November 10, 2014

Wait, What Cady Noland, 2008?

I got stopped by this line from Andrew Russeth's report on the disclaimer Cady Noland required at the entrance to the Brand Foundation's group show containing her work:

Since then she has shown very, very few new works (the Walker in Minneapolis has one from 2008), and she has been notoriously meticulous in controlling how her work is handled and presented.
A 2008 Noland? In the wild? Sure enough. Untitled, a familiar-looking locker room basket containing some motorcycle helmets, steel subway straps, a 16mm film reel, and a piece of metal. It's a form Noland used since 1989, but it's dated 2008.

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How'd they get that? In 2009?

A clue might be the donor credit, where it is listed as "Gift of the artist and Helen van der Miej-Tcheng [sic], by exchange, 2009." Which means the museum traded a previously donated work with the artist. But what? It doesn't say, and it's obviously not in the collection anymore. But it's safe to assume it was a work by Noland herself.

Sure enough, the Walker's 2006 annual report lists a gift of a 1990 Noland from van der Meij-Tcheng. It was titled Cowboy Blank, made of aluminum and rope.

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Cady Noland, L: Cowboy Blank with Showboat Costume, and R: a Cowboy, not blank, with breakfast, both 1990

But a work titled simply Cowboy Blank doesn't show up on Google anywhere. There is a Cowboy Blank with Showboat Costume, though, an aluminum plate sculpture cut in the silhouette of a crouching cowboy, with a bandanna and an ostrich plume in its cutout holes. The Guggenheim says the cowboy's aiming his gun, but another variant is flipped and silkscreened with a photo of cowboy eatin' some waffles. Or maybe it's Texas Toast. Noland executed the same silhouette in plywood, too, with a basket hanging between its legs.

Forced by no one to speculate, I'd say that van der Meij-Tcheng's Cowboy Blank was without Showboat Costume or a fork; it had just a rope. And whether it was because it was damaged, a la Cowboys Milking, or it was just not sitting right with her, Noland decided it was not a work she wanted in public circulation. And so she took it back, but after making the Walker a little something to replace it with.

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@TheRealHennessy Tweet Painting, Gold Chain, 2014, 14x11 in., acrylic and screenprint on canvas

Just in time for the Fall auctions, greg.org is pleased to present more @TheRealHennessy Tweet paintings, inspired by Donelle Woolford's Dick Joke series which debuted at John McWhinnie in the 1990s, and which continue to be a source of brouhaha since Michelle Grabner's 2014 Whitney Biennial.

The present work is one of greg.org's @TheRealHennessy Tweet paintings, which rank among the contemporary era's most iconic series by one of the most celebrated artists. Dryly presented with a deadpan sensibility, they consist of visual expressions of humor that are disarmingly immediate and resonant, yet abstract in their presentation. Describing his selections of form and content in his initial tweet paintings, greg.org later stated, "Within about six months I...started to do the tweets in 'colors.' I thought the color would be a substitution for an image. The background would be one color and the tweet would be another. I picked tweets that were 'meaningful' to me. I don't know how to explain that except that the tweets' 'content' was something that I could identify with. These 'tweets' were later identified as the '@TheRealHennessy Tweet paintings.' I fell into them. I was walking around in a dark room looking for the light switch. I was moving by wading more than swimming. I was mowing the lawn. No direction home. I was caught in a landslide. My headaches were gone. I started painting with my fly open. I stopped crying. I started to laugh. Rock bottom sometimes isn't the bottom. Barnett Newman, Willem de Kooning, Clyfford Still--look out."

Three of the six remaining @TheRealHennessy Tweet paintings are available for sale for $2,100 shipped. Please tweet, DM, or email for further information. Additional images are below.

It's just one word in one tweet, so it really shouldn't become the point, but those who follow me on Twitter know I have a thing for the language of art news sites, and their poetic idiocies of the market. This, however, just pissed me off.

It is as pure a sign as you'll find of the pathology of current money-fixated art world that last night a half dozen media outlets filed hundreds of bid-by-bid tweets from an Impressionism auction, yet the "bizarre news" is that artists are literally trying to save lives by drawing attention to one of Europe's existential political crises.

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I had never heard of the Center for Political Beauty before this morning. They are the artist collective whose mission is to engage "in the most innovative forms of political art: a type of art that hurts, provokes and rises in revolt in order to save human lives."

