“I realized that from the small windows of my studio, I could not hear the sounds of honking cars or people shouting. I could hear the birds chirping energetically and sound of wind in the trees, and I looked up and saw the bright sky, beautiful as ever despite the changed world beneath it.” –Sho Shibuya, via Spoon & Tamago
Sho Shibuya began photographing the sunrise during the pandemic lockdown in New York City. By late April he was translating these photographs into gradient paintings. He cut portrait-shaped rectangles and applied them to examples of his print and graphic design work. On April 27, he taped off and painted the sunrise directly onto the front page of the print edition of that day’s New York Times.
By May 24, Shibuya’s sunrise filled the entire front page of the Times, just like the names of 100,000 people who’d died from COVID-19.
On June 2 he replaced the sunrise with a black monochrome field in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
On June 7 he painted the sunrise on plywood barriers that had been erected in SoHo after police brutality-related violence and looting. On June 28 he painted six rainbow flag-colored monochromes on inside pages of the Times for Gay Pride.
On July 1 he released a video and gallery of the 30 NYT sunrises he painted in June. On July 2 he showed two days’ Sunrise/Sunset from a small window, paintings on square acrylic sheets in which two inverted gradients are superimposed on each other. On the July 4 Times he painted a David Hammons-style African American Flag.
On Kawara often included a clipping from a local newspaper in the cardboard boxes he built for his Date Paintings; most often, he was in New York, so it was the Times.
Byron Kim began making his Sunday Paintings, square sections of the Brooklyn sky, in 2001 as part of a practice goal of completing (at least) one painting a week. He transcribes information from his diary onto their surfaces in pencil. Kim showed over 100 Sunday Paintings in 2018, including new ones painted during the exhibition.
We see painting projects like Kawara’s and Kim’s as related to the passage of time, of course, but not necessarily as strategies for just getting through the day. In an article that is due to drop any day now, I wrote about a particular practice of art for daily survival: “The kind of singular accomplishment that can fortify a troubled mind, but can also accumulate to greater effect.” Shibuya’s NYT Sunrises convey a highly focused, abstracted experience during an exceptional and terrifying time, and now that he’s through it, that view of the world is expanding.
Small Windows of Sunrises Painted onto the Covers of the New York Times by Sho Shibuya [spoon-tamago.com]
Byron Kim, Sunday Paintings 1/7/01–2/11/18, shown Jan-Feb 2018 [jamescohan.com]
Srsly, this essay tho: 10 Date Paintings by On Kawara, from the collection of Pierre Huber, sold in 2007 [christies]
I mean, this is a jpg of it, or a composite, or a rendering, or I just don’t even know what it is. Imagine making a 10-foot tall object in 1986 that becomes an image like this 34 years later. Amazing.
If that’s confusing, here’s a detail? I think I know what this is, but it would not surprise me to learn it is actually a vector graphic.
Just as Kelly created his works by abstracting the shapes and colors and lines he saw in the world around him, I feel like I could spend the rest of my life making work of the jpgs of Ellsworth Kellys.
29 June 2020, Lot 6 | Ellsworth Kelly, Purple Panel, 1986, est. $1.5–2 million [update: the painting sold for $1.8m, but the jpgs are still free] [sothebys]
Previously, related: The Google Art Institute Project
Speaking of black squares and racism, I was surprised to not see anyone try to sneak Malevich’s Black Square into their #BlackoutTuesday posts. But then, I was offline and only did catch up to it all after the fact. Which is good, because it probably would’ve been me; I’m a sucker for a monochrome.
It did make me wonder whether Malevich has been canceled since 2015, when the State Tretyakov Museum announced they found a caption-like text on the face of the painting that reads, “Battle of the Negroes…” The gist of their announcement, and reporting at the time, was that Malevich had at some point–it was written in pencil on dry paint–titled his most important work after a French poet’s 18-year-old monochrome April Fools’ Day joke. Thus the foundational work of abstraction, Suprematism, and Modernism was actually racist satire, joke’s on the century of art snobs who fell for it.
