The Doors

an unidentified photo of Duchamp’s 1938 installation, with paintings hung on one of two revolving doors he put on either side of the perforated iron brazier that provided most of the light. ganked from Elena Filipovic’s dissertation

Another thing I learned from Christopher Murtha’s thesis on Sturtevant’s engagement with photography and installation in the making of her Duchamps works is about the doors.

Specifically, I never really noticed or heard that much about the revolving doors Marcel Duchamp used as exhibition devices in the 1938 Exposition internationale du surréalisme he designed/curated at the Beaux-Arts in Paris. As Murtha pointed out, Duchamp later considered other elements from the show to be artworks—1200 Coal Bags Suspended From The Ceiling Over a Stove, for example—but the doors didn’t get the same treatment. Despite, as I see below, Duchamp’s well-documented interest in doors—and Large Glass works that, you must admit, look rather doorish.

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The Society Of The NikeLab Infinity Room

I was going to ask AI to create a Yayoi Kusama X Nike shoe drop collab, but it turns out Random.Studio already did it in 2016.

[N.B.: Random.Studio are the designers behind the fake solar-powered Lexus at ICA Miami right now, NOT, I think, the designers behind the NFT-generating LED funhouse, Living Room, at Miami last year. That was Random International, who made the Rain Room for Restoration Hardware. EXCEPT Random International’s social media handle IS RandomStudio_ Honestly, that feels like a troll.] Anyway, to the collapse of art, experience, capital, and spectacle:

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Happy Joan Mitchell Season

Happy Joan Mitchell Season, 2023, screenprint on cotton and inkjet, pen, and offset on paper

Glad to hear the Joan Mitchell Season shirts are arriving. They took a little longer than expected, and the COA did, too, so apologies if you didn’t get yours in time to wear in Miami. Anyway, I thought we were boycotting Florida atm.

Alreadymade: A Thesis On Sturtevant’s Duchamps

Another example of Sturtevant’s Duchamp Sculpture de Voyage, 1969, from Chris Murtha’s 2021 thesis, “Double Documents: Imaging and Installation in Sturtevant’s ‘Duchamps'”

You know how in 2017, the White House reporter was like, “I’ve been working on this investigation for a year, and he…just…tweeted it out”? This is the diametric opposite on every vector: I was noodling for a couple of hours on a blog post about an auction lot, and he…just…wrote a masters thesis on it.

After posting some thoughts Friday about the Sturtevant repeats of Marcel Duchamp’s photographs of Readymades, I heard from Hunter professor and Sturtevant whisperer Michael Lobel, who shared the fascinating research one of his former students had done on these very artworks, and much more.

Chris Murtha’s 2021 thesis, Double Documents: Imaging and Installation in Sturtevant’s “Duchamps” is the first close look at Sturtevant’s use of photography and installation. These mediums are inextricable from the artist’s decades-long engagement with Duchamp’s work, and Murtha traces how they function both as aspects of art production, and as modes of exhibition and distribution.

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Sturtevant’s Extrapolated Boîte-en-valise

Lot 92: Sturtevant, Duchamp’s In Advance of the Broken Arm, 1967, gouache on photo on cardboard, I think, 20.5 x 15.2 cm, selling at Bonham’s Cornette de St Cyr on 10 Dec 2023 [update: sold for €10,240]

In 1967, Sturtevant restaged Duchamp’s photos of his Readymades in his studio, in her Parisian apartment. And then she repeated Duchamp’s reworking and retouching of the photos for his Boîte-en-valise. And she mounted them on cardboard and added captions & titles.

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Johns/Prince/Picasso Group Chat

Jasper Johns, After Picasso, 1998, collection of the artist, currently on view at Skarstedt

I’m still kind of marveling at them being in the same show, but if Richard Prince and Jasper Johns are going to cross paths, it makes sense that it’s at the corner of Picasso reproductions and painting.

a spread from the exhibition catalogue for Prince/Pablo Picasso, where Richard Prince collaged his own early drawings over pictures of Picasso paintings

In 1998, Johns decided to paint himself a copy of a Picasso reclining nude that had been printed upside-down in an ARTnews article. And in 2011-12, Prince overpainted, drew, collaged, and inkjetted his way through a Picasso exhibition catalogue to the point where he had a two-artist show at the Picasso Museum in Malaga, Spain.

At the moment he made his Picasso works, Prince was being sued over images he’d used in his Canal Zone series. Yet for each series, and the deKooning Paintings he’d made beforehand, Prince used a very similar book/painting/collage/inkjet process.

