Now (And Then) And Forever

“With gratitude for the imagination, creativity, and vision of Kerry James Marshall in his design for the Now and Forever Windows, on behalf of the Windows Replacement Committee and the Fabrics and Fine Arts Committee, we present to you these stained glass windows, fabricated by Andre Goldkuhle, to be set apart for the people of God.”

I watched the dedication ceremony Saturday, but I wanted to see the stained glass windows Kerry James Marshall made at the National Cathedral in person before writing about them.

It is, of course, impossible to consider the windows outside of their multiple contexts, including: the fleeting, classical Episcopalian spectacle of the dedication ceremony, whose explicit purpose was to inspire, and which has already floated away from the physical present now of the installation. The Cathedral and its institutional apparatus’ reckoning with the white supremacist symbolism literally built into it, over decades; the incremental recommendations and changes made in the wakes of multiple instances of anti-Black violence; the official committees formed amidst the activism of Black students at the Cathedral’s schools; and the seemingly relentless drumbeat of white Christianist fascism beyond the Cathedral’s walls.

Kerry James Marshall is surely aware of all this. He’s been making compelling art all his career for cathedrals built to exclude him. The National Cathedral knows all this, too, obviously; it’s what they chose him to do. In a way, or in part. What was the commission, and what, actually, did Marshall do?

Continue reading “Now (And Then) And Forever”

Cady Noland More Relevant Than I’d Like

The New Yorker cover illustration, 2 Oct 2023, by Bruce Blitt

Shoutout to Cady Noland for making the cover of The New Yorker this week. We have been overdue for a discussion of the walker as a symbol of American boomer hegemony.

Cady Noland, Untitled (Walker), 1986, metal walker, metal police badge, leather gloves and case, denim strap, leather strap with metal clip, nylon strap with metal clip, copyright Cady Noland, photo: Owen Conway via Gagosian


Untitled (Harvey After Untitled (Walker)), 2019, walker, tennis balls, retractable stanchions, galvanized barrier, stepstool, hi-viz coat (image:AFP via Getty Images via PageSix)

Oh, Hi, Ethiopia’s Most Important Relic, Looted By The British Museum

the first color photo published of Kwer’ata Re’esu, a c.1520 painting of the Blessing Christ, which was tracked down by The Art Newspaper over 25+ years. image: TAN/Martin Bailey

Martin Bailey just dropped an extraordinary tale of investigation of an amazing tale of officially organized looting in The Art Newspaper. The subject is an early 16th century painting of Christ, , which became the most important religious relic in Ethiopian Orthodoxy. It was stolen on orders of the British Museum in 1868, who sent an agent to Ethiopia to loot artifacts and manuscripts from the midst of war. That agent, Richard Holmes, took the painting from above the bed of the emperor, and ended up keeping it for himself.

The painting’s nearly invisible, deracinated history since then, and reconnecting it to its Ethiopian context, are a central part of The Art Newspaper’s investigation, which began in at least 1998.

Kwer’ata Re’esu was widely copied within Ethiopia over the centuries, but the original was carefully guarded by the emperors. Until the 1990s, when TAN located it in Portugal, Kwer’ata Re’esu had only been known by a single 1905 photograph. Bailey went to visit it and took what are now the first known color images of the painting, including its frame and backing, all seemingly intact after 500 years.

Exclusive: first colour photographs shed fresh light on Ethiopia’s most treasured icon and its looting by an agent of the British Museum [theartnewspaper]

Incense Sensibility

Chris Rusak, Zine: Survey of Liturgical Incense, 2023, via

A couple of months ago, Los Angeles conceptual perfume artist Chris Rusak published a zine with a 9000-word survey of liturgical incense, its history, culture, and performance, and details of fourteen current sources of incense, including “several brands that are handmade by artisanal monks, some of which are not widely known and are hard to acquire due to their limited production.”

Like all of Rusak’s productions, it is beautiful and provocative of both sensation and thought.

Then today I saw that 56 Henry is currently staging a show by the Los Angeles artist and mage L, which includes Talismanic toroidal altar (2022-2023). As barely a novice in these matters, I can only quote from the press announcement:

Talismanic toroidal altar (2022–23) was initially constructed at Documenta 15 last year, in response to a curatorial request for L to conduct magic in service of their fellow artists. The main structure is a chromed coat rack from the D15 exhibition venue St. Kunigundis church, that was gifted to L by the local anarchist priest. One accoutrement hanging from the altar is a steel lemon juicer, utilized at D15 as an incense burner. For this exhibition, a new incense will be activated – 333 – that L co-created with perfumer Christopher Gordon of Maison Anonyme.

