This Cy Twombly photograph of Robert Rauschenberg has been around. He is in his Fulton Street studio, the crumbling walk-up he moved into when he returned to New York from his Italian romp with Twombly in the Spring of 1953. Clearly, he’s settled in a little bit, put some interesting stuff up on the wall.Continue reading “Flipped Erased deKooning Drawing”
Untitled (Newman Twelfth Station Glitch I & II), 2013—
It’s been almost ten years since I found the Internet Archive scan of the Guggenheim’s 1966 catalogue for the debut exhibition of Barnett Newman’s Stations of The Cross had not one, but two alternating glitches in it.
And ten years and five minutes since I decided they should be made into paintings.
And ten years, five minutes and a day since I last thought about me actually painting them myself. I guess these things just take time. I was about to buy an old catalogue of Barnett Newman prints when I realized I already had two. And that memory of Newman’s interest in the borders around prints, intrinsic to the medium, and his treating lithograph stones as an instrument to be played, reminded me of these pages. And though my previous comparison this instrument metaphor to Richard Prince’s description of playing a camera didn’t help me make the connection at the time, I now see that a scanner can be an instrument as well, with what Newman called its repertoire of “instrumental licks.” [Which, now that I type it, reminds me of Sigmar Polke’s hyperexpressive use of a Xerox machine to make his artist’s book, Daphne. But if the artist introduces them himself, are they even glitches?]
Still not sure what form(s) these should take—whether books, or prints, or paintings, or paintings of paintings—but I am glad to be thinking about it again.
Glitch II is still there, btw. [1.8mb pdf]
Glitches of The Stations of The Cross
Creation is Joined with the Playing
You Had One Job, Hindu Poet Sankar
In her 1995 biography of Florine Stettheimer Barbara Bloemink identifies everyone the artist put in this painting of a painting unveiling, based on guests whose presence at such soirées had been recorded somewhere. I don’t have my copy of Bloemink’s book handy, but my guess is the sources were the correspondence and journals of Florine and Ettie Stettheimer at Yale’s Beinecke Library, which transferred the painting to the Art Gallery in 2019.
According to Bloemink, the two guys contemplating the painting in the lower left are sculptor Gaston Lachaise and cubist evangelist painter Albert Gleizes. Ettie Stettheimer is in green in the upper left, sitting next to poet Isabel Lachaise, the sculptor’s wife and muse. Painter/sculptor Maurice Sterne is standing behind them. Sterne’s wife Mabel Dodge, a friend of Gertrude and Leo Stein with a giant villa in Florence and a downtown Manhattan salon, who was part of the founding of artist colonies in Provincetown and Taos, is not pictured. But that’s Leo Stein on the pouf, next to playwright and Carl van Vechten squeeze Avery Hopwood on the ottoman. Florine Stettheimer herself is sitting on the sofa at right between Madame Juliette Gleizes and an unknown figure in harlequin pants.
Everyone’s accounted for so far, but Bloemink identified the dark-skinned figure in a black suit at the top center of the picture, sitting in front of the nude self-portrait Stettheimer never exhibited publicly in her lifetime—nor was it included in the posthumous show Marcel Duchamp organized for her at MoMA in 1946, although this painting was—as “Hindu poet Sankar.” Sankar, whose only mentions I can find are related to this painting, but it seems pretty clear the reason they were invited was to keep the painting from getting censored on Tumblr. So who even is Hindu poet Sankar, and what have they done? Literally every online mention of them tries to sound like of course, they know who Hindu poet Sankar is, but if you don’t know, they’re not going to tell you.
Anyway, Sankar looks a little uncomfortable, not to say out of place—no, stay right there, Sankar, don’t move, I’ll get you a drink. This is a family blog.
[At least it’s not just me update: In a 2017 paper [pdf] on the interrelation between Carrie Stettheimer’s well-known doll house models and, respectively, Ettie’s writing and Florine’s painting, D]uke art historian Annabel Wharton notes that, even after enlisting the help of Asian Studies colleagues, she was unable to further identify “Hindu poet Sankar.” According to Wharton, Bloemink learned of the Sankar ID from a 1991 conversation with Yale’s longtime bibliographer and curator Donald Gallup [who died in 2000]. Gallup helped acquire and process Gertrude Stein’s papers, too, so he was familiar with the modernist milieu. Maybe the answer lies somewhere in the library.]
