Category:projects

So many projects, so many browser tabs, open for so many months, I've gotta clear some of these things out:

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I've wanted to remake the lost/overpainted panels from Andy Warhol's Thirteen Most-Wanted Men mural for the NY World's Fair since the Destroyed Richter Paintings days, but now with the comprehensive-sounding show at the Queens Museum opening, I've probably got a week to do it. And process it. And put it behind me. Ah well. The show does sound good, though.

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Not sure why it didn't occur to me sooner, but the news this week that MoMA's started the dismantling of the Folk Art Museum gave me a flash of inspiration: The Williams+Tsien Folk Table Collection. Turn each bronze alloy panel into a unique memento/tabletop. Maybe there's enough material inside to use for legs, &c., too. I see a couple dozen dining tables, as many coffee/side tables, and a handful of console/sofa tables. They'd be a stunning addition to the finest home, and quite the conversation piece.

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Actually, the inspiration came from Chester Higgins Jr's photo of Billie & Tod holding architectural fragments. The domestication of architecture.

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Also from the Times: Fred Conrad's great photo showing the use of photomurals to evoke/approximate historical spatial experience at the Jewish Museum's "Other Primary Structures" show. It's interesting that they're angled and mounted on wall-sized panels, not stuck to the moulding-encumbered wall. Makes them a bit more exhibition design and a bit less exhibition, I suppose.

Richter tweeted this the other day, and it's been nagging at me ever since:

the exhibition of reproductions of paintings, that is, not just paintings based on photographs. Also, of course, the show is at the world's most intensely named museum, the Topography of Terror.
I've reached out to the Topographers, hoping to find out more about how paintings function in an exhibit like this, and how the decision was made to include them as reproductions. But so far I have received absolutely no response. But I did get some screencaps from a YouTube video of the opening, which I can't find right now:

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Christie's is selling a 20x24-inch print of Richard Prince's Spiritual America in their extra-edgy sale, titled "If I Live I'll See You Tuesday...." Though apparently it's not so edgy they feel comfortable running the image of the work. Maybe the added attention to the image that comes from a 100x increase in the pre-sale estimate--since 1999, the last time they sold the same print, 10/10 is it right that this is the only one of the 12 prints to ever come up for auction?--makes even auctioneers uncomfortable.

But the price spike has not spurred any new interest in when Prince actually made the object being sold. In both the 2014 and 1999 catalogues, the print is listed as "Signed, numbered and dated 'R Prince 1983 10/10' (on the reverse)" and so "Executed in 1983. This work is number ten from an edition of ten plus two artist's proofs."

Except it's not. Christie's quotes Prince's recent bird talk post where he recounts the creation of Spiritual America in unprecedented and fascinating detail. He'd scored a copy of a "pamphlet" Gary Gross self-published, which included an image of the sexualized photos of a 10-yo Brooke Shields, from Gross's agency. He rephotographed it, developed it, selected the image to print, and ordered a single 8x10 proof, which is what he ended up showing as Spiritual America in 1983.

Christie's' doesn't quote the part further down, where Prince writes,

eventually gave the 8x10" of Spiritual America to Myer Viceman. Frame and all.
In 1987, after I joined up with Barbara Gladstone, I editioned it. Ten copies and two APs. I had my lab print it on ektacolor paper at 20 x 24".
Which clarifies, or changes a bit what Prince said in his 2009 deposition in the Cariou v. Prince case. Cariou's lawyer was asking about a "settlement," with Gross over the rephotography of his image:
I mean Mr. Kennedy is talking about a 1992 discussion at the Whitney, and I believe at that time I bought the rights to the image for $2,000.

Q. From Gary Gross?

A. Yes.

Q. Because he threatened to sue you?

A. No. I was told by the Whitney that I--in order to exhibit that image I made a concession, or they advised me that it would probably be best that--and I believe I sort of reached out to him at the time.

Because up until then, that image that I rephotographed from that pamphlet that he had produced in 1983, I made one copy, an 8 by10, and I gave it away. And it wasn't until 1992 that it came back into the limelight, and I think my attitude changed a bit and I was sort of willing to become more part of the process I suppose.

Q. And at that time you made ten copies plus an artist proof?

A At the time there was ten copies and i believe two artist proofs, none of which I own.

So until just now, I'd thought this meant he made the edition to release in time for his Whitney show, but I think he's actually not saying that. He's saying that the Whitney was requiring him to get a license from Gross before they exhibited Spiritual America. But the editioned prints already existed. So maybe the right date is Executed in 1987. Or maybe, you know, call someone to confirm it. RP's tweet about the execution:

Now let's talk about the Whitney's insistence on getting clearances before showing appropriated work. How often does that happen?

