A friend who is traveling on business in London brought to my attention a recent story of a little girl who wedged herself into a Donald Judd sculpture at the Tate Modern. He sent me a photo of the sculpture and asked me for my take on this, the British and American press is aghast at this happening, and actually I think this is a wonderful case of kids keeping it real. My response to him…
“…..My first reaction in searching Google for the offending image of the little girl between the work is to laugh – very clever little girl. A couple things on Judd which I think would make him smile at this little girl’s actions, he happens to be one of my art heroes:
1. He was actually very anti-museum and establishment, hence his setting up shop/installation/studio space in Marfa, Texas (in the middle of NOWHERE). Whenever he did show his work in museums he was over the top particular about it – a royal pain in the tush by design. He has said of his work in “spaces”:
“The space surrounding my work is critical to it: as much thought has gone into the installation as into a piece itself. My work, and that of others, is often exhibited badly and always for short periods. Somewhere there has to be a place where the installation is well done and permanent.” Later, he added, “Otherwise art is only show and monkey business.”
2. So to the monkey business – the work is in the Tate Modern postmortem, I don’t know that Judd would have approved of this particular installation, but that’s beside the point and the Tate owns it now. And monkey business has ensued.
3. Judd’s purpose to his sculptural work (and the whole heart of minimalist sculpture) was to ENGAGE and ARTICULATE a space – very different from the idea of a sculpture to take up space (like the David). Therefore the aim of his work was to change the way in which you the viewer consider and move around space. His work has scored a perfect 10 by having a little girl swarm around the work, and dive in to find a bed in his artwork.
4. Beds – Judd loved them and designed some incredible beds. He actually at one point asked why on earth don’t we have beds in galleries to view the artwork – there are many angles to looking at art and lying down should be one of them. So again, the girl is genius and is clearly channeling him. If you go to Marfa now, there is a bed designed by Judd in one of the spaces – blank in the middle of the room, it’s lovely.
Do I think that the parents were actually seeking cheap publicity to promote their clothing brand, yes, and maybe even the gallerist who tweeted the expletives about poor parenting. To use the British term, that was very DAFT. And at that I say poo poo, it’s not OK to use other people’s expensive art and your innocent children as a departure for your self promotion.
Sorry for the mouthful, can’t help myself when it comes to art;-) HAVE FUN!!!!!!
Warmly – Catherine”Tagged: Beds, Donald Judd, Kids Keeping it Real, London, Marfa, marfa texas, monkey business, Parenting, sculpture, Tate Modern
Thanks Karen!! Art viewers going bananas!! So accurate on many levels.
Some time ago, in what now seems like a former life, spent a summer working at the Allan Stone Gallery on the upper east side in NYC. It was my first experience hanging around works of at that cost many millions of dollars. I vividly recall not wanting to touch anything. It was scary as hell. While I was sorting their slides (or something like that), they told me to sit at this desk that was built by Antoni Gaudi (the famous Spanish architect). When I told them I wasn't comfortable using this desk, I recall them kindly telling me, "It's a desk. Please use it as a desk." I had and still have a lot of respect for that statement.
While this case is of course different (and I would honestly be horrified if that were my kid) it does bring up the same question of what the purpose of this object really is, as you state so eloquently. It seems the default state of art objects is assumed to be "That thing is worth millions of dollars. Don't breathe near it!" and the interaction ends there.
Dan - so jealous you worked at a Gaudi desk - amazing! Yes, over the years I've worked with tiny pieces of stones worth over $75k (ancient Chinese Jade), and sculptures and paintings worth lots of money, and guarded in museums. While I understand there is such a thing as reverence and taking care, one has to return to the idea of "what exactly are we taking care of?" If only we treated our bodies, minds and each other with that careful attention of a $10 million piece of art - diving in when needed, but generally mindful of it.
Would you like to share your thoughts?
Anne Warren Art • March 11, 2014
Thats so funny and real. Love it.
mindmarrow • March 11, 2014
Thank you Anne for reading, so glad you liked it!
Karen Rand Anderson • March 11, 2014
What a refreshing take on the monkey business of art. :-)