The wild word of art.

Neue Luxury - - Front Page - By Dr. Kathryn Si­mon

Kenny Schachter has marked the art world with his own re­fresh­ing dis­course and vi­sion as an art dealer, cu­ra­tor and writer. In­flu­enced by the view that art should not pan­der to an ex­clu­sive form of di­a­logue or be held hostage by the se­lect few. In fact one of the things that stands out most within his work is a con­ver­gence of both high and low cul­ture, a love of sub­stances and ma­te­rial and a re­fresh­ingly open and sharp mind. He is at the fore­front of a democratis­ing move­ment that be­lieves in the widest dif­fu­sion of art, art dis­course and anal­y­sis. On the rare oc­ca­sion that he did pause for air, we met be­fore our an­nual pil­grim­age to Art Basel Mi­ami Beach.

KATHRYN SI­MON (KS): What are you up to now? KENNY SCHACHTER (KSS): I’m mainly cu­rat­ing ex­hi­bi­tions in­de­pen­dently and writ­ing for var­i­ous pub­li­ca­tions in­clud­ing Bri­tish GQ, Art­news, Vul­ture and a col­umn in the Gloom, Boom and Doom Re­port for econ­o­mist Marc Faber. KS: It amazes me to see how much li­cense these pub­li­ca­tions are giv­ing you. KSS: (Laugh­ing). Yeah, it’s fun. I’m en­joy­ing it. I’m on my way to Mi­ami to cover the fair [Art Basel Mi­ami Beach] which is the big­gest thing right now. KS: What I find es­pe­cially re­fresh­ing about your work is the way you un­der­stand the con­ver­gence be­tween high and low. I re­mem­ber go­ing to your gallery Rove in Lon­don a few years ago and you had an ex­hi­bi­tion on rocks ti­tled Be­tween

a Rock and a Hard Place?

KSS: Yes, cu­rated by Danny Moyni­han. That ex­hi­bi­tion in­cluded old masters and con­tem­po­rary provo­ca­tions. KS: There were even Chi­nese scholar rocks. It was as­ton­ish­ing to see the va­ri­ety of ex­pres­sions!

