Page 1


Paul Goldberger tracks the evolution of Mitchell and Emily Rales’s Glenstone Museum in Potomac, Maryland.

120 Richard Artschwager

50

Bob Monk and Maggie Dougherty explore the artist’s use of reference materials as the impetus for his paintings.

Georg Baselitz: Devotion Morgan Falconer writes on the artist’s newest body of work and its relationship to earlier paintings; Sir Norman Rosenthal speaks with Baselitz.

36 Studio Museum in Harlem

60 Building a Legacy: Luke Nikas

Thelma Golden, the director and chief curator of the Museum, and Sir David Adjaye, the principal architect behind the Museum’s new building, speak with Mark Francis about the plans for the institution’s future.

Alison McDonald interviews attorney Luke Nikas about best practices for artists’ estates, catalogue raisonné authors, and authentication boards.

42 Sally Mann & Jenny Saville The two artists discuss being drawn to difficult subjects, the effects of motherhood on their practice, and their shared adoration of Cy Twombly.

128 Chris Burden: At a Crossroad Fred Hoffman revisits his first experience with Chris Burden’s The Big Wheel (1979) and explores how subsequent sculptures relate to this seminal work.

136 Jia Aili: Human Nature The artist speaks with Gagosian Quarterly about interrogating perceptions, questioning illusions, and the primacy of intuition.

Photo credits: Front cover: Jonas Wood, Red Pot with Lute Player #2, 2018, oil and acrylic on canvas, 86 × 90 inches (218.4 × 228.6 cm). Photo: Brian Forrest

80

Back cover: Jonas Wood, M.S.F. Fish Pot #7, 2016, oil and acrylic on canvas, 72 × 72 inches (182.9 × 182.9 cm)

In Conversation

Top row, left to right: Georg Baselitz, HR, 2018, india ink on paper, 26 × 19 ¾ inches (66.1 × 50.1 cm) © Georg Baselitz. Photo: Jochen Littkemann

Marc Newson tells Derek Blasberg about his newest creations, explaining the backstory of these ornate works.

Marc Newson, Gold Surfboard, 2017, aluminum, 72 ⅞ × 16 ⅜ × 5 ¾ (185 × 41.5 × 14.5 cm) © Marc Newson. Photo: Alex Blair Copyright 2019 Bottom row, left to right: Nina Simone’s birthplace home, Tryon, NC, 2018. Photo: Scheherazade Tillet Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled, 1982, acrylic and oilstick on paper, 30 × 22 inches (76.2 × 55.8 cm). Private collection. Artwork © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York. Courtesy Fondation Louis Vuitton

144 Love Is Not a Flame A short story by Mark Z. Danielewski.

150 Spencer Sweeney The artist and musician speaks with curator and concert promoter Edek Bartz.

64 Shy Sculpture: Nissen Hut

170 Game Changer

Tamsin Dillon explores the dynamic history of Nissen huts and provides a firsthand account of the steps leading up to Rachel Whiteread’s latest public sculpture.

Michael Cary describes the incredible life of dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler (1884–1979).

98 Andy Warhol Richard Hell writes on Warhol’s continued ability to fascinate new audiences and ponders the role of camp in his practice.

86

70

Inspired by the acquisition of Nina Simone’s childhood home in Tryon, North Carolina, by artists Ellen Gallagher, Rashid Johnson, Julie Mehretu, and Adam Pendleton, writer Salamishah Tillet reflects on the musician’s enduring legacy.

Nazanin Lankarani examines the meteoric lives of these two artists, exploring similarities and differences in their biographies and work.

Nina Simone, Our National Treasure

Egon Schiele & Jean-Michel Basquiat

TABLE OF CONTENTS SPRING 2019

108 Intimate Grandeur: Glenstone Museum


Paul Goldberger tracks the evolution of Mitchell and Emily Rales’s Glenstone Museum in Potomac, Maryland.

120 Richard Artschwager

50

Bob Monk and Maggie Dougherty explore the artist’s use of reference materials as the impetus for his paintings.

Georg Baselitz: Devotion Morgan Falconer writes on the artist’s newest body of work and its relationship to earlier paintings; Sir Norman Rosenthal speaks with Baselitz.

36 Studio Museum in Harlem

60 Building a Legacy: Luke Nikas

Thelma Golden, the director and chief curator of the Museum, and Sir David Adjaye, the principal architect behind the Museum’s new building, speak with Mark Francis about the plans for the institution’s future.

Alison McDonald interviews attorney Luke Nikas about best practices for artists’ estates, catalogue raisonné authors, and authentication boards.

42 Sally Mann & Jenny Saville The two artists discuss being drawn to difficult subjects, the effects of motherhood on their practice, and their shared adoration of Cy Twombly.

128 Chris Burden: At a Crossroad Fred Hoffman revisits his first experience with Chris Burden’s The Big Wheel (1979) and explores how subsequent sculptures relate to this seminal work.

136 Jia Aili: Human Nature The artist speaks with Gagosian Quarterly about interrogating perceptions, questioning illusions, and the primacy of intuition.

Photo credits: Front cover: Jonas Wood, Red Pot with Lute Player #2, 2018, oil and acrylic on canvas, 86 × 90 inches (218.4 × 228.6 cm). Photo: Brian Forrest

80

Back cover: Jonas Wood, M.S.F. Fish Pot #7, 2016, oil and acrylic on canvas, 72 × 72 inches (182.9 × 182.9 cm)

In Conversation

Top row, left to right: Georg Baselitz, HR, 2018, india ink on paper, 26 × 19 ¾ inches (66.1 × 50.1 cm) © Georg Baselitz. Photo: Jochen Littkemann

Marc Newson tells Derek Blasberg about his newest creations, explaining the backstory of these ornate works.

Marc Newson, Gold Surfboard, 2017, aluminum, 72 ⅞ × 16 ⅜ × 5 ¾ (185 × 41.5 × 14.5 cm) © Marc Newson. Photo: Alex Blair Copyright 2019 Bottom row, left to right: Nina Simone’s birthplace home, Tryon, NC, 2018. Photo: Scheherazade Tillet Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled, 1982, acrylic and oilstick on paper, 30 × 22 inches (76.2 × 55.8 cm). Private collection. Artwork © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York. Courtesy Fondation Louis Vuitton

144 Love Is Not a Flame A short story by Mark Z. Danielewski.

150 Spencer Sweeney The artist and musician speaks with curator and concert promoter Edek Bartz.

64 Shy Sculpture: Nissen Hut

170 Game Changer

Tamsin Dillon explores the dynamic history of Nissen huts and provides a firsthand account of the steps leading up to Rachel Whiteread’s latest public sculpture.

Michael Cary describes the incredible life of dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler (1884–1979).

98 Andy Warhol Richard Hell writes on Warhol’s continued ability to fascinate new audiences and ponders the role of camp in his practice.

86

70

Inspired by the acquisition of Nina Simone’s childhood home in Tryon, North Carolina, by artists Ellen Gallagher, Rashid Johnson, Julie Mehretu, and Adam Pendleton, writer Salamishah Tillet reflects on the musician’s enduring legacy.

Nazanin Lankarani examines the meteoric lives of these two artists, exploring similarities and differences in their biographies and work.

Nina Simone, Our National Treasure

Egon Schiele & Jean-Michel Basquiat

TABLE OF CONTENTS SPRING 2019

108 Intimate Grandeur: Glenstone Museum


A

s we embark on our third year, we are excited to announce our Building a Legacy series, which will provide pragmatic advice for artists and their estates as they consider the challenges inherent in planning for the future. Our inaugural article for this section considers catalogues raisonnés and practices surrounding authentication. For the scholars and sponsors of such publications, we share advice from attorney Luke Nikas about navigating the current legal landscape. This issue includes a fabulous article by Salamishah Tillet about the American singer and activist Nina Simone, whose childhood home in North Carolina was recently designated a National Treasure. Artists Ellen Gallagher, Rashid Johnson, Julie Mehretu, and Adam Pendleton orchestrated a combined effort of generosity to save the house so that it can inspire future generations as the site of an artist-residency program. We also take a look at two institutions that are different but both cutting edge. The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, is embarking on its fiftieth year as a cornerstone of the celebrated Harlem arts community. Meanwhile Glenstone, the Maryland museum whose long-awaited new building opened last fall, presents one of the most remarkable collections of postwar art in private hands, seamlessly combining masterworks, architecture, and landscape in an ecologically conscious whole. We were thrilled to read this issue’s conversation between Jenny Saville and Sally Mann. As a painter and a photographer, these women seem to be very different kinds of art-makers, and they live geographically quite far apart. Yet their fearlessness, their ability to see beauty in the most unlikely places, and the unexpected synergies in their investigations make this captivating conversation a must-read. Our covers are graced with two beautiful new paintings by Jonas Wood, and we are grateful to have interviews with artists Georg Baselitz, Marc Newson, Jia Aili, and Spencer Sweeney. And this issue premieres the first work in a series of four short fiction pieces by Mark Z. Danielewski, well-known for his singular merging of storytelling, design, and fantasy.

Alison McDonald, Editor-in-chief


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 1

17/01/2019 16:51


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 2

17/01/2019 17:07


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 3

17/01/2019 17:07


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 4

17/01/2019 17:07


Gagosian Quarterly, Spring 2019

Editor-in-chief Alison McDonald

Founder Larry Gagosian

Executive Editor Derek Blasberg

Business Director Melissa Lazarov

Managing Editor Wyatt Allgeier

Published by Gagosian Media

Text Editor David Frankel

Publisher Jorge Garcia

Online Editor Jennifer Knox White

Advertising Manager Mandi Garcia

Design Director Paul Neale

Advertising Representative Michael Bullock

Design Alexander Ecob Graphic Thought Facility

For Advertising and Sponsorship Inquiries Advertising@gagosian.com

Website Wolfram Wiedner Studio

Distribution David Renard Distributed by Pineapple Media Ltd Distribution Manager Kelly McDaniel Prepress DL Imaging Printed by Pureprint Group

Cover Jonas Wood

Contributors Sir David Adjaye Edek Bartz Georg Baselitz Derek Blasberg Michael Cary Mark Z. Danielewski Tamsin Dillon Maggie Dougherty Morgan Falconer Mark Francis Paul Goldberger Thelma Golden Richard Hell Fred Hoffman Jia Aili Nazanin Lankarani Sally Mann Bob Monk Marc Newson Luke Nikas Sir Norman Rosenthal Jenny Saville Spencer Sweeney Salamishah Tillet Thanks Luisa Alves Richard Alwyn Fisher Julia Arena David Arkin Cristina Colomar Elizabeth Conn-Hollyn Russell Crader Stephanie Dudzinski Leeor Engländer Lauren Fisher Emily Florido Ellen Gallagher Brett Garde Alice Godwin Darlina Goldak Emily Grebenstein Detlev Gretenkort Elizabeth Gwinn Roland Hagenberg Michael Heizer Olga Henkin

Sarah Hoover Delphine Huisinga Geralyn Huxley Sarah Jones Jeff Koons Erin Law Xi Li Lauren Mahony Brice Marden Susannah Maybank Rob McKeever Trina McKeever Tanya McKinnon Deborah McLeod Karisa Morante Lauren Oliver Sam Orlofsky Kathy Paciello Jaimie Park Adam Pendleton Thomas Phifer Eric Piasecki Arabella Radford Stefan Ratibor Michele Reverte Nancy Rubins Rusty Sena Richard Serra Sam Shmith Sarah Sickles Rani Singh Courtney Spieker Putri Tan Scheherazade Tillet Jess Topping Andie Trainer Kelsey Tyler Kara Vander Weg Jeanette Waters Julia Westner Nicole White Rachel Whiteread Eva Wildes Millicent Wilner Ealan Wingate Jonas Wood Zhi Yuan

5

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 5

25/01/2019 09:56


"CAMÉLIA" NECKLACE IN WHITE GOLD, RUBY AND DIAMONDS "CAMÉLIA" RING IN WHITE GOLD AND DIAMONDS

CHANEL.COM

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 6

17/01/2019 17:07


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 7

17/01/2019 17:07


Louis Vuitton Blossom Collection

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 8

17/01/2019 17:07


louisvuitton.com 8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 9

17/01/2019 17:07


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 10

17/01/2019 17:15


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 11

17/01/2019 17:15


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 12

17/01/2019 17:15


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 13

17/01/2019 17:15


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 14

17/01/2019 17:15


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 15

17/01/2019 17:15


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 16

17/01/2019 17:15


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 17

17/01/2019 17:15


BERLU

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 18

17/01/2019 17:15


RLUTTI

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 19

17/01/2019 17:15


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 20

17/01/2019 17:15


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 21

17/01/2019 17:15


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 22

17/01/2019 17:18


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 23

17/01/2019 17:18


CONTRIBUTORS Tamsin Dillon

Morgan Falconer

Tamsin Dillon is a curator of over twenty years of experience. She is currently a curator for 14–18 now, a British arts program producing ambitious large-scale public commissions for the centenary of the First World War in partnership with organizations across the United Kingdom. She is also curator for England’s Creative Coast and co-curator of the King’s Cross Project.

Morgan Falconer is Acting Director of the MA in Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, New York. Previously a journalist and critic, he has written for The Times (London), Frieze, The Economist, The Burlington Magazine, and many other publications. His most recent book is Painting beyond Pollock (Phaidon).

Georg Baselitz Painter, printmaker, and sculptor, the German artist Georg Baselitz is a pioneering Neo-Expressionist who rejected abstraction in favor of recognizable subject matter, deliberately employing a raw style of rendering and a heightened palette in order to convey direct emotion. Embracing the German Expressionism that had been denounced by the Nazis, Baselitz returned the human figure to a central position in painting. His most recent paintings will be on view at Gagosian, New York, in the exhibition Devotion, on view January 24–March 16, 2019. Photo: Martin Müller, Berlin

Fred Hoffman Fred Hoffman worked for over twenty-five years with Chris Burden, having fi rst produced the short fi lm Beam Drop in 1)86. In 2((8 Hoffman arranged the commission of Beam Drop at Inhotim, Belo Horizonte, Brazil. In 2((7 Hoffman coordinated, edited, and wrote texts for the major monograph and catalogue of works, Chris Burden, published by Locus +.

Marc Newson Marc Newson approaches design as an experimental exercise combining extreme structure, advanced technologies, and a highly tactile and exacting exploration of materials, processes, and skills. His reach in industrial design is broad and diverse, from concept jets and cars to watches, footwear, luggage, and aircraft interiors. Since the start of his career, he has also produced beautifully crafted, limited-edition furniture, including the now-iconic Lockheed Lounge (1)86). In a world where the distinctions between art and design increasingly blur, Newson is a trailblazer, having pursued parallel activities in limited and mass production for more than thirty years.

Alison McDonald Alison McDonald has been the Director of Publications at Gagosian for sixteen years. During her tenure she has worked closely with Larry Gagosian to shape every aspect of the gallery’s extensive publishing program and has personally overseen over 4(( publications dedicated to the gallery’s artists.

24

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 24

25/01/2019 09:56


Sally Mann Born in 1(51 in Lexington, Virginia, Sally Mann has always remained close to her roots. She has photographed extensively in the American South, producing portrait, architecture, landscape, and still life series. She is perhaps best-known for her intimate portraits of her family, including her young children and her husband, and for her evocative and resonant landscapes of the American South. At times controversial, her work has always been influential, and has attracted a wide audience since the time of her fi rst solo exhibition, at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, in 1(77. Photo: Annie Leibovitz

Richard Hell Richard Hell and the Voidoids’ 1(77 LP Blank Generation was rereleased in 201+ by Sire/Warner in a remastered facsimile edition. Hell’s books include two novels, Go Now and Godlike; his autobiography, I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp; and the 2015 essay collection Massive Pissed Love. He lives in New York and is at work on a new novel.

Jenny Saville In her depictions of the human form, Jenny Saville transcends the boundaries of both classical figuration and modern abstraction. Oil paint, applied in heavy layers, becomes as visceral as flesh itself, each painted mark maintaining a supple, mobile life of its own. As Saville pushes, smears, and scrapes the pigment over her large-scale canvases, the distinctions between living, breathing bodies and their painted representations begin to collapse. In this issue she speaks with photographer Sally Mann about her process in an interview excerpted from Gagosian and Rizzoli’s recent monograph Jenny Saville. Photo: Pal Hansen/Getty Images

Michael Cary Michael Cary organizes exhibitions for Gagosian, including eight Picasso exhibitions in collaboration with John Richardson and members of the Picasso family. He joined Gagosian in 200+ after six years working with the late Kynaston McShine, then Chief Curator at Large at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo: Clive Smith

Salamishah Tillet Salamishah Tillet is the Henry Rutgers Professor of African-American and African Studies and Creative Writing at Rutgers University–Newark. She is the faculty director of the New Arts Justice Initiative at Express Newark and the cofounder of A Long Walk Home, a nonprofit that use arts to empower young people to end violence against girls and women. She is the author of Sites of Slavery: Citizenship and Racial Democracy in the Post–Civil Rights Imagination and of the cultural memoir In Search of “The Color Purple.” She is currently writing All the Rage: “Mississippi Goddam” and the World of Nina Simone, a book exploring how Simone’s singular protest song changed the world. Photo: Scheherazade Tillet

Nazanin Lankarani Nazanin Lankarani is an independent journalist and regular contributor to the New York Times, Vanity Fair, and Artnet. A lawyer by training, Nazanin lived and worked in New York for years before moving to Paris. Today, she is a writer and consultant specializing in art and the luxury industry.

5

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 25

17/01/2019 17:18


r a l p h l a u r e n . c o m

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 26

17/01/2019 17:18


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 27

17/01/2019 17:18


Thelma Golden

Sir David Adjaye

Thelma Golden is Director and Chief Curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem, the world’s leading institution devoted to visual art by artists of African descent. Golden began her career as a Studio Museum intern in 1(+7. In 1(++, she joined the Whitney Museum of American Art, where she launched her influential curatorial practice. In 2000, Golden returned to the Studio Museum as Deputy Director for Exhibitions and Programs, working closely with Director Lowery Stokes Sims. She succeeded Dr. Sims as Director in 2005. Under her leadership, the Studio Museum has gained increased renown as a global leader in the exhibition of contemporary art, a center for innovative education, and a cultural anchor in the Harlem community. Photo: Scott Rudd

Sir David Adjaye OBE is the principal and founder of Adjaye Associates. Born in Tanzania to Ghanaian parents, he has established himself as an architect with an artist’s sensibility and vision through his broadly ranging influences, ingenious use of materials, and sculptural ability. The opening of his largest project to date—the $540 million Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African American History and Culture, on the National Mall in Washington, DC, in the fall of 2016— was named Cultural Event of the Year by the New York Times. In 2017, Adjaye was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and was recognized as one of the 100 most influential people of the year by Time magazine.

Mark Z. Danielewski The New York Times has declared Mark Z. Danielewski “America’s foremost literary Magus.” He is the author of the award-winning and bestselling novel House of Leaves, National Book Award fi nalist Only Revolutions, as well as The Familiar and the novella The Fifty Year Sword, which became a performance at redcat, Los Angeles, for three consecutive years. THROWN, his “signiconic” piece on Matthew Barney, was displayed at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 2015. His work has been translated and published throughout the world. Pantheon will release The Little Blue Kite in fall 201(. Learn more at markzdanielewski.com. Photo: Nicolas Harvard

Derek Blasberg Derek Blasberg is a writer, editor, and New York Times best-selling author. In addition to being the Executive Editor of Gagosian Quarterly, he is the Head of Fashion and Beauty for YouTube. He has been with Gagosian since 2014. Photo: Pier Guido Grassano

Paul Goldberger Paul Goldberger, whom the Huffi ngton Post calls “the leading figure in architecture criticism,” won a Pulitzer Prize for his writing in the New York Times. The author of several books, including Why Architecture Matters and Building Art: The Life and Work of Frank Gehry, he has also served as architecture critic for The New Yorker and Vanity Fair, and he holds the Joseph Urban Chair in Design and Architecture at The New School, New York. His latest book, on the architecture of baseball parks, will be published in 201( by Alfred A. Knopf. Photo: Michael Lionstar

Sir Norman Rosenthal Sir Norman Rosenthal is an independent curator and art historian. After a short time spent as exhibitions officer at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, and subsequently as curator at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, in 1(77 he became Exhibitions Secretary at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, where he remained until 200+.

8

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 28

17/01/2019 17:18


BRIONI

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 29

17/01/2019 17:18


Spencer Sweeney Spencer Sweeney has been a vital presence in the art, nightlife, and music of New York for twenty years. As a musician and performance artist, he was a member of the seminal noise-art group Actress; as a painter and visual artist, he makes collages, paintings, self-portraits, and drawings, as well as environments and immersive experiences, such as the 2(1( show in which he moved his living quarters into a gallery space and installed himself alongside the art objects on view. In this issue Sweeney speaks with curator and concert promoter Edek Bartz. Photo: Rob McKeever

Bob Monk Bob Monk has been a director at Gagosian, New York, for over twenty years, working closely with Ed Ruscha and Richard Artschwager. He has curated numerous Gagosian exhibitions, including the multivenue Ed Ruscha: Books & Co. Monk worked in collaboration with the Whitney Museum of American Art in the production of the elevators it commissioned from Artschwager.

Jia Aili Jia Aili was born in Dandong, China, in 1)7) and lives and works in Beijing. In 2((4 he graduated from the New Representationalism Studio of the Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts, where he subsequently taught from 2((5 to 2((7, before focusing exclusively on his career as a painter. He participated in the collateral events of the 54th Venice Biennale in 2(11. In this issue, he speaks on his upcoming exhibition at Gagosian, New York. Photo: Nan Lin

Maggie Dougherty Maggie Dougherty joined Gagosian, New York, in 2(&3. Working closely with Director Bob Monk, she has coordinated various exhibitions and projects of gallery artists Richard Artschwager and Ed Ruscha, including the recent show Richard Artschwager: Primary Sources. Maggie also contributes to gallery research projects. She is currently involved with the production of Artschwager’s catalogue raisonné.

Luke Nikas Luke Nikas is a partner at the law fi rm of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP. He represents prominent artists, collectors, foundations, and galleries. He was recently named to Lawdragon’s list of the 5(( Leading Lawyers in America, Benchmark Litigation’s “Under 4( Hot List,” the New York Law Journal’s list of Rising Stars, the Best Lawyers in America, and the Super Lawyers list by New York Super Lawyers. He was called one of the most “highly influential” art lawyers in the world after he led the defense in a forgery case dubbed by ArtNews “The Art Trial of the Century.”

