April 2016 Archives

April 29, 2016

A Sh*tload Of Gold


Maurizio Cattelan is installing an 18k gold toilet in a restroom at the Guggenheim. How much gold is that?

The rendering appears to show a standard Kohler toilet, but in solid gold. According to Amazon, that toilet, with a seat, weighs 62 pounds, around 28kg. At around $40,000/kg, that prices out to around a million dollars right now. [When Chris Burden tried to show a stack of 100 1-kg gold bars at Gagosian in LA in 2009, it cost around $3 million, $30k/kg. But their gold dealer Allen Stanford got arrested for multi-billion-dollar fraud before he could deliver. I don't know how that ended up, but there are worse economic fates than being stuck holding gold for a few months at the beginning of 2009.]

Anyway, the thing is, porcelain and gold have different densities. Porcelain is 2.5g/cm^3, and gold is 19.29g/cm^3. So if the entire volume of porcelain in a porcelain toilet is swapped out with gold, that thing is not going to weigh 28kg, but nearly 8x more, say 210kg, which is like $8.2 million. The seat alone will weigh like 12kg, so be careful lifting it-and putting it down.

Now anyone knows you don't need that much solid gold to make a solid toilet, though. A stainless steel toilet weighs around 20kg, and steel has a density of 7.82 g/cm^3, so an identically made gold toilet would require just 50kg of gold, around $2 million.

Let's see how this all goes down.


Photography is prohibited inside the giant Berlin dance club Berghain. Security puts a sticker over your phonecam lens, and anyone caught sneaking pictures is booted and blacklisted. So Berghain Sticker Fun is a tumblr of purported photos of those stickers. They're just monochromes, with captions of whatever the camera was supposedly pointing at.

It's all very cute, and a fun way to infer content and transgressiveness onto a monochrome. I've tried to replicate the effect, but either my phone's not awesome enough to shoot through an opaque sticker, or Berghain has some kind of amazing sticker technology that those of us on the outside will never know. Oh well!

Berghain Sticker Fun [tumblr via vice, thx @MichelleLHOOQ]


Wolfgang Tillmans is worried about the impending vote for the UK to remain in the EU. So he and his studio assistants created a set of posters to encourage people to stay in, and especially to vote, and to register to vote. UK voting registration must be completed by June 7.

After they were released yesterday, I tried to find a printer in the US who could easily handle an A1 (33x24 in, roughly) size. So far, nothing. I need to print them out before the vote, though; if it goes awry, I don't think I'll have the heart to make a memorial set.


I also tried to find anyplace that can confirm that Wolfgang's parents are Polish and Spanish. He grew up in Germany, and I always understood he was German-in-London.

There are a couple of atmospheric landscapes, and some of the posters are now-classic Tillmans abstraction, but most of them are straight-up text, a new direction for Tillmans' practice. Text are images, though, so it's really not that far afield. The most intriguing poster for me is #24. It's completely blank.

It's probably the one that most closely mirrors my feelings about the EU's right-wing turn lately; I just haven't known what to say. And it boggles my mind that the Britain and Europe of my generation are creating such an existential crisis for themselves.

Read Wolfgang Tillmans' letter and download and circulate the posters [tillmans.co.uk]

UPDATE: So I emailed Wolfgang's studio to find out the story behind the blank poster, and the next day they replaced the pdf file. The new poster bundle includes two new posters, and the monochrome is gone. So now we know. And that original 4.21 pdf is vintage/collectible.

April 18, 2016


About five years ago I began collecting dead websites. It started in 2010 with Thomas Hirschhorn, after his first website, made for the Bijlmer Spinoza-Festival in Amsterdam, disappeared from the net. The Spinoza project was the third in a series of temporary projects dedicated to philosophers.