Maybe we were all a little bit too trusting of the Russians in 2015, argued Aleksandra Shatskikh in e-flux journal 2017. Shatskikh, a leading expert on Suprematism, dismissed the Tretyakov’s definitive attribution of the text to Malevich, who would never tell such a lame joke:
[Tretyakov Malevich expert Irina] Vakar drew her information about the creation and existence of the work A Battle of Negroes in a Cave at Night from the internet, most probably from Wikipedia…When they declared the inscription on The Black Square to be “authorial,” neither Vakar nor the collective as a whole felt even a shadow of doubt that Malevich could have thought of his Black Square as a banal illustration and written a title explaining its subject in the white margin below the black “illustration.” This was precisely the approach taken by Paul Bilhaud [in 1882] and then Alphonse Allais: an “illustration” and its humorous title. Allais replicated Paul Bilhaud’s discovery, and the jokers at the Moscow Academy of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture replicated the replication—permit me to note in passing that witticisms are only authentic when fresh; afterwards they become plagiarism and cliché.[e-flux journal #85]
Ouch. Shatskikh also criticized the museum’s analysis. Based on the amount of time needed for the paint substrate to dry, and the multiple (ignored) instances of Malevich’s controversial Suprematist works being vandalized, Shatskikh is sure the painting was scribbled on by an unoriginal realist with a terrible sense of humor.
An earlier conversation between Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll and Dina Gusejnova in Third Text just tries to deal with the fact that this iconic, non-representational painting has this allusive, racially problematic text on it:
[DG:] The fundamental issue, to me, is that someone like Allais could get away with making what he thought of as a little joke, about Negroes in a cave being black, because his audience consisted essentially of white Europeans like himself. But our expectations of more ‘serious’ modernists are higher, and their own imagined audience was larger. We demand them to be emancipators, to work on progress in thinking. After all, it is only another decade or so until the demands of Du Bois for a ‘Negro art’, when he called for culture to help humanity to transcend what he called the ‘color line’, but also, to gain ‘the right of black folk to love and enjoy’ art, if necessary, through propaganda. Like Du Bois, we expect Malevich to be both serious and on the right side of history.
This is why the discovery threatens to undermine the supposed sanctity of modernism itself. And yet, it is perhaps also an opportunity to develop a more critical understanding of many modernists’ own posturing in history.[third text/decolonising colour]
Allais (or Bilhaud, or Malevich) is not less racist because he also made other monochrome jokes about pale girls in the snow or whatever. As Gusejnova points out, his world was basically European, white, and male. And it doesn’t really matter who wrote the text on Black Square; it successfully punctures the Suprematist myth that abstraction could exist apart from the real world of objects, people, ideologies, and racial conflict. 2015 was as good as year as any for everyone to get that message.
- The Gray Market: Why the Art World Needs Actionable Plans, Not #BlackoutTuesday, to Fix Racial Injustice (and Other Insights) [artnet]
- Inscribed Vandalism: The Black Square at One Hundred [e-flux]
- Malevich’s Black Square under X-ray: A dialogue on race, revolution and art history [thirdtext.org]
- Album primo-avrilesque, by Alphonse Allais [wikipedia]
- Spectacular: the Bibliotheque Nationale de France put big ol’ stamps on every monochrome in their copy of Allais [bnf.fr]
This is a silk screen print by Derek Jarman. It was originally intended to accompany a letterpress edition of the text for Blue, his final film. That project was either produced in an edition of 150, plus some proofs, or was not realized before Jarman’s death. The numbers on the two I’ve seen hint at a bunch–this one is labeled 17/150, and the print shown at Chelsea Space in 2014 as part of the book was 37/150.
But the only other copies I’ve ever seen of the whole book were described as printer’s proofs. Jarman was supposed to have painted IKB on the clamshell boxes of 25 of the 150 editions. One proof on ebay back in the day said only four proofs were made before Jarman died, and its lid was painted, but didn’t have a print, and said the prints were never realized either. Another, proof listed for sale privately, had a print (#43/150), but its lid looked more like the paper under the paintings than a painting itself.
But that seller [pdf] said the whole letterpress edition “was centered on a loose Klein Blue screenprint signed by Jarman,” which makes it sound like the prints made it across the finish line after all. Why a signed print in a painted box doesn’t essentially become a certificate for a painting, I don’t know, but if the paintings never happened, it’s moot.
I absolutely love this print, and may try to buy it, but I cannot for the life of me figure out why it’s portrait and not landscape. Maybe I’ll just make some and fix it myself.