Edek Bartz Edek Bartz is an Austrian musician, DJ, concert promoter, curator, author, and lecturer at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. He is coeditor of the book Secret Passion: Artists and Their Musical Desires (2(&(), based on a series of public conversations with renowned artists and architects on their emotional relationship to music.

30

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 30

25/01/2019 09:56


DIOR .COM

DIOR

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 31

17/01/2019 17:18


DIOR .COM

DIO

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 32

17/01/2019 17:18


DIOR

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 33

17/01/2019 17:18


GAGOSIAN QUARTERLY ONLINE Right, above: Dan Colen, At Least They Died Together, 2(&8, fi lm still from artist video. Photo: Mike Selsky © Dan Colen

Below, left: Chris Burden, Big Wrench, &)8( (still) © 2(&) Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Right, below: Douglas Fogle, Dimitri Chamblas, and Dan Colen at Gagosian, Beverly Hills. Video still courtesy Aaron Farley

Below, right: Elizabeth Smith and John Elderfield, the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, New York. Video still courtesy Pushpin Films

Gagosian Quarterly Talks: Dan Colen, Dimitri Chamblas, and Douglas Fogle Curator Douglas Fogle moderates a conversation between artist Dan Colen and choreographer Dimitri Chamblas following the premiere of Colen’s two performance pieces At Least They Died Together and Carry On Cowboy.

Weekly E-Newsletter Essay: Chris Burden’s Big Wrench Sydney Stutterheim looks at the brief but feverish obsession behind this &)8( video.

For the latest updates on gallery shows, museum exhibitions, artist talks, art fairs, and more, sign up for our weekly e-newsletter, delivered to your inbox every Monday: gagosian.com/newsletter

Helen Frankenthaler: Sea Change Elizabeth Smith, executive director of the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, and curator John Elderfield discuss a decade of Frankenthaler’s work on the occasion of her fi rst exhibition of paintings in Rome.

34

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 34

25/01/2019 09:56


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 35

17/01/2019 17:18


THE STUDIO MUSEUM IN HARLEM Established in &)6/, The Studio Museum in Harlem has served as a crucial institution in the development, presentation, and promotion of artists of African descent. Rooted in the specificity of Harlem, the Museum has acted as an invaluable resource for artists on an international level through its unique artist-in-residence program and strong ties to the wider community. Now in its fi ftieth year, The Studio Museum in Harlem is preparing to build a new home on West &25th Street. Thelma Golden, the director and chief curator of the Museum, and Sir David Adjaye OBE , the principal architect for the new building, speak with Gagosian director Mark Francis about the plans for the new, five-story, /2,(((-square-foot building, the centrality of artists in their collaboration, and the unending importance of Harlem as a wellspring for creative, radical, and innovative thought.

Thelma and David, you are working together on the development of the new Studio Museum building in Harlem. How did these plans come about? THELMA GOLDEN Well, this project began through a process that was initiated here at the Museum by our team, the staff, and the board as we began MARK FRANCIS

to think about the future of the Museum. Specifically, we began a study process of the building, thinking about the broad range of possibilities of what the Museum could be. Fast-forward a couple of years and we then engaged in a formal architectural search when we knew we had the possibility of actually constructing a new ground-up building on our current site. David presented a set of interconnected ideas that spoke deeply to our values, our vision, and our aspirations for what a new building for the Studio Museum could be. Is that how you remember it, David? SIR DAVID ADJAYE Yes, exactly. I was really compelled to see if we could make a building which, being inspired by the Museum’s legacy of coming from the urban context of Harlem, would learn from Harlem rather than just bringing something from another place into Harlem. To go the other way around was really the thinking, and what I shared was the idea of a series of portals like the great perpendicular frames that are utilized all over Harlem. MF I feel that the best architectural projects often evolve with a great client and a great architect working closely aligned and bringing different perceptions to a common goal. A famous example in the museum world, of course, is the Menil Collection

36

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 36

25/01/2019 09:56


37

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 37

17/01/2019 17:18


in Houston, which is also very rooted in its site and location. I think more recently, the Prada Foundation in Milan is another example. How do you both, as architect and client, work together as a team? TG While David and I certainly have a conversation, a dialogue, a space in which there are shared ideas, the real manifestation of this project—the ideas that informed it—were created out of the conversation between our teams. This is key to David’s design. I like to believe that some of what has made this project so meaningful, and already so resonant to people who see it and imagine it as our new home, is that it really is the result of this collaborative process. MF David, sometimes these really collaborative projects take a long time, and that’s a plus, it seems to me. DA Absolutely. I think that the best projects don’t happen very fast. They take time. They allow you to think deeply about the implications and the ramifications of the decisions made. Architecture is one of those art forms that benefi t from time. We’ve been lucky enough to have ample time to think about all of the elements in this project. So

it’s cooked, as we say in our business. Ready to go. MF Thelma, the history of the Studio Museum, over a fi fty-year period now, and its location here in Harlem are really fundamental to its mission today. How do you feel that your vision reflects the specificity of the institution? TG I think what has always been important to my thinking about the institution, as I have led it over these last thirteen years, is to understand the intentionality of our name—quite specifically, the “Harlem” in our name and the idea that we are rooted here. So much of what I have thought about in relation to who we are has to do with the unique possibilities of site specificity. And that has also been informative in my thinking about the building project—not only did I want it to be site specific, but also site suggestive and deeply site sensitive. Ultimately, what David has created for us is site significant as well. I think place has always informed what the Museum is, and will continue to be at the core of how we understand ourselves. MF David, your architectural practice is based in New York, in London, and in Ghana. Can you outline how this very international outlook is

Previous spread: Thelma Golden and David Adjaye. Photo: Scott Rudd Above, left: View of main entrance from 125th Street. Courtesy Adjaye Associates Above, right: Cross-section perspective from Lenox Avenue. Courtesy Adjaye Associates

38

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 38

25/01/2019 09:56


brought to bear on this particular project? DA I think there’s a wonderful synergy in that the three continental plates are really the three areas of the dispersion of the African Diaspora. Thinking about critical black history and thinking about the emergence of art practice in those diasporas, and being able to work and have offices in those spaces, for me, is very specific and very empowering. MF Both of you seem to establish especially close ties to artists. Thelma, you’re chief curator as well as director of the Studio Museum. David, you’ve built studios, houses, and installations with artists. Indeed, the Studio Museum name alone makes clear that artists-in-residence studio provision has been and is a key aspect of the Museum’s plans. This is exemplary and perhaps unique in New York City. Can you each say something about the role of artists at the Museum and, if possible, in society more widely? DA For me, the fact that the artist’s studio is very much the heart of the Studio Museum’s uniqueness, in terms of the incubation that it creates yearly, was a deep inspiration. In designing the new building for &25th Street, education space and

the space for artists’ studios are presented as a sort of triptych frame that holds the center body of the composition. You have the public entry and then you have center composition, which is comprised of these two worlds of education and the artist and, importantly, where they meet. Artists have been central in terms of my journey as a maker in the world. My fi rst works were commissioned for artists. Artists are critical thinkers who allow us to have a very important view about the world we live in and the reactions that we have to it. For me, a critical part of being a creative person in the world is to collaborate with artists and thinkers. TG The “Studio” in our name comes from the fact that, from the very beginning, the Museum understood itself to be a place with artists at its center—a place where the process of making art and presenting art would come together, and the artists themselves would have a relationship to the institution and to audience in a unique way by having the residency in the building. David has done brilliant work with artists— homes, studios, exhibition designs. The spaces he

creates house body, mind, and soul as well as facilitate creative expression. This was also something that was important to think about in this building. As an institution, we have historically lived in adapted-reuse spaces. Neither our fi rst space on 5th Avenue between &25th and &26th Street nor our current building was originally made to be a museum. But the Museum’s spirit was always to populate those spaces with art and artists and audiences in ways that demanded an organization created out of imagination, will, creativity, innovative spirit, and a radical vision of what a museum could be. In moving towards this incredibly beautiful, purpose-built space, one thing we didn’t want to lose was what it meant to have that feeling of a space that was informed by art and artists. One of the great gifts of working on this project with David was the fact that we had spent so much time looking at art together. Looking at art with David and having his perspective on architecture and space certainly informed the dialogues that we had around the design. Many of the artists that David has worked with architecturally, I’ve worked with curatorially. And so we have these 39

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 39

25/01/2019 09:56


very different but, in some ways, complementary relationships to understanding their practices. One of the most productive conversations we have had has been with Theaster Gates. My conversations with Theaster were incredibly influential in my thinking about this idea of a reinvention of our space. Those were conversations I was having with him as an artist, yes, but also as someone who has been doing the work—the hard work, the radical work, and the deeply transformative work around space-making, community, and notions of place. And I know that David and Theaster have had their own set of similarly generative conversations. DA Yes, I’ve had a deep relat ionship w it h Theaster for a very long time. I consider him a dear friend. His attitude to the way in which you reconfigure the urban context has been a very important ongoing conversation for me. As we’ve been working on this project, these kinds of conversations have been very critical in fi ne-tuning my thinking about how to make this building work within its context and connect with history and to its potential future. TG Exactly. His ability as an artist to understand these different phases of what we have been doing has been really rich and incredibly helpful, especially as we think beyond just the surface of an architectural project. MF The new building will have very public access to &25th Street and a wonderful open auditorium space used for debates, screenings, performances, and so on. The building, as a whole, serves very flexible uses and seems to have a very dynamic and welcoming feel for audiences. How would you say the future program is articulated in the building’s different spaces? TG We intend to broaden and deepen our program. To still be committed, as we have been, to the presentation and interpretation of work by artists of African descent and work inspired by black culture, but to do so in ways now that are incredibly dynamic—that possibility is made real for us through this building. As this museum has been throughout its history, we will remain open and responsive to our artist community, our location, and to the museum world as a whole, which is in a moment of major transformation as we think about our relationships to audiences and how we present works of art.

The Museum has a very clearly defi ned local and national role in the city, but it also seems to have a very cosmopolitan and international outlook. Could you articulate how this serves audiences locally, nationally, and internationally? TG I think that perception of who we are is a ref lection of some founding principles of the Museum, but also of this community and of this culture. Harlem has always been an incredible international and cosmopolitan neighborhood that has seen itself rooted very locally. But also, for many, when we talk about Harlem and particularly the Harlem Renaissance, which is arguably one of the greatest moments of modernist history, it also is a moment when we understand Harlem as a psychic and spiritual home of black culture broadly connected to the ways in which the culture exists around the world. We have always lived with this: a deeply rooted local existence, and also a wide reach. MF Outside of the museum context, what is your favorite place in Harlem? TG I would say, rather than a favorite place in Harlem, that this project has deepened my love for this community in all of its complexity. The way it both lives in its past—in the historic sensibility that you feel on these streets—but also articulates, in so many different ways, a future. I think Harlem is one of those communities that evidences itself in public. You feel it walking through the streets. You have a sense of what it is. DA I think that there’s something very powerful about the way in which the communities have reused the architecture of Harlem and made it their own. To inherit a stock and then turn it into a specific narrative that reflects the character of the communities is beyond inspiring. Like the stoop culture, which is incredible in Harlem. You see mothers and grandparents and young kids on the stoops. You go to the churches or you go to the incredible theaters, both the more formal ones and the informal ones. Or the happenings that happen in shop fronts on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard or anywhere else, where suddenly a gig might happen or a talk is happening and it engages with the street. These are really powerful experiences that are unique to what, on fi rst glance, may appear like a typical city. There is actually this hybridized, specific cultural expression when you get to engage with it further, and that’s a very powerful thing. MF

Interior view of lobby. Courtesy Adjaye Associates

40

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 40

25/01/2019 09:56


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 41

17/01/2019 17:18


SALLY MANN & The two artists discuss being drawn to difďŹ cult subjects, the effects of motherhood

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 42

17/01/2019 17:20


JENNY SAVILLE on their practice, embracing chance, and their shared adoration of Cy Twombly.

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 43

17/01/2019 17:20


S

ALLY MANN

Is it true that you paint at

night? JENNY SAVILLE Yes, I often work at night.

There’s a different atmosphere in the studio at night, more dreamy, and I often take risks in the work at night, so I like to use that time. My studio is a five-minute bicycle ride from my house in Oxford. So I tend to cycle back past all the colleges and drunken students. SM I’m sure I would once have been one of them. Well, I feel like I should mention that while I’ve been the subject of interviews, this is the fi rst time I’ve ever asked the questions. So this should be interesting for us both [laughs]. Have you ever asked the questions? JS No [laughs]. But I do feel that even though we don’t know each other very well, we actually have quite a bit in common. There are some surprising connections in terms of subject matter if you look through the work. And also Cy Twombly is such a pivotal character for us both. SM I don’t know how many times I’ve sat having a coffee or a drink with someone and I’ve endlessly pestered them with my gadfly—too personal—questions. And now I have permission to freely ask. For starters, I’m curious to know if you’ve ever visited the back country of the American South. JS Well, not specif ically. Apart from driving south to New Orleans, the farthest south I’ve stayed for any reasonable length of time is Cincinnati [when I was a student]. SM That doesn’t quite count [laughs]. JS The fi rst time I ever went to America it was quite a shock. I f lew the day the first Gulf War started. There were yellow ribbons around all

the trees. It was a real culture change, and an exciting time. I defi nitely became more interested in fleshy figures from being in America. I loved watching bodies in malls and at carnival parks. I was shocked at how big people were and how frequently you would see big bodies. I was fascinated: I could watch the way flesh moved around for hours. SM Me too. That’s what Cy used to do as well. He would sit out in front of Walmart and was unabashed about appreciating the size of people. JS I was learning to paint bodies at the time, really getting to grips with how beautiful and fleshy paint can be. Seeing fleshy bodies heightened that sense. SM Well, that discussion of oil paint and flesh has been part of the dialogue around your work since the beginning. Was it you who said it felt like the paint actually became the flesh? JS There’s something playful and fun in painting. I get a simple kick out of seeing one color running through another, or making forms appear— out of making something from nothing. I feel the same thrill in that process that I did as a kid. SM A natural marriage. You’re lucky. Do you ever paint with your hands? JS Yes, sure. Maybe not in such a free way as Cy. Once I’d seen his work, he helped reinforce those feelings of freedom. I was painting figures, working out how to do that, and then I’d go and see Cy’s latest paintings, and they would blow me over with their confidence and tactility. SM He was so physical and gestural. JS One moment with Cy that I remember fondly was being on a plane with him and ripping pages out from a magazine because we both thought the

colors were just so exciting. I just found an easy relationship with him, because our conversation slipped seamlessly between high art and everyday things. I recognized the way Cy had an interest in the simplest things, and that gave me tremendous confidence as an artist. SM That’s interesting about tearing out the pages, because he really was kind of a magpie; like a bird picking up shiny, attractive things, Cy would fi nd these oddball images, tear them out, and stick them to his walls. Do you pillage information the same way? JS Oh yes, sure. I have collections of images of stains and shadows, war photography, graffiti, bits of material, paint swatches. The iPhone has made collecting visuals so easy. I don’t know how much explicitly goes into the work, but these things nudge me in the right direction. SM Is that scavenging in fact related to how you work? Do you take pictures of everything—from sculptures in a museum to a piece of gum on the bottom of your shoe? JS I take a lot of pictures, yes. I like to work in that kind of suggestive visual atmosphere. I work with a lot of images around me on the floor, because you see forms upside down and I fi nd interesting compositions that way. Everything I do becomes a part of me and feeds into making my work. And my children have really opened me up to new things and have given me back an enormous amount of freedom. I admire their openness so deeply and I want very much to be able to put that back into my work. I grew up in quite a bohemian family: my parents were well educated, and I had this farm where I could just wander around all day with a knife in

44

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 44

17/01/2019 17:20


Previous spread, left: Sally Mann, Self-Portrait, 1974 Previous spread, right: Jenny Saville in her studio, c. 1990s Opposite: Sally Mann, On Cumberland, 1992, gelatin silver print, 8 × 10 inches (20.3 × 25.4 cm), edition of 25 Above: Jenny Saville, Compass, 2013, charcoal and pastel on paper mounted on board, 60 ¼ × 78 ¾ inches (153 × 200 cm)

my pocket. And now I realize that my level of creativity, the confidence that I have in my own ability to create, is something they gave me, which at the time I didn’t understand or think of as important. But now that I’ve got my own children, I realize now what my parents gave me, and I actually realize how important that was. SM You were quite young when you were fi rst celebrated as an artist, you sort of catapulted to celebrity at such a young age. Did that have any downsides? Was that problematic in any way? JS I can’t say it was problematic, or even [that there was] a dramatic difference. The best thing it did was make me value the things that have kept me steady in terms of making the work. I’ve tended to move studios after big shows, and that’s helped. After the Saatchi show, Young British Artists III, in 1994, I moved to America; after my second New York show, in 2003, I moved to Palermo [Italy], so that was fortunate, because I kept my eye fi rmly on the work. I guess it depends what you need as an artist at a particular moment. Time is everything for me; I’m always yearning for more time. You also received a lot of attention and controversy as a young artist with your pictures in Immediate Family. I so admire the openness and Arcadian spirit in those pictures, but was that controversy difficult to navigate? Especially because they were your children? SM Yes, but I had removed myself completely from the art world when I was making that work. I was living so far outside of it, I was more or less able to tune out the controversy. To this day, I don’t particularly read art magazines; I barely read the newspaper. I’m like you, I just work. Sometimes it seems to me that other artists create their work with

less effort, whereas it always feels onerous to me. But I suppose that’s not really true. Do you paint your children at all? JS Yes, of course. Having children had the most profound impact on the way I make art and see the world. Making flesh in my body, and the animalistic nature of giving birth, affected my view of nature. The simultaneous realities I’ve been trying to generate in my work over the past few years, the strata and layering, came about through the drawings I made after having children. It opened out a new way for me to create space and movement. What I enjoy about my children so much is their freedom. They move their bodies without care or judgment, and that’s a precious moment in life. SM I know, that’s the way my children felt about it too. It’s a shame that society has a way of infl icting its censorious views, and when children feel that, it gradually undercuts their convictions and confidence. I was lucky because my children were very strong. JS Was there a moment when they didn’t want to be photographed or where you decided not to photograph them anymore? SM It was more about a shift in the work. I’d photographed them for ten years and I wanted to move on to something else. They never asked me not to photograph them—at ages nine and ten, your children are probably still pretty open-minded and free to work with. But there’s an age where I didn’t even want to ask them anymore. They were always happy to do it, but we had all just moved on, I suppose. JS I made drawings after my son was born, when he just didn’t stop moving. He was this whirlwind of limbs and slipping torso as I carried him, which 5

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 45

17/01/2019 17:20


was so exciting. A drawing of a singular body just didn’t seem enough to communicate this torrent of human movement, and I wanted to get to the unsentimental truth of those childhood years. But when I fi rst showed my drawings it was suggested to me that they could be controversial because they were images of children, and that was a little bit of a shock to me, because I didn’t see them like that at all. Was that the same for you when you were making those pictures? SM Oh yes, exactly. Exactly the same thing. And people thought I was being disingenuous when I would say, “I can’t imagine what you’re seeing in these pictures.” It’s ridiculous how innocent I was at the time, how unaware I was about the cultural environment. And a lot of that had to do with my isolation, which was not unlike the distance that you seem to be enjoying yourself at the moment. JS Do you always work in series? For instance, I love those pictures of Cy’s studio, but they happened over many years, and you were presumably photographing lots of other projects at the same time. SM In the case of Cy’s studio, those photographs are unique in that they were free f lowing, they weren’t made with any greater project in mind. That’s not my normal practice. I would just briefly alight in his studio every once in a while and take some pictures, but I was always working on something else. I never thought of the pictures in Cy’s studio as a body of work, at least not while I was making them. They were just casual gestures of friendship when they started. Early on, he asked me to take a few pictures, not in any professional way, just in a “Why don’t you come on in and take some pictures” kind of way. And over time it grew to be habitual. Every so often I’d stick my head into his studio if I

had a camera in the car, or if I had some color fi lm, or if I had a new funky lens. It’s funny how the less emphasis you put on a project, the less you worry about it, the less handwringing you do, the more spontaneous and vital and fun it becomes. JS Yes, it rises naturally, doesn’t it? I fi nd if I work very hard and force myself onto the work, it can feel like an arduous trek and [like] the paint is too heavy. But I think it’s necessary for me to go through this process and show myself what I can’t do or what I don’t actually like, so I end up releasing the reins a bit and my next piece comes quite easily. I like the feeling when my wrist opens up and goes floppy; then I know I’m painting with some kind of fluidity. It’s a sort of fitness or nimbleness. What’s tricky is to keep at the same pitch in the next painting when the going’s good. Maybe it’s just one of those things you just have to go through. SM I know that exact syndrome. It is so true. Actually, my syndrome works like this: my fi rst one is often really easy, and then with the next one I’m a little more self-conscious about it. But it doesn’t sound like that’s how it happens with you. JS Well, it depends where I am with a body of work. I think that’s the way ideas arise for new groups of paintings. My weakness is that I can sometimes contrive paintings too much, and they run the risk of being mannered. That’s not my intention at all but a risk that I know I have to go through to try and do something in figuration. So most of the time I make paintings that show me what I can’t do, and that’s annoying but inevitable. Then, in a body of work, once I’ve got through this novel and heavy phase, sometimes I get the chance to make some good paintings. I have to keep going. I’ve learned that spontaneity is important when working with models, especially groups of bodies,

because when people interact they create forms that I couldn’t imagine before they arrive in my studio. SM That sounds very similar to what you just described about watching your children. JS Yes, just appreciating your instincts. That confidence has grown over time—just doing it and building up a language, a vocabulary. SM Well, as you know, I’m not a painter, and what I do is so completely different and so technical that I don’t get to do that kind of graceful, physical movement that painters do. I’m so jealous. JS That technical side of photography would just nag at me too much. Most of what I like in painting is through mistakes or the unintentional: an oil stain on newspaper that has such presence, a mix of paint on my palette rather than on the painting. With photography don’t you have to be so well behaved? SM Well, yes, but that’s not always true, and experimentation is actually one of the greatest joys for me. A good example is my wet-plate-collodion work, because you can allow these serendipitous accidents to happen, and it completely transforms— JS Yes, of course, that’s much more like a painting, isn’t it? SM Oh, much more. But some people move straight into the serendipity, or so it seems, and they don’t do their 10,000 hours of technical work fi rst. I think it was Malcolm Gladwell who once suggested that 10,000 hours of practice is what it takes to get good at something. Well, I’ve put in my 10,000 hours of hard, technical work. And that’s one of the things I most admire about your work: it is clear that you’ve put in that time as well. JS Well, if you do 10,000 hours of paint splattering, you would get pretty skilled at that, like Pollock

6

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 46

17/01/2019 17:20


Opposite: Sally Mann, Untitled, 2000–01, gelatin silver print, 31 × 39 inches (78.7 × 99.1 cm), edition of 3 Above: Jenny Saville and Glen Luchford, Closed Contact #2, 1995–96, C-print mounted in Plexiglas frame, 72 × 72 × 6 inches (182.9 × 182.9 × 15.2 cm), edition of 6 © Jenny Saville and Glen Luchford

did. I don’t know, I’ve had conversations about this before—whether you can go in, you know, at late Picasso, where he puts just dots of paint in for eyes and it seems almost cartoonlike, but there’s an absolute precision in where those dots go. That dot has hours and hours of painting behind it. It’s the same when you look at Rembrandt—you can see this incredible abstract move of the wrist with the right amount of pressure and ink, but of course it isn’t that simple—that move of his wrist has all the other marks he’s ever made in his life behind it. It takes a lifetime to get to that level of loose precision. SM I agree completely. I spent decades learning how to take a perfect photograph, and then I was able to completely forget that and take any kind of picture I wanted, because I’d put my time in. JS And that structure is behind you, isn’t it? It’s the backbone that you’ve got, right? SM Exactly. JS It depends what you want to do as an artist. We’re lucky that we’re living in an era with a lot of different areas of artmaking. I had quite an academic training as an artist, looking back, and I was able to use that process as well as kick against it. I have always aimed to make painting that deals with the realism of our time rather than being nostalgic or academic. It’s not so easy to eke out new possibilities if you work figuratively, because most of human history has worked figuratively. SM Of course. Can we circle back to becoming a mother? Did you photograph yourself giving birth? JS I did, I asked a good friend to photograph me. I loved all the incredible colors and the intensity of that miracle moment. I was shocked by how much beauty and violence there was—it was very primal. I have an impulse to record all sorts of moments in my life, even something like the death of my father.

