Destroyed Gerhard Richter paintings come in a variety of flavors.

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Destroyed Richter Grid 004, 2016, it me

Some just get destroyed out there in the rough and tumble world. They're usually the ones listed as "[DESTROYED]" in Richter's Catalogue Raisonné. [I remade a couple this year, including Destroyed Richter Grid 004, above, which was based on a 2009 squeegee painting that's currently the last painting listed as destroyed.]

Others he destroyed himself. For the most part, I think they're not in the CR. Like the batch of super-early Informel-inspired paintings he did when he first arrived in the West, which he burned publicly. And then there's the 60+ early works he destroyed in the late 1960s, either because 1) they were painted with cheap materials, 2) he moved studios and didn't have anywhere to put them, and/or 3) he just grew dissatisfied with them. Richter documented them in his archive, but not in the CR, so I guess they've been destroyed twice.

At some point around the 1980s, when he was developing his signature abstract series, Richter seems to have stopped destroying paintings; instead he overpaints them. A work's never unacceptable, just unfinished, Which I guess is a kind of optimism; nothing is irredeemable.

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Zwei Kerze [ÜBERMALT]/ Two Candles [OVERPAINTED], 1982, CR 497-2, image: gerhard-richter

I've been looking at and thinking about these exceptional, destroyed Richters for several years now, but until today, I hadn't really noticed this unusual case of how "[OVERPAINTED]" plays out in the CR. In particular, two early Kerze/Candle paintings are listed as "[OVERPAINTED]" on their original entries, and then again as new works, with new listings, in their overpainted states. Zwei Kerze (1982) starts as CR 497-2 [above], but a year later, it's back as Abstraktes Bild [ÜBERMALT] (1983), CR 536 [below].

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Abstraktes Bild [ÜBERMALT]/ Abstract Painting [OVERPAINTED], 1983, CR 536, image: gerhard-richter

CR numbers are not necessarily chronology for Richter, but this painting is bracketed by a series of identically sized abstract paintings he showed (and thus presumably created) together at Konrad Fischer Galerie in Dusseldorf in the summer of 1983. Maybe it was an inspiration or a catalyst, or maybe it was a foil. Or maybe it just got in the way, abstract collateral damage. [It was not included in the show, but another two candles painting was.]

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Zwei Kerze [ÜBERMALT]/ Two Candles [OVERPAINTED], 1982, CR 497-3, image: gerhard-richter

Then in 1989, the other, very similar Zwei Kerze, CR 497-3 [above], got a big, old black squeegeeful across the face, and became Abstraktes Bild CR 687-1.

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Abstraktes Bild (1989) CR 687-1, the painting formerly known as CR 497-3. image: gerhard-richter

And then CR 536 got a black/white/grey squeegee veil and became Abstraktes Bild CR 687-2. Forget the candles, the bright abstract passages barely make it through to the surface.

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Abstraktes Bild (1989) CR 687-2, the painting formerly known as CR 536, f/k/a CR 497-2. image: gerhard-richter

With just a couple of earlier exceptions, 1988-89 is when Richter stepped up his practice of overpainting snapshots and offset prints, including prints of candles. So something was in the air, or rather, the studio.

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top: 1982 and 1989. bottom: 1982, 1983, and 1989. images all from you know where

Ever since he constructed his Catalogue Raisonné, Richter has been actively shaping the narrative it tells, editing the list of works included, and the order they appear, using the authoritative construct as a medium in itself. And for whatever reason, as these particular pictures got hit with whatever fresh treatments or gestures were in play at some moment, Richter considered them new works, reborn, and reborn again, while retaining their traces in the history.

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It's funny how a work changes when the world changes around it.

Rob Pruitt's The Obama Paintings had felt a little sentimental to me a couple of years ago, but now, well.

The resonance with On Kawara's Today Series interests me, in the way that like Kawara's painting practice, had a meditative ritualism. But Kawara's was inflected with Buddhism, while Pruitt's is very secular, mediated, informational. I find Kawara's paintings mark the passage of time, or rather, his passage of time, but Pruitts' accumulate into a history that is not (only) his own.

