Walter De Maria Said What Now?

I cannot even with this caption on this photo of Walter De Maria’s 1969 work, Good Fuck, at Cornell. image: Ithaca Journal via grupaok

Some day I will learn to visit grupa o.k. more frequently in order to better time my awe to their discoveries, but that day is not yet. And so I just saw their January post of Walter de Maria’s contribution to Willoughby Sharp’s foundational exhibition Earth Art, staged in 1969 at Cornell’s White Museum.

Here is how that piece went down, and the Ithaca Journal’s image of it, as told by Amanda Dalla Villa Adams in a 2015 essay on De Maria’s sound works at the Archives of American Art. Did I mention the title of the piece yet?

When Sharp asked De Maria to participate in the show, the artist wrote back a letter outlining his project. Proposing to exhibit a mattress and an audiotape of crickets in the room (presumably Cricket Music), Sharp promptly rejected the work, stating, “in no uncertain words that each artist in the show had to touch dirt.” In the wake of Sharp’s decision, an alternative proposal was submitted according to the curator’s requirements. Sharp later described De Maria’s installation of the accepted work:

[De Maria flew in and during the opening—and there were hundreds of people going through the museum—he had the cartons of earth emptied into the center of the floor, and then he got his only tool, which was a push broom, with bristles and a long handle, and he pushed the earth into a carpet that was about two inches high. And when that was done to his satisfaction—he did it very meticulously—he took the broom and turned it so that the end of the broom handle became a marker and very slowly, across this tablet of earth, he wrote G-O-O-D, and then F-U-C-K…As soon as Tom Leavitt (then director of the Andrew Dickson White Museum of Art at Cornell University) saw that, and realized that there were kids at the opening as well as the president of Cornell, they cordoned off the room, put up Sheetrock, and the next day the piece was swept up and dispersed.]

This long retelling of Sharp’s story is important for reassessing De Maria’s earth-based projects and reinserting the foundation of sound to his overall career. According to Sharp, the earth carpet was Plan B; dirt became essential because of curatorial limitation. More akin to his much earlier ironic game pieces, such as Boxes for Meaningless Work (1961), where the viewer is constantly reminded that what he or she is doing is meaningless, Good Fuck is an irreverent jab at the art community.

The title itself is a gimme, obv, but it’s the idea of dirt as De Maria’s Plan B and curatorial imperative that sticks with me. Also as Adams’ footnotes point out, Sharp’s timeline doesn’t quite compute. In her 2013 review of MOCA’s Land Art show, Suzaan Boettger notes that De Maria’s piece stayed on view for several days, but when the university came after it, he and MIchael Heizer both pulled their works in protest. [Boettger brings it up because they both refused to participate, officially, in the MOCA show, too, thus sucking up all the attention by their absence.]

“Draw a Straight Line and Follow It (Repeat): Walter De Maria’s Cricket Music and Ocean Music, 1964–1968 [aaa.si.edu, 2015]
This Land is Their Land [caa journal, 2013]

The Mondrian Room Collection

 

Piet Mondrian, Colour Design for the Salon of Ida Bienert, 1926, image via e-flux for albertinum

As soon as the e-flux header gif started flashing I knew what Heimo Zobernig was up to in Dresden:

In the Albertinum he is presenting a selection of recent paintings from this series as well as a new spatial installation in the atrium. The basis for this work consists of design drawings produced by Piet Mondrian in 1926 for a room in the home of the Dresden art collector Ida Bienert, which are on view in the exhibition entitled “Visionary Spaces” in the Albertinum. Whereas Mondrian’s design was never actually implemented, Zobernig’s installation in the original dimensions of that room can be entered and experienced as a cubic sculpture.

Yes, but what? Never realized? Never realized in Frau Bienert’s Haus, maybe.

In 1970, Pace Gallery produced a full-scale version what was then known as Salon for Madame B. based on the sketch above, which they purchased from Mondrian’s friend and heir Harry Holtzman. The room was constructed in spectroscopically color-matched Formica by the American Cyanamid Corporation, which simultaneously launched “The Mondrian Collection” of Formica. After its commercial debut in New York, Mondrian’s Formica Room traveled to Chicago, where it went on view at the Art Institute.

