NEW YORK — The phenomenon of artist exit, whether she simply socially leaves the scene or actually stops working, may be as old as the scene itself, but it may be catching on. In 1967, Agnes Martin left New York for the New Mexico desert, escaping the art world for years. In 1975, bassist Jan Eder disappeared after crossing the Atlantic alone in a small boat, prompting speculation as to whether this was his last artistic gesture. Stanley Brown, Charlotte Posenenske and Lee Lozano have absented themselves, and more recently, Cady Noland became famous for her work and for abandoning the art scene.
Now, another New York artist is creating a unique and provocative take. On Darren Bader’s humorously named website, aaronbader.comA sign reads: “20 Years: Selling My Practice.”
“It’s been a good ride,” he says on the site. If he does find a buyer, he will be prohibited from being a contemporary artist, Darren Bader, and that identity will be taken over by the buyer. All of his works to date will remain under the purview of the current artist, but if buyers wish to continue creating trademark Bader works, they are welcome to take a crack at it. (Whether collectors and buyers will continue to buy them is, of course, another question.)
What is the asking price? He has at least a seven-digit sum in his mind.
is this a joke? He’s often (unsurprisingly) called a prankster, but if it’s a prank, it’s the kind that comes with an eight-page contract, according to attorney David Steiner (also known as artist Alfie Steiner is) prepared with. It will be published in the coming weeks in an issue of the online journal Triple Canopy titled “True to Life”, accompanied by a video about the artist by filmmaker Pacho Velez and text by Bader.
“It represents, for me, a typical career arc,” Triple Canopy editor, Alexander Provan, said over the phone, “from working desperately to establish myself as an artist, to a person who Which is representative of your own body of work. The possibility of identifying that, in work and perhaps in life.
The Contract makes it all at once as slick and delectable as you might expect, defining dry words like artist, work, and practice. The buyer gets Bader’s practice: ie his reputation in the art world and the right to use the name on new works. Bader would not legally change his name, and could use it when he became something new: television host, art dealer, comedian, etc.
The project follows a century-old tradition of abstract and conceptual art that Marcel Duchamp proposed a simple urinal (titled “The Fountain”) for exhibition in 1917 under a pseudonym. “He created a new idea for that object,” said Duchamp, defending the fictional artist, “R. Math.
As early as 1959, Yves Klein sold “spheres of immaterial pictorial sensibility”, with a collector receiving a receipt for a certain amount of blank space. Conceptualists such as Lawrence Weiner and Robert Barrie in the 1960s and 70s resisted the commercialization of art by creating art that sometimes only consisted of details and did not have to take physical form. And in the era of non-fungible tokens, artists like Beeple and Pak have mastered the art of getting people to pay (tens of millions in Beeple’s case) for artworks so ethereal that even most in the art world can’t explain. what exactly do they consist of.
While not quite a household name, Bader leaves behind an enviable career and has produced an impressively diverse and cerebral body of work. He has appeared in career-making exhibitions such as the Whitney Biennial (in 2014) and the Venice Biennale (in 2019), and has had solo shows at institutions such as MoMA PS1. He is represented by four respected galleries: Andrew Kreps in New York, Blum & Poe in Los Angeles, Sadie Coles of London and Franco Nuoro of Turin. In a 2018 profile in T Magazine, Nikil Saval wrote that Bader is “renowned … for elevating the profane and ridiculous into the realm of high art.” Yet, his self-deprecating description Craps Gallery Website refers to them as “an aging sculpture/literature brand working in AR, elision, found object, humour, permutation/chance, poetry, rhetoric and video”.
So when we met at a bar in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, the question was clear: Why do this? “One, it’s not to say goodbye,” he told me. “But two, there is an overabundance of identities. Everyone has an ‘I.’ And three, there is a constraint of creative genius.
“The project mocks this codified notion: when did the term ‘art practice’ begin?” They said. “It’s playfully spiteful.” He added in an email, “It was one of those semi-serious ideas. I think it must have happened when dentists thought about selling their practice.” Partly, he’s troubled by the dubious concept of the very kind of art world brand name he’s selling.
Some examples illustrate the breadth of his creations. His first book, “James Earl Scones” (2005), contains an abundance of proposals for destructive projects. In one, he asks the director of Rome’s Capitoline Museums for permission to ride naked on the famous ancient Roman equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, assuring the director that “this exhibit is a display of sheer reverence for both the constancy and rigor of Western art.” The task is the presence of history.
In his 2012 book “With 77 and/or 58 and/19” he describes the piece as “motorcycle on birth control“, in which the buyer would drop the pills into the vehicle’s gas tank as prescribed. Uniquely for Bader, it combines the two items in an ambiguous way, feminizing a cliché of masculinity, perhaps Destroys the fantasy of freedom that the motorcycle gives birth to.
Behind the humour, the artist sees higher motives. When the Calder Foundation awarded him the Calder Prize in 2013 (“His installations often take on a strange character,” Atelier Calder acknowledged) and asked how his work enhances Calder’s legacy, Bader replied, “The question may lie in what is the boundary/definition of sculpture.”
If it seems absurd to the average person to put a price on the practice, he is interested in how we put a price on things including art objects and money. In a 2014 show of craps, some pieces only involved monetary exchanges. For example, for $25,800, you could get a “$15,031” piece, while some works did the opposite: for $4,200, you could buy a “$16,937”. (Kreps laughingly told me that he reprimanded his employees, saying, “We can’t sell these masterpieces. Maybe they should buy them all.”)
Some past works consist primarily of instructions on how to interact with a task, even as they challenge the way we value some objects while we discard others. In regards to figurines of objects found in the 2014 craps show “To Have and to Hold”, some as insignificant as a bottle cap, the collector has to live with the object, collect more like it, destroy or lose the original object. was charged (optional) ), then start giving away the accumulated items.
Jeff Poe of Blum & Poe has made his peace with Bader’s decision. In a phone conversation, Poe recalled his astonishment when he first saw Bader’s work at his 2012 show “Images” at MoMA PS1: “You walk in and you see a couch and some cats and two burritos at a window, and down the hall, a perfect grid of plinths with fruit on top. It’s so messy, accurate, historically informed and hilarious.” It bothered me so much that if Duchamp and Phyllis Diller had a child, it would be Darren Bader.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that this is completely consistent with their trajectory,” Poe said. “He’s embraced the wrong. He came on stage breaking the fourth wall. Now he’s walking out of the trap door.”
But if anything is “wrong,” says Bader, it’s the state of the art world he’s leaving. In an online journal on the site where he is offering the practice for sale, Bader vented his disdain at dealer Barbara Gladstone, telling The New York Times that the late collector Emily Fisher Landau’s habit of not buying artwork as speculation “was It was a wonderful old-fashioned tradition.”
Badr asks incredulously, “What world have I been a part of for two decades?”