September 23, 2016

What Is The Question?

kw_schema_aquafresh_2003.jpg
Kelley Walker, Schema Aquafresh plus Crest with tartar control, 2003, digital file, image: camstl.org

I am not at all ready to address the discussion and protests surrounding the exhibition of Kelley Walker's work at CAM St Louis, but the statement by Paula Cooper caught me up. "The role of the artist, it has been said, is to ask questions, not answer them." Chekhov said that, and he's not wrong, but not right enough, either.

And KareemEstefan responded, in a tweet exchange with Pedro Velez, "True--but does Walker know what Qs his art is asking?"

That reminded me of the paragraph I'd cut from the top of Mirta D'Argenzio's Rauschenberg essay I quoted yesterday. I am pretty sure this is the artist speaking:

"Gertrude Stein said on her death bed when they asked her what the answer was and she said, 'What is the question?' So I have to keep the question changing. The only way to do that is with an open mind." It's rather like the riddle of the sphinx. Rauschenberg, the insatiable, suggests that the riddle be left unsolved, and indicates that the very purpose of art is to keep changing its questions.
The very purpose of art is to keep changing its questions.

It seems to me that this is what is happening to Walker and his work in the 13 years since he made it. Not only have the questions changed, the audience has, too. And sounds like neither the artist, the curator, nor the institution understood that.

The sharpest thinking I've seen on Walker's work is still Glenn Ligon's essay in Parkett from 2010 [pdf]. Ligon finds the utter insufficiency of thought or discussion around Walker's use of black imagery to be significant in itself, both a "dilemma" and a source of "enormous vitality." He correctly identified "Kelley Walker's Negro Problem" as the art world's problem, too. And America's. He's still right.

September 22, 2016

'A True Short Circuit'

I'm not alone! It's not just me! In the introduction to the catalogue for her 2008-9 show, "Robert Rauschenberg | Travelling 70-76," curator Mirta D'Argenzio wrote:

His favorite means of self-expression were always inclusive of change, travel, and collaboration. He seems from the very beginning, paraphrasing words of his own, to have committed his entire activity to the task of defining an ever more ample concept of collaboration, always in a state of becoming, that nearly made it possible to do away with the very notion of subjective behavior on the part of the artist,

Rauschenberg made a decisive contribution to superseding the notion of the individuality of the author: a notion very much emphasized by modernism, and then virtually discarded by post-modernist thought. His absolute freedom in this respect found expression from the very beginning in the intersubjective approach that permitted him-- from his first works with Susan Weil, and then in his relationship with Cy Twombly, and immediately thereafter with Jasper Johns-- to set up a true short circuit that questioned the modus operandi of western art and the very concept of the individuality of the author. This attitude, however, was in any case to lead him to preserve a specific identity that found paradoxical reinforcement in its own self-negation.

In the discussion for Paper Monument's Social Medium anthology Sunday, I tried to make this exact point about Rauschenberg's collaborative works, especially in the earliest days of his career. And here it is/was, right there in 2008. 2009. In an Neapolitan exhibition catalogue about works from the early 70s, when Rauschenberg was traveling the world and absorbing influences and materials and references.

D'Argenzio goes on

Rauschenberg insisted: "Ideas are not real estate." And then he continued: " "In collaboration one can accept the fact that someone else can be so sympathetic and in tune with what you're doing that through this they move into depths which might not be obvious if that person had been working alone in a studio with the door shut...I think part of our uniqueness is the fact that we are ill-equipped.
Except that this is a quote from a 1974 interview with Rauschenberg about printmaking. Prints are inherently collaborative and technically contingent, and foundries are always good about namechecking. But that is not anything like questioning the concept of authorship. If anything, it's auteurist. As Walter Hopps saw it in the catalogue for the 1999 retrospective, "in collaborations, Rauschenberg simultaneously functions as composer, orchestra conductor, and first violinist."

Rauschenberg and Johns might have been hoping to question the modernist notion of authorship when they hid a flag painting behind the door of a work that was first known as, Construction with J.J. Flag. But when faced with the decision, rather than short circuit their individual careers, they ended up pulling the plug. It was self-negation as self-preservation. [h/t @andrewrusseth, whose tweet about that real estate quote set me on this hunt.]

Buy Robert Rauschenberg. Travelling '70-'76 [amazon]

bill_cunningham_mirror_recto_block_stairgal_105927.jpg
Untitled (I'll Be Your Mirror), 2016, 70 x 46 in., feathered mirror by Bill Cunningham

The end credits for Richard Press's documentary Bill Cunningham New York run over Nico and the Velvet Underground's langorous, "I'll Be Your Mirror."

In the 1950s, before he took up a camera and changed the world, Cunningham designed hats for his own label, William J. He also created some unknown number of objets d'art and furniture. Well, at least one piece is known. The fashion illustrator Kenneth Paul Block considered this feather-covered mirror by Cunningham to be one of his most prized possessions.

