FS: Wall, Dreams

It’s hard to imagine that the cheapest real estate listing in Georgetown still feels overpriced.

A wall was listed for sale yesterday, for $50,000. If the dimensions, 22 square feet, are accurate, that is $2,273/sf, more than twice the going rate for premium renovated townhouse space.

Of course, the difference is, there’s no space here; 22sf is the entire lot [sic] and structure [sic]. The wall is solid brick. It’s a one-foot wide party wall that used to belong to some building that got torn down and replaced by a 1980s bank parking lot. And yet, it does not belong to the bank.

This seeming surveyor’s error of a property barely justifies the term, and yet, there it is.

“Own a piece of Georgetown. This wall located at 30 and M NW. The opportunities are limitless,” the listing hilariously lies.

What opportunities exist for the owner of this wall? The opportunity to abide by centuries of law regarding party walls, for one. So you could you tear it down and build a 1×22 foot, three story fish tank, as long as it doesn’t pose any risk to the house next door.

You could paint a mural on it—the wall is fairly visible from Georgetown’s main drag, M Street—if you wanted the opportunity of subjecting yourself to the nitpicky conservative tastes of the Old Georgetown Board, which advises the federal Commission on Fine Arts, the bodies which review basically any construction, sign, or visual art proposal that is visible from these historic streets. If it were possible or profitable to paint or wrap something on the wall, I’m sure the current owner would be doing it.

I think the most realistic opportunity is for the owner of the neighboring townhouse to buy it for something between $50,000 and a dollar.

[Morning After, How Could I Have Been So Wrong? Update: The Wall will be the site of limitless radical and innovative visual experience, commissioned from the most daring artists, advertising agencies, political actors, and hypebeasts, which are presented regularly to the Old Georgetown Board for review and disapproval. Proposals for The Old Georgetown Billboard will be performed as part of the public discourse. Renderings will circulate in the stakeholder community, and will be collected online as a visual archive. For IRL visitors, Augmented Reality technology will provide scintillating, sponsored spectacle. This joint is about to go from an orphaned party wall to a global wall party. Let the bidding commence.]

[Week After Update: Artist Michelle Banks posted a deep dive on The Wall from Georgetown Metropolitan on Bluesky, and guess what, it’s messy, and kinda shady!]

[7/25: The Washington Post writes around my proposal like I’m not even here. The ignominy. Also, the seller of the wall, who has a $2.14 basis [!] is like, I didn’t rub two brain cells together to come up with this price. He really should just give the wall to the neighbor at this point. This whole thing is messy and hilarious af. Let this site eventually memorialize what might have been.]

related: ‘Too big, too bold’: No-Go For Peck Mural in Georgetown [wcp]
‘Unexpected pops of color, unique origin stories, and Instagram-worthy backdrops’: Georgetown BID list of murals [georgetowndc]
Board says Georgetown Transformers have to go [dcist]

Tobi Wong Glass Chair No. 1 or 2

Tobias Wong, Glass Chair No. 1 or 2? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, 2002 produced later, at LA Modern 18 July 2023

I think the first place Tobias Wong’s Glass Chairs were available was in 2002 at Troy. The SoHo design store commissioned Wong to make a holiday collection. I love them, they’re like Judd chairs for ghosts.

Tobi was always getting in trouble for his knockoffs and reworkings, but more than 20 years later, and 13 years after his death, these chairs are actually still available. So I guess the ghost of Judd doesn’t mind. [Troy was literally across the street from Peter Ballantine’s place, the guy who made Judd’s plywood pieces—but not the chairs.]

At Troy they were sold as a pair, as Chair No. 1 and No. 2, but the picture from the NY Times, and the one on Twentieth, the LA design shop who sold this one, are flipped. So if you want to complete the set, be sure to confirm which $9000 chair you’re ordering.

18 July 2023, Lot 139: Tobias Wong, Glass Chair, 2002, via Twentieth, est. $2-3,000 [update: sold for $4,410] [lamodern]
Well this article still feels a little raw, tbqh: The Life of Tobias Wong, Designer [nyt]
From A to Wong and back again, a nice 2015 reminiscence/revisit by collaborator Item Idem [flashart]
Wong’s website is still up. Oh wow, I’d forgotten about Warhol Gift Wrap using actual prints from Ronald Feldman [brokenoff.com]
Previously, related: Perfect Lovers (Forever), by Tobias Wong
Previously, unrelated: All Respect For My Judd Furniture Knocking Off Kings

Craig Pride

Whoops, not me having to change the folksy billboard lede to past tense when I found a 2022 Google Streetview shot from the highway

You know the gravel pit on the east end of town? Where there used to be the big vinyl billboard you could see from US-40, that says Welcome To Moffat County? The one that made Gail from the Chamber of Commerce tear up with delight first time she saw it because it “really says Moffat County”?

