Category:expo

pepsi_kan_poster.jpg
image via Morioka Yoshitomo's online syllabus of Art & Technology

I don't collect posters, I really don't. I just buy some. And then some more.

But when I saw the description of this poster in the Getty's E.A.T. archive finding aid, I knew I had to add it to the list:

Pepsi Pavilion
printed in Japan, Shunk-Kender photograph of interior of the mirror dome. It shows a rehearsal of the work by Remy Charlip, "Homage to Loie Fuller," performed at the opening ceremonies. The photograph is printed upside down to emphasize the three-dimensionality of the real image the concave mirror dome produced. Signed by all artist/engineer participants, unnumbered.
Signed or not, I have to track it down.

E.A.T.'s Pepsi Pavilion still kind of blows my mind, several years after I first fixated on it. And it only belatedly occurs to me that though the project was officially a failure, which E.A.T., Kluever, and Whitman were left trying to make the best of, there is a Japanese domestic perspective on it that remains largely unexplored, at least in the English-speaking world. I will have to look into that.

Meanwhile, it's almost enough to know that the Japanese term for Pepsi Pavilion is ペプシ館, pronounced Pepsi-kan.

Also, Remy Charlip's "Homage to Loie Fuller"? Do we even have a complete list of all the artists, happenings, programs, and performances that went unrealized when Pepsi cut off the cash?

Also, Shunk-Kender? Those guys really, really got around. Have we already done shows or books or something on them? Art History, I'm talking to you.

UPDATE WHOA, and I have heard back from Art History. At least I got her voicemail. Stay tuned.

Previously: E.A.T. it up: the Pepsi Pavilion at Expo 70 in Osaka
Q. was the Pepsi Pavilion art?

nakaya_pepsi_pav_grl_940003.jpg

I may be too late to see the Getty Research Institute's exhibit on postwar Japanese art, but I think it's also past time I hotfoot it out there and start digging through the E.A.T. archives.

If there are more photos like this of Fujiko Nakaya's fog sculpture at E.A.T.'s Pepsi Pavilion at the Osaka '70 expo, I should be booking my study carrel right now.

Pepsi Pavilion with Fog Sculpture, Japan World Exposition '70 [getty.edu]

January 22, 2011

From Solomon's 'The New Art'

A little Saturday stenography. Alan Solomon wrote "The New Art," a catalogue essay for "The Popular Image," one of the first museum exhibitions of Pop Art, organized by Alice Denney in the spring of 1963 at the fledgling Washington Gallery of Modern Art. [Solomon would go on to restage the show in the ICA in London that fall, sort of obscuring or usurping Denney's and the WGMA's position in the history of Pop.]

Anyway, Solomon, who had just left Cornell to establish the Jewish Museum's contemporary program, where he gave Rauschenberg his first retrospective, and who would soon be the commissioner at the Venice Biennale where Rauschenberg would be the first American to win the International Painting Prize, discussed both Rauschenberg and Johns, along with Allan Kaprow, as key influences on the nascent Pop Artists. Because no one else seems to have put it online, here are some extended excerpts from Solomon's essay:

The point of view of the new artists depends on two basic ideas which were transmitted to them by a pair of older (in a stylistic sense) members of the group, Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. A statement by Rauschenberg which has by now become quite familiar implicitly contains the first of these ideas:
Painting relates to both art and life. Neither can be made. (I try to act in the gap between the two.)
Rauschenberg, along with the sculptor Richard Stankiewicz, was one of the first artists of this generation to take up again ideas which had originated fifty yeras earlier int he objects made or "found" by Picasso, Duchamp, and various members of the Dada group. Raschenberg's statement, however, suggests a much more acute consciousness of the possibility of breaking down the distinction between the artist and his life on the one hand, and the thing made on the other.

moma_mural_abbott
New York, montage photomural, Berenice Abbott, all images via moma's 1932 catalogue

I've been meaning to post this for a couple of months, but with museum censorship battles and political mural controversies in the news, what better time, right?

