Debuilding Blocks

My interest in the decoupling of the artwork and ownership predates the creation of non-fungible tokens. One work conceived in 2009 is a [sic] jpg of fixed parameters, with varying physical counterparts. One ongoing series, begun in 2014, involves realizing works I own out of objects or situations over which I have no control. Rather than pursue a way to make those works saleable, I use them to consider what art can be if it is not a monetizable, speculative commodity, but perhaps a legal tool for reducing police violence, or an ingrained habit of an entire city.

In her profound essay for the Swedish art magazine Paletten, “The Ghostchain (Or taking things for what they are),” Geraldine Juárez essay looks at the same question from the opposite position. NFTs are the manifestation of assetization, where an artwork–or other object, digital or physical–is considered uniquely for its performance as a financialized asset.

Crypto-fueled hypercapitalization that recreates the divine right of kings on the blockchain is not inescapable, Juárez argues; another future is possible.

But if assets are just made up narratives about the future, perhaps we can create other stories where the value of the future is brought into the present with the intention of decapitalising these chains and make it socially and politically expensive to keep adding blocks in them, until blockchain infrastructures eventually turn into abandoned ghostchains…

Ghosts of private property.

So far, of course, the dematerialization of the art object hasn’t slowed its commodification, or at least the propensity for the art world to art market it. Juárez wrote her essay in reluctant response to David Joselit’s call [pdf] for breaking NFT’s “social contract that values property over material experience.” Joselit’s hope is for “spectatorial generosity,” that looking is enough, the October version of getting paid with exposure. Juárez sees beyond that. Just as right-clicking won’t pay the bills, it also won’t eliminate the incentives for aping. Instead, she argues for decapitalizing, eliminating the returns:

make it socially and politically expensive to keep adding blocks in them, until blockchain infrastructures eventually turn into abandoned ghostchains.

These copies could become a valuable historical document – a decentralised digital monument to the financial impulse of our present time of turning anything into an asset at any cost. A monument for a future where we no longer have time or patience for destructive technologies without social utility.

Whether we lose patience with art’s utility as a means for social exclusion, inequity, and speculation, of course, remains to be seen.

The Ghostchain (Or taking things for what they are) []
NFTs, or The Readymade Reversed [October, pdf]

Chain Thiebaud

Wayne Thiebaud, [Painting from Wimbledon for Sports Illustrated], 1967-68, as reproduced and captioned in 2018 on

I was listening to Tyler Green’s conversations with Wayne Thiebaud the other day, which he combined and reupped on Modern Art Notes after the painter’s death.

Which got me thinking about Tennis Ball, the 1968 painting Thiebaud made at Wimbledon for Sports Illustrated. [Story goes, the art director who’d gotten Matisse to do a cutouts cover for LIFE Magazine had originally approached Thiebaud to make some hockey-related paintings for SI, thinking, ice is white, Thiebaud paints white, but the artist didn’t care about hockey and suggested they send him to Wimbledon instead.]

Wayne Thiebaud, Tennis Ball, 1968, as illustrated in 2010 on

Tennis Ball is only 12 x 12 inches, a nearly perfect, little painting. Turns out it was sold at Sotheby’s, presumably by the family of the art director. The exhibition history and publication history are pretty thin for such a nice painting. And the reproduction, holy smokes. It took me a lot of scrolling and zooming to decide, based on the tiny white fleck of paint in the red border of the bottom edge of the ball’s shadow, that this is, in fact, the same painting. [Thiebaud had told Green that he’d only painted the one, which steeled my resolve.]

It’s low-key wild that the Sotheby’s website for this lot doesn’t even list the dimensions, or the date of the sale. Since Sotheby’s changed ownership, it feels like their sales results pages have been stripped down to tumblr levels of nothingness, and for what? At least if you click on the sale title (Contemporary Day Sale, NY, ofc), you can find out it was November 10, 2010.

Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild (767-2), 1992, shown on the cover of Sotheby’s Nov 2010 day sale

Which is familiar. It was the catalogues for Sotheby’s November 2010 sales, Gerhard Richter’s squeegee painting on the cover, arrived on the table in Cy Twombly’s Lexington, VA studio while Tacita Dean was visiting–and filming.

