Cady Noland is a Bit of a Rebel

Art World News, Contemporary Women Artists

I just stumbled across an interesting article about Cady Noland in ArtNet which asks who is crazier: Noland or Richard Prince?

Since I am conducting my Senior thesis research on Richard Prince, anything with his name in the title immediately piques my interest. Prince is a notoriously strong personality and, if you ask me, kind of an asshole. Apparently Cady Noland is also incredibly intense and hard to work with. She rarely gives permission for her works to be shown and has gotten into legal issues with collectors over her refusal to remount pieces.

Once a work is sold, the artist really doesn’t have much control over when, where, and how it’s being shown. She no longer owns it. However, Noland’s work in particular is quite precarious and is entirely dependent on how it is assembled. It seems to be intended as something ephemeral which exists only in a single context. However, museums and private collectors are constantly trying to reshow the most famous works of her past. I understand how incredibly frustrating that might be for some artists. Your name will be attached to a work forever, even after you have no rights to control its display. Is it still Cady Noland’s art is she didn’t set it up or approve the positioning? Or is it just a bunch of empty beer cans? Where does the art happen?

The cynic in me must also question if this is just some part of her public persona, perpetuated to establish notoriety and mystery. Does it make the works more valuable? She seems entirely in conflict with the business side of the contemporary art world. Ironic for one of the top-selling female artists of her lifetime…

“It’s an interesting predicament, given that Noland is one of the top 10 most expensive female living artists, with her 1989 sculpture Oozewald holding the record for the highest price ever paid for an artwork by a female living artist at $6.6 million. In a way, her refusal to cooperate with the people who want to buy, sell, and display her work is the ultimate biting of the hand that feeds. Considering the current state of the art world, in which artists often complain of feeling like part of a meat market buffet, it’s a fascinating, if somewhat misguided, act of rebellion.”

I saw her work exhibited (without permission) at the Brant Foundation over winter break in Deliverance which also featured works from Prince, Christopher Wool, and Larry Clark. It is weird to look at an artist’s work while being acutely aware that they did not want it to be seen. It makes me kind of sad for her. I mean yes she seems really extreme and rather antisocial. But not having control over your own art would be supremely frustrating. Then again if she is making $6 million off a single piece, I can’t pity her too much…

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