Watch Artist Allan McCollum Create Thousands of Variations on a Theme

Stroll into Petzel Gallery’s Chelsea outpost ideal now and you will be confronted with a bewildering array of coloured circles with compact black styles, arranged in a gigantic matrix together a few walls. Up close, it results in being crystal clear that every single shape is at any time-so-slightly different.

The perform is aspect of Allan McCollum‘s The Styles Buttons from Oregon, which is an extension of his ongoing “Shapes” project. For the final 50 years, the artist has been generating is effective that seize the contradictions of capitalist consumption, in which American modern society venerates one of a kind objects nonetheless relentlessly purchases into mass-made products, feeding the cycles of speedy style and developed-in technological obsolescence.

For the “Shapes” undertaking, McCollum has designed a method that generates distinctive types, allowing for him hypothetically to make make billions of shapes—in his very own phrases, “enough for every man or woman on the earth to have 1 of their possess.”

McCollum partners with artisans all around the U.S., like the Oregon-based mostly artist Delia Paine, with whom McCollum collaborated to build buttons based mostly on the styles. Jointly, the two established additional than 5,000 things.

Allan McCollum, <i>Collection of Four Hundred and Thirty-two Shapes Buttons</i>(2005/2015-2016). roduced in collaboration with Delia Paine of Via Delia, Bend, Oregon. Courtesy of the artist and Petzel Gallery.

Allan McCollum, Assortment of Four Hundred and 30-two Designs Buttons(2005/2015-2016). Made in collaboration with Delia Paine of By using Delia, Bend, Oregon. Courtesy of the artist and Petzel Gallery.

In an distinctive job interview with Art21 filmed back in 2009, McCollum spelled out that working in factories as a young male, he was motivated to “work in portions and make points that have been singular.”

For McCollum, there is a chic part to the expertise of standing in a room stuffed with hundreds on hundreds of the identical issue.

“There is, of class, the drama of countless numbers of factors,” McCollum claimed. “It can be nightmarish, or it can be great emotion of abundance. And it can go back and forth.” 

Watch the video, which initially appeared as part of Artwork21’s “Art in the Twenty-1st Century” sequence, underneath. “Allan McCollum: Traces: Past and Existing” is on perspective at Petzel Gallery by means of February 19, 2022 at the 456 W 18th Street area. 

This is an installment of “Art on Video clip,” a collaboration concerning Artnet News and Art21 that provides you clips of newsmaking artists. A new sequence of the nonprofit Artwork21’s flagship collection Art in the Twenty-1st Century is available now on PBS. Catch all episodes of other collection like New York Shut Up and Prolonged Engage in and discover about the organization’s instructional programs at

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Kenneth Proto

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