Razzle Dazzle

guilty_monacoeye.jpg
Last year Jeff Koons covered Dakis Joannou’s angular yacht Guilty [designed by Ivana Porfiri] with a pattern inspired by WWI naval camouflague. The technique, known in the US as Razzle Dazzle and in the UK as just Dazzle Painting, was created by the British artist Norman Wilkinson.
mahomet_dazzle_gotouring.jpg
Dazzle deployed Cubism’s multiple perspective and fragmentation to thwart the aim of German U-boat attacks by obscuring the ships’ dimensions and traveling directions. The advent of sonar eliminated the need for visual targetting–and the utility of Dazzle Painting.
Ironically, Koons camo design made it exponentially easier for the yachtspotters at Monaco Eye to shoot Guilty in port last summer.
Dazzle Painting history and images [gotouring.com]
The US Navy apparently kept using Razzle Dazzle techniques through WWII. A large collection of 455 lithographs of camouflage designs was discovered in 2008 at RISD, the 1919 donation of an alumnus, Maurice Freedman, who was a camouflage painter during the war. They were exhibited for the first time last spring. [Dazzle Camouflage on Wikipedia]

Houses Of Orange

dutch_palace_gmap4.jpg

NL Architects
thinks it might make a good Herzog & deMeuron project, but I think Google Maps’ security pixelization of the Dutch Royal House’s Noordeinde Palace in Den Haag would make an absolutely fantastic series of landscape paintings.
dutch_palace_gmap3.jpg
dutch_palace_gmap2.jpg
dutch_palace_gmap1.jpg
Where else in the world are such things? The DRH’s summer palace at Huis ten Bosch; an AZF chemical weapons factory in Toulouse
There’s a surely incomplete list of obscured satellite images on Wikipedia, and a map. Which includes Mastercard’s corporate headquarters in Westchester, which actually looks like it was painted over. They call it “watercolored.” Perfect.
here’s the list of camo’d Dutch sites I’ve been working with.
Previously:
architecture for the aerial view, including WWII factory roof camouflage: the roof as nth facade
art for the aerial view: Calder on the roof

Have You Seen Me? The Find The Warhols Project

warhol_crime_alert.jpg
Earlier this month eleven portrait paintings by Andy Warhol were reported stolen from the home of Los Angeles collector Richard Weisman. The paintings, known the Athletes Series, depict some of the greatest athletes in the world in 1977, plus Weisman. There is a $1 million reward for information leading to their return.
When one man’s Warhols are stolen, all our Warhols are stolen, because no matter how many Warhols you technically own, Warhol belongs to all of us. It’s imperative that we band together to help these Warhols return to their rightful home [so they can be sold]. Which is why greg.org is announcing The Find The Warhols Project.
MISSION
The Find The Warhols Project seeks to facilitate the safe return of the Weisman Warhols by assisting in the dissemination of crucial identifying information where it is needed most: on the front lines of the art world.
FTW will educate and empower an ever-vigilant grass roots army of Warhol Watchers who will be able to quickly spot the stolen Warhols from among the thousands of Warhols streaming through the art world every day.
THE PROJECT
Many, many Warhols look the same, especially the 40×40-in. square silkscreened portraits of seemingly random people who were rich and/or famous in the 70’s and 80s. This can make it hard to tell if a Warhol is hot or not.
For example, just look at these three seemingly identical Muhammad Ali portraits. Can you tell which one is stolen, which one sold for triple its high estimate, and which one was still available last summer in Beijing?
warhol_alis.jpg
Fortunately, on September 10th, 2009, The Los Angeles Police Department’s Art Theft Detail released a one-page, notepad-sized Crime Alert [top] with reproductions of the exact eleven stolen paintings and a critical detail: “NOTE: other Warhol originals exist for each of the images below, but with different colors.”
This is an invaluable crimebusting tool that needs to be distributed as widely as possible and studied regularly whenever you buy, sell, see, hang, ship, frame, conserve, appraise, authenticate, license for marketing, or critique a Warhol.
ftw_poster.jpg
To that end, FTW will take this crucial-but-small Crime Alert and make larger versions which will enable quick and certain detection at a glance. These giant, poster-sized versions will be offset print in full color on 100-lb glossy paper, and will be suitable for hanging by Warhol Watchers at key art world locations with high Warhol traffic, including:

