June 28, 2016

Sforzian Recycling

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image of yahoo tv via @thegarance

Those who don't build a functioning campaign organization, including media and advance teams, are doomed to recycle 15-year-old Sforzian Backdrop techniques.

Yahoo's Garance Franke-Ruta rightly called this "the most passive-aggressive work of campaign advance" she's ever seen. This extraordinary wide shot of the scene comes from her Yahoo colleague Holly Bailey.

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image via @hollybdc

Alumisource is in Monessen, PA, down the Monongahela from Pittsburgh, but this backdrop is straight out of the early Sforzian playbook. I'm not sure if we're ready for a GWB election renaissance, or, frankly, if that kind of schtick even still works.

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Exhibition announcement card for Richard Prince's window installation, "Single man looking to the right", 1979, at the original location of Three Lives & Company bookstore, New York, via the catalogue for Edward Cella's exhibition, "Richard Prince: The Douglas Blair Turnbaugh Collection, 1977-88"

This is starting to become a habit.

This edition of Better Read features "Single man looking to the right," a 1979 text by Richard Prince, for a window installation he made at Three Lives & Co., a now-legendary neighborhood bookstore in the West Village. It's included in a show Prince recently announced/denounced, a huge pile of early stuff saved by an early friend and supporter, the dance critic Doulas Blair Turnbaugh. The show is at Edward Cella in Los Angeles through July 2016.

My interest was piqued by the light this early work sheds on Prince's development of his practice, on his experimentation and the paths not taken, and less for the possible insights into Prince's psyche or autobiography. This text seems to me both in sync with and apart from Prince's Bird Talk texts, just as the rephotographed works Prince showed at Three Lives resonate with yet differ from what's now generally thought of as his standard operating procedure. If anything, it's freedom from an S.O.P. that tips the scale for these photos; they're evidence of Prince's experimentation.

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installation photo for Richard Prince's window at Three Lives & Company, 1979, from Doug Eklund's The Pictures Generation, p. 157

A small photo of the Three Lives installation in Doug Eklund's The Pictures Generation catalogue also makes me wonder about the fate of these large, black & white, and differently "ganged up" Single Men prints. They're not in Turnbaugh's collection/show, and I'm thinking if they're destroyed, they may have another life coming.

Download Better_Read_009_Single_Man_20160627.mp3 from Dropbox [dropbox, mp3, 7.3mb, 4:57]

Previously:
Better Read #008: Death By Gun
Better Read #007: Spinoza's Ethica from Sturtevant's Vertical Monad
Better Read #006: The Jetty Foundation Presents, Send Me Your Money
Better Read #005: Frank Lloyd Wright Speaks Up
Better Read #004: Why We Should Talk About Cady Noland, a Zine by Brian Sholis
Better Read #003: Sincerely Yours, An Epic Scholarly Smackdown By Rosalind Krauss
Better Read #002: A Lively Interview With Ray Johnson, c.1968
the Ur-Better Read: W.H. Auden's The Shield Of Achilles, Read By A Machine

June 24, 2016

Play It Where It Lies

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I have tried to avoid the Sforzian analysis of this election. It feels like we've moved, or morphed, or devolved, or fallen, so far beyond, away, from the days of cannily placed powerpoint backdrops.

Sometimes, though, attention must be paid. As when comedian Lee Nelson threw a bucketful of Nazi golf balls at Donald Trump's Scottish golf course press appearance.

Trump, who multiple sources confirm literally studied and embraced the speeches of Adolf Hitler-he kept them on his nightstand-was "surrounded by Nazi golf balls." Nazi golf balls. Nazi. Golf. Balls.

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From The Journal:

After around ten minutes, Trump campaign operatives decided it might be a good idea to start clearing them away - and set about scooping them up with a few of his branded baseball caps.
Make America Great Again Filled With Nazi. Golf Balls.

