of New Plymouth’s most famous sculptures (sorry Len). Its ear has been replaced, a new leg carved, and the lichen removed from the set of genuine antlers that spring from its solid mahogany head. From memory the stag has already been selected for one Govett-Brewster exhibition and can now look forward to another. During the restoration process a couple of moulds were taken so the stag can participate in Terry Urban’s upcoming The Sacred Heart. From memory again, Terry has already featured the bar of the White Hart in a video.
Images: Left, Before and right, after. The old joke in the title is available here.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Our OTN team is out and about looking for the sort of gifts you want to give this Christmas. This handy lens lets you take photos of that favourite painting in a public art museum while guards run up to tell you not to photograph your partner in the gallery. Just set the person you are pretending to photograph at right angles to the art work and bingo, copyright violation to go. Regular readers of OTN can pick up one of these handy periscope lenses to give to a loved one here for only $US50.
Further evidence that interest in New Zealand artists is growing in Australia comes in the form of a large coffee table book from the publishers of Art & Australia. Current offers a couple of double page spreads, and sometimes more, to around 80 artists. It’s a surprise to find that the Australian selection is evenly divide between men and women, while NZ only manages 4:15 and you’ve already guessed the sex of the 4. The book certainly looks great and includes essays by Justin Paton and a reprint of Robert Leonard’s Hello Darkness: New Zealand Gothic. This was originally published in issue 46 of Art & Australia so it’s good to have it in a more permanent form. Alongside Leonard and Paton are well-known Australian curators Nick Waterlow, Victoria Lynn and Rachel Kent. However, apart from Paton, who puts NZers and Australians together with ease, the writers stick resolutely to only mentioning artists from their respective countries. Perhaps it’s the current trend of presenting artist compilations alphabetically that gives the initial impression that New Zealand artists are fully integrated as part of an Australasian view. One day, maybe, Art & Australasia.
Images: Clockwise from top left, cover Sean Cordeiro and Claire Healy's Deceased estate and spreads featuring Yvonne Todd, Romanian orphen, Shane Cotton Outlook (white) and The Kingpins Welcome to the jingle.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
News just in from The Independent that Damien Hirst has forced a 16-year-old artist to return money earned from his collages featuring Hirst’s diamond-encrusted skull along with the collages themselves. For the love of God. Hirst contacted Dacs the UK copyright protection Society to get the cash and art works.
OTN, committed to keeping you up to date on all the latest skull art news.
Images: Top, The Hook of Maui a 1.3 million, 35 metre fish hook planned for Wellington’s Northern entrance, designed by Oscar-nominated director Taika Waititi, artist Claude Hibber with landscaping by Megan Wraight. Bottom, Iraq’s Hands of Victory erected by Saddam Husein in 1989.
Monday, December 08, 2008
This memo from Larry Gagosian to his staff, as published in Flash Art.
“If you would like to continue working for Gagosian I suggest you start to sell some art. Everything is going to be evaluated in this new climate based on performances I basically put in eighteen hours a day, which any number of people could verify. If you are not willing to make that kind of commitment please let me know. The general economy and also the art economy is clearly headed for some choppy waters; I want to make sure that we are the best swimmers on the block. The luxury of carrying under-performing employees is now a thing of the past.”
Friday’s New York Times mentioned Barbara Kruger Basel Miami show with Mary Boone. How about these two zinger quotes used in her installation?
“We are the slaves of objects around us.” - Goethe
“He entered shop after shop, priced nothing, spoke no word, and looked at all objects with a wild and distracted stare.” - Edgar Allan Poe
Hard to believe that 20 years ago we saw a major survey show of Kruger at the National Art Gallery’s Shed 11 in Wellington and had the chance to talk with her at a dinner Luit and Jan Bieringa gave a few days before the show. It was an incredible experience, Kruger was funny, smart and loved being in New Zealand. Strange then, earlier this year to hear consultant Ken Gorbey (one of the names of shame that helped remove the idea of contemporary international art from the Te Papa menu) still taking time out to bad mouth the NAG on radio. He claimed that the idea the National Art Gallery, pre-Te Papa, had been as exciting as many people claimed was a myth. You had to be there.
Images: In the same vein, Barbara Kruger Men's T for the Whitney Biennial, front (left) and back. You can buy one here.
