Live From The Gagosian Platform

In the Nota Bene boys’ rocking conversation with Antwaun Sargent, they discuss Gagosian’s ability to present work by younger Black artists in the context of their white elders who are also represented by the gallery.

On L.A. artists Lauren Halsey and Ed Ruscha: “You wouldn’t necessarily think of those two artists together until you sort of—’There’s an Ed in the booth and a Lauren in the booth’—and I use a booth because that’s where all of our artists often meet.”

“…Those are the sorts of things that become really interesting to me, where the collector has the Lauren and the Ed, or the Rick [Lowe] and the Brice [Marden],” Sargent continues, “…and they might send a picture and show it installed, and you can send that to the artist, and you can have that moment.”

I think I flagged these two mentions from an hour-plus insightful discussion because they recognize two sites of art interaction—a fair, a collector’s home—that typically don’t get consideration, at least in public discourse. One of Antwaun’s superpowers is his sensitivity to an artist’s experience, and that artworks travel to places that artists often do not.

On Making A Galliano Documentary

Josh Slater-Williams has an interview for Mubi with a very thoughtful Kevin Macdonald about the implications of making High & Low — John Galliano, a documentary that about the designer’s career, his conviction for his vile anti-semitic outburst in Paris, and his not-uncontroversial return to fashion afterward.

Coming from outside of the fashion industry and its norms is probably Macdonald’s greatest superpower here; he’s able to recognize the self-delusions that haunt the field and its most intense and talented figures, and to put them on view. What I didn’t expect was to hear how Galliano handled his own role in a situation where he ceded all editorial and creative control:

He wanted to achieve various conscious things, but I think also this is part of his therapy, I suppose. It’s part of his trying to figure things out for himself. That was really apparent to me when I went to the Margiela show that we filmed, that begins and ends the film. I realized as we were watching it: my God, this show is about having a documentary made about your life. It’s about his life filtered through film, because he made a fashion show that is a film at the same time.

A Psychological Detective Story: Kevin Macdonald on “High & Low – John Galliano” [mubi]
Previously, related: Margiela Artisanal Cardboard, Rover, Bunny, Beanie

“How To Make Films The Ken Loach Way”

I don’t think Matt Zoller Seitz even knows how to do a bad interview, but his discussion with Ken Loach on the occasion of the release of The Old Oak, which Loach, 87, has decided will be his last film, is really excellent. Part of that is their discussion of the experience of filmmaking, Loach’s process, and style, something the famously naturalistic, un-stylish [sic] filmmaker apparently never gets to talk about:

If you were to distill “How to make films the Ken Loach way,” what would be the most important rules?
Camera at eye level. Natural light. Lens like a human eye. No great wide-angle lens and no extreme telephoto effects. Don’t intervene in an actor’s space, you know? Respect their space. Within those parameters, light is critical because it can tell viewers whether you’re gonna treat somebody like a suspect in a hostile interview or whether you’re gonna engage with someone sympathetically. I’ve learned a lot just looking at old paintings. First thing when you look for a location is “Where’s the light?” It isn’t about the place. If the light doesn’t work, we needn’t see any more of the scene. It’s not only useful for lighting performers, it’s just immensely beautiful for shots. And then you consider the balance of people in the frame, the balance of architecture, the rhythm of cutting. Bad cutting can destroy a sense of reality.

What is bad cutting?

I wish him a long and healthy life, but can we get more interviews on process with him quick, please?

Ken Loach on his last film, ‘The Old Oak,’ Power and Hope [vulture]

R.H. Quaytman, Paul Klee & Martin Luther Walk Into A Bar

Paul Klee, Angelus Novus, 1920, oil transfer on Japan paper mounted on engraving on cardboard, 31.8 x 24.2 cm, though Quaytman points out the Israel Museum’s given dimensions only relate to the top layer, so the engraving had not been considered as part of the work. photo: Elie Posner

I’ve had some tabs open for six months about R.H. Quaytman’s work relating to her discovery of an 19th century etching of Martin Luther underneath Paul Klee’s 1920 monoprint, Angelus Novus. That was when I saw a vitrine in Quaytman’s exhibition at Glenstone related to Ch. 29: Haqaq, Quaytman’s Nov. 2015 show at Miguel Abreu, which was a reworked version of her 2015 solo show at the Tel Aviv Museum.

