Ed Meneeley’s Photocopy Prints

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Illustration from Ed Meneeley’s Tender Buttons, 1964
You may know Edward Meneeley from such art historical blog posts as, “The guy who published the subscription art slide library and newsletter which Rauschenberg refused to allow to reproduce Short Circuit in 1962 because of the agreement Rauschenberg and Johns had come to after their messy breakup,” and “The guy who told me how Johns really transformed an erased de Kooning drawing into Erased De Kooning Drawing,” and “The guy who was hooking up with at least Bob at the time, yow, small world.”
But he also turns out to be one of the first artists to use the then-new technology of photocopying to make prints. Starting in 1964, when a friend took him to IBM’s offices, where he saw a copy machine for the first time.
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Edward Meneeley, IBM Drawings
Meneeley made three print portfolios using a photocopier: Tender Buttons (1965) [top] was a suite of illustrations for Gertrude Stein’s work of the same name. IBM Drawings (1966) was an exploration of the medium and its context, abstract, collaged images composed from computer tapes and other office ephemera that Meneeley found at hand. There was also a hairy, photocopied butt, presumably the artist’s.
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And then in 1968, the year Seth Siegelaub instigated his highly influential, photocopied-book-as-exhibition project, The Xerox Book, Meneeley made Portraits: People and Objects, which included a reassembled photo collage portrait of his friend Jasper Johns. But where Siegelaub and his crew were skewing to the conceptual aspects of copying, Meneeley was very attuned to the technical subtleties of photostatic reproduction, which he interpreted as a unique printmaking medium, an updated form of lithography.
Great stuff.
Edward Meneeley and the advent of the electrostatic artist’s print [rectoversoblog, which has many more images, not just the 2nd & 3rd images above]

The Secret Ingredient Turned Out To Be Infringiness

Brent-PrintedMatter
Well that cat’s out of the bag.
Joy Garnett posted audio from the Richard Prince Canal Zone discussion she, Chris Habib and I had Saturday night at Printed Matter. It’s available for streaming or download at the Internet Archive. OR for remixing, autotuning, and stop-action animating, whatever you want, since artpanelsjustwanttobefree it’s public domain.
It clocks in at almost an hour and a half, and who knows what you’ll find in there. I was too high on life and drunk on power–I was running the projector, too– to really remember what was said. Though I do remember something about megayachts, Perry Mason vs Law & Order; and wishing you were Rasta and/or punk. So really, something for everyone.
Many thanks to Chris and Joy, to Keith and Max and the PM Crew, and especially to the awesome and engaged audience. We’ll do it again for either the damages hearing or the Supreme Court phase.
Cariou v. Prince Meets Iron Chef, Discussion & Crit at Printed Matter, NYC [archive.org]
Joy Garnett’s flickr photoset clearly reveals I have no veto power over her photos of me [flickr]

RIP, Ivan Karp, And Thanks

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I’ll get back to the Rauschenberg thing in a bit, but it’s already been too long that I haven’t noted the passing of Ivan Karp. He had been an amazingly generous, interesting, and informative resource to me over the years I’ve been delving into the history of postwar art, always ready to share a story, or an opinion, a recollection, or a corrective. And I’m sad to think we won’t be having any more chats. My thoughts are with his family, and especially his wife, the artist and historian Marilynn Gelfman Karp, who has also been very thoughtful and generous with her insights and stories.
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An anecdote in Ivan’s NY Times obituary about how he and Marilynn met in what became an epicenter of the 1960s New York art world reminded me of a better version, from Ivan’s 1969 oral history interview for the Archives of American Art:

So kind of unknowingly the gallery by being what it was, an outgoing open place became a center of activity. People come in here and spend a lot of time. They’d meet each other. Every Saturday was an important event at the gallery. Dozens of people standing around in the back room discovering each other. There was a lot of romantic atmosphere. Always a lot of beautiful girls there. What always made the gallery activity worthwhile for me was the number of beautiful people and especially the beautiful girls who always came in. They were always particularly welcome; as they are to day still. That’s where I met my wife — at the gallery. She brought in slides and, in fact, brought in some paintings of an artist she was interested in. And I guess I was more interested in her than I was in the painter. But I think we did show the artist. And then I married his sponsor.

