Faith in Pictures

installation view of Rachel Harrison’s Marilyn with Wall, 2018, in Faithless Pictures at the Najsonalmuseet in Oslo

Speaking of Rachel Harrison, for the last post I was going back through the catalogue for Life Hack—an exhibition in a book if ever there was one, and with a sweet artist-designed cover I had a computer read aloud to me. And there was a big, beautiful spread of the eighth incarnation of Marilyn with Wall that felt like an even more direct nod to Louise Lawler than all the rest.

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Showing Bullet Hole

a painting by Thomas Scheibitz and a sculpture and four drawings by Rachel Harrison installed at the Wexner Center’s After Picasso: 80 Contemporary Artists, in 2015. photo: Stephen Takacs

I kept getting caught off guard by an aggro undercurrent in Maggie Nelson’s essay about Rachel Harrison in The Paris Review. [From 2020, in response to Harrison’s show, Life Hack at the Whitney, it’s included in the catalogue. It’s been a long pandemic, and the stack of open tabs mocks me from the corner.] But I can’t let this one go by unnoted:

This current of nihilism or violence has been present in Harrison’s work for some time, via its excavation of America and Americana; in 2015, it became literalized, when actual bullets were fired into her work at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio, by an ex–security guard who spray-painted and shot several pieces of art in the After Picasso: 80 Contemporary Artists exhibit before taking his own life. After defacing the art—including sending a bullet into the forehead of a framed drawing of Al Pacino in Harrison’s 2012 sculpture Valid Like Salad (a new, tragic echo of Davidson’s mop in the head)—the ex-guard, Dean Sturgis, sat in a folding chair and shot himself in the head (a new, tragic link to Circle Jerk).

Whatever urge toward defacement, whatever hostility toward art qua art, whatever exploration, however lighthearted, of American breeds of masculinity, celebrity, and sociopathy may have been at play in Harrison’s work (in 2007, she titled a show “If I Did It,” after O. J. Simpson’s much-maligned memoir)—all must now sit uneasily with the legacy of Sturgis, whose bullet holes serve to remind us that our everyday includes mortal threat and terror as much as it does remote controls and air fresheners.

Nelson makes it sound like this association with the Wexner Center shooting was foisted on Harrison’s work, that it’s been tragically linked, passive voice. But that elides the artist’s own agency, and her own decisions, and risks diminishing her own insights about her work, both before and after it was shot.

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HO HO

If I had a significant Christopher Wool painting in Basel that became famous for not selling with even a single bid, I would simply turn it over and sell it immediately for well above the ask.

OH OH: Cady Noland at Basel

HO HO, what’s that on the floor of the Gagosian booth at Basel, between that 1990 Judd stack Zwirner also repped, and that 1990 Christopher Wool painting of Thompson Dean’s that Christie’s ended up with after it didn’t get one bid in 2021?

It is a Cady Noland with a 1990s subject—a NY Post article on mobster John Gotti’s 1992 trial—but a fresh, 2024 date.

Dapper Don Defiant: a screenshot of a new Cady Noland work, screenprint on aluminum, but now between a Basquiat and a Jordan Wolfson?? via Gagosian’s Basel 2024 IG story

What does it mean that Noland put out a work in 2024 about a vain mobster nicknamed “the Dapper Don” being called out by the judge for trying to poison his trial by threatening witnesses? What does it mean that she seems to have made this work out of the same photocopy Andrew Russeth spotted five years ago, in Joanne Greenbaum’s wild 70+ artist group show, “Notebook,” at 56 Henry? [n.b.: “Notebook” closed a couple of weeks before the MMK retrospective opened.]

Did Noland look around her studio and laugh as she considered Greenbaum’s request for one notebook drawing or work they “would never show to a dealer or pull out during a studio visit”?

And the plinth? I just listened to Jeannine Tang’s talk at the MMK symposium that included several quotes from Noland and her sources about the problems of plinths. But I guess they’re OK for high traffic art fair booths?

There is another new Noland in Basel, a wire crate-o-stuff, and if I see the photo again of the guard-like woman standing next to it, I’ll post it here.

