Because They Were There

image via kicksonfire

The only significant thing I can find about the Nike N110 D/M/SX (DIMSIX) in Black/Blue Hero-Blue Gaze-University Red is that they were released on July 13, 2019. And they were probably the most technically and aesthetically complex shoe available at the moment when someone had the occasion to make them in painted bronze for a 2020 exhibition. Which turned out not to happen until 2022.

Ketchup, The American Sauce

Paul McCarthy, Ketchup Sandwich, 1970, glass, ketchup, taken in 2010 at the Moderna Museet by Tomislav Medak, image via flickr

Ketchup messes and tantrums always reminded me of Paul McCarthy.

Here is a photo of a 2010 realization of Paul McCarthy’s 1970 sculpture, Ketchup Sandwich, acquired by the Moderna Museet in 2006. According to the accompanying sketches, also acquired, the 30 x 30 x 30 inch cube is comprised of 100 to 120 layers of alternating plate glass and ketchup, plus the empty glass bottles.

If I needed a DC or presidential reference, I’d come back with American Decay, a sculptural installation pre-murder Carl Andre created to protest the re-election of Richard Nixon, which was installed in Max Protech’s DC gallery during the inauguration. American Decay was a maxed out version of Nixon’s favorite salad: a 500 pound, 12 x 18 foot field of cottage cheese, topped with 10 gallons of ketchup, spread out on tar paper so Protech didn’t lose his deposit.

After today tho, I guess that’s all been thrown out the window. So to speak.

Sam Gilliam, Swagger (1933-2022)

Sam Gilliam, Seahorses, 1975, installation view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, photo: Johansen Krause via Pace & Kordansky Galleries

I was very sad to learn of the passing of DC legend Sam Gilliam Saturday. My condolences go to Annie and the rest of his family and friends. When he didn’t make the opening of his [COVID-delayed] show at the Hirshhorn last month, I was concerned for a minute, but Gilliam also had the temperament and tenacity that made you feel like he’d go on forever, and dare you to think otherwise.

Beyond the fascination of experiencing his work, I had the great thrill and honor to get to know Gilliam a bit, and to do a deep research dive into his career and practice a few years ago for a magazine article. As I said at the time, “my takeaway is utter respect for Gilliam’s work and his practice, which evinces the kind of fierce independence required to sustain six-plus decades of experimentation, only some of which happened in the spotlight of the mainstream art world.”

Especially since 2012, the mainstream art world and its institutions have finally made it possible to see more of Gilliam’s work, and to see significant examples of it. His dedication to abstraction and experimentation, and his simultaneous fluency with painting and sculpture, are sure to continue growing in significance, even as we now face a difficult world made even harder by his absence.

Remembering Sam Gilliam (1933-2022) [pacegallery.com]
Previously: On Sam Gilliam for Art in America

Wotruba Church Model at TEFAF

Bronze model of Carmelite church by Fritz Wotruba, as photographed at TEFAF 2022 by garyschwartzarthistorian.nl

From the report of noted Rembrandt scholar Gary Schwartz’s first TEFAF since 2020 comes this extraordinary surprise:

A bronze model, dated 1967, by Viennese sculptor/architect Fritz Wotruba for a church, originally commissioned by Dr. Madelina Ottilinger for an order of Carmelite nuns. The nuns rejected the design, and Ottilinger and Fritz G. Mayr persevered to have the church built elsewhere in Vienna. It was completed in 1976, after Wotruba’s death.

Remarkably, the chapel seems to follow the bronze model, only in concrete slabs. It’s like Paul Rudolph’s Orange County Government Building, but without the restraint. Perfect for being exorcising the site of an old Nazi barracks.

If I can figure out who brought this to TEFAF, I’ll add it here. [Update: Thanks to Dr. Schwartz, who emailed to report it is at Sascha Mehringer, of Munich. TEFAF runs through June 30th.]

406 TEFAF Days [garyschwartzarthistorian.nl]

And We’re Done: An Archive of Livetweets of Marina Abramovic’s The Artist is Present

On May 31, 2010, I livetweeted the end of Marina Abramovic’s MoMA performance, The Artist Is Present, as experienced online via Marinacam. A few other folks were tweeting in person, including artists Man Bartlett (@manbartlett), Amy White (@parallelarts), and @museumnerd.

