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They are not the kind of thing to get excited over, necessarily, but every time I think about Agnes Martin's 1973 screenprint portfolio On A Clear Day, I like them a lot. [I did not like seeing a complete set baking in the sun in someone's freshly renovated loft kitchen one time, though. Respect, people.]

Martin had given up painting for seven years, and the invitation from Luitpold Domberger to create a print portfolio was instrumental in Martin's decision to start making work again. [That she was also preparing for her first mid-career retrospective at the ICA in Philadelphia at the time might have helped. I guess we should read the new biography and find out.]

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Anyway, On A Clear Day is 30 images Martin selected from over 300 drawings she'd done in 1971. So a subset, perhaps, more than a series. And a mechanical interpretation of her hand marking process.

The 8x8 prints on 12x12 sheets are printed in an edition of 50, plus 14 APs. It is not clear how many portfolios were kept together, but a bunch were broken up, and loosies show up at auction all the time. One's coming up at Doyle in a couple of weeks, in fact: plate 8 from ed. 49/50. The estimate seems a bit low, but it says there's a soft crease in the image.

I hate broken up sets, and have long wondered if you could put one back together. And by you, obviously, I mean me. How long would it take? Could you track them down, or do you just have to wait and watch? Which number should you work on? Should you keep a stash of loosies available anyway, to trade with reluctant sellers?

What have these prints been through since they've been apart? Have they been cared for, kept out of the sun? Framed nicely? Framed crappily? Lone silkscreens are not very precious. And there are nearly 2,000 of these things out there. Some might be shoved in drawers, or stuck inside a book. Isn't it likely that some might not have survived at all? If there are already a couple dozen complete sets around, what's the value to Martin's legacy of one more?

But I guess it's not really for or about Martin at all. She just provided the raw material for the project. If a reassembled Agnes Martin portfolio is a new work, Untitled (On A Clear Day), would an assemblage of mismatched Martin prints be a study?

I remember very well the set of ten On A Clear Day prints up top, which were at Phillips in 2008. They are a ragtag bunch of misfits, actually: three "a.p.s," six "p.p.s", and only one actual numbered print: plate 4 from, oh hey, 49/50. This project may start right now.

Oct. 27, 2015: Lot 125 Agnes Martin (1912-2004), ON A CLEAR DAY, est. $1,000-1,500 [doylenewyork]

Early work, commercial work, disowned work, and destroyed work are not relevant to an artist's work, except when they are.

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Tiffany & Co. building on the corner of Fifth & 57th, c.1940 via nypl

I did not know that Bonwit Teller was owned by Walter Hoving, who bought it in 1946, and who also bought Tiffany & Co. next door in 1955. From the family. The store was in trouble, and he turned it around, turned it into the Tiffany's we know today. Hoving was a crack retail guy. His son Thomas became director of the Met. Hoving had Bonwit's window dresser Gene Moore take over Tiffany's windows, too. Bonwit's had 16 windows on Fifth Avenue & 56th St. Tiffany's had two on Fifth and three on 57th.

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Bonwit Teller building, 721 Fifth Avenue, on the corner of 56th Street in 1956. Destroyed by Donald Trump.

Dali did some Bonwit's windows in 1938. Duchamp did a window display for Brentano's to promote Breton's book in 1945; it had to be moved to Gotham Book Mart. Here is a long discussion of shop windows, Benjamin, flaneurs, and capitalist spectacle. [Brentano's was Scribner's before, and is a Sephora now.]

Robert Rauschenberg and Susan Weil did windows for Moore at Bonwit's. And Rauschenberg and Johns did after that. Here is the set of amazing blueprint monotypes Bob and Jap did for Bonwit's in 1955, which Gene kept. [1955 was also when Warhol started doing Bonwit's windows.]

I'm going into this now because I finally got a copy of Gene Moore's 1990 coffee table memoir, My Time At Tiffany's, and it talks about the artists he worked with, and how he was the first window dresser [he preferred "window trimmer"] to give artists credit. And how he also showed their "'serious' work," with credit, a rental fee, and no commission if it sold. And he has a chronology of all the windows he did for Tiffany's.

