In the 2010-11 retrospective of Yves Klein’s work organized by the Hirshhorn and the Walker Art Center, there was a wall (in DC) and a nook (in Minneapolis) filled with early, small-ish monochromes in a variety of colors that weren’t blue. They surrounded a vitrine with Klein’s amazing 1954 catalogue for an imaginary monochromes exhibition, Yves Peintures.
This little red square was not among them, but can you imagine if it was, looking like an emergency button in its gigantic, beveled frame?
I’m not sure I could think of a greater honor than to have work in a two-artist exhibition with Vermeer. I certainly didn’t think of anything before today.
But now I am beyond thrilled to announce my site-specific installation, Mural With Girl With A Pearl is on view at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. It comprises a painting on the wall holding Girl With A Pearl, and the painting Girl With A Pearl itself. It’s hard to say how long it will be there; certainly this incarnation won’t go past March 30th, when Girl With A Pearl goes back to The Hague. Tickets to see it are definitively not available. [But if you do go, SEND PICS!]
Like Vermeer’s work, which it incorporates, it is an exploration of the subtle effects of light captured in built up layers of paint. And like those light effects, it may be fleeting, perceived only in the periphery of vision, occupying the liminal spaces around the older work that is the predictable draw of our attention.
But for now, if you look up, and the gallery lights hit at the right angle, you will feel your field of view, and with the close looking you’ve exercised, you’ll recognize the changing world beyond the frame.
You’ll see the new horizon coalesce just above Girl with a Pearl Earring‘s head. The loose grid of brusquely brushed forms —pearls? lights? ships? celestial figures? yet too big to be stars?—shimmering in formation in the graying sky.
While the current installation involves Girl with a Pearl, I am happy to discuss how to make the piece work for your Vermeer, too. Or, if you’re at the Mauritshuis, we can recreate the Amsterdam magic. Just because the Vermeer show is once-in-a-lifetime doesn’t mean this collab has to be, too.
April Update: Thanks to @worldelsewhere, I am able to say that the installation stayed up until Girl With A Pearl left for the Mauritshuis. Thank you all for your engagement.
The last time the Queen of England rode around London in the Gold State Coach was for her 50th anniversary, and Wolfgang Tillmans was there.
If he was there today to see the Queen’s subjects waving at a hologram of her riding in the GSC, it might look a little something like this. Protip: the way you can tell my Tillmans from Tillmans’ Tillmans is the aspect ratio.
And while mine will ship with a separate SCREEN COVERAGE WILL CONTINUE AFTER THE HORSES HAVE SAFELY PASSED BY monochrome, I feel like Wolfgang would have been able to get both screens in one shot.
I remember the experience of walking into Matthew Marks and seeing one stunning work: the 1957 Sculpture for a Large Wall, which Marks had basically rescued from the Philadelphia Transit Building for which it had been commissioned. (The Lauders bought it for MoMA in 1998.) Anyway, now there will be another, though it seems like this time, seeing won’t be enough.
Red Floor Panel (1992) is one of five floor paintings Kelly made, beginning in 1990. [Glenstone got the first, but how can this not be the best?] It is being shown for the first time since its original appearance at the Westfälischer Kunstverein in Münster.
How does this object exist? And how is it possible that each of these pictures is of the same object? I mean, it’s at once the most obvious and confounding thing. [update: I’ve learned the answer to the first question, and it will astound you. It did me.]
Though a couple we included in his Guggenheim retrospective in 1996, most of Kelly’s 400 or so postcards made between 1949 and 2005 have never been shown or published. Each venue will show a distinct selection of 150 of the works, and the catalogue reproduces 216 postcards at full scale. It is a veritable facsimile object blockbuster–but I still want to see the real things in person.
Some might say this warrior president Golden Roommise-en-scène feels like a very special Continental episode of Black Mirror come to life. Me, I say, that’s no black mirror: it’s a Proposte Monocrome Macron! Srsly, though, the Struth fan who took this photo deserves a Légion d’Honneur.
UPDATE WTF: I just zoomed in to make myself an Ellsworth Kelly-style rhomboid crop, and it appears that is not a flatscsreen TV with a reflective image on it at all, but an image? Non, but it is a picture. It is a Soulages.
