Tabula Rasa: The Making Of

photo of Sarah Charlesworth & co creating the screen for Tabula Rasa (1981), image: The Estate of Sarah Charlesworth via PCG Studio

We used to be a real country, where artists made 6×9-ft unique screenprints of degraded prints of one of the world’s first photographs.

Tabula Rasa, the summer group show at Paula Cooper, takes its name from a series of four unique screenprints Sarah Charlesworth made in 1981, one of which is in the show. On the their pandemic-era blog, PCG Studio, the gallery has posted a series of photos showing the making of Tabula Rasa, as well as another rarely seen work in the show: Face/Surface, a 1976 collaboration between Charlesworth and her former teacher Joseph Kosuth.

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Covid Has Entered The Felix Portrait Subject Groupchat

Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ portraits are, by design, a conflation of the public and private, the world historic and the individual, the news and the intimate. And the artist encouraged his subjects to add and edit important events, people, and dates, authorizing them to decide what version of a portrait should be used whenever it is exhibited.

So I am pretty sure that when “Untitled” (Portrait of the Rosenbergs), 1994, was installed at Paula Cooper Gallery this summer, the text was provided by its subjects, OG Tribeca collectors Colombe Nicholas and Leonard Rosenberg. The work appears in Tabula Rasa, a fascinating-looking group show tracing study, influence, and relationships across a network of artists around Sarah Charlesworth.

Covid arrives when again? detail of Felix Gonzalez-Torres “Untitled” (Portrait of the Rosenbergs) in Tabula Rasa at Paula Cooper Gallery, screenshot from @aaron_krach’s 10 July IG

And I guess one way to interpret the inclusion of “Covid arrives 2021” is as the date it finally made its way into the Rosenbergs’ pod? Did they somehow miss the entirety of Covid in 2020, when it was very much a thing? Did the date baked right into the name, COVID-19, not factor in? Did they perhaps mean “Vaccine arrives 2021”?

The very nature of Felix’s portraits, and also the nature of human history as an accumulation of lived individual experience and interaction, and also the ultimate impossibility of knowing someone else’s subjective experience, and also the inevitable failure of art, no matter how powerful, to perfectly capture and transmit the essence of that subjectivity, makes me reluctant to call the factcheckers. If or until I hear back from them or the gallery with more info, for the Rosenbergs, at least, Covid arrived in 2021.

Detail of “Untitled” (Portrait of the Magoons), 1993, Nancy Magoon Version, as installed in 2023 at David Zwirner

Meanwhile, in his 2023 show of Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ work, David Zwirner exhibited another portrait, “Untitled” (Portrait of the Magoons), 1993, but in three versions. Artists Coco Fusco and Glenn Ligon created their own versions, and collector/subject Nancy Magoon provided her own version. [cf. this YouTube video of them speaking with Helen Molesworth about the portrait(s).]

In her version Magoon, whose husband and co-subject Robert passed away in 2018, included “Covid lonely 2020.” Which, taken together with “Bedazzled 2019, 2021, 2022,” might mean the pandemic canceled Ms. Magoon’s annual screening of the Elizabeth Hurley/Brendan Fraser classic. Such is the nature of a Felix portrait, of course, that we may never know.

Tabula Rasa is on view at Paula Cooper Gallery until 26 July 2024 [paulacoopergallery]

Your Body Of Work, His Penetrable

Olafur Eliasson, Seu corpo da obra (Your body of work), 2011, cyan, magenta, and yellow plastic sheets, installed at SESC Pompeia, São Paulo, photo: Olafur Eliasson himself via

Right now I would just like to get lost in transparent mazes of color, tracking the new colors produced by overlapping vistas, and reminisce on the Penetrable installations of Helio Oiticica. Who was driven from Brazil into exile by the military dictatorship.

Turns out discovering this 2011 Olafur Eliasson installation in São Paulo, and later in Stockholm, is not helping me flee the foreboding present, who knew?