They removed crosses commemorating some of the East Germans killed while trying to cross the Berlin Wall, and have reinstalled them on what they're calling the European Wall. The Center for Political Beauty has announced that they will cut down portions of the EU's border fence on November 9th, during the official ceremonies surrounding the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

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">politicalbeauty.de: Keine Benutzung der Bilder ohne vorherige Genehmigung!

The photo above of a cross on a fence along the Bulgaria-Turkey border is circulating with the AFP wire service story that is the lone, primary source of English-language coverage of CPB's project. I'll never look at a Cy Twombly chalkboard painting the same way again.

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The images and details that don't circulate, though, are more damning: At least 136 people died or were killed trying to escape across the Berlin Wall between 1961 and 1989. The UNHCR says over 2,500 Africans trying to reach Europe have drowned or gone missing this year alone. The CPB says the number of people who have died trying to enter the EU since 1989 stands at over 30,000.

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Here is a photo by Massimo Sestini of a boatful of African and Syrian asylum seekers who were intercepted by the Italian navy last June. This situation is anything else--an outrage, a humanitarian crisis, a "rendering void of the legacy of the Holocaust," as the CPB puts it, but it is not bizarre.

And artnet should be shamed for their tendentious attempts to mock and marginalize artists pursuing something beyond the callow complacencies of the market.

UPDATE: I'm still not satisfied with this yet, or how or why it bothers me, but I'm reading Thierry du Duve's "Art in the Face of Radical Evil" [October, Summer 2008, pdf], about MoMA acquiring and showing photos of Khmer Rouge execution victims from Tuol Sleng, and about whether they're "art," and what are the implications if they are:

Sobriety in exhibition design, noncommittal wall texts, and clever avoidance of the word "art" in press releases won't succeed in hiding the fact that our aesthetic interest in photography is shot through with feelings, emotions, and projections of sympathy or antipathy that address the people in the photos beyond the photos themselves. I am convinced that something of that emotional response to the properly human ordeal of the subjects in the Tuol Sleng photos had a say in MoMA's decision to acquire them. To suppose otherwise would be to lend the acquisition committee undeserved cynicism.
This feels like it's inching closer.

November 4, 2014

Welcome Back, Gwenfritz

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[The] Gwenfritz is back where it belongs. The National Museum of American History has conserved Alexander Calder's site-specific stabile and reinstalled it in a reflecting pool on the building's west end, 30 years after it was displaced by a vintage band shell from a mental hospital.

The removal of Gwenfritz in violation of the artist's intentions was cited as a contributing precedent to attempts to move Richard Serra's Tilted Arc from its site in Federal Plaza a few months later.

Anyway, it all sounds good, and from the NMAH's flickr feed, it looks good. "It's always great when you're able to honor the artist's vision," said Smithsonian American Art Museum sculpture curator Karen Lemmey, in a way that unsettles me, perhaps because it reminds me of the offhandedly mercenary Lumbergh in Office Space.

Conservation of Alexander Calder's Gwenfritz [eyelevel.si.edu]
Previously, 2010: After 26 Years, The Smithsonian Will Put Alexander Calder's Gwenfritz Back Where It Belongs.

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Except for every Grumman LLV I pass, I've never wanted to turn a mail truck into a slicked out room-on-wheels as much as I want this 1965 Kaiser Jeep FJ-6A Fleetvan.

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And since the USPS is not letting the Grummans loose in the wild yet, this Jeep may be my best chance. I mean, check out that glass, it may even be better. I could totally park that as an office somewhere. Or a roving gallery. Or a podcast studio. Or an Enzo Mari mobile bookstore. This is Cabin Porn™ I can get behind.

Hm, actually, after reading through all the projects, rat rods, parts salvages and failed snowcone stand dreams in the FJ boards at ewillys.com, I may pass.

Hard to find 65 FJ-6A Fleetvan - $3500 (Grapeview) [seattle.craigslist.org via bringatrailer.com]
Which, given the ad histories here, seems a little high [ewillys.com]
Previously, most definitely related: Bombiani Librimobile, 1955, by Enzo Mari

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Installation shots from one of two shows currently on, this one titled "Challenging the law without Infringing the law," curated by Primavera di Filippi, is at Glitch Gallery in Charlestown, MA for another couple of weeks. Those are Brian Dupont's text paintings front and center there, with some Untitled (300x404) print versions to the right. They're slightly different from the 20x200 edition, both in dimensions and medium, but like those editions, they look best when shown in multiple sizes.

