Winkleman Gallery is very pleased to present “The Reappraisal,” our fourth solo exhibition by New York artist Jennifer Dalton. In 1999 Dalton presented her project “The Appraisal” at Chelsea’s Steffany Martz Gallery. At that time, Dalton was 31 years old and living a typical graduate student lifestyle, having been one until just the previous year. Presented in the project space of the gallery, this was her first solo exhibition in New York.
Inspired by her “day job” at Christie’s auction house where she catalogued the desirable possessions of its clients, in “The Appraisal” Dalton photographed, described and self-appraised every item in the small apartment she shared with her then-boyfriend, including the furniture she had scavenged from the street, the paintings and sculptures she had made in her living room/art studio, and the artworks she had acquired through trades with her artist friends. She then hired Christie’s to conduct an official appraisal of her “estate” and compared her appraisal with their professional version to humbling effect. Finally, as part of the project, she sold a cross-section of her belongings on the auction website eBay, in an attempt to find the true value of each object.
Ten years later the boyfriend is a husband and Dalton qualifies as a homeowner, a mom, and a not-entirely-reluctant member of the bourgeois class. How does her lifestyle stack up against 2009’s recently acquired values of austerity, anti-materialism and green living? Has she become a yuppie? Viewers of the exhibition can decide for themselves, appraising her economic footprint* and the accouterments of her trajectory into middle age.
In “The Reappraisal,” everything in the house Dalton shares with her husband and four-year-old son is for sale, provided would-be collectors are willing to pay the price arrived at through her family’s level of attachment to a particular object. Every household item—from graduate student paintings to the cleaning supplies under the kitchen sink to the planter in the back yard—has been photographed and appraised by both her and, again, Christie’s auction house. Presented in simple frames on rows of industrial shelving, like volumes in a library, each photograph and description has been color-coded by object type and placed in order by Dalton’s level of attachment to it, and thus by what she calls “Your Price.”
Each object actually has three values attached to it: What Dalton thinks the item might be worth to other people; what Christie’s thinks the item is worth based on their expertise; and “Your Price,” the price at which it can be purchased through the exhibition. “Your Price” ranges from $500,000 on the high end for irreplaceable tchotchkes passed down through her family to minus $5, meaning Dalton will give you $5 if you come to her house and take it away. More than a follow-up to the project Dalton first did 10 years ago, “The Reappraisal” is a meditation on materialism, growing up, and the extent to which we can properly judge ourselves and each other by the contents of our bookshelves, refrigerators and medicine cabinets.
Jennifer Dalton received her BFA from UCLA and her M.F.A. from the Pratt Institute in New York. Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States and Europe, including in: “Wall Rockets: Contemporary Artists and Ed Ruscha,” curated by Lisa Dennison, Flag Art Foundation, NYC; “Attention to Detail,” curated by Chuck Close, Flag Art Foundation, NYC; “Made in America,” curated by Janet Phelps, Peel Gallery, Houston, TX; “Air Kissing: An Exhibition of Contemporary Art About the Art World,” curated by Sasha Archibald, Arcadia University Art Gallery, Glenside, PA; and “The Cult of Personality: Portraits of Mass Culture,” Carriage Trade, NYC and Galerie Erna Hécey, Brussels, Belgium. Her work has been reviewed in Artforum, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Art Review, Art + Auction, ArtNews, and Art in America, among other publications.