All about Alex Da Corte

Living and working out of Philadelphia has lent a ‘slow and steady’ mentality to artist Alex Da Corte’s work. Originally setting his sights on a career as an animator for Disney, it’s not surprising that everyday objects play a fantastical role in his art. Magnetized by color and sound, banality takes on an intriguing second life in his immersive works. Steering away from the speed of New York has allowed Da Corte’s work to incubate itself – growing naturally, and thoughtfully. In an age where attention spans are enormously strained, Da Corte has managed to captivate, entertain, and awaken the senses of a starry-eyed audience.

Alex Da Corte photographed in Philadelphia by Crista Leonard.
All about Alex Da Corte

Living and working out of Philadelphia has lent a ‘slow and steady’ mentality to artist Alex Da Corte’s work. Originally setting his sights on a career as an animator for Disney, it’s not surprising that everyday objects play a fantastical role in his art. Magnetized by color and sound, banality takes on an intriguing second life in his immersive works. Steering away from the speed of New York has allowed Da Corte’s work to incubate itself – growing naturally, and thoughtfully. In an age where attention spans are enormously strained, Da Corte has managed to captivate, entertain, and awaken the senses of a starry-eyed audience.

Alex Da Corte photographed in Philadelphia by Crista Leonard.
A Man Full Of Trouble Installation View from Maccarone Gallery New York, 2016.
A Man Full Of Trouble Installation View from Maccarone Gallery New York, 2016.

Did you go to school around Philadelphia? I started school in New York to be an animator. I studied animation at School of Visual Arts. Then, I left in 2001 and went to Philly to complete my undergraduate in print making. I didn’t leave until another eight years later to go to Yale to study sculpture. When did you interests sway away from animation? I think my idea of what animation was was really juvenile, and I don’t think I was very good at it. knew how to draw really well, but I couldn’t grasp what it took to be a skilled animator at the time. I think I just wanted a change. And I don’t think I could enter the dialog that was happening in New York at the time. The contemporary art world was all very foreign to me.

I just don’t think I had that understanding of what art was. You were interested in working for Disney at the time. Do you consider Disney influential to your work? 100%. It turns out I’m an animator now. It’s just that the route I took to get there was different. I just figured out a different way to make cartoons. They’re physical cartoons. They’re not flat. I think the way people think about cartoons has changed since then too. What does Philadelphia offer you that somewhere like New York might not?
I think what’s great about Philadelphia is that it offers you time: a certain kind of slow time. I think that slowness is kind of married to my personality. I think that my work is slow, and so is the way I take things in.

Did you go to school around Philadelphia? I started school in New York to be an animator. I studied animation at School of Visual Arts. Then, I left in 2001 and went to Philly to complete my undergraduate in print making. I didn’t leave until another eight years later to go to Yale to study sculpture. When did you interests sway away from animation? I think my idea of what animation was was really juvenile, and I don’t think I was very good at it. knew how to draw really well, but I couldn’t grasp what it took to be a skilled animator at the time. I think I just wanted a change. And I don’t think I could enter the dialog that was happening in New York at the time. The contemporary art world was all very foreign to me.

I just don’t think I had that understanding of what art was. You were interested in working for Disney at the time. Do you consider Disney influential to your work? 100%. It turns out I’m an animator now. It’s just that the route I took to get there was different. I just figured out a different way to make cartoons. They’re physical cartoons. They’re not flat. I think the way people think about cartoons has changed since then too. What does Philadelphia offer you that somewhere like New York might not?
I think what’s great about Philadelphia is that it offers you time: a certain kind of slow time. I think that slowness is kind of married to my personality. I think that my work is slow, and so is the way I take things in.

Left, The Duplicating Machine, 2017. Right, BB8 2016.
Left, The Duplicating Machine, 2017. Right, BB8 2016.

I think New York was too fast for me. It’s also cheaper too, so you can kind of meander and dream a little bit. It’s not to say the work arose in a bubble, but I can sort of be divorced from some of the stress of a city. You let it grow on its own – almost in an incubator. Right. How would you describe the trajectory of your work? You mentioned drawing, animation… I spent a lot of time doing blue collar work. My brother, and my uncles are all carpenters and painters, so I understand what it means to be in a house, and manipulate a house, and I think my sculptures grew out of that. Really banal materials to create an experience or an environment. I think the idea of sculpture, which is a strange thing because sculpture can be anything, has kind of developed slowly, but was definitely born out of thinking about an everyday job as an art. What’s your relationship with color? I know color is a strong element in your work. I’ve always been drawn to color. I remember giving a science presentation in seventh