NEXT DAY UPDATE: With no information forthcoming from the Stettheimer side, it seemed useful to try looking around to see what prominent Indian poets or other figures were making the scene in New York City in 1916-1919. A couple of possibilities: In September 1916, a Columbia grad student named Shankar M. Pagar married fellow Columbia student Radhabai Pawar in what the Times called the first Hindu wedding on record in the United States. At least it was the first one in the Times. Their reception was at the Hindustan Association of America, an ex-pat student group where Pagar was an officer. There was no mention of poetry, though, and the Pagars were planning to return to India after completing their degrees in mid 1917.
The HAA archives mentioned another, more prominent possibility: Benoy Kumar Sarkar, a prolific Calcutta sociologist and nationalist. I couldn’t find mention of Sarkar as a poet, or that he visited New York before the 1930s—and I gave up looking when his Wikipedia page said he praised Nazism and recommended India establish a fascist dictatorship [presumably a Hindu dictatorship instead of an English one.] But Twitter user @sand_fiddler pushed past that to find the Times ran a full-page feature & interview with Sarkar during a Spring 1917 US tour. Not only was Sarkar credited with publishing three volumes of Bengali poetry, his interview is laced through with references to Homer, Wagner, Chinese poetry, Walt Whitman, and Rabindranath Tagore. Now that we know he was in town, the only question remains the most salient one: is there any indication he visited Stettheimer? And that he might be the Sarkar/Sankar we’re looking for?
Gerhard Richter Painted
I get it, it’s been six years since Gerhard Richter announced he’d “retired from painting,” but after several months of press releases and invites for a show of “new and recent” work, it still came as a shock to read David Zwirner describing the show opening last night as containing “a group of Richter’s last paintings, made in 2016–2017.”
Of course, what it technically means is, “last paintings on canvas.” Or “last squeegee paintings.” Which still shocks to think about; I, for one, would like him to still be painting. But given the artist’s incredible physical exertion while making the squeegee paintings in Corinna Belz’ 2011 film, Gerhard Richter Painting, it’s understandable. I’m still trying to think through what to make of it, though, and to see what Richter’s making now.Continue reading “Gerhard Richter Painted”
Mural With Girl With A Pearl, 2023
I’m not sure I could think of a greater honor than to have work in a two-artist exhibition with Vermeer. I certainly didn’t think of anything before today.
But now I am beyond thrilled to announce my site-specific installation, Mural With Girl With A Pearl is on view at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. It comprises a painting on the wall holding Girl With A Pearl, and the painting Girl With A Pearl itself. It’s hard to say how long it will be there; certainly this incarnation won’t go past March 30th, when Girl With A Pearl goes back to The Hague. Tickets to see it are definitively not available. [But if you do go, SEND PICS!]
Like Vermeer’s work, which it incorporates, it is an exploration of the subtle effects of light captured in built up layers of paint. And like those light effects, it may be fleeting, perceived only in the periphery of vision, occupying the liminal spaces around the older work that is the predictable draw of our attention.
But for now, if you look up, and the gallery lights hit at the right angle, you will feel your field of view, and with the close looking you’ve exercised, you’ll recognize the changing world beyond the frame.
You’ll see the new horizon coalesce just above Girl with a Pearl Earring‘s head. The loose grid of brusquely brushed forms —pearls? lights? ships? celestial figures? yet too big to be stars?—shimmering in formation in the graying sky.
While the current installation involves Girl with a Pearl, I am happy to discuss how to make the piece work for your Vermeer, too. Or, if you’re at the Mauritshuis, we can recreate the Amsterdam magic. Just because the Vermeer show is once-in-a-lifetime doesn’t mean this collab has to be, too.
Previous, related museum works:
The Wall, 2021, Musée du Louvre
Proposte Monocrome, gris, 2017, The Metropolitan Museum
ASMRt — Jasper Johns House Call
When Douglas Cramer sold this Jasper Johns painting at Christie’s in 2012, he told the story of its creation, as a thank you to a doctor for making a house call the artist didn’t have the money to pay for. But that feels incomplete, since, if Johns filled Dr Wilder’s prescription for Paregoric at the Sande Drugs on 76th Street, doesn’t that mean he was living in his penthouse on Riverside Drive by then? I think there’s more to the relationship with Dr. Wilder than, “If I live I’ll pay you Tuesday.” [If nothing else, they stayed in touch enough for Dr & Mrs. Joseph Wilder to loan the painting to the artist’s solo show at the Jewish Museum in 1964.]
Anyway, I found my way to this painting, and the text for this installment of ASMRt, through John Yau’s 2018 article for Hyperallergic, which I just reread, having bookmarked it at the time.
