Untitled (Trump Plaza Black) Nos. 4 & 5, 2016, paint on panel, each in two parts, collection: Trump Entertainment Resorts/Carl Icahn, installation photo via Press of Atlantic City
which were hastily installed during the 2016 campaign over the dingy palimpsest of Trump’s name on the facade of the abandoned and bankrupt casino in Atlantic City.
And it reminded me that it very much mattered to the works that they were in the collections of the NYPD Order Control Unit and Trump Entertainment Resorts & Carl Icahn, respectively.
So when this piece went up on the facade of the Fox News studio facing the US Capitol building, in between the white supremacist insurrectionists’ attack on vote certification slash barely thwarted massacre of politicians, and the hastily militarized inauguration, where troops are literally–I hope–protecting the elected president and vice president from the paramilitary mobs of the current/outgoing president, it feels very important to point out that Fox News absolutely owns this.
I love the idea that some furniture is “important.” This chest-on-chest has descended through some Philadelphia/New Jersey families since it was originally ordered sometime before the Revolutionary War, and those family connections are important, but not right here, not right now. The finish is old and excellent; the hardware is original; the elaborately carved cartouche is intact, and it’s all similar to similarly important pieces in important collections, but that is not really important right now, right here, either.
But because of all this, this chest was attributed to the most prominent Philadelphia cabinetmaker of the time, Thomas Affleck, one of the few guys in town known to have his own copy of Thomas Chippendale’s gentleman furniture pattern book.
But then when this thing came in, and came apart, this giant, gorgeous, script monogram JF was found carved in the top of the lower chest, invisible to anyone except the movers, or the maker. And so now this important chest-on-chest is attributed to John Folwell, another Philadelphia cabinetmaker, and its similarity should prompt a re-examination of the attribution of some of the other important furniture out there. I would like more things to have been elaborately and secretly inscribed by their makers, please.
Whereas the laws of the United States have been, for some time past, and now are, opposed, and the execution there of obstructed…by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in the Marshals by law…I appeal to all loyal citizens to favor, facilitate, and aid this effort to maintain the honor, the integrity, and the existence of our National Union, and the perpetuity of popular Government, and to redress wrongs already long enough endured.
The headcount, militia structure, and time limit were written into law in 1795 and had not changed, because the US did not have a large, standing army before the Civil War. By 1861, large numbers of officers in the small US Army had already begun leaving their posts to join the Confederacy. Governors from Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, and Arkansas refused, and began seceding.
Volunteers from Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia who responded to the call billeted in federal buildings, including the US Capitol. The first troops to arrive, from Pennsylvania, pushed through a mob in Baltimore to reach DC by train on April 18th. They headed straight for the Capitol. As more forces arrived, they fanned out across the District, in buildings rapidly converted to military use.
In the Summer of 1964, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, strengthening Black Americans’ right to vote. The FBI and members of the US Navy searched the swamps outside Philadelphia, Mississippi for missing voter registration activists John Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner. Local media and white supremacist politicians dismissed their disappearance as a publicity hoax. During the two month-long search the bodies of seven other murdered Black men and one Black boy were found in the swamps of Mississippi. Five have not been identified. After receiving a tip, troops found the young men’s bodies buried under an earthen dam on August 4th. Local members of the KKK, the county sheriff, and the Philadelphia police department were all implicated in the kidnapping and killings.
On August 17th, the US House of Representatives passed a resolution to install a plaque inside the Capitol to commemorate the quartering of volunteer troops at the outset of the Civil War. $2,500 was appropriated for the plaque in 1966.
A week after an insurrection beginning January 6, 2021, which was instigated and led by the president and abetted by congressional representatives from Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Missouri, New York, and North Carolina, plus others currently unknown, and which resulted in the storming of the Capitol, the killing of at least two police officers, four mob deaths, and the failed attempted rapes, torture, and public execution of multiple elected officials, and the failed attempt to stop the constitutionally mandated certification of the results of the presidential election, National Guard troops are once again quartering in the Capitol building, as the outgoing president and his collaborators continue to threaten violence against the country and elected leaders. Only this time they’re doing it under this plaque.
If the 103-year gap between the quartering and the commemorating teaches us anything, it’s that it’s probably good to give it at least a minute, history-wise, to see which side everyone ends up on.
It is New Year’s Day, and way past time to recognize the significance of the 9/11 Museum Cheese Board in the development of my practice.
