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the making of

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  • Permalink for 'Part Of A Scripture Writing'

    Part Of A Scripture Writing

    Posted: 16-November-2014, 4:51pm EST

    Thumbnail image for therealhennessy_tweets_hbo.jpg

    Although these paintings initially seem straightforwardly banal, at second glance their neutrality becomes more difficult to decipher. The viewer laughs but then perhaps questions how he reacted. The underlying tension to each of these tweets seems awkwardly dated to 2014 middle class America. @TheRealHennessy Tweet Paintings' tweets explore forces of sexual identity, and social acceptance revealing a dark underside. Many of the other tweets in the series leave the viewer in similar states of disbelief. greg.org deconstructs and examines the authenticity of the author, masculinity and his own identity. He is concerned with our fascination, fetishization, and acceptance of the image of social media. Chameleon-like, he changes from a consumer to a writer, and now artist.

    Artists were casting sculptures in bronze, making huge paintings, talking about prices and clothes and cars and spending vast amounts of money. So I silkscreened jokes on little canvases and sold them for $1800 each. I have never thought making anything new. I make it again. I am very much against trying to make anything new in a modernist approach. I think you can do only something for yourself.

    The true meaning of the @TheRealHennessy Tweet Paintings is still a matter of discussion. From a distance, they could even be read as abstract works. But viewed closely, their formal simplicity and their repetition seem to set them in the tradition of conceptualism. All in all, greg.org's works are loaded with references to Structuralism and Post-modernist theories. Repetition deprives the tweet of its humour thus reducing it to a mere text in which the signifier takes over on the signified. After this, what is left?

  • Permalink for 'Jenny Holzer's Top Secret Papers'

    Jenny Holzer's Top Secret Papers

    Posted: 11-November-2014, 10:39am EST

    holzer_enhanced_technique_paper.jpg

    After seeing these epic FOIA monochromes from the Dept. of Homeland Security a few years ago, I've been collecting the best examples of redacted documents. I've never quite figured out what to do with them. Maybe a book.

    I know Jenny Holzer's been working on it for a while now. But I found her first batch of giant silkscreen on linen Redaction Paintings a little too slick. The Dust Paintings and Constructivist-inspired redaction paintings she showed this fall, though, are pretty great. Score one for the hand.

    But then I just noticed this rather incredible, mysterious, and seemingly modest object in an upcoming Rago Arts auction. It's a large (35x27 in) work titled Enhanced Techniques 3, and it's described as a signed sheet of handmade paper. So the redaction is molded right in! I think Holzer has a winner here. But what? Where? And why is this thing only estimated to sell for $1000-1500?

    jenny_holzer_topsecret24_rago.jpg

    A search for Holzer and handmade paper turn up other, similar pieces in the flotsam-filled auction reporting sites and secondary market print dealers. Try as they might, MutualArt couldn't hide the fact that Rago had sold a handmade paper piece called Top Secret 24 last Spring. Rago certainly doesn't want to hide it. I'd never thought of redaction in the same context of watermarking before.

    On Caviar20 Top Secret 24 is pitched as Holzer's "return to painting." Hmm. At least they finally have pictures showing where this damn thing comes from. It's ironic that people selling artworks about redaction leave out so much basic information.

    griffelkunst_dobke_holzer_abendblatt.jpg
    griffelkunst director Dirk Dobke sitting in front of Jenny Holzer's Top Secret portfolio. image: abendblatt.de

    Anyway, the answer is griffelkunst, a 90-year-old print association in Hamburg with 4,500 subscribers and a closed 5-year-waitlist. Members pay ?132/year for four contemporary artworks, which the association, currently led by curator Dirk Dobke, commissions and produces.

    I don't quite understand how that maps to Holzer's Top Secret project, which was a suite of six handmade paper redaction editions, available to members only for ?150 apiece, or ?900 for the set. I guess they made as many as people ordered?

