When you hear the name, Eric Magnuson, you may not be able to put a face to the name. With his full time job as Head Preparator at the Albright-Knox, he’s the man behind the scenes, ensuring that all of the artwork at the museum is properly cared for and installed seamlessly, thus ensuring your optimum viewing experience. Janne Sirén, Director of the AK, recruited Eric for the position back in 2013, while he was living in New York City, because of his expertise in planning and executing large-scale exhibitions. Eric had previously worked for the Guggenheim, MoMA and the Dia Art Foundation: Beacon, where he had been the Team Leader on national and international projects.
At that time (2013), Eric was ready for a change. With an MFA from CalArts, Eric launched an arts career in LA in the 90’s, where he had an abundance of gallery shows spanning over his 11 years of residence there, and then when things started to slow down, he decided to switch things up and move to NYC. He was a resident of the Big Apple for 17 years, where again he had mounted several gallery shows, but like so many other artists, experienced the peaks and valleys that are associated with this sort of career. As a professional gallery artist you’ve got to prepare yourself for the hard truth, and Eric had planned ahead by relying on his “day” job that offered him security and benefits. With 30 years of experience, Eric plays a vital role at the museum, especially with the upcoming plans for expansion at the AK.
With 30 years of experience, Eric plays a vital role at the museum, especially with the upcoming plans for expansion at the AK.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with the responsibilities associated with the title of Head Preparator, I would like to take a minute to explain, because this is a crucial job for any exhibiting space or organization. There is so much work that goes into mounting an exhibit that the everyday person is not exposed to, especially at a leading institution, like the AK. As the Head Preparator your role not only includes hanging paintings, which may seem simple, but remember that Anselm Kiefer exhibit. Could you imagine installing some of those works? Or what about the video exhibit over the past summer, Screen Play: Life in an Animated World. Remember all those digital screens and TV’s? There are always design and construction elements to take into consideration, and time allotted for planning and the execution of each exhibit. When shows are revolving every three months, there is never a dull moment, especially for a museum of that size. And of course you need a team of knowledgeable and professional people, and a leader who knows what they are doing, otherwise the results can be devastating, and quite costly. (Insert image of someone putting a hammer through a Monet.)
Tucked away in his luxury loft downtown, in the Belasario, Eric’s home also functions as his studio. As soon as I had entered into his place, I felt like I had walked into another world. With the cathedral ceilings, exposed brick walls and modern amenities, it seemed like a perfect place to retire back to after a long day at work. Except, when you’re an Artist.
The first thing I noticed in his home, was the abundance of work that was hanging and scattered around the apartment. There was art everywhere! And not just the usual modern stuff you see around, but well developed conceptual based paintings that made me drool, along with the chocolate moose (or mousse) he had mounted on his wall. I suggested he do a series of chocolate bunnies for Easter. He laughed.
For the last 5 years, Eric has been working a series of text-based works that Anna Kaplan from BT&C Gallery will be exhibiting in NYC later this month at the Echo Art Fair Preview. This event will give exposure to local artists through the curatorial eyes of BT&C Gallery, Benjaman Gallery Group and Indigo Art. If you have friends that live down there, be sure to let them know of this event, because you need to register (for free) to attend, because the event is sponsored by a liquor company. Now, who doesn’t like free drinks?!
For those that live locally, Eric will have a booth of his artworks at the Echo Art Fair in May, so mark your calendar. If you’re looking for a new addition to your home or office, and you like well conceived and painted art that makes you stop what you are doing to appreciate the moment in front of you, then look no further. To see some of Eric’s work you can visit his site: eamagnuson.blogspot.com/, but trust me, you’ll enjoy them more in person.
Images: His studio-tools and work table. I appreciated his orderliness | Studio View | Be Here Now/Please Stand By, 2013 Flashe on linen, 46 x 48 inches | Studio View – Chocolate Moose on wall | Studio View – And what a great collection of books | Self Portrait as a Bobblehead, 2010