March 2013 Archives

March 31, 2013

Mirror, Mirror


OK, I am a bit in love with Jacob Kassay right now, in my head.

In Art F City Eva Heisler reviews Kassay's current show at Art:Concept in Paris [above], his second, and it looks remarkably like the first, in 2010 [below].


Do you see what he did there? Did he really just answer the perennial art journo question about how he'll top with the extraordinary popularity of his electroplate paintings by just cold restaging an entire show of them? Apparently, no.

Heisler explains that these are not Kassay paintings, but "canvases," "props in lieu of paintings." In fact, they're in exactly the same lieux and same dimensions as Kassay's first show. And the installation shots of 2013 are almost all identical to those of 2010. And despite what it looks like, this situation Kassay has set up is one in which, as Heisler astutely puts it, "his paintings are present only through their staged absence."

But these present absences, these "not paintings," are--are you sitting down?--not for sale. They will be destroyed after the show. At least the canvases will be. The "stretcher bars (will be) recycled." Which seems like an odd detail, but hey.

There were actually not 25 paintings at Phillips, only 17, with one sold twice. Which, holy smokes, nice placement. Does anyone hold onto these, ever?

And not only do these new canvases have a uniform, non-gestural, more mirror-like facture, Heisler reports, again, kind of oddly, that "this time the artist did not touch the surfaces at all." Which would seem like the least determinative factor possible for a non-painting these days, until this one:

The fact that Kassay's mirror objects are emphatically "not paintings" and earmarked for destruction implies that the definition of what counts as a "Kassay painting" has to do with its entry into the art market. If so, then it is an irony that the artist's attempt to evade the market in fact reaffirms its powers even to name what counts as "a painting by Jacob Kassay."
Which, what? Why? No way, not even. Kassay can outsource or not sell or destroy what he wants. But the only reason Kassay's "not paintings" are not paintings is because Kassay says they're not paintings.

What Heisler calls "deflection" I would see as negation. Looking back, and following the artist's chosen mediations, the Art:Concept show reflects [sic] a sustained strategy of negation and "staged absence" as a constructive part of Kassay's practice.


Art:Concept's press release for the current show is, so to speak, Exhibit A. Just as the 2013 canvases bear striking resemblance to the 2010 paintings, The new press release, too, [left, pdf] turns out to be an excised, barely augmented, near-replica of the old [right, pdf] And you know what the funniest thing about Kassay in Europe is, it's the little differences.


To make it easier to see what's changed, or specifically, what's been deleted, negated, from Kassay's presentation, I converted his strikethroughs to highlights. You can download the complete, highlighted pdf here. What's erased crossed out? Well, data [Dates, "New York," "collaboration," and "works on paper,"] but also things like "industrial," "chemical," "conceptual," and every reference to photography and his monochrome and mirror forebears such as Yves Klein and Robert Smithson. Also blacked out: any privileging of "the perception of the painterly surface," and particulars of how "the artist carefully keeps control of their reproductions." Which, he may not want to talk about it, but since the 2013 installation shots match perfectly to the 2010 photos, I think it's safe to say he still cares.

It's a stretch, perhaps, but there seems to be a non-trivial overlap between what was blacked out and the terms, references and concepts initially used to hype Kassay's paintings in auction catalogues and the media. ["Whilst Kassay uses industrial techniques, they retain an engaging, painterly quality."]

What's less speculative but feels quite instructive is to see what stays:

"the modernist and maybe absurd desire to put an end to classicism by producing monochromes."

"...creating a distance between his work and the nostalgia that was seemingly implied by the use of an obsolete technique."

"...multiple considerations on illusions created by serial production and the impossibility to operate exact reproductions; defining the loss involved both in the transfer-processes and in any interpretive attempt."

The Art:Concept show also invites a reconsideration of Kassay's just-ended exhibition in New York, Untitled (disambiguation) [or as I liked to call it, "leftovers at The Kitchen"], which consisted, remember, of stretched scraps of canvas from which his earlier paintings had been cut. The staged absence of paintings.


