Art Collab Andre Buta

I’m trying to figure out how I’ve lived ten years without a copy of Richard Serra Early Work in my life. [This doesn’t need to happen to you; today’s your last chance to get it for a dollar or whatever at Zwirner’s book sale.]

Anyway, in May 1970, after successfully installing twelve giant fir trees in the Pasadena Art Museum [Peter Plagens going there: “One does not have to be a dedicated Freudian to see the import of huge logs in one of the curved, pristine, uterine chambers of the PAM. Indeed, one has to work pretty hard to fend it off…”], Richard Serra went to Japan, to make work for the Tokyo Biennale ’70.

Richard Serra Early Work, 2014, published by Steidl and David Zwirner Books, solid at any price, an absolute steal at $10

Attention outside Japan on the 10th Tokyo Biennale has picked up a bit—Tate did a symposium it apparently didn’t record in 2016—but there are no period texts about it in this 2014 Serra catalogue, and no mention at all beyond three photos. If I’m getting this right, Serra made his first embedded angled steel works in Japan: the To Encircle Base Plate Hexagram, Right Angles Inverted he dug into Ueno Park was a 130-in. diameter version of the steel circle he embedded in the street in the Bronx later that Fall. [Which is on the cover of the book, btw.] When the Biennale traveled to Kyoto, he made a 300-in. steel square, Untitled (Kyoto Square), in Okazaki Park.

Richard Serra’s To Encircle Base Plate Hexagram, Right Angles Inverted, 1970, hot rolled steel, 130 in. diameter, as installed somewhere in Ueno Park as part of the Tokyo Biennale ’70
photo: Kuwashi Maruyama as published in Richard Serra Early Work (Steidl/Zwirner, 2014)

I couldn’t find Kuwashi Maruyama’s photo [above] online, only the photo of Shigeo Anzaï which shows Serra laying out a circle with a string and some chalk. Starting with his documentary images of international artists at the Biennale, Anzaï was the Shunk AND Kender of 1970s avant-garde Japan. The print above surfaced when he showed them at White Rainbow in 2015-2016.

Shigeo Anzaï photo of Richard Serra and a failed installation at the Tokyo Biennale ’70, image: White Rainbow via Anothermag

Tokyo Biennale ’70 is being reconsidered as an innovative success for curator Yusuke Nakahara’s choice to center artists [no nations, no pavilions]; to use a theme [“Between Man and Matter”] that put Japanese Gutai and Mono-ha artists in dialogue with international artists; and yet to not be too heavy-handed about it. Except that there were zero women; official photographer Anzaï all but ignored the Japanese artists; and almost every anecdote he tells is about something the artists wanted but were not allowed to do.

Christo was forbidden from wrapping something; Sol Lewitt was forbidden from painting on the wall, and on and on. Anzaï’s photo shows Serra trying to plant a tree inside an embedded steel ring in front of the museum, a plan that was rejected. He apparently decided to YOLO it, and installed the sculpture [top] somewhere else in the park, without permission, and without telling anyone where it was.

The Pig Will Eat Its Children, 1970, Richard Serra & Carl Andre collab at Tokyo Biennale ’70, dimensions unknown, photo: Shigeo Anzaï via Richard Serra Early Work (Steidl/Zwirner, 2014)

All of this is really a sidebar to the work Serra did manage to exhibit. A week before the Biennale opened, while Serra was onsite, the Kent State massacre happened. Serra and Carl Andre decided not to let the moment pass. The work they created, listed as “mixed media” in the Serra catalogue, was a wire service printout of John Filo’s photo of Mary Ann Vecchio wailing over the body of Jeffrey Miller; and a hand-painted sign in Japanese and English: “The pig will eat its children.” The two elements are taped side by side to the temporary pegboard wall used in the Biennale.

The Tokyo Museum Collection’s 2005 object listing for Kiyoji Ohtsuji’s 1970/2005 print lists it as “Richard Serra, The Pig Will Eats Its Children (political protest with Carl Andre).” The Serra catalogue caption just calls it a “collaboration with Carl Andre.”