LMAO This always happens to me. I think, oh, just flip it, DONE. But as I am typing in the dimensions of my new cinematic masterpiece, I am frozen. Because what should it be? Jarman made Blue on 35mm film. So 16:9 (1.77 in the US, where I first saw it, except if I look it up, some definitive-seeming sources have a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1.) But Jarman’s own print is basically 4:3, so television. (Which is OK because Blue was aired on Channel4? Or nah?) But when it was still a live performance called Bliss, Jarman projected an image of an actual Yves Klein painting, and then switched to a blue gel, so no image at all, just a frame or aperture mask on the light? I think 16:9 is the clear choice here, but still.
Next day update: after spending part of a day determining the size and placement of the blue printed field in relation to the (unconfirmed) paper size and type of the original, I repeatedly caught myself trying not to think about how the film, then the print, then the book, then the box, then the– were all approached as the last project Jarman might complete. Make just one more thing, he and those around him might have thought? Woke up again, so there is still some time.
DEREK JARMAN, SIGNED, BLUE LIMITED EDITION SCREEN PRINT, ends 5/28/2020, OK, it went for GBP 620, not bad [ebay]
The Washington town of Kent does not want King County Public Health Department to buy the EconoLodge and use it for coronavirus quarantine housing, but it is the only property on the market at the moment with separate entrances and separate HVAC for each room. Yay capitalism.
So Todd Lapin at Telstar Logistics is starting to roll out The $50 Paint Job, and it’s really got me thinking.
Basically, it’s Rustoleum household enamel, thinned by 50% or so with mineral spirits, and applied with high density foam rollers, with wet sanding between each two very thin coats. This guy did it on his Corvair, and that moparts.org thread goes on for days, months, years about it.
As I’ve been building up layers of Rijksoverheid enamel on my own panels, using various brushes and rollers, and wet sanding in between, I’ve been working toward an ideal that’s really eluded me so far: a hand-applied painted surface that shows no marks from the application. Like, for example, a Gerhard Richter mirror painting.
Part of the motivation for this is the ease with which you [I] could order these panels from a body shop. It’d be Moholy-Nagy easy–even easier since there’s no design, just color–to just order these monochromes by the official Dutch governmental auto paint code on the phone. I have the list right here. But I wanted to do them myself.
And so far, that perfectly self-leveled, brushless, orange peel-less surface has eluded me. But reading The $50 Paint Job stories, it’s obvious why: the paint straight out of the can is too thick. And for whatever misguided, paint-can-as-unaltered-found-object reason, I have resisted thinning it. Well screw that, because the next six coats are going to be nearly water-thin. I can’t wait.
Previously: rijksoverheid rood in process
The original idea, to paint monochromes and 2-color gradients based on the 21 officially approved colors in the Dutch government’s Rijkshuisstijl, plus the five blues of the country’s new logo, all of which are derived, we’re told, from Golden Age Dutch painting and the Dutch light that inspired Dutch painting.
OK, this sanding thing is completely new now.
Before, when I was using the brush, I’d be sanding down drips and bulges around the edges of the panels, and hoping to even out ridges in the brush strokes.
Now that I’ve sanded my first coat of enamel laid down with the roller, though, it feels totally different. The amount of paint that goes on seems like much less–there are certainly no excess drips over the edges. And the slightly eggshell-y, all-over surface levels out a bit, but not completely when it’s dry.
But the big difference are these tiny bubbles, which end up sanding right out, giving the whole surface a pretty smooth touch.
It’d be easier if there were no bubbles, of course. I’d love to paint a coat, have it dry, and see that it’s finally the perfect, featureless, skin-like smoothness I want. But the bubbles showed up again in the new coat [above]. Maybe I’m shaking the paint too much, or not letting it sit long enough, when I open it? But such bubbles couldn’t transfer from the can to the sponge. I suspect they’re coming from the roller, which is probably not saturated enough.
Anyway, it’s working. Which is nice.
Alright, I think we finally may be onto something. I switched to a high-density foam roller for this next coat, and though it looks kind of eggshelly in the photo, it actually ends up drying to a smoother finish than any brush so far. And it uses less paint, which means no drip/stalactites around the edges, which need to be cut/sanded off.
