Hear That? An Internal Soundtrack by James Hoff

Jack Whitten, Mother’s Day 1979 (for Mom), 1979, the cover art for Shadows Lifted from Invisible Hands, James Hoff’s new EP

Somewhere amidst all his publishing and other art world activities, Primary Information’s James Hoff created an album, and now he’s released it.

Hoff calls Shadows Lifted from Invisible Hands an autobiographical record: “Each track is composed from sources drawn from his own involuntary aural landscape, specifically musical earworms and tinnitus frequencies.”

It is not only ambient media remixed from catchy pop songs—though it is partly that. The aural elements that make up the album’s four tracks are “non-cochlear”; both earworms and tinnitus appear or are experienced inside the head without external stimulus. They’re sounds we get stuck with and accustomed to, the kind of “internal soundtrack” that, by definition, no one else hears. So it’s exceptional that Hoff transforms them into something intentional, and something that can be shared.

James Hoff | Shadows Lifted from Invisible Hands is on digital and vinyl [bandcamp]

Jasper Johns Drawings CR Driveby

Sure, curating is great, but have you ever just gone through an artist’s six-volume catalogue raisonné of drawings in chronological order, seeing every wild, weird, and eye-popping thing they worked on for 60 years?

I’ve dipped into Jasper Johns’ drawings CR before, but have not spent any sustained time with it until this week, when I went looking for the diagram he made to explain a print to a pushy university president. [It wasn’t included.] And it is fascinating. It feels more revealing than the paintings CR—which I have and enjoy, don’t get me wrong—like it tracks the artist’s process more closely. Here are just a few snapshots of things that caught my eye:

D19: Flag on Orange Ground, 1957, 10 1/2 x 7 3/4 in., fluorescent paint, watercolor, graphite on paper mounted on board, image via JJCR-D

This watercolor and pencil version of one of Johns’ early Flag paintings is one of two works made on pages from an old college yearbook; the logo of a sorority, Alpha Delta Pi, is visible in the lower right corner. Also it looks like it was spraypainted. ALSO, it was a gift from Johns to Susan Weil, Robert Rauschenberg’s ex-wife.

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Map Of The Pencil On The Paper On The Subway

William Anastasi, Subway Drawing (Way to John Cage), 1988, graphite on paper, 11 1/8 x 11 1/2 in., sold from a Danish collection in 2011 at Christie’s London

Beginning in the 1960s William Anastasi would make “blind drawings” that incorporated chance and the environment. One way he did this was by placing a piece of paper on his lap, and holding pencils in his hands while he rode the subway.

The 2011 Christie’s auction where this drawing sold included a short essay, apparently written by watching a 2007 interview with Anastasi on a website that no longer exists: “The reoccurrence of layers due to repetitive cycles in Anastasi’s work is fundamental to his being in regard to his admiration for Soren Kierkegaard who in Anastasi’s words created a “Recipe for life” (ibid.) in saying, “the love of repetition is the only happy love, like that of recollection.”

The subway drawings were titled with the trip or the destination. Many, like this one, from 1988, were made on the way to meet his friend and longtime collaborator John Cage. Cage died in 1992. Anastasi died in 2023.

Map Of The Boat Under The Pen

“Wave drawing from north of Iceland”, 1998, ink on paper, 64 x 45 cm, via bruun-rasmussen.dk

Oh hey it’s one of those drawings Olafur Eliasson made on a boat with his dad.

photo of the pendulum drawing apparatus Olafur Eliasson and his father Elias Hjörleifsson created on his father’s boat, 1999, image via olafureliasson.net

The map is not of the wave on the sea, but of the boat on the wave.

11 June 2024, 921/441: Olafur Eliasson & Elias Hjörleifsson, “Wave drawing from north of Iceland” 40-50,000 DKK [bruun-rasumussen.dk]
Previously, related: Mapping Olafur Mapping

Frank Lloyd Wright Temporary Pavilion(s)

Two oak veneer clerestory window panels from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian Exhibition House, 1953, built on the site of the Guggenheim, dismantled, stored, parted out, now selling at Toomey

Seeing these Frank Lloyd Wright clerestory window screens from the New York Exhibition House, and being like, New York Exhibition House?? And I guess I somehow never clocked that the Usonian project kicked off with a fully furnished, 1,700-sq ft house built on the site of the Guggenheim Museum in 1953. The Usonian Exhibition House was supposed to be sold off and rebuilt somewhere, which didn’t work out [see above], and the plans were executed twice—for the Feimans in Ohio, and the Triers in Iowa—but that’s not important now.

