Rick Ruled

The streets were scouted. The fashion schools were emptied. The gazar was unfurled. The skaters were evicted. And Rick Owens’ Spring/Summer ’25 men’s collection processed momentously around the courtyard of the 1937 Palais de Tokyo— twice—to a very extended remix of the second movement of Beethoven’s 7th.

In the description on his YouTube channel, Owens cites as inspiration his own youthful flight to Hollywood Boulevard, Jack Smith & Kenneth Anger, and “THE LOST HOLLYWOOD OF PRE-CODE BLACK AND WHITE BIBLICAL EPICS, MIXING ART DECO, LURID SIN AND REDEEMING MORALITY.”

Which sounds and looks like Cecil B. DeMille’s original 1923 version of The Ten Commandments, with better costumes.

screenshot from The Ten Commandments (1923), dir. Cecil B. DeMille, via internet archive

And, ngl, it also sounds and looks a lot like Intolerance (1916), D.W. Griffith’s unwieldy and obsequious sequel to his breakout klanfic hit, The Birth of A Nation (1915), with much better costumes.

screenshot of Intolerance (1916), dir. D.W. Griffith, showing the lost Babylonian set [which has been recreated in tiny part as a mall at Hollywood & Highland], via youtube

The creation of Griffith’s spectacle, from the cast of thousands to the mammoth set built on Hollywood & Sunset, was a centerpiece of Anger’s book, Hollywood Babylon.

“EXPRESSING OUR INDIVIDUALITY IS GREAT BUT SOMETIMES EXPRESSING OUR UNITY AND RELIANCE ON EACH OTHER IS A GOOD THING TO REMEMBER TOO… ESPECIALLY IN THE FACE OF THE PEAK INTOLERANCE WE ARE EXPERIENCING IN THE WORLD RIGHT NOW…” also wrote Owens.

I am not really sure how the master’s spectacularly propagandistic tools are going to dismantle his ideological house. But maybe it’s the show’s second lap, where each model walks again solo. I do want one of those jackets, though.

HHHappy New Year

I tried but this version of the Emblem of Tibet in exile does not help date this holiday card from HH The Dalai Lama. image: juliensauctions

There are literally like a hundred Christmas cards from various configurations of the British royal family in this ex-countess’s estate sale—here’s one of several with skeevy Prince Andrew—but there is only one holiday card from His Holiness The Dalai Lama, and it rocks.

Austrian refugee and concert pianist Maria Donata Nanetta Paulina Gustava Erwina Wilhelmine Stein married to George Lascelles, 7th Earl of Harewood and first cousin to the Queen, in 1949, and after her divorce in 1967, Countess Harewood kept in touch with her friend the Queen. Which accounts for staying on the Windsors’ mailing list, but not the Dalai Lama’s. Her later marriage to a politician Jeremy Thorpe doesn’t help either.

So it probably involves her son David Lascelles, now the 8th Earl, who produced Tibet: A Buddhist Trilogy, a four-hour, meditative, verité documentary on Tibetan monastic life in exile in 1979. Lascelles also commissioned Bhutanese monks to build a stupa at Harewood in 2004 as part of a spiritual reparation, a way to account for his family’s legacy of enslavement and exploitation without necessarily impacting its actual fortune or the 18th century country house it funded.

Which is all well and good, and enslavers need all the karmic help they can get. But the point here is, the coolest Christmas card around was sent by the exiled human incarnation of the Buddha to an Ashkenazi Jewish refugee-turned-ex-countess months away from either of their actual new year’s days. [update: at least TWICE.]

27 June 2024, Lot 105: Dalai Lama | Signed Holiday Card, est. $300-500 [juliensauctions, s/o opulent tipster rachel tashjian-wise for the first auction, and idroolinmysleep for the second]

Black Glitter

Jonathan Horowitz, Leftover Glitter Abstraction (Two Rainbow American Flags for Jasper in the Style of the Artist’s Boyfriend), 2018, oil, glitter, on linen, via Sadie Coles HQ’s presentation at Basel in 2018

With the red and green and whitespace, I realized I was just one black post away from a Palestinian trifecta. This painting by Jonathan Horowitz has been in my drafts for a few days. It’s from his Rainbow American Flags for Jasper in the Style of the Artist’s Boyfriend series, and Sadie Coles showed it at Basel in 2018.

