A small group of works is connected with the spaces of art, where art is made, stored or displayed. It is called Art Places.
Thomas Demand often explores “art places”—spaces where art is made, stored or displayed. He dissects ad hoc ideas about the artist’s labor (see the relatively early work Barn, based on the photo of Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner in their barn studio) and the long-term storage of art works, which is not always carried out by museums and not always with the aim of “preserving and popularizing” art.
10.1 Attraction, 2013
This work, which looks like Thomas Demand’s nod to Gorky Park and its history, in fact grew out of a 1960s manual for “good photographers.” The manual explained how a short exposure can create the effect of a “frozen moment.” Demand did the same but with a long exposure. The paper model of the ride was too large to be built in the studio vertically. If you turn it ninety degrees in your mind, you will see the object the way it was built.
10.2 Atelier, 2014
Sheets of colored paper scattered across the floor look more like a children’s workshop than the studio of the elderly Henri Matisse who, after surviving a difficult operation at the age of 72, could no longer work with easel painting and invented a new technique—decoupage. Of course, paper cuttings on the floor are a very familiar sight for Demand. They are the unavoidable extras, the waste, the archaeological layer that covers the floor as he works. In fact, he does not let anyone enter his studio. No one witnesses his working process or has the opportunity to capture “the artist at work”—an image so popular within mass culture.
10.3 Landing, 2006
One of the most ironic of Demand’s works in this sense is Landing, which reconstructs an almost comical mishap at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. A visitor searching for the painting galleries realized that he was near the applied art wing, where Qing Dynasty vases were on display. He turned round to go back but tripped on his shoelace and fell into the vases, smashing them. An observation by Barnett Newman comes to mind, quoted by Rosalind Krauss in her essay “Sculpture in the Expanded Field,” that sculpture is “what you bump into when you back up to see a painting.”