Ryan Lee Gallery: exploring the breadth of contemporary art
IN FEBRUARY 2015, UNIVERSAL TALENT AGENCY LAUNCHED UTA FINE ARTS, LED BY ART LAW ATTORNEY AND COLLECTOR JOSHUA ROTH, TO FOCUS ON REPRESENTING CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS, A ROLE THAT HAD BEEN AND, OF COURSE, STILL IS, THE PRIMARY PURPOSE AND FUNCTION OF AN ARTIST’S GALLERY. UTA FINE ARTS OFFERS VERY SOPHISTICATED SERVICES, NEGOTIATING INITIATIVES AND FUNDING OF PUBLIC AND PRIVATE COMMISSIONS AND PROJECTS AND NAVIGATING NEW TERRAIN FOR THE VISUAL ARTIST SUCH AS ENTERTAINMENT AND MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES, NEW DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION PLATFORMS AND, ESSENTIALLY, CREATING THE ARTIST AS A BRAND. CERTAINLY WHILE IT IS ONLY A VIABLE VEHICLE FOR THE MOST FAMOUS AND SOUGHT AFTER HANDFUL OF ARTISTS IN THE CURRENT PLAYING FIELD, THE LAUNCH OF UTA FINE ARTS SYMBOLIZES THE VERY CLEAR RECOGNITION OF THE CULTURAL ROLE AND POTENTIAL PROFITS THE ART WORLD PRESENTS IN THE CURRENT CLIMATE FOR NEW MARKETS AND REVENUE STREAMS. IT IS PARTICULARLY TIMELY THAT TODAY’S LRFA BLOG EXPLORES THE LONG-TERM COMMITMENT THAT A GALLERY OF THE CALIBER AND DEDICATION OF RYAN LEE OFFERS BOTH EMERGING AND ESTABLISHED ARTISTS.
LET’S CONTINUE OUR DIALOGUE WITH KIM SCHMIDT, DIRECTOR OF SALES AT RYAN LEE GALLERY IN CHELSEA, A GALLERY THAT PIONEERS NEW PROJECTS AND EXHIBITIONS OF NEW ARTISTS AND SUPPORTS THE WORK OF ESTABLISHED ONES. http://ryanleegallery.com/
KIM, THE GALLERY HAS NOW ADDED FOUR NEW ARTISTS SUCH AS TIM BRADEN, ANN-KARIN FURUNES, MARIAM GHANI AND JOAN LOGUE. HOW WOULD YOU CHARACTERIZE THEIR WORK AND DO YOU FEEL THAT THERE IS AN AESTHETIC THREAD THAT LINKS THE WORK OF THE GALLERY ARTISTS WORKING IN SUCH A DIVERSITY OF MEDIUM?
Since its inception in 2013, RYAN LEE has exhibited works by pioneering contemporary artists. The addition of these artists to the gallery’s roster followed a recent expansion that doubled the gallery’s exhibition space and the launch of RLWindow, a dedicated exhibition space for single-channel video, installation, and performance that directly engages with the High Line. It also highlights the gallery’s commitment to creating an innovative and thought-provoking platform for contemporary art. Braden, Furunes, Ghani, and Logue are certainly different artists in practice, aesthetic, and media, and even where they are in their career. RYAN LEE is interested in featuring the breadth of contemporary art.
THE GALLERY REPRESENTS A STRONG MIX OF ESTABLISHED ARTISTS AND EMERGING ONES. HOW WOULD YOU CHARACTERIZE THE ARTISTS IN THE GALLERY ROSTER? THERE IS CERTAINLY, FROM MY PERSPECTIVE, A DIVERSITY OF MEDIUM, AESTHETICS AND CULTURAL BACKGROUNDS. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS THE CRITERIA FOR REPRESENTATION AND WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS IN TERMS OF SUPPORTING THE ARTISTS AS HEAD OF SALES?
