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20141214185837-4__1215x1280_ 20141214185906-5__1159x1280_ 20141214185809-3__1202x1280_ 20141214190026-7__963x1280_ 20141214185937-6__965x1280_ 20141214185732-2__1189x1280_ 20141214185645-joanne_greenbaum1__1183x1280_ Joanna Greenbaum__joanne
'rak'rüm (noun);
the back room of an art gallery
where artists and art lovers hang
20141214183311-screen_shot_2014-12-14_at_7
Untitled, Joanne GreenbaumJoanne Greenbaum, Untitled,
2014, Oil and ink on canvas, 200 x 185 cm
© the artist and Galerie Crone, Berlin
Untitled, Joanne GreenbaumJoanne Greenbaum, Untitled,
2014, Oil, ink, marker, pencil, acrylic, paint on canvas, 200 x 180 cm
© the artist and Galerie Crone, Berlin
Untitled, Joanne GreenbaumJoanne Greenbaum, Untitled,
2014, Oil, ink, and acrylic on canvas, 200 x 185 cm
© the artist and Galerie Crone, Berlin
Untitled, Joanne GreenbaumJoanne Greenbaum, Untitled,
2014, Ink, pencil, marker, oil paint on canvas, 40 x 30 cm
© the artist and Galerie Crone, Berlin
Untitled, Joanne GreenbaumJoanne Greenbaum, Untitled,
2014, Ink, pencil, marker, oil paint on canvas, 40 x 30 cm
© the artist and Galerie Crone, Berlin
Untitled, Joanne GreenbaumJoanne Greenbaum, Untitled,
2014, Oil, ink, and acrylic on canvas, 200 x 185 cm
© the artist and Galerie Crone, Berlin
Untitled, Joanne GreenbaumJoanne Greenbaum, Untitled,
2014, Oil, ink, and acrylic on canvas, 200 x 185 cm
© the artist and Galerie Crone, Berlin
Untitled, Joanne GreenbaumJoanne Greenbaum, Untitled,
2009, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 80 x 78 in
© Courtesy the artist and D'Amelio Terras, NY
Portrait, Joanne GreenbaumJoanne Greenbaum, Portrait,
2003, Oil and flasche on canvas, 60 x 60"
untitled (026), Joanne GreenbaumJoanne Greenbaum, untitled (026),
2005, Monotype w/ transfer, 29" x 22.5"
© aurobora press
, Joanne Greenbaum, Katharina Grosse, Albrecht SchniderJoanne Greenbaum, Katharina Grosse, Albrecht Schnider,
Painting
Lush Life Wall Installation, back, Lush Life Wall Installation, back,
2010, mixed media
© Pedro Barbeito
Untitled , Joanne GreenbaumJoanne Greenbaum, Untitled ,
2011 , oil, acrylic, mixed media on linen , 16 x 12 inches 40.6 x 30.5 cm
© Courtesy of the artist & D'Amelio Terras
, Joanne GreenbaumJoanne Greenbaum
© Courtesy of the artist and Shane Campbell Gallery
, Joanne Greenbaum, Don VoisineJoanne Greenbaum, Don Voisine, 2010
© Monika Jarecka
1612, Joanne GreenbaumJoanne Greenbaum, 1612, 2012
© Courtesy of the Artist and Greengrassi
, Joanne GreenbaumJoanne Greenbaum
© Courtesy of the artist & Kerry Schuss
Dollar General, Joanne GreenbaumJoanne Greenbaum, Dollar General,
2008, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 72 x 72"

© Courtesy of the artist & Greengrassi, London, UK
Untitled, Joanne GreenbaumJoanne Greenbaum, Untitled,
2014, oil, acrylic, flashe and graphite on canvas, 90 x 80 inches
© Courtesy of the artist & The Rachel Uffner Gallery
Joanne Greenbaum was born in New York City in 1953. She received a Bachelor of Arts from Bard College in 1975, and currently lives and works in New York City. Her works in painting, sculpture, and printmaking have been widely exhibited in the United States and abroad, including 2014 solo shows at Rachel Uffner Gallery, New York, NY, Galerie Crone, Berlin, Germany, and Texas Gallery, Houston, TX. She ha...[more]


RackRoom
Frank Wisdom: An Interview with Joanne Greenbaum

Joanne Greenbaum is not one of those theoretical types—she is frank, funny, and bleeds New York in everything she does. Over the past couple decades this abstract painter has established herself for covering canvases in bright line work with magic marker, acrylic and oil. Her trademark has been treating the white canvas as map, filled with patterns that resemble city grids. It’s as if Broadway Boogie Woogie by Piet Mondrian were painted freehand and with more layered graphic compositions, cramming in a ton of micro-details into solid masses of color. Greenbaum’s paintings are like an avant-garde version of a Peter Halley painting met by a psychological blow torch.

Recently, Greenbaum’s work has moved into clay sculptures, which are as colorful as her paintings, and detailed etchings. In November she opened a show of large-scale works at Berlin’s Galerie Crone, in which new paintings incorporate drawing elements, and she has three other shows currently on view.

Greenbaum worked 13 years for an art stock photo company before quitting her job in 2001. “It was a huge struggle to make the transition, but my life depended on it,” she said. “I am a full-time artist now, supporting myself solely through my work, but do occasionally take a teaching job if asked.”

This January, she starts teaching an advanced painting course at Cooper Union. After her opening in Berlin, Greenbaum spoke to us about how rage is a great motivator and learning from her biggest mistake.