Download ASMRt_Jasper_Johns_Paregoric_20230314.mp3 [17:49, 17mb, greg.org
La Nuit at the Opéra
When I saw this 1989 photo of the Opéra Bastille on Tumblr last night, I was surprised. Not just because I’d never seen Cy Twombly’s curtain for the Opéra, but because I’d completely forgotten it ever existed. I didn’t remember, even when I was writing about Cy Twombly making curtains for European opera houses. I’ll take responsibility for that to a point, but looking into it, I think the invisibility of Twombly’s monumental public work starts at home.
There is no mention of Twombly’s curtain on the website of the Opera de Paris, or on the Opéra Bastille’s Wikipedia. It didn’t yet exist when Harald Szeeman organized his 1987 Twombly retrospective that traveled to the Pompidou in 1988. From the Pompidou’s perspective, it exists as six tiny sketches. It’s not in Kirk Varnedoe’s catalogue for Twombly’s 1994 MoMA retrospective. To paraphrase Rauschenberg, it existed in the gap between art and opera, a painting Twombly didn’t actually paint, and the thing operatic artists literally move out of the way to present their real work.Continue reading “La Nuit at the Opéra”
Carol Mancusi-Ungaro x Ben Fino-Radin
Art & Obsolescence, Ben Fino-Radin’s podcast about conservation and the materiality of digital and media art, has been consistently fascinating since it began, but the latest episode is particularly tremendous. Ben talks with Carol Mancusi-Ungaro, the Whitney’s chief conservator, who also worked at the Menil, and at Harvard, and who is one of the most influential forces in the conservation of contemporary art.
In less than an hour, Mancusi-Ungaro talks about working for Dominique deMenil; solving a mystery of the Rothko Chapel; starting the Artist Documentation Program that interviews artists about their process and materials; working with Annalee Newman on the material legacy of Barnett Newman; the Replication Committee she helped launch at the Whitney, to sort out issues of reproducing fugitive artworks; and her work with Cy Twombly over the decades—and the book she’s writing about their interactions.
Twombly talking about his Menil works is one of my favorite ADP interviews; it was removed from the site for several years, but is now back [with some edits, I guess, but still.] And Annalee Newman’s experience of cutting up Barney’s unfinished canvases was one of the inspirations for my 2016 project Chop Shop, and the proposal to slice up Newman’s Voice of Fire and disperse it to save it from angry Canadian taxpayers. And the Replication Committee! I mean, obviously. Anyway, a must-listen.
[update: in his 2017 ADP interview Josh Kline talks about a New Yorker article about his work, and the Replication Committee.]
Art & Obsolescence Episode 63: Carol Mancusi-Ungaro [artandobsolescence.com]
The Art Of Katherine Dreier
While it is sort of shocking to see a 49-year-old Marcel Duchamp dressed like an art handling street urchin as he leans against his masterpiece in its original home, this is exactly how I always picture the owner of that home—and that masterpiece—Katherine S. Dreier: a genial and traditional patron, just chilling with her amazing artist friends and their work.
But Dreier made work, too. Her 1918 Abstract Portrait of Marcel Duchamp is up at MoMA at the moment. And a 1940-41 painting, Explosion, is on view at Yale, which also holds Dreiers as part of the Société Anonyme collection. But she’s discussed and remembered much more as a collector and patron, and what discussions I can find about Dreier’s work are locked up in old, undigitized tomes.
Though painted more than a decade later, Zwei Welten (Two Worlds), donated to Yale in 1941, seems to depict similar forms in similar space. In Paris, Duchamp’s brother Jacques Villon adapted Zwei Welten as a lithograph. Dreier had an abstract language she liked, I guess. Before that, there was a chapel mural of Jesus, so she had range. Or rather, she had a journey.
Things are on the move now, too. This painting, Spinning Wheel (1920-26), ambiguously dated but specifically titled, was acquired by an alum in 2015, who donated it to Yale in 2020. Dreier’s was not a precisionist abstraction.
The most intriguing Dreier painting is the one we can’t see. A negative exists in Yale’s collection—dated 1941, with no known prints—for a photo of a[nother] portrait of Duchamp, which is provocatively labeled, “her missing painting.” I would very much like to see it.
[next morning update: eagle-eyed hero Bryan Hilley remembered seeing an image of this missing Duchamp portrait in the 2006 YUP catalogue of the Société Anonyme edited by Jennifer Gross. It was apparently five feet tall, and the date was 1918, sot the 1941 date above must be for the photo of it by Joe Schiff.]