April 12, 2014

The Absence Of Evidence

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Short Circuit (aka Construction with J.J. Flag), c. 1958? photo: Rudy Burckhardt

Errol Morris's new film about Donald Rumsfeld has me thinking a lot lately in terms of the known unknown, and the unknown unknown. As I've tried to find the missing Jasper Johns flag painting that was in Robert Rauschenberg's 1955 combine Short Circuit I've kept running into another formulation which bridges the two: what we think we know.

It's not that the story of Short Circuit as it trickled down through history in footnotes and parentheticals and anecdotes was wrong, so much as incomplete. . And the elisions have shaped the widely accepted understanding of both artists' work. But it also prompts the question, "Who's 'we'?"

Because someone knows what happened to that flag painting. Someone's always known. It just wasn't me.

monument.greg.org is now live.

I thought it'd take five minutes. hah. If I'd known how much time all the pdfs were gonna take, I would've just 'shopped a screenshot instead.

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Who Owns This Image?

We got this.

Suddenly the New Yorker headline got me thinking, and I clicked on their little jpg of Graduation, and it's 290 x 404 pixels--and its original title says it's a screenshot-- almost exactly the same dimensions as Untitled (300 x 404), and I'm like, DONE. Frankly I'm kind of embarrassed it took this long.

No need for Chinese Paint Mill; I'm ordering test prints tonight. It'll be interesting to see what that little jpg looks like at Graduation-size. Prince's Untitled (Cowboy, 2003) set the maximum for that print, just 30x40 inches. But Graduation is six feet tall, (72 3/4 by 52 1/2 inches, 1.85 x 1.33m). Could be a real mess, but that's fair use for the rest of us.

Who Owns This Image? [newyorker]
Previously, related:

May 2009
the instigation: West Trademark F@*#(up
the concept: 300x404, the making of

June 2009:
proofs: Richard Prints, Untitled (300 x 404)

June 2010
published: Untitled (300 x 404) @ 20 x 200

the review/thinkpiece: the great debate: the value of greg allen's untitled (300 x 404) [artfcity]

I said it publicly a couple of times now, and I was more cynical about them then than I am now, but when I first saw Richard Prince's Canal Zone paintings, I thought he was trying to see how bad he could paint. I half-joked that he wanted to see if his new dealer Larry Gagosian could really sell whatever shit he literally slapped together.

The higher concept way of putting that, of course, is that Prince was interested in process over product, in setting constraints and parameters on his practice, and in destabilizing himself by experimenting with techniques he knew he hadn't mastered.

I really came to appreciate the paintings, not so much for themselves--they're still undeniably shitty--but for their catalytic effect, the way the Cariou lawsuit compelled Prince to talk at length and under oath, about his work. His deposition is really pure art historical gold, and the way art is discussed in the legal context is disorienting and exciting to me, language-wise.

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Still, as the legal case drags on, I find the paintings themselves--more precisely, the images of the paintings themselves, since almost no one's seen the actual objects for years now--kind of tedious, beside the point. And my interest wasn't rekindled by Banal Zone, Jomar Statkun show of Chinese Paint Mill copies of Prince's paintings. Literally any idiot can order Chinese Paint Mill paintings. Ask me how I know! And anyway, those joints were Inkjets by NancyScans.

But I am glad that Statkun's show serves as the catalyst for Prince to birdtalk about making the Canal Zone paintings. Because CALLED IT:

But aren't I curious about the "Chinese" paintings my anonymous friends ask? No I'm not. From what I've seen they look worst than some of the paintings I've already painted. You have to understand that when I started out painting my Canal Zone paintings I had no intention of making good paintings. In fact most of them were never finished and the majority were an experiment with new painting techniques. (This is the first time I've gone on the record about this stuff). Anyway... there are a couple of Canal Zone paintings that WERE aggressive and satisfying in ways that hard to describe... they were done quickly and under the influence of certain music I was listening to at the time... and part of this "screen play" I was toying around with. They started out as storyboards for a "pitch" called Eden Rock. (You got to start somewhere). They started off innocently enough when I found this Rasta book on vacation and I simply starting to use some of the images in the book for collages. (Early on I pasted a guitar over the body of one of the Rasta's, kind of lined it up so that the Rasta looked as if he was "wailing" away... and there you go... off to the races). I can't say it more simply. Wild History.
Expecting Good Paintings out of Richard Prince is as crazy as expecting Good Photographs. It's just not how he rolls.

BIRDTALK 2/12/2014 [richardprince.com]
Garis & Hahn Presents Jomar Statkun's 'Banal Zone' [hyperallergic sponsor; direct to garisandhahn]

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Vic Muniz After Gerhard Richter (from pictures of color) (2001) and Greg Allen Destroyed Richter Painting No.2 (2012, left) and Destroyed Richter Painting No.4 (2012)

I'm really stoked to have the Destroyed Richter Paintings project included in "Para-Real," an exhibition at 601Artspace, that has been extended until this weekend [closes Feb. 8, cf. Ken Johnson's review in the NYTimes].

