Some people wanted to make art in the gap between life and art.

Some people, meanwhile, are interested in the gap between if you move it you destroy it and actually we didn’t cut it up because it has little tongues and grooves and just slots together.

Joshua Smith, Untitled (Forbidden Colors), 2024

joshua smith 1983 just posted this image to his instagram of four elongated parallelogram shaped monochrome paintings leaning to the right, in the colors green, red, black, and white, hung on a white wall with a similarly proportioned parallelogram of sunlight hitting the hardwood floor below. a work titled Untitled (Forbidden Colors), 2024, after a related work from 1988 by Felix Gonzalez-Torres, which is in the collection of MOCA LA.
Joshua Smith, Untitled (Forbidden Colors), 2024, via IG/@joshuasmith1983

Untitled (Forbidden Colors) has been realized again, this time as a work by Joshua Smith. The parallelogram of Los Angeles sunlight coming in might be my favorite thing about this photo, after the work itself. It would be great if it draws out the Felix Gonzalez-Torres original from MOCA’s storerooms, and even better if there can be a stop to the killings in Gaza.

Kankonshi 還魂紙

Usuzumi no Rinji/Reclaimed Paper Imperial Decree, 1333 CE, coll. Toji Hyakugo Monjo, Kyoto Pref.

From Jonathan A. Hill bookseller’s latest catalogue, this entry caught my eye:

An extremely rare example of a Kamakura-era sutra printed in Japan on recycled grayish paper; this is the first specimen we have encountered. For an excellent discussion on the subject of recycled paper used in early Japanese printing, we have turned to the most interesting contribution of SOAS Prof. Lucia Dolce (“A Sutra as a Notebook? Printing and Repurposing Scriptures in Medieval Japan,” Ars Orientalis, Vol. 52, No. 3, 2023):

because of the reclaimed paper, called sukigaeshigami 漉返紙 in the period, and shukushi 宿紙 in contemporary archives, but frankly, this sentence is mostly to not have nested blockquotes. Prof. Dolce:

The term sukigaeshigami 漉返紙 (reclaimed paper) appears often in literary works of the time, indicating paper made by soaking scrap paper and other fibers and then spreading them thinly. This method erased the previous text almost completely. Small traces of ink and even traces of characters remained, for ink dissolves and adheres to paper and it is difficult to remove it completely. This gave paper a light gray, “thin-inked” color (usuzumikami 薄墨紙). Sutra printed on such paper were called shukugamikyō 宿紙経, literally “sutras on reclaimed paper.” Since this type of paper was darker and of lower quality than new paper, it was mixed with a higher-quality paper, such as the silky textured ganpi that lends a glossy appearance, and became luxury paper. A second impression of the Kōei edition of the Lotus Sutra was printed on recycled paper of unknown provenance, which had been mixed with mica.

This next paragraph is part of the quote, too, and the entire reason for posting this, but I couldn’t get it to be bold AND italic:

The understanding that writing is imbued with the spirit of a person underpinned such practices, and it is suggestive that literary works use the term kankonshi 還魂紙 (lit., “paper in which the spirit of a deceased comes back” for sutra paper recycled from someone’s writings. These examples suggest that the preservation of a deceased person’s writing functioned as a primary aim for reusing written paper, for once printed with a sutra, that writing would enjoy long life with no danger of being destroyed (except by accident).

It is worthy of note, though, that reclaiming paper was primarily not an emotional strategy, but a regular operation in premodern Japan. Until the fourteenth century paper recycling was run by a governmental institution, the Kamiya 紙屋, and recycled paper was routinely used by the court for bureaucratic matters, such as imperial messages.

I am transfixed by this idea of text being imbued with the spirit of its writer—a concept which resonates more with calligraphy or handwriting—and of a paper that brings that spirit back. And then to get made into a sutra, never to be recycled again! Yay? Oh no? How does the deceased feel about this? Is it a goal or a trap?

