Was ist das at 1h17? an Isa Genzken Weltempfänger on the 6 Sept 2023 episode of
Bares für Rares XXL, all screencaps via ZDF

Alex Greenberger has the English report at ARTnews, but there is apparently a German version of Antiques Roadshow called Bares für Rares, or Cash for Rarities, and it is hosted by Jerry Saltz starring in Gilbert & Sullivan’s adaptation of Death in Venice? I don’t really speak German. But that’s not important now. What matters is that an Isa Genzken sculpture was crumbling on prime time German television.

“Der Zustandsbericht macht mir Angst.”/”The condition report is scaring me.”: screencap via ZDF
Continue reading “Cash4YourGenzken”

Gerhard Richter Dishes?

Gerhard Richter porcelainware set, 1992, for Edition Obelisco of Cologne, this set of six placesettings sold at Stahl in Hamburg in 2016

While looking for something else, I stumbled across this set of porcelain dishes by Gerhard Richter. They were apparently produced in 1992—there’s a big RICHTER 92 signature baked onto the bottom of everything—by the Thuringian porcelainmaker Kahla as part of an Edition Obelisco series of artist-designed dishware.

So now I’ve got to resist being one more empty result in the little swirling eddy on Google linking Richter and Obelisco and nothing else. Other listings say Edition Obelisco was commissioned for the 1992 edition of Art Cologne, but the Hamburg auction house Stahl that sold these six 7-piece place settings (six chargers, plates, soup dishes, cake plates, cups & saucers, and mugs) in 2016 said it just debuted at what was once the most important art fair around.

It’s hard to tell from the picture, but the blue brushstroke design of Richter’s dishes is apparently raised up from the white surface. The Gerhard Richter Archiv in Dresden, which has two place settings, reports that the planned edition of 500 sets was not realized because of production challenges. [From the various online images, maybe they had some trouble getting the blue right.]

this absolute mess of a plate by Walter Stöhrer didn’t sell last December. image: invaluable

Other artists in the Edition Obelisco series included a bunch of dudes—Michael Buthe, Alain Clement, Alan Jones, Emil Schumacher, Walter Stöhrer, Claude Viallat, and Wolf Vostell—and Isa Genzken, then still married to Richter. Out of all that, only one awful plate turns up online. Unless Vostell’s dishes are all encased in blocks of concrete, the only other one I want to see is Genzken’s. This whole project feels like a reunification euphoria fantasy that didn’t work out.

Untitled (After Genzken), 2017, at Museum Ludwig

Isa Genzken, Kinder Filmen, 2005, image: Lee M. via
The first thing I always want when I go to the Museum Ludwig is the floors. Their endless end grain tiles are my 2nd favorite museum floor after the Menil.
This visit, the first work we saw was Isa Genzken’s 2005 sculpture Kinder Filmen, which neatly subsumed the crew deinstalling a giant, wall-mounted Charlotte Posenenske next to it in the main hall.
It put me in a frame of mind such that when we came upon this extraordinary doorway next to Cy Twombly’s Crimes of Passion II, I had to have it. It’s weird and uncomfortable to think that way, that declaring a work, seeing a work, realizing a work, is somehow possessing it. Really, it’s the opposite. I like this idea of realizing a work, though; it involves awareness and recognition. Even declaring feels a little suspect right now.
Untitled (after Genzken), 2017, installed in Museum Ludwig, Köln next to Cy Twombly’s Crimes of Passion II, 1960
In any case, the situation of this plastic and tape and lathing, these stanchions, the translucency and the layers, the sheer provisionality of these gestures, and next to this gorgeously worked over Twombly, it just felt all of a piece. And I have to think it was because of seeing that Genzken first.
The realization was immediate and obvious, and it only got complicated after we left the gallery. In the next space there were two more blocked off doorways, far more elaborate and functional than this one. And it posed a problem. Would I really just wander through the museum realizing works when there are already plenty of works to see? Maybe it’s a little foolish, or maybe that self-consciousness is just part of the process. The daily practice of realizing.
These doorway installations were more elaborate, with airlock-like zipper passages in them; they were used as doors to a construction space, where the first one I’d seen was just to seal it off. In terms of indexing the operations of the museum as space and institution, they were all equal. If it mattered to realize all three, or to realize one + a diptych, to see them in series, they’re there, but in the moment it felt unnecessary, if not superfluous. It also felt salient that they were next to a late Pollock and a late deKooning. It’s a grouping you’d never turn down, of course, but it didn’t resonate like the Twombly. [I decided it was best not to crop it out, but I’m very deliberately not mentioning the Arnulf Rainer; just let me have this moment, please, don’t ruin it.]

Au Bout De La Nuit

Isa Genzken’s World Receiver in “Night” at The Glass House, image: Amanda Kirkpatrick

I was talking to a friend who recently got his first work by Isa Genzken, a World Receiver, (which really is the best first Genzken to get, and the third, and the seventh-they look great alone or in groups!) and it reminded me of one of the best installations ever of the radio-shaped cast concrete sculptures. Last fall a World Receiver was the last work in a fascinating 3-year exhibition called “Night”, which took place on the coffee table in Philip Johnson’s Glass House.