I am trying to make some sense of them by neatly stacking this pile of rubble at the angel’s feet.

Continue reading “R.H. Quaytman, Paul Klee & Martin Luther Walk Into A Bar”

Hirokazu Kore-eda on Working With Ryuichi Sakamoto

At Little White Lies, Lillian Crawford has a Q&A with Hirokazu Kore-eda about working with Ryuichi Sakamoto on what would be the composer’s final film project, Monster [Kaibutsu]. Sakamoto ended up composing a couple of pieces for the soundtrack, and Kore-eda used some existing compositions, which are all so integral to the film, perhaps because he edited to them. The sonic experience of Monster is subtle and compelling, a mix of piano, diagetic musical instruments, and ambient/natural sounds. It really works as part of the whole.

I’ve been trying to figure out what to say about Monster, which is an exquisite, precise, and wrenching film. When early reviews compared its multiple narrative views to Rashomon, I went back to rewatch, and it absolutely is not that.

As Kore-eda explains to Crawford, “One thing that’s consistent throughout this film is how hard it is to understand other people.” And that is in there. But I think Monster lays out the roots of that problem, by showing how trapped everyone is by their own subjective circumstances. Rashomon reveals the contradictions and lies people weave to suit their own selfish interest.

Monster shows how even a slightly different perspective, slightly different timing, can totally change the story. Some people have compared Monster to Kore-eda’s 2018 film, Shoplifters, for its emotional tenor—and overlaps in casting. It has made me think back to After Life (1998), in that both are enacted metaphors of filmmaking. Monster‘s events unfold unchanged each time, except for the position of the camera, or the timing of the cut, which changes the emotional impact and insight.

And the sonic texture of the film ends up being both an anchor and an amplifier as we—and the characters— try to piece things together.

Hirokazu Koreeda: ‘Ryuichi Sakamoto and I were a good match’ [lwlies]

Indeed Harlem Is Everywhere

A rancid and myopic review of a new exhibition at Tate Britain of fashion and John Singer Sargent was making the rounds this week. The dismissal of fashion as an unworthy nuisance to the proper appreciation of Sargent’s great painting was so caustic, you didn’t have to see the show to know he was wrong.

And as if to prove the point, Jessica Lynne dropped a two sentence intro to the latest episode of her podcast, Harlem Is Everywhere, produced as a companion to the Met’s new exhibition, The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism, that also perfectly accounts for the Sargent show: “Portraiture has to do with how an artist sees a person. Fashion has to do with how we want others to see us.”

The people in portraits in early 20th century Harlem used fashion to communicate sophistication, respectability, and social credibility to a larger world that regularly ignored, doubted, rejected, or oppressed them. And making portraits was itself a highly symbolic social act, on the part of the artist as well as the subject.

Though they were deeper in the WASP-y heart of the white supremacist class structure, the subjects of Sargent’s paintings, often some combination of American, Jewish, or nouveau riche, could be seen making the same assertions in the face of the same forces.

Listening backward, the first episode of Harlem Is Everywhere sets the Harlem Renaissance in the context of the work of W.E.B. Du Bois [HBD, btw] and Alain Locke, and The New Negro anthology, and the movement’s relationship to nascent Modernism.

[update: OK, the Once Again trailer from the Barnes Collection page is itself pretty spectacular]

Which, the next podcast in the queue last night turned out to be the new season of The Art World: What If…?!, where Charlotte Burns spoke with composer and musical artist Alice Smith. Smith’s transcendent presence is a highlight of Isaac Julien‘s five-channel video installation, Once Again…(Statues Never Die), commissioned by the Barnes Foundation in 2022. Once Again depicts the interactions between Locke and the Foundation’s founder, Albert C. Barnes, using enactments of their correspondence and Locke’s own foundational text from The New Negro anthology, “A Note On African Art.” [The longest Julien excerpt I can quickly find online is from last year’s Sharjah Biennial. It’s not enough.]