In her work Edwin Parker (2011), released after Twombly’s death, Twombly and Nicola Del Roscio are seen chatting about works as they flipped through the catalogue that is out of the camera’s view.

Though there is a guffaw, and mention of de Kooning, whose work was listed next to one of them, Twombly seems to have made no comment on the two Twomblys in the sale.

Richard Prince, Untitled (Party), 1995-99, ed. 5.5, lot 348 in Sotheby’s Nov ’10 day sale

“I don’t get– I mean, who would want to put that on the wall?” Twombly says about what must be lot 343, a big neon 99 Cent Dreams work by Doug Aitken.
“I would put that!,” Nicola says.
Twombly snorts.
Nicola laughs, “I like that!”
“That’s Richard Prince.”
“How much is that?”
“18, 12-18,” Twombly replies. “I like that,” Twombly says of the work on the next page.
“You always like those, the dot paintings,” Del Roscio responds. [Lot 350? Damien Hirst.]

Damien Hirst, Bill with Shark, 2008, 3×4 ft oil on canvas, sold in Nov. 2010 for a couple hundred thousand dollars less than it was bought for in 2008.

Dean does not include any reactions to lot 355, a 2008 Damien Hirst titled Bill with Shark. This painting of Bill Gates looking at a Hirst sculpture was based on a photo by Jean Pigozzi, and was originally sold in The Charity Element, the five of 223 works in the artist’s one-man sale at Sotheby’s in 2008 whose proceeds were marked for charities. The half million dollars this painting brought went, pointlessly, to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, whose mission was memorialized in the Sotheby’s press release as “aim[ing] to help reduce inequities in the United States and around the world.” Resold for $278,000, it probably netted the original buyer $200,000, which cost them $300,000 for the privilege of donating to one of the richest men in the world. None of this makes sense, but it does remind me that Melinda Gates divorced her husband last year because she found his explanations of his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein unbelievable and unacceptable. 👀

Ellsworth Kelly, Light Green Panel, 1982, sold at Sotheby’s in Nov. 2010.

The sale also included Ellsworth Kelly’s Light Green Panel (1982), from the awesome series of editions he produced with Gemini GEL. Who ever knows how big a Kelly is without standing in front of it, but these Gemini panels are all adorable-size, like posters that float an inch and a half off the wall. At 42 x 32 in., Light Green Panel are the biggest. Kelly produced them in eleven colors on aluminum panels in five differently sized polygons (only one size per color, though.] In addition to the prototypes, there are 15 or so of each of these panels out there. I would love to have them all, and to see them together again, like at the National Gallery.

7/11 Ellsworth Kelly panels installed at the National Gallery–including on a doorway–in 2015, for The Serial Impulse, a survey of Gemini G.E.L.

Or maybe slightly differently.

Ellsworth Kelly, Green Panel (Ground Zero), 2011, 22 x 49.5 or so, ed. 3+at least 2AC, one of which sold at Sotheby’s in May 2013

Which of course reminded me of Kelly’s 2011 aluminum panel edition, Green Panel (Ground Zero), the shape of which he derived from the NY Times’ aerial photo of the World Trade Center site. The 2003 collage he made and sent to Herbert Muschamp, is now at the Whitney, proposed the World Trade Center site be left as an open field of grass.

Ellsworth Kelly, Ground Zero, 2003, as sent to the NY Times back in the day. via: me

Sturtevant Johns Flag Photobomb

in the Chicago Sun Times photo: Doug Gauman for the Decatur Herald, but reproduced by AP in the Chicago Sun-Times, all via the American Federation of Arts collection at the Archives of American Art via @br_tton

In early March 1969, a sculpture by Marc Morrel of a pillow made of US flags hanging in chains brought the cops to the Decatur Arts Center in central Illinois. The director and president of the board were charged with flag desecration, and the work was confiscated.

The traveling group show, titled, “Patriotic Images in American Art,” was organized by Elizabeth C. Baker, managing editor of Art News Magazine, for the American Federation of Arts, and had been shown in previous venues around the country without incident. @br_tton tweeted the story after finding it in the AFA’s files at the Archives for American Art.