  • Art gallery backrooms
  • Private dealers’ showrooms
  • Hedge fund conference rooms
  • Park Avenue cosmetic surgeons’ waiting rooms
  • West Village real estate developers’ conference rooms
  • West Village townhouse stagers’ conference rooms
  • Collectors’ offices
  • Private curators’ offices
  • Museum curators’ offices or cubicles
  • Independent curators’ hallways, since it is unlikely they have offices
  • Curatorial studies graduate program student lounges
  • Auction house cube farms
  • Art magazine offices
  • Art magazine freelance writers’ walls above the beds where they write because they can poach the neighbor’s wi-fi from there
  • Art organization benefit auction organizers’ conference rooms
  • Art fair booth backrooms
  • Art fair concierge desks
  • Art fair VIP lounges
  • Art fair sponsor VIP lounges
  • Fractional ownership jet terminals
  • Museum development directors’ assistants’ offices
  • Museum registrars’ offices
  • Museum freight elevators
  • Crate fabricators’ workshop offices
  • Framers
  • &c., &c.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

  1. Get some FTW Crime Alert posters.
  2. Put them up in your own corners of the art world.
  3. Study the details of the Stolen Warhols frequently to keep them fresh in your mind.
  4. Whenever you buy, sell, or otherwise encounter a Warhol, check it against the Crime Alert poster to see if yours is one of the Stolen Warhols.
  5. Encourage others to do the same by writing about the FTW Project on your blogs, by giving posters to other collectors and dealers and art world friends, by holding FTW Happenings in your lofts to build awareness and learn the paintings, &c.

FTW Crime Alert posters are available for pre-order through Kickstarter starting at $10 for two, to cover the cost of printing [$883] and shipping [$3.62/order]. Orders will only be processed and the posters will only be printed and shipped as soon as 141 pre-orders are received. If the Stolen Warhols are found before FTW reaches 141 pre-orders, the Project will cease, no posters will be printed, and no orders will be charged or fulfilled. The FTW Project Kickstarter page has more information, including details of how Kickstarter pledges work, as well as options for ordering multiple posters, for international shipping, and for collectors who own more than 11 Warhols.
BACKGROUND
The Warhols, known as the Athlete Series were commissioned by Richard Weisman in 1977 for the purpose of bringing the world’s two greatest leisure pastimes–sport and art–together. They are all portraits of famous athletes posing with the primary implement of their chosen sport next to their heads. Plus a headshot of Weisman himself, whose mother co-founded the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and whose uncle Norton Simon founded the Norton Simon Museum.
Warhol produced eight complete sets of the paintings for Weisman, plus an unidentified number of additional individual paintings. Two sets were broken up and given to each athlete and his or her sports governing body. Weisman donated two sets to university collections. Weisman’s three kids each got a set. And he kept one for himself. Total price tag for the project: a reported $800,000.
All the works are 40×40 inches, silkscreen and polymer paint on canvas. Warhol also created other, differently sized versions of some images. Except for the Muhammad Ali paintings, all the canvases were signed by the athletes at the time of their completion. For Ali, Weisman had Ali sign five paintings [presumably the non-donated ones: his own, his kids’ and one extra, see below] during a visit to Los Angeles in 1991. Each silkscreened canvas was painted in a unique color combination.
Weisman began marketing his set several years ago. He loaned it to the Warhol Museum in 2005. In 2007, it was offered for sale in London by the dealer Martin Summers for $28 million, along with several individual paintings. It was still for sale in 2008, when he showed it in Beijing during the Olympics.
The 2007 show also included a loosie Ali portrait with a purple ground, above right.] A couple of months later, Ali’s own red & green painting [above middle], which had been given to his ex-wife, sold at Christie’s for $9.2 million.
So you can see how vitally important these Warhols are, especially to Weisman. They’re practically his children. Children he can sell for an eight-figure price. And children whose safe return could bring a million dollars to the one who makes it happen. Won’t you help?

