Category:writing

August 31, 2011

Ekphrasis

Sam Thorne in this Summer's Frieze looks at writers writing about looking at fictional art. He includes the hero [sic] of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, the post-poststructuralist filmmaker James O. Incandenza, whose lost masterpiece gives the novel its title:

Incandenza is one of the few conceptual artists in fiction (he is preceded by Maria Turner, a joint creation of Sophie Calle and Paul Auster who pops up in the latter's 1992 Leviathan - the novel's accounts of her works were subsequently enacted by Calle herself). Many of Incandenza's films are described as technically or conceptually unfilmable (one is 'unfinished due to hospitalization'), while his video Infinite Jest is itself said to be 'lethally entertaining' - once viewers start watching they cannot stop and remain transfixed until they starve. This elusive videotape, of which all copies are missing, is wrapped up with the unbearable pleasure of seeing. The visual is thematized as entirely other to language, as Wallace insinuates that the visual can make claims on our attention that the verbal cannot. Within the logic of the novel, the video would be impossible to sufficiently describe; it evades all attempts at ekphrasis - a shortcoming which is in this case redeemed, in that the ability to properly visualize it would result in death.

That writing fiction may finally be incompatible with adequately describing a work of art is the worry that shadows many of these novels. But, like Bergotte's dying realization, they also suggest that the knowledge of this shortcoming is what makes writing worthwhile.

I did not realize that Incandenza had a show. While at Columbia last year, Sam Ekwurtzel invited a couple dozen artists to create works for A Failed Entertainment: Selections from the Filmography of James O. Incandenza. The show is still touring the country with him. Ekwurtzel, that is. Incandenza still does not exist.

Unmentioned by Thorne: Henry Codax, the fictional conceptual monochrome painter in Bernadette Corporation's novel Reena Spaulings, who also had a show this year, courtesy of Jacob Kassay and Olivier Mosset.

Works on Paper [frieze]
Ekwurtzel speaks: Behind the scenes of an Infinite Jest-inspired art show [flavorwire]

rausch_ancient_incident_ls.jpg

Oh brother, I have this giant post mostly written about how Leo Steinberg's awesome 1997 lecture Encounters With Rauschenberg includes all these references that show that, not only did he recognize the intimate interrelationships between Johns' and Rauschenberg's early works, he also identified hints of dialogue, reference, in works made decades later.

And of course, I'm referring to Steinberg's discussion of The Ancient Incident, the 1981 Combine/sculpture of a pair of lover/chairs pyramided atop some old steps, which is going to be in Gagosian's Rauschenberg show in Paris next month. [Hold on, unless that's the bronze replica Rauschenberg made of the sculpture in 2005. I think it may be. Except I just read the title of the image file, so no. 9/14 update: Except I just read the caption on the email announcement of the same show, and sure enough, this is patinated bronze, and, confusingly, is also titled The Ancient Incident (Kabal American Zephyr), but it has a date, 1981-2006, like it's the same work, except it's a different one, or. Anyway.]

I was really going to publish it, but it feels a little, I don't know, sappy, hokey, romantic, even. But not crazy, AFAIK. As I write out these 2.25 paragraphs, I'm starting to wonder if the best way to put the info out there isn't as an annotated, footnoted, republished version of Encounters With Rauschenberg, which reveals the lecture to actually be a secret, epic poem of the founding of Bob & Jap's hometown of Zembla. I so totally called it.

But while busily not writing that, then, and worrying my over-conversational voice, over-excited art historical imagination, and my over-reliance on semicolons and footnotes is a sign of my over-doing it on the David Foster Wallace homage front--but see, Maud, my footnotes are from Pale Fire, not Infinite Jest! I don't think I'm not copying Wallace; I think I'm not copying Nabokov! Nice work in the NYT Mag, btw!--John Powers matter-of-factly produced the greatest greg.org post ever. On his own blog, Star Wars Modern.

It's all about the connections between previously overlooked satelloon mentions by Arthur C. Clarke and J.G. Ballard and Robert Smithson and Spiral Jetty. And with some steampunk Contact thrown in for free. I bow my head in awe and gratitude, and I look forward to seeing you back here after you've finished reading it.

