Our Guernica Cycle – Ivanka / Merkel 03.17.2017, 2017, 50x80cm, oil on canvas and associated print editions, greg.org
Happy apparent Birthday, Ivanka!
I’ve been staring at her distorted portrait for so long, it took the shock of the news yesterday to make me realize I have not actually, officially, gone public with the results of the first picture I Kickstarted. “Our Guernica, by Our Picasso,” an historic painting to mark the moment last March when Ivanka Trump turned up in a White House meeting with the leader of the free world, Angela Merkel, executed in the style of George W. Bush.
In the course of production of the pyramidful of print editions, plus some canvases, the project became Our Guernica Cycle, and Ivanka/Merkel 03.17.2017 became the first image, unfortunately, and not the last. I’ve now lived with these images for almost six months. All but two of the project backers have received their merch [the last two canvases are staring at me right now, set to be shipped before the opioid crisis is solved.]
And a new image is complete. It is a moment for reflection. Also a moment to celebrate getting these things out of the house. And I’m still asking the question I started with: what is art supposed to do? What is a painting for? The image I ended up with is terrible. In the process of applying the Kinkade-ian custom “highlights,” I realized they could only and ever make things worse. I started calling them “highblights,” or just “blight.” I gave backers the choice between “more blight!” and “it’s bad enough!” and they split almost evenly. With the last works going out the door, I am still undecided.
What does it mean, too, for an artwork to be experienced only [or largely] privately, by its purchasers? It is the antithesis of a Guernica; it’s My Own Private Guernica. Our Guernica.
The greatest outcome from this project has to be the show of support, the collective, shared outrage combined with an open-eyed engagement with art, even knowing it will not solve the horrible problems looming all around us. 59 people bought prints that didn’t exist of an image that hadn’t been created yet, in order to see it happen. And that is amazing, and I am very grateful. Maybe the real Our Guernica is the friends we make along the way.
Six months later, though, we’re obviously not through this. The world has not ended [I’m writing this at 11:39 on Monday night. Oh, I’m just about to publish it at 1PM on Tuesday.] The world has not ended, but our town square is still being strafed by Nazis. So Our Guernica is Our Guernica Cycle. What does that mean?
In the spirit of #thisisnotnormal, I’ve been working my way through images and possibilities, with the goal of accurately witnessing and capturing the political horrors and threats that surround us. Even more than Guernica, I’ve been thinking of Goya, whose Disasters of War series, 80+ prints whose creation occupied decades, and which Goya did not anticipate publishing in full in his own atrocity-rattled lifetime. I’ve especially come to appreciate the Chapman brothers’ Insult to Injury project, [above] where their clownish embellishments of a Goya Disasters of War portfolio condemned the folly of Bush & Blair’s Iraq War. [Called it, obv.]
So I expect this series will go on a while. After the backers were taken care of, I used the rest of the Kickstarter project funds to commission the next painting. It, too, has arrived. I think I will invite the original backers to order one first, but it should be available soon. It, too, was created with instructions to look like George Bush had painted it. The Chinese painters I’m working with seem to have gotten a little better at this bad style. Perhaps that will be when we know the Cycle is complete: when the #ChinesePaintMill system designed to industrialize Gerhard Richter’s paint-from-photo tactics can successfully reproduce the clumsy expressionist facture of the man who is still, alas, America’s most relevant painter. So stay tuned.
Our Guernica, After Our Picasso [kickstarter]
Previously, related: On Coming Around on Insult to Injury
Insult to Injury, 2003
I did not like Jake & Dinos Chapman’s work to begin with, so I was not inclined to like their project Insult to Injury, where they drew animal and clown faces on a suite of actual Goya etchings, when it debuted in 2003. And I haven’t thought much about it, or looked at it since.
But I have come around. Working on the Our Guernica Cycle project has sent me looking back at Goya’s big Fifth of May paintings, and their influence on Guernica, and that inevitably brings the Disasters of War prints back into the mix.
Plate 39 – Grande hazaña! Con muertos! (A heroic feat! With dead men!)
