April 9, 2013

And The Award Comes From

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image via Bloomberg Philanthropies' Facebook photostream

Congratulations to the mayors of Philadelphia, Houston, Santa Monica, Chicago [not present] and Providence for winning Bloomberg Philanthropies' inaugural Mayors Challenge Prize for Innovation Award, thereby securing grants of five or one million dollars for your city's innovative project, plus this wonderful trophy, created exclusively for the Mayors Challenge Prize by noted Icelandic/Danish artist Olafur Eliasson.

image via Bloomberg Philanthropies' Facebook photostream

As the LA Times' Christopher Knight reported, the grand prize winner, Providence's stainless steel trophy will be shiny, while the other winners' trophies will have a blacker finish. All will consist, however, of a compass suspended from a circle nested in a square nested in a dodecagon, which represent, respectively, movement toward a common goal; the angle of rotation of the earth; a map; and the demarcation of time in hours and/or months.

Olafur's Mayors Challenge Prize is the slow-ripening fruit of Bloomberg [Mayor's and Philanthropies'] collaboration during the Public Art Fund-sponsored NYC Waterfalls project.


It joins a rarified group of trophies designed by artists of the day, including the Ellie, replicas of Alexander Calder's stabile Elephant, which have, since 1966, been given by the American Society of Magazine Editors to winners of the National Magazine Awards. [That's Chris Anderson and David Remnick hauling home three each in 2009, via adage]


And Ernest Trova's COUNCIL OF FASHION DESIGNERS OF AMERICA AWARD, commissioned in 1981. We read that DVF brought in the life-size version of COFDOAA to CFDA HQ. But this particular one was Brooke Astor's, from 1989, and it was sold last September at Sotheby's.. $1,750.


And my favorite, which has been sitting on my desktop for months now, and whose genesis has the greatest similarity to Bloomberg's Eliasson: Rockefeller's Kelly. In 1967, Governor Nelson Rockefeller commissioned Ellsworth Kelly to create the New York State Award. The felt banner, produced by the noted art banner publisher Betsy Ross Flag and Banner Co. in an edition of 20, was given to admirable arts and culture-related projects and institutions by the New York State Council of the Arts. An enlightened tribute, inspiring to all. And occasionally turning up on the market.

Santa Monica wins Eliasson sculpture; awaits a much bigger one [latimes via @KnightLAT]

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April 8, 2013

Glitches Of The Stations Of The Cross

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So I'm reading the Guggenheim's little exhibition catalogue for Barnett Newman's Stations of the Cross, which, as I noted, has been digitized by the museum in conjunction with the Internet Archive, and is thus available for instant and free viewing or download.


And then the little PDF constantly hangs up Preview, which is supposed to be like the most stable application in the entire OS, I thought, so what is up? And it's always at page 31. Which, when I can see it, about half the time, has a full-page illustration of Twelfth Station [right], with a giant divot taken out of the top. Which, after a flash of doubt, I confirm [left] is not how the painting actually looks.

[Heads up: Stations of the Cross is not on view right now; it was in the NGA's Tower Gallery, but the whole East Wing is being shut down for renovations, starting, apparently, with the gallery holding the greatest paintings.]

After repeatedly crashing, I thought, maybe I could print my way ouf of this problem, and so I printed the Internet Archive's file to a new PDF. And watched my 1.4mb file balloon to 282mb, which obviously takes its own sweet time to open to page 1.

As well as Page 31, which is now a glitch masterpiece, that obviously, I must now paint.


On the theory that monochromes somehow confound either scanners or compression algorithms, I checked the PDF for the Guggenheim's 1975 Brice Marden exhibition, but it appeared disappointingly glitch-free.

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April 7, 2013

The Great Piece of Merch

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Albrecht Dürer, Praying Hands, 1508, pen and ink on prepared paper, Collection Albertina Museum

Went to see the Albrecht Dürer show at the National Gallery this morning, it was suitably fantastic. Though, perversely, I found myself taken by the seemingly least important elements of the works: the paper and the mounts. More on the mounts later, I hope.

