Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Helping hand

If you want a quick read some time, try The American Painter Emma Dial. The author Samantha Peale worked as a studio assistant for Jeff Koons and has based the novel on her experiences. Among other themes in the novel she examines what happens when artists work for other artists (Koons has up to 100 assistants at any one time and Damien Hirst famously had around 250). The relationship can be brutal. We heard of one famous European artist saying that while he understood that making work for another artist could be demoralizing, good artists would never put themselves in that position. Some studio assistants do alright though. Christopher Wool worked for Joel Shapiro for a time and Chiho Aoshima and Mr. both worked for Murakami. In New Zealand a few artists use assistants. Patrick Pound once worked for Richard Killeen and Killeen for Colin McCahon. But last word to American super star artist John Currin who prefers to work alone. “[Having a studio assistant] is like hiring someone else to drive a two-seater sports car. Why bother?”