The New York Times Magazine recently ran a column about the tyranny (and ubiquity) of minimalism as a hipster aesthetic. Author Kyle Chayka explored the fashionable trend toward downsizing—purging clutter and embracing fewer and more efficient, if often beautiful, objects. For those longing for an end to the less-is-more movement, an antidote may have arrived: “The Keepers,” at the New Museum through September 21.
[Image at top: 500,000 drawings]
Comprising more than 4000 pieces, “The Keepers” has many quirky collections, some created by artists and others acquired, from string drawings and little paintings to collaged books and a massive collection of vintage photographs featuring people holding teddy bears. The fascinating show embraces a new maximalism in which typologies, cataloguing, and compulsive collecting (and making) become art forms in and of themselves. As I was walking through the exhibition I was reminded of a recent critique with a student whose only work was a loose pile of coins he had found on the street, of Sarah Sze’s orderly presentation strategies, and of Morandi’s preoccupation with a small group of bottles, vases, and jars.
Tour-de-force shows like “The Keepers” can be extremely influential among young artists. I expect to see robust collecting strategies and typologies in greater abundance in the coming year. More importantly, though, the exhibition may stimulate greater focus and intensity, which could in turn yield more sharply defined projects and less pluralistic approaches within individual artists’ practices.
“The Keepers,” curated by by Massimiliano Gioni, Natalie Bell, Helga Christoffersen, and Margot Norton. The New Museum, LES, New York, NY. Through September 21, 2016. With projects by Hilma af Klint; Yuji Agematsu; Korbinian Aigner; Levi Fisher Ames; Ed Atkins; Hannelore Baron; Wilson Bentley; Tong Bingxue / Ye Jinglu; Arthur Bispo do Rosário; Carol Bove / Carlo Scarpa; Roger Caillois; Maurice Chehab; Oliver Croy / Oliver Elser / Peter Fritz; Howard Fried; Olga Fröbe-Kapteyn; Aurélien Froment; Richard Greaves / Mario Del Curto; Ydessa Hendeles; Susan Hiller; MM; Vladimir Nabokov; Shinro Ohtake; Henrik Olesen; Loretta Pettway; Missouri Pettway; Quinnie Pettway; Zofia Rydet; Harry Smith; and Vanda Vieira-Schmidt