1966 Time magazine photo of Richard Serra [r] and collaborator at Animal Habitats: Life and Stuffed, the artist’s first show, at Galleria La Salita, Rome

What to make of it?Now, Serra’s worked with livestock before, and pigs specifically. But there is no way he’s not [also] thinking of the cops here, right? Again, zero mention in the catalogue, zero mention online. Oddly, one of the very few other references to this title is in a 2012 collaborative work in a 2017 show at Maureen Paley; Gardar Eide Einarsson and Oscar Tuazon included a photo print on crushed aluminum of two parked Japanese riot police busses titled, The Pig Will Eat Its Children.

Gardar Eide Einarsson and Oscar Tuazon, The Pig Will Eat Its Children, 2012, c-print on aluminium, 154 × 119 cm, image: 2017 installation view at Maureen Paley

The Japanese connection makes me think they knew—Einarsson lives in Tokyo—or that there is a common reference. Though probably not Japanese. Serra & Andre’s Japanese text [豚はその子を食べてしまうだろう] reads like a literal translation, and the somewhat clunky painted version actually gets truncated. So it’s not a common saying. And anyway, dogs, not pigs, are the typical Japanese animal slang for police. So this is from the artist(s). Alas, they’re both dead now, so it’s a bummer that apparently no one in the last 10-50 years asked them about it. But don’t look at me; I only found out yesterday, and here I am.

Tokyo Biennale 70 as Contact Point [tate research]

Art Diverts Revolution

“As a matter of fact, Hoffman’s name came up in the ride to Nevada pretty frequently. Serra had gone to school at Santa Barbara and, after Isla Vista, was having serious doubts about whether he was the most revolutionary1 thing that ever came out of that campus. What, we argued, was the most revolutionary thing to do?

“We came back again to see the piece in the early morming, and Joan made a videotape of it. Then we left. On the ride back to Las Vegas we talked about the piece a lot, about politics not at all. It wasn’t as if the problem had gone away; it was, at least for me, as if revolutionary art is where you find it and that the question of what is revolutionary art isn’t too different, in the end, from the question of what is good art. Anyway, nobody mentioned Abbie Hoffman. We all got very happy. Serra wondered whether anyone in the ‘Information’ show had submitted a piece of paper that said: ‘Go to a mesa and dig a slot forty feet deep and one hundred feet long. Then go to the other side and dig a slot…’

1 ‘Revolution’ was the most often-used word I ran into this summer. Nobody used it to mean the transfer of political power from one class to another. Most of the time it seemed to refer to those activities which would most expeditiously bring America to her senses and force her to stop the war, end racism, and begin to take the lead among nations in rescuing the planet from the certain destruction toward which it is headed.”

[Excerpts from Philip Leider’s account of traveling with Joan Jonas and Richard Serra from Berkeley to see Michael Heizer’s Double Negative, published in Artforum (Sept. 1970) as “How I Spent My Summer Vacation or, Art and Politics in Nevada, Berkeley, San Francisco and Utah (Read about it in Artforum),” excerpted further from Richard Serra Early Work (Steidl/Zwirner, 2014), a book you have one more day to buy for $10 at the David Zwirner Books Summer Archive Sale.]

FWIW, I think the Isla Vista reference is to either the torching of a Bank of America building or the shooting by police of a UCSB student in the Spring of 1970.

I was just going to post the footnote of their road trip’s working definition of revolution, but every piece of context kept spiraling into a vortex of depressing relevance.

Shame, OTOH

Richard Hamilton, Kent State, 1970, 13-stencil screenprint, 727×1020 mm, ed. 3034/5000, selling at Bonham’s 26 July 2024

Speaking of mediated political violence, in 1970 Richard Hamilton photographed a TV screen showing a BBC news report of the National Guard shooting at Kent State.

When he decided ‘that art could help to keep the shame in our minds,’ Hamilton made a 13-layer screenprint of an image of freshman Dean Kahler, who was left paralyzed by the gunshots. The print preserves the shape of the television screen and, published in a signed edition of 5,000 aspired to the ubiquitous reach of broadcast TV itself.

The example above, 3034/5000, is being sold—again—at Bonham’s with another Hamilton work, an offset print of Marcel Duchamp, at a slightly lower estimate than the last time.

