Category:documenta, et al

January 5, 2012

The Complete Spot Challenge

complete_spot_challenge.jpg

Oh, man, just last night I was goof-tweeting about this, and it turns out it's already a thing. Registration for The Complete Spot Challenge starts tomorrow:

Visit all eleven Gagosian Gallery locations during the exhibition Damien Hirst: The Complete Spot Paintings 1986-2011 and receive a signed spot print by Damien Hirst, dedicated personally to you.

Registration begins on January 6 and ends on February 10, 2012.

Via Two Coats comes a link to a Carol Vogel story in the Times from last month [whoops, from Jan. 6. Note to self: 12 is the year now, not the month. -ed.] with a few details on the challenge:
To apply, they give their names, the dates their journeys begin and photo identification, like a passport or driver's license.

Each registrant will then be issued a special "Spot challenge registration card," with 11 empty circles. At each location the person shows identification and has the card specially stamped (each gallery has its own color) by one of the designated gallery officials. The contestant's presence will be noted on a gallery database.

Asked how he came up with the idea, Mr. Hirst responded in an e-mail: "I figured it would be pretty difficult to visit all the galleries, and totally admirable if anyone managed it, so admirable in fact that I thought they would deserve a work of art, so we came up with the idea to do the challenge. I'd love it if people manage it. I remember the golden tickets in Willy Wonka, maybe it's a bit like that."

How awesome that he invokes the utterly deranged Willy Wonka for this thing, which goes beyond difficult; I think it'd positively hellish. Which is really perfect.

It's not an overstatement to say that the art pilgrimage has been a key organizing principle of mine for most of my adult life. I've considered the personal experience of art, visiting it, going out of my way for it, making special trips for it, sacrificing for it, as a form of collecting, equal to or greater than actually buying works. There have been plenty of times too, when I've chosen to travel to see some art rather than buy some.

And I've done compleatist tours in the past. I traveled to the various locations of John Cage's Rolywholyover and Felix Gonzalez-Torres' retrospective, and visited works I love when they're installed in different locations. And let's not even start on biennials and art fairs.

And now, Damien Hirst is turning the idea of a transformative art pilgrimage into a grueling, round-the-world race, with a "free" five-figure print at the finish line. It's kind of despicably brilliant, really. Like a Black Friday riot for billionaires. Fantastic.

Obviously, I'll be registering immediately.

UPDATE FROM THE REGISTRATION: the "Personal Spot Print":


Acceptance and use of the Personal Spot Print constitutes permission (except where prohibited by law) to use your name, image, likeness and photograph (all at the discretion of the Sponsor) for future advertising, publicity in any and all media now or hereafter devised throughout the world in perpetuity, without additional compensation, notification or permission.

Damien Hirst Spot Challenge [gagosian.com/spotchallenge]

kim_schoenstadt_umoca.jpg

A little while ago, I got an email from LA-based artist Kim Schoenstadt, asking if it was alright to reference some photos I took a few years ago of unusually awesome modernist houses in Salt Lake City. She planned to incorporate drawings based on parts of the photos into a larger landscape/installation at her Doctorow Prize exhibition at the Salt Lake Art Center.

Obviously, yeah, fire it up, I said.

And then just now, I popped on over to the SLAC website to see how it all turned out, and it looks great. There's a participatory drawing/paint-by-numbers/vinyl sticker reveal component of the show I'm not quite grasping, but it should make sense when we see it in person in a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, holy smokes, the Art Center announced today that it has changed its name to the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art. Which is a thing I can barely imagine exists, but there it is. And to think it was once called the Art Barn. Mazeltovs all around out there.

Utah MOCA Doctorow Prize - Inaugural Exhibition, Kim Schoenstadt [utahmoca.org, which domain name was registered in Aug 2010, so maybe I'm just the last to know]
Kim Schoenstadt [kimschoenstadt.com]

errazuriz_coke_slab.jpg

Sebastian Errazuriz came up with the idea for his coke slab when he saw friends scratching out lines on a coffee table. The indentations make it so easy, a child could do it!

