Let’s Review The Tape

Tidy Noland

There has been surprisingly little written about Cady Noland’s show at Gagosian’s Park & 75th Street storefront space. I’m not gonna lie, I don’t know quite what to make of it all, either. All the years of absence and anticipation just end, and people maybe don’t quite know what to do or say. In the last 20 years, Noland’s practice has been understood as a harbinger, coming from the past, with relevance for the present. In the 80s and 90s she threw the dodgeball of prophecy about American violence and celebrity politics and art world commodification at our heads, and every disclaimer, auction record, and lawsuit of this century was another hit.

As Noland’s first show of new work, and a lot of it, in decades, it’s easy to want it to be important. But now that means figuring out what it’s doing now; is it relevant in this moment, or is it yet another harbinger?

Continue reading “Let’s Review The Tape”

Cady Noland More Relevant Than I’d Like

The New Yorker cover illustration, 2 Oct 2023, by Bruce Blitt

Shoutout to Cady Noland for making the cover of The New Yorker this week. We have been overdue for a discussion of the walker as a symbol of American boomer hegemony.

Cady Noland, Untitled (Walker), 1986, metal walker, metal police badge, leather gloves and case, denim strap, leather strap with metal clip, nylon strap with metal clip, copyright Cady Noland, photo: Owen Conway via Gagosian

cf.

Untitled (Harvey After Untitled (Walker)), 2019, walker, tennis balls, retractable stanchions, galvanized barrier, stepstool, hi-viz coat (image:AFP via Getty Images via PageSix)

Non-Existent Cady Nolands

Once I could confirm she included no LL Bean tote bags, I made my peace with not blogging every review and post and image of Cady Noland’s one-room exhibition at Gagosian. But it’s hard to resist, especially in this window before I get to the show in person.

detail of a photo of archival Polaroids from Cady Noland’s exhibition at Park & 75th, showing an undated sculpture with the label, “doesn’t exist,” via octavio-world
Another detail of the archival Polaroids, with another Cady Noland that “doesn’t exist,” from octavio-world

On tumblr Octavio has posted some intriguing photos that were not in the gallery checklist: a collection of archival Polaroids, some stacks several pictures deep, of earlier installations and details of work. I’m going to wait to go through them more carefully, but I will absolutely rush to post the discovery of a new category of Cady Noland sculpture alongside “destroyed by refabrication” and “disavowed because of damage and conservation shenanigans”:

“Doesn’t exist.”

Continue reading “Non-Existent Cady Nolands”

1986

Cady Noland, Untitled (Walker), 1986, metal walker, metal police badge, leather gloves and case, denim strap, leather strap with metal clip, nylon strap with metal clip, copyright Cady Noland, photo: Owen Conway via Gagosian

It’s been two days and the #CadyNoland hashtag’s been kind of quiet. Maybe folks are still thinking about what a newly seen 1986 work might imply about the possible existence of a Cady Noland Warehouse. [wtf send moar pics]

“Hopefully, instead of providing solace, a new source or cause for anxiety is opened up in relation to the coupling and uncoupling of elements in a way that has no predictable relation as to whether things are old or new, or in what manner they are alike, like a random killer being on the loose,” Cady Noland wrote in the artist statement for her first solo show, at American Fine Arts, in 1989, the date for most other Untitled (Walker) works, as published in The Clip-On Method.

Also: “I made three pieces with walkers and police equipment. These are more about the _equilibrium_ of the iconographic police officer who manages at once to enjoy the righteous action ‘out there’, a place of danger and thrills, but also to fulfill the comforting but suffocating tedious obligations to the family, civilian life, etc. The hero cop is a family man, not a ‘swingle’ (the occasional deviant ‘kook’ like Serpico or the fictive Dirty Harry notwithstanding).” Hmm.

Cady Noland, Saw Action/Duty, 1986, metal walker, metal police badge, leather glove, leather holster, ticket book, leather strap with metal hook, published in The Clip-On Method, 2019

Later today update: Three things to note from revisiting Noland’s 2-volume publication, The Clip-On Method, which was released with her 2019 show at Galerie Buchholz. This 1986 Untitled (Walker) is not represented, but a similar work, Saw Action/Duty, is.

She wrote about how adding or taking away elements of her sculptures doesn’t change their meaning—until it does. It’s an idea that prompts closer study of what each work comprises, and where they differ. [It also prompts me to imagine a Cady Noland Kit of Parts, where she can stick accessories together like an Officer Potatohead, give it a name, take a picture, then dismantle it, and repeat as often as she likes. ACAD (All Cadys Are Documentation).

