Court Order, Or What Would Danh Vo Do?

Oh no, I was too slow. I was in the middle of a deadline-intensive project when I suggested that. While I understood the reluctance, even the revulsion, an artist might feel, but being compelled by a judge to make a "large and impressive" artwork--and a $350,000 one, no less--sounded like a fascinating situation. What would you do?

danh_vo_shove_it_punta.jpg
..., 2015, oak and polychrome Madonna and child, French Early Gothic 1280- 1320; marble torso of Apollo, Roman workshop, 1st-2nd century ad; steel 154.2 × 50 × 50 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery [works list (pdf) via palazzograssi.it]

Well, today, just as I was mapping out the parameters of my own proposal, Danh Vo apparently answered that question himself. His proposal to Dutch-in-Switzerland collector Bert Kreuk was a little unclear in the details, but it involves a quote from the demon possessing Regan in The Exorcist, which Vo had also used for a piece in his show at Marian Goodman in London last January, and which he included in "Slip of the Tongue," his fantastic group show at Punta della Dogana in Venice. [I guess it's still available. Ask for it by name!]

Maybe Vo already had this whole Kreuk/Gemeentemuseum/lawsuit situation on his mind when he chose The Exorcist for his source material. Who knows? But the artwork parameters cited in the court's new ruling in Kreuk's lawsuit are intriguing enough to lay out, and at least give some though to the question: What Would Danh Vo Do?

All the quotes below come from the Google Translate version of the 24.06.2015 ruling in Bert Kreuk's case. I've put the evidence/specs/descriptions for the artwork in bold and added the names where the Dutch court record just puts bracketed aliases:

"[Defendant, Vo] stated that he would make a very pretty plant, after all, he was the only artist who could choose as an exclusive space." -[persoon3, Kreuk's art adviser, whom Vo identifies as Kreuk's "uncle by marriage Theo Schol".]

"In itself there if you are a collector of course meets always the possibility that it comes to a purchase, and you could say that in that respect, what is 'flirting', but there is no mention of details of an agreement." - [Vo, in a statement to the court denying any actual agreement was made]


"Here is the room [Vo] is getting for the show. I love his box concept so the back wall I like to hang the boxes B and M and hopefully !! The L If the L is ready in plastic box? ...

"2) For the other three walls I love his boxes of Budweiser and of course the American flag so if he want to do Those on the other three walls I am okay with that ..

(...)

"and:

"Just to give you an Idea These where really nice in the show at Marian. I had no change to buy anything! But if [defendant 1] makes thesis or similar (again like american flag etc ..) for the show it would be great. " -[email from Kreuk to an employee of Vo's dealer Isabella Bortolozzi has Kreuk's ideas for what should go into the piece.]


"Let him sell me carton boxes for the three walls so at least i can present it.(I understand That maybe he can not do somthing [sic] special) " [another email from Kreuk to Bortolozzi after learning Vo's father was ill.]

"It was clear that the work would cover three walls, at least space-filling had to be. I do not know if I said during the visit that it had three walls...[Defendant 1, Vo] indicated that he wanted to hang anything, and that he had previously done with American Flags. I wanted for myself an impressive facility for the collection.

"I then had also asked things like 'he also is going to make flags or whatever the thing is.'...Then he said 'I'm going to really make something beautiful.'" - [Kreuk, in a statement]


"[Plaintiff, Kreuk] has told me how he came to USD 350,000, USD 125,000 three times minus what discount.The artist had the freedom, but [defendant 1, Vo] gave me the impression that he indeed flags would make." - [Uncle Schol, in a statement]

Janssen_Vo_Gemeentemuseum_2013.jpg
Vo & Jannsen meeting on that fateful day, Jan. 9, 2013, via the Gemeentemuseum's flickr

"At one point is actually - that was in the room - agreed that a plant would be made."

"The USD 350,000 had to be sufficiently broad to create a room-filling installation. By this I mean work on three walls. It would also be able to have two walls, for example, as the work of art, but the whole area involved with it."

"When [plaintiff, Kreuk] said he would make available USD 350,000, I found that very generous. He stated that budget, not me. The production budget must be seen as a kind of contract. If you are an existing work in [Defendant 2, Bortolozzi] buys, the price is just the purchase price. Agreeing a production budget implies in my experience that the owner of the work to make..."

- [Gemeentemuseum chief curator Hans Janssen, in a statement about Vo & Bortolozzi's Jan. 9, 2013 visit to the museum. OK, sidebar, because this clash of paradigms cannot go unnoted. Kreuk was talking about price, but Janssen was talking about production budget, and I'm sorry, but these are two vastly different things. If Kreuk & co are claiming that the deal was to get a giant, custom Danh Vo installation at cost, to keep, that is just insane. Janssen talks about production budgets precisely because he's not acquiring. This issue highlights the mightily conflicted role Kreuk played as collector and curator. He totally used the museum and the show they were giving him to enhance his position as a collector and get better more significant work than he was previously unable to obtain on his own, and the museum folks were totally OK with it. Anyway, the court's actual instructions use the phrase "production budget." Automatic appeal.]

"There has never discussed the acquisition of the new work, the installation by the Municipal.

