An interview with collector Morgan Spurlock
Morgan Spurlock, 39, the man who pushed himself to the brink for the filming of ‘Super Size Me’ by eating nothing else than McDonald’s for a month straight, went to the middle East to film ‘Where In The World Is Osama bin Laden?’ and put himself through a myriad of difficult situations for the FX television series ’30 Days’, finds himself with the same addiction many of us have, the need to fill every inch of his walls with the best from the new contemporary art movement. He recently wrapped up a special he did for Fox for the 20th Anniversary of The Simpsons which took him around the globe, thankfully he was able to find some time during all that to answer a few questions for me about his love for this art movement. When he’s not putting his life at risk and globetrotting about for film projects, he spends his time hunting down that next great piece for his ever-growing collection of new contemporary art. Read on to learn a bit more about how his love for art started and what fuels him to keep collecting.
How long have you had an interest in art?
I think I’ve had an interest in art ever since I was a kid. I used to love to go to museums with my parents. Now they weren’t art aficionados or anything, but they did have a great love and appreciation for the arts: music, dance, painting, you name it. And I think they passed that love down to me.
Does anyone else in your family collect or create art?
I was the youngest of three ballet dancing brothers (which, believe me, was not the coolest thing for a kid to be doing where I grew up in West Virginia). Both my brothers went on to become professional dancers and tour with companies before settling down with their families while I went in a different direction.
Besides art, is there anything else that the collector bug in you searches out regularly?
I’m a film buff, and I love old movie posters, and while my habit has quite reached the magnitude of my art addiction, it’s still pretty bad. I just bought an amazing otiginal Italian color photolithographic halftone poster for Citizen Kane (AKA in Italy as “Quarto Potere.”) It’s incredible … and massive. It’s a two sheet that combines to form the full image and once its framed it will around 7’ x 5’. It would never fit in my house but will proudly be displayed in our new office.
With artists like Mark Ryden, Todd Schorr, Camille Rose Garcia, Shepard Fairey and The Clayton Brothers all having major retrospective museum shows in the past year or two, the future is definitely wide open for this lil’ bubble of the art world. Where do you see this genre of art (new contemporary, urban contemporary, pop surrealism, outsider, lowbrow, etc) going over the next 5-10 years?
I think you’re going to see even more of these artists getting major shows as well as the respect of the art world. Everything has shifted, and with the rise of the street artist will come even more huge break out art stars like David Choe, Ron English, WK Interact, Lori Earley, Shag, Tim Biskup, D-Zine, Swoon, Kathy Schorr, Tim Biskup, Niagara, Van Arno, Scott Musgrove, Ray Caesar, Dalek, Sas and Colin Christian, Caia Koopman, Camilla d’Errico, Esther Pearl Watson and Andy Kehoe.
First piece purchased and when/why?
I bought a piece by Francesco Lo Castro in 2005 at a group show in NY at the Lit Gallery. I went to meet Ron English there and was blown away by all the pieces. The painting I bought was a small piece called “Surprise?!” I loved it (and it was in my budget! Something every collector should try to stay within!)
Do you have any sculpture in your collection?
No, but I have a bunch of vinyl by Ron English. I kick myself everyday that I didn’t buy the Colin Christian sculpture at that Lit show where I bought my first piece. It was way out of my range, 12k I think they wanted. Today, you can’t even smell a piece by him for that.
Favorite piece you currently own?
When I took Super Size Me to Sundance, Ron English painted a new version of MC Super Sized for our poster. It ended up being the model for all the vinyls he currently has on the market. I have the original painting hanging behind my desk and it makes me smile every time I look at that fat clown.
What was your biggest score of 2009 collecting wise? Best score to date?
My best score of the year is a WK Interact piece that I got on consignment from Jonathan Levine. It’s from when he first started blending painting with prints on canvas (this one is actually mounted on wood) and is a photo print of his old girlfriend writhing in a ecstasy. It’s pretty sexy and may not be the best piece for a work environment, but until I move into a giant Andy Warhol-esque loft, that’s where its gotta live.
And my best score to date? Is probably my second favorite piece in my whole collection. I have an incredible Ray Caesar piece called “Side Saddle” that I got from his show last year at Jonathan Levine Gallery in NYC. I often find myself pausing when I walk past just to drink it in. It’s so twisted and weird and beautiful. One day I’ll be lucky enough to meet him so I can ask him about it. I think that guy is a genius.
Who is at the top of your want list?
So many people. On the “I have a dream” front, I really want an original Shepherd Fairey as well as a Camille Rose Garcia. It would be amazing to get an original Banksy or Todd Schorr or Blek le Rat or Robert Williams. And who wouldn’t love to have a Mark Ryden.
If you could add any piece of artwork to your collection, from any time period, which work would that be?
Ever since I was a kid, Salvador Dali has been an inspiration to me. We had a book about him in my house and I remember sitting on the floor and thumbing through it, staring in awe at his paintings. The imagery was overwhelming to me. It was the closest thing to magic I’d ever seen. To this day he fascinates and moves me, so if I could have anything, a painting by him would be like having Houdini standing in my kitchen every day of my life.
My wife and I would love to donate our collection to some sort of establishment, be it a museum or otherwise, so that the vision remains intact. We’re really creating a snapshot in time. With this in mind, do you see yourself ever stopping buying art and supporting artists? Even if your walls fill up? You are so young, that it’s bound to happen soon, but this is an addiction as we all know. So just curious of other’s long term plans.
My walls are already filling up. My apartment, office and escape cabin in upstate New York all have the stamp and vision of so many artists on them that I can’t imagine them ever not being around. One day the walls will all be full but I can’t imagine that stopping me. There’s always someone new. Some new way of looking at the world that lights up something inside of me in ways I can’t describe and I just tell myself, “I’ll find a place for it.” There’s always mom’s house in West Virginia.
As for what will happen to my collection when I long gone, I haven’t given it a ton of thought. Right now, if I dance with worms tomorrow, it will go into a trust for my son. But who knows if he will even like the work, he’s only 2 and a half and even though he’s is surrounded by it everyday of his life, he may hate it when he gets older. (And I despise parents who try to force their passions on their kids.) I hope some of it rubs off on him, but if it doesn’t, I can always adopt.
Please name an artist that might be off many collector’s radar, but that you enjoy and would like to offer some props to.
I think Matthew Feyld is amazing. I have three of his paintings and think he’s just starting to hit his stride. I also have become a fan of girl who just graduated from the MFA program at Hunter College named Alison Blickle. Keep your eyes peeled because that girl is going places.
Thanks for taking the time Morgan! Be sure to watch for other collector interviews coming up soon.