November 17, 1998
Attention: Gallery Owner
and Mr. Jannis Kounellis
Ace Gallery, NY
275 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10013
Re: Jannis Kounellis Exhibit
Dear Gallery Owner and Mr. Kounellis:
While I have not formally studied art, I am a lover of art. One of my close friends is an artist who works at an art school (to pay the bills). I have a diverse artistic taste, which includes realism, surrealism, and cubism. I especially have a great fondness for the works of Edward Hopper; I like the way he represents the human form in his works--both in subject (context) and style. They are haunting images to me and represent almost a lonely part of humanity that we all feel at one time or another while going about our daily business.
I believe that most every artist and patron would agree that the human body is one of the most beautiful works of art and subjects of art. And, while I am aware that modern/experimental artists often use live models "as art,"even in modern art, I cannot believe that any artist or art lover would condone holding a human being in cages against his/her will for the purposes of art no matter how beautiful the subject.
Sadly, I have learned that you and Ace Gallery are doing just such a thing--holding living creatures in cages for the purposes of art as part of your exhibit. In addition to being an art lover, I am an animal lover and cannot imagine that the starlings being used in this exhibit are happy in their small concrete and metal prisons. Accounts I have read indicate that, in fact, the birds are showing typical signs of distress at their captivity.
While I further understand that the starlings will be released to a wildlife rehabilitator on December 23rd, I would encourage you to reconsider that date. Actually, I would implore you to give them something to be thankful for and dismantle this piece now, before the Thanksgiving holiday. I fear that if you wait until the pre-Christmas date, you may have nothing left to release as birds can easily die or cause themselves fatal injuries in stressful situations and confinement.
Don't let the image of these once beautiful, lively starlings dead in the bottom of a cage, be the haunting image your patrons take away from the gallery. Some works of art are meant to be enjoyed gracefully soaring in the skies. And, Mr. Kounellis, as I understand you have used live animals in your artwork before, I would ask you to think again about this form of expression. While I understand art is a subjective thing and that suffering for art is a long accepted cliche, I do not believe this to mean art should be void of compassion or that non-consensual parties should be the ones suffering for its sake.
I thank you kindly for taking the time to read my letter and wish you both wonderful success. And, if you are ever looking to discover a new and interesting painter, please let me know...my friend Jill has a wonderful talent.
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