Seu corpo da obra (Your body of work), 2011 []
Seu corpo da obra (Your body of work) installation video []

Previously, related: Art & Autocracy [brooklynrail]
What I Saw: Manhattan Speedrun (and Liz Deschenes Gorilla Glass works)

Stephen Dean Prayer Mill Glowup

Stephen Dean, Prayer Mill, 2001, dichroic glass and postcard stand, 71 in., selling 17 July 2024 at Christie’s

Stephen Dean’s Prayer Mills are so ridiculously beautiful it’s ridiculous. The light hitting them will fill the space with polygons of color. As you move around them, the dichroic glass changes color like a tricked out Hyundai. And even just sitting there in the even, featureless confines of an auction listing, the wires of the postcard rack over, behind, and through the planes of color are like a Stuart Davis drawing. [When I pin down the closer reference I’m thinking of, I’ll add it here.]

Weirdly, I remembered them as Prayer Wheels, so I guess I was wrong about that.

Anyway, point is, this one’s selling next week at Christie’s—for at least $100.

10-17 July 2024, Lot 178: Stephen Dean, Prayer Mill, 2007, est. $7-10,000, no reserve [christies]
Stephen Dean | Works | Prayer Mills []

Taken From Behind: Lina Bo Bardi’s Back, Baby

Collection in Transformation: installation view at MASP, São Paulo. photo: MASP via designboom

It’s been almost ten years since Adriano Pedrosa brought Lina Bo Bardi’s glass & concrete easels back to MASP in São Paulo, and I guess I thought the world would have long since filled up with photos from the back. It is literally the first thing I think about every time I see one.

Continue reading “Taken From Behind: Lina Bo Bardi’s Back, Baby”

‘This Is A Book I Haven’t Read’

photo of Jasper Johns by Bob Cato, via davidhudson

This morning David Hudson posted this c. 1950s photo of Jasper Johns I’d never seen in a space I didn’t recognize, and I had to know more. Looking for the photographer, Bob Cato, took me to another image he made of Johns and crew, which ran in the NY Times in February 2001, accompanying an article about a Carnegie Hall program celebrating John Cage and his collaborative circle. Kay Larson, who would go on to write a biography of Cage, did not actually discuss the photo.

1958 Bob Cato photo of Robert Rauschenberg, Merce Cunningham, John Cage, M.C. Richards, and Jasper Johns, as published in the NY Times, Feb. 4, 2001, via

It is from the 1958 photoshoot for the liner notes for the album version of “The 25 Year Retrospective Concert of the Music of John Cage.”

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Death By Rivet Gun

From Sag Harbor to Monaco to Linz to Cologne to megagallery Los Angeles, the outlook of art world is pretty f’ing dire. Peoples’ critical faculties are failing them. But maybe that just vibes with the rest of the world rn.

five minutes later update: I just read the sentence, “An exceptional team led by Jeff Katzenberg springs into action to produce five weeks of riveting ‘content’ leading up to the Convention…

“America is riveted.”

The Tablecloth Picture Plane

oilcloth concept roundup, [clockwise from upper left]: but which Guyton? Richter Strip; a Rothko; Sturtevant’s—or any, really—Felix candy carpet

Yesterday on the good social media, I floated an idea about custom-printing an oilcloth for our table instead of stalemating over off-the-roll options. When I realized custom was even an option, my mind went first to Guyton/Walker, probably because tables, but also because their poppin’ designs feel like riffs on the most garish tropical oilcloth patterns out there already.

But then it occurred to me, what is a Wade Guyton painting but an artisanal and auratic, custom-printed textile? Which one would be best as a tablecloth? If process is the determinant, Gerhard Richter’s Strip paintings are also printed. But what isn’t these latter days of the flatbed picture plane?

I had the Felix Gonzalez-Torres catalogue raisonné out, and its all-over cover photos of candy suddenly felt like the perfect combination of representation and abstraction, object and pattern. But what color?

The Gonzalez-Torres image universe spilled out before me. Bead curtain? Death by Gun? [oof.] The dark surface of the sea? A bird in a cloudy sky? Black with a couple of lines of biography and historic events printed along one edge? Then I realized I already had a solution. Or at least an option.