Frank Lloyd Wright Office sketch of the Exhibition Pavilion, called a “Temporary Structure,” built on the corner of Fifth Avenue & 89th St, at the Guggenheim Museum, in Oct-Dec 1953

Because also—or rather, first—FLW built a pop-up, 10,000-sq ft exhibition pavilion, on Fifth Avenue.

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Be Kind, Rewind: Mark Leckey Throwback Fiorucci VHS Edition

The image for the edition being a screenshot-timestamped.png makes it feel like we’re right there in the studio, dubbing via gladstonegallery

This is the 25th anniversary of Mark Leckey’s epic video work, Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore (1999), and to celebrate, he released a throwback “final version” as a VHS edition of 100. I am always too slow to get his limited edition album drops, and I figured I’d already missed this, too. But I just saw an edition in the White Columns Benefit Auction, and I wondered…

Sure enough, Gladstone still has some, and practically at 1999 prices. Now I just have to pull a VCR out of storage, and figure out how to connect it to my digital TV, to relive the hollowed out cultural promise of that haunted ghost-space.

[Until then, though, I’ll just keep watching it on Ubu.]

Buy Mark Leckey: Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore: Ghosted on VHS, 25 Years Later, 2024 [gladstonegallery]

Specific Funerary Objects

If I had a nickel for every artist documentary made from well within the circle of subjectivity that caught me off guard with the nuances of the artist’s funerary arrangements, I’d have two nickels. Which isn’t a lot, but it’s wild that it’s happened twice.

In 2007 Rainer Judd and Karen Bernstein co-directed Marfa Voices, a documentary about Donald Judd’s life and work in west Texas that emerged from the Judd Foundation’s Oral History Project. Among those who shared their stories were friends and colleagues who attended Judd’s funeral up Pinto Canyon in 1994, including the bagpiper, Joe Brady, Jr.

It probably could go without saying that Judd was buried in the most pristine of pine boxes, but it is remarkable to actually see it nonetheless.

Jasper Johns Chosen Family

Jasper Johns, Untitled (American Center in Paris), 1994, lithograph, 29 1/2 x 23 1/2 in., AP 12/22 of an ed. 75, being sold on 23 May 2024 at Bonham’s

1994 feels like a weird time for Jasper Johns to make a print edition namechecking the American Center in Paris. It’s true that was the year they famously opened their new, limestone Frank Gehry building, for which Untitled (American Center in Paris) could logically have been a fundraising edition. They definitely needed the money. But it was also two year after the Center’s French executives infamously fired the American curatorial and programming staff they’d just hired—including Adam Weinberg, who returned to the Whitney and who feels, along with major donor Frederick Weisman, like the conduit for Johns to get involved in the first place. And it was two years before they infamously ran out of credibility, ideas, and money, and the century-old American Center in Paris imploded in hubristic ignominy.

But perhaps Johns had been working on it for a while, and 1994 was just when it shipped. Some c. 1992 Gemini prints with very similar elements—the Barnett Newman, the George Ohr pot, the Elizabeth & Phillip profile goblet, the Isenheim altarpiece tracing—were first proofed by Bill Goldston at ULAE, where American Center was published.

c. 1904 or so? portrait of Jasper Johns’ father William Jasper Johns [on lap], his uncle Wilson [left] and aunts Eunice & Gladys [standing], with his grandparents William & Evelina Johns [center], cropped from Untitled (American Center in Paris), 1994

Anyway, the point is, this print was, I think, the first, but not the last, to include a photo of Johns’ family. That’s the artist’s dad, William Jasper Johns, Sr. [b. 1901] on his grandfather William Isaac Johns’ lap, next to his grandmother Evelina, so the photo maybe dates to 1904-05? Johns lived with these grandparents as a child, after his dad ghosted, and his mom kind of flaked. He also lived with his aunts, the two girls standing in the photo: Eunice [b. 1893] and Gladys [b. 1895]

And this is the point, because at some point after 1985, when he became president of Brenau University, John S. Burd decided that the way to build the small northern Georgia school’s art collection was to cold call the famous nephew of two of his schools alumnae, Eunice & Gladys Johns, and ask for some work. Burd was shunted to Johns’ “agent,” Leo Castelli, who was surprised at the ask. Burd eventually got up to speed, took the CEO of Coca-Cola to a meeting, and, in 1991, asked Castelli to join Brenau’s board of trustees.

