UntitledICE, 2018

UntitledICE, 2018, paint, plywood, reflective tape, installation shot

Last winter I was visiting museums on the Mall a lot in order to write this review/roundup. It was pretty grim going, and I don’t think I was wrong about the mood.

These black cubes appeared along my drive, and I would take note of them, think about them. They had an eye-catching, out-of-place presence and no discernible purpose, which made them feel  of temporary sculpture. They were also alongside a conduit road whose main feature was not slowing you down on your way, which created a tension, if only for the briefest (passing) moment.

Tony Smith, Die, 1968, 400px image via NGA, because I guess any larger scale would have made this jpg a monument.

They made me think of Tony Smith’s Die, obviously, but if anything, that easy association pushed back against my own doing anything with these cubes. They also made me think, though, of Smith’s massive 1967 sculpture Smoke, which, like so much of his work, first came into being as black plywood.

Smoke being built in the Corcoran, 1967, image via Tony Smith Estate

Smith built Smoke in one half of the Corcoran’s atrium while Ronald Bladen built X in the other. Or rather, the Corcoran built Smoke and X for Smith and Bladen. The sculptures were commissions, fabricated by the museum’s carpenters for a three-artist show called, “Scale as Content.” [The third work was Barnett Newman’s Broken Obelisk, which was installed outside, facing the White House and the Washington Monument. The Corcoran ended up owning none of these works.]

construction of Ronald Bladen’s X, 1967, image: royslade.com

Artforum’s retardataire reviewer didn’t like it “as art,” but “Scale as Content” feels pretty on the nose for Smith, who realized Die in six foot steel in 1968 after noodling for six years over a six inch cardboard model. [In 1967 Smith also showed a plywood version of Maze, and published the cardboard version in Aspen Magazine.]

An old photo I have of Broken Obelisk installed for the first time, at the Corcoran Gallery, 1967, via

Anyway, these boxes were not placed where they are for artistic reasons. I finally went to investigate them on foot in January. They’re cover/markers for some infrastructure node, presumably related to the construction staging on the lawn between the Tidal Basin and the Washington Monument. They’re close to crosswalks; maybe they’re hookups for eventual pedestrian crossing signals.

Inside the Black Cube? UntitledICE, 2018, paint, plywood, reflective tape, installation shot

But this is not really the time, and these are not in the place, for benign indifference to the apparatus of the state. In this era of plate readers, wifi sniffers, Stingrays, and ICE raids on pizza delivery guys, these black boxes now feel like–like black boxes. Given what we keep finding out on a daily basis in DC, what could we possibly not know yet? You don’t have to be Trevor Paglen to wonder about the menace of ersatz apparatuses popping up on the major thoroughfares of Washington. Are they some nefarious surveillance system in waiting, or one that’s already at work?

Trevor Paglen, Trinity Cube, on view at SAAM via IG:gregdotorg

The intervening months have also brought Paglen’s Trinity Cube and Rachel Whiteread’s cast voids to town, and so I still pass these cubes and still think. One thing I think a lot about is the point of declaring something a work. Another thing is declaring. Another is a work. Sometimes, during a year of wondering if I’m rationalizing, I wonder if the reflexivity, the impulsion, the emptiness of these things are reasons in themselves. Emptiness as Content.

As Tony Smith said about Die: “This is a complicated piece. It has too many references to be coped with coherently.”

On Meeting Susan Weil

Susan Weil in her studio in Williamsburg, Sept 2018. image: me, via artnews

Though we have emailed several times over the years that I’ve researched her and her first husband’s work, I finally met Susan Weil a couple of weeks ago, and it was awesome. The occasion was the first US show in nearly 40 years of sculpture by her late (second) husband, Bernard Kirschenbaum, which is currently at Postmasters Gallery. Weil discussed Kirschenbaum’s work, and their life together, and her work, and it was great. Our conversation was just published on ARTNews, so go check it out:

[W]e’re used to the idea of calling what he did as sculptural now, because we’ve come through Minimalism, and the artist’s mark, and having things fabricated, but at the time, that was still largely unheard of: that you could order a sculpture. That you could have something fabricated in a shop, and it would be a sculpture. Did he think about that much, or was it not a concern for him?

