David Getsy Talking About Scott Burton’s Performance Art

Speaking of Scott Burton, David Getsy recently posted his December 2023 presentation at Artists Space 0n his Dedalus Foundation Award-winning book, Queer Behavior: Scott Burton and Performance Art, and it is full of fascinating bangers.

This book, 20 years in the making, is somehow the first monograph on Burton, and it sounds full of revelations and new information, based on the artist’s archives and decades of first-person interviews. Burton’s early performances are grounded, Getsy argues, in the queer experience of public and private space, and the examination of and navigation through heteronormative interactions and culture.

“In the Behavior Tableaux what I want people to become aware of is the emotional nature of the number of inches between them.”

A series of performances in museums and at Documenta in the 1970s called Behavior Tableaux were about body language, hidden or discovered communications, and the enactment of power. Getsy explains how they were based in part on street cruising, and the lexicon of movement, gesture, and expression that gay people developed, both to survive and to connect with each other. In less obvious but no less important ways, Burton specified the constrained, limited, and distant spatial experience of the audience, too

David Getsy talking at Artists Space in Dec. 2023 about Scott Burton’s Bronze Chair, 1972/75 [yt]

It was alongside and out of these performances and Burton’s research—both academic and, uh, in the field—that he created his furniture-like sculptures. The first one, Bronze Chair, debuted on the street across from Artists Space in 1975. Before he gets to the furniture, Getsy talks about Burton’s performances and artworks that deal with Carl Andre, Lynda Benglis, and Robert Morris, right in the thick of the 1970’s art world’s complicated dealings with feminism, gay liberation, and macho bullshit. It’s a tantalizing preview of what sounds like an important book.

David Getsy on Queer Behavior: Scott Burton and Performance Art [youtube]
Buy Queer Behavior: Scott Burton and Performance Art from Amazon or UChicago Press
Previously, related: Scott Burton-inspired chair-inspired sculptures by RO/LU
PREVIOUSLY HOW DID I MISS BLOCK OR FORGET THIS: Getsy spoke about Burton’s development of his sculpture and performance as a response and critique to Minimalism and Michael Fried’s critique of it, at the 2011 symposium for Hide/Seek at the National Portrait Gallery, which I attended. And which I blogged about at the time. Oh, blogged about catching two lectures. “Does anyone even read this website?” he yelled into his front-facing camera.

Seeing < – > Making Dropping

1 The “How” of Knowledge
2 Inventory-ing
3 Field of Action – Space for Play

Seeing <-> Making: Room for Thought is a “picture book of philosophy” that aims to “make theory visible” by “reorient[ing] the space of the book” to make theory in our “image-based information age” visible in service of “collective imagination and social action.”

Is that an Angelus Novus I see before me?

I have to use so many quotes because I have been pondering the extraordinary Benjaminian arcade-shaped announcement/object for a couple of months already, and I can barely wrap my head around it what this will actually be. But I am now clear on the existence of a book launch at Triple Canopy in a couple of weeks.

Essays by leading visual culture scholar Susan Buck-Morss are configured into a network for expanded thought by leading t-shirt-as-discourse god Kevin McCaughey (Boot Boyz Biz) and leading who-else-would-put-together-a-book-like-this designer and publisher Adam Michaels (Inventory Press).

4 Visual Studies & Global Imagination
5 The Task
6 Critical Distance

7 The Gift of the Past
8 Class Quilt
9 Seeing Global

These numbered lists are, I believe, the twelve analogic spaces of the book, around which readers will be invited to expand their theoretical fields. I transcribed them from the arcade model.

“Benjamin as Method / PSC” is one of Buck-Morss’ graduate polisci courses at CUNY

10 News From Flowers
11 Aesthetics & Anesthetics
12 Picture-History Laboratory

Other elements of the project, visuals and text appeared in the last Boot Boyz Biz drop, which took place while I was driving, and thus I missed every single thing. It is rare to get a second bite at the BBB cherry, but between a trade book and a launch event with a merch table, I’m making room for thoughtful swag.

In Conclusion, Buffalo AKG Is A Land Of Contrasts

Maybe it’s living on the border, or the multiple additions, but my strongest sense of visiting the Buffalo AKG, the museum formerly known as the Albright-Knox, is of marveling at the things they put next to each other.