On The Public-Sculpture Gravy Train

It’s got shiny spheres, and science re-creations, and DC artists and quotes from curator and museum director friends. But it’s been a few weeks now, and the only thing I can say about Blake Gopnik’s mind-numbing/blowing article on Jim Sanborn is that this passage on public art is pretty damn funny:

The fame of the CIA commission “funded me for all the years since,” Sanborn says. It put him on the public-sculpture gravy train. He stopped living in his scruffy studio building in Northeast Washington (it’s where he met his wife, Jae Ko, a well-known local sculptor), bought a house in Georgetown, designed a home in the Shenandoahs and continued to fund his more “serious” art, such as “Atomic Time.”
But lately, the commissions have dried up. Today’s selection panels, he complains, go for “decorative embellishments.”

Damn those panels. If only noted art historian/author Dan Brown would write a book about Washington, he could include another mention of Sanborn’s work.
??!!??: Sparking Interest Within the Sphere of Art | ‘Physics’ May Be Most Substantive D.C. Piece in Half-Century [washingtonpost via man]

Floating Cloud Structures, Or We All Live In A Fuller Satelloon

fuller_cloud_nine_orig.jpg
Just like how, once you’ve learned it, you start hearing a word all the time, now I see satelloons everywhere. Including at the Buckminster Fuller retrospective last year at the Whitney [which went on to Chicago this summer.]
Buckminster Fuller and his architecture partner Shoji Sadao mocked up this photo of a photocollage, Project for Floating Cloud Structures (Cloud Nine) , around 1960. Cloud Nines are self-contained communities of several thousand people living inside enclosed geodesic spheres a mile wide, which float over the earth’s surface.
Because the geodesic structure increases in strength as it gets bigger, and its surface increases at a power of two, while its volume increases at a power of three, Fuller hypothesized that heating the interior air even one degree will set the Cloud Nines aloft.
Obviously, as a sexy, futuristic utopian image, Cloud Nine is hard to pass up, but holy crap, Bucky, did you think for two seconds about the urban fabric and the social experience of living trapped in a floating dome? I’d love to see someone write an SF story about it. Because I think it might be a fantastically totalitarian disaster.
fuller_cloud_nine.jpg
There are two versions of the Cloud Nine image: [the earlier?] one has smooth, silvery, featureless spheres. I’d call them satelloons, even. The other [above] has line drawings of the geodesic structure collaged onto it.
It was only now, as I get around to finally posting about them, that the relationship between Cloud Nines and satelloons might be more than formalistic. The original satelloon, Project Echo launched in 1960, the same year Fuller and Sadao designed their giant floating spheres. Could there have been a connection?

The easiest, most obvious thing to do might be to ring up Shoji Sadao. What is he up to these days, anyway? You’d think that given the recent interest in Fuller’s work, a guy who worked so closely with Fuller on so many major projects–he’s credited with the dome at the 1967 World Expo in Montreal, arguably the most spectacular Fuller structure ever realized–would be all over the place. I mean, it was only a few years ago that he gave up his position as executive director of the Noguchi Foundation in Long Island City. And then he curated that great Fuller-Noguchi show in 2006. [Sadao was also a longtime collaborator with Noguchi and the chief overseer of his legacy.] Anyone spoken with him lately?

The International Prototype Kilogram, Or Le Grand K

johnson_matthey_kilos.jpg
Caught this on the CBC last night. I always assumed a kilogram is equal to the mass of a liter of water. But it turns out to be messy/tricky/complicated to measure water accurately enough, plus, some scientists decided to change the definition soon after it was decreed, so a kilogram is actually equal to the mass of the kilogram, the International Prototype Kilogram, or IPK, also known in France as Le Grand K. It’s the only unit of measure, says Wikipedia, “that is still defined in relation to an artifact rather than to a fundamental physical property that can be reproduced in different laboratories.”

The IPK is made of a platinum alloy known as “Pt‑10Ir”, which is 90% platinum and 10% iridium (by mass) and is machined into a right-circular cylinder (height = diameter) of 39.17 mm to minimize its surface area. The addition of 10% iridium improved upon the all-platinum Kilogram of the Archives [originally made and adopted in 1799. -ed.] by greatly increasing hardness while still retaining platinum’s many virtues: extreme resistance to oxidation, extremely high density, satisfactory electrical and thermal conductivities, and low magnetic susceptibility. The IPK and its six sister copies are stored at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) in an environmentally monitored safe in the lower vault located in the basement of the BIPM’s Chateau de Breteuil in Sèvres on the outskirts of Paris. Three independently controlled keys are required to open the vault. Official copies of the IPK were made available to other nations to serve as their national standards. These are compared to the IPK roughly every 50 years.