It also included several silvered paintings, installed/photographed in conspicuously offhand, even marginalized spaces: propped in the foyer, behind a column, or in a storeroom. These images are, in fact, included in Art:Concept's press release.


And now that you mention it, their surface looks as uniform and non-painterly as the "not paintings" of Paris. Did anyone look into The Kitchen's mirrors, to see what their status was? Were they, too, "props in lieu of paintings"? Were they dismantled or destroyed? Were they for sale? Is there any place better than the gallery of a performance space to stage absence?

I looked back at reviews and such, and found that, again, the press release had been altered, this time without leaving a trace. The early text preserved--along with Ben Davis's mug--in this photo contains facts about the making of which are omitted from the archived version. What had been explained and presented as the artist's intent was eliminated, transformed through negation into historical hearsay.

Which makes me think again of the Henry Codax Incident last year. That's when Christie's, citing Gallerist NY's report, described a dark grey monochrome by the fictional artist Codax as the product of a collaboration between Kassay and Olivier Mosset. Kassay protested, and insisted that Christie's read a statement before the auction "disassociating his name" from the painting.

So in addition to Codax paintings which are "not Kassay paintings," we can add canvases in a Kassay show which are "not paintings." To paraphrase John Cage, Kassay has nothing to paint, and he's not painting it.

But just as Rauschenberg demonstrated erasure as a generative act, Kassay gives hints that negation for him is constructive and not repudiation or "deflection." Art:Concept's current Kassay slideshow also includes two non-not-painting objects: used French library books with prismatic acrylic wedges inserted into them. One is a collection of work by the late Greek poet Constantin Cavafy.


The other: l'Entretien Infini, The Infinite Conversation, by philosopher/theorist Maurice Blanchot. Blanchot and Mallarmé argued that the power of language derived from its ability to negate a thing and replace it with an idea. And that both thing, the disappeared/negated thing and the idea that replaced it were equally valid, constant, and stable. And that the idea was even moreso, because the thing was subject to change. So really, instead of looking at the not paintings as destined for destruction; we should see them as ideas which will never be tarnished by time, atmosphere, or white-gloved flippers.

Jacob Kassay at Art : Concept, Reflection or Deflection? [artfcity]
Jacob Kassay, 23 février - 6 avril 2013 []
Jacob Kassay, 8 mai - 5 juin 2010 []

Previously: Henry Codax at Auction; also, Speculation
Also, Jacob Kassay, Johns & Rauschenberg, and collaboration

March 28, 2013

Makin' Copies

"Courtesy Flickr and the Artists; Illustration by BLOUIN ARTINFO"

The new issue of Aperture has a great discussion between Penelope Umbrico and Virginia Rutledge about one of my favorite WTF aspects of the Cariou v. Prince case: the fact that the primary visual evidence of copyright infringement used in court is not the paintings themselves, but photocopies. When the fair use/recontextualization/mediated imagery chips are down, the only thing being looked at is flattening, scale-destroying Xerox pairings made by a friend of Patrick Cariou.

Anyway, hot foot it over there right now, but before you go, just check out this amazingly dishonest image of a page from a book and a 6-ft painting. It's "Courtesy Flickr and the Artists; Illustration by BLOUIN ARTINFO," and accompanied a Julia Halperin story from last year wherein "BLOUIN ARTINFO analyzes how the Prince v. Cariou case has shaped views on the issue of appropriation." Which, SRSLY, BLOUIN ARTNFO, analyze thyself.

It's almost enough to make me start turning my pages from my copies of Cariou's Yes Rasta book into tiny, exact collage replicas of Prince's paintings. Stay tuned.

The Image World Is Flat: Penelope Umbrico in conversation with Virginia Rutledge []


As always, Abelow has the goods. In this case, it's nice detail shots of the "interesting" parts of Al Held's Alphabet Paintings at Cheim & Read, which are very nice.

