Page 22

An Interview with Robert Storr by Julia Kirt and Kelsey Karper

Note: This interview was conducted in March 2011 on the occasion of Robert Storr’s visit to Oklahoma City as a part of City Arts Center’s Lecture Series. See the sidebar for more about the Lecture Series program. Despite being in the heart of the art world for many years, Robert Storr expressed matter-of-fact surprise at his career path. First of all, Storr asserted, he is an artist. Storr serves as Dean of the Yale School of Art, one of the most respected art programs in the country. He helped build the Museum of Modern Art’s collection and organized renowned exhibitions as past curator of Painting and Sculpture. Besides, he was the first American commissioner of the Venice Biennale. He has been a long-time contributing editor for Art in America and contributor to other venerable publications like Artforum and Frieze. Regardless of the standing of his assorted roles in the art world as curator, critic, scholar, and artist, he insisted he really would have preferred more time in the studio. “In many ways, it’s simply a matter of luck and necessity… When I had offers of jobs for work I could do and I thought was interesting, I took them,” he said. He added, “You use your talents to the best of your ability to survive as best you can.” OVAC: What engages you with new artwork? Storr: Freshness. Work that gives me difficulty and I come away not sure what I’m seeing and not quite sure why it exists. That is usually a good thing for me. Art that immediately confirms things I’m comfortable with is probably on the second or third level. OVAC: Do you see a thread among the new artists that are interesting now? Storr: It’s a very wide open field. I think it will be a wide open field for the foreseeable future. There will be moments when a lot of the attention goes toward a few things, but those moments will be of particularly finite duration. If the art that you’re doing doesn’t belong to a category that’s being paid attention to, do not despair. The attention will shift. Robert Storr, Dean of the Yale School of Art.

Beautifully made things that are devoid of ideas will not fly. Ideas that have no room for space and form will not fly. Generally, art that is made to second guess the way history will finally turn out is mostly a doomed cause. If you can make something that is compelling now and has complicated dynamics, that’s as good as it could get. I think this is a very good time to make a lot of different kinds of art. OVAC: Some artists fear knowing too much about the art world or other artists because it will somehow devalue their own individuality. Storr: It’s the worst thing an artist can do to themselves. Sure, there are times when you go to the studio and turn it off, but the idea that other peoples creativity will diminish yours is one of the first ways artists begin to reduce the scope of their potential. Great artists are competitive with other great artists. They don’t step away from them, they go after them. They say, “Oh yeah, not bad. I’m going to do better.” OVAC: In an arts community that prefers being supportive of everyone rather than competitive, how do you create a place for dialogue and criticism? Storr: It’s like a family. Sometimes you yell at your sisters and brothers, sometimes you’re incredibly supportive of them, sometimes you envy them. As long as you understand there’s a bond in any of those movements. Being competitive is

22

f e a t u re

Profile for Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition

Art Focus Oklahoma, September/October 2011  

September/October 2011 Art Focus Oklahoma is a bimonthly publication of the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition dedicated to stimulating insight...

Art Focus Oklahoma, September/October 2011  

September/October 2011 Art Focus Oklahoma is a bimonthly publication of the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition dedicated to stimulating insight...

Profile for ovac