When he painted in Venice Dürer used a new type of blue paper, carta azzurra, which was made from blue rags. But when he was home in Nuremberg, he approximated this support by "preparing" his paper. That's what all the descriptions say: "prepared paper."

From what I can tell, this means covering the entire sheet of paper with a blue/gray/green wash. I assume it's due to age and the chemical alteration of some of the pigments, but a few of his drawings on prepared paper look like they have a faint, pinkish underpainting, as if he built up the ground tone with translucent layers. Which would be even more surprising, I think.

Anyway, he seems to have adopted this approach for the preparatory drawings for the Heller altarpiece, including his beyond-iconic drawing above, Praying Hands.

I searched the exhibition catalogue in vain for a more detailed discussion of this paper preparation process, but here is the conclusion of the entry for Praying Hands:

Removed from their original context, the Praying Hands were misinterpreted by posterity. They were reproduced in vast numbers and in a multitude of form, extending from reverential appreciation all the way to kitschy objects, and they have become familiar in popular culture as an expression of sentimental piety. This could hardly have been Dürer's intention.
Though you can buy the NGA/Albertina's Albrecht Dürer exhibition catalogue at Amazon, out of consideration for the artist's intention, these The Great Piece of Turf eyeglass cases and scarves are available only in the museum shop.


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Barnett Newman Sculpture In Specific Sites

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Listening to David Diao's amazing talk on Barnett Newman at Dia a few weeks ago, and then seeing his painted references to Newman, and especially to the 1966 Guggenheim catalogue for Lema Sabachthani, the debut exhibition of Stations of the Cross reminds me that Newman's work has been experienced and considered quite differently than it is today. [The Internet Archive has digitized Barnett Newman's The Stations of the Cross catalogue, btw.]


Which reminded me of these old photos of Newman sculptures. The top one's from 1967, the first installation of Broken Obelisk at the Corcoran, the museum which commissioned it. It was included in the same large-scale sculpture exhibition as Tony Smith's Smoke and whatshisname's giant X.

This, first edition was removed from the Corcoran in 1969 [according to Washington Post courtier/reporter Paul Richard, there was turmoil after the departure of the museum director. Go figure.] and was eventually installed at the Rothko Chapel in Houston, dedicated after the fact to the memory of Martin Luther King. But there are a couple more. Has a Broken Obelisk ever been exhibited in DC since? And I keep looking for a photo of it from the other angle, with the actual Washington Monument. I mean, that shot was possible, wasn't it? [Yes, from the FDIC building, apparently.]


And this one, which blows my mind, is Lace Curtain for Mayor Daley, a grid of barbed wire across a cor-ten window frame. Newman made it for a series of protest exhibitions hastily organized by Richard Feigen and Claes Oldenburg, after Chicago police attacked anti-war protestors at the Democratic National Convention. [Oldenburg was one of those beaten.] Annalee gave Lace Curtain to the Art Institute of Chicago in 1989, which has exhibited it only rarely.

Like I said, the perception of Newman's work has been quite different than it is today.

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April 6, 2013

Night Watch Flash Mob

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I'm trying to remember the last non-sponsored, non-marketing flash mob I've seen. They're basically commercials inserted in the experience of the public sphere. Or the mall shopping experience, so whatever.

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April 1, 2013

Albert Frey's Canvas Weekend House And Other Pilotis, By Bruno Munari


I've had this spread from Domus 195 on my desktop so long, I've forgotten who or where it came from, but the issue, from 1944, was designed by Bruno Munari.


"Case su Trampoli," or "Houses on Stilts" juxtaposes an awesome fisherman's shack on Lago Maggiore with early modernist designs by architects from Le Corbusier to Albert Frey. Who had worked for Le Corbusier, on the Villa Savoye, in fact.