When my father died, I sat and watched life literally drain away from his body. I was shocked, in grief, but at the same time was conscious of how beautiful he looked, and felt compelled to want to hold that moment visually, because there was so much life in that moment. I think that impulse to look and record has probably been the backbone of my work. SM Well, yeah, and that brings me to this other issue, which is that there seems to be a movement now that suggests that artists who depict suffering in a beautiful or aestheticized way are actually harming the subjects. That it’s an ethical violation to make a photograph or a painting of suffering, even if the result is actually also a beautiful work of art. Perhaps Sebastião Salgado is the perfect example of that. People are asking whether or not artists have the right to look at and depict other people’s pain. I guess I’m just wondering whether you have any feelings about that, because God knows we’ve both done that. JS When I’ve worked with dead bodies, part of the interest for me was that I didn’t know anything about that individual’s narrative. I found images in medical books and made portraits from those. If you spend six months or more on a painting, you develop an incredible intimacy by looking at the face of someone again and again and working out their particular structure, from the turn of an earlobe to the bones of their nose. It takes time and study to differentiate between the specific colors and tones, and the colors were just incredibly beautiful and related to nature, like in a sunset, but I was looking at bruised flesh or a gunshot wound. SM I know all about that. JS But the beauty of it is dumbfounding. The beauty just knocks me over, and I saw paint in that moment. I imagined what colors I would mix and 7

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 47

17/01/2019 17:20


how I could merge them. I didn’t want to ignore that impulse to make paintings like that, because it was so powerful. It’s similar to how we see war photography that’s incredibly beautiful. You can’t deny its beauty. In Robert Capa’s pictures, the blurriness of those soldiers’ landings on the beach in France: the blurring is what makes not just the beauty but the tension. I wouldn’t want that picture not to exist. That’s too puritanical for me, because the beauty of it helps us accept our collective humanity, in all its shapes. Imagine not having Goya in the world because he’d self-censored? SM I know, I’ve photographed a lot of dead bodies. And actually, when my father died, I was with him at his very last heartbeat and I saw a perceptible change in the color of his f lesh. It was, as you described, very powerful and evocative and provocative. JS Exactly, it’s a cycle, isn’t it? And you don’t want to deny looking at that, because that’s powerful about your life. Like those pictures that you did at the FBI death farm… SM Yes. JS It must have been so powerful to be there and to see that, and similar in a way, because you didn’t have a narrative for their lives, either. It’s like being a pathologist, but from an artistic point of view. SM Exactly. But there’s a question—I remember it being raised with Joel-Peter Witkin’s work. As I recall—and I may be mistaken about this—he went to a morgue in Mexico, rented a corpse, and photographed it. The family of the dead man were outraged and upset to fi nd a relative in a publicly displayed photograph. And I can see both sides of that. JS That’s a diffi cult situation, because those bodies were in a private context: it sounds like they

hadn’t been given to science. SM It is. Nobody in modern society wants this sort of raw scrutiny of our human vulnerability. Because it’s something I’ve never been particularly afraid of, I haven’t had too much hesitation about taking those kinds of pictures, until, I guess, I get confronted by people who say, “You can’t appropriate our suffering.” In my mind, I’m an artist. That’s what artists do. We speak to these things. JS You have to work with yourself, don’t you? You have to just follow your instinct and navigate that. I think that’s the only guide you’ve got. I always feel that I have so much work to do. My studio is a vital place for me; it’s a universe of trying things out and experimenting. Wherever I’ve worked in the world, I’ve basically created a similar space and developed routines and rhythms around the work. I have the very annoying habit of listening to the same music over and over when I’m working on a particular piece. I enjoy these repetitive routines. SM I’m the same way. I really like a routine. I like the quotidian. I need to know exactly how my day is going to be laid out. And I lay it out pretty much the same way every day—I mean, right down to the food I eat. JS That’s so true. If there’s too much noise going on, I can’t process information. When I’m in New York, Paris, or Athens, I love wandering around, seeing shows, looking at what’s being made, watching people. I gather things up but I don’t effectively process them until I’m back into an ordinary rhythm. SM So in a certain sense, you harvest stuff and then bring it home. JS Yes, exactly.

Above: Sally Mann, Remembered Light, Untitled (Drips and Newspaper), 1999, inkjet print, 8 × 10 inches (20.3 × 25.4 cm), edition of 3 Sally Mann artwork © Sally Mann Jenny Saville artwork © Jenny Saville Interview originally published in the 2018 monograph Jenny Saville, co-published by Gagosian and Rizzoli.

8

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 48

17/01/2019 17:20


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 49

17/01/2019 17:20


A piping hot Weisswurst was ladled onto my plate when I sat down to lunch recently at Georg Baselitz’s home and studio outside Munich. I’d joined a small party of the artist’s friends and colleagues to view his latest work, but talk of art was put aside for an hour while we chatted about Bavaria’s lively politics, the backroom dramas in Munich’s museums, and whether it’s ever too late to eat a Weisswurst. (Custom dictates that it’s a morning food, but they’re just too great to be confi ned to one part of the day.) When we stepped away from the table, I remarked on how good the meal was and another guest laughed. “You know what Otto von Bismarck said about sausages, don’t you? They’re like laws. It’s best not to see them being made.” It was all a very German scene, local and traditional, as one might expect with Baselitz, an artist whose work has been central to discussions about art and the nation’s identity since the 1960s. His style was forged by a return to the legacy of German Expressionism, a style that had been suppressed and lampooned by the Nazis, and the lumbering figures in his early paintings often spoke directly and controversially to the state of the nation. Among the pictures in his fi rst solo show, staged in West Berlin in 196(, was Die Grosse Nacht im Eimer (The Big Night Down the Drain, 1962–6(), a portrait of a squashed, brutalized, boyish figure holding his disproportionately large phallus; the authorities were unamused and confi scated it. When he represented Germany at the Venice Biennale in 1980, he exhibited a single piece, Modell für eine Skulptur (Model for a Sculpture, 1979–80), a monumental limewood figure daubed in black and red paint and hoisting an upraised arm. Many interpreted the gesture as a Nazi salute, and another controversy ensued that brought Baselitz to wide public attention. But controversies notwithstanding, appreciative audiences have only grown for his work. A

major survey of his career was recently staged at the Fondation Beyeler in Basel and at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC, and another survey will open in Venice in May, where Baselitz will be the fi rst living artist ever to exhibit at the Gallerie dell’Accademia. Some may fi nd it jarring to fi nd him in the home of the Venetians—Giorgione, Bellini, Titian, Tintoretto—but the show will highlight his historical imagination and his fascination with the drama of human existence. When I arrived at Baselitz’s studio I found him perched on the edge of a large, low table that he uses to work. He was dressed gravely in black, but he would break into a broad laugh when amused; at times he seemed to retreat into his own thoughts, at other times he held forth enthusiastically. His latest body of work is Devotion, a series of portraits inspired, borrowed, lifted, quoted—depending on your point of view—from the self-portraits of other artists he has admired over the years. The artists’ features are broadly described in energetic swaths of paint, their details fi lled out with delicate, angular lines—and all are inverted, upside down, as almost all of Baselitz’s figures have been since 1969, when, as he puts it, he “made a separation between art and life.” As one would expect, many of the portraits nod to historical expressionists, figures such as Joan Mitchell, Edvard Munch, and Paula Modersohn-Becker, but others hint at dimensions of his mind and practice that reach far beyond the concerns of Germany and German Expressionism. There are portraits of the composer Arnold Schoenberg, the artists Piet Mondrian and Alexander Calder, and tributes to younger international peers working in similar styles, including Cecily Brown, Nicole Eisenman, and Tracey Emin. They add up to a kind of country-house gallery of ancestors, figures in a living tradition that emerge

from smoky clouds of darkness to remind the artist of responsibility and destiny. “I’m not in a position to paint a portrait of someone I don’t like,” he says, “not even as a caricature.” The project feels both old and new for Baselitz, who says, “I have a whole group of artists that I work with in my mind.” The fi rst was perhaps Ferdinand von Rayski, a little-known nineteenth-century German painter whose pictures Baselitz kept encountering in his youth. “When I came away from tachism and CoBrA during my studies, I painted a Rayski self-portrait, and in the end I did five, six, or ten, I don’t know, portraits of Rayski painted in my manner. So it’s a personal tradition I have. I’ve painted portraits of [Ernst Ludwig] Kirchner, [Karl] Schmidt-Rottluff, and [Erich] Heckel many times—working not from self-portraits but from real portraits of them. This time I wanted to use their own self-portraits in their own style, their manner.” The idea was inspired in part by a self-portrait of Henri Rousseau, the naïve painter celebrated by the Paris avant-garde at the turn of the twentieth century. His portrait was once exhibited by the Blaue Reiter Expressionist group in Munich, and for many years it and its pendant, a portrait of Rousseau’s wife (also interpreted in Baselitz’s new series), were cherished parts of the colllection of Pablo Picasso. The Blaue Reiter viewed Rousseau as a touchstone, and by including him here, Baselitz is constructing his own intellectual biography, citing his own origins. That he should feel the urge to do this in his early eighties says something about his peculiarly fractured and dislocating experience as a young artist. Born near Dresden under the Nazis, on the eve of World War II, he spent his teens in Communist East Germany. He trained as an artist in Berlin, on both sides of the then divided city. At one art

BASELITZ Morgan Falconer visits the artist’s studio outside Munich to learn more about his newest paintings, a series entitled Devotion.

50

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 50

17/01/2019 17:20


51

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 51

17/01/2019 17:20


52

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 52

17/01/2019 17:20


Previous spread: Georg Baselitz in his studio, Ammersee, Germany, 2018. Photo: Martin Müller Opposite: Source images in the studio, Ammersee, Germany, 2018. Photo: Elke Baselitz Below: Georg Baselitz studio, Ammersee, Germany, 2018. Photo: Martin Müller

school in the city’s east, he learned the rudiments of Socialist Realism, the official style of the Eastern Bloc, but he was quickly expelled for the wonderfully euphemistic sin of “sociopolitical immaturity.” And so he went to the West, where he was inspired by Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning but skeptical of the West German taste for abstract art. It was a maturing that brought rapid bursts of exposure to art of different styles and periods, and Baselitz found it engagingly disorienting. Herein lies one rationale for the famous inversion in his paintings: he scorned the politicization and didacticism of the East’s figurative style, but he was also doubtful about the freedom touted by those in the West who argued that abstract art was the only style for the postwar moment. How better to reject both paths than to turn the figurative pictures upside down, making them abstract? Figuration was dissolved into abstraction, but never so much that it disappeared entirely. Turning the world upside down also seemed an appropriate response to the slaughter and insanity of World War II. As he says, “Just like the philosophers said, there is this spiritual, ethical, aesthetic center that doesn’t exist anymore. There is no God.” Baselitz locates himself as a German and a European, a creature of the postwar age with an existentialist mindset. If some contemporary artists have slumped into a posture of narrow satire and irony, he reminds you of a time when artists felt it was their responsibility to be big thinkers. But his range of sympathies can be surprising. While he was talking about his outlook as a European, he related an amusing story about his attempts to understand the work of Paul McCarthy, the scabrous and Pop-satirical American West Coast artist whom Baselitz likes a great deal yet who would seem to be his opposite. In 2015, the two had an

exhibition together in Athens, and Baselitz asked McCarthy, “What are these ugly things you’re doing? Are you dealing with history, tradition?” No, said McCarthy, America has Hollywood to deal with history. “He was more concerned with being raised a Mormon!” The more you delve into Baselitz, the more you find someone with eclectic tastes—ancient and modern, somber and comic. He is a serious collector of both African tribal art and sixteenth-century Mannerist prints. And he commissioned Herzog & De Meuron, architects of Tate Modern and much else, to build his home, a sleek rectangle of glass that is curtained, on its upper story, by rough wooden shutters that can be opened and closed according to the seasons. Outside, greeting visitors, is a dark but jaunty metal sculpture by Baselitz depicting himself and his wife, Elke; nearby is one of Barry Flanagan’s light-hearted sculptures of leaping hares. In his own art, these mixed moods are best encapsulated in the fact that his painted world is turned upside down. It’s a device that recognizes a dark reality—the vanished center he talks about— but it’s also wonderfully absurd and, still, disconcerting. He says it gives him distance from the past, but it puts the viewer at a distance, too. After I’d looked at the new paintings, I walked to a table to see some new drawings that emerged from the series, and I found myself instinctively approaching them with the “right” side up. I felt comfortable that way for a moment, quickly able to discern the faces and their expressions and to let the motifs resolve into recognizable personalities. And then I realized that that was the “wrong” side up. I walked around to the other side of the table and felt properly uncomfortable again.

53

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 53

17/01/2019 17:20


5

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 54

17/01/2019 17:20


NORMAN ROSENTHAL You call the exhibition Devotion.

That means a lot, or maybe not? GEORG BASELITZ To me it simply means paying respect, in this case to quite specific people, artists I admire. They all have to do with my painting. NR How did these works come about? GB For that I have to explain that I don’t make anything out of thin air. I always have sources, I always use information from the past. So in Basel I saw a famous picture by Henri Rousseau showing Guillaume Apollinaire with his muse, the painter Marie Laurencin. Mistakenly, I thought the subjects were Rousseau and his wife—that it was a self-portrait with Mme. Rousseau. Picasso owned a Rousseau self-portrait and a portrait of his wife, and Franz Marc copied a Rousseau self-portrait for the Blaue Reiter. At fi rst I wanted to paint [my wife] Elke and myself as M. and Mme. Rousseau, just as I’ve often done similarly—Elke and me as the parents of Otto Dix, and so on. But that didn’t turn out, so I began again—altogether classical, straightforward, simply with the Rousseau self-portrait and his portrait of his wife. Then I found this book from the &)3(s, 500 Selbstportraits (5(( self-portraits), and so it took its course. NR So are these new paintings all based on self-portraits of artists? GB Yes, it’s important to note that I didn’t paint portraits of anyone, I painted their self-portraits. Earlier on, I also worked from portraits—think of the [Ferdinand von] Rayski heads, [Winfried] Dierske, and then there were [Marcel] Duchamp and [Ernst Ludwig] Kirchner and [Erich] Heckel—never from life but from history, from art. NR But the new portraits are all related to your fi rst ones from &)6)? GB Yes, the ’6) pictures. Back then it was a matter

of demonstrating the upside-down method. There have been portraits throughout art history, but afterwards, in my opinion, it is the painter who has always been more evident than the subject. At that time I painted portraits in a wholly matter-of-fact style, perfectly prosaically, with no artistic additions. And the people were familiar to me—my wife, a few friends like Franz Dahlem, and so on. It was solely about the upside-down method. These new pictures are also a demonstration: I call the exhibition Devotion, the people portrayed are important, and unlike before, one defi nitely recognizes a style. NR It’s almost as if the pictures were displayed in a pantheon. If they were sculptures they’d be on pedestals. GB Exactly. Nearly all of them are painted on a black ground, and the painting is applied on top of it. Against this black ground I make a tightly composed form, a head shape in a very light color, the internal drawing of the portrait, and that’s it. It’s an application, not painting based on form. The whole thing is disembodied, shadowless, spaceless. NR The heads float. GB Precisely. In these pictures I pursued the principle that the head floats, without a pedestal. It isn’t a photograph: when you take a photo you always get everything else, the space, the form, the shadow, even details about the subject that place the portrait in time. All that is missing in these works. NR T he pic t ures most rem i nd me of your Abgarköpfe [Abgar heads, &)/4]. GB You know the story behind the Abgarköpfe? Abgar was this king who wanted a picture of Jesus, because the plag ue was raging in his city and he’d heard that Christ performed miracles. So he sent a messenger, t he messenger told Jesus what the king wanted, and Jesus

took a cloth and held it against his face. NR A charming legend, and your portraits look like these Jesus cloths. Can one think of your pictures as somewhat like Veronica’s veil? GB You could. I hadn’t thought of that, but yes, you could compare them. NR Do you feel that art is the religion of today? Or is it a kind of religion for you? GB Art is the most interesting thing there is, and religion does not interest me. Art is what occupies me, what I believe in. That’s proven to me whenever I enter a museum. Sure, I might see a Crucifi xion or a Resurrection there, but it has never occurred to me to look away. I’ve always felt, Aha! That’s such and such and it was painted by so and so. NR But are the portraits also about personality? Or about similarity to the subject? Should viewers recognize the person portrayed? GB Of course they’re about similarity, and I’d be happy if viewers recognized the subject, but I’m sure that’s hard. When I look at them I immediately see that this one is Dix, that one [Arnold] Schoenberg, that one [Tracey] Emin—that each is a portrait of someone. That should actually be enough. If the thing is painted upside down, it doesn’t matter whether you make it a likeness or not. I have nothing to do with photorealism. If you paint a portrait after a self-portrait and upside down, it has to be okay. That’s an additional point, or an exclamation point, about that way of working. I don’t know of anything in the world of painting to compare with it. NR So these new pictures aren’t simply musings or fantasies, like your early heroes? GB No, no. I’ve done my research, I’ve worked with these since the spring of 2(&/, and there are photos of the self-portraits all over the place.

DEVOTION Georg Baselitz speaks with Sir Norman Rosenthal on the subject of his latest work. The two discuss these paintings, all depictions of self-portraits by artists from the past and present, and what it means to pay homage.

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 55

25/01/2019 09:56


You had photos as patterns for all of the portraits? GB Photos of self-portraits. They’re all exclusively self-portraits by the artists pictured. That wasn’t always easy. Lucio Fontana, for example, is difficult, but there was an edition of his letters, Lettere 1919–1968, with a self-portrait drawing on the cover from the ’3(s or ’4(s, in any case very early. I’d like to have had a self-portrait of Alberto Burri but there’s only an abstract picture, with a sort of window and another window, that he calls a self-portrait. I couldn’t do anything with that, unfortunately. It got really amusing, for example, with this strange picture of Nicole Eisenman: I found three self-portraits of hers that you can’t recognize as one and the same person, because all three look so different. In one she’s a masculine type, in another a Bavarian type with a peaked and feathered hat, as if painted in the ’3(s, and in a third she looks like a fi fteen-year-old boy. And they’re all Nicole Eisenman self-portraits. When I looked at them that way I thought, This reminds me of Die Frau mit der Handtasche (Woman with a Bag), by [Karl] Schmidt-Rottluff, a famous picture from the &)&(s, I believe. I mixed all of that up in my head, and that’s how I produced this portrait of Nicole Eisenman. That’s how almost all of them were produced. Clyfford Still was another—I didn’t know any self-portraits of his, I only knew his paintings, and found them wonderful. Then I did some research and found three self-portraits from his student years, when he was still quite young, before he became an Abstract Expressionist. That’s how it was with other artists I worked on whom NR

I admire—[Roy] Lichtenstein, [Piet] Mondrian, [Andy] Warhol . . . all those are from early self-portraits when they were young. I fi rst had to become familiar with these pictures, because they’re academic. With [Robert] Rauschenberg it was a little difficult, because the only Rauschenberg self-portraits are photos in his collages that he declared to be art. So those are what I painted. NR The pictures represent your personal heroes, you have said, but Lichtenstein, for example, is an artist with whom I would never have associated you. GB Yet he’s wonderful. I have pictures of his in my collection. They’re fantastic pictures. And there’s a self-portrait that’s really strange, where he painted himself with a bowler hat and a very stern gaze, perhaps at seventeen or eighteen. NR Alexei Jawlensky isn’t included—why is that? GB Don’t ask me. There’s no justice. NR The selection is curious, I have to say, but is that coincidental or, as John Cage would say, a matter of chance? GB It’s both. Take the women painters, for example: there’s Joan Mitchell. With her what happened was, I saw a painting of hers in a magazine and next to it a photo of her. I didn’t know anything about Joan Mitchell and I’d thought she was a man. Then there was this interview in which I came out looking like a misogynist, because it was felt that I only found a woman painter good because I thought she was a man. Tracey Emin—there’s this strange Dutch television series by her that I didn’t know at fi rst, but then I was told that in this series I marry Tracey Emin, or she marries me. All these stories and

relationships play a role in these pictures. But basically the main theme is my engagement with art, from the Mannerists to the present. And lately I’ve been greatly engaged with the art of women. This malicious criticism that I dismiss art by women is nonsense. I’ve only provoked it a bit. NR One of the artists is Frank Auerbach—how did you happen on him? GB That’s a long story. When I saw the first Lucian Freud retrospective at Berlin’s Nationalgalerie thirty years ago, I found it completely uninteresting. In Berlin, a Berlin painter? I felt it was historical, conservative painting from Berlin. Then later I read [W. G.] Sebald, and he has a long story about Auerbach. There he’s called Max Ferber. And then I wondered: why is the London School—Lucian Freud, Frank Auerbach, and so on—so terribly conservative, although they behave like avant-gardists? But it was very different. What Frank Auerbach, Lucian Freud, and Leon Kossoff made was Berlin painting from the ’3(s. Just the same. In Berlin there was a painter called Otto Nagel, he’s not so interesting today but he was very important at the time and painted scenes from the lives of the proletariat. And the pictures by these three London School painters always remind me of him. What Auerbach makes is by no means English art. It’s called London School because that’s where it’s made. All that is okay, but essentially it’s German painting. NR Auerbach is still working. He paints, just like you, every day. I have the feeling that you too work every day. The difference is that you also make sculpture and he doesn’t. You have a lot of things in common. You’re both radical conservatives. Could one say that?

