Category:projects

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@TheRealHennessy Tweet Painting, Moby, 2014, 14x11 in., acrylic and screenprint on canvas SOLD

greg.org is pleased to introduce @TheRealHennessy Tweet Paintings, inspired by Donelle Woolford's Dick Joke series, which were buzzworthy standouts at the most recent Whitney Biennial.

Instead of the expressive, gestural application of paint that was so fashionable, @TheRealHennessy tweets are silkscreened onto a flat, monochrome canvas. Similar to his re-photography of existing images, this approach removed the artist's hand from the work. Despite this conceptual strategy, @TheRealHennessy Tweet works are nonetheless considered first and foremost as paintings. As he jokingly remarked, "the 'Tweet' paintings are abstract. Especially in Europe, if you can't speak English."

The series of monochrome tweet paintings, of which @TheRealHennessy Tweets, Moby is an outstanding example, presents the viewer with a strangely puzzling juxtaposition of a minimalist canvas and painted words. Although this can be interpreted as a reference to postmodern linguistic theory, the work also points to two quintessentially American features: hard-edge abstraction and popular humor. Cleverly subverting the clean and serious language of abstract painting, the tweets' amalgamation of low and high culture characterizes @TheRealHennessy Tweet's most iconic work. This intelligent fusion of conceptual strategies with popular cultural references, which has been the driving force throughout @TheRealHennessy Tweet's influential practice, is perfectly merged in @TheRealHennessy Tweets, Moby. Wittingly parodying the uncomplicated jokes from vernacular literature, the artist has found a way of incorporating a difficult subject-matter - humor - into a deeply serious artistic practice.

More @TheRealHennessy Tweet paintings are below. The first One of the remaining three paintings is available for $1,800. Please tweet, DM, or email for further information.

Most reports of On Kawara's death place it on July 10, the day the news was made public. I have heard from sources who would know that the artist passed away as much as two weeks earlier. Given the nature of Kawara's practice, it seems like a non-trivial point to identify the actual date. Given his family's prerogative and their loss, it seems indelicate to speculate or pry.

As Roberta Smith wrote in her NY Times obituary for Kawara, published today,

Mr. Kawara's family declined to provide the date of death or the names of survivors, in keeping with his lifelong penchant for privacy.
But she also ends with this:
Keeping the viewer focused on time's incremental, day-by-day omnipresence was one reason for Mr. Kawara's deliberately low profile and his habit of listing his age in exhibition catalogs in terms of the number of days he had been alive as of the show's opening date. In the catalog to a show at the David Zwirner Gallery, an otherwise blank page titled "Biography of On Kawara" put the count at 26,192 days on Sept. 9, 2004. Last week the gallery calculated he had reached 29,771.
When news of Kawara's death began to circulate, his birthdate, via Wikipedia, was reported as January 2, 1933. Wikipedia's citation is the Encyclopedia Britannica. But calculating back from the Zwirner show results in a birthdate of Dec. 25, 1932.

The artist's bio in Henning Weidemann's book, On Kawara is reported as "(June 9, 1991) 21,351 days," which also calculates back to Dec. 25, 1932.

Given this birthdate, it becomes clear that Kawara's family and gallery chose to report, on his own terms, not his death, but the culmination of his life, 29,771 days later, on June 29, 2014.

Update: Now we have a situation. Dia lists Kawara' bio as "29,622 days on January 15, 2014," which calculates back to a birthdate of Dec. 10, 1932. Now I feel compelled to cross-check Kawara's other published biographies. Any citations are appreciated.

The canonical source, such as it goes, would be Kawara's own 100-Year Calendar, on which he indicates he was born Dec. 24, 1932. Which could mean everything above is off by one day.

According to Weidemann, filling in a dot on his calendar was the very last thing he'd do every day. A green dot meant one date painting. A red dot meant more than one; a yellow dot meant none. It's conceivable that the artist lived through the 29,771st day, the 28th, but did not complete the 29,772nd. Suddenly, this calculation feels intrusive.