KSS: There was a Courbet in the show and the gi­gan­tic Hirst in­stal­la­tion. It cov­ered the gamut. KS: It was such a good ex­am­ple of the cur­rent cul­tural land­scape. You seem adept at dis­cern­ing what’s im­por­tant in a non ex­clu­sion­ary way while cre­at­ing a new state­ment—one that feels rel­e­vant, not driven ex­clu­sively by the mar­ket. KSS: It’s amaz­ing how the art world has grown more in the past ten years than in the past one hun­dred. I have al­ways been very demo­cratic in my en­ter­prises and try to reach out to as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble. When I started, I re­mem­ber read­ing about var­i­ous peo­ple in the art world say­ing that if they could have fifty of the right au­di­ence mem­bers in the room, that would be enough. In con­trast, I’ve al­ways strived for five thou­sand of the wrong peo­ple and have tried to ex­pand the com­mu­nity that en­gages with art at any level. The art world has grown so ex­po­nen­tially since I started get­ting in­volved, it hardly needs me to bang my drum any­more to get peo­ple en­gaged with art, but that’s what I do. I love to share in­for­ma­tion by teach­ing and writ­ing. KS: You are a crit­i­cal and pos­i­tive voice, in­form­ing and open­ing up the art world. Frankly, that isn’t so preva­lent when it comes to what is ac­tu­ally hap­pen­ing in the art mar­ket and within art it­self. Whether it’s your pas­sion, or your keen in­sight into what’s hap­pen­ing; you do speak, write, and par­tic­i­pate in re­veal­ing that di­a­logue. For­tu­nately for us, it breaks up what might ap­pear as a con­sen­sus of some kind. What are your feel­ings about the art fairs and bi­en­ni­als? KSS: A lot of peo­ple be­moan art fairs be­cause they’re sort of an anti gallery show typ­i­cally con­sist­ing of group in­stal­la­tions. While they don’t pro­vide the artist with the ca­pac­ity and plat­form to ex­pand their ideas and their prac­tice, they do al­low ev­ery­one to en­gage and see more work than what would oth­er­wise be pos­si­ble in a two to three hour tour of the Lon­don gal­leries. It’s im­por­tant to be able to ac­cess in­for­ma­tion at fairs, auc­tions and bi­en­ni­als ef­fi­ciently. All the dif­fer­ent venues to­day in­clud­ing gal­leries, mu­se­ums and pri­vate mu­se­ums just add to the big­ger pool of ma­te­rial to see. KS: It re­moves some of the ex­clu­siv­ity and al­lows more peo­ple into the con­ver­sa­tion? KSS: The num­ber of peo­ple vis­it­ing mu­se­ums, gal­leries and fairs is in­creas­ing. As one of the few peo­ple in­volved in the eco­nom­ics of the busi­ness, I feel com­pelled to share how these trans­ac­tions and machi­na­tions work – be­cause there are just so few ways for peo­ple to get ac­cess to that kind of in­for­ma­tion. KS: How did you get started? KSS: I wanted to do some­thing cre­ative and en­tre­pre­neur­ial. Hav­ing been raised in the sub­urbs of Long Is­land, I was never ex­posed to an art gallery un­til I was in my mid-twen­ties. I came to art through vis­it­ing mu­se­ums and study­ing phi­los­o­phy, un­aware of any ac­tiv­ity where I could co­a­lesce my in­ter­ests. I tried var­i­ous ca­reers. I stud­ied law, and then prac­ticed for a short pe­riod, but that was more an ex­er­cise in hid­ing from the mar­ket­place than try­ing to find my place within the le­gal com­mu­nity. KS: I just re­mem­bered a par­tic­u­lar adventure with mens ties early in your ca­reer, are you will­ing to share that? KSS: Sure. Af­ter I fin­ished law school I thought a cre­ative prac­tice was to be in the fash­ion busi­ness. I wasn’t even cog­nizant that there was such a thing as a com­mer­cial art in­dus­try, so I saw fash­ion as a po­ten­tial in­ter­est and worked for a tie com­pany. I thought that would be the best way to learn the busi­ness and help to work to­wards be­com­ing a de­signer. Go­ing in through sales was the only way I could to get an in­road. I lit­er­ally went door to door with my re­sume in the gar­ment cen­ter of New York. I found a job with this tie de­signer who was the grand­son of a fa­mous Ital­ian de­signer. He was trav­el­ing around the East Coast of the States with these two gi­gan­tic bags of ties try­ing to sell them to the mum and pop fash­ion bou­tiques. KS: I have a vague mem­ory about some­one get­ting tied up in or­der for you to break free of the owner? KSS: I needed to get out of that busi­ness. I hap­pen to be al­ler­gic to silk, and the com­pany was go­ing un­der be­cause the pro­pri­etor was hav­ing is­sues with his gam­bling. At one point I had to bring on an al­lergy at­tack by rub­bing the ties on my face to ex­tri­cate my­self from the com­mit­ment. I had to leave. I couldn’t take it any­more. KS: When did this all oc­cur? KSS: It was be­fore I re­alised I passed the bar, which was quite a sur­prise to me. The per­son who funded the tie de­signer’s fash­ion busi­ness was an art col­lec­tor from New Jersey who was al­ready col­lect­ing young and emerg­ing artists. So for all in­tents and pur­poses in my early years of cu­ra­to­rial prac­tice, I was em­ployed by this young art col­lec­tor who col­lected the work of emerg­ing artists be­fore there was a con­sen­sus about them.