The rhythm is sort of set now: when I start a new coat, I flip the panel over and wetsand and tack the coat from two sessions prior. That way, the coats go on each side sort of interlaced [I’m painting both sides, and I think it’ll be done when the panel builds up a sufficient edge of paint, not support, and there’s a pretty clean, non-painterly surface with no discernible front/back.] They’re not there yet, but it now seems like they will be.
On the question of posting this kind of log/journal-style info, yeah, it’s still kind of boring to me, mixed with a bit of incredulity that really, why would anyone care? But that’s fine.
Because one of the things I’ve found is that these posts almost always draw out some helpful and interesting emails from people who know paint far better than I do. So it’s really nice to hear from people, to get advice and feedback, to check my assumptions, and to see what other people are doing.
Part of my decision to paint was to learn what it’s really like, to see what paint does, how it behaves. And part of it was definitely to actually see some particular objects in person that I’ve seen in my mind, and which I haven’t really found anywhere else. So it’s all pretty good.
Well, that was a total surface disaster.
The size and disposability of this crappy little foam roller made it irresistible. The bubbly eggshell finish that even contains a few crumbs of foam made it a total failure putting paint down on the monochromes.
The instructions on the back are so specific, I was tempted to call following them a conceptual conceit:
- Pour 1/2 inch of paint into tray
- Roll back and forth on slanted section of paint tray to load roller thoroughly
- When painting, increase pressure on roller as it dispenses paint to pull paint from inside the foam reservoir
- Performance improves as roller becomes fully saturated with paint
- Finish with light strokes
On the bright side, there aren’t any brushstrokes.
FEW HOURS LATER UPDATE: OK, maybe it’s not so bad. The eggshelling thing is a bit subdued, but there’s far less paint per coat with a roller, no drip, and it’s generally smoother overall. I think I will continue with them a bit and see how it sands and builds up.
Previously: Rijksoverheid Rood paintings: the making of
Since I appear to only be able to find the
time bandwidth to paint on the weekend, sometime I might have to investigate terms that already haunt me anyway, like “weekend painter.” At least I’m not painting on Sunday, right?
Anyway, another sanding and another layer of Rijksoverheid Rood on the two panels, this time with a little bit of thinner added to the paint. It felt different, for sure. We’ll see how it ends up.
Theoretically, I can get the prep and sanding and tacking and painting of a new coat, and the cleanup, and a bit of documentation, done in a little over an hour now. But I also find it takes a certain kind of hour.
And anyway, I wanted to switch to a roller, and so I went looking at neighborhood hardware stores, to no avail. I explained to one ACE manager what I needed: a roller for laying down smooth oil enamel on steel panel. Yes, it’s primed. No, it’s just a panel. No, can’t spray; it’s custom mixed in a can. Monochr– Just the one color. Not going to paint anything on top of it. He finally said, “It sounds like art.” Well, that remains to be seen. Right now, it’s just a painting.
Well, yes and no. It’s taken me several coats or sessions to realize that I’ve been handling these panels very carefully, like art–but like someone else’s art. Art I’ve bought and need to take care of. I think I’m over that. They need to be made before they need to be conserved.
And now that I’m handling them a lot more, and less hesitantly, I’m finding I like the feel of the steel panel [top] better than the aluminum [above]. At least at this gauge, the aluminum is just too light and flimsy. And since I don’t want the metal to have an edge profile of its own, I’m wary of moving up to a thicker gauge.
The sponge brush, well, I’m not sure I’m for it. It does produce a much finer striation than the natural brush I’ve used till now. What I think is that for these layers I know I’m going to sand, it’s not as important. I am interested, though, in how the brush strokes differ, horizontally and vertically, or portrait and landscape [sic or heh, I’m not sure which]. If I can’t get rid of it entirely, I may keep that somehow.
[Note: I missed posting an update #4, but it was sanding, and then cutting the drip/stalactites off, rather than wait any longer for them to dry, which they’d never really do, and then you’d sand across one, and it’d break and shmear like a rood zit.]
Karen Meyerhoff, Managing Director of Business Development at the Guggenheim Museum, and my new hero:
People come to an art museum in part to be inspired by the works of art on view there. And we develop an emotional relationship with those works of art and with the artists that created them.
