Kriston Capps’ tweet to Powhida about art and immortality instantly reminded me of RH Quaytman’s conversation with Steel Stillman, which ran in Art in America last summer, and which upended my own comfortable memory of first encountering Quaytman’s little storage rack sculpture back in 2008:
SS For “Ark, Chapter 10,” which was the three-person show you organized at the end of your time at Orchard, you made paintings that related to Orchard’s history, and displayed several of them on storage racks similar to ones you have here in your studio. The display of paintings became a sculpture [From One O to Another].
RHQ I felt I needed to acknowledge–within the structure of the pieces themselves–the fact that I would be showing my own works, becoming, in effect, my own dealer. The storage racks, like the racks in a typical gallery’s back room, enabled visitors to pull out the paintings the way a dealer might, when showing them to prospective clients.
SS The racks addressed the nightmare, which perhaps all artists have had, that their work will never be seen.
RHQ Making the storage-rack pieces reminded me of the trauma of putting my stepfather’s and father’s works in storage after they died. Those experiences and the questions they raised–about artists’ estates, and about the life of the work itself once the artist has gone–left a big impression on me.
SS In 2008, you made a book, Allegorical Decoys, whose centerpiece is an essay you wrote about the development of your work. Having been your own dealer, you became, in effect, your own historian and publisher.
RHQ I realized instinctively that, in some sense, the paintings wouldn’t exist unless they were written about and collected. Otherwise, they would be like trees falling in the forest with nobody there to hear them. Writing that essay was an opportunity not just to reflect on my practice, but to locate my work within a larger critical conversation on my own terms.