The DaVinci Code Code

With six trans-oceanic flights last month, I ended up seeing The DaVinci Code with the sound off at least two dozen times. The only thing that surprises me about this Reuters story is that it’s taken this long for other craven museums to get into the movie tie-in game:

In the next two years [the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay] will between them underwrite screenplays by seven critically acclaimed international filmmakers for films to be shot — at least partly — inside their walls.

The Louvre is co-financing and co-producing a film by Taiwanese director Tsai Ming Liang, which will be shot entirely onsite.
Meanwhile, to comemmorate its 20th anniversary, d’Orsay is “working with” [?] director/producer Francois Margolin’s company Margo Films to make four $3mm films starring Juliet Binoche [?], and directed by Olivier Assayas, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Raoul Ruiz, and Jim Jarmusch.

“Though it’s probably not conscious, the ripple effects from presenting an image beyond museum walls is about branding — the art collections and the museum — to potential visitors from around the world.”

says Margolin, just before I smack him on the forehead.
Museums getting key parts in films []

Quinze Love

Arne Quinze has a posse. The Belgian self-marketer began his cross-country promotional tour for the launch of the new Lexus flagship at Burning Man. Though he didn’t really mention the tie-in to anyone there at the time, he sure has mentioned the Burn since, and how 2-4,000 people a day would come out to the deep playa to visit the Belgian Waffle.
Oddly, there was no mention at all of Lexus again when Quinze and his firm’s US “agent” Antoine Debouverie, spoke last month at Miami Basel to a breathless David Weinstein on WPS1. The Lexus circus had come to town during the fair, and a P.S.1 staffer named Zorana Djakovic arranged for the “emerging master” to be interviewed about his art on ABMB’s official art radio station.
You can hear the whole interview, it’s only 12 minutes long, but here’s my transcription of part of it:

Zorana Djakovic: What do you think, can you imagine one of Arne’s wooden constructions at the courtyard of P.S.1 during the Warm-Up?
David Weinstein: That’s the Warm-Up architecture project at PS1; there’s a special architecture project for the environment for the summer dance parties. It’s a competition, and there’s a reward, but this would be wonderful there. And beautiful with the old building.
Antoine Debouverie: Have you seen it lit up as well? Because when you put together and create that organic, wooden shape with soft lighting and music, it becomes an incredible communal space.
At Burning Man there were 40,000 people there. We were not advertised anywhere. We were not on the agenda, for what parties at what times, you know? We just did it for ourselves, alright? And every night, I guarantee, there were like five, ten thousand people who would converge to our space to experience the space, the lights, and you know the communion that this piece produces.
DW: I can tell you, our staff was thrilled immediately by this piece, and I urge people to go take a look at it. Our description here leaves something to be desired.

Indeed. And to think the title of my first, naive post about the Uchronians was titled, “Uh-oh, I Hope P.S.1 Doesn’t Find Out About This.”
WPS1: Beyond Burning Man: Arne Quinze [pronounced KWIN-zuh, apparently. Now I’ll have to change all my too-clever titles.]
previous over-coverage of Quinze Milan, Lexus, Burning Man, and the Uchronians

Nam June Paik’s Early Work


I used to live downstairs from Nam June Paik. I was too starstruck to ever talk with him at length, but we had friendly chats when we’d see each other in the stairway of our Little Italy loft building.
Once, I did manage to tell him how much I admired his pieces in the John Cage show that was going on over at the Guggenheim SoHo [“Rolywholyover: A Circus,” still one of the most brilliant and exciting museum exhibitions I’ve ever seen. Incredible catalogue, too.] My favorite was and is TV Buddha, a nearly perfect conceptualized work comprised of a carved Buddha statue , a video camera, and a television. The statue sits enlightened and silent, endlessly watching itself on the screen.
TV Buddha is made even better by the allegedly offhand way it was created, as “wall filler” for a 1974 gallery show in New York, though I wouldn’t be surprised if Paik was just being reflexively modest when the work was praised.
He made many versions and variations on the TV Buddha theme over the years, and I’d also imagine it could come to feel like a zen trap, a polite rut, especially for an artist whose work betrays an abiding affection for baroque dadaism and psychedelic media cacophony. TV Buddha feels like a kind of contemplative road less traveled.


