Cy Twombly is not letting a little thing like death slow him down. Twitter user @buffalosean spotted this new Twombly pavilion on the northern side of Houston, in a former Sand Dollar Thrift Shop at the corner of 19th and Yale Streets. Google Streetview’s last capture was just a few weeks ago, so this is feeling very fresh.
Or maybe this is a pop-up shop for a capsule collection from the Twombly Foundation? And if it were, would the merch possibly look any crispier than this T-shirt? To celebrate the hilarious impossibility of such a thing, this CyTwombly T-shirt will be available this weekend was available through midnight wherever, Sunday, July 23rd.
It will be screenprinted in OG orange on a white Hanes Authentic T (to match the Twombly White Rabbit T-shirt from last Summer. Collect’em all!) and will ship worldwide for $US30.
As with previous t-shirt projects, this will only happen if ten people or more want one, and it breaks even. UPDATE: WE ARE THERE. IT IS HAPPENING. Which (MBA? lmao) ten people have always ordered, and between the surprise & delight and shipping, I have yet to actually break even on one of these. Maybe I should take some garbage bags full of them to Times Square and sell them to hypebeasts. Or maybe it’s just a way to share a moment.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“The spectacle is capital accumulated to the point that it becomes images,” Guy Debord tweeted in 1967.
And when @wasathatawolf tweeted, “I can’t shake the thought that NFTs are the truest manifestation of the spectacle,” yesterday,
Debord Ape Yacht Club was minted in my brain.
And so now here we are, at the intersection of détournement and commodification, selling t-shirts.
This exclusive one-of-one Debord Ape will be silkscreened in grayscale on a white Hanes Authentic [of course] T-shirt in 100% cotton. Because of the multiple screens required to mint this, and because I still just lost money on the last supposedly breakeven shirt stunt, this shirt is $25, shipped worldwide.
Debord Ape will be available til the end of Febrary [Monday2/28]. If fewer than 15 people order, I will burn the project, refund the enlightened dozen or whatever people’s money, and console them with some kind of tasty swag. The ape will live on as a jpg, free for right clicking. [Next day update: Everyone should feel free to right-click if they want, but the mob has spoken, and project will go ahead!]
So if you’re looking for a way to expose the spectacle’s alienating financialization while mirroring capitalist recuperation through détournement and self-critical commodification, hopefully, you order your Debord Ape T-shirt while you could.
Thank you all for your engagement.
UPDATE: Meanwhile, Geraldine Juárez, who’s been really smart in her analysis of NFTs for a while already, and who also made the Debord connection almost a year ago, just tweeted about an even deeper Debord/Apes connection. From a 1957 column fragging Alain Robbe-Grillet’s timid clinging to the present, Debord declares for the revolutionary power of ape art:
Last June witnessed a scandal when a film I had made in 1952 [Hurlements en faveur de Sade] was screened in London. It was not a hoax and still less a Situationist achievement, but one that depended on complex literary motivations of that time (works on the cinema of Isou, Marco, Wolman), and thus fully participated in the phase of decay, precisely in its most extreme form, without even having — except for a few programmatic allusions — the wish for positive developments that characterized the works to which I have alluded. Afterward, the same London audience (Institute of Contemporary Arts) was treated to some paintings executed by chimpanzees, which bear comparison with respectable action painting. This proximity seems to me instructive. Passive consumers of culture (one can well understand why we count on the possibility of active participation in a world in which “aesthetes” will be forgotten) can love any manifestation of decomposition (they would be right in the sense that these manifestations are precisely those that best express their period of crisis and decline, but one can see that they prefer those that slightly disguise this state). I believe that in another five or six years they will come to love my film and the paintings of apes, just as they already love Robbe-Grillet. The only real difference between the paintings of apes and my complete cinematographic work to date is its possible threatening meaning for the culture around us, namely, a wager on certain formations of the future.
[Meanwhile, Juárez’s original quote that referenced this was not from Debord directly, but from Esther Leslie’s 2004 book Hollywood Flatlands: Animation, Critical Theory, and the Avant Garde. Credit where it’s due, thanks Geraldine!]