It's so functional and brilliant, I'm surprised someone hasn't invented it already. It's also gorgeous to look at, though it also appears that the actual production version available for sale on Grey Area's website is matte finish, not mirror-finish stainless steel. Too bad.

Maybe better to wait for Rirkrit's version.

[Other things I just thoguht of: Painting Bitten By A Man, 1961, Jasper Johns; Table, also 1961, Yves Klein.]

COKE SLAB
Sebastian Errazuriz, 16 x 9 x 0.75 inches, $2,100
[shopgreyarea.com via museumnerd]

At the invitation of Jeffrey Deitch, Yvonne Rainer has seen a rehearsal of Marina Abramovic's performance art project for this year's MoCA Los Angeles gala. And in a new letter to Deitch, she has refined and reiterated her condemnation of it as an exploitative and "grotesque spectacle [that] promises to be truly embarrassing."

Would that it were actually embarrassing to the people involved, and to Marina herself. Rainer goes to great, cordial lengths in her open letter to Deitch [reproduced below] to separate her criticism of the gala from Abramovic's work. While generous, I believe this is incorrect; the only context in which a revolving human head centerpiece on a $100,000 table could be realized is as an artwork. I mean, Abramovic's certainly not claiming this is just edgy party decoration, is she?

If that were so, the case for embarrassment would be easily made. No, I think the reason this rankles so much is precisely because the gala does take on the mantle of art--and the stamp and stature of the artist. It's not possible to say that this gala is not art; it is art you cannot afford to experience. It is art that you find humanly, ethically, and socially objectionable. And it is being produced and shown for money in one of our [sic] most reputable museums, by an artist who shows and is celebrated in similar institutions.

That's a reality of the art world as it's currently constructed.

Last year between the blog post where I declared the Gala as Art Movement and my presentation on it at #rank, I found two things: 1) Abramovic was deeply engaged in the luxury/sensual/sensory spectacle that is the gala experience's stock in trade. And 2) Doug Aitken's MoCA gala Happening was, on one level, a critique of the real estate and cultural forces which used art and museums to shape Los Angeles to serve their own needs. And that critique was utterly and completely subsumed by those very forces, probably without Aitken realizing it.

The Gala is bigger than any artist's attempt to subvert it from inside the party tent. Aitken tried and failed, but I think Abramovic is just fine with it.

Yvonne Rainer Blasts Marina Abramović and MOCA LA [theperformanceclub.org]

Previously: An Incomplete History of The Gala-as-Art Movement [greg.org]
"Relational Aesthetics for the Rich, or A Brief History of the Gala as Art" [vimeo]

Yvonne Rainer's revised letter to Jeffrey Deitch, along with its growing list of signatories, is after the jump.

October 3, 2011

Creative America

expo67_photomural_masey.jpg

This interior shot of Fuller/Sadao's US Pavilion at Expo67 almost has it all: installation view of the giant paintings Lichtenstein, Newman, Warhol and Johns made for Alan Solomon's American Painting Now; plus a giant photomural of the moon, perfect for posing in front of.

There's another photomural, earthrise from the moon, on the other side, which was a backdrop for the lunar landscape diorama. You can see it in Carl Harstad's photo:

wexpo67_lunar_charstad.jpg

And the satelloon-like weather balloons were just out of both pictures' edge. Fortunately, Bob Charlton's mother captured them below:

American Pavilion - Expo '67

The underside approach for the lunar platform has this awesome installation [image from fan train's flickr], a series of panels or canvases with abstracted elements of the American flag. It's a little Ellsworth Kelly, a little Helio Oiticica, and a little Richard Lippold at Lincoln Center, all rolled into one piece of exhibition filler created, I assume, by Cambridge Seven.

American Pavilion

This other photo from Carl Harstad of the Hollywood section of Cambridge Seven's exhibit features, what? I don't know. I'd guess it's left over from Joseph Manciewicz's disastrous Cleopatra shoot, in front of a giant, multipanel headshot of Humphrey Bogart.

expo67_bogart_charstad.jpg

Cambridge's exhibition carried the overall title, Creative America, and I think it very successfully steamrolled everything--paintings, photomurals, dioramas, film props, spaceships, cultural effluvia--into a single, unified, spectacularized drive-by aesthetic experience. And it was all done by and for the US Government. As I go on about reconsidering 'non-art' things like photomurals and satelloons in an art context, I keep coming back to the Expo67 pavilion. At one point, it was all art, or something like it. And vice versa.