"An impressive work does not necessarily have to be big, but there were in my presence very clearly three different walls in room 38 which designated the new work would come." - [Janssen statement, cont'd.]


"The artist must create work in close consultation with the client, but the [respondent 2, Bortolozzi] the work produced will eventually deliver and settle the financial aspects with the client." - [the court ordering Vo to consult, but Bortolozzi to produce, deliver, and settle.]

"...is about to deliver work only that it is working one or more, whether or not referred to as installation, which would fill the exhibition space in the Municipal and either in the middle or would be set to three walls, and would be created by [defendant 1, Vo] specifically for this purpose. It was also clear that this was to room 38 and that [defendant 1] in carrying out the assignment artistic freedom due.

"The court judge, after hearing the views of the parties on this point, as follows.

"Of [defendants] may be expected, given also that which he cites about in his usual consultations on the implementation of these assignments, he in making the design for the artwork and its implementation in the manner customary in his consultation performs with [plaintiff]. It should also [defendants] taking into account [plaintiff] preference for a job rather than responding to the interaction between a relatively small object and the space in which it is placed, but already at first sight, taking into account the size it, the viewer is perceived as impressive.

"Given the artistic nature of the performance, however, can not be delivered by [defendants] to the judgment of the court is expected to [defendant 1, Vo] as it were older work reproduces or repeats because [plaintiff] has expressed a preference in 2013 for work he refers to as Budweiser and American Flag works. It's [defendant 1, Vo] free to do this, but it is also free to make him a new job that the development he has since gone through as an artist.

"He [Vo] certainly has not indicated he will honor any judgment voluntarily. In the way [defendants] has drawn far into the court sees reason to the conviction indeed connect a penalty as incentive for proper performance." - [Judge's order, cont'd.]

This just amazes me, this language:

The decision

The court

in convention
3.1.

condemns [defendant 1] to the appearance on 24 June 2016 [respondent 2] available to one or more persons, especially for room 38 of the Municipal Museum to own artistic insight created and produced space-work, on pain of a penalty of € 10,000.00 per day or part of a day that he fails to do so, with a maximum of € 350,000.00

So a lot to think about:

- for Room 38 at the Gemeentemuseum, who doesn't want it and won't necessarily show it.
- a plant. I know it's a poor translation of installation, but I like it. this could hold the key.
- hanging on three walls, or maybe two.
- flags, did someone say flags?
- or boxes, and boxes.
- Kreuk had two letters, the museum had one, and he wanted to add American flags and Budweiser boxes. For the installation.
- made consulting with Kreuk, who wants it to look like the ones he's already got and already seen but couldn't buy.
- It'd be "something beautiful"
- Vo doesn't want to do it.
- "perceived as impressive".
- price or cost [?!]: USD 350,000
- time frame to realization: 24 July 2016
- penalty for delay or non-compliance: EUR 10,000/day, up to EUR350,000.

So Kreuk would like this, fill my space, this'd be greeeat:

vo_goodman_skylit.jpg
Untitled, 2015, installed at mariangoodman

I read plant, and I'm thinking why not just grab a Broodthaers?

marcel-broodthaers_jarin_dhiver_2_monnaie.jpg
Broodthaers, un Jardin d'Hiver II, 1974, installation at Monnaie de Paris right now, in a show that includes Danh Vo [busy indeed!]

Could he make an Orozco by putting three yogurt lids on three walls and charging $125,000 each? How much would that Orozco sell for now, anyway? Should a Vo be more or less?

Or just hew precisely to the dictates of the court, and pay for $350,000 of someone else's labor to produce something beautiful that fills three walls, but that has to be re-made every time you show it. Have lawyers, paid their normal hourly rate, transcribe the documents from the case on the walls. Let them use gold ink. Have Vo's Thai box gilders set up shop and leaf the walls over and over. Aren't there more expensive gilders in the first world? Just gild everything, floor, chairs, files, chocolate on breakfast bread, whatever until the money runs out, and say that it all has to stay together, Wong Archive-style, even though it'll crumble to gold dust.

Vo already showed he can spend six figures on historic artifacts, then shred them apart, and sell them for more as his own work. He did it with chandeliers and chairs. But Why not go the Wong way instead, and spend the money on someone else's work? Buy $350,000 worth of Dutch art from a government warehouse to fill the walls, and have Bortolozzi wrap it up. According to this 2007 article, the government had thousands of pieces of Dutch art and furniture "without artistic merit and historic significance" to unload. How much would it take to impress you?

Or go Buchel, who doesn't have any problem burning through other peoples' money while apparently producing very little to show for it. Wouldn't it be beautiful to pay lawyers to consult with refugees or victims of domestic violence for free? Wouldn't it be beautiful to turn Gallery 38 into a shelter?

Suddenly it occurs to me that a judge is ordering Danh Vo to spend $350,000 of Kreuk's money on something impressive. Blowing it on a mere object is a total failure of imagination.

Related: Kreuk should expect to be able to talk about the work he's trying to buy, but I find this commission discussion, which I assume is from Abigail Esman, rather condescending. Change that, it's extraordinarily condescending. [artinfo]
Previously: Nice Work If You Can Get It: Kreuk v Vo & Co.

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
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first published: July 16, 2015.

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