I know we all got distracted for a minute by the Ruth Asawa knock-off hype, but let’s remember what’s really important about Architectural Digest’s glorious visit to Gwyneth Paltrow’s new house in Montecito: they decided not to get video rights for the John Baldessari diptych over the fireplace, and so they blurred out the painting. Well, technically, they only blurred out half of it. The monochrome, apparently, can slide.
To celebrate this moment in the history of artist rights management in the multiplatform digital content era, greg.org is issuing this t-shirt. What does it say? NO ONE KNOWS. What is it referencing? NO IDEA. The meaning will remain an eternal mystery that will baffle your friends, families, and Zoom counterparts, but at least it will always remind you of the fun we all shared this week.
The rendering above shows the concept, which is, to paraphrase John Baldessari, to try to make it very simple, so that the blurred and the face are equal. The shirts will be silkscreened in color (well, black and grey) on white, 100% cotton, Hanes Perfect Tees, and will ship shipped worldwide for $US22.
Like the celebration for the auction in Italy of a someone’s Twombly bunny drawing, these shirts will only be available for a minute–through the weekend, Sunday night, Feb. 6–and will only be made on a break-even basis. Can you imagine losing money on a conceptual digital rights management apparel stunt? I cannot. So if 10 or more folks don’t jump in, I’ll call it off, return the money, and recognize the 9 or fewer true avant garde pioneers with something else. Wow, OK then, less than an hour in, so this is happening!
Many thanks to everyone who made the moment of conceptualization possible. It is now the moment of realization, and this is the only new order being accepted:
Alexandra Lange brought Gwyneth Paltrow’s troublesome installation of her Ruth Asawa sculpture in front of her patio door to Twitter’s attention this morning. And I confess, seeing the Architectural Digest photos, that included Lindsey Adelman’s drapey light installation, and a Ralph Pucci hammock also hanging from the ceiling of Paltrow’s new Montecito living room, I, too, was troubled. For a minute.
But after watching the video tour, and hearing the care and attention to detail, feel, design, and material that Paltrow and her people put into this project, I became fine with it. How else *should* an Asawa sculpture live, but in an actress-turned-influencer’s slightly louche, ultra-deluxe living room full of stuff hanging from the ceiling? Not everything should be a white cube. As long as the door, or the dog, or the kid, doesn’t hit the fragile sculpture, go wild, Gwyneth. [LATER THAT DAY UPDATE: NOT an Asawa! Problem solved! Or, rather, replaced with new problem!]
That’s not important now. Not when the Baldessari diptych over the fireplace is blurred out in the video. I’m guessing A/D did not want to splurge for the video license from ARS? I also love that all they felt they needed to blur out is the text on one half of the work; the monochrome painting is undefaced.
Speaking of face, there’s a new one in town. Untitled (Prima Facie), 2022, is a lenticular print mounted on aluminum and enamel on canvas diptych where the avant garde grows increasingly sharper with a move to the right.
It is inspired by Baldessari’s Prima Facie (Fifth State): Avant Garde, a 2007 diptych which is itself based on a spread found in Baldessari’s 2006 artist book, Prima Facie: Marilyn’s Dress: 2006/2007 – a poem in four parts, which was available in both book and deluxe book with a print editions. Earlier states of the Prima Facie series had photographs of actors and actresses where the monochrome is here, with words chosen to be the instant, descriptive equivalent–and equal in visual impact-to the image. Baldessari showed works from the Prima Facie (Fifth State) at Sprüth Magers in London in mid-2006, where Paltrow might have seen them, but this 2007 work came from Marian Goodman. These works are depicted in David Platzker et al’s Baldessari Catalogue Raisonée, of course, and the Museum Dhondt-Daehnans in Belgium put out a comprehensive-at-the-time catalogue of Prima Facie works for a show in 2005-06. Untitled (Prima Facie) is a greg.org exclusive.
I’ve written before about the long reach of Danh Vo’s 2.2.1861 (2009 – ) on my thinking, but also specifically on the Facsimile Objects project, beforeI made a one-off Facsimile Object of it. Having a visual of Phung Vo’s beautifully transcribed letter from soon-to-be-beheaded J. Théophane Vénard to his father in front of me, instead of tucked safely away, has leveled up that influence.
It makes me try to improve my handwriting. It intensified my preference for A4 paper, which turns out to be difficult to find and work with in a world that defaults to 8.5 x 11. It prompted me to seek out the original source for Vénard’s letter. It got me to learn LaTeX. It, along with spending time with aging parents and a global pandemic, made me think about mortality, the moment that awaits us all.
