The High Priestess/Zweistromland, 1985-89, collection: astrum fearnley museet, best photo ever is actually here at kunstkrittik.no
I fell hard for Anselm Kiefer’s impossible but seductive lead books back in the day. I was in college and just making my way from religiously/symbolically loaded Italian Renaissance to contemporary art, when I found the lush catalogue for Kiefer’s The High Priestess on a visit to Rizzoli in NYC. [NY was then still in the wake of a big Kiefer retrospective, which I’d missed.] It was like the guidebook to the historically saturated, emotionally fraught world Wim Wenders had just captured in his 1987 angels documentary, Wings of Desire.
The High Priestess, 1989, photos by the artist, image of a signed copy available from bythebooklc in Phoenix
After a few years, I cooled a bit on Kiefer, got a bit more context, began to recognize and be [a bit] skeptical of my own susceptibility to the allure of superlative materialism. So the show at Marian Goodman in 1993, which consisted of the contents of the vanished artist’s abandoned studio in Germany–a teetering stack of once-valuable, ruined, dirt-encrusted paintings, and a long table strewn with semen-splattered ledger books–didn’t hit me as hard as it did some folks.
20 Jahre Einsamkeit/20 Years of Loneliness, 1971-1991, image via schjeldahl/artnet
[Re-reading it now for the first time in 20+ years, I realize that Jack Flam’s 1992 NYRB essay on Kiefer’s work and the euphoric literature it spawned was the source of my unconscious reboot. I basically internalized Flam’s argument in its entirety; I must have been a hit at parties, parroting that thing.]
Anyway, the point is, I guess, is I have a long and conflicted relationship with artist books, especially the most physically luxurious and sublime ones. I know this. I live this. I make books myself with as little aestheticizing consciousness as possible because of this.
And yet, here I am, swooning like an undergrad at the amazing video of Olafur Eliasson’s A View Becomes A Window, an edition of nine handblown glass-and-leather books produced for Ivorypress, which is on view in Madrid through this week:
Seeing the colored glass samples stacked up around his studio for the last several years, AVBAW seems like the most normal, logical extension of Olafur’s recent work. Which is just the cool, analytical inevitability it needed to get past my sublime defenses.
In the era marked by the discovery things like electromagnetic waves, radio, and x-rays, invisible realities beyond visual perception, Hilma af Klint sought to depict the higher/spiritual/imperceptible world in paintings, drawings, and writings that she largely hid from public/male view during her life. It all seems like the future, though, by which I mean the present. It’s uncanny.
Anyway, here’s a documentary where curator Iris Müller-Westermann talks [in Swedish] about the work and practice of Hilma af Klint. The retrospective she organized at the Moderna Museet closed today. It will be in Berlin in June and Malaga in October. [via and a half]
UPDATE: Make that Alfred Leslie and Frank O’Hara’s Lamp [see below]
UPDATE UPDATE Just to be clear, let’s make that Alfred Leslie and Frank O’Hara’s Lamp by Larry Rivers
Obviously the best part of Richard O. Moore’s 1966 WNET profile of Frank O’Hara is the poet reading “Having A Coke With You.” But 2nd and 3rd best are a tossup between footage of New York back in the day, and this totally bonkers, homemade floor lamp in Alfred Leslie’s studio. That’s how awesome that lamp is.
Thanks to Maureen O’Hara for pointing out that this scene was actually shot in Frank’s loft, and that the lamp was his, made by Larry Rivers.
Though I did wonder how Alfred Leslie’s range included figurative portraits and the large abstract painting behind them, I didn’t wonder hard enough to realize it wasn’t by Leslie at all. [It’s by Mike Goldberg, the subject of O’Hara’s 1957 poem, “Why I Am Not A Painter.”]
Anyway, clips from Moore’s film, as well as other Frank O’Hara interviews and readings are at frankohara.org.
And now that I know a bit better what to look for, here are a couple of additional photos of the lamp in O’Hara’s loft, taken, I believe, by Mario Schifano in 1964:
l-r: Kenneth Koch, John Ashberry photobomb, Patsy Southgate, Frank O’Hara, lamp
l=r: Southgate, lamp, Bill Berkson, O’Hara (seated), Ashberry, Koch (seated)
This bottom one is almost clear enough to reconstruct the lamp, if need be. Oh, wait, yes, Schifano, as seen in Homage to Frank O’Hara, Berkson and LaSueur’s 1988 Pinterest board-avant la lettre, and tumbld by poets.org. So basically, I could take Lamp with Poets here to Canal Hardware and walk out with a complete lamp kit:
And for additional context, here’s at least one other lamp/sculpture Rivers made, this one from 1966.
