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.
It’s been a minute since I’ve gone deep into Dan Flavin’s work, but a tweet exchange with Joshua Caleb Weibley the other day really got me thinking. Joshua mentioned seeing crates of Flavin replacement bulbs during a museum install, and how visitors to the Guggenheim would accidentally break the fluorescent light bulbs with shocking regularity.
I’ve never seen that–and without inciting it, would low-key kind of like to, to be quite honest. The issue of constant replacement was acutely felt, because, as Joshua had pointed out, Flavin’s signature medium, fluorescent lights in various colors in union-made, commercial grade fixtures, had become obsolete, and the studio/estate had decided it needed to be propped up with their own hand-formulated replacements.
Which made me think of a Flavin that had been turned off. Or actually, a Flavin that had burned out. That’s it, that’s the piece. The history, the legacy, the ephemerality, the [absence of] light.
In another timeline, it’s happened: Flavin insisted that when the lights went out of production, that was it. People turned the pink ones off first, to make them last the longest. They’d crowd galleries on the special day when they got turned on. Flavin Day. Over the years they went out and were mourned as lost icons of their time, like demolished Paul Rudolph houses. People began to appreciate them as relics, not environments. Everyone contemplating them became Buddhists. Or Quakers. They became sites of meditation, where people manifested the light. Can you see it?
After a few decades, instead of half a dozen virtual Van Gogh shows, tourists flocked to Flavin Experiences, where simulations of his work alight were projection mapped onto the walls and floor. Critics complained, of course, about the physical difference between projected light and emanating light, and maybe a joker made some facsimile objects to simulate the lost fluorescent effect through tubes stuffed with LEDs.
And then there’s the rarity. It occurred to me how hard it might be to make a Flavin out of burned out lights. Properly burned out lights, not just turned off or disabled. How long might it take? When the qualities of desirability and dismissal are inverted, it really does change a lot. [Flavin’s work already has similar dichotomies built into it, though: in our timeline, there’s an existential link between the glowing, manufactured fixture/object and the mundane hand-drawn certificate. Both are required to comprise the work.]
But it did remind me of a visit to MoMA once where I saw, not only a crate of Flavin replacement bulbs, but another crate–of Flavin replaced bulbs. They kept the burned out bulbs. MoMA has five Flavin sculptures [and twelve diagram/drawings of sculptures, including one straight-up certificate that’s registered as a separate object, but that’s another blog post.] They’ve had Flavins since at least 1969. Just think of all the burned out bulbs they’ve accumulated. If other institutions do the same, then maybe rarity is not really a factor, so much as access, rarity by another name.
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.
Alexandra Lange brought Gwyneth Paltrow’s troublesome installation of her Ruth Asawa sculpture in front of her patio door to Twitter’s attention this morning. And I confess, seeing the Architectural Digest photos, that included Lindsey Adelman’s drapey light installation, and a Ralph Pucci hammock also hanging from the ceiling of Paltrow’s new Montecito living room, I, too, was troubled. For a minute.
But after watching the video tour, and hearing the care and attention to detail, feel, design, and material that Paltrow and her people put into this project, I became fine with it. How else *should* an Asawa sculpture live, but in an actress-turned-influencer’s slightly louche, ultra-deluxe living room full of stuff hanging from the ceiling? Not everything should be a white cube. As long as the door, or the dog, or the kid, doesn’t hit the fragile sculpture, go wild, Gwyneth. [LATER THAT DAY UPDATE: NOT an Asawa! Problem solved! Or, rather, replaced with new problem!]
That’s not important now. Not when the Baldessari diptych over the fireplace is blurred out in the video. I’m guessing A/D did not want to splurge for the video license from ARS? I also love that all they felt they needed to blur out is the text on one half of the work; the monochrome painting is undefaced.
Speaking of face, there’s a new one in town. Untitled (Prima Facie), 2022, is a lenticular print mounted on aluminum and enamel on canvas diptych where the avant garde grows increasingly sharper with a move to the right.