This painter was Vern Blosum. When I met Blosum almost 50 years later, it was clear he remembered the sting of losing his girlfriend as if it was yesterday.
For his part, when I called Ivan several years ago out of the blue and told him I wanted to talk with him about Vern Blosum, he just laughed and laughed. The jig was finally up.
images: Ivan and Marilynn Karp from their Screen Tests, ST171 and ST173, both 1964, obviously ganked from Callie Angell’s Warhol Screen Tests Catalogue Raisonne. Marilynn was also filmed for Warhol’s The Thirteen Most Beautiful Women.

Or Did Just Everyone Have A VW Bus And A Loft Back Then?

Seriously, people, maybe I should just start documenting the artists and avant garde music folks in the 1960s who didn’t roam around in a VW Bus. Here is composer Terry Riley, published in William Duckworth’s 1999 interview collection, Talking Music:

DUCKWORTH: When did you move to New York?
RILEY: I came to New York in 1965. After the In C performances, I went to Mexico on a bus for three months. I was actually looking for something, but I didn’t know what. I guess after In C, I was a little bit wondering what the next step was to be, you know. And I guess what I really wanted to do was go back and live in Morocco, because I was interested in Eastern music, and at that time, Moroccan music attracted me the most. I had lived there in the early sixties. In 1961, I went to Morocco and was really impressed with Arabic music. So we went to Mexico. My point was to get to Vera Cruz, put our Volkswagen bus on a boat and have it shipped to Tangier, and live in Morocco on the bus. We drove all the way down to Vera Cruz, but couldn’t get a boat; nobody would put our bus on the boat. So we drove all the way up to New York. We were going to try to do the same thing from New York, right? But I started hanging out with La Monte [Young] again and renewing old acquaintances. And Walter De Maria, who was a sculptor, had a friend who was leaving his apartment. THis guy had a fantastic loft on Grand Street. And he said, “Do you want to trade the loft for the bus?” So I did, and that began my four-year stay in New York.

Riley also had a wife and small kid at the time, and she supported the family by substitute teaching along their nomadic journeys. Amazing.
Previously: Walter de Maria’s stainless steel sculptures, including a musical instrument for La Monte Young, produced in 1965

The VW Appears

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image: copyright the John Cage Trust, used with permission
So awesome. Last winter, I tried to dig up all the published firsthand accounts and references of The VW Years, Carolyn Brown’s term for the early days of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, when the troupe would tour the country in John Cage & Merce’s white VW bus, which Cage had purchased using the winnings from a rigged Italian game show.
In addition, I’ve tried to figure out what happened to the bus itself. So far, no luck at all. But when she was helping with the transfer of the Cunningham Foundation archives to the NY Public Library, John Cage Trust director Laura Kuhn spotted this little image of the company hanging out next to the bus. And she very graciously sent it along. Many thanks.
The VW Years, Ch. 1
Ch. 2, Remy Charlip & Steve Paxton
Ch. 3, John Cage
The VW Years: Carolyn Brown, Part I, Part II

Jasper Johns Making Silkscreens, By Katy Martin

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Usuyuki, 1981
Alright, Katy Martin, who made two incredible Jasper Johns films in the late 1970s when you were practically a kid. Uh, actually, yeah, that’s about it. Just watch them.
Harvard’s Sackler Museum just opened a show yesterday, “Jasper Johns/ In Print: The Crosshatch Works and The Logic Of Print,” which features several complex, multi-screen prints Johns made in 1977-80 at Simca Print Artists in New York. Martin’s Super 8mm films documenting the making of are included in the exhibition.
Silkscreens (1978) is a hypnotic performance film showing the printers’ rhythmic routines as they create the 27-screen print, The Dutch Wives (1978).

