Why Wasn’t Cady Consulted?

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[This is not the Cady Noland log cabin you’re suing for] Log Cabin Blank with Screw Eyes and Café Door (Memorial to John Caldwell) (1993), collection Norman & Norah Stone, image: stonescape.us


What is the deal with Cady Noland and her sculptures, especially this Log Cabin (sic) situation?

Which is not to say this Log Cabin. Let’s be clear, the Cady Noland sculpture above is not the one in dispute in Scott Mueller’s lawsuit against Michael Janssen Gallery. It is owned by the Stones, and is installed happily in Stonescape, their art vineyard in Napa. As of Saturday evening, Courthouse News, Artnet, Artforum, Art Market, and everyone who followed their initial report still has this basic fact wrong.
The facts about the sculpture’s history and provenance don’t line up to this work and this image, but you can’t expect a court reporter to pick up on that. The reason the Stones’ Log Cabin is mentioned or pictured at all is because it’s on Google, whereas Wilhelm Schuermann’s is not. [Courthouse News and everyone also got the basics of the refabrication wrong, and that matters, and it is because people don’t read the primary material, they just go with whatever.] But Mueller has attached the sales agreement as an exhibit to his suit, and it includes a 2-page information sheet on the artwork itself [“Artwork Description And Provenance”] that leaves no doubt what it is, where it’s been, who owns it–and some of what happened to it. I assume it was prepared by Janssen in cooperation with Schuermann. [Download it and read along: schuermann_noland_log_cabin_appendix.pdf]

Continue reading “Why Wasn’t Cady Consulted?”

An Anthology Of Cady Noland Disclaimers

OH IT GETS BETTER 25 June 2015 UPDATE
ALSO UPDATED OCTOBER 2015 WITH AN ENTIRELY NEW DISCLAIMER THIS WILL EVENTUALLY BE A BOOK I CAN FEEL IT
[LAST UPDATED 22 FEB 2017 29 MAR 2018 06 NOV 2018]
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[This image needs a disclaimer all its own] Cady Noland, Log Cabin Blank with Screw Eyes and Café Door (Memorial to John Caldwell) (1993), collection Norman & Norah Stone, image: stonescape.us
In a lawsuit about the unauthorized log replacement in and failed sale of Log Cabin, filed by buyer Scott Mueller against Michael Janssen Gallery, seller Wilhelm Schürmann, and adviser Marisa Newman comes this glorious gem:

15. Noland called [Mueller’s dealer/agent] Shaheen. Noland angrily denounced the restoration of the artwork without her knowledge and approval. She further stated that any effort to display or sell the sculpture must include notice that the piece was remade without the artist’s consent, that it now consists of unoriginal materials, and that she does not approve of the work.
16. Noland also sent by facsimile a handwritten note to Mueller on or about July 18, 2014, stating, “This is not an artwork” and objecting to the fact that the sculpture was ‘repaired by a consevator (sic) BUT THE ARTIST WASN’T CONSULTED.” (Emphasis in the original.)

Hmm, technically, this is more a reflection of a disclaimer than a disclaimer itself. But it is awesome. Frankly, Noland’s demands as characterized in P15 don’t seem that egregious, or like a dealbreaker. “This is not an artwork” is pretty solid, though. Maybe people could try to engage Noland before altering her work. Is that so high maintenance?

The only way this could get better is if the “Plaintiff Mueller,” who is seeking the return of his remaining $800,000 were “an individual residing in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.” Hey guess what! [via a rather snide artnet rewrite of courthousenews‘s report. Read Mueller’s original court complaint here.]
Also, speaking of “chain of provenance”: Mueller’s suit says Log Cabin is owned by Schürmann, but it is installed at Norman & Norah Stone’s art vineyard in Napa, who call it “an integral part of Stonescape,” and “a singular work in the Stones’ contemporary art collection”? And who, like the artist, were very close to the late SFMOMA curator namechecked in its title. How was this work owned by Schurmann or for sale in the first place? And how much rotting does wood do in Napa anyway? The Stones’ picture dates from at least 2009, but still, it looks totally fine. Oh hey, here’s a 2008 photo by Michael Sippey. It looks like 15yo wood, which would be totally appropriate. Who would up and decide restore this thing? Or sell it for the price of a San Francisco 2-bedroom condo? Honestly, Noland sounds like the sanest one in this whole story.

I am going to bet anyone a dollar that there are two outdoor Noland sculptures titled Log Cabin, and that in the Google frenzy to report the story, every outlet has confused the visible Stone/Caldwell work for the cabin Schürmann left in front of a German museum to rot. I propose the next disclaimer read “THIS IS NOT THE ARTWORK BEING SUED OVER.”