EK 10 MAR 23 T
It’s late January. It’s cold and gross back home, but you’ve gotten away. You’re at the beach. Let’s say St. Maarten. The house fits a few friends. It’s quiet, peaceful, relaxing, private. Or maybe it’s joyous, raucous, uninhibited, and freeing. Honestly, I don’t know, I wasn’t there. One morning before breakfast, or maybe it was a late afternoon after a hot day at the beach, you notice your friend Ellsworth sitting on the edge of his lounge chair, facing away from the pool and toward the rhododendrons. You don’t disturb him. As you’re about to drive him to the airport, he presents you with a sheaf of drawings, a token of thanks for a wonderful visit. You cherish those drawings and the memories they evoke for 44 years, then you sell them at Christie’s for half a million dollars.
Everyone marks the 100th anniversary of Ellsworth Kelly’s birth differently. Some people organize a massive, traveling exhibition. Some sell the stack of plant drawings Kelly gave them from January 25, 1979. And some people celebrate the sale of those drawings with a T-shirt.
The EK 10 MAR 23 T is silkscreened on daffodil yellow Hanes Authentic T, and is accompanied by a hand-signed and numbered certificate of authenticity. The shirt will be available only until the completion of the sale of Lot 139, Ellsworth Kelly, 13 Drawings, at Christie’s New York, this Friday, March 10. The sale starts at 10AM Eastern, with Lot 101. After the sale ends, two shirts will be available, upon proof of ownership, as a prize for a successful bidder—or, worst case, as a consolation for an unsuccessful seller. Otherwise, get your orders in before like 10:30 Eastern?
[Note: If the project reaches a breakeven number of 10 t-shirts, it’s a go, otherwise I’ll refund everyone and cancel it. This is the first shirt project I’ve done since Elmugeddon, and I frankly have no idea what my social media reach is these days. Or what t-shirt fatigue may be setting in, for you or for me.]
The shirt is $30 shipped in the US, and $40 shipped worldwide. Order an EK 10 MAR 23 T via PayPal until the morning of Friday, March 10, 2023:
[morning of Friday, March 10, 2023 update: the drawings failed to sell at a top bid of $220,000. Please accept two t-shirts as your consolation prize, dear seller, and thank everyone else for engaging!]
Previous, related: four other conceptual t-shirt projects
Monkey Bar by Joe Eula
I just cannot stop thinking about this painting.
It is by fashion illustrator and creative director Joe Eula, and it’s huge, maybe the biggest work of his I’ve ever seen—because I’ve never been able to find images of the giant Eiffel Tower scrim he painted on the fly for the Battle of Versailles in 1973 after discovering the backdrops he’d made used inches instead of centimeters, and so they didn’t fit.
But the size only underscores the wtf-ness of the subject: these are life-sized monkeys at the bar, and lounging in the club chair under a disco ball [?] in the country house next to what looks like a roaring fire? And those monkeys, according to Doyle, the auction house that sold this painting in 2006, those “abstract monkey figures represent Bobby Short, Elsa Peretti, Mrs. Glenn Bernbaum and Joe Eula.”
Bobby Short, we know, of course. In fact, his friendship with my family, and the presences of Eula’s poster of him in my mom’s basement, was the first Google search that led me to this monkey business. [Turns out the original sketch for that poster sold at Doyle, too, for not much at all. I really wish I’d known. You out there? HMU!]
Of course, Short was friends with everybody, including Eula—who, like Elsa Peretti, was extremely close with Halston—and [Mr.] Glenn Bernbaum. Short might have been the only Black person who could regularly get a table at Bernbaum’s restaurant, Mortimer’s. But though I did a spit take and a doublecheck after seeing this painting, there very much was no Mrs. Glenn Bernbaum.
Bernbaum’s meanness, snobbishness, racism, alcoholism, and anti-Semitism, along with Short’s relentless, performative, anti-sensual charm, all stem from the same thing: the ingrained personal discomfort at the precarity of being gay and Jewish or Black among the ruling class of a systemically racist and homophobic society.
The Doyle auction included 42 lots of Eula material, which makes me think they were from his collection. Nothing else sheds any light on this painting, though. Was it a weekend visit of friends to Eula’s house in Hurley, NY? The late date, 1996, was not long before Bernbaum died. Eula died in 2004, and Short in 2005. Short’s own estate auction at Christie’s included large amounts of African art and furniture, as well as racist artifacts from the US Jim Crow era of his youth; I think he had a not-unsophisticated view of the implications of his closest friends depicting him—and them!—as monkeys, even if today it fees like All Monkeys Matter.
But where did this painting live? Who saw it? How did it come about? Did Glenn Bernbaum actually have quiet, goofy weekends with friends where he could just be? Elsa Peretti, the last monkey standing, died in 2021, so the chance for a firsthand account is gone. [few minutes later update: Perhaps Cathy Horyn, who wrote the book on Eula in 2014, and hung out at his Hurley house, knows something about this monkey painting business.]