When I started researching the history of photomurals--or more precisely, the photomurals of history, since I was mostly just posting various photomurals I'd discovered--I was interested in their context, in the exhibitions and expos they were created for, and whether they were considered or treated as art.

moma_mural_duryea
Metal, Glass and Cork, Hendrick Duryea and Robert Locher

You know what, I could try and just quote the awesome parts, or hold up for scrutiny or amusement the seemingly unquestioned assumptions about art, painting photography, and decoration that inform it.

But instead, I have just typed in all of Julien Levy's catalogue essay on photomurals from the Museum of Modern Art's 1932 exhibition, "Murals by American Painters and Photographers." It's after the jump.

Levy was a pioneering photography dealer who was brought in by Lincoln Kirstein to curate what would be the Modern's first exhibition of photography. It's really hard to overstate the importance of Levy's role in the history of art and photography. He saved, with Berenice Abbott, Atget's photos. He gave first shows in the US to Brassai, Cartier-Bresson, Moholy-Nagy. [He organized the US premiere of Moholy-Nagy's short film work, Lichtspiel in 1932 which, really? Because it barely premiered in Berlin in November 1932. That's hardcore.] He had the first surrealism show in the US. He promoted the found and anonymous photograph as readily as the known artist's work. And though he barely sold any actual photos in the 17-year life of his gallery, he was a remarkable and prescient advocate for the medium as art.

In 2006, the Philadelphia Museum staged an incredible exhibition of photos and material from Levy's archive, which they'd acquired from his widow. Check it out for more details and context of Levy's significance.

Levy opened his gallery in the fall of 1931. The Modern show opened in May of 1932. If nothing else, this essay reflects Levy's thinking of photography and art, cinema and pai.nting, at an early stage of his involvement with a nascent medium. Enjoy.

I've got a lot of browser tabs to clear before I head to Miami.

expo58_corbu_philips.jpg

Am I not listening or looking in the right place, or is there really not enough discussion about MoCA's exhibition of drawings by the composer/architect/polymath Iannis Xenakis?

Xenakis was a longtime collaborator with Le Corbusier. Philipp Oswalt credits him with the introduction of light and projection as tools and "subject[s] of architecture" in the dramatic chapel of the convent at La Tourette.

Tools which would come in handy in the multimedia Poeme Electronique, whose film projection cones and soundscapes drove the form of the 1958 Philips Pavilion [top].

xenakis_polytope_moca.jpg

Anyway, the drawings include musical scores, which sometimes appear interchangeable with Xenakis' schematics and sketches for his later independent installations, including the Polytope for Montreal, above, an abstract light and sound environment, which he created around the time of Expo 67. The Xenakis archive is at the National Library in France. Not sure how accessible it is, but LA might be the best/easiest shot.

Related: Philips Pavilion models spotted in Amsterdam

stroom_poster.jpgWhen we last considered the techno-militartistic merits of pre-WWII era sound location devices, I wondered where to start. And now I know: the Netherlands.

I'm not sure why, but it was acoustic locator-palooza over there. On the wall of the awesome library in Stroom, the visual arts center in The Hague, I spotted a large poster of a guy sitting in a German-style portable locator. And there were two more images in Stroom's recently published journal, Podium for Observation

Turns out they're from the Museum Waalsdorp, which is located on a military base outside of The Hague. And apparently, they're not German-style at all; they were designed in Waalsdorp in 1927 by an engineer named Ir.van Soest. And they have some there. But it's only open on Wednesdays, and only with advance reservations.

In Amsterdam on Museumnacht, meanwhile, we headed from the Stedelijk to ARCAM, the city's architecture center & museum, because their current exhibit, "Music.Space.Arch.," sounded like I could have curated it myself. Or blogged it, more like:

The focus of the exhibition is the suggestion of space as created with the aid of acoustic objects. The spatial experiences relate to various scales, ranging from the intimacy of the individual to the spacious openness of the urban space.

Included among the collected objects are the 'Side Scan Sonar', which brings the urban space surrounding ARCAM to the visitor, and listening equipment with which enemy aircraft were detected in the Second World War. With 'Sound Scrape Shoes' by Ricardo Huisman, the ARCAM building becomes the source of the experience, while in the presentation of the famous Philips Pavilion of 1958, the proportions are completely different from what we are familiar with.

Acoustic locators AND a re-creation of the Philips Pavilion? How could we miss?