Hirschhorn calls these "presence and production" works. Here is a 2009 interview with Ross Birrell:

"Presence" and "Production" are terms I use for specific projects which require my presence and my production. It means to make a physical statement here and now.
I believe that only with presence - my presence - and only with production - my production - can I provoke through my work, an impact on the field.
When the project is over, the programs end, the materials are dispersed, the artist moves on, and a couple of months later, the website where the entire thing had been documented disappears. Then the links go dead, the URL expires, and gets scooped up by some zombie ad network. All that remains are some jpgs illustrating Marcus Steinweg's Bijlmer lectures.

I'd been to the first at Documenta, the Bataille Monument, in 2002, but not the Spinoza Festival, and so the website was it for me. I'd wanted to read and see more, longer. And then I discovered I couldn't. It was gone.


So when Hirschhorn launched his second website the next year, for CRYSTAL OF RESISTANCE, the Swiss Pavilion at the 2011 Venice Biennale, I was ready. Almost. I grabbed the whole site several times, but l missed some galleries. And then it was gone.

The GRAMSCI MONUMENT site in 2013, I definitely got that one. And Hirschhorn's project at the Palais de Tokyo in 2014, FLAMME ETERNELLE, I got that one too.


When the greatest website in the world got edited into oblivion, I grabbed it from the Internet Archive and made a piece out of it last year: Untitled (Embroidery Trouble Shooting Guide).

Then a few months ago I heard MOCA had deleted the informative and interactive mini-site for Philipp Kaiser and Miwon Kwon's Land Art show, so I rebuilt that one. Or I'm in process. I still have to reconnect the Google Earth links. [Google's deprecated KML API may have led to the page's demise.]

This is how I started posting them as subdomains, similar to found texts or found web objects. In the case of Hirschhorn, I was very aware since Venice that these were different, and very much not his work: "This website is neither an artwork, nor part of the artwork <>", it said on the front of the site.

But wasn't, but now it was, but of a different work. Hirschhorn's projects required his presence and his production, and my sites had neither. They appeared the same but were the opposite.


They weren't just for me anymore. At least I didn't have to think so.

I do edit them, leave my mark, track changes, in the text somewhere, or the source, in ways that are invisible or imperceptible, where I imagine literally no one will ever know or care. At one point, in a more cynical mood, I rewrote the entire Gramsci Monument to be entirely about me. But the more I consider Hirschhorn's practice, the less sure I am that the gesture works as critique. [Of him, anyway. Of me, OTOH... At least I kept a clean version too.]

For example, here is something I wrote in the source of Ends of the Earth:

Though it is still available on the Internet Archive, this is the kind of thing that should, I feel, exist within an art context. It is too off-the-cuff to imagine these two mirrors as a site and non-site, but that is an apt reference, I won't throw it out. What ultimately motivates this repetition of the site is a bafflement at why MOCA removed it in the first place. Huge shoutout to Kim Drew (@museummammy) for calling this to my attention.

I just feel like I have to grab these things, even the ones that get scraped into the Internet Archive. It's an urge that I can't dismiss, even when I can recognize the futility of it. I have to save them.

7/10ths of a set of Campbell's Soup prints walked out of the Springfield Museum of Art last week, and the FBI is ON it. Unfortunately, unlike the LAPD, the FBI does not make awesome #FindTheWarhols posters, so I cobbled together their webpage into one 41 x 8.5 inch PDF file you can print at home (or at work, or wherever you keep your stash of 41-inch paper. Not my problem.)

ALMOST EXACTLY A YEAR LATER UPDATE: Thanks to @mattdpearce for tweeting out the FBI has actually made a fine-looking wanted poster for these soup cans, which you can download here [pdf] It's only 8.5x11, but it's a start!

