Category:scott sforza, wh producer

April 11, 2015

Souza Over The Rainbow

pete_souza_obama_rainbow.png

Big up, Pete Souza, who got this shot of Pres. Obama shooting a rainbow from his hand as he boarded the plane back from Jamaica yesterday. I have not seen Sforzian mise-en-scene that tight since Karl Rove tried to put George Bush's head on Mt Rushmore.

george_bush_rushmore_sforza.jpg

[Which, like so many things from that era, turns out to have been not so slam dunk after all. The image that circulated at the time, which I'm not finding right off, had GWB's profile lined right up. But Google Image results now for that speech show a wide range of camera angles that miss or avoid the setup. Aesthetic resistance would have been more interesting at the time. Of course Souza's not just any hack, he's the White House hack, so he wouldn't miss.]

What's not shown in the photo will no doubt be added, the way people started sticking Hitler's and Sarah Palin's heads alongside Bush's. The White House that trolled Netanyahu's scary bomb poster in their infographic for the Iran nuclear talks had to know that anti-gay people people would be riled up by Obama shooting his rainbow laser everywhere.

obama_anti-gay_therapy_ad_wtf.jpg

But the callous calumny of this twitter ad still caught me by surprise.

President Obama Shoots a Rainbow From His Hand in Jamaica [pete souza via jezebel thx @magdasawon]

January 28, 2015

Richard Nixon's Last Look

ellsworth_kelly_kissinger_1966.107.19_1a.jpg
Ellsworth Kelly, Yellow over Dark Blue, 1964-5, from a suite of 27 color lithographs, ed. 29/75, loaned to Henry Kissinger for display in his White House office. Collection: SAAM

Who was Henry Kissinger's favorite artist? Ellsworth Kelly. But that's not important now.

While searching through the White House art loan records for the Nixon administration yesterday, I noticed that over the years, Kissinger borrowed several Kelly prints for his office, including the one above. It was a gift of the artist in 1966 to the National Collection of Fine Arts, which became the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Oldenburg_Scissors_Obelisk.jpg
Claes Oldenburg, Scissors Obelisk, aka Scissors as Monument (Scissors Obelisk, Washington, D.C.), 1967 or 1968, ed. 144. Collection: SAAM

I first started wondering about art in the Nixon White House a couple of months ago, after I stumbled across a NY Times article describing a 1978 NCFA White House Loan inventory that showed hundreds of artworks missing, mostly from the Nixon era:

More than 100 prints, including a Claes Oldenburg poster, "Scissors Obelisk," and an Andy Warhol "Flowers" poster, borrowed and displayed in the White House, at Camp David, and in the Presidential helicopter during the Nixon Administration, have not been found where they were supposed to be.
The reason I'm writing this should now be clear: Richard Nixon had art on his helicopter.

abbas-erdogan-16-warriors-sforza_ap.jpg

Europe and next to Europe. Ho. Ly. Smokes, Turkey, what the hell is going on with your imperial warrior cosplay Sforzian backdrops? After showing Mahmoud Abbas around the new Presidential Palace, Prime Minister Erdogan took him to a feast and a live jousting demonstration at Ottoman Times.

Abbas welcomed at Turkish presidential palace by Erdoğan - and 16 warriors [guardian, image: getty]

paris_march_crowd_shot.jpg
image: crowds at the Place de la Republique, via reuters, I think

Europe. The states of Europe, united against terrorism and intolerance as they marched through the streets of Paris yesterday, led by the families of those killed this week,

world-leaders-paris-march_ap.jpg
image: ap

and the heads of dozens of countries--including those countries where journalists are regularly jailed, flogged, and killed--marching arm in arm, marching, mar--wait, don't march yet. Everyone in front, look up and...OK, march now.

charlie_photo-op_gonzalo.jpg
image by unknown, maybe TF1, via @rukhasgunsalu

As anyone who spent a moment contemplating the security nightmare might have guessed, the assembled leaders were actually not among the regular Charlies, but were instead marching in place, for the cameras, on a sealed-off street. If you thought otherwise, it might be because you were meant to. From the photos and slideshows, it sure could have seemed like one Paris March. As Twitter user Gonzalo put it, "Los líderes mundiales no encabezaron la Marcha de París, pero hicieron un montaje para hacernos creer que sí."

A montage to make us believe they are. Instead of simply crafting a single, standalone image, make a photo-op that blends seamlessly into the broader visual narrative of the event. I believe this colonization of a montage represents an advance in Sforzian technique which warrants more investigation. Stay tuned.

November 25, 2014

Seasons Greetings

ferguson_seasons_greetings_reuters.jpg
Reuters from Ferguson last night

June 27, 2014

Uncle Sam's Club

uncle_sams_club_s1-visit-az-lg.jpg

The Department of Homeland Security released this photograph of Secretary Jeh Johnson and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and their respective entourages visiting the Males 16-17 aisle in the Nogales Placement Center, where several hundred ? thousand? unaccompanied minors are being detained, after being arrested while crossing into the US.