Rob Pruitt The Obama Paintings closed yesterday at Gavin Brown [gavinbrown.biz, image above too]
The Obama Paintings: using art to examine a presidential legacy [guardian]

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I'm psyched for but slow to hype the discussion Eric Doeringer and I will have tomorrow, Saturday, Dec. 17, at 4pm, on the occasion of Eric's show at Mulherin Gallery.

Titled "Matson Jones & Co.", Eric is showing work he's made based on early artworks by Robert Rauschenberg & Jasper Johns. So tomorrow we'll probably talk about their collaborations, both as commercial artists, doing window displays under the name "Matson Jones," but also the artworks they made together, including such foundational "Rauschenbergs" as Short Circuit and Erased deKooning Drawing, and foundational Johns works like, well, like Flag and Map. Can you even imagine?

Anyway, it should be a blast, so I hope you'll come by.

"Eric Doeringer: Matson Jones & Co." runs through Dec. 31 at Mulherin, 124 Forsyth St (Delancey) [mulherinnewyork]

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I saw this picture by Rey Baniquet in a "best photos of the day" roundup at The Guardian yesterday. The caption read, "MANILA, PHILIPPINES/ President Rodrigo Duterte shows a list of police and government officials allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade during a forum with local and foreign businessmen". The original photo's actually wider.

Two things that struck me about the photo. One is the framing, which turned out to be taken from amid a tableful of glasses, and which reminded me of the video of Mitt Romney dissing the 47%, which was made surreptitiously from atop a catering bar. The other, more important thing is the list itself.

Googling around for more information, I kept coming across what the Philippine press called a "thick list" that Duterte had been circulating to the army, the legislature, the judiciary, implicating an untold number of people in the drug industry.

This event involved the Wallace Business Forum, a private business consulting group that advises international companies on doing business in the Philippines. Duterte spoke for two-plus hours at a dinner at the Malacañan Palace on December 12. The transcript and video of his speech are available online.

Duterte discussed the illegal drug industry, including three or four, let's go with four million, "drug addicts," as a national security threat. Then he mentioned the reported killings by his government:

You know, this is the drug industry. Sabi ko nga eh [I said, eh] you worry about the 3,000? Dead? A third of them during police encounters, I don't know about the rest. And you do not worry the drug industry?
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"You want a visual thing? Okay. This is the drug industry of the Philippines," he said, as he had the list brought to him. This occurs at around 36:30.

The top of the stack is filled with a grid of headshots, like a yearbook. And like the Time magazine issue listing a week of US gun fatalities which Felix Gonzalez-Torres used to create his 1990 stack work, "Untitled" (Death By Gun) [below]. That list included 460 people.

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Duterte says the list in his hand contains 6,000 people. While flipping through the list, he tosses of names and titles, mayors, judges, generals, in a way that makes it sound like he and everyone in the room knows them.

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Duterte's stack turns out not to be all photos, though. That is only the first deck. Several binder clips appear to break out the drug industry roster by region. The stack looks to be about 1000+ pages, more than two reams, for sure, maybe the clips throw it off a bit. Let's say the ideal height [sic] is 15 cm.

I am wrestling with how, and whether, to make a work out of what is apparently an active kill list being circulated by a government. The visual, formal, even content reference is immediately clear, but the parameters are not. And neither are the possible implications.

On just a formal level, is the stack a single work, with no takeaways, or is the deck the data, which gets laid out into a larger grid, then turned into a stack? I feel like Duterte's grasp on the entire stack gives me that answer [one work], even though it contradicts the typical Felix stack format. But of course, so did Felix, who created one stack, "Untitled" (Implosion), 1991, as a single unit comprised of 200 screenprinted sheets. So it'd be a single work. Maybe it'd be a publication. Maybe you print it out and save me the hassle.

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And maybe it's not the kind of thing that you do casually, or at least while the killings are ongoing. Or maybe not the kind of thing I should do as a white guy. Duterte's mention of 3-4 million more reminds me of Chris Burden's The Other Vietnam Memorial, 1991 [above], which mashed up names from a Vietnamese phone book into 3 million anonymized stand-ins for the real, unheralded dead. The people in the Philippines are real, and they have their own names.