Have you seen me? Lately? Andy Warhol Flowers screen, stolen and still missing. Image: fbi.gov

What the FBI does do, though, is add stolen works to the National Stolen Art File. With hundreds of prints missing in batches of 20+, Warhol has to be the most stolen artist in the country, by volume. [Using the proper unit of measure for linear feet of stacked and racked Warhols, I'd guess 0.4 Mugrabis of Warhols have been stolen in this country. Of course, it's mostly flotsam, so in dollar terms, all the 343 other works listed in the FBI file still don't add up to One Gardner Unit. #FindTheVermeer]

And what is the most interesting stolen Warhol on the black market right now? It's the screen Warhol used to print Flowers. If the screen is 36 inches across, the image would be about 24 inches, the size of the 1964 paintings. [There are also approximately one million later Flowers prints, but they're bigger.] Is this one that Warhol lent to Elaine Sturtevant? Now *that* would be some provenance.

jacked Dymaxion Map with tar [?], 2009-10, by Matthew Day Jackson, still missing. image: fbi.gov]

The Warhol screen turns out to be one of 10 works in the FBI file listed with additional information of "DE106." It's an interesting and unusual bunch: a Larry Rivers sketch for his Frank O'Hara portrait; a Buckminster Fuller Dymaxion Map covered with tar by Matthew Day Jackson; a self-portrait by Rene Ricard.

So I called the FBI to see what the backstory was. Were all these DE106 works stolen from the same collection? "That's an artifact of the data entry. It's meaningless," said the FBI Art Theft agent I spoke with. So these were not all stolen in the same incident? "No. Everything I can tell you is on the website."

OK, thanks! Never one to take an FBI agent fielding coldcalls from a random blogger at her word, I Googled it. And all the DE106 works were stolen together, in April 2012. In DEtroit. Metadata, people. None of the links to the story on local TV news or newspaper sites work anymore, so the most thorough account of the caper is on none other than Huffington Post. [Legacy media: 0, Recappers: 1]

An unidentified collector in Corktown seems to have had a cartload of works stolen over the weekend of April 27-29. The FBI released photos [...] and announced a $5,000 reward [...], but they feared "the artwork may have been transported out of the country." Which, when you're on the other side of a bridge from Canada, is probably always a concern.

inset: the jacked Serrano photo of Weinstein, collaged onto Robert Polidori's 2012 VF photo of Scott Griffin's Chelsea Hotel apartment, with a Serrano portrait of Arthur Miller.

If you couldn't tell from the paltry reward, the works were uninsured. One unusual piece is a 2003 Andre Serrano portrait of the poet and librettist Arnold Weinstein. Weinstein lived in the Chelsea Hotel, and this Vanity Fair photoset by Robert Polidori includes a very similar Serrano portrait of Weinstein collaborator Arthur Miller. It's in the apartment of producer Scott Griffin. Who moved to Detroit, bought a warehouse building that housed the offices of HuffPo and Curbed-and had his art storage cleaned out, probably by an employee with a master key. They also took a Segway. I made a wanted poster, in case the FBI scrubs their metadata.

One blog report said the Warhol screen had "disintegrated so much over the years that it cannot be reused." Which sounds like a challenge. What could you get from printing with a disintegrating Warhol screen? I would love to find out.

FBI Reward Poster for Stolen Warhol Soup Screenprints - greg.org.pdf [pdf]
Reward Up to $25,000 for Recovery of Stolen Andy Warhol Paintings [fbi.gov]
Detroit Art Theft: 19 Works Worth Millions, One By Andy Warhol, Stolen From Private Collection (PHOTOS) [huffpo]
Corktown Art Heist May Have Been Inside Job [deadlinedetroit]
Ad Hoc poster for FBI DE106, AKA The Corktown Caper [pdf]
Previously, related: Find The Warhol Jews, with links to previous Find The Warhols! posts, including what may be the world's first failed Kickstarter campaign


To circumvent the tax on paper designed to drive revolutionary activists like himself out of the British print media, Henry Berthold published his calls for reform and worker solidarity on cotton. Berthold's Political Handkerchief was itself a political statement, apart from its content. It seems to have run for around ten issues beginning in September 1831.

I guess if there were a modern equivalent, it would be short stories on Chipotle bags. Or T-shirts, probably.

Anyway, there's a bit about the Political Handkerchief from 2013 on a Princeton blog.