Well that wedge-shaped building, which the Chamber helped paint white a ways back, wasn’t always a billboard. It used to be the screen for a drive-in movie theater. On the other side, of course. And til the projection booth and snackbar burned down, and 3B Enterprises expanded the pit.

from @fromkindra’s western photolog, as regrammed by @ndybeach

In fact, this used to be a typology: drive-in movie screens with interiors. Do a reverse Google image search of @fromkindra’s Instagram road trip posts if you don’t believe me; they’re all over.

Anyway, maybe it’s time to repaint that thing.

My Husband Bought The Whitney

Look, I absolutely get it. If I was an architect, or even an architectural designer, and my husband just bought the Whitney Museum, I’d be psyched, too.

And if he and his company was getting roasted for it, and people were freaking out over Marcel Breuer’s iconic brut luxe spaces being gutted and turned into a showroom for NFTs and Kelly bags, I could imagine giving him a pep talk when he came home.

I could not imagine, however, paying to promote my Instagram post praising his “vision and determination.”

And I would not say in a promoted Instagram post, “As someone who has an architectural practice that values and specializes in preservation, conservation, and restoration, I see so much value in this stunning acquisition.” Especially if my little studio had previously made fixtures for my husband’s company’s showroom above its East Hampton real estate office, and I wanted to get a piece of that sweet Breuer gut job.

But apparently, that is just me.

Previously, related: The Whitney House

All Respect For My Judd Furniture Knocking Off Kings

A real thing of beauty: Lot 107, Donald Judd, rare galvanized steel armchair, est. $60-80k at Wright20

I knocked off Donald Judd because I had to; there was no such thing as a Judd Crib. Michael and Gabrielle Boyd, meanwhile, knocked off Donald Judd because they could. By acquiring an extremely rare 1 of 2 Judd armchair in galvanized steel directly from the artist in life, they generated an auratic bubble where fabricating your own Douglas Fir ply chairs was apparently preferable to buying estate editions. Which, in 2010, were fully available, btw.

[few days later update: whoops. they’re gone.]

Lot 111 in the third Boyd sale at Wright20: two After Donald Judd chairs in Douglas fir ply, est. $2-3,000

Lot 107: Donald Judd, Rare Armchair 1, 1993, est. $60-80,000 [wright20]
Lot 111: After Donald Judd, pair of chairs, c. 2010, est. $2-3,000 [wright20]
Backward and Forward Slant Chairs in 19 hardwoods and plys [judd.furniture]

FLOW LGS Autoprogettazione by Yamamoto Daisuke

Flow Homage to Enzo Mari, 2022, low gauge steel, for beautifulpeople by Daisuke Yamamoto

Does the algorithm have me? I was unable to resist the suggested instagram post featuring this Enzo Mari autoprogettazione project at the Salone in Milan. But I at least did track down the actual designer and the actual project, rather than credit the insta-clout-chasing design aggregator.

beautiful people unseen archives pop-up made of LGS, including these Enzo Mari chairs, by Daisuke Yamashita, photo Kozo Takayama via IDREIT

Daisuke Yamamoto’s FLOW project is an exploration of material reuse and recycling that proposes to make furniture out of decommissioned light-gauge steel (LGS) beams. In Milano Yamamoto made chairs not only by Enzo Mari, but by Gerrit Rietveld and others. The origins and evolution of the project are documented by the Melbourne-based Japanese design site IDREIT.

Continue reading “FLOW LGS Autoprogettazione by Yamamoto Daisuke”

The Obelisk’s Not The Only Thing That’s Broken Around Here

Dominique deMenil [second from right] at an anti-racism demonstration held outside the Rothko Chapel in January 1979 after white supremacists vandalized Barnett Newman’s Broken Obelisk. image: Hicky Robertson/Rothko Chapel Archives via ARTNews

In May 2018, news of racist vandalism at the Rothko Chapel in Houston was soon overshadowed by a high school shooting in Santa Fe. I remember not posting about it at the time. Don’t give it air, don’t give it attention.

