At Klaus Von Nichtssagend, Sara Greenberger Rafferty has organzed “Work,” an amusing exhibition of 50 small-scale paintings made by 16 artists exploring issues about labor, value and authorship. Originally conceived in 2012 as a studio assignment for Michelle Grabner
and Sara Greenberger Rafferty’s class at Ox-Bow School of Art in
Saugatuck, Michigan, the paintings were produced in assembly-line
fashion after a prototype was chosen from five test paintings.
(Image above: Katherine Bernhardt, Sarah Crowner, TM Davy, Michelle Grabner, Joanne Greenbaum, Sara Greenberger Rafferty, David Kennedy Cutler, Michael Mahalchick, Eddie Martinez, Yuri Masnyj, Sam Moyer, Ian Pedigo, Kate Shepherd, B. Wurtz; untitled; 2013; acrylic, yarn, collage, cloth, colored pencil, string, inkjet print, ink, insult, and band-aid on canvas; 16″ x 20 inches.)
The artists convened for two eight-hour days, the first to design the product, and the second to manufacture the paintings. As compensation for their labor, the artists received one painting from the series and ten dollars royalty from the $250 sales price of the remaining paintings. I suspect the impersonal and prosaically purposeful nature of the project might discomfit many A-list artists who maintain workshops
full of assistants preparing products to fill international art fair
booths and global gallery outposts, as well as those who have been churning out work in a signature style for decades–if they had time to think about it.
In the NYTimes, Roberta Smith reported that
the resulting works are reasonably similar pastiches of 1980s Neo-Expression and the physically idiosyncratic abstract painting of today…..Judging by the results, boredom set in fairly quickly and artistic individuality increasingly asserted itself.
But which artists contributed which sections? According to Smith,
Yuri Masnyj got things rolling with a large gray shape that seems to
have suggested to several other participants a Mr. Potato Head waiting
to happen. TM Davy added eyes and nose. Kate Shepherd applied ears.
Eddie Martinez contributed bright red glasses frames and Sam Moyer
provided a halo. Joanne Greenbaum, Katherine Bernhardt and Sarah
Crowner, as well as Ms. Moyer, surrounded this character with various
abstract elements in colored pencil, brown paint, red and magenta
silk-screen and black ink. David Kennedy Cutler, Michael Mahalchick, Ms.
Grabner and Ian Pedigo made various physical interventions using yarn,
string, fabric and a pen knife. B. Wurtz collaged an image of potatoes
for Mr. Potato Head’s mouth, until supplies ran out and he substituted
pictures of other produce. Ms. Greenberger Rafferty whispered an insult
into each canvas and applied a Band-Aid.
Smith wryly suggested that there wasn’t any quality control at this improvised factory, and indeed the results are pretty funny. Here are images of a few of the pictures produced.
Greenbaum, Sara Greenberger Rafferty, David Kennedy Cutler, Michael
Mahalchick, Eddie Martinez, Yuri Masnyj, Sam Moyer, Ian Pedigo, Kate
Shepherd, B. WurtzKlaus Von Nichtssagend, Lower East Side, New York, NY. Through July 27, 2013.