Instagram is not only my subject matter as an artist. It is an amazing tool to connect with like minded people and it’s what I like best about it. Meeting with Kenny Schachter is another recent great example of the magic of that fabulous tool. Despite his very busy schedule, the famous artist-dealer-curator-writer-teacher, took the time to share about his current show on view in New York at Morton Street Partners and his upcoming projects that will take him from New York to China and Art Basel.
Hello Kenny, thank you for connecting. The show “Unsafe at any speed” that you curated is on view in New York in the new space Morton St Partners. How did you choose the title of the exhibition?
KS: Ralph Nader is an American activist who was very well known, he ran for president and I guess he’s not really as well-known as he should be for his role as an activist: he is responsible for seat belts and a lot of consumer protections in legislation that people now take for granted.
I like his mentality and his position in the world, fighting for causes he believes in without being financially motivated. He is a public servant by his own activism which I think is amazing. He wrote a book, Unsafe at any speed (ed Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile, published in 1965) in which he denounced how the car manufacturers resisted the introduction of safety features (such as seat belts), striving for profits at the expense of the safety of consumers. I also see the humor in the title of his book for a metaphor for everything in life.
How did the exhibition come to life?
KS: I met with collectors (Tom Hale, Jake Auerbach and Benjamin Tarlow ed.) who had a business selling cars. They also collected art and they had a new space Morton Street Partners, so they offered me the opportunity. I’ve always been interested in industrial design and have a very close relationship with the architect Zara Hadid who is one of my closest friends. I have organized a lot of commissions and curatorial projects with her. For example, she designed two cars and a book for me.
The exhibition also relates to the fact that I have a very non hierarchical approach to art, design and life. My notion of accessibility in art is very democratic and I found that this project was a confluence of a lot of things that I’m interested in.
Can you share about your path as a curator?
KS: So I lived in the UK for 15 years and I started my career in New York in the late 80s and I curated exhibitions with emerging artists who are now famous like Cecily Brown, Joe Bradley and many others. I hadn’t done such an ambitious group exhibition like this in New York, in over 20 years. It’s to date the broadest international exhibition I’ve ever done.
Tell us more about the show?
KS: It has 39 artists from 15 countries, including Japan, Philippines, Africa, Albania etc. and a lot of them I discovered on social media. I did it all by myself which was a humongous scope of work with a few part time helpers.
It has the energy of all of the things that got me involved in what I do, nearly 35 years ago and of who I am in the first place, which is loving art, creating opportunities.
My family is in the show, my friends and what ties all the work together, it’s not really the theme but the fact that it’s a cross section, a snapshot of international contemporary art with artists ranging in age from 19 to 70.
What would you like viewers to get from it?
KS: I think it can operate on different levels for different people. The friends of the partners who run the space are car people, some other viewers are with different interests. The exhibition includes a broad spectrum of art with various media with paintings, sculpture, digital art NFTs.
I want people to enjoy themselves. I want them to be provoked. I want them to be intrigued, seduced, annoyed, repulsed and everything in between. I want them to have a good experience and have curiosity about learning more about some of the artists.
It’s not all consistent but it’s not what it’s about : it’s about showing a slice of what is happening in the art world today. When I choose to work with some artists, I ask them to determine what they would like to exhibit because my taste is not the definitive taste. I believe it’s a lively, engaging show with a group of talented artists.
Left Tim Noble & Sue Webster, “Split Heads (Pink & Blue),” 2007. Right Gosha Levochkin, “I’m Leaving I’ll Sit Here and Wait”, 2022, 58 x 47 in, Acrylic on canvas
On google, you appear as “actor” which is probably a good summary of you being an actor in the art world. How would you describe your work since you wear many hats?
KS: That’s funny ! They probably put this label because I was in the movie the Lost Leonardo DaVinci and I recently played in a short film playing Larry Gagosian. Plus I happen to be shooting a tv show for the Simthsonian network.
I guess you can define my entire life in one word: art. The rest is all derivation of it: teaching, writing, dealing, making art, curating. For me it’s one thread that connects everything.
What are your upcoming projects?
KS: I have a major installation at the Independent Art Fair with the Allouche Benias Gallery that opens May 5th. I have my own room to make an installation and I’m very excited about that.
In April, I have an NFT digital art show in Beijing, China and then I will be contributing to Art Basel in Switzerland in June.
I’m also working on a book about NFTs with a great scholar, whose works are primarily about old masters and various issues of historical art.
To follow Kenny Schachter
Unsafe At Any Speed
16 Morton St, NYC
Tues – Sat 12 to 6pm thru May 8th
works by St. 8 Bit_Titty, Kevin Abosch, Mikako Arai, Ana Benaroya, Eva Beresin, Ry David Bradley, Scarlett Carlos Clarke, Jake Chapman, Brian DeGraw,, Rosemary DeMarco, Nicole Eisenman, Hester Finch, Zaha Hadid, Sam Harris, Ruan Hoffmann, Mil Imeraj, Hassan Issah, Bree Jonson, Tamo Jugeli , Lans King, Gosha Levochkin, David Lindert, Eugenie Livanos, Jonas Lund, Malerie Marder, Tim Noble, Tom Rees, Ilona Rich, Lucrecia Roa, Adrian Schachter, Sage Schachter, Clintel Steed , Abir Tabarah, Brittany Tucker,, Tim Noble & Sue Webster, Vassilis Hilbatsos, Devon Dikeou.