An interview with young master Wade Guyton

Stefano Pirovano

We have paid a visit to Wade Guyton’s studio and sat down with him to talk about the difference between art and the art market.

In occasion of his upcoming exhibition at Punta della Dogana‘s “empty cube”, Venice, Conceptual Fine Arts has met Wade Guyton in New York, also to realise what an important role irony and errors are still playing in his extraordinary coherent art practice.

What will be exhibited at Punta della Dogana?

Wade Guyton: The plan is to install a series of drawings from 2011 first shown at the Secession, Wien. In this instance there is more room to show the drawings and have the sculpture expand to fit the size of the room, that is the central cube of the museum. The drawings will be placed in 15 vitrines lined with red tiles.

There won’t be any works on the walls, then. Why?

Wade Guyton: Many artists before have chosen to exhibit large paintings in this room. It was more interesting to me to use the space in its horizontal dimension. The sculpture is a representation of a floor. And the architecture allows you to view the work from the second floor windows.

Where do the drawings come from?

Wade Guyton: The drawings I make with a small desktop printer and start with pages torn from books. The pages are combined with other information. One has an intimate experience with the drawings individually, but they occupy the space in an expansionary way.

How would you describe François Pinault as a collector?

Wade Guyton: I don’t know him very well. I’ve met him only a couple of times and he seemed a quiet, thoughtful and respectful person, but also ambitious and serious.

After ten years of brilliant career, how has the environment around you changed?

Wade Guyton: I’ve gotten older and my work has grown and changed. It has had to adjust to different pressures around it and different kind of circumstances.

Are people still the same?

Wade Guyton: Yes, of course, although they have to work harder now! There is a lot more to do. I’m pushing the limits of what my work is and that puts pressure on other people too, to adapt and figure out how to adjust to it. For example, the last show at Petzel gallery was a logistical challenge and required a lot of people and a lot of labour.

What about the relation with your gallerists?

Wade Guyton: I have very strong relationships with all of them. And a lot of my work is made in collaboration with them and their exhibition spaces.

How would you describe your works now?

Wade Guyton: As an artist you are always struggling to figure out what to do with your day, how to challenge yourself, challenge your work, and the reductive interpretations of the work. Recently, I think my work has become more physically abstract.

What do you mean when you talk about your works becoming more abstract in a physical way?

Wade Guyton: The work in the recent shows in Zurich and in New York employed the same file, but they were pressured by and put pressure on the respective spaces. The work was often talked about in relation to a history of painting or the monochrome or Warholian practices, and with these shows those arguments become moot and the work expands beyond those interpretations and becomes more experiential or spatial.

Could we say that the larger your works become, the more intimate they are?

Wade Guyton: They actually look more and more not intimate. Ironically, I feel they are more emotionally and physically powerful.

Was it more difficult at the beginning or now as an established artist?

Wade Guyton: It is difficult in different ways. I’m older and more mature so I can identify and filter out the nonsense more easily. But I still make the same mistakes they are just now on a larger scale.

Are you interested in Old Masters?

Wade Guyton: I am, but I’m not so well educated in the Old Masters.

After your retrospective at the Whitney Museum in 2013 someone thought that your creativity was coming to a point of no return. However, after that, the shows in Zurich, New York, Paris and now Venice have proved quite the opposite. What has happened after that retrospective?

Wade Guyton: I didn’t see the exhibition as a definitive retrospective anyway. It was a highly edited show that exhibited certain aspects of the work but not all of them. No exhibition can do that on such a small scale. I wanted to make a new exhibition out of older work, but it wasn’t exhaustive or final. There is still more to do.

The art market is going crazy for young artists, who are very expensive and very hard to buy. What is going on?

Wade Guyton: I have no idea of what’s happening. It doesn’t involve artists. It’s a system that has nothing to do with art. Right now artworks have become assets for people who celebrate their wealth. Unfortunately there is the misconception that art and the market are closer than they actually are.

Is a return to art criticism the key to solve this problem?

Wade Guyton: Certain aspects of the art world have become more visible to the public. It appears that the market plays a big role in art. This might be due to the change in scale of the art world and the Internet and people’s fascination with money. But artists and thinkers will continue producing discourse, and the market will do what it wants.

Do you collect?

Wade Guyton: Yes, I do. I collect my friends as well as some older artists, such as David Wojnarowicz, Rosemarie Trockel, Martin Kippenberger, Cady Noland, Christopher Williams, Stephen Prina, Robert Whitman and others.

April 13, 2020