Indeed. The sales agreement filed as part of the lawsuit makes it clear Log Cabin is not the Stones’. It was on loan from 1995-2005 to the Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum in Aachen, and the conservation report & log replacement took place in 2010-11. It was exhibited at KOW Berlin in 2011 and, according to the agreement, “An image of the artwork was initially posted on KOW, Berlin’s website and was subsequently taken down, as Cady Noland did not approve of the context of the exhibition; and did not want to be shown along side with Santiago Sierra.” A glimmer of a disclaimer, though the exhibition website still shows four other Noland works.

BEGIN ORIGINAL POST
Benjamin Sutton tweeted the Cady Noland Disclaimer for “Rawhide,” a cowboy-themed exhibition at Venus Over Manhattan:

VENUS
MANHATTAN
DISCLAIMER
Because Ms. Noland has not been involved with the chain of provenance with many of her pieces, there are more situations like this show which place demands on her time and attention to ensure proper presentation of her artwork–including its representation in photographs–, than she has time or capacity to be involved with. She reserves her attention for projects of her own choosing and declined to be involved in this exhibition. The artist has not given her approval or blessing to this show.

[via @bhsutton]

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Peter Brant posing with a real piece of work, photo: bfa.co

The differences between it and the disclaimer posted at “Deliverance,” at the Brant Foundation last fall are few, and give the air of repurposing, if not appropriation. Since the VOM show is curated by Dylan Brant and Vivian Brodie, maybe it just came down from Greenwich with the art:

Cady Noland has requested the Brant Foundation Art Study Center post the following disclaimer:
“Because Ms. Noland have [has] not been involved with the chain of provenance with many of my [her] pieces there are more situations like this show which place demands on her time and the artist’s attention to ensure proper presentation of her artwork (including its representation in photographs), than she has time or capacity to be involved with. She reserves her attention for projects of her own choosing and declined to be involved in this exhibition. The artist, or C.N., hasn’t given her approval or blessing to this show.”

I believe the bracketed grammatical corrections were made by Andrew Russeth, who reported the text for ARTnews. Which may mean that Ms. Noland simultaneously refers to herself in the third person as Ms. Noland, the artist, and C.N. To which I say, brava; the art world can only be improved by a multiplicity of Cady Nolands.

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NO NOLAND PHOTOS AT THE BRANT FOUNDATION: Except for Bill Powers slippin’em to Purple, apparently

In 2012 Chris D’Amelio, who worked with, or at least showed, Noland in the 1990s, had a very special, personalized disclaimer in his booth at Art Basel, and in the fair catalogue:

At the request of the artist, D’Amelio Gallery has agreed to display the following text:
“This exhibition is not authorized or approved by the artist Cady Noland, nor was she consulted about it. Neither Christopher D’Amelio nor the D’Amelio Gallery represents Cady Noland or her interest. Ms. Noland does not consider Christopher D’Amelio to be an expert or authority on her artwork, did not select the artwork being displayed in this exhibition, and in no way endorses Mr. D’Amelio’s arrangement of her work.”

[ibid.]

Of note, then, is the absence of a disclaimer in a show bracketed by Brant’s and D’Amelio’s: the two-person show, “Portraits of America: Diane Arbus | Cady Noland,” at Gagosian’s street-level Madison Avenue space in February 2014. What this silence says about Noland’s involvement in the show and the artist’s view of Gagosian’s expertise w/r/t her work can only be inferred. Same goes for Skarstedt’s 2013 Kelly/Noland/Prince/Wool group show including Noland’s work, “Murdered Out.”

Sarah Thornton included the following disclaimer when she wrote about her interview with the artist for her 2015 book, 33 Artists in 3 Acts: “Ms. Noland would like it to be known that she has not approved this chapter.” [Thanks to Grant for the reminder.]

Additionally, there appears to have been no disclaimer published in relation to “The American Dream,” the De Hallen Haarlem exhibition of Noland’s work in 2010-11, which, incidentally, ran alongside a Diane Arbus show.
This post will be updated with more Cady Noland disclaimers if and when they appear.

Or when they are remembered.

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Cady Noland, Oozewald, 1989, as illustrated by Sotheby’s Nov. 2011, incorrect base not shown

When Sotheby’s sold a 1989 sculpture Oozewald in November 2011, Noland inspected the piece. Through her attorney she required Sotheby’s to compose the following disclaimer:

Please note the stand with which the lot is being displayed is not the stand that Cady Noland designed for this work and this stand is not included in the sale of this lot. As a result, subsequent to the sale, the buyer will be provided with a new stand, which will be in accordance with Ms. Noland’s copyrighted stand design for this lot, and which will be an integral part of the complete work.