Broken Obelisk in front of the Rothko Chapel in 1980, with the nazi graffiti mostly erased, image: vintage print from the Houston Chronicle photo archive

Because just a couple of weeks earlier, I’d been researching Barnett Newman’s Broken Obelisk, trying to find out what protest message it had been tagged with when it was exhibited at the Seagram Building in 1967. And though I was unsuccessful, I’d found and bought a vintage press photo of Broken Obelisk in Houston in 1980, with most of the traces of the previous year’s neo-nazi vandalism erased.

And then within days of finding a photo of an incident I’d known nothing about, a photo of an anti-racism demonstration surrounding Broken Obelisk ran at the top of Andrew Russeth’s ARTNews review of a double biography of John and Dominique deMenil. It was from the same vandalism incident.

Continue reading “The Obelisk’s Not The Only Thing That’s Broken Around Here”

Great Artists Steal, Gala Artists Recycle

A morose Nicole Kidman schleps up the stairs at the Met Gala 2023, with the chaotic jumble of sketch carpet, plastic walls and chandelier, and 18th century salon backdrop, image: Anthony Behar/AP via ArchPaper

It wasn’t surprising to hear claims that The Met Costume Institute Gala ripped off Willie Cole’s artwork by making chandeliers out of plastic water bottles. What was surprising was that the thief was Tadao Ando.

Ando is credited as the exhibition designer for “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty.” He was tapped because he and Lagerfeld collaborated in the 1990s. [He designed a studio in Biarritz which Lagerfeld didn’t build, but Lagerfeld published a book of his own photos of an Ando building a couple of years later.] But Ando apparently had a hand in designing the party, too? Let’s take a look at that.

Continue reading “Great Artists Steal, Gala Artists Recycle”

This Is Not A Frank Gehry Skateboard

Essential Design, Lot 128: That is not a Frank Gehry skateboard. image: wright20

I am officially on the record as a skeptic of artist skateboard collabs, but I can also say that no one wants there to be a Frank Gehry skateboard more than me.

But this is not it.

This group of skate decks in next week’s Essential Design sale at Wright20, “is comprised of decks by AWS for Alien Workshop, Marc Johnson for Enjoi Skateboards, Rick McCrank and Eric Koston for Girl Skateboards, One Fifty One Skateboards, Frank Gehry, and Toy Machine. Printed manufacturer’s mark to six examples.”

New Museum Skateboard as product, 2014, and the SANAA building it echoes. image I was about to make ganked from 9yo artnet article instead.

And the only thing better than a Frank Gehry skateboard is a signed Frank Gehry skateboard. But again, no. This is the upside-down silhouette of Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa’s of SANAA’s New Museum. It is the shape the museum uses as a logo, turned into a skateboard. The limited edition of 150, produced in 2014 by Chapman Skateboards, is still available in the New Museum’s shop.

Castator and Duff @ NuMu, 2012, published to Castator’s tumblr [rip], then published by Complex and blackholed once they wrung enough eyeballs out of it, recovered via the Internet Archive

The idea originated with a 2012 window installation by Canyon Castator and Richard Duff, who put the woeful off-the-rack Supreme artist collab skatedecks to shame with their janky, hand-chopped-and-reassembled New Museum board. Which I am now adding to my auction watch list.

[update: the listing has been updated.]

Polly Pocket-Size Pavilion

Dan Graham, Children’s Day Care CD-Rom, Cartoon, Computer Screen Library Center, 1998, at Marian Goodman, image via @visitordesign

The Dan Graham tribute show at Marian Goodman looks fantastic; there’s a whole gallery of models/maquettes/studies, tiny little Dan Graham pavilions on pedestals that almost make me want to move to the country.

Visitor took this picture of one of what look like a mountain of gems: a 1998 model called Children’s Day Care CD-Rom, Cartoon, Computer Screen Library Center.

Is There Life After Breakfast? organized by Peter Fischli, runs through Apr. 29, 2023 [mariangoodman]

Walden, Or Afterlife Of The Wood

“I have been long inquiring whether any remenant of the house at Walden remained, feeling that it would be a choice relic of axe strokes that were literally heard round the world,” wrote Yale professor Henry Seidel Canby in 1932.

Stud sections and nails from Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond, a gift of Henry Seidel Canby to the Yale Collections of American Literature at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Yale’s Henry David Thoreau Collection is small but intense. Of sixteen items, seven are holographs, texts written in the author’s hand. There are pencils made by Thoreau’s father, and the label for a pencil box they might have c piome in. There are a couple of surveys the author made as part of his dreaded work. And there are two pieces of wood and two nails, which are reported to come from Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond. They were donated by Professor Canby.