Felix Gonzalez-Torres, “Untitled” (For Parkett 39), 1994, ed. 1/84 sold in Fall 2023 at the auction of a complete set of Parkett editions at Van Ham, Berlin

Sure, we could print the entire image of footprints in the sand from “Untitled” (For Parkett 39). Or, we could use the eight screenprinted panels of the 3×7-meter billboard edition separately. Except they are mostly square, around 160 x 170 cm, each, plus some border/overlap. So on their own, they don’t fit our rectangular table. They would need to be pasted together in a vertical pair. Do they need to be laminated? Coated? Thrown over with a clear vinyl tablecloth like at Grandma’s? Beyond unworkable, it feels wrong. [lmao as if the whole idea isn’t bad enough.] I’ve taken my Parkett billboard sheets out like twice, and that billboard stock is thick; they are not your crafty mama’s butcher paper.

So printing it is, I guess.

Tom Ford’s Ando Jurd Chairs

if that stall door is 46 in., those chairs are 23 in., but actual Judd chairs are 30 in., so… image: Kevin Bobolsky Group

I am not going to engage in the Tadao Ando weirdness going on all over California, of which Ian Parker’s New Yorker article focuses only on the most ridiculous and collapsing epicenter. But it all did make me look again at Ando’s work for Tom Ford’s ranch outside Santa Fe.

Which, it turns out after Ford sold the 20,000-acre ranch with the Ando house, horse barn, and indoor & outdoor riding arenas in 2021, the buyer put it back on the market in 2022. It’s still for sale. [update: I don’t think this arc is correct. Many reports that the ranch, put up for sale in 2016, pricechopped in 2019, and sold in 2021, but the Tom Ford ranch Fred Haas put up for sale in 2022 is another one, a house built on 1,000 acres that once belonged to Ford. And yet Bobolsky still has the Ando ranch looking like it’s available.]

You must admit they do look rather Juddish. image: kevinbobolskygroup

But none of that is as important as the Juddy little stools outside each of the horse stalls. If plywood KimK’s Jurd chairs were too plywood and janky, these seem too thick and pristine. Plus, I think the dimensions are off. The filename on the realtor’s site is still “TF-Ranch,” but what are they, and who made them?

Cerro Pelon Ranch []

Previously, related: These Darren Jurd Tables

Blank Ruled Pages In The Getty Museum Collection

Ms. 30, fol. 44v (87.MN.141.44.44v) via Getty Museum Collection

I was unexpectedly giddy when Carolina Miranda posted on social media about the blank ruled page she came across in the collection of the Getty Museum.

I have since had tabs open for all the blank ruled pages in the Getty for several weeks now. There are fourteen. [Also there are 46 “blank pages,” which includes half-blank sheets.]

Continue reading “Blank Ruled Pages In The Getty Museum Collection”

Elyn Zimmerman, Palisades, 1981

Elyn Zimmerman, Palisades Project, 1981, unrealized, image:

In 1981 sculptor Elyn Zimmerman proposed to polish a sliver of the 300 ft tall basalt cliffs of the Palisades in New Jersey to a mirror finish, so that it would reflect—depending on your angle—the Manhattan bank of the Hudson, the river itself, or the sky.

She showed the maquette of the Palisades Project [above] at the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, which also commissioned a related sculpture, a dramatic, 8 x 21-foot freestanding wall of one polished and seven natural cleft granite slabs, for the museum entrance.

Elyn Zimmerman, Palisades (Project), 1981, granite, 8 x 21 ft., selling at Christie’s 17 July 2024

When the NY Times visited it in 1982, it was untitled. At some point, it became known as Palisades (1981), and in 1990 it was reinstalled at a winery in Napa with the artist’s involvement, and a reflecting pool, echoing the Hudson, perhaps, was added. It was sold in 2014, and it is now for sale again, this second, decidedly mid reflecting trough not included. Christie’s calls it Palisades Project both times.