Other biographies:

For the opening of On Kawara 1973 --One Year's Production at Kunsthalle Bern, his bio reads, "(August 16, 1974) 15 211 Tage." [Dec. 24, 1932.]

July 10, 2014

On Kawara Today

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News came today of On Kawara's death, and I'm finding it difficult to articulate much of my own reaction. It's a sense of profound loss, coupled with naturalness, a frustrating mix of the inevitable and the unexpected.

The kids and I just painted new Today series paintings yesterday, to update the ones they painted for me in 2012 as preparation for RO/LU's Today series project at the Walker Art Center. So we've had On on our minds.

And of course, the Guggenheim just announced that the artist was collaborating with curator Jeffrey Weiss on a full-scale retrospective set to open in February. And I fired off some exuberant tweets about getting my turn in the booth to read for the One Million Years project.

And my recent foray onto tumblr had reminded me that I have to reinstall fromnowon.us, the project we announced during RO/LU's Walker residency, of commissioning Chinese Paint Mill to continue the Today series, first to fill in the days when Kawara himself didn't complete a painting, and then to open the project up to everyone when eventually, some day, far in the future...

This idea had struck me during Kawara's huge 2012 show at Zwirner's, which had Today paintings from four decades and dozens of cities. The newest painting was Jan. 3, 2012, just three days before the opening. And other paintings appeared during the show's run, though the artist himself, of course, did not. But Lei Yamabe wrote in the catalogue that on those days when Kawara did not complete a painting, he was like Schrodinger's Cat, "shut in the closed room of time, simultaneously alive and dead." And, most alarmingly, and unexpectedly, at least for me, that "the series will be complete when Kawara's body ceases to exist."

Damien Hirst had just floated the possibility that his spot paintings could continue into infinity, and frankly, the idea that Hirst would persist and Kawara would not felt devastatingly wrong. Thus, fromnowon.us. But I think the project only gelled because I really didn't imagine Kawara not continuing himself. Yet now here we are, and now here he is not.

Rachel's tweet shows, not everyone was as impervious as I, was but reading back a bit today, I see the shadows of non-existence throughout Kawara's entire practice, which I either ignored or relegated to an abstraction before. In 1991 Henning Weidemann wrote that "the picture of a past date becomes a memorial," and the very title "lead[s] us to suppose that for the spectator it will always be a question of a "Yesterday"-series."

Even when using the speediest means of communication available to him in 1970, the telegram, Kawara's I am still alive was fraught with contradiction:

In a certain sense the phrase "I am still alive" can never be sent as it cannot be received by the addressee instantaneously...It is only valid at the very instant that it is being written, and in the very next second it no longer is a certainty. If the addressee receives the telegram a few hours or days later and reads it, he merely knows that the sender was alive at the very instant the telegram was sent. But when he is reading the telegram, he is totally uncertain if the content of the text is still relevant or if it is still valid The difference, the small displacement between sending and receiving, is that particular unseizable glimpse of the presence of the artist. Likewise, it is a sentence of self-reassurance..."I am still alive." The activity of telling oneself and the world "I am still alive."
Now the uncertainty is removed, and that difference, that once-small displacement, will stretch into history. In fact, it's already bigger than we first thought. I've heard from a couple of folks that know that Kawara actually passed away as far back as two weeks ago, after some period of difficulty, but that the artist's family had requested his passing not be made public before now. [update: according to this calculation, Kawara's 29,771th and last day was June 29, 2014.]

And so our paintings, my exuberance about the Guggenheim announcement, my continued procrastination, it all went down when I [we] only thought Kawara was still alive, when in fact, he was not.

