Purple Magazine
— Purple 76 Index issue #29 S/S 2018

Beecroft vanessa

from performance
to sculpture and vice versa
pio pico gallery
los angeles

photography and interview by OLIVIER ZAHM
All artworks Copyright VANESSA BEECROFT and Courtesy of PIO PICO


OLIVIER ZAHM — Is it the first time you will show these sculptures?

VANESSA BEECROFT — It’s the first time for this new body of work, which is in ceramic. Before, a few were exhibited in bronze. But this is an all-ceramic show.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Everything?

VANESSA BEECROFT — In clay that was fired.

OLIVIER ZAHM — And painted?

VANESSA BEECROFT — Sometimes painted with beeswax. And there is also painting in oil, but it’s mainly clay and beeswax.

OLIVIER ZAHM — You also decided to show the drawings that you’ve kept to yourself for a long time.

VANESSA BEECROFT — I kept the drawings for myself at the beginning, in ’96, because I was afraid they’d give the wrong message. It would be too intimate, and I wanted to confront the audience in a more violent, aggressive way. So I kept the drawings for myself because they were like a diary, just for me. It was like a literature piece, and I couldn’t split them. But here I decided to draw on sheets of wet clay, with a pencil or a tool or anything. I carved them quickly, very quickly. I was obsessive about them. I couldn’t stop! A few of these are bad. But I made them because I was angry.

OLIVIER ZAHM — It’s about multiplicity.

VANESSA BEECROFT — Yeah, exactly. I don’t even think about whether the drawing will fit on the page. I just do it. Many times, the legs were coming out, and the head, too, because I don’t think. It was just…

OLIVIER ZAHM — Instinctive?

VANESSA BEECROFT — Yeah. Notes. Notes on the same subject — the woman and her body and her mood.

OLIVIER ZAHM — So, is this an archetypal woman? Or is it more of a self-portrait?

VANESSA BEECROFT — The drawings sometimes turn into me, sometimes they turn into black women, sometimes they’re very soft and sensual, sometimes they’re very crazy, upside-down. But sure, it’s a self-portrait.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Self-portrait, different moods…

VANESSA BEECROFT — Yeah. Unconsciously. Completely unconsciously. In the sense that, if you give me a piece of paper, I draw it. [Laughs] Without thinking. Now I’m doing the same with very large oil canvasses.

OLIVIER ZAHM — It’s your freedom.

VANESSA BEECROFT — I don’t want to think.

OLIVIER ZAHM — So, it’s a whole new body of work. Maybe for the first time, you’re accepting a traditional medium of sculpture, and paintings?

VANESSA BEECROFT — This is a very good question because, in fact, I still don’t. Today is the day before the opening — the invitation is going out today. It’s like a performance again. The construction is still happening… And I keep changing the bases. I do not accept it. I’m still fighting with Federico [Spadoni, Beecroft’s husband and founder of the gallery], who wants me to finish the installation. And I keep saying, “This is not finished.” We have a real conflict, problem, with that, because for me it’s a living process.


OLIVIER ZAHM — You don’t want to finish the installation?

VANESSA BEECROFT — In a way, because for me, it’s research. So, the moment that the painting is finished, or I hang something, I feel suffocated. I need to continue. The research is still ongoing. And so there’s the same melancholy that I find when I print the photograph of a performance. Because the performance is gone, it’s not there anymore. So that photograph is nothing — it’s just a memory. It’s a relic. I find that when I hang a painting, I think: “I need the next painting. This is old.” And I’ve had this anxiety all my life.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Your boyfriend, Federico, is opening a gallery space. It will be his first show in this space. It’s a sort of collaborative project, in a way. It’s also located in the same place as your own studio. So, this is a very personal move toward the public. In a way, you open yourself to the public.

VANESSA BEECROFT — But I’m not involved in the gallery because I have absolutely no spirit of commerce. So I cannot be involved. I can be involved at the level of relationships, introduce friends, but I cannot ever think of money. It makes me very afraid. I can’t do that. It would go against my beliefs. Federico has a background as an artist. He will collaborate with each artist… Each artist will make the show with him.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Like he collaborates with you?


OLIVIER ZAHM — And forces you to present this work.

VANESSA BEECROFT — And I was very flattered because we fought a lot… Almost the end of the marriage, and of everything. But I’m always so flattered that he opened with me, and he wanted to do that.


VANESSA BEECROFT — And the first time, he said, “I would do a show with you every month.” [Smiles]

OLIVIER ZAHM — He is still very much in love with you [Laughs]

VANESSA BEECROFT — And that was the best compliment! “I will do your show, and then your show, and then your show.” And I thought, “Isn’t this fun?” And so even if we fight, I’m extremely flattered. I feel like I’m in a museum! I feel this is my top museum.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Art and life are not totally divided with you.

VANESSA BEECROFT — That’s what Jeffrey Deitch used to say — that I used to live my art, it was always one. And it was.

OLIVIER ZAHM — You always refused to enter the art market in a very commercial way. You maintain a distance.

VANESSA BEECROFT — Oh, thank you for saying that because I always felt people misunderstood that. And they associated me with wealth, for some reason. Because, indeed, I am now in East LA, a very poor area, with absolutely no budget. Why? I don’t know because I do like money, in a sense. I have nothing against it, but I really can’t compromise.


VB.SK.006, 2017, SILK SCREEN, 92 x 72 INCHES. EDITION  2 of 3, 1 AP, 2017

[Table of contents]

Purple 76 Index issue #29 S/S 2018

Table of contents

Purple Index 76

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