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Louisiana Channel | Wardell Milan: Retreat or Engage

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In March 2022, Louisiana Channel visited Wardell Milan at BORCH Editions to talk about his work on The Balcony.

“There are these strange characters and dialogues that happen within this space. And outside, there is complete chaos.”

Meet inspiring US-American artist Wardell Milan while working on a new series of prints that sheds light on recent social and political developments in the United States and the world as a whole.

“When does the individual become a world citizen and try to create and bring about change. And when do we say, no, I just want to focus on my own life.”

Wardell Milan brings a photographically trained eye to his drawings, collages, dioramas, and works on paper. In his practice, he explores themes of personal identity and the physicality of the body, often drawing inspiration from sports culture, pornography, and fashion. Milan simultaneously evokes the beauty and the grotesque in a single captivating image. He is well known for his charcoal and collage depictions of famous boxers in the arena and portraits of women and flowers morphing into one another.

Milan’s collages often incorporate cut-out photographs, including iconic works by Diane Arbus and Robert Mapplethorpe, as well as Charles Hoff’s images of boxers in The Fights. He also has been inspired by such varied sources and artists as Francis Bacon, Robert Gober, the films of Federico Fellini, bodybuilding magazines, the absurdist plays of Eugène Ionesco, and E.J. Bellocq’s photographs of the Storyville district of New Orleans.

Milan studied photography at the University of Tennessee and Yale University. Works by the artist can be found in the collections of The Art Institute of Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; Denver Art Museum; Brooklyn Museum, New York, Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Morgan Library & Museum, New York; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Whitney Museum of Art, New York; UBS Art Collection; Daniel and Florence Guerlain Contemporary Art Foundation, Paris; Hall Art Foundation; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Milan lives and works in New York.

Wardell Milan was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at the Copenhagen printmaking studio BORCH Editions during his stay here in March 2022.

Camera: Simon Weyhe
Edited by: Signe Boe Pedersen
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2022

Louisiana Channel is supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet, C.L. Davids Fond og Samling and Fritz Hansen.

Learn more about Wardell Milan