The IPK is stored under three bell jars, and its six sister copies are each stored under two.
ipk_bipm.jpg
The IPK and two other cylinders were manufactured in 1879 by Johnson Matthey, assayers and refiners for the Bank of England. [IPK is the third, KIII.] Johnson Matthey made 40 replicas in 1884, which were calibrated to IPK. 34 were distributed in 1889 to signatories of the Meter Convention for use as national standards. Two of this original batch, K4 and K20, are in the US. K20 was designated the US standard prototype in 1889.
The process and protocols for comparing these replicas to IPK, known as “periodic verification,” have evolved over the years. The BIPM was apparently not so distracted between 1939 and 1946 that they couldn’t develop “The BIPM Cleaning Method,” which involves a chamois, ether, ethanol, and steam cleaning with bi-distilled water. [Considering the Metric system itself was implemented in the midst of the French Revolution, and proceeded even as key scientists were being guillotined, I guess it’s not so surprising.] Models have developed to describe the rate of surface contamination.

What has become clear after the third periodic verification performed between 1988 and 1992 is that masses of the entire worldwide ensemble of prototypes have been slowly but inexorably diverging from each other. It is also clear that the mass of the IPK lost perhaps 50 µg over the last century, and possibly significantly more, in comparison to its official copies.

Given this variation and divergence, much of which cannot be explained, the CIPM [Committee &c.] in 2005 recommended redefining the kilogram as a constant of nature. So far, a suitably stable, reproducible constant has eluded metrologists.
One method is to define the number of carbon-12 atoms in a 1kg cube. Another, part of the Avogadro Project, is to create a single-crystal sphere of silicon, then measure the sphere radius and its internal crystal lattice with interferometry, and then polish it with single atomic level-accuracy to reach 1 kg. A sample is presented here with rather dramatic flair by a master optician at the Australian Centre for Precision Optics:
1kg_silicon_sphere_apco.jpg
Its appearance might look familiar to regular readers of this website.
The human attempt to account for the world through exacting science results in a minimalist object that transcends other Minimalist objects, all while inhabiting a conceptual framework that transcends Conceptualist frameworks.
And I want some. And when I get my kilogram[s], I’ll put them on the shelf next to my satelloons and my photos of the entire universe from the Palomar Sky Survey.
Kilogram, Grave [wikipedia]
photos of the International Prototype Kilogram [bipm.org]
“The kilogram and measurements of mass and force,” Journal of Research of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Jan-Feb, 2001 [findarticles.com, PDF original at nist.gov]

Frosty Myers Winners

latimes, wigwam of searchlights
Before I realized that if I wanted to see an exhibit of a 100-ft silver balloon, I’d have to make it myself, I was still just ruminating on art I hoped/wished someone would make. One of those projects I want/need to see is a re-staging of the Los Angeles Times photo of the panicked air raid searchlights that criss-crossed the sky on the night of Feb. 25, 1942. Six civilians died in that apparent, still unexplained false alarm, and the Times’ caption on the photo above described how the “searchlights built a wigwam” over the city. Wouldn’t that be fantastic?
Well, now I wonder if there is someone to get to do it.
16 Miles pointed to an awesome 2001 Art in America article by Suzaan Boettger on Sculpture in Environment, a pioneering New York City-wide show of public sculpture organized by Sam Green, the director of the ICA in Philadelphia, which took place in October 1967.
The main focus of Boettger’s article is an intriguing and prescient unmonumental work by Claes Oldenberg, and Robert Smithson’s seminal roadtrip article/work, “The Monuments of Passaic,” which [not] coincidentally, he made the day before. And the hook for 16 Miles’ post is the death of Tony Rosenthal, whose Alamo cube still spins where it was shown, in Astor Place. But there are other great details: Oldenberg had first proposed creating a traffic jam; Robert Morris’s jets of steam proposal was considered “too ephemeral.” Isamu Noguchi was still pitching his playground idea [“too expensive.”] Alexander Calder liked to help the Negros. &c. &c.
frosty_myers_searchlights75.jpg
But anyway, Boettger mentions this “a nocturnal event by Forrest Myers, who projected four carbon arc searchlights from Tompkins Square Park.” It’s not clear what they were called, but this description from a 2006 Art in America profile of Frosty Myers explains what these sculptures were:

“Searchlight Sculptures,” nighttime installations of carbon-arc searchlights that were sited at the four corners of Tompkins Square Park in the East Village in 1966, in Union Square in 1969, in a park in Fort Worth in 1979, and elsewhere. The beams tent upward to join at an apex in the manner of a vast pyramid.

