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David Diao, Barnett Newman: The Cut Up Painting, 2014, 153x127cm, image: office baroque

I've known about David Diao's productive engagement with the work of Barnett Newman for a while, but I was still pretty blown away to get the announcement in my inbox this morning for his show, Ref: Barnett Newman, at Office Baroque in Brussels.

Because holy smokes, he has The Cut-Up Painting. Sort of.

The story has been around for a while, but rather vague, about how Barney had instructed his wife Annalee to cut up a certain painting. It was finished, but he felt it wasn't working. She hadn't cut it up before the artist died suddenly of a heart attack in 1970, but she wrestled with it, and decided to fulfill his wishes. So she chopped it up.

And that night, the story goes, she had a dream, and Barney appeared and told her she was cutting him up. And she woke the next morning, distraught, and gathered all the pieces together, and had them reassembled and lined on a new canvas.

The result was what you'd expect, a Frankennewman, and the painting, or object, whatever it had become, was never shown. [Rumors circulated that someone else altogether, another painter, had destroyed, not an unfinished or rejected work, but an actual Newman. This kind of thing happens when a work is absent, invisible, missing.]

The first time I'd heard of The Cut-Up Painting discussed publicly was in a 2008 symposium at the Getty Conservation Institute. Carol Mancusi-Ungaro described the story as Annalee told it to her. It's wild and unsettling, with a twist, when Mancusi-Ungaro says Newman had confided in her "because I'm a conservator, and because I'm a woman, and I could identify with this feeling, perhaps." [The Getty put it on YouTube in 2012.]

The Cut-Up Painting was not included in the Menil's show of late Barnett Newman last year, even though it did include the unfinished paintings Annalee gave the Menil for study & conservation. Sarah Rich did discuss it, though, in an essay in the show's excellent exhibition catalogue, which also includes texts and research by Michelle White and Brad Eply:

When she first undid this unfinished work, she [Annalee] was following orders, though her dream suggests she also understood the cutting to be a violation. When she had the painting put back together, her act of preservation was also a transgression. Annalee Newman thus uncovered, in her own way, the means by which a painting might host the contours of ethical deliberation (a subject essential to Newman's own artistic praxis). With those cuts and their stitching, with the deliberations she conducted, deferred, acted upon, and regretted, Annalee Newman performed an experience in which duty becomes consubstantial with defiance.
And now here it is, in some form, at least. David Diao has made a painting of Newman's Cut Up Painting, and it looks pretty close to the image Mancusi-Ungaro showed briefly at the Getty, so it's not just an imagining. I am fascinated to see it. Now to figure out how to get to Brussels.

Ref: Barnett Newman opens 27 Feb. and runs through 6 Apr 2016 at Office Baroque [officebaroque.com]
Office Baroque is also showing earlier works by Diao at The Independent NYC during Armory Week, so there's one I won't miss.

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top: Ship of Fools;
center: pixels about the width of a 19th century saw blade;
bottom: Allegory of Gluttony and Lust

The Noordbrabants Museum has organized an epic show of Hieronymous Bosch that reunites 17 of the artist's 24 known works. The exact number is in flux, though, because of deattributions [touchy!] and reattributions associated with the show's years-long research phase. Also, it's not clear whether this counts as one work or two:

The Noordbrabants show also unites dismembered works. These include The Ship of Fools (Louvre, Paris) and the Allegory of Gluttony and Lust (Yale University Art Gallery) of 1500-10, which were probably sawn in two in the early 19th century. For the first time they are being displayed together, unframed and truly reunited.
Maybe it's the Renaissance altarpiece student-turned-MBA in me, but I just love this.

These are only two of four known pieces of what is believed to be Bosch's original work. Fools, Gluttony and Lust are the inner left panel of a folding triptych; the inner right panel is now known as Death and the Miser and is in the National Gallery in DC. The central panel, which presumably showed Pride, Envy, Lust, Anger, and Sloth, is missing.

The NGA's research says their panel was cut to veneer width and laminated onto another piece of wood around 1900. Why? Because there was a painting on the back, too. A large round panel called The Wayfarer is now in the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. None of these panels are big; the wings are 13 inches wide, and the rondel is 28-inches across, so it's not like they wouldn't fit the house or the frame. No, it was strictly business.