I'm going to be Gurskying up images of these juvenile prison warehouse stores as I find them. I just cannot even right now.

Readout of Secretary Johnson's Visit to Arizona [dhs.gov/news]

rick_perry_gays_drunks_gop_ap.jpg
Republicans: Gays, Drunks, Let God Sort'em Out, image: AP/Rex C. Curry via TPM

Yesterday I tweeted about Texas governor Rick Perry wearing his "Smart Glasses" and standing "in front of a Richard Prince mural" in San Francisco where he was condemned for comparing homosexuality to alcoholism.

This morning Mr. Prince tweeted the following, which, like most tweets that don't mention me, I assumed to be about me:

Upon further review, it turns out the photograph of Governor Perry was actually taken last Thursday at the Texas GOP Convention in Fort Worth, where the party was condemned for endorsing anti-gay "conversion therapy."

rick_perry_gay_cure_gop_ap.jpg
images ap/ray c. curry via chron

The image projected behind Gov. Perry is Lone Rider, Texas, a 1974 photo by William Albert Allard, originally published in National Geographic Magazine.

rick_perry_allard_natgeo_crop.jpg
detail of "West Texas Cowboy," Allard's National Geographic wallpaper

It is one of the first five results on Google Image search for "texas cowboy riding," and given the saturation levels and pixellation, I suspect Gov. Perry's people got their jpg from the National Geographic wallpaper collection and cropped out the copyright info and logo,

allard_west_texas_cowboy_natgeo.jpg

and not from the C-prints for sale in Allard's gallery.

allard_lone_rider_steven_kasher.jpg

Allard was one of the original photographers for the Marlboro Man and Marlboro Country ad campaigns after they switched from models to real cowboys in the 1970s. Prince would begin rephotographing these print ads around 1980. As far as can be discerned, this image has not appeared in a Marlboro ad, and has not been rephotographed by Mr. Prince. Yet.

greg.org regrets the error.

April 6, 2014

Art Of The Bush School

You go to war with the paintings you have, not the paintings you might want or wish to have at a later time.

Right now the paintings we have are by George W. Bush.

Why do they exist? Why are they being exhibited? How are they being used and discussed? Why do they matter?


image via flickr

I think the simplest answer for why George W. Bush started painting is because he has nothing else to do. Bush is toxic and unemployable as a political figure. He can't campaign for Republicans, can't talk on television about anything important, can't give speeches for money, can't write memoirs, can't travel to certain countries where he runs the hypothetical risk of getting arrested for war crimes. Painting is a harmless and respectable pursuit that offers an aura of cultured acceptability.


As he explained to Jay Leno, the idea of taking up painting comes from Bush's fantasy of being, or being compared to, Winston Churchill. Churchill painted. Of course, Hitler also painted. If painting makes Bush like Churchill, does it make him like Hitler, too? Is either association, when based on painting, more or less outrageous than the other? Painting becomes a rhetorical device, an uncritical excuse for likening Bush to Churchill. This has political ramifications that should not be ignored, yet they almost always are. That's the transformative power of painting.

gwb_history_channel_art.jpg

"I was sitting up here wondering how to kind of live life to the fullest," Bush told the History Channel, a sponsor of the GW Bush Center's exhibition, "The Art of Leadership: A President's Personal Diplomacy." "That's the wonderful thing about painting. It's absolutely transporting," said Laura Bush.

Bush's painted portraits of world leaders he worked with are central to the premise of the show, which is that "personal diplomacy," i.e., personal friendships and relationships, are a transformative aspect of a successful foreign policy, i.e., Bush's foreign policy. Bush is personable and sensitive, which these other leaders felt, which enabled the achievements of his administration, these painted portraits show.

The Art of Leadership: A President's Personal Diplomacy

Is that too heavy for you? The paintings are the lone, personal expression in an exhibit that's otherwise nothing more than documentation of the systematic diplomatic ritual of documentation and exchange. They are flanked by "jumbos," large prints of photos taken by the official White House photographers, a format which lines the halls of the West Wing. Many portraits are accompanied by state-themed statuettes, books, and objets, the official gifts Bush received from his counterparts.

"But the paintings provide a personal insight that such artifacts cannot," wrote Dallas Morning News reporter Tom Benning, who toured the show with the artist:

As Bush walked through the exhibit, he stopped at each portrait to share not just an art critique, but a reflection.

He painted his dad, George H.W. Bush, in a "loving way," as a "gesture of compassion." He depicted Blair as a "good pal" with a "determined face." He focused on the Dalai Lama's lips to show his "gentle, sweet countenance."

He aimed for a "sympathetic portrait" of German Chancellor Angela Merkel to highlight her sense of humor. He put a smile on former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to show that he's "just a fun guy."

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is "a little wary" and "suspicious about the future," reflecting his "enormously difficult job." Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki "doesn't look real confident," a nod to his "fragile democracy."

"Eyes are very important," Bush said. "You can convey a feeling about somebody."