The Second Deposition of Richard Prince (2023)

It feels like worlds ago, and world ago all the way down. And also just yesterday.

For a few hours in the Summer of 2023, an Instagram account that tracks the work of artist Richard Prince posted a picture of a rusty shoe tree, standing in front of an abstract painting. It echoed the original image of Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain, which Alfred Stieglitz photographed in front of a Marsden Hartley painting in 1917.

Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain, photographed in front of Marsden Hartley’s The Warriors on April 19, 1917 by Alfred Stieglitz

The Instagram image included text elements: DEPOSITION above and RICHARD PRINCE below, with a url and password to an unlisted video file. The video, more than six hours long, appeared to be a recording of Richard Prince’s deposition in a pair of conjoined lawsuits filed by photographers Donald Graham and Eric McNatt, in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Both men objected to photos they took, posted to Instagram by others, which appeared in Prince’s 2014 New Portraits series.

Continue reading “The Second Deposition of Richard Prince (2023)”

Artforum 1995: Yves Klein, Florine Stettheimer, Collier Schorr, Todd Haynes

I just read an excellent time capsule of an interview of director Todd Haynes by photographer Collier Schorr about his new movie Safe, which ran in the Summer 1995 issue of Artforum, almost midway between Safe’s debut at Sundance and its theatrical release in the fall.

Which turns out to be just one example of how time moved back then. The cover—for which there was no hook except art world vibes—was none other than Florine Stettheimer’s Studio Party (or Soirée). Don’t expect ME to demand an excuse to love Florine Stettheimer!

And then there were dueling reviews of a big Yves Klein retrospective, from Nan Rosenthal and Benjamin Buchloh, who—spoiler alert—may have disagreed on Klein, but they both disliked the show. And while neither of them answered the highly specific Yves Klein-related question that led me to this issue in the first place, I can’t complain.

‘The whole project is a clock. It’s managed by the moon.’

“Obviously, it’s a clock, the whole project is a clock. It’s managed by the moon,” said Darren Almond of his Fullmoon Photos series in this seven-year-old video from the Louisiana Museum.

It’s been a minute [h/t @br_tton] since I remember how thoughtful and interesting I find Almond’s work, then he comes up with this:

It started off as a romantic gesture, an inquisitive point. Then it became a kind of controlled concept. But then I was involved in this meditation by moonlight. I was involved in the act of making the photograph. Then my life was becoming connected and had a strong relationship with the landscape. I was going off into this landscape we are no longer familiar with, which is the landscape of the night, away from all the pollution, the light pollution that we’ve generated, that we surrender ourselves with.

Darren Almond, Fifteen Minute Moon, 2000, c-print on aluminum, the first one is apparently of/near Mont Saint Victoire, with the autoroute running through it, and an exposure that literally lasted as long as a kiss? That is romantic.

Recognizing the change we undergo by the making of the work. It’s something I think about a lot, at various levels. I have unrealized projects that would, I recognize, consume me, were I actually to attempt to realize them. Some of them are maybe even unrealizable by design. There are tabs open for a project I actually consider doing. There are tabs open for posts I have yet to write. These are the impacts of writing and connecting as I do.

In a 2017 interview for MUDAM he talked about the end of the project, and what had been invisible to him before:

In 2013, I was in Patagonia. There, the atmosphere is very clear, there’s far less light pollution and you’re able to literally see the colours of the night sky. This experience marked a cut-off point for me. After twenty years of traversing the globe and looking through the lens of a camera at what I could see in front of me, I suddenly felt that I needed to approach landscapes that I couldn’t see, landscapes beyond visibility, but through the visual somehow, using a tool or a mechanism to see into the shadows, to enlighten the shadows that lie before us.

What followed was Timescape paintings, “Inspired by views of the deeper space…[that] materialise the impression felt when faced with this night sky,” and “that evoke the visible confines of the cosmos,” according to MUDAM. “Despite their apparent blackness, these paintings are obtained from numerous layers of different flat colours applied successively on an aluminium support.”