By entering through the parking lot and the new Gundlach Greenhouse, I ended up walking backwards, chronologically, through the museum, beginning with a gallery of large paintings made in 2013. Then there was the 90s room, then on back, to the room with this pairing of a Rothko and a Frankenthaler that just felt wild for some reason. But at least I got a picture. The mid-70s pairing of a Susan Rothenberg horse next to a blurry pre-squeegee abstract painting by Gerhard Richter was so unexpected, I forgot to photograph it.

The Coenties Slip room, though, was pleasantly sublime, with Ellsworth Kelly’s 1950s NY NY living across from Agnes Martin’s Tree just like old times. That’s a detail below, obviously; just imagine that extending in infinity.

There were some other nice moments in the permanent collection—the Stanley Whitney retrospective was spectacular, btw. Those little paintings he makes at the end of the day with his leftover paint!

Olafur’s pavilion tree situation was nice, and better than the courtyard it replaced, for sure. Is it worth having to have the Gundlach wing, too? I will defer to the Buffalovians, who did seem pleased with the place.

But the surprise and delight was the Jacob Kassay installation, developed in collaboration with the visually impaired education folks, where he lined the outer edge of the handrail with the letter H in Braille, creating a tactile onomatopoetic evocation of breathing, or sighing, as visitors drag their hand along. It was the perfect opposite of spectacle.

Henry McBride, Palm Treehugger

Florine Stettheimer, Henry McBride on Winslow Homer, c. 1924, 10 1/2 x 8 1/2 in, mixed media (?) and collage (?) on photo reproduction (?), being sold by heirs of Stettheimer’s lawyer Joseph Solomon as lot 35 at Christie’s 18 Apr 2024

I’ve been trying and failing to make sense of this weird little Florine Stettheimer portrait of the art critic Henry McBride. It is one of two Stettheimers being sold this month at Christie’s by the heirs of Joseph Solomon, who executed Stettheimer and her sisters’ wills, and placed most of her artworks and papers in public collections. Except these two?

Continue reading “Henry McBride, Palm Treehugger”

La Boite en Bois en Acrylique

Hiroshi Sugimoto, la Boite en Bois, 2004, ed. 2/35, from Melva Bucksbaum’s 2018 sale at Christie’s

I’ve been a Hiroshi Sugimoto fan for many years now, more or less, though I admit I’m partial to the early hits.

When his fundraising edition for the New Museum came out in 2004, I hesitated and lost the chance, but I haven’t really regretted it too much, until maybe right now.

Each of the 45 examples in Sugimoto’s edition is actually a pair of unique 8×10 negatives of the top and bottom of Tokyo University’s replica of Duchamp’s Large Glass, and unique contact prints of those same negatives. These four objects are sandwiched between two slabs of glass, and set in a wooden box.

I worred, frankly, because I didn’t think prints or negatives should be in contact with the glass like that, or necessarily with each other, either. [They’re facing opposite directions, which gives the work its interesting dark/light vibe.] I also wasn’t sure how to show it. Melva Bucksbaum’s example above, sold at Christie’s in 2018, is how I imagined it: put away in a box.

Sugimoto’s la Boite en Bois (Wooden Box), 2004, 45 x 30 cm without the sweet acrylic mount, being sold as lot 118 in Sotheby’s online photo sale ending 10 Apr 2024

But whoever’s selling ed. 31/35 at Sotheby’s right now has figured it out, at least partially. The bois is gone, and the glass assemblage is pinned into an acrylic frame and base. It’s pretty slick, and already going for more than Bucksbaum’s low-numbered example. My window may be closing again. [update: it closed. $20,320.]

Not Lost Jacob Lawrence Wartime Painting

Jacob Lawrence USCG, USO ‘Show‘ [aka Entertaining The Troops], 1945, watercolor and gouache on paper, 21 1/2 x 29 1/2 in., selling as Lot 36 on 18 April 2024 at Christie’s New York

The last time we had news of pictures from Jacob Lawrence’s wartime service in the US Coast Guard was 2021, when press images of some Coast Guard paintings and installation photos from Lawrence’s MoMA exhibition turned up at Swann Galleries.

Lawrence painted either 17 or 48 paintings while in the Coast Guard; I think 17 are known, including five images that have come to light since Lawrence’s 2000 catalogue raisonné was published and all but three are lost. This turns out to be one of those three.

