Category:art

October 13, 2014

Cady Noland Photocopy

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What even is this? I flipped by it without noticing until now, but Christie's is selling this Cady Noland photocopy in London this week. It's actually a trimmed photocopy [7 5/8 x 6 1/8 inches] with the title Tanya, and it's dated 1989. The estimate is £15,000 - £20,000.

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Cady Noland, Tanya as Bandit, 1989, collection: moma.org

At first I figured it was some kind of production document, an intermediate step between the wire service photo of Patty Hearst and the giant silkscreen on aluminum sculpture of her, which is at MoMA.

But as you see, it's nothing of the sort. The photocopy looks to be at least one generation lower resolution than the sculpture. It's derived from the sculpture's source image, a fork in that image's road.

Maybe this is how Noland explored ideas and form: making copies, and cutting and sizing them into various configurations. Maybe she makes some copies, cuts them, and then recopies the results.

Or maybe it's a souvenir of some kind. An edition? Who knows? But if you wondered what it's like in person, I've made an edition related to it.

Oct. 17, 2104, Lot 291 | Cady Noland, Tanya, est. £15,000 - £20,000 [christies]
Related: Daphne, as photocopied by Sigmar Polke
Higgs-era White Columns has been making "Xerox print" editions for fundraising since around 2007.

October 12, 2014

Struth Baby

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Jay has a Struth Complex.

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Veronese my name

I got a billion of 'em, and I'm here all week, but only after hours.

Previously, related, c. 2009: The Da Vinci Crowd

Here is a Robert Gober story I have not heard before:

Already enamored of art, but largely ignorant of it, Gober was thunderstruck by a visit, at the age of eleven, to the Yale Art Gallery, in New Haven. A spare abstract painting by Ellsworth Kelly so baffled and intrigued him that he remade it in his family's basement.
Obviously, now, for the moment, even more than to wanting to make Kellys myself, I want to see the Kelly Gober made.

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Ellsworth Kelly, Charter, 1959, collection: artgallery.yale.edu

But I can't immediately find the exhibition history for the Yale University Art Gallery for the general time of Gober's visit, 1965-6. Yale got its first Kelly in 1966, though, a large (95x60 in.) painting from 1959 called Charter. It was a gift, but it's not clear if it was shown in 1966. From newspaper announcements, Yale's practice seems to have been to show selected acquisitions from the previous year in Jan-Feb.

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Ellsworth Kelly, Red Blue Green, 1963, collection mcasd.org

Maybe I was also interested because Gober's recollection reminded me of some influential childhood experiences of Kelly himself, which I'd read last year, in a talk given by Yve-Alain Bois:

On Halloween night in 1935, in rural Oradell, New Jersey, the twelve-year-old Ellsworth Kelly was trick-or-treating with friends in their neighborhood after dark. Upon approaching a house from a distance, he said: "I saw three colored shapes--red, black, and blue--in a ground-floor window. It confused me and I thought: 'What is that?' When I got close to the window, it was too high to look in easily and I didn't want to be peeking. I was very curious and came at the window obliquely, and chinned myself up, only to look into a normal furnished living room. When I backed off to a distance, there it was again. I now realize that this was probably my first abstract vision--something like the three shapes in your Red Blue Green painting."
The "your" in this story is Hugh Davies, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art of San Diego. But The Broad also has one which looks like an inverted, zoomed out variation of the MCASD's.

Which is fine. Bois' talk is about Kelly's extraordinary ability to draw upon forms and perceptions from his life and to transfer them to his work. This was one of five possible strategies Kelly had developed in seeking an alternative for composition, a way to "invent how not to invent."

Maybe Gober's sculptural verisimilitude operates in a similar way. I don't know, and I have only just begun thinking about it. But it's interesting to think about these two artists, who each see childhood experience as formative to the development of their work.