On her website, Martin mentions folks like Yvonne Rainer, which makes sense, but Silkscreens also makes me think of the 1974 film Humain, Trop Humain, if Louis Malle had shot it in an cramped printing studio instead of a Citroen factory. Great stuff, and with a great, remixed, found/ambient soundtrack by Richard Teitelbaum, which, according to folks who know, like @JohnPyper, would drive actual printers crazy.

The other, longer film, Hanafuda/Jasper Johns (1977-81), combines footage of Johns himself working on two print editions, Usuyuki and Cicada, with audio excerpts of his interview with Martin. Johns kept complicating my notion of silkscreening as a very photomechanical process by repeatedly and extensively painting right onto the screen.
Whether it’s calculated or sincere, Martin’s unassuming questions seem very effective at getting Johns to talk. And after getting so much out of him, my favorite question is the last one, which is only in the published transcript, and which he tries, too late, not to answer:

KM: And then I wanted to talk something about meaning but
JJ: About what?
KM: Meaning. In the work. But I wasn’t sure how far to go with that. But I can’t help thinking about meaning to some degree.
JJ: Well, you mean meaning of images? I don’t like to get involved in that because I–any more than I’ve done–I tend to like to leave that free…. The problem with ideas ís, the idea is often simply a way to focus your interest in making a work. The work isn’t necessarily, I think-a function of the work is not to express the idea…. The idea focuses your attention in a certain way that helps you to do the work.

In The Backroom With Jasper Johns

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Well this is interesting. I don’t know how I missed this before now, but Albert Vanderburg was the associate editor of Portable Gallery Bulletin whose 1962 article discussing the impact of Rauschenberg’s inclusion of Johns’ flag painting in Short Circuit prompted Johns to write in. According to Vandenburg’s own recollection, that’s not all it prompted:

We had behind-the-scenes access to many museums and galleries and came to know many artists we might otherwise never have met. It was often necessary to move paintings in order to properly light and photograph them and it was a touching experience sometimes to see the backs of famous canvases. Ed had the habit of photographing any interesting work he spotted in back rooms even though I sometimes grumbled over the shambles it made on the production end. The negatives were printed in reels the size of a motion picture, then cut frame-by-frame and mounted in cardboard holders, so a beautiful Picasso sandwiched in between Roy Lichtenstein and George Segal exhibitions didn’t make for efficient processing, not to mention packaging and promotion which meant all those interesting individual items had to eventually be found a spot in the catalogue with suitable companions since we had long since given up selling individual slides.
One of those backroom items created another of my stormier sword-crossings with the Powers That Be. Before Jasper Johns appeared publicly on the scene, Robert Rauschenberg had created one of his “combine” sculptures which included a small all-white example of the American flag series which later helped make Johns a major star. Ed had managed to catch it before the work was withdrawn from public view. Not fully aware of the undercurrents, I wrote an article about the political influences in the New York art world and used that work as an example of ways more established artists lend a hand to up-and-coming ones. I had meant it admiringly but it was taken just the opposite, complicated by the fact that the special relationship between Rauschenberg and Johns had ended and had not yet emerged from a sour phase and perhaps even more so by the fact that the small Johns painting had itself become more valuable than the work as a whole. Their dealer, Leo Castelli, read my article, telephoned and told me I was a “beetch” and forbid us to sell the slide of the work. So when I designed the catalogue called “The World’s First Pop Art Newspaper”, the slide was offered as a free special bonus. Although Leo forgave Ed and continued to cooperate with future photography sessions, he never forgave me. I thought then he was a silly little man and I still think so while giving him due credit for the absolutely brilliant job he did in helping make Rauschenberg, Johns, Lichtenstein and others into the giants of twentieth century art which they later became.