It is true that in late 2014, recognizing the aesthetic resonance of an LRAD and its cover with the work of Olafur Eliasson and Marcel Duchamp, respectively, combined with Olafur’s call to take the tools and methodologies of art beyond the confines of the art world led directly to my idea to create Protestors’ Folding Item, an artwork in the collection of the NYPD, with the intention of using VARA in court to enforce the piece’s exhibition integrity and require LRAD remain covered in public. From there I stepped up a practice of declaring works that involve objects I do not own or situations I don’t control-including some already in museums, which is convenient, conservationally.
But after spending more than six years now looking for them in the wild, and exploring various techniques and approaches for replicating them, it’s clear to me that the complicated condition of these cheese boards helped map the territory where Protestors’ Folding Item would soon be found: the implications of the art/not-art inflection point, the context of those states, and the related issues of authorship, the object, and the exercise of control.
Almost as soon as Jen Chung reported the existence of the porcelain serving trays in Gothamist, I began researching their creation, and identifying their creators. That the trays were significant was immediately obvious. That their significance came entirely from their terribleness was, too, but the immediate media focus on their terribleness made their significance an awkward subject. I never heard back from the designer or the company after sending what I thought was a very diplomatic and persuasive email request for the middle of a sudden PR maelstrom:
Dear Ms. S––,
Thank you in advance for your consideration, and for your assistance in a story on the porcelain platter Rosanna designed for the 9/11 Museum. I am a writer in Washington DC and New York City, and have published my independent art- and architecture-related research at my blog, greg.org: the making of, since 2001. The site was recently recognized by the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program.
One of the subjects I covered rather extensively and authoritatively was the design competition for the World Trade Center Memorial. I was impressed by the Cartography platter in the recently opened 9/11 Museum Gift Shop, and the debates it has engendered about the museum, the memorialization process, and different experiences and modes of remembrance.
I would hope that as a company and a designer, Rosanna and Ms. Bowles might be able to share insights on the design and the process of creating it, and to site the platter in a constructive and empathetic context.
If it’s germane to this particular commission, it would also be helpful to hear about other museum or philanthropic projects, or perhaps to expand the context to include the history of commemorative plates, figures, and other objects.
Thank you again, and I look forward to your response, and to answering any questions that can facilitate my research.
As is clear, though, I was still in research mode. It felt like a delicate balance, a fine line, to acknowledge that attention came from controversy, which is not something a manufacturer of porcelain serving pieces and collectibles is anticipating. But it’s also the case that though I was obviously not going to declare their trays works of art in my interview request, I was not yet ready to do it myself, even in my own mind. So for several months in 2014, these trays existed for me as objects in a state of tension.
The 9/11 Serving Trays are evidence of the historical and cultural reality of our world right then, when an expensive museum at the site of a terrorist attack slash commercial real estate development contracted with a housewares company to design an exclusive product for sale in their gift shop. The object that resulted was not a commemorative plate, which had already been produced in great volume by 2014; it was a ceramic tray in the shape of the continental United States, in cream glaze finish, and blank except for three navy blue hearts to mark the sites of four crashed planes. The box called it not a cheese board, but a serving tray. What could be more honorable than serving, they might have thought when they approved the copy. And when faced by overwhelming criticism, even from The 9/11 Families, a group used regularly until that point as human shields for all manner of capital- and politics-driven decisions at the WTC site, the museum defended its offering of “keepsakes” to a bigger market, “the 9/11 Community,” which could include not just the 9/11 Industry, but anyone who has the “historic experience” of visiting the museum itself.
I’m rambling, obviously, but after the internal debate over whether to post works like the blurred Frida, I am deciding to err on the side of slightly more info. And also, for the first time, my periodic internet sweep turned up this photo on a 3-month-old reddit post, the first evidence of the 9/11 Cheese Board existing outside the 9/11 Museum.
So there is something that in many other circumstances would be called hope. And that feels very fitting for today, and for this moment in time.
Wow, just when I thought we were having something very special when considering the implications of portraiture and erasure in a found real estate listing photo of a laundry dungeon in an epically gross American University flophouse–and I don’t mean to imply I’m not grateful for The Discourse–but anyway, y’all* were apparently also fine with letting me go yet another year without knowing that forgotten heiress recluse who kept up her sprawling Fifth Avenue co-op and Santa Barbara mansion like she’d be back any minute but actually checked herself and her doll collection into a midtown hospital room and only left decades later when she died in 2011 at 104 Huguette Clark made paintings?
And that except for a few included in a two-week show at the Corcoran Museum in Washington in Spring 1929–four years after her father’s death and the bequeathing to the Museum of 800 artworks and a Clark Wing–they were only first seen publicly in the jumble of an estate sale at Christie’s in 2014, where they sold for not that much money? Anyway, seventeen paintings by Clark were included in that sale, and she had some moments, mostly that window above, with the geisha lamp reflected in it. [Another four signed paintings, plus a couple of attributions, some prints, and an album of reproductions of her paintings, were auctioned in New Jersey in 2017, leftovers from Christie’s cataloguing. A highlight was this painting of a Dutch doll, which checks a lot of Clark boxes.