OH PROTESTER BONUS: Nelson was also the guy who showered corrupt FIFA head Sepp Blatter with money [thejournal.ie]

June 22, 2016

Au Bout De La Nuit

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Isa Genzken's World Receiver in "Night" at The Glass House, image: Amanda Kirkpatrick

I was talking to a friend who recently got his first work by Isa Genzken, a World Receiver, (which really is the best first Genzken to get, and the third, and the seventh-they look great alone or in groups!) and it reminded me of one of the best installations ever of the radio-shaped cast concrete sculptures. Last fall a World Receiver was the last work in a fascinating 3-year exhibition called "Night", which took place on the coffee table in Philip Johnson's Glass House.

The Glass House is kept pretty much as Johnson left it, and that means almost no art. The Poussin on its stand is the famous exception. But for the first fifteen or so years, there was another work, a small plaster sculpture which sat on the Mies coffee table, and it appears in early photos of the Glass House, such as the 1949 Ezra Stoller image below. It was called La Nuit, and, obviously, it was by Alberto Giacometti. Johnson bought it in 1948 from the artist's first postwar US show at Pierre Matisse Gallery.

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By the mid-1960s, the plaster figure had begun to deteriorate, and Johnson sent the sculpture back to Giacometti's studio in Paris for repair. The artist's brother Diego worked on the figure, but Alberto was apparently dissatisfied and stripped it to its metal wire armature in order to remake it. Then he died. That was 1966.

And that might have been the end of it, if independent curator artist Jordan Stein hadn't gone archive diving in preparation for "Night". The Times' Randy Kennedy tells this story of "Night" and La Nuit in a 2012 article which I am trying mightily not to retype from start to finish.

Stein, who worked on "Night" with the Glass House's curator Irene Shum Allen, found a 1974 letter from James Lord in Matisse's archive at the Morgan Library, that discussed the restoration of La Nuit. Lord's idea was to have Diego remake the plaster figure, and then to have it cast in bronze as a posthumous edition that somehow noted both brothers' involvement. "What would you think of having Diego remake the figure?" Lord suggested. "He-and he alone-could do it so that it would be virtually-but of course not absolutely-as if it had been done by Alberto. Indeed, there are more than a few pieces, if the truth were known, in which Diego had as much of a hand as that...I have spoken of this to Diego, and he would be prepared to do the restoration...Would Annette have to be consulted?"

Which, well, yes, Annette would have to be consulted, though in 1974 she was in no position to decide. I just re-read Marc Spiegler's 2004 ArtNEWS article [pdf] on the decades-long conflict among the Giacomettis' assistants, family, collectors, Associations, Fondations, and Stiftungs that had only then begun to settle down. This seemed like a stretch in 1974, and any possible restoration was mooted by Diego's death in 1985, and no resolution over its ownership was likely during the posthumous shitstorm over Giacometti's work. It was basically gone.

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1946 photo of La Nuit, early state, in Giacometti's studio, by Marc Vaux

Until 2007, when it turned up at the Pompidou in « L'Atelier d'Alberto Giacometti » a show organized with the new Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti. The catalogue had 1946 photos by Marc Vaux (above) and Cartier-Bresson of La Nuit in the studio. It was originally a maquette for an unidentified monument and, most amazingly, the walking figure was a woman. Or as Alberto originally put it, "a lanky girl groping in the darkness." I can't think of another walking female Giacometti; his attenuated women were always rooted in their spots.

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By the time La Nuit was shipped to Matisse's New York Gallery in 1948, though, it lost its outspread fingers and its "opulente poitrine"; the Pompidou catalogue said it had been "asexualized," but defeminized or regendered seems more apt, especially in retrospect. Giacometti also made a second maquette La Nuit, with a similar footed platform, but no box base. Both were included in their stripped/deteriorated states at the Pompidou.

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La Nuit original and second version, in current state, from the Pompidou's 2007 exhibition catalogue

With the bare metal armature protruding from a solid base, Johnson's La Nuit looked like nothing so much as a World Receiver.