6

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 56

25/01/2019 09:56


Previous spread: Georg Baselitz, Clyfford Still, 2018, oil on canvas, 64 7∕8 × 39 3∕8 inches (165 × 100 cm) Opposite, left: Georg Baselitz, Robert R., 2018, india ink, ink wash, ink, and watercolor on paper, 26 1∕8 × 19 7∕8 inches (66.2 × 50.3 cm) Opposite, right: Georg Baselitz, Joan Mitchell, 2018, india ink on paper, 26 1∕8 × 19 7∕8 inches (66.2 × 50.5 cm) Below, left: Georg Baselitz, H.R., 2018, oil on canvas, 47 1∕4 × 41 3∕8 inches (120 × 105 cm) Below, right: Georg Baselitz, Madame, 2018, oil on canvas, 48 1∕2 × 41 3∕8 inches (123 × 105 cm)

But the word “conservative” is of course misused. If you want to make somebody look bad, repulsive, you say he’s conservative. Not avantgarde, not progressive. NR You’re conservative and progressive at the same time. GB If you say so… NR To what extent do your new pictures have to do with memories? GB A great deal, of course. Take for example Clyfford Still. In &)75 I went to Marlborough in New York, with Kaspar König as translator, and we said, “Please show us a picture by Clyfford Still.” Then he showed us a wonderful Clyfford Still; I think at the time it cost $4(,(((. That must have been a lot of money back then. Kaspar König later bought the picture and sold it to the museum in Cologne. Later I asked Johannes Gachnang, director of the Kunsthalle Bern, to produce a Clyfford Still exhibition. He went to Still, somewhere in the American hinterland, and heard all his grievances. But Gachnang brought back some informative materials that explained certain things to me. Only then did I learn that there were artists who painted after these pattern books you could buy in art-supply stores, the way I paint still lifes, the way I paint a portrait, the way I paint a nude. And that’s just what Clyfford Still did, that was his training when he was young. I found that impressive, of course, to this day. So I refreshed my memory. NR Jackson Pollock is also one of your heroes. GB There was a show with a small self-portrait by Pollock, really quite small, and in it he looks like a Mexican boy. Next to it hung the little self-portrait GB

by [Mark] Rothko. There are no self-portraits by these two except these. NR What is it that fascinates you about Pollock? GB Well, the New York School was such a big thing; these pictures had such presence. They weren’t painted as a provocation, they were simply there. In America there were young people who saw what was being made there, the miserable, retrograde art that existed there, as though in the backwoods, and these young people were inspired by the Europeans—by Existentialism and all these revolutions, above all Surrealism. Almost all of these artists began as Surrealists, they were regular proselytizers for Surrealism there in New York. And then they had such audacity: fi rst of all their formats, these commanding formats, gigantic. Think of Pollock. As students in Berlin we could only shake our heads. We could barely afford ten centimeters of canvas and here comes somebody who makes paintings ten meters long and five meters tall. This demonstrative impulse, this audacity, this love of display—the whole of American society was like that, everything that was happening. Meanwhile all we were thinking about in Germany after the war was how to get out of our mess. NR Is that also true of Alexander Calder? Fontana I understand, but I wouldn’t have expected Calder from you. GB In my mind you can put Calder right next to Clyfford Still. In a wonderful way, he broke through the limitations sculptors imposed on themselves, or that were prescribed by their materials. He simply presented trees with leaves, more or less. That is magnificent. And he did it with such playfulness.

7

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 57

25/01/2019 09:56


I fi nd that terrific. I get inspired when I see these things. Calder invented a kind of abstraction for sculptors that is simply fantastic. Like Pollock in painting. Awesome. NR Your cosmos also includes painters almost unknown in America, such as the German tachist Wols. Why is he important to you? GB When I came to West Berlin in 1958, Wols was almost the fi rst thing I saw. That was at Rudolf Springer’s, the city’s most respected gallery at the time. Then alongside him there was Gerhard Hoehme, who imitated him, and many others who also made imitations. They’re all like Wols: they painted a center fi lled with diverse things. And what’s the problem in this whole art circus, why didn’t that have any lasting success? It was simply the format. It’s as if you tried to make a philosophy, a worldview, a reality. The “Informel,” the “École de Paris”— that doesn’t work on the art market. The art market is something all its own. NR Even Warhol was almost forgotten on the art market shortly after his death, and prices were low. Then suddenly he became the most important artist of all, and also the most expensive. You also drew his self-portrait. GB Warhol is truly a phenomenon. I’ve seen these thousands of drawings that he made—it’s phenomenal, this mad, mad industriousness. You think he’s doing nothing, he’s only pretending, and then these fabulous pictures appear. NR But Warhol’s method is totally different from yours. GB He’s American, full-blooded American. But in approach, completely international. NR He had a giant studio, many assistants, like Damien Hirst and others. To this day you do

everything yourself. GB I wou ld say t hat for me t hat ’s whol ly explained by my biography. Germany wasn’t America, Germany wasn’t Paris, Germany was simply in an altogether crappy situation. I don’t know of a single German artist of that time who worked like an American. There weren’t any. NR But now it’s nearly &0&0, seventy years after the war. How do you see the world of painting today? Is what you’re showing here a reflection? GB I think so. I wouldn’t say that it’s the reflection of an old man, either. I would say it’s the reflection of European art on art in general, America included. NR Does Europe still have a future aesthetically? GB Absolutely. We still have some life in us. There are still these half-baked, idealistic, crazy things coming out of Europe, these diffuse things lurking around in the universities, people’s heads. They’re still coming out of Europe. NR Still? GB Still. The practice in America, I call it Hollywood. That kind of entertainment is no longer predominant in Europe, it’s long past. But the stimuli come from here. NR When we started talking we compared this series of self-portraits with the Jesus cloths. Might one say that Tracey Emin, Cecily Brown, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, and all the others are your patron saints? GB It’s my prayer niche. My home altar. NR But many well-known artists who have engaged you we don’t fi nd among the new paintings and drawings. GB It is what it is, that’s not a flaw. I can pay homage to the whole world without painting it.

Below, left: Georg Baselitz, Mark Rothko, 2018, oil on canvas, 64 7∕8 × 39 3∕8 inches (165 × 100 cm) Below, right: Georg Baselitz, Paula, 2018, oil on canvas, 57 1∕2 × 41 3∕4 inches (146 × 106 cm) Artwork © Georg Baselitz All photography by Jochen Littkemann unless otherwise noted

58

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 58

17/01/2019 17:20


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 59

17/01/2019 17:20


Gagosian Quarterly is pleased to present the first installment of its Building a Legacy series. This new section will bring readers in-depth interviews and articles related to the preparation and maintenance of artists’ estates. We aim to provide clear and concise information from experts in the field, and hope this section proves useful for artists, their staff, foundations and estates, scholars, and a broader public. For our inaugural interview, attorney Luke Nikas tells the Quarterly’s Alison McDonald about what steps artists, scholars, and authentication boards can take to protect themselves.

ALISON MCDONALD Let’s start with your background.

How did you come to focus on art law? LUKE NIKAS My training is in litigation. I started my career representing large banks and other corporations in complex fi nancial disputes. These were cases with documents totaling in the hundreds of thousands or more. I had to distill really complex situations into stories that were both compelling and understandable to judges and juries. In &010, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts came to my fi rm with an antitrust case, which we won. I noticed then that the art world had many experienced transactional lawyers doing good work on consignments, tax structuring, estate and foundation planning, and so on, but it was clear to me that the art world needed trained litigators who could approach disputes with the necessary background and skills. AM And what are you focusing on now? LN My current art practice centers on any claim of wrongdoing related to art: copyright infringement, trademark disputes, Nazi-looted art, negligence, fraud, racketeering, antitrust, theft, forgery, misrepresentation, contract disputes related to deals, insurance coverage. AM Litigation seems to be far more prevalent now for art-world transactions than ever before, which I suspect has to do with the rising value of artworks. There seems to be a lot of case law being written now.

That’s exactly right. Most people consider what is at stake fi nancially before incurring the considerable costs and risks of litigation. There is an explosion of art-related disputes because the increasing value of art makes the cases worth pursuing or defending against. AM Does the amount of litigation now taking place affect the work of scholars and other art experts? Are people still able to say “This work is valuable,” or “This work is actually not by the artist”? LN This is one of the biggest concerns of most experts, foundations, and catalogue raisonné authors. Some experts will say, “I’m not going to say ‘authentic’ or ‘inauthentic,’ I’m going to say a work is ‘right’ or it’s ‘good.’” There is some sense that this language protects them better than saying a work is fake or real. And there’s fear about saying more. Other experts will say nothing at all. My biggest message about authentication is that it’s not as scary as people think it is. Courts have regularly protected experts who acted in good faith. Courts have consistently ruled that the art market, not a court of law, is the right place for resolving authenticity disputes, because courts aren’t art experts. They want to let the market decide the issue of authenticity whenever possible. Courts have also enforced contracts against people who have sued experts over adverse opinions on authenticity. For example, in the Thompson versus Warhol LN

Foundation case [Addison Thompson v. The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Inc. et al., &01(], where I defended the Warhol Foundation, the court dismissed a case by an individual who sued the Foundation and its Authentication Board. It said that the art market is the place for resolving disputes about authenticity, and the contract that the Art Authentication Board required the owner to sign protected the Foundation and the Authentication Board from the suit. There is also very good case law in the First Amendment area, where, for example, courts have ruled that if you’re giving an opinion about a work of art in good faith, then you’re protected by the First Amendment. Opinions are subjective; they’re not objective statements of fact. So authentication can happen; it needs to happen; it’s important for it to happen. The real question is how do you protect against lawsuits? You can never stop someone from fi ling a case, so what do you do to set yourself up correctly? There are cases that give us guidance, and if you rely on those cases, if you structure yourself right, and if you’re consistent in what you do, you’ll be okay. AM Does your expertise prescribe any best practices for foundations or estates around authentication, or for catalogues raisonnés? LN The f irst thing to think about is how to insulate your assets. Authentication, in one form or another, is the riskiest activity that most

)0

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 60

17/01/2019 17:20


foundations will undertake if it isn’t done properly. In most circumstances, I recommend setting up a separate corporate entity that will house the catalogue raisonné or authentication board. So if someone sues the authentication board or the catalogue raisonné authors, saying, “You’ve given an opinion that’s destroyed the value of my work,” that person may have a suit against the authentication entity, but your business or foundation will be legally walled off from liability. That works as long as you’ve truly treated the authentication company as a distinct company. So number one, set up a separate company and treat it as a separate company. And then be careful not to create confl icts or other governance problems when nominating board members and staffi ng the executive roles. The second step is to put the right contracts in place. As I mentioned earlier, the Warhol Foundation was protected in the Addison Thompson case because the Authentication Board had a contract that said, in sum: “You, owner, understand and agree that the opinion you will receive in connection with this authentication review is subjective, not true or false. It’s subject to change based on information we may obtain later. It’s an opinion that you will not sue us on; whether it’s good or bad, you will not sue us. You agree that if you do sue us, or if someone else sues us, you’ll indemnify us for any damages we incur.” Think about that—you will have to pay our legal fees for defending against your lawsuit. The case law says you can do this, if you do it right, and experts should require this protection. The contract must also identify the right state for the law that will apply. Some states say “X” is the rule, and some say “not X” is the rule. Some states have never addressed the key issues that might come up in an art dispute. Make the rules as predictable and favorable as possible before you end up in litigation. Also, do you want to be in open court, or do you want to be in arbitration? Choose—there are pros and cons to each. But have a contract in place that protects you and gives you as much certainty as possible. Number three: carefully plan how you interact with the outside world. Are you an authentication service? Are you a catalogue raisonné? Figure out your mission and stick to it, because the precautions and planning are different depending on what you’re seeking to accomplish. Let’s cover a few examples in the context of a catalogue raisonné. Don’t tell people beforehand if a work is going to be included in or excluded from the catalogue raisonné. Why? Because someone can, and will, take your e-mail, letter, or opinion and tell prospective buyers, “The catalogue raisonné said this is an authentic work.” What if you change your mind before publication? What if you’re wrong? In the buyer’s eyes, you’ve given an authentication opinion that facilitated commerce, so you’ve opened yourself up to an unnecessary commercial dispute. Or, if you give a negative opinion, you’ve destroyed the value of a work and created a risk of litigation that could have been better managed had you simply published the catalogue. Don’t verify that an image that someone sends you depicts a work in your catalogue raisonné—or, if you’re an authentication board, a work you’ve reviewed. Why? Although you might accurately be able to say, “We have a work in our catalogue raisonné that matches the dimensions, colors, and so on, of the work in this image,” you don’t know whether the image that’s attached to the

e-mail is in fact the work you looked at. You don’t want to quasi-authenticate the work in an image when it’s not actually the real work. Art forgers also forge documents. For the catalogue raisonné, you also want to consider how to publish it. I always approach cases and problems by thinking about the touchpoints with people and companies that are causing my client’s problem, or could cause my client harm. Where do they intersect with my clients— physically, fi nancially, contractually, in the cloud, on the Web—and how do I manage, leverage, and defend against harm at those intersections? Let’s consider an online catalogue raisonné. The fi rst touchpoint is the access gate for people viewing the website around the world. Do you have the appropriate waivers in place when people access the catalogue raisonné? Choice of law and venue for disputes? Other terms that will protect you? Think about any time you’ve bought something online: for almost every single type of online transaction you can think about, you have contracts that pop up before you can move forward. AM Does your law degree help you read and understand those? LN No, who really knows what’s in there? [Laughter] The question is, are these types of clickwraps enforceable? If done the right way, yes, they are. So what’s your opportunity at that touchpoint? You can choose the governing law. Are they waiving claims? Arbitration or not? This is an access point that you control, so you should have terms that protect you. If you’re not publishing online but have decided instead to print a book, you can put terms in the back of the book that offer protection. Or you can shrink-wrap the terms right on the book. The bottom line is to think about the touchpoints. They’re all over—take advantage where you can. And then think about how you interact with people. You must be consistent, whether it’s a powerful auction house or a new player in the space. AM You just advised that the editor of a catalogue raisonné not say anything beforehand about whether or not a work will be included in the publication. But

My biggest message about authentication is that it’s not as scary as people think it is. Courts have regularly protected experts who acted in good faith. Courts have consistently ruled that the art market, not a court of law, is the right place for resolving authenticity disputes, because courts aren’t art experts.

obviously, in the case of a printed book, a work is either included or not in the end, right? LN Yes, and that’s fi ne. My view is that as long as you’ve protected yourself in these and other ways, your book is a work of scholarship; it’s an opinion. It’s almost certainly going to be protected. Scholars are afforded a wide latitude to say what their opinions are. But it’s important to remember that publishing a book is one type of activity and acting as an authentication service to the art market is another. You can do one or you can do both, but figure out what you’re going to do. Because once you start allowing exceptions to your policies, or creating policies without your mission in mind, you risk a chaos and inconsistency that will be problematic. You need to be consistent in how you implement your operations. You need to be consistent in the way you deal with people. You need to be consistent in every way, all the way down to the way you write e-mails based on the type of information people are seeking or you are providing. AM What specifically would you recommend for experts and scholars to put in place in order to protect themselves if they’re authenticating work or editing a catalogue raisonné? They’re not usually the ones with teams of lawyers looking out for their best interests. LN First, if you can get insurance, get it. Some insurance carriers won’t extend it, some will. Look at your homeowner’s policy to see whether it covers defamation. You should look at the policy carefully. Second, know your contact and understand how they’re going to use your opinion. Make sure you trust the situation and pay attention to the circumstances. Third, if you write your opinion, you need to put in some basic disclaimers, like, “This is my opinion, not to be relied upon by any third party. I give it to you and only you. You agree that you won’t sue me based on what’s in this opinion. You agree that you’ll indemnify me for any lawsuits that are brought against me, including defense costs, in connection with this opinion.” These are important concepts to include. If you’re giving your opinion orally, it’s best to have a contract in place, even if it’s an e-mail that incorporates the above concepts and says something like, “I’ll tell you my views of this, but understand, this is an opinion. It’s subjective. It’s based on the information you’ve given me, which includes the following, and I could change my mind based on more or different information of which I’m not now aware. You agree not to sue me based on this.” Those are the key things that I would do as an expert. And my general advice would be, Don’t do this, ever, unless you’ve gone to a lawyer. I appreciate that not everyone has the means to do that, but it’s possible to fi nd someone who will give you far-reaching advice that you can use repeatedly in these scenarios. That advice will cost a small fraction of the legal fees if you end up in litigation. AM And if I were an artist thinking about legacy planning, what are some of the key things I should be thinking about? What can I put in place now that would be most helpful to protect scholars and experts in the future? LN To the extent possible, have a photo record of what you’ve created—ideally, back and front. Have documents related to where each work went, to support the provenance. Do this in an orderly way—if you can, attach numbers to your works, in the same way that a catalogue raisonné would assign a number. Leave information that can help

)1

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 61

17/01/2019 17:20


guide scholars through your works—the history, the materials you used, the people connected to your studio who had access to you and your work, the authentication approach. AM Is there a benefit to starting a catalogue raisonné while the artist is living? LN That’s really a question about whether we can understand an artist’s legacy and present a body of work more accurately, or from a better perspective, when the artist is no longer alive. In my view, it depends on the artist. Regardless, doing the preparation, keeping the archives, and keeping information orderly during the artist’s lifetime will make the raisonné project much easier to manage later. It’s also critical to think about intellectual property [IP] issues when the artist is alive. A lot of foundations aren’t just giving grants, producing catalogues raisonnés, and authenticating, they’re also managing the artist’s brand, through books, exhibitions, and licensing activities. To do this safely and without interruption, you need to properly manage and determine the intellectual-property rights, such as trademarks and copyrights. But artists don’t always protect themselves: they transfer copyrights to a patron without clear terms, they license the use of certain images without reasonable restrictions, they bequeath their IP rights evenly to a divided family, they don’t copyright certain works during required periods, or they just simply fail to protect their IP rights. This creates problems and unpredictability when developing a plan to use the IP. Artists should have someone look at their full IP portfolio and ask themselves, “How do we want to use the name? How do we want to use the signature? What images have I created?” And then, in certain instances, fi le for trademarks, fi le for copyrights, and put in place the right IP agreements. AM And without clear ownership of the IP in place, it becomes very difficult to embark on scholarly projects such as catalogues raisonnés, right? LN It certainly can be. Although there are some very strong fair-use copyright cases in this area, all it takes is an aggressive person or entity on the other side to create a costly dispute. And every single artist’s estate, foundation, and living artist needs to think about several questions: “How are we going to use this IP? What are the potential ways we could use this IP? Do we want to create products? Do we not want to create products? Do we want a website? Where do we want images of the artist’s signature, name, and art to appear? Where don’t we want them to appear?” If you don’t protect yourself and the IP in certain ways, you could lose the rights to assert. This is all to say that, in addition to cataloguing works for a catalogue raisonné or for authentication purposes, as an artist you need to think about your legacy. What fi nancial resources will your foundation have or generate to carry out your mission? How will licensing factor into the foundation’s plan? How will the foundation manage your legacy and protect your market, if it will at all? So protect your IP, and put in place the agreements you need in order to protect your IP, because that, for many, is an important part of legacy management. AM Tell us about the arbitration court you’ve helped to establish in The Hague and how that came about. LN There is currently a major disconnect between how the courts understand the art world, how juries understand the art world, and what’s really going on in the art world. I’ve conducted multiple focus groups and mock trials for my art cases, so I have

You need to be consistent in how you implement your operations. You need to be consistent in the way you deal with people. You need to be consistent in every way, all the way down to the way you write e-mails based on the type of information people are seeking or you are providing. a deep understanding of the psychological factors that drive decisions in these cases. A few years ago, I was at a New York City Bar Association meeting and Bill Charron from Pryor Cashman, who is on the advisory board of Authentication in Art [a nonprofit founded in 2012 to develop and promote best practices related to authentication], announced that Authentication in Art had raised the idea of establishing an international art court. He invited anyone interested to speak with him about it. I’d been thinking a lot about this disconnect and how to solve it. I spoke to Bill and soon after joined a small working group with him to start the process of creating the court. I did background-literature research and proposed a structure for an arbitration system specifically designed to resolve art disputes. And I read scientific journals and law-review articles that discussed the gap between the scientific knowledge that’s necessary to understand patent cases involving complex technology and the knowledge that most people on a jury will have of these issues. The articles proposed various ideas about how to bridge that gap, including specialized patent juries and other experts to oversee the case and discovery process. After reviewing the literature, I concluded that we should have a court that has art experts on the panel—all lawyers, but with experience in some area of art law, broadly defi ned, so they can resolve legal issues with an inherent understanding of this industry. There will be a pool of qualified experts to draw from. The panel will retain the relevant experts. Those experts will be protected in various ways, so they can offer uninhibited opinions. There will also be a special master to oversee the discovery process, so when the expert issues his or her opinion, the special master can say, “You need to do this, you need to do that, you need to do more research.” The special master is a bridge between the panel and the experts, ensuring that the discovery and expert testimony is helpful and comprehensive. It’s a better system than what our pure adversarial model offers today. There will be a mediation service too.