Well, it wasn’t that way with him, because he wanted to be a part of every step of it. He didn’t order something and then it came. He worked in all the materials, in the actual welding, and finishing, and this, that, and the other. He had to know everything about how things were made. No, he had a beautiful vision.

‘A Beautiful Vision’: Artist Susan Weil on the Work of—and Her Life With—Bernard Kirschenbaum, Her Poetry, and More [artnews]

More, Please, About Lorenzo Cremonini’s Palazzina Corticella

Lorenzo Cremonini’s Palazzina, c. 1970s, via gmaps

It will give you a clue about how old the folder is if I tell you my collection of riot gear photos is called Kiev Shields. Alas, it is ongoing. And this report about Bolognese police with clear plastic shields facing off against housing rights activists led me to this rundown of the various empty buildings in Bologna that have been occupied by squatters and protestors, including the amazing modernist house? above, on via Corticella.

the via Crespi side of the Palazzina, with that great face, and before they installed the horrible external AC units. I mean, come on. image via gmap

The information on it is maddeningly slight. It is apparently from the 70s, and by the architecture professor Lorenzo Cremonini. It has three levels above ground, plus at least a garage below. It is 200 m^2, around a 60/90/50 split, and from the outside, it feels too proscribed to be anything other than a house.

the rear facade, with its own giant sunset? sunrise? image via gmap, obv

It is apparently privately owned, so though it has been a library in recent years, then a daycare center/preschool, it was not a public building. While it was for sale for many years, it was empty when protestors briefly occupied it in March 2016. As of this past spring, it apparently houses a co-working space called Voxel.

o ti amo, palazzina mia! image: zero.eu

Besides its simple, cantilevered concrete slab construction, its most distinguishing feature is obviously its supergraphic tile skin, which is fantastic at every angle. VERY of the period, yet somehow intact. That gigantic concrete canopy feels slightly too big. (Oh, but maybe not from the back, as in the photo above!) The curved section that forms the terrace railing sometimes feels like it should have been straight. Or does tile make it work? So it’s not perfect, it’s awesome.

Except for some boring  presentation clips on Voxel’s facebook page, the only interior shot I have found so far is maybe this video of riot police raiding the place? Or nah, doesn’t that seem like an other library, plus the date’s wrong. Still low-key amazing how throwback the Bologna riot police are.

From the unhelpful articles I’ve found, it does seem to be “known” as the Palazzina, but I just can’t say for sure. The absence of almost any info about the building, or Cremonini, is shocking, not the kind of thing I’d come to expect in these internet days. I feel like his 1992 book, Colore e Architettura, might have more information, but it is in Italian, and in Italy. So it will have to wait a little longer.

After Giacometti

Octagonal caryatid table by Diego Giacometti, 1983, sold by Hubert de Givenchy and Philippe Venet in 2017 for EUR3.7m. image: christies.com

In the 80s Hubert de Givenchy and his partner Philippe Venet commissioned Diego Giacometti to make furniture and stuff for a house they bought in BF France, 2 hours southeast of Paris. Last year they sold a bunch of it at auction, 21 lots, including three of the bronze tables above, which have carytids sticking up from all the legs. Together the three tables sold for EUR 11 million, almost a third of the total sale, which is sort of bonkers. But that’s not important now.

a Giacometti table in front of a painting by someone, who really knows who at this point, image via habituallychic

In this month’s Architectural Digest, after Givenchy’s passing, there are reminiscences from Venet and a bunch of their friends, including this:

[PHILIPPE] VENET: Hubert asked, “Why don’t we have some Giacometti?” We had just sold our chalet in Megève—I was a very good skier and served in a mountain patrol during my military service—so I said, “Why not?” When Christie’s auctioned our Giacomettis [in 2017], we had a ferronnier make us a copy of the octagonal table. There are many homemades at Le Jonchet: a “La Fresnaye,” a “Picasso” that Hubert drew. After selling the big Joan Miró in his atelier to the Pompidou, I told him, “We must make a Léger.” So we did a collage together.

[MOMA TRUSTEE MERCEDES] BASS: It’s very hard to tell the difference between their works and the real things, though they never copied; they made renditions. Most were wonderful collages: Hubert and Philippe would prepare the backgrounds, then cut the paper and create a collage of a painting.