Over the years, this collection of tweets has been one of a few small things that kept me from deleting all my old tweets. I’m documenting them here to remove that obstacle. For the moment, they’re still visible on Twitter here.

The tweets are interspersed with screenshots from the Marina Abramovic Webcam tumblr.

In addition to backing these up from twitter, this post was prompted by Abramovic’s announcement that she is releasing an NFT series, 25 FPS, comprised of frames of video of her sitting on a horse holding a white flag, part of her 2001 video work, The Hero. Her talk at Art Basel was literally titled The NFT is Present, and I could not be more nonplussed if she said she was minting NFTs of the 1545 headshots Marco Anelli took of her sitters, including my own damn face.

The artists were present

Anyway, this livetweet really was the beginning of the end for me with Abramovic. In an instant, the Artist’s presence was replaced by the Celebrity, as she gladhanded for the camera crews she’d brought for herself. The gala that followed, where she appeared in a custom Givenchy jacket made from 127 endangered pythons, and fed guests chocolate casts of her own lips, felt for a moment like an absolute betrayal, but really, it was all perfectly on point. And so is a late and desperate scramble for relevance by selling boring af selfies of someone who brags about not knowing how to write an email. Anyway, enjoy!

Continue reading “And We’re Done: An Archive of Livetweets of Marina Abramovic’s The Artist is Present”

We Are Amused, Thomas Ruff

Untitled (worktitle), 2021, double-sided 15×20 cm print accompanying an artist’s book, ed. 30, image via mo-artgallery

I really do not going around during jubilee season looking for roadtripping pictures of the Queen to post; they come to me.

As someone who has been collecting old press photos for many, many years, I was very disappointed to see Thomas Ruff’s show of press photos at Zwirner in 2016. His approach to these prints, much-handled survivors of a quick and dirty daily newspaper publishing process, was to overlay the back annotations on the marked up front, and to print them in a giant, slick, digital format. [You can take the photographer out of Dusseldorf…]

Thomas Ruff, Untitled (worktitle), 2021, verso,

The print that accompanies a recent artists book, Untitled (worktitle), about which I can find almost no information, is different. It’s small, perhaps even original size, and it’s printed on both sides. It’s almost–can I say it?–a facsimile.

But what first caught my eye was the slightly blurry image itself, which gave me the momentary sense of envy-tinged-excitement that Ruff had snagged a press photo of an early, obscure Gerhard Richter.

Only to find out the whole book is press photos of the Queen. Oh well. Carry on, I guess.

Thomas Ruff editions [mo-artgallery.com]

Regina, RGB

Wolfgang TIllmans, Regina, 2002, ed. 1/1+1AP, inkjet on paper, 137 x 206cm, sold for GBP68750 at Christie’s London during Frieze Week 2018

The last time the Queen of England rode around London in the Gold State Coach was for her 50th anniversary, and Wolfgang Tillmans was there.

Halberds out: Study for Tillmans Regina, 115 x 206 cm, 2022, sky news screencap, which, alas, does not include the giant

If he was there today to see the Queen’s subjects waving at a hologram of her riding in the GSC, it might look a little something like this. Protip: the way you can tell my Tillmans from Tillmans’ Tillmans is the aspect ratio.

Study for SCREEN COVERAGE…, 2022, it’s a diptych

And while mine will ship with a separate
SCREEN COVERAGE WILL CONTINUE
AFTER THE HORSES HAVE SAFELY PASSED BY
monochrome, I feel like Wolfgang would have been able to get both screens in one shot.

Previously: Yas, Regina

Givenchy’s Diego Giacometti Coatrack

Diego Giacometti, Patère, 76.5 cm long, patinated bronze, from the collection of Hubert de Givenchy via Christie’s

Turns out the Givenchy-Venets still had some Giacomettis to sell after 2017. Of the 1,000 or so lots at Christie’s Paris next month, it feels like half are tables and objets by Diego Giacometti.