It is inspired by Baldessari’s Prima Facie (Fifth State): Avant Garde, a 2007 diptych which is itself based on a spread found in Baldessari’s 2006 artist book, Prima Facie: Marilyn’s Dress: 2006/2007 – a poem in four parts, which was available in both book and deluxe book with a print editions. Earlier states of the Prima Facie series had photographs of actors and actresses where the monochrome is here, with words chosen to be the instant, descriptive equivalent–and equal in visual impact-to the image. Baldessari showed works from the Prima Facie (Fifth State) at Sprüth Magers in London in mid-2006, where Paltrow might have seen them, but this 2007 work came from Marian Goodman. These works are depicted in David Platzker et al’s Baldessari Catalogue Raisonée, of course, and the Museum Dhondt-Daehnans in Belgium put out a comprehensive-at-the-time catalogue of Prima Facie works for a show in 2005-06. Untitled (Prima Facie) is a greg.org exclusive.
I’ve written before about the long reach of Danh Vo’s 2.2.1861 (2009 – ) on my thinking, but also specifically on the Facsimile Objects project, beforeI made a one-off Facsimile Object of it. Having a visual of Phung Vo’s beautifully transcribed letter from soon-to-be-beheaded J. Théophane Vénard to his father in front of me, instead of tucked safely away, has leveled up that influence.
It makes me try to improve my handwriting. It intensified my preference for A4 paper, which turns out to be difficult to find and work with in a world that defaults to 8.5 x 11. It prompted me to seek out the original source for Vénard’s letter. It got me to learn LaTeX. It, along with spending time with aging parents and a global pandemic, made me think about mortality, the moment that awaits us all.
And it made me think about what a Facsimile Object does, or what it could do.
Phung Vo Facsimile Object (PV1) is one result. It is the transcription of a slightly different published version of Vénard’s letter than the one Vo uses. It is set in LaTex using the French Cursive font package created by Emmanual Beffara, and printed on Vietnamese A4 paper. A certificate of authenticity matches it, and both are contained in an A4 document sleeve.
The layout is inspired by Vo’s 2.2.1861, but between the machine font and the slight textual differences, the line breaks diverge after just four lines. It’s a bit like how the clocks in Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ “Untitled” (Perfect Lovers) slip out of sync, except for the perfect lovers part, and the baked-in indexing of facsimulatory failure.
I am not decided about what to do with these. Part of me wants to make them available on demand. Part of me thinks they shouldn’t go out until the…end of Vo’s project. [Here at the beginning of a new lunar year, I once again wish Phung Vo a long, healthy, happy, and prosperous life.]
As I contemplate this, I remember back to a project I started in the Summer of 2014, to continue On Kawara’s Today Series after the artist’s death as a communal practice. It was called fromnowon.us, and it would have made it possible for people to order a date painting from Chinese Paint Mill, depicting the date on which it was painted. I’d arranged the production, even getting the painters to include a sheet of the local Shenzhen newspaper with each completed painting. When the test painting arrived, it turned out to be from Sept. 11th. Which gave me pause.
I mean, by the museums in Germany and the UK reopened last May, and the Dürer Facsimile Objects in that first diptych were discontinued, I did bleakly anticipate their related Dürers might become unvisitable in person again. I was also naively relieved to not be in the business of selling Tastily Painted Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah pictures. And here we are.
What I did not anticipate, however, was that at a moment when travel restrictions were returning, the National Gallery would title its new Dürer show, “The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Dürer’s Journeys.” And I definitely did not imagine that they’d promote the show using a literal diptych of verso paintings. Why, just look at A Heavenly Body[? A Heavenly Vision?], on the back of the National Gallery (London)’s own St. Jerome; and the Lot and His Daughters painted on the back of National Gallery (DC)’s Haller Madonna, together at the very center of the awkward and weirdly empty exhibition photo up top. We’ve come a long way, and yet we have not.
The thing I’m most appalled by, though, is that despite a 60% jump in COVID case levels since I started *writing* this post, to the highest levels of the entire pandemic, and 10x even New York’s current spike, it appears that the Her Majesty’s Government is dragging their feet on issuing any restrictions, for fear of what impact a negative public reaction might have on Boris Johnson’s hold on power.