The road Paik took instead, was the one he named, the Information Super-Highway, which was signalled by another seminal early piece, the 1973 TV show/control room happening/video art work, Global Groove. Produced with John Godfrey at WNET in New York, Global Groove is at once freakishly prescient and contemporary, and hilariously of its time.
It opens with the bold promise that we’re living with right now: “This is a glimpse of the video landscape of tomorrow, when you will be able to switch to any TV station on the earth, and TV Guide will be as fat as the Manhattan telephone book.” Which is promptly followed by a groove challenged pair of disco dancers and every psychedelic FX trick in the 1973 TV producer’s book. It’s at once funny and sad to realize Global Groove‘s aesthetic has become the lingua franca of Manhattan’s public access TV world. Hell, it’s probably the same mixing board Paik & Godfrey used.
Paik’s TV sculptures and giant video walls which are so popular/populist with museums and lobby decorators feel like continuations of Global Groove‘s groove, but it doesn’t scale. Paik foresaw our TV-webby mediascape and reveled in it; I just wish and wonder if somewhere in Paik’s mature-to-late career, away from the bombastic over-commissions, there’s some underappreciated body of work that might enlighten us as to how we can live in this worldwide web.
See a photo of the first TV Buddha and watch the first few minutes of Global Groove on [mkz]
There’s some Paik-related material on YouTube, but not as much as you’d hope [youtube]

“those blank looks, it seems, won out”

The funniest line so far from coverage of Miami Basel. It’s from New York Mag’s “Basel Blog,” which reports that collectors have moved to buying work by safe artists from established galleries. Which is probably what it looks like if you airdrop into the art world and the only people you can identify are Larry Gagosian and Aby Rosen. They get namechecked in basically every post. Seriously.
Doing Good At Ralph Lauren, &c. &c. [nymag’s basel blog]

Wooster Collective’s 11 Spring Street Open House

Sara and Marc are so awesome.
The global street art blowout at 11 Spring Street organized by Wooster Collective opens tomorrow, and it runs through Sunday, 11-5 each day.
Artists from all over, including some who installed their work on the exterior of the once-enigmatic NoLiTa loft building, have been making new work inside. On Monday, demolition and condo conversion begins, though much of the art work may actually remain. From the NYT:

On Monday work will begin that will eventually seal most of the interior artwork behind pipes, wires and drywall.
“In a way the art is all going to disappear, but it’s also going to be sealed up in this incredible time capsule,” said Mr. Schiller.

It reminds me of the Warhol hidden somewhere in LeFrak City. Back in the day, Samuel LeFrak commissioned a then-still-unknown Andy Warhol to decorate the kitchen and bathroom of a model apartment in the then-new Queens apartment complex. The model was painted over, and then it was lost. Somewhere, in one of the 5,000-plus apartments, buried under nearly half a century of tenement white, is the first Warhol installation. And soon enough, the works of some of the world’s greatest street artists will be buried under some hedge fund dude’s sheetrock.
Last Hurrah for Street Art, as Canvas Goes Condo [nyt]
Wooster on Spring: The Ultimate Art Time Capsule [woostercollective, which also has extensive coverage of the 11 Spring project]
Fortune, 1989: Lost and Found, LeFrak’s Warhol []

I’m Back. Did I Miss Anything?

Sorry, I was out of town. Did anything happen art-wise while I was gone?
On the film/editing front, the votes were in, and I’m pleased to announce a new addition to the team: a husky MacBookPro and a couple of new external drives for the road.
Thanks to everyone who shared their advice and insights. Ultimately, it was the memory and video processing requirements of Final Cut Pro and DVD Studio Pro [and the slightly unwieldy size of the 17-inch version] that made the decision.

Arty Like It’s 2001

Roll up a host of moribund art magazines.
Start an art news portal.
Launch a big, glogsy new magazine about the [sic] Biennale Lifestyle.
Buy an art fair.
It hurts to say it because I have friends there, but am I the only one who thinks everything LTB does is like five years behind the actual art world it’s chasing?
Rather than be an also-ran in every possible endeavor, why not take some time to think and get ahead of the game? Make a difference and stake a claim and support something that no one else is, or that no one else can see? Rather than be the artnet of 1997, why not be the artangel of 1993? Or the early Lightning Field-era Dia of 1977, or of Chelsea-settling 1987, for that matter? Or the Lannan Foundation of whenever?
Because as the NetJets guy in Miami’ll tell you, the one thing the art world is not short of is ambitious multimillionaires jonesing for an audience.

Art Blimps Over Miami

abmb_skywalkers.jpgIt’s what I’ve always said Art Basel Miami Beach needed more of: blimps. And now they’ve got’em. It’s almost enough to make me wish I wasn’t going to be in Kyoto.
A beachside Blimp Parade with characters from artists I actually like, like Ara Peterson, Misaki Kawai, and others, is curated/organized by Friends With You, the Miami vinyl/naugahyde art collective whose Malfi dolls have tea parties with my daughter on a regular basis.
Alas, I’ll be watching the proceedings on flickr.[1]
If you’re free and want to wrangle a blimp Friday, Dec. 7th, 2pm, get in touch with the blimpfolks asap. Details are at supertouch.
[1] Then we’ll reconvene here to talk about the differences between Arne Quinze’s Burning Man-to-Basel publicity stunt for Lexus and an art event sponsored by Scion. It’s not what kind of Toyota you drive that matters; it’s who’s driving.

Starring Steven Siegel As. Banacek.


