The Wall (2021) and Pas Twomblu (2021– )

The Wall (2021), dimensions and The Ceiling (2010), installed in the Salle des Bronzes in the Louvre, photographed in Feb. 2021 for the NYT by Dmitry Kostyukov

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.

study for The Wall, 2021, dimensions variable, an altered 150 x 100px svg ganked from a hexcolor website for Marron Côte d’Azur (#A75949)

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.

A big panel by Yves Klein, painted in International Pas Twomblu, at the Museum of Modern Art

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.”

According to Grant Rosenberg’s account of this process in The American Scholar, in late 2008, the Louvre produced “several” “big” panels of monochrome blue for color testing during a Twombly site visit. It is not clear what blues these were, but we know what they were not: Pas Twomblu.

Previously, related: Proposte monocrome, gris (2017); International Jarman Blue

Untitled (Heist), 2021

Installation shot, Untitled (Heist), 2021, 96 x 121 in., enamel on plywood panel, documented in Union Square in November 2021 by Hunter MacNair, image via brokeassstuart, thanks @xintra

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!

Let’s Talk About The Louis Vuitton Heist [brokeassstuart]
Previously, related: Untitled (News Coverage), 2021; Untitled (Trump Plaza Black), 2016

Facsimile of Authenticity

Love the concept, but this pad of Arches watercolor paper is about an inch too small in each direction. [UPDATE: IT IS NOT, IT IS JUST FINE. The catalogue just dropped with new, slightly smaller dimensions for the Manet: 32.8 x 24.8 cm. The difference is probably the frame, but it’s good to pin these things down!]

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.

Walter de Maria, one half of his High Energy Unit (1966/69)

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.

Stephen Prina, Exquisite Corpse: The Complete Paintings of Manet, 232 of 556, Berthe Morisot à l’Eventail, (Berthe Morisot with a Fan), 1874, (March 4, 2012), ink wash on rag (L) and offset print (R), image via maureen paley via ocula

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.]

And here we are.

Also, related: Paul Revere (attr.), Time Capsule Plaque, engraved text on silver, c. 1795
Engraved on my memory, perhaps

Wade Guyton Bergdorf Goodman Windows

image via @theodoreart

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.]

Wade Guyton printing on plywood, making Parkett editions

Previously, suddenly related:
Matson was Mrs. Rauschenberg’s Maiden Name
The Tiffany Windows of Matson Jones
Destroyed Andy Warhol (Bonwit Teller) Fences

NY Times Sunrises by Sho Shibuya

Sunrise from a small window, Apr 27, 2020 via @shoshibuya/IG

“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

April 27 sunrise process shot, via @shoshibuya/IG

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.

Sunrise from a small window, May 24, 2020, and the front page of the NY Times from that day, as COVID-19 deaths approached the first 100,000. images: @shoshibuya/IG

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.

Sunrise from a small window, June 2, 2020, replaced by a black monochrome field to show support for Black Lives Matter protests, image: @shoshibuya/IG

On June 2 he replaced the sunrise with a black monochrome field in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Sunrise from a small room,

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.

But clippings: ten On Kawara Date Paintings sold as one lot from one collection in 2007, with an absolutely horrible jpg and an absolutely uninhibited essay. image: christies.com

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, Sunday Painting 10/4/15, 2015, 14×14 in., acrylic and pencil on canvas mounted on panel, image via jamescohan.com

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.

Sho Shibuya, Sunrise from a small window, June 7, 2020, acrylic on newsprint, image via spoon & tamago

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]

Just Look At This JPG of This Purple Ellsworth Kelly

shruggie?

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

Black Square, White Suprematism

Kasimir Malevich, Black Square, 1915 version 79.5×79.5cm, collection: State Tretyakov Gallery, Moskow

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.

Alphonse Allais, from Album primo-avrilesque, 1897, image: wikipedia

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.[13]  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.

Blue Screen Print

Derek Jarman, Blue, 1994,17×12 1/2 in., screen print originally made for the deluxe letterpress edition of the script by The Blue Press, now floating loose on ebay

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.

you may approach: Blue print installed at Chelsea Space, 2014, image: chelseaspace

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.

 

Derek Jarman, Blue special edition, proof, The Blue Press, via paperbooks.ca

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.

Study for Derek Jarman Blue Screen Print, 2020, gahhh, the aspect ratio…

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.

so something like this, at 16:9, using the sheet size and smaller margins as the parameters yields a 8.125 x 14.5 inch print on a 12.5 x 17 inch sheet. study-derek-jarman-blue-screen-print-2020.jpg

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]

To Live Is All We Ask (With Art)

Untitled (Ecodge), 2020, latex on acrylic, lightbox, 7 x 14 ft, image: komo via @colemillertv

Untitled (edge), 2020, latex on acrylic, lightbox, 7 x 14 ft, image: kuow/megan farmer

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.

 

Rijksoverheid Rood 9: The $50 Paint Job

Change I Can Believe In
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.

Rijksoverheid Rood 8: A Whole New Kind Of Sanding

rijksoverheid_rood_20120204.jpg
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.

Rijksoverheid Rood 8: Better Roller

rijksoverheid_rood_20121220.jpg
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.

Rijksoverheid Rood 7: Roller

rijks_rood_20120114_01.jpg
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:

  1. Pour 1/2 inch of paint into tray
  2. Roll back and forth on slanted section of paint tray to load roller thoroughly
  3. When painting, increase pressure on roller as it dispenses paint to pull paint from inside the foam reservoir
  4. Performance improves as roller becomes fully saturated with paint
  5. Finish with light strokes

But no.
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