    The labor-intensive process sounds like it syncs nicely with the subject: the white pulp on the redacted areas was scooped out by hand and filled in with black as each sheet was being made. And all of this sounds like fascinating context and backstory for the work. But no one's using it to sell these things; just the opposite, they're keeping it quiet. Whether it's because griffelkunst frowns on flipping, or because it's hard to explain a 10-20x markup, I can't say.

    ad_reinhardt_ny_international_plexiglass.jpg

    Holding back information is power, and the occlusion of information comes as no surprise. Strategic vagueness and decontextualization is as likely an art-selling technique as transparency and information overload. That same Rago auction also has an atypical-looking Ad Reinhardt. Well, it might look typical, but the small black monochrome square is actually an edition, silkscreened on plexiglass. It was "from NY International, 1966," which turns out to be the title of a 10-artist Tanglewood Press print/multiples portfolio organized by Henry Geldzahler. Portfolios like these get broken up, and the slightly more marketable pieces parted out, all the time. But so many dealers and auctioneers redact the reason and context for which the artist created the work as part of their enhanced sales techniques.

  • Permalink for 'Wait, What Cady Noland, 2008?'

    Wait, What Cady Noland, 2008?

    Posted: 10-November-2014, 12:01pm EST

    I got stopped by this line from Andrew Russeth's report on the disclaimer Cady Noland required at the entrance to the Brand Foundation's group show containing her work:

    Since then she has shown very, very few new works (the Walker in Minneapolis has one from 2008), and she has been notoriously meticulous in controlling how her work is handled and presented.

    A 2008 Noland? In the wild? Sure enough. Untitled, a familiar-looking locker room basket containing some motorcycle helmets, steel subway straps, a 16mm film reel, and a piece of metal. It's a form Noland used since 1989, but it's dated 2008.

    cady_noland_2008_walkerart.jpg

    How'd they get that? In 2009?

    A clue might be the donor credit, where it is listed as "Gift of the artist and Helen van der Miej-Tcheng [sic], by exchange, 2009." Which means the museum traded a previously donated work with the artist. But what? It doesn't say, and it's obviously not in the collection anymore. But it's safe to assume it was a work by Noland herself.

    Sure enough, the Walker's 2006 annual report lists a gift of a 1990 Noland from van der Meij-Tcheng. It was titled Cowboy Blank, made of aluminum and rope.

    noland_cowboy_showboat_eating.jpg
    Cady Noland, L: Cowboy Blank with Showboat Costume, and R: a Cowboy, not blank, with breakfast, both 1990

    But a work titled simply Cowboy Blank doesn't show up on Google anywhere. There is a Cowboy Blank with Showboat Costume, though, an aluminum plate sculpture cut in the silhouette of a crouching cowboy, with a bandanna and an ostrich plume in its cutout holes. The Guggenheim says the cowboy's aiming his gun, but another variant is flipped and silkscreened with a photo of cowboy eatin' some waffles. Or maybe it's Texas Toast. Noland executed the same silhouette in plywood, too, with a basket hanging between its legs.

    Forced by no one to speculate, I'd say that van der Meij-Tcheng's Cowboy Blank was without Showboat Costume or a fork; it had just a rope. And whether it was because it was damaged, a la Cowboys Milking, or it was just not sitting right with her, Noland decided it was not a work she wanted in public circulation. And so she took it back, but after making the Walker a little something to replace it with.

  • Permalink for '@TheRealHennessy Tweet Paintings, Cont'd.'

    @TheRealHennessy Tweet Paintings, Cont'd.

    Posted: 7-November-2014, 8:53am EST

    therealhennessy_tweets_chain.jpg
    @TheRealHennessy Tweet Painting, Gold Chain, 2014, 14x11 in., acrylic and screenprint on canvas

    Just in time for the Fall auctions, greg.org is pleased to present more @TheRealHennessy Tweet paintings, inspired by Donelle Woolford's Dick Joke series which debuted at John McWhinnie in the 1990s, and which continue to be a source of brouhaha since Michelle Grabner's 2014 Whitney Biennial.

    The present work is one of greg.org's @TheRealHennessy Tweet paintings, which rank among the contemporary era's most iconic series by one of the most celebrated artists. Dryly presented with a deadpan sensibility, they consist of visual expressions of humor that are disarmingly immediate and resonant, yet abstract in their presentation. Describing his selections of form and content in his initial tweet paintings, greg.org later stated, "Within about six months I...started to do the tweets in 'colors.' I thought the color would be a substitution for an image. The background would be one color and the tweet would be another. I picked tweets that were 'meaningful' to me. I don't know how to explain that except that the tweets' 'content' was something that I could identify with. These 'tweets' were later identified as the '@TheRealHennessy Tweet paintings.' I fell into them. I was walking around in a dark room looking for the light switch. I was moving by wading more than swimming. I was mowing the lawn. No direction home. I was caught in a landslide. My headaches were gone. I started painting with my fly open. I stopped crying. I started to laugh. Rock bottom sometimes isn't the bottom. Barnett Newman, Willem de Kooning, Clyfford Still--look out."

