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, people, who has not been telling me about this? In Transmission LA, the very important exhibition Mike D just curated at MOCA, sponsored by Mercedes Benz?
Fortunately, Tyler Green used flickr user Eli Carrico’s image, above, for a MOCAWTF roundup, or I might have missed it for even longer.]
Here are a couple of other views, from sadjeans, who reports that “this Mercedes emblem was six feet wide,” which, really?
And these from Nicolas Arias:
Oops, sorry, that one’s from inside the show.
Besides its own self-evident awesomeness, it reminds me of one of my favorite artworks from Documenta 11, by Thomas Hirschhorn. Hirschhorn installed his Bataille Monument in a Turkish housing complex out of Kassel’s city center.
To get to it, he’d come pick you up in a worked-over, old Mercedes, which I can’t believe I can’t find a photo of? Really, Internet? But that’s not important now.
Because the work I’m talking about his contribution to the Documenta Collection by Edition Schellmann, sold exclusively at the show. CNN is a 2.5meter-wide piece of gold chain bling with the once-relevant news network logo dangling from it. An edition of 50, the original price was just EUR1200. And when it’s come up for sale it’s been just $5,000. So it’s an awesome–and inexpensive–way to fill a wall.
Obviously, if I can’t track down this original–do we know who the artist is? Mike D? Or the edition size? Did it enter MOCA’s collection?–I will be making my own edition in the Hirschhorn-ian style to celebrate MOCA’s and Mercedes Benz’s unwavering support and incisive relevance to contemporary art.
FIVE MINUTES LATER UPDATE:
OK, then, it’s a go. Notcot has these hardhitting photos from the opening. The artist is indeed Mike D. His subversive appropriation of the Mercedes logo and his deployment of it as a readymade were not limited to the patio. He had at least two more, one leaning against a fence, and one inside, tucked into a corner.
I assume they’re from dealerships. No idea how he got a hold of them. But that does not look like six feet across; more like four. Okay, that one may be six feet. And the chains are gold[en].
Also from Notcot: this gripping firsthand report:
So it’s only natural that when curating this art festival (which they gave him carte blanche on!) he created a HUGE Mercedes emblem hanging on a large chain in the central pavillion of the exhibition… as well as a few huge emblems tucked around the space… and then around 25 special chain necklaces with authentic Mercedes-Benz emblems for the artists and key brand folks…
Which was enthusiastic enough [“Here’s Anders-Sundt Jensen, Head Of Brand Communications, modeling one of the necklaces!”] for Anders-Sundt Jensen, Head of Brand Communications, to give said necklace to said blogger at the end of the night.
Hmm, do we have a photo of Deitch wearing a Mercedes chain necklace?
There is a review of Richteriana in this week’s DER SPIEGEL [22/2012]. Google doesn’t do tone, so who really knows, but it sounds alright. There’s not a link or an English version of the Spiegel review yet, but I”ll add them as they appear.
It’s written by Ulrike Knoefel, the art critic whose article about “the separate and secret museum” of destroyed Gerhard Richter paintings provided the impetus [and imagery] for my paintings.
I like that she noted,
Der Hinweis darauf, dass die nicht mehr vorhandenen Richter-Gemälde heute viele Millionen wert wären, brachte Allen dazu aus seinem Werk über Richter auch ein Werk über den Kunstmarkt zu machen.
And of course, then there’s the part about how, “Letzlich hat er ebenfalls große Konzeptkunst geschaffen.”
If I want my Konzeptkunst to be really große, I may have to go all in, and decide to destroy whichever of the Destroyed Richter Paintings the market doesn’t take. While supplies last.
I find the maxim of not reading reviews of one’s work to be much easier to live by when there are no reviews.
Because at least two takes on Richteriana have already been published, and I like the concept. It’s reassuring but also a but unsettling. And then a little invigorating, to encounter other peoples’ takes on your ideas.
In the Village Voice, James Hannaham called the Destroyed Richter Paintings “outlandish,” which I took to be a good sign, even though I wouldn’t–you know what, no, let’s just let it hang out there:
While partially homage, this work invades the great man’s privacy on at least two levels: first, by showing us images he apparently didn’t want anyone to see, and second, by co-opting and outsourcing his technique.