So while previous Facsimile Objects mitigated art encounters you couldn’t have, this new Dürer Diptych based on the National Gallery’s exhibit is meant as a hedge for an experience you shouldn’t have, at least right now. And so, The Credit Suisse Dürer Diptych: Dürer Facsimile Object (D1) A Heavenly Vision is available along with Dürer Facsimile Object (D3.38), The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, a full-size detail of 38% of the original painting, conceptualized last spring when the NGA reopened, that focuses on the painterly joys of fire, brimstone, vegetation, and that brushy, little black pillar of salt that used to be Lot’s wife.
If you think about it, a fiery meteorite crashing to earth and sulfur and fire raining down from heaven go together quite nicely; the apocalyptic symmetry was surely not lost on a young Dürer who, with the year 1500 fast approaching, was already thinking about the end of the world.
In consideration of those who might have acquired an AD FO (D1) already, AF DO (D3.38) will be available separately. Each Facsimile Object is accompanied by a full-scale, certificate of authenticity handmade in India ink on Arches. ADFO(D1) certificates will be distinct from those produced last spring, as a treat.
If the National Gallery actually does close to slow the spread of COVID, these Facsimile Objects will be available only until it reopens, or until, like with the Vermeers, it becomes official that the show will not reopen. If the National Gallery and its partner Credit Suisse don’t do anything, and just take their couple of days off during Christmas break, I will probably end this futile folly when that becomes clear, either on January 27th, or January 2nd. What a world.
2 January UPDATE: Turns out making shiny facsimiles of paintings or parts of paintings available is not enough to defeat the omicron surge. If only I’d sent them to every house in the UK instead. Or even to every Credit Suisse client.
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!
A few days ago a friend with amazing superpowers for finding things sent an eBay listing from a European autograph dealer for a Richard Prince joke drawing. It was a hilarious forgery, but it was also only €1, and, I argued, it was well worth it. As we texted about it, I was like, dang, now I want to sell Richard Prince drawings on scraps of paper on eBay for €1! You should make them in puffy pen ink, my heroic friend said.
As it turns out, puffy ink is more of a bottle-based medium than a pen-based one. And it is intended for use on fabric, not Arches or fancy metallic scrapbooking cardstock.
The dimensionality of the text, along with the curling of the paper as the puffy ink dries, most assuredly transforms what I’d imagined were drawings into objects. Objects which might get crushed if shipped via a simple, stamped envelope. Objects which contain vital title, stamp and initialing elements on the verso, complicating simple framing and mounting.
And to top it all off, eBay insists I list my US-based items in dollars. But out of such difficult decisions is great art sometimes born. In the case of this little series, at least, I am certain they’re worth a dollar if they’re worth anything at all. Because every single one is guaranteed to contain an authentic Richard Prince joke. I could not make these up.
I’m as surprised as anyone that it was only when I finished posting about the orphaned appendices in the Felix Gonzalez-Torres catalogue raisonée that I figured out what to do with them.
I do still think that the Foundation should republish the information about the dozens of works Gonzalez-Torres made, and showed, and sent out into the world, which were later declared to be non-works.
By laying out the eight pages of the CR’s two appendices, Untitled (Additional Material) appropriates the strategy of the iconic stack, “Untitled” (Death by Gun), which reproduces entire pages from a special issue of Time magazine showing the people killed in the US by guns during one week.
The dimensions, meanwhile are a nod to one of two pieces that ended up classified as Non-Works: a 1990 collaboration with Donald Moffett called, “Untitled” (I Spoke With Your God). The stack of printed text by Moffett on red paper (“I SPOKE WITH YOUR GOD/ HE COMMANDED ME TO CUT OUT YOUR MOUTH”) appeared just once, in a two-person show at the University of British Columbia Arts Center in Vancouver. [The print size, 29×23 inches, is one Gonzalez-Torres used in other stacks, too, including “Untitled” (Veterans Day Sale), 1989, the image of which was used above for a rendering of the piece. I did not print 20 inches worth of giant bootleg posters today.]
