Category:inspiration

I have restaged one of Seth Siegelaub's most influential shows, the 1968 The Xerox Book, as a series of animated GIFs [my 1st through 6th animated gifs, btw]. If only Seth could've been on infinite loop, too.

Siegelaub_Xerox_front.jpg
Frontispiece of The Xerox Book, 1968, organized by Seth Siegelaub and John Wendler

Primary Information has made an incredible collection of publications from Seth Siegelaub's archive available online. That's where The Xerox Book images came from. [pdf]

Not sure how I never considered this, but I suddenly came across a couple of strong connections between Enzo Mari's autoprogettazione furniture and Gerrit Rietveld.

VIVID_Rietveld_Crate_sm.jpg

For one, check out the crate that this 1965 version of Rietveld's Red Blue chair came in; this one's from Galerie VIVID in Rotterdam. I've never seen this before. Maybe that's just how they used to make crates in the 60s. But it sure looks like the underside of my Enzo Mari X IKEA table, the EFFE model.

Ikea x Enzo Mari Mashup Table

It looks even more like the structure of the Tavolo Quadrato, the square autoprogettazione table.

mari_dining_table.jpg

Then there's Rietveld's 1923 Military Table, designed for the Catholic Military Home in Utrecht, and in and out of production ever since. This unfinished Oregon pine example's from the 60s, and was in Marseille, via 1stdibs. [I have never paid much attention to Rietveld's Military Table, but suddenly it is looking pretty sweet.

rietveld_military_table_1d.jpg

The top is fixed onto these cross braces. It's a solution that Mari eventually used as well. The crosspieces are not in the original autoprogettazione plans, but they did turn up in the kit of precut parts that were sold under the Metamobile name in the early 70s.

mari_effe_kit.jpg

Even though Rietveld's autonomous approach to furniture is an obvious precedent for Mari's; and I knew from hands-on experience that the autoprogettazione designs have a lot more "design" than their basic function requires; I guess I never imagined that Mari would make overt references to what had come before.

Previously:
The making of an Enzo Mari dining table
Enzo Mari X IKEA Mashup Recap

foh_lamp_schifano.jpg

So I've decided to make me a lamp like this Larry Rivers lamp Frank O'Hara had in his loft in the mid-60s.

Which means I've been trying to map out the number and types of sockets and adapters up there. And I've begun poking around for parts. At first, I was going to rework a vintage, industrial-style floor lamp, but those aren't turning up with anything like the frequency I need. And the current crop of adaptable floor lamps are actually pretty unappealing, too. Really, they just make no sense here.

So to stay closer to Rivers' approach, I think I'll just build up a lamp from galvanized steel pipe. [I saw Colin Powell puttering around the hardware store yesterday, btw, the hardware store that had no such plumbing parts at all, just PVC, which, no thanks.]

Rather than a fuse-blowing heater made with 14 incandescent bulbs, I figure I'll make a little constellation of incandescents, CFCs, and LEDs, in a range of whites. And as for the wiring and cord, well. I am really jonesing over this:

olafur_10m_cable.jpg

It's an extension cable, from Olafur Eliasson Studio, released in 2004 as a limited edition with the title, 10 Meter Cable For All Colours. Which, I know, is just nuts. But still. There have been more than a few works like this from Olafur, where very modest functional objects are produced for internal use, which are recouped or spun off as an edition. It is a model that works for him, and the demand is there, so.

Technically, though, for this project, it's not what I need. And I wouldn't cut up an Olafur cable to rework it into my thing anyway. I just mention it here because the world is an amazing place.

Previously: Frank O'Hara's and Alfred Leslie's Larry Rivers' Lamp
Previously and amazing and related: Lindsey Adelman's autoprogettazione-style, You Make It chandelier

Via the Hirshhorn via Art21 comes a nice two-way interview between Barbara Kruger and Richard Prince, originally published in BOMB Magazine in 1982, that ends:

RP I'm misinformed about style. I always thought it had to do with being able to wear the same kind of a jacket for ten years. I don't know. What I wonder is . . . is it possible to have style and be unreasonable at the same time?