A Kent State was also included in Galerie Buchholz’s 2022 show of Richard Hamilton works in New York. They’re always available for whatever people feel like paying at the moment. If only shame were so easy to come by.

Signatures of Significance

When I said I can’t get autographs? I meant, unless conceptually.

Sitting with this unexpected Bach auction for a minute, I realized I actually do get autographs when they convey a meaning beyond, “This person signed this,” or “I met/corresponded with this person.”

Unititled (Merce at the Minskoff), 2015-2018, interim state

Or when I project entirely subjective meaning onto them. Like when I found a souvenir towel from a Merce Cunningham performance on Broadway signed by Cunningham, Cage, and Rauschenberg, and I conjured a “logic” for this object that involved getting Jasper Johns to sign it.

That “logic,” or the pretense of it, was predicated on Johns being the designer of the performance poster. But of course, there were multiple other logics possible, from the art historic to the romantic, to the starkly commemorative, forcing an object into existence that links these four men—physically, contractually, notationally, quasi-publicly, as if there weren’t already countless other products of their decades-long interactions, filling archives and beyond. Here the autograph functions as a singular piece of evidence, superficial and contrived, of some other form of more substantial cultural meaning. But when signs are few, signatures will do.

“Rob Pruitt’s Autograph Collection,” exhibited at Luxembourg & Dayan London in 2012

And of course, the significant emptiness can become the subject itself. Like in Rob Pruitt’s Signature Series, large-format autographs on Belgian linen he’s collected since the Pruitt-Early days. I remember several occasions when Rob would suddenly produce a big piece of linen and a fat Sharpie from his backpack, and turn around, offering his back as a writing surface when none other was available.

Rob Pruitt’s Autograph Collection, 2012, published by Karma back in the day

Autographs then became a project, an artistic practice, which art world celebrities and citizens alike could appreciate. I remember seeing a few loosies in the wild, but eventually, after years of accumulation, Pruitt showed The Signature Series en masse. And like Byron Kim’s skin tone monochromes, these accumulated markers of somebody else become a self-portrait of the artist moving through the world.

Now going back to Bach and his chopped up and shuffled autograph collection, it’s possible to interpolate meaning from the otherwise random-seeming clusters. Maybe the lots reflect the order in which Bach collected his autographs, a project of a lifetime sliced into tranches based on minimum viable auction estimate.

Rob Pruitt’s Signatures Series [luxembourgco]
Previously, related: Untitled (Merce at the Minskoff), 2015-2018

Signs Of The Times

Letters, manuscripts, books, I get, but autographs? I cannot even. Franz Peter Bach could, though. The July 24th auction of his autograph collection includes the following, almost surreal text:

He began collecting in the 1980s, from following music tours in Germany, as well as attending swap meets in Hanover, where as well as exchanging autographs, he was given addresses of celebrities, who he would then write to directly for signatures. His collection was meticulously collated, mostly in albums, and added to over many years. Authenticated prior to the sale by Adam Andrusier. Collated in a presentation album by Mr Bach, with tipped in photograph on opposing page. Following the sale, the autograph(s) will be removed and paired with the photograph, ready for collection / shipping.

Besides dismantling this guy’s meticulously collated collection, the autographs are being sold mostly in inexplicable and entertaining groups. The groups that include artist autographs are as follows:

Lot 51: Christopher Reeve, Francis Bacon, Liza Minelli, Bob Hope, Marsha Hunt, Tom Cruise, Burt Ward, and [Austrian actress] Eva May

Lot 53: Christopher Lee, [director] Ettore Scola, Karl Malden, Lynda Carter, [composer] Johann Maria Eduard Strauss III, and Cy Twombly

Lot 56: Shelley Winters, Lionel Messi, Gregory Peck, Tom Hanks, Carrie Fisher, Don Ameche, Tippi Hedren, Anthony Perkins, and Olafur Eliasson.

Gerhard Richter and Leni Riefenstahl are each sold separately. The postcard with Leni’s autographs is pretty unflinching.

