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.
Well, let’s just get this out of the way: if you can only see one Warhol exhibition in Washington this year, see Shadows. The Warhol Headlines show is very slight. It’s hard to call it a highlight, but a series of three 1982 or ’83 silkscreen paintings of successive pages in the NY Post did remind me a bit of the newspaper On Kawara used to line the boxes of his date paintings. Also, the show includes the three Screen Tests where the subjects appear to be reading and unaware they were being filmed: Alan Solomon, Grace Glueck, and Arman. That really is all.
But let’s back up because, hey-ho, did you know the National Gallery’s East Wing was built with red brick infill walls?? It’s like Long Island City up in there behind IM Pei’s Indiana granite.
I also love that a construction worker in 1975 declared his allegiance to the Pittsburgh Steelers, practically in the Baltimore Colts’ own backyard. That was the year the Terrible Towel was invented, and when the Steelers did, in fact, win their second Super Bowl in a row. Also, I thoroughly approve of this epic-scale scaffolding. Glaze it and set it up at the beach for me, please.
Anyway, after the Warhol bust, I went downstairs for a close look at one of the NGA’s current strengths: contemporary monochromes. I’m working on some little monochrome panels right now, and I wanted to see surfaces and techniques–and to see if I’m inadvertently copying anyone I don’t want to.
I think I want a really immaculate, glassy, brushstroke-free surface, and I definitely know I want a continuity around the edge of the thin steel and aluminum panels I’m trying. So I figure setting out to study the cleanest, smoothest paintings I can find will be yield some hints.
So first up: Byron Kim’s Synecdoche (1991-), the multipanel grid of monochromes based on various art world folks’ skin tones.
Found the local Pantone shop and brought home a liter of Hollandlac oil-based enamel in Rijksoverheid Rood, aka PMS 485c.
Ordered some small galvannealed steel and white aluminum panels, both paint-ready, and cut as close to A4 as North Carolina metal shops not called Metal By The Millimeter are able to get. They arrived very neatly packed.
And so I used some of the packing to make a little nest, so they can be covered, with circulation, while the paint dries in between coats.
Diet Coke. Leatherman left in the car, whoops. Tape everything down. Float the panels on little bubblewrap sheets so I can get to/around the edge.
MIneral spirits to clean the surfaces. Oh, right, there’s a protective film on the aluminum. More Diet Coke.
Do people really still listen to NPR all day? I can’t imagine. I want listen to youarelistening.to, but New York is down, so I head to Montreal. Police scanner with that awesome Quebecois twang.
Nabisco Ginger Snaps, the dog biscuits of the gods. Seriously, how did I fall into this box of tough yet improbably delicious cookies? More Diet Coke.
Unwrap the brush. Open the can. Wow, it seems much oranger than the web version, or the offset ink version. Is it–no, it has to be right. The Netherlands has ceded sovereignty over their Central Government palette to Pantone, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of X-Rite, LLC of Grand Rapids, Michigan. One PMS code to rule them all.
Stare at the foam brush again, try to remember what she–no, I’m pretty sure she said she was using foam for acrylic enamel, not oil. Go with the brush, even though foam seems somehow less painterish, and thus less daunting,
Load is not quite the word for what I do to the brush. Introduce. Poke. Alight the brush with paint. Whatever it is, it’s not enough paint. A fair amount of pull, this oil.
The steel panel is first. I really am not going to do a stroke-by-stroke account here. The steel feels better. The aluminum plate is so light, it moves with the brush; I have to hold it down. Paint’s not as self-leveling as I was originally hoping.
I knew there will be extra coats; I’d hoped there wouldn’t be much sanding. But there are definitely still brushstrokes in there. Texting with my brother-in-law, a highly skilled painter of entirely different types of monochromes, he diagnoses it immediately: ‘the brush needs to be loaded and moved with confidence.’
I would probably say those are problems #2 and #1, respectively, but loading the brush will be much easier to address. I will leave my paranoia about little paint stalactites on the edges in the kitchen the next time I get a Diet Coke.
But of course, the next coat will only go on 24 hours or so from now. I guess I never quite understood how much of painting is waiting for the paint to dry.
As part of their project Caché-Exposé, investigating the Netherlands’ largely invisible detention and deportation system, the Amsterdam art & design collaborative Foundland documented obscure, anonymous detention sites around the country. Then they used a highly official, public system to distribute their images: design-it-yourself postage stamps.