AD captions this like it’s the replacement table, but this same photo shows up in that pre-auction HC post, so who knows? And if you can’t tell the difference… image:architecturaldigest.com

I love this have your cake and eat it, too, sell your tables and paintings and make them again–and still have people describing it in these equivocating terms about copies and renditions. Givenchy studied at the Beaux Arts, and his obituary in The Guardian described his retirement from fashion with, “He had long since set up an alternative life as an ‘amateur d’art.'”

If I’m reading AD’s caption right, that’s Givenchy’s Picasso on the left. The smaller Picasso behind it looks like Twombly’s Picasso, tho, so who knows? image:AD

So if your question is, would you rather have a Giacometti table in your chateau, or a remoulade Giacomettian table in your chateau and EUR33 million, my question is, how close do you need to get to the table?

Lights and Mirrors at Eileen Gray’s E-1027

Entry light at Eileen Gray’s E-1027

On a first visit to Eileen Gray’s masterpiece e-1027 since its restoration (still in progress), I was impressed by the details as much as the overall design. Gray’s house on the sea at Roquebrune Cap Martin, built in 1929 on the far side of Monaco, isn’t perfect, but it is extremely well thought through and basically marvelous.

The lights stood out. The front door, which is sort of a back door, and a patio where dinner was sometimes served.

Eileen Gray light fixture originally over Jean Badovici’s desk at E-1027

The lower bedroom for Jean Badovici, or for guests, which had this interesting construction over where his desk would be (the desk is out to improve circulation in the tiny space, which felt small even with just the six people on our tour.). In addition to light, the fixture was positioned to mirror and double the view of the Mediterranean from the bed. This use of mirrors and reflectivity is a feature throughout the house.

Mirror for shaving the back of one’s head, by Eileen Gray for Jean Badovici at E-1027

like I said. This shaving mirror in the corner of Badovici’s room has a light embedded, and another mirror on an articulated, chrome-plated arm, at Badovici’s request, so he could shave the back of his head. It’s a style that’s come around again.

These fixtures are all replications; the first and third pieces were long lost, but the original overhead light was stolen, probably to order, in 2003.

A Brief History of Blogging About America Imprisoning Children, 4/X

You’d think that as a parent, I’d be less surprised by now at the constant discoveries of the extent of my own ignorance.

And yet.

Last night, while surfing through the archive of the War Relocation Authority’s nearly 7,000 photos of WWII Japanese American internment camps for “furniture,” [right, I know.] I was confused by the number of search results that included George Nakashima and his daughter Mira.

 

Mira spends a lot of time with her father in the workshop, has learned to use a hammer, drill, end plane, scorns miniature tools.” image, Gretchen Van Tassel, via UCB

The internment camps only imprisoned Japanese Americans on the west coast; Nakashima, modernist woodworking master, lived in New Hope, Pennsylvania, so he should’ve been totally unaffected.

But then, these Nakashima photos, which are all from 1945, have captions like, “The Nakashimas, formerly of Seattle and Minidoka.”

As if anyone is from Minidoka.

And it’s only then that I looked at Nakashima’s bio, and sure enough, the architect, his wife Marion, and his newborn daughter were expelled from Seattle and detained at Minidoka, Idaho in the Spring of 1942. It was only through the protracted petitions of Antonin Raymond, an architect and former employer, that the Nakashimas were able to leave the camp for Raymond’s farm in New Hope.

The picture above, by WRA photographer Francis Stewart, shows George Nakashima at Minidoka in the Fall of 1942, “Constructing and decorating model apartment to show possibilities using scrap materials.” Which, just. Wallpaper made from bookpages and blueprints and a proto-Conoid table made from prison scraps. This room should be in the Smithsonian.

The irony, if that’s the right word, is that it was at Minidoka that Nakashima met Gentaro Hikogawa, an issei hotel manager three years older than he, who’d immigrated from Shikoku to Tacoma. Hikogawa was also a master carpenter, who taught Nakashima Japanese joinery and rural handtool techniques that formed the foundation for Nakashima’s philosophy and later innovations.

Speaking of which, here are two photos of 3-yo Mira Nakashima posing next to two beds her father made, one for her, and one for her doll, in her bedroom in New Hope.