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Target with completely unrelated and painted Plaster Casts, why do you even ask?, 1955

So here are all the Tiffany windows Rauschenberg and Johns did under their pseudonym, Matson Jones, and what Moore said about the projects and working with the artists.

October 1, 2015

Elizabeth Warren, Filtered

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I know she's not in the White House rn, but the tasty pixel pattern in this picture of Elizabeth Warren on Talking Points Memo caught my eye this morning. Until I noticed it was on her podium, too. And it's also on the edges of her hair and hands. So it's a Photoshop filter applied with a quick and somewhat dirty mask. Weird.

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TPM doesn't give a photo credit, but I searched up the original. Looks like it was taken Saturday, Sept. 19 at the 2015 Massachusetts Democratic Convention by Dave Roback of The Republican [please, oldest joke in Springfield, I'm sure].

That is what digital projected video looks like in 2015. And anyway, those pixels aren't even pixels; it's the moire pattern from four-color offset printing. Which has been used to approximate visible RGB pixels on a television screen.

Have I already thought about this image more than whoever hacked this thing together, or whoever decided to use it? Or was there a moment of contemplation, a decision, to make an image look more retro? And if so, did it involve someone who's possibly too young to have seen either moire or visible pixels?

Why Wall Street Is Howling Over The Big New Reform Coming Down The Pike [talkingpointsmemo]
Sen. Elizabeth Warren blasts GOP presidential candidates with fiery speech at 2015 Massachusetts Democratic Convention in Springfield [masslive]

September 20, 2015

On Fukushima And Furecon Bags

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Just to be clear, this Reuters photo of the 1-ton black bags full of radioactive debris that are being stacked all over Fukushima reminded me of the most terrible Hiroshi Sugimoto seascape ever before I cropped and greyscaled it.

But the more I see of them, the less I see of Sugimoto.

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Sometimes an object has its own logic.

A few days ago I saw an unusual auction listing. It was described as a "textile" with the title, "Merce at the Minskoff," and it was signed by "Bob Rauschenberg, Merce Cunningham, and John Cage." But the description was cursory, and there was no image. When I called, the small downtown auctioneer couldn't describe it, but they assured me they'd post the image soon.

This textile was clearly related to Merce and the company's week-long performance at the Minskoff Theater in January 1977, the only time they performed on Broadway. But what would be signed by these three?

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Untitled (Merce at the Minskoff), 2015 - , ink on towel with four signatures (interim state)

Then I got wrapped up in other stuff, and confused the sale date, and long story short, I missed the auction this morning, and I lost a chance to buy what appears to have been an autographed commemorative hand towel.

So for now getting the designer of the Merce at the Minskoff poster to sign this towel requires not just the acquiescence of Mr. Johns, but the co-operation of the as-yet-unidentified owner/custodian of the towel.

But it will happen. Or at least it must. Because when an object has its own logic, your only viable option is to endeavor to realize it as quickly as possible.

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FROM THE ESTATE OF LOUISE NEVELSON HELLO: "Signed Jasper Johns lower right and inscribed, 'Dear Louise, I love you, Merce"

Lot 194: Textile, "Merce and the Minskoff", sold to someone now carrying the weight of future Art History on his or her shoulders for a measly $125 [roland/liveauctioneers]
Apr 26, 2010, Norwalk, CT, Lot 357: AFTER JASPER JOHNS (AMERICAN, b.1930): Signed colored poster. [braswell/invaluable]

UPDATE: This post was edited soon after publication to accept responsibility for an object's realization, even though it is not presently within my control to do so. I must and will do what I can, though.

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I am bewildered and psyched in equal parts to announce the presence of some greg.org objects at Internet Yami-Ichi New York, this coming Saturday (9/12) at Knockdown Center in Maspeth.

