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My Life in Four Artworks: Todd Eckert

This month, for our Life in Four Works feature, we talk with Todd Eckert, founder of the media production collective Tin Drum.

New York, NY - December 1, 2021: Todd Eckert and Marina Abramovic attend "Nightmare Alley" World Premiere at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center. Image credit Lev Radin, Alamy

What was the very first work of art which ignited your passion and made you consider a career in the art world?

I began my career as a music journalist at 14. I was the obsessive kid ordering obscure records in Houston Texas, and this guy at a store had a friend who published a black and white, 20-page magazine. I am not sure I’ve ever seen my work as having any particular career arc. I see art in all its forms – music, architecture, performance, painting, cooking, whatever – as the express intention towards an elevation of the human spirit. So there have been lots of works from very early on. I think they could safely include Janis Joplin’s ‘Pearl’, Jean-Jacques Beineix’s ‘Diva’, Marcel Duchamp’s large glass, discovered because his face was in a window of Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti album cover – I could go on and on.

Marcel Duchamp, Installation view of 'The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass)', (an authorized reproduction by Ronny Van de Velde, 1991) at the exhibition 'Marcel Duchamp: Seeing the Impossible', at the Staatliches Museum Schwerin, 2019. Image credit: dpa picture alliance / Alamy Stock Photo.

Which work of art defines your early career/ university days?

I was working as a music journalist at a time when I should have been in high school or college, so I became pretty myopic about graphics. Vaughan Oliver, who was mostly known for his work with 4AD was and remains an inspiration in every way. I would buy the British versions of his records to make sure I got the paper stock and inner graphics exactly as he intended them. The sleeves for Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares or Cocteau Twins’ Victorialand still destroy me every time I see them.

'Le Mystère Des Voix Bulgares', Marcel Cellier original vinyl album cover, 1975. Image credit: dcphoto / Alamy Stock Photo.

Which art piece that you have worked with has taken your breath away and why?

We were working in Anton Corbijn’s studio as an early production office for Control. Anton was digitising his entire body of work and this assistant kept bringing picture after picture out of the files that I didn’t even know were his. So this was less about a single shortness of breath than a slow motion strangulation of astonishing beauty.

CONTROL. Sam Riley as Ian Curtis, 2007. ©Weinstein Company/Courtesy Everett. Image credit: Everett Collection, Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo.

If you were gifted any work of art in the world to keep and put in your home, what would you pick and why?

Cy Twombly’s Untitled (Say Goodbye, Catullus, to the Shores of Asia Minor) is probably the work with which I have had the longest and most evolving dialogue – I’ve probably seen in 200 times and it’s never failed to say something new. But of course I could never take it out of the public domain so I’m sort of talking crap.

Cy Twombly, Installation view of 'Untitled' (Say Goodbye, Catullus, to the Shores of Asia Minor), 1994, oil, acrylic, oil stick, crayon, and graphite on three canvases, 400.1 x 1585cm. The Menil Collection, Houston, Gift of the artist © Menil Foundation, Inc. Photograph: Paul Hester.

Words by Todd Eckert.