October 15, 2016

Richtersgarten

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Part of me wants to make this post about auction houses shooting coverage, or about editing-generated hype for off-season auctions of off-peak squeegees. But I think I really just wanted to register my disapproval that such videos of such sales of such paintings are now a sufficient hook for attention from the Times. Which even I don't care about at this point. So it must be the very existence of this video. But that is enough.

[sotheby's via nyt]

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image via @alexismadrigal

I haven't been, but I feel like I'm very familiar with the border wall that extends into the sea between the US and Mexico.

Several artists have made projects around it, including using it as a volleyball net, or painting one side of it. It's telling that the Berlin Wall was also painted, on the free side, or rather, on the side that did not erect the wall. Israel's wall in the occupied West Bank is painted in that direction, too.

Anyway, when I saw Alexis Madrigal's photo of the border wall built in the ocean, I thought what I always thought: it's as cool as it is terrible. [I think Madrigal was attending #RiseUpAsOne, concert/festival sponsored by Fusion at Friendship Park on the US side.]

When the political divisions currently ripping the US apart, and the political, cultural, racial, security, and economic differences between the US and our neighbor get sorted out, and our terrified, weaponized national border stance eases, I hope that this section of the wall will stay and become a memorial.

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I cannot explain how I didn't catch this when I saw it many months ago, but re-reading Steve Roden's blog post about his return to painting after a year-long hiatus, this completely floors me:

Recently, I have also been obsessed with a photograph of two seemingly insignificant pieces of wood about the size of the inner part of a closed fist. The photograph appeared in an auction catalog, and I was fascinated to discover that these seemingly ordinary, or pathetic objects were pieces of George Washington's coffin, and as such, their presence transcends their objectness.
Probably! But right now it is their objectness that I'm obsessed with.

October 3, 2016

More Aaron Kuriloff, Please

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Aaron Kuriloff, Two Pillows, 1963, image and caption from Walter Hopps' Boxes catalogue, Dwan Gallery, 1964, image: aaa.si.edu

In his Dwan Gallery catalogue essay, James Meyer calls him "a now-forgotten trader in readymades," but I recognized Aaron Kuriloff's name from Donald Judd: Complete Writings 1959-1975. Judd reviewed Kuriloff's April 1964 show at Fischbach Gallery for Arts Magazine. He did not like it, dismissing the artist's lightly assisted readymades as domestic misfires done better by George Brecht.

Now that I've seen some pictures, though, I'm kind of intrigued. For Boxes, the February 1964 group show organized by Dwan Gallery director John Weber, Andy Warhol sent three Brillos and a Heinz Ketchup, scooping the Stable Gallery by a month. And Kuriloff sent Two Pillows, 1963 [above], in which blue ticking-covered pillows were inserted in a blue-painted wood shelf.

No wonder Judd didn't like it. I bet Haim Steinbach would, though. And Mark Stahl, who had a similarly promising-but-brief career with similarly found objects in the 1980s.

No less than Brian O'Doherty liked Kuriloff's work, too. He reviewed the Fischbach show for the Times:

Both these shows, one [George Ortman] turn­ing symbols into objects, the other [Kuriloff] objects into symbols, make a new cross‐roads where the traffic is getting heavier --a cross‐roads at which Jas­per Johns originally planted his painted flags, breaking our reflex responses to the most loaded of symbols.
I'll add some more images of Kuriloff's works from 1963-67, the only period I've been able to find so far, and let's just have a fresh look.

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Aaron Kuriloff, Three Switches, 1963, Thibaut Gallery, image via nyt

The Times has at least two other reviews of Kuriloff's work, both illustrated. In December 1963, he was in "Hard Center," a group show at Thibaut Gallery organized by Elena and Nicolas Calas. From Brian O'Doherty's review it sounds like it focused on the recontextualization as art of mass or consumer objects, an early example of Pop getting in formation. And the artist list shows just how far Pop has shifted since: Robert Breer, Nicolas Calas, Kuriloff, Walter de Maria, and Robert Morris. There's a catalogue out there somewhere.

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Aaron Kuriloff, A Laundry Bag, installed in 1965 at The Four Seasons, image: nyt

In 1965 Kuriloff is mentioned in a benefit sale/exhibition held at the Four Seasons. It seems kind of a mess, frankly, and the Times report doesn't do it much justice, just sneering at now-acclimated art audiences not rioting over Pop Art. Kuriloff's A Laundry Bag was just that, mounted against a green background, with a label, Erased de Kooning Drawing-style. Priced at $500 for mental health charity, it's not clear if it sold.

September 23, 2016

What Is The Question?

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Kelley Walker, Schema Aquafresh plus Crest with tartar control, 2003, digital file, image: camstl.org

I am not at all ready to address the discussion and protests surrounding the exhibition of Kelley Walker's work at CAM St Louis, but the statement by Paula Cooper caught me up. "The role of the artist, it has been said, is to ask questions, not answer them." Chekhov said that, and he's not wrong, but not right enough, either.