There are no specific criteria for representation, although we take into account our individual sensibilities and what fits in with the existing program. We are constantly attending museum exhibitions, gallery shows, artist studios, client collections, etc. and receiving recommendations to check out particular artists. It’s a process that takes time as it’s very much a relationship. We take on artists with the understanding and hope that it’s long-term.
DO YOU FEEL THAT MUSEUM RECOGNITION IS CRUCIAL TO AN ARTIST’S CAREER? HOW SIGNIFICANT IS THE PLACEMENT OF WORKS IN PRIVATE COLLECTIONS THAT HAVE GAINED PUBLIC RECOGNITION.
It’s important that artists are recognized in museum collections and exhibitions because it’s a part of the larger conversation and documentation of art history. We are always working toward having our artists’ work included in important institution and private collections and exhibitions.
A RECENT NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE FOCUSED ON THE NUMBER OF PRIVATE MUSEUMS THAT COLLECTORS HAVE ESTABLISHED, CERTAINLY BECAUSE OF TAX ADVANTAGES BUT ALSO, IN MY VIEW, TRULY BECAUSE THEY ARE IMPASSIONED AND RATHER OBSESSIVE COLLECTORS WITH AN ABUNDANCE OF WORK AND ENTHUSIASM TO SHARE THEIR COLLECTIONS WITH THE PUBLIC. DO YOU FEEL THAT PLACEMENT IN THESE TYPES OF COLLECTIONS IS CRUCIAL TO ADVANCING AN ARTIST’S CAREER?
Any time an artist is able to exhibit his work to a broader audience, it’s a good thing. Many of these private collections, whether donated to an existing museum or to establish a new one, have excellent pieces and provide an important context for the work included. Some of the top museums in the world began as private collections: the Guggenheim, Neuberger, Phillips Collection, Frick Collection, Hammer Museum, Fondation Beyeler, all excellent collections with phenomenal curators at their helm. So the history of private collections cum museums is quite storied.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE EXHIBITIONS THAT WE CAN LOOK FORWARD TO VIEWING IN THE SEASON AHEAD?
Coming up will be new video animations by Kakyoung Lee that are based on these meticulous drypoints. She explores movement and action as it relates to family, particular for her as a daughter, mother and wife.
We will also show selections from Sandy Skoglund’s True Fiction Two. She revisited highly-stylized photographic work from 1986. Using digital techniques to play with color, depth, and form, the photographs looked to preserve the strangeness of urban decay as a backdrop for urban renewal in American culture during that time. It’s the first time the work has been on view in the US. In conjunction with the gallery show, Skoglund is also mounting her 1979 work, Hangers, for the first time in RLWindown, realizing it as a live performance piece. Every Saturday, there will be periodic performances in the space only viewable from the High Line.
We are also participating in Asian Contemporary Art Week, with a curated project show by independent curator Leeza Ahmady. Alexander Ugay’s video collage “Earth & Shape,” a film that takes disparate architectural landscapes from different cities and merges them onto a single plane. It’s commenting on the ideas and economics of space and territory.
CONGRATS ON THE WONDERFUL NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW ON SANDY SKOGLUND’S SHOW ON SEPTEMBER 17th! http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/18/arts/design/institute-of-contemporary-art-miami-names-ellen-salpeter-as-director.html?_r=0
AND THANK YOU, KIM, FOR YOUR THOUGHTFUL AND INFORMATIVE CONTRIBUTION.
IN OUR NEXT LRFA BLOG, I AM PRIVILEGED TO SHARE AN ARTICLE BY AN EXPERT IN ART LAW, DIANA WIERBICKI, SENIOR PARTNER AT WITHERS BERGMAN AND GLOBAL HEAD OF THE ART LAW PRACTICE AT THE INTERNATIONAL FIRM. DIANA’S INSIGHT INTO THE LEGAL ASPECTS OF THE ART WORLD ARE BOTH KNOWLEDGEABLE AND ENTERTAINING AND I LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR RESPONSE.