Though Lawrence wrote U.S.O. ‘Show’ on the back by his signature, this painting of two dancing white ladies surrounded by faceless soldiers has long been shown with the title, Entertaining The Troops. It first showed up at Princeton in 1976; made its way through the Hammer Galleries in 1995; and by 2001 was being shown in local Florida museums, because it was owned by Dr Mark & Irene Kauffman of Sarasota. They did real estate after retiring from orthopedic surgery.

But that’s literally not important now; what is most interesting is that first step in the provenance from United States Coast Guard, Washington DC to the Terry Dintenfass Gallery, New York. How and when did that go down, I wonder? Dintenfass opened her gallery under her own name in 1959, and represented Lawrence for 25 years [The gallery records in the AAA date from 1963-1981.]. Did Lawrence keep some of his Coast Guard paintings himself?

Lot 36, 18 Apr 2024: Jacob Lawrence, USO ‘Show’, est $100-150,000 [update: sold for $88,200] [christies]

Previously, related:
Find The Lawrences: USCG Paintings @ Swann
Wait, How Could There Be Lost Jacob Lawrence Wartime Paintings?

Big Johns

Jasper Johns, Numbers in Color, 1958-59, encaustic and newspaper on canvas, 66 1/2 x 49 1/2, not including frame, collection Buffalo AKG now

Headed to the eclipse, stopped by to see the Big Johns at the Albright-Knox, turns out it was at the Buffalo AKG.

Jasper Johns, Small Numbers in Color, 1959, 10 1/8 x 7 1/8 in., encaustic and collage on wood printing block, collection the artist, photographed in Philadelphia that time

The little version Johns made for himself on the back of a woodblock is probably my favorite Johns of all time.

Previously, very much related: Little Johns

Artist Of The Month Club #NeverForget

Lot 278: Charles Harlan, Bricks, May 2013, ed. 50+10 AP, from Invisible Exports’ Artist of The Month Club, selling 18 Apr 2024 at Wright20 [update: sold for $378]

Invisible Exports’ Artist of The Month Club ran for five years. It was a subscription that shipped an edition of 50 each month, each artist selected by a different curator. Charles Harlan’s Bricks were the May offering in the AMC’s last iteration, in 2013. He’d been selected by Adam Lindemann, in whose gallery, Venus Over Manhattan, Harlan had showed.

AMC had almost as many blogs as curators; Invisible Exports artist/AMC coordinator Michael Bilborough would unveil each month’s edition with an artist interview. Harlan’s interview was a YouTube video of the artist and the curator playing ping pong in Lindemann’s garage in Montauk. The 2014 Internet Archive capture of the AMC site seems the most stable source of info left, with all the 2013 editions, plus at least lists of all the artists and curators. Invisible Exports itself went on hiatus a few years ago [Benjamin Tischer followed it with New Discretions.] In the absence of a definitive or persistent source of information, Artist of the Month Club’s history relies on these bricks—and their accompanying certificate of authenticity—to be told. Turns out the past is also here, and is also unevenly distributed.

Martine Syms Deep Cut

Martine Syms, Untitled (sic), signed poster for Most Days, with Paul Cowan, ed. 28/30, 16×20 in., issued by Mixed Media Recordings in 2014

This one goes out to the Martine Syms truheads. In 2013, Mixed Media Recordings launched a Kickstarter to press Most Days, a “Mundane Afrofuturist” album of Syms on one side and Milwaukee artist Paul Cowan on the other. The reward for the $100 tier was a signed edition of this silkscreened poster, a photo by Cat Roif.

Like a coward, I just got the album, with my unsigned, folded up poster in the sleeve. But now that one of the 30 signed posters—now reported to be offset printed—is coming up for auction, I’ll have a chance to upgrade without breaking the seal on my original vinyl.

18 Apr 2024: Lot 340, Martine Syms, Untitled (sic), 2014, est. $600-800 [update: sold for $567] [wright20]
Martine Syms, Most Days, 2014 [digitalc0llections.saic.edu]

The History of Tilted Arc Is Long

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oh hi. Tilted Arc in storage in April 2024, with tarp and plywood that looks old enough to drive at this point.