Internal documents produced during the court case Jancou v. Sothebys & Noland indicate the artist would approve the disclaimer text before publication. Since it was published, we can assume she did.

It just does not get any better, though I am sure it will. OH IT DOES UPDATED 6/25 UPDATE: Triple Candie ended the announcement for their controversial 2006 show, “Cady Noland, Approximately, Sculptures & Editions 1984-1999,” with the following disclaimer: “None of the objects in the exhibition are individually authored. Cady Noland was not consulted, or notified, about this exhibition.” It follows, then, that Ms. Noland was not consulted or notified about this disclaimer, either. So we should consider it with an asterisk *.

OCT 2015 UPDATE

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Neither Ms. Noland nor Sotheby’s has been asked for nor given the rights to any small jpgs of her works made from photos presumably made by the auction house as part of their sales preparations, nor is any claim to rights being made. But those corners do look better preserved than some.

The listing for Blue Cowboy, Eating, 1990 [Est. $2-3m, that’s gotta hurt], in the catalogue for Sotheby’s contemporary evening sale on Nov. 11, 2015 includes the following:

Statement from the Artist:
In an atmosphere of rapidly trading artwork, it is not possible for Cady Noland to agree or dispute the various claims behind works attributed to her. Her silence about published assertions regarding the provenance of any work or the publication of a photograph of a work does not signify agreement about claims that are being made. Ms. Noland has not been asked for nor has she given the rights to any photographs of her works or verified their accuracy or authenticity.

Silence is not agreement.

APRIL 2016 UPDATE
Christie’s includes this same Statement from the Artist on Lot 470 in their May Contemporary Day Sale. That work, the 1989 assemblage CHICKEN IN A BASKET is signed and date twice [“(on the Michelob 6 pack)”!], and also includes a signed certificate of authenticity. Are we perhaps seeing the emergence of a Platonic ideal of a Cady Noland disclaimer, and if so, is the market able to accommodate it in considerations of authenticity? Enquiring minds!

FEB 2017 UPDATE
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Apparently, yes, so far. Christie’s has included this same disclaimer as a “Statement from the Artist” on Lot 65 in next week’s Contemporary Day Sale, Four in One Sculpture. Examples of this work, a [typically] numbered edition of 20, have appeared pretty regularly since it debuted in 1998 at D’Amelio Terras, the gallery co-operated by [now certified not-expert] Chris D’Amelio from 1996 until 2011. It comprises 17 plastic sawhorses and a 6-foot, painted 2-by-8. This one also includes six extra sawhorses. The last example to sell via Christie’s, #8/20, in 2013, included 13 extra sawhorses. What a perfect situation for a blanket disclaimer.

29 MARCH 2018 UPDATE:

The anthology comes full circle. The full text of the disclaimer Ms. Noland faxed to Scott Mueller, the disappointed buyer of Log Cabin, has emerged from a lawsuit the artist filed against Michael Janssen and others last year. It is handwritten in all caps, but I will transcribe it in lower case for easier reading:

THIS IS NOT AN ARTWORK

From Cady Noland
To: “Mystery Client,” [fax number omitted]

If the ‘previous owner did work with a so-called conservator’ I certainly was not consulted, nor did I approve whatever was done.
From now on, the provenance must include the fact that the piece was ‘repaired’ by a conservator but the artist wasn’t consulted. The conservator’s name should be on the provenance accompanying that important fact.

As any reputable valuation expert will tell you, the work needs to be depreciated in value because of the ‘repair’ that hadn’t been overseen or agreed to by the artist. So, for example if you were to gift the work to a museum the tax deduction should reflect this depreciated amt.
You may not produce/reproduce photos to go online or to be printed. I own the photo copyright.

[raised fist in solidarity emoji]

MAY 2018 UPDATE: Have we turned a corner? The lot description for Phillips’ sale of Tower of Terror, a monumental multi-person stockade sculpture made for an exhibition at SFMOMA, includes the following text:

Executed in 1993-1994, this work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.

We thank Cady Noland for reviewing the cataloging for this work.

!!!

NOV 2018 UPDATE: There is a Cady Noland retrospective at the MMK, organized with the cooperation of the artist, and then this, again, at Phillips.

Truly we are in a new era:

We thank Cady Noland for reviewing the cataloging for this work.

Wait, What Cady Noland, 2008?

I got stopped by this line from Andrew Russeth’s report on the disclaimer Cady Noland required at the entrance to the Brant Foundation’s group show containing her work:

Since then she has shown very, very few new works (the Walker in Minneapolis has one from 2008), and she has been notoriously meticulous in controlling how her work is handled and presented.

