Wheatfield — A Promotion

Agnes Denes’ Honoring, Wheatfield – A Confrontation, 2024 for Art Basel, as photographed and restricted by “(Photo by Valentin FLAURAUD / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION – TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION”

At one moment in time and for the people who saw it then, Agnes Denes’ Wheatfield — A Confrontation was a two-acre field of wheat the artist cultivated, tended, and harvested on landfill on what is now the south end of Battery Park City in Manhattan.

Agnes Denes and Wheatfield — A Confrontation, 1982, commissioned by the Public Art Fund

But since then, and for most people, it existed as a photograph. Or rather, it was experienced by looking at a photograph, an iconic image of Denes, hair flowing and holding a staff, looking out at the Statue of Liberty from the midst her amber waves of grain, with the base of the World Trade Center towers and less remarkable elements of the lower Manhattan skyline stretching uptown behind her.

Screenshot of a promotional video from Art|Basel Basel showing the installation in the Messeplatz of Agnes Denes’ Honouring Wheatfield – A Confrontation, 2024, curated by Samuel Leuenberger

So it is understandable that a week-long “reprise” of Wheatfield in the Messeplatz at Art|Basel Basel would take as its object not the process of the original [instead of four months clearing, planting, tending, and harvesting crops, over 900 planter boxes were trucked in and installed in a couple of days], nor the physicality of the original [est. 930 square meters, less than a quarter of an acre], but the photo of the original. When it was photographed from its intended angle, it would not matter that from other vantage points, Honouring Wheatfield looked like a sod farm or a wheatgrass juicebar.

What I failed to account for fully was the intended angle. Thankfully, ARTnews’ use of Valentin Flauraud’s photo and caption and credit for Agence France Presse has brought the true objective into view. Flauraud recreates Denes’ image with a selfie-taking couple standing in for the artist, and the Art|Basel logo looming behind them, standing in for the World Trade Center.

[A few minutes later update: Another one. I hope Agnes Denes got all the money.]

“COURTESY ART BASEL” image: ARTnews

Connecting The Dots

Reading Travis Diehl’s e-flux journal review of Arthur Jafa’s show at 52 Walker led me to Diehl’s road trip report in x-traonline of going to Cady Noland’s 2019 retrospective at MMK Frankfurt with Rasmund Røhling.

Which led to the recordings of the Cady Noland symposium convened at MMK on 27 April 2019.

Diehl also noted to Røhling that the Charlotte Posenenske sculpture and the Claes Oldenburg bacon soft sculpture included in the Noland show were very World Trade Center Twin Towers-coded. Also not to be a conspiracist or anything, but a Noland sculpture was also included in Peter Eleey’s September 11 show at MoMA PS1 in 2011.

Which led me to go searching for which Noland it was, and it of course, was the stanchion work, The American Trip (1988), which is more ambiguously political than MoMA’s other significant Noland, Tanya as Bandit (1989).

“September 11” installation view at MoMA PS1, 2011-12, by Matthew Septimus via MoMA

But none of that matters right now, because in looking through the installation shots, I was immediately sucked back in time by Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ black-bordered stack of mourning surrounded by Jeremy Deller’s “Mission Accomplished” banner.

And that banner. 90 x 600 inches, it was obviously a full-scale recreation of Bush White House image maker Scott Sforza’s hubristic aircraft carrier banner from 2003.

But I never made the connection to its title or date: Unrealized Project for the Exterior of the Carnegie Museum, 2004-2011. So Deller wanted to hang this banner on the outside of the museum as part of Laura Hoptman’s Carnegie International, which opened in October 2004, just before the presidential election. How far along did this proposal get, I wonder? [Deller ended up showing war re-enactors on tiny televisions inserted into the Carnegie’s dollhouse dioramas, the diametric opposite, attention-wise, from a 50-foot banner.]

How To Frame A Titian Protips

First, get a Titian, and ten bottles of wine.

Titian, Rest on the Flight Into Egypt, oil on canvas on panel, around 1510-15? basically 46×63 cm, selling on 2 July 2024 at Christie’s London

Christie’s is selling a rare, early Titian that belonged to the Marquesses of Bath next month for £15-25m, frame sold separately:

Please note that this lot is displayed in a loan Venetian sixteenth-century carved and gilded cassetta frame from Arnold Wiggins & Sons, which is not being sold with the picture, but could be acquired separately. Please ask the department for further details about this and the picture’s original frame, which can be viewed on request.