It also reminds me of the million-who-knows people on the US' no-fly list, about whom we know almost nothing except some part of the government deemed them a national security risk. And there are lists of known communists in the State Department, suspected homosexuals in the US Government, climate change scientists in the Energy Department, Muslim Registries, the list of lists goes on.

I tweeted yesterday that I don't really know why I do these works; that ambivalence and uncertainty was brought to the fore by this photo. So until I think it through a bit more, I am really not comfortable right now with enshrining or recontextualizing Duterte's "thick list" as an artwork. Even though it is, as the president himself said, a very important "visual thing."

previously, somewhat related: Better Read #008: Death By Gun

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Study for Untitled (Boris Johnson Water Cannon), 2016, ed. 3, est. £35,000-£43,000. installation image from Longmoor Army Camp: Andrew Matthews/PA via Guardian

I am pleased to announce that three works will be coming up for sale in London. Details will be forthcoming from the Greater London Authority, who may have some particular requirements for bidding, but I am confident that seasoned art collectors will be welcome. So watch this space.


The work, Untitled (Boris Johnson Water Cannon) (2016), comprises a c. 1990 Ziegler Wasserwerfer 9000, or "WaWe 9" water cannon, with 9,000-liter capacity, originally owned by the German federal police, converted to UK specifications, and modified at considerable expense with: CCTV, warning equipment, 999 sirens, and stereo/CD player. It exists in an edition of three.

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The Wasserwerfer 9000s shown here are two of the six operated by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, and are not necessarily representative of the livery or accessories of the water cannons which comprise this work. They were used for training Metropolitan Police. So perhaps they should be considered studies. image: Stephen Barnes/Alamy via Guardian

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Oh, here's one of the actual pieces, as seen in a tweet from former Deputy Mayor for Policing Stephen Greenhalgh. They were unannounced and hidden, but the BBC located two of the three editions in Gravesend and filmed them via drone.

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Untitled (Boris Johnson Water Cannon) and unidentified paintings by Lucien Smith (?) installed at Gravesend, 2016. image: bbc

It looks like they were installed alongside some fire extinguisher paintings by Lucien Smith, which seems appropriate. Definitely putting that group show on the CV.

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Rain Painting, Lucien Smith, via moranbondaroff

While Untitled (Boris Johnson Water Cannon) may be exhibited publicly or privately, it is the artist's intention that it not be deployed in any capacity against any living thing. They may be used for painting, though. Any resulting works, installations, performances, video, or other materials will be evaluated and certified in consultation with the U(BJWC) owner and/or curator on a case-by-case basis.

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cf., Purple Rain Protest, Cape Town, South Africa, 1989, image: via

Boris Johnson's unused water cannon had £1,000 stereos fitted [theguardian]
Water cannon bought by Boris Johnson to be sold off without being used [theguardian]

Previously, related:
Police Action Painting
Protestors' Folding Item, 2014

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Marcel Duchamp, The Bride Stripped Bare by her Batchelors, Even (The Large Glass) 1915-23, reconstruction by Richard Hamilton 1965-6, lower panel remade 1985" image:tate

The new issue of Tate Papers is out, and it includes a great article [actually a dissertation chapter] by Bryony Bery detailing the creation, authorship, history, and conservation of Richard Hamilton's 1965-6 reconstruction of Duchamp's Large Glass.

The task of organising a Duchamp retrospective outside America posed many problems for Hamilton. A high proportion of the artist's extant work was fragile, lost, broken or unable to travel, making them, in one sense, prime candidates for replication. Reconstructing Duchamp's Large Glass was, according to critic Michael Bracewell, 'a technical and intellectual operation of staggering complexity - at once devoutly, almost perversely concerned with the practicalities of decipherment and craft, yet at the same time inhabiting empyrean realms of psychology, aesthetic philosophy and enacted myth'. Hamilton's work remains a great accomplishment within twentieth-century art history. As a case study it is also an exceptional example of how replicas have been understood more recently in museums and the implications for conservation treatments today. It represents a prime example of the problems regarding the ethics and transparency of replicas, partly because it has been deemed more successful than other comparable examples. Indeed, as well as offering a new way of looking at or through the Large Glass, this paper has sought to demonstrate that replication itself is an historical problem, and that historical objects pose problems for and in replication.
I've been as beguiled by the recreations of Large Glass as I am by Duchamp's original, not least because Duchamp signed and "certified" the first two-by Ulf Linde and Hamilton-as "copies conformes." There are others out there, of course, and "as Duchamp expert Michael R. Taylor acknowledged in 1994, 'there is nothing to suggest that this figure will not increase in the future'."