As it turns out, this Non-Work does have a Foundation webpage, complete with installation shots. It does not appear to be linked from anywhere, and the URL now ends in “-hidden.” I am in awe all over again.
I want to go to Paris. I want to see this little Édouard Manet painting of a dog that has never been shown publicly, not once in 142 years. I want to go to Paris to see this Manet painting of a dog which, in just a couple of weeks, will be on view at Drouot for two days and an hour. I want to own this Manet painting. I want to stand in front of it whenever I want, and to watch the features of this dog, and the dashed off brushstrokes that conjure them, dissolve into the vibrations of the atmosphere.
As the world stands right now, the probability of my achieving any of this is low. But it will be at least theoretically possible until Friday the 26th of February, when the two-day exhibition closes, and the painting, Minnay, is sold in an auction starting at 2pm.
It is in this window of possibility that I propose the Édouard Manet Facsimile Object (M1) “Minnay” as a contingency, an experiential hedge. It is a full-scale image of Minnay, printed on a sheet of aluminum. It is high-resolution and high-gloss. I taped the proof to the wall, and it looks extremely authentic. How does it compare to seeing or owning the painting? LITERALLY ALMOST NO ONE CAN SAY, CERTAINLY NOT ME, NOT YET.
In the event I do not get to Paris, and/or do not buy Minnay, but you do, I will offer this facsimile object to you in exchange for the painting. Then let us discourse on the differences, if indeed there are any.
In the mean time, everyone with a not-yet-zero-but-diminishing-daily probability of seeing or buying Minnay is invited to acquire their own facsimile object, to hedge their potential experiential loss. They will available from today until the moment the painting sells in Paris [tbc, but some point after 1400 CET on Feb. 26].
Each facsimile object will be accompanied by a hand-made certificate of authenticity, executed in watercolor on Arches at a scale identical to the facsimile object itself.
The COA will also bear the number of each facsimile object, based on the order orders are received. Without knowing the scale of our exposure, it feels important that the facsimile object be available to as many people who need it during These Trying Times, whether that number is 5 or 500 or 6,000 or zero. When the hammer drops in Paris, the facsimile object will become unavailable, and the number ordered, representing the full extent of our collective deprivations, will be known and executed.
The facsimile object is made using a dye sublimation process. Unless it is destroyed, it will last forever. But it will not look the same forever. Some dyes change when exposed to sunlight over a prolonged period of time. Let’s all just strive, though, to live lives and create a world where the status, condition, or ownership of this facsimile object is not a source of stress or inter-generational conflict. It is meant to mitigate loss, not foment it.
Anyway, the facsimile object is available for order below. The price is set at 0.1% of the painting’s probable reserve price. If you need a method other than paypal, let me know. If, after ordering one, you end up either seeing the painting IRL or buying it, also let me know. If you act in a timely manner, you can unwind your hedge, or keep the facsimile object as an historical document. Or, of course, we can exchange it for the painting and some discourse.
[2/26 update: the Manet was sold for EUR420,000, or EUR520,800 with premium, or USD$632,058, and so this offer is ended. For everyone except whoever bought it, of course. HMU]
Untitled (Trump Plaza Black) Nos. 4 & 5, 2016, paint on panel, each in two parts, collection: Trump Entertainment Resorts/Carl Icahn, installation photo via Press of Atlantic City
which were hastily installed during the 2016 campaign over the dingy palimpsest of Trump’s name on the facade of the abandoned and bankrupt casino in Atlantic City.
And it reminded me that it very much mattered to the works that they were in the collections of the NYPD Order Control Unit and Trump Entertainment Resorts & Carl Icahn, respectively.
So when this piece went up on the facade of the Fox News studio facing the US Capitol building, in between the white supremacist insurrectionists’ attack on vote certification slash barely thwarted massacre of politicians, and the hastily militarized inauguration, where troops are literally–I hope–protecting the elected president and vice president from the paramilitary mobs of the current/outgoing president, it feels very important to point out that Fox News absolutely owns this.