A 2008 Noland? In the wild? Sure enough. Untitled, a familiar-looking locker room basket containing some motorcycle helmets, steel subway straps, a 16mm film reel, and a piece of metal. It’s a form Noland used since 1989, but it’s dated 2008.
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How’d they get that? In 2009?
A clue might be the donor credit, where it is listed as “Gift of the artist and Helen van der Miej-Tcheng [sic], by exchange, 2009.” Which means the museum traded a previously donated work with the artist. But what? It doesn’t say, and it’s obviously not in the collection anymore. But it’s safe to assume it was a work by Noland herself.
Sure enough, the Walker’s 2006 annual report lists a gift of a 1990 Noland from van der Meij-Tcheng. It was titled Cowboy Blank, made of aluminum and rope.
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Cady Noland, L: Cowboy Blank with Showboat Costume, and R: a Cowboy, not blank, with breakfast, both 1990
But a work titled simply Cowboy Blank doesn’t show up on Google anywhere. There is a Cowboy Blank with Showboat Costume, though, an aluminum plate sculpture cut in the silhouette of a crouching cowboy, with a bandanna and an ostrich plume in its cutout holes. The Guggenheim says the cowboy’s aiming his gun, but another variant is flipped and silkscreened with a photo of cowboy eatin’ some waffles. Or maybe it’s Texas Toast. Noland executed the same silhouette in plywood, too, with a basket hanging between its legs.
Forced by no one to speculate, I’d say that van der Meij-Tcheng’s Cowboy Blank was without Showboat Costume or a fork; it had just a rope. And whether it was because it was damaged, a la Cowboys Milking, or it was just not sitting right with her, Noland decided it was not a work she wanted in public circulation. And so she took it back, but only after making the Walker a little something to replace it with.

Untitled (Tanya), 2014

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Study for Untitled (Tanya), 2014, lasercopy and graphite on white paper, 11×8.5 in., ed. 50
In honor of Frieze London, and all the awesome sales going down this week, I have created a special edition.

Untitled (Tanya) is a drawing on black & white lasercopy printed on 11 x 8.5 in. paper. It is titled, dated, stamped, and numbered in an edition of 50. Untitled (Tanya) depicts at actual size Tanya, the photocopy work of Cady Noland, which is being sold at Christie’s contemporary day sale Thursday Friday morning. The graphite marks of this work reference the dimensions of that work (7 5/8 x 6 1/8 in.).

Untitled (Tanya) will be available only during Frieze London week for $US10 each, shipped. [Update: Wow, nice, thanks. Definitely get a couple if you like, but please leave some prints for others, too.]
[UPDATE UPDATE: Unless it sells out beforehand, Untitled (Tanya) will only be available up until Cady Noland’s Tanya sells at Christie’s in London, around 2:30 UTC. So don’t underbid on Cady’s and then come slinking around here looking for photocopied consolation when you lose. Cuz you won’t get any.]
10/17 update: the edition is no longer available for purchase. thanks though.
Thanks again, all the prints are on the way. Unless they are cut down, this is what they look like:
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Cady Noland Photocopy

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What even is this? I flipped by it without noticing until now, but Christie’s is selling this Cady Noland photocopy in London this week. It’s actually a trimmed photocopy [7 5/8 x 6 1/8 inches] with the title Tanya, and it’s dated 1989. The estimate is £15,000 – £20,000.
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Cady Noland, Tanya as Bandit, 1989, collection: moma.org
At first I figured it was some kind of production document, an intermediate step between the wire service photo of Patty Hearst and the giant silkscreen on aluminum sculpture of her, which is at MoMA.
But as you see, it’s nothing of the sort. The photocopy looks to be at least one generation lower resolution than the sculpture. It’s derived from the sculpture’s source image, a fork in that image’s road.
Maybe this is how Noland explored ideas and form: making copies, and cutting and sizing them into various configurations. Maybe she makes some copies, cuts them, and then recopies the results.
Or maybe it’s a souvenir of some kind. An edition? Who knows? But if you wondered what it’s like in person, I’ve made an edition related to it.
Oct. 17, 2104, Lot 291 | Cady Noland, Tanya, est. £15,000 – £20,000 [christies]
Related: Daphne, as photocopied by Sigmar Polke
Higgs-era White Columns has been making “Xerox print” editions for fundraising since around 2007.

Attr. To The Cowboys Milking Master

Speaking of Cady Noland,
I’m kind of fascinated by the recently decided set of lawsuits surrounding the withdrawal of Noland’s 1990 work, Cowboys Milking, from a Sotheby’s contemporary day sale in November 2011. Noland had disowned the work under the Visual Arts Rights Act.