War Relocation Authority Photographs of Japanese-American Evacuation and Resettlement, 1942-1945
[oac.cdlib.org]

[Originally published on Daddy Types on September 3, 2012, as George Nakashima and His Family Moved To New Hope in 1943]

Liz Deschenes Rates (Frames per Second) at Miguel Abreu Gallery

Liz Deschenes, Rates (Frames per Second), 2018, installation view at Miguel Abreu Gallery, image via CAD

Liz Deschenes’ current show at Miguel Abreu–both of them–is titled, Rates (Frames per Second). Deschenes’ series of photograms relate to the chronophotographic studies of motion of Étienne-Jules Marey.

The variously reflective texture of the photosensitive paper on display, coupled as the show unfolds with the widening individual panels comprising the works, affords a subtle sensation of gradual embodiment.

It’s interesting that the installation apparently culminates in the human-scale panels, because I assume you have to walk back out of the gallery, too.

In any case, they look gorgeous as usual, and the variations of widest ones even look baroque, relatively speaking, of course.

UPDATE: I have since heard that the works do not have an implied narrative. And that perhaps if there’s a sense of culmination in experiencing the show, it’s as much the 10 windows in the space, a found 10fps as any of the photogram series. This site specificity has now landed the show on my IRL list

The show(s) are up through June 17, and available for online viewing [miguelabreugallery.com via Contemporary Art Daily, h/t @briansholis]

 

 

On Some Historical Objects Relating To George Washington

St Paul’s Chapel celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2016. image: trinitywallstreet

Built in 1766, St. Paul’s Chapel is the oldest public building in New York City and has been in continuous operation for over 250 years. When its sister parish Trinity Church (built 1698) burned down in 1776, St. Paul’s Chapel served as the primary place of worship for the likes of George Washington while Trinity was rebuilt. This august, historic, sacred space contains one of the two earliest public depictions of The Great Seal of The United States, of which visitors to this site have so recently read.

And St. Paul’s Church is also the place where my critique of the impertinent treatment and presentation of The Great Seal gets laughed out of town like a mobbed up president’s stooge claiming attorney-client privilege.

The Great Seal of the United States painting and friends, St Paul’s Chapel c.2013, image: pastinthepresent

Behold the wide shot of the painting of The Great Seal hanging in its original spot, over the Washington Family Pew (reconstructed to some non-original spec, apparently some time after the radiators went in), and sandwiched in between World Trade Center Relief Swag exhibitions made of PVC jungle gym and clip-on tracklights? Are these original, historic exhibition fixtures made by first responders in October 2011?

#neverforget? no problem! what is this? c. 2013, image via pastinthepresent

Is it still there? Because this photo was taken in 2013 by historian/blogger Michael Lynch. So maybe it’s gone? I honestly don’t know whether to scream or ask for their fabricator’s contact info, whether to help one of the richest parishes in the country Kickstart some proper vitrines or take a vow to never show work again without a PVC kiosk.

But Professor Lynch is not through. He also went to Federal Hall, the site (but not the building) of George Washington’s inauguration on April 30, 1789. I have stood on the porch of Federal Hall. I have seen a musical version of the life of JP Morgan performed on the steps of Federal Hall. I have gone to the gym many times across the street from Federal Hall, but somehow I have never been inside Federal Hall.

Fragment of Federal Hall 1.0 Balcony on view at Federal Hall 2.0, c. 2013, image: pastinthepresent

So I have not known about the slab of the balcony from the original Federal Hall, which is on display there. The National Park Service calls it a balcony, but looking at this engraving of Washington’s inauguration, I might call it a loggia.

Federal Hall, Seat of Congress, 1789 engraving by Amos Doolittle of Washington’s inauguration, image via wikipedia

Anyway, despite being the site of the 1st Congress, the formation of the United States, the adoption of the Bill of Rights, and Washington’s inauguration, Federal Hall went back to being City Hall when the capital decamped to Philadelphia in 1790. And then New York City tore that place down in 1812 when they built their new City Hall.

Pay no attention to the little cart behind the blue curtain. Also, elevator out of service, probably. image: intro-ny

Fragments of the building were saved, including this piece of brownstone from the loggia, which apparently went on display at Bellevue Hospital until it was returned in 1889, for the centennial. And it was given a coat of concrete, so they could carve it. And it was put in a frame on little wheels so it could be rolled around. Oops, it broke. At least now we can see the actual stone under the concrete skin, the part where the concrete repair came off also.

