February 2006 Archives

February 28, 2006

Art Critic Smackdown

I've always wondered why the New York Observer didn't have an art critic, but mentioning it, well, that's not how I was raised.

Fortunately, Jerry Saltz was raised by wolves or something, because he doesn't mind pointing out that the Observer's art mentioner Mario Naves is an empty, conservative prig. The fact that it comes after a rousing ode to Duchamp's urinal only makes it sweeter; and it takes "I know you are but what am I?" off the table as a Navesian retort.

There should be more critic-on-critic smackdown events these days; charge ten bucks and raise some money for charity.

Idol Thoughts, Idiot Wind [villagevoice.com]

February 24, 2006

You Can Call Me Rem

If he didn't exist, Rem Koolhaas would have to invent him. Of course, then he'd be included in the Whitney Biennial. Business Week has an interview with Rem's Mini-me, Josh Prince-Ramus, the Gen X starchitect-in-training running OMA's New York office.

The Koolhaas Kids Come Of Age
Josh Prince-Ramus: Don't Make Me a Star [in this glowing media profile]. Really! Don't! [gutter]

February 24, 2006

Putting The Later In Linklater

Richard Linklater has the hope that A Scanner Darkly will spur more animated films to get made for adults. It's under $10mm budget (it started out at $6.7 and got bumped up to $8.7 when the animation process lagged.)

Oh, did someone say production problems? Apparently the producers locked out Bob Sabiston, the MIT guy behind the whole rotoscoping system because the production flow was all mucked up and on the verge of turning out Waking Life 2, if anything. Also, Linklater was so freaked out by the animation process, he stayed as far away from it as possible. Grand champion of animation there.

Wired has the whole some of the conflicted story.

Trouble in Toontown [wired]

February 22, 2006

"The Left Bank Was Among Us."

JH: What was the germ of the idea for Metropolitan? WS:Like many things it started with annoyance at something Id read in the New York Times...
- Josh Horowitz does a phoner with the temporarily Parisian Whit Stillman on the occasion of the release of the Criterion Collection DVD of Metropolitan. [via greencine]

February 21, 2006

A Slacker Darkly

The trailer for A Scanner Darkly is up, and while it looks good--the rotoscope animation style is much tighter, and it coheres with a lot of the scenes and the vibe of the story--it's clearly a chatty Linklater joint.

Plus, it looks like Robert Downey, Jr. figured that internalizing Henry Thomas, Jr.'s performance in Solaris was a good way to get this gig. And what can you say, but that he got it?

Philip K. Dick's A Scanner Darkly, directed by Richard Linklater [Warner Bros via boingboing]

While it's kind of short on specifics besides "It's freaking hard!!" Suzy Conn's article on her experience writing the book and music and lyrics for "Plane Crazy" all by herself is pretty interesting.

The iterative, collaborative, open-door process of creating a piece of theatre is fascinating, particularly to see what variables are fluid and which are fixed. While stories abound of screenwriters and directors delivering new pages to the set in near-real time, and entire stories and characters transformed or eliminated in the editing room, filmmaking has this odd sense of fixedness very early on: what you film is what you get. And of course, much of the development process all takes place way out of the public view.

After previewing the show at the NY Musical Theater Festival last fall, Conn is putting on a much-revised, refined "Plane Crazy" in Toronto starting last week.

Checking in on Plane Crazy by Suzy Conn
[broadwayworld.com via boingboing]

Well, actually, there's just one: The Meat Wagon, a turn through the Menil Collection's collections by Robert Gober, which closed on Jan. 22. GlassTire has an excellent writeup.

I've been a big fan and collector of Hiroshi Sugimoto's work for over 13 years now [wow. Typing that just now makes me hyperaware of the passage of time, which is par for the course for Sugimoto.] So when I had a chance to meet the artist at a preview of his retrospective show at the Hirshhorn yesterday, I jumped.