Interestingly, another work in the show, with a similar wayfarer, Haywain Triptych, was brought to Spain in the 16th century, broken up and parted out in 1848, and eventually reunited at the Prado in 1914. A copy was made for the king.

Prado pulls two works from landmark Bosch exhibition [theartnewspaper]
Previously, related: On Manet's The Execution of Maximilian, which got cut up, and was reassembled by Degas
Oh, I guess that means this is related, too: A Domestic Proposal: At home with Voice of Fire

February 14, 2016

Artificial Tuft Of Grass

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Would you believe me if I told you this was Dürer's Great Piece Of Turf and not an altered jpg?

In a fascinating and frustrating essay on aeon, art historian Noah Charney tries to very diplomatically address the fact that major museums are displaying reproductions of major works on paper by the likes of Egon Schiele and Albrecht Dürer. The museums often disclose this non-trivial fact very obliquely, or not at all:

That evening, art forgery was the subject of conversation in the museum's stylish black marble restaurant. The patrons of the Leopold lamented that they could show their best Schiele drawings (the ones that drew pilgrims) only for a few months at a time. The rest of the time they were in darkened storage, to minimise their exposure to light, and reproductions were displayed in their place. Someone from the Albertina sympathised. She explained that Dürer's marvellous watercolours, Young Hare and Tuft of Grass, are shown to the public only for three-month periods every few years. Otherwise they reside in temperature-, light- and humidity-controlled Solander boxes in storage. Had I had the chance to see them?

Indeed I had, and while I had been suspicious that something wasn't quite right about them, I would be flattering myself to say that I immediately knew they were reproductions. Today's printing technologies make it difficult to distinguish high-quality facsimiles from originals, at least not without taking them out of the frame and examining the back (which holds a wealth of clues about an object's age and provenance), or looking at the surface in detail, without the interference of protective glass. In an intentionally shadowy alcove I could sense that something was off, but not exactly what.

"Three months every few years"? Did the Albertina leave the reproductions up when they loaned the originals to the National Gallery in 2013? Wouldn't it have made more sense to just loan the reproductions, and let the originals rest in safety?

I wish Charney would have brought more contemporary notions of reproduction to bear here, beyond a namecheck of Benjamin. And the aeon context doesn't help, teeing up with a clickbaity question "Is there a place for fakery in art galleries and museums?" and soliciting comments with a moot one: "When it comes to art, can a reproduction stand for the original?" When some of the world's leading museums swap facsimiles as a matter of course, the answer is obviously yes. I'd just like to find out more about how they do it.

Is there a place for fakery in art galleries and museums? [aeon.co]
Previously: The Great Piece of Merch

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Elizabeth Williams, Fake Rothko Sold To The DeSoles, 2016, jpg of crayon on paper of posterboard of fake painting on canvas

OK, I hope other artists are sketching at the Knoedler forgery trial, too, because if Elizabeth Williams' wonderful renditions of a fake Rothko installed in the courtroom is any indication, it is a rich and varied subject.

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Elizabeth Williams, Domenico DeSole and Fake Rothko, 2016, jpg of crayon on paper of fake painting on canvas getting treated like a poster in the courtroom

Then in addition to classic courtroom scenes and portraits we could, for example, get an artist's interpretation of the testimony of "red flags flying" and dealers "run[ning] like hell" at shady bargains.

The trial might not be over, so get on down there.

'Red flags were flying' around Knoedler fakes, experts testify [theartnewspaper]
Top US collector takes the stand in Knoedler trial

January 29, 2016

Untitled (Border), 2016

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Untitled (Border), 2016, two 4x6-in. blocks of Azul Platino granite from Home Depot, as installed in some apartment in Washington DC

I am stoked to announce a new work which, depending on how the real estate market operates, should be available for viewing during CAA.

Obviously, Untitled (Border) owes a debt to Richard Serra, but the confluence of form, site, and source material-Azul Platino granite is from Spain-put me in the mind of Serra's works at the Reina Sofia.

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There's Equal - Parallel: Guernica - Bengasi (1986), of course, which the museum somehow lost, and had to have refabricated in 2006.