1970 photo of Piet Mondrian’s Salon for Madame B., as realized by Pace Gallery and the Formica Corporation

Six years ago I found a vintage photo of Mondrian’s Room, and I tried tracking it down, to see if it still existed. Pace was singularly unhelpful with even the most basic information, so I dropped it. But it has be out there somewhere; Formica is plastic, and we know how long that sticks around. In the mean time, there’s a new version in Dresden, so project usurped, if not mystery solved.

installation view of Heimo Zobernig’s Piet Mondrian: a spatial appropriation, 2019, at the Albertinum in Dresden, image: @mariahuberpod

Heimo Zobernig: Piet Mondrian, a spatial appropritation, Mar 2 – Jun 2 2019 [albertinum.skd.museum]
@mariahuberpod’s are about the first images of the room to appear on IG [instagram]
Related: Mondrian’s View With A Room, NYT May 10, 1970 [nyt]

Better Read, No. 027: Jenny Holzer’s Arno, As Grammed By Helmut Lang

Jenny Holzer projection for the Biennale di Firenze, 1996, photo: Attilio Maranzano via jennyholzer.com

Jenny Holzer made her first xenon projection in 1996 as part of a collaboration with Helmut Lang for the Biennale di Firenze. As Lang would describe it, the text, Arno, was projected from a canoe club across the river onto the facade of a brothel. [The 19th/20th c. Palazzo Bargagli held the offices of Corierre della Serra, at least. That’s all I’ve found.]

In 1998 Jenny Holzer told Joan Simon that the text for Arno originated in a music video for Red, Hot + Dance, which was a 1992 AIDS/HIV fundraiser concert/album. Mark Pellington, the MTV producer/director she mentioned, had done an MTV segment on Holzer, but he was also involved in producing U2’s ZOO TV, which had a video wall full of Truism-like texts that kind of pissed Holzer off. Anyway, there are no Arno-esque texts in the Red, Hot video.

“The texts involve all the reasons to be naked or clothed — from sex to humiliation and murder,” said co-curator Ingrid Sischy to Amy Spindler. The Florence projection only ran for a few days in September, during the opening of the Biennale–and Pitti–but the text remained as LED columns in a Lucky Charms marshmallowy pavilion by Arata Isozaki, which was also where visitors could experience the fragrance Lang and Holzer developed together, that smelled, as they said often, like cigarettes, starch, and sperm.

Arata Isozaki pavilions at the Forte Belvedere, Biennale di Firenze, 1996, image: gabbelini sheppard

[The six other pairings of artists & designers were: Tony Cragg & Karl Lagerfeld (lmao); Roy Lichtenstein & Gianni Versace; Julian Schnabel & Azzedine Alaia (which wut?); Mario Merz & Jil Sander (which, same, wtf); Oliver Herring & Rei Kawakubo (hmm); and Damien Hirst & Miuccia Prada (chef kissing fingers emoji).]

Holzer adapted the Arno text again for her 1998 nine-LED column permanent installation at the Guggenheim Bilbao. Catalan excerpts of it are also engraved in two large benches there now.

As we all know by now, a scrolling LED is a helluva way to take in a text, so it was interesting when Helmut Lang posted an image of the complete [English] text for Holzer’s Arno to Instagram last night. It turns out embedding it in a stream of emoji-filled comments read by a computer is also a helluva way to take in a text, but here we are.

On Shaker Gift Drawings

Semantha Fairbanks & Mary Wicks, A Sacred Sheet Sent from Holy Mother Wisdom by Her Angel of Many Signs, c. 1843, collection: NGA

I can only be grateful to Léonie Guyer for writing about her transformative encounter with Shaker gift drawings, even though she’s been sleeping on this info for twenty two years.

Shaker gift drawing exhibited in Heavenly Visions, Nov 2011, The Drawing Center

It’s not her fault The Drawing Center held its exhibition of Shaker gift drawings and gift songs in November 2011–wasn’t everyone downtown a bit preoccupied?