The General Services Administration commissioned Tilted Arc from Richard Serra in 1981 as part of a Percent for Art program. The GSA’s regional manager guided the campaign to have it removed in 1985. It was finally removed at night on March 15, 1989 after Serra’s contract- and free speech-related lawsuit was dismissed. The three Cor-Ten steel plates that comprised the sculpture were taken from the Javits Building plaza in lower Manhattan to a government-owned parking lot at 3rd Avenue & 29th St in Brooklyn. The site was adjacent to the Metropolitan Detention Center. In 1999 the Bureau of Prisons built a new joint on the site, and the pieces of Tilted Arc were sent to a GSA depot at Middle River, Maryland. And there they stayed, on a loading dock, stacked and separated by pressure-treated lumber, as the GSA put it, “indefinitely.”

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Tilted Arc elements stored on a loading dock in Middle River, MD, c. 2004 via GSA

Which is not the same as forever. The government sold the Middle River site, and Tilted Arc was moved to the GSA’s Fine Art Storage facility in Virginia in the summer of 2005. [18 pallets of relief sculpture molds by Ray Kaskey for the World War II Memorial were also moved, but in different trucks.] It remains there to this day. I saw it yesterday, in fact. [Tilted Arc, that is, not the molds.]

Item ID: AA153: Richard Serra, Tilted Arc, screenshot of GSA Fine Art database entry via 2015 FOIA

By at least 1993, the GSA conducted regular evaluations of the condition of the Tilted Arc plates. [From the 2001 email thread submitting the first report from Middle River: “The iron curtain is still here.” “Norman reports the sculpture is still on the loading dock and is fine.”] In 2004 it was noticed that they were rusting unevenly due, it was determined, to moisture being trapped in the lumber and held against the otherwise protective oxidized surface.

After an evaluation by McKay Lodge, an art conservation firm which has long held contracts to maintain GSA artworks around the country, GSA issued a statement of work [pdf] to “STABILIZE TILTED ARC.” I find the text below, giving background to the proposal, to be extremely helpful in seeing how the GSA views the artwork:

In 1968 GSA constructs the U.S. Customs Court and Federal Building at 26 Federal Plaza, along lower Broadway in New York City. Due to prohibitive inflation and shifting policies within the agency, no public artwork is funded at the time of construction. In 1979, GSA authorizes the Art in Architecture Program to allocate funds for Richard Serra to create a public artwork for the Federal Plaza, on the corner site adjacent to the U.S. Customs Court and Federal Building (now named for Senator Jacob K. Javits). Serra’s sculpture, known as Tilted Arc, is installed on July 16, 1981.

The sculpture was looming and domineering, and an interesting study in the manipulation and compression of public space. Cast in steel, the arc stood 12′ high and 120′ long, and when it [was] on the plaza, it obscured all views of the city beyond the brown metallic wall. [sic obv]

GSA Dismantles Tilted Arc
In June of 1986, the National Endowment for the Arts announces that it will assist GSA to locate a new site for Tilted Arc. However, Serra adamantly reiterates that the sculpture is site-specific, and if moved will be rendered meaningless. [again, sic obv]

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Documentation photo of a guy unperturbed by the history of Richard Serra rigging published in McKay Lodge Tilted Arc conservation report from Summer 2009, via GSA

McKay Lodge proposed to treat the plates with a marine anti-corrosion film. They were unstacked, cleaned and sprayed, and restacked. The conservator’s report noted that “the predicted problem [uneven corrosion] had occurred to some extent, but pitting had not yet occurred to a degree that the steel would be permanently marred. Nevertheless, it revealed the importance of coating this steel if it is to be stored for years, and the work was performed just in time.”

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Richard Serra’s Bellamy, 2001, photographed in storage in the Bronx, alongside the East River, in 2009, by Jake Dobkin via

McKay Lodge recommended reapplying the film as needed every 3-5 years, and to minimize exposure to rainwater by “fastening a covering of plywood over the length of the newly [re-]stacked steel plates and then tying over this waterproof tarps sufficiently fastened to avoid wind lifting.”