BK I think unreasonableness can mean any number of possible locations nearer or further away from the idea of reason. Because many of these positions are already coded, their shock value is tempered by style. A lot of times the idea of transgression really turns on a romantic conception of otherness; of a rebellion already tolerated. You know, the charming rogue, the picaresque cuteness of the bull in the china shop and in the art world, badness invades the atelier. Driving limos through heavy neighborhoods to look at the graffiti. Unstylish unreasonableness may be limited to the categories of the insane and the unpleasant (the poor, the unbeautiful, the unempowered). The non-romanticism of these kinds of otherness makes them unsightly and "vulgar" considerations for the polite company of international bohemia.

This image of limos driving "through heavy neighborhoods to look at the graffiti" is great in itself, but it also reminded me of an anecdote from, of all people, Jasper Johns.

johns_harlem_light.jpg
Jasper Johns, Harlem Light, 1967, image "taken. It's not mine."

It's about the genesis of a motif that first appears in a 1967 painting, Harlem Light [above]. Here's the version from Michael Crichton's 1977 catalogue for Johns' Whitney retrospective, which is still the most engrossing Johns book I've seen. And I've seen a lot:

Johns was taking a taxi to the airport, traveling through Harlem, when he passed a small store which had a wall painted to resemble flagstones. He decided it would appear in his next painting. Some weeks later when he began the painting, he asked David Whitney to find the flagstone wall, and photograph it. Whitney returned to say he could not find the wall anywhere. Johns himself then looked for the wall, driving back and forth across Harlem, searching for what he had briefly seen. He never found it, and finally had to conclude that it had been painted over or demolished. Thus he was obliged to re-create the flagstone wall from memory. This distressed him. "What I had hoped to do was an exact copy of the wall. It was red, black, and gray, but I'm sure that it didn't look like what I did. But I did my best."

Explaining further, he said: "Whatever I do seems artificial and false, to me. They--whoever painted the wall--had an idea; I doubt that whatever they did had to conform to anything except their own pleasure. I wanted to use that design. The trouble is that when you start to work, you can't eliminate your own sophistication. If I could have traced it, I would have felt secure that I had it right. Because what's interesting to e is the fact that it isn't designed, but taken. It's not mine."

Crichton goes on to discuss the "small differences" that go unnoticed, and which are lost in creating from scratch. And of flagstones, like flags, an ideal Johnsian image," which are found and known and abstract and concrete. Seriously, I could just keep quoting from that book all day.

But instead, I'm going to try to make sense of Kruger's next sentence, "Unstylish unreasonableness may be limited to the categories of the insane and the unpleasant (the poor, the unbeautiful, the unempowered)."

agnes_martin_untitled_2004.jpg
Untitled, 2004, Agnes Martin's last painting. Image via Phaidon

The visits that maybe stick in the mind are the ones where she would show me four versions of a single painting and she'd say to me. 'I think this is the best one, what do you think?' Invariably there was so little difference between them, it was so hard to say, they were all really beautiful. And then she'd say OK we're gonna keep that one and we're going to cut up the others. And I would help with a knife slice up the paintings. Those are the studio visits that I think are the sharpest, helping her destroy the work. What goes through your mind the first time you hear something like that? It's her work, and I'm a co-worker in the art field. . . but yeah. It is brutal. I was there at the end of her life and she said 'go down to the studio, there are three paintings. Hanging on the wall is the one I want to keep, I want you to destroy the other two.' So I went down to the studio. The two paintings she wanted me to destroy were magnificent - absolutely perfect. The one on the wall was a very stormy painting, unlike anything that she had made since the 60s. I certainly didn't want to destroy those two spectacular paintings but I did. I sliced them to ribbons and put them in the trash. When I came back. She said, 'did you do it?' I said, 'I did it.' And that was that. Our last conversation.
Arne Glimcher, in a Q&A published last month by Phaidon.

The Q&A is timed to the publication of Agnes Martin: Paintings, Writings, Remembrances by Arne Glimcher, an extraordinary collection of Martin's writings and correspondence, many works, and Glimcher's own snapshots and notes. He would take extensive notes during his studio visits with Martin in New Mexico, and then transcribe them on the plane home.

