March 12, 2016



Gerhard Richter, Cage Grid I (Complete Set), 2011, 16 giclee prints on aluminum, each 75x75cm, a 1:1 reproduction of Cage 6, [CR: 897-6], 2006., ed 16+4AP [image:], cf. the Photo Copy; Facsimile Objects

destroyed_richter_grid_004_chopshop_install_dk.jpg, Destroyed Richter Grid 004, 2016, 12 UV prints on aluminum, each 50x53cm, ed. 1/1, each panel ed. 1/1, a 1:1 reproduction of Abstraktes Bild [CR:909-6], 2009, which was destroyed, installed next to the gloomy corner at Chop Shop, March 2016.

Portrait of a young woman with a gilded wreath, c. AD 120-140, encaustic, wood, gold leaf,

Someone just emailed me after seeing the show at SPRING/BREAK and called the Destroyed Richters "funerary portraits for paintings," and right now I'm just trying to breathe through it.

Destroyed Richter Painting No. 013, 2016, oil on canvas, installed at Chop Shop

Chop Shop installation shot at SPRING/BREAK 2016, in the vault on the 3rd floor of Moynihan Station, image: Tamas Banovich

I am psyched to announce "Chop Shop", a show of my work at SPRING/BREAK 2016. SPRING/BREAK's keyword this year is ⌘COPY⌘PASTE, which is probably what gave Magda Sawon the idea to approach me about a project. "Chop Shop" coalesced around several subjects and series that have appeared recently on creative destruction; authenticity; artist's agency; a critique of collectors, the market, and the networks art traverses; and the interactions between our digital, cognitive, and physical experiences.

In just the last few weeks, the show grew more ambitious and felt like the whole thing might just veer off the rails, but thanks to Magda and her people, the flexible and gracious organizers of SPRING/BREAK, and the expert assistance of some brave painters and printers, it all came together. And it looks absolutely mindbogglingly great, almost exactly the uncanny combination of spectacle, aura, and outrageous WTF? that I'd imagined. And to top it all off, it's installed inside A GIANT, FREAKING VAULT.

Chop Shop installation shot with Destroyed Richter Grid No. 4, Destroyed Richter Painting No. 8, Shanzhai Gursky Grid No. 1, and Destroyed Richter Paintings Nos. 12 & 11, image: Tamas Banovich

Every work in "Chop Shop" is something I've been imagining or visualizing for months, or sometimes even years, but which I had not experienced in person, until now. And this process of conceptualizing something, and then actually realizing it, and then experiencing it, is intensely satisfying to me. I look at tons and tons of art, not only online, but in person, too. And the differences between these experiences and the impressions they leave feel important. So it's not just a nicety when I say I hope you will be able to see "Chop Shop" in person. [It runs from Tuesday March 1 through March 7.]

"Chop Shop's" images are appropriated from the old masters, but its processes are lifted from collectors, dealers, and museum shopkeepers. The artwork on view has either already been destroyed, and brought back to life, or it's about to be chopped up to order, or broken up and parted out.

The show includes: new Destroyed Richter Paintings, which are full-scale resurrections of Gerhard Richter paintings that now exist only in archival negatives or jpgs. Some are of paintings the artist destroyed himself (after photographing them, obv), and some are of paintings that have been destroyed in the wild. In a nod to Richter's own practice of transforming his paintings into photos, prints, or other media, some of the Destroyed Richter Paintings in "Chop Shop" are printed on aluminum panels. They are literally dazzling.

Destroyed Richter Grid No. 1 A-L, 2016, UV pigment on aluminum, 50x60cm each, unique, image: Tamas Banovich

In another nod-or maybe it's a critique wrapped up in an homage, it's really too early to say-to Richter's own destructive predilections, the Destroyed Richter Grid works transform [the jpg of] a lost squeegee painting into a set of prints on aluminum, which will be sold separately and scattered. Unlike Richter's Facsimile Objects, which are produced in bulk, these grid pieces are each a lone, unique work, part of a whole that will only be visible together during the show. So Richter's lost works stay lost, unless or until an enterprising curator in the future tracks all these panels down and reassembles them. And even then, what do we have, but a reconstituted jpg? We go to exhibition with the art we have, I guess.