L, Talismanic Toroidal Altar, 2022, Aluminum clergy vestment rack from St. Kunigunis, crocodile skull, chain clasps, wood and steel scythe, lemon, aluminum badminton racket, ritually poured molybdomantic lead, quartz crystals, L’s broken mirror, webbing, fishing hooks, galvanized steel spring, selenite wand, ceramic vessel, steel citrus juicer ceremonially utilized as incense diffuser, copal incense, St. Germain herbal blend incense, steel lock, hot glue sticks, yarn, horseshoe from Montauk, pyrite, selenite, lead, glass jar with copal incense, protective stone from Germany. image via 56 Henry

The medium description is an invocation in itself, though it does also seem to be for a previous incarnation. L’s creations at St. Kunigunis were part of the Ghetto Biennial organized by Atis Rezistans, a Haiti-based artist collective. They resonate both formally and etymologically with the altar conjured by the Los Angeles artist collective A.S.T.R.A.L.O.R.A.C.L.E.S in collaboration with Dual Forces, a creative agency for Adidas and Nike, who all seem to exist in harmonic resonance with each other.

There is definitely something in the air out there.

L’s exhibition, Triplet states (+1), runs through October 22, 2023 []

Kerry James Marshall’s National Cathedral Windows Dedication

In 2021 Kerry James Marshall was commissioned by the National Cathedral to create stained glass windows to replace windows that depicted Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Marshall’s Now and Forever Windows will be unveiled and dedicated on Saturday morning, Sept. 23, and a public open house to celebrate them will run all day.

The windows are accompanied by a stone plaque engraved with a poem, commissioned from Elizabeth Alexander, titled, “An American Song.”

The dedication and reading will be streamed live on the Cathedral’s YouTube channel:

A history of the confederate windows, the task force that convened to study and remove them, and the project to replace them, is at

Non-Existent Cady Nolands

Once I could confirm she included no LL Bean tote bags, I made my peace with not blogging every review and post and image of Cady Noland’s one-room exhibition at Gagosian. But it’s hard to resist, especially in this window before I get to the show in person.

detail of a photo of archival Polaroids from Cady Noland’s exhibition at Park & 75th, showing an undated sculpture with the label, “doesn’t exist,” via octavio-world
Another detail of the archival Polaroids, with another Cady Noland that “doesn’t exist,” from octavio-world

On tumblr Octavio has posted some intriguing photos that were not in the gallery checklist: a collection of archival Polaroids, some stacks several pictures deep, of earlier installations and details of work. I’m going to wait to go through them more carefully, but I will absolutely rush to post the discovery of a new category of Cady Noland sculpture alongside “destroyed by refabrication” and “disavowed because of damage and conservation shenanigans”:

“Doesn’t exist.”

Continue reading “Non-Existent Cady Nolands”

EK 808: The Making Of

Ellsworth Kelly created his first floor piece, Yellow Curve-Portikus, in 1990 in Frankfurt. When the Raleses sought to recreate it, Kelly made a new work, Yellow Curve (EK808), in 2015. He supervised a test installation at Glenstone before he passed away. The video above is about the realization of Yellow Curve this year, for the EK 100 exhibition marking the centenary of the artist’s birth.

I love that at Portikus, the architecture was the fixed constraint, providing the parameters Kelly used to create the shape of the work. And at Glenstone, the work Kelly made provides the parameters for the space, which is built to fit. A perfect inverse which results in, seemingly, the same visual and physical experience. It’s the little differences.

Previously, related, it sounds like this one is a refabrication of the 1992 floor piece, though. How does that work?: Ellsworth Kelly, Red Floor Panel (1992)

Gerhard Richter Dishes?

Gerhard Richter porcelainware set, 1992, for Edition Obelisco of Cologne, this set of six placesettings sold at Stahl in Hamburg in 2016

While looking for something else, I stumbled across this set of porcelain dishes by Gerhard Richter. They were apparently produced in 1992—there’s a big RICHTER 92 signature baked onto the bottom of everything—by the Thuringian porcelainmaker Kahla as part of an Edition Obelisco series of artist-designed dishware.