There are more images atGlitch's FB page.

Previously: 9/20: Opening in Charlestown

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Ray Johnson, The Paper Snake, 1965, published by Dick Higgins, image: rayjohnsonestate

I've been thinking of various audio projects, something this side of an actual podcast, perhaps, but something useful and interesting that's not necessarily being done already by someone else.

And so I'm experimenting with a series I'm calling Better Read, art-related texts transformed into audio. While I'm working, I'll often use text-to-speech to listen to papers, interviews, essays, and other various longform writings. It's imperfect, but also an improvement. In the car, we've been listening to Moby Dick | Big Read, in which each chapter is read by a different person. It generally works.

So for Better Read, I am envisioning a mix of live and computer readers. Sometimes I'll get the author herself; other times, someone can read from a text they really like. I might read a few myself, but to be honest, I really don't like listening to me. Maybe you do? We may find out!

That W.H. Auden poem I posted the other day may become Better Read #1, and once I figure out the frequency, &c., I'll set up a dedicated URL

But for now, please enjoy this 1968 interview with Ray Johnson, recorded for the Archives of American Art's Oral History project. It really is a standout among an invaluable collection. And I especially like the idea of using a transcription of a recording as a script for another recording; fine tuning this process will be useful before I tackle any large, intense deposition transcripts [*cough* Canal Zone/Yes Rasta]

So definitely let me know your thoughts, advice, feedback, suggestions, requests, &c., and we'll see how this thing shapes up.

Better Read: An Interview with Ray Johnson [45min, 22mb, dropbox.com]

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Thirteen Most Wanted Men overpainted and covered by tarp, 1964. Photo: Peter Warner, via Richard Meyer's Outlaw Representation

From the amount of attention it gets, you'd think Andy Warhol's 13 Most Wanted Men was the biggest art deal at the 1964 New York World's Fair. And it wasn't even there for more than a couple of days.

But there was actually other art in the fair, and organizer Robert Moses was not into it. Countries could show art if they wanted, of course--Italy brought Michelangelo's Pieta, and Franco's Spain brought some El Greco. But Moses rejected petitions for a dedicated art exhibition at the fair, and he intervened in at least one other situation besides Warhol's to nix art that attracted criticism. I've dug around a bit in the New York Times' coverage of art and the fair, mostly from the cranky conservative critic John Canaday, and it has broadened and definitely complicated my view of the era, the venue, and the outsize parties involved.

If you do nothing else, read Canaday's various acidic takedowns of the consumerist banality and kitschy circus of the World's Fair, and how Art shouldn't even be mentioned in the same breath. His column, "The Fair As Art," tries to stretch the definition of folk art to cover the what we'd now recognize as late capitalist spectacle, and it's interesting how he can't quite get the nascent Pop Art movement to sync up with the populist source of its content.

No, first read about Canaday's Feb. 1964 evisceration of the announcement that Tomorrow Forever would be the "theme painting" the Hall of Education. The landscape was filled with the trademark Big-Eyed Children of Walter Keane, the Thomas Kinkade of his day, who, it turned out, couldn't paint a fence, and instead passed his enslaved, abused wife's paintings off as his own.

This extraordinary profile of Margaret Keane in The Guardian yetserday led me to Canaday's review. [Tim Burton's biopic of Keane comes out in a couple of weeks.] But the piece also says that "Stung by the review, the World's Fair took down the painting." Actually, Tomorrow Forever never made it into the fair. Robert Moses intervened almost immediately after Canaday's attack, more than two months out from the opening, saying, "The fair does not censor exhibitions except in cases of extreme bad taste or low standards. This was such a case."

[Ouch. Moses's willingness to boot one reviled painting makes his central role in the Case of the Destroyed Warhol Mugshots seem all the more plausible. For his part, Warhol praised Keane and his outsized commercialism. LIFE Magazine asked Warhol about Keane in 1965: "It has to be good," he said. "If it were bad, so many people wouldn't like it."]