Shanzhai Gursky No. 005, 2016, C-print, 185x303cm, will be destroyed in the production of Shanzhai Gursky Nos. 006 - whatever, 185cm x whatever, at Chop Shop

Shanzhai Gursky Grids are related to the Shanzhai Gursky series, which are produced full-scale from whatever the highest-resolution versions of Andreas Gursky's images are available at the time. Except in this case, these new works, made for "Chop Shop," will be themselves chopped and destroyed, with the fragments each constituting a new, unique work. Some are pre-chopped for your convenience, but others will be chopped to order, then properly mounted and framed for posterity. But the sight of these Gursky-looking works hanging, raw and exposed, naked, is just awesome. What a world, they make me think. What. a. world.

Study for Chop Shop Newman No. 1 and Nos. 2-6, 2015, jpg, but oh it's real now, baby

Which brings us to the centerpiece of the show, Chop Shop Newman Painting No. 1, a full-scale repetition of Barnett Newman's Voice of Fire (1967). It is literally awe-inducing, at least for me, and not just because I made it. [With conservation and materials research by the National Gallery of Canada, sage advice from David Diao, and the painterly talents of Tamas Banovich and Kyle Nielsen.] Newman made the 18-ft tall Voice of Fire to order for the 27-story geodesic sphere of the Expo67 US Pavilion. Chop Shop Newman No. 1 will be cut down into Chop Shop Newman Nos. 2 - ?? during the fair, with dimensions and compositions determined by the connoisseur collectors on a first-come, first-served basis. While supplies last.

There are so many variables and unknowns, and it's crazy/fascinating ceding the fate of so much work to the hands of collectors-or to their indifference, if no one ends up caring, or engaging, or liking the stuff enough to take it home, which I suppose could happen. But it's also immensely satisfying the way this show has me thinking through the systems of art, our expectations for it, and how we experience and value the world around us. So there's that.

Press release: Magdalena Sawon presents Chop Shop by GREG ALLEN at SPRING/BREAK Art Show, March 1 - 7, 2016 [postmastersart]
SPRING/BREAK Art Show 2016, ⌘COPY⌘PASTE [springbreakartshow]
So slick, you can buy "Chop Shop" works directly online until April 30th! [springbreakartfair]
Who's Afraid of Red & Blue? About Chop Shop Newman Painting No. 1 et al.
the original blog post, At Home with Voice of Fire

Previously, related: on Reassembling chopped up masterpieces after 500 years
on the still-hypothetical proposition that there is a non-traumatic way to chop up a Barnett Newman
On museums showing reproductions and being like, oh nbd
It was. the. jutes. Stefan Simchowitz just cold chopping up Ibrahim Mahama's jute sack installations

UPDATE: Reviews
"The outcome is a painterly concatenation of destructive and creative forces, capital's relentless churn made both gestural and material." [mostafa heddaya for artinfo]
"They look modest and a little scared. (Rightfully so: "Voice of Fire" (sic) lost its first chunk to an X-Acto knife on opening night.)" [jillian steinhauer for hyperallergic]
"Allen made an absurdist gesture by offering up fragments of copied masterworks of contemporary art for sale by the square foot, like pizza." [chris green for afc]


February 26, 2016

Who's Afraid Of Red & Blue?

Fred Sandback installation at Proyectos Monclova, DF, via @monclova

It's like how when you learn a word you start hearing it everywhere.

Fred Sandback installation at Monclova via Evan Moffitt for @frieze

I've been soaking in a lot of red and blue lately.

Gucci S/S17, image via ann_caruso's ig

Webdriver Torso as found painting system, via

What to do with it? Turn over the decisionmaking to found or chance operations?