Ha, yow, not often you hear Leo Castelli called a silly little man, but not often you hear him calling someone a “beetch,” either. Good times. Also, it was not an all-white flag painting. Unless, of course, it was. The vintage photo I’ve been using [above] was taken by Rudy Burckhardt and dates from, I think, 1958. I didn’t realize Meneeley and Vanderburg had their own shot, too. But maybe there’s a Portable Gallery Bulletin slide floating around out there somewhere, and maybe it shows a white flag?
UPDATE: I can’t find any copies of Portable Gallery Bulletin for sale or in archives, never mind “The World’s First Pop Art Newspaper.” But Joel Finsel’s extensive bio/blog of Ed Meneeley has a photo of Ed’s own, lone copy, from early 1963, probably the next issue after Johns’ letter:
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Hmm, Finsel also quotes the paper as offering “a free color slide of the Beatles!” which I guess one could get confused with Johns.
The Panther’s Tale: 014b [pantherhawaii.com]

Things We Were Going To Do Are Now Being Done By Others.

And speaking of big universes and small worlds, I’m starting to listen to the 1991 recordings of John Cage’s Diary: How To Improve The World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse), and just ten minutes in, I’m reminded that Cage’s childhood friendship with the unorthodox-but-nearly-canonical Mormon scholar Hugh Nibley is the most unlikely Mormon/modern music connection since La Monte Young [grandson of Brigham].

Without intending to, I’m going from lake to lake
Salt air
Salt Lake
Hugh Nibley
I hadn’t seen him since high school days
I asked him what he thought about other planets
and sentient populations.
“Yes,” he said, “throughout the universe.
It’s Mormon doctrine.”
We’d said goodbye.
I opened the door of the car,
picked up my attache case,
and everything in it fell out on the grass
and the gutter.
His comment:
“Something memorable always happens.”

Which, hmm, if it only served to get me into a transcribing-and-posting mind for the next excerpt Cage read, then it’s worth it:

Things we were going to do
are now being done by others.
They were, it seems, not in our minds to do.
Were we or they out of our minds?
But simply ready to enter any open mind
any mind disturbed enough not to have an idea in it.

Big Universe, Big Data

Ross Andersen has a fascinating interview with JWST scientist Alberto Conti about the orders of magnitude increases in the amount of astronomical data being gathered these days:

There are two issues driving the current data challenges facing astronomy. First, we are in a vastly different data regime in astronomy than we were even ten or fifteen years ago. Over the past 25 to 30 years, we have been able to build telescopes that are 30 times larger than what we used to be able to build, and at the same time our detectors are 3,000 times more powerful in terms of pixels. The explosion in sensitivity you see in these detectors is a product of Moore’s Law—they can collect up to a hundred times more data than was possible even just a few years ago. This exponential increase means that the collective data of astronomy doubles every year or so, and that can be very tough to capture and analyze.

How Big Data Is Changing Astronomy (Again) [theatlantic]
Related: posts on the Palomar Observatory Sky Survey, an early decades-long attempt to photograph the universe.

Our Man In Venice

I’ve liked this explanation Gerhard Richter gave in 1972 to Rolf Schön about the relationship in his work between photography and painting for a long time, but it’s been particularly awesome lately:

RS: How do you stand in relation to illusion? Is imitating photographs a distancing device, or does it create the appearance of reality?
Illusion in the trompe-l’oeil sense is not one of my techniques, and the effect isn’t illusionistic. I’m not trying to imitate a photograph; I’m trying to make one. And if I disregard the assumption that a photograph is a piece of paper exposed to light, then I am practising photography by other means: I’m not producing paintings that remind you of a photograph but producing photographs. And, seen in this way, those of my paintings that have no photographic source (the abstracts, etc.) are also photographs.
How objective, in the documentary sense, is your photographic painting?
It isn’t. First of all, only photographs can be objective, because they relate to an object without themselves being objects. [hmm, well. -ed.] However, I can also see them as objects and even make them into objects–by painting them, for instance. From that point onwards they cannot be, and art not meant to be, objective any more–nor are they meant to document anything whatever, whether reality or a view of reality. They are the reality, the view, the object. They can only be documented.