Prof. Dolce notes that reclaiming paper was not emotional, but routine, but was also prestigious. Besides the 14th century CE imperial decree on shukushi Prof. Dolce references in the National Archives in Tokyo, the description of this decree in the Toji Hyakugo Monjo in Kyoto explains that the shukushi used by the emperors was darkened even further to enhance its sacred and majestic character. I don’t know if it mattered what paper or whose writing was reclaimed for this, but this spiritual/ephemeral continuity and embodiment as a material expression of its own is fascinating.

There Is Life after Being Re-Pulped [jonathanahill]
Dolce, L., (2023) “A Sutra as a Notebook? Printing and Repurposing Scriptures in Medieval Japan” [journals.publishing.umich.edu]

Brick House: Glass House Sex House

Exterior of the Brick House at the Glass House, photo: Michael Biondi via Town & Country

As an architecture fan and a survivor of a visit with him to the Glass House, I feel like I can say it is really too bad Philip Johnson was such a Nazi. Because the ancillary content would have been amazing.

It is still so worth checking out Spencer Bailey’s report in Town & Country on the restoration of the Brick House. Though it is right in front of the Glass House, and connected to it underground—it contains all the plumbing and mechanicals that make the Glass House possible—the Brick House has never been open to the public.

Which is not the same as not open to visitors. The Brick House was originally conceived in 1949 as a three-bedroom guest house, but it was quickly remodeled. And as everyone from Frank Lloyd Wright to Andy Warhol to Paul Goldberger readily acknowledge, it was Johnson’s sex shack. And it seems like it was hopping.

The butch boudoir interior has been restored to its 50s Fortuny-draped glory; the library has its uncomfortable number of fascism-related titles; and the halls are filled with regular rotations from Johnson’s collection of modern art. And now it is finally open for visitors, both those who head back to the city before nightfall—Johnson’s favorite kind—and the special ones who stay over. Like the Glass House, the Brick House is available for fundraising sleepovers. The mind reels.

Inside the Brick House, Philip Johnson’s Private Playground [townandcountrymag]
Previously at the Glass House, related; Au Bout de La Nuit

Sling RO/LU Chairs: A Lot

RO/LU Aluminum Rauschenberg Chairs, 2011, Lot 179 in a Patrick Parrish-curated sale 11 Apr 2024 at Wright20

NGL, I chose this among the many great RO/LU lots in Patrick Parrish’s upcoming sale at Wright20 for the headline. Even though I got stuck on the ending.

Matt Olsen calls these Rauschenberg Chairs, because they were realized by one of Robert Rauschenberg’s original fabricators. He was one of the first artist/designers to do a residency at Captiva, too, in 2013. So maybe there was some carefree hammock or sling inspo there on the deck, too; I have not asked.

RO/LU Primarily Primary chair, 2011, fir, textile, rope, image via Patrick Parrish

But I think he took the form with him to Florida. RO/LU showed fir and fur-based sling chairs in late 2011, with ropes holding up a wild felt seat element by Ashley Helvey. Their full title was Primarily / Primary (after Carol Bove, Scott Burton and Sol Le Witt), namechecking three artists that had been on/in their minds while making them.

Scott Burton Marble Armchair, 1987-89, as sold at Rago in 2023

It is unsurprising now, but a refreshing (re)discovery at the time that in exploring the gap between art and furniture, RO/LU would find Scott Burton.

RO/LU, Settee X Three (After BURTON Photo, In Private, Public + Secret), 2012, Lot 169 at Wright20

Which, now that I bring it up, I can’t not post the greatest Burton-referenced piece in the sale, this group of walnut forms called Settee X Three After BURTON Photo (Private, Public + Secret). I’ve been staring at the 360-degree photos, and the pull-aparts of the the four pieces for ages, and still cannot quite process or piece them together.

I first got to know RO/LU as a blog before I got to know them as people, and one of the most amazing things they did was experiment with moving from digital/visual contemplation to real world experience when so much of the culture was trying to do the opposite.