UPDATE: The photocopy Cady Noland sent to 56 Henry for Greenbaum’s Notebook show in 2019

UPDATE: Meanwhile, here is what I understand is the piece Noland included in Notebook at 56 Henry in 2019. No date was forthcoming, but it is not, in fact, identical to image silkscreened on the 2024 work. It looks to be a cropped variation, copied with paper strips placed over the elements Noland wished to exclude. There is a little anomaly in the right side of the Gotti caption, which looks like a logo for The Container Store. Is it perhaps a trace of a plastic document sleeve, that might also be the cause of the uneven edge? It’s a narrow window into a practice few people even knew in 2019 was active. If, indeed, that was when Noland made this copy.

Previously, related: “we woke up in a world where Cady Noland makes and shows work. At Gagosian.”

Wheatfield — A Promotion

Agnes Denes’ Honoring, Wheatfield – A Confrontation, 2024 for Art Basel, as photographed and restricted by “(Photo by Valentin FLAURAUD / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION – TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION”

At one moment in time and for the people who saw it then, Agnes Denes’ Wheatfield — A Confrontation was a two-acre field of wheat the artist cultivated, tended, and harvested on landfill on what is now the south end of Battery Park City in Manhattan.

Agnes Denes and Wheatfield — A Confrontation, 1982, commissioned by the Public Art Fund

But since then, and for most people, it existed as a photograph. Or rather, it was experienced by looking at a photograph, an iconic image of Denes, hair flowing and holding a staff, looking out at the Statue of Liberty from the midst her amber waves of grain, with the base of the World Trade Center towers and less remarkable elements of the lower Manhattan skyline stretching uptown behind her.

Screenshot of a promotional video from Art|Basel Basel showing the installation in the Messeplatz of Agnes Denes’ Honouring Wheatfield – A Confrontation, 2024, curated by Samuel Leuenberger

So it is understandable that a week-long “reprise” of Wheatfield in the Messeplatz at Art|Basel Basel would take as its object not the process of the original [instead of four months clearing, planting, tending, and harvesting crops, over 900 planter boxes were trucked in and installed in a couple of days], nor the physicality of the original [est. 930 square meters, less than a quarter of an acre], but the photo of the original. When it was photographed from its intended angle, it would not matter that from other vantage points, Honouring Wheatfield looked like a sod farm or a wheatgrass juicebar.

What I failed to account for fully was the intended angle. Thankfully, ARTnews’ use of Valentin Flauraud’s photo and caption and credit for Agence France Presse has brought the true objective into view. Flauraud recreates Denes’ image with a selfie-taking couple standing in for the artist, and the Art|Basel logo looming behind them, standing in for the World Trade Center.

[A few minutes later update: Another one. I hope Agnes Denes got all the money.]

“COURTESY ART BASEL” image: ARTnews

[A few days later update: The wheatfield will not be dumped tomorrow but will be harvested in August, probably before the International Association for Health Professions Education conference on the 24th, sorry for this, and the error.]

Connecting The Dots

Reading Travis Diehl’s e-flux journal review of Arthur Jafa’s show at 52 Walker led me to Diehl’s road trip report in x-traonline of going to Cady Noland’s 2019 retrospective at MMK Frankfurt with Rasmund Røhling.

Which led to the recordings of the Cady Noland symposium convened at MMK on 27 April 2019.

Diehl also noted to Røhling that the Charlotte Posenenske sculpture and the Claes Oldenburg bacon soft sculpture included in the Noland show were very World Trade Center Twin Towers-coded. Also not to be a conspiracist or anything, but a Noland sculpture was also included in Peter Eleey’s September 11 show at MoMA PS1 in 2011.

Which led me to go searching for which Noland it was, and it of course, was the stanchion work, The American Trip (1988), which is more ambiguously political than MoMA’s other significant Noland, Tanya as Bandit (1989).

“September 11” installation view at MoMA PS1, 2011-12, by Matthew Septimus via MoMA

But none of that matters right now, because in looking through the installation shots, I was immediately sucked back in time by Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ black-bordered stack of mourning surrounded by Jeremy Deller’s “Mission Accomplished” banner.