The two men fought the charges as unconstitutional restriction of free speech, but it would be twenty years before another artist, Dread Scott, could get enough judges to agree. But that’s another story.

Because just look at Doug Gauman’s photo for the Decatur Herald’s feature on the exhibition, showing a man looking at “Flag in Chains”: doesn’t that flag in the background look like a Jasper Johns?

And so it should. The AAA file doesn’t have a checklist of the show, but the Herald’s story mentions the title of the 48-star throwback: “Jasper Johns Flag for 7th Ave. Garment Rack.” That Johns flag is by Elaine Sturtevant.

Sturtevant’s 1965 Bianchini Gallery exhibition, featuring 7th Avenue Garment Rack With Andy Warhol Flowers

I don’t have her CR handy, but until now this has been the only image of the works in this show, her first, at the Bianchini Gallery (later the site of Ubu Gallery on East 78th St). But it sounds like this Johns Flag went on a nationwide tour, extended title and all. Now on the internet, for the first time ever!

Marcel Christmas

Photograph of Marcel Duchamp’s stool with Christmas tree, n.d., Katherine S. Dreier papers / Société Anonyme archive, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University

This is not the same stool from the documented second version of Marcel Duchamp’s Bicycle Wheel, so maybe this is the original 1913 version, and maybe when Duchamp was explaining the concept of a Readymade as a Christmas tree on a stool to Katherine Dreier in New York, someone just misheard it as bicycle wheel, and Duchamp just rolled with it. And then he gave her this photo and told her never to tell anyone.

Albrecht Dürer Facsimile Objects Redux

Dürer verso diptych as installed and hyped by the National Gallery, London, via twitter

I cannot emphasize enough how much I did not imagine being at this point in the Facsimile Object universe. An Albrecht Dürer exhibition opened in London at the National Gallery, just as an Omicron tsunami crashes around the world.

I mean, by the museums in Germany and the UK reopened last May, and the Dürer Facsimile Objects in that first diptych were discontinued, I did bleakly anticipate their related Dürers might become unvisitable in person again. I was also naively relieved to not be in the business of selling Tastily Painted Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah pictures. And here we are.

What I did not anticipate, however, was that at a moment when travel restrictions were returning, the National Gallery would title its new Dürer show, “The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Dürer’s Journeys.” And I definitely did not imagine that they’d promote the show using a literal diptych of verso paintings. Why, just look at A Heavenly Body[? A Heavenly Vision?], on the back of the National Gallery (London)’s own St. Jerome; and the Lot and His Daughters painted on the back of National Gallery (DC)’s Haller Madonna, together at the very center of the awkward and weirdly empty exhibition photo up top. We’ve come a long way, and yet we have not.

The thing I’m most appalled by, though, is that despite a 60% jump in COVID case levels since I started *writing* this post, to the highest levels of the entire pandemic, and 10x even New York’s current spike, it appears that the Her Majesty’s Government is dragging their feet on issuing any restrictions, for fear of what impact a negative public reaction might have on Boris Johnson’s hold on power.

Dürer Diptych: Albrecht Dürer Facsimile Objects (D3.38) and (D1), together for the first time, thanks to the omicron variant surging into The Credit Suisse Exhibition

So while previous Facsimile Objects mitigated art encounters you couldn’t have, this new Dürer Diptych based on the National Gallery’s exhibit is meant as a hedge for an experience you shouldn’t have, at least right now. And so, The Credit Suisse Dürer Diptych: Dürer Facsimile Object (D1) A Heavenly Vision is available along with Dürer Facsimile Object (D3.38), The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, a full-size detail of 38% of the original painting, conceptualized last spring when the NGA reopened, that focuses on the painterly joys of fire, brimstone, vegetation, and that brushy, little black pillar of salt that used to be Lot’s wife.

Albrecht Dürer Facsimile Object (D1), 2021, 9 x 6.75 in., dye sublimation pigment on (obv) high gloss aluminum panel, available again, only as part of The Credit Suisse Dürer Diptych

If you think about it, a fiery meteorite crashing to earth and sulfur and fire raining down from heaven go together quite nicely; the apocalyptic symmetry was surely not lost on a young Dürer who, with the year 1500 fast approaching, was already thinking about the end of the world.