Elsewhere included Artpark in Lewiston, NY, where Myers created a Searchlights pyramid in 1975 [see above]. You must admit, it does look very wigwammish.
You may know Myers from such previous greg.org appearances as: being instrumental in E.A.T. and the art/tech collaborative’s ambitious artfest-in-a-mirrored-dome, the Pepsi Pavilion at the Osaka ’70 Expo. And maybe being one of six artists whose work was secretly smuggled onto the moon on the Apollo 12 lunar module.
Remembering Tony Rosenthal, Remembering “Sculpture in Environment” [16miles.com]
A Found Weekend, 1967: Public Sculpture and Anti-Monuments, Art in America, Jan. 2001 [art in america via findarticles]
[Searchlights imagevia ekac.org]

A Closer Look At Tauba Auerbach’s Pixels

auerbach_paulson_1.jpg
I’d seen Tauba Auerbach’s text- or letter-based paintings before, but I didn’t know about her prints. She did a couple of pairs of prints using pixels last year with Berkeley-based Paulson Press. There’s a black and white set, 50/50, where exactly 50% of the pixels shown are white and 50% are black, and then there’s an 8-color set called A Half Times A Half Times A Half.
Without knowing how or why they were made, I was first drawn to the different resolutions, which she calls “fine” [above] and “coarse” [below]. [And the color ones obviously remind me of Gerhard Richter’s Farben painting series from the early 1970s, which became the basis for his stained glass window in the Koln Cathedral.]
auerbach_paulson_2.jpg
Then I realize they’re aquatints, etchings–Paulson Press specializes in intaglio printing–and not printed digitally, so there’s an interesting transition from digital to physical. And the printing technique itself adds a layer of imperfection to a “perfect” digital original.
Of 50/50, Auerbach said [pdf]:

I was thinking about binary as a language, like binary code for computers, as well as just the binaries within the English language, and how in binary code there’s just zeros and ones.
You have to represent everything, including the ambiguous, with just those two components.

So she’s started introducing randomness. The b/w pixels are randomly placed, but it really pops in the color etchings:

I created three plates. And these three pigment primaries are like the process primaries used for printing –cyan, magenta, and yellow. And on each plate there’s a random pattern of colored squares and blank squares, and they overlap at varous probabilities to create seven possible colors–or eight if you include the white. So, the three primaries, the three secondaries, and then a seventh color where all three overlap, and then the white where none overlap.

So if I’m reading that right, each plate could be printed with any of the three colors. The plates x inks would generate a the number of permutations–though it’d be doubled if the top and bottom of the rectangular plates are reversed.
As I’m typing this, it sounds like a Sol Lewitt, too, an early, exhaustive Lewitt serialization made in the mature Lewitt’s palette. But there are at least 84 possible combinations for each print–if the top/bottom of each plate don’t matter, there are 816–and Auerbach’s edition size is only 30. Sounds like introducing a bit of randomness into the process was plenty. I’m sure her printers were relieved.
Tauba Auerbach prints [paulsonpress.com via 16 miles of string]
Tauba Auerbach prints press release – pdf [paulsonpress.com]

July 24, 1973 Was A Tuesday

I was researching a project just now, came across this, and then noticed the date:

ROBERT SMITHSON, 35, A SCULPTOR, IS DEAD
July 24, 1973, Tuesday
Page 41, 227 words

Robert Smithson, a sculptor, was killed in the crash of a light plane on Friday, along with the pilot and a photographer, as they were inspecting one of his “Earth works” under construction on a ranch near Amarillo, Tex. He was 35 years old and lived at 799 Greenwich Street.

[The New York Times]

Do Tell

Solicitors for the National Portrait Gallery are apparently threatening legal action against a US Wikipedia user for downloading 3,300 digital photographs of paintings in the UK museum’s collection, and then uploading them to Wikipedia. Says Londonist:

All of the paintings are thought to be from the Victorian era or earlier, and are therefore in the public domain. The rather gristly bone of contention, however, is whether the high resolution images of those paintings are protected by their own copyright.