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Google Maps image of Richard Serra’s Clara Clara, stored upright, outdoors, and next to the Seine at a Paris municipal fine arts depot in Ivry-sur-Seine

No one seemed to suggest researching how other Richard Serra sculptures fare while exposed to the elements, or how other Serra sculptures are stored. In 2009, while the GSA was in the process of spraying their steel plates, Serra himself stored sculptures outdoors, on the riverfront, in the Bronx, by keeping them upright. Just today Michelle Young wrote about visiting the Serra sculpture owned by the city of Paris, which is stored outdoors and upright at a municipal depot.

Clara Weyergraf-Serra and Martha Buskirk’s foundational 1990 book, The Destruction of Tilted Arc: Documents WAS Tilted Arc for me, so I FOIA’d Tilted Arc in 2015 because I’d wanted to see where it was, and what happened to it after it was removed. I also wondered if any consideration or analysis had been done relating to Tilted Arc in 2010, when the Jacob Javits Building plaza was being redesigned for the second time. [In 1997 Martha Schwartz’s sinuous bench maze replaced the planters and benches that had been scattered across the original architects’ plinth-with-fountain plaza.] The proposal documents from Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, who was selected for the redesign, did not show any trace of historical review or evaluation of reinstalling Tilted Arc. The focus, if I recall, was on alleviating drainage and ventilation problems in the parking lot under the plaza.

When I went to see Tilted Arc‘s situation in 2015, it was indeed encased in an armature of some kind and wrapped in blue tarp. The warehouse complex felt obscure, but neither secret nor restricted. In the intervening years, development around the site has accelerated. There is a new Wegman’s nearby, and countless condo and office towers. The warehouse next to Tilted Arc‘s storage area is now a microbrewery, with outdoor seating. While I’ve been not disclosing its location all this time, I’ve heard from multiple people of their visits.

When I went yesterday, the tarp was off, the plywood was rotting and covered with fallen leaves. The protective coating that is supposed to cure to a white film when active was not visible to me. While ignoring the decades of Serra conservation experience now accumulated by museums and collectors around the world, GSA appears to not even be following their own basic policies to keep the work intact. Preserving Tilted Arc by clamming up and ignoring it is not working.

Preserve it for what, you ask? Didn’t Serra himself declare it destroyed? The actual answer to that is, yes, no, and we don’t know. In his introduction to The Destruction of Tilted Arc: Documents, Serra quoted his own statement to a 1984 GSA hearing: “I want to make it perfectly clear that Tilted Arc was commissioned and designed for one particular site: Federal Plaza. It is a site-specific work and as such not to be relocated To remove the work is to destroy the work.” To which he added, “This has been accomplished; Tilted Arc is destroyed.”

So if the US Government put it back in Federal Plaza tomorrow, would it no longer be destroyed? What parameters of that site must be specified for Serra to have considered it a viable work again? Did he say? Did anyone think to ask? [Anyone besides me, I mean. In 2015 I suggested to a mutual friend that he ask Richard to at least document his intentions for Tilted Arc, in hope that it might ever be reinstalled some day. I don’t know if he did, but the time when we can’t ask anymore has come.]

print of a GSA photo of Richard Serra’s Tilted Arc, 28 Sept 1986

Tilted Arc was removed because an art-hating judge, a Reagan appointee, and Rudy Giuliani wanted to score political points by destroying something that mattered to people they hated. The people angry at the government for chopping it up and destroying it were wrong; that government dismantled it the same way they installed it—look at those tongue & groove joints, it just slides apart!—and they’ve spent 35 years storing, moving, protecting and conserving the pieces of it.

To what end? Serra shut down the possibility of selling it off; no collector or institution would take a destroyed Serra […unless?] So why take this effort if not to preserve the possibility of reinstalling it? How does that play out? Serra himself was obviously never going to ask for it, but he’s gone now. The GSA seems uninterested to pursue it on their own. So who makes it happen? Are Serra collectors in a Whatsapp group chat right now trying to figure it out? Could you imagine a more fitting monument to billionaires colluding to get the government to do whatever they want than a resurrected Tilted Arc?

Or maybe it’s just a government that does its job, takes care of things, appreciates the arts, recognizes a sculpture’s significance, and creates the opportunity to do something better. The history of Tilted Arc is long, but it bends back toward Manhattan.


Some people wanted to make art in the gap between life and art.

Some people, meanwhile, are interested in the gap between if you move it you destroy it and actually we didn’t cut it up because it has little tongues and grooves and just slots together.