And it made me think about what a Facsimile Object does, or what it could do.
Phung Vo Facsimile Object (PV1) is one result. It is the transcription of a slightly different published version of Vénard’s letter than the one Vo uses. It is set in LaTex using the French Cursive font package created by Emmanual Beffara, and printed on Vietnamese A4 paper. A certificate of authenticity matches it, and both are contained in an A4 document sleeve.
The layout is inspired by Vo’s 2.2.1861, but between the machine font and the slight textual differences, the line breaks diverge after just four lines. It’s a bit like how the clocks in Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ “Untitled” (Perfect Lovers) slip out of sync, except for the perfect lovers part, and the baked-in indexing of facsimulatory failure.
I am not decided about what to do with these. Part of me wants to make them available on demand. Part of me thinks they shouldn’t go out until the…end of Vo’s project. [Here at the beginning of a new lunar year, I once again wish Phung Vo a long, healthy, happy, and prosperous life.]
As I contemplate this, I remember back to a project I started in the Summer of 2014, to continue On Kawara’s Today Series after the artist’s death as a communal practice. It was called fromnowon.us, and it would have made it possible for people to order a date painting from Chinese Paint Mill, depicting the date on which it was painted. I’d arranged the production, even getting the painters to include a sheet of the local Shenzhen newspaper with each completed painting. When the test painting arrived, it turned out to be from Sept. 11th. Which gave me pause.
Congratulations to Spice DAO, which announced yesterday [sic] that they had successfully purchased a rare copy of a book containing the concept art and storyboard sketches for Alexander Jodorowsky’s legendary adaptation of Dune. The sale took place at Christie’s Paris on 21 November 2021, three days after Constitution DAO failed in its attempt to buy a printed copy of the US Constitution at Sotheby’s in New York.
Constitution DAO raised $47 million, only to be outbid by hedgie/collector Ken Griffin, whose privately negotiated guaranteed bid of basically $47 million and one dollars also included a rebate on the auction house’s premium, bringing his net to just $43 million. Spice DAO, no doubt quick learners, went into their auction for the EUR25,000 book with a EUR2.667 million bid, and managed to eke out a win.
Spice DAO’s purchase–technically, a private purchase and a transfer to the DAO, since Christie’s didn’t recognize the DAO–of Jodorowsky’s Dune bible was actually revealed last December, when it was still called Dune DAO. The story then was that these enthusiastic Dune fans were banding together to liberate the long-hidden copy of the lost, unmade masterpiece they’d gotten glimpses of in Jodorowsky’s Dune, a 2013 documentary directed by Frank Pavich. It was only when they tweeted their plans to, “1. Make the book public (to the extent permitted by law) 2. Produce an original animated limited series inspired by the book and sell it to a streaming service 3. Support derivative projects from the community” that copyrightlulz twitter was like, “lmfao YEAH NO,” and the buyers of $11 million worth of Spice DAO tokens became aware of the limits of the blockchain’s ability to overcome all humanity’s problems.
So while the governance discord debates selling NFTs of scans of the pages of Copy Number 5, then burning the actual book so they won’t get sued for copyright infringement [0.<], I am ready to move forward with the Spice DAO Facsimile Object (S1).
As much as I thought I’d leave Facsimile Objects in 2021, I realize that the Spice DAO Community needs them. Spice DAO Facsimile Object (S1) presents a perfect, facsimile of Copy Number 5 of Michel Seydoux Presents Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune from Frank Herbert’s Novel. Design by Jean Giraud. Machines by Chris Foss. Special Effects by Dan O’Bannon. Dialogue by M. Demuth and A. Jodorowsky, as it was sold at Christie’s on November 21, 2021. Printed at full-size, in high-gloss dye sublimation pigment on an 11.5 x 15-inch aluminum panel, the Facsimile Object embodies the true octavo (210 x 295 mm) presence of this historic, physical, artifact. It is accompanied by a similarly full-scale, handmade certificate of authenticity, executed in ink on handmade Arches paper, signed, stamped and numbered, and will ship in a handmade case.