Albrecht Dürer Facsimile Object (D3.38), 2021, 9 x 14.5 in., dye sublimation pigment on high gloss aluminum panel, available as part of a Dürer Diptych, or separately, while Omicron rages

[For those who really, really need the full image to stand in front of, try one of the Lot and Daughters Flee The Destruction of Sodom and Gommorah tea towels in the National Gallery shoppe. They’re not to scale and out of stock, but I’m sure they’ll be back soon.]

The National Gallery Dürer Tea Towel, featuring the destruction of Sodom & Gommorah, £8.95

In consideration of those who might have acquired an AD FO (D1) already, AF DO (D3.38) will be available separately. Each Facsimile Object is accompanied by a full-scale, certificate of authenticity handmade in India ink on Arches. ADFO(D1) certificates will be distinct from those produced last spring, as a treat.

If the National Gallery actually does close to slow the spread of COVID, these Facsimile Objects will be available only until it reopens, or until, like with the Vermeers, it becomes official that the show will not reopen. If the National Gallery and its partner Credit Suisse don’t do anything, and just take their couple of days off during Christmas break, I will probably end this futile folly when that becomes clear, either on January 27th, or January 2nd. What a world.

2 January UPDATE: Turns out making shiny facsimiles of paintings or parts of paintings available is not enough to defeat the omicron surge. If only I’d sent them to every house in the UK instead. Or even to every Credit Suisse client.

The Wall (2021) and Pas Twomblu (2021– )

The Wall (2021), dimensions and The Ceiling (2010), installed in the Salle des Bronzes in the Louvre, photographed in Feb. 2021 for the NYT by Dmitry Kostyukov

As 2021 is finally shown the door, I am pleased to announce The Wall, which was next to The Ceiling. The Wall is a Marron Côte d’Azur and Noir painting executed directly on a wall or a discrete section thereof. Even more than the 19th century neo-classicist aesthetic of Napoleon III, who first executed it in his Salle des Bronzes Antiquites, it evokes the historic moment during the pandemic when leaks about the work’s installation drew the litigious ire of The Cy Twombly Foundation.

study for The Wall, 2021, dimensions variable, an altered 150 x 100px svg ganked from a hexcolor website for Marron Côte d’Azur (#A75949)

For a few months this year, the first realization of The Wall was installed alongside–or underneath, really–The Ceiling, Cy Twombly’s ceiling mural at the Louvre. In Napoleon III’s day, the Noir was the display cases. In the 2021 installation, the boundary between the two colors was demarcated by a dado. The composition of future installations may take cues from the space, and condition of the wall and its elements.

While it is available for individual purchase or commission, The Wall will also be free with the purchase of nine other works, as a treat.

There are other works associated with both The Ceiling and The Wall, the details of which are at present insufficient.

A big panel by Yves Klein, painted in International Pas Twomblu, at the Museum of Modern Art

While making The Ceiling, Twombly friend Barbara Crawford and French painters Laurent Blaise and Jean de Seynes joked “that the unique, precise blue for this particular sky, which they’ve spent weeks fine-tuning, should be trademarked and given the name Twomblu.”

According to Grant Rosenberg’s account of this process in The American Scholar, in late 2008, the Louvre produced “several” “big” panels of monochrome blue for color testing during a Twombly site visit. It is not clear what blues these were, but we know what they were not: Pas Twomblu.

Previously, related: Proposte monocrome, gris (2017); International Jarman Blue

‘Destroyed’ Cy Twombly Mural Still There

the Louvre’s Salle des Bronzes as it appeared from 1935 til 2021, with Cy Twombly’s The Ceiling, 2010

There is drama about the Cy Twombly ceiling in the Louvre.

In 2010 Cy Twombly painted a mural on the ceiling– In 2010, a Cy Twombly mural glued to the ceiling of a gallery at the Louvre was unveiled. The 11×30 meter painting is titled The Ceiling, or le Plafond, and it is installed in the Salle des Bronzes.