The result was a slew of shows of Castelli-connected artists, of Castelli’s collection of prints, and Castelli’s introductions. One of Castelli’s donations was an AP of Untitled (American Center in Paris). Burd kept after Johns, asking him to explain the work, which prompted the artist to create a full-scale overlay diagram on tracing paper for Hurd, which somehow gets mentioned all the time, but never published. [Next day update: It is not in the catalogue raisonné of works on paper.]

Indeed, the Johns aunts connection, along with the Castelli era, are part of the story Brenau tells itself. For my part, I can’t help but wonder if the spike of outside interest in his aunts may have given Johns the excuse, if not the inspiration, to use this exceptional family photo.

And for all that, my favorite thing about this print is the trompe l’oeil spraypainted zip running down from the bottom edge of the trompe l’oeil picture. It feels almost anti-climatic to note that another AP of Untitled (American Center in Paris) is selling this week at Bonham’s. [bonhams]

Pole Flags

I really did just think I could post two pics of sweet-looking flags and be done, but nooo.

Because as a not country, Antarctica doesn’t have an official flag. There are eight territorial claims made by seven sovereign states, and some of those have their own flags. There’s a flag-shaped “emblem of the Antarctic Treaty System,” negotiated beginning in 1958 and enacted in 1961, which supersedes those sovereign claims, which is a map of the continent divided up into twelve longitudinal slices. A similar continent-shaped flag, minus the slicing, on a lighter blue, was inspired by the UN flag. It was designed by Graham Bartram in 1996 for a CD-ROM atlas, using new satellite imagery.

In 2002, Edward Kaye took two dozen of Bartram’s flags on an expedition cruise to Antarctica, where he flew and distributed them at five nations’ bases [Brazil, Chile, Argentina, UK, and Ukraine]. His account of the trip was published in the proceedings of the 20th International Congress of Vexillology, held in Stockholm in 2003. Since 2015 Bartram’s design has been used for the Antarctica Flag emoji: 🇦🇶.

Kaye’s brief history of Antarctic flags included a mockup [above, left] of a possible Antarctic flag flown by Ernest Shackleton on his 1907-09 Nimrod expedition. He was citing Flags of The World [fotw.net, now defunct], where flag nerds of the world posted their latest information about the world’s flags. An archived version of the Antarctic Flags page reveals that in 1999 someone saw a hand-colored edition of Shackleton’s account of the Nimrod expedition on Antiques Roadshow which included a five-band blue & white flag. Kaye’s diagram was based on the gif [above, right] António Martins made in 2000 for fatw.net using a different blue.

But this flag did not exist, or at least, it was not published in Shackleton’s book. The Google Books scan of p. 52 [above] shows three black flags of the type Shackleton mentions throughout the account, which were used to mark supply depots.

In 2018, Antarctic contractor Evan Townsend proposed the flag I thought I’d write my quick & easy blog post about, the True South Flag. Townsend’s proposal focused on drawing attention to Antarctic conservation and the people who work toward it: “The future of this continent depends on humans, which is why we need a flag not just for a landmass, but for a people and a community.” Compared to Bartram’s design, which has been propagated via technological flanking maneuvers, the True South flag seeks to build credibility through use and support on the ice.

It draws attention to both the historical territorial claims on Antarctica by other sovereign states, and the treaty that precludes such claims and guarantees the continent’ exceptional status as a peaceful, collaborative, non-state. But it does that, ironically, by rallying what had long been missing from the equation: a permanent, not to say indigenous, population.

Which is partly why True South’s resemblance to the flag of Greenland, the other polar flag I’d thought to post about, stuck in my mind. With the advent of home rule in 1978, Greenlanders sought a distinct identity apart from the legacy of Danish colonialism. The design [above] that was eventually ratified in 1985 was by Thue Christiansen. [It was immediately discovered to be identical to the logo of a Danish rowing club, but they said they didn’t mind.]

Rauschenberg’s Mona Lisa

Robert Rauschenberg, Untitled (Mona Lisa), 1952, 9 1/2 x 7 1/2 in., collage on paper, image via RRF

Via tumblr user @poloniumtherapy comes this most Combine-ish Rauschenberg collage to predate the Combines, now titled Untitled (Mona Lisa), from 1952. It belongs to a series, North African Collages, which Rauschenberg made during his work and travel through Morocco with Cy Twombly. Most were made on shirtboards; though the size fits, this collage is on paper, not paperboard. It is not one of the 28 collages remade as enlarged facsimile prints in 1991 under the title, Shirtboards—Italy/Morocco. The Rauschenberg Foundation says 38 of these collages are known to exist. [Plus one known to be missing; in 2015 I wondered if it was underneath an early Johns.]