Now, the Titian was stolen in 1995, and recovered at a bus stop seven years later, so maybe the frame’s seen some stuff, which is fine. The point is, though, maybe I don’t get behind enough 500-year-old paintings, but this Titian is mounted into its loaner frame with the corks from like ten bottles of wine, and I love it.

I think there is literally wine on the one on the upper right. Someone was putting in the work.

Sandblasting, Solvent, Oxidation

I sometimes worry about posting too much stuff from auctions. But then I’ll see two works I haven’t thought about in a long time, and have never thought about together, and it only happened because they both happen to be for sale the same day.

Michael Heizer’s Sandblasted Etched Glass Window, 1976, installed in Peter Freeman’s booth at TEFAF 2019

In the early 70s Michael Heizer made a show, and maybe a series, of Sandblasted Etched Glass Windows. Peter Freeman had one installed at TEFAF NY 2019, and it really worked, like Heizer drawing on a framed landscape.

Michael Heizer, Sandblasted Etched Glass Window, 1974, glass & wood, 218 x 278 x 89 cm, lot 115 on 20 June 2024 at LA Modern

Seeing this one in a freestanding frame at LA Modern’s upcoming auction immediately made me think of Duchamp’s Large Glass, though, which felt new. Indeed, it’s as long as the Large Glass is tall, but the other dimension is bigger. Heizer’s Larger Glass.

Pae White, Ghost and Host, 2003, Plexiglas, solvent, mirror, 96 x 48 in., lot 141 on 20 June 2024 at LA Modern

Meanwhile, I had not kept up with Pae White’s work for a while, but I definitely remembered seeing the Summer group show this sculpture was in at Petzel in 2003. There were several of these distorted Plexiglas sheets in different colors, leaning on the walls like crack-addled McCrackens.

Pae White’s Ghost and Host, 2003, as installed at Friedrich Petzel, Summer 2003

It’s interesting to see the install shots from 2003, where the mirror backing is more evident, the opposite of Heizer’s window.

A large Warhol Oxidation Painting, 1979, 132 x 193 cm, which didn’t sell? at Bonham’s in 2005

Especially because it’s listed as an element of the work, the solvent made me think of Warhol’s oxidation paintings, which I happened to have heard mentioned on podcasts twice in the last couple of days: Blake Gopnik talking about handmade [sic] Warhol on The Art Angle; and the Nota Bene Boys discussing a sublime oxidation painting install in an NYC private collection.

And now when I imagine White pouring her solvent onto Plexi on the floor, and Heizer waving his sandblasting gun around, there’s Warhol and his assistants, too, hard at work, or working hard.

Warhol Cupboards And The Expanded Field

Lot 684: Andy Warhol (AFTER), Wardrobe [of only three of] A Set Six Self-Portraits, 1966/1997, est. EUR 1200-2000 on 12 June 2024 at Quittenbaum, Munich

Europe: it really is the little differences.

It was during the entirely normal activity of researching some Enzo Mari modular shelves that I stumbled upon the absolute licensing mayhem of the Art Design by hb Collection Limited Edition Europe Andy Warhol Foundation Wardrobes, Cabinets, and Cupboards. The first one I saw is above, half of Warhol’s 1966 work, A Set of Six Self-Portraits silkscreened onto the varnished MDF door of a wardrobe. In addition to Warhol’s signature—AND the 1997 copyright credit for The Andy Warhol Foundation, Licensed by MMI [putting a pin in that for later]—silkscreened on the bottom of the drawer like you do on any piece of furniture containing licensed imagery, I guess? In addition to this, there is also the label inside, with the edition number, 405 of 500, and eight metal hangers.

If there were only 500, it would be enough. But there are 500 OF EACH.

Continue reading “Warhol Cupboards And The Expanded Field”

Le Vite de’ Più Eccellenti Pittori Pittori et Galleristi…

Alessandro Twombly, Gates of Rome, 2023, Acrylic on linen, 260 x 260 cm, image via Spazio Amanita

I have to study politics and war so that my son can study baseball and coaching the college swim team, so his son can study poetry, painting and music, so his son can also study painting of an occasionally quite similar style to some of the late works of the son one son up that yet somehow goes unremarked, so that his son can study art dealing and opening a gallery to show the son one son up from him but also the son two sons up from him, though only the works that looked like Picasso, said Allen Goss Twombly (1860-1954) at some point, apparently.