[note: I've seen it elsewhere, but I took that top photo from former USIA design director Jack Masey's powerpoint deck on the history of postwar World's Fairs, which he presented last October at the National Building Museum. I'm about to listen to his archived talk now.]

I am aware of the work of Pablo Neruda Gerhard Richter.

demonstrative67_richter.jpg

I have not been reading Gerhard Richter: Writings 1961-2007 straight through, of course, but it's been with me a lot lately. And it's kind of annoyed me that there is not really anything about this incredible photo, showing part of the installation of Demonstrative 1967, Galerie Heiner Friedrich's weeklong exhibition at DuMont Publishers, down the street from the inaugural Cologne Art Fair, from which he had been excluded.

In addition to Richter, the display included works by his Capitalist Realist cofounders Sigmar Polke [I think that's a raster bild there on the left] and Konrad Lueg [the inflatable cube structures], as well as by Blinky Palermo, Reiner Ruthenbeck, the British painter John Hoyland--and Cy Twombly.

Now about that Richter. That giant color chart painting which looks like a folding screen. For a while, it threw me off precisely because it looked like a folding screen. Considering 1967 was also the year Richter started working with glass panes and doors and other materials that related to a painting plane but were not, I was wondering if this painted, free-standing panel object embodied some lost chapter in the color charts' "pop meets abstraction, quietly upends both" story.

Orrrr maybe, the painting was just too big to go on that wall, and Blinky needed that other wall, and Lueg's balloons block everything anyway, and what the hell, it's a week, and an art fair.

richter_ten_lg_colour_ch.jpg
Ten Large Colour Charts/ Zehn große Farbtafeln, 1966, via gerhard-richter.com

Because there is no color chart folding screen. That work is Ten Large Colour Charts (1966), a ten-panel painting in the K20 collection in Dusseldorf. It is one of the earliest color chart paintings Richter ever showed, but it's probably the first that many German art worlders ever saw. [Eighteen Colour Charts was the first first shown, in Richter's one-person show at Friedrich's Munich gallery in May 1967.]

Anyway, point is, or one point is, I think, that looking at Richter's color chart paintings, and his 4900 Colours grids before that, and his Cologne Cathedral stained glass window before that, and so on, changes the way you look at the world. And by you, I mean, of course, me. It changes the way you look at color samples, whether in the paint store, or at the moment, in a grid laid out on a governmental stylebook website.

richter_polke_tea.jpg

And it's not just a matter of this looks like that, or not entirely. Because there's also the context in which Richter painted his color charts--and the larger biographical/political context that shoots through Richter's entire practice. That Demonstrative 67 photo is in a spread with what may be my favorite snapshot in the Writings book: on the right there, not Table, 1962, CR-1 [!]--which, if Christopher Wool can take up painting with that thing already in the world, color charts are not gonna hold me back--the one on top, with the caption, "Polke and Richter families, 1965."

Oh, just drinking some tea with the kids and Uncle Rudi.

pepsi_pavilion_mist.jpg

I've had Michelle Kuo's interview with Robert Breer [artforum, nov 2010] open in my browser tabs for months now, ever since Steve Roden posted about his incredible little toy Float, which was sold at MoMA's gift shop in 1970, at the same time one of Breer's original Pepsi Pavilion Floats had been liberated from Expo'70 in Osaka and set loose in the Abby Aldrich Sculpture Garden. [A PDF of The Modern's Aug. 25 press release for the piece, titled Osaka I, said the toy Floats would be sold for $7.95, or two for $15," in the Museum's Christmas Shop.]

breer_float_roden.jpg

Kuo's is one of the best interviews I've seen with Breer; most never got past the basic, "how did you get into animation?" "So you lived in Paris on the GI Bill?" chestnuts. With what is now a terrible lack of urgency, I'd made a few attempts to track down Breer this year, in hopes of following up with him about what he'd probably consider the least important aspects of his creative practice: the commercial work and product design and TV animation [including still unidentified segments on The Electric Company] he would bring up--and then insist be kept separate.

