Tasty Chandigarh Bookcase

Lot 270, Toomey & Co. design auction, 13 dec 2022

Where has this Pierre Jeanneret teak and steel and glass bookcase been all my life? The Central State Library, you say? Can you loot three more to match?

Suddenly I’m rethinking my moral objections to the emptying of Chandigarh for the aesthetic enrichment of the bourgeoisie of the west. [oh wait, I already rethought it.]

[A couple of obsessed hours later update: there is another. A similar bookcase was sold at Christie’s in Paris in November 2021. It had the same estimate, was in what looks to be less attractive condition–and sold for EUR225,000.

The lot essay says Jeanneret’s “crenelated shelves of the Central Library display case recall the undulating glass panels and alternating railings of the interior architecture he had designed.” Hmm. Here is a photo of the cases installed in the library.

Interior views of the Central State Library, Sector 17, Chandigarh, India by Pierre Jeanneret, photo: Jeet Molhothra, via CCA

Lot 270: Bibliothèque from the Central State Library, Chandigarh, est. $30-50,000 [toomey]
Previously, very much related, in that they’re Chandigarh pieces I want: Chandigarh Find

Rock, Paper, Flowers

Danh Vo, Untitled, 2021, graphite & ink on A3 paper by Phung Vo, Revolver for Secession

Danh Vo had two shows simultaneously last fall, with work that turns out to be related.

Thought it had an ISBN number, the publication for Vo’s show at Secession in Vienna was not a book, but a drawing. The artist’s father Phung Vo wrote the word Neolithic on one side of an A3 piece of paper. The exhibition’s sponsors Secession’s colophon were stamped on the back. It was slightly baffling, tbqh.

Danh Vo, Untitled, 2021, graphite and c-print on paper, A3, framed, image: massimodecarlo

Meanwhile, at Massimo De Carlo, he showed photos of flowers from his farm outside Berlin, mounted on an identically sized sheet of paper, with the scientific name underneath, also written by his father, in the same script as Neolithic.

Danh Vo, Untitled, 2021, detail

They’re impossible to see from the reproductions online, but there are tiny alignment crosses above Neolithic. The text is in the same place on both, and the marks seem to be where a photo would go. The composition of these works is basically the same.

The Neolithic publication is the first thing Manuela Ammer asked Vo about in their gallery talk at the closing of the Secession show. Vo explained that he’d come to see these two things–specific names of flowers and the neolithic–as opposites, and that his practice entails not choosing, but doing both, and considering the difference.

To Vo, neolithic is an abstraction, an amorphous period of time about which there is so much we can’t know, because the only human traces that survive are stone. This is what is captured, he did not say, by the absence of a photo.

Goncharov (1973): The Making Of

I started this blog in 2001 as a side project for my filmmaking. It was the place to share my inspiration, development, behind-the-scenes, making-of, marketing, reception, and commentary.

screenshot of @zootycoon’s tumblr post with the bootleg platform sneakers with a label based on a movie poster that unlocked the Goncharovissance

Now Tumblr has, in one day, generated an entire metacontent universe around a film that doesn’t exist: Goncharov (1973), produced and/or, disputedly, directed by Martin Scorsese. It is spectacular, and exactly the kind of thing I got into blogging about movies for.

[update: I am told that Goncharov (1973) is, in fact, an absolutely real film. If it wasn’t, would it have an elaborate and exhaustive Google Doc mapping its history, production, plot, music, versions, and analysis? And there’s a poster? And then there’s all the fanfic. My apologies to Messrs JWHJ0715 and Scorsese.]

Previously: Goncharov

Hilton Aluminum Cookware

At one point in the 1910s, before he was married, my great-grandfather Wilford “Bill” Hilton sold aluminum cookware door-to-door in southern Utah. That’s according to an undated note my great-grandmother Vera Snow wrote to accompany these drippy aluminum blobs. In the 1920s, when my grandmother Lora Hilton was a little girl, the note continued, she accidentally melted some of these leftover aluminum pots on the stove.

The resulting dripped and pooled forms were interesting enough for my great-grandmother, and then my grandmother, to save in a drawer for a hundred years. I’ve had them on the bookshelf for a couple of years now, trying to think of what to do with them. Mostly, I just look at them and think about these people who kept these things. Sometimes I think about trying to photograph them better.