What with the domes, the minimalist/industrial architecture, these stamps, and–hello, this awesome flag they shot in 2008–I can’t help noticing how beautifully designed the Dutch immigrant prison system is. So thoughtful.
That is the Ministry of Security & Justice flag there, flying over the Zaandam waterfront dome prison. The biomorphic shape is a perspectival view of the scales of Justice, a fragment of the Ministry logo, which is an abstracted, blindfolded Justice.
Is, or was. Because on Google Streetview, the flag is different. Much simpler.
That is the new Rijkshuisstijl, which is officially called the Central Government Visual Identity, but which I gladly transliterate as the State House Style, a four-year effort begun in 2007 to centralize and redesign the Dutch government’s corporate identity. Part of that initiative was the 1 Logo Project, a replacement of 125+ separate ministry and agency logos with a single logo, the national coat of arms on a vertical blue bar.
Ah, I’m told it’s a ribbon. Here’s the English version of the style guide.
Oh, man, the color palette, 16 colors “inspired by the colorful Dutch landscape painting,” plus five gradients. Get me Colby Poster on the horn.
I am kind of geeking out over this. On the one hand, it’s a normal redesign gig, tastefully done, but typical to the point of banality. On the other, because it’s the state, I can’t help but read every platitude in the mission statement and objectives, every justification of every design decision and element, through a politicized filter. Without knowing really anything about the details or shifts in Dutch poltiics beyond recent surges of right-wing populism, I can’t help but interpret the identification of problems the Rijkshuisstijl was intended to fix as criticism of the parties and governments then in power.
Partly, it’s the Rijkshuisstijl’s incredibly bold assertions of design’s importance and function. And the grand assertions of meaning:
“The symbol exists of a blue ribbon with the coat of arms. Subtle and unpretentious, an authority without being authoritarian.”
The color of the logo is Rijksoverheid Blue. Inspired by the Dutch skies and Dutch light. Blue for calm and reliability. Blue for tradition and enduring values. Blue for harmony and balance.”
“The wide variety of logos previously used by various government organisations made them less recognisable, causing confusion among the public and business community. People were no longer able to see the wood for the trees. Central government organisations seemed to be competing rather than cooperating with each other. This approach compounded the widely held view that central government was fragmented.”
“The mission statement and the motto both underline what central government stands for. They give the central government logo (Rijkslogo) real meaning.”
And then there’s the irony of context, the subjective happenstance of discovering the Rijkshuisstijl while looking at an exposé criticizing the Netherlands’ unjust treatment of immigrants, a project which I’d discovered in turn while reading about the current populist government’s massive cuts to the country’s arts infrastructure. Is this what modernism and Good Design signed on for? Because it’s what they got.
Oh, and there was a symposium, and a book, De stijl van het Rijk/ Style and the State, produced last fall by the Stichting Design den Haag.
Rijkshuisstijl guide in English [rijkshuisstijl.nl]
UPDATE: So the work was actually done by Studio Dumbar in Rotterdam, announced on their site in 2007 [studiodumbar.com]
Do you find yourself wanting to talk about Group Zero, but the only names you can pronounce are Fontana and Klein [and Westwater]? Do you ever call galleries you’re about to walk into, just to hear them say the artist’s name? [I just asked at the desk, it’s von HILE.]
You may be suffering from Gigli Syndrome, a condition where you avoid saying an artist or designer’s name because you’re not sure of the pronunciation. Bennifer can’t cure all possible outbreaks of Gigli Syndrome, any more than Nomi Malone could inoculate us against the dangers of unknowing mispronunciation, Versace Syndrome.
After typing [well, cut-n-pasting] 0100101110101101.org yesterday morning, I realized a universal cure to either condition is impossible. Americans will never switch to Van Gohchhhh, and Thaddeus Ropatch may never give you more than 10% off, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do all we can to treat and prevent.
