coordinating curator


Jonathan Shaughnessy
Assistant Curator, Contemporary Art
National Gallery of Canada

pop primers

Keith Haring's PopShop reproduced at Pop Life



sex sells. art, publicity
and pop life

By the time Andy Warhol appeared as a guest star on the TV series The Love Boat in 1985, his status as an artist had been all but eclipsed by his own celebrity. The artist had become what we would now call "branded" as "Andy," publisher, gadfly, model, ad man, TV producer, and star. This Warhol, contends Pop Life co-curator and Artforum editor-at-large Jack Bankowsky, was a savvy marketer who eradicated the critical distance between art and, if not life, then at least entertainment and the marketplace. Bankowsky and his fellow curators, Alison Gingeras, chief curator of the Pinault Collection, and Catherine Wood, curator of Contemporary Art and Performance at Tate Modern, have assembled some of the key figures who embraced Warhol's adage that "good business is the best art," and have gone on to cultivate their own signature artistic "brands."

sold!

On 15 September 2008, as New Yorkers and the rest of the world awoke to news that Manhattan-based global credit giant Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a financial frenzy of a much different sort was getting underway across the pond at a highfalutin address on London's New Bond Street. Well-heeled collectors and moneyed first-time art buyers from around the globe had descended on Sotheby's for a twoday sale of works by arguably the most famous artist living today, Damien Hirst. Beautiful Inside My Head Forever was more orchestrated performance than auction

Every exhibition
tells a story

Well as can be expected the exhibition planning has made me quite swamped and not able to keep up as much with my running online diary. However, I was drafting a note just after the media previews earlier this Spring that I'm now ready to post. Every year the gallery does a "media tour" to announce the line-up of exhibitions and this time around Pop Life was the featured show and I was asked to present a 20 minute preview to the journalists that came to these junkets in Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto. Turnout was quite good for all three venues and there was strong interest in many aspects of Pop Life, especially in Ottawa as we had a set of identical twins - Sophie and Isabelle Lynch - interrupt the end of my talk as it was announced that the NGC would be recreating a work by Damien Hirst from 1992 involving identical twins in the gallery. More info on the project is available on this website, and if you are, or know a set of identical twins please contact twins@gallery.ca!

Reading Warhol
over the Atlantic

Seems a suitable place to do so, given that that is where Warhol spend much of his time in the 70s and 80s, if not over the Atlantic then at least in airplanes heading to parts of the US, Europe and elsewhere to fulfill contracts, meet with collectors, socialize a lot I'm sure but also work, and work. Portraits were his thing for much of this period as he chronicled the famous as well as the rich who could pay the price tag attached to having their mug photographed, silkscreened and painted by the prince of Pop...

A night away from Pop Life,
but not away from art..

Ok so I'll amend what I wrote last time about art and openings, sometimes you do have time to look at the art, which I did on Friday at the Falckenberg Collection. And I'm glad I did as I won't have the chance on this trip to get back to this vast former industrial warehouse which for this show, and I'm assuming each of three exhibitions put on here a year, is packed with art. Even in the basement there were a few pieces on view including an intriguing sculpture by Dirk Skreber, but the real treat was that the collector makes the rest of his paintings, drawings and photo collection available for people to browse on roll a racks at will.

Pop Life opens at the
Hamburger Kunsthalle!

Hello from Hamburg, Germany which weather-wise at least feels very much like Ottawa, cold and snowy. Last night at the Hamburger Kunsthalle, however, it was warm, very warm, as around 2800 people crammed in to the historic main hall of the 19th century museum for the opening of Pop Life: Art in a Material World. I was there nestled in the crowd with my coat on (the coat check was already well full) listening to the speeches by the museum’s Director Dr. Hubertus Gaβner, and Kunsthalle curators Dr. Daniel Koep and Dr. Annabelle Görgen-Lammers, wishing I’d taken those German lessons I’d been meaning too for a while! After this we all made a long walk from the original building to its newer contemporary wing, passing under Jenny Holzer’s amazing site specific snake-like rolling signboard that it was explained to me was created for the inauguration of the extension to deal with the low ceilings in the stairs that pass from one building to the next.