THE DAILY PIC: Frieze art fair just closed in London, and like all such things it was more like a playground for the rich and silly than a serious art-viewing experience. At the very front of the fair, a notable installation called “Gartenkinder”, made by Carsten Höller for the Gagosian booth, acknowledged the art-fair-as-fun-fair dynamic: Höller created a little playground where both adults and children could frolic. There was a room-size hollow dice whose dots were holes you could climb through. There were Scrabble tiles the size of dinner plates (the word “danger” had been spelled out when I went by, maybe by some recent MFA). There was a huge rubber octopus whose tentacles could hug you tight (a portrait of Larry Gagosian?)
Höller said that he imagined the shoppers at Frieze parking their kids there to play, thus connecting his project to the ball room at Ikea, and the fair to a Billy-buying spree. Höller’s project also seemed to respond to pans of his past works–which included giant sliding boards and swing sets–as empty fairground entertainment: If you can’t beat ‘em…
But for all the needling in Holler’s piece, there was also a deeper, more important conceit. At its most fundamental, all art is play–play with forms, figures, ideas, metaphysics, even the gods. And just as children absolutely need to play to come alive as humans, so adults need the toys of art to be fully themselves. Höller’s achievement was to collapse the two kinds of play into a single work. (Photo by Lucy Hogg)
David Hockney, Study for ‘Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy (1970)
#saturday in New York City talking Art and Ideas with Steven Spielberg, Georges Lucas and Robert De Niro who photobomb our selfie :)) #merciBob #sorryIhadtoselfiethislunch
how does this only have 5 notes (including mine)?
THE DAILY PIC: It has been 27 years since Andy Warhol’s death, and he just produced a phenomenal new piece. It’s called The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné: Volume 4, Paintings and Sculpture late 1974-1976. It’s a vast, blocky thing that weighs almost 10 pounds, so I’m not sure if it’s a sculpture, Andy’s latest venture in publishing–it has more than 600 pages and hundreds of photos–or even a kind of meta-view of his practice as a meta-painter. (Today’s Daily Pic shows catalog numbers 2861 and 3416, out of the 608 items listed in the book.) Whatever its proper art-historical category, the volume fits perfectly into Warhol’s lifelong practice of blurring every boundary between his art, his life and his business. Taking in this beast of a book, it feels as though the catalogue raisonné, rather than any individual work he turned out, had always been the end-goal of his art production, especially in the ‘70s. The book seems less like a compendium of unique pieces intended for separate contemplation as like a record of a life lived as an artist, with the art objects in it as nothing more than documentation of that live “performance”.
In just the way that Warhol swept the daily contents of his desk into the cardboard boxes that became the artwork known as the Time Capsules (Warhol begins to gather them at just the moment where this book takes off) so here a few years of his practice as an artist gets swept into a single volume, where we can contemplate it as the all-in-one work I think it really was. And as usual with Warhol, he relies on others to do much of his gruntwork: in the case of this book, the Warholian “assistants” are the editor Neil Printz and the team working with him at the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, not to mention the people at its publishers, Phaidon.
A few principal “art supplies” go into the two-year artwork represented by this book: 268 canvases portraying transvestites, known as the Ladies and Gentlemen series; 224 portraits of identified sitters, both famous (Mick Jagger, Jimmy Carter) and little-known but well-heeled; and a few more varied projects, such as pictures of pets (both stuffed and live), of random still-life subjects and of a “representative” American Indian. As per the volume’s title, there’s also one work of (almost) sculpture: A now-lost installation of burglar alarms that Warhol set to go off, as a piece of sound-art, whenever anyone stepped into a particular spot in his third Factory.
That unknown, long-vanished Invisible Sculpture, as Warhol called it, is the key to everything else that’s going on here: It shows Warhol to be a dedicated, aggressive avant-gardist–the same one that lurks behind everything else he did, no matter how commercial the project.
The Ladies and Gentlemen were made for an Italian dealer, but the catalogue raisonné shows how Warhol made many, many more canvases than that commission required, and kept many of them with him until his death. In his fascination with the subject, he also shot hundreds more Polaroids than he could ever have needed, of more models than he portrayed in the silkscreens. The models that did get onto canvas are portrayed in a new technique that lets Warhol blur their features under messy paint and complex overlays of color. The technique works as an excellent metaphor for the ill-defined status of drag queens in our culture, and our inability to see clearly who and what they are. These models, and their renderings by Warhol, are messiness incarnate. The public canvases of the Ladies and Gentlemen series are almost as much about illegibility and cancelling out as they are about bringing into view. Lined up across page after page in the book, they start to feel like the stuttering, half-melted frames of a film that has got caught in a projector’s broken gate. Whereas the private Polaroids that record Warhol’s actual interactions with the trannies–amazingly, all 503 are reproduced in the book–reveal a much more direct, untroubled vision.
Warhol’s celebrity portraits, in contrast, mostly achieve a washed out legibility that makes their sitters almost interchangeable–tokens of the way fancy people are supposed to look, rather than true explorations of their characters or personas. They are much closer to Warhol’s barely varied images of Campbell’s soup flavors than they are like the deep gaze of his Screen Tests of friends and acolytes. Spread out across the catalogue raisonné, these paying sitters become the commodities they really were for Warhol, in the project that brought his studio closest to achieving true factory-style production.
The book provides a decent model, I think, for the varied contents of Warhol’s brain as an artist: He lived with, and worked inside, the overview of his art than the rest of us are only getting now, thanks to Printz and his team. (Images © 2014 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York)
This book is now on my wish list obvs.
UPDATE damn the book is €395 and, as the title says, the fourth in a series of equally or more expensive books. Still all on my wish list, obvs.
Keith Haring painting a wall at the Pavilion of the 17th Biennial of São Paulo, 1983
Manifeste du surréalisme - Poisson soluble; André Breton. Paris, Editions du Sagittaire, Simon Kra, 1924.
Edition originale. In-8 (210 x 200 mm). Broché, à toutes marges, non coupé.
Got a Girl Crush On: Elana Adler’s catcall samplers
This series of thirty-two (plus) samplers is intended to be provocative and evoke emotion. It is a contemporary feminist interpretation of women’s work and an objectification of my personal experience. Each captures a moment, giving these words a visual presence, a power, and a state of concreteness. These words were hurled casually and heard quickly but required hours of time-consuming, careful stitching.
The physically delicate, traditionally feminine, form of the piece engages the viewer and confronts him/ her with a sweetness that may mask its crassness and vulgarity.
You read one sampler. Perhaps you are amused, but as you continue reading and consider the body as an entire collection, the response changes. The inherent filth emerges. It is a beautification of an assault. Perhaps in the moment these statements are meant to compliment, but most don’t find vulgar, highly sexualized statements whispered or screamed at them by random strangers complimentary. Rather, they are an invasion of personal space.
The body of samplers is a contemporary and unexpected response to unsolicited and unwanted attention. They reduce the complex emotional experience of being heckled by catcalls to a simple piece of women’s work.