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Friday, December 05, 2008
This from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer
One of several hundred artists invited to create ornaments for this year's White House holiday tree was Seattle artist, Deborah Lawrence. However, her submission was rejected - the only one. It turns out her ornament (to the surprise of nobody who knew her well) was covered with tiny text calling for George Bush's impeachment. A spokeswoman for Laura Bush's said, "I think it really is a shame and, quite frankly, not very much in the holiday spirit."
Posted by jim and Mary at 10:48 AM
The OTN Style editor tells us it’s artist towel time at Target stores in the US. This year there are neat beach towels by Edward Ruscha and Raymond Pettibon, Julian Schnabel and Karen Kilimnik. Artists and beachwear go way back. The snappy swimsuit from 1925 was designed by Sonia Delaunay who had a partnership with fashion designer Jacques Heim. It was Heim who introduced an early precursor to the modern bikini that he called the Atome. You can order the pick of the towel crop, Edward Ruscha’s The Study of Friction and Wear on Mating Surfaces, here.
Images: Left, towels by Raymond Pettibon (top) and Edward Ruscha. Right, modelling swimwear by Sonia Delaunay
Thursday, December 04, 2008
In Japan we came across a transparent sticker that allows you to put the famous R Mutt signature on your own bowl. Having commented about museum gift shops trivialising art (you can see us at work here, here and also here) we made our purchase discreetly. What a gift for Michael Parekowhai who had such a bad run (if you think that pun was intentional, you’re dead wrong) with Duchamp in Christchurch.
Now from one of our regular readers (thanks again P) comes this site that has taken on the important task of recording toilets in the museums of the world. You’ll be pleased to hear that they are recorded while vacant (we had immediately thought of Daniel Malone turning his hand to art in the Auckland Art Gallery restrooms back in the day).
But if you are looking for art in toilets, you can do no better than Roadside America where you can check out Barney Smith's Toilet Seat Art Museum.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Art + Object makes a very funny (and possibly wise) commentary on the current troubles in its latest newsletter. From their next auction it features a Madame Tussauds wax bust of Depression hero President Roosevelt (lot 125 Trevor and Pam Plumbly collection) along with one of Andy Warhol’s Marilyn screen prints (lot 33 New collectors art).
”The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” - Roosevelt
“What's great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest.” - Warhol
For more locally focussed readers they have also included Peter Peryer’s Farm study (lot 91 – New Collectors art) as a kicker.
Images: Left Roosevelt in wax. Right, Warhol's Marilyn
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
A strange, and let’s face it tenuous link between art and ad land, came in the mail this week. It was an invitation to the Govett-Brewster’s Summer shows that included an installation by Lee Mingwei. The name rang a bell and reminded us of the famous 1971 Pregnant Man campaign, an early creation of über art collector Charles Saatchi. Although not mentioned in the G-B material (cat got your tongue?), Mingwai is probably best known for creating a stir in 1999 when he announced he was pregnant. You can find out more here and read how Mingwei, with the help of his partner Virgil Wong, created the complicated story, complete with faux magazine covers and interviews, of Mingwei having a placenta embedded in his body so he could give birth. The artwork/hoax drew on the services of GenoChoice, a medical institute that helped prospective parents to create genetically healthy children online.
Images: Left, the Saatchi & Satchi campaign. Right, Lee Mingwai knocked up.
Monday, December 01, 2008
“Having just gone through Massey's BFA program I don't think you'll have a problem getting in whether or not your technical skills aren't developed to the point you'd like them to be. Massey's focus is conceptual, and so you won't be tutored in practical 'art skills'... it's more about considering what you choose to use as a medium and why, rather than how to use it.”
A Massey graduate spills the beans on Artbash
“It’s a nice day, let’s go out and see if we can spot some famous artists”. That’s something we hear people saying all the time. Of course it’s all very well for those in the know, but what about those who wouldn’t recognise John Baldassari if he sat down next to them in a train and introduced himself? We figure that’s just what Sebastian Piras was thinking when he suggested a spotter’s book of artists to his publisher. “These people are the celebrities that got away,” he says, throwing his manuscript down on the table. “Some of them are still leading private lives and even having coffee in public without being mobbed. My book will end all that. Anyone who has a copy will know when Jasper Johns comes in the room and be able to point out Cindy Sherman to all the people who thought she was someone else standing in the corner.”
As it turned out Sebastian wasn’t too fussy as to whether there should be examples of the artists’ work next to each portrait (something that impressed the cost conscious publisher) and the deal was done. You can get a copy of A Pocketful of Contemporary Artists:Photographic Portraits here and start collecting artists right away.