Category:art

October 3, 2017

RIP Vern Blosum

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Time Expired, 1962, MoMA, acquired, interestingly, in 1971.

The name is made up, but the art and the person are real, and so is their family. Tracking down and meeting Vern Blosum was a huge treat for me, and I'm saddened to learn the artist has passed away.

Several years after it acquired a Blosum painting, The Museum of Modern Art grew concerned that the artist did not exist, and that perhaps, as rumored, the painting was a prank. Leo Castelli, whose gallery had sold many Blosums to prominent collectors in the early days of Pop, but who never gave Blosum a show, provided the museum with an artist bio. The Modern went so far as to search local archives for birth announcements and certificates in Blosum's claimed home state of Colorado, around his claimed birth date in 1936. When they couldn't find any, they put the painting in storage, where it remained for nearly 50 years.

It's interesting that the brief announcement of Blosum's death put out by the artist's gallery contains this fictitious birth information. When I met the artist occasionally known as Blosum, I was assured that the MoMA bio was not untrue. So from the artist's view, there is apparently some significance in its details. I expect I will look into this delta, but now is not really the time.

Previously: 2010: Anyone tell me about Vern Blosum?
2011: Verne Blosum found, or rather, found by Verne Blossum

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Installation shot: Untitled (We Privatized All Of Versailles), 2017, embroidered carpet, est. 4m x 3m, ed. 15+3 or so AP, installed at l'Orangerie, Palais de Versailles, May 2017, image: vogue.com

Yesterday was a rough day to be a human being. Turning to art as a supposed respite from the outrages and insanities of the culture swirling around us proved only somewhat effective. Not in a position to handle the news of the day, I turned to the injustices and emotions wrought by Vogue.com's freshly published, half-baked writeup of a wedding four months past.

The couple, profligate European randoms, heirs to immense enough fortunes but seemingly bereft of wisdom or self-awareness, are made to sound like they think they invented the seven figure wedding. The illogics and contradictions of the narrative continued to bug me across the day: Kim & Kanye were not permitted to have their wedding in Versailles, and were forced to settle for a rehearsal dinner in l'Orangerie, but this former Lanvin intern is so well connected, she could pull it off? Except weddings are not permitted in public buildings in France, so they either had a stealth ceremony, in which case, are they legal? Or they got married in the mairie like everybody else, and had a little religious after-thing, followed by dinner, in one of the five event rental spaces at Versailles-l'Orangerie.

And the bride didn't have time to get shoes made, but she had time to fill the 156-meter long gallery with a rug, custom embroidered with an Erté-inspired design from the invitation. [Except she did get shoes made. And I have been staring at this rug, and is it really embroidered or just printed?]

On the bright side, karmically speaking, May 28th was brutally hot in Paris, 32 degrees, 12 degrees above average, so all 450 guests had to schlep from the entrance of Versailles, out across the garden, down the 100 Steps, and then double back, a 20 minute trip, in eveningwear, only to reach the historic greenhouse spaces that could not be air-conditioned because of "legalities." [The bride said the forecast had been for rain. Think about that for a second.]

But back to that rug. It is now my second textile work, with each repeat of the rug design comprising a separate example from the edition. Let's chop that thing up. Like those wheelie-marks-on-plywood paintings Aaron Young made at the Armory that one time, with the motorcycle gang. Or maybe the proper reference are the verre églomisé mural panels Jean-Théodore Dupas designed for the grand salon of the SS Normandie, an indeterminate number of which were salvaged and dispersed when the great French ocean liner burned and sank in New York harbor in 1942.

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History of Navigation reverse gilded glass panels from the SS Normandie, 1934, collection/image: the met

Anyway. 156m space, 450 guests, two tables, 110 meters long, 12 meter wide space, 3m wide rug, maybe 4m repeat? We may have lost a few sections when the wedding couple processed their horses down the aisle.

The happy couple gets one, of course, and the calligrapher, and the fashion show producer/wedding planner. Probably set aside one each for the parents, who, though presumably footing the bill, go entirely unmentioned. I'm going to err on the side of caution and say it's an edition of 15, with 3 or so APs.