Because Breer's consistently innovative filmmaking and playfully minimalistic/animalistic sculptures--and the fact that he did his most monumentally awesome art work for Pepsi--hinted at the potential relevance of the work he kept in his commercial closet.

Which, amusingly, is not really the point, except to say I want to find a Float of my own, please.

No, the immediate point is, wow, how awesome is Breer's 1966 sculpture, Rug? This was the work that introduced Breer's sculpture to me, at a show that also opened my eyes to the revelatory breadth of his filmmaking. It was recreated for the first time in decades in 1999 at AC Projects. Their small second floor space in off-Chelsea was creeping and crawling with little Breer sculptures, while the Mylar Rug slowly shifted around in place. The other works felt alive, droid-like. Rug's movements were creepier, more ominous, like something was alive underneath it.

Good for the Walker, it looks like they acquired the mylar Rug [there are others, in other colors/materials] just this year.

robert_breer_flag71_gb.jpg

Anyway, while poking around GB Agency, Breer's Paris gallery, I came across this sketch, dated 8/71, which includes an incredible proposal for a Rug piece made from an American flag. [The text underneath reads, "float flat on floor (flags) + motors".] The storyboard-like drawing not only ties Breer's sculptural and animation projects together nicely; the other three sequences--"cloud in sun," "bushes in breeze," and "daisies"--help site Breer's work in observation, duration, and the natural world. Which may have mitigated the political implications in 1971 of something lurking under a crumpled US flag.

In any case, I expect, if not exactly look forward to the day when, this work will be realized for a future Breer retrospective.

monk_mari_miami.jpg

Add Jonathan Monk to the list of artist Enzo Mari fans. For the Brussels gallery D&A Lab's show at Design Miami Basel Miami Wynwood Art Week Whatever Fair last month, Monk created Mari Thirteen, an edition of Mari's autoprogettazione chair, Sedia 1. The design calls for 13 pieces of wood, so Monk used thirteen different types of wood, none of them pine: Koto, Padouk, Ash, Maple, Oak, Cherry, Pearwood, Wengé, Afzelia, Ovang, Mahagony, Birch and American Nutwood.

As I understand it, there was one set of 13 chairs to be sold individually for like $9,000 apiece, and one set of 13 to be kept together. No doubt destined to surround some Russian oligarch's beach-cast, triskaidecagonal Max Lamb dining table.

D&A Lab's owner Isolde Pringiers says of the project:

Jonathan Monk's interpretation is just one possible version of the 'Sedia 1′ of Autoprogettazione and hence in essence is very much part of and a continuation of Enzo Mari's project but with the appropriation layer, typical of Jonathan's work. With Autoprogettazione Mari went a step further than Ikea in his time in democratizing design. It broke down barriers in terms of what established design and good taste was. Monk, on the other hand, crosses back over those boundaries in as much as his interpretation offers a fully finished, conceptual object which is anti-Ikea. Enzo Mari offered the liberty of the project and Monk fully indulged.
Which, wow, I think I take issue with just about every single aspect of that statement.

Monk Makes Mari at DesignMiami [designmiamiblog.com]

June 26, 2011

Sgarbian Backdrops

The near-universal consensus from the VIP opening was that the Italian Pavilion exhibition curated by art critic/Berlusconi apparatchik Vittorio Sgarbi was an unalloyed, over-politicized disaster. Yet so far, I have seen very little substantive criticism or engagement with it. Rome-based art theorist Mike Watson's column in Frieze is a so-far-rare exception:

...the show appears to have resulted unwittingly from the congruence of a cultural elite who lack political power and a political elite who lack culture, highlighting the negative aspects of both - although ultimately it is the clumsy Berlusconian presence which comes off worse here.