grade about how color affects your mood.You grow up saying, ‘what’s your favorite color?’ It never occurred to me that that kind of impulse could also dictate your mood and other people’s moods. To me, that phenomenon has grown and grown and grown. How cool that we could share some kind of vision of something? I like that transfer of color. I like that transfer of color has a certain kind of power and can connect people. It’s something everyone can access. Is there a color that’s always stood out to you as being particularly powerful? I work with a lot of colors that I don’t particularly like. I’m not really opposed to single colors alone, but when two colors are together that are conflicting, it can really generate a feeling for me. And so I try to push different colors against each other. For me, this work I make isn’t about taste, or having good taste, or about things I like; it’s more about things I’m confused by or maybe that alienated me. You mentioned confusion, but what about everyday objects excites you? I think

I think New York was too fast for me. It’s also cheaper too, so you can kind of meander and dream a little bit. It’s not to say the work arose in a bubble, but I can sort of be divorced from some of the stress of a city. You let it grow on its own – almost in an incubator. Right. How would you describe the trajectory of your work? You mentioned drawing, animation… I spent a lot of time doing blue collar work. My brother, and my uncles are all carpenters and painters, so I understand what it means to be in a house, and manipulate a house, and I think my sculptures grew out of that. Really banal materials to create an experience or an environment. I think the idea of sculpture, which is a strange thing because sculpture can be anything, has kind of developed slowly, but was definitely born out of thinking about an everyday job as an art. What’s your relationship with color? I know color is a strong element in your work. I’ve always been drawn to color. I remember giving a science presentation in seventh

grade about how color affects your mood.You grow up saying, ‘what’s your favorite color?’ It never occurred to me that that kind of impulse could also dictate your mood and other people’s moods. To me, that phenomenon has grown and grown and grown. How cool that we could share some kind of vision of something? I like that transfer of color. I like that transfer of color has a certain kind of power and can connect people. It’s something everyone can access. Is there a color that’s always stood out to you as being particularly powerful? I work with a lot of colors that I don’t particularly like. I’m not really opposed to single colors alone, but when two colors are together that are conflicting, it can really generate a feeling for me. And so I try to push different colors against each other. For me, this work I make isn’t about taste, or having good taste, or about things I like; it’s more about things I’m confused by or maybe that alienated me. You mentioned confusion, but what about everyday objects excites you? I think

A Man Full Of Trouble. INstallation View from Maccarone Gallery New York, 2016
A Man Full Of Trouble. INstallation View from Maccarone Gallery New York, 2016

that these everyday objects are little inventions and are testaments to all the really special people in the world. It can humble you because you can recognize a very small part in a big system. To share in that, is really beautiful. I’ll go to second hand stores, and find missing parts of a whole. I have no idea how to trace that, and to find try to find this online would be nearly impossible. What’s your process like as far as pairing objects together to form a stronger relationship? I like to tell stories. I think about a lot of my work in terms of poetry, where say the texture or the cultural symbol of it can resonate [with the viewer]. If you take two symbols – a sneaker and a knife – and put them together, you may create some sort of effect. In doing so, if you pair multiple effects together, you have a mood or a changing rhythm. You’re experiencing something still, but in time, and you discover the front, the back, the sides, and walk around it. It evolves the same way a movie or a song might. You play a lot with viewers’ senses whether

it be touch, smell, sound, visual cues. Why is this? What kind of experience does it create for the viewer? You can’t take a picture at a gallery and capture the smell. At least not yet. There’s something beautiful about that. I take things off of the computer and into the world. And making all of those elements reminds me that I’m still human, and other people are too. To be engaging with the world in many ways beyond our phone, and beyond our screen. I think that’s an urgent thing we need to acknowledge. In terms of a new work or installation, is there usually a common starting point? I wouldn’t say a common starting point. It’s always new because every day is new. I definitely start with a cluster of words, or a particular thing I saw on the street, or something I can’t get out of my head. Then, I try to figure out why that thing is. That’s a result of some kind of cultural moment. How do I transfer that? If I’m thinking about that thing, and obsessing about whatever that might be, why am I thinking about it, and how am I

that these everyday objects are little inventions and are testaments to all the really special people in the world. It can humble you because you can recognize a very small part in a big system. To share in that, is really beautiful. I’ll go to second hand stores, and find missing parts of a whole. I have no idea how to trace that, and to find try to find this online would be nearly impossible. What’s your process like as far as pairing objects together to form a stronger relationship? I like to tell stories. I think about a lot of my work in terms of poetry, where say the texture or the cultural symbol of it can resonate [with the viewer]. If you take two symbols – a sneaker and a knife – and put them together, you may create some sort of effect. In doing so, if you pair multiple effects together, you have a mood or a changing rhythm. You’re experiencing something still, but in time, and you discover the front, the back, the sides, and walk around it. It evolves the same way a movie or a song might. You play a lot with viewers’ senses whether

