"I want to be far from polite." | Artist Calvin Marcus | Louisiana Channel



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“I want my voice in art to be far from polite. I want to go inside and mind something out that doesn’t already exist, that isn’t arty content.” Meet Los Angeles-based Calvin Marcus, who wants to be as slippery as possible to maintain his sense of freedom as an artist.

“As an artist, I feel inundated with content all around me. Sometimes I see the things in museums and galleries that are things from ordinary places like the hardware store and found objects that get resurfaced or recontextualized as art objects in an art context. Sometimes I think that all this stuff is already content, already art, and that pushes me personally as an artist. I want to go inside and mind something out that doesn’t already exist, that isn’t arty content because whether it is in a gallery or a store, it already has an object to it; to put it in the gallery is like an art gesture and as interesting as that is, I think my relationship with art has to be more specific to me as my own experience as a maker, and the only way to do it is to take everything around it and combine it with myself and my version of it”, says Marcus.

Calvin Marcus mentions artists like Paul Thek, Philip Guston, and Francis Bacon as his inspirations, but also the inspiration from his close family:

“My father and mother were both graphic designers, so I grew up in this household looking at the way things function on a visual ergonomic level; when you are making a logo or a corporate identity, you are trying to create something authentic to the brand while simultaneously having typography and logo all seen together and I saw that a lot because my father’s office was down the stairs,” Marcus recalls.

“The way that I set out on my artistic path is from the beginning having the opportunity of exhibiting my work, I have gone out of my way to be as slippery as I possibly can so that I can maintain my sense of freedom as an artist because I think that in our current art climate culture, there is a real desire to develop something that has almost an iconic almost like brand status. This desire to know exactly who it is from my other way, that the project is just pursuing that one thing forever, has always been like a trap for me. From an early stage, I made a point to show all things at once, and pursue all of the things I was interested in at once. So, every time I am making a show, I am usually making three or four other shows at the same time and allowing them to cross-influence each other which sometimes split out into four or fifth. I remain very open with the projects and right now the direction is not a singular one, it is going out in many different directions, as an artist, the desire i´s to grab out to more and bring them into what I am doing.”

Calvin Marcus (b 1988, in San Fransisco) has been the subject of solo exhibitions at K11 Musea, Hong Kong (2019); The Power Station, Dallas (2017); Peep-Hole, Milan (2015); and Public Fiction, Los Angeles (2014). He has participated in group exhibitions at the Louisiana Museum of Art, Humlebæk, Denmark, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (2020); Whitney Biennial 2019, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Aïshti Foundation, Beirut, Lebanon (2017); His work is in the permanent collections of the Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo, Norway, Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris; K11 Art Foundation, Hong Kong; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Museum of Modern Art, New York, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Marcus lives and works in Los Angeles.

Christian Lund interviewed Calvin Marcus at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in November 2021. Thomas McDonell made the shootings in Los Angeles.

Camera in Denmark: Jarl Kaldan Therkeldsen & Johan von Bülow
Edit: Kasper Bech Dyg
Produced by Christian Lund
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

Louisiana Channel is supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet, C.L. Davids Fond og Samling and Fritz Hansen.

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