    Three of the six remaining @TheRealHennessy Tweet paintings are available for sale for $1,800 shipped. Please tweet, DM, or email for further information. Additional images are below.

  • Permalink for 'Welcome Back, Gwenfritz'

    Welcome Back, Gwenfritz

    Posted: 4-November-2014, 9:41pm EST

    gwenfritz_reinstalled_nmah.jpg

    [The] Gwenfritz is back where it belongs. The National Museum of American History has conserved Alexander Calder's site-specific stabile and reinstalled it in a reflecting pool on the building's west end, 30 years after it was displaced by a vintage band shell from a mental hospital.

    The removal of Gwenfritz in violation of the artist's intentions was cited as a contributing precedent to attempts to move Richard Serra's Tilted Arc from its site in Federal Plaza a few months later.

    Anyway, it all sounds good, and from the NMAH's flickr feed, it looks good. "It's always great when you're able to honor the artist's vision," said Smithsonian American Art Museum sculpture curator Karen Lemmey, in a way that unsettles me, perhaps because it reminds me of the offhandedly mercenary Lumbergh in Office Space.

    Conservation of Alexander Calder's Gwenfritz [eyelevel.si.edu]
    Previously, 2010: After 26 Years, The Smithsonian Will Put Alexander Calder's Gwenfritz Back Where It Belongs.

  • Permalink for 'In Defense Of The Center For Political Beauty'

    In Defense Of The Center For Political Beauty

    Posted: 5-November-2014, 9:02am EST

    In bizarre news, an artist collective stole part of the Berlin Wall memorial and repositioned it along the EU border [t.co]

    — artnet (@artnet) November 5, 2014

    It's just one word in one tweet, so it really shouldn't become the point, but those who follow me on Twitter know I have a thing for the language of art news sites, and their poetic idiocies of the market. This, however, just pissed me off.

    Clarification! @Sothebys staked its own money in the Giacometti but says different bidder won it. Repped by David Norman, not Ben Dollar.

    — Kelly Crow (@KellyCrowWSJ) November 5, 2014

    It is as pure a sign as you'll find of the pathology of current money-fixated art world that last night a half dozen media outlets filed hundreds of bid-by-bid tweets from an Impressionism auction, yet the "bizarre news" is that artists are literally trying to save lives by drawing attention to one of Europe's existential political crises.

    berlin_wall_Gedenktafel_Ebertstr.JPG

    I had never heard of the Center for Political Beauty before this morning. They are the artist collective whose mission is to engage "in the most innovative forms of political art: a type of art that hurts, provokes and rises in revolt in order to save human lives."

    They removed crosses commemorating some of the East Germans killed while trying to cross the Berlin Wall, and have reinstalled them on what they're calling the European Wall. The Center for Political Beauty has announced that they will cut down portions of the EU's border fence on November 9th, during the official ceremonies surrounding the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

    Berlin_Border_Political_Beauty.jpg
    ">politicalbeauty.de: Keine Benutzung der Bilder ohne vorherige Genehmigung!

    The photo above of a cross on a fence along the Bulgaria-Turkey border is circulating with the AFP wire service story that is the lone, primary source of English-language coverage of CPB's project. I'll never look at a Cy Twombly chalkboard painting the same way again.

    Berlin_Wall_Cross_Ingo_PoliticalBeauty.jpg

    The images and details that don't circulate, though, are more damning: At least 136 people died or were killed trying to escape across the Berlin Wall between 1961 and 1989. The UNHCR says over 2,500 Africans trying to reach Europe have drowned or gone missing this year alone. The CPB says the number of people who have died trying to enter the EU since 1989 stands at over 30,000.

    african_asylum_boat_massimo_sestini_sm.jpg

    Here is a photo by Massimo Sestini of a boatful of African and Syrian asylum seekers who were intercepted by the Italian navy last June. This situation is anything else--an outrage, a humanitarian crisis, a "rendering void of the legacy of the Holocaust," as the CPB puts it, but it is not bizarre.

    And artnet should be shamed for their tendentious attempts to mock and marginalize artists pursuing something beyond the callow complacencies of the market.