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Typo/Typography of Marcel Duchamp's Large Glass, 2001-2, but really 2003, ed. 5. image cropped from ag nsw

But Hamilton's effort is singular, I think, for his long involvement with the artist, the work, the process, and the materials surrounding it. Hamilton translated The Green Box, created collaborative glass editions with Duchamp as part of the Large Glass production project. Also, Hamilton's reproductions of Large Glass were used to create Jasper Johns & Duchamp's props for the 1968 Merce Cunningham dance, Walkaround Time. And he went on to make full-scale, annotated diagram of Large Glass mounted on aluminum, which are just gorgeous, and which, since the edition of five [plus one, oh wait, there were two more editions of nine and five? what the] was snapped up by museums, I've been meaning to recreate myself someday somehow. Heads up, Michael R. Taylor.

Through The Large Glass: Richard Hamilton's Reframing of Marcel Duchamp [tate.org.uk]
Typo Typography A Collaborative Print Studio Project [justpressp]
Previously, related:
Pour Copie Conforme
Johns, Merce, Duchamp: Walkaround Time
On Googling Richard Hamilton's Map of Palestine

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Top: screencap from "Putain d'epoque", with people standing in mylar ponchos. Bottom: Ghost, 2007, molds of kneeling family members made of aluminum foil, installed at Saatchi in 2009. via

Kader Attia has filed a plagiarism lawsuit against French rappers Dosseh and Nekfeu over visual similarities between the music video for "Putain d'epoque" and Attia's 2007 installation Ghost. I'm a non-expert in French intellectual property law, so I can't say whether the visual echo legally outweighs the differences in material, execution, setting, content, and concept. [Attia discussed the genesis of Ghost in AiA in 2009.] But I know mylar when I see it, and when I don't. The works are utterly different, even though there is a one-second dronecam shot in the video that shows the men kneeling face down, as if in prayer. Is that really what this is about? Because it does not feel like plagiarism. The effect is apparently that the just-released song is stripped from the video while it's being litigated.

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via

Attia's complaint is based on artists' rights, and the resistance to "non-consensual use" of artists' work: "Everyone is plundering us, whether it's advertising or the cultural industry."

That quote comes from Kendell Geers, who wrote an open letter to Attia defending quoting and plagiarism and the freedom all artists rely on to use and interpret the world around them as they make their work.

Since 1988 I have developed a body of work and a language around the very subject of plagiarism, taking my cue from Lautréamont, the French poet born in Uruguay, who said "Plagiarism is necessary. Progress implies it. It holds tight an author's phrase, uses his expressions, eliminates a false idea, and replaces it with just the right idea." His revolutionary text Poésies was the Holy Water that baptised the Surrealists, a text written between the lines of words plagiarised from other authors. I have always wondered if Paul Gauguin was inspired by Lautréamont when he said that "Art is either plagiarism or revolution," but there can be no doubt who inspired Guy Debord when he wrote his revolutionary book the "Society of the Spectacle" in 1967. He said that "Ideas improve. The meaning of words participates in the improvement. Plagiarism is necessary. Progress implies it. It embraces an author's phrase, makes use of his expressions, erases a false idea, and replaces it with the right idea."
Well played, Guy.

Geers calls for all artists and "every human being who believes in changing the present for a better future" to defend artists' freedom to express themselves, and especially for artists with power and presence in the marketplace to defend those without. As Powhida tweeted about Geers' statement, "It's amazing. Collectively we have to stand up for individualism. This is the hardest thing in this star fucked market."

As I always say, I replace melancholy by courage, doubt by certainty, despair by hope, malice by good, complaints by duty, scepticism by faith, sophisms by cool equanimity and pride by modesty.

Or maybe I should say it again this way: 'Poetry is for everyone.' Poetry is a place and it is free to all cut up Rimbaud and you are in Rimbaud's place.