Here is a concrete-coated-and-carved piece of stone which you can barely see the original of, which used to be on the building here, till we tore it down, and anyway, George Washington probably stood on this to found our country. Or near it, it’s really hard to say. But this is how we do, and it apparently always has been.

fragment of the balustrade of the original Federal Hall where G. Washington was inaugurated, painted wrought iron, later oak base, collection: NYHS

Fragments of the building were saved. In a minute I have found another: the balustrade of the balcony where Washington was inaugurated. It, too, went to Bellevue, where it was incorporated into a portico. Perhaps this stone was, too? Anyway, in 1883 the balustrade went to the New York Historical Society, where it remains. [Interesting. A 1917 catalogue of Old New York views distinguishes between the NYHS and Bellevue balustrades.] It is positively lyrical. Was it by Pierre l’Enfant, who was commissioned to renovate Federal Hall in 1788? Yes. It is dated 1788-89. Thirteen arrows. Wrought iron painted yellow-gold. The New York Historical Society was headquartered in Federal Hall in 1809 and took the city’s donation of some of the original furniture.

fragment of a painted silk flag flown at George Washington’s inauguration, Apr. 30, 1789, collection: NYHS

And back to painting. Here is a fragment of a flag flown at Washington’s inauguration. It is about four inches square, paint on silk, with part of the word PRE[sident] visible.

I don’t yet know what to do with this information and these objects, but it must be something.

Previously, related:
Untitled (George Washington’s Coffin), 2016–
This window from Hanford is being sold as ‘Manhattan Project Glass’
The hydrogen gas generators of Prof. Thaddeus SC Lowe’s Union Army Balloon Corps

44 America: David Hammons’ House Of The Future & America Street, 2007-2017, 2018

David Hammons & Albert Alston, House of the Future, 1991, photographed in 2006 by ksenia_n

In 1991 the artist David Hammons was invited by Mary Jane Jacobs to create a site-specific work in Charleston, South Carolina for a new, visual arts program linked to the Spoleto Festival. Jacobs had patterned the exhibition, “Places With A Past”, after the Skulptur Projekt Münster. Spoleto founder Gian Carlo Menotti hated the whole thing; the exhibition divided the board and got the director fired (he came back a couple of years later, after Menotti quit), but the show’s art historical reputation has only grown.

That said, Hammons’ is the only one of 61 installations left standing, thanks in large part to his early decision to collaborate with Albert Alston, a local builder, who seems to have maintained and championed the work over the ensuing 27 years.

Hammons and Alston built House Of The Future on a vacant, city-owned lot on Charleston’s segregated East Side using architectural fragments and materials from renovation and demolition projects nearby. It is a 6×20-foot teaching model of Charleston’s signature style, with labels for each component. At some point, a young, local artist used the ground floor as studio space, and Alston oversaw other public programmatic uses. On the back of the House, Hammons painted a quote from African American writer Ishmael Reed:

The Afro-American has become heir to the myths that it is better to be poor than rich, lower class than middle or upper, easy going rather than industrious, extravagant rather than thrifty, and athletic rather than academic.

[Though Reed gets–and takes–credit for the quote, it seems that it actually originates with musician/composer/sociologist Ortiz Walton. Reed quoted Walton’s critical history of cultural exploitation, Music: Black, White & Blue in a 1973 review for Black World Magazine. Reed & Walton seem to have been frequent collaborators and interlocutors, so maybe this is one more of those Hammons/Alston situations. In any case, the quote itself was criticized by some in the community, and it has disappeared and reappeared from the wall of House Of The Future with various repaintings. According to an unrelated 1995 lawsuit by a disgruntled muralist, though, it was integral to the community’s embrace of the installation that helped preserve it after the Spoleto Festival ended.]

Oh, say, can you see?

At some point after the May 1991 opening of “Places With A Past”, Hammons’ second element was realized kitty corner from House of The Future. America Street is a small, grassy bump of a park on another vacant lot, where Hammons’ iconic African American Flag flies from atop a 40-foot pole. A black and white photo of a group of children looking up, as if at the flag, filled a sidewalk-scale billboard that had previously featured ads for liquor and Newports. From this 1996 account of the Spoleto fallout over “Places With A Past”, it sounds like the works survived some entropy, if not straightup neglect. But both the flag and the picture have been replaced over the years.