Seems that the NPG is claiming both copyright infringement for its photographs and database right infringement. Neither of these rights currently exist under US copyright law.
Obviously, I’ve been thinking quite a bit latelyabout the issues around reproducing artwork and the incipient loss/cost/penalty when art is transmitted in a copyright culture. It was always my understanding that museums which hold public domain works–which is the vast amount of material in museums, basically everything over 95 years old–tried to control reproduction of the work by limiting access to the work itself, or by requiring contracts for shooting work, or for using authorized reproductions. [Monticello, for example, has an insane, draconian, and expensive shooting policy that practically requires you to hire a gardener to follow behind and refluff the grass where your tripod had been standing.]
According to the NPG’s solicitors, at least, US and UK laws differ on whether a photograph of an artwork has a copyright in itself, something distinct from the artwork being depicted. Should be interesting.
National Portrait Gallery To Sue Wikipedia User? [londonist via momalearning‘s twitter]

Enzo Mari x Ikea Mashup, Being Mashed Up



ikea x Mari mashup being mashed up, originally uploaded by gregorg.

I realized I’d been putting off the actual assembly of my Enzo Mari table, daunted by the impending exactitude and fearful of the commitment of actually screwing all the pieces together.
Which seems to fly in the face of Mari’s original “just hammer it together” intentions for the autoprogettazione series.
I knew that without jigs and a flat surface and proper squaring equipment and such, I was invariably going to misdrill something, and then I’d be trying to redrill holes 1/8th of an inch to the left somewhere, and–
The joint that really made me nervous was the first one I’d have to do, drilling a 5/16″ hold through the center of all the side truss pieces [right about where the knot is in this photo] AND through the ends of the center truss, so that I could thread a carriage bolt through, and hold the entire table together properly. Forever.
Rather than risk screwing this up, I decided to piece each truss together with a steel bookend, and then hammer and wood glue enough joints to hold it. Then I’ll drill and screw the major joints after it’s together.
The carriage bolt and wingnut assembly method is a nod to the original autoprogettazione kits of precut wood, which were produced in 1973 by Simon International and sold briefly as the Metamobile Series.
mari_christies_simon.jpg
I hadn’t thought of how much those simple wingnuts changed the nature of the autoprogettazione concept. They’re the difference between project and product.
The Metamobile kits weren’t just precut wood; they were also predrilled. And that required the construction of jigs, the use of some workshop- or factory-grade hardware, and probably even an assembly line, or at least some batch work. In other words, they were exactly what the autoprogettazione series was supposed to not be: mass produced.
mari_effe_table.jpg
Furniture sold as a kid of parts that comes ready to assemble, with just one tool, just follow the slightly baffling instruction diagrams exactly, and voila! Sound familiar? Enzo Mari beat me to an Ikea mashup by about 35 years.
Related: 14 June 2000, Lot 103: ENZO MARI, A PINE DINING TABLE
“designed 1973, manufactured by Simon International for the Metamobile Series, the square slatted top on open understructure secured by wing-nuts”, sold for £5,875. [christies.com]
Dec 15, 2006, Lot 2: ENZO MARI, AN EXTREMELY RARE “EFFE” TABLE
“Manufactured by Simon International, ca. 1974. from the Metamobile series…Acquired directly from Dino Gavina, c. 1975,” sold for $14,400 [sothebys.com]

Les Ballons du Grand Palais

The Grand Palais was already the best of the three venues in the world capable of accommodating my Satelloon project–a re-creation of NASA’s Project Echo (1960), the 100-ft metallic spherical balloon which was world’s first communications satellite, and which was also known as the most beautiful and most-viewed object ever launched into space–but now it’s practically inevitable.
Unless someone tells me that the Pantheon or Grand Central Station have already hosted legendary air shows dating back a hundred years…

These photos from Branger & Cie via the Smithsonian show balloons and blimps on display at the 1re Exposition Internationale de Locomotion Aerienne, which debuted in the nave of the Grand Palais in September 1909. They ran until 1951. Which makes bringing back the spirit of the Air Show both spectaculaire et logique!

satelloon_grand_palais.jpg

Previously: Les Satelloons du Grand Palais]

Verner Panton Vilbert Chair For Ikea



Verner Panton Vilbert Ikea chair, originally uploaded by JForth.