    UPDATE: I'm still not satisfied with this yet, or how or why it bothers me, but I'm reading Thierry du Duve's "Art in the Face of Radical Evil" [October, Summer 2008, pdf], about MoMA acquiring and showing photos of Khmer Rouge execution victims from Tuol Sleng, and about whether they're "art," and what are the implications if they are:

    Sobriety in exhibition design, noncommittal wall texts, and clever avoidance of the word "art" in press releases won't succeed in hiding the fact that our aesthetic interest in photography is shot through with feelings, emotions, and projections of sympathy or antipathy that address the people in the photos beyond the photos themselves. I am convinced that something of that emotional response to the properly human ordeal of the subjects in the Tuol Sleng photos had a say in MoMA's decision to acquire them. To suppose otherwise would be to lend the acquisition committee undeserved cynicism.

    This feels like it's inching closer.

  • Permalink for 'Inspiration For My Quiet Place Everywhere: 1965 Kaiser Jeep Fleetvan'

    Inspiration For My Quiet Place Everywhere: 1965 Kaiser Jeep Fleetvan

    Posted: 1-November-2014, 4:37pm EDT

    1965_jeep_van_corner.jpg

    Except for every Grumman LLV I pass, I've never wanted to turn a mail truck into a slicked out room-on-wheels as much as I want this 1965 Kaiser Jeep FJ-6A Fleetvan.

    mari_librimobile1.jpg

    And since the USPS is not letting the Grummans loose in the wild yet, this Jeep may be my best chance. I mean, check out that glass, it may even be better. I could totally park that as an office somewhere. Or a roving gallery. Or a podcast studio. Or an Enzo Mari mobile bookstore. This is Cabin Porn? I can get behind.

    Hm, actually, after reading through all the projects, rat rods, parts salvages and failed snowcone stand dreams in the FJ boards at ewillys.com, I may pass.

    Hard to find 65 FJ-6A Fleetvan - $3500 (Grapeview) [seattle.craigslist.org via bringatrailer.com]
    Which, given the ad histories here, seems a little high [ewillys.com]
    Previously, most definitely related: Bombiani Librimobile, 1955, by Enzo Mari

  • Permalink for 'Glitch Gallery Installation Shots'

    Glitch Gallery Installation Shots

    Posted: 30-October-2014, 8:17am EDT

    untitled_300x404_glitch_gallery_install2.jpg

    Installation shots from one of two shows currently on, this one titled "Challenging the law without Infringing the law," curated by Primavera di Filippi, is at Glitch Gallery in Charlestown, MA for another couple of weeks. Those are Brian Dupont's text paintings front and center there, with some Untitled (300x404) print versions to the right. They're slightly different from the 20x200 edition, both in dimensions and medium, but like those editions, they look best when shown in multiple sizes.

    There are more images atGlitch's FB page.

    Previously: 9/20: Opening in Charlestown

  • Permalink for 'Better Read: A Lively Interview With Ray Johnson, c.1968'

    Better Read: A Lively Interview With Ray Johnson, c.1968

    Posted: 28-October-2014, 9:09pm EDT

    The_Paper_Snake_Ray_Johnson.jpg
    Ray Johnson, The Paper Snake, 1965, published by Dick Higgins, image: rayjohnsonestate

    I've been thinking of various audio projects, something this side of an actual podcast, perhaps, but something useful and interesting that's not necessarily being done already by someone else.

    And so I'm experimenting with a series I'm calling Better Read, art-related texts transformed into audio. While I'm working, I'll often use text-to-speech to listen to papers, interviews, essays, and other various longform writings. It's imperfect, but also an improvement. In the car, we've been listening to Moby Dick | Big Read, in which each chapter is read by a different person. It generally works.

    So for Better Read, I am envisioning a mix of live and computer readers. Sometimes I'll get the author herself; other times, someone can read from a text they really like. I might read a few myself, but to be honest, I really don't like listening to me. Maybe you do? We may find out!

    That W.H. Auden poem I posted the other day may become Better Read #1, and once I figure out the frequency, &c., I'll set up a dedicated URL

    But for now, please enjoy this 1968 interview with Ray Johnson, recorded for the Archives of American Art's Oral History project. It really is a standout among an invaluable collection. And I especially like the idea of using a transcription of a recording as a script for another recording; fine tuning this process will be useful before I tackle any large, intense deposition transcripts [*cough* Canal Zone/Yes Rasta]

    So definitely let me know your thoughts, advice, feedback, suggestions, requests, &c., and we'll see how this thing shapes up.