KS: Were you ac­tu­ally trad­ing and re­port­ing to work ev­ery­day while you were a stu­dent—and deal­ing art on the week­end? KSS: I lied to my fam­ily and told them I was ac­tu­ally in night law school. There was no such pro­gram of course. I was in fact work­ing for Pru­den­tial Bache on the trad­ing floor of the Amer­i­can Stock Ex­change and if at­ten­dance was re­quired at night school I’d have a friend add me into the class list with­out hav­ing to at­tend. I sat the ex­ams af­ter cram­ming a week be­fore. Killed two birds with one stone. KS: De­scribe your early in­tro­duc­tion to the cu­ra­to­rial world? KSS: I was pro­cras­ti­nat­ing for a le­gal exam once and was dragged in to see the es­tate sale of Andy Warhol right in the midst of the sale of all his jew­el­ery, watches, art col­lec­tion, and cookie vases. That was re­ally the very first time I was ex­posed to art be­ing sold, and it’s some­thing that coloured my think­ing ever since. I was un­der the as­sump­tion that art went from the studio of the artist into the mu­seum, and I was en­tirely un­aware that there was any com­mer­cial facilitation or sys­tem for art. That was the most eye open­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. To this day every­thing I have done in the cu­ra­to­rial world and in my writ­ing has to do with the com­mer­cial dis­sem­i­na­tion of art, the whole sys­tem of how art be­comes a prod­uct or a com­mer­cial en­tity that em­anates from the imag­i­na­tion of the artist. I’ve been cri­tiquing, prac­tic­ing and com­ment­ing on how the sys­tem works ever since. KS: When I met you, you were the dar­ling and the bad boy of Maxwell An­der­son (for­mer direc­tor of The Whit­ney Mu­seum of Amer­i­can Art) and Thomas Krens (for­mer direc­tor of the Guggen­heim Mu­seum) and the trustees of the Whit­ney and the Guggen­heim in New York were com­ing down to your place to see your art col­lec­tion when you were on Charles Street (later be­com­ing Rove Gallery). KSS: Right. You have a good mem­ory. It’s funny be­cause my life has changed so dra­mat­i­cally since mov­ing to Lon­don ten years ago and yet in other ways it re­mains en­tirely the same. Since I moved here I’m work­ing with The Tate, The Ser­pen­tine, The Royal Academy, The Vic­to­ria and Al­bert. I teach at the Uni­ver­sity of Zurich and I give pe­ri­odic lec­tures at Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­sity, Yon­sei Uni­ver­sity in Seoul and the Lon­don Busi­ness School. Peo­ple are com­ing through my home on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. It’s a dy­namic place where things are al­ways chang­ing on the walls. KS: You did some work with Zaha Ha­did didn’t you? KSS: I love work­ing with Ha­did and I did for a num­ber of years. Af­ter com­mis­sion­ing two con­cept ve­hi­cles de­signed by Ha­did ( Z. Car and Z. Car II), the lat­est com­mis­sion was the Z. Boat (presently in pro­duc­tion in Ger­many).

I also cu­rated a project of Vito Ac­conci re­cently in Zurich and I will do so again in the com­mer­cial side for the [Art] Basel fair in Switzer­land in June. In my mind there isn’t much of a dif­fer­ence be­tween deal­ing with some­one like Ha­did or an­other artist, ex­cept that she piques my in­ter­est at a level be­tween func­tional ob­jects and art. In that sense what’s in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult is a Sisyphean task of try­ing to start an en­tirely new col­lect­ing genre. It’s a kind of in­be­twee­ness. It’s in­spired me to be­come more in­volved and push my­self to have more in­ter­ac­tion in the field. KS: What is catch­ing your at­ten­tion now and what artists are you look­ing at per­son­ally? KSS: I’m en­gag­ing on every level I can and throw­ing my­self into what­ever I can. I’m where the ac­tion is, not un­like a war­time reporter in the trenches. Eco­nom­ics has be­come a main stay of the dis­course in art to­day. Be­ing able to en­gage in art pro­fes­sion­ally also gives me this very par­tic­u­lar and acute per­spec­tive from which to speak and write about it. KS: What are your feel­ings about per­for­mance art? Al­though Richter’s paint­ing is per­for­ma­tive, I am think­ing of work from per­for­mance artists in­clud­ing Tino Se­h­gal. KSS: I have writ­ten on Se­h­gal in the New York Ob­server and I am in­ter­ested in it. As much as I am in­ter­ested in this kind of re­la­tional aes­thetic that steers away from the ob­ject and paint­ings, to­wards a more in­ter­ac­tive ex­pe­ri­en­tial per­for­ma­tive prac­tice, in my no­tion of art ap­pre­ci­a­tion, I’m a kind of a prude. I love paint­ings on can­vas and re­late to many va­ri­eties of art from tra­di­tional pen­cil draw­ings to in­stal­la­tions and what they now (for some stupid rea­son) call post in­ter­net art, which ba­si­cally uses the web as a jump­ing off point for mak­ing works. You know, I re­ally want to see as much as I can, read as much as I can, learn as much as I can, to think about how it re­lates to the com­mer­cial side and the non-com­mer­cial side of art prac­tice. KS: I’m won­der­ing if you are work­ing in ar­chi­tec­ture now and how work­ing in that dis­ci­pline is dif­fer­ent for you? KSS: As the art mar­ket be­came hy­per ac­cel­er­ated be­tween 2004-2008 – which was sort of capped by Damian Hirst’s £1 mil­lion sale at Sotheby’s – the mar­ket crashed. To con­tinue work­ing, I be­came in­volved in de­sign to clear my pal­ette and get away from the overly com­mer­cial side of art. The art mar­ket has re­ally ex­ploded since then, how­ever, it’s be­come some­thing else en­tirely which is what I re­port and write about now. So now, through writ­ing, I have come to em­brace it in­stead of run­ning from the com­mer­cial side of art and over spec­u­la­tion, and all of the ways the busi­ness is chang­ing, and how peo­ple per­ceive and con­sume art. It’s be­come such an in­flated genre in it­self. It’s given me a whole new lease on want­ing to get back in­volved and push my­self to have more in­ter­ac­tion in the field, just to have more things to write about in a sense. KS: What new trends do you see in art? Are you look­ing at any par­tic­u­lar artists now? KSS: I brought to­gether an ex­hi­bi­tion with the artist Joe Bradley whom I worked with from 2002-2004. I es­tab­lished some of his first ex­hi­bi­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties. He is cur­rently in a group show called For­ever Now: Con­tem­po­rary Paint­ing in an Atem­po­ral World that just opened at MOMA. We hope to work along­side each other on his ear­li­est body of work which is a com­plete di­vorce from his mod­ern works that he be­came very well know for. I’m also col­lect­ing Ru­dolf Stin­gel, Vito Ac­conci, lots of young artists and the con­cep­tu­al­ists of the 1960s and 1970s. KS: How do you feel about the dig­i­tal space? KSS: There are so many peo­ple that have been try­ing to crack the in­ter­net and its re­la­tion­ship to art and ob­vi­ously there’s a plethora of sites and loads of dif­fer­ent plat­forms from which peo­ple are com­mu­ni­cat­ing, buy­ing, sell­ing and en­gag­ing with art. It’s in­ter­est­ing to ob­serve how the things that were least in­tended to have an im­pact on the art sec­tor are the very things that are hav­ing tremen­dous im­pact. Not only on the mak­ing of art, but in how peo­ple are be­com­ing in­formed about new trends.

