Category Archives: Sarah Thornton

In which country is the most expensive living artist female?

Sad to say, but there is only one correct answer….Brazil.

Thanks to Sarah Thornton’s 33 Artists in 3 Acts I was introduced to Beatriz Milhazes.  I was immediately intrigued by her, as she was brave enough to talk about the ‘B’ word:  BEAUTY.  It isn’t the most popular idea or goal in contemporary art….quite the opposite.

Ms Milhazes says, Human beings want something beautiful to live with.  That is not a shallow desire.  It affects our well-being.  
She goes on to say, We have the feeling that the world doesn’t need artists because art doesn’t meet our basic needs to survive.  But that’s not true.  Even the most primitive cultures have decorative art. (33 Artists in 3 Acts, p. 339)

Beatriz Milhazes

Beatriz MilhazesBeatriz Milhazes
She qualifies her stance on beauty:  I don’t want easy beauty.  I want conflict.  I want intensity, strong dialoguing, challenging eye movement.  (33 Artists in 3 Acts, p. 340.)

Indeed!

She is certainly accomplishing that in her work.  To learn more about her art, and, in particular, her unique process of collage/painting, you can click on this short  video (produced by Philip Dolin and Molly Bernstein for the James Cohon Gallery.  The glimpses of Rio de Janeiro alone are worth viewing.)

When Sarah Thornton asks Beatriz Milhazes What kind of artist are you? she replies:
I tell my friends that I’m like a bank worker.  I come to the studio five days a week and do my job.  I pay attention to detail and try not to make mistakes. (33 Artists in 3 Acts, p. 344.)

Now if only we had time to zip over to Hong Kong (!) to see her show at the White Cube.

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33 Artists in 3 Acts

I just finished reading 33 Artists in 3 Acts, by Sarah Thornton.  If you are interested in contemporary art, then I highly recommend it.

Sarah Thronton

I was surprised at how well written it is: easy to read, entertaining and very accessible.  Not exactly the descriptors one can use, unfortunately, for some of the current writing about contemporary art. It’s no surprise that Ms Thornton has written for The Economist, the Guardian, Artforum and The New Yorker.

The book is divided into short chapters that chronicle interviews with artists such as Ai WeiWei, Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons and Cindy Sherman.  The settings include the Venice Biennale, artists’ studios and art galleries on five continents.

In the course of her interviews, Ms Thornton poses the question, What is an artist? to the various artists.  The answers are sometimes amusing.   Andrea Fraser, a performance artist, can’t answer the question.  She says, “The more you think about it, the worse it gets!”