Our working group then collaborated to draft the rules. We proposed them to Authentication in Art and an entity that already has a significant arbitration entity for sports disputes, seated in The Hague, as the basis for an art-arbitration court. And now it’s well underway: we’ve got the infrastructure in place, there are applications for being an arbitrator in this court, for being an expert… AM What kind of lawsuits will they hear? LN Any kind of art dispute. AM International? LN Ye s, a nd dome st ic. T hat ’s a v i r t ue of arbitration. AM What if you have a contract in place that says any dispute is to be settled by the laws of New York, would it ever go to that court? Can it go to this arbitration court if everyone agrees? LN Yes. AM And the benefit of arbitration court is that it’s much less expensive than going through with a lawsuit? LN It should be less expensive, and there are very few appeals. You’ve got a panel of qualified experts who are giving testimony, and a panel of lawyers who have experience in this area, so you’re going to have a more sophisticated decision-making process than if you were in a court that doesn’t have the same knowledge of the art world and the art. AM What do you expect some of the impacts will be? LN There’s an art-specialized mediation group, so the possibility of litigation is a bit lower, and then if there is litigation, you’re not factoring in as great a risk of loss due to misunderstanding or court error. I think that will have a ripple-on effect, with people having more confidence in the outcomes— AM It offers more security. LN Yes. I would rather litigate before a panel of three people who know how the art world works and understand the law that applies. And experts have confidentiality and indemnification from the group itself, meaning they have protection and are therefore more willing to participate. We were able to structure this so the arbitration is seated wherever the parties choose to have it seated. You can be in New York City, under New York law, or wherever you want to be, and have access to the same panel of lawyers, the same panel of experts, and the connoisseurship and the science. So it gives people flexibility, which is the point of arbitration. You want people to have flexibility charting their dispute-resolution course and confidence in the fi nal decision. AM So you’re an attorney focused on art litigation brokering for fewer art-focused lawsuits? LN I’m a trial lawyer at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, and we focus exclusively on litigation and trials all around the world. We prepare every case from day one as if it’s going to trial. But my goal is to accomplish the best result for my clients, whether that’s through an immediate settlement or a trial. Many disputes drag through the court system so long because one side is being unreasonable, not because the facts or law justify a drawn-out war. My hope is that the art mediation service will reduce the number, or length, of those disputes. Other disputes require a trial or extensive litigation to hold wrongdoers accountable, to get the right outcome, or to show the world that the client did nothing wrong. When that’s the case, the arbitration court will be an excellent venue.

62

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 62

17/01/2019 17:28


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 63

17/01/2019 17:28


SHY SCULPTURE: NISSEN HUT

Rachel Whiteread’s public sculpture Nissen Hut was unveiled last October in Yorkshire’s Dalby Forest. Tamsin Dillon, curator for 14–18 now, the organization that co-commissioned the project, explores the dynamic history of these structures and provides a fi rsthand account of the steps leading up to the work’s premiere.

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 64

17/01/2019 17:26


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 65

17/01/2019 17:26


S

trolling through a forest, the crunch of gravel mixed with fallen leaves under foot, the sun glowing through reds and oranges onto the fading bracken of early autumn. A tinge of chill in the air hints at the altitude and that winter is on the way. A large gray-white object appears at the corner of the eye and then, without warning, is fully revealed; a sculpture by Rachel Whiteread, Nissen Hut—part of the Shy Sculpture series. Situated just around the bend of a path, the sculpture is hidden. Coming across it is a surprise even when you know it’s somewhere there. This sense of the unexpected is partly due to its size. It is not small; Nissen huts—the British design from which sprang American Quonset huts—are around sixteen feet wide by thirty-six feet long, and Rachel’s sculpture is a complete cast of the interior of one. Yet it is so strategically placed and well concealed that when it comes into view, it is already quite close, so seems almost to have just now landed there. And it does indeed seem somehow shy, to be concealing itself, cautious and reticent, until at the last moment, exposed, it has decided to jump from cover onto the path. So where is this forest, and why is this sculpture here? The place is Dalby Forest, North Yorkshire, part of the Forestry Commission Public Forest Estate. The context in a larger sense has many elements, from British forestry to World War I, from the need for shelter, for temporary housing, whether in confl ict or in peace, to the way artists bring new perspectives to every aspect of life. From one angle the work is a simple cast-concrete edifice

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 66

among the trees; from another it represents many narratives, individual and intertwined. The project that led to the creation of Nissen Hut began more than three years before the work was installed. The 14–18 now program, established to invite artists to reflect on the centenary of World War I and to make ambitious new works in collaboration with partners across the United Kingdom, grew through investigations into an astonishing number and variety of aspects of the war and took in a wide range of people, places, and organizations. Part of this research led to the realization that the Forestry Commission was approaching its own centenary, having been established in 1919 as a direct result of the impact of the war on timber stocks and the rural landscape. This connection was the trigger for the two organizations to collaborate on commissioning a new artwork. It would be a key work for the 14–18 now program, would mark the beginning of the Forestry Commission’s own centenary year, and would herald a new phase in the life of the Forestry Commission’s art program, which has been commissioning work across the Public Forest Estate since the 1960s. While the origins of the Forestry Commission are clearly embedded in World War I, they are also intricately connected with the longer history of forests across Britain. In 3000 bc, the peak of coverage, as much as 50–60 percent of the country was forest. Since then, forest coverage has declined and increased several times as human intervention and innovation developed and land use changed. During World War I, Britain had huge diffi culties meeting its need for timber. Over the previous few centuries, increases in the use of timber had been intense, with the growth of the shipbuilding,

charcoal, iron-smelting, and glass-making industries. The decline of British woodland since the Middle Ages meant that by 1900, forest cover was at an all-time low of around 5 percent. The need for timber, particularly for trench construction, during the war only exacerbated the situation, and in 1918 a commission, the Acland Committee, was set up to fi nd a solution. Its recommendation to Prime Minister David Lloyd George was that a state organization should be set up to manage the forests. On September 1, 1919, the Forestry Act came into force, creating the Forestry Commission and making it responsible for woods across Britain. The fi rst Commission trees were planted on December 8, 1919, at Eggesford Forest in Devon, and, with stocks so depleted by the war, the Commission was given freedom to acquire and plant land all over the country. This history sets the stage for the co-commission of a new work by 14–18 now and the Forestry Commission at Dalby Forest. Beginning in 2015, a number of meetings between the two organizations took place in a variety of settings, from Grizedale Forest in the Lake District to London. A decision was taken to invite an artist who might be intrigued by this particular challenge, and who could bring to it a level of ambition and quality that would reflect the importance of the commission. Having invited Rachel to submit a proposal, we were delighted by her enthusiastic response, and we set out to fi nd a building in a forest for her to cast a new Shy Sculpture. Forestry Commission teams all over the country—from the New Forest in the south, through Eggesford Forest in the southwest and Sherwood Forest in the Midlands, to Grizedale Forest in the

17/01/2019 17:26


Previous spread and opposite: Photo: © Rachel Whiteread Above: Photo: Ben Thomas, Forestry Commission Below: Children beside a row of Nissen huts at Duddingston Camp in Edinburgh, January 30, 1954. Photo: Haywood Magee/Picture Post/Getty Images

northwest and Dalby Forest in the northeast— were tasked with the mission of exploring their estates for huts and outhouses that might fit the bill. Rachel had assured us that no matter how degraded a building might be, it could be just right; so our brief to the teams was to look everywhere and discount nothing. In return they sent maps, drawings, and photographs of buildings located all over these forests and we huddled over and scrutinized them together in Rachel’s London studio. The buildings ranged from the pristine to the impoverished; old woodsheds, dilapidated deer hides, ruined rain-shelters, decrepit bunkers, and tumble-down outbuildings. The building that stood out among them all was a Nissen hut in Dalby Forest. We couldn’t wait to see it. The Nissen hut is a semicylindrical structure made from corrugated iron sheeting. It has associations of austerity and necessity, and its established place in the English landscape, both rural and urban, would simply not exist without World War I, when the need for portable, cheap, easyto-construct buildings to house troops was paramount, even desperate. Major Peter Nissen, a mining engineer as well as an army officer, designed a prototype in April 1916. Nissen understood the acute need for a robust building that could be transported and built by as small a crew and in as short a time as possible. His design was in fast production by that September; over 100,000 huts were made during the war, mostly to house troops and stores but with more than 10,000 adapted to medical uses. The success of this prefabricated building lay in its simplicity, its economy of materials (key in a time of wartime shortages), its portability (also key in a time of wartime shortage of shipping space), 7

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 67

17/01/2019 17:26


Left: Photo: © Rachel Whiteread Below: Photo: Ben Thomas, Forestry Commission All images: Rachel Whiteread, Nissen Hut, 2018, concrete, 9 feet 10 1∕8 inches × 17 feet 3∕4 inches × 36 feet 5 inches (3 × 5.2 × 11.1 m) © Rachel Whiteread

and its ease of construction and deconstruction, with an average build time of four hours by six men. The record for the fastest build stands at 1 hour and 27 minutes. After World War I the hut was adapted to many other uses, deeply impressing itself on the English landscape. Nissen continued to work on improved designs after the war and patented the hut in his name, securing the continued use of the structure during World War II and beyond. The history of Dalby Forest can be traced back to the Bronze Age, in 1000–3000 bc, when many parts of North Yorkshire were deforested and woodlands such as Dalby stood out from the landscape. Signs of the people of that time are scattered through the region’s woodlands but particularly in the large forests of Dalby, Langdale, Harwood Dale, Broxa, and Wykeham. Only 10 percent of the forested area in the Dalby of today is old woodland or on the site of old woodland; everything else was once either moorland or farmland. In the last thousand-odd years, the forest and its surround have seen a variety of uses and activities. Around 1106 ad, King Henry I declared much of the land between Pickering, Scarborough, and Whitby, including the present-day Dalby Forest and other woodland in the area, to be a Royal Hunting Forest. From the twelfth century through the eighteenth, Dalby was a center of commercial rabbit breeding, for meat and skins, and tens of thousands of rabbits were reared there in specially constructed warrens. By the end of World War I, barely a single tree was left in Dalby Forest, and it became one of the fi rst forests purchased by the Forestry Commission to restock the timber industry. Some of the fi rst Forestry Commission plantings were made there, and Nissen hut camps were built to house the laborers working on those plantings. Today, concrete foundations overgrown with shrubs and bracken near Dalby village are for the most part the only sign left of these camps, but Rachel’s Nissen hut is probably a relic of them, though built on a site away from the village and later on between the wars. It was in a quite broken-down state when we went to see it, but was still clearly in use by the odd rambler and dog-walker sheltering from the rain. Our f irst visit to the forest was on a sunny autumn day in November. The hut, sitting in a

forest clearing in the sunshine, was a welcome sight after a long journey to Yorkshire from London, and almost before we were out of the car, Rachel confi rmed there was no need to look elsewhere; we had found the right building. It sits, entirely unassuming, near a forest track. Most of its windows either broken or boarded up, its doors hanging off or missing altogether, it was open for us to look around and explore. Its fi replace looked recently used and it was clearly a natural home to many small creatures such as spiders and beetles, as well as to people stopping by to look, or perhaps for some respite from weather. Hunched down in the landscape with weeds and small bushes all around, the sun gleaming down, it had a poetic beauty that seemed to embody all the histories it represents. From the decision about where to site the work to the site visits and planning, its casting and installation, the process of making Nissen Hut took a year from when we fi rst discovered it in that clearing in Dalby Forest. The fi rst idea for the location was near Dalby village, on the fl anks of the forest valley where the labor-camp foundations hide

beneath the weeds. Then, after further consideration, a more remote location was chosen, up on one of the highest hills of the forest, a place that requires dedication and a journey to get to. The cast was a short year in the making, but now it is there, it will sit in the forest for many years to come, a phantom of the inside space of the Nissen hut to be discovered by walkers in the woods, and, no doubt, to become the home of small creatures and plants. As the latest in Rachel’s Shy Sculptures series, Nissen Hut represents a unique story in the development of her practice. Her creation of memorials to indigenous buildings across the world, from Norway to the American desert and from Norfolk, England, to New York, continues her long investigation of memory and history by making the invisible interior volumes of space solid and visible. These works are imbued with stories, with Rachel as the storyteller. Nissen Hut is a meeting point for myriad interwoven histories, a node of some kind; a crucible holding and guarding the chronicles and tales it represents for all those who come across it in the woods.

8

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 68

17/01/2019 17:26


LONDON STORE, 278 BROMPTON ROAD — MSGM.IT 8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 69

17/01/2019 17:26


EGON SCHIELE

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 70

Inspired by their dual exhibitions at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, Nazanin Lankarani examines the meteoric lives of these two legendary artists, exploring the similarities and differences in their lives and work.

17/01/2019 17:26


JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 71

17/01/2019 17:26


E

maciated figures in tattered clothing; heads with hollowed eye-sockets, bony limbs, and detached body parts; incisive curves and enigmatic halos—those are some of the visual devices by which both Egon Schiele and Jean-Michel Basquiat expressed the existential angst that emanates from their work. At fi rst glance the two wunderkind artists, separated by half a century, have little in common but prodigious production and meteoric lives (both died in their late twenties). Still, last fall, in the shimmering building designed by Frank Gehry to house the Fondation Louis Vuitton on the outskirts of Paris, two exhibitions explored those correlations, and the two artists’ enduring legacy, through the force of their drawings, focusing on what co-curator Dieter Buchhart calls the “existential nature of the line” that both men wielded so masterfully. This much-anticipated double feature, subtitled “A Passion for Life,” generated some of the highest attendance figures recorded by the Fondation Louis Vuitton since its opening in 2014, partly through the general fascination with the artists, partly through timing: last year was the hundredth anniversary of Schiele’s death and the thirtieth of Basquiat’s. Despite their tragically short lives, both artists managed to leave behind an impressive body of work, remarkable as much for its singularity as for each artist’s sheer productivity. Schiele left behind more than 2,500 works on paper, some 330 paintings, and many sketchbooks; Basquiat produced some 1,000 paintings and 2,000 drawings. Through a selection of just over 100 works by each artist, the Fondation’s artistic director Suzanne Pagé, working with Buchhart, a Vienna-based art historian and Basquiat specialist, shone a spotlight on the two men’s precocious talent, their mutual obsession with drawing, and their unique contribution to the history of art.

Previous spread, left: Egon Schiele, c. 1915. Photo: Imagno/Getty Images/ Hulton Archive Collection Previous spread, right: James VanDerZee, JeanMichel Basquiat, 1982, silver gelatin print. Photo: © Donna Mussenden VanDerZee Right: Egon Schiele, Self-Portrait, 1912, watercolor over graphite on light brown wove japan paper, 13 ¾ × 10 inches (34.9 × 25.4 cm). National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. Gift of Hildegard Bachert in memory of Otto Kalli, 1997. Photo: Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC Below: Egon Schiele, Self-Portrait, Head, 1910, gouache, watercolor, and charcoal on paper, 16 ¾ × 11 ½ inches (42.6 × 29.6 cm). Ömer Koç. Photo: Hadiye Cangókçe Opposite, above: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled, 1981, acrylic and oilstick on canvas, 81 × 69 ¼ inches (205.7 × 175.9 cm). The Eli and Edythe L. Broad Collection. Photo: © Douglas M. Parker Studio, Los Angeles Opposite, below: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled, 1982, acrylic, spray paint, and oilstick on canvas, 72 1∕8 × 68 1∕8 inches (183.2 × 173 cm). Yusaku Maezawa Collection, Chiba, Japan. Photo: Courtesy of Sotheby’s, Inc. © 2018

Two Giants Side by Side Although contemporaneous, the exhibitions were significantly different in scale and refrained from engaging in literal comparisons, leaving it largely to viewers to draw their own conclusions. According to Bernard Arnault—chairman of the LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) group, president of the Fondation Louis Vuitton, and an important Basquiat collector—“The Fondation Louis Vuitton pursues a dialogue between contemporary and modern art in an effort to engage with a broad public. This commitment expressed in two parallel presentations respects historical dimensions while remaining fertile in the comparisons and echoes they are certain to inspire among visitors.” With those words Arnault opened the sprawling Basquiat show, which featured some 120 mostly monumental works dating from 1980 to 1988, arranged both chronologically and thematically through a full eight galleries on four floors of the building. “A miracle occurred for us to bring these works together,” said Jean-Paul Claverie, cultural advisor to Arnault, in an interview in Paris. “Two thirds of the works came from private collections and for the most part had never been seen before, proving the enthusiasm with which collectors responded to Mr. Arnault’s personal requests for loans.” Arnault’s powers of persuasion were nowhere more evident than in the presence of three monumental paintings of heads shown side by side for the fi rst time: Untitled (1981), from the collection 72

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 72

17/01/2019 17:29


of Eli and Edythe L. Broad; Untitled (1982), from the collection of Yusaku Maezawa, acquired in 2017 for $110.5 million; and In This Case (1983), from the collection of Giancarlo Giammetti. “The shock of hanging these three works together gave the show its truly exceptional character,” Claverie rightly concluded. The Schiele exhibition, in the Fondation’s lower spaces, was a more intimate affair, set in two rooms and consisting mainly of drawings, gouaches, and a few oils. The show’s more modest breadth can be explained in part by the fact that Schiele’s centennial made loans more difficult; nevertheless, this was the largest Schiele exhibition in Paris in nearly twenty-five years. Pagé had originally planned a major Basquiat retrospective but had the idea of adding the Schiele show because, she writes in the show’s catalogue, “The works of Schiele and Basquiat have much in common, namely their virtuosity, the preeminence of the body, and the expression of a raw and sometimes tortured subjectivity. They are also linked by their destiny and fortune, that of a short-lived body of work, the impact and permanency of which have rarely been equaled.” For Buchhart— who in the past decade alone has curated several Basquiat exhibitions, including the seminal show in 2010 at the Foundation Beyeler in Basel—the pairing was a chance to open up a new reading of the artist’s work. “We felt it was time to do the ultimate retrospective of Basquiat,” he told me. “Adding Schiele allowed us to propose a curated show to explore their common existential line, something that had not been done.” Although the two artists’ different cultural contexts make literal comparisons between them tenuous, the works were curated to reveal the youthful energy and creative drive that fueled each man’s “existential line.” Schiele, the Evolution of an Expressionist Schiele was born in 1890 in Tulln, Austria, the only son of a philandering German father who died when Egon was just fifteen. His mother came from Krumau, a town in today’s Czech Republic that Schiele loved to paint. With his two sisters, Schiele grew up in a fl at above the train station where his father worked as a stationmaster. A gifted child, he showed less interest in school than in drawing, and at the age of sixteen he entered the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, a bastion of Vienna’s conservative art establishment. In 1908, Schiele met the Vienna Secession master Gustav Klimt, who became his mentor and greatly infl uenced his early work. Danaë (1909), an oil painting included in the Fondation show, reflects the influence of both the Viennese Jugendstil movement and Klimt’s penchant for the ornamental, an inheritance from which Schiele would later depart. It is also widely known as the nineteen-year-old artist’s fi rst major female nude. Schiele evolved in the effervescent Vienna of the turn of the century, when avant-garde groups such as the Expressionist Die Brücke were challenging the norms of traditional painting. His portraiture moved from the surface to the psyche: works such as Männlicher Akt mit verkürzten Armen (Male nude with truncated arms, 1910) manifest an unrelenting introspection, no doubt influenced by Sigmund Freud’s revolutionary theories of psychoanalysis. The rebellious Schiele lasted only three years, 1906– 09, in the Akademie before leaving to found his 3

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 73

17/01/2019 17:29


74

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 74

17/01/2019 17:30


own artistic group, the Neukunstgruppe (New art group), with fellow students Oskar Kokoschka and Max Oppenheimer. In &)&2, his unconventionality briefl y landed him in jail on morality charges. “Twenty-four days in prison were a traumatic episode for Schiele,” Buchhart remarks, “but also a turning point that opened his eyes to censorship and to new formalistic avenues in his art.” According to Buchhart, after Schiele’s traumatic imprisonment he began to search for a new balance, and his line also became more infused with the anguish of impending war. When war broke out in Europe, he reported for service but was assigned to a desk job that allowed him to remain artistically prolific, producing cityscapes and landscapes that “foreshadowed the horrors and imminence of the two world wars, the borderline experience between life and death.” In &)&/, at the age of twenty-eight, having survived the war, Schiele succumbed to the Spanish flu pandemic that ravaged the world after the Great War. The pandemic also took the lives of his pregnant wife, Edith, and of his mentor, Klimt, all in the same year.