For some as-yet unknown time, all but Kawara's close friends and family thought he was still possibly/probably alive, shut in that closed room of time, but he was not. This specific moment, this window, this condition, of knowing something that turns out no longer to be true, feels significant in ways I cannot pin down right now. I'll think about it every time I see my kids' paintings, which are now not prescient memorials of Kawara's own last full day, but which instead mark the last day of our thinking he was still alive.

But it also highlights an important distinction that's so often lost, especially here, between the artist and his practice, the human being and his work. Just a couple of weeks ago I wondered if Kawara's family or lover or the deli guy was included in I Met, or was it just his work contacts.

Kawara had a wife, and at least two children. He lived on a street in SoHo. He had neighbors. Kawara didn't give interviews or talk about his work, but when Nick Paumgarten called about a young Leo Koenig crashing at the Kawaharas' loft, On answered the phone and gave a quote. Kawara's work marked one man's passage through time, space and society, and the end of that project which has inspired me for so long makes me sad. But these were "the traces left on paper and canvas," as Yamabe wrote, "the shadows that Kawara cast." For others who shared Kawara's life, he was a husband, a father, a friend. 謹んでお悔やみ、申し上げます。

Previous Kawara on greg.org:
On Kawara Data
On's Location
Setting: Fredericianum, Documenta 11 | The voice of a woman reading from within a freestanding glass booth echoes

July 7, 2014

Nice Grouping

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I've began noticing these twitter juxtapositions about 18 months ago, and have been collecting and occasionally retweeting them since last fall.

Now I've put these groupings together in one place, to see what to make of them. At grpg.greg.org, I'm caught up through April, and will start functioning in realtime in a week or so.

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When I first started, I connected these abutments of random images and texts to, of all things, the upload scene in Johnny Mnemonic, where Keanu tells the renegade Japanese pharma chemists to encrypt the data by capturing three images from the television.

But I just rewatched that scene now, and it's meaningless, also hilarious. First off, they print hard copies and then fax the three images to Newark? Don't get me started. Anyway. That is definitely not important now, but I am interested to see how these things look together.

grpg: nice grouping [grpg.greg.org]

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Here you go, now you can print yourself a whole art fairful: bigblack.tif (after Wade Guyton), 2014.

What you need is a system. To keep you going, to avoid artist's block, to keep the pipeline filled.

I think Lewitt's cubes were less a system than an idiom. Flavin's fluorescent tubes, too.

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Shapes from Maine, 2009, image: petzel.com

Allan McCollum's got a few systems going. Systems are his medium. Define some parameters, calculate the total set, start producing, and don't stop till you--or your market--drops. The Shapes Project, started in 2005, has 31 billion possible permutations, enough for everyone ever to be born on earth to have one. Personally, I'm largely unmoved by McCollum's results, but I respect their jawdropping systemic integrity.

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But On Kawara's Today Series, now that's a system I can get behind. It's a bonus when your system is conceptually tight, also when it can carry you out of this world.

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As that Kawara link above mentions, Hirst's spots are also a system, which operates autonomously and, he's even hinted, which could continue posthumously. [Kawara's date paintings and Hirst's spots were up in NYC at the same time in 2012, and Karen Rosenberg said one series was about time, and the other was about money. I love that.]

Anyway, you want to make sure you don't get trapped by your system. Flavin had a helluva time with that, especially towards the end. So keep enough irons in the fire, throw a system or two into the merchandise mix. Like Richter's new Strip paintings; he'll be able to pull those off the printer till the very last. And he could leave the print queue open in his will, even. [I wish him all the continued health and happiness and look forward to seeing his show at the Beyeler.]

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One would want a system to be ambitious, to stake a large claim, but to be doable, sustainable, saleable over the course of its realization. When Bruce High Quality Foundation announced their project to recreate all 17,000 objects in the Metropolitan Museum's antiquities collection in Play-Doh, it seemed daunting. I guess you could say they'll probably have product available as long as they're able to keep selling.