So now I’ve got to resist being one more empty result in the little swirling eddy on Google linking Richter and Obelisco and nothing else. Other listings say Edition Obelisco was commissioned for the 1992 edition of Art Cologne, but the Hamburg auction house Stahl that sold these six 7-piece place settings (six chargers, plates, soup dishes, cake plates, cups & saucers, and mugs) in 2016 said it just debuted at what was once the most important art fair around.

It’s hard to tell from the picture, but the blue brushstroke design of Richter’s dishes is apparently raised up from the white surface. The Gerhard Richter Archiv in Dresden, which has two place settings, reports that the planned edition of 500 sets was not realized because of production challenges. [From the various online images, maybe they had some trouble getting the blue right.]

this absolute mess of a plate by Walter Stöhrer didn’t sell last December. image: invaluable

Other artists in the Edition Obelisco series included a bunch of dudes—Michael Buthe, Alain Clement, Alan Jones, Emil Schumacher, Walter Stöhrer, Claude Viallat, and Wolf Vostell—and Isa Genzken, then still married to Richter. Out of all that, only one awful plate turns up online. Unless Vostell’s dishes are all encased in blocks of concrete, the only other one I want to see is Genzken’s. This whole project feels like a reunification euphoria fantasy that didn’t work out.


Cady Noland, Untitled (Walker), 1986, metal walker, metal police badge, leather gloves and case, denim strap, leather strap with metal clip, nylon strap with metal clip, copyright Cady Noland, photo: Owen Conway via Gagosian

It’s been two days and the #CadyNoland hashtag’s been kind of quiet. Maybe folks are still thinking about what a newly seen 1986 work might imply about the possible existence of a Cady Noland Warehouse. [wtf send moar pics]

“Hopefully, instead of providing solace, a new source or cause for anxiety is opened up in relation to the coupling and uncoupling of elements in a way that has no predictable relation as to whether things are old or new, or in what manner they are alike, like a random killer being on the loose,” Cady Noland wrote in the artist statement for her first solo show, at American Fine Arts, in 1989, the date for most other Untitled (Walker) works, as published in The Clip-On Method.

Also: “I made three pieces with walkers and police equipment. These are more about the _equilibrium_ of the iconographic police officer who manages at once to enjoy the righteous action ‘out there’, a place of danger and thrills, but also to fulfill the comforting but suffocating tedious obligations to the family, civilian life, etc. The hero cop is a family man, not a ‘swingle’ (the occasional deviant ‘kook’ like Serpico or the fictive Dirty Harry notwithstanding).” Hmm.

Cady Noland, Saw Action/Duty, 1986, metal walker, metal police badge, leather glove, leather holster, ticket book, leather strap with metal hook, published in The Clip-On Method, 2019

Later today update: Three things to note from revisiting Noland’s 2-volume publication, The Clip-On Method, which was released with her 2019 show at Galerie Buchholz. This 1986 Untitled (Walker) is not represented, but a similar work, Saw Action/Duty, is.

She wrote about how adding or taking away elements of her sculptures doesn’t change their meaning—until it does. It’s an idea that prompts closer study of what each work comprises, and where they differ. [It also prompts me to imagine a Cady Noland Kit of Parts, where she can stick accessories together like an Officer Potatohead, give it a name, take a picture, then dismantle it, and repeat as often as she likes. ACAD (All Cadys Are Documentation).

Or are they? Of the 162+ images of works in The Clip-On Method, 59 of them are not from exhibitions. It’s an admittedly crude metric for tabulating her total output. But it does feel significant that just two years ago, the universe of known Nolands grew by more than 50% in one pop. And now, two days later, a new show with another previously unseen sculpture confirms that the Cadyverse is still expanding, and at an accelerating rate.

Pictures Sam Makes

Sam McKinniss, Joyce Carol Oates, 2023, Oil on linen, 20 x 16 x 1 1/2 inches
Photo: Hannah Mjølsnes via Blum & Poe

Blum & Poe are not splitting quietly. They just opened “Pictures Girls Make,” a show of portraiture curated by Alison Gingeras that looks fantastic.

The title comes from Willem de Kooning, a derogatory quip about his wife Elaine’s portrait practice. So of course there’s an excellent, faceless portrait of Frank O’Hara to start the refutation. A rocky Gertrude Abercrombie self-portrait, Beauford Delaney’s glowing yellow painting of an unidentified man, and a spare, muted picture of John Ashbery by Fairfield Porter are just some of the unexpected vintage treats. It’s an unusually literary show.