Also, though her teacher Tadeusz Styka specialized in painting portraits of socialite women, and once painted Clark appearing to paint a nude man, many of Clark’s surviving paintings are of Japanese women.
Sometimes it feels like I find these works, and sometimes it feels like they find me. Now [gesturing around at the world] is definitely one of those times where I’ve been actively not, and yet I see a work like this, installed like this, and srsly, what am I supposed to do?
It first seemed like this 1932 portrait of Frida Kahlo by her father Guillermo Kahlo was blurred algorithmically a la Google Street View. But the absence of peripheral blurring, plus the unblurred shoulder at left, indicates it is blurred in the print.
[update: when asked for theories, the kid pointed out that the photo has a border along the bottom and right sides, but not along the left. Also, there is a shadow along the left corner, cast by the naked lamp below, but the shadow is blurred above. Thus the portrait was blurred in the listing photo. I feel like I’m raisin’em right.]
This is a palm-sized ceramic bowl by Beatrice Wood. She began studying ceramics after her Dada phase, and continued working with ceramics until she died in 1998, at the age of 105.
During her Dada phase, when she’d gone to New York as a young woman to pursue acting, she got in deep with Marcel Duchamp and French novelist Henri-Pierre Roché, who later wrote Jules et Jim, but not about another, later love triangle he was in, not with Wood.
Wood published The Blind Man with Duchamp and Roché, the magazine in which Louise Norton, another friend of this tight-knit posse, defended Fountain after it had been rejected from the Society of Independent Artists’ April 1917 show. Like Duchamp, Norton was also involved in the SIA leadership, and in Stieglitz’s photo of it, Fountain‘s submission tag lists Norton and her address as the alternate contact for R. Mutt.
In The Blind Man Wood wrote of Fountain that the only art America had managed by that point was plumbing and bridges. She created her own entry to the SIA show in Duchamp’s studio. It was a drawing of a woman exiting a bathtub with an actual bar of soap collaged over her crotch, which she gave a punny French title. Like Fountain, it was lost after the show, and decades later she made versions referencing it when the need arose. C’est la vie.
Bruce Goff was the head of the architecture school at the University of Oklahoma from 1948 until 1955, and though her job title was secretary, Jerri Hodges was the administrative backbone and shadow student of the whole, utopian affair. The architecture school was housed under the bleachers of the football stadium, and the space and Goff’s experimental leanings meant the whole place was abuzz with unconventional techniques, materials, exhibitions, productions, and who knows what.
So maybe this Christmas tree made of a myriad of ornaments, snowflakes, and papercraft decorations suspended in space on vertical strings of beads fit right in, and it’s only us, in the future more conventional and bleaker than Goff imagined, who marvel at it. We should be lucky they even thought to take a picture. The catalogue for the 2010 Goff exhibition “Renegades” says they were doing stuff like this all the time. Also, the library’s online gallery only names her, the print version gives Hodges co-credit for the Christmas tree. [h/t @joshlipnik via @cmonstah]
There so many things to catch the eye and tempt the paddle in Kenny Schachter’s second storage-clearing sale at Sotheby’s. One of the most interesting things to me is the veteran collector/dealer/connoisseur’s confidence in attaching shadow box-style frames and tape right over the overflap signatures of his two small (24×18 in.) Lucien Smith Rain paintings.
The next most exciting thing was seeing my newest work, Untitled (Lucien Smith), installed on the back. Believe me, the only person more surprised than me is probably Kenny.
Both sales end tomorrow, December 17. The winning bidder of each of these lots is welcome to contact me for a certificate documenting their bonus acquisition, upon verification, of course. Artist proofs reside in copies of Smith’s 2012 exhibition catalogue, Small Rain Paintings. In case you miss out on the 17th.
Tom Ford has introduced a wristwatch made of ocean plastic. The following are excerpts from the Departures Magazine marketing email for the watch which, at $995, somehow manages to seem simultaneously expensive and cheap:
The Impact of Ethical Luxury “In my opinion, ethical luxury is the greatest luxury of all,” says iconic designer and creative director Tom Ford…When you purchase an Ocean Plastic Timepiece, you permanently remove the equivalent of 35 bottles of plastic waste from the ocean.