Opposite: Egon Schiele, 1910. Photo: Imagno/Getty Images/ Hulton Archive Collection Right: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Gold Griot, 1984, acrylic and oilstick on wood, 117 × 73 inches (297.2 × 185.4 cm). The Broad Art Foundation. Photo: © Zindman/Fremont Below: Egon Schiele, Seated Male Nude, Back View, 1910, watercolor, gouache, and black crayon on paper, 17 ¼ × 12 ¼ inches (43.8 × 31.1 cm). Neue Galerie New York. Gift of the Serge and Vally Sabarsky Foundation, Inc. Photo: © Hulya Kolabas for Neue Galerie New York

Basquiat: From Street to Studio Basquiat was born in Park Slope, Brooklyn, of a Haitian immigrant father and a Puerto Rican mother, forty-two years after Schiele’s death. His parents had divorced by the time he was seven. When he was eight, a car accident, depicted in the early work Untitled (Car Crash) (&)/(), landed him in the hospital with serious internal injuries. A copy of Gray’s Anatomy given to him by his mother opened his eyes to the architecture of internal organs and body parts, motifs that would recur in his work. Though he lacked formal education in art, Basquiat was an artistically gifted child who frequented museums with his mother. A runaway at fi fteen, he slept on park benches and scrawled cryptic messages tagged “Samo” (for “Same old shit”) on walls. He tried drugs, sold painted T-shirts and postcards, and took in the energy of New York’s underground and hiphop music scene. From graffiti, Basquiat moved on to an art combining images and words that he drew, painted, and scribbled on canvas, paper, hoardings, doors, planks, and other objects. He showed his work publicly for the fi rst time in The Times Square Show, a &)/( exhibition now seen as a landmark in the history of the emerging art of the coming decade. The following year he starred in Downtown 81, a fi lm based on his life, directed by Edo Bertoglio and written by Glenn O’Brien, an habitué of Andy Warhol’s Factory. Also that year he was featured in a now-famous Artforum article by the poet Rene Ricard, “The Radiant Child.” He was shifting “from street to studio,” as a specialist once put it. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Derelict, from &)/2, painted on wood and metal, is a hodgepodge of images of skulls, detached limbs, death symbols, and sundry cryptic words slapped across a scavenged surface. That same year, Basquiat showed his work for the fi rst time in Los Angeles, at what was then called the Larry Gagosian Gallery. Having won the support of art dealers, he gained confidence in his talent and his line became bolder, even while he was proclaiming that all he had ever wanted was to be famous. In &)/4, the Swiss art dealer Bruno Bischofberger suggested he collaborate with Warhol, and the two produced some &5( works together. 7

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 75

25/01/2019 09:56


Left: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Irony of a Negro Policeman, 1981, acrylic, oilstick, and spray paint on wood, 72 × 48 inches (183 × 122 cm). AMA Collection. Photo: Courtesy of AMA Collection Below: Egon Schiele, Self-Portrait with Peacock Waistcoat, Standing, 1911, gouache, watercolor, and black crayon on paper, mounted on cardboard, 20 ¼ × 13 ¼ inches (51.5 × 34.5 cm) Ernst Ploil, Vienna. Photo: Courtesy Ernst Ploil, Vienna Opposite: Jean-Michel Basquiat painting Frogmen (1983) in his Mercer Street studio, New York, 1983. Photo: © Roland Hagenberg

Unlike Klimt in relation to Schiele, according to Buchhart, Warhol was not a great influence on Basquiat: “Warhol was a mastermind of the New York art scene in the 1980s, but not a mentor to Basquiat, who had already defi ned his own art practice.” Basquiat died in 1988, of a drug overdose, a year after Warhol and four months shy of his own twenty-eighth birthday. Two Artists Committed to Figuration Although both Schiele and Basquiat came of age at respective moments when avant-garde artists were turning away from figuration, they remained staunchly fi gurative artists. In 1911, Pagé notes, when Vasily Kandinsky had already produced his fi rst abstract watercolors, “Schiele’s line became more angular and tortuous, broken by the vigor of his effusive expressionism.” Townscapes such as Krumau an der Moldau (Crescent of Houses in Krumau, 1914) reflect experimentation with composition, color, and form without crossing over into abstraction. Similarly, Basquiat grew up in the 1970s, boom years for Minimalism and Conceptual art, but played a key role in the rebirth of figuration in the 1980s. “Both artists remained committed to figuration,” Buchhart has said, “and sought to express the distress of human existence, rooted in censorship, war, exclusion, and racism, with aggressive and expressive distortions of the body.” Today, in Buchhart’s eyes, the reading of Basquiat’s work is still evolving: for him, Basquiat is seen as embodying “a version” of Conceptual art somewhat like Ed Ruscha’s, through his anchoring of socioeconomic realities in a critique of systems of power and racial domination. In Irony of a Negro Policeman (1981), for instance, Basquiat addresses criminality and police brutality against African Americans, while such portraits as Sugar Ray Robinson (1982) and Cassius Clay (1982) question power and racism in depictions of black men in a white world. Tracing a Personal Struggle for Identity Whether through self-portraits or other kinds of self-referential works, both Schiele and Basquiat used their draftsman’s stroke to reflect their personal struggle with identity. Schiele produced more than 170 self-portraits, a large and significant number. He often portrayed himself as suffering, an emaciated martyr, as in Selbstbildnis, Kopf (Self-Portrait, Head, 1910), which shows a head without a body in a stark composition devoid of background. He often posed in extreme postures, as in the series of male nudes that includes Männlicher Rückenakt (Seated Male Nude, Back View, 1910). Self-reference also abounds in Basquiat’s work, whether in the stark Self-portrait (1984) or in more complex compositions such as Santo #1 (1982) and Self-Portrait with Suzanne (1982), in which he explored his own origins and African-American lineage. “Both artists were radical in both their art and in their lives,” Buchhart has said, “ruthlessly shattering traditional artistic representations in their quest for identity. The existential nature of the line wielded by these two brilliant draftsmen serves as an inimitable mark, becoming a demarcation between threat, decay, and human existence.” A drawn halo or references to “god,” as in his Prophets series (1981–82), Offensive Orange (1982), and Untitled (Elmar) (1982), add a spiritual dimension

76

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 76

17/01/2019 17:31


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 77

17/01/2019 17:31


to his vision of himself in the universe. Schiele too included a halo in Selbstbildnis mit Pfauenweste, Stehend (Self-Portrait with Peacock Waistcoat, Standing, &)&&), which portrays the artist as a fashionably dressed dandy. A few strokes create religious undertones in Selbstdarstellung in grünem Hemd mit geschlossenen Augen (Self-Portrait in Green Shirt with Eyes Closed, &)&4), echoing words Schiele wrote to his uncle in &)&&: “I shall arrive at a point where the magnitude of each of my living works will be a source of fright.” The artist’s sense of his own significance was not lost on Pagé, who writes in the catalogue, “Schiele’s declarations do not conceal his awareness of an almost Christlike mission, a characteristic he shared with Basquiat.”

Above: Egon Schiele, Autumn Sun (Sunflowers), 1914, oil on canvas, 39 3∕8 × 47 ¼ inches (100 × 120.5 cm). Private collection. Courtesy of Eykyn Maclean. Photo: Courtesy of Eykyn Maclean

All images, unless otherwise noted, courtesy Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris. Jean-Michel Basquiat Artwork © Estate of JeanMichel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York

Below: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Riding with Death, 1988, acrylic and oilstick on canvas, 98 × 114 inches (248.9 × 289.5 cm). Private collection

Chronicle of Death Foretold The presence of death is palpable in Schiele’s work and in Basquiat’s words and symbols. Schiele’s still life Herbstsonne (Sonnenblumen) (Autumn Sun [Sunfl owers], &)&4), painted three months before the outbreak of World War I, is a bleak portrayal of decomposition, its heavy line drawing a limit between life and death. “In the same way that line served as a tool to express an inevitable becoming and decay in Schiele’s work,” Buchhart writes, “it violently opens Basquiat’s heads and bodies to reveal the internal human anatomy, from the nerves and veins to the tendons and bones.” The description is particularly true of Riding with Death (&)//), painted just before Basquiat’s passing and unshown in Paris before this exhibition, in which a black man rides a four-legged white skeleton against a bare background, devoid of context, not unlike some of Schiele’s starkly bare portraits. “This work,” Pagé observes, “cites the deathly tone of many classical references, namely Leonardo da Vinci, Albrecht Dürer, and Rembrandt, among others. The furious rush of the rider toward oblivion denotes this work as a true, timeless, and universal icon that leaves the viewer awestruck.” For her, this fi nal work in the show evidences Basquiat’s understanding of art history and his drive to inscribe his own work in that continuity. An Enduring Legacy Every new exhibition offers the chance to cast a fresh eye on an artist’s work. In Schiele’s self-portraits, Buchhart tells me, he sees a foreshadowing of our obsession today with our own images: “Schiele exhibits qualities that we can associate with today’s ‘selfie’ culture. He constantly posed in front of the mirror, looking for new ways to represent himself.” Basquiat’s practice meanwhile is seen as “cutting and pasting,” a new language, of enormous contemporary resonance, combining a wealth of freely appropriated elements from hiphop culture to African-American heroes, comic books, biblical references, and voodoo symbols. Looking at Basquiat’s assemblages of graffiti, collage, and poetry, Pagé writes of “the acceleration in planetary cultural exchange made possible by globalization, or ‘worldmentality,’ to use the term coined by Édouard Glissant.” But beyond their aesthetics and the linearity of their forms, perhaps what explains the enduring legacy of these obsessive draftsmen is the relevance of their personal struggles, their opposition to convention and injustice, and the “disruptive” quality of their art. Versed in vastly different languages, Schiele and Basquiat nevertheless speak to the same contemporary audience.

78

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 78

25/01/2019 09:56


judygeib.com Plywood MoirĂŠ Pin, platinum, gold and opal 8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 79

17/01/2019 17:32


80

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 80

17/01/2019 17:32


IN CONVERSATION

Marc Newson tells Derek Blasberg about his newest creations, ex plaining the backstor y of these ornate works. Derek Blasberg: I was particularly excited when I saw the sword in this show. I was obsessed with Japanese swords when I was a kid, and I’d write my letters to Santa asking for one, which alarmed my parents at the time. But I’m happy to bring them to your show and say, “Look, I was just being artistic.” Marc Newson: What’s incredible about this sword is the sword-maker I worked with, Hokke Saburo, is considered a national living treasure in his native Japan, and it was such a rare opportunity to work with him. It was the first time I’d done a project like that and it will probably be the last, because there’s such a small number of these people designated irreplaceable cultural icons by the government because of the level of their craft. DB How did the opportunity to work together come to pass? MN It was a silver-lining situation: I met Hokke Saburo in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. A lot of craftspeople and artisans were based in the region where he lived, -hoku region, and the To

their lives and work were devastated. The Japanese government created a program in which these artisans would collaborate with someone from outside their industry. A great friend of mine in Japan knew the swordsmith’s son, Hiroshi Takahashi, who happens to own a renowned digital production company called WOW, and he arranged a meeting. I was so thrilled to be able to work with this guy because not only was it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity but he was nearing the end of his career, he’s very old now, so I jumped at the chance.

81

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 81

17/01/2019 17:23


DB You go to Japan often,

to overcome is, Why do people

Previous spread:

lounge. Did those ideas come

right?

want to own this stuff now?

Marc Newson, London, 2018.

to you in Japan too?

MN I’ve been traveling to

Fewer and fewer people are

Photo: Trent McMinn

MN The lion’s share of the

Japan frequently for the

buying these extraordinary

last thirty years. In fact

works. So the idea occurred

Below:

related, which is of course

I’d visited different sword-

to me that I should include

Marc Newson’s “Cloisonné

typical for what I do. You

makers once before, and I’d

a piece in an exhibition,

Chair” in progress. Photo:

can divide the work into

worked with other national

because that would create

u-d-l

two groups: first, pieces

living treasures in other

a forum for people to see

industries. So I had some

this piece in an environment

Opposite, above:

large scale rarely executed

experience. I absolutely

where it wouldn’t normally

Marc Newson, “Cloisonné

in that medium—in fact no

knew how revered these

be seen, a gallery context.

White Magnolia Chair,”

one’s ever made pieces this

2017, cloisonné enamel and

big in glass before. They’re

people are, and I know Japan

There was also the

work in the show is furniture

in cast glass, on a very

pretty well for a foreigner.

possibility that this could

copper, 26 1/8 x 40 1/4 x 37

sort of mind-bogglingly

This was right up my alley.

prove to be something that

1/4 inches (66.5 x 102 x 94.5

huge, which is something

Am I talking too much about

would sustain this sword-

cm). Photo: Xiangzhe Kong

I’d wanted to do for a very,

this sword?

maker commercially through a

very long time. They were

few more years, which I was

Opposite, below:

made in the Czech Republic

DB No, I’m still into swords!

really keen to do too. Japan

Marc Newson, “Green Glass

but they’re inspired by

Santa never brought me one!

faces the same problems that

Chair,” 2017, cast glass, 29

artisanal techniques

MN I was struggling to

we do in the West, where

1/8 x 27 1/4 x 21 5/8 inches

pioneered in Venice. There’s

understand how my obsession

these sorts of crafts and

(74 x 69 x 55 cm). Photo:

one factory that can do this,

with this man’s work could

skills are slowly dying

Jaroslav Kvíz

literally, in the world,

inform my own. You know, it’s

out. The work I’m doing for

all very well to do a project

the exhibition is largely

like this, but then how do

about engaging these sorts

body of work in cloisonné

you make it relevant in a

of skill sets that are quite

enamel, also large, and

contemporary forum? This

rare and obscure.

sort of half sculpture,

was exactly the same problem

it’s that obscure. Then there’s another

half furniture. Cloisonné

that Hokke Saburo faced. One

DB Moving on from the sword,

is a type of enamel a little

of the hurdles that these

there are other works in the

like what you’d see in a

craftspeople in Japan have

show, including a desk and a

Fabergé egg, glass enamel

82

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 82

17/01/2019 17:23


MN Honestly, I didn’t think

finding techniques that push

it would take this long.

the boundaries of what’s

I’d planned to have a show

possible.

about four years ago, but for better or worse I ended

DB So it took a little

up choosing a couple of

longer than planned, but

mediums that were just so

we’re happy it happened

challenging. The good news

eventually.

is they’re impossible to

MN I don’t feel pressure to

copy or replicate; but the

have shows for the sake of

bad news is, it’s taken me

having shows. It’s got to

three or four years to get

be meaningful for me and I

it together and even find

needed to find some really,

these places. I love doing

really compelling processes

exotic things, and I like

to use. Having said that, I

pushing the boundaries of

sincerely hope the next show

techniques, technologies.

doesn’t take the same amount

I love doing things that

of time! In a way, I kind of

challenge the process. The

bit off more than I could

two factories, the one in the

chew, thinking I could nail

Czech Republic and the one

it a few years earlier than I

in China—these guys are used

did. It’s got to be right. I

to doing the biggest and most

just waited until I was happy

ambitious things in their

and got it right.

respective areas, but they’d never done anything like

DB Lastly, there’s a

in intricate colors. But

DB What appeals to you about

this. They make things for

familiar character in this

these pieces are enormous

the process?

the Chinese government and

show: the surfboard, which

too, probably the biggest

MN When you were a kid, did

they’re kind of scratching

you’ve done before.

cloisonné pieces you’ll

you have to take a crafts

their heads, going, “How

MN There will always be these

ever see. As with the glass,

class at school where you’d

are we going to do this?”

themes that run throughout.

there’s only one part of

make a little enamel brooch?

That’s inspirational for me:

I did a surfboard ten years

the world where this can be

Or was that just a ’70s

done and that’s Beijing, the

thing?

home of cloisonné enamel. Although “cloisonné” is

DB I did not! But if I’d

obviously a French word,

known I could have been the

the technique was invented

next Marc Newson, I would

in China many hundreds of

happily have done more

years ago, and I went there

crafts in school.

and searched around for

MN It’s an incredibly

someone who could execute

detailed mosaic of

on this scale. It’s taken

complicated visual forms.

me five or six years to

Outside of that, you apply

identify a factory, get to

the boundaries for the

know them, and reinvigorate

enamel and you fill each one

the factory. The process of

of these little shapes that

cloisonné enamel involves

you create; it might be a

firing in a giant kiln, in

flower or a little symbol,

the same way as the glass

but there are thousands of

in the Czech Republic. They

these shapes applied by

share this process; big cast

hand by these little old

pieces fired in a giant oven.

women. You have to see it

In Beijing, we had to build

to understand it. The only

an oven the size of a small

place they could do this is

garage. You literally could

somewhere like China, where

drive a car in there.

they have the aptitude to do it, but not only that, it’s

DB Was this process

something they’ve been doing

something you sought out?

for centuries. The amount of

MN I trained as a jeweler

detail—you scratch your head

and a silversmith, I never

and just think, “Oh, my God.”

went to design school, so

Just like back in school,

this is a little bit like

these are very craft-

going back to my roots as a

oriented kinds of things and

jeweler, but on a whole other

they’re deeply decorative,

scale. It takes thousands of

which is not something

hours to produce one of these

people would necessarily

pieces. Look at the detail

associate with my work.

on some of the cloisonné works. You might have seen

DB This is the first

a cloisonné pot six inches

exhibition of new furniture

high, but these are massive.

from you in over a decade. Why now?

83

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 83

17/01/2019 17:23


Previous spread: Gus Van Sant, 2018. Photo by Derek Blasberg Opposite: Joaquin Phoenix as John Callahan in “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot”

ago for a guy called Garrett

MN Yeah, it is. What I

Above:

forties, which is getting

McNamara, this crazy surfer

love is the idea that you

Marc Newson, “Cloisonné

quite old from the point

who at the time was just

take something out of its

Black Blossom Lounge,” 2017,

of view of big-wave self-

becoming known as the guy

context, like a surfboard,

cloisonné enamel and copper,

preservation. He’s had some

who surfed the biggest waves

and reposition it. I grew up

30 x 69 3/4 x 30 3/4 inches

terrible accidents—he told

in the world. He held the

in Australia, so surfing has

(76 x 177 x 78 cm). Photo:

me once how many stitches

world record for surfing the

always been part of my life,

Xiangzhe Kong

he’d had and it was in the

most giant wave. Now, ten

it’s a sort of subculture

years later, he’s extremely

where I came from, but I’m

established and probably

not really a surfer, I was

crazy stuff like that. But

on the verge of big-wave

never passionate about

he’s a sweet, lovely, and

retirement, so I wanted

doing it myself. But I love

generous guy! He just has a

to do another one of these

taking it out of its normal

slightly different genetic

crazy surfboards for him

context and putting it into

makeup from the rest of us.

because we developed this

an art gallery, into the

He lacks certain genes,

relationship and it was nice

context of a place where

like fear.

to follow it through. He

new eyes will see it. When

surfed the board in this show

I did it the first time, it

DB A sword and a surfboard.

at a place called Nazaré on

went down well. It ended up

What else do you need?

the coast of Portugal, this

being a very popular piece,

MN I wanted to keep the show

crazy, biblical spot where

which I thought was quite

coherent and tight. Though

a couple of times a year

surprising. I figured I’d

all these things sound

these waves come in that are

do that again and it would

different, when you see them

about ninety feet tall. I

be the last time I’d do it,

all in the same place they’re

guess it’s like surfing down

because it’s very much about

all quite functional and

the side of a high-rise. I

the relationship that I’ve

couldn’t imagine how anyone

developed with Garrett.

could do it, but he’s the most renowned tow-in surfer

DB He sounds bonkers. I

who does this and I couldn’t

read that he broke the world

have found a better person to

surfing record on an over-

try it out.

100-foot wave. MN Yep. He has the biggest

DB That’s a true testament

balls in history. He

to art and function,

is completely, utterly

presumably.

fearless. Now he’s in his

thousands, from falling off Artwork © Marc Newson

surfboards into reefs and

specific. They’re beautiful

What I love is the idea that you take something out of its context, like a surfboard, and reposition it.

objects that few people who acquire these things will ever use for what they’re intended for, but there’s a beauty in that. There’s an underlying functional quality but the surfboards could end up being wall hangings, and that would be cool too.

84

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 84

17/01/2019 17:23


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 85

17/01/2019 17:23


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 86

17/01/2019 17:23


NINA 8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 87

17/01/2019 17:23


Nina Simone, Our National Treasure, by Salamishah Tillet I was born a child prodigy, darling. I was born a genius. —Nina Simone A people do not throw their geniuses away. And if they are thrown away, it is our duty as artists and as witnesses for the future to collect them again for the sake of our children and, if necessary, bone by bone. —Alice Walker

On our drive to Tryon, North Carolina, last August, my sister Scheherazade and I played “What’s your favorite song?” This time we tailored the game to our destination, since we were traveling one hour south of Asheville to the birthplace of Nina Simone. Scheherazade proffered “Sinnerman,” a ten-minute-plus song whose lyrics Simone learned growing up at her mother’s revival meetings in Polk County. But I surprised her with my choice. Scheherazade half expects me to go with Nina’s most explicitly political song, “Mississippi Goddam,” the civil-rights anthem on which I am writing a book and which Simone composed in 1964 in response to the assassination of the civil-rights leader Medgar Evers in Mississippi and the murder of four African-American girls in a church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, a year earlier. Instead, I start humming the melody to “Wild Is the Wind,” a song that Johnny Mathis originally recorded in 1957 for a largely forgotten fi lm of the same name and that Nina put on vinyl twice, in 1959 and 1966, transforming it from a silky torch song to a volcanic and melancholic ballad. In its afterlife, Simone’s version of “Wild Is the Wind” has become the standard, covered only by a few, such as David Bowie and George Michael, and appearing on fi lm in Sam Mendes’s romantic tragedy Revolutionary Road in 2008. As we drive along I-26, Nina stirs and I go silent. Her seven-minute opus of cascading piano and swirling vocals fi lls in the emptiness of our conversation and the spaces between the Blue Ridge Mountains. When I turn off the car, her voice is still there, lingering, clinging to our bodies. I fi rst visited Tryon in 2015 when I was pregnant with my second child, a boy we’d later name after the civil-rights icon Sidney Poitier and the jazz progenitor Sidney Bechet. A few months after my sojourn, Dylann Roof walked into a black church, prayed, and then murdered six women and three men on a summer night in Charleston, South Carolina. In response, I played Nina’s songs on repeat. It was the only music to which I could listen in order to channel my fury and grief, then and during my ongoing pilgrimages to the sites of mourning at which young African Americans such as Trayvon Martin in Florida, Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Rekia Boyd in Chicago, and Michael Brown in Ferguson had died at the hands of white police officers or vigilante white citizens for the simple crime of living while black. Within these three years, Tryon’s own relationship to Simone has also changed, paralleling her ascendance as the icon of rage and resistance in our age of Black Lives Matter. Very recently, Simone’s renaissance has included an Oscar-nominated documentary on her life as well as her emergence as a fashion idol for actresses such as Lupita Nyong’o and Issa Rae, and as a musical muse for Solange’s, Beyonce’s, and Jay-Z’s most recent and politically 88

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 88

17/01/2019 17:23


9

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 89

17/01/2019 17:23


charged albums. All that flurry came on the heels of a decade-long resurgence: two biographies, a poetry collection, several plays, a biopic, and the constant sampling of her signature sound by Kanye West. Just this past spring of 2018, she was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, while her birthplace home—which four renowned black artists, Adam Pendleton, Rashid Johnson, Ellen Gallagher, and Julie Mehretu, had purchased in 2017—was named a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, one of only two in North Carolina. At Tryon’s city limits, I smirk at the sign that triumphantly declares “Welcome to the Friendliest Town in the South.” Simone, born here as Eunice Waymon in 1933, and her family left Tryon’s segregation behind in the 1950s, to pursue her ambition of becoming a premier classical pianist and

their collective dream of racial freedom. Until now, Tryon has been ambivalent about its most famous resident. In 2010, after much controversy about its concept, funding, and location, an eight-foot-tall bronze statue of Simone, by Zenos Frudakis, was erected in the town. The Tryon sculptor William Behrends, best known for creating the statue of the black baseball player Jackie Robinson and his teammate Pee Wee Reese in Coney Island, even wrote an opinion piece in the Tryon Daily Bulletin castigating not just the design of the project but its subject’s “fundamental citizenship” as unfit for their town. Specifically, Behrends wrote, “There’s no doubt that Nina was a notewor thy musical talent, but her loyalty, both to her birthplace (Tryon) and her homeland (America) have legitimately been called into question.” He concluded, “That troubled me deeply.” The “Nina Simone

Sculpture” now stands at the top of Trade Street, near the town’s center and half a block away from Owen’s pharmacy, the drugstore that the singer had stopped in as a girl “to observe the mixture of indifference and disdain that I provoked in white customers,” as she would later recall in her autobiography, I Put a Spell on You.1 Despite her largerthan-life presence in Tryon, the town continues to be deeply divided by race. Most of Tryon’s African-American residents live on the town’s east side, a densely populated section that houses the historic Tryon Cemetery and St. Luke CME, Nina’s family church. Diagonally across from the church, at the top of a culde-sac, stands 30 East Livingston Street. Blue and battleship gray, surrounded by overgrown grass and imposing magnolia trees, this ((0-squarefoot clapboard house, with its lack of plumbing and

90

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 90

17/01/2019 17:23


Opening spread: Nina Simone at the Globe Jazz festival at Symphony Hall, March 20, 1987. Photo: John Blanding/The Boston Globe via Getty Images Previous spread: Nina Simone, c. 1960. Photo: Herb Snitzer/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images This spread, and following two spreads: Nina Simone’s birthplace home, Tryon, NC, 2018. Photos: Scheherazade Tillet

REFUSING TO BE FORGOTTEN OR MISUNDERSTOOD, [THE HOME], LIKE NINA’S LEGACY, PRESCIENTLY WAITED FOR A GENERATION OF ARTISTS TO COME ALONG AND RESCUE IT FOR POSTERITY.