It would be weird, franchement, to have the little bronze portraits Giacometti made for the graves of Givenchy’s many dogs.

Diego Giacometti’s window hardware for Hubert de Givenchy’s chateau, just the one window, tho? at Christie’s

And it would be cool but a bit esoteric to get the bronze hardware for one, single, French-style, shuttered window. [Though I am glad to learn new vocabulary: this type of bolt is called a crémone, which differs from espagnolettes because the latter rotate, and are also common on trucks. Trucks and chateaux.] Obviously, you’d have it replicated, which is something Givenchy was not a stranger to.

But since none of the copies Givenchy made of anything is for sale–not his Miro, nor his Picasso, nor his Giacometti tables he had made after he sold the originals–I think the real get here is up top: the Giacometti five-hook coat rack, or patère. It would be perfect in your mudroom, a room which, out of respect for the dead, I believe Givenchy never called a salle de boue. RIP.

Shell Loyalty Lab, Doug Aitken (attr.)

This is a screenshot of a twitter ad for a Shell Loyalty Lab in an undisclosed location.

I have not clicked on the video in the Shell Loyalty Lab ad that is appearing at the moment on my twitter feed. So I cannot say for certain whether the mirror-finished truncated cube structure perched on pylons in an ostentatiously “undisclosed location” is by Doug Aitken, was curated by Desert X, or is in Saudi Arabia.

Doug Aitken Mirage, Desert X 2017, image probably by Lance Gerber

But the aesthetic and conceptual and spectacularizing fact pattern that makes any or all of these things possible, if not downright plausible, in some combination, should give everyone involved in those ventures pause. If I was making work that quickly co-opted by the fossil fuel companies destroying our planet, would I cash the check in the name of critical engagement? is another question I don’t have a lot of confidence in the answer to.

Maraya (Mirror) Concert Hall, Al Ula, architects: Gio Forma, Milano

Of course, the same thing could be said, and has been, about Desert X Al Ula, and the entire tranche of advisers, dealers, and museum directors involved in the KSA’s artwashing and cultural complicity, and yet it persists.

The best case scenario, of course, is that this is all a reference to the monolith, and will thus soon disappear from our consciousness. A worse case is that the monolith was some kind of prequel sponcon, which got temporarily hijacked by its own virality, and Shell’s campaign is now back on track. I guess if there’s a Shell Loyalty Lab at Burning Man, we’ll have our answer.

I cannot tell whose instagram dezeen ganked this image of BIG’s dusty Orb from, but now this brings it home, unfortunately, to satelloon territory, where Ingels really embodies my own ambivalence with this spectacular form perfectly.

Oh wait, but it was Bjarke Ingels who took the mirrored monument to Black Rock City in 2018. Now it all makes sense, unfortunately. I will prepare my apologies to Mr. Aitken, just in case.

Cy Twomblino

Cy Twombly, Untitled, 1957, white lead and pencil on panel, 7 x 9 3/8 in., image via Christie’s

I absolutely love this tiny Cy Twombly painting from 1957, which is being sold from the collection of Margo Leavin, iconic LA gallerist.

Leavin’s label says it’s oil on canvas, but it does seem to be on a panel. The scrawl on the back, declaring this to be an “Opera authentico/ di Cy Twombly/ esposti alla Tartaruga/ (nell 1956-1957)/ Césare Vivaldi” by Twombly’s Roman dealer, is almost as perfect as Twombly’s marks on the front.

Cy Twomblino, verso

1957 was the year Twombly moved to Rome. The possibly early date makes this feel like something he brought with him. Or did he make it there? Was it a gift to his new dealer?,

From Galeria la Tartaruga, the provenance shifts to a couple of galleries in Milan, then London, where it was included in a group show at the Royal College of Art in early 1974. By late 1974, it was in Los Angeles, where Leavin showed it in a Small Paintings show. And there it apparently stayed, until now, where it is poised to possibly enter non-trade hands for the first time. If you’re buying it for me, please dm for shipping details. Or if it’s more convenient, I’ll gladly come to you to pick it up.

UPDATE: OK, since it sold for $819,000, I will definitely include a Facsimile Object and Certificate of Authenticity in the trade for this little Twombly. HMU.