Things I didn’t really pay attention to stand out now. Like Goya making prints during a war and a famine when materials were so scarce, and the situation so uncertain, that he had to reuse and destroy the copper plates from other prints. And making a series of 80+ prints over the course of years, which he finally expected to never publish in his lifetime. And which were only published decades after his death. And which were then republished over and over again, in seven editions, over 70 years, including a “final” edition in 1937 to support the Republic in the Spanish Civil War, nearly 1,000 sets in total, plus hundreds of proofs. [That’s the one the Chapmans bought to use.]
Plate. 37 – Esto es peor. (This is worse.)
Things like Goya drawing such devastating connections between revered fragments of classical sculpture, like the Belvedere Torso, and the tortured and dismembered bodies of the war’s victims. Neo-classicism was hot at the time, in the Napoleonic era, and Goya impaled it on a tree.
And then there’s the Chapmans, whose project was sparked by the Bush/Blair Iraq war machine which marched in front of their already Goya-soaked practice. Here is Fiachra Gibbons writing about Insult to Injury in The Guardian:
Although they are both against the current war, the Chapmans say they are not making a statement about it. Insult to Injury is more about the inadequacy of art as a protest against war. Art can’t stop wars, they insist, just as Picasso’s Guernica was a “pathetic” statement in the face of the oncoming second world war.
“Not to be too glib, but there’s something quite interesting in the fact that the war of the peninsula saw Napoleonic forces bringing rationality and enlightenment to a region that was marked by superstition and irrationality,” Jake Chapman said. “Then you hear George Bush and Tony Blair talking about democracy as though it has some kind of natural harmony with nature; as though it’s not an ideology.”
I was not this pessimistic in 2003; maybe I just needed some time.
And now to look at Disasters of War again, and Insult to Injury again, and more closely, and as I “embellish” my own prints I’d once expected were “finished,” I realize the Chapmans were right. The reflexive disapproval of their alteration of another artist’s work is specifically misplaced and unnecessary. Even Jonathan Jones is right about something. It’s all a pretty big shock, tbh. And even when it feels necessary, art still doesn’t make these disasters any better.
Insult to Injury, 2003 [jakeanddinoschapman.com]
The 2004 Steidl edition of Insult to Injury is pretty remarkable, actually [amazon]
Close, but not quite: Study for Untitled (Koch Block), image by @sailingfanblues
First conceived in September 2014 in response to a tweet by Zachary Kaplan, Untitled (Koch Block) is a collaborative public artwork situated permanently at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
It comprises an endless succession of volunteers who sit on the edges of the fountains in front of the museum in a manner that obscures the engraved name of the museum trustee, David Koch. The work includes the engravings on both fountains, and so is ideally performed by two or more individuals at any time. While a sitter’s personal items such as a stroller, wheelchair, shopping cart, or backpack might be placed in front of the engraving for extra-wide impact, no permanent alteration, damage, or obscuring of any kind should take place, and certainly not as part of this artwork.
Any one individual or group should feel free to sit and block public view of the name for as long as they wish, but all should be mindful of others who might also wish to participate. The Artist Is Present-style marathons are discouraged. Instead, try taking turns, coordinating, and/or making arrangements onsite to continue the work. Formalized schedules or shifts should also be avoided, even if this means the work is not persistently instantiated.
It’s true that awareness of the work could be facilitated by people posting photos on social media using a hashtag like #KochBlock. My concern, though, is that viral messaging might run counter to the essential nature of the work, which is to deplete the mindshare and social capital that typically accrue from such purportedly eleemosynary naming opportunities. Still, such efforts are obviously beyond my control, and if the 7 million visitors to the Met each year decide they all have to post #KochBlock selfies, well, we’ll re-evaluate.
