Richard Prince Jokes: Portrait & Landscape

Richard Prince, untitled (Milton Berle), 2021. Inkjet on canvas, 100 × 46 1/4 inches. image: Richard Prince via

The Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia in Athens just opened, Richard Prince: Tell Me Everything, an exhibition of joke-related works that seems to focus on new work related to the original joke files of the 20th century comedian Milton Berle. [If you’re within six hours of Athens today, Feb. 21, the exhibition’s curator Shawnya Harris is giving a gallery talk at 2:00. So get going.]

Two 4-ft tall four cabinets of Milton Berle’s jokes, sold at Bonham’s in 2013. There were also two short cabinets and six banker’s boxes of “loose joke file material”

Over his eight decades in show business, Berle had collected, organized, and annotated thousands of jokes on 3×5 inch index cards. Prince acquired four file cabinets of Berle’s jokes from an auction in 2013.

In his second deposition, made in 2018 for the [recently settled] lawsuits over Instagram portraits, Prince talked at length about his use of jokes, and transforming something heard into something seen.

Richard Prince, untitled (Milton Berle), 2021. Inkjet on canvas, 118 3/4 × 55 1/4 inches
image: Richard Prince via

When I first saw these images, I figured that their elongated, portrait-style dimensions reflected a decade of Prince using an iPhone as a studio. But they also simultaneously read as landscapes, with joke mesas extending to a cropped out horizon, a western desert begging for a cowboy. Then I saw the file cabinets, and realized these images also map to their subject, and the experience of living with these physical objects made over decades from words, ideas and language.

View From Amache

a tall vertical photo of stars in the night sky contains text in white by artist david horvitz at the bottom: I made a photograph of the stars seen from eastern colorado one night last october, from the site of amache, the japanese internment camp. i imagine my grandmother looking at them from this same spot, some 75 years ago. the artist's name and the logo of the public art fund are at the bottom.
screenshot of David Horvitz’ For Kiyoko (From, Amache), 2017, digital image via PAF

Yesterday, February 19th was the anniversary of FDR’s Executive Order 9066, which ordered the displacement and imprisonment of 120,000 Japanese and Japanese-American citizens in remote detention sites around the western US. Artist David Horvitz marked the date on Instagram with a post about his grandparents, who met while incarcerated in Amache, Colorado.

Horvitz showed his photograph of the night sky as seen from Amache in a 2017 Public Art Fund exhibition on LinkNYC pylons. For Kiyoko (From Amache) depicted the same stars his grandmother might have seen, the same stars under which new groups of people in America were being threatened by the new government with kidnapping, detention, and deportation.

Horvitz’ website includes audio of a brief text about the making of this piece.
The Public Art Fund’s page has an installation photo of the image in Herald Square, and the way it blends right in to the landscape is kind of unsettling rn.
Commercial Break, Feb-Mar 2017 []

All The Maria Vermeers In New York

[And DC]. I just drove so far I ran out of content, so I relistened to the David Zwirner podcast about Benjamin Binstock’s reattribution of several Johannes Vermeer paintings to his daughter Maria Vermeer. In the interim, I’ve also watched Binstock’s address of Lawrence Weschler’s 2013 symposium at the NY IFA to address the authorship theory. Which, also, it rests in large part on creating a chronology of Vermeer’s extant works, something that traditional Vermeer scholars have generally eschewed in favor of more arguable date ranges.

Here, meanwhile, is a timeline Binstock presented in 2013 of Vermeer’s production, to scale, with seven what he calls widely recognized “misfits” outlined in red.

In case you don’t recognize them immediately, they are, from top to bottom, with their Rijksmuseum dates:
Girl Interrupted at Her Music, c. 1659-61, at the Frick
Young Woman with a Lute, c. 1662-64, at the Met
Mistress and Maid, c. 1665-67, at the Frick
Study of a Young Woman, c. 1664-65, at the Met
Girl with a Flute, c. 1665-66, at the National Gallery (DC)
Girl with the Red Hat, c. 1665-67, at the National Gallery (DC)
Woman Seated at the Virginal, c. 1670-72, Daphne & Thomas Kaplan’s Leiden Collection

It does seem wild that all the Maria Vermeer Theory paintings are in the US. The Kaplans’ Vermeer, long unknown to scholars and not really even seen until the 21st century, was bought by Steve Wynn at Sotheby’s in 2004, and its Vermeer attribution was only firmed up in the last 15 or so years. So very much in play, just as Maria’s name appeared in the discourse—and was ignored or dismissed.