Or are they? Of the 162+ images of works in The Clip-On Method, 59 of them are not from exhibitions. It’s an admittedly crude metric for tabulating her total output. But it does feel significant that just two years ago, the universe of known Nolands grew by more than 50% in one pop. And now, two days later, a new show with another previously unseen sculpture confirms that the Cadyverse is still expanding, and at an accelerating rate.

The World Has Changed: Cady Noland New Work

cover of the brochure for Cady Noland’s 2019 retrospective at Museum MMK in Frankfurt

The signs were all there, if only we were inclined to see them: The litigation and disclaimers. A work at the Walker dated 2008. A museum-filling retrospective in 2019. An exhibition with new work at Buchholz, supporting a sweeping, two-volume monograph in 2021. And now, a show of new work at Gagosian. Whatever you think the world was like when you went to bed, the truth is, we woke up in a world where Cady Noland makes and shows work. At Gagosian.

screenshot of the gagosian.com page for Cady Noland’s show, which includes an image of a sculpture, Untitled (2023), copyright Cady Noland, taken by Owen Conway

And that world starts, as new worlds have, on September 12th. The forms include crushed cans and weapons encased in acrylic and wire baskets of detritus. The hashtag for Facebook and Twitter [sic] is #CadyNoland. So yes, some things still do feel like the old world.

I’m personally fascinated with the way I focused on the little moving pads under the corners of the sculpture’s meeting points with the floor, which I read probably undue significance into, even after they ended up not being listed on the ingredients list. But everyone involved is a highly trained professional, and Noland sculptures have been made or broken over less, so I don’t feel like I’m being unreasonable

Cady Noland, 12 September — 21 October 2023 at Gagosian, Park & 75, NY
The Clip-On Method, 17 June — 11 September 2021 at Galerie Buchholz NY

Untitled (Free As In America), 2016/2023

America by Budweiser, available from Memorial Day thru Election Day, 2016.

Beginning the Spring of 2016 and running through the Fall, I put out Untitled (Free As In America), a series of Cady Noland sculptures replicated with the America beer cans that Anheuser-Busch InBev replaced Budweiser with in the run-up to the US presidential election. The concept was to remake any sculpture for only the cost of the raw materials it required.

Exactly none of these sculptures were realized in the window in which Budweiser’s America cans were available.

You see it. I’m not mentioning it or linking to it.

Now the window has reopened. As the right wing is consumed by its own flames of hate and violence, it seeks to transform that hate into consumption. Recognizing the futility of icing out the giant, international beer conglomerate for paying a trans woman to promote one of their products on her own social media channel, some grifter created an alternative: right-wing beer.

Cady Noland, This Piece Has No Title Yet, 1989, Budweiser and scaffolding and stuff, the Rubells

As long as this beer is actually for sale, then, I will make Untitled (Free As In America) sculptures available again. I will replicate any Cady Noland sculpture, replacing the Budweiser cans with perfect replicas of—when I started this post, it was going to be replicas of the grift beer. But no, it will be replicas of the 2016 America cans, made by the finest trans metallurgists and artists in the world. All proceeds beyond the production costs will be used to fund trans legal defense, health care, and emergency support services. Prices run from $100 million for a basket to $1 billion for a room-sized installation.

ONE DAY LATER UNBELIEVABLE UPDATE: In a statement literally titled, Our Responsibility To America, Anheuser-Busch InBev caves to trolls attacking their product and threatening humans with baseball bats. To update Cady Noland, “Violence has always been around. The seeming [systematization] of it now actually indicates the [work] of political organization representing different interests. ‘Inalienable rights’ become something so inane that they break down into men believing that they have the right to be superior to women (there’s someone lower on the ladder than they) so if a woman won’t date them any more they have a right to murder them.”

A FEW DAYS LATER UPDATE: I joked about it, but now other people investigating the grifter’s sourcing are saying it is actually likely the case that the rightwing grifterbeer is made in an Anheuser-Busch plant. It’s America all the way down.