Webdriver Torso as found logo system, via

Appropriate? Outsource? Abrogate? Collaborate? Engage? Every strategy has its own context. Or rather, the context is mutable (too).

Thumbnail image for expo67_ masey.jpg
Barnett Newman's Voice of Fire installed in the space it was created for, the US Pavilion at Expo67 in Montreal, image via jack masey's book

I made a repetition of Barnett Newman's Voice of Fire recently, with the help of some excellent painters. It's 18 feet high and 8 feet wide. For now.

Sorcerer's Apprentice, Fantasia, 1940

At Chop Shop at SPRING/BREAK, collectors will reconfigure Newman's red and blues to suit their own compositional and spatial needs. The results might be Newmanesque, or they might be something totally different.

Study for Chop Shop Newman, 2016

I was psyched to write about it, but now I'm kind of unnerved to see what people will actually do. What if they chop up the whole thing and cart it home? In big pieces or small ones? A lot or a little? What if they do nothing? Alan Solomon called Voice of Fire "virtually unsalable." We shall see, but I think I have solved that problem.

Pyramid, 1966, 92 x 98 cm, image:

In 1966, Gerhard Richter made a small edition titled Pyramid, for a multiples group show in Karlsruhe. Pyramid is a photo printed on treated canvas of a 1964 painting, Small Pyramid, which is itself based on an offset photograph illustrating an encyclopedia entry. In addition to variations in mounting and frames, Richter made each of the 13 prints (ed. 10+3 proofs) unique by altering the exposure time.

Cage Grid I, complete

Richter's made a lot of photo versions of his paintings, but I think this was the only time Richter used photo-on-canvas, and it came to mind a couple of years ago when I was looking at Cage Grid, the only time Richter used giclée prints.

Those Cage Grids were made for sale at/by Tate Modern during the retrospective, sort of a giant benefit edition. It's a situation artists know well, where the museums and arts institutions who show them ask artists to donate works. [The corollary is dealers being hit up to fund exhibitions, or the production of new work, which then turns the museum, or the biennale pavilion, into a showroom.]

Anyway, for an extremely successful artist like Richter, the willingness to support the many public exhibitions of his work is probably only surpassed by the eagerness of museums to get in on some of that Richter swag. Fulfilling every request for auction donations or benefit editions could probably consume the artist's entire practice, becoming a distortion or distraction. And so a compartmentalized, systematic approach was needed.

Enter the "facsimile object."

P1 "Abstraktes Bild", 2014 "A Diasec mounted chromogenic print of: Abstraktes Bild, [1990,] Catalogue Raisonné 724-4", image:"

Facsimile object is Richter's term for photographic reproductions of Richter's paintings, produced "under Richter's direction and approval," in large, numbered but unsigned editions, which are sold through museum shops to support an exhibition. Since 2014, 13 facsimile objects have been created, all mounted on aluminum, and all but one in editions of 500. That's more than 6,000 objects. They all sold out almost immediately at prices from EUR1,000-1,500. Whatever their status as art, facsimile objects turn out to be a highly efficient mechanism for crowdfunding Richter exhibitions.

Richter's facsimile objects are created by a company called HENI Productions, which was founded by Joe Hage, a lawyer, collector, and Richter confidante. Hage was the force behind the artist's website; he bought half of September; and he produced Cage Grid I. If he's not the COO of Richter Gmbh, he's at least in charge of biz dev.

P2 "Haggadah", 2014, a 100cm print of a 152cm painting, image:

As actual, signed editions, Cage Grids were a proof of concept; the first batch of official facsimile objects came and went without my noticing. P1 "Abstraktes Bild" , P2 "Haggadah" , and Bouquet (P3) were produced for sale at the Fondation Beyeler's Pictures/Series show. I did pay attention when a P1 came through Sotheby's a couple of months later with a £4-6,000 estimate. Because it sold for £41,250.