Darren Almond Timescape paintings installed at MUDAM in 2017, image via Max Hetzler

So twenty years of meditating by moonlight and traveling to forgotten landscapes led Almond to become an abstract painter trying to capture the impression of looking up at the night sky. I was worried this romantic project didn’t sound like progress, but then I remembered we exist within cycles of time, some of which are made visible by moonlight, and some which only come into view after many trips around the sun.

Carol Mancusi-Ungaro x Cass Fino-Radin

Art & Obsolescence, Cass Fino-Radin’s podcast about conservation and the materiality of digital and media art, has been consistently fascinating since it began, but the latest episode is particularly tremendous. Cass talks with Carol Mancusi-Ungaro, the Whitney’s chief conservator, who also worked at the Menil, and at Harvard, and who is one of the most influential forces in the conservation of contemporary art.

In less than an hour, Mancusi-Ungaro talks about working for Dominique deMenil; solving a mystery of the Rothko Chapel; starting the Artist Documentation Program that interviews artists about their process and materials; working with Annalee Newman on the material legacy of Barnett Newman; the Replication Committee she helped launch at the Whitney, to sort out issues of reproducing fugitive artworks; and her work with Cy Twombly over the decades—and the book she’s writing about their interactions.

Twombly talking about his Menil works is one of my favorite ADP interviews; it was removed from the site for several years, but is now back [with some edits, I guess, but still.] And Annalee Newman’s experience of cutting up Barney’s unfinished canvases was one of the inspirations for my 2016 project Chop Shop, and the proposal to slice up Newman’s Voice of Fire and disperse it to save it from angry Canadian taxpayers. And the Replication Committee! I mean, obviously. Anyway, a must-listen.

[update: in his 2017 ADP interview Josh Kline talks about a New Yorker article about his work, and the Replication Committee.]

Art & Obsolescence Episode 63: Carol Mancusi-Ungaro []

Che Fai? CCB X Beeple Conversazioni: S1E02.5

After his $69 million sale of a work and an nft at Christie’s in 2021, no one in the self-policing art world went harder after Beeple’s attention than Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev. CCB curated one of the most off-the-charts Documentas, and now runs the Castello di Rivoli in Torino.

When CCB released a Zoom video of her first conversation with Beeple, whose actual name is Mike Winkelmann, I watched it and concluded that his pose of ignorance and indifference toward the art world of galleries and museums—as totally distinct in his view from the online/digital communities and platforms where he’d been releasing his art for years, or the 3D projection wrapping and CG graphics world of his profession—was in fact a pose. He toggled between claims of not knowing an artist or anything about art, and of standing in front of paintings in galleries for hours. In any case, he decided his best response to the sudden interest of dealers, curators, and artists was to neg the art world that only started paying attention because of his record-setting auction result. CCB was one of the most persistent and credible counterparts, but I didn’t realize the extent. When CCB tweeted yesterday that her latest conversazione [sic all the way through] with Beeple was out, I misinterpreted it as the second.

Against all manner of better judgment, and only because I guess I like pulling blocks out of the jenga tower of my admiration for CCB, I went back to listen to the actual Episode 2. OF SEASON 1. Of her conversazioni with Beeple. About an hour into the 2-hour ep, I started taking tweet-sized notes, since there seems to be no other record of this glitch-looping trainwreck even happening. I gathered the tweets below, and will probably keep listening, and documenting, if only because CCB’s Curating for Dummies tutorials are probably worth noting.

Continue reading “Che Fai? CCB X Beeple Conversazioni: S1E02.5”

Interview with Unrest’s Cyril Schäublin

Last September at, Soren Hough interviewed Swiss director Cyril Schäublin about his new film, Unrest, which was then in the New York Film Festival. Unrest is about a mountain community of anarchist watchmakers in the 19th century. It sounds fascinating, both for its content, but also for how it was developed and produced, in an exceptionally decentralized, collaborative, mutual aid-inspired mode inspired by its cast of predominately non-actors, but also by the ideas of one of its characters, the Russian anarcho-communist Peter Kropotkin.