Found Meanings, Peter Schjeldahl [newyorker.com]
Ellsworth Kelly's Dream of Impersonality, by Yve-Alain Bois [ias.edu]

The Smithsonian has added the Hirshhorn Museum's audio archive to their digital library collection, and it's great. Too often in the art world, what happens in Washington not only stays in Washington, it's forgotten in Washington. So it's unsurprising that the Nation's Attic has interesting, even important stuff in it that really should be dusted off.

One of the first recordings I headed to this weekend was a lecture by Felix Gonzalez-Torres, in association with his Summer 1994 retrospective. I hadn't heard Felix's voice in almost 20 years, and I'd never heard him talk at length about his work. I was not prepared, either, to hear him say he was getting tired about an hour into the recording. After that, I couldn't not hear his exertion to complete what was clearly a difficult, but imperative task.

It turns out I was also not prepared for how unfamiliar his work sounded in his own words. And how different his practice was from the received, sort of calcified, canonical understanding of it. The things he emphasized vs the things we saw or now see as being elemental.

Felix read part of his 1993 interview with Tim Rollins, which we know. But he also talked along to a selection of slides, which I tried to follow along in my books. Easily half the works he discussed were not included in ostensibly definitive catalogues and anthologies. Many had different titles. Some weren't illustrated.

All of this is of a piece with Felix's work, though. He would change the titles of pieces. Works he showed and sold were, near the end of his life, recategorized as "additional materials" and "non-works." But some things, installations and site-specific projects in particular, seem to have been sorted out of his canon completely and/or ignored by critics.
We work with what we have, but we too often don't see what else there is. And when we find out we've been using incomplete or inaccurate info, we're slow to adapt.

So here's a single example. It's a piece Felix started his Hirshhorn talk with, and which he said "is a key to a lot of my work, and also the way I am." And it's piece I'd never heard of or seen, whose bare, incomplete, and contradictory references in the record so far I have completely overlooked. The artist called it "Untitled" (Quatrenium).

Here's what he had to say:

October 2, 2014

Untitled (Truitt EBAY)

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Anne Truitt's been an inspiration to me for a very long time, but I'd never wanted to make one of her works. Until now.

Previously: Truitt AMAZON, I guess

It's taking longer to gather these things together, but I just found another fascinating statement-as-question from the Q&A session of a panel discussion. This time, it's "Fractures of the Civilization," a discussion by composer/philosophers C.C. Hennix and Henry Flynt, along with John Berndt, held in June 2013 at the Goethe Institut in NYC. The talk was organized in conjunction with a realization of Hennix & Flynt's 'The Illuminatory Sound Environment" at ISSUE Project Room.

I've been a fan of Flynt's music for quite a while, but in the last couple of years I've also tried to step up my engagement with his writings, his talks, his ideas. I must say, it's exasperating; there's real genius and groundbreaking thought, action and insight there, but Flynt's a maddening interviewee, and even more frustrating on a panel. My operating theory is that he's been not listened to for so long, he can't but vent. And his views often have that determined, hermetic brittleness of someone who's had to figure out the world and what's wrong with it by himself. His far-ranging intellect and the rapid vigor with which he makes leaps and pronouncements makes it basically impossible for anyone to ask a follow-up question, or to challenge or probe something further.

My hope is that someone smart enough and well-versed enough will go deep with him on the art and music where his contributions are still only feebly understood. Anyway.

ISSUE Project Room's video of the talk is here; the question comes at around 1:19:00:

There's like this thing that I think about sometimes--
oh, thanks [gets mic]
There's this thing that we--about the Cold War, Progress science in the 20th century, there's this fight between the superpowers in order to get to some,
you know, higher place
to prove some sort of animalistic thought
When that fell apart with the end of Communism,
with this idea that,
you know, Capitalism,
Neo-liberalism's gonna go all through the world
people don't have this thing to fight against, as far as this race,
we've kind of--
the science that we have--
the futurism that we've come to
it's very social and helpful,
but it's not the futurism that we had in the 60s and 70s that idea of what we'd be like
now.
So there's this need
or something
for these
you know people,
Futurist Transhumanists,
to fill in this blank area, that's sort of this faith area that I think you're talking about
where,
you know
they're taking this place of--
basically we work more, as humans now
at some point they thought
robots were gonna
DO most of the work
And people were actually worried
what the lower classes are going to do with all their free time.
But apparently, we work more
than we did in the 60s and 70s,
at least in this country.
So there's this, like,
WANT
for
something to happen with futurism,
this futurism that might be based on a science fiction or something, but
essentially these people are running away with it
and it captures people like a relgious-type
experience.
So I just wanted to say
what do you have to say about that?