The ideal state of the work is for the names to be permanently blocked from view through uncoordinated but widespread acculturation. At any moment in which a sitter finishes blocking and rises from her spot, another individual naturally and un-self-consciously takes her place. Some folks will undoubtedly make a point of visiting the fountains to participate. Some might make it a routine. People might come to recognize the faces of other regulars. Eventually, Koch blocking should become an ingrained behavior common to sharing civil, public space, as obvious and natural as dodging slow-moving tourists or jaywalking. [s/o @man for reminding me this needed to be formally auraticized.]
UPDATE: Just realized this is my third piece at the Met. Thanks for the support!
Study for Untitled (Adidas Art Basel), 2017, nylon and ink on Adidas EQT shoe, image: ebay seller miadrian10
Art Basel is suing Adidas for trademark infringement over these kicks. A thousand pairs were given away at a string of branded flashmobs in Miami on November 30th, two days before the opening of the art fair they had no official marketing agreement with. Is there a term for astroturfed flashmobs? Is there any other kind these days? Did you know Adidas been hypin’ kicks at #ABMB since at least 2010? Does a viral flash mob still count if you have to Google it?
Anyway, 2016. According to hype groupies like high snobiety and World Red Eye, a mirror-wrapped school bus drove 48 performance artist/brand ambassador/whatevers around town. Stops included a high school in the Design District, HdM’s parking garage, and some millennial-branded Hilton in South Beach.
screencap from @britneyc0807
They were decked out in #monochromatic reflective gear. They stood in formation, Vanessa Beecroft-style. They did some dance moves. Ideally, their gear did its retroreflective blast out thing when it was photographed.
Then they unloaded their loot, lined it up like a freakin’ Eleanor Antin street team, and, I guess, handed it out to the ‘gramming masses like rations off the back of a UN truck. Then everyone started flipping their swag on eBay. It’s hard to say where the stunt’s brand impact actually landed the hardest: on the 1st-to-know sneaker chasers, the day-of hashtaggers, the eBay resale remoras, or now, on the so-DGAF lawsuit bad bois.
images: ebayseller sorry, lost it
Art Basel is suing over the tongue tags on these free sneakers, and in addition to brand damages, is demanding Adidas destroy all the infringey sneakers it still has. If you budget for ex-post trademark settlements, is it actually a bootleg?
Study for Untitled (Adidas Art Basel), 2017, retroreflective paint and ink on panel, 50x50cm
Untitled (Adidas Art Basel) is a series of 1,000 numbered paintings based on this tongue tag composition, made in various sizes. Or should I say they will be made. Might be. Conceived to be.
Study for Untitled (Adidas Art Basel) photographed, 2017, retroreflective paint and ink on panel, 50x50cm
I know what I’ve written about artists having a successful system, but honestly, it’s debatable whether the world needs 10 more paintings at all right now, much less 1,000. Of these. Can you even imagine having a thousand of these paintings lying around? You literally could not give them away, lawyers or no. Or maybe you can? Just put a few hundred super-shiny posters in a stack and BAM, you’re in Venice.
Ima get to work on one, see if it delivers that retroflective kick the study’s promising. Then I’ll let my estate sort out the rest.
Art Basel is Suing adidas Over its Limited Edition ‘Art Basel’ Shoes [thefashionlaw via artforum, thanks @kyle_petreycik]
Here’s How You Can Get 1 of Only 1,000 Pairs of adidas’s “Art Basel” Limited Edition EQT ADV [highsnobiety]
Adidas Flash Mob in the Miami Design District [worldredeye]
Previously, related: Webdriver Torso as Found Painting System
When Form Becomes Content, or Luanda, Encyclopedic City
Untitled (Unpainted Wall), 2017, brick, concrete, 18 lag shields, exterior latex paint. Installation view, Chevy Chase, Maryland
In his 1977 Whitney catalogue, Michael Crichton wrote about the origin of Jasper Johns’ 1967 painting Harlem Light:
It has a peculiar background. Johns was taking a taxi to the airport, traveling through Harlem, when he passed a small store which had a wall painted to resemble flagstones. He decided it would appear in his next painting. Some weeks later when he began the painting, he asked David Whitney to find the flagstone wall, and photograph it. Whitney returned to say he could not find the wall anywhere. Johns himself then looked for the wall, driving back and forth across Harlem, searching for what he had briefly seen. He never found it, and finally had to conclude that it had been painted over or demolished. Thus he was obliged to re-create the flagstone wall from emory. This distressed him, “What I had hoped to do was an exact copy of the wall. It was red, black, and gray, but I’m sure that it didn’t look like what I did. But I did my best.”