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When the first suits were filed by the artwork’s consignor, dealer Marc Jancou, against both Sotheby’s and the artist herself, it was not quite clear what the problem had been, though Jancou was clear in his public sentiment that he’d been hurt, to the tune of $6 million, and distraught for 20 million more dollars. It came out in a flurry of countersuits that Noland considered the work damaged, but that was in dispute, too.

But as is often the case, a dive into the filings and documents proves both informative and entertaining. [As a NY state, not federal, court case, all the documents are available for free online. Just search the NY State Unified Courts e-filing System as a guest for Index no. 650316/2012. Don’t think of the endless stream of unlabeled, repeat documents as a slog, but as a legal literary fugue.]

Basically, in April 2011 Jancou [who, btw, I know, and have bought work from in the past] bought back Cowboys Milking from a collector he’d sold it to earlier. Then he turned around and consigned it to Sotheby’s for their Fall sale. It was featured very prominently in the catalogue, and its estimate was $250-350,000. [Jancou’s invoice was submitted as evidence; he paid just over $100,000 for it. He even got a $1,000 knocked off, apparently to cover some conservation work the piece needed. Which turns out to be the central issue.]

Cowboys Milking is a unique silkscreen on a very thin, highly polished sheet of aluminum 4-ft high and 6-ft wide. Holes are drilled into each corner for hanging. The scale of the image and the material make reproductions of it difficult, disorienting, or misleading. [Sotheby’s 2-page spread, above, summarily crops the image to hide a nail hole.] This intake documentation image by Sotheby’s gives the best sense of what it actually is:

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When the works went on public view [there were two other Nolands, including Oozewald and Bloody Mess, both 1989, in the November evening sale] the artist went to Sotheby’s to inspect them, and via her attorney, promptly instructed the auction house to withdraw Cowboys Milking, because it “differed materially” from its original state. Federal and NY state law both grant an artist the right to disown an altered, damaged or mutilated work, and to prevent her name from being associated with it, and that’s just what happened, right before the sale.

Sotheby’s condition report declared the work to be “in very good condition overall,” with “light evidence of wear” in the corners and “a crimp in the upper right corner and another to the lower left corner.” They didn’t yet know that these were the result of conservation efforts by the Noland expert Jancou had engaged, who had found the 1/16-in. thick mirrored aluminum to be an unforgiving material. When she saw them, Noland deemed the repairs unacceptable. And ultimately, that was that. As the final arbiter of her work, and the work that’s traded under her name, if Noland rejected it, it really didn’t matter that Jancou or Sotheby’s or even the conservator thought that the wear on the edges was fine, or normal. It was a dealbreaker.

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Detail from Sotheby’s intake inspection, a crimp, apparently.

When Jancou found out, he was pissed, though in those early days, the dispute linked the work’s condition to its “authenticity.” In an extraordinary email to his Sotheby’s rep, he wrote,

this is not serious!
why does an auction house ask the advise [sic] of an artist that has no gallery representation and has a biased and radical approach to the art market?

Which prompted internal Sotheby’s email discussion:

Got it. I would say that when the artist, through her lawyer, has questioned the authenticity of works and has threatened to go public with her grievances that we have to take it seriously Would he prefer if we are forced to withdraw it due to potential authenticity issues? Or reading about it in artforum that its [sic] damaged to the point she no longer considers it her work?

By the time he filed his suit, and after Oozewald had sold for a world record $6.6 million and his work hadn’t, Jancou called out the auction house and the artist for inconsistent treatment. Cowboys Milking got pulled for just a couple of insignificant dings, he argued, while Oozewald was cleared to sell, even though it was missing its base. But, which, no.
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Oozewald, 1989, ed. of 4, image sotheby’s via artnet

For the other two works for sale, Noland insisted the auctioneers certify that every item in Bloody Mess was accounted for and scattered in its precise spot; and that they include a notice that Oozewald had a mismatched base, and that the artist would provide the buyer with a properly fabricated replacement. These conditions met, the artist permitted these works to be sold using her name. This is not biased or radical market behavior.
Though you’ve gotta admit, it does seem kind of harsh. Was it really necessary to completely disown the work? Noland’s responses to both Sotheby’s and to Jancou’s lawsuit reveal there was more to the story. Turns out the previous owner of Cowboys Milking had already tried to sell it–through Christie’s–and Noland had already inspected it, and deemed it too different and damaged, and had insisted on its withdrawal. Jancou’s purchase came just days after this unpublicized rejection by the artist. Sotheby’s basically accused Jancou of covering up this rejection when he brought the work for sale, a charge the dealer strenuously denied.
[I have no direct knowledge myself, but it’d seem to me that if he really had not been told about the Christie’s rejection, Jancou would have a very solid claim against the work’s owner, and the ronin curator who put the deal together. Yet he’s apparently let these guys off the hook. It makes one wonder. But anyway.]