Richard Prince, Picasso works, painting, drawing, and collage on lithograph, as installed at Skarstedt

In the show, “In Dialogue with Picasso,” at Skarstedt, Joachim Pissaro included ten of Prince’s book-sized painting collages. Which are interesting enough on their own, but it is unexpected to find them alongside Jasper Johns, even if both artists are, as Pissaro points out, interested in both appropriation and painting. [And in appropriating Picasso’s paintings.]

Untitled, 2017, 50x60cm, acrylic over etching with collage on canvas, via Matthew Marks

What I really did not expect while considering these two artists together, was that they both also work with collage, and with combining multiple mediums into one. Now that you mention it, Johns has been painting trompe l’oeil collages for decades, but the untitled 2017 work above was just one of many to come that incorporated an actual print, photo, or paper element.

Jéan-Marc Togodgue posing with Jasper Johns’ Slice (2020) while visiting the (older) artist’s studio, as photographed by the retired basketball coach at the (younger) artist’s local boarding school, Jeff Ruskin

For his show of new works at Matthew Marks in 2021, Johns’s collaging and appropriating even got him called out for using another artist’s work without permission. Though the artist was a high school student, and the work was a copy of a wikipedia diagram of a knee he’d made for his ortho, and the ones doing the calling out were the slightly weird handlers who’d recruited the kid from Africa to play basketball at their rural Connecticut boarding school. We’ll all be Patrick Cariou for fifteen minutes.

Jasper Johns, Faceplanting Nude

Jasper Johns, After Picasso, 1998, 34 1/2 x 28 1/2 in., collection of the artist, via Skarstedt

So Cy Twombly wasn’t the only one making his own Picassos. In late 1998, while in St Maarten and in the middle of his Catenary series, Jasper Johns decided to make a copy of Picasso’s Reclining Nude (1938), which he’d seen in ARTnews.

Pablo Picasso, [Actually] Reclining Nude, 1938, ex-collection Marina Picasso/Jan Krugier

The painting belonged to Picasso’s granddaughter Marina, and illustrated an April 1998 profile of Jan Krugier, the Geneva dealer with exclusive rights to sell her collection. It was apparently printed upsidedown. Unless Johns took his year’s worth of unread ARTnewses to the beach with him, maybe it was the correction in a later issue that caught his interest.

Johns lives with the work and loves it, he told interviewer Marco Livingstone in 2000: “I love to look at it, and I’m very happy that I have it to look at. In a sense I have the feeling that much of what’s interesting about it is not willed, but is innate to the structure of the man who made it, and there’s no way to replicate it in oneself. One can only admire it in the other person, or hate it if you happen to hate it!”

That quote was cited in the 2001 dissertation of Joachim Pissaro, who just curated Johns’ Picasso into a show at Skarstedt at the moment. But it’s not the first time the work has been shown; it definitely gets around. It made the rounds in 2006-7 in Picasso and American Art, organized by the Whitney; and it was in the Deichtorhallen Hamburg’s 2015 show Picasso and Contemporary Art, which was restaged at the Wexner.

Untitled, 2017, 50x60cm, acrylic over etching with collage on canvas, via Matthew Marks

And when it came home, it found its way into the thick of Johns’ work. An untitled 2017 painting and etching collaged on canvas rotates and adapts the reclining nude to the contour of Johns’ profile/vase motif. It seems clear from the figure’s amorphous lower half that Johns was looking at, or referring to, his own cropped copy, and not Picasso’s original [or a reproduction of it.]

Johns showed this and other new works at Matthew Marks in 2019, which Johns whisperer John Yau wrote about for Hyperallergic. While surfing around trying to confirm the right orientation for the Picasso, I found another Picasso whose resonance intrigues me.

Silhouette of Picasso and a Young Girl Crying, 1928-29, Collection Musée Picasso

This 1928-29 painting of Picasso’s silhouette and a young girl crying was published on the facing page of a 2008 coffee table art book by Michele Dantini. Which is not a source I’d imagine Johns using, of course, but the painting IS in the Musée Picasso. And that crying woman’s biomorphic head does look a lot like the late Picasso Tête de Femme Johns was quoting in his Stony Point works in the late 1980s, like the one the Hirshhorn acquired in 1988.