You can see how these ex­changes have been ev­i­dent in Jeff Koons work as well as Parker Ito, Ed Fornieles, Pe­tra Cor­tright and Damien Hirst’s di­a­mond en­crusted skull, For the Love of God. All of these artists are us­ing the In­ter­net for in­for­ma­tion and also as a medium. Pre­vi­ously you would have ex­pe­ri­enced or en­gaged with art that in­cor­po­rated tech­nol­ogy in a very cum­ber­some way. I find that art is now get­ting much more fluid at in­cor­po­rat­ing these tech­nolo­gies, and mak­ing it even more pro­found and in­cred­i­ble to ex­pe­ri­ence.

Like the artist Wade Guy­ton, who I showed in 1997. He was us­ing dig­i­tal pho­tog­ra­phy and in­cor­po­rat­ing ways of us­ing prin­ters, to make his paint­ings look like very tra­di­tional paint­ings on primed linen, in­cor­po­rat­ing all of the ran­dom ac­ci­dents of his com­puter ma­nip­u­la­tions prior to print­ing on gi­ant cus­tom made Ep­som prin­ters. That work is re­ally ex­cit­ing and builds upon Robert Rauschen­berg and Andy Warhol’s silk screens, while tak­ing Richard Prince and Christo­pher Wool’s silkscreen pathol­ogy to an­other level.

These are things that we are go­ing to be see­ing more of, in ways we can’t yet de­fine.

Im­age: Courtesy of Kenny Schachter, Rove and Zaha Ha­did, Zaha Ha­did Ar­chi­tects.


Im­age: Courtesy of Kenny Schachter, Rove and Zaha Ha­did, Zaha Ha­did Ar­chi­tects. Photo: Courtesy of Kenny Schachter, Rove.

Photo: Courtesy of Kenny Schachter, Rove and Joe Bradley. Im­age: Courtesy of Kenny Schachter, Rove and Ru­dolf Stin­gel.

Photo: Courtesy of Kenny Schachter, Rove and Joe Bradley.

Photo: Courtesy of Kenny Schachter, Rove and Joe Bradley.

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