Previously, related: Girl With A Reattribution

Mike Kelley & Rothkoian Purple

Mike Kelley, More Tragic! More Plangent!…More Purple!, 1985 (Printed 1996), each 30×24 in. ektacolor on museum board. NGL, this framed grid from Sotheby’s in 2022 looks more accurate to me. This was Ed. 1/5; Elton’s is Ed. 4/5.

I want to find something more to post about these Mike Kelley photos than that he made them in 1985 by jankily rephotographing a Rothko catalogue; he published them in 1996, one of a couple of projects done with Patrick Painter; they were some of the half dozen or so works Elton John bought from Vaknin Schwartz, the once-hot Atlanta gallery down the street from his condo; and they’re one of a thousand other things he’s selling this week at Christie’s.

But it’s not easy.

Continue reading “Mike Kelley & Rothkoian Purple”

Grauer Richter Facsimile Object

Gerhard Richter, Grauer Spiegel, 2021, 40×34 cm, pigment on bicoloured glass, ed 100+20AP, image via David Zwirner

Happy belated birthday, Gerhard Richter, who is apparently too busy painting, drawing, and collaging to update his website. The Grauer Spiegel (2021, No. 179, pigment on glass, ed. 100+20AP), included in Richter’s current show at David Zwirner in London is not there. It looks like the pigment is actually on the recto of the glass, a depiction of a mirror, not a mirror itself. But that’s just how it’s photographed. Installed at the Points of Resistance IV: Skills for Peace exhibition at Zionskirche in Berlin in 2022, its mirror nature was on full view.

Continue reading “Grauer Richter Facsimile Object”

I Hunted Butterflies

In May 2023 University of Florida entomologist Akito Kawahara and nearly 90 collaborators published the findings of their massive, eight-year study of butterfly and moth evolution in Nature. hero Brian Sholis posted a recent article about Kawahara’s research in Smithsonian Magazine. He was inspired by his father, On Kawara:

When Kawahara was 4 years old, his parents noticed that he was scared of insects and would run away from them. To help him overcome this fear, his father started taking him for walks in the parks of suburban Tokyo, looking for insects, talking about insects and carrying a butterfly net. “I still remember the first butterfly I collected,” says Kawahara, his eyes brightening at the memory. “It was near my grandmother’s house. I remember the exact place where the butterfly landed. It was a snout butterfly. I had seen it in books, and now it landed right in front of me. I remember my hands shaking and my dad helping me to catch the butterfly.”

Kawahara still has that specimen in his personal collection in Tokyo, which now numbers between 5,000 and 10,000 and also serves as a remembrance of his father. In his youth, the family divided its time between Tokyo and New York—Kawahara attended schools in both cities—and on weekends, his father would take him on butterfly collecting trips. On Kawara also traveled extensively to create his art and sometimes brought his son along, plus their butterfly equipment. As a boy, Kawahara gathered specimens from Singapore, Hawaii, Alaska, California and all over Japan.

Stickers included in the catalogue for On Kawara: Date Paintings 1981-83…On Sundays, an exhibition at Galerie Watari in Tokyo, via Jonathan A. Hill Booksellers

Kawahara would have been 4 in 1983. The exhibition catalogue for Kawara’s fall 1983 exhibition at Galerie Watari in Tokyo includes a facsimile of his painting journal for the period between 1981-83, and three sheets of date painting stickers, to scale [above], including just five made in June, July, and August 1983.

The One Million Years Foundation, notes bookseller Jonathan A. Hill, no longer recognizes the catalogue as part of the artist’s printed oeuvre. But Kawara’s documentation of date painting production on his 100-year calendar does seem to confirm this number. And so now we see that on the other days of the Summer of 1983, the artist was laying the foundations of a major scientific breakthrough by hunting butterflies with his son.

A global phylogeny of butterflies reveals their evolutionary history, ancestral hosts and biogeographic origins [nature]
Where Did Butterflies Come From? This Scientist Is On the Case [smithsonianmag via brian sholis]
Previously, related: On Kawara Date Painting Stickers
On Kawara Db
Today Job: On Working Late

Barbara Visser, Fountain (2023)

Still from Barbara Visser, Alreadymade (2023). © Barbara Visser / Tomtit Film & VPRO.

