Daniel Buren and Hank Willis Thomas Discuss the Art World and Social Media Addiction

Spencer Bailey, Daniel Buren, Hank Willis Thomas. (Photo by Alexandra Peers)

Spencer Bailey, Daniel Buren, Hank Willis Thomas. (Photo by Alexandra Peers)

At the Armory Show, artist Hank Willis Thomas—whose work, a hit at the show, often turns on issues of movement and perception in photography and advertising—sat down with french conceptualist Daniel Buren—known best perhaps for site-specific striped works—and moderator Spencer Bailey on Friday afternoon for a wide-ranging, packed discussion. It was the 16th edition of Design Dialogues, a panel put on by Surface Magazine, which Mr. Bailey is the editor of, and it took place in the VIP Lounge, not far from the installation that Mr. Thomas made for the #ArtsyTakeover booth.
Here, we offer a few snippets of the conversation.

On beauty:

Daniel Buren: “If some beauty can come… it helps the work to be a little stronger but that is not central to the work.”

Hank Willis Thomas: “Beauty is the sharpest tool in the kit.” (He was quoting another friend, an artist)

On Art that Lasts:

Hank Willis Thomas: “I hope that my work leaves an imprint, I try not to be attached to what kind of imprint… so much of what happens when you are making art has multiple agendas… and you hope it stays relevant for some time on.”

Daniel Buren: “Color is the most important element.”

On Social Media

Hank Willis Thomas: “I don’t yet know how to deal with my social media addiction…I make so many more images now but the don’t mean as much to me as things I worked harder on… I contend with that every five to 10 seconds.”

On the changing art world:

Daniel Buren: “My art has not really changed… stripes.”

Hank Willis Thomas: “Everything i went to school for in photography is now irrelevant—it’s gone—and that is why Instagram means so much to me.”