In Italy, a country with a deep cultural heritage, the fine arts are the final refuge from a philistine tendency that affects everyday life with an alarming pervasiveness. Yet it appears that the systemic contradictions which plague the Italian political and cultural sphere - and which serve to keep the powerful grinning their stricken grins - have now invaded the fine arts.

Oddly, when I first started liking this quote last week, it was partly because I'd read it as "the fine arts are the final refuge for a philistine tendency," an Italian play on patriotism as the last refuge of scoundrels. I imagined a demagoguing, pseudo-populist media mogul's flailing administration wrapping itself in a fresco at Venice. But apparently not.

Instead, Watson maintains the notion of art as a "refuge from," a world apart from the [real] world. Watson says this philistine affront occupying "the centre of the most prominent cultural event in the art world's calendar," demands "an appropriate response." But what? A sternly worded petition? Some scathingly derisive remarks over dinner in Basel? Art world folks can tweet their outrage all they want, but when the smoke from Sgarbi's stinkbomb of a show clears, they'll still be inside their gilded cage refuge.

The Physiognomy of a Nation [frieze]

Robert Rauschenberg's massive 1970 silk screen edition, Currents sure is hard to miss. And not just because it's 18 meters long.

rr_currents_deantonio.jpg

MoMA's copy from the edition [of just six] has been wrapped around the corner of the second floor galleries for a while now. Which may have helped coax Peter Freeman into bringing out another of the screenprints last week for Art Basel.

But it's also at the end of the Rauschenberg's segment in Emile de Antonio's documentary, Painters Painting [above], which I rewatched recently. Bob unfurls it with a slightly soused, earnestly glib voiceover about how, even though there's so much information packed into a daily newspaper, most people don't read it. But if someone spends $15,000 on the info, the artist can get him to pay attention. Or at least not wrap the fish in it and throw it out.

Which is ironic, I guess, because I've found that the size and visual uniformity has caused me to stroll by Currents without ever even slowing down. I register it as reworked newspaper content, on a giant roll, just like the real newspaper itself--but I don't slow down to look closely. I mean, really, at that scale, how much of my time does Rauschenberg really think he's gonna get?

rr_currents_serra.jpg

So maybe it was because I'd just run into Richard Serra moments before in the atrium, or because I came at the work head-on this time, instead of from the side. But I'd never noticed, for example, that there is a news photo of a frontloader bringing a massive fir tree trunk to the Pasadena Art Museum for Serra's 1970 work, Sawing: Base Plate Template (Twelve Fir Trees)

Above it and to the right, I'd swear that row of tract houses is a Dan Graham photo.

rr_currents_expo.jpg

And hey, there's a story about construction progress on Expo 70 in Osaka, where E.A.T., the collaborative Rauschenberg founded with Billy Kluver, was creating the Pepsi Pavilion, and where Rauschenberg was still thinking he'd show his own work, a plexiglass cubeful of bubbling drillers' mud called Mud-Muse, which he'd developed with Teledyne for LACMA's Art & Technology show and the US Pavilion.

If I can spot these now-obvious contemporary art references in Currents, what else must be lurking in there? Was incorporating other artists' images Rauschenberg's way of tipping his hat to artists and work he liked, or was he assimilating and subsuming it in his own, sprawling scroll? Was he engaging in a dialogue with the Conceptual and post-minimalist kids coming up or putting them in their place? Or trying to put himself in theirs?

rr_currents_ok_sign.jpg

The most intriguing references now, though, turn out to be a little trickier. There are multiple instances of diagrams showing hands throwing the OK sign which remind me of nothing so much as the sign language woodblocks used in the prints at Jasper Johns' latest show at Marks.

johns_shrinkydink_4_marks.jpg
Shrinky Dink 4, 2011, intaglio print, image via

I remember thinking immediately of Rauschenberg when I saw the mirrored newspaper transfer appearing in the upper left of this Johns drawing, Untitled, 2010.

johns_untitled_transfer_marks.jpg

Rauschenberg began using the technique in the mid-60s, and it's all over Currents. Remind me again how long MoMA's had their print on view?

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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.

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Category: documenta, et al

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