Hammons’ America Street, January 2017
Detail of David Hammons’ America Street, 1991, a billboard photo of local kids looking up, img: gsv, jan 2017

I have not visited Hammons’ piece(s), except in Google Street View. The first thing I noticed was they differed in appearance from the historical photos. I realized GSV’s own decade of historical imagery is useful here, for marking the changes this tiny house and its neighborhood have undergone.

Clicking through the changes wrought by time on a piece of Southern vernacular architecture, I immediately thought of the work of my late neighbor, the photographer William Christenberry. He would travel back to his native Alabama year after year for decades, photographing the same houses, churches, and stores, usually documenting their deterioration and subsumption by kudzu.

William Christenberry, Red Building in Forest, Hale County, Alabama, 1983, image: Hemphill

What I was seeing in Hammons’ and Alston’s piece was the opposite: a structure built from the castoffs of renovation and gentrification, surviving thanks to a small but persistent maintenance effort. And through it all, year in and year out, no matter the storms or racial strife that battered some other flags in South Carolina, Hammons’ star-spangled banner is still there.

In the spirit of Christenberry, I decided to make some historic GSV printsets [prints of screenshots; GSV is a screen medium] of Hammons’ and Alston’s House Of The Future and America Street. I’ve followed Christenberry’s format, but I’m skipping the traditional photographer’s approach of making editions of a bajillion in a thousand sizes. Each set of 7-9 images is printed small (8×10 in.), in an edition of 2, plus 1 AP: one for you, one for the museum, one for me. Because srsly, why overthink it? If anyone actually wants to buy them, I turn into some kind of crazed Amazon artworker pick&packing prints all day? Hard pass right now, thanks. If you don’t move in time to get it, just make your own.

All the pics are after the jump.

Continue reading “44 America: David Hammons’ House Of The Future & America Street, 2007-2017, 2018”

Untitled (A Painting For Two Rooms By Cactus Cantina), 2017

Untitled (One Painting For Two Rooms By Cactus Cantina), 2017, cornflower blue and green wall paint, landscape painting (framed), charcoal, dimensions variable, installation view

I am pleased to announce that a work I thought was gone has perhaps come back on view in Washington, D.C. The title, obviously, is derived from Gerhard Richter’s 1971 work, Two Sculptures for a Room by Palermo (below). But its creation, including all the vagaries involved, are inspired directly by Palermo’s work and practice.

Gerhard Richter, Two Sculptures for a Room by Palermo, 1971, plaster & wood, painted, in ochre room, image:gerhard-richter.com

Talking about his late student in a 1984 interview with Laszlo Glozer, Joseph Beuys said:

I believe that one of the most important things for art–and he knew it too–is the behavior of people in general. The way people live, the way they live in their space. The way people live was very important for him. The way they inhabit, the way they live, what chairs they sit on, or what they have around them, what they stuff into themselves.

Untitled (One Painting For Two Rooms By Cactus Cantina), 2017, cornflower blue and green wall paint, landscape painting (framed), charcoal, dimensions variable, installation view

I’d seen the painting first (what they have around them), but it was that charcoal (the way they live) and the horizontal blue passage on the upper left that made the work come into being (the way they inhabit). But that was last year.

Beuys again:

Well, if I could, I would say one should perceive his works like a breath. They have something of a breath about them, a breath that vanishes…One ought to see his paintings more like breath that comes and goes, it has something porous, and it can easily vanish again. It is also highly vulnerable. Vulnerable, say, like a cornflower: when you out it into light, it fades very quickly. So one has to perceive that breathlike being as an aesthetic concept and not as a solid structure…

I still don’t know whether to post these matters, or whether it differs from filing it away, or from seeing it, or thinking it. I mean, it’s posted now because the house where this was installed last year came back on the market, with the same listing photos, and I saw them again. But what changes? Is the work still there? Would it matter if it is or isn’t? Does it matter what that crappy little painting even is?

Which seems as good a time as any to mention another work from last year, which I intentionally didn’t post, to see what it was like.  Does it change now? Now that situation has been moved out and gut renovated for sure? Now that I can search for it in a different dialogue box? Now that someone else can, too?