Magda Sawon curated the show with works from the 601 collection and others, and she paired Vik Muniz's big paint chip Portrait of Betty with one of the Destroyed Richters. I've been a big fan of Muniz's work for years and was particularly taken by his Pictures of Color series when we first saw them in Venice in August 2001. We barely knew how great we had it back then.

But anyway, that's just one of many interesting pairings of works that examine notions of the real. If you haven't seen the show already, I hope you'll put it on your itinerary.

Maybe you should put it on your calendar tomorrow, in fact, say, 7pm, when our rescheduled conversation takes place with Robert Blake, Director of Special Projects at 601 Artspace, Jennifer & Kevin McCoy, John Powers and I. I've been looking forward to it for weeks. Months, even.

A round table conversation on Para-Real moderated by Robert Blake and led by Magdalena Sawon with Greg Allen, Jennifer and Kevin McCoy and John Powers
Wednesday, February 5, 2014, 7-8:30p [601artspace.org]

January 21, 2014

The Maze Collection

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Tony Smith conceived of The Maze in 1967 for a very early show of installation art at Finch College's townhouse gallery on the Upper East Side. The four units, two 10x7' and two 5x7, were originally made from plywood, painted black. Grace Gleuck said the light was low, and that "a walk among these gloomy, primeval presences evokes the feeling of an endless forest."

When I wrote about the little cardboard model of Maze in Aspen 5+6, in 2012, I did not know whether it had been shown since. That was because I just wasn't looking hard enough. It turns out that another plywood incarnation of The Maze was shown at Paula Cooper Gallery in 1988. And last Fall, Matthew Marks installed a black steel version of Maze [no The] in his Los Angeles gallery. I'm bummed I didn't get to visit it in person, but the photos look stunning [top].

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The plan of the piece seems to show that the dimensions, including the inner and outer passages, and even the units themselves, were all 30 inches wide, and derived in some degree by the Finch space itself. Not sure about Paula's incarnation, but that site-specific aspect didn't make it into the 2013 version, which looks suitably monumental, but also clearly sculptural. And not a hint of primeval gloom.

In his statement for Aspen, curated by Brian O'Doherty, Smith actually gave permission to anyone to "reproduce the work in its original dimensions (in metal or wood)." And so I will. As The Maze Collection of functional household built-ins. It just seems like a lot of space to lose to sculpture. It's more Zittel than Zittel, and less Jade Jagger than Jade Jagger.

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I see The Maze Collection as having a really sick, velvety, matte black surface. No gloss, no lacquer. As long as you make that the panels close properly, and give you that clean, solid, not-at-all-hinged-or-doored look, I think it'll work.

I was looking around for something on Richard Hamilton this morning, when I Googled across a 2010 discussion between the artist and the human rights architect Eyal Weizman at Map Marathon, one of the Serpentine Gallery's Marathon series. It was rather compelling for several reasons.

For one thing, their discussion of the political power of maps was frank and vivid in a way that I'm unaccustomed to in US media or art world forums. They talked specifically of Palestine & Israel, but I quickly took down two quotes that seemed very relevant to, of all things, Google:

the "double crime of colonialism is to colonize and to erase its own tracks" -Eyal Weizman paraphrasing Edward Said.

"All maps of a political kind have nothing to do with the people who occupy the territory being mapped." -Richard Hamilton.

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These both reminded me of Google Maps' tendency I find so eerie, of Street View cameras and car/trikes to be erased from the panoramas. It turned out at the same time of Map Marathon, I had been working on this Walking Man project, where I followed the Google Trike through The Hague, its European debut, and collected the disembodied portrait fragments of the guy--who turned out to be a Google employee--walking alongside the entire trip.

It would have seemed a bit extreme at the time, but now it feels depressingly plausible, even urgent, to consider Google and its pervasive data collection as a political force and as a surveillance agent. Whatever the benefits of Google Maps--and they are real--we are still in the dark about just how transparent our information is, and how opaque the implications of Google's deep information structure is. And we won't know, and we won't have open, informed debates and political discussion of it until our entire cultural landscape has been transformed by the company. And maybe not even then.

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Richard Hamilton,Maps of Palestine, 2010

So this is what's going through my head as Hamilton and Weizman discuss the artist's contribution to the show, Maps of Palestine (2010), above. It was a pair of maps from 1947, and 2010, showing the shifts in political control between Israel and Palestine. It basically shows the impact of Israeli military retaliation in 1967 and subsequent settlement activity in occupied territory, and it appears to challenge the practicality of a two-state solution. [Indeed Weizman, upon whose groundbreaking crowdsourced mapping and analysis the newer map is based, believes only a one-state solution is feasible now, and that everyone's just going to have to figure out how to get along. That's a dark optimism of a sort, I guess.]