He expands on Martin's last request to destroy some of her work in March 2004:

A mystique exists that Agnes painted very few works but in actuality, she painted almost daily when inspired and that was with some frequency. However, only a relatively small amount of works exist from such a long and productive life because she destroyed most of the works she produced. Probably no artist has ever been a better editor than Agnes Martin. The rejected paintings were shredded with a mat knife. As she grew older, during the last few years, she enlisted the help of friends (myself included) to destroy the unacceptable works, as it was very hard to cut through the thick primed linen fabric. When I once asked her why she was destroying a particularly delicate and beautiful work, she said, 'It's too aggressive, and there's a mistake.' Most often that referred to a pooling of colour in one of the works that made the brushstrokes discontinuous. The mistake became an unwanted 'focus' in a non-compositional painting, which disturbed its serenity.

agnes_martin_trumpet.jpg
Trumpet, 1967, an earlier last painting by Agnes Martin, image via zwirnerandwirth

I drove to the studio where I found three grey paintings, all of which were beautiful. Using her mat knife, I reluctantly shredded two and spared the one that hung on the wall. It was unique, expressionistically painted with stormy grey asymmetrical brushstrokes covering the surface. Five thin pencil lines visually grounded the passionate wash to the canvas. There is only one other painting with such an expressionistic asymmetrical handling of brush work. It is called Trumpet and was painted in 1967, just before she took her long hiatus and first departure from painting. On first glance, in this last painting, Agnes appears to have taken a new direction. Comparing Untitled (2004) with Trumpet, it is clear that it was not so much a change in style as it was coming full circle home.

[2016 UPDATE: In 2013 Glimcher spoke with Tate Modern curator Frances Morris about his memoir, and the last audience question was about what the last two destroyed paintings looked like:
The two that I had to destroy were very dissimilar from the one that was left, which you saw the picture of. They were much more rigorous; they were less emotional paintings. They looked more like the 70s than they did the 90s, or the late work. They seemed to be a little bit out of context, but perfect paintings, really exquisite paintings. So I took the box cutter and sliced them to ribbons.
]

In reviewing "Five Decades," a 10-painting Zwirner & Wirth survey in 2003, Holland Cotter called the artist's practice, "a kind of yoga of painting." I'm still trying to think it through, and understanding why she destroyed so much of her work--or her paintings, really, and maybe that's the difference--but perhaps it involves a kind of yoga of looking as well.

Buy Agnes Martin: Paintings, Writings, Remembrances by Arne Glimcher via Amazon [amazon]
Ten questions for Pace Gallery's Arne Glimcher [phaidon via yhbhs]

In the 4th part of his video walkthrough of MoMA's Willem de Kooning retrospective, James Kalm has an extended clip of curator John Elderfield talking with Glenn Lowry about how the artist's late paintings relate to his earlier work.

Elderfield stays pretty broad, arguing that the works are valid and important, and that Gary Garrels' and Rob Storr's earlier MoMA show ably made their case. Which all sounds good to me. [While noting that "the topologies of the paintings are very reminiscent of earlier pictures," Elderfield apparently felt that a press preview was not the right context for expanding on de Kooning's practice of tracing details of earlier paintings which his assistants had projected onto primed canvases.]

dekooning_kalm_02.jpg

What struck me now, though, was his discussion of how the marks in de Kooning's 80s paintings were the result of his elimination of subjectivity. Elderfield told how de Kooning "fell into a sort of trough" after seeing a hugely successful show in 1978 of his large, gestural abstractions made in 1975-7, which were in the preceding gallery. "There could have been three times that number in the exhibition," Elderfield said," with no drop in quality or achievement...de Kooning had said he 'felt he could do no wrong,' which for him, was the point at which he had to stop doing them."

dekooning_kalm_01.jpg

It's an interesting idea, and it reminds me of how much I loved those 70s paintings, and losing myself in those big, sinuously virtuosic brushstrokes. It's really too bad Kalm's woozy, wandering camera eye is one of the few ways left to take in that gallery.

Thumbnail image for belz_richter_underptg_4.jpg
Still from Corinna Belz' Gerhard Richter Painting

It also reminds me how much those de Koonings reminded me of the early states of Richter's squeegee paintings. This concept of Richter painting and then overpainting as a transformative, not destructive, technique was what first got me looking at Richter's destroyed paintings. [That, and Erased de Kooning Drawing, of course.]

Now it strikes me how the two painters share the urge to resist habit and ease. Richter picked up the squeegee in part to counter intentionality and the mastered brushstroke. If de Kooning was resisting the same thing when he changed up his approach after 1980, maybe there's something to be discovered by seeing these two painters' works together.