91

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 91

17/01/2019 17:23


working electricity and its craters in ceilings and floors, appears to have succumbed to time. But, from our porch view, I see something I did not notice last time I was here. Built in 1928, this is by far the oldest house on the block—all of the others date from the 1990s, but for a brand-new one constructed at the street’s end by Habitat for Humanity. In other words, what distinguishes the house is not simply its hilltop view or its historic designation, but also its state of paradox: it is in disrepair yet intimately manicured, a place that should have been demolished with the original homes on the block, and yet endures. Refusing to be forgotten or misunderstood, it, like Nina’s legacy, presciently waited for a generation of artists to come along and rescue it for posterity. “ We ac t ua l ly purcha sed t he home sig ht unseen,” Pendleton admitted to me about their

$95,000 purchase. “I can’t tell you what an incredible moment it was to pull into Tryon and drive up the hill and see this incredible beacon.” After a slight pause, he said, “It feels like it’s from another era, but also something that connects the past to the present.” The previous owner, Kevin McIntyre, a former economic-development director for Polk County, bought the house in 2005 and invested more than $100,000 of his own money in its renovation, adding a number of intricate artifacts to the rooms. A dusty coal-stove oven is tucked in a corner. A map of Ghana and a wooden crucifi x hang on the walls. Three issues of the women’s monthly McCall ’s Magazine sit next to the January issue of Carter G. Woodson’s Journal of Negro History, all published in Nina’s birth year of 1933. A partly covered bed in one room; stacks of turquoise shingles in another.

92

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 92

17/01/2019 17:23


A woman’s black-heeled shoe lies turned over on the floor, while a black-and-yellow-striped Panama hat hooks itself on the wall with an exposed electrical switch hovering as its backdrop. By far the most incredible item is a weathered pedal organ displaying two song sheets, Bach’s “Little Preludes and Fugues” and Nina’s “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black,” a song inspired by the death of her good friend the playwright Lorraine Hansberry. I suspect Nina would have welcomed the gesture, for as she recalled in I Put a Spell on You, “Everything that happened to me as a child involved music. It was part of everyday life, as automatic as breathing.” She continued, “At the time I was born we didn’t have a piano in the house, we had a pedal organ. When our house was burned down, the pedal organ was the first thing rescued out of the fi re.”2

By 2015, McIntyre had lost the property to money troubles caused by a divorce. When the house went on the market in 201(, most of the residents surrounding it thought it would be destroyed. Pendleton learned that it was up for sale when Laura Hoptman, then curator at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, e-mailed him asking if he knew anyone who might be interested in buying. “I think I sat on the message for a day or so,” Pendleton told me. And after Hoptman wrote back that she had also contacted artist Rashid Johnson, “I got the idea, ‘You know what? Why don’t we just purchase it?’” Pendleton is widely acclaimed for his politically engaged conceptual art—Black Dada Flag (Black Lives Matter), for example, which he created after George Zimmerman was acquitted for Trayvon Martin’s murder. When I ask him what makes his

work similar to Simone’s, though, he resists my easy comparison. Instead, he confides that he is more invested in the “slippages” between their different mediums and the divergent meanings produced by his use of sculpture and photography and her compositions and performances. But he sees collaborating on Nina’s home as an even deeper and perhaps more radical gesture than he has previously made. “It’s like you go from being just an artist to being a kind of citizen artist,” he opined. “I think it kind of disrupts the social fabric in a very different way than an object on the wall.” For Gallagher, whom Pendleton approached about joint ownership alongside Mehretu and Johnson, the house is “a portal where we can access [Simone] in this very specific way . . . we can imagine her being there . . . we all know her in Liberia, her in Switzerland, her in Paris, [and

93

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 93

17/01/2019 17:23


here we know] her in the very beginning.” Gallagher has engaged a wide range of forms and topics throughout her career, including but not limited to Minimalism, minstrelsy, and Moby Dick; this collaboration is already influencing the meditations on architecture, loss, and history in her most recent work. She sees her and her colleagues’ efforts to create an artist’s retreat in the Simone house as a way of collectively transforming the place into “a living fossil” where “writers, dancers, and other people do a residency and make art.” She concludes, “It should be a living place that gets maintained. And I think it’s really important for us to know that people come out of this country and go to Switzerland, to Barbados, and have that kind of trajectory. It’s about not just aspiration but connection. This living past that we can take care of.”

Most important, as art and archive, Nina’s home tells a largely untold story of her genius, of the way the Waymon family nurtured their black-girl prodigy to transcend the racial limits into which she was born. It holds the memories and dreams of a family on the move. It stores her hopes before Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music rejected her when she auditioned there in the 1950s. Before she had to reinvent herself as jazz chanteuse Nina Simone. Before her friends Hansberry, Langston Hughes, and Jimmy Baldwin died. Before Malcolm and Martin were murdered. Before she chose exile. In these walls we hear the tender sounds of a girl before she became the voice of a people and a nation still longing to be free. As we pack up to leave the house, two older African-American men approach us. The more reticent one lives across the street. When I ask him about

the house, he smiles and slowly tells us that he has been looking out for the house, making sure that no harm comes to it. The other, a fi fty-year-old man named Malik, who lives in New Rochelle but was born here in Tryon, says his mother took piano lessons from the same teacher Nina did, an Englishwoman who lived two miles away, Muriel “Mazzy” Mazzanovich. As my sister and I begin to turn away, he calls out, thrusting his chest forward and flashing a wide smile, and offers us a keepsake of his own. “Y’all know some black artists bought this house, right?”

1. Nina Simone, I Put a Spell on You: The Autobiography of Nina Simone (New York: Pantheon, 1992), p. 26. 2. Ibid., p. 14.

94

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 94

17/01/2019 17:23


IN THESE WALLS WE HEAR THE TENDER SOUNDS OF A GIRL BEFORE SHE BECAME THE VOICE OF A PEOPLE AND A NATION STILL LONGING TO BE FREE.

25

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 95

17/01/2019 17:23


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 96

17/01/2019 17:23


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 97

17/01/2019 17:23


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 98

17/01/2019 17:23


ANDY WARHOL BY RICHARD HELL

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 99

17/01/2019 17:23


I

t was three separate personal Andy Warhol incidents in recent years that made me want to write about him to figure that out. (I’d started making notes last year before I got the good news that a Whitney show was due.) A few years ago I saw some unfamiliar, mostly later paintings of Warhol’s in a show in Europe and was surprised that some of them looked weak and tired; last year I saw Chelsea Girls (1966) for the third time across the years and this time the people it celebrated, or at least proposed as interesting, seemed insufferable (except immortal Mary Woronov); and, fi nally, I reread Bob Colacello’s book about Warhol, Holy Terror, and was reminded that 98 percent of The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again), a favorite book of mine, was written by Colacello, Pat Hackett, and Brigid Berlin—which astounds me and seems impossible: that Warhol’s ineffably intelligent, funny, and inspiring philosophical self-portrait could be assigned to assistants to write and still end up genius. How could that be? He starts The Philosophy with an observation about daily life, made over the phone to B: “I wake up every morning. I open my eyes and think: here we go again.” [B:] “I get up because I have to pee.” “I never fall back to sleep,” I said. “It seems like a dangerous thing to do. A whole day of life is like a whole day of television. TV never goes off the air once it starts for the day and I don’t either. At the end of the day the whole day will be a movie. A movie made for TV.” Right away we’re in a work of art. Or a comedy routine. Or both. Let me interject here a mention of the oddness that I fi nd it hard to say Warhol’s name in company. I can’t think of another person of whom that’s true. It’s because the name is so well known while also signifying so variously and extremely that you know your meaning in speaking it will be received in a way you can’t predict or control. It’s as if you need a 300-word footnote on your position

regarding “Andy Warhol” in order to allude to him at all. He represents that much. The name matter is a little different when speaking to painters, at least the sophisticated ones. To them “Warhol” means something consistent: genius, readjuster of artmaking in the second half of the twentieth century, archetypal artiste. Maybe the “artiste” tag is the best way of putting it for how it takes into account both his unpretentiousness and the performance aspect of what he did. The very fi rst words I wrote in my notes toward this article were “When will Andy Warhol stop being fascinating?” Then I thought, “It’s actually his art form: creating fascination. He wanted to be talked about and he succeeded.” In fact he said that himself, more or less, about his movies, in an interview just before he died: “They’re better talked about than seen.” And in connection with the “artiste” concept, he also said in that fi nal interview, “I think an artist is anybody who does something well, like if you cook well.” Compare this Oxford English Dictionary defi nition of “artiste”: “A public performer who appeals to the aesthetic faculties, also one who makes a ‘fi ne art’ of his employment.” Since Warhol’s death in 1987 a lot of attention has been given to his pre-Pop work—his late1940s student paintings, his ’50s commercial art (book jackets, advertising drawings), and the personal work he made for friends and to charm art directors (handmade books, handbill calling cards). It’s unusual for an artist’s juvenilia to get so much attention; presumably it’s both because Warhol’s major work has been so thoroughly covered and because he’s so mysterious that every clue matters. The Whitney show follows the pattern. That early work is fey, whimsical, tending to exquisite, and campy, featuring ornate, rococo, highly stylized painting, collage, and drawing— of shoes, often—with shiny metal foil and gold leaf frequently pasted on, and spare Cocteau-esque portrait line drawings that are usually traced from photographs. A lot of the drawings are a bit lewd, in a whimsical way—as a student Warhol would draw people picking their noses and sitting on the

BUT THE MOST SIGNIFICANT WAY THE ’50S WORK ANTICIPATES THE FAMOUS ART IS ITS OVERALL CAMPINESS. IN THAT STATE OF AESTHETIC AND PHILOSOPHICAL CONSCIOUSNESS, ALL ARTISTS ARE ARTISTES, CHARM AND GLAMOUR MATTER MOST, AND EVERYTHING IS FUNNY.

100

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 100

25/01/2019 09:58


Previous spread: Andy Warhol, Green Car Crash, 1963 (detail), acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen, 90 × 80 inches (228.6 × 203.3 cm). Private collection. Photo: Rob McKeever Left: Andy Warhol, Otto Fenn, c. 1952, ink on paper, 11 × 8 ½ inches (27.9 × 21.6 cm). Collection of Joe Donnelly Opposite: Andy Warhol, Foot with Dollar Bills, c. 1955–57, ballpoint pen on paper, 17 × 13 ¾ inches (43.2 × 34.9 cm). Collection of James Warhola

toilet, and the ’50s drawings include such things as a penis with a bow around it. At fi rst, little seems to connect all this work to Warhol’s ’60s Pop, but the more one sees of it the more one sees links, both conceptual and technical. Conceptually there’s the humor. The ’50s art is usually teasing and jokey (a handmade picture book is called 25 Cats Name [sic] Sam and One Blue Pussy), which you could also say of his famous grid of thirty-two paintings of Campbell’s soup cans, each a different fl avor, from 1962. It’s just that the Soup Cans are dry and enigmatic, as befi ts “high” art. Also the hero worship—Warhol was obsessed with Truman Capote in the ’50s—and the fascination with celebrities, especially dramatic women, lounge-lizard artistes, and sultry pretty boys. The ’50s line-drawing portraits are traced from photos, a technique obviously antecedent to the silk screens, and their cosmetically improved contour lines foreshadow the same in the post-’60s portraits. But the most significant way the ’50s work anticipates the famous art is its overall campiness. In that state of aesthetic and philosophical consciousness, all artists are artistes, charm and glamour matter most, and everything is funny. Of course camp is associated with male homosexuality, at least the “effeminate”-behaving segment of it, and with seeing life as a performance; nothing is real, everything is theater.

[OSCAR] WILDE IS AMUSING BUT HIS PEARLS ARE TALK, QUIPS, NOT POETRY. ANDY’S ARE OBJECTS, AND THEY ARE POETRY THAT ENLIGHTENS AND STIMULATES ALONG WITH, AS ULTIMATELY HANDMADE OBJECTS, HAVING THEIR OWN AURA.

101

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 101

25/01/2019 09:58


PART OF CAMP IS ITS TOOMUCHNESS, AS SONTAG POINTED OUT, AND THE WHITNEY’S HANG OF AGGRESSIVELY COLORED FLOWER PAINTINGS ON TOP OF WARHOL’S FUCHSIA-ANDACID-YELLOW COW WALLPAPER FROM 1966 SURE QUALIFIES. The original great analysis of and salute to camp is Susan Sontag’s “Notes on ‘Camp,’” fi rst published in 1964. It’s dedicated to Oscar Wilde and he is quoted in it a lot, for good reason— Wilde’s art and thought may be the work prior to Warhol that best exemplifi es or codifi es conscious camp. Two quotes of Wilde from the essay: “It’s absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious,” and “Life is too important a thing ever to talk seriously about it.” Sontag divides “the great creative sensibilities” into three categories: “high-culture,” truth-andbeauty, morally serious art—Rembrandt, say; then the often fragmentary work of extreme feelings in which there’s a tension between morality and aesthetics—Hieronymus Bosch, she proposes, along with writers such as Antonin Artaud, Alfred Jarry, and Franz Kafka (I might add for twentieth-century artists, say, Hans Bellmer or Egon Schiele); and, next, a third class, camp, which is purely aesthetic. (One could dispute this division of taste or artistic identity into three categories, but it makes enough sense for my purposes here.) Warhol synthesizes Sontag’s high-art and camp categories, and this, it seems to me, is the key to the diffi cult mix of his qualities, methods, and intentions. He’s consciously camp, as everyone has known forever, but transcendentally so, as opposed to, say, the consciously camp Aubrey Beardsley. Warhol can’t be reduced to camp; he has elevated camp to high art. Maybe that’s the wave of the future, a future that may be short-lived for humans, and one in which consciousness of morality becomes meaningless because nothing is real. Everyone does what he or she must do in the mechanistic and random universe (“I want to be a machine,” Warhol said), and reality is a show since we can only perceive what our limited faculties permit, eliminating the possibility of knowing “reality” except as show. (Sontag writes that camp sees everything in quotation marks.) Here I should acknowledge a distinction between what Sontag means by “high,” “moralistic” art and another common use of the term “high

art,” which is simply to distinguish fully ambitious art—art profoundly concerned with how things are—from commercial or decorative or otherwise more practical art. (The category-two artists Bosch, Bellmer, and Schiele are certainly high artists in that sense.) And the point is that Warhol’s camp achievement fits this second “high” defi nition too— he made commercial, decorative art into high art. I have to admit that I’m among the majority who feel like Warhol’s fi rst period of Pop painting, from 1962 to 1966, is his peak, though he stayed inventive to the end. The next most interesting thing about his work is the sheer range of mediums he improved—books, movies, magazines, sculpture, fashion, even rock ’n’ roll—and the third simply his fame and consequent cultural impact. When I walked into the room of his earliest Pop paintings at the Whitney, my heart skipped a beat; it was eerie, uncanny. We assume that those images

102

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 102

25/01/2019 09:58


Opposite, above: Installation view of Andy Warhol – From A to B and Back Again, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, November 12, 2018–March 31, 2019. From left to right, top to bottom: Flowers, 1964; Flowers, 1964; Flowers, 1964; Flowers, 1964; Flowers, 1964; Flowers, 1964; Flowers, 1964; Flowers, 1964; Flowers, 1964; Flowers, 1964; Flowers, 1964; Flowers, 1964; Flowers, 1964; Flowers, 1964; Flowers, 1964; Flowers, 1964; Flowers, 1964; Flowers, 1964; Flowers, 1964; Flowers, 1964; Flowers, 1964; Flowers, 1964; Flowers, 1964; Flowers, 1964; Flowers, 1964; Flowers [Large Flowers], 1964-65. Photo: Ron Amstutz

Opposite, below: Installation view of Andy Warhol – From A to B and Back Again, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, November 12, 2018–March 31, 2019. From left to right: Silver Marlon, 1963; Triple Elvis [Ferus Type], 1963; Single Elvis [Ferus Type], 1963; Large Sleep, 1965; Marilyn Diptych, 1962. Photo: Ron Amstutz Above: Andy Warhol, Flowers, 1964, fluorescent paint and silkscreen ink on linen, 24 × 24 inches (61 × 61 cm). The Art Institute of Chicago; Gift of Edlis/ Neeson Collection, 2015.123

are so familiar we already know them completely, but seeing countless reproductions of the various Soup Cans over the decades did not prepare me for the magnifi cence of the grid—eight across, four high—of the originals in person. The outrageousness: he proposes soup cans and they take your breath away. They are glorious, and on levels and in areas pretty much unknown in art before Warhol, at least in their diversity, being at the same time: seemingly exact, unadorned reproductions of existing, anonymous, commercial art; semimechanically produced high-art paintings; grid Minimalism; Conceptualism; the humor of high banality . . . and history painting: it’s the “American century” on the wall. Wilde is amusing but his pearls are talk, quips, not poetry. Andy’s are objects, and they are poetry that enlightens and stimulates along with, as ultimately handmade objects, having their own aura; they’re like something in nature made new to our eyes by a person, a godlike person: the pope of Pop. Same goes for the 1964–65 Flowers, Warhol’s version of art history’s “nature,” I suppose. Part of camp is its too-muchness, as Sontag pointed out,

and the Whitney’s hang of aggressively colored flower paintings on top of Warhol’s fuchsia-and-acid-yellow cow wallpaper from 1966 sure qualifies. The way that wall subverts your expectations of art while making jokes and deliriously confounding your eyes is like a fi nal declaration of indomitable whimsicality that’s simultaneously a kind of alarm, a call to attention, a theatrical gesture that you can only savor and salute, as you smile. It’s not quite in the class of the Soup Cans or the Disasters (mostly 1963), but the pure beauty of the Flowers on their own equals the Soup Cans in their adamantine splendor. The Disaster paintings bring me to another point: the way Warhol seemed to want to make everything about his daily life into art. He aestheticized—again a camp impulse—his whole life, mundane or dramatic: his lunch (soup), his continuous magazine-page fl ipping (celebrity silk screens) and newspaper thumbing (the news-photo Disasters), his cohort and entourage (the movies), even his mail (the time capsules) and his corporeal being (the wigs and shades, cosmetic surgery). At all times, though, he was both being funny and 103

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 103

25/01/2019 09:58


OVER AND OVER, WARHOL SAID NOT JUST THAT EVERYTHING IS NOTHING BUT THAT EVERYTHING IS GOOD. THE IDEA THAT EVERYTHING IS GOOD IS THE ESSENCE OF POP AS CONCEIVED BY WARHOL. IT’S QUITE ZEN. seeking to profi t from publicity, whether or not a viewer might also feel other emotions and intentions. Even the Disasters, which can feel chilling and are often thought of as personally revealing—since it’s well known that Warhol was wildly skittish about any reminder of death—are also funny. Tunafi sh Disaster—four women die from eating bad tunafi sh??? There are eyewitness stories about him laughing about it while silk-screening. In Ambulance Disaster, ambulance passengers are crushed when it crashes (think about it); Suicide (Fallen Body) is from a news photo of a woman whose leap from the observation deck of the Empire State Building ended with her looking like Sleeping Beauty, sweetly wrapped, face up, in the roof of a car—these are jokes. It’s all camp, no matter that it’s also powerful art. I’ve seen Chelsea Girls projected three times— once in the ’60s or ’70s, then six or seven years ago, then 2018. I don’t well remember the first time; the second time I came away awed by how Warhol had managed to reinvent fi lm the way he had

so many other mediums; and this most recent time I was so repelled and bored by the people in it I could hardly sit through it. This brings up the moral-v.-camp sensibility again. By “moral” I just mean an artist’s taking life seriously, thinking that in life there’s some kind of meaningful purpose, including compassionate values about how people treat each other; honor and the golden rule. In a way an artwork is simply an artist saying, “I propose this as interesting,” and the assumption is that that inevitably has moral implications. Camp sidesteps the moral part. Sontag makes one brief parenthetic reference to Pop in her essay:* having described camp

* It’s funny that Warhol’s and Pat Hackett’s book Popism: The Warhol Sixties (1980) briefly mentions Sontag’s essay, but rather than saying it contrasts camp with her two other categories—“high” moral art and fragmentary art of extreme feeling—Andy says the essay is about “the differences between high, middle, and low ‘camp’”!