Joshua Smith, Untitled (Forbidden Colors), 2024

joshua smith 1983 just posted this image to his instagram of four elongated parallelogram shaped monochrome paintings leaning to the right, in the colors green, red, black, and white, hung on a white wall with a similarly proportioned parallelogram of sunlight hitting the hardwood floor below. a work titled Untitled (Forbidden Colors), 2024, after a related work from 1988 by Felix Gonzalez-Torres, which is in the collection of MOCA LA.
Joshua Smith, Untitled (Forbidden Colors), 2024, via IG/@joshuasmith1983

Untitled (Forbidden Colors) has been realized again, this time as a work by Joshua Smith. The parallelogram of Los Angeles sunlight coming in might be my favorite thing about this photo, after the work itself. It would be great if it draws out the Felix Gonzalez-Torres original from MOCA’s storerooms, and even better if there can be a stop to the killings in Gaza.

Kankonshi 還魂紙

Usuzumi no Rinji/Reclaimed Paper Imperial Decree, 1333 CE, coll. Toji Hyakugo Monjo, Kyoto Pref.

From Jonathan A. Hill bookseller’s latest catalogue, this entry caught my eye:

An extremely rare example of a Kamakura-era sutra printed in Japan on recycled grayish paper; this is the first specimen we have encountered. For an excellent discussion on the subject of recycled paper used in early Japanese printing, we have turned to the most interesting contribution of SOAS Prof. Lucia Dolce (“A Sutra as a Notebook? Printing and Repurposing Scriptures in Medieval Japan,” Ars Orientalis, Vol. 52, No. 3, 2023):

because of the reclaimed paper, called sukigaeshigami 漉返紙 in the period, and shukushi 宿紙 in contemporary archives, but frankly, this sentence is mostly to not have nested blockquotes. Prof. Dolce:

The term sukigaeshigami 漉返紙 (reclaimed paper) appears often in literary works of the time, indicating paper made by soaking scrap paper and other fibers and then spreading them thinly. This method erased the previous text almost completely. Small traces of ink and even traces of characters remained, for ink dissolves and adheres to paper and it is difficult to remove it completely. This gave paper a light gray, “thin-inked” color (usuzumikami 薄墨紙). Sutra printed on such paper were called shukugamikyō 宿紙経, literally “sutras on reclaimed paper.” Since this type of paper was darker and of lower quality than new paper, it was mixed with a higher-quality paper, such as the silky textured ganpi that lends a glossy appearance, and became luxury paper. A second impression of the Kōei edition of the Lotus Sutra was printed on recycled paper of unknown provenance, which had been mixed with mica.

This next paragraph is part of the quote, too, and the entire reason for posting this, but I couldn’t get it to be bold AND italic:

The understanding that writing is imbued with the spirit of a person underpinned such practices, and it is suggestive that literary works use the term kankonshi 還魂紙 (lit., “paper in which the spirit of a deceased comes back” for sutra paper recycled from someone’s writings. These examples suggest that the preservation of a deceased person’s writing functioned as a primary aim for reusing written paper, for once printed with a sutra, that writing would enjoy long life with no danger of being destroyed (except by accident).

It is worthy of note, though, that reclaiming paper was primarily not an emotional strategy, but a regular operation in premodern Japan. Until the fourteenth century paper recycling was run by a governmental institution, the Kamiya 紙屋, and recycled paper was routinely used by the court for bureaucratic matters, such as imperial messages.

I am transfixed by this idea of text being imbued with the spirit of its writer—a concept which resonates more with calligraphy or handwriting—and of a paper that brings that spirit back. And then to get made into a sutra, never to be recycled again! Yay? Oh no? How does the deceased feel about this? Is it a goal or a trap?

Prof. Dolce notes that reclaiming paper was not emotional, but routine, but was also prestigious. Besides the 14th century CE imperial decree on shukushi Prof. Dolce references in the National Archives in Tokyo, the description of this decree in the Toji Hyakugo Monjo in Kyoto explains that the shukushi used by the emperors was darkened even further to enhance its sacred and majestic character. I don’t know if it mattered what paper or whose writing was reclaimed for this, but this spiritual/ephemeral continuity and embodiment as a material expression of its own is fascinating.

