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 am going to miss the Robert Gober show at Matthew Marks, “Shut up.” “No. You shut up.” which closes today. But I thought I’d seen a part of it before.
The show is full of windows, or rather, the confoundingly meticulous fabrications of fragmentary window/sill mises-en-scenes set in high minimalist-style metal boxes. John Yau’s description of the works is close and precise, and his description of experiencing them is open and profound. It’s a combination that Gober’s work has come to demand.
Beyond, but also alongside it. In the 2014 show at MoMA, Gober punctuated the experience of his seeing his work with a gallery of resonant work by other artists. A recreation of a group show he curated at Marks in 1999, it included an Anni Albers textile, a Robert Beck video, and a pair of truncated nudes by Joan Semmel facing each other across a Cady Noland stockade.
Thinking of this show again also changed the context for the other element of this assemblage: the student-era sketch of a crutch and chair back, dated around 1976. When I first saw it in the online viewing room, Jasper Johns’ shows were still fresh in my mind. Johns, too, had recently mashed up an awkward, injury-related student drawing and a painting. And then he did a whole show of variations. [Another relevant Gober series in the show: found academic drawings of feet, to which Gober added text, or inserted a jail window. These guys and their disembodied body parts.]
But then the chair hit me. Gober sprinkled early works throughout the MoMA retrospective, which ended with a big, c. 1975 painting of an interior. Actually, it’s a chair in front of some windows. Actually, it also includes a painting of a painting of a chair in front of some windows. And while the backs of these chairs may not match, the lines sure do. I have to admire Gober’s continued ability to generate a feeling of uncanny familiarity, if not outright déja vu. If only I’d been able to see it at all.
The other day while gooftweeting some highlights of the real estate slideshow for Villa Aurora – still available, now 20% off! – I made a joke, entirely for an audience of one, about Richard Serra’s first show, which took place in Rome in 1966, while he was traveling on a Fulbright with his then-wife and fellow Yale sculpture MFA Nancy Graves. Titled, “Animal Habitats: Live and Stuffed,” the show delivered exactly what it promised: live and taxidermy animals inside various crates, cages, and other “habitats.”
But it turns out I was wrong. A picture of photocopy of a picture of a work arrived from Rome. In the 1980s a group of Serra works from “Animal Habitats” were put up for auction in Italy by Tomaso Gian Liverani, the owner of Galleria La Salita, where Serra showed. It’s not clear what they were or where they went. But in 1987, Emanuela Oddi Baglioni, another Roman dealer, was offering a group for sale. Was it the same group, or part of it? Where there others? Oddi Baglioni’s gallery was across the via Gregoriana from la Salita, but it only moved there in 1967. Did she buy them at auction from her neighbor? Or did they not sell? Are there more? They survived 20 years, though! What happened after that? Did someone buy them?
Anyway, the work, which may have been in Liverani’s group, Oddi Baglioni’s group, both, or neither, is above. The scale of the piece is not clear, but there is a long-beaked bird [taxidermied, I’d hope] sticking out of an urn?, with a thick sheaf of weeds? underneath it, on a [readymade?] metal stand? a plant stand? And the title of the piece is HAIR ON OR AFTER GASM ONE, to Barney Newman.
OK. Thank you? I do not know what to do with this information. Which, now I think I know how Barney Newman felt?
Congratulations to Spice DAO, which announced yesterday [sic] that they had successfully purchased a rare copy of a book containing the concept art and storyboard sketches for Alexander Jodorowsky’s legendary adaptation of Dune. The sale took place at Christie’s Paris on 21 November 2021, three days after Constitution DAO failed in its attempt to buy a printed copy of the US Constitution at Sotheby’s in New York.
Constitution DAO raised $47 million, only to be outbid by hedgie/collector Ken Griffin, whose privately negotiated guaranteed bid of basically $47 million and one dollars also included a rebate on the auction house’s premium, bringing his net to just $43 million. Spice DAO, no doubt quick learners, went into their auction for the EUR25,000 book with a EUR2.667 million bid, and managed to eke out a win.