The more time goes by, the paint goes down, the more paintings like this and the brushy little Blinky Palermos up at MoMA right now that I look at, the more I start to wonder if finish fetish is just not where it's at for me after all.

Installation view: panorama of 96 photographic plates from the National Geographic Socety-Palmar Observatory Sky Survey (1949-58); the other 1,700+ plates are in the cabinet.

First off, thanks to everyone at apexart for the really amazing work on the show. "Exhibition Space" looks great, and it's installed beautifully. Thanks, too, to the folks who have stopped by to see it, whether at the opening or since, and those who have sent along kind comments. I know Massimiliano curates three shows 10x this size each day before breakfast, but it's still a BFD for me, and after writing and thinking about the objects and photos in the show for so long online, it really is a completely different thing to see them in person.

detail of a photographic plate from NGS-POSS

I'll get some more systematic documentation shots of the show and the pieces in it soon, but in the mean time, here are some pictures I snapped last week. If you circulate them, I really hope you'll check back and update them when I get some slicker versions.


Dude. I can't believe it's really happening. But it is. "Exhibition Space" is opening tomorrow night at apexart in Tribeca. There's a reception from 6-8pm, and the show will be open to the public from Thursday the 21st through May 8.

What started out as completely separate ideas, spawned, obviously, here on the blog, has turned out to have all these amazing and direct interconnections, both among the objects in the show, but also into the art of the time.

As the new banner image suggests--which I love, btw, just so awesome, like it was shot just for me--there will be some extended posting about the stuff in the show here on So please visit often.

image above inspired by Whitney's suggestion at AFC that I'm on some kind of Indiana Jones-like satelloon quest, which, well.

"Exhibition Space," photographs, objects, and perception at the dawn of the Space Race, 21 Mar - 8 May 2013 at apexart []

2007: The Sateloons of Project Echo, must. find. satelloons.
2008: On The Sky Atlas and the NGS-Palomar Observatory Sky Survey


Well there we are, then. Bob Rubin got the prize, the 50-foot prototype of Buckminster Fuller's Fly's Eye Dome, which he's now restored and will unveil to the world in May-June at the Festival International d'Art in Toulouse, which used to be Printemps de Septembre, but is now actually in the Spring, and Printemps de Printemps was obviously not going to work, so. Whatever they call it, and whenever it is, this is a junket I will accept.

Anyway, The Architect's Newspaper has the story, which Phaidon's hype-y account distorted beyond recognition.

Max Protetch had been working these domes since at least 2008, and the Buckminster Fuller Institute sold the 10-ft prototype to Norman Foster, and the 24-ft version to Miami developer Craig Robins, who Miami'd the hell out of that thing in 2011.

With architectural expertise and sympathy running as deep as his pockets, Rubin is probably the best guy to take this on. And though Fuller's original engineering consultants Daniel Reiser and John Warren are involved, there's no luxury yachtmaker mentioned. So maybe Rubin's restoration will have some historical sensitivity.

Meanwhile, I will console myself with the knowledge that since the 50-foot dome is the only one you could conceivably live in, if I'd bought it, I would have been tempted to make unconscionable ahistorical modifications to it. Like windows. And a door. So I'm better off with a repro.

Robert Rubin restoring a monumental Buckminster Fuller dome. [archpaper via bfi via phaidon wtf via @wefindwildness]

2011 Fuller's Fly's Eye Dome Gets Miami Makeover
2008 Welcome to the Fly's Eye Dome

March 13, 2013

It's A Tony Smith Thing


For some reason, I've been collecting vintage photos of Tony Smith sculptures. The back of this illustrated rendering has the original title as Thing crossed out and replaced with Smoke. Which is something that would be pretty hard to research on Google.