Portrait of Joanne Greenbaum by Costa Picadas


 

Nadja Sayej: Did you make all the pieces here in Berlin? What holds this series together?

Joanne Greenbaum: I made some of the paintings in Berlin this past summer, the rest were made in my New York studio. This series really was a breakthrough for me in a lot of ways, mostly because of the use of drawing materials in the paintings. I am always going for something different each time, and with this group of paintings, a common denominator was the use of the drawing to dictate the form that the paintings would take in the end. I also wanted to be free of editing on the canvas and pretty much whatever went on there stayed on these—even using what I didn’t like in a particular painting to use that and learn from it. Very often the mistakes are the best part.

NS: I saw the smaller pieces which look like they’re made of marker. Do I have that right?

JG: Yes I’ve been using markers lately in a lot of my work. Technology has gotten better with markers and these are archival and hopefully won’t fade. 

Joanne Greenbaum, Untitled, 2014, Oil and ink on canvas, 200 x 185 cm; Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Crone, Berlin

 

NS: You’ve said before you don’t care what people think about your work. Was it always like that?

JG: I do care what people think of my work, but when I am actually making the work, that is the furthest thing from my mind. I don’t paint for an audience but mostly to please and challenge myself as much as I can. If one painting is successful (sells) I don’t then go and make the same one or the same one in different colors. I really feel strongly about growing and changing and not being locked into a system that will then define you.

NS: Your work is continually playful. Do you loathe the child-like references or is there truth to it?

JG: I loathe being called childish and playful because there are real decisions being made that are far from childlike or innocent. Sometimes I feel that that expression is a bit sexist as many men (Cy Twombly for example) are not being called childlike or playful but deadly serious. On the other hand, I am very free with myself in the studio and really have a good time making the paintings, and maybe when people call the work playful that’s what they mean.

NS: You’ve said you don’t like studio visits. Do you still feel the same way?

JG: I don’t love them. Sometimes it feels like an intrusion especially when I am in the thick of figuring out new paintings. I like to decide things for myself, even if something is a failure or unfinished. I don’t like suggestions. Most people are very respectful of the studio when they come here and I’ve learned to set boundaries on a studio visit, not take out everything or show everything. I used to do that and it just got to be too much. One of the great things about experience is that you learn that you don’t have to please everyone. 

Joanne Greenbaum, Untitled, 2014, Oil, ink, and acrylic on canvas, 200 x 185 cm; Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Crone, Berlin

 

NS: How do you feel about Berlin as a New Yorker? Is New York dead? Do you see a lot of New Yorkers moving to Berlin? Because it seems like you'll stay in Tribeca.

JG: I love Berlin and hopefully will visit a lot and work there, but right now I am enjoying my studio in Tribeca, which is large. One of the reasons I love Berlin, as opposed to New York, is the noise level is a lot lower in Berlin. As I’ve gotten older I’ve become very sensitized to noise and construction which is all around me. Also, New York is my home. I was born there and I am still attached to the city. 

NS: How do you feel about artspeak? Is it pretentious?

JG: I don’t do the artspeak. I am not academically inclined, although I am very well read but have little tolerance for academic language. I feel that good work just doesn’t need all of the explanation and rationalization to put it into a current or “conceptual” context.

NS: What was your biggest mistake, if you could pinpoint one thing, and what you learned from it?

JG: Wow, I’ve made many, many mistakes in my life. I think the main mistake I made or continue to make is to not connect with other artists and art professionals the way one is supposed to. So, I’ve missed out of a few opportunities because I just didn’t show up. When I make a choice to stay in and work, opposed to going out to that fantastic party or museum opening, that’s a choice I’ve made. I think in the long run, I am not an overly social person. I always feel like a freak.

Joanne GreenbaumUntitled, 2014, Oil, ink, and acrylic on canvas, 200 x 185 cm; Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Crone, Berlin

 

NS: You’ve taught/teach in Philly. What ugly reality of the art world do young artists need to know?

JG: That it takes a long, long time to become a good artist, despite the current climate of a youth besotted art world. Mainly the reality is that life is hard and that young artists need to know that they have to work at a job to make money. Many younger artists now are making money from their work, but this won’t last and there has to be a backup plan. I never thought that I was owed a living just being a young artist; I always had to work at a job. Getting into a gallery does not mean that there is going to be instant success. Also, being an artist is a very lonely life and one has to be willing to do that, be alone with your work in a studio. I understand and accept that the post-studio people don’t agree with that, but I don’t at all think that a studio-based art life is an out-dated concept. 

NS: How much is success in the art world about partying, drugs, and schmoozing versus real talent? Or is it just a game for trust fund kids with Macbooks who make digital art at this point?

JG: There is, especially in New York, a lot of success based on social connections and schmoozing the right people. Since I have never done that, I never understood the concept. In the long run, it probably doesn’t help to do those things—there has to be something to back it up. I think that the schmoozing could be an introduction, and an entry into the system, but in the end, you have to still do the work. Also, what the media hypes is not reality. The odious language of Public Relations is geared to make people think that there is all of this stuff going on when it is just hype.

Joanne Greenbaum, Untitled, 2014, Oil, ink, marker, pencil, acrylic, paint on canvas; 200 x 180 cm; Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Crone, Berlin

 

NS: How is rage a great motivator?

JG: Sure, I am full of rage and it really gets me going, but I don’t want to label myself an “angry woman.”  The internal rage I am speaking of spurs me on to do better and to overcome some of the biases toward serious women in this world. 

 

Nadja Sayej

 

 

ArtSlant would like to thank Joanne Greenbaum for her assistance in making this interview possible.

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