It is New Year’s Day, and way past time to recognize the significance of the 9/11 Museum Cheese Board in the development of my practice.
It is true that in late 2014, recognizing the aesthetic resonance of an LRAD and its cover with the work of Olafur Eliasson and Marcel Duchamp, respectively, combined with Olafur’s call to take the tools and methodologies of art beyond the confines of the art world led directly to my idea to create Protestors’ Folding Item, an artwork in the collection of the NYPD, with the intention of using VARA in court to enforce the piece’s exhibition integrity and require LRAD remain covered in public. From there I stepped up a practice of declaring works that involve objects I do not own or situations I don’t control-including some already in museums, which is convenient, conservationally.
But after spending more than six years now looking for them in the wild, and exploring various techniques and approaches for replicating them, it’s clear to me that the complicated condition of these cheese boards helped map the territory where Protestors’ Folding Item would soon be found: the implications of the art/not-art inflection point, the context of those states, and the related issues of authorship, the object, and the exercise of control.
Almost as soon as Jen Chung reported the existence of the porcelain serving trays in Gothamist, I began researching their creation, and identifying their creators. That the trays were significant was immediately obvious. That their significance came entirely from their terribleness was, too, but the immediate media focus on their terribleness made their significance an awkward subject. I never heard back from the designer or the company after sending what I thought was a very diplomatic and persuasive email request for the middle of a sudden PR maelstrom:
Dear Ms. S––,
Thank you in advance for your consideration, and for your assistance in a story on the porcelain platter Rosanna designed for the 9/11 Museum. I am a writer in Washington DC and New York City, and have published my independent art- and architecture-related research at my blog, greg.org: the making of, since 2001. The site was recently recognized by the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program.
One of the subjects I covered rather extensively and authoritatively was the design competition for the World Trade Center Memorial. I was impressed by the Cartography platter in the recently opened 9/11 Museum Gift Shop, and the debates it has engendered about the museum, the memorialization process, and different experiences and modes of remembrance.
I would hope that as a company and a designer, Rosanna and Ms. Bowles might be able to share insights on the design and the process of creating it, and to site the platter in a constructive and empathetic context.
If it’s germane to this particular commission, it would also be helpful to hear about other museum or philanthropic projects, or perhaps to expand the context to include the history of commemorative plates, figures, and other objects.
Thank you again, and I look forward to your response, and to answering any questions that can facilitate my research.
As is clear, though, I was still in research mode. It felt like a delicate balance, a fine line, to acknowledge that attention came from controversy, which is not something a manufacturer of porcelain serving pieces and collectibles is anticipating. But it’s also the case that though I was obviously not going to declare their trays works of art in my interview request, I was not yet ready to do it myself, even in my own mind. So for several months in 2014, these trays existed for me as objects in a state of tension.
The 9/11 Serving Trays are evidence of the historical and cultural reality of our world right then, when an expensive museum at the site of a terrorist attack slash commercial real estate development contracted with a housewares company to design an exclusive product for sale in their gift shop. The object that resulted was not a commemorative plate, which had already been produced in great volume by 2014; it was a ceramic tray in the shape of the continental United States, in cream glaze finish, and blank except for three navy blue hearts to mark the sites of four crashed planes. The box called it not a cheese board, but a serving tray. What could be more honorable than serving, they might have thought when they approved the copy. And when faced by overwhelming criticism, even from The 9/11 Families, a group used regularly until that point as human shields for all manner of capital- and politics-driven decisions at the WTC site, the museum defended its offering of “keepsakes” to a bigger market, “the 9/11 Community,” which could include not just the 9/11 Industry, but anyone who has the “historic experience” of visiting the museum itself.
I’m rambling, obviously, but after the internal debate over whether to post works like the blurred Frida, I am deciding to err on the side of slightly more info. And also, for the first time, my periodic internet sweep turned up this photo on a 3-month-old reddit post, the first evidence of the 9/11 Cheese Board existing outside the 9/11 Museum.
So there is something that in many other circumstances would be called hope. And that feels very fitting for today, and for this moment in time.