Joseph Henrikson (31) founder and director have focused his passion and energy in the contemporary art scene. Gallerist, curator and project developer cares for new art and shows it in a wide range of media. Understanding the importance of popular culture in art, he provides very rich and stimulating thoughts of this topic.
HP: How did it all commence for you in the art world?
JH: After university in Wisconsin I moved to New York to teach and peruse a career as an artist where I found some success with collectors and private exhibitions. However I had a strong desire to establish an entity in New York and was responsible for developing Market.63, a weekly art and fashion event in New York’s Chelsea and Soho districts. However that business took me in a direction that removed me from the art world that I preferred to be a part of. With my then business partner, I then began conceptualizing ideas for a gallery. I worked two years developing a business plan, going on studio visits and privately dealing artists artworks. Anonymous Gallery was established in 2008, and with business partner Andrew Lockhart, has continued the goal of providing a platform for contemporary art, pubic art, and community involvement.
HP: How would you describe today’s Art World?
JH: Today’s art world is fascinating because the balance of tradition is shifting. It is no longer completely necessary for a successful artist to work their way through the halls of art schools, apprenticeships, or even galleries. Traditions remains, as do the mainstays that predict market values and the measure of critical success for an artist, however artists have more avenues for expression than ever before. Through technology, corporate collaborations, product developments, design and innovative presentations, art is capable of infiltrating popular culture and there is a much wider demographic it reaches. Because of that the contemporary art world is adjusting as well.
HP: What is your role in society?
JH: I’m not sure what my role in society is but I have a goal for what I think it should be. As a young gallery director with big ambitions, my jobs vary – however as a gallerist, curator, and project developer, I think my role in society is to develop and establish a greater understanding and appreciation for the artists we represent. My role is to act as an agent in establishing our gallery and our artists amongst history. I would like to hope that in some small way we are creating history – small moments in time that will be remembered and regarded with some degree of importance.
In addition, the gallery encourages and supports various public art projects so our role is to not only establish ourselves as a valued addition to the traditional art world but also the general public – I hope that our gallery’s role in society is to create discovery and dialogue through the presentation of artwork, no matter who the viewer may be.
HP: Why the name ANONYMOUS?
JH: There are multiple reasons. When we started we always intended to have secrets – secret memberships, private events, and unexpected site specific, pop-up exhibitions and public art projects. Anonymously using New York and the world at large as a metaphorical canvas. Similarly, some of the artists we represent have come from backgrounds in graffiti or street art, and though now most use their real names and create different bodies of work, they operated similarly and used alias to disguise their identities.
When we first opened, we constructed the gallery in a conspicuous basement space below another gallery in the Lower East Side. So it physically was anonymous. However, and most importantly, it has never necessarily about the physical location of space or the gallerists behind the scenes, but completely about the artists. While most galleries title themselves after the name of the gallerists, I prefer the gallery focus on the artists and program we present.
HP: Tell me about the artists that you work with, why did you decide to work with them?
JH: I’ve always actively sought out artists that have developed contemporary styles influenced by their unique backgrounds, participation in subculture or untraditional means of education in art. One of my first studio visits was with an artist Greg Lamarche, a former graphic artist in the 1980’s and 90’s who used the name “SP ONE“ when he was spray painting walls. It is now rare for him to pick up a spray paint can and instead he concentrates his efforts on beautifully intricate cut collage works, created from scavenged magazine inserts and papers. I was attracted to his work because of his graffiti past but more so because of how he has evolved and developed a fine art career that only hints at his past influences.
Our exhibitions have always aimed to incorporate a historical perspective that compliments fresh points of view on art at the present time. Our shows have featured Warhol and Jean Michel Basquiat in the same room as younger artists who approach their art with similar concepts and tenacity. It has been important for me to work with multiple generations of artists in order to show where new influential artists are coming from, the new directions they are going and how their work can comparably stands up in the world of fine-art.
HP: Is there an art piece that evokes strong emotions in yourself?
JH: I’m not sure there is a specific piece that evokes the most emotions. The gestural works of artists such as Franz Kline and Cy Twombly have a particular impact on me. Similarly the seemingly spontaneous nature of Rauschenberg or artists like Jean Michel Basquiat have always inspired me and provoked emotion. I enjoy artwork that allows me to visualize the process of the artist at work – to see the movement, layers, textures, and media. I’m moved when I can see physicality in the work.
HP: What is your favorite art work?
JH: Again, I’m not sure I have a favorite but one that comes to mind is Picasso’s Guernica.
by Laura Resendiz