Jasper Johns, Untitled, 1987, acquired by the Hirshhorn in 1988


Isa Genzken Has Bad Luck With Judges

The nurse who got a 2011 World Receiver as a present from Isa Genzken can keep it, said a judge in Bonn this week. Except of course, he can’t because he sold it last spring to an antiques circus clown on German TV. The decision was first reported by Rundschau Online. [shoutout hero Michael Seiwert for the tip.]

When the deal became public in September, Genzken’s legal advisers claimed they should have approved the gift, as custodians of her resources while she was undergoing mental health care. The judge said no, it’s been more than ten years, and the nurse accepted the gift in good faith. Genzken opted to drop her claim rather than appeal.

So I guess the TV collector who paid the nurse a piddly EUR16,000 for a EUR50,000 sculpture is free to flip it again at Sotheby’s.

Previously: Cash4YourGenzken

Rothko Was Here

I did not realize the full extent of Mark Rothko’s painting on paper. I remember seeing a works on paper show at Pace in the 1990s and feeling—wrongly, as it turns out—that it was just a second-tier project, and what was left in the estate.

Instead it is clear from the National Gallery’s show that Rothko was very engaged with painting on paper at specific points of his career, including windows of what is now called his classical phase. He took great care to paint and finish them, experimenting with composition, materials, borders, and mounting. [NGL, some acrylics look weird.]

But to make them he developed a practice of taping a sheet of paper to the movable, large-scale, plywood walls that he used as easels. One is on view at the end of the exhibition, built up with the overpainted palimpsests of various works.

Emily Fisher Landau’s Seagram Rothko, Untitled, 1958, via Sotheby’s

The way they kind of resemble the inverted composition of the Seagram paintings, made years earlier, is a coincidence. But that body of work does show Rothko’s search for something new didn’t suddenly appear in the 60s.

From The River To Macy’s

Minions’ job market’s never been tighter. img: Brandon Wilner via Lux-Magazine‘s social media

There are many, many images from the last few weeks that will haunt us for a very long time. But some hit an entirely different frequency, like Brandon Wilner’s photo, above, from the Macy’s parade.

From the Bronx to the Battery, Manahatta will be free! image via LuckyTran’s bluesky

Or the images of Writers Block intervening as an IOF contractor paraded down the Wickquasgeck Trail.

the Hamasburglar slumped forward, image: Abraham McZapruder, according to theserfstv’s bsky

Look at his face, Grimace was clearly stunned, and is probably rethinking some things rn, under the menacing eye of 60-foot inflatable Ronald McDonald.

The Musician Yohji Yamamoto

Last week I answered Marco Braunschweiler’s question about Yohji Yamamoto’s car, which is a Nissan Cedric from the mid-1980s. It features in this extremely content-free short film made in 2014 for Nowness by Matthew Donaldson. Other hype-related media outlets explain that Yamamoto acquired the car around 2013. The most notable thing about the whole thing is the music.

the cover of Yohji Yamamoto’s 1997 album, Handful Empty Mood, via discogs

It turns out to be from Yohji Yamamoto’s first second solo album, HEM Handful Empty Mood, released in 1997. The designer wrote and performed vocals on all eleven tracks with a one-and-done group called Scum Riders, which consists of several members of the boomer Japanese rock band Moonriders—including Keiichi Suzuki, also credited as HEM’s producer—and Yukihiro Takahashi, the drummer for Yellow Magic Orchestra [Ryuuichi Sakamoto RIP].

The album was released on Consipio, Takahashi’s label, which also released the music from Yohji’s fashion shows in the 1990s, both mixes selected by the designer, and commissioned works [Here is one of Michael Nyman’s tracks from the 1993 show. Here is Bridge, a 35-minute piano recording by Ryuuichi Sakamoto for Yohji’s 1995 collection.]

But Handful Empty Mood was not Yamamoto’s first foray into musicmaking. He produced and did vocals on one track of a 1994 concept album?—is it spoken word over guitar? I can’t tell—titled, Your Pain Shall Be Your Music, which also featured tracks by Wim Wenders and John Cale [above, the only track I’ve found so far online].

Yamamoto’s first known musical project, La Pensée, was a collab with Takahashi for the 1987 Collections. The designer is credited with “theme & concept,” while Takahashi did all the music and arrangements. It starts out with pensive piano, and proceeds to a kind of synth & percussion pomo oompah band. I bought my first Yohji piece in 1987, and honestly, I don’t get what they were thinking here.

