"A behind-the-scenes look at the BACK of a painting by Morris Louis during the installation of our new exhibition ‘Rothko to Richter: Mark-Making in Abstract Painting from the Collection of Preston H. Haskell’—opening this Saturday! Morris Louis, American, 1912–1962, Pillars, 1962” (Princeton University Art Museum)
He was one of the twelve artists we visited that June, along with B. Wurtz and others who knew him well. He was an incredibly generous individual who taught me what it was to be a passive viewer, to let the body absorb the visual cues around you on an unconscious level. Art was not something to be fact-driven and explained, but something to look at and investigate, a place to find your own path to meaning. This past Sunday at 63 Hudson unexpectedly died of natural causes.
Hudson thought it was a compliment when a person stayed with a work, scrutinizing over details. In an interview with artist Dike Blair with The Thing, Hudson tells a story of critics reviewing a work, “I once overheard two critics chatting about an artist, and the more noted critic mentioned that he loved the work being discussed, yet he would not write about it, as he found it too difficult to explain!” Hudson remarked, “To me, that seems all the more reason to write about it, or in my case, to exhibit the work.”
A lot of work in Feature Inc., he told us, relies on the artist’s touch. At the time he was showing Todd Chilton’s hard edge abstractions and Alan Wiener’s organic stacked sculptures. I remember he admired in Chilton’s paintings how all the weak points in the painting were also the strongest, and loved and appreciated how Wiener’s sculptures developed over the years he followed the work. In a Rack Room interview on ArtSlant.com with Nicholas Weist, Hudson talked about finding failure, success, and one’s identity within the work.
The art is, or should be, the measure. Sometimes good ideas that look bad are worth looking at, enjoying, and/or owning. Sometimes good ideas that look bad can be very good. The appearance of bad has been important to the contemporary art world for at least half a century. There is something interesting in confronting bad: just why exactly is it bad? Some artists are able to make good ideas, that look bad at one time, be seen as good ideas that look good at another time. But someone with an open mind will see and appreciate the good in the bad or whatever before the silly art world recognizes it.
Nicholas Weist later asked, “Speaking of other times, you recently announced the imminent demise of Feature in 2018… What excites you about death?” Hudson replied:
This will be the last Feature I have in this lifetime so I want to be especially certain to use all that I have learned and experienced to structure the gallery so I enjoy it thoroughly and get all that I want to do done before I retire to a more contemplative and leisurely life. The last few years I’ve been watching my parents and a few friends accelerate in age and die. Engaging process. It’s not so cut and dried. Life and death are inextricably mixed, and it’s very unsettling when one actually witnesses them both being acted out at the same time in the same person. I’ve been wondering about those “golden years” that are often alluded to. What does one have to do to allow that to occur? I’ve decided to act out that investigation through Feature, and be rather strict about enjoying the art and the business as much as possible. It’s sort of a challenge to myself, to keep it vital and alive while the end is in sight: more reason to push it and live fully.
"Let it come to you," he told our small class of about 10 people, filling the space at Feature Inc., "perception is key." After visiting his gallery that day we all walked together in a kind of euphoric daze and we meandered on over to the New Museum chatting about the things we heard and saw all around us, taking in all the over-zealous drivers laying on their horns and dirty pigeons attempting to bathe in leftover rain on the sidewalk. I realized how much in life there is to look forward to after hearing how much he was able to accomplish with determination and an open mind.
Hudson will be missed.
Blue-Green-Black-Red by Ellsworth Kelly, 1971
watercolor, acrylic, paint stick, pumice and gel medium on canvas, 10 x 8”
Amy Sillman is the lead guest on this week’s Modern Art Notes Podcast. Listen here!
October: Brown and Old, 2012, mixed media collage on panel, 24 x 24 inches