But it's really the combination of the shack and Frey's Canvas Weekend House on the lower left which gets me. Frey built it for and/or with Lawrence Kocher in 1933-4 at Fort Salonga, in Northport, LI, which turned into a little modernist enclave.


Did I mention it was made of canvas? After the critical success of their Aluminaire House, Frey & Kocher experimented with designs with the backing of cotton and textile manufacturers, but the only one to actually get built was Kocher's own house.

Marine canvas was stretched horizontally over a redwood frame, insulated with aluminum foil, and nailed, painted & sealed. Joseph Rose's Frey monograph says it had to be resealed every three years, but I can't see how long the canvas house actually stood.


The most detail I've seen online comes from Tania Gonzales Gonzales' series of blog posts, an assignment to analyze the house's structure and propose an addition to it.

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March 31, 2013

Mirror, Mirror

permanent link | posted in: art | writing


OK, I am a bit in love with Jacob Kassay right now, in my head.

In Art F City Eva Heisler reviews Kassay's current show at Art:Concept in Paris [above], his second, and it looks remarkably like the first, in 2010 [below].


Do you see what he did there? Did he really just answer the perennial art journo question about how he'll top with the extraordinary popularity of his electroplate paintings by just cold restaging an entire show of them? Apparently, no.

Heisler explains that these are not Kassay paintings, but "canvases," "props in lieu of paintings." In fact, they're in exactly the same lieux and same dimensions as Kassay's first show. And the installation shots of 2013 are almost all identical to those of 2010. And despite what it looks like, this situation Kassay has set up is one in which, as Heisler astutely puts it, "his paintings are present only through their staged absence."

But these present absences, these "not paintings," are--are you sitting down?--not for sale. They will be destroyed after the show. At least the canvases will be. The "stretcher bars (will be) recycled." Which seems like an odd detail, but hey.

There were actually not 25 paintings at Phillips, only 17, with one sold twice. Which, holy smokes, nice placement. Does anyone hold onto these, ever?

And not only do these new canvases have a uniform, non-gestural, more mirror-like facture, Heisler reports, again, kind of oddly, that "this time the artist did not touch the surfaces at all." Which would seem like the least determinative factor possible for a non-painting these days, until this one:

The fact that Kassay's mirror objects are emphatically "not paintings" and earmarked for destruction implies that the definition of what counts as a "Kassay painting" has to do with its entry into the art market. If so, then it is an irony that the artist's attempt to evade the market in fact reaffirms its powers even to name what counts as "a painting by Jacob Kassay."
Which, what? Why? No way, not even. Kassay can outsource or not sell or destroy what he wants. The only reason Kassay's "not paintings" are not paintings is because Kassay says they're not paintings.

What Heisler calls "deflection" I would see as negation. Looking back, and following the artist's chosen mediations, the Art:Concept show reflects [sic] a sustained strategy of negation and "staged absence" as a constructive part of Kassay's practice.


Art:Concept's press release for the current show is, so to speak, Exhibit A. Just as the 2013 canvases bear striking resemblance to the 2010 paintings, The new press release, too, [left, pdf] turns out to be an excised, barely augmented, near-replica of the old [right, pdf] And you know what the funniest thing about Kassay in Europe is, it's the little differences.


To make it easier to see what's changed, or specifically, what's been deleted, negated, from Kassay's presentation, I converted his strikethroughs to highlights. You can download the complete, highlighted pdf here. What's erased crossed out? Well, data [Dates, "New York," "collaboration," and "works on paper,"] but also things like "industrial," "chemical," "conceptual," and every reference to photography and his monochrome and mirror forebears. Also blacked out: any privileging of "the perception of the painterly surface," and particulars of how "the artist carefully keeps control of their reproductions." Which, he may not want to talk about it, but since the 2013 installation shots match perfectly to the 2010 photos, I think it's safe to say he still cares.