Explaining further, he said: “Whatever I do seems artificial and false, to me. They-whoever painted the wall-had an idea; I doubt that whatever they did had to conform to anything except their own pleasure. I wanted to use that design. The trouble is that when you start to work, you can’t eliminate your own sophistication. If I could have traced it I would have felt secure that I had it right. Because what’s interesting to me is the fact that it isn’t designed, but taken. It’s not mine.” [p. 54-55]
And that, my friends, is how I am different from Jasper Johns: I got the picture.
Untitled (Delian Ode), 1960/61, pencil, ballpoint pen, and grease crayon on paper, image: peter freeman
I mean, can you even imagine doing it? I admit it, I can, and I just cannot. De Kooning said he wanted to give away one he’d miss. And one that’d be hard for Rauschenberg to erase. If there’s any other kind of Twombly drawing, I haven’t seen it.
We’ll put this one in the “Think about it”/”Unrealized” category.
Previously, related, badly titled: Ghetto Erased de Kooning Drawing
Installation shot: Untitled (I Can See Russia From My House), 2017, 15′ x 10′ x 6′, dye sublimation printed carpet, bolts, washers, lumber.
I’m psyched to announce the public installation of a new work, Untitled (I Can See Russia From My House), in Warrenton, Virginia. It is a dye sublimation print on carpet, mounted on a wood support.
I suppose it could also be installed indoors, but it would lose a lot of the impact; it really is a piece that is best come upon in the course of daily life.
Untitled (I Can See Russia From My House), 2017, washer and bolt installation detail
The carpet is affixed to the support using bolts and washers [above]. Longtime Kremlin watchers will note that the image, of the south facade of St. Basil’s Cathedral, is here reversed.
Although an installation shot from December 2016 shows unrelated works installed nearby. It is the artist’s intention that this piece be viewed and appreciated on its own. Despite what you might assume, it is currently not for sale.
The first draft of history. History written by the victors What even is it? The barrage of nonsense comes so fast and thick and is so full of bullshit that the very notion of history feels out of date. Which is probably someone’s point. Or at the very least, in someone’s immediate interest.
Do you even remember the outrage when the Japanese Prime Minister’s Press Office released publicity photos of Shinzo Abe meeting Donald Trump at Trump Tower on November 17th, which revealed that Ivanka and Jared were sitting in on the meeting?
And then like two weeks later, the Times kind of buried the lede that at that very moment, Ivanka’s fashion label was negotiating a licensing deal with a Japanese apparel conglomerate whose majority shareholder is a development bank owned by the Japanese government.
Oh, hands were wrung, potential conflicts of interest were ruminated upon, denials and assurances were floated. And it all turned out to be bullshit, and that was also the same time Jared and Ivanka were in fact preparing to take up offices and jobs in the White House.
So maybe that’s a power of a painting: the ability to slow things down, even just long enough to have an impact, to make something stick, to give some context. It rewards the exercise of looking, looking longer, and looking back.
Campaign Ends April 26th: Our Guernica, After Our Picasso: A Kickstarter
I'm not saying we should commission GWB to paint this, but I'm not saying we shouldn't https://t.co/gVUVtN31UF
— gregorg (@gregorg) March 17, 2017
I swear, I tried not to do it, but the image was too strong. In the days since I started drafting this Kickstarter campaign, I quit several times. And then history kept catching up to this image. In fact, history started lapping it.
So yes, we need to mark this moment, this look on Chancellor Merkel’s face, on all our faces, when it was still possible to not believe what was happening before our eyes. And there’s only one painter who can do this moment justice. Unfortunately, he and justice are not really in a great spot right now, so we’re gonna use #chinesepaintmill and the Thomas Kinkade Editions Pyramid.