    Better Read: An Interview with Ray Johnson [45min, 22mb, dropbox.com]

  • Permalink for 'Some Other Art At The 1964 New York World's Fair'

    Some Other Art At The 1964 New York World's Fair

    Posted: 27-October-2014, 11:16pm EDT

    13_men_tarp_peter_warner_meyer.jpg
    Thirteen Most Wanted Men overpainted and covered by tarp, 1964. Photo: Peter Warner, via Richard Meyer's Outlaw Representation

    From the amount of attention it gets, you'd think Andy Warhol's 13 Most Wanted Men was the biggest art deal at the 1964 New York World's Fair. And it wasn't even there for more than a couple of days.

    But there was actually other art in the fair, and organizer Robert Moses was not into it. Countries could show art if they wanted, of course--Italy brought Michelangelo's Pieta, and Franco's Spain brought some El Greco. But Moses rejected petitions for a dedicated art exhibition at the fair, and he intervened in at least one other situation besides Warhol's to nix art that attracted criticism. I've dug around a bit in the New York Times' coverage of art and the fair, mostly from the cranky conservative critic John Canaday, and it has broadened and definitely complicated my view of the era, the venue, and the outsize parties involved.

    If you do nothing else, read Canaday's various acidic takedowns of the consumerist banality and kitschy circus of the World's Fair, and how Art shouldn't even be mentioned in the same breath. His column, "The Fair As Art," tries to stretch the definition of folk art to cover the what we'd now recognize as late capitalist spectacle, and it's interesting how he can't quite get the nascent Pop Art movement to sync up with the populist source of its content.

    No, first read about Canaday's Feb. 1964 evisceration of the announcement that Tomorrow Forever would be the "theme painting" the Hall of Education. The landscape was filled with the trademark Big-Eyed Children of Walter Keane, the Thomas Kinkade of his day, who, it turned out, couldn't paint a fence, and instead passed his enslaved, abused wife's paintings off as his own.

    This extraordinary profile of Margaret Keane in The Guardian yetserday led me to Canaday's review. [Tim Burton's biopic of Keane comes out in a couple of weeks.] But the piece also says that "Stung by the review, the World's Fair took down the painting." Actually, Tomorrow Forever never made it into the fair. Robert Moses intervened almost immediately after Canaday's attack, more than two months out from the opening, saying, "The fair does not censor exhibitions except in cases of extreme bad taste or low standards. This was such a case."

    [Ouch. Moses's willingness to boot one reviled painting makes his central role in the Case of the Destroyed Warhol Mugshots seem all the more plausible. For his part, Warhol praised Keane and his outsized commercialism. LIFE Magazine asked Warhol about Keane in 1965: "It has to be good," he said. "If it were bad, so many people wouldn't like it."]

    Anyway, Warhol's World's Fair piece can't have been too much of a surprise. Though his name is misspelled, "13 Wanted Men" is mentioned by title in a NYT report from October 1963, "Avant-Garde Art Going To Fair". The other nine artists Philip Johnson commissioned are also listed, and I realized I never registered that Ellsworth Kelly had been involved. But he produced a work on painted aluminum.

    Ellsworth_Kelly_NYWorldsFair_Treadway_1966.jpg

    And here it was. Untitled at the time, Kelly's 18-foot curves projected from the wall of the New York State pavilion, where they were installed next to James Rosenquist's mural, which was next to Warhol's. Except the Rosenquist is either covered or gone in this Nov. 1966 photo from World's Fair enthusiast Randy Treadway. So is Robert Indiana's EAT, which was on the right of Kelly.

    ellsworth_kelly_peabody_terrace_gmap.jpg

    A bunch of the NYS Pavilion pieces ended up in the Weisman collection at UMinn., but in 1967 Johnson apparently donated the Kelly to Harvard, where it was known as either Two Curves or Blue Red. In 2001, a campus-wide survey of culturally important objects found "Blue Red" on the side of the parking garage at Peabody Terrace. The super was about to repaint the deteriorated sculpture with Rust-o-leum when conservators intervened. The Google Streetview image from this summer [above] shows it looking much better.

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