Valuations: Creative Director Alexander May Tells Us About the Monochromatic Spaces and Objects That Feed His Soul
We asked the founder of art-and-design platform Sized about the things he values most—in art and in life.
So much of the art world orbits around questions of value, not only in terms of appraisals and price tags, but also: What is worthy of your time in These Times, as well as your energy, your attention, and yes, your hard-earned cash?
What is the math that you do to determine something’s meaning and worth? What moves you? What enriches your life? In this new series, we’re asking individuals from the art world and beyond about the valuations that they make at a personal level.
As the founder of Sized, a creative advisory based in Los Angeles and dedicated to all things art and design, Alexander May has been staging site-specific exhibitions, events, and performance installations around the world, featuring works by both big-name and lesser-known talents working across disciplines.
“You used to have to pick a lane. I’m interested in the ingenuity of the maker and that need to create,” May told Artnet News upon opening his first show in New York, “Industrialism,” last spring.
For that show, his team painted the walls of Donna Karan’s Urban Zen store black, creating a stark backdrop for everything from Robert Mapplethorpe photographs to designs by Michèle Lamy and Rick Owens to a room full of lamps that stylist Rich Aybar crafted from rubber and construction debris—not to mention a multifunctional chair made by May (who has a background in painting).
Now, the creative director has opened a space of his own, in West Hollywood: Sized Studio, a white-on-white, 5,000-square-foot hub for the international art and design communities. It will open to the public on weekends for an ongoing series of exhibitions and cultural programming.
The series kicks off today with “In Motion: Andy Warhol 1974–1986” (through December 11, 2022), featuring more than 40 of the artist’s black-and-white portraits, of himself and contemporaries (Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring), from the collection of Jim Hedges. Some of them have never been seen before.
While installing the show, May told us about some of the things he values most (color is not one of them).
What is the last thing that you splurged on?
An oversized, floor-length, black cashmere coat.
What is something that you’re saving up for?
Another oversized, floor-length, black cashmere coat.
What would you buy if you found $100?
A great bottle of wine.
What makes you feel like a million bucks?
A room full of inspiring objects—like every room at the Noguchi Museum.
What do you think is your greatest asset?
The people that surround me. As a creative, I consider everyone to be a collaborator, from my direct team to carpenters while developing new projects to long-term friends.
What do you most value in a work of art?
Material. Form. Intention. Aura. Surface. Size. Weight. Composition. Errors. Connectivity. Source.
Who is an emerging artist worthy of everyone’s attention?
Rich Aybar’s studio, R.A. Workshop. I find his investigation into materials and manipulation of form really fresh.
Who is an overlooked artist who hasn’t yet gotten their due?
Forrest Bess. I am attracted to his use of symbols in otherwise crude paintings; he originated his own form of communication.
What, in your estimation, is the most overrated thing in the art world?
Nothing is overrated, if it’s done right.
What is your most treasured possession?
A chair from my childhood home in Madrid. It has a Brutalist quality that recalls some of the best material choices of Charlotte Perriand.
What’s been your best investment?
The time I’ve put into developing Sized.
What is something small that means the world to you?
My great-grandfather’s golden lion ring, which he designed and created.
What’s not worth the hype?
What do you believe is a worthy cause?
Championing emerging talent.
What do you aspire to?
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