Obviously, if asked, I would install gargantuan replicas of them on the plaza of the Seagram Building. I’m not naive.

Previously, related; Vera’s Rocks

Brigham Morris Young, son of one Mormon prophet and son-in-law of another, dressed as his operatic alter ego, Madam Pattirini, for a concert at the Sugar House Ward, Salt Lake City, c. 1901

With news that at least two of the five victims of the Colorado Springs terrorist attack on Club Q were trans, and that the shooter, apprehended by patrons of the gay club he attacked, is a member of the LDS Church, it’s important to note the impact of the Church’s own positions and rhetoric in stoking anti-LGBTQ hatred and violence among its members, and as part of an increasingly extremist network of right-wing religio-political groups around the world.

Whatever progress and enlightenment it has achieved, the LDS Church and its constituent communities are far too often a source of bigotry and pain and an unsafe space for queer members. And the Church’s treatment of trans members is even worse.

When one Church leader–a cousin, fwiw–quotes another calling for “musket fire” in defense of the Church’s anti-LGBTQ policies, and when racist, misogynistic, and homophobic harassment by extremist members goes unchecked, even unmentioned, the Church should recognize the impact this has: and that includes stoking the murderous violence that one member unleashed last weekend on his queer neighbors. It’s not as if the guy had to be a zealot hanging on every word; in this case, he apparently was not, but was raised up in it. And then he found more hate to reinforce and build on what he’d absorbed.

The point is, the organization that should be fostering love is seeding bigotry and lending credence to active agents of violence against LGBTQ people.

Joan Didion’s Mantle

Lot 50: Group of Shells and Beach Pebbles, from the Estate of Joan Didion, image: stairgalleries

Let’s for a moment say we won’t even think about the money. If that seems hard, just imagine that someone donated $7,000 to Parkinson’s research and Sacramento women’s college writing scholarships, and in return, rather than public recognition and a tax deduction, they received Group of Shells and Beach Pebbles.

And then they paid $1,960 to a Hudson Valley auction house to warrant that these “approximately 26” shells and rocks–there are, in fact, 32 shells, 17 rocks, and one item whose rock-or-shell nature I could not determine in the auction house’s display photo–that “[t]his group of shells decorated the fireplace mantle in [Joan] Didion’s living room.”

The Mantle Does Hold: the flagship image for the sale of Joan Didion’s belongings at Stair Galleries, as promoted on architecturaldigest.com
Continue reading “Joan Didion’s Mantle”

Garbage Can van Lieshout

Atelier van Lieshout, Untitled (Litter Bin), 1991, fiberglass, 35 x 30 x 30 cm, image: christie’s ams

Before he designed a slave city or declared a pier in Rotterdam as his own anarcho-utopian country, Joep van Lieshout got attention for his brutalist/minimalist fiberglass sculptures shaped like furniture, plumbing fixtures, and architecture. It rarely comes to the market.

But lo, here is a 1991 work, Untitled (Litter Bin), being auctioned at Christie’s Amsterdam. I’d call it a great start.

Did Brian Eno Really Piss In Duchamp’s Fountain?

Brian Eno lecturing at MoMA on October 23, 1990 as part of a performance series organized by RoseLee Goldberg for “High/Low”

The NY Times Magazine’s interview with Brian Eno brings back his story about pissing in Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain. It’s a story Eno’s told many times. Every time it gets retold, there’s an air of incredulity; because it sounds fake as hell.

The clearest, widely available version of the story has been from when he told it to designer Ron Arad in 1993. That’s on YouTube [at around 17 minutes]. He was specifically, asked: “Have you really used the Fountain?” Eno laughs. “Yes, yes, that was a really good story.” He then mis-tells the history of Fountain, and Duchamp’s concept of Readymades, and misses the point that Fountain is not one ancient, auratic urinal, but is actually an edition of eight, plus several others.

Screenshot of Brian Eno in, as if it needed to be said, a 1993 interview for French TV

And he said, “So I thought someone should piss in that thing, to sort of bring it back to where it belonged. So I decided it had to be me.” He then says the strength and aim of his urine stream were, “at [his] age,” insufficient to get through the narrow gap in the glass. So he got thin, plastic tubing, threaded it with wire, pipetted his piss into it, put it in his pants, and then he inserted it through a gap, “and let the piss out. It’s a bit of a fake, really. I didn’t physically do it.” Which, in context, could sound like he’s saying he didn’t physically piss in Fountain. But it could also be an admission that the events in this “story” only happened in his head. Which should be the same in conceptual art, no? Eno then claimed he only revealed what he’d done at his lecture “that night,” at the Museum of Modern Art.

