July 2017 Archives

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Well, after 4 years of occasional rumination, my eternally unsolvable mystery of people drawing frames around Old Master drawings has been flipped on its head. And now I wonder how any drawing could have survived the centuries undoodled.

Reader/artist/hero Peter Huestis pointed me to this full page from Giorgio Vasari's Libro de Disegni (Book of Drawings), which is in the National Gallery.

As I mentioned last night, Vasari drew the architectural elements around the Getty's newly acquired del Sarto when the sketch was part of the Libro. The book contained at least 536 drawings, collected by Vasari either as reference material or a supplement for his biographies of great artists, or as significant examples of art in their own right. Most are mounted on larger sheets and are surrounded by frames and plaques and architectural elements in ink and gouache.

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Study for Vasari's Botticelli, 2017- , 200x146cm, ink and gouache on oil on linen? inkjet on aluminum? I have no idea rn [image: nga.gov]

The NGA's example is one of a very few intact pages: 10 drawings attributed to three artists, some trimmed to shape almost like paper dolls, and collaged into imagined spaces. Vasari places these sketches in the same privileged architectural contexts as paintings. Except the scale is so wild, the drawings become a startlingly contemporary genre of their own. Can you imagine Botticelli painting a 6-by-4 foot mauve head floating above two unmatched, disembodied hands? Hanging over a fireplace or, as he envisioned it here, above a ghostly parade of phantom limbs by Filippino Lippi? You'd have to print it [Or I would, anyway. Could you imagine making these marks at that scale?] Has no one created these installations before?

Giorgio Vasari with drawings by Filippino Lippi, Botticelli, and Raffaellino del Garbo, Page from "Libro de' Disegni" (1480-1504, mounted after 1524) [nga, thanks peter]
Libro de' Disegni [fr.wikipedia.org]

Previously, related: A proposal for a Prina-style series of monochrome Dürer frame drawings (2013)
A proposal to re-create at scale the six or so historical installation situations of Leonardo's Mona Lisa (2009)

July 21, 2017

Frame Part Of Drawing

When the Albertina's Dürer show came to the National Gallery a few years ago, I got very interested in the way the drawings were framed. Inside their matting, each work on paper also featured an outline, one or two lines, drawn right on the sheet. Who did these and why, no one at the NGA could say. [UPDATE I HAVE BEEN FOUND OUT I DID NOT ASK THE CURATORS STAY TUNED] The accompanying catalogue had zero mentions, and reproductions all excluded these drawn frames. Photography was prohibited in the show, and the Albertina's website images are worse than anything, so these marks made right on the face of these important artworks are treated as invisible or irrelevant.

[UPDATE: Oh hey, I found a bunch of photos I took anyway. Since the statute of limitations for not taking photos of 400-yo artworks is 3 years, and the rule of law is crumbling around us anyway, they're after the jump.]

Obviously, drawings have been handled differently as art objects across the centuries. There's probably at least one dissertation to be written about collectors and dealers and institutions marking up old drawings. Maybe it already has been, and just need to be unearthed.

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Anyway, I thought of this practice when I saw William Poundstone's report of the Getty Museum's acquisition of a major collection of Old Master drawings. The haul includes a Michelangelo, and this Head of St. Joseph (1526-27) by Andrea del Sarto. Which is great, but check out the double-line frame drawn around it, the spandrels to hint at a round arch, and the nameplate added to the bottom.

When this drawing traveled to the Getty and Frick as part of a 2015-16 del Sarto show, the careful framing was attributed to none other than Giorgio Vasari, who had collected this work by his former teacher into Libro de' Disegni, a drawings album. As Ingrid Rowland wrote:

In part because of his connection with Michelangelo, and in part because of his own ravenous curiosity, Giorgio Vasari was one of the first collectors to value drawings as legitimate works of art. He had taken to studying old master drawings as an aspiring artist, and when he gathered information about colleagues as an aspiring biographer for his Lives, he also sought out their drawings, binding them into a series of books. The books, unfortunately, have been lost, though isolated pieces survive.
So maybe there is something to be learned from these invisible framing devices after all.

The Getty's Big Buy [lacmaonfire]
Sublime, Exhilarating del Sarto, review by Ingrid Rowland [nybooks]
Previously, related: Borderline

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details of Albrecht Dürer St. Pauls by [l. to r.] Albrecht Dürer (1514), Johannes Wierix (c.1566), and Andrew Rafferty (2012), image: artinprint

My tabs are srsly a mess. I've had this 2012 Art in Print account of replicating Albrecht Dürer's engraving plates in there for months, ever since seeing a copy of one of Dürer's greatest prints, Melencolia I (1514). Conservator Angela Campbell and contemporary engraver Andrew Rafferty were studying how Dürer made his plates and his prints, and how they changed over the life of an edition. Rafferty made a copy of St. Paul [above, right], and geeks out on the differences of wiping, crosshatching, and hammered vs. rolled copperplate. For her part, Campbell's larger goal is to put the world's existing impressions into chronological order by tracking changes in micro marks and surface scratches. Which, more power to them.

What redlines my geekmeter, though, is learning that of the 105 he made, there is only one Dürer plate left in existence. It is in Gotha, Germany, and it is a 1526 portrait of reformist theologian Philip Melancthon.

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The Schloss Friedenstein Foundation was understandably excited to add a deep, high quality print taken from their plate. I wonder when the last impression was taken from this plate, and if the Stiftungvolk would ever entertain printing another one.

[Related: Woodblocks are more durable, and so more survive. The Met has two of five that Junius S. Morgan acquired, including: Samson Rending the Lion (1497-98), and The Martyrdom of St. Catherine (c. 1498), which, amusingly, is catalogued as "Black ink on pearwood".]

Remaking Dürer: Investigating the Master Engravings by Masterful Engraving [artinprint.org]
Bild und Gegenbild [kulturestiftung.de]

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If you're wondering who the one person was who went to the mall in Chevy Chase, to the J. Crew store Monday, it was me. And I was only picking up a catalogue order.

And marveling at the giant [signed!] Richard Serra Torqued Spirals exhibition poster from Gagosian, c. 2003, one of two constellations of highly curated posters and prints lining the staircase.

I contemplated the state of the brick&mortar retail industry, making a note to watch the liquidation auctions for a deluge of contemporary art ephemera when the reaper comes for J. Crew. And figuring if the swag doesn't turn up, we'll know the store designers who fantasy-shopped it all together have absconded with it in lieu of severance.

Just as I was thinking, this poster was my most unexpected Serra sighting ever, I stepped outside, and found this, in the garden of the condos across the street.

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I approached to take a photo, and the carefully calculated elevations of the lawn revealed the bottom quarter of the Cor-Ten slab. If only he'd added a water feature, I bet Tilted Arc would still be standing.

July 6, 2017

John Cage Film Poster

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 July 2017, in reverse chronological order

Older: June 2017

recent projects, &c.


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

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

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Chop Shop
at SPRING/BREAK Art Show
curated by Magda Sawon
1-7 March 2016

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

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

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TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -
about

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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

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"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.


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

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

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