And then I didn't post it last night because, well, Libya, of course. Did anyone else notice this crazy, masking tape rebel flag behind these doctors treating a pro-Qadaffi soldier? [nyt/ap]

libya_tapeflag_apnyt.jpg

And then I didn't fix the post because I was interested in Art In America's report [via rkjd] that several months ago, John Chamberlain and Gerard Malanga quietly settled their lawsuit over the sale of 315 Johns, which Malanga and like a million other people insisted was his work, made of tons of silkscreened Chamberlain portraits as "an homage" to Warhol, but which Chamberlain claimed he had traded for with Warhol, and that Andy, he, and Henry Geldzahler had cooked it up in the first place, which is how Chamberlain managed to get it authenticated--and which he sold for $3 million at Art Basel "to an unidentified collector." Mhmm.

fake_warhol_chamberlain.jpg


My favorite part is how the case got resolved "a few weeks before the May 5 opening of Chamberlain's first show at Gagosian." Actually, that's my second favorite part. My favorite part is the awesome quote Malanga's lawyer Peter Stern gave AiA:

"[T]here has been no retraction of allegations in the complaint and no one has acknowledged that they are in possession of or know the whereabouts of the painting.
Well now. Glad that's all cleared up.

Fear not, I have not given up the search for the missing Jasper Johns Flag painting. The one which was in Robert Rauschenberg's 1955 combine, Short Circuit, a combine which was originally shown with the title, Construction with J.J. Flag. The combine which was the subject of an unusual agreement between the two artists after their bitter 1962 breakup, that it would never be exhibited, reproduced or sold. Which technically did not happen, since the flag painting was taken out in 1965, and Rauschenberg put the piece, with the title, Short Circuit, on a national tour in 1967 as part of a collage group show organized by the Finch College Museum.

Which, point is, in looking for the flag, I keep finding more things I had never heard about Rauschenberg's and Johns' time together, a point at which they each were making hugely important, innovative work. And frequently, it seems, they were working on it together. His, mine, and ours.

For a few months now, I've been thinking about a letter Johns wrote to Leo Castelli, which I'd come across at the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art. I've been kind of slow to mention it, partly because it just feels a little weird, like going through someone else's mail. Which I guess it exactly what an archive is, but still. Also, I've been wary of reading too much into a single letter, or of over-interpreting a single statement.

But then I'm constantly struck by how frequently a particular phrase uttered in a single interview can get echoed across the writing about an artist, as if that one statement from decades earlier is somehow not just a snippet of a conversation, but a key to deep meaning. So this overdetermining tendency is not mine alone, and whatever, take it for what it's worth.

In the spring and summer of 1964, while Johns traveled to Japan, he scouted out Kusuo Shimizu's Minami Gallery for a future Rauschenberg exhibition sometime after the fall. Johns had some pretty specific suggestions about what kind of Rauschenbergs would work in the small, tight space:

I should think that smaller works as different as possible from one another would be good. Or if Bob is going to use repeated repeat images in all the paintings, one work the size of a wall + several much smaller things. If Bob were willing, I think a good effect could be made by having one large painting + several smaller ones which used the same silk screen images but reduced in size. That is, two screens should be made of each image - one large + one small. The opposite would also work - a large painting with smaller images + smaller ptgs. with larger images.
It's not that Johns is prescriptive, designing his ex-partner's paintings at a distance. His language is very careful to couch the decisions as Rauschenberg's to make. But Johns also has a marked fluency in Rauschenberg's composition and process, and he seems comfortable discussing it, at least with their mutual friend and dealer.

Johns could discuss Rauschenberg's silkscreening techniques in detail in 1964, even though Rauschenberg only began using silkscreens in 1962, the year the two finally broke up. [Crocus, done in the late summer/early fall of '62, is one of the first/earliest silkscreen paintings.]

In any case, one more datapoint. As it turns out, Rauschenberg's show at Minami never ended up happening. Fresh off his hyped and controversial grand prize win at the Venice Biennale, but while he was still also working as the stage manager for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company's world tour, Rauschenberg visited Minami Gallery in the fall of 1964.