Sam McKinniss, Lana Del Rey reading The Paris Review, 2023, ed. 25, 30×22 in. sheet, via TPR

But when Benjamin Godsill and Nate Freeman on Nota Bene were discussing Sam McKinniss’s new print to benefit the Paris Review [9/10/23, around 30:00], Godsill absolutely went off on Sam’s portrait of Joyce Carol Oates, “The greatest artwork I’ve seen this year.”

Literally cracking up in response, Nate goes, “It’s a perfect Sam McKinniss painting, because it’s a painting of a subject, and it’s a painting of so much more than that”

“And it’s a tough picture, but it’s so well done, it is really, absolutely fantastic.”

I have had a no-engagement policy with JCO for my entire tenure on Twitter, but as that world falls apart, I will make an exception offsite, for Sam. Because it does rock rather intensely.

Pictures Girls Make: Portraitures, curated by Alison Gingeras at Blum & Poe LA runs from 9 Sept til 21 October 2023 [blumandpoe]
Does Lana Del Rey read The Paris Review? []

Ellsworth Kelly, Green Panel (Ground Zero), 2011

Ellsworth Kelly, Green Panel (EK1022), 2011, painted aluminum, ACII sold at Sotheby’s in 2013

The circumstances of the shape are well-known, and generative: Ellsworth Kelly saw an aerial photo of the World Trade Center site illustrating a 2003 New York Times article about the controversies over what to build. Kelly collaged his proposal, which he sent to the Times, which Herbert Muschamp donated to the Whitney. Interestingly, Kelly’s collage vividly captures the color of his proposal to fill the entire site with a large, grass-covered mound, used only for resting and gathering, while the flat, isometric image elides the actual form. Neither, as it happens, is it captured in the abstracted aluminum object he made in 2011, which somehow feels even flatter.

The circumstances of making this object are unclear, at least to me. There is the possible timing of an anniversary, of course. The collage was included in Peter Eleey’s show, September 11 at MoMA PS1, but a green panel was not.

The size of the panel is very small, even domestic: 22 1/4 x 49 1/2 in. (56.5 X 125.8 cm). This feels like an object to live with. It was produced in painted aluminum by Carlson Baker, fabricators who were very familiar to Kelly. It was made in an edition of three. Kelly gave ed. 1/3 to the Whitney. The example sold as a fundraiser for something at Sotheby’s in 2013 was listed as AC II, so Kelly had at least two for himself. The title then was Green Panel (Ground Zero), but the fabricators listed it as Green Panel, with the CR number, EK1022. The example hanging in the final gallery of the EK100 show at Glenstone is from the collection of Jack Shear. I recall it as thicker than expected, an aluminum slab rather than an aluminum sheet. Maybe that is the first one. Did they have it up in their house?

George Washington’s Lace

Thinking of Steve Roden took me back to a work he helped inspire: Untitled (George Washington’s Coffin). Steve had been “obsessed” by an auction photograph of two pieces of nondescript wood bound together, which turned out to be fragments of George Washington’s coffin. Turns out Washington was reinterred several times at Mount Vernon, and his heirs made a practice of giving away small pieces of his old coffin(s) to visitors. After wondering what this might have been like, living within this tradition of democratic relicism, I proposed to reassemble the coffin, reuniting all its pieces scattered to the world. This was in October 2016, if you can imagine.


And then I found this: a 1 by 1 3/4 inch fragment of lace that once belonged to George Washington, and which was given by Martha Washington to Gilbert Stuart to aid in painting Washington’s portrait. The catalogue note says it was a gift in 1865 of Jane Stuart, the painter’s daughter, who was also a painter, and who had beef about lace with rival Washington portraitist Rembrandt Peale:

…Peale claimed he had never seen Washington wearing elitist lace “ruffles,” notably represented in Stuart’s portrait hanging in the White House. To counter Peale’s accusation and defend her father’s character, Anne Stuart replied, “We [have] in our possession some lace which my father cut from Washington’s linen. The circumstances were these: My father asked Mrs. Washington if she could let him have a piece of lace, such as the General wore, to paint from. She said, ‘Certainly,’ and did it make any difference if it were old. He replied, ‘Certainly not, I only wish to give the general effect.’ She then brought the linen with the lace on it, and said, ‘Keep it, it may be of use for other pictures.’ I have given away this lace an inch at a time, until it has all disappeared; the largest piece I gave to the late Mrs. Harrison Gray Otis, who had it framed.