Even the catalogue essayist noticed that it didn’t look like a Twombly. Maybe because it was painted by assistants in a French studio arranged by Gagosian, after a sketch by the artist1. Twombly said the planet-looking circles against a blue sky are actually references to Greek shields on a background inspired by Giotto, Matisse, or a Japanese print. [Tho lol to a French critic, everything looks like a breast.] The gallery, once part of the 16th century royal apartments, has displayed Greek antiquities since Napoleon, but it contained neither shields nor works by any of the Greek sculptors namechecked on The Ceiling.

Continue reading “‘Destroyed’ Cy Twombly Mural Still There”

Better Read #038 – Artists Sackler Letter

Patrick Radden Keefe reports in the New Yorker that Nan Goldin and her activist organization P.A.I.N. delivered a letter [pdf] from a growing list of contemporary artists to the trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art last month, calling on them to remove the Sackler name from the walls and spaces of the museum. On Wednesday, that is exactly what happened; the Met announced the removal yesterday.

The text of the letter, and its signatories as of November 15, 2021, is read here by a computer-generated voice.

An Astounding List of Artists Helped Persuade The Met to Remove The Sackler Name []
Artist Letter To The Met Trustees [, pdf]

Platinum Facsimile Object (P1), 2021

Study for Platinum Facimile Object (P1), 2021, 4.3 x 3.37 inches, dye sublimation pigment print on aluminum

OK, now it gets kind of interesting. As soon as I saw the short cg animation for the new American Express Platinum Cards by Julie Mehretu and Kehinde Wiley, I thought of two things: 1) the low-key beats and the art-embedded card spinning shinily on its corner remind me of the McRib NFT, and 2) what do you call art printed on small, shiny metal?

On the one hand, to do a Facsimile Object of an AmEx card feels like asking for trouble in ways that not even a Cady Noland-related Facsimile Object could even conjure. And yet it’d be so tasty!

On the other , the dye sublimation print process requires a minimum 4 inches per side, and even art credit cards are 3.37 x 2.125 inches. So I doubled up. Surely no one involved would these mind lifesize-but-make-it-a-diptych Facsimile Objects now.

detail of screenshot from the AmEx twitter promotion, too low-res to cop. also, I’m sure they’ve been members since before 2022?

[An unusual footnote: the public announcement page for American Express’s artist x Platinum cards includes separate jpegs of Mehretu’s and Wiley’s cards, as seen in the study above. Not seen: that the filenames got the artist credits reversed. If I go ahead with it, that glitch is just the kind of thing that gives this project that famous must-buy-now! vibe the kids crave. But after seeing animations of cards with the artists’ own names on the front, it’s hard to settle for Charles F. Frost on a Facsimile Object. And while it would be possible to try to get the artists to scan their own respective card-size works, I would not want to compromise their actual four-digit code there. Most of all, I don’t want my own account canceled.]

Untitled (Heist), 2021

Installation shot, Untitled (Heist), 2021, 96 x 121 in., enamel on plywood panel, documented in Union Square in November 2021 by Hunter MacNair, image via brokeassstuart, thanks @xintra

It has been a while since realizing works like this. Partly, it’s just the world. As Martin Creed says, The Whole World + The Work = The Whole World.

But when it exists, it also feels wrong to ignore it. Untitled (Heist) was recently installed in San Francisco’s Union Square, following a flashmob robbery of several hundred thousand dollars (retail) of merchandise from the Louis Vuitton store.

When Broke Ass Stuart ran this installation shot by Hunter MacNair on their post, “Let’s Talk About The Louis Vuitton Heist,” I first thought it would be a deep dive on the street value of the various items that got jacked.

But BAS instead went deep on luxury-fueled capitalism’s complicity in gaping inequality. And that, along with LVMH’s recent appearances in the art news, seemed like a collab-worthy context in which to encounter this work. Which I imagine will remain on view through much of the Christmas shopping season, at least. Maybe minting it as an NFT would make it last even longer.

UPDATE: As San Francisco Mayor London Breed’s office put it in their review, “I think that’s the visual for where the rule of law needs to make its stand.” [FOIA’d and published by @journo_anon] Thanks for supporting the arts, Your Honor!