It is large, 70 x 46 inches, and has an extraordinary patina. It holds the wall like a 50s Bruce Connor or Rauschenberg. I put #painting in there, but maybe it's #combine instead. Oh wow, I just found this photo of Merce Cunningham dancing Aeon (1961) in a pair of feathered chaps Rauschenberg designed.

merce_rauschenberg_chaps_aeon_sogetsu_walkerart.jpg
Merce performing Aeon (1961) in Tokyo in 1964, photo: Yasuhiro Yoshioka/Sogestu Foundation, via walkerart

Block passed away in 2009 and his partner of over 50 years, artist and textile designer Morton Ribyat, died in March. If you're interested in buying this work, email or call me whenever you're ready. If you'd like to take physical custody of it, though, you'd better move fast.

Sept 23, 2016, Lot 377: AN IMPORTANT FEATHER-MOUNTED MIRROR, DESIGNED AND CREATED BY BILL CUNNINGHAM [stairgalleries]
Previously, related: Untitled (Joan Collins Toile de Jouy), 2015

orange_skittles_better_read.JPG

Has Questlove read this aloud himself? I don't think so. I wish he would, because if I cry this much when the robot reads it...

Download: Better_Read_010_Questlove_Im_Still_Human_20160920.mp3 [11:27, 16.5mb mp3 via dropbox]
Read: Questlove: Trayvon Martin and I Ain't Shit [nymag via @jamilahlemieux]
Questlove discussing racial profiling and his reaction to the Trayvon Martin verdict with Amy Goodman in Aug. 2013 [youtube]

social_medium_paper_monument_nyabf.jpg

I'm kind of giddy even to type this, but I will be in a panel discussion this Sunday to talk about Social Medium: Artists Writing 2000-2015, an anthology published by Paper Monument and edited by Jennifer Liese. And yes, that means that I have an essay in the book. Technically, it's a revised version of the series of blog posts I wrote between 2011-13 about Erased de Kooning Drawing, but it still feels unreal to me that it's actually happening.

The talk will be held in conjunction with the preview of the book at the NY Art Book Fair Classroom, PS1, 3pm. Also in the discussion, which Jen will be leading: Ginger Brooks Takahashi, Josiah McElheny, John Miller, and Mira Schor. I mean, right? You should come back to NYABF just for these people.

Later I will write more about the anthology, which looks amazing; with 75 artist writers, it's easily 15x as amazing as our 5-person panel will be, and the official launch next month at The Kitchen should be great too. But for now, the point is, I am stoked for Sunday.

Social Medium: Artists Writing 2000-2015, published by Paper Monument Oct. 20, 2016 [papermonument]
NY Art Book Fair | The Classroom [nyartbookfair]

mpp_tshg_install_1.jpg
installation view, "Tell Me What I Mean," at To_____Bridges_____ 11 Sept - 23 Oct. 2016, image: John Garcia

I'm psyched to announce that The Madoff Provenance Project is included in a group show, "Tell Me What I Mean," at To_____Bridges_____ in NYC, which opened Sept 11 and runs through October 23rd, 2016. The show, curated by artist John Garcia, considers the way context and metadata affect the way an artwork is experienced and understood.

madf_study_mpp-014-kel_recto.jpg
study for MPP-014-KEL, 2016, recto, 12x9 in., ink, pencil, and watercolor on Arches

John was thoughtful and intriguing in his invitation to include the Madoff project, which did not have any obvious physical manifestation. But meeting that challenge, and having the work seen among an interesting group of artists, made me say, "Hell, yeah" pretty quickly. Besides me, the show includes work by Sophie Calle, Sara Cwynar, Robert Heinecken, Rose Marcus, Alex Perweiler, Peter Piller, Michael Bell-Smith, and Colin Snap.

madf_study_mpp-020-mat_recto.jpg
study for MPP-020-MAT, 2016, recto, 12.875 x 9.25 in., ink, pencil, and marker on Arches

Unsurprising to most, no owner of an authenticated Madoff-provenance artwork has yet agreed to have their work stamped with the "ex collectio MADF" stamp I created. So for this show I made "studies," 1:1 facsimiles of some Madoff works, properly stamped. In their stripped down nothingness, they definitely turned out more Stephen Prina's The Complete Paintings of Manet than Vik Muniz' Verso.

mpp_tshg_pedestal_install_2.jpg
"Tell Me What I Mean," Installation view, The Madoff Provenance Project, 2014- , image: John Garcia

I also put together a few binders of court data and auction records, which serve as a comprehensive reference to all the artworks in the Madoff Provenance Project. I feel confident that if Mel Bochner could have had Zazzle custom print the binders for Working Drawings and Other Visible Things on Paper Not Necessarily Meant to be Viewed as Art, he totally would have.

To____Bridges_____ is a year-long project space in the Bronx run by The Still House Group. A second show of photographer Gary Perweiler's 70s and 80s advertising images, recontextualized by his son (and TSHG member) Alex Perweiler, runs concurrently. The space is open by appointment.

