An artist’s studio is a haven—a sounding board for ideas good and bad, a companion on dark days and inspired ones. These spaces play occasional host to curators, collectors, and friends, but in the day-to-day hum of creation, they wrap their protective arms around their artists, enveloping them. CULTURED asked six makers whose work spans the disciplines of architecture, performance, painting, and sculpture to reflect on their relationship to music, and share the sounds that keep them company in the studio.
The Los Angeles-based provocateur is known for an extensive, uninhibited practice that probes identity politics, pettiness, and the baseness of the virtual-industrial complex. Wolfson’s work, which has taken the form of video, sculpture, installation, photography, and performance, is neither dogmatic nor didactic, opting instead for an uneasy opacity. Today, the artist’s transgressive streak goes on view with “Drawings,” open through July 22, a show that mines the (short) life and legacy of John Fitzgerald Kennedy Jr. at Gagosian’s Basel outpost. In December, the National Gallery of Australia will host the premiere of Body Sculpture, 2017-2023, a new animatronic work. When it comes to the relationship between music and art-making, Wolfson’s philosophy is simple: Less is more.
What's the role of music in your practice?
Depends. I used to think pop was radical; now I just like sculpture.
What's your favorite way to listen to music?
[With] Apple AirPods Max in a La-Z-Boy at my studio, or driving at night.
What's the best studio soundtrack?
We don’t listen to music at the studio, but probably everyone laughing and enjoying working together.
Which musician would you ask to write the soundtrack to your life?
I’d never dare to ask that of another artist, but since you did... Erik Satie.
Song that gives you the most visceral reaction?
That keeps changing!
What's a sound you can’t stand?
I don’t judge sounds but maybe when someone scratches a vinyl notepad.
What are you looking forward to for the rest of the year?
My new work Body Sculpture, 2017–23, will debut at the National Gallery of Australia in December.
What is your upcoming show “Drawings” for? What is it against?
It’s up against nothing, it’s just art.
What information or feeling do you hope the audience will carry away from seeing the work on view in Basel?
I hope they feel like I do when I look at the artworks. Strange and energized.
What songs paint the portrait of your life?
“How?” by John Lennon, “Préludes / Book 1, L. 117: VIII. La fille aux cheveux de lin” by Claude Debussy and played by Daniel Barenboim, and “Energy” by Drake.
Below, listen to a playlist of Jordan Wolfson's favorite artists and songs.