Notabilia | Berthold's Political Handkerchief • 1831 [blogs.princeton.edu via @john_overholt]
Previously, related, and the reason I am posting this, because of trends: Queen Victoria Silk Newspaper

April 3, 2016

Actual Size Nude No. 3

duchamp_nude_descending_3_photo_pma.jpg Nude Descending a Staircase (No. 3), 1916, 148.1 × 91.8 cm, image: philamuseum.org

I've been enjoying Elena Filipovic's 2013 dissertation, whose title says it all: "The Apparently Marginal Activities of Marcel Duchamp." [pdf via monoskop, obv]. So far it's about photography, including a long look at the so-called Box of 1914 (1913-14), in which Duchamp made 1:1 photos of a selection of his handwritten notes. The photos were mounted and put into repurposed, reworked commercial boxes from photoplates, and distributed to friends. As Duchamp would describe it later, the Box was a work in itself which would operate as a guide alongside The Large Glass he was designing. Of 5+1AP, only 4 survive. The Pompidou has the best pictures of it.

Nude Descending a Staircase (No. 2), 1912, 147 × 89.2 cm (close!), image: philamuseum.org

But Filipovic's discussion of Duchamp's early photo activities naturally includes one of my own favorite Duchamp pieces, Nude Descending a Staircase (No. 3), a full-scale photo copy of his most famous painting, which itself was inspired by the chronophotography of Etienne-Jules Marey, which he made for the Arensbergs in 1916. No. 3, that is, because, well, let's let the Philadelphia Museum explain:

In 1916, Marcel Duchamp recreated his Nude Descending a Staircase (No. 2) for his patrons Louise and Walter Arensberg, who had coveted the notorious painting since seeing it at the Armory Show in New York three years earlier. Given that the original was now owned by a San Francisco art dealer who did not want to part with it, Duchamp had a commercial photography studio enlarge a postcard image of the work to match the proportions of the original canvas. The colossal photograph was then meticulously retouched by the artist in a wide variety of mediums, including pencil, ink, watercolor, and pastel, to replicate the crisply delineated forms of the original composition.
#Actually, as Filipovic points out, Duchamp did not have access to the painting, and he did "not at all attempt[...] to replicate the original painting's color scheme."
The fact is, what he created was a dubious hybrid, neither true painting nor unadulterated mechanical photography: the hand-colored photographic copy of a hand- painted canvas defied both mediums in one blow. The very originality of painting (in this case, Duchamp's single most famous painting on canvas) is unsettled in the act of mechanically producing a photographic copy to take its place; yet, conversely, the mechanical reproducibility of photography, the medium's single most defining feature, is revoked by turning the photograph into a unique, hand painted and--thus newly original--artifact. [p.65]
Even better, it's a photo of postcard of a painting (inspired by photos). A Duchamp Editions Pyramid constructed several generations before Thomas Kinkade's. Or Gerhard Richter's. What else will the ever-shifting sands of Art History reveal?

Postcard of Nude Descending A Staircase (No. 2), 14 x 9 cm, published for the 1913 Armory Show, image: aaa.si.edu

The Arensberg's eventually acquired the original [sic] Nude Descending A Staircase (No. 2) in 1919, and installed both the painting and the overpainted photo in their living room. Then Duchamp showed them side by side in Walter Hopps' 1963 Pasadena retrospective. Neither is on view at the moment in Philadelphia. Michael Bierke's great-grandfather sent a copy of this postcard to his wife from the 1913 Armory Show, though-and Francis Naumann is doing his masterwork in the comments.

April 1, 2016

Actual Size

Michael Heizer, Munich Rotary, 1970, transparencies and projectors, installed here at LACMA in 2012, but on view at the Whitney through Apr. 10, 2016

Michael Heizer talked about Munich Depression (1969) and Munich Rotary (1970) with Heiner Friedrich and the Whitney folks, and Interview Magazine is ON it.

HEIZER: I have a genius friend named Maris Ambats, whom I talked to about making a projector to project an image at the actual size. The deal was to let the camera be a translator between reality and a replicated reality, which means making the photograph as big as the thing itself. So here it is. It gets squeezed down through the camera, and then it's blown back up to the same size.

...MANCUSI-UNGARO: And the first time you showed Munich Rotary was in 1971 in Detroit...