November 23, 2012

Art Car Parts

We can't really control when an idea will come to us, or when it might subsequently feel significant, more than a fleeting whim. But we can decide when we make it known. And when we should maybe just shut the hell up about it for a while because seriously, people.

So one day, while driving and explaining to the kid the difference between a car logo and a hood ornament, and how sometimes, people put their own hood ornaments on their cars, usually Jeep Wagoneers, it hit me: artist-designed hood ornaments.

I mean, why should the vinyl wrap industry have all the art car fun?

They'd be awesome little sculptures, made in limited editions. Maybe they could be chromed steel, but they could just as easily be something else: acrylic. Resin. Cast glass. Wood, I suppose. They could be made or readymade. There must be some kind of universal [or relatively so] base attachment mechanism.

Oh, what an interesting context for artists to engage.

And that was that. Until the next day, when the new Artforum arrived. And there on page 52 was Alison Gingeras' remembrance of visits with the late Franz West who, despite not driving himself, "had a crazy obsession with luxury cars."

franz_west_limobleu_reddeker.jpg
[See more images at basis-wien.at.]

She told of a November 2001 museum performance in Vienna, Aktion PAR BLEU (Le Limousine Bleu), where West used a watering can to pour candy pink housepaint on a maroon Maserati Quattroporte.

franz_west_rolls_gingeras.jpg

And how West was thrilled about having traded a work for a vintage Rolls Royce:

By the time I got to see his prized chariot, it wasn't just a Rolls--it had been Westified. He swapped out the Spirit of Ecstasy...for one of his suggestive sculptures rendered in miniature. The view out the front windshield was now accented by a brownish abstract squiggle, which resembled a cross between poop and a penis. In fact, he made a few of these hood ornaments and stored them in the glove box: different colors and forms that he switched out on the daily ride to his Esteplatz studio, depending on his mood.
Which gets at the reality of how people often treat their cars as extensions of themselves, projections of their identity; or conversely, how cars are perceived--and created and marketed--as public embodiments of their occupants' identity. West's little artworks went into the world just ahead of him, altering his interactions with it.

With Gingeras' story as the greatest proof of concept ever--no other mentions of West's hood ornaments turned up online--I resolved to blog it up pronto. And then Hurricane Sandy started closing in.

cneistat_sandy_bentley.jpg
image: Casey Neistat's instagram

And small blessings, I didn't get around to mentioning it during the uneasy joking-in-advance period. And it was forgotten completely, and it wasn't until just now, as I re-read Gingeras' focus on luxury cars, that I even made a connection to the emotional peculiarities of seeing tree-crushed Range Rovers or submerged Bentleys in Sandy's photostream. I'm not sure why that is.

Anyway, hood ornaments by artists.

The "The Girls Of Berlusconi" collection makes it rather NSFW, but The Spectacle of The Tragedy, Dutch designer Noortje van Eekelen's "visual database of the European Show and its Leading Actors is pretty amazing.

Don't you worry none about that link above, though, because it overlays this epic Pantone Matching System-style spectrum of Angela Merkel blazers over everything, no problem.

merkel_jacket_spectacle1.jpg

It's almost enough to make me want to make a 100-piece monochrome painting set, with the color for each piece derived from each of van Eekelen's appropriated news photos. Or maybe it's enough to eliminate doubling, and just do each discernible color.

Or maybe it's a screenprint portfolio, a politicized, EU-trainwreck-inspired riff on the inspiring Kayrock Color System, which I nabbed from the NY Artist Book Fair a couple of weeks ago. A beautiful work.

The Spectacle of The Tragedy [thespectacleofthetragedy.eu via guardian, thanks peteykins]
Noortje Van Eekelen portfolio site [noortjevaneekelen.nl]
Kayrock Screenprinting [kayrockscreenprinting]

I'm done waiting. This Europera 1 & 2 post is apparently not going to write itself.

europeras_ruhr_bergmann3.jpg

The Ruhr Triennial opened last weekend with what is only the third [production and fourth -ed.] staging of John Cage's grandest* composition, the 1987 Europeras 1 & 2. It's basically a chance operations tour de force that runs the entirety of the European opera canon--arias, stories, costumes, props, sets, lighting, libretti, staging, orchestra--through the I Ching wringer, which performance is conducted, so to speak, by the cues of a 2.75-hour clock. As Cage put it, "For 200 years the Europeans have sent us their operas. Now I'm returning all of them."