There Is Life after Being Re-Pulped [jonathanahill]
Dolce, L., (2023) “A Sutra as a Notebook? Printing and Repurposing Scriptures in Medieval Japan” [journals.publishing.umich.edu]

Brick House: Glass House Sex House

Exterior of the Brick House at the Glass House, photo: Michael Biondi via Town & Country

As an architecture fan and a survivor of a visit with him to the Glass House, I feel like I can say it is really too bad Philip Johnson was such a Nazi. Because the ancillary content would have been amazing.

It is still so worth checking out Spencer Bailey’s report in Town & Country on the restoration of the Brick House. Though it is right in front of the Glass House, and connected to it underground—it contains all the plumbing and mechanicals that make the Glass House possible—the Brick House has never been open to the public.

Which is not the same as not open to visitors. The Brick House was originally conceived in 1949 as a three-bedroom guest house, but it was quickly remodeled. And as everyone from Frank Lloyd Wright to Andy Warhol to Paul Goldberger readily acknowledge, it was Johnson’s sex shack. And it seems like it was hopping.

The butch boudoir interior has been restored to its 50s Fortuny-draped glory; the library has its uncomfortable number of fascism-related titles; and the halls are filled with regular rotations from Johnson’s collection of modern art. And now it is finally open for visitors, both those who head back to the city before nightfall—Johnson’s favorite kind—and the special ones who stay over. Like the Glass House, the Brick House is available for fundraising sleepovers. The mind reels.

Inside the Brick House, Philip Johnson’s Private Playground [townandcountrymag]
Previously at the Glass House, related; Au Bout de La Nuit

Sling RO/LU Chairs: A Lot

RO/LU Aluminum Rauschenberg Chairs, 2011, Lot 179 in a Patrick Parrish-curated sale 11 Apr 2024 at Wright20

NGL, I chose this among the many great RO/LU lots in Patrick Parrish’s upcoming sale at Wright20 for the headline. Even though I got stuck on the ending.

Matt Olsen calls these Rauschenberg Chairs, because they were realized by one of Robert Rauschenberg’s original fabricators. He was one of the first artist/designers to do a residency at Captiva, too, in 2013. So maybe there was some carefree hammock or sling inspo there on the deck, too; I have not asked.

RO/LU Primarily Primary chair, 2011, fir, textile, rope, image via Patrick Parrish

But I think he took the form with him to Florida. RO/LU showed fir and fur-based sling chairs in late 2011, with ropes holding up a wild felt seat element by Ashley Helvey. Their full title was Primarily / Primary (after Carol Bove, Scott Burton and Sol Le Witt), namechecking three artists that had been on/in their minds while making them.

Scott Burton Marble Armchair, 1987-89, as sold at Rago in 2023

It is unsurprising now, but a refreshing (re)discovery at the time that in exploring the gap between art and furniture, RO/LU would find Scott Burton.

RO/LU, Settee X Three (After BURTON Photo, In Private, Public + Secret), 2012, Lot 169 at Wright20

Which, now that I bring it up, I can’t not post the greatest Burton-referenced piece in the sale, this group of walnut forms called Settee X Three After BURTON Photo (Private, Public + Secret). I’ve been staring at the 360-degree photos, and the pull-aparts of the the four pieces for ages, and still cannot quite process or piece them together.

I first got to know RO/LU as a blog before I got to know them as people, and one of the most amazing things they did was experiment with moving from digital/visual contemplation to real world experience when so much of the culture was trying to do the opposite.

Scott Burton, Granite Settee, 1982-83, coll. DMA, photo: Mary Ann Sullivan via Sight Unseen

So an object (Private) that was produced by eyeballing an old photo of a Scott Burton granite settee at the Dallas Museum, that is temporarily cast in concrete on a Williamsburg sidewalk (Public), and replicated somewhere else (Secret), that you can only understand in person, feels very on the mark.

11 Apr 2024 Lot 179: RO/LU, Aluminum Rauschenberg Chairs, 2011 [wright20]
Lot 169: RO/LU, Settee X Three (After BURTON Photo, In Private, Public & Secret), 2012 [wright20]
2012: RO/LU’s Settee X Three at Sit and Read Gallery [sightunseen]
RO/LU | “Primarily / Primary (After Carol Bove, Scott Burton + Sol Le Witt) Chairs”, 2011 [patrick-parrish]
Previously, related: Scott Burton Marble Armchair