Tabula Rasa: The Making Of

photo of Sarah Charlesworth & co creating the screen for Tabula Rasa (1981), image: The Estate of Sarah Charlesworth via PCG Studio

We used to be a real country, where artists made 6×9-ft unique screenprints of degraded prints of one of the world’s first photographs.

Tabula Rasa, the summer group show at Paula Cooper, takes its name from a series of four unique screenprints Sarah Charlesworth made in 1981, one of which is in the show. On the their pandemic-era blog, PCG Studio, the gallery has posted a series of photos showing the making of Tabula Rasa, as well as another rarely seen work in the show: Face/Surface, a 1976 collaboration between Charlesworth and her former teacher Joseph Kosuth.

Continue reading “Tabula Rasa: The Making Of”

Covid Has Entered The Felix Portrait Subject Groupchat

Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ portraits are, by design, a conflation of the public and private, the world historic and the individual, the news and the intimate. And the artist encouraged his subjects to add and edit important events, people, and dates, authorizing them to decide what version of a portrait should be used whenever it is exhibited.

So I am pretty sure that when “Untitled” (Portrait of the Rosenbergs), 1994, was installed at Paula Cooper Gallery this summer, the text was provided by its subjects, OG Tribeca collectors Colombe Nicholas and Leonard Rosenberg. The work appears in Tabula Rasa, a fascinating-looking group show tracing study, influence, and relationships across a network of artists around Sarah Charlesworth.

Covid arrives when again? detail of Felix Gonzalez-Torres “Untitled” (Portrait of the Rosenbergs) in Tabula Rasa at Paula Cooper Gallery, screenshot from @aaron_krach’s 10 July IG

And I guess one way to interpret the inclusion of “Covid arrives 2021” is as the date it finally made its way into the Rosenbergs’ pod? Did they somehow miss the entirety of Covid in 2020, when it was very much a thing? Did the date baked right into the name, COVID-19, not factor in? Did they perhaps mean “Vaccine arrives 2021”?

The very nature of Felix’s portraits, and also the nature of human history as an accumulation of lived individual experience and interaction, and also the ultimate impossibility of knowing someone else’s subjective experience, and also the inevitable failure of art, no matter how powerful, to perfectly capture and transmit the essence of that subjectivity, makes me reluctant to call the factcheckers. If or until I hear back from them or the gallery with more info, for the Rosenbergs, at least, Covid arrived in 2021.

Detail of “Untitled” (Portrait of the Magoons), 1993, Nancy Magoon Version, as installed in 2023 at David Zwirner

Meanwhile, in his 2023 show of Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ work, David Zwirner exhibited another portrait, “Untitled” (Portrait of the Magoons), 1993, but in three versions. Artists Coco Fusco and Glenn Ligon created their own versions, and collector/subject Nancy Magoon provided her own version. [cf. this YouTube video of them speaking with Helen Molesworth about the portrait(s).]

In her version Magoon, whose husband and co-subject Robert passed away in 2018, included “Covid lonely 2020.” Which, taken together with “Bedazzled 2019, 2021, 2022,” might mean the pandemic canceled Ms. Magoon’s annual screening of the Elizabeth Hurley/Brendan Fraser classic. Such is the nature of a Felix portrait, of course, that we may never know.

Tabula Rasa is on view at Paula Cooper Gallery until 26 July 2024 [paulacoopergallery]

Your Body Of Work, His Penetrable

Olafur Eliasson, Seu corpo da obra (Your body of work), 2011, cyan, magenta, and yellow plastic sheets, installed at SESC Pompeia, São Paulo, photo: Olafur Eliasson himself via

Right now I would just like to get lost in transparent mazes of color, tracking the new colors produced by overlapping vistas, and reminisce on the Penetrable installations of Helio Oiticica. Who was driven from Brazil into exile by the military dictatorship.

Turns out discovering this 2011 Olafur Eliasson installation in São Paulo, and later in Stockholm, is not helping me flee the foreboding present, who knew?