Shaker gift drawing attributed to Sister Sarah Bates, Mount Lebanon, NY, collection: Philadelphia Museum of Art

And there are enough conflicting, self-serving accounts of its creation that it’s understandable, I guess, if it’s not yet universally recognized graphic design history that the CBS logo came from a detail of a Shaker gift drawing, an all-seeing eye spotted in 1950 by William Golden in Alexey Brodovich’s  magazine.

Anonymous tantric painting, c. 1970, “Energy traveling through, and regulating the colors of the world”; Udaïpur, Rajasthan, image via archive/featureinc

Shaker furniture, via Sheeler, was my bridge from American antiques to modernism. I practice a religion founded in the same mid-19th century hothouse of spiritualism that had Shaker “instruments” seeing visions and dreams and visitations and translating them to “makers,” who drew them on paper. I made my Father Couturier pilgrimages early at Dominique de Menil’s urging at the Rothko Chapel. I swooned over Hudson’s tantric paintings [which were meditative objects, not products, but still]. I MEAN, HILMA AF KLINT, PEOPLE.

And I still can’t help feel that the world has somehow conspired to keep me from ever hearing about Shaker gift drawings. And I am shook.

In The Place Just RIght [openspace.sfmoma.org]

Cy Twombly Rip

Cy Twombly, Fifty Days at Iliam: Achaeans in Battle, 1978, collection: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 200px jpg displayed 800px wide.

Two weeks ago on the 378th episode of Modern Art Notes Podcast, Tyler Green discussed Cy Twombly: 50 Days at Iliam, a monograph published by Yale University Press and the Philadelphia Museum, which has the 10-painting series permanently installed in its own gallery. Green’s guest was Richard Fletcher, a classics professor and one of six contributors to the book, alongside PMA curator Carlos Basualdo and Nicola Del Roscio, who heads the Cy Twombly Foundation.

I’d anticipated an episode on Twombly, because Green had recently tweeted about the extremely small and useless images of Twombly’s paintings on the Philadelphia Museum’s website, which, word. I promptly tweeted back an unhelpful joke, by upsizing the jpeg of one of the paintings, Achaeans in Battle, into a uselessly pixelated mess [above].

This is something that has occupied my mind and work for more than ten years, when I first turned a tiny jpeg of a Richard Prince Cowboy photo into my own work as a critique of MoMA/Gagosian/Prince’s refusal to provide images for an exhibition review at Slate. A related concept was articulated a little later by Hito Steyerl as the “poor image,” a low-res image optimized for networked circulation by being stripped of information. A crappy, digital simulacrum of an original [sic], complete [sic], physical and visual experience with an artwork.

Not knowing about the Iliam book, I assumed Tyler was going to be talking to Joshua Rivkin, who has a new biography of Twombly called Chalk: The Art and Erasure of Cy Twombly, which I’d recently finished. Rivkin’s book is a labor of love and pilgrimage; inspired by his regular presence in front of Twomblys at the Menil as a teacher and guide, the book documents his attempts to gain insights into Twombly’s life and work from the places he lived and worked: Rome, Gaeta, and Lexington. What Rivkin finds is the thwarting presence of Del Roscio, who disapproves of the biography project, silences sources, and denies Rivkin access to Twombly’s archive, as well as use of his images.

But no, it was Iliam. Green talked with Fletcher about details of Twombly’s marks and texts; his use of a Greek delta instead of an A to write Achilles and the Achaeans; the symbological vocabulary of the series’ colors; what’s going on with all those phalluses; and Twombly’s relationship to his literary source, Alexander Pope’s translation of the Iliad. [Fletcher also discussed a discovery he’d made, of a different source for some of Twombly’s texts. It’s hot, academic stuff.]

I mention all this scholarly and critical detail because of the sheer bafflement at learning, a few days after the episode was released, that the Twombly Foundation had sent Green a cease & desist letter demanding that images of the Iliam paintings be removed from the MAN Podcast webpage. Those would be the images of the 50 Days at Iliam works whose details were being studied and discussed. By an author of the book. Published by the museum and Yale. It’s an extremely impoverished attempt to exert control over consideration and discussion of Twombly’s work by an extremely interested party, using an extremely wealthy foundation. That it is being done in the name of one of the most important and formative artists in my own life is extremely disappointing.

