Robin Williams, next celebrity curator? / New York

September 22, 2011

Artists in the past have acted as unabashed researchers, deconstructionists and devotees of popular culture. Recently the entertainment world has entered the realm of interest, with at least a semi fascinated gaze. From Steve Martin’s collector memoir An Object of Beauty to James Franco’s emerging art career, some members of the Hollywood set are engaged with contemporary art as more than portrait subjects.

The latest celebrity-turned-curator is actor and collector Robin Williams. Together with his son Zak Williams, co-founder of Mallick Williams & Co

Gallery located in Chelsea, the star has organized the online exhibition Taking Sides on the website Paddle8. It remains on view from September 21 to October 25.

Paddle8 is an online repository of works for sale curated by “influential cultural figures.” Before the Williamses, guest curators included Interview’s Glenn O’Brien and photography curator Vince Aletti.

Taking Sides features work by artists from around the world examining the culture of war. The roster includes work by Jannane Al-Ani, Marcel Dzama, AJ Fosik, Ori Gersht, Adam Helms, Jenny Holzer, Scott King, Feng Mengbo, Eko Nugroho, Robert Lazzarini, Trevor Paglen, Hesam Rahmanian, Michael Rakowitz, Raqs Media Collective, Seher Shah, John Wesley and Aaron Young, among others.

Concerning the theme of Taking Sides, the senior Williams is quoted: “This exhibition…examines the way contemporary artists consider our current understanding of war as it has been packaged and marketed through mediation of pop culture and mass media.” Williams, the press release adds, is known for his interest in military history and his collections of both military memorabilia and contemporary art.

Accompanying the exhibition is “The 8,” a section of commentary by cultural figures of the curators’ choosing. The Williamses have selected friends and associates actor Eric Idle, writer and curator Carlo McCormick, and video game executive Bing Gordon, among others.

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