June 7, 2008

Lost in space: Art post-studio

The June issue of The Brooklyn Rail has gone online today. My contribution examines studio space, and how some artists making traditional art objects (painting, drawing, sculpture, etc.) are rethinking the studio paradigm. Read how Deborah Fisher, Austin Thomas, Simon Draper, Cindy Tower, and I are moving beyond the romanticized notion of the artist's loft.

"Renaissance artists were members of professional guilds, maintained studios known as workshops, and staffed them with assistants to help complete monumental commissions. But that was an era in which princes and popes extolled artists as the aesthetic lifeblood of the city-state and supported them accordingly. In modern times, artists haven’t been able to count on such public largess. Yet, in spite of reduced expectations, the compulsion in even unseasoned artists to secure dedicated workspace has persisted....When I was in my twenties, my friends and I yearned for square footage. Renting a loft was a rite of passage, and after graduation we all tried to find as much space as possible, preferably in an old sweatshop or other disused manufacturing building. Cavernous studio space, no matter how raw, cold, and uninviting, was the Holy Grail. We’d heard about the storied Coenties Slip in lower Manhattan, where Robert Indiana, Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Agnes Martin, Fred Mitchell, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, Lenore Tawney, Jack Youngerman, and others all homesteaded in the fifties. Older artists had already colonized Tribeca and Soho, so we expanded into Brooklyn, targeting DUMBO and Williamsburg. Being a genuine artist meant having a vast, if unheated, space close to Manhattan. No matter how skimpy the résumé, a capacious urban loft said you were a serious artist...." Read more.

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