August 22 2014

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In The Studio With Nate Lowman


Hospital-room art, such as it is, tends to be of the “Hang in There” cute-kitty poster variety. And according to the New York-based nonprofit RxArt, there’s not too much that’s comforting about that. The organization’s stated mission is to place contemporary art in patient, procedure, and examination rooms to inspire patients and promote healing. Over the years, it’s developed a healthy roster of art-world friends, many of whom have donated to its annual benefit party and auction. James Franco, Terry Richardson, and Rob Pruitt are hosting this year’s event, which takes place this Monday, November 15 (tickets are still available here). As for the auction items, from the likes of Alex Katz, Ed Ruscha, Terence Koh, and Dan Colen, they’re on view at

Well, all except one, that is. Artist Nate Lowman is donating a piece to the auction (as well as taking on DJ duties for part of the evening), but he’s working down to the wire to get it completed in time. He’s offering, he told last night, one of his drop-cloth paintings, created from pieces of fabric that began life on his studio floor, where they become splattered as he paints standing above them. It’s a surprisingly ingenious process: He works on his projects—like the recent, de Kooning-inspired Marilyn series, details from which appear above—and what doesn’t end up on the canvas takes on a second life on the drop cloths. “[They] develop this whole crazy aesthetic history on their own,” he explained from his studio (pictured). “That body of work becomes recycled from whatever didn’t make it into the painting. They also have the dirt from the bottom of my shoe, and from being on the floor…Some of them have other things on them. Some of them have spilled whole paint cans crusted on them.”

“I work on them for a short period of time or a long period of time—at a certain point I look down at them and go, that’s cool, and put them aside,” he continued. “Then maybe I take part of them and crop them and stretch them as a canvas. It happens really naturally. It’s not like I’m making two paintings at once. I do it really unselfconsciously. The editing process comes in—I wouldn’t say arbitrarily, but serendipitously.”

Serendipity in action—yours on the auction block.

Photos: Nate Lowman



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Dept. of Culture