Survey by Qualaroo

Excerpts from Don Celender's Autobiography: Part 1

Over the course of Don Celender's exhibition Surveyed, we will be publishing exclusive extracts from his autobiography. Entitled A Life in Art, Celender had been working on this autobiography at the time of his death, with friend and sometimes assistant, Jesse Karp.

Don Celender, Surveys and O.K Harris, New York

In 2005, the year of his death, Don Celender was working on his autobiography with Jesse Karp, his gallerist's son and sometimes exhibition assistant . The book, A Life in Art, contains anecdotes relating to Celender's experience in the artworld, his move to conceptual art and the relationships and friendships he had with fellow artists. In the below extract, Celender talks about his thoughts on the importance of art and culture, the processes involved in making his survey projects and his long time collaboration with New York gallerist Ivan C. Karp, who died in summer 2012.

“Culture and art are more important in our lives than they are often given credit for. People one would never expect to have any consideration for such things respond as readily as those one would. I would be delighted to stand for such a contribution to the arts: a realisation that Art reaches and touches through every cultural line, every financial line, every societal line that exists. Arts most basic function is to express; and it achieves this on every level.

Beyond that, my own satisfaction in the matters of surveys and Art Movements has been almost scientific. The fulfilment of testing a theory, setting up a premise and fuinding out I was on target. The fisherman's joy of throwing out the line and having something bite.

The surveys continue to draw all my interests together. I do research which I'm sure to love, since the topics are always of my selection. I've had the opportunity to target almost every group from police chiefs to travel agents to museum guards. The concept is broad enough to allow for social commentary, as well as, occasionally, parody (such as my Animal Art Cracker production and my Art Domes, all collecting cultural items which we take for granted and turning them into art). The transformation and dissemination of making art a common experience remains, as it began, integral to the process. O.K. Harris has proven a staunch guardian of my ideal, as they receive no significant income from my presence. Ivan is still my advisor and critical decision-maker. Is the current idea weak or strong? Does it have potential? How can it be tweaked? He is always kind, but always honest and remarkably accurate. He serves to rarify and enhance and in crucial ways I consider my work to be a collaboration between Mr Karp and myself.”

Join in the conversation #DonCelender

Surveyed opens on Saturday 20 April and continues until Sunday 28 April.

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