Well.

corbu_philips_arcam3.jpg

We literally arrived at ARCAM one minute after the tap dancer had begun her show. Now for me, tap dancing is to real dancing what rhythmic gymnastics is to real gymnastics, or what synchronized swimming is to swimming: an over-aestheticized mutation that is somehow unaware of its own awfulness. And that's on a good day.

When you have a Dutch punk tap dancer--an alternative tap dancer, in a country where they probably have a Bureau of Alternative--in tasseled pants, dancing in the dark while an assistant shines a flashlight on her shoes, whose "intimate interaction" with ARCAM's building basically meant pushing the entire contents of the exhibit into the corner so she could erect her hollow tap floor, it is really unforgivable and unsalvageable. And that's even before the audience participation segment began.

corbu_philips_arcam_wire.jpg

So we stayed in the corner, where the "completely different" proportions of the Philips Pavilion re-creation turned out to mean three A2-size models borrowed from the Atomium. Fantastic, but tiny. That wireframe's especially nice.

But the projection on the exterior of the museum of Le Corbusier, Xenakis, and Varese's Poeme Electronique, considered to be the first immersive multimedia environmental installation, had been turned off, another casualty of the evening.

acoustic_locator_arcam.jpg

Oh, and there on a pedestal, behind some people's butts and under their coats, was a real live Van Soelst acoustic locator. Only it wasn't from Museum Waalsdorp; it was from somewhere else entirely: the Wings of Liberation Museum in Best. Holland must be the most acoustically located country in the world right now.

And so as we left behind a slightly chaotic-seeming jumble of awesome objects brought together by an amorphous, subjective theory, I realized that the only way to tell this blog apart from a multi-million-euro art, architecture & cinema center is that I'm the one without a tap dancer.

spanish_pavilion_1937_ext.jpg

Worlds Fairs turned out to be the perfect venue for photomurals--they were catchy, usually didactic, packed a visual punch, and got the point across to the shuffling masses. And at least in the 1930s, they looked like the future.

So to a government whose future was being immediately threatened, like the Spanish Republic under siege by Franco and his fascist army, a publicity- and sympathy-generating pavilion at the 1937 Paris Expo literally seemed like a matter of survival.

José Luis Sert and Luis Lacasa designed the small, simple pavilion, which didn't get completed in time for the opening, and which anyway, ended up being overshadowed by the bombastic, dueling pavilions of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia.

So to get attention, a huge photomural/banner of Republican loyalists was hung over the entrance. [Intriguingly, in two of the three most widely circulated photos from the Expo, including the Le Monde photo announcing the opening, the mural is cropped out or coincidentally obscured by a tree branch.] As kk_redax's photo on flickr shows, the photomural was changed periodically:

Sert, Josep Lluis, and Lacasa, Spanish Pavilion at Paris Expo, Photo Panel with Parade formation

Like breakdancing was to gangs, world's fairs were designed as a non-violent means for competitive, conflicting nation states to jockey for supremacy. But the Spanish Civil War pushed the Republican government to a new, urgent level of pavilion-building. The war, which was fought on the ground through media, posters, photos and newspapers [and also guns and bombs], also gave birth to modern photojournalism. And the Paris Expo was the site of Spain's immediate experiement in architecture as military polemic. And then there's the art.

The Republican government sought to garner international support by assembling modern works by sympathetic artists that express powerful and overt political outrage, including a large painting of an upraised fist by Joan Miro . And unveiled on the ground floor was Picasso's Guernica.

guernica_calder_pavilion.jpg

Painted in 24 days in his new Left Bank studio in the spring of 1937, Guernica's duotone palette reflects how Picasso and the rest of the world learned of the Nazis' devastating saturation bombing foray: via newspaper photos and newsreels. Photography had an even more direct impact on the making of Guernica: Picasso asked his companion Dora Maar to document the painting process, and there's a scholarly case that "the tonal variations Picasso observed in Dora's photographs appear to have influenced the development of those in the middle stages of the painting." Though it sets the bar pretty high for the rest, it's not much of a stretch to call Guernica the greatest photomural of the 20th century.