Seu corpo da obra (Your body of work), 2011 []
Seu corpo da obra (Your body of work) installation video []

Previously, related: Art & Autocracy [brooklynrail]
What I Saw: Manhattan Speedrun (and Liz Deschenes Gorilla Glass works)

Stephen Dean Prayer Mill Glowup

Stephen Dean, Prayer Mill, 2001, dichroic glass and postcard stand, 71 in., selling 17 July 2024 at Christie’s

Stephen Dean’s Prayer Mills are so ridiculously beautiful it’s ridiculous. The light hitting them will fill the space with polygons of color. As you move around them, the dichroic glass changes color like a tricked out Hyundai. And even just sitting there in the even, featureless confines of an auction listing, the wires of the postcard rack over, behind, and through the planes of color are like a Stuart Davis drawing. [When I pin down the closer reference I’m thinking of, I’ll add it here.]

Weirdly, I remembered them as Prayer Wheels, so I guess I was wrong about that.

Anyway, point is, this one’s selling next week at Christie’s—for at least $100.

10-17 July 2024, Lot 178: Stephen Dean, Prayer Mill, 2007, est. $7-10,000, no reserve [update: sold for $8,190] [christies]
Stephen Dean | Works | Prayer Mills []

Taken From Behind: Lina Bo Bardi’s Back, Baby

Collection in Transformation: installation view at MASP, São Paulo. photo: MASP via designboom

It’s been almost ten years since Adriano Pedrosa brought Lina Bo Bardi’s glass & concrete easels back to MASP in São Paulo, and I guess I thought the world would have long since filled up with photos from the back. It is literally the first thing I think about every time I see one.

Continue reading “Taken From Behind: Lina Bo Bardi’s Back, Baby”

‘This Is A Book I Haven’t Read’

photo of Jasper Johns by Bob Cato, via davidhudson

This morning David Hudson posted this c. 1950s photo of Jasper Johns I’d never seen in a space I didn’t recognize, and I had to know more. Looking for the photographer, Bob Cato, took me to another image he made of Johns and crew, which ran in the NY Times in February 2001, accompanying an article about a Carnegie Hall program celebrating John Cage and his collaborative circle. Kay Larson, who would go on to write a biography of Cage, did not actually discuss the photo.

1958 Bob Cato photo of Robert Rauschenberg, Merce Cunningham, John Cage, M.C. Richards, and Jasper Johns, as published in the NY Times, Feb. 4, 2001, via

It is from the 1958 photoshoot for the liner notes for the album version of “The 25 Year Retrospective Concert of the Music of John Cage.”

Continue reading “‘This Is A Book I Haven’t Read’”

The Tablecloth Picture Plane

oilcloth concept roundup, [clockwise from upper left]: but which Guyton? Richter Strip; a Rothko; Sturtevant’s—or any, really—Felix candy carpet

Yesterday on the good social media, I floated an idea about custom-printing an oilcloth for our table instead of stalemating over off-the-roll options. When I realized custom was even an option, my mind went first to Guyton/Walker, probably because tables, but also because their poppin’ designs feel like riffs on the most garish tropical oilcloth patterns out there already.

But then it occurred to me, what is a Wade Guyton painting but an artisanal and auratic, custom-printed textile? Which one would be best as a tablecloth? If process is the determinant, Gerhard Richter’s Strip paintings are also printed. But what isn’t these latter days of the flatbed picture plane?

I had the Felix Gonzalez-Torres catalogue raisonné out, and its all-over cover photos of candy suddenly felt like the perfect combination of representation and abstraction, object and pattern. But what color?

The Gonzalez-Torres image universe spilled out before me. Bead curtain? Death by Gun? [oof.] The dark surface of the sea? A bird in a cloudy sky? Black with a couple of lines of biography and historic events printed along one edge? Then I realized I already had a solution. Or at least an option.

Felix Gonzalez-Torres, “Untitled” (For Parkett 39), 1994, ed. 1/84 sold in Fall 2023 at the auction of a complete set of Parkett editions at Van Ham, Berlin

Sure, we could print the entire image of footprints in the sand from “Untitled” (For Parkett 39). Or, we could use the eight screenprinted panels of the 3×7-meter billboard edition separately. Except they are mostly square, around 160 x 170 cm, each, plus some border/overlap. So on their own, they don’t fit our rectangular table. They would need to be pasted together in a vertical pair. Do they need to be laminated? Coated? Thrown over with a clear vinyl tablecloth like at Grandma’s? Beyond unworkable, it feels wrong. [lmao as if the whole idea isn’t bad enough.] I’ve taken my Parkett billboard sheets out like twice, and that billboard stock is thick; they are not your crafty mama’s butcher paper.