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"Untitled" (Death By Gun), 1990, endless. collection: moma.org

We've come to reading the names of the dead, to intone them, as a form of memorial.

I've never felt Felix Gonzalez-Torres' "Untitled" (Death By Gun) was a memorial per se, more a statement. Remembering for different ends. But following the massacre of Latinx gay people at Orlando's Pulse night club, and the subsequent readings of their names, it occurred to me that I'd never read and did not remember the names of the people who appeared on Felix's 1990 stack piece.

I looked for the original Time magazine article that was the artist's source, and I couldn't find it online. I couldn't find it in libraries. I ended up buying an old print edition of the magazine itself on eBay. July 17, 1989.

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And I transcribed the names of the 460 people who were killed in the US the first week of May 1989, the week Time chose to document, in the order Felix chose to lay them out, and had them read aloud by a computer.

Download Better_Read_008_Death_By_Gun_20160620.mp3 from dropbox [dropbox.com, 16.7mb mp3, 11:37]

Previously:
Better Read #007: Spinoza's Ethica from Sturtevant's Vertical Monad
Better Read #006: The Jetty Foundation Presents, Send Me Your Money
Better Read #005: Frank Lloyd Wright Speaks Up
Better Read #004: Why We Should Talk About Cady Noland, a Zine by Brian Sholis
Better Read #003: Sincerely Yours, An Epic Scholarly Smackdown By Rosalind Krauss
Better Read #002: A Lively Interview With Ray Johnson, c.1968
the Ur-Better Read: W.H. Auden's The Shield Of Achilles, Read By A Machine

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"Untitled" (Republican Years), 1992

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"Untitled" (NRA), 1991, collection: Astrup Fearnley Museet

25 years of this.

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Sturtevant's Vertical Monad, 2008, installed at Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London

In case the last Better Read was too mainstream podcasty for you, here are the first few pages of Spinoza's Ethica Ordine Geometrico Demonstrata, in Latin, which Sturtevant included in her 2008 installation Vertical Monad, read by a computer.

Better_Read_Sturtevant_Spinoza_20160610.mp3 [dropbox, 35Mb, 24:28]

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Wrigley's, 1937, Charles Green Shaw, Art Institute of Chicago, image: poulwebb

The banner on J.S. Marcus's WSJ story about American painting in the 1930s is Charles Green Shaw's Wrigley's, which is in the Art Institute of Chicago collection. Also, it is awesome.

With its unafraid abstraction mixed with proto-Pop, it reminds me of Gerald Murphy's paintings from the 1920s. Shaw and Murphy both enjoyed privileged, Manhattan-based, continental lifestyles that involved painting, and according to Adam Weinberg's 1997 exhibition brochure, they were friends in Europe.

But his AAA history doesn't mention Murphy at all. Shaw didn't get into abstraction until he came back to New York, well after Murphy stopped painting. And Shaw doesn't seem to have been very involved in the artist community of New York in the 30s, despite having a couple of gallery shows, and being on some committees at The Modern. He was more a writer.

Which makes it tricky to gauge the quality/influence/familiarity of his work. It's nice, some of it, like Wrigley's, even looks great, but it doesn't seem to have been important or impactful. The historical upside is limited, is how it feels. This, even though he was apparently friends with Ad Reinhardt. I guess it's complicated?

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Still, it's good to see this photo of a pack of gum sitting on a postcard, which looks like source material for the painting. It's among the digitized collection of Shaw's papers at the Archives of American Art. As the larger version of the image so ably informs us:

AAA_shaw_charles_wrigley_photomontage.jpg

Maybe it's hard to put an emphasis on Shaw's painting because he had so much else going on. He wrote for the New Yorker, did slim books of verse, cranked out some children's books, took photographs.