All six performances in the Triennial's home venue, the vast, repurposed industrial Centennial Hall Bochum sold out immediately. So far three have happened, directed by the director of the entire Triennial, avant-garde composer Heiner Goebbels.

europeras_ruhr_grid.jpg

So I've been monitoring the reviews jealously, and with some indignance. The scale and ambition and significance of the work is being respected--the work has only ever been performed in Germany--but it seems that both critics and directors alike still struggle with the vocabulary and the very concept of Cage's chance-driven work.

In the only English-language review I've found so far, The Financial Times' Shirley Apthorp describes Europeras' "extravagant evening of associative nonsense" as both "chaos" and "minutely choreographed absurdity." Writing for FAZ Eleonore Buening criticized Goebbels for putting the "chaos Cage conceived a quarter century ago back in a Museumsvitrine." If I read my German correctly, "The director placed too little confidence," Buening writes, "in the expiration of the clock, the will of the participants, or even Comrade Chance." And did Cage ever have a better comrade?

europeras_ruhr_bergmann2.jpg

I have never seen Europera 1 & 2, but I've been studying up on them for the last year or so. The original staging, commissioned in 1985 by the Frankfurt Opera, was the dissertation subject of Laura Kuhn, who was involved in the production, and who has since become the director of the John Cage Trust.

Europera 1 & 2 strikes me as a simultaneous negation and celebration of opera as an art/theatrical form, but also as a cultural and historical institution. His chance-based composition removes narrative, character arcs, literary and stage conventions, and authorial intentions from the experience of a performance. Chance is not chaos or absurdity; it's a different syntax. How does any opera performance seem if you don't know the story or speak the language? Would you ever call it chaos or nonsense?

europeras_ruhr_bergmann5.jpg

An opera diehard may want to identify the source of every passing prop, aria, or orchestral passage in Europera--did the Stump The Operahead trivia quiz during the intermission of the Met's weekly radio broadcast ever tackle Cage? Just like a moviehound might try to flag the source of every clip in Christian Marclay's The Clock. But that risks missing Cage's point [which is not Marclay's]: that the experience of the montage has quality and meaning and value in itself, apart from the original content and its juxtapositions, not because of them.

And maybe critics actually are better attuned to this now, and the problem [sic] is just/still the directors. In FAZ, discussing the "Children's Jury" who Goebbels convened to award unconventional prizes during the Triennial, Buening found a new twist on the classic MTV Crisis when she worried that the media-saturated, "Multi-tasken" Kids These Days might be bored by Cage's 1980s jump cut revolution. After watching a rehearsal of Europera Ruhr Nachtrichten writer Julia Gass said Cage foreshadowed the "TV Zapp Era"; actually, he was soaking in it. Cage's vision of the future was surfing the 400-operatic channels of the past.

europeras_ruhr_bergmann4.jpg

Europera may be Cage's most ambitious and explicit appropriationist work. According to Kuhn's firsthand account of the making of, Cage, relying on the collection of Lincoln Center's library, determined to include only operas that were in the public domain. For the flats and sets, he had researchers in Germany compile engravings and illustrations of composers, architecture, and animals from pre-20th century books. With these copyright-free source sets established, Cage used chance operations and a time log to generate the content of the opera.

And this, apparently, is where Goebbels' otherwise extraordinary production falls short. I'll try to account for the differences--or more precisely, the changes--between Goebbels' version and Cage's, the immediately apparent one is his replacement of simple, graphic flats with actual operatic sets. Buening sees this as too deterministic, too willfully absurdist [in the mold of Robert Wilson, who, inexplicably, is the Triennial's English talking head for Europera], and stuck to the cliches and oneliners of operatic theatricality. And too much of the director's own indulgences, which runs diametrically counter to Cage's purging intentions.