So much of that emotion is evoked from the imagery and the colors that the artist uses to create that imagery. Color can be…an unconscious communicator. And when we use that color in our living space, we share that emotion with anyone who enters the space.
In creating this second collection, we used our permanent collection at the Guggenheim as inspiration. The permanent collection at the Guggenheim spans from the late 19th century all the way to the present, and we decided to focus on the early part of the 20th century for this purpose.
We had an exhibition on view of–called, “Great Upheaval,” of works from Cezanne all the way up to Kandinsky, and we spent hours and hours in the gallery, working with these paintings, drawing colors out of them.
One of the things that became interesting about that process was that certain colors kept repeating. Not just within canvases by a single artist, but from artist to artist. So it became clear that there was a commonality to this early 20th century palette.
We call the collection The Classical Colors from the Classical Modern period in a sense. And when we had the opportunity to lay these colors out, finally, on a table together, it was very clear that there was this very rich, soft, elegant, classic palette that represented the paintings on view at that time.
These are very complex colors. And we relied heavily on Fine Paints of Europe and their unique tinting system to accurately match those colors and recreate that classical modern palette.
I am nerding out on this so hard right now. The Guggenheim Museum, in “an exclusive licensing arrangement with Fine Paints of Europe, Inc. of Woodstock, Vermont, will introduce two paint collections suitable for residential and commercial use in October 2011.” The “second collection” Meyerhoff refers to above, in a video intro which I transcribed from the website for Guggenheim Color by Fine Paints of Europe, is Classical Colors, “a set of 150 wall colors drawn from much-loved paintings in the Guggenheim’s permanent collection.”
Beyond the concept itself, which is obviously golden–no, wait, it’s conceptually golden precisely because of the art that was chosen, why it was chosen, and how it is being packaged and presented.
Cezanne, van Gogh, Delaunay, de Chirico, Kandinsky, Modigiliani, Gaugin, Pissarro, Franz Marc, whose Stables provides the illustrative detail above. I suspect these artists’ primary commonalities–besides their “very rich, soft, elegant, classic palette,” are being in the Guggenheim’s collection and being dead long enough for any copyright and trademark claims to evaporate.
What makes the Guggenheim Color Collections superior to run-of-the-mill museum merchandise is that it’s actually paint, the stuff the art is made of. Or at least that’s what it’s meant to evoke. Great word, evoke. There’s ample scholarship and conservation data, dissertations and grant-funded research projects galore, on what paints artists actually used. Technology exists to analyze the paint’s spectral and chemical properties with great precision and match it to historical manufacturing information.
None of that seems to have been brought to bear here. In addition to Fine Paints of Europe’s “unique tinting system,” the Collection was “refined.” “Refined in consultation with exhibition designers to ensure the colors are appropriate for a variety of architectural settings.” and “further refined” and “fine-tuned” for a variety of “lighting situations, to precisely match each hue.” These are not recreations, but evocations, and each color “relates to the painting from which it was derived and the artist who created it.”
This is distinct from other collection, Gallery Colors, which is–students of The White Cube, rejoice!–actually based on the Guggenheim’s archives of wall paints used in the galleries “by generations of Guggenheim Museum curators, artists, and designers-including Wright himself.” And Jean Nouvel. Up in the middle of the fan there is the charcoal-black he used in the Rotunda for the Brazil exhibit. “These fifty hues,” FPE’s website says, “are intended to guide homeowners and designers in the presentation of art.”
Guide on, Fine Paints of Europe, and art will follow.
Previous Fine Paints of Europe coverage on greg.org, because hello, it’s an officially licensed manufacturer of Pantone Matching System paints: Rijksoverheid Rood
I now know that the bubbles sand right out. But what I learned this time is the importance of checking to see if you missed any spots in your smooth, monochrome surfaces before you clean up your brush and your workspace.
I ended up touching this up not too well with some scavenged drips and a leftover sponge brush. Obviously, it will not survive the next sanding.
Here’s a look I’m calling Red Steel.
The other side. These stalactites form after the panels are put away to dry, I guess by the paint settling across the surface. Then I have to sand them down before doing the next coat.
last coat, I switched up the direction of the brushstrokes, which has created a bit of a cross-weave and stalactite thing to sand down. Plus all these bubbles, not sure how those got there.
Seriously, this is like the most boringest thing in the world to be typing right now.