Installation view of Peter Coffin’s 2009 Jane and Marc Nathanson Distinguished Artist in Residence exhibition in the AAM Lower Gallery. Photo: Karl Wolfgang.

Peter Coffin




EXHIBITION: MAY 11 – JULY 24, 2009


The Aspen Art Museum’s second Jane and Marc Nathanson Distinguished Artist in Residence is internationally renowned, New York-based contemporary artist Peter Coffin, whose artistic practice embraces numerous media, including video and sound installation, sculpture, and photography. His artwork often playfully addresses explorations of both natural and manmade phenomena, paranormal and phenomenological events, New Age philosophy and spirituality, as well as science, pseudo science, and their relationships to subjective reality.

Coffin’s work during his AAM Jane and Marc Nathanson Distinguished Artist in Residence focuses on an artistic project based on the nesting habits of the Bowerbird—a species native to Australia and New Guinea—the male of which collects and arranges blue colored objects around its nest to attract potential mates. For the project, Coffin constructed—one element at a time—a human-scale nest, beginning with a blue 1985 Toyota Land Cruiser that he spent his residency driving around the Roaring Fork Valley collecting blue objects. The project is both additive and interactive. Visitors to the museum are invited to add their own items to the nest (assuming that they are blue), as well as spend time in the nest.

Also featured within the exhibition are Coffin’s Colby posters series—all eighty of which are installed in a horizontal band mimicking a psychedelic, yet imperfect, sunset around the museum gallery—which utilize the cheaply mass produced concert posters that are found all over urban centers. Each poster is comprised of a three-barred color field pattern reminiscent of a Mark Rothko painting. Coffin created new color variations—presented as abstract images—absent of their traditional, black, stamped ink texts.


Established in 2008 with the inaugural residency of British artist Phil Collins, the Aspen Art Museum’s Jane and Marc Nathanson Distinguished Artist in Residence program furthers the museum’s goal of engaging the larger community with contemporary art. For his 2008 residency, Collins produced the 16mm color film soy mi madre, which took as its
references the artist’s experiences of Aspen, as well as the world of the Latin American telenovela and plot elements of Jean Genet’s play The Maids. Shot in Mexico City during summer 2008, soy mi madre debuted on August 14, 2008.

Each Jane and Marc Nathanson Distinguished Artist in Residence results in a new body of work produced by and exhibited at the AAM. The program was founded by AAM National Council members Jane and Marc Nathanson, whose generous gift of $1,000,000 underwrites all major aspects of the Aspen Art Museum’s Distinguished Artist in Residence yearly programming including, artist travel and accommodations, production,
promotion, and exhibition-related expenses for each artist in residence’s work at the AAM posttenure in perpetuity. The AAM’s Distinguished Artist in Residence program was established in 2006 by AAM Director and Chief Curator Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson.


Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson essay


Peter Coffin was born in 1972 in Berkeley, California and currently lives in New York. Museum exhibitions include: Accords Excentriques: Musiques et Arts Plastiques, B.P.S. 22, Charleroi, Belgium; Moscow Biennial, Lenin Museum, Moscow; The Idea of the Sun, Peter Coffin, le Confort Moderne, Poitier, France; Learn to Read, Tate Modern, London; ÉTATS (faites-le vous-même) / Grow Your Own, Palais de Tokyo, Paris; When Interwoven Echoes Drip into a Hybrid Body - an Exhibition about Sound, Performance and Sculpture, Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich, Switzerland; Greater New York, P.S.1/MoMA, Long Island City, New York; Inside/Outside with Birds, The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh.

Peter Coffin’s Jane and Marc Nathanson Distinguished Artist in Residence and exhibition are organized by the Aspen Art Museum and funded by Jane and Marc Nathanson. Additional funding provided by the AAM National Council. Exhibition lectures presented by the Questrom Lecture Series.