Scott Burton, Granite Settee, 1982-83, coll. DMA, photo: Mary Ann Sullivan via Sight Unseen

So an object (Private) that was produced by eyeballing an old photo of a Scott Burton granite settee at the Dallas Museum, that is temporarily cast in concrete on a Williamsburg sidewalk (Public), and replicated somewhere else (Secret), that you can only understand in person, feels very on the mark.

11 Apr 2024 Lot 179: RO/LU, Aluminum Rauschenberg Chairs, 2011 [wright20]
Lot 169: RO/LU, Settee X Three (After BURTON Photo, In Private, Public & Secret), 2012 [wright20]
2012: RO/LU’s Settee X Three at Sit and Read Gallery [sightunseen]
RO/LU | “Primarily / Primary (After Carol Bove, Scott Burton + Sol Le Witt) Chairs”, 2011 [patrick-parrish]
Previously, related: Scott Burton Marble Armchair

The First Shall Be Last

the “be the first to know” pop-up that popped up just as I was about to screenshot the header image on the exhibition page for Richard Serra’s 2022 show of 2022 at David Zwirner

“His work titled 2022, a single forged steel round, which he placed in the center of our 20th Street gallery in the spring of 2022, was his last realized sculpture. The experience of exhibiting this work, which to me felt like a sort of closing statement, is unforgettable. It’s hard to overstate what we are all losing with his passing.”

Used to be that people would race to the comments to be the first one to post “First!” Not sure why this quote from David Zwirner’s heartfelt email announcing the death of Richard Serra two days after it was on the front page of the New York Times made me think of that, since that is clearly not what’s happening here.

Richard Serra: Six Large Drawings [none new, apparently] opens at David Zwirner London on 9 Apr 2024 [davidzwirner]

A Reading From The Catalogue Of Phillips

While thinking of what book I would rebind as the Bible for a conceptual art project, I checked out the second Google result for David Hammons’ The Holy Bible: Old Testament (2002), in which a copy from the edition of 165, coming directly from the publisher, apparently did not sell at Phillips in 2009.

And I was so caught off guard by the boilerplate artist bio appended to the bottom of the page—a practice unique Phillips—that I have to reproduce it here:

Artist Biography
David Hammons

American • 1943

Few artists are afforded the liberty to dictate exhibition schedules and public appearances, but David Hammons eschews the spotlight and rebels against the conventions of the art world. Whether intentionally or not, Hammons creates works so laden with spell-binding metaphor that they have become symbols for movements both in the art world as well as in the public domain. (His now-iconic In the Hood sculpture has been used by Black Lives Matter activist group.)

Hammons doesn’t work in mediums or any formal or academic theory—he famously has said, “I can’t stand art actually.” Still, with controversial works including his PETA-paint-splashed Fur Coat sculpture, Hammons remains one of contemporary art’s most watched artists. Hammons also doesn’t frequently exhibit, and his last major gallery show, 2016’s “Five Decades,” only featured 34 works. With a controlled market, Hammons saw Untitled, a basketball hoop with dangling candelabra, achieve $8 million at Phillips in 2013. 

These Darren Jurd Tables

These Donald Judd Tables, a screencap from youtube by the New York Times

The Judd Foundation has filed a copyright and trademark lawsuit against Kim Kardashian and Clemens Design, LA, for claiming in a video that tables and chairs in Kardashian’s office are the works of Donald Judd. Zachary Small broke the story for the NY Times:

“It is simply not true that Clements Design commissioned imitation Donald Judd tables,” wrote [Kardashian’s] lawyer, John Ulin, to the foundation, adding that the wood type and overall proportions were different. “They are different tables with different designs.”

But the foundation pointed to an invoice from Clements Design in which it described the furniture as “in the style of Donald Judd” and included an image owned by the Judd Foundation of the authentic dining set.

Indeed, the furniture Kardashian had copied, examples of which are at the Arena at Chinati and in the 2nd floor of 101 Spring Street, are made of 2-by pine board, which determines the dimensions. The copies are in plywood, which is not one of the 13 wood options for the authentic table.