So inspired by my friend Sam, who once helped me avert disaster at Lever House [it’s A-B Rosen, not Abby], and as a tribute to the young artist who once printed up business cards reading, “Ed-werd Rew-shay”, here is a quick roundup of high-risk artworld names and their correct pronunciations by curators, interviewers, and even the artists themselves:
- 0100101110101101.org: zero-one-dot-org [thx their dealer @magdasawon, pronounced sah-vawn, btw]
- Eija-Liisa Ahtila: AY-ya-lisa AHH-tilah [youtube]
- Richard Anuszkiewicz: AN-ehs-KAY-vitch [mike wallace via youtube]
- Giuseppe Arcimboldo: Arch-im-BOLD-oh [washpost]
- Kutlug Ataman: KOOT-loo ATTA-mun [tate channel]
- Huma Bhabha: HOO-mah BAH-bah [public art fund via youtube]
- Alighiero e Boetti: Ali-GYAIR-oh BO-etty [he was just one guy, btw. Stuck the “e” in there himself. moma]
- Carol Bove: Bo-VAY [I called Maccarone to confirm, because I’ve heard people calling her Bove (rhymes with clove) to her face, and introducing her as Bove, for literally YEARS. She is too polite and well-known to deserve this any longer.]
- Eli Broad: rhymes with road [thx @manbartlett]
- Marcel Broodthaers: ooh, a Britdown between BROAT-haus and BROOT-ers, with a bit of long O thrown in. I vote for the latter. [mk-g.org]
- Vija Celmins: VEE-ya Sell-muns [youtube thx @lucretiab]
- Chinati: Chih-NAUGHT-y, not Shih-Naughty or Kih-Naughty. [member since 1994, plus I just called and listened to their answering machine.]
- Wayne Clough: rhymes with rough and censoring stuff. [nyt]
- Dan Colen: CO-lin [via nyt]
- Bice Curiger: short for Beatrice, [Just imagine Che Guevara taking an interpretive dance class: “Be a tree, Che.” and then leave out the “a tree,” cuz you guys are tight.] Koo-REE-gare, rhymes with Care Bear [via youtube]
- Dada: Da-DAH [Marcel Duchamp and Richard Huelsenbeck, both founders of Dada, pronounced it Da-DAH at The Modern in 1961. clocktower.org]
- Walter De Maria: de Ma-REE-uh [youtube w/English accent, thanks judy]
- De Stijl: de STALE, maybe Dutch it up a bit with a little h: ShTALE [youtube]
- Marlene Dumas: Mar-LANE du-MAH [moma]
- Rineke Dijkstra: RIN-uh-kuh DIKE-stra [moma]
- Ekow Eshun, ex-ICA, current (2014) Fourth Plinth guy: Echo Ession rhymes with session [lisson gallery youtube]
- Omer Fast: Homer without the H, not Omar [via @magdasawon]
- Os Gémeos: Ose like dose, ZHEH-meh-ose [coolhunting, alt. pron.: Barry McGee]
- Joseph Grigely: Grig-lee [via hans ulrich (han-ZOOL-rick) at moma]
- Cai Guo-Qiang: Cy, like Twombly, Gwoh, long O, Tsee-ahng, somewhere between a Ch and a Ts [moma]
- Francesca von Habsburg-Lothringen: Hops-burg Lote-ring-en, though I’ve never heard the Lothringen used/said. [youtube]
- Thomas Houseago: House-ago, like it was two words. [public art fund via youtube]
- Pierre Huyghe: I say Hweeg to his face, but I almost hear Peter Eleey say Whee. [thx @analogc]
- Dakis Joannou: DOCK-iss ZHO-new [numu youtu]
- Emilia and Ilya Kabakov: KA-buh-Koff, Ka like Kat [youtube, bonus: Andre Putman: PUT like in Putin, man, rhymes with yawn]
- On Kawara: Own, as in rent-to-. Kawara is his family name, so it’s Kawara On (河原温) in Japanese. [dude, I speak Japanese. 25 years.]