There are two documents in the Collection pertaining to the material history of Thoreau’s cabin: One is the 1932 provenance statement accompanying the wood and nails by Canby, a noted Thoreau fanboy and biographer [who was called the “dean of American literary critics” in his bio in The Saturday Review, which he founded and edited for 12 years.] The other is a 1949 essay/survey of the cabin’s post-Walden history which its authors, two then-students, Francis Shelden and G. Peter Shiras called the first “exact, authenticated history of the Thoreau hut.”

Continue reading “Walden, Or Afterlife Of The Wood”

l’Ultimo Mobile, di Martino Gamper

l’Ultimo Mobile, 30 October 2020, by Martino Gamper, image: Robinson Barbosa via Serpentine Galleries

It feels unusual, but it’s important to remember it was unusual times.

Enzo Mari died at 88 on October 19, 2020, and his wife, Lea Vergine, died the next day at 82, both from COVID. Hans Ulrich Obrist and Francesca Giacomelli’s major exhibition of Mari’s work had just opened, improbably, miraculously, incredulously, in the middle of the pandemic, and the beginning of the Milan Triennale, on October 17th.

Obrist hosted conversations and reminiscences about Mari and Vergine on the Triennale’s Instagram Live, including one with Martin Gamper, where he discussed the tribute Obrist and Serpentine curator Rebecca Lewin requested of him:

“I wanted to make something to remember his spirit, his thinking, his ideas, […] and I wanted to continue his project, the Autoprogettazione. So I made two coffins [in the style of the Autoprogettazione], as a way for me to think about Enzo and Lea’s legacy. I call them L’Ultimo Mobile, or the last furniture. It’s the idea of extending the book somehow – not just to chairs and tables and cupboards.” Gamper has made the coffins in his studio using Mari’s restrictions of 2 x 4 timber and nails, as specified in the Autoprogettazione. “Creating an object for someone you care for and love could be an interesting process for all of us,” said Gamper. “Sawing and hammering, and remembering the person.”

Disegno Daily quoting from Martino Gamper’s Triennale IG Live, posted October 29, 2020, but subsequently redesigned into oblivion.
Spread from the Corraini re-edition of Autoprogettazione showing the Letto/Bed 1123 xM, as offered in Tokyo by Twelve-Books

Gamper fittingly chose one of the Autoprogettazione beds as inspiration for his coffins’ design. Robinson Barbosa’s black & white photos, too, are tributes to the stark offset printed images of Mari’s 1974 book.

Martino Gamper in his studio, having sawed and hammered, remembering Enzo Mari

What Barbosa’s photos do not show, until they do, is the actual scale of Gamper’s creations. To honor the ratio inherent in Mari’s chosen material—2×4 pine lumber—Gamper used 1×2 to make quarter-scale, tabletop caskets. In English a casket can be either a coffin or a box. In Italian, a casket/box is a cofanetto, and a casket/coffin is a bara. These are not objects of utility, but of tribute and memory, and media. Made for the ‘gram. Actually, that is all utility, too. And in the dark and weary days of October 2020, I would say these coffins, with their little feet, were serving their purpose as well as could be hoped.

The Last Furniture: Martino Gamper’s Tribute to Enzo Mari [serpentinegalleries.org]

Autoprogettazione, Autodistruzione

Designer Enzo Mari and his wife, critic Lea Vergine, passed away one after the other in October 2020, the pre-vaccine stage of the COVID pandemic. Disegno Journal assembled a roundtable reminiscence of them, with Mari’s longtime assistant, Francesca Giacomelli; designers Martino Gamper and Corinna Sy; design historian Cat Rossi; and curators Hans Ulrich Obrist and Lorenza Baroncelli. Thanks to greg.org reader/hero Doug for sharing the transcript, which has recently been republished.

When Mari died, my regret at never sending him information about my Mari X IKEA table exploration was quickly subsumed by my outrage over the fate of his archive and studio. Mari’s archive, his research, his documentation, his journals, his vast collections, all come up many times in the extensive and fascinating discussion:

Francesca: “This archive is a complex codified diary in which Mari collected and conserved his projects and wider programme of revolutionary ideas; it is his life’s work, the essence of his research. For Mari, “The research is the design, not the product”. Now we need to rediscover those methods and ideas, preserve them, and celebrate their astonishing transformative potential.”