As 2021 is finally shown the door, I am pleased to announce The Wall, which was next to The Ceiling. The Wall is a Marron Côte d’Azur and Noir painting executed directly on a wall or a discrete section thereof. Even more than the 19th century neo-classicist aesthetic of Napoleon III, who first executed it in his Salle des Bronzes Antiquites, it evokes the historic moment during the pandemic when leaks about the work’s installation drew the litigious ire of The Cy Twombly Foundation.
For a few months this year, the first realization of The Wall was installed alongside–or underneath, really–The Ceiling, Cy Twombly’s ceiling mural at the Louvre. In Napoleon III’s day, the Noir was the display cases. In the 2021 installation, the boundary between the two colors was demarcated by a dado. The composition of future installations may take cues from the space, and condition of the wall and its elements.
While it is available for individual purchase or commission, The Wall will also be free with the purchase of nine other works, as a treat.
There are other works associated with both The Ceiling and The Wall, the details of which are at present insufficient.
While making The Ceiling, Twombly friend Barbara Crawford and French painters Laurent Blaise and Jean de Seynes joked “that the unique, precise blue for this particular sky, which they’ve spent weeks fine-tuning, should be trademarked and given the name Twomblu.”
It has been a while since realizing works like this. Partly, it’s just the world. As Martin Creed says, The Whole World + The Work = The Whole World.
But when it exists, it also feels wrong to ignore it. Untitled (Heist) was recently installed in San Francisco’s Union Square, following a flashmob robbery of several hundred thousand dollars (retail) of merchandise from the Louis Vuitton store.
When Broke Ass Stuart ran this installation shot by Hunter MacNair on their post, “Let’s Talk About The Louis Vuitton Heist,” I first thought it would be a deep dive on the street value of the various items that got jacked.
But BAS instead went deep on luxury-fueled capitalism’s complicity in gaping inequality. And that, along with LVMH’s recent appearances in the art news, seemed like a collab-worthy context in which to encounter this work. Which I imagine will remain on view through much of the Christmas shopping season, at least. Maybe minting it as an NFT would make it last even longer.
UPDATE: As San Francisco Mayor London Breed’s office put it in their review, “I think that’s the visual for where the rule of law needs to make its stand.” [FOIA’d and published by @journo_anon] Thanks for supporting the arts, Your Honor!
Orders are coming in, facsimile objects are being needed, and so certificates of authenticity must also be realized. So I’ve been thinking about them.
The 1:1:1 scale of the certificate to the facsimile object to the work felt right immediately for many logical, conceptual, historical, and aesthetic reasons.
The coexistence of the certificate and the object remind me of Walter de Maria’s High Energy Bar, an infinite series he insisted was not a multiple, but which he also considered to unite with its certificate of authenticity to become a distinct work, a High Energy Unit. De Maria bought his fancy certificates from the old-timey stock certificate printer, and kept the registry of owners’ names secure, he promised, in a Swiss vault.
Obviously, when it comes to embodying Manets, Stephen Prina’s Exquisite Corpse: The Complete Paintings of Manet (1988– ) comes to mind. I do not envision making a career of making 556 Manet facsimile objects. The circumstances that compel this one are highly specific and, if civilization (sic) can get its socio-political act together and end this pandemic, very limited. Please do not let the world of Manets exist beyond our experiential reach for much longer.
Anyway, though I have a deep spot in my heart for the monochrome, I feel like making a monochrome ink wash Minnay would end up more a Prina Facsimile Object than a certificate of authenticity for this Manet Facsimile Object. So I’m still thinking, staring, and experimenting, but soon I will also be getting paper of the appropriate size.
Also, I guess I wrote this in 2009:
Interestingly, though there are hundreds of mentions of High Energy Bar, there were only two mentions of the “complete” piece, High Energy Unit. [It makes me start to wonder about the underappreciated existence our poor certificates must lead, even as they’ve become so important to the authenticity and integrity of the work. Is anyone else making sexy artist certificates–or art about certificates, even–that remain ignored or unknown by everyone but the work’s purchaser? Will an artist make a work whose aesthetic or artistic payoff is actually the [secret] certificate itself? If you have or know of any awesome certificates languishing in any file cabinets out there, by all means, let me know.]
Gallerist Stephanie Theodore was there for the unveiling of Wade Guyton’s new election aftermath-themed windows at Bergdorf Goodman. Though it clearly feels like a scaled up version of his #monochrome-on-plywood 2008 edition for Parkett, it also references the matte-black-OSB sculptures he made in 1999, which have since been #destroyed [cf. Guyton OS, 13.]
“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.
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.
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 BlackSquare 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.
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.
[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.
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.