The FBI said Monday that it has recovered a 1778 painting by the Spanish artist Francisco de Goya that was stolen as it was being taken to an exhibition earlier this month.
“Children with a Cart,” which disappeared en route from the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City and was valued at about $1.1 million, appeared to be unharmed, said Les Wiser, agent in charge of the Newark FBI office.
Steven Siegel, a spokesman for the FBI, said the bureau recovered the painting Saturday in New Jersey, but would not be more specific about where or how it was located.

FBI Recovers Stolen Goya Painting [ap/seattle p-i via artforum]

Wow. Last-Minute Court Order Blocks Sale Of Blue-Period Picasso Never Mind. Mind, Maybe.

Wow. The sale of one of the paintings I wrote about in the NYT the other day, a blue-period Picasso portrait being sold by Andrew Lloyd Webber,was recently ordered stopped by a Manhattan court. An heir to Paul von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, who was forced to sell the painting in 1934, filed the suit.
Update: Thanks, Google News. Actually, according to the NYT’s report, the judge refused to block the sale. The Times also mentions the absence of any efforts by the heirs over the last 70 years to pursue a restitution claim, which is why I was surprised in the first place. Go about your business, nothing to see here.
Update update: Or maybe the sale won’t be blocked, just withdrawn. The Art Newspaper’s reporting that Christie’s may hold off on the sale tonight. Good thing that painting’s on one of them Lazy Susan deals.
Picasso Sale Blocked Over Nazi Claims []
Or Not: Judge Refuses to Halt Auction of a Picasso [nyt]
Christie’s may withdraw Lloyd Webber’s Blue Period Picasso from sale [, thanks marc]

My New Bidding Technique Is Unstoppable

That was my original choice for a title, but I’m happy enough just not botching the Hamlet reference. Thanks to all the people who helped with interviews and research and editing.
Since the story closed, I’ve heard from a couple of people who saw the Dora Maar sale, and it was even more incredible than I thought. Apparently, the guy bidding just kept waving his paddle all the way through the sale, even while he had the bid and was waiting for a competitor to respond. It’s as if he wasn’t following the proceedings at all, just waving the paddle until Tobias Meyer told him he’d won.
Rule No. 1: Don’t Yell, “My Kid Could Do That” [nyt]

The Relentless Pursuit Of Something, Anyway


Damn, I just hate when that happens. I hate when some sick poseur geezer company who makes SUV’s for orthodontists or whatever totally rips off and corrupts the free, utopian, non-commercial, creative spirit of youth–of the future, even. As if cool were simply something you could buy, or order up by the square foot. As if you could capture the real spirit and meaning of a place like Burning Man in a Beverly Hills storefront. That’s not what it’s all about, man. We go to the playa to get AWAY from our parents’ Lexuses.


Look what Lexus has done, shamelessly copying the indescribable, ephemeral beauty and power of the Uchronia Project, and turning it into the backdrop for the launch of their new flagship model, the LS 460 sedan.
Forget the ethics of such a blatant act; I want to know logistics. How did Lexus’s agency even have mobilize in time to steal the work of a such a globally visionary and idealistic artist when it only landed at Black Rock City a few weeks ago? It’s as if–what’s that, you say? It’s the same guy?


Well. Hate the playa, not the fame, I guess.
Lexus 460 Degrees Gallery [ via tropolism]Previous
Uchronyism on
9/04: to think, there was a day–just one, but still–when it was just about the architecture
9/13: Uchronian partisans and Burning Man roast me for criticizing the Uchronspolitation
9/16:Branding Man [speaks for itself]
10/15: The King of Uchronia meets the Queen of Belgium
Update: There’s a debate raging among burners on over whether artist burners should be taking money from corporate sponsors for their work. The answer is obvious: yes, if they want to, but it’s also irrelevant here. The Uchronia project was completely self-funded at BM [i.e., they didn’t get any art grants from BM itself like other projects], and its workers were paid, not volunteers.
What I suspected at the time has, I believe, been proved true now: Uchronia was built as part of an extensive marketing and promotional campaign which used Burning Man as a backdrop and platform to be leveraged externally after the fact. I originally thought it was just a self-promotion scheme for Arne Quinze and his firm, but I think the fully realized Uchronian Lexus Gallery appearing just weeks after BM shows who the real client was.
More evidence: one of the many burners who emailed me a month ago defending the Uchronians shared some of Quinze’s own explanations of his artistic bona fides, “[He said] he’s been selected to be the artist of the year at the upcoming Basel-Miami Art Fair.” Now I may not know Black Rock City, but I do know Basel, and Basel-Miami, and let me tell you, every single attendee there thinks he is “____ of the year.”
But according to Lexus’s gallery touring schedule, their 2-wk/city tour puts them in Miami right around the opening of ABMB. And while he was at BM, Quinze was already planning on taking MB by storm with his unstoppable new marketing technique.