And that banner. 90 x 600 inches, it was obviously a full-scale recreation of Bush White House image maker Scott Sforza’s hubristic aircraft carrier banner from 2003.

But I never made the connection to its title or date: Unrealized Project for the Exterior of the Carnegie Museum, 2004-2011. So Deller wanted to hang this banner on the outside of the museum as part of Laura Hoptman’s Carnegie International, which opened in October 2004, just before the presidential election. How far along did this proposal get, I wonder? [Deller ended up showing war re-enactors on tiny televisions inserted into the Carnegie’s dollhouse dioramas, the diametric opposite, attention-wise, from a 50-foot banner.]

In Front Of Her Salad

On the metro in DC this afternoon, a woman was eating Caesar’s Salad out of a clamshell container with her fingers, her high-contrast makeup turning every chew into a kabuki-like gesture of meaning.

Then she got up, with her salad, and walked over to study the map. She then lost her balance, and dumped her salad all over the guy sitting next to the map. And then she fell down. Except for all this, she was fine. It was at once the wildest, most predictable, and most avoidable scene imaginable.

Then on the way back, a woman kept losing the lid to her beverage container, which rolled along the floor in whichever direction the train’s momentum dictated, causing bystanders to spring into action to capture it.

How To Frame A Titian Protips

First, get a Titian, and ten bottles of wine.

Titian, Rest on the Flight Into Egypt, oil on canvas on panel, around 1510-15? basically 46×63 cm, selling on 2 July 2024 at Christie’s London

Christie’s is selling a rare, early Titian that belonged to the Marquesses of Bath next month for £15-25m, frame sold separately:

Please note that this lot is displayed in a loan Venetian sixteenth-century carved and gilded cassetta frame from Arnold Wiggins & Sons, which is not being sold with the picture, but could be acquired separately. Please ask the department for further details about this and the picture’s original frame, which can be viewed on request.

Now, the Titian was stolen in 1995, and recovered at a bus stop seven years later, so maybe the frame’s seen some stuff, which is fine. The point is, though, maybe I don’t get behind enough 500-year-old paintings, but this Titian is mounted into its loaner frame with the corks from like ten bottles of wine, and I love it.

I think there is literally wine on the one on the upper right. Someone was putting in the work.

Sandblasting, Solvent, Oxidation

I sometimes worry about posting too much stuff from auctions. But then I’ll see two works I haven’t thought about in a long time, and have never thought about together, and it only happened because they both happen to be for sale the same day.

Michael Heizer’s Sandblasted Etched Glass Window, 1976, installed in Peter Freeman’s booth at TEFAF 2019

In the early 70s Michael Heizer made a show, and maybe a series, of Sandblasted Etched Glass Windows. Peter Freeman had one installed at TEFAF NY 2019, and it really worked, like Heizer drawing on a framed landscape.

Michael Heizer, Sandblasted Etched Glass Window, 1974, glass & wood, 218 x 278 x 89 cm, lot 115 on 20 June 2024 at LA Modern

Seeing this one in a freestanding frame at LA Modern’s upcoming auction immediately made me think of Duchamp’s Large Glass, though, which felt new. Indeed, it’s as long as the Large Glass is tall, but the other dimension is bigger. Heizer’s Larger Glass.

Pae White, Ghost and Host, 2003, Plexiglas, solvent, mirror, 96 x 48 in., lot 141 on 20 June 2024 at LA Modern

Meanwhile, I had not kept up with Pae White’s work for a while, but I definitely remembered seeing the Summer group show this sculpture was in at Petzel in 2003. There were several of these distorted Plexiglas sheets in different colors, leaning on the walls like crack-addled McCrackens.

Pae White’s Ghost and Host, 2003, as installed at Friedrich Petzel, Summer 2003

It’s interesting to see the install shots from 2003, where the mirror backing is more evident, the opposite of Heizer’s window.

A large Warhol Oxidation Painting, 1979, 132 x 193 cm, which didn’t sell? at Bonham’s in 2005

Especially because it’s listed as an element of the work, the solvent made me think of Warhol’s oxidation paintings, which I happened to have heard mentioned on podcasts twice in the last couple of days: Blake Gopnik talking about handmade [sic] Warhol on The Art Angle; and the Nota Bene Boys discussing a sublime oxidation painting install in an NYC private collection.