Previously, related: Free As In America

WilliWear Showroom by SITE, 1982-87

Screenshot of SITE’s WillieWear Showroom and a building they scavenged, from James Wines’ GSD presentation. photos: probably Andreas Sterzing

SITE founder James Wines spoke at Harvard GSD last night for the first–but hopefully not last–time in his 90 years. [It was great, and available online. s/o Alexandra Lange]

Though SITE is most frequently brought up in an architectural context for their BEST Products stores, a project that jumped out at me from Wines’ talk was the 38th Street showroom he and SITE partner Alison Sky created for WilliWear, the groundbreaking ’80s street fashion label of designer Willi Smith. SITE and Smith both had a love for found materials, salvage, junk, and the fabric of the city. Wines talked about how Smith took him on inspo trips to seedy gay clubs on the West Side, and then they’d jack construction material, hardware, plumbing, fencing, bricks, you name it, which ended up artfully installed in the showroom.

Those do look like shackles, but perhaps they’re just abandoned stevedore gear from the piers? Screenshot of a model in SITE’s WilliWear showroom, from James Wines’ GSD talk

SITE’s simple genius was to #monochrome it all out, painting everything a highly aesthetic, and flattering backdrop grey. A runway rulebreaker, Smith used the showroom for fashion shows, too, which, Wines giddily announced, included much nudity.

Screenshot, ibid.

SITE has used the monochrome strategy in other contexts, to great effect; Wines mentioned how it helps make the public notice each other, and to look good to each other. He didn’t mention Warhol, though, or the Silver Factory, which had a similar effect almost twenty years earlier.

And he didn’t mention if a young Cady Noland worked as an intern at WilliWear, or as a fashion reporter cutting her chops covering these performance art-like shows. But this urban hardwarescape is definitely putting off a Nolandian vibe, which is something I’d not considered before.

Cady Noland, The Clip-on Method, Summer 2021 exhibition at Galerie Daniel Buchholz

Wise also didn’t mention SITE’s design for the Willi Smith retrospective at the Cooper Hewitt. Which, the much-anticipated show opened, haplessly, at the beginning of March 2020 and existed–I can’t say it was open or closed–until the end of 2021. I can’t find any photos; maybe no one saw it in person?

He did mention Rauschenberg as an American Arte Poverist and an inspiration, which Hilton Als had just mentioned, too, in his review of the JAM show at MoMA: “if there is a Black aesthetic it’s about making do, and using what little you have to express who you are.” JAM was Smith’s era, but it’s not clear if it was Smith’s jam; there don’t seem to be any mentions of JAM or Linda Goode Bryant in the Willi Smith Community Archive (yet).

Screenshot of Willi Smith’s office by SITE, featuring what is now called the De-Arch Desk, made of brick, mortar, paint, and glass, from James Wines’ GSD presentation

I did not see the Willi Smith desk turn up in Miami last year. Wines recreated the pile of scavenged bricks and glasstop desk from Smith’s office for Friedman Benda. It is/was available in an edition of 10, though I think he’d respect a bootleg. If you want to head out to a construction site tonight, I’ll bring the car around.

Margaret McCurry Lectureship in the Design Arts: James Wines [harvard.edu]
SITE site [sitenewyork]
Willi Smith: Street Couture [cooperhewitt.org]

Cady Noland New Work

The invitation card for Cady Noland’s exhibition at Galerie Buchholz, in New York, which runs to September 11th, 2021, reproduces a page from the artist’s new book, I think, which, I think, depicts a detail of her installation at Documenta. via Galerie Buchholz

Two years after her retrospective in Frankfurt, Cady Noland has opened a show in New York that includes new work. It is in support of The Clip-On Method, a new, 2-volume publication of her work and writing, edited by Rhea Anastas. The title calls to mind Clip-On Man, a 1989 print on aluminum work based on a Charles Gatewood photo of a wild-looking executive at Mardi Gras with multiple Budweiser six-pack rings clipped onto his belt.

The website announcing the book and show at Galerie Buchholz, states that, “Publishing photographs of the work of Cady Noland without the express permission of the artist will be viewed as copyright infringement.”

I have not seen the show in person yet, so this post is based on viewing many infringements on Instagram in the three days since the show’s unannounced opening.

Continue reading “Cady Noland New Work”

Cady Noland Zillow

Before anyone gives Cy Twombly on a dog crate the crown for greatest art in real estate listing photography, please check out the listing for the former Ice House of the Vanderbilt estate that was Dowling College, which went bankrupt in 2016 and was liquidated in 2018.

That is Cady Noland’s Tower of Terror (1993-94) in all its in situ glory. Can you even imagine? A pleasant walk past the massive, aluminum group stockade on the way to campus. I guess the bench was in the shed.