From Noland’s perspective, it’s all the same. The work she already officially disassociated herself from pops right back up, whack-a-mole-style, a few months later, with evidence of an unsatisfying restoration.
In exerting her prerogative under the Visual Artists Rights Act, Noland’s lawyers sought to prevent anyone, but, seemingly, especially Jancou the work’s current owner, from associating the artist’s name with it in any way, especially in his efforts to sell it. Paradoxically, the legal response also puts any question of the work’s “authenticity” to rest, because in order to assert VARA rights, Noland needed to first authoritatively claim sole authorship of the work.

I’m really going on too long now, but besides the textual and soap operatic elements of the lawsuits themselves, I am now fascinated by the implications of Noland’s affirmative negation of Cowboys Milking, both for the real world/art world it inhabits, and for the object which, for two-plus decades, had been an artwork.

Did anyone who bought, sold, handled, or saw Cowboys Milking over the years expect that its status was dependent on perfectly preserving and protecting its corners and surface? Such care is certainly possible, and art works typically get it in relation to their rarity and fragility, but most of all, to their value. It costs much more and takes much more effort to care for a fragile work, especially of this scale. This luxury commodity decorating your home, which had been cool and edgy, now becomes a burden, if not a menace, threatening to erase your entire investment in it unless you change your life around it. It becomes an instrument of control, infiltrating some of America’s finest homes, and operated remotely by the artist herself.
People talk about Cady Noland’s abandonment of the art world and art making, but this Sotheby’s case shows exactly the opposite: she only has rejected Jancou’s expectations of “gallery representation” and production- & sales-driven discourse, in order to operate entirely on her own terms. She remains highly involved in the presentation of her work, and as the objects she made travel around the world, she engages with them anew, creating new meaning and context.

With the Cowboys Milking decision, every Noland artwork has been imbued with the ominous potential of its own demise. Where they once dreamed of cashing in on their 90s prescience, every owner of a Noland is now reflecting on that time they bumped it with a vacuum, or wishing they’d sprung for the good crate after all. Am I the only one who could totally imagine such an encounter being in total harmony with the bleak degradation and dystopian decline that Noland’s work was ostensibly, originally “about”? By introducing this precarity through the sacrifice of Cowboys Milking, Noland has updated her artworks’ operating system for 2011.

But what of this particular 4×6′ aluminum sheet? What’s to become of it? If an artwork is whatever an artist says it is, then Noland has created the opposite. This is an object an artist has definitively declared is not art. That seems kind of amazing. By testifying to her creation of it, and then disassociating herself from it completely, Noland and Cowboys Milking are now inseparable. Through this rejection, Noland seems to have succeeded in making the holy grail of 1960s/70s artist idealism: a work that cannot be consumed and commodified by the evil market.

Or did she? Is dissociation really the end? Discussing her use of different metals with Michele Cone, Noland once said, “The coolness might infer dissociation, but the mirror effect in some places is to draw you back in after the dissociation.”

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Oozewald and Publyck recreated for Cady Noland Approximately

In 2006, Triple Candie staged a controversial retrospective of unauthorized copies of Noland sculptures based on published images and descriptions. None was for sale. But with the disposition of this lawsuit, the exact opposite now seems possible: couldn’t Cowboys Milking remain in the market the way Old Masters do, without attribution? As the work of, say, School Of SoHo, or The Cowboys Milking Master [Mistress]. No one would ever need to claim Noland was connected to the work–thanks to the lawsuit, everyone would already know.

Or maybe Jancou could just keep it, live with it, enjoy it in the comfort of his own home, a beautiful, shiny reminder of the importance of buying art for love, not as an investment. And when guests ask who made it, he can smile and demur, “If you don’t know, I can’t tell you.”