“These Donald Judd tables”: Screenshot from Kim Kardashian’s YouTube, from the Judd Foundation complaint filed 27 Mar 2024

Like with Gwyneth with her fake Ruth Asawas, it really makes you wonder why people don’t just spend the few hundred thousand dollars to get the real thing.

[UPDATE: It’s because then she couldn’t use Judd’s name and designs for her own marketing clout. She literally cited Judd alongside collaborator/partner/employees Rick Owen & his wife Michele and Vanessa Beecroft, and then claimed her knockoffs were real. If it had been real Judd furniture, purchased through the same gallery, Salon94, where she got her Rick Owens, she would have had to agree to not use Judd’s names or objects in ad, promo, or marketing. If she’d accepted the foundation’s offer to replace the fakes with real furniture *at a discount* she couldn’t have used her office—explicitly designed to look like Chinati—for her content. Which defeats her entire point.]

If only she’d left it on the moodboard: screenshot from JF complaint comparing a widely published photo of the Arena at the Chinati Foundation and its two Judd table&chair installation with a screenshot from kimk’s video showing Clements Design knocked off the space, not just the furniture, and then kimk claimed it was real.

[UPDATE: Obviously I need someone who downloaded the video—oh hey it’s on the Internet Archive, thanks, Chris!—before it went private to send it to me. Also, why is the case—2:24-cv-02496, in the California Central District—not on PACER? Oh nvm, it is now. Perfect screenshots added.]

Recently: Thank you for your silver service, Donald Judd X Puiforcat

Richard Serra & Robert Smithson

Robert Smithson and Richard Serra fixing the soon-to-be-Spiral Jetty, 1970.
photo: Gianfranco Gorgoni

I’ll have more to post about Richard Serra in a bit; he was a foundational artist for my world, and I wish his people peace.

In the mean time, nothing quite shook my little art world like finding Kathleen Merrill Campagnolo’s article, “Spiral Jetty through the Camera’s Eye,” in 2010 in the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art Journal. [Which I see has been subsumed by Chicago and Jstored.] That’s where I first saw this Gorgoni photo of Serra at Rozel Point with Robert Smithson, trying to fix the jetty he’d just built in the Great Salt Lake.

Previously, very much related: The Not-So-Spiral Jetty

Fake Sturtevant Chop Shop

Sturtevant exhibition catalogue from the Everson Museum 1973, designed with Judson Rosebush, offset printed to look like Xerox, image: Tim Byers Art Books, c. 2019 NYABF

This is the catalogue for Sturtevant’s first and only US museum show until her 2014 MoMA retrospective. It is from 1973. The show took place at the Everson Museum in Syracuse, New York. The 104-page catalogue is offset print, but was designed to look like a sheaf of photocopies on regular 8.5 x 11 paper. Sturtevant had the concept, and Judson Rosebush helped design and execute it. While confounding the notion of copy and original, and the notion of books substituting for a seeing an exhibition, this design choice also echoes Seth Siegelaub’s 1968 conceptual exhibition in a catalogue, The Xerox Book.

“Elaine Sturtevant, grouping of 2 – hand-signed prints” is technically true, that there are two, they were printed, and someone signed them. but they are 11 x 8.5 in. pages from a book

But I don’t think people are chopping up The Xerox Book and forging Sol Lewitt’s signatures on his individual pages and trying to pass them off as actual prints. Oh. Maybe that’s only because there are so many color Lewitt catalogues they can chop up and forge signatures on and sell as actual prints.

The Everson catalogue’s all the Sturtevant there is, and it is definitely getting chopped up and turned into forged prints. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that if Sturtevant DID chop up her own catalogues, sign individual pages, and sell them off as prints—or trade individual pages for a cup of coffee at Fanelli’s or whatever—it’d be a helluva coincidence that they all turn up at the same three scammy regional auction houses whose entire LiveAuctioneers.com presence is flooded with similarly “signed” “offset” “original prints” from dozens of other artists.

At this point I think it’s obvious that we need a photocopy facsimile of Sturtevant’s Everson catalogue, so people can see what she did, and appreciate it for what it is, not what it isn’t.