UPDATE: Make that Alfred Leslie and Frank O'Hara's Lamp [see below]

UPDATE UPDATE Just to be clear, let's make that Alfred Leslie and Frank O'Hara's Lamp by Larry Rivers

Obviously the best part of Richard O. Moore's 1966 WNET profile of Frank O'Hara is the poet reading "Having A Coke With You." But 2nd and 3rd best are a tossup between footage of New York back in the day, and this totally bonkers, homemade floor lamp in Alfred Leslie's studio. That's how awesome that lamp is.


Thanks to Maureen O'Hara for pointing out that this scene was actually shot in Frank's loft, and that the lamp was his, made by Larry Rivers.

Though I did wonder how Alfred Leslie's range included figurative portraits and the large abstract painting behind them, I didn't wonder hard enough to realize it wasn't by Leslie at all. [It's by Mike Goldberg, the subject of O'Hara's 1957 poem, "Why I Am Not A Painter."]

Anyway, clips from Moore's film, as well as other Frank O'Hara interviews and readings are at

And now that I know a bit better what to look for, here are a couple of additional photos of the lamp in O'Hara's loft, taken, I believe, by Mario Schifano in 1964:

l-r: Kenneth Koch, John Ashberry photobomb, Patsy Southgate, Frank O'Hara, lamp

l=r: Southgate, lamp, Bill Berkson, O'Hara (seated), Ashberry, Koch (seated)

This bottom one is almost clear enough to reconstruct the lamp, if need be. Oh, wait, yes, Schifano, as seen in Homage to Frank O'Hara, Berkson and LaSueur's 1988 Pinterest board-avant la lettre, and tumbld by So basically, I could take Lamp with Poets here to Canal Hardware and walk out with a complete lamp kit:


And for additional context, here's at least one other lamp/sculpture Rivers made, this one from 1966.


Blue Lamp looks like a spray painted construction of welded metal scraps and industrial hardware, with a "studio label" and a stock number on the bottom. Acquired directly from the artist, it didn't sell at Wright20 in 2011, because est. $5-7,000.

USA: Poetry: Frank O'Hara (1966) [youtube via VNY via @jameswagner]
Frank O'Hara - Video []

March 6, 2013

Chaneling Satelloons


I'd like to announce that my satelloon show "Exhibition Space" will travel from the Grand Palais to New York, where it will open at apexart on March 20th.

I'd like to, but it---eh, you know what, it's close enough.


image: Chanel demands a closer look [nyt]
previously, like 2008 previously: Les Sateloons du Grand Palais

Since 2001 here at, 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 that time.

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about this archive

Posts from March 2013, in reverse chronological order

Older: February 2013

Newer April 2013

recent projects, &c.

Our Guernica Cycle, 2017 –
about/kickstarter | exhibit, 2017

Social Medium:
artists writing, 2000-2015
Paper Monument, Oct. 2016
ed. by Jennifer Liese
buy, $28

Madoff Provenance Project in
'Tell Me What I Mean' at
To__Bridges__, The Bronx
11 Sept - Oct 23 2016
show | beginnings

Chop Shop
curated by Magda Sawon
1-7 March 2016

eBay Test Listings
Armory – ABMB 2015
about | proposte monocrome, rose

It Narratives, incl.
Shanzhai Gursky & Destroyed Richter
Franklin Street Works, Stamford
Sept 5 - Nov 9, 2014
about | link

TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -

Standard Operating Procedure
about | buy now, 284pp, $15.99

CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
Canal Zone Richard Prince
YES RASTA 2:The Appeals Court
Decision, plus the Court's
Complete Illustrated Appendix (2013)
about | buy now, 142pp, $12.99

"Exhibition Space" @ apexart, NYC
Mar 20 - May 8, 2013
about, brochure | installation shots

HELP/LESS Curated by Chris Habib
Printed Matter, NYC
Summer 2012
panel &c.

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

Canal Zone Richard
Selected Court Documents
from Cariou v. Prince (2011)
about | buy now, 376pp, $17.99