- Paul Klee: Clay [thx paddy]
- Guillermo Kuitca: GYAIR-mo hard G, KWEET-kuh in Minneapolis and Buffalo, anyway. In London, they say KWIT-kah [youtube; publicbroadcasting.net]
- Yayoi Kusama: Yah-yoy Koo-saw-mah. Again, Kusama is her family name, so Kusama Yayoi (草間彌生). [me]
- Wifredo Lam: THERE IS NO L, PEOPLE, NO L!! LOOK CLOSELY. Anyway, it’s pronounced like Wilfredo WITHOUT THE L. [Italian on vimeo, thanks @aljavieera]
- Laocoön: Lay-UH-kuh-wahn, rhymes with go on. [britishmuseum.org]
- Aristide Maillol: My-yole [moma]
- Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle: In-EE-go Mawn-glawn-o O-VA-yay [though the guy at SAIC also says peda-GO-gee, so…]
- Julie Mehretu: MARE-Eh-too [metmuseum]
- Modigliani: Mo-DEE-lee-Ah-nee [metmuseum via youtube]
- Laszlo Moholy-Nagy: LAZ-low rhymes with Hasbro, Moley as in holy, Nazh, like gnaws, with a zh on the end [german youtube, but you get the idea. update: But the artist and his family also accept the Americanized “nadgie” new idiom]
- Vik Muniz: Moo-NEES [5min]
- Edvard Munch: Moonk [thx paddy]
- Albert Oehlen: Uhrlen, classic umlaut O [moma]
- Maja Oeri, of the Schaulager: Ury, like Early without the “L”; Show- like shower and lager like beer. moma]
- Meret Oppenheim: Merit [moma]
- Francis Picabia: Pih-CAW-bee-uh [moma]
- Otto Piene: PEEN-uh [german youtube]
- Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo: Ray-Ray-bo-DANG-go, a little like Bojangles [italian youtube]
- Gerhard Richter: For Americans, it’s like the scale. For the Teutonically inclined, go ahead and let’er rip, GAIR-haht REESH-tah [gerhard-richter.com]
- Gerrit Rietveld: two R’s, one T, people. REET like street, feld, like fell down the stairs. [dutch youtube, thanks craig]
- Dieter Roth: Rote [german youtube]
- Edward Ruscha: “(Ed-werd Rew-shay)” [walkerart.org and colette.fr thx @valeriemargolis]
- Anri Sala: ON-ree SAHL-LAH [google video]
- Yinka Shonibare: YEEN-kuh SHOW-nih-Bar-eh [tate channel]
- Alec Soth: rhymes with both [youtube, thx @jenbee]
- Sperone: Spare-ownee [just call, you’ll see]
- Thomas Struth: [SHTRoot, he has never corrected me, but that’s how he says it at the Met]
- Alina Szapocznikow: Ah-LEE-nuh Shah-POTCH-nick-off [UPDATE: this moma audio has it as POTS, but thanks to Rachel Wetzler, we learn that the ‘cz’ combo in Polish is pronounced “CH”, like chalk. cf. a Polish curator’s youtube video. To practice hearing the difference, please listen to this 4-hour symposium at MoMA. Thanks Rachel and thanks Andrew for the suggestion]
- Thyssen-Bornemisza: Tissen BORN-uh-Meesa [youtube]
- Rirkrit Tiravanija: Hans Ulrich says Tier-uh-vah-NEE-juh, and Rikrit says TEER-uh-van-EET. So maybe there’s a reason people just say Rick-rit. hans ulrich at moma; studiobanana.tv]
- Günther Uecker: GOON-ter OO-ker, like a clipped booker [german youtube]
- Ulay: OO-Lie, as in, “Ooh, lie down naked with this skeleton on top of you for eight hours.” [that’s how Marina prounces it, anyway]
- Joep van Lieshout: Yoop fawn LEASE-howt, [dutch tv, whoops, I’ve said van lees-hote to his face, too]
- Danh Vo: Yahn, it’s a “Vietnamese soft ‘d’. [ex. Talking at Walker Art Ctr, via youtube]
- Apichatpong Weerasethakul: A like apple pih-CHAT like room pong WEIR like weird -uh-suh-THA like Thatcher cull like a herd [cannes 2010 press conf]
- Susan Weil: Vay, “like Simone Weil” [Rauschenberg Fndn oral history, page 1] UPDATE: When I met her and mentioned this, she was like, “No, it’s Vile, “like Simone Weil,” and I was like, “Sounds good to me!” So I think it is Vile like Susan Weil.
- Ai Weiwei (艾未未): Eye way way, family name is Ai [paleycenter.org]
- Rachel Whiteread: reed, not red [moma]
- Witte de With: VITT-uh de VIT [dutch youtube]
- David Wojnarowicz “(pronounced voy-nah-ROH-vitch)” [PPOW, his dealer since 1988]
- Lisa Yuskavage: Yuh-SKA-vedge, sounds like savage [youtube, thanks john]
Some build on each other; once you know Bas Jan Ader [Boss Yan Adder], you can do Jan Dibbetts, Jan Schoonhoven [Skoon-ho-ven], Christian Jankowski [Yan-KOFF-ski], and so on. If your favorites aren’t on the list, please feel free to send them along.