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Charles Green Shaw, photo of NYC harness store, c.1940s?, collection aaa.si.edu

We might call Shaw an artist fluent in multiple mediums today, but his is the kind of peripatetic practice that we're conditioned to look askance at when we see it in the past. Or maybe it feels like he did not take much of anything seriously, except for mixing drinks. Maybe it's because he was rich and a "bachelor" in a time and art world where that didn't help?

I don't really know, but I like the work.

Oh here we go. In 2007 Roberta Smith also called him peripatetic and wondered, more clearly than I, about his legacy. His group of well-heeled colleagues, the American Abstract Artists, who were abstract when abstraction was un-American, "were often called -- and not always benignly -- the Park Avenue Cubists."

When he died in 1974, Shaw left his art to a surprised friend, the collector Charles H. Carpenter, who became its posthumous shepherd. A bunch of paintings went to the Whitney, and the Art Institute bought Wrigley's. And apparently, he's been an overlooked American minor master ever since.

Charles Green Shaw papers [aaa.si.edu]
Charles G. Shaw's artist page at Michael Rosenfeld Gallery [michaelrosenfeldart]
[nyt]


Blade Runner - Autoencoded: Full film from Terence Broad.

This is fascinating. Artist/computer scientist at Goldsmiths Terence Broad has created a film using a neural network. It "watches" and encodes a film frame by frame, then it re- or autoencodes the film from the resulting data. It's the data equivalent of printing from a negative, or casting from a mold. Except it is not a copy, per se, but a re-generation. Does that make sense? I'm trying to understand and explain it without resorting to cut&pasting his medium blog post about it. The point is, his network generated images from the encoded data that they'd been reduced to. For an entire film.

The film he chose for his algorithmic network to watch and re-create: Blade Runner. Broad goes into some of the philosophical reasons for choosing Blade Runner, but the best explanation comes from Vox, where Aja Romano reports that Broad's freshly generated film triggered Warner Brothers' DCMAbot, which temporarily knocked the film off of Vimeo. It was put back:

In other words: Warner had just DMCA'd an artificial reconstruction of a film about artificial intelligence being indistinguishable from humans, because it couldn't distinguish between the simulation and the real thing.
It all reminds me of the work done at UC Berkeley a few years ago that reconstructed images from brain scan data taken with an fMRI. Which in turn reminded me of the dreamcam and playback equipment in Wim Wenders' Until The End of The World.

As Roy Batty said, "If only you could see what I've seen with your eyes." And now you can.

Autoencoding Blade Runner | Reconstructing films with artificial neural networks [medium/@Terrybroad]
A guy trained a machine to "watch" Blade Runner. Then things got seriously sci-fi. [vox]
Previously: The Until The End Of The World Is Nigh

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I love dada, I support it entirely. But dadaists themselves seem kind of tiresome to be around. Dead founding dadaists, on the other hand, we could hang out all day.

If I understand the history correctly, Francis Picabia painted this signboard which André Breton wore at the Festival Dada held on 27 March, 1920 at the Theatre de l'oeuvre. The quote comes from Picabia's Manifeste Cannibale, which Breton read that night in the dark: "For you to love something, you must have seen and heard it for a long time, you idiots."

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Ernest T. Bande d'Idiots, apres Picabia, 1985, acrylic on cardboard, collection FRAC Limousin

agnès b. says that Picabia took the photo, though the succession André Breton is not so sure. b. has reissued a 2004 t-shirt with the photo printed on it. b. also owns one of three replicas of the sign painted in 1985 by Ernest T., a 73-yo pseudonymous French artist whose dada appropriationist practice inspired the title of this post. Another is in the collection of the FRAC Limousin, which gave Ernest T. a retrospective in 2001. [pdf checklist].

That leaves one unaccounted for, but maybe I'll just make it myself. Ernest doesn't seem to have tried to guess the colors Picabia used anyway. That creme & greige palette does not strike me as very Festival Dada.

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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

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Category: art

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

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

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

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TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -
about

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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

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


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


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

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

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