And KareemEstefan responded, in a tweet exchange with Pedro Velez, "True--but does Walker know what Qs his art is asking?"

That reminded me of the paragraph I'd cut from the top of Mirta D'Argenzio's Rauschenberg essay I quoted yesterday. I am pretty sure this is the artist speaking:

"Gertrude Stein said on her death bed when they asked her what the answer was and she said, 'What is the question?' So I have to keep the question changing. The only way to do that is with an open mind." It's rather like the riddle of the sphinx. Rauschenberg, the insatiable, suggests that the riddle be left unsolved, and indicates that the very purpose of art is to keep changing its questions.
The very purpose of art is to keep changing its questions.

It seems to me that this is what is happening to Walker and his work in the 13 years since he made it. Not only have the questions changed, the audience has, too. And sounds like neither the artist, the curator, nor the institution understood that.

The sharpest thinking I've seen on Walker's work is still Glenn Ligon's essay in Parkett from 2010 [pdf]. Ligon finds the utter insufficiency of thought or discussion around Walker's use of black imagery to be significant in itself, both a "dilemma" and a source of "enormous vitality." He correctly identified "Kelley Walker's Negro Problem" as the art world's problem, too. And America's. He's still right.

September 22, 2016

'A True Short Circuit'

I'm not alone! It's not just me! In the introduction to the catalogue for her 2008-9 show, "Robert Rauschenberg | Travelling 70-76," curator Mirta D'Argenzio wrote:

His favorite means of self-expression were always inclusive of change, travel, and collaboration. He seems from the very beginning, paraphrasing words of his own, to have committed his entire activity to the task of defining an ever more ample concept of collaboration, always in a state of becoming, that nearly made it possible to do away with the very notion of subjective behavior on the part of the artist,

Rauschenberg made a decisive contribution to superseding the notion of the individuality of the author: a notion very much emphasized by modernism, and then virtually discarded by post-modernist thought. His absolute freedom in this respect found expression from the very beginning in the intersubjective approach that permitted him-- from his first works with Susan Weil, and then in his relationship with Cy Twombly, and immediately thereafter with Jasper Johns-- to set up a true short circuit that questioned the modus operandi of western art and the very concept of the individuality of the author. This attitude, however, was in any case to lead him to preserve a specific identity that found paradoxical reinforcement in its own self-negation.

In the discussion for Paper Monument's Social Medium anthology Sunday, I tried to make this exact point about Rauschenberg's collaborative works, especially in the earliest days of his career. And here it is/was, right there in 2008. 2009. In an Neapolitan exhibition catalogue about works from the early 70s, when Rauschenberg was traveling the world and absorbing influences and materials and references.

D'Argenzio goes on

Rauschenberg insisted: "Ideas are not real estate." And then he continued: " "In collaboration one can accept the fact that someone else can be so sympathetic and in tune with what you're doing that through this they move into depths which might not be obvious if that person had been working alone in a studio with the door shut...I think part of our uniqueness is the fact that we are ill-equipped.
Except that this is a quote from a 1974 interview with Rauschenberg about printmaking. Prints are inherently collaborative and technically contingent, and foundries are always good about namechecking. But that is not anything like questioning the concept of authorship. If anything, it's auteurist. As Walter Hopps saw it in the catalogue for the 1999 retrospective, "in collaborations, Rauschenberg simultaneously functions as composer, orchestra conductor, and first violinist."

Rauschenberg and Johns might have been hoping to question the modernist notion of authorship when they hid a flag painting behind the door of a work that was first known as, Construction with J.J. Flag. But when faced with the decision, rather than short circuit their individual careers, they ended up pulling the plug. It was self-negation as self-preservation. [h/t @andrewrusseth, whose tweet about that real estate quote set me on this hunt.]

Buy Robert Rauschenberg. Travelling '70-'76 [amazon]

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Untitled (I'll Be Your Mirror), 2016, 70 x 46 in., feathered mirror by Bill Cunningham

The end credits for Richard Press's documentary Bill Cunningham New York run over Nico and the Velvet Underground's langorous, "I'll Be Your Mirror."

In the 1950s, before he took up a camera and changed the world, Cunningham designed hats for his own label, William J. He also created some unknown number of objets d'art and furniture. Well, at least one piece is known. The fashion illustrator Kenneth Paul Block considered this feather-covered mirror by Cunningham to be one of his most prized possessions.

It is large, 70 x 46 inches, and has an extraordinary patina. It holds the wall like a 50s Bruce Connor or Rauschenberg. I put #painting in there, but maybe it's #combine instead. Oh wow, I just found this photo of Merce Cunningham dancing Aeon (1961) in a pair of feathered chaps Rauschenberg designed.