Spice DAO’s purchase–technically, a private purchase and a transfer to the DAO, since Christie’s didn’t recognize the DAO–of Jodorowsky’s Dune bible was actually revealed last December, when it was still called Dune DAO. The story then was that these enthusiastic Dune fans were banding together to liberate the long-hidden copy of the lost, unmade masterpiece they’d gotten glimpses of in Jodorowsky’s Dune, a 2013 documentary directed by Frank Pavich. It was only when they tweeted their plans to, “1. Make the book public (to the extent permitted by law) 2. Produce an original animated limited series inspired by the book and sell it to a streaming service 3. Support derivative projects from the community” that copyrightlulz twitter was like, “lmfao YEAH NO,” and the buyers of $11 million worth of Spice DAO tokens became aware of the limits of the blockchain’s ability to overcome all humanity’s problems.
So while the governance discord debates selling NFTs of scans of the pages of Copy Number 5, then burning the actual book so they won’t get sued for copyright infringement [0.<], I am ready to move forward with the Spice DAO Facsimile Object (S1).
As much as I thought I’d leave Facsimile Objects in 2021, I realize that the Spice DAO Community needs them. Spice DAO Facsimile Object (S1) presents a perfect, facsimile of Copy Number 5 of Michel Seydoux Presents Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune from Frank Herbert’s Novel. Design by Jean Giraud. Machines by Chris Foss. Special Effects by Dan O’Bannon. Dialogue by M. Demuth and A. Jodorowsky, as it was sold at Christie’s on November 21, 2021. Printed at full-size, in high-gloss dye sublimation pigment on an 11.5 x 15-inch aluminum panel, the Facsimile Object embodies the true octavo (210 x 295 mm) presence of this historic, physical, artifact. It is accompanied by a similarly full-scale, handmade certificate of authenticity, executed in ink on handmade Arches paper, signed, stamped and numbered, and will ship in a handmade case.
Unlike previous Facsimile Objects, which were created for the world, Spice DAO Facsimile Object (S1) is only available to verified hodlers of Spice DAO governance tokens. The first 10 verified orders will be priced at 0.5ETH, payable in USD at the ETH/USD price on coinbase for the date of purchase. After that, the price will increase to 1.0ETH. Availability of Spice DAO Facsimile Objects (S1) will be continue until morale improves. DM or email to get started.
[update: the price of the Facsimile Object is after taxes. Whether you sell ETH to buy the Facsimile Object, at whatever your basis, or you use your pre-existing fiat is not relevant, and greg.org will not pay your capital gains taxes. Thank you for your understanding.]
In her profound essay for the Swedish art magazine Paletten, “The Ghostchain (Or taking things for what they are),” Geraldine Juárez essay looks at the same question from the opposite position. NFTs are the manifestation of assetization, where an artwork–or other object, digital or physical–is considered uniquely for its performance as a financialized asset.
Crypto-fueled hypercapitalization that recreates the divine right of kings on the blockchain is not inescapable, Juárez argues; another future is possible.
But if assets are just made up narratives about the future, perhaps we can create other stories where the value of the future is brought into the present with the intention of decapitalising these chains and make it socially and politically expensive to keep adding blocks in them, until blockchain infrastructures eventually turn into abandoned ghostchains…
Ghosts of private property.
So far, of course, the dematerialization of the art object hasn’t slowed its commodification, or at least the propensity for the art world to art market it. Juárez wrote her essay in reluctant response to David Joselit’s call [pdf] for breaking NFT’s “social contract that values property over material experience.” Joselit’s hope is for “spectatorial generosity,” that looking is enough, the October version of getting paid with exposure. Juárez sees beyond that. Just as right-clicking won’t pay the bills, it also won’t eliminate the incentives for aping. Instead, she argues for decapitalizing, eliminating the returns:
make it socially and politically expensive to keep adding blocks in them, until blockchain infrastructures eventually turn into abandoned ghostchains.
These copies could become a valuable historical document – a decentralised digital monument to the financial impulse of our present time of turning anything into an asset at any cost. A monument for a future where we no longer have time or patience for destructive technologies without social utility.
Whether we lose patience with art’s utility as a means for social exclusion, inequity, and speculation, of course, remains to be seen.