The Tom Ford Ocean Plastic Timepiece is made from 100-percent ocean plastic collected in seas, along coastlines, and in uncontrolled landfills. Its material contains neither virgin plastics nor non-ocean-bound plastics, and is traceable to its collection source. The ocean plastic granules used in its production have been transported in a carbon-neutral manner, and have been compounded in a solar-powered Swiss facility. Additionally, all packaging is recyclable.
“It is incredibly appealing to know that you are not only wearing a high-quality product, but that by simply owning the product you are also taking direct action to improve the planet.”
I was going to post a photo of Ford modeling the watch, but who even cares at this point. It is a giant black watch with TOM FORD and OCEAN PLASTIC written on the face.
In 1957 a sculptural ceiling and wall by Isamu Noguchi was installed in the lobby of 666 Fifth Avenue. The composition of undulating aluminum fins survived the purchase of the building by Jared Kushner, and the gutting and renovation of the Fifth Ave.-facing retail spaces. The wall was more dynamic than the ceiling, which was pretty subtle, but it all worked very nicely together.
But now the Noguchi Museum is reporting that the work has been removed and destroyed. The only bright spot is that the components were donated to the Museum. If anyone has a block-long elevator lobby that needs a space age drop ceiling, hit them up, I guess.
It reminds me of Wade Guyton’s 1999 show at Andrew Kreps, Against the New Passeism. Understanding that this is only the beginning, hope for the end. Build, Destroy, Do Nothing.
Wade installed a rough, fireplace-size, plexi&ply sculpture in the back room, and put the entire back room on display in the main gallery, including a much bigger Ricci Albenda text piece below:
I’d say stay outta my bidding way, but we’re all gonna do what we’re gonna do. I have thought, though, many times, about [bringing back] these early, destroyed Guytons, but just haven’t found the right space yet.
I love Pierre Jenneret’s furniture for Chandigarh, and I hate the Chandigarh Furniture Industrial Complex. I am relieved that these objects that once were abandoned for scrap are now preserved, but I hate that the cultural context is being stripped away, and that for their value and significance to be recognized, they must be removed and fed through the luxury design machinery of the West. I love seeing this furniture aging and bearing its history, and I hate seeing it stripped and restored and altered into just one more must-have for some instagram junkie to stuff into their Axel Vervoordt McMonastery.
I love this stuff, and hate that I want it, but I’ve managed to deal because it’s not like there’s any OG Chandigarh furniture left anyway. Well, Patrick Parrish just kicked the leg off my precariously balanced chair. He is currently showing a collection of pristine, original condition Jenneret furniture from Chandigarh which has been held for twelve years, and it is utterly exquisite. Everyone who’s ever stripped and dipped a teak armchair and tossed out a horsehair cushion should immediately feel waves of remorse for their design crimes.
Now I love this furniture, and I hate that you haven’t yet sent me $1.26 million so I can buy all 66 pieces for my McMonastery.
My old qualms about the capitalist reality of Gerhard Richter making photo copies of his greatest paintings were rendered quainter than the Geneva Convention by the introduction of an entirely new category, “facsimile objects.” These mass- and masterfully produced giclée prints, numbered and unsigned, and mounted on aluminum composite panels, are the creation of a print foundry founded by Joe Hage, Richter’s lawyer/collector/OG webmaster, Heni Productions.
Heni got its start in 2011, when it made Cage Grid I, a giclée edition of Richter’s monumental squeegee painting Cage 6, divided into a 16-part grid. The panels were sold in the gift shop of the artist’s retrospective at Tate Modern, both as a set, and individually (as Cage Grid II).
Though facsimile objects initially seemed like they were designed to exist outside Richter’s art, they now appear alongside it. Gagosian included at least two facsimile objects–(P1) and (P12), above–in a Richter prints show earlier this year.
They’ve been installed in my head even longer. In 2016 for Chop Shop, a show where large-scale works were sliced up or parted out to order, I used this grid mode to create Destroyed Richter Grids, full-scale recreations of lost squeegee paintings.
Time being a flat circle, Heni has now announced the drop of Cage Prints (P19), facsimile objects in editions of 200 (each) of all six of Richter’s Cage paintings, but at 1/9th-scale, or 100×100 cm. Applications for purchase are currently being accepted (decisions are made on Dec. 6), though with no guarantee of Christmas delivery.
And so I, too, must, compelled by fate, announce a new work, Untitled (Heni Cage Grid), in which a Heni facsimile object of Cage 6 is cut into 16 pieces, each 25×25 cm. Like Richter’s Cage Grid I, it will be available in an edition of 16, plus 4AP. Each piece will be labeled and numbered, and a couple will include fragments of the original label. Some may be sold separately.
Unlike Heni, I can guarantee it will not be available before Christmas.