Cover of Yohji Yamamoto Band, c. 1990, photo/text tabloid, via Tenderbooks

In 1991, Takahashi produced Well, I Gotta Go, (Saa, Ikanakya), where Yamamoto played guitar and sang twangy Japanese country-style music. It’s the closest thing I can find so far to the designer’s lost tapes project: Yohji Yamamoto Band. Yohji Yamamoto Band was an ensemble led—and dressed—by Yamamoto that performed Japanese “conceptual folk-rock” in the early 1990s. The only documentation is a promotional tabloid/pamphlet, a copy of which is at UK rare book dealer Tenderbooks.

Consipio went offline in 2009. The most recent music I can find from Yamamoto is this 37-second clip from a 2012 visit to Y-3 in New York. And I guess the thing I come away with is that sometimes noodling around on the guitar, or jam banding with your buds, or just driving around in your car, can be a vital part of your creative process, even if it is sort of pointless in itself.

Wade Guyton Overprinted Manets

Wade Guyton, Galerie Matthiesen, Ausstellung, Edouard Manet, 1928, 6. Februar bis 18. März, Vol. II, 2023, (detail), lithograph on vintage book page, all images via Crousel

I’d low-key wanted to see this exhibition of Wade Guyton lithographs at Crousel when it was announced, and by the time it closed yesterday, several people who would know were reporting on its awesomeness. So the FOMO built to a high finish.

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Sweerts & Sweerts In Sweerts

Michael Sweerts, A portrait of the artist (?) presenting The Virgin in Prayer, c. 1656-58, oil on canvas, 45 x 34 cm, previously unknown, being sold on 7 Dec 2023 at Christie’s London

However much you love this c. 1650s painting by Michael Sweerts, you can’t love it as much the Brussels painter, who lived for a time in Rome, loved to paint paintings of paintings, and paintings of himself painting paintings. And who loved to paint some things in shadow next to others in bright light.

This previously unknown painting shows a man who looks like the artist holding a painting of the Virgin in Prayer. The way the man’s hands are lit, along with the painting, while he is mostly in shadow, is slightly different from the way the Virgin’s hands and face are lit. I imagine he was very pleased with himself for this.

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John Koch, Portrait of Benjamin Chester (Version 1)

John Koch, Garbisch Family Portrait (Version 1), 1955, 25 x 30 in., oil on canvas, being sold Dec. 3 at Freeman’s from the estate of Gwynne Garbisch McDevitt, that’s her in yellow

From the time he painted it in 1955, this John Koch painting hung in the master bedroom of the house it depicts until 1979. Pokety was the former duck hunting lodge of Walter P. Chrysler, which he left to his daughter Bernice, the white lady in white, at right. She and her husband, Col. Edgar William Garbisch, seated, scoured the Eastern Shore for disused architecture elements, and had the Winterthur and Colonial Williamsburg guy remodel the lodge into an 18th century farm, which they filled with American antiques and art, which had been called primitive art, and which they renamed naive art, and which was later called folk art, and just art. The National Gallery of Art has 428 objects from their collection; The Met has 177.

The twink Koch bathed in afternoon light is Edgar Jr, then 23. His sister Gwynne, seated in yellow, inherited this painting after their parents died in 1979. The auction of Pokety’s contents was the subject of extraordinary coverage by Sarah Booth Conroy in Kaye Graham’s Washington Post, which clearly felt an obligation to be the paper of record for such people and things as this.

The Great Hall of Pokety and its contents as depicted in the Fall 1980 issue of Home Decorating, and in the Koch painting considered here, via Garbisch grandson Frank B. Rhodes

It is from Conroy’s reporting that we hear the voice of Nancy Chester who, with her husband Benjamin, worked for the Garbisch family as cook and butler, respectively, for 35 years. The 1950 U.S. Census lists the Chesters as 26/maid and 28/handyman, while an older couple, Irene, 56, and James Lomax, 62, are described as cook and butler.

Between his inability to resist depicting sunbeams alighting on grey hair and his penchant for painting young men, I will guess that the Black man with his back to the viewer, whose presence at the center of this painting has been acknowledged fewer times than the Newport tallcase clock in the corner, is Benjamin Chester. Who then would have worked in the presence of this painting for 25 years. It absolutely blows my mind that these people lived with this painting their whole lives, when it should obviously be in a museum. And this is just “Version 1.” What stark visions of American society and power will the other versions elegantly and inadvertently reveal, I wonder?

[UPDATE: Estimated to sell for $15-25,000, it sold for $63,000.]