Michael Sarff from MTAA invited me to show some black-marketable items in Over The Opening (OTO) a space (blanket) he is curating, so I sent along the following:

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Hand-colored editions of Canal Zone Richard Prince Yes Rasta and CZRPYR 2. The original book with Richard Prince's full Cariou v. Prince deposition transcript includes a hand-painted bookplate tipped in with paint, in homage to Prince's technical innovations on the Canal Zone series. CZRPYR 2 includes the complete set of altered illustrations created by the Appeals Court, hand-tinted in the manner of publishers of yore. Supplies will be pretty damn limited.

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A rare and exclusive selection of Local Pick-up Only #eBayTestListing prints. Because price and shipping parameters are intrinsic aspects of the eBay Test Listing series, it was not conceptually reasonable to just stick a bunch of prints in a portfolio and sell them like crack on the street. So the only prints available at Yami-Ichi are those few whose eBay listings have local pick-up or store pickup options. Buy them right then and there on eBay, and take them home. Is how it will work.

OTO will also feature pieces from Yael Kanarek's World of Awe; Waterbear flatware by Raphaele Shirley; canonical Before Facebook-era artifacts from MTAA; and the premiere of Sarff's new audio project, Music 4 Music 4 Airports. Like I said, psyched and bewildered. Should be awesome.

Over The Opening (OTO) @ the Internet Yami-ichi (Internet Black Market) [mtaa.net]

So what has the LAPD Art Theft detail been working on in the nearly six years since we first checked in on them? Let's see what's hot:

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Or not. Because all is not lost. Besides the unheralded recovery of the Weisman Warhols, the biggest story has to be the recovery last winter of nine early 20th century modern paintings stolen in 2008 from the Encino house of collectors Anton and Susan Roland. The Rolands lost a pair of Soutines, a Hans Hoffman, a Rivera, a van Dongen, and a Chagall. [the complete list is on the wanted poster linked here.] Following some anonymous tips, the police set up a sting to buy the works last December. The Rolands died in the mean time, alas, but their heirs will get the chance to get the works back if they return the insurance settlement. Probably a good deal.

Now let's see what's still out there:

September 9, 2015

Find The Warhol Jews!

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What is it with the Warhols in LA that makes them so hard to keep on the walls? TMZ reports [!] that nine Warhol prints were reported stolen from the offices of a Los Angeles-area film editing company, and were replaced with fakes.

The fakes were discovered "a few months ago" when "a member of the family" sent the prints to be reframed, and were reported to the police in May. Six of the prints are ed. 73/200 from Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century (1980) and three are ed. 96/150 from the ten-part Endangered Species series (1983). According to TMZ, the prints were all purchased in the 1980s, but it is not clear whether the company/family had the entire sets.

One of the Endangered Species prints, Bald Eagle, was sold at Bonham's in San Francisco in October 2011 for $37,500, and police have obtained the records relating to that sale.

Which should make for quick work. Just think for a second what is involved in creating [passable poster-sized Warhols, and then replacing them in the frames. [Or can you just buy them now?] This was a rogue framer, a shady dealer, or a determined and crafty insider.

Which, funny I should mention that. TMZ namechecks the other big LA Warhol Caper, the 2009 theft of an entire set of Athletes paintings (1977) from the home of the esteemed collector who commissioned them, Richard Weisman. But they don't say what happened to them.

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Study for Find The Warhols, 2009

The Weisman Warhols were the subject of my Find The Warhols Project, one of the earliest Kickstarters, which was intended to plaster the backrooms of the art world with giant, glossy copies of the LAPD's awesome-as-hell $1 Million Reward poster. That Kickstarter failed right around the time Weisman withdrew his $25 million insurance claim, and the insurance company canceled the reward. In 2010 an art theft guru said the Weisman Warhols had not, in fact been stolen, but were the victims of "a domestic kidnapping!" but declined to provide any details.

They were still listed as stolen, though, when the great Zurich designer Lex Treub asked to appropriate the Weisman Warhols poster for an exhibition at the House of Switzerland during the London 2012 Olympics.

