whitehot | March 2009, Interview with Michael Anderson
Noah Becker: What are your influences?
Michael Anderson: Francis bacon, Picasso, Jacque Villeges, Mimmo Rotella, Cormack McCarthy, graffiti art, Martin Scorsese, Rothko, Pollock, Ornette Coleman, electric Miles Davis, Issac Azimov—I read a lot of fiction and especially science fiction as a child, which I think opens your mind to allow things that wouldn’t probably happen, to exist in imagination. I like sports too especially baseball…I usually listen to every Yankee game all season long in the studio..I like the way Derek Jeter plays, tough and concentrated and I try to do that with my collages. I like Beethoven and Messian and Arnold Schoenberg and the 2nd Viennese school, such dark and spaced out music, it reminds me of another of my favorite artists Ad Reinhardt …I love what he does with shades of black. Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks are incredible. There are so many it’s hard to give all the credit I would like to , but how’s that for a list of influences? Looks like influenza.
NB: How do you like living in New York as a visual artist?
MA: It’s great to live in NYC and be an artist; my family is from the Bronx, so almost anywhere else seems foreign to me. my studio Is in Harlem at 136th st and Fredrick Douglas blvd (which is 8th Ave) and is a store front, so I get a lot of interaction with the neighborhood and after being there for more than 3 years now I feel very accepted by the block as it were…lots of strange and interesting characters. The city is really the only place for me because posters aren’t put up in the country, so the source of my materials is here which makes living in the city an imperative. If I leave NYC for any amount of time, like doing a residency in another big city in another country, I start to go crazy feel like I’m going to jump out of my skin after about a month. The energy of NYC is addictive and i definitely start to get anxious to get back. The music of the street plays a certain tune that is NYC and I like that song.
NB: Do you find that showing with Marlborough is challenging in terms of the legacy of past art associated with the gallery?
MA: Kind of…when I first started showing with Marlborough, I was exhibited for the 1st time at the Basel Miami art fair and I was totally blown away when I got to the booth. I was exhibiting with Francis Bacon and Picasso…Francis Bacon and Picasso and there’s my work on the same walls with them…I went a little mad that day. It really blew my mind completely, I never, in my wildest drink infused artistically egotistical imagination ever thought that I would show with my two absolutely favorite artists.
NB: You make your own paper from recycled posters. What is your reason for working in this way?
MA: I use posters from the street to make collage from. I rip down hundreds of posters and their multiples, sort them by soaking them in water and drying the individual pieces, and then I recombine them to make new juxtapositions and new situational realities in my collages. I make work that is what I call, static/non-static. I feel that art today is in competition with moving media like film, television and video and I think that even though my work is static or nonmoving, it seems as though it’s moving in your peripheral vision. Whatever you look at directly is static though. I’m also very interested in the compositions and informational layout of medieval tapestries. The stories or subjects that I try to describe in my work are more non-linear narratives in comparison with the biblical or historical stories portrayed in traditional tapestries, which I feel are more indicative of our present time. I believe that it is the job of the artist to describe his/her time so that people in the future can understand what it’s like to be alive now, so this is what I’m attempting to do. I’ve always felt that COLLAGE has not been explored as deeply as, painting or sculpture say, have. Because of this I thought that there would be new room to be explored if I committed myself completely to collage.
NB: The subjects in the collages take on various color schemes. What is the theme central to your work?
MA: I don’t really have a central theme that my pictures are always about, I have an obvious and easily recognizable style, and because of that strength, which came from developing the street poster as a material, and because of the unsure nature of using collected materials exclusively (as opposed to paint or clay which are easily obtainable/bought), I make nonlinear narratives. This could be my central theme so to speak…I make collages about what it’s like to be alive now as non-linear narratives with a great sense of dark humor.
Noah Becker: Editor-in-Chief