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There's also his show at Reina Sofia in 1992 which included this pair of square steel slabs just owning the space in between and around them.

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image: linneawest

I just found this uncanny photo from the Met's Richard Serra Drawings show, which kind of gives me chills, it's so similar. Assuming Serra is swapped out for a bowl of lemons and bodega oranges. [Which are not to be considered part of the work, btw.]

What I like most about Untitled (Border) is the way it attempts to define an abject liminal space, in this case a kitchen passthru right by a door. Indeed, except for obvious, the word that came to mind the most when I was making this piece a few minutes ago is abject. It practically jumped out of the picture in the real estate listing, fully formed and perfect. Like the work itself.

Anyway, Untitled (Border) will be on view this Sunday, Jan. 31, from 1-4pm, or by appointment.

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Well this looks very nice. It's an original flyer for the premiere of Andy Warhol's film Empire, being sold by (or at least with the approval of) Jonas Mekas. It will be signed and shipped with a personalized letter of authentication. Which is a nice touch. Otherwise it's not clear to me what the going rate is for such ephemera, whether $1,300 for an 8.5 x 11 handout is ripoff or a steal.

Empire was made on July 25, 1964, but didn't premiere until March 6th, 1965. It was a Saturday, and the screening began at 8:30. [Does that mean it ran in real time? Not quite. Filming at 8:06 and ended at 2:42. Screening the film at 16fps draws it out to 8h5m.]

What's interesting to me is the credit, "by Andy Warhol and John Palmer." Palmer was an assistant to Jonas Mekas, and he is credited with the idea for Empire. [The 18yo had been using the Bolex his mom bought him to shoot the newly lit Empire State Building from the roof of Film Culture's offices on Park Avenue South.] Mekas pitched the project to Warhol and eventually helped run the camera, but it was Palmer who made the movie possible by securing the office in the Time-Life Building and the high-capacity camera needed to shoot nonstop for 6.5 hours.

Palmer's early equal billing on Empire has not survived the Warholian glare. MoMA's collection entry for Empire namechecks Mekas, but not Palmer; the film is credited solely to Warhol. It would be nice to straighten that out, History.

In her Screen Tests catalogue raisonné, Callie Angell wrote that Warhol "gave" Palmer co-director credit "because it was Palmer's idea to make a film of the [newly] floodlit skyscraper, because Palmer worked on the film, and also because his mother, Mary Palmer, donated money to get the film out of the lab."

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ST253, John Palmer, 1966, image: Screen Tests catalogue raisonné

He posed for Screen Tests along with his then-wife, Factory star Ivy Nicholson. Their daughter Penelope was three months old in 1966 when she became the only baby to sit for a Screen Test.

Though he went on to co-direct the tragicomic Edie Sedgwick film Ciao, Manhattan, Palmer's subsequent IMDb credits are primarily as a camera operator. I wonder if there are stories to hear, or perhaps more uncirculated flyers to procure.

UPDATE: Oh, it always gets better. greg.org reader Terry Wilfong sent a heads up for Palmer's interview with Steven Watson in Factory Made: Warhol and the Sixties. They talked about making Empire, including the lab's refusal to return the film without payment in full:

[Palmer] called Warhol from a phone booth. "Ohhh, John, I don't have any money to pay for thaaaat," he said. "It will just have to stay in the lab." Palmer suggested he could try to get the $350 from his mother; if so, he would have to appear on the credits as codirector. The phone went silent for fifteen seconds, Palmer recalled, and than "Andy, in a voice I never heard and will never forget, said, 'Now you're learning.'"

very rare original World Premiere bill for Andy Warhol's EMPIRE 1964 [ebay]

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A Gerhard Richter squeegee painting is coming up for auction in February. It is CR:725-4 fourth in a series of five large paintings [225x200 cm] made in 1990, a very busy squeegee year. From The Art Newspaper:

"The years 1989 and 1990 are the most sought-after in Richter's works," says Isabelle Paagman, Sotheby's senior specialist, contemporary art. "During this time he really embraces the squeegee technique in his abstract paintings. More than half of Richter's works from that period are in museums."

Paagman says his use of grey in Abstraktes Bild also makes it highly sought after. Grey is of particular importance for Richter; in a 2004 interview he described it as "the ideal colour for indifference, fence-sitting, keeping quiet, despair".