Our Guernica, After Our Picasso: collaged details from Michael Kappe/dpa photo, George W. Bush painting, and Picasso’s Guernica
In my darker moods, I imagine a series of paintings of such moments will come- Angelus Novus looking back and piling JPG upon JPG at his feet as the storm irresistibly propels us into the future. Can our brush-wielding Chinese allies capture the essence of Trumpian corruption with authentic Bushian flourish? Can we spread the resulting image(s) to the four corners of the warming, flooding earth to bear adequate witness? Let’s start with one and see.
Back “Our Guernica, After Our Picasso on Kickstarter now
UPDATE #1 After just a couple of days the project has gotten over halfway to its funding goal, thanks!
It has also been the subject of reportage by Will Fenstermaker at Artspace [who is also a backer, write what you know!] and AFC [“that’s a lot of layers to unpack for what’s essentially a meme” I do not disagree!]
On the more depressing news front, today, Day 3, might pass without a single new backer. Perhaps everyone’s too stunned at the floating of #Ivanka2024 by The Daily Caller [not linkin’, look it up], and worrying how a painting can somehow head off this meta-disaster. It probably can’t, but there’s a lot to be done in the mean time.
I’ve also noticed that backers are a savvy bunch. Folks seem to prefer the lower-priced, smaller prints at this stage. Possibly, I thought, because you’re reluctant to put up larger amounts of money for an artwork that you’ve 1) not seen because 2) it doesn’t exist yet.
It might be useful to reframe the entire project as a single conceptual piece, in which case, the physical manifestations are secondary to its core expression. But it’s still natural to wonder how it’ll look, especially if you’re contemplating getting a big one. I’m trying to think up a solution for this. Any advice or thoughts are welcome. And thanks again for spreading the word!
UPDATE #2 WHOA IT IS HAPPENING, THANKS! THE BALL IS ROLLING, THE CAMPAIGN IS CONTINUING. LET’S BUILD THAT PYRAMID AND LAUNCH A WHOLE BUSHMASTER CYCLE OF PAINTINGS TO DOCUMENT THIS THING!
Untitled (Picture Light), 2017, picture light, gilt frame, Picasso, installation view, 1989. image: Chema Conesa via The Art Newspaper
In 1989 Baron and Baroness von Thyssen-Bornemisza brought a dining chair out to the terrace of Villa Favorita to sit for a portrait by photographer Chema Conesa. The Baroness sat. The Baron stood, with his right hand on his wife’s shoulder. Someone seems to have had the idea to add Picasso’s Harlequin with a Mirror to the composition.
It it not clear where the 1923 painting was hanging, but it was. A white-gloved manservant apparently took it off the wall and marched it outside. He holds it on the right corner as it rests on the bare brick ground. The Baron stabilizes the other corner by resting his left forearm on the frame. The brass picture light is still attached.
The Baron bought Harlequin with a Mirror in 1979. X-rays show that Picasso originally painted a self-portrait, possibly as a Cupid/Eros combo, before replacing his face with the mask-like stare of the harlequin. William Rubin and Pierre Daix linked the early state of the harlequin to Picasso’s 1923 frustrated infatuation with Sara Murphy, of the Cap d’Antibes Murphys. The series marked the end of Picasso’s so-called Classical phase. It is currently unclear when, where, or why the Baron bought it, though.
The Thyssen-Bornemiszas at home in Madrid with Harlequin with a Mirror and possible picture light detail, 1992, image via NYT
By 1992, the Thyssen-Bornemiszas had decamped to Madrid, anticipating the opening of the Museo Thyssen-Bornemizsa across the street from the Prado and Reina Sofia, to which they had loaned (or rather, rented) more than 800 works, not yet including Harlequin. From the opening of a NY Times Magazine profile:
Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza is pouring himself another drink in front of a Picasso on the living room wall of his Madrid mansion. He is making the point that he has always been a tough businessman, the kind who won’t let anything get in the way of a good deal.