This Scaffolding Has No Title Yet

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Here’s a shot I took today of the scaffolding around the Washington Monument for its post-earthquake restoration.
Every time I go by I think how awesome it would be, and until I hear or see otherwise, I’ll just keep hoping and assuming it’s the case that, instead of Michael Graves’ tired, pomo cartoon scrim, the National Park Service is actually encasing it Budweiser cans, installing a massive adaptation of the 1989 work, This Piece Has No Title Yet, by DC’s own Cady Noland.
What? I’m sure Don and Mera could totally make it happen!
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This Piece Has No Title Yet, 1989, Dimensions variable, you guys! [rfc.museum]

Big Hole, Cady Noland

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Big Hole, 1994, 90x130cm, apparently did not sell at Christie’s day sale in Nov. 2007. It’s inscribed, “This can be hung in any of four directions” on the back.
I can’t remember where I last saw Cady Noland’s flag, Big Hole, but I remember where I saw it first: at Paula Cooper’s gallery in SoHo, in the Spring of 1994. It says #1 of 1, but I remember there being more than one flag. It was like the 10th most interesting thing in that show at the time, and I didn’t give it much thought, but now…
Maybe I saw it again last fall, on Joshua Abelow’s blog. Which would have been when I was in flag mode, sweating harder about finishing the saga of the missing Jasper Johns Flag painting.
It definitely made me want to start silkscreening stuff on aluminum.
Now about that Johns Flag
FIFTEEN MONTHS AND FIVE MINUTES LATER UPDATE: LOL, no way, here’s the Gallery Beat crew’s visit to this Noland show. With Joe, Paul H-O and Walter Robinson, plus a cameo by Holland Cotter, and–someone should ask James Kalm if their shitty guerrilla camerawork was his inspiration. But whatever, thanks fellas, it’s the best we’ve got now:

Also, writing here in 2009, Paul H-O says Cady’s still making work. So hope, or whatever the appropriate Noland equivalent is, springs eternal.