Cady Noland was not consulted and does not approve of these photos, but they have been certified by Douglas Elliman. The ice house sold for $376,938. The sculpture sold for $2,207,501. [Thanks greg.org reader dg]

Previously, related: Cady Noland GOAT

Untitled (Harvey &c. &c.), 2019

Untitled (Harvey After Untitled (Walker)), 2019, walker, tennis balls, retractable stanchions, galvanized barrier, stepstool, hi-viz coat (image:Stephanie Keith/Getty Images via twitter)

Untitled (Harvey After Untitled (Walker)), 2019, walker, tennis balls, retractable stanchions, galvanized barrier, stepstool, hi-viz coat (image:AFP via Getty Images via PageSix)

The psychopath is rarely suicidal. Although he would pretend to play the game to the last, and he would viciously press a peer to take on genuinely life-threatening risks, the psychopath always saves his own skin. The psychopath may court death, but it is someone else’s. The psychopath leaves a trail littered with the broken, discarded bodies and lives of others, he trashes them, leaving them as rotten matter as he proceeds to his next site. Where he gave the impression of being deeply involved in the life and death struggles he creates around the last victim, he was always vacuous and remote.

Barriers, gates, and fences are physical and symbolic manifestations that generate publicity and rule out participation. For those unable to comply with the pressure to perform, prostheses such as walkers, picker arms, or canes for the blind are the only means of participating in public life. Celebrities, on the other hand, simply have no choice but to participate.

Everything we encounter in public space can and must be regarded as public sculpture; for every object is the product of a process of material composition and formal design. All objects influence our perceptions, our movements, our feelings, and our thoughts. Public space is not designed by human beings alone, but is instead shaped by the boundaries between public and private, institutional and commercial.

X may fashion an artifact called ‘the mirror device’ with which to manipulate Y. Using this device, X cynically fashions his tastes and judgments to accord with those of Y, thus winning Y’s trust and approbation. An alignment is formed under false pretenses, but Y, hopefully is none the wiser. Even while X is saying in effect, ‘me too, brother…’ X’s actual feelings are secreted from the interaction. X may not always mirror Y, but may instead mirror a role which is acceptable to Y. For example, X goes to Y’s door in the guise of an electrician come to fix some faulty wiring, when X is not, in fact an electrician. A fictive example of this occurs in LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD. Conning devices are tools. The degree of harm that they do, if any, depends upon the purpose for which they are instrumented. Where ‘the mirror device’ might be used by a parent to encourage a child, or by a psychiatrist as a therapeutic device, it is also used by ambitious students, known otherwise as ‘brown-nosers’ or ‘ass kissers’, who cynically reword the opinions of their teachers in their written and oral work. People also use the ‘mirror device’ to ‘pass’, as Erving Goffman points out. A high school girl may try to hide her intelligence and approximate a bubbly persona instead of going dateless. Goffman details many other versions of ‘passing’ in his book, STIGMA. ‘The mirror device’ is a tool with which to modify Y, and render him more pliable to X’s manipulations. Malignant use of ‘the mirror device’ abounded in Nazi Germany. According to Hannah Arendt, one of the sights that struck Adolph Eichmann as being the most horrific was a perfect imitation of the Treblinka railway station. This imitation had been constructed for the express purpose of lulling prisoners into the mistaken impression that they had arrived at a safe and benign destination. The station had been built with patient attention to detail, with contrivances like signs and installations.

2/24 update: the psychopath was convicted on two counts of rape and sexual assault.
3/11 update: the psychopath was sentenced to 23 years in prison.

ASMRt – Cady Noland

FROM CADY NOLAND 7/18/14 THIS IS NOT AN ARTWORK &c., &c. A fax sent to collector Scott Mueller, filed by the artist in US District Court, as part of her lawsuit over the unauthorized refabrication of her 1990 sculpture, Log Cabin Facade

Five years ago today, Cady Noland learned that her 1990 sculpture Log Cabin had been destroyed and refabricated in Germany without her authorization, and that the new version (or whatever it was) had been sold to a “mystery client,” Cleveland collector Scott Mueller.

Mueller had a buyback clause in his purchase agreement, allowing him to unwind the transaction and receive his $1.4 million back if the artist contested or rejected the authenticity of the work. Which is exactly what happened. Mueller had to sue Galerie Michael Janssen to get his money back (which he presumably did; the case was ultimately withdrawn.) But in 2017 Noland, who had not been a party to Mueller’s dispute, but rather its subject, filed a copyright infringement claim against Janssen and collector Wilhelm Schürmann, for the unauthorized replication and distribution of her artwork.