Unlike previous Facsimile Objects, which were created for the world, Spice DAO Facsimile Object (S1) is only available to verified hodlers of Spice DAO governance tokens. The first 10 verified orders will be priced at 0.5ETH, payable in USD at the ETH/USD price on coinbase for the date of purchase. After that, the price will increase to 1.0ETH. Availability of Spice DAO Facsimile Objects (S1) will be continue until morale improves. DM or email to get started.
[update: the price of the Facsimile Object is after taxes. Whether you sell ETH to buy the Facsimile Object, at whatever your basis, or you use your pre-existing fiat is not relevant, and greg.org will not pay your capital gains taxes. Thank you for your understanding.]
I mean, by the museums in Germany and the UK reopened last May, and the Dürer Facsimile Objects in that first diptych were discontinued, I did bleakly anticipate their related Dürers might become unvisitable in person again. I was also naively relieved to not be in the business of selling Tastily Painted Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah pictures. And here we are.
What I did not anticipate, however, was that at a moment when travel restrictions were returning, the National Gallery would title its new Dürer show, “The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Dürer’s Journeys.” And I definitely did not imagine that they’d promote the show using a literal diptych of verso paintings. Why, just look at A Heavenly Body[? A Heavenly Vision?], on the back of the National Gallery (London)’s own St. Jerome; and the Lot and His Daughters painted on the back of National Gallery (DC)’s Haller Madonna, together at the very center of the awkward and weirdly empty exhibition photo up top. We’ve come a long way, and yet we have not.
The thing I’m most appalled by, though, is that despite a 60% jump in COVID case levels since I started *writing* this post, to the highest levels of the entire pandemic, and 10x even New York’s current spike, it appears that the Her Majesty’s Government is dragging their feet on issuing any restrictions, for fear of what impact a negative public reaction might have on Boris Johnson’s hold on power.
So while previous Facsimile Objects mitigated art encounters you couldn’t have, this new Dürer Diptych based on the National Gallery’s exhibit is meant as a hedge for an experience you shouldn’t have, at least right now. And so, The Credit Suisse Dürer Diptych: Dürer Facsimile Object (D1) A Heavenly Vision is available along with Dürer Facsimile Object (D3.38), The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, a full-size detail of 38% of the original painting, conceptualized last spring when the NGA reopened, that focuses on the painterly joys of fire, brimstone, vegetation, and that brushy, little black pillar of salt that used to be Lot’s wife.
If you think about it, a fiery meteorite crashing to earth and sulfur and fire raining down from heaven go together quite nicely; the apocalyptic symmetry was surely not lost on a young Dürer who, with the year 1500 fast approaching, was already thinking about the end of the world.
In consideration of those who might have acquired an AD FO (D1) already, AF DO (D3.38) will be available separately. Each Facsimile Object is accompanied by a full-scale, certificate of authenticity handmade in India ink on Arches. ADFO(D1) certificates will be distinct from those produced last spring, as a treat.
If the National Gallery actually does close to slow the spread of COVID, these Facsimile Objects will be available only until it reopens, or until, like with the Vermeers, it becomes official that the show will not reopen. If the National Gallery and its partner Credit Suisse don’t do anything, and just take their couple of days off during Christmas break, I will probably end this futile folly when that becomes clear, either on January 27th, or January 2nd. What a world.
2 January UPDATE: Turns out making shiny facsimiles of paintings or parts of paintings available is not enough to defeat the omicron surge. If only I’d sent them to every house in the UK instead. Or even to every Credit Suisse client.
As 2021 is finally shown the door, I am pleased to announce The Wall, which was next to The Ceiling. The Wall is a Marron Côte d’Azur and Noir painting executed directly on a wall or a discrete section thereof. Even more than the 19th century neo-classicist aesthetic of Napoleon III, who first executed it in his Salle des Bronzes Antiquites, it evokes the historic moment during the pandemic when leaks about the work’s installation drew the litigious ire of The Cy Twombly Foundation.
For a few months this year, the first realization of The Wall was installed alongside–or underneath, really–The Ceiling, Cy Twombly’s ceiling mural at the Louvre. In Napoleon III’s day, the Noir was the display cases. In the 2021 installation, the boundary between the two colors was demarcated by a dado. The composition of future installations may take cues from the space, and condition of the wall and its elements.