It's a perennial problem with Cage's interpreters, who take the indeterminacy of his compositions as license to do whatever they want. Not coincidentally, that sounds like exactly the criticism voiced in OMM by Sebastian Hanusa over the previous production of Europeras 1 & 2 at the Hannover State Opera. [It opened in October 2001, and I confess, I was not paying much attention to German opera gossip at the time.] According to Hanusa, Lowery kept the aria singers offstage, and instead of the chance-derived staging, he created various storytelling set pieces. It sounds almost as bad as Cage's sabotaged NY Phil debut in 1964.

But it's better than nothing? I don't know. Is it the kind of thing you can watch on DVD? Will Europeras ever be staged in the US? [YES, SEE BELOW.] Frankly, we may still not be ready for it. Or maybe we've superseded it; with the right code and a few browser tabs on YouTube, we can generate our own Europera anytime we want. Man Bartlett's #12hPoint, I'm looking at you.

UPDATE/CORRECTION: Thanks to DJW for correcting me; Europeras 1 & 2 was staged in the US. Christopher Hunt brought the original Frankfurt production to Summerfare at SUNY Purchase in 1988. According to John Rockwell's bemused NY Times' review, the New York version, which took place on a grander stage, was actually closer to Cage's original vision, which the Frankfurt Opera had to rework after its main theater was damaged by arson just before the Europeras' premiere. Anyway, more to come on that.

* OK, the 639-year-long organ performance of As Slow As Possible, also from 1987, at St. Burchardi church in Halberstadt is also pretty grand. But I'd argue its grandeur is more the performance, not necessarily the composition.

byars_cleopatra_mwerner.jpg
Monument to Cleopatra, 1988, currently on view at Michael Werner

I've been thinking a lot about James Lee Byars lately, for a whole variety of reasons. He's been problematic for me. I've always felt suspicious that his sculptures, all gold leaf and marble and monumentally deluxe, are not just decorative art, but decorator art [most excellent people, but you know what I mean.] And his camp and vanity, with all the lame´, read to me like the Zen Dali artist's version of the court jesterish, affectations decorators use to peddle their marked up wares. All of which makes the relentless pursuit of Perfection, Truth & Beauty seem a little, again, problematic. And though I obviously can't blame Byars for him, the ascendance of Terence Koh hasn't helped the case for monochrome life-as-art.

moma_jlbyars_white_paper.jpg
A letter/multiple dated Dec. 5, 1966, from James Lee Byars to Dorothy Miller, with text: "A white paper will blow through the streets." via MoMA Archives

But then I found out about all the wild letters. In 2007, MoMA Archivist Michelle Elligott put together a show of Byars' art object-based correspondence with longtime painting & sculpture curator Dorothy Miller, just one of the many people he corresponded with--or at least sent stuff to--over the decades. Which are obviously and unabashedly ridiculous and awesome at the same time, a simultaneous state I had never before considered for the rest of Byars' work.

And just yesterday, in fact, I think I figured out something else, related to another of the things that'd bugged me about Byars: his fantastical bullshitting. Like, to cite just one example, what was up with what Byars' official bio calls his "notorious 1958 exhibition in the stairwell of New York's Museum of Modern Art."

Roberta Smith wrote in Byars' 1997 Times obituary that Miller "arranged his New York debut, a show of folded-paper pieces displayed in an emergency stairwell of the museum for a few hours one afternoon."

And though the Museum's press archive has no record of it, Elligott mentions the "show" in the story of the 26-yo artist coldcalling from the front desk:

After seeing a work by Mark Rothko, Byars became determined to meet the artist, and in 1958 he hitchhiked from Detroit to New York and presented himself at The Museum of Modern Art, requesting an introduction. Miller was called down to meet with him. Legendarily, that same year Byars had his first exhibition at a U.S. museum, when Miller allowed him to briefly install his large works on paper in the Museum's emergency exit stairwell. From this point forward, Byars considered Miller an important mentor and turned to her repeatedly for support.
That "Legendarily" is exactly the buggin' I'm talking about. Elligott notes a stairwell mention in a 1967 Byars letter as "likely a reference to a show he allegedly mounted in a Museum stairwell in 1958." And Elligott expanded on her skepticism of the stairwell "show" in a 2008 interview:
I think the stairwell exhibit story is somewhat unlikely, and that it is quite probable that Byars propagated this legend after some sort of small incident. Regardless of what happened, I do believe that Byars aggrandized the event, much as he continually cultivated his larger-than-life personality.
Which is better. I mean, artists, they're gonna do what they do, but I don't want my museums to be lying to me, or to be just going along with the hype.

