Brian Ulrich, Cleveland, OH, 2003.
This week’s Modern Art Notes Podcast features a very special seasonal episode, a program that focuses on what the holidays are all about: Shopping!
My guest is artist Brian Ulrich, whose work examines American consumerism. He is the subject of “Brian Ulrich: Copia — Retail, Thrift and Dark Stores, 2001-2011,” a solo exhibition on view now at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Aperture just published his new book, “Is This Place Great or What,” which features works from the “Copia” series. You can see more of Ulrich’s work and read his blog on Not If But When. [This week’s MANPodcast.com banner features a detail from Cleveland, OH (2003).]
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On this week’s program, Ulrich and I discuss:
- How a bicycle accident and an ensuing concussion inspired Ulrich to become a photographer;
- His reaction to President George W. Bush’s post-9/11 exhortation to Americans to shop;
- How he makes his work at shopping centers and big box stores, and his occasionally humorous relationship with security staffs;
- How one of his pictures was motivated by a Steven Shore image — and Shore’s reaction to Ulrich’s take; and
- How he found echoes between flag-draped coffins arriving from the Middle East and $9.99 folding chairs at Bass Pro Shops.
In a related story, in this month’s Modern Painters magazine, my column focuses on how little American artists have focused on our declining economic circumstances during and immediately after The Great Recession. (Sorry, it’s not online.) In the column I look at the work of two of the few artists who have looked at economic hardship or the lower middle class: Alec Soth and Zoe Strauss. When I talked with Soth and Strauss, both urged me to focus on Ulrich’s work as well. Consider this week’s The Modern Art Notes Podcast as a kind of audio-bookend to this month’s column.
For this week’s draft, I’m joined by Andrew Russeth, who writes about art for the New York Observer and who edits the paper’s visual art website, GalleristNY. His personal website is the fantastic 16 Miles of String. On the occasion of the Frick Collection opening a new space, Andrew and I will discuss our favorite single galleries in American museums.