I'd probably have a slightly easier time getting a hold of the rug if I held off posting this, but I'm fine to let it play out.

the wedding write-up and slideshow [vogue]
the calligrapher/graphic artist who did the invitation which was adapted for the carpet [stephaniefishwick.com]
previously: Untitled (I Can See Russia From My House), 2017

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Untitled (Mnuchin Gallery), title page, 2017, 34-page pdf

Untitled (Mnuchin Gallery) is a 2017 work comprising a 2012 technical paper by four economists in the United States Treasury Department's Office of Tax Analysis. The paper explained a revision to the Treasury's methodology for analyzing the impact of corporate income taxes on companies, owners, and workers. It did this by examining the type of income (capital or labor/wage) and the distribution of those income sources across the entire taxpayer population. It was found, for example, that the top 1% of households accounted for 49.8% of total capital income, but only 11.5% of labor income.

The purpose of the study was to understand the impacts of tax-related policies and forecasts more accurately, and in greater detail, in the hope that more accurate data will lead to better-crafted policy and legislation.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has spent several months making claims about lowering corporate income tax rates that are directly contradicted by the findings of the study, and the calculations of Treasury Department's career economists. So he had the study removed from the US Treasury website, and a spokesman has disavowed the methodology as "the dated staff analysis of the previous administration." No alternate methodology or analysis has been offered.

Steven Mnuchin, like his father Robert Mnuchin, was a partner at Goldman Sachs. Like is father, he collects modern and contemporary art. One Mnuchin is in the business of conferring relevance on objects by exhibiting them, the other by suppressing and disappearing them. This work is a family reunion of those two tactics.

Untitled_Mnuchin_Gallery.pdf [34pg, pdf, via wsj]

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Tony Smith, Maze, 1967/2014, steel units 7x10 feet and 7x5 feet, installed at Matthew Marks LA

When it was first shown at Finch College Gallery in 1967, Grace Glueck said Tony Smith's The Maze "evokes the feeling of an endless forest."

When he published it in Brian O'Doherty's editions 5+6 of Aspen: The Magazine in a Box, Smith said it was "a labyrinth rather than a monument," and gave anyone who wished permission "to reproduce the work in its original dimensions (in metal or wood).

I would now like to tie it all together by giving anyone who wishes permission to reproduce The Maze in its original dimensions in fake boxwood hedge walls.

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Most off-the-rack fake boxwood hedge walls are eight feet tall and often include a fake planter base. Most are also 15 inches thick. A real fake boxwood hedge wall The Maze will observe Smith's original specifications, and use fake boxwood hedge walls seven feet high and 30 inches thick. Two will be five feet long, and two will be ten. They should not have a planter base.

There are many fake boxwood hedge wall solutions providers out there, but might I suggest you consider Make Be-Leaves, who already seems 3/4 of the way there with the 7-ft walls above?

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fake UV boxwood hedge plantscape...

Among their many successful installations is this fake boxwood hedge plantscape on the CPK vu terrace of a Madison Avenue real estate investment firm. And yet it manages to be only the second greatest fake thing in sight. What the actual f.

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... with a fake Koons balloon dog made from, what, garbage bags [?], image: makebe-leaves.com

And here I thought I'd end this post with the Tony Smith Die made out of fake rock veneers.

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The Maze, (1967/XXXX), Tony Smith [greg.org]
The Maze Collection
Previously, shockingly related Tony Smith moment: The Allure of Permanence
Not related: Jon Rafman stickin' his VR in a flimsy astroturf hedge maze [thestar, thx @briansholis]
Aall thanks go to @ftrain, whose tweet of an aerial photo of a Google corporate event was filled with an extravagant architecture of fake boxwood hedge walls.

September 27, 2017

Erased Kassay JPEG

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Lot 247: Jacob Kassay, Untitled, 2010, two 14x10 silver on acrylic (not gesso?) canvases, est $10-15,000 [image via christies]

Scanning the catalogue for this month's Christie's sale turned up something unexpected: an affordable Jacob Kassay painting. Two of them, in fact. After his ominously seductive debut show opened at Eleven Rivington in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, Kassay's silvered gesso canvases were transmuted into auction gold. Shiny objects reflecting distorted images of their viewers, Kassay's paintings were the first to get churned and flipped in a frenzied art market obsessed with declaring-and cashing in on-a steady stream of new stars.

It's the kind of limelight that can wreck a girl's practice, if not her complexion, and Kassay has been reticent, even diffident sometimes, of the hype. He's generally refused to engage the art market star process, at least on anything other than his own terms. For a while he refused to have his picture taken. His website, a kaleidoscope of semi-transparent images, would kick you off after a few seconds, presumably when you're just tryna do some research for an upcoming auction.