HEIZER: Sam Wagstaff [who was then the curator of contemporary art at the Detroit Institute of Arts] introduced photography to the modern-art market. He liked photography so much he wanted to show it in the grand hall in this classical museum. It's a big, big classical building--it's like the Louvre inside with huge rooms. He put my piece in this huge 200-foot room. It was really good, and it was intended to be a photographic offering, a photographic artwork. Wagstaff had the nerve to do that. The trustees wanted him to remove that sculpture of mine he exhibited, too, and he resigned because of it. But he had the nerve, and he believed in it. He was right. It's become so insidious. Photography is everywhere now. Back then, it wasn't an art-world technique. But, the thing is, you can't separate the film derivation from the real thing. Munich Depression and Munich Rotary are different works of art, but they come from the real thing. So you can't escape it.

DE SALVO: You can't uncouple them.

HEIZER: No point in trying to.

This hits a lot of buttons for me, first because of what's not really discussed: the full-scale photomurals of boulders Heizer showed alongside Munich Rotary at LACMA in 2012, in a show called "Actual Size." [Actually, Munich Rotary is or has been called Actual Size: Munich Rotary, too.] This felt like a photo representational rebuke of MOCA's 2012 Land Art show, which Heizer refused to participate in.

But it really all makes me rethink how photography operated in this era as both a mode of art production, and as a means of circulation. The difference between the image and what it depicts, photography's built-in distortions of "the scale of the world," as Sontag put it.

Thumbnail image for destroyed_richter_013_family_chopshop_install.jpg
Destroyed Richter Painting No. 013, 2016, installation shot

The double distortion by photography and the market is what drove me to make the Destroyed Richter Paintings. I want to experience the difference (or the similarities) between a photo of a painting (or a jpg of a 4x5 slide) and an actual size reproduction of that (image of that) painting. Some have size info attached, but at first all the Destroyed Richter Paintings dimensions were extrapolated from the painting in them, and the studio space they inhabited. While figuring this out, I definitely considered conceptualist folks like Joseph Kosuth or Mel Bochner when I looked back at these issues, but Heizer and his photos were unknown to me. I sure look at them now, though.

And apparently I need to look at Audubon, too, who insisted on illustrating his birds life-size, and letting the printing people just deal. William S. Smith discusses Audubon and Actual Size in Art in America, and looks at scale and representation as analogs for control:

Heizer's actual-size photographs of Munich Depression establish control over the context in which they are viewed--a control he could never assert over the site on which it was made. Photographs of variable scale can be reprinted, republished, circulated and annotated in popular magazines. But the actual-size works have to be seen in person in a setting where the placement of the projectors can be tightly controlled. They are photographic oddities, resistant to reproduction and circulation. This resistance, too, comes at a cost, because it makes the work, conceived supposedly in innocence of "commercial and utilitarian concerns," entirely dependent on institutions with the resources and space that Heizer requires.
Huh, this installation view of Michael Heizer's "Actual Size" show at LACMA in 2012 is really about the museum. Broad wins again. via x-traonline.org

This is not to just hitch my wagon to whatever 60s star is riding through town. I am actually in the middle of sending out photos of the Destroyed Richters, and unless it's a flagrant installation shot, the works keep ending up looking like the photos. I find myself stuck in this same representational gap, in a hole, I have dug for myself. But at least I am not alone. While looking around for photos of Heizer's "Actual Size" show, I realized they are really all about LACMA, and their giant pavilion. And though all those megaliths are presumably still where Heizer photographed them 46 years ago, the work that's inextricably coupled with Munich Rotary, Munich Depression, created on an active suburban building site, was destroyed within months of its completion.

Michael Heizer's Munich Depression, May 1969, Perlach, Munich, Germany

Michael Heizer by Heiner Friedrich [interviewmagazine]
One to One [artinamericamagazine]

Since 2001 here at greg.org, 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 greg.org that time.

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about this archive

Posts from April 2016, in reverse chronological order

Older: March 2016

Newer May 2016

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