The Glass House is kept pretty much as Johnson left it, and that means almost no art. The Poussin on its stand is the famous exception. But for the first fifteen or so years, there was another work, a small plaster sculpture which sat on the Mies coffee table, and it appears in early photos of the Glass House, such as the 1949 Ezra Stoller image below. It was called La Nuit, and, obviously, it was by Alberto Giacometti. Johnson bought it in 1948 from the artist’s first postwar US show at Pierre Matisse Gallery.

By the mid-1960s, the plaster figure had begun to deteriorate, and Johnson sent the sculpture back to Giacometti’s studio in Paris for repair. The artist’s brother Diego worked on the figure, but Alberto was apparently dissatisfied and stripped it to its metal wire armature in order to remake it. Then he died. That was 1966.

And that might have been the end of it, if independent curator artist Jordan Stein hadn’t gone archive diving in preparation for “Night”. The Times’ Randy Kennedy tells this story of “Night” and La Nuit in a 2012 article which I am trying mightily not to retype from start to finish.

Stein, who worked on “Night” with the Glass House’s curator Irene Shum Allen, found a 1974 letter from James Lord in Matisse’s archive at the Morgan Library, that discussed the restoration of La Nuit. Lord’s idea was to have Diego remake the plaster figure, and then to have it cast in bronze as a posthumous edition that somehow noted both brothers’ involvement. “What would you think of having Diego remake the figure?” Lord suggested. “He-and he alone-could do it so that it would be virtually-but of course not absolutely-as if it had been done by Alberto. Indeed, there are more than a few pieces, if the truth were known, in which Diego had as much of a hand as that…I have spoken of this to Diego, and he would be prepared to do the restoration…Would Annette have to be consulted?”

Which, well, yes, Annette would have to be consulted, though in 1974 she was in no position to decide. I just re-read Marc Spiegler’s 2004 ARTnews article [pdf] on the decades-long conflict among the Giacomettis’ assistants, family, collectors, Associations, Fondations, and Stiftungs that had only then begun to settle down. This seemed like a stretch in 1974, and any possible restoration was mooted by Diego’s death in 1985, and no resolution over its ownership was likely during the posthumous shitstorm over Giacometti’s work. It was basically gone.

1946 photo of La Nuit, early state, in Giacometti’s studio, by Marc Vaux

Until 2007, when it turned up at the Pompidou in « L’Atelier d’Alberto Giacometti » a show organized with the new Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti. The catalogue had 1946 photos by Marc Vaux (above) and Cartier-Bresson of La Nuit in the studio. It was originally a maquette for an unidentified monument and, most amazingly, the walking figure was a woman. Or as Alberto originally put it, “a lanky girl groping in the darkness.” I can’t think of another walking female Giacometti of this postwar style; his attenuated women were always rooted in their spots.

By the time La Nuit was shipped to Matisse’s New York Gallery in 1948, though, it lost its outspread fingers and its “opulente poitrine”; the Pompidou catalogue said it had been “asexualized,” but defeminized or regendered seems more apt, especially in retrospect. Giacometti also made a second maquette La Nuit, with a similar footed platform, but no box base. Both were included in their stripped/deteriorated states at the Pompidou.

La Nuit original and second version, in current state, from the Pompidou’s 2007 exhibition catalogue

With the bare metal armature protruding from a solid base, Johnson’s La Nuit looked like nothing so much as a World Receiver.

Gerhard Richter Subway Station

It’s hard enough for me to wrap my head around the fact that Gerhard Richter and Isa Genzken were married for 13 years. Now I find out they made a subway station together. A subway station about their relationship.
In a 1993 interview, Hans Ulrich casually asks Richter, “What works of yours exist in public spaces? The Underground station in Duisburg; the Hypo-Bank in Dusseldorf?”
And at first, I’m like, “Oh, right, besides the underground station in Duisburg.” But then when I looked it up, I see that it was only completed in 1992, so the Duisburg Metrocard in Hans Ulrich’s suit pocket probably still had two weeks left on it.
Anyway, the work seems remarkably undocumented. These are about the only pictures I could find. Genzken and Richter received the commissioned for the König-Heinrich-Platz U-bahn station in 1980. All the pieces of the project seem to be enamel on steel wall panels installed throughout the station.
Genzken made two murals facing each other on the train platform, with arcs from circles with radii of 3 and 5km, which relate to scaled down diameters of certain planets,” according to the Google cache of one mobile travel site.
Dietmar Elgar’s bio of Richter quotes Genzken’s project statement: “One curve corresponds to the curvature of Mars on a scale of 1:1,000, another curve to VEnus on a scale of 1:30,000.” Elgar then notes these references were “no coincidence. She was alluding to her romance with Richter.” [Richter apparently painted two abstracts, titled Juno and Janus, in response. Which is adorable.]
As for the station, Richter’s abstract mural adorns the west lobby, while in the east station entrance, the couple installed 24 enamel signs with historical facts about Duisburg. Frankly, I’m not feeling it. Maybe if someone were to go to Duisburg and shoot a flickr photoset of the station, we could get a better sense? Bitte-schoen?
Or maybe the thing to do is to stop looking for art, then you can see it. Here are some photos of the station from the web which happen to show some of Richter or Genzken’s works:
by R + G Team Dülmen, via
colourful subway
by ati sun via flickr
U-Bahn Kunst []
Previously: giant Richter triptych commissioned by BMW