The Little Apple
In 1982 John F. Kennedy, Jr. was a senior in American Studies at Brown, living off campus in a house with, among others, Christiane Amanpour. Under what circumstances would he make…this? It looks like the top of a newel post on a stairway, except it has to be carved, not just turned. And while newel posts are topped with balls, acorns, and even pineapples, I have never seen one topped with apple apples. Also it is painted and distressed. And signed on the bottom which, if it were meant for a newel post, would be invisible forever, a secret revealed only to future carpenters.
But imagine you can conjure a scenario where JFK Jr. made this. Now think of the situation in which John-John gave this little painted apple objet to legendary cabaret star Bobby Short [RIP 2005].
I mean, I don’t doubt they knew each other, such as these things go. Short was certainly friendly with Kennedy’s mother and aunt. But how? When? Why? Did he take a woodworking class at Brown, and made all his Christmas presents that year? In which case, how is this the only one? Or the only one to come to light?
The unnamed executor of Bobby Short’s estate, who didn’t put it in the 2006 Christie’s auction of Short’s belongings, but who was mentioned in the sale of this apple in 2013 as the source for its attribution to THE John Kennedy, not just SOME John Kennedy, did not elaborate.
[next morning update: maybe he won it? The writing on the bottom of the apple does not match JFK’s handwriting from his application to Brown, which someone dug out of the trash and put up for sale a few years ago.]
9 Nov 2013 Lot 1320: Attr. to John F. Kennedy, Jr., sold for $350 [liveauctioneers]
16 Feb 2006 | The Personal Property of Bobby Short [christies]
ASMRt — Lot 10: Gerhard Richter
I only realized just now, while uploading the mp3, that I have already read Gerhard Richter auction catalogue essays for one episode of ASMRt. Well, here is another, for a work that was withdrawn from the Phillips contemporary evening sale last night in London. After this lot, representing more than half the evening’s estimated total, was removed, the auction achieved a 100% sale rate.
This painting, Mathis, from 1983, strikes me as a very good transitional painting, and was recognized as such by a serious collector who kept it for decades. That did not, apparently, drive interest to the level Phillips had estimated, and so all the work of contextualizing this painting was at risk of being lost, or at least under-appreciated. Not now though.
Download ASMRt_Richter_Mathis_Phillips_March2023.mp3 [greg.org, 20mb, 22:00]
Che Fai? CCB X Beeple Conversazioni: S1E02.5
After his $69 million sale of a work and an nft at Christie’s in 2021, no one in the self-policing art world went harder after Beeple’s attention than Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev. CCB curated one of the most off-the-charts Documentas, and now runs the Castello di Rivoli in Torino.
When CCB released a Zoom video of her first conversation with Beeple, whose actual name is Mike Winkelmann, I watched it and concluded that his pose of ignorance and indifference toward the art world of galleries and museums—as totally distinct in his view from the online/digital communities and platforms where he’d been releasing his art for years, or the 3D projection wrapping and CG graphics world of his profession—was in fact a pose. He toggled between claims of not knowing an artist or anything about art, and of standing in front of paintings in galleries for hours. In any case, he decided his best response to the sudden interest of dealers, curators, and artists was to neg the art world that only started paying attention because of his record-setting auction result. CCB was one of the most persistent and credible counterparts, but I didn’t realize the extent. When CCB tweeted yesterday that her latest conversazione [sic all the way through] with Beeple was out, I misinterpreted it as the second.
Against all manner of better judgment, and only because I guess I like pulling blocks out of the jenga tower of my admiration for CCB, I went back to listen to the actual Episode 2. OF SEASON 1. Of her conversazioni with Beeple. About an hour into the 2-hour ep, I started taking tweet-sized notes, since there seems to be no other record of this glitch-looping trainwreck even happening. I gathered the tweets below, and will probably keep listening, and documenting, if only because CCB’s Curating for Dummies tutorials are probably worth noting.Continue reading “Che Fai? CCB X Beeple Conversazioni: S1E02.5”
Scott Burton Marble Armchair
The Danby Quarry in Vermont provided the marble for the Jefferson Memorial; the US Supreme Court Building; the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale; and the seating on the third redesign of the Jacob Javitz Plaza in lower Manhattan after the destruction in 1989 of Richard Serra’s Tilted Arc. Also in 1989, four 9-inch thick blocks of Danby were used to make this, the second Marble Armchair in an edition of three, by Scott Burton.
Just look at it, I feel like it should be a million dollars, before reinforcing your floor.
Lot 144: Scott Burton, Marble Armchair, est. $20-30,000, at Rago Arts on 15 Mar 2023 [update: sold for $52,920.] [ragoarts.com]