I've been looking at these late 80s and early 90s squeegee paintings a lot lately and am intrigued by this kind of financial sifting. Equally interesting is the use of indifference, fence-sitting, keeping quiet, and despair as record-breaking selling points. I hope it sells for £100 million.

Abstraktes Bild CR:725-4, 1990, 225x200cm [gerhard-richter.com]
Gerhard Richter painting being auctioned by Malekis could topple record [theartnewspaper.com]
A 2004 interview with Jan Thorn-Prikker that doesn't include this quote was published in the NYT. [nyt]

January 15, 2016

Dust Breeding (Bull), 2016 -

untitled_dust_breeding_bull_2016.jpg
Dust Breeding (Bull), 2016, dust, museum, reflection of Picasso sculpture.

Last week I went to see the Picasso Sculpture show at the Modern again. That's when I noticed the extraordinary amount of dust on the window ledge in the last gallery. I took a picture of it with Picasso's Bull in the reflection because it was amazing, and because it obviously reminded me of Dust Breeding, Man Ray's photo of six months worth of studio dust and street grime settled on the surface of Duchamp's Large Glass.

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Man Ray, Dust Breeding, 1920, contact print, from Roxana Marcoci's Photography of Sculpture catalogue.

I've loved Dust Breeding for a long time. Colby Chamberlain wrote a nice piece on it and Anthony McCall's work in a 2009 issue of Cabinet on dust that has stayed with me for its conclusion: the antipathy between august art institutions and dust. I think MoMA has complicated Colby's thesis.

dust_breeding_bull_insta.jpgMy first comment on Instagram about wanting to donate a vacuum cleaner, but I kept thinking about Matt Connors' noticing the same ledge situation I had, and having it trigger a similar reaction. After a couple of days, I decided to make the situation a work.

And since then, I've been wondering what the existence of such an artwork might mean for someone, or more precisely, what knowing it exists might do for the experience of seeing that ledge.

On the one hand, it might be amazing to have people think of me and my work when they glance out the window into the atrium. Isn't that associative frisson better even than wanting to have an endowed Roomba drone named after me? Just think of the dialogues!

Right now the gallery is filled with jaw-dropping sculptures Picasso put together out of junk and scraps of wood, in a show that includes artworks made from cigarette-burned napkins. Dust blends right in. But in a few weeks, the Museum's permanent collection will return in some form. What interaction might happen then? Duchamp put a little sign next to Large Glass: "Dust Breeding. To be respected." Is it possible for that dust on MoMA's ledge to engender respect?

Though I'm willing to find out, I'm skeptical. A few years ago, I pointed out to a guard on the 2nd floor that someone had written on the wall. She smiled benignly and informed me it was a Yoko Ono instruction piece. Which, of course it was. How cute. I was annoyed, partly for not recognizing it, but mostly that my good intentions had flipped back on me. Instead of being thanked for my civic responsibility, I was being schooled on Ono's whimsy. I somehow doubt I was experiencing what the artist intended.

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Whisper Pieces installed at MoMA in 2010, image: moma

Claiming MoMA dust bunnies as art might be seen as even lamer than Banksy, who surreptitiously stuck his own work on a museum wall and gloated about how long it took the museum to take it down. It's just a stick in the eye of people who live to look.

Does declaring it an artwork just seem like so much ledge-half-full spin, a passive aggressive way to shame the Museum needs to break out the cherry picker and the Swiffer? Until I decided it was an artwork, I would have thought so. But now I feel actual dread knowing it'll be gone. Some unknown day soon, maybe as soon as Walid Raad's installation gets cleared out of the atrium, a Museum staffer is going to unceremoniously obliterate my piece. I'll walk into the 4th floor to see some Naumans or Hesses or Broodthaers or whatever, and it'll be gone.

But it will also be back; that's not ten years of dust we're looking at. And while Dust Breeding's parenthetical collabo right now is Picasso's Bull, that will change too. And as it comes and goes, I'll document its condition, and its neighbors. And if you see it, please take a picture and let me know. #dustbreeding

UPDATE WOW: From MTAA's Michael Sarff comes this bombshell of a project: the MoMA's Dust Windows Community on Facebook, established OVER TWO YEARS AGO to document and appreciate the dust that gives "voice to time, memory and entropy set against the ideals of what a museum is often thought to reflex."