To_____Bridges_____ [to-bridges.info]
Ex Collectio: The Bernard Madoff Provenance Project

September 9, 2016

Double Double

heizer_double_negative_southside_2016_gregorg.jpg
One of them, anyway: Michael Heizer Double Negative, 1969, south side, where the calving of boulders and sediment is becoming significant. image: August 2016, greg.org

There is so much about Sturtevant I don't know, and it amazes me every time I find out something else about her and her art.

For example, have you read Bruce Hainley's book about Sturtevant, Under The Sign of [sic]? Of course you haven't, because if you had, the other week when that New Yorker profile of Michael Heizer came out, ALL you would have been thinking and tweeting and yammering about was Sturtevant's Heizer Double Negative.

I repeat, Sturtevant had a project to repeat Michael Heizer's Double Negative, within months of Double Negative's unveiling, and it was called Heizer Double Negative.

And it would have been NEXT TO Double Negative. Let's read on.

david_hammons_heart_ornament.jpg
Untitled (Heart), 1994, via swann

This is a papier mache heart ornament signed by David Hammons, which he gave to Sara Penn in 1994. Penn was the owner of Knobkerry, a Tribeca dealer of African and Asian textiles and home furnishings which Hammons filled with work in January 1995.

Infiltrated might be a better word. Hammons made work by, with, and around Penn's merchandise, combining cultural signifyin objects to create charged puns. [The show was the hook for one of my favorite texts on Hammons' work, "Wreaking Havoc on the Signified", by Coco Fusco in Frieze.

hammons_flyswatter_knobkerry.jpg
Untitled (Fly Swatter), 1992, image via swann

Anyway, it looks like Penn accumulated a nice stash of Hammons swag. In 2008 a small African American Flag (1990) and Untitled (Mona Lisa), a little, postcard-size collage from Penn sold at Swann, the NY auction house. The collage is dated 1989 and has "Marry, Christmas David" inscribed on the back. A five-foot long sculpture titled Untitled (Fly Swatter) (1992) sold in 2010. It was called "The World's Most Expensive Fly Swatter?" after blowing out the estimate.

Sounds like the Knobkerry show was a long time coming. Also that David Hammons probably has an off-the-hook Christmas Tree.

Oct 6, 2016 | Lot 168, David Hammons, Untitled (Heart), 1994, est $6-9000 [swanngalleries.com

rob_pruitt_flea_market_panda_balloons.jpg

I have bought an inordinate amount of stuff from Rob Pruitt's Flea Markets over the years, and never more than since he's moved it to eBay. Still, I missed out on the crazy speculative run-up in the signed birthday panda balloon market in June. Now, like all but five of you, I'm left to wait for them to turn up at Phillips.

August 25, 2016

Untitled (redbox), 2016

redbox_wtf_cady_noland_rgay.jpg
Untitled (redbox), 2016, altered redbox dvd rental kiosk, ratchet nylon web straps, chain, padlock, aluminum tape. installation view via @rgay

Can you claim a work if you have no idea where it is? Writer Roxane Gay snapped this great piece and posted it to Twitter this morning. The web straps immediately made me think of the straps on the previous, Untitled (Shenanigans) piece. There's menace and violence, but it's less political here. More Hollywood. The chains are what really make it for me.

Gay is a professor at Purdue, and that brown brick looks familiar, so maybe this was outside a McDonald's in West Lafayette somewhere. I don't think it'll be up for long, but it's enough for the CV, at least.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ... 434 Next

Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
greg [at] greg [dot ] org

find me on twitter: @gregorg

about this archive

Category: new yorker magazine database

recent projects, &c.


chop_shop_at_springbreak
Chop Shop
at SPRING/BREAK Art Show
curated by Magda Sawon
1-7 March 2016

do_not_bid_or_buy_iris_sidebar.jpg
eBay Test Listings
Mar – Dec 2015
about | proposte monocrome, rose

shanzhai_gursky_mb_thumb.jpg
It Narratives, incl.
Shanzhai Gursky & Destroyed Richter
Franklin Street Works, Stamford
Sept 5 - Nov 9, 2014
about | link

therealhennessy_tweet_sidebar.jpg
TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -
about

sop_red_gregorg.jpg
Standard Operating Procedure
about | buy now, 284pp, $15.99

CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
Canal Zone Richard Prince
YES RASTA 2:The Appeals Court
Decision, plus the Court's
Complete Illustrated Appendix (2013)
about | buy now, 142pp, $12.99

weeksville_echo_sidebar.jpg
"Exhibition Space"
Mar 20 - May 8 @apexart, NYC


HELP/LESS Curated by Chris Habib
Printed Matter, NYC
Summer 2012
panel &c.


drp_04_gregorg_sidebar.jpg
Destroyed Richter Paintings, 2012-
background | making of
"Richteriana," Postmasters Gallery, NYC

czrpyr_blogads.jpg
Canal Zone Richard
Prince YES RASTA:
Selected Court Documents
from Cariou v. Prince (2011)
about | buy now, 376pp, $17.99

archives