The first two Beyeler facsimile object subjects are significant in their own right. Richter used CR 724-4 as the basis for generating his Strip Series, and to produce a set of tapestries. Haggadah, CR 895-10, is a much-shown, much-reproduced 2006 squeegee painting that appears on the frontispiece of Tate's Panorama catalogue, and in an atypically large set of detail photos on the artist's website.

P10 "Bagdad", 2015, image: serpentine galleries

From there things get merch-y pretty quick. P3 is a 1:1 facsimile of Bouquet (2009), a small, blurred painting of flowers that's been overpainted with a squeegee. P4 - P7 are slightly enlarged pictures of the enamel-on-glass Flow series.

P8 - P11, meanwhile, were pictures of more enamel-on-glass for The Serpentine, which sold them all out at £1,500/each, thanks in no small part to vigorous flipping of P1 - P3, and the entrance of seasoned Banksy, Hirst, and Murakami print investors into the market. I think we've found the level of the room.

Despite the best laid terms & conditions of The Serpentine's shop [pdf], all of these facsimile objects are being flipped constantly, in every contemporary auction, and on every online art sales platform. They're the plastic microbeads in the secondary market ocean. In almost every case, they're presented as artworks, editions, and the description is entirely of the work depicted. For most art functions, especially shopping, these objects do indeed operate as perfect facsimiles.

And that fascinates me.

I was kind of obsessed with Richter's facsimile objects last year. I was parsing the relationships between the object and its subject, the information around it, and its viewers, and ultimately, between the object and the artist. Whoever that might be. And then I put them aside, only to find, now, that they got even more interesting. Facsimile objects now have their own category on Richter's website: Prints. The website text is slightly different than the object labels: "A Diasec mounted chromogenic print of: Abstraktes Bild vs "A facsimile object of: / Gerhard Richter/ Abstraktes Bild," for example.

These are not just facsimiles of Richter; they are by him as well.

P12 "Annunciation after Titian", 2015, 125 x 200 cm facsimile object, image:

The next objects seem to bear out the artist's interest in exploring the nature of the gift shop souvenir. P12 "Annunciation after Titian" is a full-scale facsimile object of the iconic blur painting which Richter made after a postcard he picked up in Venice. [This Annunciation, now at the Hirshhorn, was reunited with the artist's other four Annunciation paintings for the first time since 1973 in the Fondation Beyeler show.] Though they're still unsigned, these 125x200cm objects number only 50, "+ 3 A.P.", whatever that means in this context.

Which brings me back to the pyramid. The Thomas Kinkade Editions Pyramid, devised by the late artist's company to explain the auratic and financial calculations of the various facsimile objects on offer. Because I think it's time someone make one for Richter.

Huh, this adds up to 105%.

Richter told an interviewer at the time he made the Annunciations, "I wanted to trace him as precisely as possible, maybe because I wanted to own such a beautiful Titian...[laughs]" Exact replicas to sate the thirst for an otherwise unobtainable masterpiece? It turns out he's been making facsimile objects all along.

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 []
Office Baroque is also showing earlier works by Diao at The Independent NYC during Armory Week, so there's one I won't miss.

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

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? []
Previously: The Great Piece of Merch

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.

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

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.


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


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.

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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Since 2001 here at, 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 that time.

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artists writing, 2000-2015
Paper Monument, Oct. 2016< br /> ed. by Jennifer Liese
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Madoff Provenance Project in
'Tell Me What I Mean' at
To__Bridges__, The Bronx
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Chop Shop
curated by Magda Sawon
1-7 March 2016

eBay Test Listings
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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 -

Standard Operating Procedure
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CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
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YES RASTA 2:The Appeals Court
Decision, plus the Court's
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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.

Destroyed Richter Paintings, 2012-
background | making of
"Richteriana," Postmasters Gallery, NYC

Canal Zone Richard
Selected Court Documents
from Cariou v. Prince (2011)
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