Continue reading “Did Brian Eno Really Piss In Duchamp’s Fountain?”

Nice Grpg

March 12, 2014, 12:20 PM: I swear, every one of these still lands this week, and lands different.

I’ve been trying to figure out what to do about twitter and social media for fifteen years, and the only thing I can come up with is, start a blog.

Whatever else it is, Twitter has been a source of language fascination for me. To see or share combinations of words of unexpected beauty, sublimity, stupidity, and criminality. I developed a practice of tweeting stuff without explanation or context–without original context, since the whole point was to hold up an object of text, or later, an image, or a combination of both, and present it in the context of the Twitter feed itself–that annoyed tf out of some people. I really tried to approach Twitter as an experiment, to see what would happen, or what worked and what didn’t. As time went on, Twitter’s own conventions coalesced, and even came to dominate information in the world, far beyond its own users’ spheres.

But that’s not important right now. One thing I started to do was to find meaning or resonance in groupings of tweets. Because they were in my timline, coming from people I’d chosen to follow, the synchronicities between adjacent tweets weren’t exactly random, but the more random and unrelated they seemed, the better. The connection didn’t need to be glaringly obvious, either, but an unusual, mundane word appearing in three unrelated tweets was as awesome as two rhyming images.

I developed rules for groupings: adjacency was a must; longer chains of tweets beat a pair; no retweets or manipulations by me. But in practice, I’d just screenshot’em all and figure I’d sort’em out later. And sometimes, when they ended up next to a gem, I couldn’t resist including my own tweets.

These groupings were made by others and me, and yet it seemed the only intentionality was in the finding. There was the sense, or perhaps the alluring suggestion, that beyond illuminating the contours of my own curatorial decisions, the groupings offered glimpses of a larger, unintended, collective meaning, like generative glitches in a (not the) matrix.

I tweeted some of these out as I’d find them, just a blip in the stream, but then I decided to collect them, to see what they could do together. So I started a tumblr, and after two tedious weeks of trying to capture the metadata embedded in each multitweet screenshot, I shelved it. But the screenshots have kept piling up.

Now with the actual destruction of Twitter looming, these shards feel possibly more relevant than they did, and so I’ve dusted off the tumblr and will keep posting these nice groupings, worrying less that they conform to my own arbitrary notions of multi-tweet poetic form, and instead being glad that they exist at all.


Trade of Restraint

Nayland Blake, Dual Restraint, 1990, 95 x 95 inches? 144 x 144 inches? Selling Nov. 17 at HA.com

An intriguing work by Nayland Blake is coming up for auction. Double Restraint (1990) is a canvas and steel structure, object, sculpture, outfit? It’s a strait jacket built for two, but it hangs on the wall like a kinky Richard Tuttle.

The auction house says it’s from a prominent West Coast collection. When a Blake Double Restraint (1990) belonging to Ruth and Jacob Bloom was installed at the Hammer Museum in LA, it was apparently four feet taller and wider. Maybe it shrank in the wash? Are there two? From the buckles and hoods, they look like the same size.

Nayland Blake, Single Restraint, 1990, canvas and steel, 96 x 58 in., image: naylandblake.net

Blake’s 1990 show at Petersburg Gallery in SoHo included both [one of?] Double Restraint and Single Restraint (above). Whether they wrap up like a knuckle bandaid or a burrito, these Restraint works insinuate bodies that aren’t there, which could be either an invitation, a threat, or an elegy.

17 Nov 2022, Lot 77244: Nayland Blake, Double Restraint, 1990 [ha.com]

From The Thumbnail Files Of Mr. Walker Evans’ Paintings

Walker Evans, [House with Gridded Panel and Palm Trees], Oct. 14, 1958, tempera on panel, 16×20 in., collection: metmuseum.org

Walker Evans the photographer also painted. Yesterday, art historian/hero Michael Lobel tweeted a selection of Evans’ paintings from the Metropolitan Museum, which holds the artist’s estate and makes copyright claims on it.

