September 2017 Archives

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Laurie Lambrecht, Explosion, Slam, photo composition of Roy Lichtenstein's Hand Written Word List and comic book clipping source material, made in the artist's studio between 1990 and 1992. image via lensculture

Why did Roy Lichtenstein make word lists is not really my question. How did Roy Lichtenstein's word lists end up in the list of his artworks catalogued by the Lichtenstein Foundation?

Both lists date from 1990. The first Handwritten Word List, feels like it fits right in. It appears to be a compilation, or a selection, of the onomatopoetic word graphics Lichtenstein famously adapted from comic books for his paintings. This list appears in at least two pictures taken between 1990 and 1992 by Laurie Lambrecht, a photographer who worked as an assistant to Lichtenstein in his studio. In the composition above, titled Explosion, Slam, it is surrounded by comics clippings. Her account of this time, inventorying Lichtenstein's studio in preparation for his 1993 Guggenheim retrospective, mentions Polaroids, "bulging notebooks," and a "scrapbook full of 'Crying Girls,'" none of which apparently made the leap from archive to corpus that these lists did.

The second, Typed Word List, are all adjectives "of praise," in an alphabetical order. Did he create it for a work? A series? A lecture? Would he consult the list when artist friends asked his opinion about their show? I mean, you could probably get away with it on the phone, but it could get awkward to use such a prompt in person. ["What'd you think?" (Pulls out list.) "Neato."]

Or maybe he came up with the list after a heated conversation with Richard Serra, who was like, "You can't have the verbs, Roy, they're mine!" And Roy was like, "Fine!"

In any case, they're both pretty beat up, well-used, and have no discernible aesthetic embellishment. I won't say they're not aesthetic, because they are what they are.

Download Better_Read_016_Roy_Lichtenstein_Word_Lists.mp3 [2:25, 1.3mb, greg.org]
Hand Written Word List, 1990 [imageduplicator.com]
Typed Word List, 1990 [imageduplicator.com]
Inside Roy Lichtenstein's Studio, photos by Laurie Lambrecht [lensculture]

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Kara Walker, Detail of U.S.A. Idioms, 2017, image via sikkema jenkins & co

It feels unusual to feature a current text on Better Read, but then, these are unusual times.

It strikes me that Kara Walker's artist's statement for her current show at Sikkema Jenkins & Co. has not been considered in an expanded context. An artist's statement, in a press release, is already fighting with two critical hands behind its back. Yet the press release is actually the artist's title for her show. The impetus for writing any of this is presumably well understood, but here, the specific circumstances of Walker's work, her practice, and the shitshow of a world we're living in right now should, I believe, upend our complacent expectations.

I myself found it too easy to make quick judgments about these texts and their implications when I saw the ad for Walker's show in Artforum, which contained the show's title, which I'd previously ignored, because I'd taken it for a glib press release. I let the order of reception, my own subjectivity, influence my judgment, in ways that I might not have noticed without further, in-depth consideration. And yet Walker had anticipated it all.

Download Better_Read_015_Kara_Walker_20170914.mp3 [6:57, 3.3mb, via greg.org]
Kara Walker exhibition page [sikkemajenkinsco.com]
Sikkema Jenkins' press release with Kara Walker's texts [pdf, sikkemajenkinsco.com]

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You may know Beach Packaging Design from such seemingly random-but-incredible blog posts as The Weirdly Banal Canadian Marlboro Man Ad Was Created To Stymie Philip Morris's Marlboro Man Campaign, Because PM Doesn't Own The Marlboro Trademark In Canada.

Now BPD's tracked down the source image for one of Cady Noland's silkscreened aluminum panel works. Clip-On Man (1989), features a guy with a beer hack: two six-pack loops attached to his belt, with one can of Budweiser left [yeah, packaging!]

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Turns out it was from Charles Gatewood's 1975 photobook of the American underbelly, Sidetripping, with a text by William Burroughs. Gatewood had been taking surreal, wacked out photos of the counter-culture since 1964. And in 1972, when he went to shoot Burroughs [sic, heh] in London for Rolling Stone, Gatewood pitched his own project, a dummy of his book, and asked Burroughs to write a text for it. From Gatewood's memoir:

Burroughs moved to London in 1965. Despite the success of Junky (over 100,000 copies were sold) and the notoriety of Naked Lunch (banned in Boston), Burroughs was not especially well known in America. His "cut-up" novels -- including The Soft Machine, Nova Express, The Ticket That Exploded -- were non-linear in structure and difficult to understand. Bob Palmer hoped our Rolling Stone story would "give Burroughs the mainstream exposure he deserved."

Our first surprise was Burroughs' modest one-bedroom apartment. The walls were almost bare, and the place looked way too neat and clean. The only hint of weirdness was the life-size cut-out of Mick Jagger standing next to a Uher tape recorder (and the faint smell of hash smoke perfuming the room).

[bold added on the part that also sounds like Cady Noland. I don't believe it for a second, she does so much more, but what if-just what if-Cady Noland's project got its start in the gonzo [sic] image/cultural stylings of peak Rolling Stone magazine? When Sidetripping dropped, she was 19. And 18 when Patty Hearst went down.] I have not, as yet, found a picture of a life-sized cutout of Mick Jagger, Burroughs's or anyone else's. But when I do, you know I'll post it here. And probably print it on aluminum.

Cady Noland's 1989 Clip-On Man [beachpackagingdesign, s/o @br_tton]
William S. Burroughs, Charles Gatewood, and Sidetripping [realitystudio]
While their art historical value remains under-appreciated, copies of Sidetripping are egregiously low-priced [amazon]
Previously: Namess (Cowboy) 2016

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 September 2017, in reverse chronological order

Older: August 2017

recent projects, &c.


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


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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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