Off the Shelf: Mass-Market Multiples
Objects from the Collection of Lawrence Banka and Judith Gordon
January 8 – January 31, 2015
Protect Me From What I Want/
Boredom Makes You Do Crazy Things, 1992
Golf balls (Photo: Lloyd Hryclw)
Please note that objects on display are not for sale.
Gregory Lind Gallery is pleased to present objects from the collection of Lawrence Banka and Judith Gordon. Their focus is on the more accessible side of the art market, collecting inexpensive objects by the most notable artists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries made for charitable and commercial purposes.
Banka and Gordon’s collection covers the gamut of how art is incorporated into everyday merchandise. Featuring a pantheon of figures like Alexander Calder, Keith Haring, Damien Hirst, David Hockney, Jenny Holzer, Alex Katz, Jeff Koons, Yayoi Kusama, Robert Mapplethorpe, Yoko Ono, Pablo Picasso, Martin Puryear, Robert Rauschenberg, Ed Ruscha, Cindy Sherman, and Andy Warhol, their collection is meant to reveal an amusing side to the stellar reaches of the art market and provide a glimpse into the issues concerning high versus low art.
The idea for their collection began while trawling the internet, when they stumbled on the phenomenon of artist-created multiples for low prices. Over the past several years, they’ve amassed more than two hundred objects ranging from puzzles to wine labels, holiday ornaments to golf balls, all created during the artists’ lifetimes. They view their collection as a counterpoint to the frenzied art market, focused on big-ticket artists. “When we began our quest — inspired by ephemera we already possessed such as the Holzer golf balls — the sheer quantity of items available and artists engaged in this activity was mind-boggling, as well as enticing,” says Banka and Gordon. “It seemed a whimsical way to participate in a market otherwise closed to us by virtue of the astronomical prices these artists command.”
Banka and Gordon live and work in San Francisco. They first exhibited objects from their collection in late 2009 at the Richard L. Nelson Gallery, University of California, Davis. Merch Art explored themes about the relationships between art and mass production, and was accompanied by an illustrated catalogue containing essays by UC Davis art historian Blake Stimson, former Nelson Gallery Director Renny Pritikin (now Chief Curator at San Francisco’s Contemporary Jewish Museum), and Banka and Gordon.
Reviewing the Nelson exhibition in Art Practical (November 18, 2009), Christian L. Frock observed, “The role of this collection within the rhetoric of a contemporary art collection, assembled outside the ‘real’ art market but still commercial on a small scale, satisfies the collectors’ longing to participate in the ‘serious art world,’ while also offering a vague critique of its self-seriousness.”