Thursday, August 21, 2008

Full of ideas. Has balloons in studio.

Ugo Mulas, James Rosenquist, New York 1964, via We make money not art. Image courtesy of GAM di Torino.

I love a good artist's studio photograph. Knowing more about the artist's working process always gives me a greater appreciation of the work, unfashionable though that point of view has been for the past couple of decades.

It's my observation that certain types of studios tend to correlate with certain kinds of art-making. Wild visionary expressionists tend to work amidst mountains of dead paint tubes and ashtrays and stuff all over the floor: hard-edged abstractionists tend to have neatly arranged filing cabinets and a nice modernist chair to sit on. (From the shot above, it looks like Pop artists might incline slightly to the former.)

Academic and art collector Ellen Hulda Johnson visited Rosenquist in his studio in 1964 at around the time Ugo Mulas's photo was taken. The Smithsonian has posted images of her handwritten notes, on their Archives of American Art site, which are fascinating.

Note from Ellen Hulda Johnson's visit to James Rosenquist's studio. Date: 3 April 1964. Forms part of: Ellen Hulda Johnson papers, 1939-1980.

I'd like to see New Zealand art galleries post more of this kind of archival material. Auckland Art Gallery has made an excellent start with its digitisation project, and has been joined recently by the Christchurch Art Gallery who have placed some great documents online. For a look at Toss Woollaston's Rawleigh's distributor's card (you know you want to!), click here.

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