May 13, 2022 Lot 175: Cy Twombly, Untitled (Rome) (sic), est. $150-200,000 [christies.com]
Previously, related: Twombly’s Schifano

Ellsworth Kelly, Red Floor Panel (1992)

Ellsworth Kelly, Red Floor Panel, 1992, acrylic on canvas on wood panel, installed at Matthew Marks

I remember the experience of walking into Matthew Marks and seeing one stunning work: the 1957 Sculpture for a Large Wall, which Marks had basically rescued from the Philadelphia Transit Building for which it had been commissioned. (The Lauders bought it for MoMA in 1998.) Anyway, now there will be another, though it seems like this time, seeing won’t be enough.

Ellsworth Kelly Westfälischer Kunstverein exhibition poster, A1 offset print, signed, via Susan Sheehan Gallery

Red Floor Panel (1992) is one of five floor paintings Kelly made, beginning in 1990. [Glenstone got the first, but how can this not be the best?] It is being shown for the first time since its original appearance at the Westfälischer Kunstverein in Münster.

Ellsworth Kelly, Münster, 1992 exhibition poster, silkscreen, signed, via Susan Sheehan Gallery
[yikes, someone cropped one down to make it look more like a print.]

How does this object exist? And how is it possible that each of these pictures is of the same object? I mean, it’s at once the most obvious and confounding thing. [update: I’ve learned the answer to the first question, and it will astound you. It did me.]

Blue Green Black Red and Postcards is open at Matthew Marks through June 25, 2022 As Lloyd Wise tweeted, “the postcard show next door will help it click into place.” [matthewmarks.com]
Marks always has great posters, but somehow not one of this. Susan Sheehan Gallery sure does, though, and then some. [susansheehangallery.com]

Catawba, Azalea

Anne Truitt, Catawba, 1962, acrylic paint on wood, collection: MoMA

Anne Truitt’s 1962 sculpture Catawba got its name from a street in North Carolina where she had appendicitis as a child. For Truitt color and form was connected to experience, to the evocation of a memory or a place.

For me, this absolute unit of an azalea bush I passed on a road I don’t take very often reminded me of Catawba.

Burned Flavin (2022)

It’s been a minute since I’ve gone deep into Dan Flavin’s work, but a tweet exchange with Joshua Caleb Weibley the other day really got me thinking. Joshua mentioned seeing crates of Flavin replacement bulbs during a museum install, and how visitors to the Guggenheim would accidentally break the fluorescent light bulbs with shocking regularity.

I’ve never seen that–and without inciting it, would low-key kind of like to, to be quite honest. The issue of constant replacement was acutely felt, because, as Joshua had pointed out, Flavin’s signature medium, fluorescent lights in various colors in union-made, commercial grade fixtures, had become obsolete, and the studio/estate had decided it needed to be propped up with their own hand-formulated replacements.

Stefan Brüggemann’s OFF (A 1969 UNTITLED DAN FLAVIN SCULPTURE TURNED OFF), exhibited at SAFN in Reykjavik in 2007, in a show organized by Mathieu Copeland. Image from a review at Pablo Leon de la Barra’s Centre for The Aesthetic Revolution

Which made me think of a Flavin that had been turned off. Or actually, a Flavin that had burned out. That’s it, that’s the piece. The history, the legacy, the ephemerality, the [absence of] light.

In another timeline, it’s happened: Flavin insisted that when the lights went out of production, that was it. People turned the pink ones off first, to make them last the longest. They’d crowd galleries on the special day when they got turned on. Flavin Day. Over the years they went out and were mourned as lost icons of their time, like demolished Paul Rudolph houses. People began to appreciate them as relics, not environments. Everyone contemplating them became Buddhists. Or Quakers. They became sites of meditation, where people manifested the light. Can you see it?