I Got Up In Salt Lake City

image of On Kawara’s Sept. 23, 2007 and its box, with its front page from the local news sectino of The Deseret News, 2007, acrylic on canvas, 10×13 in., via onkawara.co.uk

I am still trying to wrap my head around the enormity of what Duncan Mclaren’s accomplishing in his day-by-day, work-by-work, trip-by-trip, show-by-show documentation of On Kawara’s life. But without it, I somehow would have not realized that Kawara painted one Today series work in Salt Lake City.

I say somehow because I didn’t clock it when I saw this painting in 2012, at David Zwirner’s show, “Date Painting(s) in New York and 136 other cities.” Which was very much a show about Kawara making date paintings all over the world/in New York City. Or so I thought.

Actually it was a show of date paintings made all over the world, which is not the same thing. Mclaren’s project of combing through the data of Kawara’s oeuvre, is about the making, and of finding the glimpses of the artist and his life in work that seems to obscure it.

The Golden Plates

still from Maurizio Cattelan’s Sunday, 2024, installation video, via gagosian

In his Brooklyn Rail review of Maurizio Cattelan’s Sunday, Andrew Paul Woolbright makes an observation that I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere else, but which feels like it is central, even foundational, to the work:

Composed of gold plates perforated by bullet holes, Sunday’s surfaces seem to swell, making them formally strange—somehow both ballooned-up and torn-through. Their self-violation as a luxury surface is produced by an uncanny shockwave of physics. Freud defined humor as an important act of transgression, and it is the separation of the audience from what went into making the sixty-four gold-plated panels that is transgressive: in a top-secret invite-only warehouse in Queens, through trick doors and passcodes, Catellan led a group of collectors and art-world VIP’s into an underground shooting range where marksmen fired on the gold plates, an act that detourned the process of violence by making it into an exclusive event.

If he hadn’t made a solid gold toilet named America, I might not have believed it, but I think Cattelan’s project was over months ago.

And so the gold-plated, bullet-riddled wall is just the morning-after detritus of a happening where people thrilled to be party to the spectacle of violence.

Happy Pride [In A Still-Functioning Legal System]

Screenshot of Adam Klasfeld’s live coverage of the Trump election fraud trial, showing a routinely falsified invoice created to hide hush money payoffs, from Philip Bump’s WP newsletter

New York prosecutor Joshua Steinglass presented as evidence of Trump’s routine coverup and document fraud a falsified invoice for a shell company created to hide a different $125,000 hush money payment as an “Agreed upon ‘flat fee’ for advisory services.”

Scott Maxwell/LuMaxArt, 3-D Bar Graph Meeting, 2007, digital image, via flickr

I post it here for the same reason Bump posted it at the Post: to praise Michael Cohen’s choice of clip art. It is a distorted rendition of 3-D Bar Graph Meeting, a stock image created by Scott Maxwell of Lumaxart. A version of it created on Christmas Day 2007 was uploaded the next day to flickr.

Though he’s moved his operation to Shutterstock, one of Maxwell’s last updates to his blogpost blog, The Gold Guys, was from 2017: a unified quorum of rainbow stick figures expelling a gold-plated wannabe king, and the word IMPEACH.

El Arbol de Barbero

D245: Sketch for The Barber’s Tree, 1975, watercolor on paper, 22 1/4 x 30 1/4 in., collection of the artist, never been shown [at least through 2014], via JJCR-D

Maybe not being able to find the flagstones motif source, a Harlem wall glimpsed once through a taxi window and then lost, changed Jasper Johns’ approach a bit. Because by 1973, he did take note of the inspiration The Barber’s Tree. At least for the sketch [above], if not the painting, which turned out to be a mostly typical crosshatch motif executed in red and white.

And now we know what Johns knew.

Here is photographer Charles O’Rear’s image from “Mexico: The City That Founded A Nation,” a dispatch by Louis de la Haba and Albert Moldvay from the May 1973 issue of National Geographic.

It is small, and slight, but indeed eye-catching. It’s not clear who is responsible for this cringe caption, though, about “Indulging the national craze for color” and “The Mexicans’ passion for bright hues,” when every barber pole north of the border has the same color scheme.

What is notable, perhaps, is that Johns chose this painting—found, vernacular, and anonymous—only after seeing this on the preceding page:

Albert Moldvay’s spread of David Alfaro Siqueiros’ March of Humanity, one page before the anonymous barber painting a tree in Nat Geo May 1973.