And now when I imagine White pouring her solvent onto Plexi on the floor, and Heizer waving his sandblasting gun around, there’s Warhol and his assistants, too, hard at work, or working hard.

Warhol Cupboards And The Expanded Field

Lot 684: Andy Warhol (AFTER), Wardrobe [of only three of] A Set Six Self-Portraits, 1966/1997, est. EUR 1200-2000 on 12 June 2024 at Quittenbaum, Munich

Europe: it really is the little differences.

It was during the entirely normal activity of researching some Enzo Mari modular shelves that I stumbled upon the absolute licensing mayhem of the Art Design by hb Collection Limited Edition Europe Andy Warhol Foundation Wardrobes, Cabinets, and Cupboards. The first one I saw is above, half of Warhol’s 1966 work, A Set of Six Self-Portraits silkscreened onto the varnished MDF door of a wardrobe. In addition to Warhol’s signature—AND the 1997 copyright credit for The Andy Warhol Foundation, Licensed by MMI [putting a pin in that for later]—silkscreened on the bottom of the drawer like you do on any piece of furniture containing licensed imagery, I guess? In addition to this, there is also the label inside, with the edition number, 405 of 500, and eight metal hangers.

If there were only 500, it would be enough. But there are 500 OF EACH.

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Le Vite de’ Più Eccellenti Pittori Pittori et Galleristi…

Alessandro Twombly, Gates of Rome, 2023, Acrylic on linen, 260 x 260 cm, image via Spazio Amanita

I have to study politics and war so that my son can study baseball and coaching the college swim team, so his son can study poetry, painting and music, so his son can also study painting of an occasionally quite similar style to some of the late works of the son one son up that yet somehow goes unremarked, so that his son can study art dealing and opening a gallery to show the son one son up from him but also the son two sons up from him, though only the works that looked like Picasso, said Allen Goss Twombly (1860-1954) at some point, apparently.

I Got Up In Salt Lake City

image of On Kawara’s Sept. 23, 2007 and its box, with its front page from the local news sectino of The Deseret News, 2007, acrylic on canvas, 10×13 in., via onkawara.co.uk

I am still trying to wrap my head around the enormity of what Duncan Mclaren’s accomplishing in his day-by-day, work-by-work, trip-by-trip, show-by-show documentation of On Kawara’s life. But without it, I somehow would have not realized that Kawara painted one Today series work in Salt Lake City.

I say somehow because I didn’t clock it when I saw this painting in 2012, at David Zwirner’s show, “Date Painting(s) in New York and 136 other cities.” Which was very much a show about Kawara making date paintings all over the world/in New York City. Or so I thought.

Actually it was a show of date paintings made all over the world, which is not the same thing. Mclaren’s project of combing through the data of Kawara’s oeuvre, is about the making, and of finding the glimpses of the artist and his life in work that seems to obscure it.

The Golden Plates

still from Maurizio Cattelan’s Sunday, 2024, installation video, via gagosian

In his Brooklyn Rail review of Maurizio Cattelan’s Sunday, Andrew Paul Woolbright makes an observation that I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere else, but which feels like it is central, even foundational, to the work:

Composed of gold plates perforated by bullet holes, Sunday’s surfaces seem to swell, making them formally strange—somehow both ballooned-up and torn-through. Their self-violation as a luxury surface is produced by an uncanny shockwave of physics. Freud defined humor as an important act of transgression, and it is the separation of the audience from what went into making the sixty-four gold-plated panels that is transgressive: in a top-secret invite-only warehouse in Queens, through trick doors and passcodes, Catellan led a group of collectors and art-world VIP’s into an underground shooting range where marksmen fired on the gold plates, an act that detourned the process of violence by making it into an exclusive event.

If he hadn’t made a solid gold toilet named America, I might not have believed it, but I think Cattelan’s project was over months ago.

And so the gold-plated, bullet-riddled wall is just the morning-after detritus of a happening where people thrilled to be party to the spectacle of violence.