So printing it is, I guess.

Blank Ruled Pages In The Getty Museum Collection

Ms. 30, fol. 44v (87.MN.141.44.44v) via Getty Museum Collection

I was unexpectedly giddy when Carolina Miranda posted on social media about the blank ruled page she came across in the collection of the Getty Museum.

I have since had tabs open for all the blank ruled pages in the Getty for several weeks now. There are fourteen. [Also there are 46 “blank pages,” which includes half-blank sheets.]

Continue reading “Blank Ruled Pages In The Getty Museum Collection”

Elyn Zimmerman, Palisades, 1981

Elyn Zimmerman, Palisades Project, 1981, unrealized, image:

In 1981 sculptor Elyn Zimmerman proposed to polish a sliver of the 300 ft tall basalt cliffs of the Palisades in New Jersey to a mirror finish, so that it would reflect—depending on your angle—the Manhattan bank of the Hudson, the river itself, or the sky.

She showed the maquette of the Palisades Project [above] at the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, which also commissioned a related sculpture, a dramatic, 8 x 21-foot freestanding wall of one polished and seven natural cleft granite slabs, for the museum entrance.

Elyn Zimmerman, Palisades (Project), 1981, granite, 8 x 21 ft., selling at Christie’s 17 July 2024

When the NY Times visited it in 1982, it was untitled. At some point, it became known as Palisades (1981), and in 1990 it was reinstalled at a winery in Napa with the artist’s involvement, and a reflecting pool, echoing the Hudson, perhaps, was added. It was sold in 2014, and it is now for sale again, this second, decidedly mid reflecting trough not included. Christie’s calls it Palisades Project both times.

Zimmerman’s original proposal had an undeniably thrilling aspect to it, a spectacular vision born of mind-freeing drives upstate. Of course, it was also impossible. The basalt of the Palisades does not polish to a mirror finish. No doubt realizing this at the time, Zimmerman’s Yonkers exhibit included an alternate proposal to mount a polished granite skin on the cliff face, at which point you might as well just stick an actual 300-ft tall mirror on there.

Thus, though that one piece could maybe use some polishing, Palisades Project [sic] survives as the ideal realization of the concept. Bidding starts at $100, plus shipping.

matt damon and scarlett johansson and a small child star in the heartwarming story of a collector who bid a hundred dollars on a ten-ton granite sculpture for the lulz and won, based on a true story

[update: holy smokes, it sold to the lone bidder for $126, this is epic, hmu lucky winner!]

Felix Gonzalez-Torres Tattoo @RennSoc

Speaking of epic editions from the 1990s at The Renaissance Society, they have Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ tattoo, “Untitled” (1992), available. Proceeds from the unlimited edition support the Renaissance Society and the Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation. [status update: it’s complicated.]

This has long been on the top of my list of artist tattoos I would have gotten, had I gotten a tattoo, and I have considered getting it several times over the years. At some of those times, when I was getting close, I felt like the tattoo was not readily or easily available.

At some point, it felt like I missed a window in which the Renaissance Society offered it. That window is now open, but I find this level of engagement with the work has been sufficient for me. The description says, “you may also gift the tattoo,” so if I need to level up, I’ll just find someone who wants it.

Felix Gonzalez-Torres, “Untitled”, 1992, ed. 16 and 17, documented by the collectors at

By now the Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation has published documentation of at least six of at least twenty realizations of the tattoo—including Nancy Spector’s—and I love this exceptional variation, where two people got mirrored rings of dolphins around their forearms. I think Felix would be pleased.

Felix Gonzalez-Torres, “Untitled”, 1992, tattoo, unlimited edition, $300 []
“Untitled” 1992, with six of at least 20 installs documented []
Previously, very much related: Artist Tattoos I Have Not Collected, 2009