Let’s Talk About The Louis Vuitton Heist [brokeassstuart]
Previously, related: Untitled (News Coverage), 2021; Untitled (Trump Plaza Black), 2016

For Sale: Richter Non-Edition, Signed

A print of a Richter painting signed by Richter, for sale at Van Ham for a proposed EUR12-18,000

What is this? The Cologne auction house Van Ham says it is a Gerhard Richter. Kerze is an offset print on aludibond and face-mounted with diasec, so it is produced like a Facsimile Object. But it is signed on the front. There is no CR information, or even a date, but it is described as a benefit edition created for fiftyfifty in Dusseldorf. I vaguely remember that. Sure enough, in 2012, Richter donated 36 signed works to raise EUR300,000 for the homeless support organisation, including both this candle picture and Betty, his iconic portrait of his daughter.

None of these objects appear on the artist’s website, however, and the online gallery is long gone. Except for one snapshot in the Internet Archive. The list includes half a dozen signed posters, and one page from a catalogue, all face-mounted on UV diasec; a leftover signed print from 20,280, a newspaper edition Richter made in the Rheinische Post in 2010; and 5 or 10 copies each of six “Offset Edition (2011) from Tate Modern,” including Kerze, but also Betty, 4.096 Colours, and 100x100cm prints of two of the Cage paintings (4 & 5) that are the stars of Tate’s Richter offering. They sound like gift shop souvenirs, but signed.

Gerhard Richter’s Cage Grid I (2011), an edition of 16 giclée prints that were sold either together or separately at the Tate Modern during Panorama

Of course, that distinction is not so clear cut. Richter made a full-size giclée grid edition of Cage 1, which was also for sale at the Tate’s shop during his 2011 retrospective, Panorama. This all feels like the genesis of Richter’s Facsimile Object project, the experimental soup of form, editioning, signing, and auratic status–and from the artist’s perspective, at least, these fiftyfifty pieces are on the other, autographed side of the work/non-work line. And yet the quasi-canonization of the facsimile objects, and their proliferation in the market, help to make that line less relevant with every passing year.

1 Dec. 2021, Lot 387 | Kerze, Gerhard Richter, est. EUR12-18,000 []
Previously, related: For Sale: Richter Edition, Never Signed
I shall call him Heni-Me

Exhibition Interrupted: Vermeer Facsimile Objects

rendering of Johannes Vermeer Facsimile Objects (V2), (V2.1), and right, (V3), as they might be installed. Note that yes, a different source image means the color levels are slightly different for the Glitch one

I did not want us to need Vermeer Facsimile Objects, but here we are, at least through December 12. [DECEMBER 12 UPDATE: Staatliche Kunstammlungen Dresden has extended the closure of the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, and thus the Vermeer exhibition, through the 9th of January. But the Vermeer show has a hard stop on Jan. 2nd, and so will not reopen? I realized this only in the course of writing this update. Vermeer Facsimile Objects will be available only through tonight, 12/12. Sorry you can’t see the show in Germany, but thank you all for your engagement.]

Continue reading “Exhibition Interrupted: Vermeer Facsimile Objects”

Ceci n’est pas un Bad Magritte

René Magritte, l’Esprit Comique, 1928, 75x60cm, as seen by @jeroenhenneman at the Boijmans in 2017

The only Magrittes I’ve been OK with have been the de Menils’; basically, I trusted their take on Surrealism that included some Magrittes. But otherwise, I’m not really interested.

Except that the other day, on the artist’s birthday, Michael Lobel tweeted this early painting, l’Esprit Comique, from 1928, and I was very glad to see it.

Which is all I can do at this point, because I haven’t found any good writing on Magritte’s work generally, or on these early cut paper motif works from 1928-30 specifically, to understand what the artist was up to.

So all I’m left with is seeing, which is fine. Though a couple of online captions describe these works as cut paper, I think it’s pretty clear that this is all paint. How it’s painted, though, remains a mystery from afar. The way that gorgeous gradient sky peeks through the paper cutouts makes me think of a stencil. Do the edges between the figure and the sky bear that out? Cut paper alone won’t cut it, though, as this 1930 collage-style mess from the Boijmans shows.