I haven’t even scrolled down to read the article, but this caption alone is already my favorite thing of the week. I hope Barbara Visser does a documentary on Richard Prince’s Instagram portraits next.

A Dutch Artist is delving into the murky [sic obv] attribution of Duchamp’s Fountain [artnet]

Sharing The Burden

Lot 111: Chris Burden, Prelude to 220, or 110, 1971, 13 1/2 x 10 1/2 in., ed. 1/5, Feb. 21 at LA Modern

In his peak performance twink era, Chris Burden was not only putting his life on the line for his art, he was selling pictures of him doing it. Or trying to, anyway.

Lot 112: Chris Burden, Bed Piece, 1972, 10 1/2 x 13 1/2 in., ed. 2/5, Feb. 21 at LA Modern

In 1974 Burden released iconic documentary photos of three early performances in an edition of five: Prelude to 220, or 110 (1971), in which he was bolted to the floor next to buckets of water with live electric wires in them; Bed Piece (1972), where he stayed in bed in a gallery for three weeks; and 747 (1973), where he shot at an airplane flying overhead. According to Christie’s in 2000, beside the artist proof they were selling, only one other suite of vintage prints was sold.

Lot 110: Chris Burden, 747, 1971, 13 1/2 x 10 1/2 in., ed. 1/5, Feb. 21 at LA Modern

Does that mean except for two sets, the other editions of the prints were sold singly? Or that the rest of the edition wasn’t printed or sold until later? I don’t know.

But it does seem like these four prints at LA Modern were there at the beginning. Three are numbered 1/5, and one (Bed Piece) is 2/5. They were acquired by the same person directly from the artist in 1975. They originally turned up for sale together last summer at suite prices, but didn’t sell. Does that make them a suite or nah? Now they’re being sold separately. It’d be wild if they didn’t stay together, though. Burden collector, you know what you must do.

[day later update: hmm, LA Modern sold both ed. 4/5 ($94k in 2017) and ed. 5/5 ($81k in 2022) which were acquired directly from the artist and, if Christie’s is to be believed, were not vintage, but printed later to complete the edition? So maybe Burden collectors are already doing what they needed to keep the sets together. In 1974 Burden also published Chris Burden 1971-73, an artist book consisting of a binder of 53 8×10 photos and text documenting 23 performance works, in an edition of 50. Oddly, the Met’s copy, acquired in 1993, is catalogued with each of the performances separate.]

Girl With A Reattribution

It’s like looking in a mirror: Maria? Vermeer Facsimile Object

Technically, it’d still be a Vermeer, then.

On the latest episode of the David Zwirner podcast, Helen Molesworth talks to Claudia Swan and Lawrence Weschler about last year’s Rijksmuseum Vermeer show.

It’s an oddly timed conversation, and one that feels especially absent from the hoopla during the show. Besides the uncritical euphoria of the blockbuster, which is fine, the only substantive scholarly takes I remember coming out were about rediscovering Vermeer’s crypto-Catholicism. So yes, a re-evaluation of Vermeer’s view and depiction of women and public/domestic life—arguably his main subject—would have been welcome.

As would, apparently, any discussion of one of Lawrence Weschler’s ongoing fascinations: the proposal floated by scholar Benjamin Binstock in 2008 that several paintings attributed to Johannes Vermeer were actually the work of his daughter Maria.

Binstock’s theory has been vociferously ignored by institutional Vermeer scholars, but Weschler has hosted two symposia exploring and discussing it. Last year, with the Amsterdam show open, he published an updated article about the Maria Vermeer theory in The Atlantic.

Since Binstock’s initial publication, Vermeer scholarship and science has shifted in ways that should accommodate his speculations, but somehow don’t. The biggest change, arguably, is the National Gallery’s reattribution of their Girl with a Flute to a “studio assistant” of Vermeer, even though Vermeer was known not to have any registered students or assistants. The only loophole for not registering an assistant with the painters guild, Binstock notes, is if they are a family member. He calls Girl with a Flute, a self-portrait. And since the NGA’s Girl with a Red Hat is of the same person, and also, unusually, on a panel, not canvas, it’s also a Maria Vermeer.

You can see where this could lead. And yet it doesn’t. Which is the subject of the Zwirner-hosted conversation.