Looking on the web for contemporary images of David Alfaro Siqueiros’ absolutely gargantuan mural, la Marcha de Humanidad, in what was supposed to be the auditorium for the Hotel de Mexico, I can’t see that anyone managed to capture it more fully than Albert Moldvay did in 1973. The Mexicans sure have a national craze for murals. Jasper Johns, not so much.

[Next morning update: Joke’s on me, it’s been on my shelf the whole time. While looking for an image of the 1975 painting The Barber’s Tree, I stumbled on it and O’Rear’s photo in Michael Crichton’s 1977 Whitney catalogue:

it was worth $6 to see it in color, I guess, and to discover the Siqueiros. But let’s be honest, without the intervening watercolor, this tree motif feels kind of far from Johns’ cross-hatches.

I’ve been saying it is barber pole-colored, but Crichton describes The Barber Tree (1975) as “flesh-and-blood colors.” Which, you’ll have to trust him, because the catalogue only had black & white images, and it was in the Ludwig’s collection until they donated it to the National Art Museum of China in 1996.

The Barber’s Tree, encaustic and collage on canvas, 34 x 54 in. (87 x 137.8 cm), snapped from the Jasper Johns Catalogue Raisonné, vol. 3 (P196)

Now that they’re all together, maybe the overlapping structure of the cross-hatches is what carries through from the tree. Crichton noted Johns deployed different structures in the cross-hatch paintings of this period, 1973-76, including various degrees of mirroring or duplication. That is not what’s going on here.

Previously: Jasper Johns Drawings CR Driveby

Donald Baechler’s Blinky Palermo

Lot 44, Blinky Palermo, Untitled, n.d., graphite on paper, 8 1/2 x 11 in., sold from the collection of Donald Baechler at Stair in Feb. 2024 for $4,750

The February 2024 installment of Donald Baechler’s collection sale really feels sorted by style, like it was Baechler’s collection of works that looked like his.

What caught my eye, though, is this little unsigned, undated sketch which we nevertheless somehow know is by Blinky Palermo.

Maybe it was a diagram for Baechler to make his own Palermos? Maybe it’s a diagram for anyone to make their own Palermos?

Hellrot/Hellblau, Hellgrun/Orange, Dunkelgrun/Ocker [?/?], Dunkelrotviolett/Schwarz [s/o Claudio for taking a run at the third one]

Light red/Light blue, Light green/Orange, Dark green/Ochre [?/?], Dark red-violett/Black

Has anyone seen these combos realized?

Rebuilding The Queue

I updated Firefox the other day, and when it restarted, it did not give me the option to restore my previous session. So I lost the like 100+ tabs in five thematically grouped windows that I’d been holding onto, some for years. Others were fresh, things I was going to blog about. Now they’re gone, I’m sure they were going to be the best blog posts I’ve ever written.

Lot 422 on 5 June 2024, a signed Cy Twombly poster, 1975, not in the CR, but numbered 56/80, once owned by Donald Baechler, selling at Stair Galleries

Oh, actually, here’s one I’ve already written around: In 2021 I wrote about the signed exhibition poster from Cy Twombly’s 1974-75 show at Lucio Amelio’s gallery in Naples, which featured the swagged out artist striking a pose next to Castor and Pollux’s backsides. Amelio and his shows were instrumental in both the development of Twombly’s boat motifs, and the subsequent completion of Untitled (Say Goodbye, Catullus, to the Shores of Asia Minor) after two decades in the artist’s studio—and Amelio’s AIDS-related death in 1994.

This copy, ed. 56/80, belonged to Twombly’s friend Donald Baechler, who died in 2022. Much of Baechler’s collection was sold at Stair Galleries last fall, but for whatever reason, this one piece hung back. It’s a slightly weird thing, and it’s weird to see it twice.

Richard Prince, Self-Portrait, 1970s, oil on board, 23 1/2 x 16 in., lot 493 on 5 June 2024 at Stair

And that reminds me, in that same auction are several highly unexpected 1970s, student-era paintings by Richard Prince, which are being sold by a former friend and Nasson College classmate. Among them: this self-portrait with a toilet flush valve coming out of his head, so either an oblique Duchamp Fountain reference, or a stoned unicorn Jesus, who am I to say? The longer it stares at me on my screen, though, the more i want it.