From the Baroness’s posture to the Baron’s hand, to the Harlequin photobomb, the Times’ image lacks only an art handler to complete its homage. A tiny black spot at the edge of the page gives me hope that the Harlequin made the trip from Lugano to Madrid with his picture light intact. It did not, however, survive the trip into the Museo.
So whether it overlooks Lake Lugano or the Paseo del Prado, this sculptural situation of a picture light on a Picasso sitting nonchalantly and unmediated on a terrace is exceptional, and will likely never occur again. So this work probably exists only in retrorsum im memoriam. Still gives me chills, though.
Pablo Picasso, Harlequin with a Mirror, 1923 [museothyssen.org]
Playing The Art Game For High Stakes [nyt mag, 04 Oct 1992]
David Hammons, Rock Head, 1998, image via: hairisforpulling
In 1992 David Hammons took clippings from the floor of a barber shop in Harlem and affixed them to the crown of a melon-sized stone from Harlem. He brought the stone back to the barber shop for a haircut alongside his friend and muse, the Lower East Side poet John Farris. The performance is known as Haircut. Hammons has made several similar sculptures of black hair attached to stone, then trimmed and cut with tramlines, which have been titled Rock Head or Stone Head. They are inspired by history and their surroundings. Black living is at their core. They honor uniqueness and celebrate the individuality of each piece Hammons creates.
“Made Solid is a collection of leather products designed and handmade in Los Angeles by Peter Maxwell and Mia.
Our design is inspired by our history and our surroundings. Western living is at our core.
We honor uniqueness and celebrate the individuality of each piece we create.
“The name Made Solid references the connection we create through our creative process and the end result of our labor. Making a solid connection between the raw leather our hands touch and the well used pieces our friends love is our constant goal.
“We are connected to our surroundings, bringing natural elements to our work. Ocean, sand, stone and sky are referenced.
“We bring our lifestyle to our work.”
In 2013, Maxwell and Mia conceived “one of their most popular and recognizable pieces” in collaboration with “one of their oldest friends,” Los Angeles designer Cristy Pitoc. Their Leather Wrapped Stones are sourced locally, “selected for shape and color,” and vegetable tanned leather is stretched around each stone with the wet molding technique used in saddle making. The edge is stitched, beveled and burnished by hand. “The leather is bound to the stone for life.”
“Use as a paper weight, worry stone, doorstop, art object – whatever it is to you.”
Wrapped Leather Stones have been featured in design-appreciative blogstores, literarily themed artisanal and locally sourced menswear emporia, and well curated home and lifestyle shops to, I’m sure, appropriately contemplative acclaim.
For the Holiday 2016 season Made Solid Leather Wrapped Stones were also curated into the Love, Pop-In Stores at select Nordstrom locations and at Nordstrom.com:
A paperweight? A conversation piece? A work of art? It’s up to you, but this smooth Los Angeles-area stone–wrapped in rich, vegetable-tanned American leather secured by sturdy contrast backstitching–is sure to draw attention wherever it rests. A traditional hardening process gives the leather a beautiful ombré effect. Like all Made Solid leather pieces, this one is cut, shaped, sewn and finished by hand in artist Peter Maxwell’s Los Angeles studio. Using vintage leatherworking tools and traditional saddle-stitching techniques, Maxwell aims to create beautiful designs that embody both simplicity and functionality, and that develop rich character and patina over time.
The collaborative contributions of Mia and Pitoc went unmentioned, but the availability of a leather wrapped stone did not, and Nordstrom’s Leather Wrapped Stone went viral in December as an object of superficial, reflexive media mockery and superfluity, the diametric opposite of their creators’ intentions. It appears they also sold out, but at what must be considered too high a cost, or too low a return; at the moment no Wrapped Stones are available in Made Solid’s online store.