It's really quite a gorgeous show; stunning, even, which I think is atypical of Sugimoto's work. For all his conceptually driven series, he's always produced extremely beautiful photographs, don't get me wrong. And in the last few years, I've seen references to the importance of the old-school technical aspects of photography as well. I'm wary of reading it too much as a "Japanese" sensibility, too, even though the Japanese tradition of modernism and minimalism really is a worldview apart from that of the West; but it's seductively easy to fall back on the myth of the Inscrutable Oriental--or worse, the pathetic, westernized Pop Zen--when praising his work.

Still, let's face facts: the man has photographed an icon of Buddhism in Kyoto [the sanjusangen-do temple], he's designed a Noh stage and a Shinto shrine, and his longtime profession has been a dealer in Japanese antiques. And you can't get much more self-consciously Japanese than all that. But maybe it's like being an American in Paris being a Japanese in New York; your awareness of difference is enhanced.


Back to the stunning, though. Sugimoto's recent forays into architecture and spatial design are (coincidentally?) timed with a waning--or an impending extinction, to hear him talk about it--of photography as a medium for him. The recent discontinuation of his favored materials and the ascendance of digital photography are rendering him obsolete. Not wanting to go the Sally Mann route by adding another layer of meaning onto his work by choosing to homebrew his materials, Sugimoto said he's just printing as much as he can while he can, and is looking to other mediums for his work.

The result, oddly enough: giant prints. While some of his newest work, wax figure portrait photos and those mathematical model images, were always larger-than-life-size, with this show, Sugimoto has gone back and printed older work in seductive, giant formats. There are museum dioramas, a movie theater, and, stunningly, seascapes. These giant prints are really objects now, not images; conceptually, maybe that's always been the case, but it's certainly a much clearer assertion of that idea than Sugimoto's ever made. This is doubly true for the dramatically lit Seascapes in the massive, blackout gallery [the museum removed some non-loadbearing walls, and they should never put them back; this is probably the most breathtakingly sublime space the Hirshhorn has ever had.]

But I'm not sure that's entirely a compliment. Large prints are the new market hotness, and since his most popular works, the seascapes, had long ago sold out their editions, there was little opportunity for the artist to be rewarded for his pioneering work. Now, though, he gets a piece of the action himself, and new collectors get the impressive Sugimoto-brand wall candy they crave; it's win-win. I guess.

But then I have to look back and wonder; it wasn't "development" who tore down the movie palaces in Sugimoto's now-deeply nostalgic photos; it was developers. At one point, his work was not only beautiful, it was marginalized, radical, even, as well as conceptually rigorous. And now, well, this show just arrived from the Mori Art Museum at Roppongi Hills, and you can't get any more "developer" than that. [And I say that as someone counting developers among my family and close friends. But still.]

Of all people, I'm stoked when artists have the freedom to pursue their vision, and I wouldn't want to stick Sugimoto in the twee realm of master photographic craftsman if his interests lie elsewhere. But at the same time, when I am instantly blown away by beauty in art, I have to admit, I'm a bit skeptical.

I took an old catalogue for him to sign (Sugimoto's actually doing a signing and a speech this evening, starting at 6, but we can't make it), and he graciously dashed off a dramatic "S" and some illegible stuff with a silver pen. When I got home, though, I compared it to a catalogue he'd signed for me eight years ago; it was sober, meticulous cursive, as if he were signing a will, not an autograph. And somehow that seems to make sense.

Hiroshi Sugimoto at the Hirshhorn

Previously: greg.org on sugimoto

1) That series of Maxwell House commercials featuring badlibs of Madness's "Our House"? HOW DESPERATELY WRONG IS THAT? Someone in Madness's family better need some super-expensive operations that require maximum sellout. Otherwise, they need to be taken to the woodshed.

2) The world needs to see the "Election Wars" Star Wars parody that was created for the GOP House offsite last week. From the baffling insanity of the clips on The Daily Show, it's as if Scott Sforza has never existed.