According to Hiroko Ikegami, Rauschenberg walked in, saw an exhibition of Sam Francis, ["who was still respected and popular" in Japan], and walked right out. Shimizu was offended, and canceled Rauschenberg's show. Maybe before Rauschenberg canceled it himself, who knows? The Merce tour was a personal disaster for Rauschenberg, and a rift developed between him and Cage and Cunningham which took several years to heal.

August 15, 2011

View Of New Amsterdam

I'm not sure why I'm so fascinated with the Netherlands, or more precisely, why it's the source/site/subject of so much of my art/object/image/culture interest. Maybe it's because of New York, which has always felt to me of a piece with Amsterdam in some way. Whatever, maybe the particulars are not that important right now.

But I'd like to see more thinking and writing and reporting like Steven Erlanger's NYT piece on immigration, religious tension, politics and Dutch identity.

The sometimes violent European backlash against Islam and its challenge to national values can be said to have started here, in a country born from Europe's religious wars. After a decade of growing public anger, an aggressively anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim politician, Geert Wilders, leads the third-largest party, which keeps the government in power.
Wow, I just re-read the 2010 post I wrote about remembering Laurence Wechsler writing on Vermeer. It's the same things. And you know, maybe these particulars are important right now.

Amid Rise of Multiculturalism, Dutch Confront Their Questions of Identity [nyt]
Previously: What I Looked at in 1995: Vermeer's View of Delft

The short answer is yes, Dave Hickey's writing was even more off-the-wall in the Seventies, and you really might just as well scroll straight down to the song.

Otherwise, I just brought home a stack of old Art In Americas, including the Sep/Oct 1971 issue with Hickey's long, lyrical essay, "Earthscapes, landworks and Oz." [As in Wizard of, not Australia, though I did check before I bought it.]

Hickey makes some interesting points about visiting earthworks, including hearing his art-shunning, contractor father-in-law go on about

his most Roman topic (the favorite of all adult males west of Fort Worth): the ravages of nature upon the works of man. He would like driving out to the site in his white jeep, wearing his narrow-brimmed Stetson, his khaki slacks and jacket and his Gokey boots The more difficult the trip, the more completely it would reinforce his serene pessimism. would be his idea of going to see some art; mine, too in proper company.
And how "In big country you do not see in the ordinary way. There is no 'middle distance,' only 'near' and 'far,' the dust at your feet and the haze on the horizon."

Of earthworks in the nothing-space in between, Hickey declared

I do know that privative pieces--those which involve cutting away, digging out or marking--have much more authority and intimacy with the country itself than the additive pieces like Smithson's Spiral Jetty or Heizer's Black Dye and Powder Dispersal, which are dwarfed in a way that even smaller privative pieces are not. Smithson's Jetty, particularly, has a beaux-arts look about it, more related to other sculpture than to the lake.
At least, that's the concept. Because it's not that Hickey had actually been to any of these works himself; in 1971, it seems like it was enough to drive in and out of Austin a lot. Hickey namechecks some art world folk who actually "have been out to see Double Negative, and have returned with (literally and figuratively) breathless accounts. If this keeps up, he pretend-complains, "we shall soon need a kind of National Geographic for Esthetes.

It's actually Hickey's incisive identification of the media-mediated Land Art experience that I found most interesting:

The question is: Why have the national art magazines both overrepresented and misrepresented the earthworks movement and its related disciplines, choosing to portray them as a kind of agrarian Children's Crusade against the art market and the museum system, when this is obviously not the case? First: the work is marketable--anything is marketable, as St. Paul so aptly demonstrated. Second: the museum have proved a god source of commissions for these artists. And third: even if the work weren't marketable and the museums were rejecting it, an esthetic trench in Utah is going to have about as much effect on the object market and museum endowments as admission figures at the Grand Canyon.

The answer might be: It is not the Earth artists who are challenging the market and the museums, but the magazines themselves. Earth art and its unpackageable peers cannot hurt the market, but extensive magazine coverage can, since not as much object art will get exposure. The magazines have found in this unpackageable art a vehicle through which they can declare their independence from the art dealers who invented the critical press, nurtured it, and have tended to treat it like a wholly owned subsidiary. Now there is an art form ideally suited to presentation via magazine. Work consisting of photographs and documentation is not presented by journalism, but as journalism--a higher form, needless to say.