it be touch, smell, sound, visual cues. Why is this? What kind of experience does it create for the viewer? You can’t take a picture at a gallery and capture the smell. At least not yet. There’s something beautiful about that. I take things off of the computer and into the world. And making all of those elements reminds me that I’m still human, and other people are too. To be engaging with the world in many ways beyond our phone, and beyond our screen. I think that’s an urgent thing we need to acknowledge. In terms of a new work or installation, is there usually a common starting point? I wouldn’t say a common starting point. It’s always new because every day is new. I definitely start with a cluster of words, or a particular thing I saw on the street, or something I can’t get out of my head. Then, I try to figure out why that thing is. That’s a result of some kind of cultural moment. How do I transfer that? If I’m thinking about that thing, and obsessing about whatever that might be, why am I thinking about it, and how am I

Alex Da Corte at his Studio. Philadelphia.
Alex Da Corte at his Studio. Philadelphia.

tied to my community? That’s sort of how the show grows. Outside of these kinds of happenstances, are there any references you’re looking at? Right now, I’m looking out of my window a lot. There’s a lot of crazy stuff that happens in this neighborhood. What are you seeing out the window? Yesterday I saw a little kid walk by with a Frankenstein mask. I saw another kid dressed as a ninja turtle, and it’s not Halloween. I see a lot of people dancing, and it makes me think about what the new dance moves are. There’s a lot of building happening in the city too. There’s a kind of urgency to build in this particular neighborhood I’m in. Everyday there’s new patterns of movement with new people that aren’t from the city. I think you can definitely tell the way those people move in the neighborhood versus the people that are always here. It’s a kind of beautiful dance that I like to watch. What’s next for you as far as projects are

concerned? I’m getting ready for a show at the Secession in Vienna, and that opens in June. That’s the big show for me this year. I’ll be working towards that all spring. I’ve been thinking about it for six months. I’m just starting to make things physical. What will the show focus on? Softness. It’s something I’m thinking about a lot. Is your thought process typically long? Yeah. I’ve just moved studios. I have two studios that are next to each other. My other studio needed some work because it was full of cats (laughs). I moved to this new space, and moving to a new space is hard because you have to get to know it. It’s like you have to go on a few dates before you’re really comfortable. So, it’s been a little slow. I’m just pushing stuff around. I’m feeling very much like ‘square one’, like I’ve just been born (laughs). That’s a nice feeling though. I think it’s a nice feeling. I’m trying not to be afraid of it. Not knowing is maybe the best kind of knowing.

tied to my community? That’s sort of how the show grows. Outside of these kinds of happenstances, are there any references you’re looking at? Right now, I’m looking out of my window a lot. There’s a lot of crazy stuff that happens in this neighborhood. What are you seeing out the window? Yesterday I saw a little kid walk by with a Frankenstein mask. I saw another kid dressed as a ninja turtle, and it’s not Halloween. I see a lot of people dancing, and it makes me think about what the new dance moves are. There’s a lot of building happening in the city too. There’s a kind of urgency to build in this particular neighborhood I’m in. Everyday there’s new patterns of movement with new people that aren’t from the city. I think you can definitely tell the way those people move in the neighborhood versus the people that are always here. It’s a kind of beautiful dance that I like to watch. What’s next for you as far as projects are

concerned? I’m getting ready for a show at the Secession in Vienna, and that opens in June. That’s the big show for me this year. I’ll be working towards that all spring. I’ve been thinking about it for six months. I’m just starting to make things physical. What will the show focus on? Softness. It’s something I’m thinking about a lot. Is your thought process typically long? Yeah. I’ve just moved studios. I have two studios that are next to each other. My other studio needed some work because it was full of cats (laughs). I moved to this new space, and moving to a new space is hard because you have to get to know it. It’s like you have to go on a few dates before you’re really comfortable. So, it’s been a little slow. I’m just pushing stuff around. I’m feeling very much like ‘square one’, like I’ve just been born (laughs). That’s a nice feeling though. I think it’s a nice feeling. I’m trying not to be afraid of it. Not knowing is maybe the best kind of knowing.

Interviewed by Devin Barrett. Photography Crista Leonard.
As seen in Hercules Universal XXII.
Interviewed by Devin Barrett. Photography Crista Leonard.
As seen in Hercules Universal XXII.