Daniel Buren or my wallpaper is art and maybe the other way around.
There are many reasons to dislike this work. It’s too simple, it’s not enough like Art, it’s easy to make, easy to copy and easy to dismiss. Daniel Buren may be a conceptualist and an anti-minimalist, but very little of that matters. I certainly am not going to tell you an artist’s history doesn’t matter, but let us try and leave the -isms and -ists at the door for a bit. Buren lets us wipe the slate clean and start fresh. Andrew Russeth did a great profile on Gallerist NY that is worth reading before you delve deeper.
Buren at Petzel gives us stripes of wallpaper that are only art as long as they are up. They are not signed, they are not possible to preserve and they certainly don’t feel like fine art. The environment they create is riotous with color. Our eyes adjust to the illusionary field of color as we adjust our bodies for perspective. The artist gives us space and image and we can leave it at that if we like.
A canary yellow striped wall has a spotlight at it’s center. The spotlight shows off a golden halo of striped paper. There is nothing to highlight per se but the variation in color makes for an intense sunburst. In the galleries largest space, half of one wall, and less than a quarter of the next have vivid green stripes, always the same width. Less than a quarter of the room is covered, but it is all the more effective for using less. All of this can be viewed and then left without much contemplation. For pure aesthetic enjoyment, it is tough to go wrong.
At Bortolami, there are the glowing fiber optic fabric pieces and the fabric under plexiglass pieces. These “situated pieces” (or rather “stuff we can sell”) are ultimately less successful. They feel like remnants of larger pieces. MoMA has often hung its Buren pieces in it’s permanent collection areas with nothing to protect them, save a small rope. Without the plexi layer or the fiber optic gimmickry, they seem more at home.
To take this work at face value is to give the artist his best-loved response. To take deeper meaning away or discount it entirely, we review aesthetic value or commercial value or simple the possibility of longevity. Stripes are simply stripes. Your baggage is your own. Take it with you when you go.