Artistically, one would think it hinges on the artist’s determination of the conceptual nature of the sculpture Log Cabin Facade. Because they had a blueprint, Schürmann et al apparently figured they could refabricate the work as needed, no problem. That turns out to not be how Noland conceives of the work, however; her court case emphasizes the importance of the original logs she ordered from Montana, the stain she later instructed Schürmann to apply, and the 25 years’ patina the sculpture acquired. All of this was destroyed and replaced without her knowledge.

The document read here is one of the most recent filings in the case. It is a memorandum from the artist (via her lawyer) arguing against the defendants’ motion to dismiss her complaint, which has been amended and re-argued three times in three years.

Her claim is fairly atypical, and complicated, and Noland’s interpretation of copying, and fair use is, if successful, probably a net negative for the culture. The Office of Copyright’s denial of copyright registration to Log Cabin, however, feels like an egregious error.

This recording was made on the beach at Emerald Isle, North Carolina. The waves end up sounding like traffic to me, unfortunately, and into what seemed like a pitch black, silent night, some neighbors brought dogs and fireworks.

Download ASMRt-Cady-Noland-gregorg.mp3 [greg.org, mp3, 33mb, 1:09:37]

Wouldn’t You Like To Be A Tania, Too? [UPDATED]

This is supposedly 4/15? uncredited image bettmann via getty

You know what I have never seen? An original “WE LOVE YOU TANIA” poster. Which might be easier to explain than you might think. If my own vintage photo captions are to be trusted, the photo of Patricia Hearst reborn as Tania of the Symbionese Liberation Army was only released on Wednesday, April 3, 1974, less than two months after her kidnapping. It accompanied a tape recorded statement by Tania, which was delivered to the offices of leading San Francisco counterculture/rock radio station KSAN, Jive 95. The photo ran on the front page of newspapers across the country on April 4th. [If I recall his Guggenheim clippings collection correctly, On Kawara read about it in the Washington Post.]

Getty’s original caption for the above image says, “Posters reading ‘We Love You Tania’ appear on bulletin boards at the University of California campus 4/15,” the day “she was identified by the FBI 4/15 as one of four armed women who took part in the robbery” of the Hibernia bank across the bay in San Francisco.

But the posters above and below Tania show events on April 11 and 7, respectively. So it seems more likely to me that Hearst’s Berkeley classmates posted their flyers–and they were photographed–soon after the Tania image was released, not, as it sounds, in celebration of the hours-old bank robbery. So this is a very narrow window in which to celebrate Tania’s revolutionary activities without celebrating her crimes. Or without at least using the security camera still of her from inside the bank.

An uncredited photo of unidentified people with an uncredited painting, image purportedly bettmann, via getty

(Original Caption) Someone waiting in line to watch the Patricia Hearst trial 2/23 brought in a huge drawing depicting Patricia Hearst holding a weapon copied from a photo taken at the University of California at Santa Cruz, uses her head in the drawing for a photo.

Is it possible for a photo archive to be even less helpful in its archiving? The only thing Getty managed to record about this photo of an extraordinary life-sized cutout painting (not a drawing) on board of the Tania portrait is the date (February 23, 1976).

I can find no source for the claim that the Tania photo was taken at UCSC, and a great deal of documentation that the SLA didn’t get farther than Daly City before the Tania photo was released. And though it is unspecified, this installation photo must have been taken outside the Federal Courthouse in San Francisco. Was it the painting itself, perhaps, that came from Santa Cruz? [update from a new source: it was apparently the young woman in the cutout who was from UC Santa Cruz: one Jean Finley.  It also says the drawing (sic) was brought by “someone,” and that the Tania photo comes from the Hibernia Bank robbery. Boomers made news hard.]

The photographer, and more importantly, the artist who made the cutout painting, and most importantly, the current status and location of the cutout painting at this moment, are all unknown. If you are the boatshoed man on the right, or know him–he would be in his mid-60s now–please do get in touch. There are works in progress.

UPDATE: The internet is not canceled yet.