Those brushstrokes defining the ground are worth the attention all themselves. Another work in this cut paper series, Annunciation (1930), at the Tate has a more elaborate rocky landscape with crisper contours; I like the simpler one better.

If I’m reading the captions right, this painting belongs to the Ulla and Heiner Pietzsch collection, which is on permanent loan to the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin. So maybe I’ll just wait a bit for him to settle in, and ask Klaus about it.

Twombly, Lucio, Winter Light

Never has the phrase, “Nicht bei Bastian (Not with Bastian)” rung quite so poignantly as in the lot description for this Cy Twombly (sic) edition, which appeared (and did not sell?) at Dr. Andreas Sturie’s auction yesterday in Dusseldorf.

It is a portrait of the artist, in a thick double-breasted topcoat and a somewhat tight hat, serving contraposto while leaning on the heel of a copy of an ancient statue of Castor and Pollux. As he gazes out across the Bay of Naples from the Villa Comunale, the late afternoon sun kisses the cheeks of our three heroes. And it throws a shadow of a figure onto the statue’s base, likely the photographer, likely Lucio Amelio, the Neapolitan avantgardist art dealer in whose gallery Twombly staged back-to-back shows in the winter of 1974-75.

This print served as the exhibition poster for the second show, “Allusions (Bay of Napoli),” of works on paper referencing Orpheus, Dionysus and Narcissus. The artist signed and numbered 80 posters. Twombly always did have beautiful posters, and this one, and they seem to sell just fine as ephemera, so if Bastian doesn’t include them in the CR, NBD.

In 2016 the artist Max Renkel produced a small book titled, Cy Twombly’s Autobiography Hidden in My Collection, in which he rephotographed the portraits the artist chose to include in his many publications–and gallery announcements.

Cy Twombly, Untitled, 1993, oil, crayon and pencil on plywood, 195.5 x 152 cm, Brandhorst Collection, image: plate 120 in the catalogue for the artist’s 1994 retrospective at MoMA. [pdf]

Twombly showed with Amelio seven times between 1972 and 1991, including the first exhibition in Italy dedicated to the artist’s sculptures, in 1979. He also dedicated a painting to Amelio, whose death from AIDS-related illness came in 1994. The painting, Untitled (1993), depicting funereal barges, was formative in the development of the boat motif that occupied the artist’s late work. In a note on a 2008 Tate Paper on Twombly and Rilke, Mary Jacobus wrote,  

Dedicating his funereal boat painting to the gallery owner Lucio Amelio, Twombly approximates lines from [George] Seferis Three Secret Poems, including: ‘Years ago you said, “fundamentally [essentially], I am a matter of light”’ (‘On a Ray of Winter Light’) and ‘The light is a pulse continually slower and slower [ever more slowly] / you think it is about to stop [as though about to stop]’

When it included the painting in the artist’s 1994 retrospective MoMA made no mention of Twombly’s association of the painting with Amelio. Neither was it mentioned on Wooster Street, where Gagosian Gallery debuted the massive, now boat-flecked painting Untitled (Say Goodbye, Catullus, to the Shores of Asia Minor), in coordination with the retrospective. Begun in 1972, the painting had hung unfinished in the artist’s Rome studio for two decades. Its title is a reference to a poem where a man travels home to see his brother, only to learn he’d died. The painting now hangs in the Twombly pavilion at the Menil.

New Dürer Drawing Just Dropped [Again]

Madonna Of The Incredulous Estate Sale Find, image: agnews

“In retrospect, it seems astonishing that Jean-Paul and his daughters did not consider that the work might be authentic.” Ya think?

It is buck wild that in this, the 26th year of Antiques Roadshow USA, an original drawing by Albrecht Dürer would be sold at an estate sale for $30. I guess it was 2016, so only the 21st year? No matter. The point of this wild discovery, reported in The Art Newspaper, seems like a familiar one, like the Giotto in the kitchen, or the Caravaggio in the attic. And I salute the ability of the London dealer Agnews to pitch his Dürer to the Met and the Getty-for, oh I don’t know, how does $50 million sound?–in such an august publication. But there are some weird things about this discovery that make it clear this week’s report is not the definitive version of what happened.

Continue reading “New Dürer Drawing Just Dropped [Again]”