Krion™ Fall Green

Rachel Harrison, Untabled (Title) 1694, 2017
Wood, polystyrene, cement, acrylic, Krion, gymnastics rings, straps, toy gun, and bandana, installed at Greene Naftali in 2017, now in the collection of MoMA

Come to the catalogue for Sitting in a Room, Rachel Harrison’s 2022-23 exhibition at the Astrup Fearnly Museet in Oslo, for the extensive documentation of all the installations of Marilyn with Wall.

Stay for the Lars Bang Larsen text mentioning Sturtevant in Harrison’s repetition and incorporation of other artist’s work, like the sculpture Robert Morris showed at the Green Gallery in 1964, which Harrison had made in sleek Krion™ Fall Green, as seen here at the Greene Naftali installation. [Krion™ is Porcelanosa’s next-generation competitor to Corian™. The chicken-with-a-durag-and-a-gun form is Harrison’s more familiar house blend of cement over polystyrene.]

screenshot of a footnote reading, 28. Louise Lawler's photos of labels next to some artworks have made us realize how absurd and intrusive they are. Are, for instance, audio labels-like the computer-generated voice reading "live" some titles from Harrison's Life Hack show at the Whitney on greg.org- an option at all?

And buy a print copy right now for the unexpected greg.org shoutout in the footnotes of Anne Dressen’s text, where Louise Lawler and I make the case for figuring out audio wall labels? [d’oh but not in the Norwegian.]

I am now making a sticker to attach next to this footnote, in a signed edition of 2000, one for each copy of the print catalogue. Buyers or owners of the Sitting in a Room catalogue should email me a pic of your book and your mailing address, and I’ll send you two stickers. One will be for your copy, and one for installing on another copy of the catalogue that might someday cross your path.

Maybe I should do this for the Jasper Johns Catalogue Raisonné, too.

Buy Rachel Harrison Sitting in a Room (2023) from Greene Naftali Gallery, the Astrup Fearnley Shop in Oslo, or Amazon

Pompeian Red

image from House of Leda by Dr. Sophie Hay, whose instagram is @Pompei79

The bird is only one element of the stunning red wall from the House of Leda posted on social media by Pompeii archaeologist Dr. Sophie Hay, whose instagram is full at the moment of similarly Pompeii Red delights from the House of the Artists.

Juneteenth Update From Hammons America Street

Hammons America Street, January 2023

I thought it’d be nice to commemorate Juneteenth with a photo of David Hammons’ African American Flag flying over his public art installation, America Street, commissioned in 1991 as part of the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC, and preserved through the efforts of local community members. [The piece was installed on a vacant lot owned by the city.]

But the flag, which has been replaced over the years, is missing from the latest Google Street View image, taken all the way back in January 2023.

Hammons America Street, August 2019

Was GSV working from home during the pandemic? Because the next most recent image is only from August 2019, and it shows a flag with stripes so faded they could almost pass as white. [sic] Which may mean the last replacement flag was the one imaged in Jan. 2017?

What’s the word on America Street now, Charlestonians? Has the flag been replaced in the last 18 months?

Moby Dick is My Moby Dick

A rebacked 1st edition of Moby Dick, 1851, NY, selling at Christie’s NY in June 2024

I want a first edition of Moby Dick, but I think the psychic price of actually ever buying one will be too high.

While surfing around to see how the copy for sale at Christie’s rn stacks up, I fall into a briar patch of rarity, condition reports, restoration and repair, inscription and annotation, and cutthroat antiquarian connoisseurship.

Continue reading “Moby Dick is My Moby Dick”

Cherry Condition

Madonna of the Cherries, sold in 2015 as “Studio of Quentin Metsys”, even with a very tasty French royal-inflected provenance, for just GBP 254,500

It’s wild that after cleaning and removing some clunky additions, this painting turned out to be not one of a dozen copies of Quentin Metsys’ Madonna of the Cherries, one of the most celebrated paintings of 16th century Antwerp, but the long-lost original.

Quentin Metsys, The Madonna of the Cherries, oil on panel, 29 5/8 x 24 3/4 in., selling 2 July 2024 at Christie’s London

Whoever bought it for GBP250,000 in 2015 even did dendrochronological analysis of the boards of the panel it was painted on, and found it was from the same tree as a painting in the Rijksmuseum.

Anyway, now you can buy the painting Archduke Albert II of Austria couldn’t. It’s back at Christie’s for an est. GBP 8-12 million.