Previously: 'I'm going to fail,' or Protocols of Participation

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installation shot of Richard Prince, "New Portraits," photo: Rob McKeever, via Gagosian 980 Madison

They're getting more attention now because they're on canvas and at Gagosian, but Richard Prince's Instagram Portraits have been circulating for a while. Do we think of them differently then when he was assembling them in the spring and summer? When they were printouts on the floor instead of canvas on the wall? Or when they were $12 a sheet at karma in the Hamptons, or a couple hundred dollars a box at Fulton Ryder's B-List book fair?

As cool as it might be as an object, there's something about that "Manhattan Project Glass" window that just ain't sitting right with me. I will not be bidding.

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The Faces of Project Y, detail, assembled by Alex Wellerstein, via nuclearsecrecy.org

But researching it has led me to some absolutely amazing other objects from the dawn of the nuclear age that are well worth pursuing in an artistic context.

Let's start with The Faces of Project Y, by historian Alex Wellerstein. A couple of years ago Wellerstein pulled all the recently declassified ID badge photos from the 1,200+ people who worked on Project Y, the code name for the Los Alamos section of the Manhattan Project. Then he tiled them up into one giant, 31x40 grid. It's awesome.

That's Richard Feynman smirking in the center of the detail, just above the woman with the Gerhard Richter blur. Wellerstein puts faces to other notable names on his blog, Nuclear Secrecy, and has created some swag coffee cups and other merch with the images on it. A giant print would be nice. But what's needed, clearly, is wallpaper. Rather than lose the 29 folks on the bottom, incomplete row, maybe you could get all the images as individual files, and just let it flow till the wall is full.

I don't know how I missed the extraordinary career and sad story of nuclear sculptor James L. Acord. Thanks to Seth David Friedman for pointing me to Tom Moody's incredible 2001 tale of Acord's rare, realized masterpiece, Monstrance for a Grey Horse. I will keep reading.

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Then there is the first nuclear reactor, the Chicago Pile-1, built under the football stadium of the University of Chicago in 1942. To create a sustained, controlled nuclear chain reaction, Enrico Fermi and his team embedded uranium balls in a giant, quasi-spherical lattice of 45,000 graphite bricks, which were supported by a lumber grid, which was enclosed by a square, black rubber balloon.

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Last year the Dept. of Energy posted photos of CP-1 to flickr, and it was basically Carl Andre's greatest sculpture. Ever.

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CP-1 graphit brick at the Atomic Testing Museum, img via flickr user rocbolt's CP-1 photo album

At least four of the graphite bricks are known to survive. Here's one at Oak Ridge. This photo by Kelly Michals is of the brick at the Atomic Testing Museum in Nevada. I don't know why you couldn't recreate the thing anew. From a window with a dodgy backstory, an untimely death, and a bunch of mug shots, to a nuclear Carl Andre Death Star inside a Kaba'a. These dots practically connect themselves!

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Here is a window from the world's first full-scale nuclear reactor in Hanford, Washington, USA. It is 3 feet high, 4.5 feet wide, and six inches thick and weighs 1,500 pounds.

I will buy it from someone who bought it from a junkyard in Walla Walla. I will strip it from its casement, except the bottom, where I will install three LEDs. Then I will attach it to an H-shaped base made of 8-inch timbers. I will attach this base to an old wooden cart.

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I will take other, smaller windows of leaded glass salvaged from the reactor, which are 16x26 inches, and weigh 800 pounds, and I will carve some of them into sculptures. I will polish some large shards of this glass into abstract sculptures.

