Art Beyond the White Cube
In 2008, Carrie Scott decided to break the mold. From her perspective as a Director at Nicole Klagsburn Gallery, in the wake of a national financial crisis, continuing to run a gallery with massive overhead costs wasn’t a model that she felt was sustainable.
In 2009, Scott opened Carrie Scott & Partners, an unconventional hybrid that is at once an art consultancy, gallery, and curatorial endeavor. “I’ve always been interested in the business of art,” said Scott, who will be participating in the inaugural edition of If So, What? “Art for art sake doesn’t exist, artists need to be sustained. My favorite part of working at a gallery was always telling an artist I sold a work, so they could then go and make something else.”
With this in mind, Scott struck out on her own and set up a company to help advise artist on projects that they might want to do outside of the gallery. “I really embrace and try to engage with nontraditional forms of exhibiting work,” said Scott. “I’m trying to do things in interesting spaces and in interesting ways and getting them out of the white cube space.” Scott began working with a number of photographers, including Nick Knight, Walter & Zoniel, and Rashid Johnson, while also starting to advise clients on how to build their collections.
Scott has eschewed the traditional gallery model – ‘stay nimble’ is her mantra – and does not have a set stable of artists, though she does have a roster of six or seven photographers that she works with regularly. Among those is fashion and art photographer Nick Knight.
At If So, What? Carrie Scott & Partners present a solo exhibition of Knight’s work, encouraging visitors to engage with photography as an object – as a design element, a decoration, and a conceptual art form. By doing so, Scott hopes to encourage people to really look at the visual language a photographer tries to create through different bodies of work.
Knight is best known for his fashion photography, which includes collaborations with renowned designers including John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, and Yohji Yamamoto, as well as advertising campaigns for Christian Dior, Calvin Klein, Swarovski, and Yves Saint Laurent, among others. For the inaugural edition of ISW Scott will put some of Knight’s classic commercial photography into conversation with his fine art works, to further expand the conversation around photography.
Among the works on view will be a series of Knight’s “Rose” paintings, large-scale works that Scott describes as photo paintings. To create the works Knight devised a method with his printer in Los Angeles that prevented the ink from sticking to the paper. By adding heat and water before the ink sets they are able to cause the image to bleed, transforming a traditional still life into a poetic and abstracted image imbued with a captivating sense of movement.
These conceptual works will be presented along the commercial photography for which Knight is best known. Among the works on view will be a series of images that Knight created during his work with Alexander McQueen, including “Snakes,” which was part of McQueen’s final image campaign, and “Blade of Light,” an ethereal image capturing air born bodies in movement that was Knight, McQueen, and Michael Clark’s final image for Numero magazine.
The decision to pair Knight’s art and commercial photography was very intentional for Scott. “I wanted to bring the campaign photos to show that there is no difference between the work that he does on his own and the work he does for the fashion campaign,” said Scott. “They are equally as labored, considered, and graceful. They work together."
For Scott, this chance to stimulate a conversation around photography was a large part of her impetus to participate in the fair.
“I was very excited when I heard about the event and learned that there was this art, design, music, and interactive element – that it wasn’t going to be a cookie cutter fair,” said Scott, “that there would be a level of engagement and education about the work. There’s an opportunity to tell a new narrative.”
Over the past nearly ten years running Carrie Scott & Partners, Scott has discovered that one of her primary roles is to help educate collectors, especially those of her own generation, and to teach them how to grow their collection.
“Photography is so exciting to a younger generation of clients. Its everywhere and we understand it, we understand the vocabulary of what it means to take a picture,” said Scott. “By bringing together such divergent works you can really talk about how you would build a collection of photography and what actually works in a space.”
For Scott, helping people find art that speaks to them and that they are excited to live with is an essential part of her mission. Not only because it helps bring joy and beauty to collectors, but also because it helps artists have the resources to continue creating new work. “I firmly believe that art can change the world, that one person can change the world. We can all be like that and artists have this amazing opportunity, they have their own platforms to say enough is enough, we can do better,” said Scott.
For her, ISW offers a perfect opportunity to continue engaging with and educating audiences in a new and nontraditional format. “If So, What? seems to have a really different approach. It’s not just about art, it’s about music and technology, and how we actually live our lives. When you buy a piece of a art you take it home with you and it’s in your messy house with your noisy music and your kids running around, so it needs to be able to live and breath and not just sit in this sterile gallery,” said Scott.
“Art exists beyond the white cube, and it should. If So, What? seems like it’s getting out of that and taking us away from the idea that it’s just serious. Real life is big and complicated and our culture should be as big and complicated as it is.”