I felt inappropriately giddy. Despite the method with which it happened, this dispersal of Ed's work was a good thing. It wasn't ideal, but it wasn't a total legacy collapse. I saw most of Ed's best paintings go into the care of people who cherish them, who appreciate them for their artistic value, and who will be eager to pursue any exhibition opportunities which may arise.
"The Final Dissolution of Ed Sanders"
This morbid epitaph has played in my head since I received a letter in February, inviting a group of Ed's associates to select work from his collection. Since Ed's death in August 2006, his massive body of work has been stored at the Murphy Art Center, in Indianapolis. An early attempt was made, by those close to Ed, to responsibly document and manage his work. *This fell through and his work has been in deep-limbo storage ever since.
Personally, I didn't fully "get" Ed's work until the mid-1990s. I admired him; he painted daily for three decades, and so I always considered that I may be missing something about his work. It did finally start dawning on me that the style genres in which he worked (which then seemed retrogressive to me) were less relevant than what he was doing within them. Or rather, any critique of the genre was irrelevant. He was way past that. He was developing highly personal and masterful methods for creating psychological moments in paint. The places in many of his paintings, the illusionistic space in them, seem very similar to the places we envision when reading a novel, or remembering something. They are vague, yet definitive and poignantly rich. These paintings are more than depictions of a place from a memory. They trigger the very experience of visual memory in the viewer.
....in the receptive viewer.
One can look right over an entire row of his paintings and never quite catch this. It certainly doesn't translate into electronic media. Try to brand this experience in a meaningful way. You cannot. These paintings require physical viewing. It's devastating to see such an artist be so under-recognized, and it's devastating to know his work is now being .....almost discarded.....I was deeply grateful for the invitation to select work, but also saddened. I believe an upcoming exhibition may be worked-over Ed drawings, possibly collected from a trash bin, so can one really raise hell about it? Heavy, heavy sigh.........
*A Lesson For Us All: Make plans for your work now. Your assigned legal trustee may have little or no idea how to deal with your work. This can be difficult for both that trustee and for those who do know how to best deal with your work, but legally cannot.