Thomaï Serdari on Fine Arts & Luxury
Daniel Brush: Blue Steel Gold Light
Daniel Brush. Bowl with golden butterflies. © Thomaï Serdari.

Daniel Brush. Bowl with golden butterflies. © Thomaï Serdari.

Luxury is the opposite of anarchy. If anarchy defies organization, luxury welcomes it. If anarchy rejects stratification, luxury aspires to it. Anarchy objects to commitment, luxury stems from it. And while absence of luxury does not lead to anarchy, anarchy is prohibitive to luxury.

In an art system that is highly organized and somewhat predictable, Daniel Brush, artist, writer, philosopher and poet, is an anarchist. He has shunned the limelight and chosen reflective isolation over celebratory circumstance. He’s been a recluse, all mind at times, all hands at other. He is not at all interested in the monetary value of gems and precious materials yet he produces pure luxury, either on canvas, paper, or gold.

“Daniel Brush: Blue Steel Gold Light,” currently on view at the Museum of Art and Design (and through February 17, 2013) is an exhibit of his work across media. At the exhibit we are informed that Brush “was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1947. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh in 1969. Two years later, Brush received a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Southern California. During the 1970s, Brush was a tenured professor in the Department of Art at Georgetown University.”

Ironically, what led Brush to his work with steel, gold, and precious stones was his rebellion against his own art. Looking for a mechanical diversion from his more intense intellectual work on canvas, Brush soon realized that his thought had been captivated by the mere possibility of producing a perfect golden dome, made of a finite number of gold granules torched together in perfection. Torch too little and the dome does not stand a chance, torch too long and the golden granules begin to melt.

The golden dome is the materialization of perfect organization, the manifestation of pure aspiration. It is also the result of the artist’s commitment to practicing the act of torching the golden granules together in his mind, time over time and until he was ready to torch for real. But granules are just the beginning. There are several gem encrusted pieces made of aluminum and steel, crowds of golden butterflies resting on a variety of objects, an entire “ménagerie magnétique,” a playful experiment addressed to children and adults alike, and plenty of awe-inspiring items of sheer beauty.

Who would have thought that creating such abundant luxury requires an act of anarchy and a rebellion against all anticipated narratives of art?

© Thomaï Serdari