But wait, that's not all! In the Pavilion Guernica was installed next to Mercury Fountain, an abstract, kinetic sculptural tribute to the Almaden region of Spain, which at the time produced the lion's share of the world's mercury. Oh, the fountain was by Alexander Calder. While Guernica's world travels are well known, Mercury Fountain is a Calder whose relocation was both successful and imperative. It currently sits at the Fondacion Miro in Barcelona, sealed behind glass, in order to contain its toxic vapors.

Guernica, meanwhile, is now encased in glass for its own protection.

...The Spanish Pavilion [pbs.org]
A comprehensive post about El Pabellon Espanol, in Spanish [stepienybarno.es]
The Mexican Suitcase, rediscovered Spanish Civil War negatives by Capa, Chim, and Taro [icp.org]

shore_signs_vsba.jpg
that sidewalk, that exit sign, that door. installation image of Stephen Shore's images, 1976

So yes, I've got a million other things to do, but thanks to this Mies thing being auctioned, and Michael Lobel's article on photography and scale--and by implication, photography and painting, pace Chevrier's forme tableau--I'm become slightly obsessed with the history of photomurals.

From what I can tell so far, I have the field largely [sic] to myself, but there is definitely some interesting work out there--and some interesting writing about it. And who should turn up as one of the innovators of these scale-blasting photomurals, but the master of the snapshot himself, Stephen Shore?

Just this past May, Swiss art historian Olivier Lugon published an article in Études photographiques titled, "Before the Tableau Form: Large Photographic Formats in the Exhibition Signs of Life, 1976."

Signs of Life: Symbols In the American City
was a groundbreaking and somewhat controversial show held at the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery as part of the US Bicentennial celebrations. Conceived in 1974 on the heels of the publication of Learning From Las Vegas by Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour, it was, depending on who you asked, an exultation, an examination, or an elitist excoriation of commercial and populist vernacular architecture and design. They filled the gallery with iconic roadside signs, and they created dioramas of archetypal American living rooms to give all Our Stuff the museological treatment.

And to photograph it all--and to create giant, deadpan photomurals of the American residential streetscape--Izenour selected a young photographer whose seemingly unstudied roadtrip snapshots had just been shown at the Met, Stephen Shore.

shore_signs_neco1.jpg

Lugon quotes Venturi & Scott Brown's explanation of the show [I'm translating back here from French, so it's probably off a bit]:

"The idea was to cross the model of the billboard, this image made for distant, fugitive, distracted perception of the driver, with that of the newspaper, which is a density swarming with information." The art museum is thus invaded by two different but interdependent media regimes: the advertising billboard's principle of rapid distraction, and the extreme informational concentration of the newspaper, two opposing models for aesthetic contemplation, where the distance of the viewer from the image is either too far or too close.
Despite working at like 100x his previous [and, for the most part, subsequent] scale, Shore's illusionistic photo backdrops manage to capture the banality he loves. Banality in a good way, of course. I think this street is my favorite:

shore_signs_neco2.jpg

Maybe because he wasn't a fetishy print guy--Shore rather famously sent all his film to Kodak to be developed, just like civilians--he readily embraced the print quality of the photomurals. Which--I love this--turned out to be paintings.

Lugon explains that the Signs Of Life photomurals were made with an expensive, state-of-the-1976-art, 4-color airbrush-like printing system from the Nippon Enlarging Color Company, which had been licensed for the US by 3M. Who marketed it to trade fairs and restaurants as Architectural Painting. With the public and art world attention from Signs of Life, 3M brought Izenour on to promote the new medium for use by artists and museums.

In 1977, Popular Science ran an article explaining how Architectural Painting technology worked. A specially prepared color negative was scanned and split into CMYK, and the quick-drying paint was applied in overlapping strips, inkjet-style, by a computer controlled, scanning sprayer. 3M technicians then touched up the finished print by hand. All in, it cost $10-25/sf.

Expensive enough to be the second largest line item on Signs of Life's budget, and sexy enough that Venturi et al. used it again almost immediately. For their controversial [i.e., steaming hot mess, according to Robert Hughes, who I'll happily believe just this once] exhibition design for the Whitney's Bicentennial blockbuster, 200 Years of American Sculpture, the architects installed a 27-foot-tall cutout photo by Shore of Hiram Powers' iconic marble, Greek Slave, on the canopy of the museum. Ezra Stoller says it was "inspired by Caesar's Palace," which I'm sure was a compliment:

shore_powers_whitney76.jpg

Once again, I start programming a bonus DVD for "The Original Copy," Roxana Marcoci's current show at MoMA on photography and sculpture. But I think the real story here is painting and photography.