Untitled (Macomb Wall Painting), 2017, eggshell finish paint, painting hook, est. 36×40 in., installation view

For me the value lies in the wonder, the fleeting marvel, the tiny layers of history, of how some people lived overlaid with how other people staged. So I’m good.

Previously, related: http://greg.org/archive/2016/01/29/untitled-border-2016.html
http://greg.org/archive/2016/05/27/monochrome-house.html

Untitled (We Privatized All Of Versailles), 2017

cohen_versailles_carpet_vogue_700px.jpg
Installation shot: Untitled (We Privatized All Of Versailles), 2017, embroidered carpet, est. 4m x 3m, ed. 15+3 or so AP, installed at l’Orangerie, Palais de Versailles, May 2017, image: vogue.com


Yesterday was a rough day to be a human being. Turning to art as a supposed respite from the outrages and insanities of the culture swirling around us proved only somewhat effective. Not in a position to handle the news of the day, I turned to the injustices and emotions wrought by Vogue.com’s freshly published, half-baked writeup of a wedding four months past.

The couple, profligate European randoms, heirs to immense enough fortunes but seemingly bereft of wisdom or self-awareness, are made to sound like they think they invented the seven figure wedding. The illogics and contradictions of the narrative continued to bug me across the day: Kim & Kanye were not permitted to have their wedding in Versailles, and were forced to settle for a rehearsal dinner in l’Orangerie, but this former Lanvin intern is so well connected, she could pull it off? Except weddings are not permitted in public buildings in France, so they either had a stealth ceremony, in which case, are they legal? Or they got married in the mairie like everybody else, and had a little religious after-thing, followed by dinner, in one of the five event rental spaces at Versailles: l’Orangerie.

And the bride didn’t have time to get shoes made, but she had time to fill the 156-meter long gallery with a rug, custom embroidered with an Erté-inspired design from the invitation. [Except she did get shoes made. And I have been staring at this rug, and is it really embroidered or just printed?]

On the bright side, karmically speaking, May 28th was brutally hot in Paris, 32 degrees, 12 degrees above average, so all 450 guests had to schlep from the entrance of Versailles, out across the garden, down the 100 Steps, and then double back, a 20 minute trip, in eveningwear, only to reach the historic greenhouse spaces that could not be air-conditioned because of “legalities.” [The bride said the forecast had been for rain. Think about that for a second.]

But back to that rug. It is now my second textile work, with each repeat of the rug design comprising a separate example from the edition. Let’s chop that thing up. Like those wheelie-marks-on-plywood paintings Aaron Young made at the Armory that one time, with the motorcycle gang. Or maybe the proper reference are the verre églomisé mural panels Jean-Théodore Dupas designed for the grand salon of the SS Normandie, an indeterminate number of which were salvaged and dispersed when the great French ocean liner burned and sank in New York harbor in 1942.

dupas_normandie_panels_the_met.jpg
History of Navigation reverse gilded glass panels from the SS Normandie, 1934, collection/image: the met


Anyway. 156m space, 450 guests, two tables, 110 meters long, 12 meter wide space, 3m wide rug, maybe 4m repeat? We may have lost a few sections when the wedding couple processed their horses down the aisle.

The happy couple gets one, of course, and the calligrapher, and the fashion show producer/wedding planner. Probably set aside one each for the parents, who, though presumably footing the bill, go entirely unmentioned. I’m going to err on the side of caution and say it’s an edition of 15, with 3 or so APs.

I’d probably have a slightly easier time getting a hold of the rug if I held off posting this, but I’m fine to let it play out.

the wedding write-up and slideshow [vogue]
the calligrapher/graphic artist who did the invitation which was adapted for the carpet [stephaniefishwick.com]
previously: Untitled (I Can See Russia From My House), 2017