Kassay has also always been fairly specific about images of his shows, especially photos of his silvered paintings. So it should make all the sense in the world that he'd care about the proliferation of auction-related reproductions of his work. What was more surprising, though, was the apparent removal of all images of his work from Phillips' website.

phillips_kassay_screenshot_gregorg.jpg

Sotheby's has done this for a while now, removing images of works shortly after the sale is completed, but this is the first time I've seen all of an artist's images removed from a site. Or should I say, replaced. If you thought Kassays all looked the same before, well, brother, you're in for a treat. I'd like to see these in mirror finish, please.

kassay_diptych_phillips_screenshot.jpg

[FWIW, this particular pair, from 2010, was flipped at Phillips in 2011 for $104,500. If there's anything more alluring than a shiny object, it's two. And if there's anything more seductive than that, it's a 90% discount. [Update: indeed, they sold for $8,000 bid, $10,000 with premium. That is some Cady Noland-level collector anxiety inducement and value erasure. Well played.]

Sept 28, 2017, Lot 247: Jacob Kassay diptych, 2010, est. $10-15,000 [christies]
8 Nov 2011, Lot 205: Jacob Kassay, Untitled diptych, est. $30-40,000, sold for $104,500 [phillips]

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Ruth Asawa, Untitled (BMC.76, BMC laundry stamp), 1948-49, image via: hyperallergic

You rarely get to see more than one Ruth Asawa wire lobe sculpture, and you almost never get to see works on paper. So get to David Zwirner's place, because they have it all right now. It is probably the biggest assemblage of Asawa's work since the 2006 show at the de Young Museum in San Francisco.

And I guess I wasn't attuned to it at the time, but Asawa's rubber stamp drawings from Black Mountain College are extraordinary. Here's one made with the BMC laundry stamp. Her sculptures have always felt like line drawings in space, and these feel like word sculptures on paper.

Another thing I was not paying enough attention to in 2007: one of Asawa's BMC laundry stamp drawings was used as the basis for a mattress ticking? How did that happen?

Ruth Asawa, thru Oct 21, 2017 [davidzwirner]
Ruth Asawa, a Pioneer of Necessity, by John Yau [hyperallergic]
Ruth Asawa's Black Mountain Work [ruthasawa]

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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]

Clip-on-Man-Cady-Noland_1989.jpg

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

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Henri Cartier-Bresson, In front of a painting by Henri Matisse at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1964, "Fotografien auf Holz," print mounted on [painted] wood panel, 1967, collection Museum Ludwig

One thing I've been thinking about since visiting the Museum Ludwig a couple of weeks ago is their photography collection. A new, dedicated photography space had a show of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Heinz Held, who met through Photokina curator and collector L. Fritz Gruber. The 200+ prints from Gruber's 1967 exhibition of Cartier-Bresson at Kun­sthalle Köln are now in the Ludwig's collection. And they're all mounted on wood panels.

This shifts the perception from image to object, not just by the material, dimensional difference between paper and panel, but by averring the connoisseurial paradigm of darkroom artistry and editioning, and the painterly tradition of framing. These photographs were purpose-built for public display, not exchange. I'd imagine they felt important, but not precious. Now, of course, they're older and a bit rough, which, for me anyway, made them feel rare and interesting.

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Because we don't do this anymore. I mean we don't do this anymore. Photos are mounted on aluminum, printed on aluminum, and facemounted on acrylic. Every Wal-mart and Costco will print a photo on canvas an "gallery wrap" it into a thick slab.

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But the Ludwig's style of mounting, which is probably Gruber's style, has been superseded. It reminds me of the exhibition design of Family of Man, Edward Steichen, Wayne Miller, and Paul Rudolph's show that traveled the world in the 1950s. Gerhard Richter saw it in West Berlin in 1955. The last remaining traveling copy of Family of Man, with its giant, mounted prints, is on permanent view in Luxembourg.

I'd like to see some exploration of this. It feels like just the thing Christopher Williams would be into. Hey, doesn't he live in Cologne?

Also related: Peter Bunnell's 1970 MoMA exhibition "Photography Into Sculpture", which was revisited in 2014 Hauser & Wirth in a show called "The Photographic Object, 1970", by Olivier Renaud-Clément.

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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

Category: art

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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