Jonathan Horowitz’s ‘Dots’ Sensation Comes to Swiss Institute

The artist's series is nearing 2,000 dots.

Jonathan Horowitz has Frieze fair-goers paint dots at Gavin Brown. Photo: artnet News.
Jonathan Horowitz has Frieze fair-goers paint dots at Gavin Brown. Photo: artnet News.

Jonathan Horowitz has really made a name for himself in the past few years by putting the art world to work. A new show at the Swiss Institute, running from January 13-17, is simply titled “160 Dots.” It is the third in his Dots series, which are works on canvas comprised of black dots painted, with precise instructions from the artist, by gallerygoers and eager fair-attendees.

Lauded as a tranquil escape from the madness that is Frieze Art Fair, Horowitz’s last Dots endeavor, titled “700 Dots,” involved the artist paying 700 participants $20 each to contribute their own black dot to the work. The catch was that each person had to spend at least 30 minutes on their painting. The series was reportedly priced at $100,000 per 100 dots, which means that for $700,000, the cost of labor amounted to a mere $14,000.

At the Swiss Institute, visitors can see “160 Dots,” a work created in September with the help of 160 volunteers. For this installment in the series, Horowitz’s temporary assistants didn’t leave the studio with a signed check in hand by the artist. Instead, participants vote on their favorite nonprofit organizations, to which a portion of the proceeds of the sale will be donated.

Voting jars will be on display at the Swiss Institute along with the Dots, according to a representative at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise.

Damien Hirst is also a fan of repetitive circles painted by others, as evidenced in his controversial, and expensive, Spot paintings. But Hirst’s narcissistic belief in the importance of the artist doesn’t seem to be shared by Horowitz, who has instead created a participatory and transparent practice in his latest conceptual works. This time around, the artist is still making money, but it doesn’t feel like he’s laughing all the way to the bank.

Jonathan Horowitz, “160 Dots,” is on view at the Swiss Institute in New York from January 15-17, 2016.


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