Hans Ulrich “Francesca has this immense knowledge and there are literally 2,000 projects or more that Enzo created during his career – she knows each of those 2,000 projects by heart. There’s no-one on the planet who knows more about Mari than her, but this idea of knowledge production was key for Enzo. He wanted design to convey knowledge and so the exhibition in that sense also has to be about producing knowledge. It would be absolutely contrary to his idea of work if the exhibition was about objects and not research.”

Martino “He was also a collector and had a really big knife collection, for instance. Whenever he traveled, he would buy knives. I wanted it for my Serpentine show [Martino Gamper: Design Is a State of Mind, 2014, ed.], but he wouldn’t lend it. He was an avid collector of everyday objects – a bit like Castiglioni, but actually a lot more. I don’t know what’s going to happen with his private collections. They’ve never been shown. He must have kept the knives in his house, because I never saw them in his studio.”

Lorenza “His studio was impressive. It’s going to be destroyed, in accordance with his wishes, but every room was devoted to a topic. One room for materials; one room for prototypes; and all the chairs were stored in the bathroom. The most interesting room was the kitchen, because that was where they produced objects. He was also obsessed with the archive, so created two books with the list of all the objects in the studio and all the documents. He gave Arabic numbers to every object and catalogued everything in those two books. This programmatic system was the basis of his work and I think is the reason why there was no difference between art and objects and graphic design – for him, it was all part of one unique path.”

Wait what? Yes, you read that right. His studio was going to be destroyed, in accordance with his wishes. And his archive, given to the City of Milan, is sealed from public view for “two generations,” forty years.

On the one hand, and it’s a big hand for me, this is basically the rest of my life. On the other hand, it just feels optimistic, maybe even a little dangerously naive, to entrust one’s legacy to a world as it will exist forty years from now. Maybe that’s the bigger hand, the non-zero possibility that society, much less the Milan municipal government, will not be around to open the Mari box in 2060. Between Francesca and Hans Ulrich, can we not crack this open a little sooner please?

Enzo Mari was a Universe [disegnojournal, s/o designnow]

That Time The Blackmailer Took Photos Of The Salt Lake Temple

c. 1911, by Gisbert Bossard, as published in Dialogue (Fall 1996)

One of the wilder stories I found while researching the Art in America essay on LDS architecture was of the first known photographs of the interior of a temple, which only happened in 1911. That feels late in terms of photography, especially because all four of the Pioneer-era temples in Utah–in St. George, Manti, Logan, and Salt Lake City–all opened in the late 19th century, when photography would have been possible. But though several hundred non-Mormon guests were invited to tour the Salt Lake temple before its dedication in 1893, there was no effort to share images of the interiors of temples with nonbelievers.

the Annex was the glass conservatory filled with plants on the south side of the temple. it was removed after 1941. photo c. 1911, by Gisbert Bossard, as published in Dialogue (Fall 1996)

Which is why in 1911 Gisbert Bossard, a disaffected 21-year-old convert from Switzerland thought the Church would pay a lot of money for the 80 or so photos he secretly made by sneaking into the SLC temple while it was closed for maintenance. Bossard got in with the help of a groundskeeper who tended the conservatoryful of live plants in the room that represented the Garden of Eden, and seems to have had the run of the place. Some of his photos included the offices of the church leaders on the temple’s top floor, and the Holy of Holies, a prayer room off the celestial room reserved only for the president of the Church–and Jesus.

Continue reading “That Time The Blackmailer Took Photos Of The Salt Lake Temple”

Wait What? Osaka ’70 Isozaki X Thomas Ruff Japanese Press++

Where to even start when I’ve been at it for so long?

Interior of Buckminster Fuller’s US Pavilion from Expo ’67, with a lunar lander and satelloons to the left, and Alan Solomon’s curated show of American painting to the right, as seen in USIA director Jack Masey’s book, Cold War Confrontations

World’s Fair pavilion artworks at Expo ’67. Which led to pavilion artworks by painters, and a modest, domestic proposal to chop them up to share with the people,

Study for Chop Shop Newman Painting No. 1 and Nos. 2-6, 2015, jpg

which became a thing at an art world’s fair.

World’s Fair pavilion by artists, E.A.T.’s Pepsi Pavilion at Osaka ’70, surrounded by Robert Breer’s float/robots.

Continue reading “Wait What? Osaka ’70 Isozaki X Thomas Ruff Japanese Press++”