Curator blog No. 3.


  So early on Siah Armajani tipped me off that Kathy Halbreich was a very major hombre. Which turned out to be true. I've been thinking about the big acquisition of the huge Sigmar Polke painting in 1994, Autumn and her Daughters . I wrote a short piece about it in Artpaper and Ms Halbreich dug it. Hence I had a friend at the Walker. Same sort of thing happened with a curator at Walker about the Hannah Hoch show (Peter Boswell). The short piece in the TC Reader was really a hacket job by the editor but the Walker loved it, they gave me a pass to the Hoch opening which was quite an affair. As I approached Hannah Hoch's montages I could smell the parfum of the last person who looked closely, different perfumes at different pictures. Pretty fucking elegant!  It took quite a number of patrons of the Walker to pay for the Polke. Museums don't tell you what things cost but damn giantpaintings by famous European artists  cost big cash. Which only adds to the mystery of whose this Sigmar Polke guy anyway? I knew Polke a bit from magazines and a few pieces here and there. I thought the acquisition was stunning partly the big money but also that it had the imprint of ambition for the institution we (WAC) will stay in the big art game. This was clear with the huge Bruce Nauman show that Halbreich did that literary filled the Barnes tower with his work. Some very precious old works along with Clown Torture and his strange carousels of taxidermy models (oi still makes me cringe) I'm not from Minnesota. Kthy was big on Nauman and big on Nauman.

   I met Kathy when Elizabeth Armstrong (curator - 1994-  @ was doing the Duchamp's Leg. We talked a bit about The Anti-Sculpture League and how people love sculpture ya da ya da.. I never liked the sculpture garden even the one at MoMA. Ad Reinhardt was famous for saying "Sculpture is what you bump into when you back up to look at a painting." That was what would be on top Anti-Sculpture League stationary, that Reinhardt quote I remember hearing in the early 1960's. Besides I thought public sculpture in many instances was a dreadful thing, a sort of means to subsidize art that was tame enough for public viewing . In general it's a problem of compromising one's work for the sake of income. The curators as I've written have less commercial interest in one's art than an abiding aesthetic interest . Of course we have the educational value of art as with fine arts students but also curators try to bridge the chasm between an audience and art that maybe in explicable. As in tell me something about why Matthew Barney uses Vaseline petroleum jelly in his sculptures?

 My first solo show was at MIA (Minneapolis Institute of Arts May 1971) the curator was very sweet young gentleman named David Ryan who though surprised by a major stylistic change in my paintings still put it the new material up on the walls, My second solo show was at Walker Art Center in 1980 the curator then was Lisa Lyons who later worked for The Lannan Foundation in Los Angeles.  I liked Lisa a lot I thought see was brave to show my work and she had an interesting take on things mystical. She had studied at Northwestern University with Jack Burnham. Burnham had had a very important influence upon me and my interests in Kabbalah and Duchamp's alchemy. I recall Ms Lyons saying her last seminar meeting was a seance in Jack Burnham's graduate class.  - more to come-