Derain Drops

André Derain, Matisse et Terrus, 1905, 40.3 x 54.3 cm, being sold by the family of Etienne Terrus at Christie’s Paris on 9 April 2024 [cropped to show the entire canvas minus the unfortunate frame]

It is amazing that a painting like this can be out there for 120 years, and just turn up one day at Christie’s or whatever. But that’s what happened. André Derain, then 25, made this portrait of his friends Henri Matisse and Etienne Terrus, a local artist, on the beach in Collioure the summer they invented what came to be called Fauvism.

Derain presumably gave it to Terrus—it has remained in the family of his sister until now—and so it was not included in the works he and Matisse took back to Paris, and showed to much sensation and acclaim at the Salon d’Automne. It has never been publicly exhibited or published, and except for one biographer’s mention in the 1950s, was left out of the art historical record.

André Derain, Portrait of Henri Matisse, 1905, 33 x 41 cm, collection: Philadelphia Museum of Art

But a very similar, slightly smaller Derain portrait of Matisse alone, at the same table, even wearing the same fit, has been in the Philadelphia Museum’s collection since 1952.

Christie’s sold a previously unknown Matisse from Terrus’s collection last fall, a small “proto-Fauvist” depiction of the Jardins de Luxembourg from 1902. And Terrus was the original owner of a small Collioure landscape by Matisse that had gone through the Wildensteins to Christie’s to Edgar Bronfman—and back to Christie’s in 2014. So it feels like someone should have known about this—and maybe they did. But they nevertheless sat in a safe for sixty years.

Otherwise the only marvel greater than the painting itself is how two agencies are ready to claim copyright on them both, 119 years after they were made, and 70 years after their maker’s death.

Rediscovered: A Fauvist Portrait by André Derain of Henri Matisse and Fellow Artist Etienne Terrus [christie’s online magazine]
9 Apr 2024, Lot 12: André Derain, Matisse et Ferrus, 1905, est. EUR2-3m [update: sold for EUR3.19m] [christies]
Previously, not related, 2018: Etienne Terrus Museum discovers more than half its collection are fakes [guardian]

Manet Cut Flowers

Manet’s White Lilacs, c 1882, would be 37.4 x 25 cm, from the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin, as photographed and uploaded to wikimedia commons as lilia blanco by Sailko

I guess my reflexive response to a ravishing late Manet still life of flowers on social media is to hype it, and only then to wonder whether Manet really did paint to the edges in a way that cut his brushstrokes in half.

Reader, he did not.

Édouard Manet, die Fliederstrauß, c 1882, 54 x 42 cm, collection, Alte Nationalgalerie

In 2020 wikimedia superuser Sailko uploaded a 12mb photo they took in 2018 of the cropped hot center of Manet’s painting at the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin. What you lose in breadth is more than made up for by zooming into the detail of each brushstroke and hint of bare canvas in that vase. What’s most interesting is how Sailko’s crop propagates across the net, and the many wiki-scraping printed object providers out there. It’s enough to warm my facsimile objective heart. [s/o rg_bunny1 and jeanettehayes]

R.H. Quaytman, Paul Klee & Martin Luther Walk Into A Bar

Paul Klee, Angelus Novus, 1920, oil transfer on Japan paper mounted on engraving on cardboard, 31.8 x 24.2 cm, though Quaytman points out the Israel Museum’s given dimensions only relate to the top layer, so the engraving had not been considered as part of the work. photo: Elie Posner

I’ve had some tabs open for six months about R.H. Quaytman’s work relating to her discovery of an 19th century etching of Martin Luther underneath Paul Klee’s 1920 monoprint, Angelus Novus. That was when I saw a vitrine in Quaytman’s exhibition at Glenstone related to Ch. 29: Haqaq, Quaytman’s Nov. 2015 show at Miguel Abreu, which was a reworked version of her 2015 solo show at the Tel Aviv Museum.

I am trying to make some sense of them by neatly stacking this pile of rubble at the angel’s feet.