Which got me thinking about Tennis Ball, the 1968 painting Thiebaud made at Wimbledon for Sports Illustrated. [Story goes, the art director who’d gotten Matisse to do a cutouts cover for LIFE Magazine had originally approached Thiebaud to make some hockey-related paintings for SI, thinking, ice is white, Thiebaud paints white, but the artist didn’t care about hockey and suggested they send him to Wimbledon instead.]
Tennis Ball is only 12 x 12 inches, a nearly perfect, little painting. Turns out it was sold at Sotheby’s, presumably by the family of the art director. The exhibition history and publication history are pretty thin for such a nice painting. And the reproduction, holy smokes. It took me a lot of scrolling and zooming to decide, based on the tiny white fleck of paint in the red border of the bottom edge of the ball’s shadow, that this is, in fact, the same painting. [Thiebaud had told Green that he’d only painted the one, which steeled my resolve.]
It’s low-key wild that the Sotheby’s website for this lot doesn’t even list the dimensions, or the date of the sale. Since Sotheby’s changed ownership, it feels like their sales results pages have been stripped down to tumblr levels of nothingness, and for what? At least if you click on the sale title (Contemporary Day Sale, NY, ofc), you can find out it was November 10, 2010.
Which is familiar. It was the catalogues for Sotheby’s November 2010 sales, Gerhard Richter’s squeegee painting on the cover, arrived on the table in Cy Twombly’s Lexington, VA studio while Tacita Dean was visiting–and filming.
In her work Edwin Parker (2011), released after Twombly’s death, Twombly and Nicola Del Roscio are seen chatting about works as they flipped through the catalogue that is out of the camera’s view.
“I don’t get– I mean, who would want to put that on the wall?” Twombly says about what must be lot 343, a big neon 99 Cent Dreams work by Doug Aitken. “I would put that!,” Nicola says. Twombly snorts. Nicola laughs, “I like that!” “That’s Richard Prince.” “How much is that?” “18, 12-18,” Twombly replies. “I like that,” Twombly says of the work on the next page. “You always like those, the dot paintings,” Del Roscio responds. [Lot 350? Damien Hirst.]
Dean does not include any reactions to lot 355, a 2008 Damien Hirst titled Bill with Shark. This painting of Bill Gates looking at a Hirst sculpture was based on a photo by Jean Pigozzi, and was originally sold in The Charity Element, the five of 223 works in the artist’s one-man sale at Sotheby’s in 2008 whose proceeds were marked for charities. The half million dollars this painting brought went, pointlessly, to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, whose mission was memorialized in the Sotheby’s press release as “aim[ing] to help reduce inequities in the United States and around the world.” Resold for $278,000, it probably netted the original buyer $200,000, which cost them $300,000 for the privilege of donating to one of the richest men in the world. None of this makes sense, but it does remind me that Melinda Gates divorced her husband last year because she found his explanations of his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein unbelievable and unacceptable. 👀
The sale also included Ellsworth Kelly’s Light Green Panel (1982), from the awesome series of editions he produced with Gemini GEL. Who ever knows how big a Kelly is without standing in front of it, but these Gemini panels are all adorable-size, like posters that float an inch and a half off the wall. At 42 x 32 in., Light Green Panel are the biggest. Kelly produced them in eleven colors on aluminum panels in five differently sized polygons (only one size per color, though.] In addition to the prototypes, there are 15 or so of each of these panels out there. I would love to have them all, and to see them together again, like at the National Gallery.
Or maybe slightly differently.
Which of course reminded me of Kelly’s 2011 aluminum panel edition, Green Panel (Ground Zero), the shape of which he derived from the NY Times’ aerial photo of the World Trade Center site. The 2003 collage he made and sent to Herbert Muschamp, is now at the Whitney, proposed the World Trade Center site be left as an open field of grass.
In early March 1969, a sculpture by Marc Morrel of a pillow made of US flags hanging in chains brought the cops to the Decatur Arts Center in central Illinois. The director and president of the board were charged with flag desecration, and the work was confiscated.