This is as good a time as any to point out that Bush painted his portraits, not just from photographs--a common enough practice as well as a long-established conceptual strategy, though I think only the former pertains here--but from the top search result on Google Images. Many photos were taken from the subject's Wikipedia entry. Bush based his paintings on the literally first-to-surface, easiest-to-find photos of his subjects.

gwb_singh_google.jpg

Is this meaningful in any way? If he had one, it would mean Bush's studio assistant is very, very lazy. But in all his discussion of it, Bush's painting practice appears to be a solitary one. He apparently did not tap the enormous archive of photos, taken by the professionals who followed him every day for eight years, which are contained in his giant library. Instead, it seems, he Googled the world leaders he made such impactful relationships with himself, and took the first straight-on headshot he saw.

gwb_merkel_google.jpg

By outsourcing the editorial decisions about the source images to Google and Wikipedia, the rest of the paintings' decisions can be claimed by The Decider himself. The sources serve as an index of Bush's subjectivity, interpretations, and technique, only some of which is hinted at in his walkthrough. Maybe there's an audioguide? Whether they are successful artworks in critical or aesthetic terms is an entirely separate question. But it is disingenuous, dishonest, or delusional to claim Bush's paintings are not art.

They are the art of our time. The art of the 21st century. The art of the Bush Era and the Global War on Terror that made him famous. And for many who care deeply about art, that is very depressing. And damning. We yearn for art's relevance in our society, for art to have an impact on our culture. We want people to experience art and to feel it's important. Unfortunately, George Bush's paintings accomplish all those missions. They're the newsiest paintings to come along since George Zimmerman's eBay auction.

Bush and his paintings grab the media spotlight just as reporters are gaining traction in the years-long struggle to account for the criminality and deception of Bush & Cheney's CIA torture regime. The 6000+ page Senate report on the CIA, and the CIA's own equally damning first account of itself, plus its responses, plus vast amounts of documentation of torture practices, are slowly moving toward declassification. Leaks are starting to emerge. Official facts are starting to be documented. The practices that continue to poison US courts, treaties, military & foreign policy, and intelligence, are finally coming into sharper view--and the man responsible for it all is successfully fending off his reckoning with a paintbrush.

Ironically, there is even more important art buried within the Senate's trove of classified CIA documents. And as Bush was being interviewed by his daughter on NBC, these other artworks were still being actively suppressed. Jason Leopold and Al Jazeera reported that the Senate report contains detailed sketches of waterboarding by Abu Zubaydah, a senior Al Qaeda leader imprisoned at Guantanamo. He did not base his drawings on Google Images, but on his firsthand experience. As a "high-value detainee," Zubaydah was waterboarded at least 83 times at a CIA black site in Afghanistan, with each interrogation session authorized and closely monitored from the White House.

Zubaydah produced ten drawings on yellow legal paper and index card-sized paper, detailing multiple torture techniques he was subjected to, Leopold reported in 2011. Since the CIA illegally destroyed its own waterboarding videotapes in 2005, these drawings may be the most powerful visual evidence of the Bush torture regime we have left. In March Leopold also obtained and published Abu Zubaydah's diaries from before his capture, when he had been waterboarded and interrogated by Pakistani intelligence--without, it should be noted, yielding any true or useful intelligence. Which the CIA knew.

The point is, once again, art matters. Art has surfaced in the most dire circumstances, at a crucial moment in our society's history, produced by someone whose actions and moral standing confound our engagement with it. And culturally speaking, we don't care; we'd rather see Bush's folksy pictures from the internet. Every news story about Bush's paintings represents ten reports not filed about Bush's torture. In the art world, meanwhile, we'd rather not see it at all. Better to condemn and dismiss it quickly. Snark and move on. Stoke the indignance that keeps us and our practices unsullied. Ward off any engagement with cowering incantations of connoisseurship and facture.

This is how art appears in our society today. Art works, as they say, and this is what it does: it absolves and redeems and defuses and deflects. Ultimately, George Bush's paintings are important less for what they show than for what they obscure. And the art world's critical structures seem unable or unwilling to meet the challenge posed by the art of the torture & terrorism school.

The Art of Leadership runs through June 3, 2014 [bushcenter.org]

ukr_rus_carpets_yahoo.jpg

I don't know what's going on here. This image was the intro for a Yahoo News slideshow yesterday on Russia's annexation of Crimea, and so it doesn't have any caption or credit line.

At first I thought it was just a graphic of the Ukrainian and Russian flags, but looking a bit longer, I started to wonder why it had these irregular, dingy, textured spots on it. Which would be odd for a CG graphic, but normal for a photograph.

But then what's it a picture of? A wall? A carpet? Is this a detail from a giant flag mural somewhere? Did someone make a flag-themed rug for some international event? Which people have been walking all over like some geopolitically conflicted Rudolf Stingel installation?

Anyway, the obvious solution now is to make such an installation. I can see a whole series of flag carpets, coming soon to a regionally appropriate biennial near you.

Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ... 26 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: scott sforza, wh producer

recent projects, &c.


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