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If making art part of your daily life has made it onto your list of New Year's resolutions, then you should check out Visionaire's 2010 art calendar: For the 57th edition of the collectible art publication, Visionaire has created a plug-in display featuring 365 digitized works by artists including Adel Abdessemed, Agathe Snow, Bruce Nauman, Cao Fei, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Gabriel Orozco, Guyton\Walker, Maurizio Cattelan, Olafur Eliasson, Paul Chan, and Steve McQueen to name a few. At ArtWeLove, we liked the initiative so much -- making art part of your daily life via digital platforms, well, that's what we do! -- that we decided to meet with Visionaire founder Cecilia Dean to talk to her about the project.
LL: At ArtWeLove, we're very interested in Visionaire's approach to going digital and featuring so much art. How did you come up with the concept for this issue?
CD: Doing something digital has been on our mind for a long time
but it was really funny because the issue sort of came together organically. We knew 2010 was coming up so the idea of a calendar was sort of floating around. I also really wanted to work with a lot of artists because the last few issues we had worked with 12 artists each so it ended up being incredibly limited and very exclusive. And then Smart called me up and so we started talking -- they wanted to support both the art and celebrate the electric car. And so our 2010 issue married all of these different elements together. It made sense to work with an electronic device which means that we can have tons of images because you’re never worried about how big it’s going to be and how many pages you’re printing. But really the issue is about contemporary art in 2010 as seen through the eyes of selected curators. The curators came up because I got incredibly nervous about choosing these 365 artists -- I felt more comfortable inviting curators and giving them the freedom to choose seven artists each.
LL: So there was no theme, it was really based on the artists they loved?
CD: Yes. They chose artists who they thought mattered in 2010, who they really liked. Sometimes it was someone very established from an older generation and sometimes it was artists who we had never heard of before which is fantastic -- I love it when we start learning about new artists. Amazingly enough there was very little overlap in the selections proposed by the curators.
LL: Tell me about the choice of these curators, because some of them are “traditional” curators but others are coming from very different creative backgrounds.
CD: When we put together our wish list of contributors, we wanted to have people from different fields. To me it’s so much more interesting to get a fashion photographer’s view next to a filmmaker’s view next to an artist’s view and I mean everyone has an opinion especially if you’re in the design arena. Getting art collectors was really fun and exciting for us. Collectors really direct a lot of what happens in the art market, because they are out there literally financially supporting the arts. Often they’re doing it with very young artists, because obviously it’s a good investment for them, but they also want to grow a career. Last, we wanted to invite glamorous people who we really admire, who are also involved in the arts, and so obviously names like Natalie Portman and Kate Moss came up. They’re very involved with the visual arts even though that is not their primary field. For example, Kate Moss does so much with contemporary artists. She’s worked with Chuck Close, Damien Hirst, and Lucien Freud, and the list goes on. Natalie Portman had just done work with Francesco Vezzoli.
LL: Now that you’ve taken Visionaire digital, do you think this is a step that’s going to be hard to go back from or do you still think that Visionaire should be a collectible print publication?
CD: You know, I feel that we are still a limited edition publication. This issue happens to be electronic, it’s not digital in so far as you could download it, it’s not on the Internet, it is still an object. It just happens to have images on a screen instead of a piece of paper. For us it’s really important to stay true to our publishing roots and do things that are printed on paper. Going forward we have a couple issues that we’re working on now which are printed, but we also have some ideas for next year that are much more high-tech oriented.
LL: What do you think makes art books so compelling at this point in time? They seem more popular than ever, with contemporary artists from Richard Prince to Josh Smith engaging with the format, and with high turnouts for such shows as the Printed Matter fair at P.S.1?
CD: I think it is actually very interesting this whole play between the physical printed matter and the Internet. Somehow what gets printed becomes more valuable. You get so much information from the Internet, which is fantastic, I mean, I don’t really understand how we existed without it. But it’s very different going through a folder on a computer, which is quite abstract, versus having printed pages in a folder. We’re getting a lot more information via the Internet, but what we want to hold on to is now quite valuable, because everything else is digital. And you have to make a real effort to save what is meaningful, so it makes sense that things are quite valuable as printed.
LL: What’s your next dream collaboration?
CD: I’d like to do some projects in Brazil. I really like Brazil. I was in San Paolo not long ago and the art scene there is really exciting. They have great galleries, great artists, the whole town is totally buzzing. Everyone only thinks of Rio and Carnival, but there is so much more going on there and it would just be great to explore that.
LL: You were just in Miami for the Art Fair. What has a visionaire like you discovered?
CD: I always enjoy Art Basel Miami Beach. I find it is always exciting to be there and I try to never take it for granted. I thought it was a little bit more conservative than it has been in the past, but I think that’s totally understandable with everything going on. When going to art fairs, I usually have a catalogue in my head of all the issues I’m working on and I go there quite focused. I was very interested in embroidery and sewing, so I naturally just gravitated towards anything that was stitched. The moment you have something like that in your head you see it a lot more.
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