Creative talents lie in multifarious places; for some, crafting a fantastical scene out of sheaths of fabric and odds and ends is the easiest thing in the world; others can write a play over the course of an evening, and have it performed before most have woken up the following day. Filmmaker Matt Black, for his part, has a peculiar capacity for interviews. Speaking to his peers, his approach is personal without ever feeling intrusive; he peels back the layers of the creative practices of some of our generation’s foremost artists, directors and sculptors as easily as if he were talking to the shop assistant at a local cornershop.
So extensive is Black’s ability to expose unknown elements of his friends’ and collaborators’ work – a list which includes the likes of Damien Hirst, Taryn Simon, Jeff Koons and Doug Aitken – that Assouline has now published a beautiful new book entirely dedicated to the results. In it, the filmmaker shares stills from from his film interviews, alongside installation shots and photographs of the artist’s works themselves. It makes for a revelatory read; Jeff Koons shares intimate details about his childhood; Hirst tells of the inspiration behind his spot paintings; Larry Clark reveals the story behind his film Marfa Girl. It’s 200-odd pages of insight into the pillars of today’s creative industries.
In book form, these filmic interviews are transformed into something else entirely – intimate, telling portraits the likes of which can’t quite be captured in words alone. The dynamic quality of film remains in the simple but devastatingly effective clarity of the communication, while the artists featured form an organic, sprawling network of interconnected minds. Artwork becomes conversation, is recorded on film and then transposed into book-form to become an artwork again – and there’s no questioning that a document of this size and depth truly is an objet d’art in and of itself.
Reflections: In Conversation with Today’s Artists, by Matt Black, is out now, published by Assouline.