The people on the magazines must believe (and I think rightly) that these indefinite art forms might do for the magazines what Pop Art did for the dealers--lend a certain institutional luster, and with it a modicum of arbitrary power.

...

An artist who makes documents needs an editor, not a dealer.

I had some lucid commentary of my own about Hickey's glib comparison of Earth Art & Pop--and his silence on Conceptual Art, which goes unmentioned, or at least uncapitalized, even though I think Hickey's making specific, unspoken reference to Walter de Maria's project in the May 1972 issues of Avalanche and AiA rival Arts Magazine, which zeroed in on the difference between art experience, concept, and media, oh wait, never mind. 1972? I forgot I'm still talking about 1971 here. Actually, I think my brain was just involuntarily ctrl-alt-del rebooted.

Because I just found out that the Terry Allen lyrics Hickey ends his essay with are from an actual song, and listening to it just now has wiped all unsaved art information from my head. And that's just fine with me.

So stop whatever you're doing and listen to Terry singing his masterpiece, "A Truckload of Art." Y'all come back now, y'hear?

Nope, not yet: On Walter de Maria, earthworks and Conceptual Art

As you might expect, I've been going deep into the history and context of Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty lately. I'm in Salt Lake City right now, meeting folks and listening and trying to gather some firsthand perspectives on the issues and dynamics around the Jetty and Great Salt Lake: things like land use, lake management, State leasing, oil and mineral exploration, tourism, climate and ecosystem, and so forth.

While I'm obviously trying to figure out how best to approach the current lease situation, I'm also trying to get a handle on the history of the lake and Rozel Point in the Spiral Jetty era.

petrohunter_blackpearl.jpg

And so I come across things like these oil field maps from a 2007 press announcement by BlackPearl, the Canadian heavy oil specialists who partnered with and then acquired Petrohunter's leases to the West Rozel field. It was the inadvertent discovery in 2008 of Pearl's drilling applications, execution of which apparently had to happen by 2008-9 to keep the leases valid, which set off an environmentalist, art blogger, and art world protest. And yet, the transfer of the leases from American Oil to Petrohunter in 2006 and Petrohunter's detailed plans for drilling test wells, were part of the company's regular SEC filings in 2006.

Which is not exactly the point right now. I'm just kind of caught off guard by the beauty of these maps [well, 3 out of 4.] T8N on the left side of the West Rozel map I recognize: Township 8 North, the same State map page as the Spiral Jetty's site. The contour lines are, I believe, surface topography, while the green forms are the oil deposit or field structures, and black lines are faults or other subterranean geographic features? I haven't looked it up yet.

They remind me of Oil Seeps at Rozel Point, a mid-1960s Utah Geological Survey report of the area that Smithson owned, which makes a cameo in his Spiral Jetty film. I bought a copy years ago. Really should dig it out by now. [They also remind me of passages in a Julie Mehretu painting, maybe with a bit of Bochner thrown in. It's got to mean something that Spiral Jetty made its public debut In Kynaston McShine's 1970 MoMA exhibition, "Information," but what, I can't say just yet.]

The other unexpected discovery also relates to the form of the West Rozel field, only this time, it's language. Specifically, the abstract for "Heavy-Oil Deposit, Great Salt Lake, Utah: Section V. Exploration Histories," a 1987 report for the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, by Louis C. Bortz. It's just fantastic writing, an incredibly dense bit of information encoded in the highly specialized language of the petroleum geologist. It also echoes with Smithson's writing and film about Spiral Jetty. Which is a good reminder that this context of geology and geologic time and structure was important for Smithson, as was the oil drilling and hunting history of Rozel Point. Anyway, here's the whole thing:

The western portion of the Great Salt Lake contains two large Neogene basins, informally called the "North" and "South" basins. These basins are separated by an arch that trends northeast between Carrington Island and Fremont Island. Both basins are filled with Miocene, Pliocene, and Quaternary sediments and volcanic rocks. Each basin has an estimated maximum thickness of over 4300 m (14,000 ft) of Tertiary rocks. Palynology indicates the oldest Tertiary sedimentary rocks present in both basins are Miocene, but a radiometric date indicates the presence of Oligocene rocks. Structurally, the basins are slightly asymmetric, deeper on the east with an obvious boundary fault zone on the east flank of each basin. Faulting is present on the western flanks but of a lesser magnitude. The most common structural traps found in these basins are anticlinal closures, faulted noses, and fault closures. These structures are probably the result of continued differential subsidence of pre-Miocene blocks throughout Neogene time. A total of 13 exploratory wells was drilled by Amoco in the Great Salt Lake, from June 1978 to December 1980, resulting in an oil discovery at West Rozel and oil and/or gas shows in eight other wildcat wells. The West Rozel oil field produces from fractured Pliocene basalts at a depth of 640-730 m (2100-2400 ft). The trap is a faulted, closed anticline covering approximately 2300 acres. The discovery well, Amoco No. 1 West Rozel Unit (NW NW Sec. 23, T8N, R8W, Box Elder County), has an oil column of 88 m (290 ft) but produced at rates of only 2-5 BOPH with a gas-lift system. The oil is 4° API gravity, 12.5% sulfur, and has a pour point of 75°F. Two development wells that have smaller oil columns (No. 2, 26 m [85 ft]; No. 3, 60 m [194 ft]) were equipped with a downhole hydraulic pump and produced oil at rates up to 90 BOPH. Additional development of the field was not initiated because of the high water cut and the high cost of operating an "offshore" field.
I love it. And I love trying to make enough sense of it to visualize the field in my mind.

The other point, though, is Amoco. In 1978. They were exploring for oil, mapping the field and drilling test wells beginning in 1978, eight years after Smithson completed the Jetty and five years after his death. And I think they were doing it right next to the Jetty, which was submerged and apparently forgotten, ignored, or unknown. It's been called the Amoco jetty, so I think the utility jetty just east of Spiral Jetty was built at this time, and used for as the base for exploration activities. Chew on that for a while. Right next door.

But in Artforum in 2002, Nico Israel tracked down Ken Pixley, another onetime oil leaseholder at Rozel Point, who said that he and his father had built that oil jetty in 1980. There are period state documents which show the 500m jetty cutting through a 40-acre "Pixley lease"; I think documenting this site history and activity is going to take some doing.

In the Spring of 1991, I was about nine months out of school, and six months into a new job. After striking up a conversation with a documentary film crew from NHK at Tennessee Mountain in SoHo, I'd bailed on a hard-won banking job right before my analyst training started. I began doing research and pitching and packaging projects. A few months in, I began working on producing a multi-part documentary on the history of the oil industry based on Daniel Yergin's book, The Prize. I went off by myself to Houston to try and persuade oil company executives, particularly Aramco, Saudi Arabia's US operation, to participate. I'd put in some calls and send out some faxes, then basically wait by my hotel phone, hoping a PR or some other contact would call me back. It was at once heady and exhilarating, ridiculously inefficient, frustrating and boring, and ultimately pointless.

Before heading back to Houston one week, a friend in New York suggested I use some of my downtime to find the Rothko Chapel. I knew Rothko from sitting in on the modern/contemporary art history class my last semester, and from MoMA of course, but I hadn't heard of any Chapel.

menil_structurae.jpg
[via]

The concierge at the hotel didn't know it either, but she gave me directions to Sul Ross, which turned out to be very close by [I was staying at the Wyndham.] With no idea what to look for, and not seeing anything particularly chapel-like, I circled around the bungalow neighborhood in vain, until I came upon a long, low, windowless, warehouse-shaped, grey clapboard building. There was no sign. Looking into the glass entry, though, I saw something else from my contemporary art class: a Cy Twombly chalkboard painting.

twombly_menil_grey_ground.jpg
it was Untitled, 1967, on the right. image: menil.org]

If they had a Twombly, I figured, these people might know where the Rothko Chapel is. So I pulled over and went inside to ask directions. A charming lady with her white-hair in a bun at the desk happily pointed me back down the street. And then I asked if that was, in fact, a Twombly painting over there. Yes. Would she mind if I went to take a look. Of course.