Continue reading “R.H. Quaytman, Paul Klee & Martin Luther Walk Into A Bar”

Brooklyn Museum Quality: Andirons

Lot 14: Andirons, c. 1790-1810, formerly the property of the Brooklyn Museum, sold by Brunk

When David Platzker first sent me the link to the Brooklyn Museum’s recent deaccession auction, I immediately thought of the phrase, “museum quality.” It has long been used by dealers to sell an object of such stature, manufacture, and significance that it should be—or at least could be—in a museum. How does it work, though, for objects that a museum sells off? Is “museum quality” only now for objects a museum wants to keep? Are these now pieces of “former museum quality”? “Some museum quality”? “Almost museum quality”? Brooklyn Museum Quality.

This all came to a head on the first page, when I saw Lot 14, this pair of Federal engraved andirons, estimated to sell for $400-600. Three is a trend, I thought, as I indexed these in my mind against the andiron that started it all—a photo of a lone andiron that turned out to be part of a pair, which was donated to the Metropolitan Museum in 1971 with an attribution to Paul Revere.

And the andirons sold by the Wolf Family last year that matched the Met’s in almost every physical detail, but which had an unbroken provenance and an origin and date that differed from the Met’s. What would these Brooklyn Museum andirons add to this situation, conceptually?

“one w/slightly loose construction and leans slightly to the left, old repair/reinforcement to base”

Their date, 1790-1810, and manufacture, “American,” take us away from more specific understanding, not toward it. While they are of an identical type, they are different in enough details—the engraving the swaglessness, the flanges, the feet—that even an amateur andironologist would not suggest they were made by the same hands, the same shop, or even in the same town.

And then there’s the provenance. Though the auctioneer made careful note of the andiron’s physical condition—”one with slightly loose construction and leans slightly to the left”? Who among us, amirite?—the only provenance information provided is the freshest: “Property of the Brooklyn Museum.” I mean, we can guess there’s no conservation history, but whatever object record, accession or donor data, or historical documentation the museum may have held for these andirons is not provided.

Someone clearly knew something, though. Because they paid $41,000 for these andirons, 100x their low estimate, and 5x the price of the perfectly provenanced Wolfs’. People are willing to pay for that Brooklyn Museum quality.

Matisse Chapel Facsimile Object

replica of Matisse’s Rosary Chapel in Vence installed at National Art Center Tokyo, via mon oncle

The exhibition, Henri Matisse: Forms in Freedom, at the National Art Center Tokyo includes a full-scale replica of la Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence (1947-51). The experience incorporates simulated daylight on an accelerated loop, as if the replica stained glass windows were the ceiling of the mall at Caesar’s Palace.

photomural of Matisse’s tile Virgin & Child installed at National Art Center Tokyo, via mon oncle

In the caption Chie Sumiyoshi’s Mon Oncle article about the exhibit, it calls the above image a reproduction [再現] of a tile mural. But the only thing tiled here are the sheets of the photomural. The stained glass windows opposite, then, are also photos of the windows, and the wrought iron grates and landscaping behind them. Matisse’s candlesticks are on the replica altar, but Matisse’s crucifix is not.

Matisse’s Stations of the Cross in Vence, from a photo accompanying a 2013 review of a book by the longtime director of the Musée Matisse, in Architectural Review

I can find no images of a Tokyo replica of Matisse’s Stations of The Cross, which occupies the wall that would be directly next to the photographers of the images above. It is a tense and janky tangle that replaces a physical procession with a halting visual search for the next number and the next step. Matisse drew it at scale, with charcoal on the end of a bamboo pole. So the physical experience being replicated would have been not just that of a tourist, but of Matisse himself, standing in front of his work.

If I can find any relevant Brice Marden comments, or if someone gets married in there, I will update this post immediately.

マティスの仕事の集大成がここに, which I cannot help but read as, “Here is the culmination of Matisse’s job” [mononcle.art s/o 鈴木芳雄]
Henri Matisse: Forms In Freedom runs through 27 May 2024 [nact.jp]
Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence [wikipedia]