Richter’s interview with Schoen was first published under the headline, “Unser Mann in Venedig [Our Man In Venice],” in Deutsche Zeitung, on April 14, 1972, exactly 40 years ago. It was included that summer in the catalogues for both the German Pavilion and the Venice Biennale.
It’s also included in both The Daily Practice of Painting and the reboot edition, Gerhard Richter: Writings 1961 – 2007 [pp. 59-60].

Weiwei’s Red Lantern

An interesting detail from The Economist’s report on Ai Weiwei’s house arrest, and the irony of the police order to stop broadcasting his own webcams:

And he knows of at least 15 police surveillance cameras mounted within 100 metres of his home. Spotting them is easy, as the police have helpfully chosen to decorate each camera with a bright red lantern.

Which can be seen in David Gray’s photo for Reuters, as published on msnbc’s China blog, Behind The Wall:
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One thing, though: this tweet from March 27 seems to indicate that Ai hung the 15 lanterns himself, not that the police did.

In January, when Ai was taken in for questioning and accused of “damaging” the CCTVs trained on his studio, he said that “he had once hung a red lantern under one of the cameras ‘to make them look nicer’.”
And in December,
BusinessWeek reported that only a single CCTV camera, the one in front of Ai’s door, had a red lantern on it, “marking National Day of the People’s Republic of China.” Which would be October 1st.
So did the police let Ai put up 14 more lanterns? Or did they replace Ai’s lanterns with their own? Do we call these lanterns knockoffs?
House Arrest in China: Orwell, Kafka and Ai Weiwei [economist via new-aesthetic]

LLOLZ On Gerhard Richter’s Annunciation After (A Postcard Of) Titian

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Annunciation after Titian, CR 343-1, 1973, collection Hirshhorn Museum, image: gerhard-richter.com
I confess, I love Gerhard Richter in the 70s. Here are some of the best/funniest excerpts from a interview he did with art historian/curator Gislind Nabakowski that was first published in Heute Kunst in 1974. The subject was Annunciation after Titian, a series Richter painted in 1973, after visiting Venice in 1972 for the Biennale.
The first in the series, above, is in the Hirshhorn’s collection. The series has not been shown together since it was first exhibited in 1973 at the Galleria la Bertesca in Milan.

GN:What made you choose a fifteenth-century painting as a model and create a sequence based on Titian’s Annunciation?
GR: Because there’s something about this painting, or any painting, that grabs me if they’re good–irrespective of the impact they had at the time, why they were made, the story behind them. I don’t know what motivated the artists, which means that the paintings have an intrinsic quality. I think Goethe called it the “essential dimension”, the thing that makes great works of art great.
I beg your pardon?!

Continue reading “LLOLZ On Gerhard Richter’s Annunciation After (A Postcard Of) Titian”

Here Is A Giant, Awesome NASA Test Chamber From Fashioning Apollo

John Powers has been on me for months to read “>Nicholas de Monchaux’s Fashioning Apollo, the incredible and unlikely history of the development of the Apollo spacesuits.
And I have been meaning to, I swear, but this insane photo may be just the thing to push me over the edge. Because in his otherwise heady interview with de Monchaux, Geoff Manaugh only captions the images as being from the book.
Which I will have to buy, to find out what this three-story dolly was doing in this massive, origami-ended space lined with sound-deadening foam pyramids. Because seriously, holy smokes.
Spacesuit Interview with Nicholas de Monchaux [bldgblog]

Robert Montgomery: Spectacular Vernacular

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I’ve got a few reservations, but I’m really quite smitten with London-based Scottish artist Robert Montgomery’s poetically critical billboard artworks.

The one above was unfurled at a Stop The War protest in Trafalgar Square last October. It reads:

WHEN WE ARE SLEEPING, AEROPLANES CARRY
MEMORIES OF THE HORRORS WE HAVE GIVEN
OUR SILENT CONSENT TO INTO THE NIGHT SKY
OF OUR CITIES, AND LEAVE THEM THERE, TO
GATHER LIKE CLOUDS AND CONDENSE INTO
OUR DREAMS BEFORE MORNING.