Blue Lamp looks like a spray painted construction of welded metal scraps and industrial hardware, with a “studio label” and a stock number on the bottom. Acquired directly from the artist, it didn’t sell at Wright20 in 2011, because est. $5-7,000.
USA: Poetry: Frank O’Hara (1966) [youtube via VNY via @jameswagner]
Frank O’Hara – Video [frankohara.org]
I swear I did not know about this when I put up the last Jack Smith/Flaming Creatures post.
The Central Utah Arts Center has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the City of Ephraim in Sanpete County and its mayor, alleging official censorship and discrimination. CUAC was evicted last summer from the city-owned building it had restored and occupied for nearly two decades, and its city funding and school-based programs were canceled after various public officials complained about offensive content in at least two art exhibitions.
The one that started the censor ball rolling, it seems, was a 2011 traveling exhibition which included Jack Smith’s Flaming Creatures. In CUAC’s court complaint, they quote an email where the mayor of Ephraim calls the showing not “Sanpete appropriate.” The City Manager and Economic Development Director of the City then emailed “to share my disgust with the ‘art’ on view.” “I know there are places in the world where smut like this is tolerated but the last place I expected to see it was in Ephraim.” And there it was!
The city had filed suit against CUAC after evicting them, and approved turning the building over to a newly formed arts group, one which promised not to show “abstract ‘contemporary art’ that many residents found esoteric and difficult to understand.”
CUAC is seeking damages, restitution, and attorneys fees, as well as to be reinstated in its former premises. This, even though the organization and its director Adam Bateman have fled to that notorious den of permissiveness, Salt Lake City.
Ephraim art center founder says censorship behind eviction [sltrib via artforum]
OK, wow, so this is a music video by Michelangelo Antonioni, one of the first/few things he shot on video. It’s a song called “Fotoromanza” from “Puzzle,” the first hit album by the Italian pop singer Gianna Nannini. As you can tell just by looking at it, it’s from 1984:
Here is Antonioni discussing the music video with Aldo Tassone, in a 1985 interview that first ran in the French cinema magazine Positif, but which is published in English in The Antonioni Project’s 1995 compilation, The Architecture of Vision: Writings and Interviews on Cinema
You have shot a feature film and a few shorts on video: how did you find that experience?
It was a very interesting experience, even if at the time, in 1980, the techniques of transferring videotape to film weren’t highly developed. The copy–on tape–of The Mistery of Oberwald is very beautiful. I don’t understand why the French television didn’t distribute it more widely. In America, the commercial I shot for the Renault 9 [!? -ed.] was judged the best commercial of the year. It cost eight hundred million lire to make. For the video I shot for the rock singer Gianna Nannini (the song is called “Fotoromanza”), I only had forty million lire to work with–and in fact I don’t much like the end result. To make intelligent videos you need serious money.
I think video is the future of cinema. To shoot on video has so many advantages. To begin with, you have total control over color. The important thing is to work with a good group of technicians. Video reproduces what you put in front of the camera with almost total fidelity. The range of effects you can achieve is not even comparable to cinema. In the lab, you always have to compromise. On video, in contrast, you have complete control–you always know where you are because you can play it back at any stage, and if you don’t like it you can redo it.
The Internet tells me this is Antonioni’s spot for the Renault 9. Which looks to me like at least 600 million of those lire went to Jacques Tati:
Which, apologies to the professore, is only the second best driverless Renault commercial I’ve seen.
Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone drop mic and leave the stage.
[via @filmstudiesff and @Coburn73]
Destroyed Richter Painting #03
First off, a huge thanks to everyone who came to the opening of Richteriana Saturday, and a high five to Magda, Postmasters and the artists in the show. It really does look great, and interesting, and provocative. If you can, you should definitely see it in person.
Destroyed Richter Painting #04
Which is actually one reason I debated not posting images of the Destroyed Richter Paintings paintings I put into the show. One of the real drivers of making the paintings was to approximate the experience of standing in front of paintings that could now only be seen through photos. Or transparencies. Or JPGs. And to measure what the difference is between these different modes of mediated perception.
Destroyed Richter Painting #02
I did not have access to the actual dimensions of Richter’s original works, but I worked hard to deduce the size as well as to approximate the image, so as to make the feeling of seeing a picture in person as authentic [sic] as possible, even while acknowledging that Richter made such an experience impossible.