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Danh Vo, We The People, 2014 installation at Brooklyn Bridge Park, Public Art Fund, image: James Ewing

Danh Vo's We The People project to recreate the Statue of Liberty as 250 separate panels, meanwhile, has a finite end, even though the ridiculously awesome scale of the project seems impossible. On a purely physical object level, this has to be one of my favorite art undertakings ever, a confluence of abstraction & representation, metaphor & literalism, presence & absence. As soon as I get to Vo's pieces on view in City Hall Park and Brooklyn, I'll try to write more about it.

From Kawara [solo] to Hirst [factory] to McCollum [vector files] and Richter [digital] we can see a diminishment of the artist's hand in inverse proportion with the expansion in scope, approaching capitalist nirvana, an industrial-scale infinity.

This is all nice and terribly important, but it's also prelude to what might be the most ambitious readymade art generation system ever, which I'm totally calling dibs on: Webdriver Torso.

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Webdriver Torso is the largest of at least four related YouTube accounts which have been uploading randomly generated videos [the pace is currently two videos ever 8-12 minutes] since mid-2013. Webdriver Torso has nearly 80,000 videos now; on all four accounts there are more than 130,000 videos total. Webdriver Torso's channel now has more than 38,000 subscribers. Where a few weeks ago, almost all the videos had zero views, or maybe one, now videos of seemingly nothing immediately get several dozen views. [The other channels still have mostly zero views.]

Since being discovered and publicized a few months ago, various websites have speculated on the purpose and origin of Webdriver Torso, calling it an alien communications tool, or a crypto-spy numbers station, or a test channel for some video software developer. The most persuasive explanation I've seen so far is Italian blogger Paolo B.'s theory that the Webdriver channels are connected with a YouTube uploader development initiative for 3D videos or multiple videos, run out of Google's Zurich office.

Each video is eleven seconds long and contains ten slides, each with a composition of blue and red quadrilaterals. That's 1.3 million possible compositions, with more being added at an average rate of one every six seconds. And they all look more or less like a Malevich, or Lazslo Moholy-Nagy's Telephone Paintings.

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So obviously turn them into paintings. It seems impractical to sort through all the videos, looking for some "best" composition. Better to stay true to Webdriver Torso's random nature, and grab a few. Or even grab one and use it [all], make nine paintings at a crack. Or maybe use the slides in the most recently uploaded file from the moment you make a sale, or the moment you place the order with Chinese Paint Mill. Then it becomes an indelible, but meaningless, marker, an index of its own creation. Like On Kawara's date paintings, they can be made in various sizes. Maybe you get a giant hard edge monster to anchor an important wall. Or maybe you get a smaller, complete set and grid them up, a la Olafur.

A web storefront that offers paintings in only the compositions from the last few minutes of uploads wouldn't just reward quick purchase decisions: it would demand it. Out with this fair-wandering nonsense of, "Oh put it on hold for me, I'll let you know." and in with Buy It Now. Of course, what'll happen is that someone will sit there and hit refresh all day, in eternal hope that the next batch of nine will have the Webdriver Torso Mona Lisa in it. [Just a second, gotta check Twitter.]

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Ooh, tmpK89znn, which just went up, has some really nice ones in it:

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Let's see how those turn out.

A timeline of Webdriver Torso [botpoet via @soulellis]
the truth about Webdriver Torso [ventunosu21]

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When this arrived last week, I immediately thought of something Sturtevant said in her short Frieze video last year, how due to cybernetics, "Simulacra was becoming minor in terms of its force."

Also: "Repetition is not repeating. Repetition is like interior movement, It's also difference, and it's also pushing the limitations of resemblance."

Because all those things feel very, very true right now.

Previously: Wade Guyton and Anxiety In The Age Of Mechanical Reproduction

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Last week medieval scholar Erik Kwakkel tweeted about a largely unknown, undocumented, and apparently unique book he found in the Bibliothèque municipale/Bibliothèque Méjanes, in Aix-en-Provence.

