In anticipation of Frieze New York, which kicks off this Friday, Barneys has launched an exclusive collaboration with artisanal rug makers, Henzel Studio. Joakim Andreasson, the curator of the project, selected 12 spearheading contemporary artists to step out of their comfort zones and work with textiles and rugs as alternate forms of media. "Art rugs have been around for quite some time in various forms," explains Andreasson. "Given the advanced yet artisanal production possibilities at hand, I wanted to explore different translations and adaptations. Examples include video art by Leo Gabin, collage by Mickalene Thomas, photography by Juergen Teller, sculpture by Helmut Lang, and portraiture by Robert Knoke." Also included in Andreasson's artistic vanguard are Anselm Reyle, Richard Prince, Jack Pierson, Marilyn Minter, Scott Campbell, Linder, and Assume Vivid Astro Focus. According to Andreasson, the through-line for this seemingly disparate group is that they "all share a certain anarchistic status either by practice or stature." In particular, Andreasson cites "Scott Campbell's autonomous voice as a tattoo and fine artist, Linder's uncompromising work that helped shape the aesthetic of punk, and Assume Vivid Astro Focus' exclamatory ethos combining the decorative with highly political and social undertones."
The artists were given free reign with their designs and, as such, practicality was more of an afterthought. Artist Robert Knoke, whose design features an abstraction of his portrait of Bruce LaBruce, stumbled upon utility by chance: "In my case, I created a rather handy rug because one will hardly notice any dirt on it." Knoke's final product reflects his own design tastes, which he describes as "raw and refined at the same time." Knoke strayed from incorporating a full image in his rug because he "didn't like the fact that one would walk all over a face." According to the artist, all parts of his drawings are equal to one another—"A single fingerprint, a loose line or a paint spot is as important to me as the face that I portray. All those fingerprints are an extension of [Bruce LaBruce's] body and a fixed moment of energy."
Starting today, May 7, the rugs are on display at Barneys New York's Madison Avenue location—the perfect way to wet your feet before Frieze is in full swing.