Within hours of posting this, Bean Gilsdorf tweeted that perhaps this woman posing in the Tania painting was Jeanne C. Finley, the artist, filmmaker, and California College of the Arts professor who had attended UC Santa Cruz. A couple of quick, shocked, and bemused emails later, we knew. That is her, and the artist who painted that thing is Alison Ulman. Here I quote Finley:

[T]he fact of that image is that it is an incredible artwork by my very best friend from childhood, Alison Ulman, that she did when we were in college at UC Santa Cruz back in the truly experimental days of that institution.  Alison was obsessed with Patty Hearst and we both attended the trial.  She created that work as a public artwork (long before the idea of social engagement ever was a thing) that the public would engage in while they waited in line to get into the trial. On one side was Tanya with the 7-headed cobra, on the other side was Tanya as a debutante.  Everyone wanted to have their photograph done on the 7-headed cobra side!  We had to get in line at about 1am and sleep on the sidewalk until dawn because there was so much public interest in attending the trial and it was a great way to pass the time.
If you try to google Alison all you’ll find is this 15-year-old website.  (http://endlessprocess.com/) …She is an amazing artist, and lives a most unconventional life…not one that really intersects anymore with the art world, but that is really the art world’s loss.  We’ve been best friends since 2nd grade where we lived two blocks from one another and spent every day together as kids.  We decided we wanted to go to college together so we both applied to UC Santa Cruz because we read that there was co-ed nude sunbathing on the dorm roofs.  Santa Cruz was really hard to get into then, so the other artists in art school with us were all pretty amazing people.  I felt so lucky to be there and have the freedom to be an artist and do things like this with my best friend.
The art world’s loss indeed, but an amazing story about an interesting project at a fascinating moment in time. Thanks to Ulman, and to Finley, and to Gilsdorf for bringing it all together.

New World Order

In Bruce Hainley’s new essay on Cady Noland [Artforum Jan ’19, too short at 12 pages] I learned that the artist’s mom, Cornelia Langer Noland Reis, was the co-owner with Maria O’Leary of a world-focused jewelry and fashion boutique in Old Town, Alexandria known as Nuevo Mundo.

Cady Noland, Stand-In for a Stand-In, 1999, cardboard, wood, spray paint, rubber mat, installation image from Robert Gober’s 2014 MoMA retrospective, collection Eileen & Michael Cohen

The image, with caption, at top, is from a 2015 remembrance of O’Leary, who was a life/style icon to the moms and daughters of Old Town. The image above was screencapped from a checklist of Robert Gober’s 2014 MoMA retrospective. It included a re-staging of his 1999 group show for which Cady Noland made Stand-In for a Stand-In, a cardboard version of a stock.

the time of her life: remembering alexandria’s own  [alexandriastylebook]
The Picture of C.N. In A Prospect Of Horrors [artforum]

An Anthology Of @cadynoland Comments

It is not clear if it is indeed the artist behind the account, but @cadynoland‘s posts are clearly from the Noland Instagrammic Universe. Of 120 photos so far/at the moment, there are currently only three that contain comments by the artist accountholder. If or as more are added, and or if or as more information becomes known, this post will be updated.

Feb. 4, 2018

Sept 6, 2016

Feb. 14, 2016

On the one hand, one doesn’t tell an artist what to do

The post I just finished about Cady Noland reminded me of Jasper Johns. First is his only public statement about not showing or reproducing Short Circuit, the Rauschenberg Combine that at the time (1962), still had a Johns flag painting inside it:

Dear Sir:
I’ve always supposed that artists were allowed to paint however-whatever they pleased and to do whatever they please with their work–to or not to give, sell, lend, allow reproduction, rework, destroy, repair, or exhibit it…

Jasper Johns: Writings, Sketchbook Notes, Interviews

The second, I couldn’t remember where I’d seen it, but it was so vivid in my mind, I figured it could only come from one place: Michael Crichton’s 1977 catalogue for Johns’ retrospective at the Whitney. And sure enough:

He is direct about his work, an area of his life which he jealously guards. Once, at a dinner, a wealthy collector who owned several important Johns paintings announced over coffee that he had an idea for a print that Johns should do. He said that Johns should make a print, in color, of an American map. The collector argued his case cogently. He pointed out that Johns had done other prints in color based on paintings from that period; he alluded to the significance of such a print to the whole body of Johns’ work; he mentioned the opportunities for the sort of image transformation which Johns’ other color prints had explored; and he pointed out the peculiar arbitrariness that had led Johns do to map prints several times in black-and-white, but never in color.

A hush fell over the table. There was a good deal of tension. On the one hand, one doesn’t tell an artist what to do, but on the other hand, the suggestion was not uninformed, and it did not come from a source the artist could casually alienate.

Johns listened patiently. “Well,” he said finally, “that’s all very well, but I”m not going to do it.”

“Why not?” asked the collector, a little offended.

“Because I’m not,” Johns said.

And he never has.

Now I want to read this whole book again.