Destroyed Richter Painting #05
But looking at jpgs of paintings [of jpgs of paintings of photos] obviously falls short of this idealized encounter. As so much of our art encounter/consumption does. It’s a distinction that most people miss or gloss over, but which is not lost on Tyler Green, who recently addressed the subject of critics reviewing shows they haven’t seen by tweeting, “I never ‘work’ off JPEG.”
Richter actually showed most or all of the paintings depicted here between 1964-67, so in a way, there’s an aspect of going back in time, to encounter Richter and his work at the beginning of his Western career. A time when the context of the work wasn’t hype and adulation and skyrocketing prices, but bafflement, resistance, and indignation. There are early photo paintings that survive only because someone bought them or kept them; so these works, which were once good enough to be exhibited or put on sale, were rejected by the market before they were ultimately rejected by the artist himself.
Destroyed Richter Painting #01
The one exception/mystery is Grau. This is one of the 70+ paintings that did make it into the catalogue raisonne, but which are now listed as destroyed. And if there’s a surviving image of the three destroyed grey monochromes [CR395-1-3], I couldn’t find it. So all that’s known publicly is the dimensions, and the unusual support [wood panel]. But that’s part of the beauty of the grey paintings, I thought, that you could think you could credibly extrapolate an actual painting from such minimal information. And seeing it in person really makes me miss Richter’s version–and to wonder what happened to it.
At first I was thinking this is odd seeing Warhol himself going at something with a big ol’ brush. But then I figured the bloctchy paint scheme for the 1979 BMW M1 was similar to the underpaintings on his portraits, and to the Shadows paintings from the same time, so maybe it wasn’t that unusual after all. At least for him.
Though it was for BMW. Warhol was the first artist to paint directly on his art car rather than have the company execute his maquette, which according to Art Car Project responsable Herve Poulain, was done with “exaggerated gestures, like a dancer.” Combine that with his signature pit crew jumpsuit, and all the cameras, and it seems clear that Warhol was performing.
Poulain describes Warhol’s concept as camouflage, and a critique of the “war-like” aspect of racing, a reference neither he nor BMW apparently cared for.
commentary-free version of Warhol painting a BMW M1 [via warholstars]
Chattier, bouncier, talking head version of the making of Warhol’s BMW Art Car [via bmwdrives.com]
New Yorker music critic Alex Ross posted this extraordinary video of Philip Glass and the Occupy Wall Street General Assembly outside Lincoln Center, where the Metropolitan Opera performed Satyagraha, the composer’s 2008 production of his 1980 telling of the early life of Gandhi.
Starting at about 3:00, Glass and the peoples’ mic recite the closing lines of the opera:
rules the land,
we come into being,
age after age,
and take visible shape,
a man among men,
for the protection of good,
thrusting back evil
and setting virtue on her seat again.
As operagoers begin to realize what’s going on, and that Glass is there, they start ignoring the police cordon trying to direct them away from the protest, and start drifting down the stairs. It’s pretty extraordinary.
The Satyagraha Protest [therestisnoise]
I’m sure the original’s long gone, but I want the Moog synthesizer-equipped lightboard from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
The idea of communicating with extraterrestrials via “a basic tonal vocabulary” synched to a gridded light show is like the lovechild of Carl Sagan and Ellsworth Kelly, conceived at an outdoor Pink Floyd concert. In a good way.
Sculpture for a Large Wall, 1957, image: moma.org
[Just an aside, the story of Kelly’s Sculpture for a Large Wall is utterly fantastic. I’m glad that it’s safe and at MoMA, but the utter failure of Philadelphia to keep it should be discussed every time the Eakins or Barnes stories are told.]
Spencer Finch, The River That Flows Both Ways, image by iwan bann via thehighline
I would have expected Spencer Finch or Leo Villareal to have made one of these already. Or any one of a number of early Silicon Valley IPO nerds. But I can’t find any record of replicas anywhere. So I will step in where I must.
My first guess was that Douglas Trumbull gets the credit for the board; and maybe he designed and executed it. But according to Ray Morton’s definitive-sounding 2007 book on the making of Close Encounters, it was Spielberg’s idea to have a colored lights that correspond to each Moog tone. John Williams composed and recorded the music in advance, so it could be played back on set for filming what was called “the jam session.” I’ll gladly overlook this somewhat Milli Vanillistic approach to jamming in exchange for the score and the rig’s schematics.