Which brings me to yesterday, when I finally cracked open the little catalogue from Byars' 1995 Fondation Cartier show. And read psychoanalyst/critic/PS1 adjunct curator Jean-Michel Ribettes, seeming to swallow Byars' story whole by just cold referring to it as "his first show in an American museum--the Museum of Modern Art in New York." But then, finally, Ribettes has some more details, presumably heard from the artist himself:

Byars's enormous works in ink on Japan paper were hung on the five-storey fire escape. The curator, Dorothy Miller, not only agreed that the show would last just a few hours, but she and other collectors (like architect Philip Johnson and David Hayes) purchased all the pieces, which Byars himself delivered to their houses that very night, crisscrossing New York into the early hours of the morning.
So it's less of a "show" and more of a "sale." And this appropriated but unsourced Byars bio says Miller bought "two paper works and allows him an exhibition lasting a few hours." And how's this for five-storey fire escape? At MoMA in 1958? Which would've gone right up against the P&S department's window?

Thumbnail image for moma_fire_stairs.JPG

And here is a tall [1.8m], if not enormous, work on Japanese paper, dated 1959, which Philip Johnson gave to NYU in 1969. It was included along with several related, smaller, ink drawings, in the Grey's "NY Cool" show of abstract non-expressionism.

jlb_pj_moma_59.jpg

So we have a charismatic, young hitchhiker calling from the lobby, and probably dropping names of his Japanese mentors, folks like Morris Graves and Soetsu Yanagi, and asking to talk to Rothko. And when you bring him upstairs, he unrolls some of his drawings, which, hello, he's a 26yo hitchhiker, are probably pretty cheap. And maybe PJ and Hayes passed by and went in for a drawing, too. From the Zen monk who'd set up shop and was now meditating on the fire escape outside Dorothy's window. Now I am OK with this. But I would not call it an exhibition.

monument_to_language_byars.jpg

Which is all good, because what Byars showed at the Cartier Foundation was The Monument To Language a 3-meter wide gold-leafed bronze sphere. And you know how I am about big, superlatively beautiful, shiny balls.

2007: James Lee Byars: The Art of Writing [moma.org]

Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ... 25 Next

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

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

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

find me on twitter: @gregorg

about this archive

Category: inspiration

recent projects, &c.


our_guernica_cycle_ivanka_320px_thumb.jpg
Our Guernica Cycle, 2017 –
about/kickstarter | exhibit, 2017


pm_social_medium_recent_proj_160x124.jpg
Social Medium:
artists writing, 2000-2015
Paper Monument, Oct. 2016
ed. by Jennifer Liese
buy, $28

madf_twitter_avatar.jpg
Madoff Provenance Project in
'Tell Me What I Mean' at
To__Bridges__, The Bronx
11 Sept - Oct 23 2016
show | beginnings

chop_shop_at_springbreak
Chop Shop
at SPRING/BREAK Art Show
curated by Magda Sawon
1-7 March 2016

do_not_bid_or_buy_iris_sidebar.jpg
eBay Test Listings
Armory – ABMB 2015
about | proposte monocrome, rose

shanzhai_gursky_mb_thumb.jpg
It Narratives, incl.
Shanzhai Gursky & Destroyed Richter
Franklin Street Works, Stamford
Sept 5 - Nov 9, 2014
about | link

therealhennessy_tweet_sidebar.jpg
TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -
about

sop_red_gregorg.jpg
Standard Operating Procedure
about | buy now, 284pp, $15.99

CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
Canal Zone Richard Prince
YES RASTA 2:The Appeals Court
Decision, plus the Court's
Complete Illustrated Appendix (2013)
about | buy now, 142pp, $12.99

weeksville_echo_sidebar.jpg
"Exhibition Space" @ apexart, NYC
Mar 20 - May 8, 2013
about, brochure | installation shots


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


drp_04_gregorg_sidebar.jpg
Destroyed Richter Paintings, 2012-
background | making of
"Richteriana," Postmasters Gallery, NYC

czrpyr_blogads.jpg
Canal Zone Richard
Prince YES RASTA:
Selected Court Documents
from Cariou v. Prince (2011)
about | buy now, 376pp, $17.99

archives