The quickest way to describe Evans’ painting is to say he was in the School of Jacob Lawrence. There are 17 paintings by Evans at the Met, plus photos of one–and probably two–others, plus one by his second wife. All are stylized, spare, and flat, painted in tempera on paper or panels. Unlike Lawrence, who often includes figures and crowds in his tempera paintings, Evans’ are landscapes and homes, and buildings, empty of people.

Continue reading “From The Thumbnail Files Of Mr. Walker Evans’ Paintings”

Schindler Pink By (Claudine Schindler and) Stephen Prina

Stephen Prina, As He Remembered It, 2011, installation view, Secession, Vienna
image: Wolfgang Thaler

You may remember Stephen Prina from such blog posts as Stephen Prina’s Exquisite Corpse: The Complete Paintings of Manet helped inspire the 1:1 scale certificates of authenticity for Facsimile Objects.

I remembered him today as Stephen Prina made two housefuls of Rudolph Schindler furniture and then monochromed them all the 2011 Color Of The Year, PANTONE® 18-2120 Honeysuckle.

What I’d forgotten about Prina’s 2011 show at the Secession in Vienna [which also showed a] was that it was based on a memory from the 1980s of stumbling across a Schindler built-in desk that had been painted pink, and which had been ripped from its original site, and put on display in a La Brea Avenue shop window.

Continue reading “Schindler Pink By (Claudine Schindler and) Stephen Prina”

Why Not? Make An Eames Saarinen Womb Chair Cake Chair?

Charles Eames photo of Womb Chair cake for Lillian Saarinen, 3×4 in., est. $700-900 at LA Modern

As a cake, it’s a bit of a mess, tbqh. But as a concept, it’s flawless.

This 1949 photo by Charles Eames of a Saarinen Womb Chair cake came from Lillian Saarinen’s estate. Did you know she was Edie Sedgwick’s cousin? Lillian’s mom was a Sedgwick. Though Lillian was almost 30 years older, so maybe they were second cousins or something. Edie was first cousins with Kyra Sedgwick’s father, in case you want to six degrees of Kevin Bacon the maker of this chair cake.

Which, do we assume Ray made the cake? It looks like a sheet cake has been draped over a Womb Chair frame. Judging from the size of the candles, the doilies, and the icing blobs, it looks like it’d fit on a cookie sheet. The frame looks legit, and out of wrought iron. Did Knoll have little centerpiece-sized Womb Chair samples lying around, or did the Eameses whip up a frame for the cake?

Either way, the point is, now I want a Womb Chair embroidered with these designs, with thick, ropy white stitches on that classic, rough, jute-like wool. You got this, etsy? Or am I gonna have to do it myself?

17 Nov 2022 Lot 106: Charles Eames photograph of Womb Chair Cake for Lillian Saarinen [lamodern]

Joan Didion Mail Art

Lot 106: After Bruce Nauman (b. 1941): Pay Attention Mother Fucker, installation view, invitation, frame, catalogue, bookplate, 11.75 x 10.8 x 9.3 in., image: stairgalleries

If she’d pinned it to the wall, or stuck it on the fridge, it would have been lost. The catalogue would have ended up in a stack, in another lot.

Fortunately, Joan Didion framed her invitation to the October 2018 opening of “Disappearing Acts,” Bruce Nauman’s retrospective at MoMA and MoMA PS1. Framing it made it worth something, or at least worth saving.

The auction house disposing of Didion’s estate describes this “offset reproduction” as a “print cut from a paper exhibition invitation.” Which means it has, in fact, been examined out of frame. I will guess she cut the flap off.

The lot includes the catalogue for the show, which first opened at the Schaulager in Basel, and was organized by Kathy Halbreich with Heidi Naef & Isabel Friedli, and with Magnus Schaefer and Taylor Walsh. [I did not want to reproduce the entire credit block any more than I wanted to only namecheck Halbreich, though of all the curators’ guest lists, I imagined that’s whose included Didion.]

From the library of Joan Didion, offset print on paper, dimensions unknown, image: stairgalleries

The lot also includes a bookplate, which, if you’re the MF who pays more than attention on November 16th, you will be able to affix inside the catalogue, as you construct an authentic assemblage After Joan Didion, as depicted above. Buying makes it worth saving.

[UPDATE: $41,600.]

Lot 106: After Bruce Nauman, &c., &c., est. $200-300 [stairgalleries.com]