Rirkrit Tiravanija, Untitled (Rehearsal Studio No. 6, Silent Version), 1996, installed at MCA Chicago, image via artforum
Because obviously, when you exhibit this, you’ll expect the first thing everyone will play is that iconic five-note greeting. Then they’ll get into a jam session of their own. You’d probably want to make it possible, via the web or USB stick or something, for people to execute their own compositions, to let the computer “take over the conversation” once in a while. And you’d probably stream the piece over the web, too, give it its own channel. Maybe schedule some performers to come in and use it.
Then for good measure, put the whole thing on a golden CD and launch it into space, and wait for a response.
Off the Golden Record
This is so awesome, if a little salty. [via @ianbuckwalter]
Untitled (Point Break), 2010, Roe Ethridge, via andrewkreps
This is in Le Luxe, Roe Ethridge’s awesome show at Kreps, through July 3rd.
Related: Crafting Genre: Kathryn Bigelow, a retrospective of the director’s film titles, combined with her early videos, paintings and conceptual artworks, opens at MoMA at the end of May. Point Break will be screening twice in early June, and once in August. [see the complete schedule.]
You know, every once in a while, I think that it’s crazy to be considering satelloons as art instead of what they really were–aestheticized objects designed to be seen and exhibited.
And then I’ll catch a glimpse of Expo 67 somewhere, and realize I’m still well inside the bubble.
A still from The World of Buckminster Fuller, which is on DVD, available at Amazon, not ubu.com, why would it be?
Previous Expo67 posts:
not that anyone asked, but here’s Fuller’s own idea for the US Pavilion
on the American Painting Now show, organized by Alan Solomon
the Canadian fracas over Barnett Newman’s Voice of Fire
Forgot how much I loved writing this post on art protestor/greenhouse owner John Czupryniak’s Newman knockoff, Voice of the Taxpayer
Expo 70 design finding the Expo 67 Pavilion hard to beat
In reviewing Johan Grimonperez’ 1997 film, Dial H.I.S.T.O.R.Y., which was exhibited at Deitch, Ronald Jones underscores artists’ failure to, well, to matter very much in contemporary culture. And he reminded me of this, which I had completely forgotten:
Paul Goldberger’s piece in the New Yorker on Frank Gehry’s Bilbao museum made an important claim: ‘The politics of the Guggenheim Bilbao’, Goldberger writes, ‘are evident in a single word, “MUSEOA”, that is plastered onto the building’s facade in enormous letters’. Goldberger’s point is that, ‘museoa’ is not Spanish but means ‘museum’ in the language of the Basques. We take from the Goldberger essay that a collision between art and politics was inevitable in Bilbao. As a part of the Bilbao Pageantry Jeff Koons’ well known Puppy (1992), the floral sculpture that made its magnificent debut in Kassel a few years ago, was to be erected and brought to life with local flowers. Languidly watching workmen hang pots of flowers over the gigantic pup, the police ran a casual check on the license plate of the truck which had been used to deliver the flowers. The truck and plate did not belong together and that’s how the terrorists were found out. When the police began nosing around they discovered that the ‘gardeners’ were arming the adorable puppy with flower pots containing remote-controlled grenades. After the shoot out, in which one policeman was killed, the florist-bombers, members of the Basque group ETA, escaped. Several have since been arrested.
Tom Scocca posted about the story just before Christmas, but apparently, Mao Zedong was a Bruce Lee fan.
That’s how the Chinese press is reporting the story of Liu Qingtang, [刘庆棠], a ballet dancer and close ally of Mao’s wife Jiang Qing, who, as the deputy minister, was put in charge of films at the Ministry of Culture.
Mao was encouraged because of cataracts to cut down on his reading, and to switch to film. Liu was charged with programming and procuring prints for Mao’s private screenings.
Scocca picked the story up from Raymond Zhou in China Daily, but Liu’s account was first published in November in the Yangcheng Evening News, a major daily out of Guangzhou. It was posted online a few weeks later. Here’s the Chinese, “毛泽东有多迷李小龙？”, and a choppy Google translation, “Mao Was a Bruce Lee Fan?” [It’s remarkable how far Chinese-English autotranslation still has to go. We’re barely at Babelfish levels here.]
Liu says his story is from 1974:
Mao Zedong’s like to watch movies there are several categories: first, the international award-winning film; second film biography, “Abraham Lincoln”, “Napoleon,” he loves; third is like watching garden scenery film, like most British films. Often, Mao heard good movie, the file will be down to watch, watch movies right away, very happy.