While I don’t think that’s literally true, the invasion of privacy part, I do think Hannaham is right to find an uneasiness in the images, not just whether they should exist, but whether they do or don’t, and if so, how?
And also Jane Hu did a lot of context work on Richter, his art, his history, his control issues, and the larger Richter and Art Industrial Complexes themselves:
[T]he artist has destroyed or painted over many past works, in order, presumably, to maintain a narrative about his artistic trajectory that satisfies his present sense as a painter. Richter knows as well as anyone that art history traffics in selling a story, as much as it does in telling an image. While the first half of his career produced paintings that tried to approximate photographic realism, he later increasingly turned to abstraction. And in doing so, no matter what other aesthetic reasons he may have had, Richter not only has revised his own biography, but those of his paintings as well.
Her discussion of David Diao’s work Synecdoche, is particularly sharp. On its own, David’s painting is amazing, but his wresting control of a vintage Benjamin Buchloh
Artforum exhibition catalogue [whoops, 2nd time I’ve made that mistake. -ed] essay is a blunt and powerful and unsettling gesture.
The more I look at Synecdoche, the more it feels like the most important argument in the show.
Photograph of a painting destroyed by Gerhard Richter, Gerhard Richter Archiv via Spiegel
Since I first started looking into them, I’ve wanted to know why Gerhard Richter destroyed some of his paintings. Because, of course, some of them weren’t “destroyed” destroyed, but just painted over, with their previous state being technically defined as a momentary completion, not a work in process. There are only a few like that in the Catalogue Raisonné, though; most of the works listed as “Destroyed” are presumably actually destroyed.
But at least they all got Catalogue Raisonné numbers. Ulrike Knöfel wrote about a different category of destroyed Richters, largely undiscussed and unseen, which were destroyed before the artist began his catalogue raisonné, and which thus, with maybe one exception, don’t have a CR number, and are thus excluded from Richter’s declared oeuvre. Even if they were authentically created by Richter, and shown in exhibitions, and offered for sale.
As Dietmar Elger points out in his biography of Richter, A Life In Painting, Richter actually conceives of the Catalogue Raisonné as a work of art in itself, one which, like Atlas, is still in process.
I recently met with Dr. Elger during a trip to New York, and we spoke about these dynamics of creation, destruction, recognition, and archiving as they play out in Richter’s practice. Elger runs the Gerhard Richter Archiv at the Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen Dresden, and maintains the Catalogue Raisonné, so he has a seat at the table for much of this history. After a brief fanboy prelude, in which he signed my book [and my copy of the Felix Gonzalez-Torres catalogue raisonne which he was also involved in], we got to talking. [We met for information, not as an actual interview, so I didn’t take notes or record our conversation, and I won’t directly attribute quotes, but just try to capture my recollections.]
Destroyed Richter Painting #03
First off, a huge thanks to everyone who came to the opening of Richteriana Saturday, and a high five to Magda, Postmasters and the artists in the show. It really does look great, and interesting, and provocative. If you can, you should definitely see it in person.
Destroyed Richter Painting #04
Which is actually one reason I debated not posting images of the Destroyed Richter Paintings paintings I put into the show. One of the real drivers of making the paintings was to approximate the experience of standing in front of paintings that could now only be seen through photos. Or transparencies. Or JPGs. And to measure what the difference is between these different modes of mediated perception.
Destroyed Richter Painting #02
I did not have access to the actual dimensions of Richter’s original works, but I worked hard to deduce the size as well as to approximate the image, so as to make the feeling of seeing a picture in person as authentic [sic] as possible, even while acknowledging that Richter made such an experience impossible.
Destroyed Richter Painting #05
But looking at jpgs of paintings [of jpgs of paintings of photos] obviously falls short of this idealized encounter. As so much of our art encounter/consumption does. It’s a distinction that most people miss or gloss over, but which is not lost on Tyler Green, who recently addressed the subject of critics reviewing shows they haven’t seen by tweeting, “I never ‘work’ off JPEG.”