As soon as I saw Green’s tweet about the C&D, and his removal of the Iliam images, I looked for it on Internet Archive. No luck. But I ripped a screenshot of the page from Google’s cache. In a couple of days, it had been replaced by the stripped down version. So except for anything Green might have archived himself, I think this screenshot is the only record of the original page. I printed it as Untitled (Foundation), an artist book in an edition of 10. The widest printer I could find was 36 inches, so it came out 3 inches wide and barely legible. The images are smaller than even the Philadelphia Museum’s website.

I am sending this artwork to people who appreciate the importance of fair use to progress of Science and the useful Arts; to the freedom of the press and expression; to the transformational creation of new art; and to the accountability to the public good that is expected of tax-exempt foundations and those who control and benefit from them.

Continue reading “Cy Twombly Rip”

On Sam Gilliam For Art In America

I’m slow to realize I’ve only been hyping this on Twitter, but I’m psyched that my essay on Sam Gilliam and his decades-long investigations of abstraction is out now in Art in America magazine.

When the editors asked me all the way back in June, the assignment was to interview the artist in his studio, a regular feature of the magazine. Gilliam had just opened a retrospective in Basel, and was working on a show in LA in the fall. When that show got pushed back, the interview request process got drawn out, and finally, I ended up going to Gilliam’s studio to talk about interviewing him, but very purposefully not interviewing.

He was a gracious and fascinating guy in the middle of a great deal of activity, and we figured it would be best to talk more at length after the show got pinned down. And then the show preparations intensified, and my deadline loomed, and I ended up writing a full-on essay rather than interviewing Gilliam. Which was the culmination of a months-long journey through his work, his career, and his life, digging through archives and clippings files and hours of earlier interview recordings.

My takeaway is utter respect for Gilliam’s work and his practice, which evinces the kind of fierce independence required to sustain six-plus decades of experimentation, only some of which happened in the spotlight of the mainstream art world. I find myself rewriting the essay right now, so just go ahead and read it; I left it all on the page.

Color in Landscape [artinamericamagazine]

Hommage à Caïssa

Marcel Duchamp, Hommage à Caïssa, 48 x 48cm, wood and printed vinyl, or what the Israel Museum calls “artificial leather,” image:sothebys

For a guy who’d supposedly gave up making art to play chess, Marcel Duchamp made an awful lot of art. Maybe making a readymade edition of a chessboard for a chess-themed fundaiser group show somehow didn’t count. It definitely sounds like it didn’t sell.

Asked in 1965 to help raise money for the American Chess Foundation, Duchamp organized “Hommage à Caïssa,” after the fictional patron wood nymph of chess, which opened at the Cordier & Eckstrom Gallery in New York in February 1966. [A year earlier, Cordier & Eckstrom had staged the largest Duchamp exhibition to date, a 90-object show, most from a single collection, that toured 16 cities in four countries over four years.]

“More than any other artist of his generation,” Francis Naumann wrote, “Duchamp was aware that his signature carried the magical power to transform an object of relatively little value into a work of art.” He was constantly dodging or finessing people at openings who approached him with things to sign–including the non-deluxe editions of his exhibition catalogues. For the chess show, Duchamp created a readymade chessboard in an edition of 30. I’ve seen it called just Chessboard, but mostly it’s titled Hommage à Caïssa, which is what Duchamp wrote on the frame.

On the frame of at least one. Though an edition of 30 was designated, Arturo Schwarz says “fewer than 10” were actually issued. Only two turn up online: one, 3/30, was Schwarz’s, and it went to the Israel Museum. The other is 2/30, which has a dedication to Maria. Could that be Maria Martins, Duchamp’s mistress, and the body model for Étant donnés? Who else would get a lower edition number than the artist’s most important dealer?

Anyway, it’s coming to auction for the second time in a decade. Presumably there was a 1/30, too, and 3 is less than 10, so Schwarz isn’t wrong. But either way, it doesn’t sound like Duchamp’s magical powers to transform  chessboards into art transformed any into money. For Chess. But if two dealer flips in seven years can take this piece from EUR 42,000 to EUR 200,000, I guess we’ll know where the real magic lies.

