The current issue of Art in America (Nov. 2006) is focused on Los Angeles. One big section presents interviews with 19 sculptors. The interviews are edited—the questions have been removed—so unfortunately everyone sounds like a rambling motormouth. But the reading is fun once you adjust. Below are some interesting quotes from the interviews. Note that a couple of the artists refer to “THING,” a widely reviewed exhibit at the Hammer Museum in 2005, whose full title was “THING: New Sculpture from Los Angeles.” The above image is a 2005 work by Evan Holloway, called "Power," which includes a few of the dead batteries that he collects. (Image from the website of The Approach, London.)
A lot of young artists are romantics. Color plays a big role, and a kind of flickering, bourgeois subject matter; and there’s a kind of forgetting of history—it’s all about now.
Perhaps the whole love of pop culture in recent decades wasn’t such a good idea. Maybe that bred some kind of thinking that people just want to get by—that they are trying to hold things together, they’re not trying to break them apart.
Nothing is more important than a local conversation with my friends, where I’ve seen their work through time, seen it physically develop over the years, and they’ve done the same with my practice.
L.A. is not a town where critics are really important. There are several good critics here, but they have less of a voice here than critics do in, say, New York, because there is no real publication that comes out of L.A.; there’s no forum for them. I don’t regret the situation, because the critic’s voice has never been important to me. They do their job and I do mine. The lack of a magazine or specific critical discourse means that I have more space to go my own way….
I used to make these mega-dense pieces. It was like I was trying to put everything I knew into one monster work. Finally, when I got older, I was able to separate ideas and make them into separate pieces. That may have made it easier for more people to buy my stuff.
It’s mostly art fairs that are supporting me.
There were some decisions made about the [“THING”] show that I was not convinced of—inclusions and the overall installation—and I was not excited about the title of the show. I did not ask enough questions; if I had asked more, I might have turned it down. My work is not about thingness, it is not object-oriented; it’s narrative-based, and the works flow from piece to piece, including from drawing to sculpture. It’s fluid.
There is a lot of really interesting work, by people both over 30 and under, that is being made and not being shown.
I have a problem with long-term assistantships. It can be highly exploitative and demoralizing to be doing full-time quasi-factory work when you have your own voice. Repetitive labor with your hands is alienating. So much of the energy that you need to bring to your own sculpture is physical: using it up on someone else’s work is not healthy. I have seen people end up being kind of paralyzed….
With the “Thing” show I was surprised and excited by how many younger artists were making sculpture. There was a genuine lustiness about materials, which I really liked also, though I think that the original playfulness and lustiness for materials sort of petered out into contentment with stuff. You can see the influence of sculptors from previous generations, but what is sometimes missing is the toughest part of that influence.
Ignorance protected me when I was a student. Art students are too smart now. They are the latest installment of yuppie culture.
I am not famous in Los Angeles; in the school where I teach [Art Center College of Design, Pasadena] I’m less important than an auto- or product-designer.
I like to keep my hands in the work, but I also have assistants. If touch is important, I do the work myself. I paint my paintings myself because I haven’t found anybody whose color-mixing skills match my own. I don’t really enjoy the labor, though; I prefer thinking things up to making them.