Zimmerman’s original proposal had an undeniably thrilling aspect to it, a spectacular vision born of mind-freeing drives upstate. Of course, it was also impossible. The basalt of the Palisades does not polish to a mirror finish. No doubt realizing this at the time, Zimmerman’s Yonkers exhibit included an alternate proposal to mount a polished granite skin on the cliff face, at which point you might as well just stick an actual 300-ft tall mirror on there.

Thus, though that one piece could maybe use some polishing, Palisades Project [sic] survives as the ideal realization of the concept. Bidding starts at $100, plus shipping.

Felix Gonzalez-Torres Tattoo @RennSoc

Speaking of epic editions from the 1990s at The Renaissance Society, they have Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ tattoo, “Untitled” (1992), available. Proceeds from the unlimited edition support the Renaissance Society and the Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation. [status update: it’s complicated.]

This has long been on the top of my list of artist tattoos I would have gotten, had I gotten a tattoo, and I have considered getting it several times over the years. At some of those times, when I was getting close, I felt like the tattoo was not readily or easily available.

At some point, it felt like I missed a window in which the Renaissance Society offered it. That window is now open, but I find this level of engagement with the work has been sufficient for me. The description says, “you may also gift the tattoo,” so if I need to level up, I’ll just find someone who wants it.

Felix Gonzalez-Torres, “Untitled”, 1992, ed. 16 and 17, documented by the collectors at

By now the Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation has published documentation of at least six of at least twenty realizations of the tattoo—including Nancy Spector’s—and I love this exceptional variation, where two people got mirrored rings of dolphins around their forearms. I think Felix would be pleased.

Felix Gonzalez-Torres, “Untitled”, 1992, tattoo, unlimited edition, $300 []
“Untitled” 1992, with six of at least 20 installs documented []
Previously, very much related: Artist Tattoos I Have Not Collected, 2009

Jenny Holzer Sushi Platter

Protect Me From What I Want (Sushi Platter), 1997, 14 x 22 x 2 in., etched glass and eight little silicone dot feet, one slightly misaligned, ed. 25 from the Renaissance Society, selling at Wright20

Thank you, Renaissance Society and Wright Auctioneers, that from now on, every time I hear the phrase, PROTECT ME FROM WHAT I WANT, I will not only imagine the words SUSHI PLATTER appended to it. I will hear it in the cadence of the girl reciting the alphabet on Sesame Street with Kermit the Frog saying COOKIE MONSTER.

Lot 178, The Chicago Sale, 11 July 2024, Jenny Holzer, Protect Me From What I Want (Sushi Platter), 1997, ed. 25, est. $1,500-2,000 [wright20]

Previously, related: Kerry James Marshall Dishes?
Bumped Richter Mirror Unique Now
MOV DIY Tobias Wong Glass Chairs
Better Read No. 027, Jenny Holzer’s Arno, as ‘Grammed by Helmut Lang
‘Manhattan Project Glass’

Renzo Piano Funicular

photo: Fregoso e Basalto via RPBW
photo: Stefano Goldberg via RPBW
photo: no idea, but with only two computers and a dozen balsa models, the RPBW photos from 1991 are almost surreal in their 1991-ness. truly the past, present, and future of the moment.

I mean, I was greenhousepilled long before Lacaton & Vassal. When I first moved to New York there was a derelict greenhouse on the roof of a building underneath the Roosevelt Island tram that I convinced myself I could rent and fix up for practically nothing, I’m sure that’s how real estate works. I had stacks of Global Architecture, the most expensive magazine in the world (after FMR, obv). I lived on a greenhouse-studded, terraced hill overlooking the Mediterranean.

So I knew about Renzo Piano’s Genoa studio (1989-1991) almost as soon as I left the Menil (1987).

Yet I somehow never saw the funicular conference room until this morning. Absolutely off the charts.

By now, with the Fondazione in Villa Nave, the red building between the funicular and the beach, the whole of Punta Nave is a Renzo Piano compound, from the autostrada to the sea. And Google Street View, from the gated pullout around the bend and the tunnel, is completely invisible. Just incredible.

via @arc-hus via @gutesgar via @wildoute