If the stark white-on-black text and the clouds and the protest didn’t already remind me of Felix Gonzalez-Torres, this particular photo, which ran on Purple’s blog, even has a bird in flight in the upper right corner.
Montgomery’s standard M.O. is to paste his billboards guerrilla-style, without permission, on top of existing advertisements. But for
an exhibition last month at KK Outlet, the gallery got authorization to install a series of three billboards with something of an Occupy theme. [Occupy had been occupying nearby at Shoreditch, and the artist had a collaborative project planned, but, as he told the Independent, “they got turfed out on 25 January so that didn’t happen.”]
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The deployment of poetry as protest takes its cue, Montgomery readily acknowledges, from the Situationists and Guy Debord, which, baby and bathwater and all, I will accept. My ambivalence, such as it is, really has more to do with Montgomery’s apparent activism on the fashionista front, his day jobs at Dazed and Confused, his carousing with Olivier Zahm, even the galleries that tout their Occupy shows one month, and their design studios working for LVMH the next.
But who’s to complain, seeing as how I followed the linkstream to his work while surfing for extraordinary calf leather shoes myself?
Let he who is without consumerist sin throw the first stone. Is being the global street fashion industrial complex’s social conscience is any more damning than being the art world’s anything?
Montgomery’s disarming, enticing, depressing, enlightening poems are still there, still catching advertising-conditioned passersby, only to release them with an unsettling thought in their heads.
Givin’ me 500 Errors right now, though: Robert Montgomery portfolio site [robertmontgomery.org]
It turned out this way cos you dreamed it this way [kkoutlet.com]
Robert Montgomery opening and installation shots via KK Outlet’s flickr [flickr]
The artist vandalising advertising with poetry [independent.co.uk]

‘Collectors Are My Power Base’

It’s well worth looking at the fuller context of that awesome Jeff Koons blurb about abstraction and luxury being the guard dogs of the upper class. [most recently tweeted by @berfrois] It comes from a late 1988 interview with Brooks Adams and Karen Marta, who were then working under the name Burke & Hare, which was published in Parkett 19:

I try to be effective as a leader. I’m very interested in leadership. I think that my own work has been helping to direct a dialogue, and it’s been participating in it for quite some time. I’m anteing up the pressure and trying to increase the stakes continually. I’ve found that collectors are my power base. You know, I’m able to work as a function of thier support of my work. I think that they have to have some interest in debasement and its political possibilities, even for their own use. I mean, it really has to be for their own use. I think that I give them a sense of freedom. I don’t think that I’m debasing them and not leaving them a place to go. I’m creating a whole new area for them once they’re feeling free. I see it as my job to keep the bourgeoisie out of equilibrium letting them form a new aristocracy.
I think it’s necessary that the work be bought, that I have the political power to operate. I enjoy the seduction of the sale. I enjoy the idea that my objectives are being met. I like the idea of the political power base of art, but it’s not just a money thing. It has to be a total coordination of everything, and money is a certain percent of it, maybe 20% of it. Look, abstraction and luxury are the guard dogs of the upper class. The upper class wants people to have ambition and gumption because, if you do, you will participate and you’ll move through society into a different class structure. But eventually, through the tools of abstraction and luxury, they will debase you, and they will get your chips away from you.

1988 was right after his Banality show, the Complete Spot Paintings of its day, which opened, outrageously, in three galleries at once in New York [Sonnabend], Berlin [Max Hetzler], and Chicago [Donald Young]. But it was before Made In Heaven, it was before he basically went bankrupt–and nearly took Deitch with him–making his balloon dogs and whatnot. It was a Koonsianism several orders of magnitude less intense that the Koonsianism we see today.
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Jeff and Felix sittin’ in a tree. P-A-R-K-E-T-T
His political interpretation also resonates with Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ discussion from 1994:

At this point I do not want to be outside the structure of power, I do not want to be the opposition, the alternative. Alternative to what? To power? No. I want to have power. It’s effective in terms of change. I want to be like a virus that belongs to the institution. All the ideological apparatuses are, in other words, replicating themselves, because that’s the way the culture works.