art news & reviews & Interviews. jeff bergman, editor

150 – Curatorial Statement

The current trends in curating seem to swing somewhere between the mixed bag of the art fair and the draft day of a fantasy sports team.  This is not to say that all curatorial efforts in this biennielized landscape are bad, in fact most recent efforts I’ve seen have been worthwhile endeavors.  The problem arises when a formula is derived and a codified time tested version of this equation is applied again and again.  Each season we get a boring doppelgänger of the last bi or triennial. 

 I, for one, love the idea of putting all my favorite artists in the same room. There has long been some version of this dream team notion.  But I would hope that as the years go on new models for curating emerge. This is already occurring in galleries and not-for-profit spaces globally. I think artists are becoming our archivists and curators in a large part because of the fair/biennial model.  And let’s not forget that the 70’s version of the Whitney Biennial had a price list; which in my opinion was a more honest version of this type of affair (and possibly something to emulate).  

With these tropes and cliches acknowledged I still make shows, usually in my own mind, subscribing to these models.  I group the artists I like best and lump them together by a conceit, usually very broad or painfully specific.  If I don’t acknowledge this tendency, how will I ever break free of it?  How will any curator know that they are doing a disservice to the artists they show by not staking new ground as 1 part entrepreneur and 1 part scholar?

With this type of curatorial statement in mind I present an idea of a group show, curated in my own mind with the loving collaboration of the most powerful galleries and institutions in New York.  The conceit is simple and the adulation I feel for the artists obvious.  The title is even a bit obnoxious, but a (nearly) middle aged Jew always needs a pun at the ready.  

Two Colors Too Many: Monochromatic works on paper by 7 artists

Suzan Frecon (David Zwirner)

Ellsworth Kelly (Matthew Marks)

Brice Marden (Matthew Marks)

Agnes Martin (Pace)

Robert Ryman (Pace)

Anne Truitt (Matthew Marks)

Jack Youngerman (Washburn)

The work on paper is a humble thing.  Each piece is a tentative structure, fragile yet resilient, made of fiber that stretches but also tears.  How artists choose to address this paper, as a sketch or as a final work, matters greatly in the studio but very little when it stands alone.  They are all their own project and beyond the studio, their own work.  This show accentuates drawings that may not necessarily come from the same era, but come from the desire to create complete form, color or both.  All the drawings in the exhibition express a certitude towards their their completion.  While the work may not be inevitable, the final object is as inevitable as a stone or a shaft of light through a window.  To be sure, the poetry is in the drawing and far from any words placed on them or near them since their inception.

(While none of these drawings have been offered or lent to me as a curator or to the space in which I would like to show them, I am laying out a small group of representative work from institutions and recent exhibitions.  Please note all images link back to the institution/gallery and none have authorized my use.  I am using all of these for the educational purposes of the readers of this newsletter and blog.)

-Jeff Bergman
March 2015

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