The putti with the surveying equipment are European. The moon jellyfish engraving is French. The gothic columns are European, and the Mona Lisa is the Mona Lisa. The strongest link to North Africa here, at least aesthetically, is the page of Arabic text collaged on the lower right corner. Its source is unidentified, but it talks about the “General Assembly” and how “tomorrow is the real opening day of the Seventh Session.” Assuming that’s the United Nations, the Seventh Session was the first one held in the UN’s new headquarters in New York. It opened on October 14, 1952, right around the time Rauschenberg and Twombly arrived in Casablanca.

Craig Starr apparently included Untitled (Mona Lisa) in a show called “Souvenirs: Cornell Duchamp Johns Rauschenberg.” But since it ran from October 2020 through March 2021, I can only take his word on it. It’s a great grouping, though. Cornell, of course, helped Duchamp fabricate the Series B of his Boîte-en-Valise, which, of course, included a Mona Lisa.

Makin’ Copies: Cy Twombly Photos

A literal photo of my computer screen showing a scene from Cy Dear (2018) in which Nicola Del Roscio has placed the urn with Cy Twombly’s ashes on a bookshelf with a view of Twombly’s house in Gaeta, in a composition with a small antelope skull and a Polaroid of a peony

Cy Dear was a saddening revelation. The 2018 documentary by Andrea Bettinetti tells a story of Cy Twombly’s life, but its subject is actually Nicola Del Roscio, Twombly’s longtime partner who has spent his life enabling the artist’s work, and managing his legacy. In the process Del Roscio’s own sadness and grief seem to have gone untended, and now loom over the landscape he’s so fastidiously cultivated. I’ll need more time to process Cy Dear and the implications of Twombly’s life on his work and the people around him.

But one thing that finally makes some sense is Twombly’s photographs. Not how their copyrights have all been assigned to the Nicola Del Roscio Foundation. That always struck me as a natural gesture: the Polaroids Twombly made throughout his decades of days were left to the person he spent all those days with. What I could never figure out is what they were, and how he made them.

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We Are All Christies-Now

It is sort of mind-blowing to realize the digital shitstorm that has engulfed Christie’s the week before some of the year’s biggest auctions. I mean, I certainly didn’t need to hear from Todd Levin to know that the website had gone offline.

But it was only by clicking through the email sent from CEO Guillaume Cerutti that the scope of their predicament began to sink in. That email was, at least sent from the Christie’s email server.

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Just Dropped: Édouard Manet Facsimile Object (M4), “Fleurs”

Édouard Manet Facsimile Object (M4), “Fleurs”, 2024, 22 x 13 7/8 in., dye sublimation print on high gloss aluminum, with handmade COA in India ink on Arches, signed, stamped & numbered, available until the sale at Sotheby‘s on May 15, 2024

I wish I knew how to quit you, Manet Facsimile Objects.

I thought they were done, products of the moment, the moment when we couldn’t travel, or shouldn’t, when the museums were closed, and when full-scale facsimile objects would serve as proxies, simulating the experience of being in the presence of the artwork.

an arrangement of Facsimile Objects: the OG peeking out from behind Credit Suisse Dürer Diptych

[They also each include a standing offer to exchange the original work for a certificated Facsimile Object, a liberatory gesture to help you, the new owner, to focus on yourself and your experience, and not worry for a minute over the work’s condition, state, or worth. I’m ready to exchange whenever you are; hmu.]

Édouard Manet Facsimile Object (M1) “Minnay”, 2021, a Facsimile Object of a painting that had never been seen in public, and which surfaced at auction for only 2.5 days during COVID

But now, in the midst of [gestures around to the city and the world] all this, the call has come forth, and it is impossible—for me, at least—to heed it. Andrew Russeth’s effusive invitation to visit Manet’s rapturous late still life, Vase de fleurs, roses et lilas (1882), at Sotheby’s in New York, where it is on view only until it is sold on May 15th.

Édouard Manet Facsimile Objects (M2) & (M3), 2022, based on Ann Getty’s Manets, of which “Bob” [left] turned up at the same Getty Manet show as the flowers of (M4) Fleurs. Then they were sold.

