Allan McCollum: “Shapes Ornaments”

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Episode #110: Horace & Noella Varnum in Sedgwick, Maine, describe their experiences working with artist Allan McCollum on the Shapes from Maine (2009) exhibition at Friedrich Petzel Gallery in New York.

Applying strategies of mass production to hand-made objects, Allan McCollum’s labor-intensive practice questions the intrinsic value of the unique work of art. McCollum’s installations—fields of vast numbers of small-scale works, systematically arranged—are the product of many tiny gestures, built up over time. Viewing his work often produces a sublime effect as one slowly realizes that the dizzying array of thousands of identical-looking shapes is, in fact, comprised of subtly different, distinct things. Engaging assistants, scientists, and local craftspeople in his process, McCollum embraces a collaborative and democratic form of creativity.

Allan McCollum is featured in the Season 5 (2009) episode Systems of the Art in the Twenty-First Century television series on PBS. Download-to-own the full episode from iTunes.

VIDEO | Producer:
Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich.
Interview:
Susan Dowling.
Camera:
Richard Kane & Joel Shapiro. Sound: Kenny Weinberg. Editor: Lizzie Donahue & Paulo Padilha. Artwork Courtesy:
 Allan McCollum. Special Thanks: Horace & Noella Varnum

Contributor
Wesley Miller is the associate curator at ART21. Miller co-curates the television series Art in the Twenty-First Century. He is also co-creator of the series New York Close Up.
  1. Interesting project and interesting the way it engages so many different people. I find the story of the couple being together for 36 years an interesting part of the process–the idea that all of the people involved in creating the McCollum works probably have other interesting stories.

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  2. Allan McCollum’s creativity is very inspiring to me. I enjoyed this very much.

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