Le Tat, C’est Moi

Decoupage what you know: HM Margrethe II of Denmark literally cutting out pictures of diamond jewelry to collage onto a classical portrait

This is a detail of a decoupage panel made by HM Margrethe II, now-former Queen of Denmark. It was the header image of Margrethe II of Denmark, Artist-Queen an exhibition of 60 artworks by the queen at the Musée Henri Martin in Cahors, in southern France. The queen’s late husband Prince Henrik was a French count whose family is from the region—people from Cahors are called Cadurciens—and the royal family owns a chateau and vineyard nearby.

the ignominy of ganking images of royal decoupage from pinterest

The queen has been making art at least since the 1970s, and she is quite active in several mediums, devoting at least one day a week to her practice. She just abdicated her day job, so perhaps she is in the studio even more now.

Margrethe’s art is in the news because a painting she made in 1988, the year she officially began exhibiting, is coming up for auction. This is apparently quite rare, because The Queen doesn’t sell work; sometimes she gives it as gifts. [This painting is being sold by the family of a former courtier.] Her paintings are probably never as interesting as the moment in which they are being made.

HM Margrethe II of Denmark, Juliette and the Sibyls of Verona, decoupage garbage can, n.d., photo: Berit Møller via

At least they’re not as interesting as this idea of The Queen using her art objects either as gifts or decorations. The website for the Danish Royal Family has a decent amount of information about her art practice. The decoupage items she makes by gluing images cut out from magazines decorate her palaces, hunting lodges, chateau, and yacht. All the guestrooms at Christian VII’s palace at Amalienborg, for example, “are furnished with a wastepaper basket decorated with The Queen’s découpage.” Decoupage is a very active process which benefits from a sense of composition and industriousness, both of which The Queen seems to have in abundance. The Queen decoupages in the opening credits of De Wilde Svaner, the 2009 film adaptation of a Hans Christian Andersen tale for which she created the scenery and costumes.

HM Margrethe II of Denmark, Pillow for the Royal Yacht Dannebrog, 2003, embroidered textile, image: Iben Kaufmann vai

The Queen’s embroidery practice is very similar. She designs her own patterns or even stitches freely, without patterns, as she makes personal and household objects and gifts for family members, friends, and privileged subjects. Chairs

In one sense, this personal creative exercise, crafting nicknacks for yourself, your home, and your friends, feels like a carving out of a private space, a practice of respite and normalcy. But it is also very much the opposite: individual, domestic labor so time-intensive it gets stripped of any economic justification, and so falls/is elevated to emotional and relational tokens of interpersonal exchange, deployed by a monarch in service of the preservation and reinforcing of that monarchy’s power. The beloved queen of the people leaving her personal marks across the vast properties and resources at her—and her family’s—disposal, and cultivating networks of loyalty and influence by giving gifts of her time and artistic pursuits. Margrethe II is an artist, and her medium is Queen.

Margiela Artisanal Cardboard, Rover, Bunny, Beanie

The Maison Margiela Artisanal show was fascinating and felt strong, of a piece, current if not exactly new. If anything, it echoed some of the trashy Belle Epoque collections Galliano did for Dior around 2000, maybe more unsettled, which is fair. Rewatching it on a big screen, a couple of things really jumped out:

The pieces made of stiffened, pleated/ruched silk, I assume, that resemble corrugated cardboard.

The little rover shooting on the far side of the underpass was far less noticeable at first than the interior camera operators.

[The way almost everyone in the audience was recording their own phone videos, OTOH, was inescapable.]

Oh yes, here are four people recording on their ph—WTF that person is wearing a literal bunny outfit. I know it is from the Fall 2022 Artisanal collection, but I do not care; I want to go back to not seeing it please.

Ditto the white beanie, bro. While we are trying to grasp a vision of a future teetering elegantly in front of us, this pickme white headgear keeps snapping us back to the past. Of course, the past is never past, not for culture, not for fashion, and not for Galliano.

Today Job: On Working Late

The closest thing to Apr. 5, 1966 I can find, On Kawara’s E 13th St studio, photographed in late 1966, published in the catalogue for the Guggenheim’s retrospective, On Kawara — Silence, 2015

On Tumblr Voor Werk asked the archetypal artist question, prompted by stunning early photos of On Kawara’s work and studio: how did he pay for it, and how did he live to keep making it?

Even though I knew the only thing written in the biography section was “29,771 days,” I looked for clues in the catalogue for On Kawara — Silence, Jeffrey Weiss’ 2015 show at the Guggenheim.

tl;dr: The amount of time accounted for by the production of the date paintings alone does not seem conducive to having a regular job. The only thing I can guess besides family money, wife supported them, or somehow eked out a living selling date paintings from his studio, is that he made money playing mahjong. Or maybe Kasper Koenig kept it going.