Earlier this week Nordstrom confirmed they would no longer carry the licensed merchandise of Ivanka Trump, citing poor sales. Yesterday Ivanka’s father tweeted in outrage over the haters’ and losers’ slights, and the White House press secretary literally said Nordstrom’s decision to discontinue stocking Ivanka was an attack on the president’s policies and family. Discount clearance stores TJ Maxx and Marshall’s also both dumped the toxic, failing brand. Today as I type this, the other White House flack is violating federal law by literally declaring a commercial promoting Ivanka’s brand and telling people to go buy it.
Untitled (Sold Out) (2017) consists of things that actually did sell at Nordstrom, namely a Made Solid Leather Wrapped Stone. So whatever it is to you, it is now also a declared, limited edition inspired by [our rapidly unraveling] history and its surroundings. Though I will endeavor to pin it down, the size and location of the edition is presently unknown. Both small and medium Made Solid Leather Wrapped Stones purchased from both seasonal appearances at Nordstrom are included, but Made Solid Leather Wrapped Stones purchased elsewhere, are not, no matter what their size.
Fakes already abound, but if you believe you have an example of this artwork, please provide images and appropriate documentation of the provenance, and I will gladly issue a signed certificate. Requests for confidentiality will be honored.
Untitled (30.06 & 30.07), 2017, screen printed text on enamel on wood, est. 48 x 36 in., installation image via @soulellis
I’m psyched to announce the exhibition of new paintings at the Menil Collection in Houston. Untitled (30.06 & 30.07) (2017) are silk screened text on enamel on wood and on glass, and are installed at the entrances to the public buildings on the Menil’s campus.
Untitled (30.06 & 30.07), 2017, screen printed text on enamel on wood, est. 48 x 36 in., installation image via @soulellis
The works were documented for the first time this morning by Paul Soulellis who, not coincidentally, probably, was also one of the first people to document Untitled (Andiron Attributed To Paul Revere, Jr.) back in the day.
The parenthetical in the title, text, appearance, and dimensions of these paintings are derived from the Texas Penal Code sections 30.06 and 30.07, which went into effect January 1, 2016:
(i) includes the language described by Paragraph (A) in both English and Spanish;
(ii) appears in contrasting colors with block letters at least one inch in height; and
(iii) is displayed in a conspicuous manner clearly visible to the public.
Untitled (30.06 & 30.07), 2017, screen printed text on glass in aluminum frame, est. 86 x 76 in., installation view via google maps
In accordance with Sections 30.06 and 30.07 these works may also be realized in an alternate format, specifically “a card or other document” containing the same text. While these are not believed to be currently available at the Menil, interested viewers can watch this space for news of future editions.
It’s been a hard season to think of positive things, and sometimes looking back, it’s been difficult to see how or if things mattered at all. But I also look back at the year with immense gratitude, both for the opportunities I’ve had, but also for the people who helped make them possible. I’d probably still be doing a lot of what I’m doing here if no one else was paying attention; that’s how it often feels, actually. But I’ve come to know that sometimes people do take an interest in what I’m doing, whether writing, research, criticism, or artmaking, and they respond to it, react to it, challenge it, run with it, join in on it. And it makes it interesting, better, and more meaningful, and it is nice to feel that. But there are also things, some of my greatest, favorite things, that would not have existed at all without the interest, effort, and support of others.
So I’d like to give some specific thanks to some of the many people who engaged with and supported my work in 2016. Without them, these things I am so proud of would literally not have happened.
Magda Sawon suggested we do a proposal for SPRING/BREAK. “Chop Shop” began as a glib sendup of Simchowitzian cash&carry speculecting. But in the last few weeks before the show, it grew exponentially in scale, which forced some real thinking about its meaning and ambition. With Ambre & Andrew’s flexibility, and the extraordinary efforts of Magda’s posse, Chop Shop somehow became what supposed to not be: a Basel-ian boothful of investment-grade masterpieces. [Some of which are still available, btw. Get in now at 2016, pre-boom prices.]