Anyway, Warhol's World's Fair piece can't have been too much of a surprise. Though his name is misspelled, "13 Wanted Men" is mentioned by title in a NYT report from October 1963, "Avant-Garde Art Going To Fair". The other nine artists Philip Johnson commissioned are also listed, and I realized I never registered that Ellsworth Kelly had been involved. But he produced a work on painted aluminum.

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And here it was. Untitled at the time, Kelly's 18-foot curves projected from the wall of the New York State pavilion, where they were installed next to James Rosenquist's mural, which was next to Warhol's. Except the Rosenquist is either covered or gone in this Nov. 1966 photo from World's Fair enthusiast Randy Treadway. So is Robert Indiana's EAT, which was on the right of Kelly.

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A bunch of the NYS Pavilion pieces ended up in the Weisman collection at UMinn., but in 1967 Johnson apparently donated the Kelly to Harvard, where it was known as either Two Curves or Blue Red. In 2001, a campus-wide survey of culturally important objects found "Blue Red" on the side of the parking garage at Peabody Terrace. The super was about to repaint the deteriorated sculpture with Rust-o-leum when conservators intervened. The Google Streetview image from this summer [above] shows it looking much better.

October 22, 2014

Two Hands

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It hadn't occurred to me at all until yesterday, but a still of Richard Serra's first film, Hand Catching Lead (1968) suddenly reminded me of Felix Gonzalez-Torres' 1992 billboard, "Untitled" (for Jeff). [the installation below in a Frankfurt U-bahn station was for MMK's 2011 show of G-T's work. (what is up with your impermanent links, MMK?)]

Untitled_For-Jeff_1992_mmk2011.jpg

As if the association couldn't be any more un-Serra, the title of that show, "Specific Objects without Specific Form," was co-curated in Frankfurt by Tino Sehgal.

But in a 1973 interview with Liza Bear originally published in Avalanche, Serra dismissed intention and emphasized experience:

The focus of art for me is the experience of living through the pieces, and that experience may have very little to do with the physical facts...Art's a state of being, and it's continuous. You're not just an artist when you're making art.
And in his talk at the Hirshhorn in 1994, Felix recounted how, regardless of whatever his intention for the image, the reactions to a billboard with an open hand varied dramatically depending on the culture and context in which it was shown.

Normally this is the point in a blog post where I make a profound or definitive conclusion, or at least a witty wrapup. But I put all my effort into the title, and so I have none.

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About two weeks ago, artists from the Sage Coalition in Trenton, New Jersey, sought and obtained permission from the Trenton Downtown Association to paint a mural on the metal shutters of a vacant storefront. They decided to paint a large portrait of Michael Brown and the text, "Sagging pants...is not probable cause." The artists saw it as relevant to both the memory of Brown and his killing in Ferguson, Missouri, and to their own experience with racial profiling at the hands of the police in Trenton.

Yesterday, according to NJ.com, "The Trenton Downtown Association elected to remove the image after hearing concern from police officers that the mural sends a negative message about the relationship between police and the community." TDA director Christian Martin "said police said the painting did not promote peace in the community."

The image was buffed by a municipal graffiti blasting crew yesterday. Sage collaborator Byron Marshall shot and narrated the scene.

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David Hammons, How Ya Like Me Now?, reinstalled inside at WPA, 1988

The situation feels like an inversion of the destruction of How Ya Like Me Now?, a 1988 billboard-sized painting by David Hammons of a blonde, blue-eyed Jesse Jackson, which was momentarily installed across the street from the National Portrait Gallery in DC. It was almost immediately set upon by sledgehammer-wielding locals who did not care for its negative message.

'Sagging Pants is Not Probable Cause' Mural Removed After Concerns From Trenton Police [nj.com]
Previously: How Ya Like How Ya Like Me Now?

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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

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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
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TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -
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Standard Operating Procedure
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CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
Canal Zone Richard Prince
YES RASTA 2:The Appeals Court
Decision, plus the Court's
Complete Illustrated Appendix (2013)
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"Exhibition Space"
Mar 20 - May 8 @apexart, NYC


HELP/LESS Curated by Chris Habib
Printed Matter, NYC
Summer 2012
panel &c.


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Destroyed Richter Paintings, 2012-
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)
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