. At some point, then, Liu traveled to Guangzhou, and on to Hong Kong, where he had not a little bit of trouble getting prints of Lee’s films, The Big Boss, Fist of Fury and The Way of the Dragon, from the wary movie mogul Sir Run Run Shaw.
Where Mao would watch only a few minutes at a time, taking up to ten days to finish another film, he apparently sat straight through Lee’s movies, and even demanded repeat viewings. Liu was afraid to send the prints back to HK, in case Mao asked to see them again.
The incorporation of Mao into the Bruce Lee fan club, the American-born, Hong Kong-raised, one-quarter German Lee [who is known by his given Cantonese name, Li Jun-fan (李振藩)] was timed with the premiere on CCTV6 of a documentary, “Legend of Bruce Lee,” which debuted at Beijing University. It all serves to retroactively position Lee as an inspiring, nationalistic hero of all Chinese, including the Mainland, where he was unknown during his lifetime.
And it all makes me wonder what was actually going on film-wise in the PRC during the tumultuous waning days of Mao’s rule. Because there are some contradictions and gaps in Liu’s story as it’s reported:
Wikipedia, which has the only actual date I can find so far, says Liu was installed as Deputy Culture Minister in February 1976.
Jonathan Clements’ 2006 biography of Mao dates the cataracts to 1974, but also says that Mao was nearly blind, and his slurred speech could only be decoded by his nurse.
As Reeve Wong pointed out to China Daily, Bruce Lee’s films were actually produced by Shaw’s rival studio, Golden Harvest. It’s not clear how or where, but Liu still insists that he got the prints from Shaw.
Given the difficulty in tracking down prints of Hong Kong’s most popular films, I have to wonder what “international award-winning films” and biopics Liu was able to get his hands on. I mean, was there a copy of John Ford’s 1939 film Young Mister Lincoln laying around a cinema after the Revolution?
And the big question, did he watch Michelangelo Antonioni’s epic 1972 documentary Chung Kuo? Antonioni originally shot Chung Kuo/ Cina as a left-to-left cultural gift, with Communist Party participation and supervision. After it came out, though, Madame Mao & her cinematic comrades denounced spectacularly as a capitalist reactionary insult to the Motherland.
A lengthy bio of Liu Qingtang at hudong.com says that in 1976 as the Gang of Four maneuvered for post-Mao power, Minister Liu personally oversaw the production of three “hit films,” Back [反击]、Grand Festival, [盛大的节日], and Fight [搏斗] which attacked Deng Xiaopeng.
After Deng regained and consolidated power and began undoing the effects of the Cultural Revolution, Liu followed the Gang of Four into public disgrace, trial and jail. But he’s apparently out now, and doing fine, if not quite keeping his dates and titles straight.
We go to History with the culture we have, not the culture you want, or might wish to have at a later time.
316 pages. 136 Mb PDF download. Not including the copyright notices, well under 1,000 words.
I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I feel that, at least when The Future looks back on us, here, in this moment, in this culture, in the–as the flight attendant unexpectedly put it when he announced our arrival at Schiphol–in this, the 2,010th Year of Our Lord,
the instruction manual for the 5,000+piece Lego Set 10179-1: The Ultimate Collector’s Millennium Falcon may just end up as the touchstone, the most meaningful book, the best we managed to do. It is certainly the pinnacle of something.
During the unboxing, a giddy Amazon customer notes: “The bound instruction book weighs almost as much as the completed model! Almost. It’s huge!!!”
Seriously, I’m thinking it should be sold as a stand-alone. On the shelf next to The 9/11 Commission Report. And published in a limited edition art book version, on archival paper. Or at least given a fighting chance by being uploaded onto blurb.com.
I mean, it’s allowed, right?
If you plan to print the building instruction, please be sure to download the correct version:
# Building instructions labeled “NA” or “V39” may be printed on US standard letter size paper (8½ in × 11 in, 215.9 mm × 279.4 mm).
# Building instructions labeled “IN” or “V29” may be printed on EU standard A4 paper (210 mm × 297mm, 8.3 in × 11.7 in.)
http://cache.lego.com/bigdownloads/buildinginstructions/4525430.pdf [via things magazine, so this might be the A4 formatted file, fyi]
UPDATE: Lego does have the Instruction Manual available for sale separately. It is $53, plus shipping. [lego.com]