The Couch Life

After a recent to visit with a couple of art collectors in Chicago, I began thinking about art and environment.  The apartment we visited was stacked, floor to ceiling with work–primarily paintings– an enviable collection even for a museum.  There were works from the best of the best contemporary artists, but the difference between this environment and an impressive group show at MoMA, is that it HAD an environment.  This wasn’t a white cube, this was a home.  A home with a kitchen and a TV, a bedroom, and a history of kids.  Yes, evidently the children of the collectors used to play with the work, drive toy cars over the sculpture, eat Thanksgiving dinner right beside the Tom Freidman.  This work was appreciated and integrated into an environment–making art in the institutional circuit read as orphans.  

This is what we never talk about in art school:  where you want your work to end up.  It’s assumed that we all want to make a living (or attempt to make one) as an artist–thus participating the gallery, residency, grant series of approved activities.  It’s assumed we want to sell our work, but the vision stops there.  Maybe we can envision our paintings on a the solo-show walls of our local contemporary art museum, or in the frantic shuffle of Art Basel, but what happens when a collector invests in us?  The idea that a work would look nice over someone’s couch, seems a pure insult for any art student, but maybe couch life isn’t so bad?  Is the limited viewing received by a work in a private home worth the trade off of a public exhibition when you factor in the sincere daily appreciation of the work versus the 3 seconds spent in any gallery/museum?  Considering the intimacy of art making, it seems like a home is a better exchange–even if the work is in possible danger (kid’s sticky fingers, cats etc).  There’s something quite attractive to me about my work being noticed by a cat.  Something human.  As human as art should be. 


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