Michael Winterbottom's A Road To Guantanamo was produced for Channel 4, but they're opening it like a film, too. Like a Soderbergh film called Bubble, to be specific. A simultaneous DVD, Theater, and--hold on--online release next month.

The film is a fantastical, unrealistic tale of some guys en route to a wedding who get swept up and dumped in Gitmo for two years, no questions asked. Then they're released. How implausible is that?? Oh, wait. [via kultureflash]

February 15, 2006

Dardenne Bros Interview at NFT

Wow, a fascinating, long interview with the Dardenne Brothers that was presented at the National Film Theatre in London last weekend. They really were a mess when they started out.

Geoff Andrew interviews Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne [guardian via kultureflash]

February 14, 2006

CNN Is The New Blog

It hit me again during the Super Bowl: the perpetual motion, 3D overkill design language of on-air TV graphics is in serious need of rethinking.

Sundance Channel did something about it, and now CNN International has, too. It'll be interesting to see if/how other networks react. [I'm watching The Daily Show, and they're using CNNI clips of the White House briefing. It looks great.]

Another Look At The New CNNI
[tvnewser via kottke]

February 14, 2006

Check Out The Ass On That One

I fired off an email to Charlie Finch's editor/wingman last night, and even though I'm a ridiculous apprentice of nothing, he graciously favored me with a reply. If only I had a nicer rack, he might've gotten me a group show somewhere.

From: greg.allen on behalf of Greg Allen
Sent: Mon 2/13/2006 9:26 PM
To: Walter Robinson
Subject: You really need to let Charlie go start a blog of his own

Hey Walter,

I have to tell you, Charlie Finch's columns have been prurient and sexist for quite some time, and I'm sure it has a following among an older, hairy-eared, mouthbreathing microsegment of Artnet's readership, but to many others, including myself and many collectors, dealers, and artists I've spoken with about him over the years--men and women alike, including several of the female artists who have been objectified and diminished in print by Finch's pawing prose-- his writing presents an unenlightened, retrograde blight. It's offensive and uncalled for. It's sexist and demeaning in a blatant way that was long ago identified as such by a civil society. Artnet's continued publication of Finch's writing leads one--me, at least--to conclude that you and Artnet support or at least assent to Finch's POV, even if it is under the guise of editorial independence.

Seriously, his demeaning discussions of female artists are the gender equivalent of racist asides, the kind even Strom Thurmond eventually learned not to voice publicly; Trent Lott, of course, learned that lesson the hard way, and it cost him his leadership post and bully pulpit. It's long past time for Finch to pay the same price. It's not like you'll be silencing him, of course; only disavowing his demeaning view of women and their art. I'm sure a wheel as squeaky as Finch will fulfill Artnet's 2006 prognostication and launch a blog of his own. By his--and apparently your--criteria, the only qualifications that matter in the art world are a penis and a willingness to flog someone with it.

For now, I'll refrain from posting this as an open letter on my own blog, but judging from the rising drumbeat online, it's only a matter of time before headlines of Artnet Sexism and Misogyny start propagating on- and off-line. I don't think I'll wait too long, though, to start talking up dealers and artists about Finch and Artnet, starting with the ones I buy most regularly from--and the ones who advertise on Artnet.

Greg Allen


From: Walter Robinson 7:41 am (5 minutes ago)
To: Greg
Subject: who is greg allen?

ha ha, thanks for your comments, as stupid as they are. W


The irony, of course, is that if Walter Robinson actually had the balls to fire Charlie Finch for this kind of crap, the skeevy old skank would probably just turn around and start a blog.

Charlie Finch Goes Too Far [MAN, with a list of drumbeating links]
Previously: ACFWLF: [I think this stands for "Artists Charlie Finch Would Like To F***"]

February 12, 2006

How It Happened Here Happened

It Happened Here is a 1966 documentary-style account of a Nazi occupation of Britain, made over the course of eight years of weekends by Kevin Brownlow and Andrew Mollo. They were 18 and 16, respectively, when they started production.