Cady’s Got A Gun

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Cady Noland’s Tanya as Bandit, 1989, General Idea, and Guerrilla Girls at MoMA, 2010, image via greeds
Welcome to another installment of Things I’ve Been Meaning To Post For Months. Only this time, the longer I wait, the more examples I see, and so the easier it is to rationalize not having posted these things the first time.
So photo cutouts. These things that blur the line between photograph and sculpture, or object. It started, at least for me, with Cady Noland. She’d do those cutout screenprint on aluminum news photos of folks like Lee Harvey Oswald, or Patty Hearst. Kathy Halbreich installed the latter in MoMA’s 2nd floor galleries last summer.
The image above [via last greeds’ sept ’10 art diary entry] shows Noland’s Tanya as Bandit, 1989–which turns out to be a 2007 gift of Kathy and Dick Fuld, very thoughtful and generous of them–in the politicized polemic gallery, with the Guerrilla Girls, and General Idea’s Indiana-inspired AIDS wallpaper.
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Cady Noland, Bluewald, 1989, Dakis Joannou Collection at the New Museum, image: nyt
And Jeff put Dakis’s Cady of the photo of Jack shooting Lee in that show at Lisa’s place last year. Which is another great/awful tie-in of violence, photography, media and history.
[One of the things that’s held me up was finding something up-to-date to say about Cady Noland’s work, which I admire more and more, but which I didn’t really click with at the time. And reading back on the 1990’s media-centered, post-modernist, white trash America discussions of her work, it all seems a little, so what, you know? Lane Relyea’s 1993 Artforum essay [something something Easy Rider, Land Art, lost American Dream] is good, I guess, maybe a little lyrical. Oh, those simpler times. So I’d really like to find some interesting attempts to engage with her work, and not just wistful wonderings of whether her current withdrawal from the art scene is hardcore late-Duchampian or full-on Salingerian.]
But this gallery was stuck in my head, with Patty’s gun pointing at my brain, when I finally saw the installation shots for Edward Steichen’s propagantastic 1942 MoMA exhibition, Road To Victory in February. It’s a landmark in my little hybrid art history of photomurals. But there’s also this one corner:
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image: moma bulletin, oct. 1942, I think
With a giant, life-size photo cutout of Our Boys at Corregidor. I went through the archives for Road To Victory this spring, so when I find my notes of all the photo credits, I’ll add this photographer’s name here. I believe this was a news photo, like Noland’s, but Steichen drew most of his images from the US Navy photo unit he led and from the Farm Security Agency’s photo archive.
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image: loc.gov
The FSA, of course, had already created the giant defense bonds photomural in Grand Central Station in 1941, which also had as its central elements two giant soldier photo cutouts:
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image: loc.gov
And then by 1942, the FSA had become the OWI, the Office of War Information, where it designed and created propaganda both domestically for civilian consumption, and abroad, as part of Allied military operations. And in the Spring of 1942, they were programming the Channel Garden at Rockefeller Center with these incredible wartime exhibitions, which were basically chock-a-block with giant photo cutouts:
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I’m not sure that I have a specific point here, either, except that these cutouts share a context–propaganda, exhibition, war, military, politics–with photomurals; they’re ways to put photography to work, to push and expand it beyond the newspaper, or the book, or the album, the slideshow, or–occasionally–the gallery, wherever it had been hanging out until that point. And at these scales, I suspect photography was taking a lot of its cues from cinema, moving pictures.
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Multiverse, image via kclog
Whatever photomurals are to painting, the cutouts are to sculpture, I figured. Until I saw Matt Jones’ show, Multiverse last Spring at Freight + Volume. Jones’s plywood cutout works are photo, painting, and sculpture all at once, or in turn.
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Matt Jones works at HKJB, June 2011, image: 16miles
And then at Control Alt Delete, the one-night studio show organized by HKJB in June, Jones just collapsed the distinctions completely. This pairing in a photo by Andrew Russeth is just so awesome. There’s a screened/painted cutout with a screened/overpainted painting propped next to it. HKJB has a nice photo of the backside, too.
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control alt delete installation shot via hkjb
I wish I’d seen it in person, because it looks more effective than the F+V show, which felt a bit dense. Or maybe they’re just different spatial/sculptural experiences.
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Wade Guyton’s piece at High Desert Test Sites 2, 2003
It didn’t occur to me while looking at the work, but now that I see the F+V press release mentions “Peers of Jones, such as Wade Guyton, Kelly Walker and Josh Smith,” which, OK, it reminds me that Wade used to do these leaning, cut-out, painted sculpture works back in the day. I always really read them as sculpture. I remember one at Kreps in 1998 or so, a big, black rhomboid thing, which appeared to present the spatial gestalt of peer of Guyton Robert Morris, until you walked around back. Photo illustration-derived Potemkin Minimalism. The X’s always seemed like sculpture, too, and graphics, obviously. But they turned out to be paintings. [I listened to Wade this 2006 Frieze Fair talk, “Conceptual Painting,” again while I was painting the other day. Interesting, but it didn’t help.]
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Which felt different at the time, though I can see the similarities, from Peter Coffin’s Sculpture Silhouette Props series of 2007. [Saatchi’s got a ton of them here.]
And now that I think about it, and look at the back of that little Jones propped up there, I remember walking into Larry’s office once, and he had this insanely pristine, little, lead prop piece, just beautiful, by peer of Jones Richard Serra. It was so adorable, so domestic, like Labrador-size. And seriously, it must have been stored in a velvet-lined vacuum chamber for the last forty years, how was that surface in that condition even possible?
That silvery lead square propped up on that unbent roll was as much a painting as anything peer of Serra Jacob Kassay has ever done. Or would eventually do, really, because this was probably 2004, since I distinctly remember quietly despairing how, even if I could come up with the money, there’s no way I could get that Serra, or should, because a heretofore unblemished, kid-sized, lickable lead slab sculpture precariously balanced on the floor of a house with a new kid would just end badly for all involved.
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Dale Quarterman, Marvella, 1969, image via cherryandmartin
But anyway. Into the middle of this–my mulling over photo cutouts, that is, which only develops this tangent about prop pieces as I finally blog it out–comes “Photography into Sculpture,” which just opened at Cherry and Martin, in sync with Pacific Standard Time. The headline image is above, Dale Quarterman’s decoupage-y cutout, which reminds me a bit of that Homage to Muybridge series photo Lewitt did around the same time. These cutout/shaped/contoured works seem like examples of the working-over photography got at the hands of conceptualism. Interesting, if not entirely satisfying. [I’d originally said convincing.]
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But if it helped till the soil that somehow led to Gabriel Orozco’s 1999 show at the Philadelphia Museum, then it’s fine. The icon, understandably, of Ann Temkin’s show is Black Kites, Orozco’s geometric pencil drawing on a human skull, which is flashy and awesome and all. But it also suffers in a way, as the precious, covetous acquired object of the PMA’s affections. Like Hirst’s skull writ small.
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both images via the 2000 moca catalogue
Which is exactly the problem Orozco’s photo cutouts, which made up the bulk of Photogravity, don’t have. These flat, 3-D depictions of elements of his own works, mixed with photos of the Arensberg’s collection of Pre-Columbian artifacts, were slight, obviously derivative, didactic, ephemeral. They were photographic sculptures of photographs of sculptures. Yet they seem to be nearly invisible online. The only Google Images result for them is an art history slideshow at SDSU, where they’re labeled, of course, as “installation.”
[Update: Talked to GO’s people; it’s a single work, and it was shown at MOCA, which I did not remember, and was considered for Tate. So now we know.]
Which doesn’t exactly bring me back to where I started, which was this unexpected or overlooked formalist and subject context for Cady Noland. Or maybe it’s the inverse: Cady Noland as an unarticulated context for this cluster of later [or sometimes nearly concurrent] work. I guess if I’d figured it out more, I would have written it sooner.