Richter actually showed most or all of the paintings depicted here between 1964-67, so in a way, there’s an aspect of going back in time, to encounter Richter and his work at the beginning of his Western career. A time when the context of the work wasn’t hype and adulation and skyrocketing prices, but bafflement, resistance, and indignation. There are early photo paintings that survive only because someone bought them or kept them; so these works, which were once good enough to be exhibited or put on sale, were rejected by the market before they were ultimately rejected by the artist himself.
Destroyed Richter Painting #01
The one exception/mystery is Grau. This is one of the 70+ paintings that did make it into the catalogue raisonne, but which are now listed as destroyed. And if there’s a surviving image of the three destroyed grey monochromes [CR395-1-3], I couldn’t find it. So all that’s known publicly is the dimensions, and the unusual support [wood panel]. But that’s part of the beauty of the grey paintings, I thought, that you could think you could credibly extrapolate an actual painting from such minimal information. And seeing it in person really makes me miss Richter’s version–and to wonder what happened to it.
Postmasters is pleased to announce:
GREG ALLEN, DAVID DIAO, RORY DONALDSON,
HASAN ELAHI, FABIAN MARCACCIO, RAFAËL ROZENDAAL
May 12 – June 16, 2012
opening reception, saturday, may 12, 6-8
Postmasters‘ new exhibition Richteriana attempts to examine the current canonization of Gerhard Richter, presenting six artists whose works pre-date, update, expand, and subvert “the greatest living artist’s” own.
…[snip much amazing thinking and description of great artists and their work]…
Greg Allen’s Destroyed Richter Paintings channel the elder artist’s own private documentary images back into the photo- based painting feedback loop he once deemed “photography by other means.” They reproduce the experience of encountering Richter’s lost originals, while becoming new objects themselves. By engaging the sprawling Chinese photo-painting industry that has grown up in Richter’s wake, Allen forefronts the market’s incredulous perception of the artist’s autonomy–and his right to declare or destroy his own work.
More to come, obviously.
a destroyed Richter/Palermo collaboration
“I am practising photography by other means.”
On repainting Gerhard Richter
Overpainted vs Destroyed Gerhard Richter
First, Happy Birthday, Mr. Richter.
Destroyed 1964 Richter painting, image from Gerhard Richter Archkiv via Spiegel
I don’t know if Joerg knew at the time he first tweeted about it–he is plugged in and German, so who knows?–but I certainly had no idea when I picked up on the topic of Gerhard Richter “destroying” paintings by painting over them. But it turns out that the 74 paintings listed as “[DESTROYED]” on Richter’s website are only a fraction, barely half, of the paintings he’s actually destroyed so far.
In an interview with Ulrike Knöfel for Spiegel, Richter talks about the 60 or so photo-based paintings he destroyed in the 1960s during a very self-critical period of his career. Not to worry, though, because, being Gerhard Richter, he photographed them first
These photos, most of which were never published, are now either in the Gerhard Richter Archive in the eastern German city of Dresden, where the painter was born, or in a box in his studio in the western city of Cologne. They are testaments to his refusal to compromise.
Mhmm. Though the ambivalence/regret/equivocation Richter expresses in the interview reveal that a refusal to compromise is not automatically a win. Couldn’t he have just put them away and not looked at them for a while instead?
None were apparently included in Richter’s first catalogue raisonne, the source for his website’s “[DESTROYED]” list. And many appear to date from the earliest phase of his recognized work, 1962-4. Oh but wait, his much-discussed 1962 Hitler IS online, described as “believed to have been destroyed.”
Hitler, 1962, image via gerhard-richter.com
That seems like a new category, loaded with ambiguity. I like it much better than “[DESTROYED]” or even “Richter painted over this work in ___. The painting is now entitled ____.” Which, it turns out, has another example:
Today, Richter says he’s surprised at how many works he continued to destroy after the 1960s. Perhaps he will return to one motif or another, he adds, noting that “otherwise it would be a shame.” One painting, in particular, comes to mind. It was painted in 1990 and shows two young people standing in front of Madrid’s Museo del Prado, Spain’s national art museum. However, two years later, he painted over this work, turning “Prado, Madrid” into “Abstract Painting, 1992.”