All the accounts of the film describe the production design as fanatically authentic, and praise the evocation of its 1940 setting through a combination of montage, attention to mundane detail, and damningly plausible British political accommodation of fascism.

The movie is now out on Region 2 DVD, and Brownlow's book, How It Happened Here, about the production and the controversy that swirled around the film, was reissued last year.

DVD's of the week: It Happened Here
[telegraph.co.uk via metafilter]

I find Soderbergh's DVD commentary tracks are consistently entertaining and enlightening. And now that it turns out he has Mark Romanek on with him for the director's commentary of Bubble, I think the question of which format--theater, ppv, or DVD--is best for me has been settled.

Josh Oakhurst has transcribed some of the two directors' conversation on his blog; check it out. [joshoakhurst.com via robotwisdom]

February 6, 2006

La Plus Ca Small Change

Back in the day, Spy sent phony letters and checks for piddly amounts to various rich and famous New Yorkers to see what the response would be. Trump cashed that one, too, for thirteen cents.

Trump v. Trump, Bryan Singer's grateful tale of having Trump hate on his book in public. [newyorker.com]

I will quote goldenfiddle in full on this one, and just say that, Francesco, I was wrong. You were right. Fake trailers to non-existent films are an art form after all:

Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez are teaming up to produce a bunch of fake trailers to non-existant kung-fu and sexploitation flicks, and maybe two short films that will suck to everybody except the directors themselves.
New "Grind" update [darkhorizons.com]
Previously: greg.org on Francesco Vezzoli and his Venice Biennale trailer for a non-existent remake of Caligula


Finally, someone's saying something about the inconsistencies, conflicts and caprices of the Warhol Authentication Board, which is wreaking quiet, opaque havoc on the market for Andy Warhol's artworks. The BBC is showing a documentary on the Board tonight on BBC1 called "Andy Warhol: Denied".

The above self-portrait, from 1964-65, for example, which Warhol gave as payment to Richard Eckstract, an important collaborator in Warhol's films, was subsequently declared inauthentic.

Is this a real Warhol? [telegraph.co.uk via boingboing]

Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
greg [at] greg [dot ] org

find me on twitter: @gregorg

about this archive

Posts from February 2006, in reverse chronological order

Older: January 2006

Newer March 2006

recent projects, &c.

Our Guernica Cycle, 2017 –
about/kickstarter | exhibit, 2017

Social Medium:
artists writing, 2000-2015
Paper Monument, Oct. 2016
ed. by Jennifer Liese
buy, $28

Madoff Provenance Project in
'Tell Me What I Mean' at
To__Bridges__, The Bronx
11 Sept - Oct 23 2016
show | beginnings

Chop Shop
curated by Magda Sawon
1-7 March 2016

eBay Test Listings
Armory – ABMB 2015
about | proposte monocrome, rose

It Narratives, incl.
Shanzhai Gursky & Destroyed Richter
Franklin Street Works, Stamford
Sept 5 - Nov 9, 2014
about | link

TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -

Standard Operating Procedure
about | buy now, 284pp, $15.99

CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
Canal Zone Richard Prince
YES RASTA 2:The Appeals Court
Decision, plus the Court's
Complete Illustrated Appendix (2013)
about | buy now, 142pp, $12.99

"Exhibition Space" @ apexart, NYC
Mar 20 - May 8, 2013
about, brochure | installation shots

HELP/LESS Curated by Chris Habib
Printed Matter, NYC
Summer 2012
panel &c.

Destroyed Richter Paintings, 2012-
background | making of
"Richteriana," Postmasters Gallery, NYC

Canal Zone Richard
Selected Court Documents
from Cariou v. Prince (2011)
about | buy now, 376pp, $17.99