When we asked Sarah Braman which artists have influenced her work, her response came with a preface: “I can edit down.” That’s what being an active New York-based artist and the co-owner of the artist-driven gallery CANADA does; it defines a practice built just as much out of community as time spent alone in the studio.
Marked by their pleasing color combinations and precise modularity, Braman’s sculptures bring to mind many of the artists she cited. At her most recent show, at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, a camper van had been sliced and positioned on its side, evoking Gordon Matta-Clark’s arbitrary cuts through buildings and drywall. A bluish plexiglass cube attached to another slab of camper van nearby brought to mind Rita Ackermann’s palette and gestural touch. John Chamberlain’s colorful assemblages would have been an ideal partner for the spartan piece of particleboard Braman spray-painted with blobs of blue, purple and green.
The exhibition was something of a watershed moment for Braman, who’s arguably had a few over the last couple years. In addition to being picked up by the blue chip gallery, she’s had solo shows at International Art Objects (LA), MACRO (Rome), Museum 52, and the Institut d’Art Moderne in Paris.
In addition to being an artist to watch, she’s also an artist whose values should be extolled. When asked what advice she would give her younger self, she responded simply, “have faith and tell the truth.” Even more inspiring were the words she shared about her husband and co-owner of CANADA, Phil Grauer. “I sometimes feel like it’s cheating to have Phil as a partner in sculpture,” Braman told us, describing Grauer as a touchstone to all her work. Would that all our lives could be filled with relationships
as fulfilling. [Q and A and slideshow, after the jump.]
2012 Art Stars: Sarah Braman
Is there an artist/exhibition/artwork that's had an especially significant impact on your development either recently or at the beginning of your career?
In school, in the late 80s, it was Ana Mendieta, Gordon Matta-Clark, and Rothko that made me crazy.
I went to the Gustave Moreau Museum in Paris in the early 90s and that blew my mind and eventually turned me on to Odilon Redon.
Saw the Matta-Clark exhibit in Madrid in 1992 which was thrilling.
Then, in 1994, Ellsworth Kelly at the Guggenheim—awesome. Best show ever for that space.
In 1995, at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Arts in Philly, I fell in love with John Chamberlain’s work; I have to say his last show in 2011 was so, so good. I remember seeing that show and feeling like all the works were exactly like they should be, and this sounds trite but it was just so obvious how well he knew his material. Also that year in Philly, I saw Tony Smith’s "We Lost" at UPenn.
In 1998, I saw my first show of Rita Ackermann at Andrea Rosen, and it stuck with me in a way that is hard to describe. I left that show feeling like someone had shared a secret with me, or given me an invisible gift.
I have to say, every artist shown at CANADA has had a significant impact, especially those I’ve gotten to know over the years. There’s so much to be inspired by there. More recently, outside of CANADA, I remember loving Agathe Snow at James Fuentes, Ida Ekblad's sculptures at Journal and Gavin Brown, and Otis Houston Jr., who makes work of the side of the FDR drive just under the Triborough Bridge all the time. Always really, really, really good. He is the one guy who sometimes makes me think I should quit.
Is there a work or show that you have produced that you would consider a touchstone to your body of work?
There is a person who is a touchstone to my body of work, and that is Phil Grauer. If that sounds like it could be dirty, that's accurate too.I sometimes feel like it's cheating to have Phil as a partner in sculpture. He is an artist like no other I have known, and he is an insanely good art coach. His feelings and thoughts on sculpture are way more sophisticated than mine and that helps me to stretch.
If you could tell your past self one thing, what would it be?
Have faith and tell the truth.
How do you describe your work to your parents?
I think my dad would have been able to get into them. I would have loved to get his perspective. He was psychitzophrenic and died in 1993. I feel lucky I don’t have to describe my work to my mom. She was a carpenter and built the house I grew up in and she is also spiritually aware, so I think she just kind of intuitively understands it.
Your latest work is twice to three times the size of what we've seen over the past couple of years. What prompted the increase?
I've always loved working large. I like when the sculpture is bigger than me and I start to feel overwhelmed by it. The Mitchell-Innes & Nash space allowed for real large works, and I had the desire to make them. I guess way more people saw that show than, say, the early shows at CANADA that had some large pieces.
Do you think abstraction is "about" something?
Yes, to me it is always about something. It's just that what it is about is beyond confines of language.
Poor Jebus, never allowed to have any fun.
Apr 22, 2011
At this point I'll do just about anything to toodle around on google image search for a few hours.
Apr 13, 2011