As I was standing there, marking the many differences between an actual painting and a slide lecture, a tall, elderly man came out of a set of doors to my left, and joined me in looking. I looked at him briefly, and then the painting. And then back at him, because he was looking unexpectedly familiar.

"Excuse me, but are you Cy Twombly?" I asked.

"Yes," came the reply.

I rambled something about really liking his work, and studying it in school, even though my emphasis was Italian Renaissance, and this being the first time I'd seen one in person while he smiled and nodded and said thanks. He asked where I'd gone to school. And if I had seen other pieces in the museum that I'd liked?

Which stumped me, because I somehow still hadn't realized I was in a museum. I was a little embarrassed and said I'd been looking for the Rothko Chapel, saw his painting through the window, and stopped to ask directions. Twombly, amused, maybe pleased, said well, it's really not like the typical museum, and then he suggested I really should see it, I'd enjoy it.

I said I would, and thanked him, and then he left. Some time later, when the catalogue for Walter Hopps' show of Rauschenberg in the 50's came out, I noticed the dates in a footnote and realized that Twombly had been at the Menil that day to be interviewed. So maybe, I thought, he had the formative art experiences of youth on his mind when he gave me one of mine.

The experience of meeting Twombly in front of his painting completely changed my understanding of artists and art and artmaking. Art was not just history; it was now. And it was being made by people you could meet and talk to. If you happened to bumble along in the most implausible way and fall in with some of the most important and visionary and generous people in the art world, like Dominique de Menil, but still. It was in the realm of the possible. At least until yesterday.

I was going to write how meeting Twombly turned me inexorably toward art made by living artists, even as the impetus for writing is the artist's death. I'd thought about this after Leo Steinberg died; I'd met both him and Dominique that week, too. Maybe it's being involved with art of our time--of my time--that came into focus that day. The artists whose work we admire, the people whose ideas influence us, are around for a while, and we can engage them. And then at some point, they're gone, and we're left with just their works and their words. And with our own experiences and memories.

bleu_et_jaune_espace.jpg

I have no willpower. I was going to hold off posting about this incredible project found on an incredible blog until I happily scored the book, but I couldn't wait. Now I can only hope that my post will somehow bring a copy of the 1974 exhibition catalogue, Le Volume Bleu et Jaune into my clamoring hands that much more quickly.

A Young Hare is a new blog by Nicolas Allinder, aka "nic the intern", who used to contribute to Ro/Lu. Nic posted about this rather insane project at l'Academy de France, where a group of anonymous architecture students petitioned to study a single room, their studio at the Villa Medici in Rome, for two years. The result: a 1974 installation in the studio in which the traces and volumes of light moving over time were inscribed on the surfaces of the space. Somehow, the exhibition was transferred to the Jeu de Paume in 1975.

Espace Tiphaine Bastille [now Edition Tiphaine put on a show dedicated to the project in 2003. The catalogue shows up in numerous library catalogues, but no inventories, and no scanned versions. Please, francophone web, get to work with the scanning and/or selling.

Le Volume Bleu et Jaune [ayounghare via ro/lu]
Previously, unnervingly related: on an unrealized art project

July 3, 2011

Earthworkers

Andrew pulls a great quote from this 1969 New York Magazine article by Rosalind Constable about buying the new-fangled, dematerialized art. But it's the section right before it that caught my eye.

Constable's writing about earthworks, particularly Walter de Maria, is a good reminder of the Conceptual context from which these works emerged:

Walter de Maria is generally conceded to have been the first artist to have used the desert for his canvas, and in so doing, to have reversed the usual art process: the work itself is ephemeral--or inaccessible--and the photograph becomes the art.

There's like five kinds of quaint here, including the immediate invocation of the traditional metaphor of the artist and his canvas. There's the conflation of ephemerality and inaccessibility, even as notions of remoteness and inaccessibility disappear. Site becomes as irrelevant as experiencing the work in person. Knowledge of the work is derived from seeing a photo, or from hearing or reading a description. The apparent novelty of a site-specific artwork in the remote desert is surpassed only by the idea that a photograph could be a work of art.