Which, yeah, there is no Prado, Madrid in the CR, and there are at least 279 Abstraktes Bild done in 1992, so, this’ll take a bit of digging. I’ll update the post when/if I find it. [I’ll have to do an update post anyway, because I’ve already found at least two other overpainted paintings.]
This painting over thing is one thing. The other, which I’m kind of fascinated by now, is the relationship between painting and photography as it plays out in these destroyed paintings. Which, of course, still exist as the artist’s photographs. It’s like Barthes’ Camera Lucida; they’re gone, but not. I can’t tell if this is Spiegel’s interpretation or reportage:
Still, since his urge to destroy some of his paintings also made him feel uneasy, he photographed them before doing so.
But someone has to have already looked at this backup, insurance, documentary, archival, post-mortem, forensic, ghost aspect of the way these two mediums intertwine. Right?
Photo of destroyed Gerhard Richter painting, 1960s, by Gerhard Richter, image: Gerhard Richter Archiv Dresden via Spiegel
Meanwhile, the obvious thing–and isn’t that what I’m here to point out?–is to recreate these destroyed Richters. Whether you paint the archival photo, crop marks and background and all, in a meta-Richterian gesture, or just try your darnedest to bring their destroyed, painted subjects back to life, I’ll have to figure out. But paintings based on a painter’s photographs of paintings based on photographs? What’s not to love?
It’d be trivial to the point of meaninglessness to just print the Spiegel jpgs on canvas, or to order them up from Chinese paint mills. But I’d be interested to see just how much more meaning could be gleaned by painstakingly copying them by hand. Even if the answer is very little, that’s still an important datapoint.
His Own Harshest Critic | A New Look at Works Destroyed by Gerhard Richter [spiegel.de via bigthink]
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
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.
I’m bummed to miss it but “While You Wait,” a group show organized by Brian Dupont in Extra Gallery, his Chelsea art firm’s expropriated lobby is opening right now. [Spoiler alert on the venue’s lobbyness? I can’t quite tell, but I figure it’s clear from the show’s press release.]
Anyway, after Brian invited me, I was trying to figure out what I might do, and saw this image of the building–and the space’s window–on Google Street View. And then it was obvious.
I’ll write some more about the piece later; right now I’ve got to pick up the kid from riding lessons. I mean, proletariat lessons.
OK, comrades, I’m back. Basically, Google Street View is increasingly the first impression, the reference point, even the authority of sorts, for the new places we go in the physical world. In Extra’s case, the distinguishing feature of its unassuming architecture is the mismatched seam Street View gave it. Untitled [Extra Street View] is an attempt to approximate that digital reality in the physical experience of the building, to sort of sketch it into the space. Or maybe to capture it in one spot–the window–or one perspective, from inside the place you’ve just traveled to, looking back toward the pano-mapped street. It’s like a shot reverse shot between the viewer and the Google cam.
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.
Just when I start to worry that maybe it’s wrong to care how sculpturally sweet the Google Street View’s camera ball is, I see this [scroll way down], a photo of the ramshackle, zip-tied, off-the-shelf mess that is the Tele Atlas street mapping van.
Seriously, people, if you’re not gonna suit up, why even come to the game? [image: sfcitizen.com]
Sure, you can get it for free right here, in all its original jpeg glory, but if you want to see the velvety printed goodness of Untitled (300×404) in person, you should head to 20×200’s booth at the Affordable Art Fair, which opens in Manhattan tonight through the weekend.
Jen Bekman’s got a couple of print and collecting discussions scheduled, and there’s a framing primer–and a few spots left to reserve in the 20×200.com pop-up framing shop. Check the 20×200 blog for all the details.
Visit 20×200 THIS Weekend at the Affordable Art Fair in NYC! [20×200.com]
Previously: Untitled (300×404) the making of
300×404 @ 20×200!