It's a stretch, perhaps, but there seems to be a non-trivial overlap between what was blacked out and the terms, references and concepts initially used to hype Kassay's paintings in auction catalogues and the media. ["Whilst Kassay uses industrial techniques, they retain an engaging, painterly quality."]

What's less speculative but feels quite instructive is to see what stays:

"the modernist and maybe absurd desire to put an end to classicism by producing monochromes."

"...creating a distance between his work and the nostalgia that was seemingly implied by the use of an obsolete technique."

"...multiple considerations on illusions created by serial production and the impossibility to operate exact reproductions; defining the loss involved both in the transfer-processes and in any interpretive attempt."

The Art:Concept show also invites a reconsideration of Kassay's just-ended exhibition in New York, Untitled (disambiguation) [or as I liked to call it, "leftovers at The Kitchen"], which consisted, remember, of stretched scraps of canvas from which his earlier paintings had been cut. The staged absence of paintings.


It also included several silvered paintings, installed/photographed in conspicuously offhand, even marginalized spaces: propped in the foyer, behind a column, or in a storeroom. These images are, in fact, included in Art:Concept's press release.


And now that you mention it, their surface looks as uniform and non-painterly as the "not paintings" of Paris. Did anyone look into The Kitchen's mirrors, to see what their status was? Were they, too, "props in lieu of paintings"? Were they dismantled or destroyed? Were they for sale? Is there anyplace better than the gallery of a performance space to stage absence?

I looked back at reviews and such, and found that, again, the press release had been altered, this time without leaving a trace. The early text preserved, along with Ben Davis's mug, in this photo contains facts about the making of which are omitted from the archived version. What had been explained and presented as the artist's intent was eliminated, transformed through negation into historical hearsay.

Which makes me think again of the Henry Codax Incident last year. That's when Christie's, citing Gallerist NY's report, described a dark grey monochrome by the fictional artist Codax as the product of a collaboration between Kassay and Olivier Mosset. Kassay protested, and insisted that Christie's read a statement before the auction "disassociating his name" from the painting.

So in addition to Codax paintings which are "not Kassay paintings," we can add canvases in a Kassay show which are "not paintings." To paraphrase John Cage, Kassay has nothing to paint, and he's not painting it.

But just as Rauschenberg demonstrated erasure as a generative act, Kassay gives hints that negation for him is constructive and not repudiation or "deflection." Art:Concept's current Kassay slideshow also includes two non-not-painting objects: used French library books with prismatic acrylic wedges inserted into them. One is a collection of work by the late Greek poet Constantin Cavafy.


The other: l'Entretien Infini, The Infinite Conversation, by philosopher/theorist Maurice Blanchot. Blanchot and Mallarmé argued that the power of language derived from its ability to negate a thing and replace it with an idea. And that both thing, the disappeared/negated thing and the idea that replaced it were equally valid, constant, and stable. And that the idea was even moreso, because the thing was subject to change. So really, instead of looking at the not paintings as destined for destruction; we should see them as ideas which will never be tarnished by time, atmosphere, or white-gloved flippers.

Jacob Kassay at Art : Concept, Reflection or Deflection? [artfcity]
Jacob Kassay, 23 février - 6 avril 2013 [galerieartconcept.com]
Jacob Kassay, 8 mai - 5 juin 2010 [galerieartconcept.com]

Previously: Henry Codax at Auction; also, Speculation
Also, Jacob Kassay, Johns & Rauschenberg, and collaboration

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March 28, 2013

Makin' Copies

"Courtesy Flickr and the Artists; Illustration by BLOUIN ARTINFO"

The new issue of Aperture has a great discussion between Penelope Umbrico and Virginia Rutledge about one of my favorite WTF aspects of the Cariou v. Prince case: the fact that the primary visual evidence of copyright infringement used in court is not the paintings themselves, but photocopies. When the fair use/recontextualization/mediated imagery chips are down, the only thing being looked at is flattening, scale-destroying Xerox pairings made by a friend of Patrick Cariou.