Setting: Fredericianum, Documenta 11, Kassel,

Setting: Fredericianum, Documenta 11, Kassel, Germany
The voice of a woman reading from within a freestanding glass booth echos through the gallery: Nine hundred eighty eight thousand four hundred and twelve. B.C.
You watch, slightly amused. A set of black binders in a vitrine bear the title, One Million Years (Past and Future). One binder is open, showing columns of numbers, years. A couple enters the gallery and stops right in front of the booth. If it were the window to someone’s home, they’d be standing invasively close. They stare into
The voice of a man reading from within the booth: Nine hundred eighty eight thousand four hundred and eleven. B.C.
the booth. The woman acknowledges them, but doesn’t speak. They keep staring for a moment, then move on. The gallery is basically square, typically classical, on the central axis of the building, with an extremely high, domed ceiling. The doorways are placed enfilade, creating a path for traffic right in front of the booth. That booth is kind of nice, though. Seamless, slightly grey glass. At least ten feet high, including the suspended ceiling and diffused lighting. Grey carpet, a black table with two places. One chrome mike stand, one binder,
Woman: Nine hundred eighty eight thousand four hundred and ten. B.C.
and one glass of water for each place. A pile of CD jewel cases on the floor? Ah, they’re recording this, too. (Wouldn’t you? I mean, how much would it be to get interns to record this for you?) How long will it be before the guy reads his next year? If they cough, does that get edited out of the CD, or do they leave it in? More people walk in, pause, smirk at each
Man: Nine hundred eighty eight thousand four hundred and nine. B.C.
other, look at the label, and move on. OK, now time the interval. Well, maybe later. I mean, they’ll be there a while, right? You move on to the next gallery. Hmm. Not very interesting. The next one is dark, though. A row of thirty or so film projectors lined up on a shelf that spans the entire gallery, but they’re not on. Ein Tagebuch (A Diary) by Deiter Roth. It starts at 11:00, in just about
Woman’s voice, still audible: Nine hundred eighty eight thousand four hundred and eight. B.C.
five minutes. Push ahead and come back. You know, there are all those little photos culled from Der Spiegel. That should take about five minutes.You head back through the central gallery, past the booth again. Do those people in there think you’re lost? or at least aimless? En route, you try to look purposeful, make eye contact, acknowledge their humanity, their contribution to art and culture. You get it, after all. You know On Kawara’s paintings, too, so,
Man: Nine hundred eighty eight thousand four hundred and four. B.C.
The photos are small, pinned under glass, and extend all the way around the gallery. There’s a crowd. a riot, a group of soldiers. Another crowd. Demonstraters in handcuffs. Billy clubs. Another crowd, another riot, another, another. Isa Genzken has found an unsettling aesthetic similarity between these photos spanning decades of unrest and violence on every continent. Now the game is to identify the country and the
Man: Nine hundred eighty eight thousand three hundred and seventy nine. B.C.
era from the clothing the subjects wear and the cars and advertisements in the backgrounds. You check your watch. Almost five minutes. You hustle back through the galleries just as two attendants are signalling each other. They start the projectors from the outside moving in. Little home movie-like images slowly populate a grid on the wall, which the attendants focus and fine tune. Roth’s explanation is in the catalog: “I wanted to show my daily life in the films here…so I didn’t have to do anything courageous…For instance, it would be courageous to make a point
Woman: Nine hundred eighty eight thousand three hundred and seventy four. B.C.
of showing badly made films individually; but because I’m afraid of this kind of exposure, I will show 30 films of this kind at once–a flickering, which dazles and distracts from the poverty of each individual film.” Hmm. Sound like weblogging to me. Looks like it, too. You head back to watch the rest of that documentary on the India-Pakistan border which revitalizes the philosophy of non-violence, considered “quaint” (when it’s considered at all), passing once again through the
Man: Nine hundred eighty eight thousand three hundred and sixty one. B.C.
gallery with the booth. But this time something hits you and you stop. The cycles of life, violence, death, the attempts of people to make sense of it, to be remembered, to gain dignity and avoid embarassment, the lessons unlearned over centuries of conflict, the conceptual memento mori offering no illusions of progress or respite, the same inexorable flow of time giving unexpected comfort that things will pass. You choke back tears as you take up place against the door jamb, yielding to the years that pass over you. The woman looks up briefly, acknowledging my humanity, my contribution to art and culture, and then turns her eyes back to her page.
Woman: Nine hundred eighty eight thousand three hundred and sixty. B.C.