SH: It sounds like your natural aesthetic instinct tied well into this particular story where you, as you say, have this big name in “Unrest”—Peter Kropotkin. He’s not in a huge amount of the movie, he doesn’t have that many lines, he’s not a central character, and it’s certainly not a biopic.

CS: The guy who acts as Kropotkin (Alexei Evstratov) is a very avid Kropotkin guy. I mean, he’s really into him. And he said to me at the end, “I didn’t say that much!” But he told me the way we were doing the film, and how the film was organized, and how we talked to each other, he felt [it took a] mutual aid approach. That was really interesting for me.

Schäublin talks, too, about the desire to understand and depict the experiences of the women in his family, his ancestors, who worked in watch factories, but also the difficulties in doing so, especially for 19th century people:

it’s much easier to reconstruct male biographies [from the 19th century] than female biographies. I thought, “What can I show of women, like the women in my family who did that work?” The only thing we can reconstruct is their work. People today that go to watchmaking schools still learn how to build a watch from the 19th century—that’s the start of the school. So you can reconstruct the manual labor, but not the biographies—what we call biographies.

Fight the Power: Cyril Schäublin on Unrest [rogerebert via geraldine juarez]
Cyril Schäublin’s website []

On The Conversation

A few weeks ago I spoke with Michael Shaw for his long-running art podcast, The Conversation. And when I say long-running, I mean both he’s been doing the podcast for a long time, and holy smokes, not only did we talk a long time, he got two whole episodes out of that content. (Granted the first part *does* have “meandering” right in the description.)

Part 1: #275, Greg Allen of…meandering…

Part 2: Naked Stratification

I’m kind of on a writing crunch at the moment, but I’ll circle back to add some links to posts/topics we discussed. (Or there’s a search bar?) Thanks, Michael, and enjoy, everyone!

Arthur Jafa Now On YouTube

Amazing people are always sneaking into town and talking at the Smithsonian American Art Museum without my knowing. Last October it was Arthur Jafa and Ja’Tovia Gary, who spoke about their work, Black music, and the conception of a Black Cinema.

At least I’m not the only one out of the loop; until the audience questions, neither Jafa nor Gary seemed to know Kanye West had rolled up that morning on Howard University with his Sunday Service tour. [Gary was not. Having. Immmmmmt, either, and criticized West’s appropriation of gospel church practice as self-promoting spectacle, as well as his alignment with fascism and the forces of state violence. Jafa was taught.]

Anyway, point is, video of the event turns out to include Jafa’s epic Love is the message, the message is death and Gary’s 2015 short film The Ecstatic Experience, neither of which I’d seen in the wild. [Gary has an excerpt on her own Vimeo.]

Jafa’s piece was acquired jointly by SAAM and the Hirshhorn.

Better Read #024: Betty Stokes Interviewed By Christie’s About Her Cy Twombly

Untitled (Rome), 1980-81, cast in 1990, ed 1/5 sold at Christie’s in 2013

The artist Elizabeth “Betty” Stokes di Robilant was interviewed by Christie’s in May 2013. Stokes was a longtime friend of Cy Twombly. Their story and relationship and collaboration, and her later erasure from Twombly’s official story, is discussed in Chalk, a biography of Cy Twombly by Joshua Rivkin, which was published in October 2018. Rivkin quotes the interview by Robert Brown, which was published on the occasion of the sale of a painted bronze cast of a 1966 [or 1956, or 1959, or 1980 or 1981, or 1990] sculpture Twombly gave to dee Robilant for her 10th wedding anniversary. Twombly later reworked and cast the sculpture in 1990 in an edition of five. Di Robilant’s three children each got one; she got one, and Twombly got one. Ed. 1 of 5 was sold at Christie’s London on June 25th, 2013, for GBP 1.63 million.

Get Better Read #024: Betty Stokes interviewed by Christie’s, [6:52, 3.3mb, mp3]