2015: “Studio of Quentin Metsys” [christies]
2024: Quentin Metsys himself, baby [christies]

Faith in Pictures

installation view of Rachel Harrison’s Marilyn with Wall, 2018, in Faithless Pictures at the Najsonalmuseet in Oslo

Speaking of Rachel Harrison, for the last post I was going back through the catalogue for Life Hack—an exhibition in a book if ever there was one, and with a sweet artist-designed cover I had a computer read aloud to me. And there was a big, beautiful spread of the eighth incarnation of Marilyn with Wall that felt like an even more direct nod to Louise Lawler than all the rest.

Continue reading “Faith in Pictures”

Showing Bullet Hole

a painting by Thomas Scheibitz and a sculpture and four drawings by Rachel Harrison installed at the Wexner Center’s After Picasso: 80 Contemporary Artists, in 2015. photo: Stephen Takacs

I kept getting caught off guard by an aggro undercurrent in Maggie Nelson’s essay about Rachel Harrison in The Paris Review. [From 2020, in response to Harrison’s show, Life Hack at the Whitney, it was first published in the show’s catalogue in 2019. It’s been a long pandemic, and the stack of open tabs mocks me from the corner.] But I can’t let this one go by unnoted:

This current of nihilism or violence has been present in Harrison’s work for some time, via its excavation of America and Americana; in 2015, it became literalized, when actual bullets were fired into her work at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio, by an ex–security guard who spray-painted and shot several pieces of art in the After Picasso: 80 Contemporary Artists exhibit before taking his own life. After defacing the art—including sending a bullet into the forehead of a framed drawing of Al Pacino in Harrison’s 2012 sculpture Valid Like Salad (a new, tragic echo of Davidson’s mop in the head)—the ex-guard, Dean Sturgis, sat in a folding chair and shot himself in the head (a new, tragic link to Circle Jerk).

Whatever urge toward defacement, whatever hostility toward art qua art, whatever exploration, however lighthearted, of American breeds of masculinity, celebrity, and sociopathy may have been at play in Harrison’s work (in 2007, she titled a show “If I Did It,” after O. J. Simpson’s much-maligned memoir)—all must now sit uneasily with the legacy of Sturgis, whose bullet holes serve to remind us that our everyday includes mortal threat and terror as much as it does remote controls and air fresheners.

Nelson makes it sound like this association with the Wexner Center shooting was foisted on Harrison’s work, that it’s been tragically linked, passive voice. But that elides the artist’s own agency, and her own decisions, and risks diminishing her own insights about her work, both before and after it was shot.

Continue reading “Showing Bullet Hole”

HO HO

If I had a significant Christopher Wool painting in Basel that became famous for not selling with even a single bid, I would simply turn it over and sell it immediately for well above the ask.

OH OH: Cady Noland at Basel

HO HO, what’s that on the floor of the Gagosian booth at Basel, between that 1990 Judd stack Zwirner also repped, and that 1990 Christopher Wool painting of Thompson Dean’s that Christie’s ended up with after it didn’t get one bid in 2021?

It is a Cady Noland with a 1990s subject—a NY Post article on mobster John Gotti’s 1992 trial—but a fresh, 2024 date.

Dapper Don Defiant: a screenshot of a new Cady Noland work, screenprint on aluminum, but now between a Basquiat and a Jordan Wolfson?? via Gagosian’s Basel 2024 IG story

What does it mean that Noland put out a work in 2024 about a vain mobster nicknamed “the Dapper Don” being called out by the judge for trying to poison his trial by threatening witnesses? What does it mean that she seems to have made this work out of the same photocopy Andrew Russeth spotted five years ago, in Joanne Greenbaum’s wild 70+ artist group show, “Notebook,” at 56 Henry? [n.b.: “Notebook” closed a couple of weeks before the MMK retrospective opened.]

Did Noland look around her studio and laugh as she considered Greenbaum’s request for one notebook drawing or work they “would never show to a dealer or pull out during a studio visit”?

And the plinth? I just listened to Jeannine Tang’s talk at the MMK symposium that included several quotes from Noland and her sources about the problems of plinths. But I guess they’re OK for high traffic art fair booths?

There is another new Noland in Basel, a wire crate-o-stuff, and if I see the photo again of the guard-like woman standing next to it, I’ll post it here.