Jean Francois Chevrier gets credit for the term forme tableau, which he used to describe the large-format photographs which began to assert a place on the wall and in the discourse that had previously been reserved for painting in the 1980s [and since]. Then Lugon mentions how Sherman, Prince, Kruger, etc. had appropriated the photography of commercialism--advertising and movies [Untitled Film Stills began in 1977]. And now here's Shore, right there in the thick of things, making giant photos with his new-fangled, trade show backdrop printing techniques--which turn out in the end to actually be paintings. [And sculpture. And architecture.]

The kicker, though, is one of the complicating factors for why I'm finding photomurals so interesting right now. And I write this as a guy who has two of Felix Gonzalez-Torres' Parkett billboard/photomurals because, once you install one, it's up, it's done, it's gone: they managed to thwart the market. Here's Lugon:

The photomural reveals itself to be extremely vulnerable. Its own installation, its dependence on conditions of fixation and lamination make it enormously fragil: with rare exceptions, it does not survive its exposition. It's one of the fundamental points that distinguishes it from painting: its incapacity to become an object of collection.

When it was developed in the 19th century, photography constituted precisely a pure image for collecting: one acquired it to conserve, because it was capable of bringing all objects in the world together into a system of thesaurisation and generalized comparison, but it's difficult to show. Small and grey, taking poorly to the wall, and with a surface that deteriorates in the light the more one views it. The grand format photos of the interwar years reversed this logic: photography became the image of exposition, but it renders it improper for collecting.

Only the forme tableau would succeed in crossing these two qualities, to make of photography an image at once for exhibiting and collecting--two criteria indispensable for accessing fine art's economic system.

I guess I've gotta call Stephen Shore now and see if that's really true, about his photomurals, I mean.

newman_vof_ngc.jpgWhen it was publicly announced in March 1990 that the National Gallery of Canada had purchased Barnett Newman's 1967 painting, Voice of Fire for $1.8 million (Canadian), there was an immediate press and political uproar that so much public money would be spent on what seemed like so little. A conservative MP, who was also a pig farmer, challenged that anyone with "a couple of cans of paint, a roller, and ten minutes" could make Newman's 18-ft tall bands of red and blue.

Greenhouse owner and house painter John Czupryniak's wife Joan, upon seeing the news reports, told him, "Hey, anyone could paint this, even a painter." And so he did.

Mr. Czupryniak studied reproductions of Voice of Fire and because he was unfamiliar with canvas painting techniques, he built up a 16x8 panel of plywood, and made a full-scale replica of Newman's work. He struggled with the title before arriving at Voice of the Taxpayer.

Thumbnail image for voice_of_taxpayer_ott_cit.jpg

Then he offered it for sale. The government price was $1.8 million. For you, though, or any Pierre off the street, it was just $400, the cost of time and materials. Almost immediately, Voice of the Taxpayer became part of the art controversy. The picture of the Czupryniaks posing with the [for sale] painting was published in The Ottawa Citizen.

In the art world's critical self-examination of the Voice of Fire controversy, noted art historian Thierry du Duve published an essay, "Vox Ignis, Vox Populi," in the Montreal art journal Parachute which focused on Mr. Czupryniak's response. It is awesome:

Like many avant-garde painters, Czupryniak paints against. A transgressive gesture along the lines of Dadaism, Voice of the Taxpayer assumes its full significance only in diametrical opposition to the tradition it attacks. A postmodern parody of modernism's celebrated flatness, Voice of the Taxpayer is a quote, a pastich that appropriates the work of another, empties it of its meaning, and presents itself as a critique of 'the originality of the avant-garde and other modernist myths.' Better still, in its abstract guise Voice of the Taxpayer is a real allegory of the art world as institution, neither more nor less than Courbet's L'Atelier du peintre. Is it a bad painting? No it is bad painting, if you get the difference.