While it is available for individual purchase or commission, The Wall will also be free with the purchase of nine other works, as a treat.
There are other works associated with both The Ceiling and The Wall, the details of which are at present insufficient.
While making The Ceiling, Twombly friend Barbara Crawford and French painters Laurent Blaise and Jean de Seynes joked “that the unique, precise blue for this particular sky, which they’ve spent weeks fine-tuning, should be trademarked and given the name Twomblu.”
OK, now it gets kind of interesting. As soon as I saw the short cg animation for the new American Express Platinum Cards by Julie Mehretu and Kehinde Wiley, I thought of two things: 1) the low-key beats and the art-embedded card spinning shinily on its corner remind me of the McRib NFT, and 2) what do you call art printed on small, shiny metal?
On the one hand, to do a Facsimile Object of an AmEx card feels like asking for trouble in ways that not even a Cady Noland-related Facsimile Object could even conjure. And yet it’d be so tasty!
On the other , the dye sublimation print process requires a minimum 4 inches per side, and even art credit cards are 3.37 x 2.125 inches. So I doubled up. Surely no one involved would these mind lifesize-but-make-it-a-diptych Facsimile Objects now.
[An unusual footnote: the public announcement page for American Express’s artist x Platinum cards includes separate jpegs of Mehretu’s and Wiley’s cards, as seen in the study above. Not seen: that the filenames got the artist credits reversed. If I go ahead with it, that glitch is just the kind of thing that gives this project that famous must-buy-now! vibe the kids crave. But after seeing animations of cards with the artists’ own names on the front, it’s hard to settle for Charles F. Frost on a Facsimile Object. And while it would be possible to try to get the artists to scan their own respective card-size works, I would not want to compromise their actual four-digit code there. Most of all, I don’t want my own account canceled.]
It has been a while since realizing works like this. Partly, it’s just the world. As Martin Creed says, The Whole World + The Work = The Whole World.
But when it exists, it also feels wrong to ignore it. Untitled (Heist) was recently installed in San Francisco’s Union Square, following a flashmob robbery of several hundred thousand dollars (retail) of merchandise from the Louis Vuitton store.
When Broke Ass Stuart ran this installation shot by Hunter MacNair on their post, “Let’s Talk About The Louis Vuitton Heist,” I first thought it would be a deep dive on the street value of the various items that got jacked.
But BAS instead went deep on luxury-fueled capitalism’s complicity in gaping inequality. And that, along with LVMH’s recent appearances in the art news, seemed like a collab-worthy context in which to encounter this work. Which I imagine will remain on view through much of the Christmas shopping season, at least. Maybe minting it as an NFT would make it last even longer.
UPDATE: As San Francisco Mayor London Breed’s office put it in their review, “I think that’s the visual for where the rule of law needs to make its stand.” [FOIA’d and published by @journo_anon] Thanks for supporting the arts, Your Honor!
I did not want us to need Vermeer Facsimile Objects, but here we are, at least through December 12. [DECEMBER 12 UPDATE: Staatliche Kunstammlungen Dresden has extended the closure of the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, and thus the Vermeer exhibition, through the 9th of January. But the Vermeer show has a hard stop on Jan. 2nd, and so will not reopen? I realized this only in the course of writing this update. Vermeer Facsimile Objects will be available only through tonight, 12/12. Sorry you can’t see the show in Germany, but thank you all for your engagement.]
The 16-minute, silent-style film was created in early April 1993 as/for/alongside a fashion photoshoot for Details’ Music Issue, which dropped in July. Debbie Harry is a downtown promoter chasing Anthony Kiedis and his mopey girlfriend Sofia Coppola around the East Village, trying to wrangle him for a gig at the fictitious Wig & Pizza Boutique. Sonic Youth and a dozen drag queens, including Joey Arias and Lady Bunny fill out the cast of extras who stand around CBGB while Kiedis changes outfits and runs away. The only explanation for the acting and directing is, it’s for a photoshoot. Literally everyone involved seems dumber by the end, including me, for watching it twice. It really should be added to everyone’s IMDb, if only for karmic reasons.
By the time I decided not to rummage around and unearth the lost history of this short, I realized the only good thing is the sign at CBGB offering free, all you can eat Buffalo wings & chips, which I could totally see as a painting. Unless John Varvatos already did it.