UPDATE: The photocopy Cady Noland sent to 56 Henry for Greenbaum’s Notebook show in 2019

UPDATE: Meanwhile, here is what I understand is the piece Noland included in Notebook at 56 Henry in 2019. No date was forthcoming, but it is not, in fact, identical to image silkscreened on the 2024 work. It looks to be a cropped variation, copied with paper strips placed over the elements Noland wished to exclude. There is a little anomaly in the right side of the Gotti caption, which looks like a logo for The Container Store. Is it perhaps a trace of a plastic document sleeve, that might also be the cause of the uneven edge? It’s a narrow window into a practice few people even knew in 2019 was active. If, indeed, that was when Noland made this copy.

Previously, related: “we woke up in a world where Cady Noland makes and shows work. At Gagosian.”

Wheatfield — A Promotion

Agnes Denes’ Honoring, Wheatfield – A Confrontation, 2024 for Art Basel, as photographed and restricted by “(Photo by Valentin FLAURAUD / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION – TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION”

At one moment in time and for the people who saw it then, Agnes Denes’ Wheatfield — A Confrontation was a two-acre field of wheat the artist cultivated, tended, and harvested on landfill on what is now the south end of Battery Park City in Manhattan.

Agnes Denes and Wheatfield — A Confrontation, 1982, commissioned by the Public Art Fund

But since then, and for most people, it existed as a photograph. Or rather, it was experienced by looking at a photograph, an iconic image of Denes, hair flowing and holding a staff, looking out at the Statue of Liberty from the midst her amber waves of grain, with the base of the World Trade Center towers and less remarkable elements of the lower Manhattan skyline stretching uptown behind her.

Screenshot of a promotional video from Art|Basel Basel showing the installation in the Messeplatz of Agnes Denes’ Honouring Wheatfield – A Confrontation, 2024, curated by Samuel Leuenberger

So it is understandable that a week-long “reprise” of Wheatfield in the Messeplatz at Art|Basel Basel would take as its object not the process of the original [instead of four months clearing, planting, tending, and harvesting crops, over 900 planter boxes were trucked in and installed in a couple of days], nor the physicality of the original [est. 930 square meters, less than a quarter of an acre], but the photo of the original. When it was photographed from its intended angle, it would not matter that from other vantage points, Honouring Wheatfield looked like a sod farm or a wheatgrass juicebar.

What I failed to account for fully was the intended angle. Thankfully, ARTnews’ use of Valentin Flauraud’s photo and caption and credit for Agence France Presse has brought the true objective into view. Flauraud recreates Denes’ image with a selfie-taking couple standing in for the artist, and the Art|Basel logo looming behind them, standing in for the World Trade Center.

[A few minutes later update: Another one. I hope Agnes Denes got all the money.]

“COURTESY ART BASEL” image: ARTnews

[A few days later update: The wheatfield will not be dumped tomorrow but will be harvested in August, probably before the International Association for Health Professions Education conference on the 24th, sorry for this, and the error.]

Connecting The Dots

Reading Travis Diehl’s e-flux journal review of Arthur Jafa’s show at 52 Walker led me to Diehl’s road trip report in x-traonline of going to Cady Noland’s 2019 retrospective at MMK Frankfurt with Rasmund Røhling.

Which led to the recordings of the Cady Noland symposium convened at MMK on 27 April 2019.

Diehl also noted to Røhling that the Charlotte Posenenske sculpture and the Claes Oldenburg bacon soft sculpture included in the Noland show were very World Trade Center Twin Towers-coded. Also not to be a conspiracist or anything, but a Noland sculpture was also included in Peter Eleey’s September 11 show at MoMA PS1 in 2011.

Which led me to go searching for which Noland it was, and it of course, was the stanchion work, The American Trip (1988), which is more ambiguously political than MoMA’s other significant Noland, Tanya as Bandit (1989).

“September 11” installation view at MoMA PS1, 2011-12, by Matthew Septimus via MoMA

But none of that matters right now, because in looking through the installation shots, I was immediately sucked back in time by Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ black-bordered stack of mourning surrounded by Jeremy Deller’s “Mission Accomplished” banner.

And that banner. 90 x 600 inches, it was obviously a full-scale recreation of Bush White House image maker Scott Sforza’s hubristic aircraft carrier banner from 2003.

But I never made the connection to its title or date: Unrealized Project for the Exterior of the Carnegie Museum, 2004-2011. So Deller wanted to hang this banner on the outside of the museum as part of Laura Hoptman’s Carnegie International, which opened in October 2004, just before the presidential election. How far along did this proposal get, I wonder? [Deller ended up showing war re-enactors on tiny televisions inserted into the Carnegie’s dollhouse dioramas, the diametric opposite, attention-wise, from a 50-foot banner.]