It is actually a subtle and refined conceptual piece whose feigned innocence makes the emperor's new clothes visible to all. The "indispensable vulgarity' (Duchamp) of its title provokes the return of the repressed of the sole 'convention' that modernism forgot to deconstruct, the money of the people on whose back the elite builds its culture. In short, Czupryniak has got it all: he is more provocative than Rodchenko, more sarcastic than Manzoni, more strategic than Buren, more political than Haacke, more nationalist than Broodthaers, more demagogical than Koons, more neo-geo than Taaffe, all this with Duchamp's caustic humour, and sincere to boot!

It is an epic of art criticism. Or maybe Parachute was punked by the theorist's smartalecky brother, Jerry du Duve, I can't quite tell. Whichever du Duve, he, too, expressed his doubts:
The critical interpretation of his Voice of the Taxpayer which I gave above is perfectly plausible, and that's what worries me. A perverse and cynical art historian, I would have appropriated Czupryniak just as he appropriated Voice fo Fire. I would have taken a painter and made him into an artist, an 'artist in general." But I am not interested in defining an artist in this way.
Oh wait, never mind! Du Duve suddenly flips ["I only played at being cynical to show you how absurd it is."] and makes an argument for Voice of the Taxpayer based not in cynicism, but in sincerity. Czupryniak "emulated Newman by simulating him just as Newman had emulated Mondrian by painting against him." In fact, Voice of the Taxpayer embodies what du Duve calls "the fundamental ethical meaning of the 'reductive' aesthetic governing Voice of Fire, as well as all great modern painting" [italics in the original, bold added because, holy smokes!]: painting that demonstrates its true universality precisely because "anyone can paint this, even a painter."

expo67_flag_lifemag.jpgDu Duve then considers at great length how Mr. Czupryniak's pricing scheme deftly maps out the incongruities between artist and painter, value and worth, elites and the public, boss and laborer, exploiter and exploited. Every dollar between $401 and $1.8 million, he writes, accrues to Newman's status as an artist as perceived by the cultural elites--and as extracted by them for their own aesthetic pleasure from the unappreciative public [the Taxpayers] who got stuck with the tab.

I'm surprised du Duve doesn't mention it, because I can't stop marveling at how Mr. Czupryniak's project maps so closely with Newman's and the creation of Voice of Fire.

Newman, a celebrated artist was invited by his government, to make a work almost to spec, for which he received $423.60 to cover the cost of materials. But not his labor. Instead, his contract with the USIA guaranteed him full control over the painting's "equity," which his wife went on to monetize rather successfully. I guess we should add Voice of the Shareholder to the chorus.

What is the fate of Mr. Czupryniak's historically important masterpiece? Did he sell it? Did he keep it? Does it still exist, perhaps turned into a red and blue storage cabinet in the nursery? In 20 years, no one seems to have asked, so I have put in a call to find out. Stay tuned.

Thierry du Duve's "Vox Ignis, Vox Populi" was reprinted in the 1996 anthology, Voices of Fire: art, rage, power, and the state. Buy it from Amazon, or try to read the essay in Google Books' preview mode.

[image right of Ivan Chermayeff's Newmanesque flag panels in Buckminster Fuller's US Pavilion at Expo67: Mark Kauffmann for LIFE]

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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: expo

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Our Guernica Cycle, 2017 –
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Social Medium:
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Paper Monument, Oct. 2016
ed. by Jennifer Liese
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Madoff Provenance Project in
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Chop Shop
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1-7 March 2016

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eBay Test Listings
Armory – ABMB 2015
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It Narratives, incl.
Shanzhai Gursky & Destroyed Richter
Franklin Street Works, Stamford
Sept 5 - Nov 9, 2014
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TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -
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Standard Operating Procedure
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CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
Canal Zone Richard Prince
YES RASTA 2:The Appeals Court
Decision, plus the Court's
Complete Illustrated Appendix (2013)
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"Exhibition Space" @ apexart, NYC
Mar 20 - May 8, 2013
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HELP/LESS Curated by Chris Habib
Printed Matter, NYC
Summer 2012
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Destroyed Richter Paintings, 2012-
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"Richteriana," Postmasters Gallery, NYC

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Canal Zone Richard
Prince YES RASTA:
Selected Court Documents
from Cariou v. Prince (2011)
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