Anyway, the LAPD now lists all the Weisman Athletes paintings as RECOVERED! Which is great! What a relief! Or a fraught domestic drama we are not privy to! Maybe it's best to just wish the Weismans well and offer them some privacy as they continue to work things out; because the portrait of Weisman himself is still reported as missing.

If you have any leads on any of the above, give the LAPD Art Theft detail a call.

Andy Warhol Theft | Someone Switched the Jews!!! [tmz]
LAPD Art Theft detail [lapdonline.org]
Previously, very much related: Have You Seen Me? The Find The Warhols Project
Greatest Hits: Highlights from the LAPD Art Theft detail's wanted gallery
update: I got my Jews straightened out in that image. Sarah, not Sandra, obv.

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Ever since I posted about them last year, and ever since the 3-D printing files disappeared, I've received a steady stream of emails asking how to get some of Scott Kildall and Bryan Cera's Readymake after Marcel Duchamp chess pieces.

Believing at the time that the set Duchamp carved in 1918 in Argentina was lost, the artists created 3D models from an archival photo. I pointed out that the set still existed somewhere. [Naumann's book actually lists it in Duchamp's Estate.]

Which, now it can be told that Kildall and Cera received a cease & desist order from lawyers for the Estate of Marcel Duchamp, claiming the 3D models, adapted from an unmarked photo of the set the French-born, naturalized American Duchamp carved for himself in 1918 in Argentina, infringed on the estate's French copyright. Which, please.

chesswithmustaches_fullset.jpg

Kildall and Cera had a very respectful and reasonable discussion with all kind of lawyers and ultimately, with a sympathetic Duchamp heir. The result, more than a year later, is the happy announcement of Chess With Mustaches, a suitably Duchampian homage that steers through the international copyright swamp and straight into the safe harbor of parody.

duchamp_lhooq_1919.jpg
l'échecs au cul


They are not currently available for download or printing. But I'll be keeping an eye out.

What Happened to the Readymake: Duchamp Chess Pieces? [kildall, thanks bryan cera for the heads up]
Previously: Readymake: And You May Find Yourself 3-D Printing A Marcel Duchamp Chess Set [greg.org]

September 4, 2015

On The Golden Record

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Could this really be happening? Four years ago I wished for a way to play back the Golden Record, the earthly calling card stuck to the sides of the Voyager space probes nearly 40 years ago. I knew all the recordings and diagrams and photos Carl Sagan and friends recorded on there, but I wondered what it would actually be like to play it back? What would the 116 images turn out like if you played them off an analog record with a needle, and then assembled the 512 raster lines?

I wanted to find an extra Golden Record and play it, which turned out to be hard-to-impossible. And also unnecessary. [Though I'm still game, if you have a Golden Record I can borrow!] Because the Record has been played.

A few weeks ago, Man Bartlett tweeted about some strange electronic passages in a NASA recording of the Golden Record:

And then sound artist Ranjit Bhatnagar identified them as the encoded data for the 116 photographs. Here's one of the first images Ranjit processed, the aliens' intro to Earth Math:

voyager_golden_record_chem_frankdrake.gif

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above: Image of math chemistry from Voyager 1 by Frank Drake, below: same image decoded by Ranjit Bhatnagar

So this is it. The answer was sitting right there on the Internet Archive the whole time. And yet.

voyager_golden_record_earth.gif

voyager_golden_record_earth_kcimg.png
above/below: image of Earth, and image of Earth decoded from Voyager 1 by Kyle McDonald

Within a few minutes of Ranjit's decoding, code artist Kyle McDonald happened by, and blew things wide open with his distortion adjustments, which he promptly documented and pushed to github. So it just took four years and one serendipitous hour. And now we know that the images we've sent out into the universe look like a 1970s TV with a tinfoil antenna.

Voyager1 audio track [archive.org]
Kyle McDonald | Voyager 1 Decoding [github]
Previously: Off The Golden Record

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Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
greg [at] greg [dot ] org

find me on twitter: @gregorg

about this archive

Category: art

recent projects, &c.


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eBay Test Listings
Mar 2015 —
about | proposte monocrome, rose
bid or buy available prints on ebay

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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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