After a few decades, instead of half a dozen virtual Van Gogh shows, tourists flocked to Flavin Experiences, where simulations of his work alight were projection mapped onto the walls and floor. Critics complained, of course, about the physical difference between projected light and emanating light, and maybe a joker made some facsimile objects to simulate the lost fluorescent effect through tubes stuffed with LEDs.

a certificate for a dan flavin sculpture, showing a square of light fixtures drawn on a sheet of graph paper, with the color outlines for each rectangle, and a description, etc. typed below. in moma's collection
Dan Flavin, Document for Untitled (to the “innovator” of Wheeling Peachblow) (1968), a certificate which, in 1969, entered MoMA’s prints and drawings collection alongside its physical counterpart

And then there’s the rarity. It occurred to me how hard it might be to make a Flavin out of burned out lights. Properly burned out lights, not just turned off or disabled. How long might it take? When the qualities of desirability and dismissal are inverted, it really does change a lot. [Flavin’s work already has similar dichotomies built into it, though: in our timeline, there’s an existential link between the glowing, manufactured fixture/object and the mundane hand-drawn certificate. Both are required to comprise the work.]

But it did remind me of a visit to MoMA once where I saw, not only a crate of Flavin replacement bulbs, but another crate–of Flavin replaced bulbs. They kept the burned out bulbs. MoMA has five Flavin sculptures [and twelve diagram/drawings of sculptures, including one straight-up certificate that’s registered as a separate object, but that’s another blog post.] They’ve had Flavins since at least 1969. Just think of all the burned out bulbs they’ve accumulated. If other institutions do the same, then maybe rarity is not really a factor, so much as access, rarity by another name.

Allora & Calzadilla, Puerto Rican Light (Cueva Vientos), 2015, solar-powered batteries and charger, plywood crate, Dan Flavin’s Puerto Rican light (to Jeanie Blake) 2, 1965. Installation view, El Convento Natural Protected Area, Puerto Rico, 2015–17. Photo: Allora & Calzadilla, via artforum

Well, there’s also the issue of the Flavin Estate, which might not be amenable to burned out works. Then again, that lack of consent didn’t stop Dia from commissioning Allora & Calzadilla to make a work installing one of their dozens of Flavins in a Puerto Rican cave. And anyway, Flavin is the work’s title, not its author.

Wish I Was There! Ellsworth Kelly Postcards

Ellsworth Kelly, Blue/Black Squares, 1975, collage on postcard from St. Maarten, image via Ellsworth Kelly Studio

For too many years this blog was the top search result for Ellsworth Kelly postcards. I’d Google it myself, hoping to find more, and wondering if my compilations of collaged postcards Kelly made over the years would ever lure some to me. It has not, but last fall, I was rewarded with news from the Tang Museum at Skidmore College of the first comprehensive exhibition of Kelly’s postcards, organized by the Tang’s Ian Berry in conjunction with the artist’s studio and Jessica Eisenthal. Schedule complications kept me from attending, but there is an excellent-looking catalogue being released this spring, and the show will open late this summer at the Blanton Museum at UT Austin.

Domenico Veneziano/Washington Monument, 1984, newspaper on NGA postcard, via Peter Freeman back in the day

Though a couple we included in his Guggenheim retrospective in 1996, most of Kelly’s 400 or so postcards made between 1949 and 2005 have never been shown or published. Each venue will show a distinct selection of 150 of the works, and the catalogue reproduces 216 postcards at full scale. It is a veritable facsimile object blockbuster–but I still want to see the real things in person.

Continue reading “Wish I Was There! Ellsworth Kelly Postcards”

Proposte Momacron

Ceci n’est pas un miroir noir, image via like ten hot takers on twiter

Some might say this warrior president Golden Room mise-en-scène feels like a very special Continental episode of Black Mirror come to life. Me, I say, that’s no black mirror: it’s a Proposte Monocrome Macron! Srsly, though, the Struth fan who took this photo deserves a Légion d’Honneur.

UPDATE WTF: I just zoomed in to make myself an Ellsworth Kelly-style rhomboid crop, and it appears that is not a flatscsreen TV with a reflective image on it at all, but an image? Non, but it is a picture. It is a Soulages.

2 DÉCEMBRE 1989, by Pierre Soulages, acquired by the French State in 1990, and installed in the Salon Doré at the moment. image via, also © Présidence de la République

cf. Proposte Monocrome, eBay Rose