Untitled (Boxwood Maze), 1967/2017

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Tony Smith, Maze, 1967/2014, steel units 7×10 feet and 7×5 feet, installed at Matthew Marks LA
When it was first shown at Finch College Gallery in 1967, Grace Glueck said Tony Smith’s The Maze “evokes the feeling of an endless forest.”
When he published it in Brian O’Doherty’s editions 5+6 of Aspen: The Magazine in a Box, Smith said it was “a labyrinth rather than a monument,” and gave anyone who wished permission “to reproduce the work in its original dimensions (in metal or wood).
I would now like to tie it all together by giving anyone who wishes permission to reproduce The Maze in its original dimensions in fake boxwood hedge walls.
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Most off-the-rack fake boxwood hedge walls are eight feet tall and often include a fake planter base. Most are also 15 inches thick. A real fake boxwood hedge wall The Maze will observe Smith’s original specifications, and use fake boxwood hedge walls seven feet high and 30 inches thick. Two will be five feet long, and two will be ten. They should not have a planter base.
There are many fake boxwood hedge wall solutions providers out there, but might I suggest you consider Make Be-Leaves, who already seems 3/4 of the way there with the 7-ft walls above?
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fake UV boxwood hedge plantscape…
Among their many successful installations is this fake boxwood hedge plantscape on the CPK vu terrace of a Madison Avenue real estate investment firm. And yet it manages to be only the second greatest fake thing in sight. What the actual f.
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… with a fake Koons balloon dog made from, what, garbage bags [?], image: makebe-leaves.com
And here I thought I’d end this post with the Tony Smith Die made out of fake rock veneers.
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The Maze, (1967/XXXX), Tony Smith [greg.org]
The Maze Collection
Previously, shockingly related Tony Smith moment: The Allure of Permanence
Not related: Jon Rafman stickin’ his VR in a flimsy astroturf hedge maze [thestar, thx @briansholis]
Aall thanks go to @ftrain, whose tweet of an aerial photo of a Google corporate event was filled with an extravagant architecture of fake boxwood hedge walls.

The Richard Serras Of Friendship Heights

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If you’re wondering who the one person was who went to the mall in Chevy Chase, to the J. Crew store Monday, it was me. And I was only picking up a catalogue order.
And marveling at the giant [signed!] Richard Serra Torqued Spirals exhibition poster from Gagosian, c. 2003, one of two constellations of highly curated posters and prints lining the staircase.
I contemplated the state of the brick&mortar retail industry, making a note to watch the liquidation auctions for a deluge of contemporary art ephemera when the reaper comes for J. Crew. And figuring if the swag doesn’t turn up, we’ll know the store designers who fantasy-shopped it all together have absconded with it in lieu of severance.
Just as I was thinking, this poster was my most unexpected Serra sighting ever, I stepped outside, and found this, in the garden of the condos across the street.
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I approached to take a photo, and the carefully calculated elevations of the lawn revealed the bottom quarter of the Cor-Ten slab. If only he’d added a water feature, I bet Tilted Arc would still be standing.

Picasso / Breton Photomural @ Art Basel

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We haven’t had a good, old-fashioned photomural post on here for a while, and I’m kind of crazy with work and stuck with writing, so I won’t get into it now. But Galerie 1900-2000’s booth at Art Basel this year features a sweet photomural blowup of Andre Breton’s living room as a backdrop for a Dora Maar portrait Picasso gave him. Very nice. [image via Benjamin Westoby for Artsy]
Previously, related architectural photomurals: Barcelona Pavilion photomural for Craig Ellwood’s 1966 Mies van der Rohe show at LACMA
Stephen Shore photomurals or ‘architectural paintings’

John Cage’s Stony Point House

After he was booted from his white-on-white-on-white loft when the Bozza Mansion was torn down, John Cage kind of drifted for a while. Apparently it was hard to find a good deal on a great space in Manhattan in 1954 [when you had no money.]
So for a while, Cage moved to The Land, one of the names for the pseudo-commune/art colony started by Paul & Vera Williams on 116 acres in Stony Point, Rockland County, NY. Paul was an architect friend of Cage’s from Black Mountain College, and he’d purchased the property after inheriting some money.
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I don’t know why, but I’d always assumed Cage and the other The Land folks lived in little cottages. Not quite. It turns out Williams, a student of Breuer, created some classically modernist boxes.
The first pictures I’ve ever seen are in Brendan W. Joseph’s 2016 book, Experimentations: John Cage in Music, Art, and Architecture, which goes into some detail on the development of The Land and its surprising impact on Cage and his work.
Cage shared a building, a duplex, with the Williamses. He lived in 1 or 2 rooms on the left in the image above, separated by a stone wall he and Vera built. It looks quite nice, if simple, a bit like the Black Mountain College buildings everyone built together. Indeed, from Joseph’s account, it sounds like Williams was hoping to recapture some of that BMC mojo with his co-op experiment.