26 Feb 2019, Lot 47, Marcel Duchamp, Hommage à Caïssa, est. 180-250,000 GBP [sothebys]

Previously, kind of related:
Chip of Fools, or How Many Fountains Are There? And Another One. And Another One. And

‘Party Hat’

Charline von Heyl, Dub, 2018, image via petzel

I went back to the Charline von Heyl show at the Hirshhorn yesterday, mostly because I could. Also because it’s good. I never tire of looking and thinking about her paintings.

What stood out to me this time is so obvious I can’t believe I missed it, but also apparently so obvious, no one else has mentioned it either? [update after confirming my suspicions: No one except the artist and the curator Evelyn Hankins, at von Heyl’s talk at the museum, starting at 28:00].

Dub (2018) is in the second gallery, and P. (2008) is in the second to last gallery. It took me a couple of back&forths to figure out that the structure of these two paintings, separated by space and time, are not exact matches.

Dub wasn’t in the Deichtorhallen Hamburg’s iteration of the Hirshhorn’s show, but it was in von Heyl’s overlapping show at Petzel in New York. So this (non-)pairing is unique to DC.

Charline von Heyl, P., 2008, Collection: Guggenheim

They make me think of two things. Several of von Heyl’s paintings reminded me of big-brushy, 1970s and 80s de Koonings, and now with the likelihood of her painting over a projection of an earlier work, we can add de Kooning’s last phase to the mix. Also, a pair of new paintings with a bowling pin motif are described as von Heyl’s first diptych, but that now seems only technically true.

UPDATE: no, she made it freehand, because it wasn’t clear whether the Guggenheim would loan P. for the show. Dub, von Heyl said, is what P. would be if she made it now, toxic, with a little “party hat.”

Charline von Heyl: Snake Eyes at the Hirshhorn has been extended through April 21, 2019.

Untitled (monocrome du pont), 2019

Untitled (monocrome du pont), 2019, enamel on stone, est. 150 x 150 cm, installation view from Lauzun’s Legion Bridge, Washington, DC

Again with the buffing, I am not a fan. But I’m also not going to pretend it doesn’t exist.

The 2e Légion des Volontaires Étrangers de Lauzun, comprised of foreign mercenaries led by the duc du Lauzun, was part of the Compte du Rochambeau’s expeditionary force to aid the colonists in the American Revolution. They marched from New England to Yorktown, Virginia, where they played a pivotal role in the American victory.

On their way, the Légion du Lauzun crossed the Potomac just east of Georgetown. Washington, DC did not,  obviously, exist yet. In 2004, following its renovation, the P Street Bridge connecting Georgetown to Dupont Circle was renamed Lauzun’s Legion Bridge.

Untitled (monocrome du pont), 2019, installation view

This nearly perfect square monochrome painting is installed on the east pier of the bridge, at traffic level for the Rock Creek Parkway. Except for fleeting views from passing cars, where its deep grey surface and uncommonly crisp geometric form positively pop off the stone support, it is best seen from the bike and jogging path on the west side.

I’m guessing. It was butt cold on top of this bridge today, and that is as far as I was gonna go.

SPRING-LIKE RESPITE UPDATE:

installation shot, parkway level
imagine you’re standing in the middle of the road…

It’s very matte.

Previously, related:
Untitled (Palermo South Park)
UntitledICE

The Great Salt

The Great Salt, c.1629–1638, Collection: Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Art Museum

Jace Clayton (H ’97), who performs as DJ Rupture, was an artist in residence at Harvard Art Museums, where he currently has an exhibition, sound installation, and performance, Jace Clayon, The Great Salt. The show is up through February 4th.

The Great Salt is an historic colonial silver salt receptacle, the oldest piece of silver Harvard owns, came to Boston with Elizabeth Harris Glover, whose husband died while crossing the Atlantic in 1639 [which was also the year the first enslaved Africans arrived in North America]. She would go on to marry the first president of Harvard, and her brother left it to the school, where it was used in the inauguration ceremonies of Harvard’s presidents through the 20th century. [After some point I guess they stopped it? Is this one more thing Larry Summers screwed up?]