Anyway, hot foot it over there right now, but before you go, just check out this amazingly dishonest image of a page from a book and a 6-ft painting. It's "Courtesy Flickr and the Artists; Illustration by BLOUIN ARTINFO," and accompanied a Julia Halperin story from last year wherein "BLOUIN ARTINFO analyzes how the Prince v. Cariou case has shaped views on the issue of appropriation." Which, SRSLY, BLOUIN ARTNFO, analyze thyself.

It's almost enough to make me start turning my pages from my copies of Cariou's Yes Rasta book into tiny, exact collage replicas of Prince's paintings. Stay tuned.

The Image World Is Flat: Penelope Umbrico in conversation with Virginia Rutledge [aperture.org]

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What I Looked At Last Week: Al Held

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As always, Abelow has the goods. In this case, it's nice detail shots of the "interesting" parts of Al Held's Alphabet Paintings at Cheim & Read, which are very nice.

The more time goes by, the paint goes down, the more paintings like this and the brushy little Blinky Palermos up at MoMA right now that I look at, the more I start to wonder if finish fetish is just not where it's at for me after all.

posted by greg | permanent link

March 26, 2013

'Exhibition Space' Installation Snaps

Installation view: panorama of 96 photographic plates from the National Geographic Socety-Palmar Observatory Sky Survey (1949-58); the other 1,700+ plates are in the cabinet.

First off, thanks to everyone at apexart for the really amazing work on the show. "Exhibition Space" looks great, and it's installed beautifully. Thanks, too, to the folks who have stopped by to see it, whether at the opening or since, and those who have sent along kind comments. I know Massimiliano curates three shows 10x this size each day before breakfast, but it's still a BFD for me, and after writing and thinking about the objects and photos in the show for so long online, it really is a completely different thing to see them in person.

detail of a photographic plate from NGS-POSS

I'll get some more systematic documentation shots of the show and the pieces in it soon, but in the mean time, here are some pictures I snapped last week. If you circulate them, I really hope you'll check back and update them when I get some slicker versions.

Continue reading "'Exhibition Space' Installation Snaps"
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March 19, 2013

'Exhibition Space' Opens Tomorrow


Dude. I can't believe it's really happening. But it is. "Exhibition Space" is opening tomorrow night at apexart in Tribeca. There's a reception from 6-8pm, and the show will be open to the public from Thursday the 21st through May 8.

What started out as completely separate ideas, spawned, obviously, here on the blog, has turned out to have all these amazing and direct interconnections, both among the objects in the show, but also into the art of the time.

As the new banner image suggests--which I love, btw, just so awesome, like it was shot just for me--there will be some extended posting about the stuff in the show here on greg.org. So please visit often.

image above inspired by Whitney's suggestion at AFC that I'm on some kind of Indiana Jones-like satelloon quest, which, well.

"Exhibition Space," photographs, objects, and perception at the dawn of the Space Race, 21 Mar - 8 May 2013 at apexart [apexart.org]

2007: The Sateloons of Project Echo, must. find. satelloons.
2008: On The Sky Atlas and the NGS-Palomar Observatory Sky Survey

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March 14, 2013

Bob Rubin Has Huge Bucky Ball


Well there we are, then. Bob Rubin got the prize, the 50-foot prototype of Buckminster Fuller's Fly's Eye Dome, which he's now restored and will unveil to the world in May-June at the Festival International d'Art in Toulouse, which used to be Printemps de Septembre, but is now actually in the Spring, and Printemps de Printemps was obviously not going to work, so. Whatever they call it, and whenever it is, this is a junket I will accept.

Anyway, The Architect's Newspaper has the story, which Phaidon's hype-y account distorted beyond recognition.

