Christmas photo of Marilyn Minter’s studio and their families. Courtesy of the artist.
From Renaissance workshops to contemporary fabrication studios, artmaking has always been a team effort.
Photographers, painters, glassblowers, and sculptors often hire assistants to help them transform their ideas into aesthetic objects—in time for the next gallery or museum show. But how do these typically collaborative, consolidated efforts happen when we’re all social distancing? Amid COVID-19, artists—particularly those who run large studios—are having to get inventive.
Marilyn Minter, for example, has been coordinating with her two full-time employees and six freelance painters by phone and on Facetime or Zoom. Using photographs Minter made just before quarantine, the team creates reference images for future paintings. Once a week, Minter travels down from her studio in upstate New York to her apartment in New York City to print images and water her plants. “We have been working at a different pace and we’re all being flexible,” she told me. “We are all in uncharted territory.”
Marilyn Minter, untitled work in progress. Courtesy of the artist.
These days, artists managing bigger studios must address challenges that many businesses are now facing: paying rent and wages, with reduced income. For Minter, that’s meant trying to negotiate a rent reduction on her studio in Midtown Manhattan, which has been shuttered for the foreseeable future. “The good news is that I was able to deliver paint and smaller panels to my painting assistants that help start my paintings, so they are able to continue working and have a wage,” she said.
Minter is one of many artists who have had to reconsider the administrative roles they play as employers. For JR, this has meant upping the communication between his multiple teams in Paris and around New York City. “We now have more regular team check-ins online, and somehow even achieve better communication,” said JR’s New York studio director, Marc Azoulay. The artist was still able to put his studio to work on creating the cover for Time magazine’s annual Time 100 edition, which comes out on April 27th................