40 synthesizer modules in the gallery are programmed to respond to visitors playing three marimbulas, Caribbean/African thumb pianos. On December 6, 2018, Clayton performed his three-part composition, “Salt Wood Salt Wire Salt Salt” with the new music group Bent Duo.

Listening With Jace Clayton [harvardartmuseums.org via bomb]
Performance–Jace Clayton, “Salt Wood Salt Wire Salt Salt” [vimeo]

Dana Chandler’s Fred Hampton’s Doors

Fred Hampton’s Door 2 (1975), installed in Soul of A Nation at The Brooklyn Museum, image:gregcookland

Getting the colors of that Melvin Edwards X Blinky Palermo joint in my head was like learning a new word: you start hearing it everywhere. Like in Dana Chandler’s 1975 painting, Fred Hampton’s Door 2, which is in Soul of the Nation at the Brooklyn Museum. Greg Cook has a great post on Wonderland about Chandler, a prominent Black Power acivist and artist from Boston, who painted at least two versions of Fred Hampton’s Door, complete with [bullet] holes, to memorialize the young Black Panther leader and to protest his murder at the hand of Chicago police.

Chandler’s painting in Soul of a Nation was made in 1975, after his original 1970 painting was stolen from Expo ’74 in Spokane, Washington. The original was a framed painting of a section of Hampton’s door; the second version was actually a door. Both had holes that are meant to be read as bullet holes. The original had one big white star that read (to me, anyway) as an armed forces service star; the second one has a cluster of four stars, arranged like an admiral’s insignia. But the dominant colors are Pan-African red and green.

Dana C. Chandler, Jr. posing for Time Magazine (6 Apr 1970) with a 1970 painting then titled, Freddie Hampton’s Door.

This is the only photo I’ve seen of the original painting; it ran as a full page in Time Magazine in April 1970, illustrating an article on Angry Black Artists [sic].

Dana Chandler’s Memorial To Murdered Black Panter Fred Hampton [wonderland]
Dana Chandler’s website [getalivinglegend.com]

Untitled Palermo (South Park), 2019

Untitled Palermo (South Park), 2019, enamel and latex on wood and steel, enamel and steel on cast iron and brick, installation image by Bryan Finoki, aka @subtopes

When he first tweeted this photo from San Francisco, Bryan Finoki saw #fortressurbanism. I saw metal af Blinky with a Melvin Edwards twist.

Untitled, Palermo, 1970 image ganked from wherever (it is not so easy to tell in this jpg, there are actually three bands of green. hashtag metadata, but I can’t tell if this is a different work from the Untitled, 1968, belonging to Grand Duc Jean)

My principled stand against buffing is not softening, and I don’t condone it, but I can’t not appreciate the occasional aesthetic results. Until I’m able to source the exact anti-climbing spike strips in this installation, to see this work you’ll have to go–or google your way–to 2nd & Brannan streets.

Which is fine. Palermo was very into site specifics, which I can appreciate. The painted wall and pipes here feel especially significant.

I’ve recently been taking a long look at the work of Sam Gilliam. There was one drape installation he made in the 1970s at a gallery, and when he reinstalled the piece in a museum, he added a vertical beam to stand in for the gallery’s steam riser. I think this painting, though standalone, would benefit from a similar treatment [chef’s finger kiss emoji].

Previously, related:
Untitled (Turbinengradientin), 2017
Untitled (Gerda Taro Leipzig Monochromes), 2016
Barnett Newman’s Lace Curtain for Mayor Daley

Untitled (Plaque d’Orléans), 2019

Untitled (Plaque d’Orléans), 2019, 17.7 x 23.4 cm, enamel and hammered, engraved, and silver-plated bronze, now ed. 12, but only 1/12  has this sweet patina and provenance. image: sothebys.com

In 2015 Sotheby’s auctioned a medium-sized trove of stuff from the former royal family of France, the House of Orléans. Included was this silver-plated and enameled bronze plaque, which featured the crowned coat of arms of the Princes d’Orléans, a bunch of repoussée auricular swags, and thirteen engraved signatures.

