By Mikkel Carl

Yesterday, when I was eating my (almost) carbohydrate free breakfast, something (else) caught my attention. On Artnet I was reading Kenny Schachter’s report on Damien Hirst’s latest venture capitalist Venice extravaganza, but I was actually paying more attention to the top banner. There was something disturbing, yet weirdly exciting about this strange new noun – Idea Logic – being paraded around on top of a Jackson Pollock-ish painting.

I clicked the banner and marveled at the result, finding myself scrolling through a list of 16 available works on one of several online sales at Artnet. Amazing works of art by seminal artists with starting bids around the price of one of my own paintings. What do you know? I quickly wrote to Artland accepting the proposal to become one of their Voices, simply so that I could sing the praise of this particular Minimalism and Conceptual Art fire sale. Since I can’t afford to buy art myself – I guess writing about it for free won’t get me any closer – I simply thought: Why not share this newly found enthusiasm with a bunch of collectors who are capable ‘of putting action where my mouth is’?

Bruce Nauman, Studio Floor Detail (from Photography Portfolio II), 2006, 30 x 39 in. (76.2 x 99.06 cm.). Est. 5,000—7,000 USD. Courtesy: Artnet.

Bruce Nauman
American, b. 1941
Studio Floor Detail (from Photography Portfolio II), 2006

At first, this work may seem peripheral, but with Bruce Nauman you have the advantage of buying into his almost messianic status. He is the ultimate artists’ artist or at least the ultimate artists’ artist not yet dead. No matter where you look, he was there first. Often it even took more than a few years before those of his peers that since have become the poster boys of this particular field showed up. No matter where you look, Bruce Nauman was there first: Neon, video performance, conceptuality in general, you name it.

Normally, I’m not too keen on editions – I guess the good old in/out of auratic presence still holds sway over me – but with Nauman the opposite seems to be the case. You WANT it to simply be a picture of sculptural fragments rather than a sculpture in its own right. You NEED it to be a signed edition, as this Photographic Portfolio turns out to be published by the legendary Merce Cunningham Dance Company.

Darren Bader, Hamburger cut into 8 pieces, 2017, Dimensions Variable. Est. 8,000—12,000 USD. Courtesy: Artnet.

Darren Bader
American, b. 1978
Hamburger cut into 8 pieces, 2017

Every collector I know have an issue with space. He or she needs more space to show newly acquired works, or complain about the costs of storage. And in more extreme cases, when small (or large) private museums are built to house a specific collection, these problems naturally only grow bigger. For this reason alone it’s truly incomprehensible that video and more conceptual works in general are not in vogue. So, if your house is starting to feel crowded, or you are sick and tired of going back and forth to your storage (possibly even located in another state for tax purposes, though in that case I guess you would have someone else handle all the logistics) then please don’t hesitate to buy this beautiful (new!) work by all-round trickster Darren Bader. Hamburger cut into eight pieces comes in the form of a signed certificate and the piece(s) can be presented at your will.

Agnes Martin, On A Clear Day: three prints, 1973 12 x 12 in. (30.48 x 30.48 cm.) each. Est. 15,000—20,000 USD. Courtesy: Artnet.

Agnes Martin
American/Canadian, 1912–2004
On A Clear Day: three prints, 1973

I don’t quite get the Sol Lewitt Vertical Brushstrokes, 1996. If you can’t afford a wall drawing (there is one on sale, but it reminds me a bit of late Frank Stella – an acquired taste) why bother? And if you want vertical stripes buy Daniel Burren. Or even better, just buy Agnes Martin. Possibly, you can get in as low as 13.000$! Her recent solo show at the Guggenheim in New York was (much to my surprise) the closest I have ever been to divine beauty.

Ana Mendieta, Untitled, 1983, 16 x 20 in. (40.64 x 50.8 cm.). Est. 5,000—7,000 USD. Courtesy: Artnet.
Ana Mendieta, Silueta Works in Iowa, 1976–1978 20 x 16 in. (50.8 x 40.64 cm.). Est. 5,000—7,000 USD. Courtesy: Artnet.

Ana Mendieta
American/Cuban, 1948–1985
Untitled, 1983
Silueta Works in Iowa, 1976–1978

Speaking of divinity or perhaps sainthood, and also female artists at odds with the term minimalism, there are two amazing works by Ana Mendieta on sale starting below 5000$. Their value will increase for sure! Having been known for decades primarily as Carl Andre’s tragically deceased wife (allegedly by the hand of her husband), her post minimal works, which compared to those of say Eva Hesse’s, are more directly politicised and with an even closer relation to her (female) body, are finally beginning to get the attention they deserve.

Walead Beshty, FedEx® Large Box, LA to NYC, 2007, 18 x 12.5 x 3.5 in. (45.72 x 31.75 x 8.89 cm.) Est. 12,000—15,000 USD. Courtesy: Artnet.

Walead Beshty
American/British, b. 1976
FedEx® Large Box, LA to NYC, 2007

If you still like boxes better, get Walead Beshty’s Columbus egg FedEx® Large Box, LA to NYC. For those of you who don’t know what’s going on: The artist takes shatterproof glass cubes made to fit perfectly into the standard size FedEx boxes, and then he simply ships them off to the exhibition. This is much more fun than paying a ton of money for a drawing of one of Donald Judd’s boxes. Alternatively, you can try and build one of his exquisite pieces of furniture. It’s all wooden planks and straight angles, so it’s really not that hard.

Portrait of President Barack Obama in the Style of Jackson Pollock
Art & Language, Portrait of President Barack Obama in the Style of Jackson Pollock, 2013, 21.06 x 18.5 in. (53.5 x 47 cm.). Est. 25,000—30,000 USD. Courtesy: Artnet.

Art & Language
British, b. 1968
Portrait of President Barack Obama in the Style of Jackson Pollock, 2013

Finally arriving at the abstract painting that first caught my attention, this Portrait of President Barack Obama in the Style of Jackson Pollock may not be quite as moving as Rob Pruitt’s nearly 3000 paintings of named president one still being produced each day when I came upon the large archive in a show at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in New York following the election that shocked the world. However, the painting has other merits. It’s produced by the perpetual artist group Art & Language – The Sex Pistols of conceptual art, if that makes any sense – who are highbrow even by my standards. I actually only remember a single thing from Charles Harrison’s two seminal books Essays on Art & Language and Conceptual Art and Painting – Further Essays on Art & Language (I guess they might as well be called “Essays on Art and Language”). One day, or so the story goes, Art & Language was creating paintings of Lenin in the supposedly generic style of Jackson Pollock when the unthinkable happened. Evidently, some of the paintings were better than others! How to explain such deviant aesthetic residue? I guess even the tightest of concepts make room for beauty.

About Mikkel Carl
b. 1976, Copenhagen, Denmark
Lives and Works in Soroe and Copenhagen

Mikkel Carl has a BA. in philosophy, and an MFA in visual art from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. He works concurrently as an artist, writer and freelance curator.