And then I start wondering, what, exactly, are these maps like? I mean, what did Hamilton actually make and show? Unsurprisingly, almost no one seemed able to talk about the maps as images or as objects; some people called them/it paintings, but nearly all the discussion was around their content and its meaning. Adrian Searle wrote about the Maps in The Guardian in the context of Hamilton's art historical career and extensive political engagement. When a 4-map variation of Maps of Palestine was included in 4th Moscow Biennale, not only was there no image, or dimensions, the title and the very subject have been omitted. In the opening's press announcement, director Peter Weibel stated, rather amazingly,

There will be quite a few so-called political works at the exhibition. For example, Gerhard Richter's painting is not just a painting, it also refers to 09/11, and the piece by Richard Hamilton does not just show us a map of Israel, but it asks us questions about war.
Credit lines are a continuation of occupation by other means.

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Maps of Palestine, 2011, 4th Moscow Biennale
see full-size img in Al-Madani's flickr stream

The only image I can find online of the Moscow Maps is from flickr user Al-Madani, and it's the first to show the work as a physical object. It curls up on the lower corners: an unmounted print of some kind.

It's only after turning up Rachel Cooke's interview with Hamilton in advance of his Serpentine show, "Modern Moral Matters," which coincided with the Map Marathon, that I get my answer. Cooke's entire anecdote is kind of golden, though:

Hamilton hands me a colour copy of a piece of new work that will hang at the Serpentine. It is a political piece, and consists of two maps: one of Israel/Palestine in 1947, one of Israel/Palestine in 2010, the point being that, in the second map, Palestine has shrunk to the size of a cornflake. I hold the image in my hands, and give it the attention befitting a new work by an artist of Hamilton's reputation. In other words, I look at it very closely, and I notice something: on these maps Israel has been spelt 'Isreal'. Slowly, my cogs turn. Hamilton loves wordplay. One of my favourite pieces of his is a certain iconic French ashtray subtly tweaked so that it says, not "Ricard", but "Richard". So presumably this, too, is a pun. But what does it mean? Is-real? Hmm. This must be a comment on the country's controversial birth. Either that, or he wishes to suggest that the Israel-Palestine conflict is a nightmare - can it be real? - from which we will one day wake up. How clever.

"So what are you up to here?" I ask. "Why have you spelled Israel like this?"

Hamilton peers first at me then at the image. "How is it spelled?" he asks. I tell him how the word should be spelled and how he has spelled it.

There is a small silence. "Oh, dear," says Hamilton. Rita Donagh gets up from her seat and comes round to look at the image over my shoulder. "Oh, dear," she says. The misspelling is, it seems, just that: a mistake. It's my turn now. "Oh, dear," I say. "I'm so ... sorry." My cheeks are hot. Hamilton looks crestfallen. Donagh looks worried. "Can you change it?" I say, thinking that Hamilton works a lot with computers these days. "Not very easily," he says. Oh, God. On the nerve-wracking eve of his new, big show, I have just told the 88-year old father of pop art that there is a mistake in one of his prints (this one is an inkjet solvent print). Why? Why did I do this? And how on earth will our conversation recover?

After a moment of perplexity, though, Hamilton starts to laugh. "Oh, well!" he says. "I'm sure there's some way of sorting it out. Not to worry!"

So there we have it. Inkjet print. And from the image published above, it appears they reprinted it with the correct spelling. If only all the Israeli-Palestinian mapping problems could be resolved so quickly.

Also, I wonder if these maps will turn up in Hamilton's Tate retrospective next month. UPDATE: YES IT WILL. [thanks to Tate Modern's curators and communications folks for the update]

Map Marathon: Richard Hamilton & Eyal Weizman - Political Plastic [vimeo]
Map Marathon - 2010 [serpentinegalleries.org]
Modern Moral Matters | Richard Hamilton [serpentinegallery.org]
Richard Hamilton: A masterclass from the father of pop art [theguardian]

November 14, 2013

On Untitled (Beauty Love)

There is beauty in this painting. But the beauty is not what makes you love it.
It's the emotion of what it says, in very simple means about life. And where we all go.

I don't know why I get chills from Tobias Meyer's little promo video for Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster), but here we are.

I matched the audio to Michelle V. Agin's photo from the Times this morning.

And then after reading Ian Bogost's McRib essay again, I realized it was the most persuasive explanation I've seen of Auction Week. So

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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.


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

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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

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

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