Max Protetch had been working these domes since at least 2008, and the Buckminster Fuller Institute sold the 10-ft prototype to Norman Foster, and the 24-ft version to Miami developer Craig Robins, who Miami'd the hell out of that thing in 2011.

With architectural expertise and sympathy running as deep as his pockets, Rubin is probably the best guy to take this on. And though Fuller's original engineering consultants Daniel Reiser and John Warren are involved, there's no luxury yachtmaker mentioned. So maybe Rubin's restoration will have some historical sensitivity.

Meanwhile, I will console myself with the knowledge that since the 50-foot dome is the only one you could conceivably live in, if I'd bought it, I would have been tempted to make unconscionable ahistorical modifications to it. Like windows. And a door. So I'm better off with a repro.

Robert Rubin restoring a monumental Buckminster Fuller dome. [archpaper via bfi via phaidon wtf via @wefindwildness]

2011 Fuller's Fly's Eye Dome Gets Miami Makeover
2008 Welcome to the Fly's Eye Dome

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March 13, 2013

It's A Tony Smith Thing

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For some reason, I've been collecting vintage photos of Tony Smith sculptures. The back of this illustrated rendering has the original title as Thing crossed out and replaced with Smoke. Which is something that would be pretty hard to research on Google.

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March 11, 2013

Frank O'Hara And Alfred Leslie's Lamp

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UPDATE: Make that Alfred Leslie and Frank O'Hara's Lamp [see below]

UPDATE UPDATE Just to be clear, let's make that Alfred Leslie and Frank O'Hara's Lamp by Larry Rivers

Obviously the best part of Richard O. Moore's 1966 WNET profile of Frank O'Hara is the poet reading "Having A Coke With You." But 2nd and 3rd best are a tossup between footage of New York back in the day, and this totally bonkers, homemade floor lamp in Alfred Leslie's studio. That's how awesome that lamp is.


Thanks to Maureen O'Hara for pointing out that this scene was actually shot in Frank's loft, and that the lamp was his, made by Larry Rivers.

Though I did wonder how Alfred Leslie's range included figurative portraits and the large abstract painting behind them, I didn't wonder hard enough to realize it wasn't by Leslie at all. [It's by Mike Goldberg, the subject of O'Hara's 1957 poem, "Why I Am Not A Painter."]

Anyway, clips from Moore's film, as well as other Frank O'Hara interviews and readings are at frankohara.org.

And now that I know a bit better what to look for, here are a couple of additional photos of the lamp in O'Hara's loft, taken, I believe, by Mario Schifano in 1964:

l-r: Kenneth Koch, John Ashberry photobomb, Patsy Southgate, Frank O'Hara, lamp

l=r: Southgate, lamp, Bill Berkson, O'Hara (seated), Ashberry, Koch (seated)

This bottom one is almost clear enough to reconstruct the lamp, if need be. Oh, wait, yes, Schifano, as seen in Homage to Frank O'Hara, Berkson and LaSueur's 1988 Pinterest board-avant la lettre, and tumbld by poets.org. So basically, I could take Lamp with Poets here to Canal Hardware and walk out with a complete lamp kit:


And for additional context, here's at least one other lamp/sculpture Rivers made, this one from 1966.


Blue Lamp looks like a spray painted construction of welded metal scraps and industrial hardware, with a "studio label" and a stock number on the bottom. Acquired directly from the artist, it didn't sell at Wright20 in 2011, because est. $5-7,000.

USA: Poetry: Frank O'Hara (1966) [youtube via VNY via @jameswagner]
Frank O'Hara - Video [frankohara.org]

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March 6, 2013

Chaneling Satelloons

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I'd like to announce that my satelloon show "Exhibition Space" will travel from the Grand Palais to New York, where it will open at apexart on March 20th.

I'd like to, but it---eh, you know what, it's close enough.


image: Chanel demands a closer look [nyt]
previously, like 2008 previously: Les Sateloons du Grand Palais

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