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[BKARTS] Today video art; tomorrow book art?

[Keep your eye on print-on-demand books, curators and collectors. -JS]

Art That Has to Sleep in the Garage

Published: June 26, 2005

San Francisco


ONE day last month, Pam Kramlich tried to serve lunch to two guests, but
the artwork kept interrupting. A gentle rain tapped the windows of her
stone house atop one of the city's best hills. The antique table was set
with salads prepared by the housekeeper, and the video art simply
wouldn't shut up.

Mrs. Kramlich, a slender 62-year-old with a serene smile, and her gruff
venture-capitalist husband, Dick, 71, own what may be the single largest
private collection of art that uses electronic sound or moving images.

When all the art is activated, the house hums, thrums, squeaks and
squawks, gibbers, moans and shouts. In fact, the effect is so
overwhelming that the Kramlichs are more or less forced to leave most of
their expensive, impeccably chosen collection turned off most of the
time. But when the pieces are on, as they were during lunch, Mrs.
Kramlich says she savors the cacophony. "I enjoy having these works on,"
she said. "This is fun. It's playtime."

As eccentric as the Kramlichs' domestic situation may seem today, 10
years ago it would have been a downright oddity. Back then, video art
was an outlier, a market that collectors barely touched. But now, video
art is widely bought and exhibited by collectors and museums alike, and
there are those who say flat screens may soon be as common on household
walls as picture frames.

"Video is where still photography was in the 1970's," said Bruce
Jenkins, a dean at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. "There
used to be a hesitance to purchasing photos. Now photography is the rage."

By the 1980's, however, dealers and artists were turning video into a
commodity. Now prices range from a few thousand dollars to six figures.
Though collectors aren't talking money, the Kramlichs' curator allows
that the couple have spent "millions" amassing some 250 pieces."

JULES SIEGEL Apdo. 1764 77501-Cancun Q. Roo Mexico

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