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Titled Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l'eau [Treatise on the colors used to paint with water], it's an amazing 892-page, handwritten documentation of every available watercolor pigment and combination, each at three levels of dilution. It was written in Dutch in 1692 by an A. Boogert. Kwakkel is currently translating the introduction, but in the mean time, the illustrations are worth a long look.

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In addition to the systematic process and grid of conceptualism, there are obvious resonances with the color charts [top] and monochromes [below] of mid-20th century painting. The book format especially reminds me of Yves Peintures, the concocted catalogue for an imagined show of Yves Klein's monochromes.

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But even more than that, the starting palette for Boogert's project is uncannily similar to the 16 colors of the Dutch government's own unified, official palette, the Rijkshuisstijl, released in 2011. The RIjkshuisstijl was meant to centralize and strengthen the visual identity of the national government with colors inspired by Dutch landscape painting.

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Kwakkel doesn't mention any details yet about the context for Boogert's book, but the bibliographic record keys it to the textile trade and the Dutch East India Company.

Read and follow Kwakkel's discovery: A Colorful Book [erikkwakkel.tumblr.com]
See full scans of Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l'eau MS 1389 (1228) at the Bibliothèque Méjanes [e-corpus.org]

Previously, related: Rijkshuisstijl: the 1 Logo Project
Yves Peinture

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It's not my strategy to leave pictures sitting on my desktop so long I forget where they come from, and then I don't have to credit them or worry about posting them. If if were, I'd start a tumblr.

Given the amount of attention I've paid to various artists' Volkswagens, I honestly thought I'd be writing something more extensive about Claes Oldenburg wheeling up to the Dwan Gallery with the giant Floor Cone Peggy sewed for him strapped on top of his car. But not yet.

And anyway, it's been making the rounds, but I'm guessing it came from researching Sturtevant and Dwan Gallery a few months ago, and finding it on ArtObserved.

Last month I proposed that the specific artworks which had once belonged to Bernard Madoff be forever associated with him, that he and his various corporate entities become an inextricable element of their history, discourse, and meaning.

For the most part, Madoff collected prints and multiples from large editions. There are usually dozens of identical examples of each artwork he collected; they're true investment-grade commodities. However, Bernard Madoff's ownership of these examples differentiates them and renders them unique among their editions. How does the historical fact that these specific artworks were owned by the perpetrator of one of the financial industry's biggest frauds affect their engagement with the art market, the art audience, and the critical structures of the art world? We shall find out.

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Study for Ex-Collectio MADF Stamp, 2014, digitally manipulated photocollage

Seven of the 53 artworks listed in the US attorney's inventory of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Services, plus one additional work, are being sold by the bankruptcy trustee at Sotheby's on May 1st.

Their lot and edition numbers are documented below, along with edition and title information for previously sold Madoff artworks whose court inventory entries were incomplete.

In accordance with art market, conservation, and art historical practice, I have created a stamp to indicate these works once belonged to Bernard Madoff and/or his corporate entities. I hereby issue an open invitation to all owners, buyers, dealers, agents and conservators handling these artworks, to accurately reflect their history, significance, and provenance by having them stamped. I am happy to provide this service, upon review, authentication, and mutual agreement, for no charge within New York City or the Hamptons or, upon prior arrangement, at art fairs in Basel, London, or Miami Beach. For other locales or times, please contact me directly. I'm sure we can work it out. This offer applies only to artworks which can be documented through court and/or auction records as having been in the collection of Bernard Madoff. No frauds or phonies.

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Not in Inv.
Lot 41 Henri Matisse, FORMES, PL. IX (FROM JAZZ), 1947, pochoir print of "plate IX of XX from the edition of 100 (total edition includes the book edition of 250 with a central fold), on Arches wove paper, published by Tériade, Paris."

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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

about this archive

Category: projects

recent projects, &c.


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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

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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)
about | buy now, 376pp, $17.99

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