Un clip de Dosseh et Nekfeu accusé de plagiat par l'artiste Kader Attia [lemonde.fr]
Putain d'époque ! Lettre ouverte de Kendell Geers à Kader Attia à propos de son action en justice pour plagiat contre Dosseh et Nekfeu [lemonde.fr via @frieze]

November 26, 2016

"Untitled"

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"Untitled", 1991, is an endless stack of prints of a dark image of the sea. Felix Gonzalez-Torres would have been 59 years old today.

Felix Gonzalez-Torres, "Untitled", 1991 [walkerart]

November 17, 2016

The Thousand Year Box

How quickly can turn the winds of history.

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screencap: artspace

In August Artspace published an interview celebrating self-styled "art architect" Peter Marino. The "Dark Prince of Luxury," who has become the architecture dom to the world's wealthiest people and brands, told Andrew Goldstein the secrets of his success and career ascent in the New York of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Warhol's Factory.

[AG:] It would seem trauma is an excellent crucible for talent.

[PM:] It really is. If you just lead your normal, banal life you don't get enough fried brain cells to be an artist. [Laughs]

And of fortuitous meetings with future clients like the refugees Marella and Gianni Agnelli:
Everyone from Europe was coming to New York to see the art scene. And it was a double whammy. The kids today don't remember the violence of the Red Brigades in Italy, but the communists were this close to overrunning the whole country. So all the cultured, wealthy, sophisticated people came to New York. It was a very frightening moment.

And they all needed a place to stay.

And they all needed places to stay in New York.

Enter Peter Marino.

Right place, right time.

Part 2 of the interview ended with his wishes for his legacy:
I'd like to think that my architecture really expressed the times in which we lived, or helped define the time in which we lived. Because, for me, that's one of the definitions of great art...So, I try so hard in the stores I do, in the homes I do, to make it so that if you took this compendium of my work, it would express the time in which we live.
In this, alas, I have no doubt that Marino has succeeded. Whether it's nine-figure flagships for Chanel or similarly costly New York collector townhouse renos, and estates for "rogue Mexican bond traders," Marino's work embodies the defining spirit of our age: immense wealth expended on limitless craft and luxury for the pleasure of a tiny few.

November 11, 2016

We The People

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Public Art Fund installation, 2014, image: James Ewing via PAF

I have been thinking a lot about [among other things, obviously] context. How much the time, place, history, experience, and state of mind influence our experience with an artwork.

I think of my encounters with Vermeer's View of Delft, and of reading about Lawrence Wechsler's crucial visits to Vermeers in The Hague while covering Bosnian war crimes tribunals at the International Criminal Court. Art provides solace, sanity, respite, and sometimes, it makes difficult truths known, quietly and powerfully, to those who seek, sometimes through what Berger calls, "a felt absence."

A lot of people I see are turning to art for some of these same things right now, trying to grapple with the devastating results of the US presidential election. Which might be nice. But I can't help thinking of a work I liked immensely, but which now feels all but unbearable.

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Fridericianum install shot by Nils Klinger via CAD

The Public Art Fund brought some to New York in 2014, but Danh Vo began showing pieces of We The People, his full-scale replication of the Statue of Liberty, at the Fredericianum in Kassel in 2011. That show's title, JULY, IV, MDCCLXXVI, came from the tablet in the Statue's hand.

Oddly, I didn't remember the press release for the show being this explicit:

the sculpture is dissected into its individual parts and thus abstracted. In his recreation, Vo concentrates on reproducing the thin copper skin (the iron scaffolding supporting the figure is missing), which gives WE THE PEOPLE a special fragility. The broken icon, the destroyed allegorical figure of Libertas, forms a strong counterpoint to the massive materiality.
Maybe it's the difference between abstraction and reality. Or their collapse into each other. A felt absence.

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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

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Social Medium:
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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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It Narratives, incl.
Shanzhai Gursky & Destroyed Richter
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TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -
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Standard Operating Procedure
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CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
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"Exhibition Space" @ apexart, NYC
Mar 20 - May 8, 2013
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Printed Matter, NYC
Summer 2012
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Destroyed Richter Paintings, 2012-
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