I am the prodigal dust son, make me as one of thy dust-loving servants!

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[LOL. As I write this, Ann Temkin is actually live on Periscope, offering invited guests to honor Duchamp and the 100th anniversary of the Readymade, a term which first appeared in a letter the artist wrote to his sister on 15 January, 1916. Perfect.]

Previously, related: Untitled (Andrion Attributed To Paul Revere, Jr.)

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A couple of weeks ago, David Dunlap looked back at the bad old days of Penn Station before the wrecking ball made it even worse.

And I found myself thinking the same thing as Michael Bierut, that Lewis Mumford's "crowning horror," a modernist, curved steel and glass ticket counter installed in 1956, was actually pretty sweet.

A quick search revealed the "clamshell," as it was known, was designed by Lester Tischy, who had worked under Raymond Loewy.

In addition to designing the Coke bottle, Loewy was a consultant to the Pennsylvania Railroad. And as this 2011 Transit Museum exhibition of the history of Penn Station showed, Loewy filled the station's main hall with photo murals to honor the 25,000+ railroad workers serving in the US armed forces during WWII.

The Times reported that the 40x25-ft headshots went up in February 1943. The photo above shows five, an engineer, a conductor, a soldier, sailor, and a marine. The paper said there were six, including a Red Cap porter. Also that models were used for all but the marine; so it would be interesting to know if the model for the Red Cap was black. Because that would be quite a monumental public depiction of an African American for 1943.

Penn Station's History Lesson [archpaper]

January 5, 2016

Untitled (Re: Graham), 2016

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Richard Prince, "New Portraits," installation shot, Sept. 2014, Gagosian 976, image:richardprince.com

According to his copyright infringement lawsuit against Richard Prince, Rasta-fetishizing fashion photographer Donald Graham sells limited edition prints of his 1997 photo, Rastafarian Smoking a Joint in two sizes: 20x24 inches (ed. 25) and 48x60 inches (ed. 5).

A rasta/model/whatever named @indigoochild 'grammed Graham's image in February 2014. It was regrammed in May by another r/m/w, @rastajay92, three months later. In May Prince commented on it, then took a screenshot, which he eventually printed at 4x5' and showed in his "New Portraits" show at Gagosian Madison in September 2014.

donald_graham_rasta_print_20x24.jpg
Donald Graham, Rasta Smoking A Joint, 1997-, Lambda print, 20x24, ed. 5/25, sold at Heritage Auction in Nov. 2015

In his complaint, Graham's attorneys detail the alterations Prince made to Graham's image, including making a screenshot, cropping, adding text and emoji, adding all the UI and empty space, and printing at low resolution and large size on canvas. Prince's depiction is clearly of a photo on/in Instagram, with all that entails. It is clearly different in appearance, color, finish, and context, unless you're seeking a significant amount of money, in which case these differences become invisible or irrelevant.

Unfortunately for Mr. Graham, he only registered his copyright for the image after Prince's show, so even if he were able to prove infringement, he would only be able to recover actual damages. Since Prince sold his New Portrait to his dealer Larry Gagosian, those actual damages probably range between the profit from one 4x5 photo print and $18,500, Prince's half of the $37,000 retail price for the IG works at that time.

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greg.org, Study for Untitled (Re: Graham), 2016, Donald Graham Lambda print cut down and collaged on inkjet on canvas, 30x24 in., ed. up to 25, I guess

It strikes me that the quickest and easiest solution is to buy one of Graham's prints, cut it up, and collage it on top of the infringing Prince. They're already roughly the same size. For proof of concept, I'm glad to make a study using one of Graham's smaller, 20x24-inch prints. As it happens, the only two ever to come to auction surfaced after Prince's show: in November 2014 in Paris (EUR2600), and in Nov. 2015 in Dallas ($2,475). Delivery date's a little uncertain, but at these prices, I'm sure we can make it work. Win-win-win.

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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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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
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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"
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-
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"Richteriana," Postmasters Gallery, NYC

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Canal Zone Richard
Prince YES RASTA:
Selected Court Documents
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