But what really gets me is the discussion of Smithson.

Robert Smithson is known as an earthworker (Heizer prefers the terms "landforms" or "exteriorization," and Oppenheim prefers "terrestrial art"), but other earthworkers would exclude him. Smithson is currently showing his latest collection of rocks at the Dwan Gallery, and it is precisely because he brings them into a gallery ambiance, rather than leaving htem where he found them, that they disown him.
This seems like a pretty hefty oversimplification of the emergence of Land Art. In the battle for linguistic dominance, "earthworks" was Smithson's coinage; other artists could reject the term, but it seems unlikely they'd claim Smithson wasn't an "earthworker." It also ignores the broader critical round-up by folks like Willoughby Sharp, who'd curated a foundational "Land Art" show the year before. And the "Earthworks" group show at Dwan that preceded the Smithson non-sites that were the subject of Constable's sources' scorn.

Still, it feels directionally accurate, in that from almost the beginning, the art world discourse of earthworks has generally privileged the convenient and collectible--including mere photographs--over the physical realities of the works.

Though this has changed in the last 15 or so years, with the emergence of a contemporary Grand Tour, the lingering critical effects of this devaluation of site can still be felt.

June 22, 2011

Ro/Lu Lo/Go

Ro/Lu is en fuego these days, in case you didn't know, and I've been lucky enough to get warmed by their fire.

First off, they've been doing this Simple Chair project, an exploration of how and where our stuff is made. It's making its second appearance at Mass MOCA. I was planning to just write about it more when I saw the publication [to which I contributed a brief article of my Enzo Mari X Ikea table project], but Ro/Lu just keeps on doing stuff, so I can't sit silently by.

objects_logos_rennsoc.jpg

And then, as if reading my mind--or my blog drafts, or maybe communicating telepathically with me through the minimalist/modernist/design/art ether--they posted a link to an awesome-looking 1980 exhibition at The Renaissance Society in Chicago, "Objects and Logotypes: Relationships Between Minimal Art and Corporate Design".

Whoa. It's fascinating to see how Minimalism, modernism, and corporate branding were perceived and presented thirty years ago. They all feel digested and processed now, but I get the sense that what curator Buzz Spector is talking about in his essay is not quite the same thing we use those terms for today.

Which may be a way of saying I take issue with many of Spector's definitions and points, but I'm not quite able to articulate why I think he's wrong. I mean, I can say that I think Greenberg's Minimalism-as-"mannerism" does not seem related at all to the principles of usage in corporate visual design. Or that the ubiquitous, homogenizing proliferation of a corporate logo seems like the diametric opposite of Robert Morris's sculptural gestalt, not its twin.

But Spector's show still seems like an interesting, important first step for the coming revisiting of Minimalism. And siting avant-garde art practices in parallel to mid-century corporate marketing is pretty compelling to think about. And I really like the idea Spector hangs his show on, that these designers and artists are alike in conflating form and value, i.e., that they "reflect a common faith in the efficacy of form as a means of restructuring society through public exposure to works executed within particular systems of use."

As I sit here in the middle of a mild obsession with the Netherlands government's new, painting-inspired rebranding and centralized visual identity system, this idea feels as relevant as ever.

So thanks, Ro/Lu!

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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.

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Social Medium:
artists writing, 2000-2015
Paper Monument, Oct. 2016
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Madoff Provenance Project in
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Chop Shop
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1-7 March 2016

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Armory – ABMB 2015
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It Narratives, incl.
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Sept 5 - Nov 9, 2014
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TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -
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Standard Operating Procedure
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CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
Canal Zone Richard Prince
YES RASTA 2:The Appeals Court
Decision, plus the Court's
Complete Illustrated Appendix (2013)
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"Exhibition Space" @ apexart, NYC
Mar 20 - May 8, 2013
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HELP/LESS Curated by Chris Habib
Printed Matter, NYC
Summer 2012
panel &c.


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

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Canal Zone Richard
Prince YES RASTA:
Selected Court Documents
from Cariou v. Prince (2011)
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