The plaque is believed to have been created for the cover of a photo album to commemorate the 1931 marriage in Palermo of Henri, comte de Paris (22yo) to his cousin, princesse Isabelle d’Orléans-Bragance (19):

Les signatures sont très probablement celles de Henri (comte de Paris) et Isabelle (princesse d’Orléans-Bragance, comtesse de Paris), Valdemar (prince de Danemark), Aage, Axel et Eric (princes de Danemark, comtes de Rosenborg), Amélie (princesse d’Orléans, reine du Portugal), Jean (futur grand-duc de Luxembourg), Margrethe (fille de Charles, duc de Vestrogothie et épouse du prince Axel de Danemark), auxquelles il faut ajouter quatre signatures non attribuées, Marguerite, Patrice et deux fois Marie.

It seems pretty wild to me. There was no foolin’ around with the coat of arms, obviously, but everything else seems to have been improvised in the extreme. The signatures–all first names–are distinct in their style, and wild in their placement. Those swags look like doodles come to life. It’s like the young wedding party drew up a souvenir themselves on the spot, and handed it off to the silversmith, a melange of extravagance, intimacy, and whimsy.

I knew a woman who was a bridesmaid for Grace Kelly, and received a customized photo album of the event. I later saw a similar album from another wedding party member turn up at Glenn Horowitz in East Hampton. Which makes me wonder if there are indeed multiple albums from Henri & Isabelle’s wedding, sitting in the bibliotheques of the descendants of various cousins royal. And if so, do they have these plaques, or something related? Was this a proof, a spare, a prototype?

Part of me wants this to be a unique object, and thus, a unique work, declared from afar, and sitting in the collection of some unsuspecting aristophile or decorator. But I’m also happy to declare it a multiple. Assuming this one’s from the happy couple, eleven in the edition remain to be fabricated. RSVP.

Previously, and intriguingly related:
Untitled (We Privatized All of Versailles), 2017
Paul Revere (Attr.), Time Capsule Plaque, Silver, Engraved Text, c. 1795

Destroyed Mies Revolutionsdenkmal

Mies van der Rohe, Revolutionsdenkmal, Berlin, 1926 (destroyed 1935), photo by Arthur Köstler via thecharnelhouse

It is the 100th anniversary of the execution of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht by the fascist Freikorps in Berlin. After several years of unsuccessful attempts, a memorial to these and others killed in the German phalanx of the Bolshevik Revolution was finally built in Berlin’s central cemetery in 1926. It was designed by Mies van der Rohe with the sculptor Herbert Garbe.

According to Edward Fuchs, who was instrumental to the project, Mies said, “As most of these people were shot in front of a brick wall, a brick wall would be what I would build as a monument.”

Mies van der Rohe, Revolutionsdenkmal, Berlin, 1926 (destroyed 1935), photo by Arthur Köstler via thecharnelhouse

At the Charnel House from whence these images come, Ross Wolfe notes that the jagged bricks of the memorial “had been assembled from the bullet-riddled remains of buildings damaged or destroyed during the Spartacist uprising” Luxemburg and Liebknecht triggered. It became an iconic backdrop for speeches, and the site was the focus of annual memorial marches and rallies until the Nazis destroyed the memorial in 1935.

Wolfe also traces some of Mies’ political shifts, from Bolshevik memorial designer to apolitical pragmatist Bauhaus head as the Nazis came to power, to whatever he was in the US. But wait, there’s more! Mies was also the favored architectural visionary and mentor to America’s own greatest Nazi architect Philip Johnson. He got called before McCarthy’s House Un-American Activities Committee in 1951. And he rejected student efforts to rebuild the memorial in 1968, and got protested when his Neu Nationalgalerie opened in Berlin.

I guess I would like to see it rebuilt, bust mostly I’d like to live in it, which is complicated, I know. In the mean time, I will try to find Mies’s HUAC testimony, which seems rather underdocumented onlne.

Mies’ Memorial to Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht [thecharnelhouse.org, thanks @oniropolis]
Revolutionsdenkmal/Monument to the Revolution [wikipedia.de]