This extraordinary three-dimensional package of LIVE THE ART, is a suitable homage to Jeffrey Deitch’s legendary stature and influence as an art dealer and producer of memorable installations and art happenings that robustly transcended the idea of a mere “exhibition.”
More than four years in the making, and divided into chapters devoted to each year between 1996 and 2010, LIVE THE ART explores in detail the astonishing shows and performances the visionary Deitch mounted in a one-story former garage on Grand Street in Soho that would be the primary home of Deitch Projects for fifteen years.
Deitch illuminates the founding concept by stating, “Deitch Projects was not meant to be an art gallery. The concept was simple. We would not operate as a gallery but would become a commercial version of the ‘project room’ that the Museum of Modern Art and a number of other American Museums had established in the ‘70s and ‘80s.”
Deitch’s original guidelines were simple: his intention was to invite artists who had not yet had a solo exhibition to create a “project” rather than a conventional show of work, and he would provide funds for the artist to produce their visions in the space.
The first artist was Vanessa Beecroft who produced “VB16 Piano Americano-Beige, 1996” which consisted of the immediately notorious roomful of models clad in pantyhose, bras, high heels and matching platinum wigs milling languorously around the space. Images in the book of this performance are accompanied by Beecroft’s notes and memories about the project, and this formula is repeated throughout the book with the artist’s own commentary alongside images of over 150 projects mounted in the space, and in other locations including Union Square Park, Woodlawn Cemetery, Miami Beach, Rockefeller Center, Brooklyn, and Deitch’s satellite space in Long Island City.
Artists whose no-holds-barred projects graced Deitch Projects in its fifteen years include Barbara Kruger, Cecily Brown, Malick Sidibé, Tim Noble and Sue Webster, ASFOUR, Liza Lou, a collaboration between Madonna and photographer Steven Klein, Kehinde Wiley, assume astro vivid focus, Yoko Ono, Jeff Koons, film director Michel Gondry, Dan Colen, Vito Acconci, Stefan Sagmeister, Stephen Sprouse, Jules de Balincourt, Shepard Fairey, and Miranda July, among many others.
A Deitch Projects event launch was the place for an art-savvy New Yorker to be, and the street theater of attendees became part of the events themselves. As Deitch notes in LIVE THE ART, “One of my goals in starting Deitch Projects was to create not just a gallery but a community. It is very rewarding to see that we created not just a community, but an art family.” There is no question that this goal was achieved, and LIVE THE ART is a detailed look back on every event created by Deitch and shared by this “family” of artists and art lovers for fifteen incredible years.