Market Makers

Market Makers is about what happens when art and business overlap.

 

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Artist's Statement

Market Makers is a reflection on the exchange that occurs between art and commerce in the markets each day, drawing inspiration from the era that gave birth to mass marketing and modern American consumer culture on Madison Avenue in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, as well as the past fifteen years of my own work in fine art.

 

The show brings together three bodies of work:

 

  1. The Madison Avenue Paintings, a series of works on canvas based on select marketing communications from the late 50's to early 60's, when American advertising was in its nascence and first moving to cater to mass markets and influence consumers on a grand scale
  2. The Market Makers Photographs, where I sit in for five advertising characters to demonstrate a few of the ways advertising got it wrong, and
  3. The Tools of the Trade Sculptures, five bronzes that echo my own labor in the world of fine art.

 

These series are departures from my previous work, primarily abstract expressionism, drawing more on the work of Ellsworth Kelly, Morris Louis, Mark Rothko, Piet Mondrian, Barnett Newman, and Jasper Johns than that of Ai Wei Wei, Andy Warhol, Ed Ruscha, and Cindy Sherman, but i am inspired and excited with this new direction, and will be continuing it alongside my minimal abstract work.

 

Taken together, these new series comprise my meditations on living life at the intersection of art and business.

 

As we have all seen, this moment in contemporary culture is especially exciting as we see old “push” formats of marketing being broken down by an active and interactive marketplace, newly-capable with its tools of interactivity.

 

Advertising is Born

 

Looking back to Madison Avenue in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, the “salad days” of US advertising, when corporate communication was in its infancy, when the powerful elixir of art and mass media discovered on the European continent during tragic and destructive propaganda wars driven by fascist and totalitarian regimes pursuing terrifying new world orders through the devastating course and aftermath of the Second World War was first put to civilian use in an organized way for the purposes of marketing products, commodities, and services to consumers in the wake of two World Wars.

 

The Beautiful and the Not-So-Beautiful

 

As expressions of a culture in development, the messages that emanated from mass marketing were both beautiful and not-so-beautiful, from graceful, colorful abstractions with a modern, color-field feel, to ill-founded messages about cigarettes, the economic necessity of female sexual appeal, denial of female competence, and glib encouragement of America’s gun culture.

 

The “American Century”

 

This was the clarion call of what was to be called the “American Century” in the decades following the Second World War – to acquire and consume that which conferred progress, modernity, comfort, style, and status.

 

Taken as a group, the paintings and photographs also reflect essential qualities of the American experience; from the open and optimistic Norman Rockwell-esque tenor of Life Savers, to the bold and beautiful "chicken in every pot, car in every garage," American-Dream-economic-prosperity ethos of Oldsmobile.

 

Tools of the Trade

 

Turning from the American experience lived through mass marketing to my own experience living and working in the world of fine art, the Tools of the Trade bronze sculptures reflect my working experience of the past fifteen years, helping clients and representing artists as I began my body of work.

 

The four pedestaled pieces are a few of these tools  – Carpenter's RuleConfidential@, and Hanging By Their Bellies/Bronze.  Each object has its place in the business of fine art.

 

Finally, Squash Ball reflects an athletic and aesthetic passion of mine that provides me with a meditative, social, athletic, and aesthetic space in which to let off sparks.

 

Bronzes at Work

 

The sculptures are produced at desktop, tabletop, hand-held, and shelf-slotted scales, and are intended to be collected as a set, a kind of miniature sculpture garden, that works well in an office, study, and gallery environment, while the headphones serve well as a companion piece or a stand-alone item.

 

Welcome, and enjoy.

Biography

Born in America's heartland and raised on its East coast, Jan was raised around fine art and the artistic process.

Studying at Columbia University in New York, receiving undergraduate and graduate degrees from Harvard and Oxford Universities, he studied art-as-process at Boston's Museum of Fine Art and settled in New York to begin painting in 1997, proceeding to build a global fine art practice from the ground up, representing scores of artists, operating hundreds of exhibitions, building and operating 4 brick-and-mortar galleries, while educating himself in art history and developing his production practice.

Jan has produced, bought, and sold millions of dollars' worth of modern and contemporary work on primary and secondary art markets, auctioned work for charity, and lent it internationally in partnership with the US State Department.

He debuted his solo career in September 2015 with a show with HG Contemporary.

"I make work that is, I hope, entertaining, energizing, beautiful, useful, perhaps at times moving, and responding to the conversation of modern and contemporary art as I see it, as well as to current events.  A relative of Beuys' and Duchamp's work, I consider my oeuvre, if I may use that word, to be culture in motion."