The traveling group show, titled, “Patriotic Images in American Art,” was organized by Elizabeth C. Baker, managing editor of Art News Magazine, for the American Federation of Arts, and had been shown in previous venues around the country without incident. @br_tton tweeted the story after finding it in the AFA’s files at the Archives for American Art.
The two men fought the charges as unconstitutional restriction of free speech, but it would be twenty years before another artist, Dread Scott, could get enough judges to agree. But that’s another story.
Because just look at Doug Gauman’s photo for the Decatur Herald’s feature on the exhibition, showing a man looking at “Flag in Chains”: doesn’t that flag in the background look like a Jasper Johns?
And so it should. The AAA file doesn’t have a checklist of the show, but the Herald’s story mentions the title of the 48-star throwback: “Jasper Johns Flag for 7th Ave. Garment Rack.” That Johns flag is by Elaine Sturtevant.
I don’t have her CR handy, but until now this has been the only image of the works in this show, her first, at the Bianchini Gallery (later the site of Ubu Gallery on East 78th St). But it sounds like this Johns Flag went on a nationwide tour, extended title and all. Now on the internet, for the first time ever!
This is not the same stool from the documented second version of Marcel Duchamp’s Bicycle Wheel, so maybe this is the original 1913 version, and maybe when Duchamp was explaining the concept of a Readymade as a Christmas tree on a stool to Katherine Dreier in New York, someone just misheard it as bicycle wheel, and Duchamp just rolled with it. And then he gave her this photo and told her never to tell anyone.
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.”
There is drama about the Cy Twombly ceiling in the Louvre.
In 2010 Cy Twombly painted a mural on the ceiling– In 2010, a Cy Twombly mural glued to the ceiling of a gallery at the Louvre was unveiled. The 11×30 meter painting is titled The Ceiling, or le Plafond, and it is installed in the Salle des Bronzes.
Even the catalogue essayist noticed that it didn’t look like a Twombly. Maybe because it was painted by assistants in a French studio arranged by Gagosian, after a sketch by the artist1. Twombly said the planet-looking circles against a blue sky are actually references to Greek shields on a background inspired by Giotto, Matisse, or a Japanese print. [Tho lol to a French critic, everything looks like a breast.] The gallery, once part of the 16th century royal apartments, has displayed Greek antiquities since Napoleon, but it contained neither shields nor works by any of the Greek sculptors namechecked on The Ceiling.
Patrick Radden Keefe reports in the New Yorker that Nan Goldin and her activist organization P.A.I.N. delivered a letter [pdf] from a growing list of contemporary artists to the trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art last month, calling on them to remove the Sackler name from the walls and spaces of the museum. On Wednesday, that is exactly what happened; the Met announced the removal yesterday.
The text of the letter, and its signatories as of November 15, 2021, is read here by a computer-generated voice.
OK, now it gets kind of interesting. As soon as I saw the short cg animation for the new American Express Platinum Cards by Julie Mehretu and Kehinde Wiley, I thought of two things: 1) the low-key beats and the art-embedded card spinning shinily on its corner remind me of the McRib NFT, and 2) what do you call art printed on small, shiny metal?
On the one hand, to do a Facsimile Object of an AmEx card feels like asking for trouble in ways that not even a Cady Noland-related Facsimile Object could even conjure. And yet it’d be so tasty!
On the other , the dye sublimation print process requires a minimum 4 inches per side, and even art credit cards are 3.37 x 2.125 inches. So I doubled up. Surely no one involved would these mind lifesize-but-make-it-a-diptych Facsimile Objects now.
[An unusual footnote: the public announcement page for American Express’s artist x Platinum cards includes separate jpegs of Mehretu’s and Wiley’s cards, as seen in the study above. Not seen: that the filenames got the artist credits reversed. If I go ahead with it, that glitch is just the kind of thing that gives this project that famous must-buy-now! vibe the kids crave. But after seeing animations of cards with the artists’ own names on the front, it’s hard to settle for Charles F. Frost on a Facsimile Object. And while it would be possible to try to get the artists to scan their own respective card-size works, I would not want to compromise their actual four-digit code there. Most of all, I don’t want my own account canceled.]