After John Chamberlain’s death in December 2011, his stepdaughter Alexandra Fairweather searched for a way to come to terms with losing a parent. Fairweather—who, like Chamberlain, is a talented creative mind—found her answer in the creation of HEAARTBEAT, a documentary film about her late stepfather. She had documented her travels with Chamberlain since the age of fourteen, capturing hundreds of hours of footage of his life and work. While the film explores Chamberlain’s artistic process, it focuses equally on his identity as father, husband, and friend. Susan Davidson, curator of the Guggenheim’s recent Chamberlain retrospective Choices, calls the film “a remarkably endearing portrait”—one that “captures Chamberlain at his truest… whether cantankerous or witty, the artist holds nothing back as he offers his thoughts on art, life, and everything in-between.”
Though the Guggenheim offered a private screening of HEAARTBEAT in conjunction with Choices, the film made its public premiere during the inaugural Art Southampton art fair. The screening complements an Art Southampton exhibit of Chamberlain’s work curated by Gallery Valentine, for which Fairweather serves as director. In anticipation of the screening, we asked Fairweather to select four artworks that will be on view at the fair and that remind her of her stepfather.
For the mini-retrospective of John Chamberlain’s work, Gallery Valentine will be displaying one of Chamberlain’s foam couches at Art Southampton. As a toddler, I use to sleep in a crib that Chamberlain made out of foam, and as I got older, I ended up sleeping and doing cartwheels on a foam couch (just like the one that will be displayed at Art Southampton). In many respects, the foam couch reminds me of my childhood with Chamberlain.
One of my favorite Chamberlain pieces that Gallery Valentine will be showing is a small, white sculpture created in 1993. I feel that this piece embodies “the fit” that Chamberlain often mentioned when discussing his work with me, as well as serves as an example of Corinna Thierolf’s comparison of the folds in Chamberlain’s work to the folds in Bernini’s St. Teresa.
Venet’s sculpture reminds me not only of the motion in Chamberlain’s sculpture, but also of Chamberlain’s early work in the 1950s.
Lichtenstein’s Reverie reminds me of Chamberlain because Lichtenstein and Chamberlain were close friends.