The dates for Verner Panton’s Vilbert Chair run the gamut, but they cluster around 1993.
He created the chair for Ikea, and it didn’t sell for very long–I’ve seen “six months,” “a season,” and “a year”–and apparently, it didn’t sell very well, either.
As you’d expect from Ikea, it’s made out of melamine-coated MDF. I’m not a huge fan, but I find it very amusing to see how Panton fans and modernist furniture aficionados spin a famous designer’s commercial failure on the cusp of his resurgence.
One hack design site gets just about everything about the chair wrong in one, short sentence: “IKEA began a Panton revival when they reproduced his Vilbert Chair in 1994.”
One Dutch dealer says, “Only shortly Sold as Ikea made the Chair from different Materials as Verner Panton Required.”
But the most frequently repeated explanation, is “The design was perhaps too radical for IKEA shoppers and not that many were sold, making them rare to find today.”
and
This chair proved to be too abstract for the mindset of the Ikea clientele…”
Oddly, the Vilbert is not faring much better in its afterlife as a rare, connoisseur’s collectible, either. At auction, one sold for $450 in 2002; an unopened Vilbert didn’t sell in 2003; six sold for EUR 266 apiece in 2006, two didn’t sell for 400 pounds in 2007. Examples for sale online range from EUR275 to EUR450, while the most sensible prices are still in the thrift shop/garage sale range: EUR25 and “Sure, whatever, just take it.”

Richard Prints: Untitled (300 x 404)

Untitled (300 x 404, After Untitled (Cowboy), 2003 by Richard Prince)
I just got my first edition of Untitled (300 x 404, after Untitled (Cowboy), 2003 by Richard Prince) from the printer. It’s a 1px = 1mm version, which came out to be 12 x 16 inches, inkjet printed on aluminum.
Though it’s crazy to feel any sense of accomplishment for an image I appropriated whose fabrication I outsourced, I’m actually kind of stoked. The print looks fantastic, with a graininess that doesn’t map to the supposed pixel dimensions.
When you zoom in on a screen, a pixel is so nice and tidy and square. But unless you’re a mosaicist or a North Korean cardflipping stadium extravaganza director, physical pixels are probably not going to be square. Who knew?
Anyway, since it cost the same to make one as a dozen, there’s an edition of ten, with a couple of proofs. If I had a dealer, a gallery, an artist career, or an idea to have any of the above, I’d probably sell them. I’m sure they’d be cheaper than the Richard Prince.
Previously: West Trademark @)#(*$ed Up
Untitled (300 x 404): the making of
update: Just found out via Joerg’s post that the original photographer was not Jim Krantz, but Sam Abell, the great National Geographic photographer. He shot it in 1996 for Leo Burnett, Marlboro/Philip Morris’s agency. PDN had an interview with Abell about it last year, on the occasion of Untitled (Cowboy)‘s prominence in Prince’s Guggenheim retrospective.

Enzo Mari x Ikea Mashup, Ch. 6: Ikeaness


Enzo Mari x Ikea – Joinery, originally uploaded by gregorg.

The tile in the guest bathroom in North Carolina was handmade and sun-dried in Mexico, as you can tell by the single square with the artful flaw, a footprint from a wandering dog.
Woodworking aficionados get off on things like grain patterns and joinery, the more intricate the better. So it’s at once surprising and totally not that after spending so much time finishing this wood, I’m starting to dig its industrial qualities, its intrinsic Ikeaness.
Ikea’s IVAR shelving system is made from unfinished pine, but that’s barely half the story. When you start looking closely, you see that even the simplest board is actually made up of several pieces of wood, spliced together.
It’s never the same, either. Each identical-seeming 72-in. post is unique. It’s almost like they piece all these scraps together with this insane, zig-zag scarf joint, into a single, endless piece of wood, which gets extruded, drilled, and cut to length on the other end.
Once you notice these joints–this one is the highest-contrast of the whole pile–your eyes are drawn to them, like learning a new word and suddenly hearing it everywhere.
The shelves are glued up from pine strips, that’s obvious. But was I really so focused on selecting the “right” color ranges that I didn’t notice this string of lozenge-shaped plugs which filled a massive gap in one of the the shelves? I think that will be the table’s dog footprint.