Gilbert Stuart (attr.), Portrait of George Washington (Lansdowne Type), 1796, a copy of the 1796 original (now in the National Portrait Gallery), but officially disavowed by Stuart because he would have gotten in trouble for selling it twice. In the White House collection since 1800

And so again we have the propagation of relics of George Washington by those with the most intimate physical connections to him, and disputes over their political implications. In addition to contemporary correspondence about the president’s lace, Mount Vernon holds two similar fragments, and a third, or rather a fourth, is reported in the collection of the Dorothy Quincy Homestead in Quincy, Massachusetts.

While I wonder about these objects and the social and historical processes that produce and preserve them, I am not really in a reassemble George Washington’s old lace shirt as a conceptual project mood these days. So you may bid unimpeded (by me, at least. There are already five bids, though the reserve is not yet met.

Lot 1: The Metallic Pegasus Judicial Collar. “Four of her collars are in museums – the Lace Judicial Collar, the ‘Majority’ Collar, the ‘Dissent’ Collar, [and] the Decorative Polychrome Tiled Collar.”

The other lot in the two-lot sale is, amazingly, The Metallic Pegasus Judicial Collar from the collection of the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Maybe the buyer will part it out one silver bead or feather at a time to mark Ginsburg’s judicial legacy, until it has all disappeared.

[update: the lace sold for $3,250. The collar did not sell for $195,000.]

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Judicial Collar & George Washington’s Gilbert Stuart Portrait Lace | September 21, 2023 [potomackcompany]

Steve Roden Created The Sound

Steve Roden, listen (4’33”), 2002

I’m bereft to learn that artist Steve Roden passed away, surrounded by loved ones.

I never met Roden in person, though we got close a few times, but we had a correspondence. We mostly interacted with each other through blogging. We had some mutual/overlapping interests, including John Cage, but we also enjoyed watching each other do our own things. And I was always in awe of the things Roden did, how he thought and worked, and the artworks, music, performances and words that resulted.

When Tyler Green launched his podcast, Modern Art Notes in 2011, the only suggestion I had for him was to get some sound, and there was a guy. Turns out he was already on it. A few episodes later, Steve Roden’s droning intros and outros, made from a 1970s Italian recording of Cage’s 4’33”, became a steady ringtone for me, even more than Roden’s longer recordings. [I collect but rarely listen to music, tbh, but it’s going on rotation now.]

Roden’s blog, airform archives, got quiet in 2018, a not unusual occurrence. But it was only a year or so ago that I learned Steve was experiencing very early, and increasingly severe, Alzheimer’s. My heart first sank, selfishly, for the loss of all the work and correspodence that wouldn’t come, but then it ached for the challenges of those closest to Steve, and the burdens they faced, in care and sadness. I hope they found comfort in the community they formed, and that they find peace now, and that knowing of Steve’s influence and impact in so many ways, big and small, near and far, slight and profound, helps to lift their spirits.

For some artists, or for artists in the past, their legacies were primarily objects—paintings, sculptures, drawings, sketchbooks, books, manuscripts, artifacts—that were preserved in institutions like museums, libraries, archives, unless they weren’t. Steve Roden’s practice encompassed objects like this, and they were shown, documented, and collected in art institutions. But Roden produced so much more, and those digital traces and recordings are proxies for the interactions, connections, experiences, and memories he shared with so many people all over the world.

I’m glad to have his words, voice, music, and work to reflect on as I remember him. I hope you’ll find it meaningful to do the same.

[update: Oh, I forgot that Steve bought a collection of shells owned by Martha Graham. That’s been sitting in my head for ten years, quietly changing the way I look at collections of sea shells.]

Steve talking about his MAN Podcast compositions: Ep. 19: Mark Bradford, Steve Roden, Mar. 2012
Steve & Stephen Vitiello talking about a performance in the Rothko Chapel: Ep. 40: Darsie Alexander, Steve Roden & Stephen Vitiello, Aug. 2012
Steve talking about his shows at Vielmetter & CRG Galleries: Ep. 99: James Welling, Steve Roden, Sept. 2013
airform archives []
steve roden [bandcamp]