As Andrew notes, this is the only sure window of time in which to see this rare painting, which has only been exhibited three times in 50+ years. Of course, all three of those times were in 2018-2020, a generous gesture on the part of the unidentified seller. It is not at all known what the next owner will do, so we must strike while we can, and get to Sotheby’s if you can.

Édouard Manet Facsimile Object (M4) is for those who cannot, and also for those who will not buy the painting next week. Well, not everyone. If you have the means to buy this Manet and don’t, I really suggest you sit this Facsimile Object out.

There is an irrevocable bid, so the Manet will sell to someone, but if you’re thinking that no, anything beyond the $7-10 million estimate is irrational, and you, with your financial savvy, elect not to pay, do not get the ÉMFO (M4). If you think it will stand as a trophy to your sophisticated investorial victory while honoring your connoisseurship, LMAO no it won’t. If you have the means and still somehow decide not to buy this painting, I fear Facsimile Object will offer you cold comfort in your folly and a sober reckoning of your failure. Every time you look at its high-gloss aluminum finish, you’ll see yourself looking, and remember that you could have bought the Manet instead, and you didn’t. You’ll get a Facsimile Object from me—and a handmade Certificate of Authenticity—but you won’t have my sympathy. I can’t even promise you’ll get my pity.

If you actually take a run at it and lose, OTOH, I hope you have pre-ordered the Facsimile Object as FOMO insurance; because if you wait til the auction is over, it will be too late, and your regret will be doubled. For you, dear underbidder, my heart would ache, but the concept is inviolate. And of course, for the winner, a Facsimile Object is always set aside, and a trade is always on the table. Straight across, with the COA thrown in to sweeten the deal.

ceci n’est pas un Facsimile Objet: a Drouot representative simulating the experience of holding ÉMFO (M1) using Édouard Manet’s le Chien “Minnay” in February 2021.

Andrew calls this a “small picture,” but honestly, at 22×14 inches, it’s a large Facsimile Object, almost 4x the size of the previous ones. One unexpected thing about Minnay [and all subsequent FOs] was how tactile they are, how nice it feels to hold them. Until this week, I would have compared it to a luxuriously thin iPad. But whether in your hands, on a shelf, or on a wall, this will be a substantial presence, and it is, admittedly, daunting to think about.

In fact, this whole thing feels like folly. But maybe it’s just the folly we need in these darkening times, the folly of flowers, friendly gestures of fleeting beauty, which also give us a glimpse of ourselves.

Order Édouard Manet Facsimile Object (M4) “Fleurs”, with signed, stamped & numbered COA, before the Manet sells on 15 May 2024 around 8PM EST.

[15 May update: I will be offline during the sale, but to preserve the conceptual nature of the project, orders will only be accepted which arrive before the Manet lot hammers down. Thank you for your engagement.

OK, that was that, $8.5 million hammer, sorry Beijing underbidder, you may not get a Facsimile Object to assuage your loss.]

Previously, related: Édouard Manet Facsimile Object (M1) “Minnay”;
Édouard Manet Facsimile Objects (M2) “Bob” & (M3) “Souki”

Gonzalez-Torres Free Tibet Sweater

“Untitled”, 1991, handloomed wool rug, 2.4 x 1.8m, ed. 25? via Equator Production

So on my journey from WTF to “Yes, please!” on the Felix Gonzalez-Torres “Free Tibet” rug edition that was later declared to be non-work, I passed the following:

It’s not just that Equator Production was using weavers and non-profits associated with the Tibetan diaspora in India to make their carpets. 1991 was also officially, The Year of Tibet.

And 1988 was the year of Tiger Rugs of Tibet having a breakout show at the Hayward Gallery in London, so the specific Tibetan Buddhist tradition of tiger-motif prayer rugs and monastery rugs had been launched in the West. Even if Felix didn’t see the Hayward show, there was a lush catalogue. In 1991 ABC Carpet in New York had a Year of Tibetan Tiger Rug collection. So it was around.

Kapital Wool Nepal Crewneck Sweater $611, NOT AVAILABLE, via Stag Provisions

What is not around is the Nepal Tiger Crewneck Sweater which Japanese heritage denim brand Kapital dropped in F/W 2019. But it still replaced every idea I had about repeating Felix’s Free Tibet carpet with a vision of these:

study for Gonzalez-Torres Free Tibet Sweater, 2024, ed. 25? Maybe available in Fall, if not in China

Whatever the edition, one will be set aside for the reincarnation of Sturtevant.

Previously: That Felix Gonzalez-Torres Carpet