Kawara was a well-known avant-garde artist in Japan in the 1950s, and wrote essays for Bijutsu Techo, the leading Japanese art magazine. But he also didn’t have shows for extended stretches. He traveled to Mexico and Europe and settled in Paris before moving to New York in 1964 on a student visa. Which he took art classes at the Brooklyn Museum to keep. He was 31. With some precursors, including many paintings he destroyed, the form of his Today series came into focus in January 1966, but developing the full concept took some time [sic].

In his essay, Weiss traces some of Kawara’s apparent thoughts and questions about the project through the date paintings’ subtitles. Alongside headlines, phrases, or even full sentences from the day’s newspaper, Kawara sometimes used personal anecdotes, observations, or meta-commentary as subtitles.

Some subtitles were repeated, and showed hints of both future bodies of work and community: “I met Nam June Paik at the B.M.T. Canal St subway station [insert various evening times].” And my favorite so far, is for April 5, 1966— “Tono, Arakawa, and Johns are now waiting for me in Tono’s apartment.”—when Kawara ended up missing a dinner with Yoshiaki, Shusaku, and Jasper in order to finish the day’s painting.

Though Kawara was included in many group shows, including some now-historic ones, by 1969, his date paintings were not exhibited in any significant way until 1972, five years and hundreds of paintings into the project.

Richard Prince Settled His New Portraits Copyright Lawsuits

The copyright infringement lawsuits over Richard Prince’s New Portraits works were set to begin on Monday. Yesterday, though, the judge accepted mediated settlements between the parties, and the cases are over.

Exhibit 7: Not Willfully Infringing Billboard, now ENJOINED, from Graham v Prince, as seen on the West Side Highway and in the book, obv

According to the settlements, Prince will pay Donald Graham and Eric McNatt each “damages” equal to “five times the sale price” of the New Portrait that included their photographs. For Graham, that is Portrait of Rastajay92, which sold to Larry Gagosian for $38,000. For McNatt, that is Portrait of Kim Gordon, which sold at Blum & Poe Tokyo for $90,000. Prince, Blum & Poe, and Gagosian and his gallery are all also enjoined from “reproducing, modifying, preparing
derivative works from, displaying publicly, selling, offering to sell, or otherwise distributing” either phototographers’ original images, the New Portraits incorporating them, the respective exhibition catalogues and, in Graham’s case, the West Side Highway billboard showing a wonky iPhone installation shot of Prince’s New Portraits exhibition at Gagosian. Both settlements also include “all costs incurred.”

The settlement was reported in The Art Newspaper and Courthouse News as Prince being found “guilty” of infringing the photographers’ copyrights. And it is absolutely the case that the settlements include judgment “entered in favor of the plaintiff[s] and against the defendants for the claims asserted against them” in the complaints, which is copyright infringement.

Yet Marion Maneker, the hardest-working man in the art lawsuit business, quotes folks from Prince’s legal team saying that, “Mr Prince made no admission of willful copyright infringement,” and “did not pay legal fees for either party’s lawyers.” Which sounded like a contradiction, and both these claims can’t be true, until I was writing this post.

“This settlement allows Richard and all of the artists to move forward with their practices,” they told Maneker. Which, ironically, echoes something Prince expressed in his 2018 deposition for the cases: a desire to move on and not think about the New Portraits series again. And even though it was reflective of and inextricable from many, many facets of his practice over the years, he did not add.

Update: the NYT account seems to be clearer about the parties’ interpretations of the settlement.

Nebelmeer, Nebelmeer

Untitled (Nebelmeer), 2024, 48 x 48 in., paint on canvas, installed on a wall painted in complementary Benjamin Moore color with a suitably atmospheric name, via zillow

In what, from the finishes, looks like the early 90s, A police station in Georgetown was converted into two townhouses. One of them is being sold with help from a little known version of Caspar David Friedrich’s Wanderer Above The Sea and Fog. The H on the throw on the sofa stands for Hamburger Kunsthalle.

Previously, related: Monochrome House, 2016
Untitled (A Painting for Two Rooms by Cactus Cantina), 2017
Untitled (Blurred Frida), 2020
LMAO I have works like this that I haven’t even posted, just grabbed the MLS image and declared it, talk about tree falling in the forest