Book deals come and go, but Jennifer Liese and her colleagues at Paper Monument offered what bloggers need most: a good editing. When PM first asked to include my 2+ years of posts about the history of Erased deKooning Drawing in their anthology Social Medium, I frankly thought they were nuts. But Jen’s vision and thoughtful editing helped me see my own writing and ideas anew, and she enabled them to reach people in an amazing, new context. I’ve never felt prouder of my writing than to have it included among the great work of so many artists who influence and inspire me already.
Mark Leckey and John Garcia included my work in shows that were totally fascinating and different from anything I could have imagined, which let me think about it and the world it inhabits in a new way. Having my satelloon sculpture be subsumed into Leckey’s autobiographically inspired installation at MoMA PS1 turns out to be a rare privilege, to be able to help realize, almost literally, someone’s memory.
And Garcia’s inclusion of the Madoff Provenance Project in his show about context’s impact on art at To___Bridges___ not only gave it a challenging context, it pushed me to figure out ways to make the project visible and understandable beyond its datalayer. This in turn helped me see how my work connects to, and was informed by, artists of earlier generations. [In this case, there’s an obvious shoutout due to Mel Bochner and his Working drawings and other visible things on paper not necessarily meant to be viewed as art, a project whose title has long resonated with my own ambivalence about calling myself an artist or what I do art.]
Sarah Douglas and Andrew Russeth at ArtNews invited me to write about one of my favorite, all-consuming blogtopics: the disappearance of the Johns flag in Short Circuit. And recently Eric Doeringer and I had a great public conversation about his work, and the early Johns/Rauschenberg era that I continue to find engrossing and misunderstood.
Collectors and supporters who engage in the oddball, time- and space-limited art projects I proposed around here literally made them happen. In the crazy-skewed art world of the moment, lowering the stakes and making and trading art for two figures feels refreshing. And most awesomely, these projects have been a catalyst for connecting with some inspiring people who share some interests, and who introduce me to their passions and practices, too. [I hope 2017 lasts long enough for me to do a book version of eBay Test Prints, btw.]
Most of all, I have to thank my wife, who is my smartest, most skeptical, yet most tireless supporter. She is so deeply disapproving of my #andiron-style art designation practice it is not even funny, but she also sees me wrestling with it myself and taking it seriously, so she does, too. And anyway, at the very least, when I’m dead and gone, and she doesn’t have to deal with a storing or tossing a studio or warehouseful of objects, she’ll come around. So thank you, and thank you all. I hope we all get through 2017 and beyond to do this again.
I will have more to say about it because it is blowing my mind in unexpected ways, but it has already taken me too long to shout it out: Mark Leckey has included my piece, Untitled (Satelloon), in “Containers and their Drivers,” his survey at MoMA PS1.
The satelloon is incorporated into a new installation of Dream English Kid 1964-1999 AD (2015), an autobiographical piece Leckey assembles through what he calls “found memories.”
The satelloon is a refabrication of a Beacon satellite, the 12-foot Mylar inflatable that was shown publicly at the US Capitol and other sites in the run up for NASA’s Project Echo. Echo 1A, which launched in 1960, was 100 feet in diameter, and was the first visible manmade object in space. In Leckey’s installation, though, the satelloon serves as a reference, I believe, to Echo II, the 135-ft successor, which launched in 1964.
Satelloons have been big around here for nearly 10 years, and I’ve been engrossed by their aesthetic power, and what can only be called their exhibition and display. They are beautiful objects created to be seen, and they have many implications.
Part of this became the subject of “Exhibition Space,” a show I organized at apexart in 2013, which was the occasion for fabricating this particular object. At the time, I was reluctant for a whole host of reasons to declare the show, and the objects in it, to be artworks. But I’m chill with it now, thanks in no small part to Leckey’s own powerful and generous practice over the last several years of curation-as-art, as well as my own subsequent developments.
In any case, a huge thanks and congratulations to Mark Leckey, along with curators Stuart Comer and Peter Eleey, and the folks at PS1, who have been a pleasure to work with. I had no idea how Mark would end up incorporating the piece, but it looks utterly transfixing, and I cannot wait to see it in person.