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I will carve one piece into the shape of a mushroom cloud. I will set these sculptures on a basalt column mined from the reactor site. I will carve two pieces into spheres.

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Someone will cut other pieces of this glass into an indeterminate number of 2-inch cubes. Someone else will carve one piece of this glass into a 1.5-inch skull.

manh_proj_skull_evolution.jpg

I will try to sell as much of this stuff as I can through a booth at the Mineral & Fossil Co-op in Tucson. I will sell a 4-inch diameter sphere for $10,000 and a shard sculpture for $48,000 at Bonham's.

The next year, I will show more shards and the mushroom cloud and the big window at the Mineral & Fossil Co-op in Tucson. Where no one buys the mushroom cloud 'curiosity' for $150,000. I will fail to sell the mushroom cloud for $100,000 at auction.

The next year, I will try to sell the big window on the trolley at auction for $150,000-250,000.

The Internet will explode. Yet no one will ask why, if the windows from the Manhattan Project were 16x26 inches, and this one is 36x54 inches, it is not actually from the Manhattan Project, but maybe from any other period of the Hanford site's five-decades of operation, when its nine reactors and five large-scale plutonium processing complexes produced most of the plutonium for the 60,000+ weapons in the US nuclear arsenal.

And no one will ask why, if the glass is not actually radioactive or contaminated in some other way, even though it was salvaged from one of the most toxic sites on the planet, one of the first EPA Superfund sites [pdf], where specialized crews of hundreds of people spend five years dismantling structures containing such windows in ways that don't dislodge even a flake of plutonium-laden paint, to the cost of $150 billion and counting, with decades still to go, maybe it wasn't installed in a reactor? Maybe it was parts? Maybe there's any documentation or provenance information at all regarding this glass's actual historical use?

And certainly no one will ask about the downwinders of Hanford, and the soldiers and employees and their families, who have suffered from birth defects and cancer for the entire span of the nuclear age, and who have faced stonewalling, footdragging, and abrogation from the government and the military.

A blogger looking at this situation, who was initially drawn to the window because of its resemblance to minimalist sculpture, and its macho-retro-sexiness; and who would then get a little hot and bothered because he has a thing for Cold War-era spheres; and who knows his way around an auction, would probably start digging. And then he would try to piece the story together, and try to get into the mind of the people involved. And it would keep him up late, when he was supposed to be doing other work. And then in the morning he would decide that the whole thing is screwy from top to bottom, and makes absolutely no sense at all, and what is going on with our world and history and politics and people and money.

September 23, 2014

Untitled (Muji Tote), 2014

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Untitled (Muji Tote), 2014, 19.5 x 12 x 1, acrylic on muslin

It's been brewing for a long time, basically every time I see that painting it sticks to me like the smell of a campfire.

It really should be a product, a utility, an it bag for real men, no matter what part of Brooklyn they're traversing.

But it never comes out right. No one will print right to the edge, and it really must be printed right to the edge. It could be screenprinted, but my queue's pretty stacked right now. Printable heat-transfer paper frankly doesn't do it justice.

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image from The Internet

Wouldn't you know, Kanye and Condo had the answer: just paint the damn thing. Which is a hard thing to accept sometimes. For some people. Who don't, as a rule, paint. Anyway, here we are.

My favorite part of the whole thing now is that Muji Tote could translate into Anonymous Death. So even though there's only one, and Kimye get first dibs on it [the 24hr clock starts ticking when I hit publish, get your 2nd holds ready], this really is for everyone.


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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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eBay Test Listings
Mar 2015 —
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bid or buy available prints on ebay

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It Narratives, incl.
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Franklin Street Works, Stamford
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TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -
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Standard Operating Procedure
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CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
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YES RASTA 2:The Appeals Court
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Complete Illustrated Appendix (2013)
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"Exhibition Space"
Mar 20 - May 8 @apexart, NYC


HELP/LESS Curated by Chris Habib
Printed Matter, NYC
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Destroyed Richter Paintings, 2012-
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Canal Zone Richard
Prince YES RASTA:
Selected Court Documents
from Cariou v. Prince (2011)
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