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Show and Tell: Making Art Out of Making Art

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I learned how to take pictures by shooting artists,” says photographer Jason Schmidt. For his forthcoming book, Artists (Edition 7L/Steidl), the former Columbia art-history student spent the past six years touring studios and biennials for the privilege of seeing contemporary art “when it’s halfway done, almost there.” The result transcends “Pollock-paints-a-picture” clichés; each photograph has its own peculiar aesthetic, from Paul McCarthy caught like a serial killer in a boat spattered with fake blood to prankster Maurizio Cattelan installing his infamous sculpture of a fallen pope. “That was such a funny scene,” Schmidt recalls. “It looks like an EMS situation: ‘The pope is down!’” Confrontational performance artist Marina Abramovic, meanwhile, made the most of Schmidt’s collaborative approach. “She took the picture and turned it into an edition of her own. It’s a piece of hers now,” Schmidt says. “That, to me, was a success.”


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