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Merce performing Aeon (1961) in Tokyo in 1964, photo: Yasuhiro Yoshioka/Sogestu Foundation, via walkerart

Block passed away in 2009 and his partner of over 50 years, artist and textile designer Morton Ribyat, died in March. If you're interested in buying this work, email or call me whenever you're ready. If you'd like to take physical custody of it, though, you'd better move fast. UPDATE: And have more than $13,000. Wow.

Sept 23, 2016, Lot 377: AN IMPORTANT FEATHER-MOUNTED MIRROR, DESIGNED AND CREATED BY BILL CUNNINGHAM [stairgalleries]
Previously, related: Untitled (Joan Collins Toile de Jouy), 2015

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Has Questlove read this aloud himself? I don't think so. I wish he would, because if I cry this much when the robot reads it...

Download: Better_Read_010_Questlove_Im_Still_Human_20160920.mp3 [11:27, 16.5mb mp3 via dropbox]
Read: Questlove: Trayvon Martin and I Ain't Shit [nymag via @jamilahlemieux]
Questlove discussing racial profiling and his reaction to the Trayvon Martin verdict with Amy Goodman in Aug. 2013 [youtube]

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I'm kind of giddy even to type this, but I will be in a panel discussion this Sunday to talk about Social Medium: Artists Writing 2000-2015, an anthology published by Paper Monument and edited by Jennifer Liese. And yes, that means that I have an essay in the book. Technically, it's a revised version of the series of blog posts I wrote between 2011-13 about Erased de Kooning Drawing, but it still feels unreal to me that it's actually happening.

The talk will be held in conjunction with the preview of the book at the NY Art Book Fair Classroom, PS1, 3pm. Also in the discussion, which Jen will be leading: Ginger Brooks Takahashi, Josiah McElheny, John Miller, and Mira Schor. I mean, right? You should come back to NYABF just for these people.

Later I will write more about the anthology, which looks amazing; with 75 artist writers, it's easily 15x as amazing as our 5-person panel will be, and the official launch next month at The Kitchen should be great too. But for now, the point is, I am stoked for Sunday.

Social Medium: Artists Writing 2000-2015, published by Paper Monument Oct. 20, 2016 [papermonument]
NY Art Book Fair | The Classroom [nyartbookfair]

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installation view, "Tell Me What I Mean," at To_____Bridges_____ 11 Sept - 23 Oct. 2016, image: John Garcia

I'm psyched to announce that The Madoff Provenance Project is included in a group show, "Tell Me What I Mean," at To_____Bridges_____ in NYC, which opened Sept 11 and runs through October 23rd, 2016. The show, curated by artist John Garcia, considers the way context and metadata affect the way an artwork is experienced and understood.

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study for MPP-014-KEL, 2016, recto, 12x9 in., ink, pencil, and watercolor on Arches

John was thoughtful and intriguing in his invitation to include the Madoff project, which did not have any obvious physical manifestation. But meeting that challenge, and having the work seen among an interesting group of artists, made me say, "Hell, yeah" pretty quickly. Besides me, the show includes work by Sophie Calle, Sara Cwynar, Robert Heinecken, Rose Marcus, Alex Perweiler, Peter Piller, Michael Bell-Smith, and Colin Snap.

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study for MPP-020-MAT, 2016, recto, 12.875 x 9.25 in., ink, pencil, and marker on Arches

Unsurprising to most, no owner of an authenticated Madoff-provenance artwork has yet agreed to have their work stamped with the "ex collectio MADF" stamp I created. So for this show I made "studies," 1:1 facsimiles of some Madoff works, properly stamped. In their stripped down nothingness, they definitely turned out more Stephen Prina's The Complete Paintings of Manet than Vik Muniz' Verso.

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"Tell Me What I Mean," Installation view, The Madoff Provenance Project, 2014- , image: John Garcia

I also put together a few binders of court data and auction records, which serve as a comprehensive reference to all the artworks in the Madoff Provenance Project. I feel confident that if Mel Bochner could have had Zazzle custom print the binders for Working Drawings and Other Visible Things on Paper Not Necessarily Meant to be Viewed as Art, he totally would have.

To____Bridges_____ is a year-long project space in the Bronx run by The Still House Group. A second show of photographer Gary Perweiler's 70s and 80s advertising images, recontextualized by his son (and TSHG member) Alex Perweiler, runs concurrently. The space is open by appointment.

To_____Bridges_____ [to-bridges.info]
Ex Collectio: The Bernard Madoff Provenance Project

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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: shipping containers

recent projects, &c.


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Social Medium:
artists writing, 2000-2015
Paper Monument, Oct. 2016< br /> 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
Mar – Dec 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"
Mar 20 - May 8 @apexart, NYC


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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