104

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 104

25/01/2019 09:58


Opposite, above: Andy Warhol, Before and After [4], 1962, acrylic and graphite on linen, 72 18 ∕ × 99 ¾ inches (183.2 x 253.4 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from Charles Simon, 71.226 Opposite, below: Andy Warhol, The Chelsea Girls, 1966, 16mm film, black and white, color, silent, sound, 204 minutes in double screen © 2018 The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA, a museum of Carnegie Institute. All rights reserved. Film still courtesy The Andy Warhol Museum

Above: Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, 1979, acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen, 40 × 40 inches (101.6 × 101.6 cm). The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; Founding Collection, contribution Dia Center for the Arts 1997.1.11b

as “a tender feeling” (her italics), she contrasts it with much of camp in Pop art, which she calls “ultimately nihilistic,” the implication being that the nihilism disqualifies the work as camp. It’s true there’s not much tenderness in Chelsea Girls; rather, the material is deeply cold and bitchy. For me the cruelty and hysteria are hard to swallow, and make me uncomfortable and depressed, but I think that’s my problem rather than Warhol’s, because: 1) you can call the meanness tender in that the people involved all seem to accept it, as if ultimately it were a fun game played by people who appreciated each other; but also, 2), a nihilistic reading of camp, contrary to Sontag, can be legitimate. Over and over Warhol said that everything is just nothing, but he is exhibit one for how that idea is consistent with camp. In Chelsea Girls he’s simply capturing the theatrical behavior, often enacted by pretty people, that he both participated in and voyeuristically relished in the hard-drug-driven underworld he hosted for the first years of his fame. That world of junkies and camping speed freaks deserves its portraitist as much as any other world, and, like sensationalist news

stories and Hollywood glamour, it was just raw material for Warhol to turn into high art in his innovative ways. He did falter when he narrowed his intentions down to “business art.” The corporate logos, dollar signs, and pulpy signage (“Repent and sin no more!”) he painted in his fi nal years are not in a class with the Soup Cans. Their typical emphatic, hand-painted look doesn’t have the power of the original, more remote, impassive appropriations in the ’60s. The pictures get shrill and desperate feeling, or just soft. The colors aren’t as interesting. Images are just scattered across white canvas. The early grids worked better. The countless perfunctory-feeling commissioned portraits—maybe he just got tired. It feels like he’s simply staying on brand, albeit dilutedly. And sometimes even appearing to try to keep up stylishly with the ’80s youth boom in painting—such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and David Salle and David Wojnarowicz—which artists had inevitably been infl uenced by him. Of course, the profi t motive was always present. Something I hadn’t realized, and that was noted in the Whitney show, is how he timed his 105

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 105

25/01/2019 09:58


Left: Andy Warhol, Big Electric Chair, 1967–68, acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen, 54 ¼ × 73 ¼ inches (137.5 × 186.1 cm). The Art Institute of Chicago; Gift of Edlis/Neeson Collection, 2015.128 Below: Richard Hell, Legs McNeil, and Andy Warhol, 1976. Photo: Roberta Bayley/ Redferns/Getty Images Artworks © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Photos: Courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, unless otherwise noted.

first movie-star silk-screens to sensational news stories—Marilyn Monroe’s overdose death, Liz Taylor’s affair with Richard Burton—so that they would have built-in public interest. Whether consciously deliberated or not, this is true of painters since the cave people, who presumably painted wild game because that’s where their attention was. But modernism had been pretty contemptuous of the aim to satisfy taste, much less popular taste, and Warhol was the first modern high artist to contradict that contempt—while of course realizing that almost everybody would laugh at the Soup Cans as ridiculous, but that they’d also talk about them, which would force dealers to recognize them and collectors to buy them. Over and over, Warhol said not just that everything is nothing but that everything is good. The idea that everything is good is the essence of Pop as conceived by Warhol. It’s quite Zen. But when Warhol starts doing it all to order—explicitly in the society portraits and commissioned portfolios (Endangered Species, Cowboys and Indians) or exploitively in commemoration (Moonwalk)—the work often suffers, feels rote. There is still great painting after the ’60s— the Skulls, the piss paintings, the Shadows, the Rorschachs, and more—and even some of the portraits and portfolio prints are very fi ne, with their Juan Gris interlocking geometrical patches in brilliantly unpredictable color combinations, patches of painterly brushstrokes here and there, and elegant cosmetic lines massaging the mix. But overall the level falls off. When I attended the press preview for the Whitney show in early November, I happened to recognize Bob Colacello standing with another Factory mainstay, Vincent Fremont, in the museum lobby. I introduced myself to ask a couple of questions; they were both very gracious. In Holy Terror Colacello had written that, of the sixteen sections of The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, Hackett wrote nine, he himself wrote four, Berlin wrote one, and one, the prologue, was by the three of them. That would leave one chapter by, supposedly, Warhol himself. I asked him how he could explain that, when the philosophy was so eccentric and personal. He conceded that Warhol had read and tuned up the

ms., had signed off on every page, and that much of the material came from recollections and sometimes recordings of Andy’s conversation, but he insisted that 95 percent of the book was written by the ghostwriters. I don’t know quite what to make of it. I guess it isn’t quite as dramatic as it seemed at fi rst, when I could only fi gure that Warhol was so pithy and comprehensive and indelible, not to mention faithful to his readjustment of the concept of originality, that he could confi dently assign to others the labor of detailing, in the fi rst person, his worldview across a whole 241-page book. It still seemed like a unique achievement. What precedents are there? The Bible, I guess.**

** As I continued to wonder about this, it occurred to me that plenty of books recount the conversation of notable people—books of “table talk” by such as Samuel Coleridge or Orson Welles. I suppose The Philosophy is a Warholian twist on this tradition.

106

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 106

25/01/2019 09:58


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 107

17/01/2019 17:24


INTIMATE GRANDEUR: Paul Goldberger tracks the evolution of Mitchell and Emily Rales’s Glenstone Museum in Potomac, Maryland. Set amid 230 acres of pristine landscape and housing a world-class

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 108

17/01/2019 17:24


GLENSTONE MUSEUM

collection of modern and contemporary art, this graceful complex of pavilions, designed by architects Thomas Phifer and Partners, opened to the public in the fall of 2018.

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 109

17/01/2019 17:24


W

hen Mitchell Rales opened the fi rst section of his private museum on the grounds of a former fox-hunting club in Potomac, Maryland, in 2006, he referred to it as “miles away from the nearest museum” and said that “Glenstone will, I hope, become a destination for lovers of art, and its location will not detract from the experience, but add to its distinct character.” The beginnings of Glenstone were hardly modest: Rales commissioned the architect Charles Gwathmey to design a 23,000-square-foot gallery structure on the lush, rolling hills of the 150-acre property, along with a house for him, and the gallery opened with an exhibition that included significant works by Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Franz Kline, Alberto Giacometti, Cy Twombly, Ellsworth Kelly, Alexander Calder, Donald Judd, and Willem de Kooning, all from Rales’s collection of postwar art. What appeared in the Maryland countryside back then, however, barely hinted at what was to follow.

Over the following decade, Rales and his curator, Emily Wei—who became his wife in 2008— would build Glenstone into one of the most unusual private museums in the country, with a series of in-depth exhibitions of the work of artists such as Fred Sandback, Roni Horn, and Peter Fischli and David Weiss, as well as commissioned sculptures by Kelly, Richard Serra, Jeff Koons, Andy Goldsworthy, and the estate of Tony Smith for the meticulously landscaped grounds. Glenstone quickly earned a reputation within the art world as a place that treated contemporary art with the gravitas, not to say the connoisseurship, of an academic institution rather than with the self-indulgence typical of many private museums established by wealthy collectors. Rales, a billionaire who made his fortune through the Danaher Corporation, a conglomerate that owns numerous industrial and technology companies, deliberately did not name the museum after himself: the name is an amalgam of the address, on Glen Road, and the area’s historical role as home to several stone quarries. The idea from the beginning was to focus on the art, not the collector, and to give the place a tone that

110

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 110

17/01/2019 17:24


was discreet and quiet, where the only thing that might possibly compete with the art was nature. Glenstone, like its founder, made a point of staying below the radar. It is below the radar no more. Last fall, Mitch and Emily Rales unveiled to the world a vastly expanded Glenstone, which has grown from Gwat h me y ’s me d iu m-s i z e d g a l ler y i nto a 170,000-square-foot museum, nearly the size of the Whitney in New York. Although it is permanently endowed by the Raleses and will contain their collection in perpetuity, it is now less a private gallery than a full-fledged museum. If anything, Glenstone 2.0 is even more single-minded in its commitment to treating art created since 1945 with both scholarly reverence and curatorial respect. And its patrons by choice remain, if not nearly invisible as before, very much in the background. The level of architectural ambition has ramped up, too. Gwathmey died in 2009, after making preliminary sketches for the expanded museum the Raleses were just beginning to think about at that point; feeling that his ideas were insufficiently developed to be completed by anyone else, they decided to start all over again, embarking on a search that brought them to the New York–based architect Thomas Phifer, whose pristine, elegant buildings of glass had brought him wide respect but who at that time had done only one major museum, the North Carolina Museum of Art. (Full disclosure: I served as advisor to the Raleses in their search for an architect in (010.) Ph i fer, who once worked for Gwat h mey, designed the new Glenstone in the form of a series of discrete concrete boxes arranged around a glass-enclosed courtyard with a reflecting pool. All but one of these galleries are devoted to the work of a single artist. The Gwathmey structure remains as a secondary exhibit space, designated The Gallery; in recognition of the new building’s villagelike arrangement of eleven separate galleries that read almost as distinct buildings, it is called The Pavilions. The program has also been expanded to include conservation areas, offices, and storage facilities, none of which was available in the original building. Completing the expansion are two additional structures, one a small café, the other an entry pavilion and bookstore.

T hat t he prog ra m for t he new Glenstone required a separate entry pavilion tells as much, in its way, about how this institution has evolved as anything about its exhibit spaces. Mitchell Rales had always cited the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, outside Copenhagen, as one of the museums he most admired, in part because of its integration of art, modern architecture, and landscape, and Glenstone’s pristine landscape, designed by Peter Walker and Adam Greenspan of PWP, has been part of the allure of a visit from the early days. But how to preserve the sense of quietude, of peace and calm, when the museum was more than quadrupling in size and the expected visitor count going from a few thousand a year to roughly a hundred thousand? Part of the solution was to limit visitors to 4)) at any one time through prereserved time slots, but to be on the safe side, the Raleses also decided to add more nature to Glenstone as well as more architecture. They expanded the property to (3) acres, purchasing not only adjacent empty land but also several lots already developed with McMansions, which they proceeded to tear down. Then Phifer, working with Walker and Greenspan, designed a site plan that reoriented the property to create a new visitors’ entrance that keeps cars far away from the museum itself. The f irst impression of Glenstone is not of a museum at all, but of a huge country estate, with a long entry drive leading to several discreet parking areas, each set into the landscape and named for a different tree. Beside the third small lot is Phifer’s crisply elegant arrival pavilion, a domestically scaled hint of the larger architectural experience to come. The museum itself is nowhere visible. You begin a walk through an exquisite meadow of tall grasses that curves across a bridge over a small stream, and then bends again, at which point, in the distance, the sharply outlined forms of Phifer’s museum come into view, a cluster of small gray boxes set into the far hillside, only to disappear again as the pathway curves. It is a moment of quiet, intense drama that pulls you forward. The walk, which takes a few minutes (there are golf carts for those who cannot approach on foot), is like no approach to any other museum anywhere, including the Louisiana. You are fully immersed in nature, and only the view of Koons’s Split-Rocker

Previous spread and above: Glenstone Museum. Photo: Thomas Phifer Opposite: Jeff Koons, Split-Rocker, 2000, stainless steel, soil, geotextile fabric, internal irrigation system, and live flowering plants, 37 × 39 × 36 feet (11.3 × 11.9 × 11 m) © Jeff Koons. Photo: Courtesy Glenstone Museum

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 111

17/01/2019 17:24


2

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 112

17/01/2019 17:24


Opposite: Michael Heizer, Compression Line, 1968/2016, A588 steel, 75 × 10 × 9 ½ feet (22.9 × 3 × 2.9 m) © 2018 Michael Heizer. Photo: Eric Piasecki Right: Michael Heizer, Collapse, 1967/2016, A588 steel, 36 × 24 × 16 feet (11 × 7.3 × 4.9 m) © 2018 Michael Heizer. Photo: Eric Piasecki

(()))), an immense floral sculpture that is itself a kind of conceit built around nature, competes with the soft, flowing landscape. And then the museum is visible again, this time larger and closer up, and you can see the delicate balance of the composition of boxes tall and short, horizontal and vertical, and the silvery-gray surface of the concrete, too rough to be smooth, too smooth to be rough: an arrival that manages at once to be monumental and understated. The façade is made of poured-concrete blocks, each one foot high, one foot deep, and six feet long, and they are stacked like huge Roman bricks, with quarter-inch open joints, a proportion that gives the building both texture and scale. The unusual size was carefully chosen to be neither too large nor too small, and to underscore the way in which the building bridges grandeur and intimacy. The path rises slightly as it approaches the main entry, which is actually on the roof of the gallery and offi ce level. There is a view down to one of Glenstone’s special pieces, Michael Heizer’s Compression Line (1968/()/6), set into the ground beside the museum. An entry pavilion leads you into a

hall that is quiet and formal, with only a wall piece by Lawrence Weiner and a wide stone staircase down to the main gallery level. The experience of the stair, tall and narrow, is counterintuitive, since as you descend you move to more, not less, daylight, and toward less enclosure as the space opens up again and the vista of the water court, with its ref lecting pool planted with lilies and rushes, reveals itself. The stair is really the second part of the processional movement toward art that began with the walk from the arrivals building: fi rst you go across the landscape, and then you descend the staircase, an act that feels like burrowing into the earth but in fact turns out to be one of revelation: with the art is light. You descend to metaphorically rise. And there begins the sequence of galleries, set around the water court. The pavilions are connected by an interior passageway, twelve feet high and varying from fi fteen to twenty-four feet wide, with walls of glass facing the water court, so that the minimalist landscape and the shimmering surface of the reflecting pool are always in view as you 3

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 113

17/01/2019 17:24


4

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 114

17/01/2019 17:24


5

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 115

17/01/2019 17:24


Previous spread: Richard Serra, Contour 290, 2004, weatherproof steel, 15’ 9 ½” × 223’ 2” × 2” (4.8 m × 68 m × 5.1 cm) © 2018 Richard Serra/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Lorenz Kienzle Above: Brice Marden, Moss Sutra with the Seasons, 2010–15, oil on linen, five panels, overall: 108 × 468 inches (274.3 × 1188.7 cm) © 2018 Brice Marden/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Ron Amstutz courtesy Glenstone Museum Opposite: Room 11 in the Glenstone Pavilions. Cy Twombly installation view. Artworks © Cy Twombly Foundation. Photo: Ron Amstutz, courtesy Glenstone

Following spread: Richard Serra, Sylvester, 2001, weatherproof steel, torqued spiral, overall: 13’ 7” × 41’ × 31’ 8” (4.1 × 12.5 × 9.7 m), plates: 2” (5.1 cm) thick © 2018 Richard Serra/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Lorenz Kienzle

move from pavilion to pavilion, and there is always some degree of spatial change: since the pavilions themselves vary in width, depth, and height, the passageway is not a simple or straight corridor but a spatial experience that varies just enough to maintain a sense of surprise, but never so much as to disrupt the sense of serenity that, at Glenstone, only the art is expected to challenge. The fi rst pavilion, the largest, is designed for temporar y exhibitions, and Emily Rales has curated the inaugural show of highlights from the couple’s collection. It begins with the classic Abstract Expressionism that Mitchell Rales fi rst collected: the fi rst section contains, among other things, a magnificent /957 Kline and Pollock’s Number 1, from /95(—and moves on to Rothko, Judd, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Sol LeWitt, Frank Stella, Andy Warhol, Agnes Martin, Bruce Nauman, Barbara Kruger, and more contemporary pieces by David Hammons, Martin Kippenberger, and Rosemarie Trockel, among others. It is a majestic and powerful survey of the second half of the twentieth century.

The other pavilions are permanent or quasi-permanent installations, in most cases the work of a single artist. The spaces are designed in response to the needs of the pieces themselves, which are mostly of more recent vintage than the art in the fi rst pavilion. The fi rst is more of a light tower than a full gallery, a small, thirty-six-foot-high room holding the Japanese conceptual artist On Kawara’s Moon Landing triptych (/969), which marks the key dates of the Apollo lunar mission and is one of the few of the artist’s Date Paintings intended to work as a set. Next is a large pavilion of more conventional height with a large installation by Robert Gober that includes a mural of a forest and eight industrial sinks with their faucets running; then a roofless pavilion with a powerful Heizer work, Collapse, an extraordinary installation consisting of fi fteen steel beams installed at seemingly random angles over an open rectangular pit. The sequence of pavilions continues with a room containing a video and sound installation by Pipilotti Rist, Ever Is Over All (/997); a pavilion

6

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 116

17/01/2019 17:24


117

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 117

25/01/2019 10:08


for Charles Ray, whose fi fteen-ton sculpture Baled Truck (()/4) required shoring up of the concrete wall from below; Brice Marden’s Moss Sutra with the Seasons (()/)–/5), a five-panel painting specifically commissioned for the space; Lygia Pape’s /96/ Book of Time, a wall of 365 small abstract reliefs; and a pavilion devoted to Twombly that contains none of his well-known paintings but, instead, five of his lesser-known, elegant sculptures. All of the pavilions are lit by natural light, controlled differently depending on the height, proportions, and artistic needs of each space. Roughly midway in the sequence there is an opportunity to take a break and step onto a platform within the water court, and as an added counterpoint there is also a small pavilion with a wall of glass facing out to the landscape and containing a voluptuous, curving bench of cedar made by Martin Puryear and Michael Hurwitz. It doubles as a reading room, with maple paneling and a wall of books. Glenstone resembles no other contemporary museum, although Phifer’s exquisite detailing

and masterful ability to evoke at once lightness and gravitas make it hard not to think of Tadao Ando’s concrete, the sensuousness of which is almost equaled by Phifer’s more textured concrete blocks. There are echoes, too, of the resonance of Louis Kahn’s sublime combinations of wood and stone, as well as of his subtle use of natural light. But the museum that Glenstone really calls to mind, surprisingly, is one that would seem to be its exact opposite: John Russell Pope’s original building for the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, completed in /94/, an ode to classicism that, on the surface at least, comes from another world than Glenstone. And the art it contains is as different from Glenstone’s as its architectural style. But the two museums both possess a kind of majestic dignity that coexists with relaxed, easy movement, a combination rare in museums of any period. And they could both be considered to be exceptionally knowing essays on the processional nature of museum-going. Pope’s sumptuous galleries are set around garden

courts, like Phifer’s, and they vary in size and shape, both to accommodate different scales of painting and to allow the visitor a constant sense of visual and emotional relief. The architecture is powerful but the focus is nevertheless always on the art, and on the dialogue between the two: the architecture provides a setting that is simultaneously imposing, enlivening, and respectful. No museum for contemporary art has yet equaled the combination of dignity and grace that Pope achieved, or provided the same combination of serenity and energy. Phifer’s museum, like Pope’s, is built on the idea that museum design is about movement more than stasis, yet he understood, like Pope, that the architect has to serve the pleasures of contemplation as much as the idea of movement. At the National Gallery of Art, Pope built the greatest museum building of the mid-twentieth century, swathed in classical garb; at Glenstone, Phifer has reinterpreted it for the twenty-fi rst century—and, in so doing, has made one of the triumphant museum buildings of our time.

8

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 118

17/01/2019 17:24


USM MODULAR FURNITURE

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 119

USM.COM

17/01/2019 17:24


RICHARD ARTSCHWAGER On the occasion of Richard Artschwager: Primary Sources, recently on view at Gagosian, New York, Bob Monk and Maggie Dougherty explore the artist’s use of reference materials as the impetus for his paintings. Borrowing from his studio archive, the exhibition set his newspaper and magazine clippings, sketches, personal photographs, to-scale mock-ups, and additional sources in conversation with a selection of related artworks.

Richard Artschwager, Arizona, 2002, acrylic on ˇber panel, in metal artistís frame, 26 × 22 inches (66 × 55.9 cm). Collection of Ed and Danna Ruscha

20

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 120

17/01/2019 17:24


s the starting point for many paintings, Richard Artschwager referenced found images. He also rendered works from careful observations of the world around him, or directly from his imagination, and in many instances he combined the three kinds of invention. The referents he used most often came in the form of reproductions cheaply printed in newspapers and magazines, images consumed by many yet meticulously examined by few. Using a methodical Renaissance drawing technique, Artschwager would begin most paintings by drafting a grid over his source image and then sketching it box by box onto an enlarged gridded surface.1 Rather than traditional canvas, Artschwagerís support of choice was Celotex, an antiquated ˇ re-retardant building material made of sugarcane. He admired the insulation materialís variegated texture and characteristic patterns, which functioned to abstract his appropriated imagery. Muddled brushstrokes rendered forms without precise boundaries on the uneven surface, and the technique mimicked the blurred appearance of newsprintís halftone-dot images on an enlarged scale. Artschwagerís engagement with his reference materials was not simply a form of documentationóin fact, documentation may have been somewhat incidental. He was more compelled by the objectivity that the neutral-toned format of newsprint seemed to provide.2 As viewers, we find it almost impossible to ignore the content and context of what we see. It is

A

Richard Artschwagerís clipping from New York Times article, published Saturday, July 27, 2002

USS Arizona burning in Pearl Harbor, 1941. Image © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

human inclination to search for narrative meaning in images. This tension between Artschwagerís objective approach to picture making and a viewerís reading lends his work a unique vitality. To take a deep dive into the history and stories connected to his source materials can open up a world of connections and meanings beyond what we see. Does this probing elevate our experience of the work? Evaluation of such minutiae tends to push the work beyond the artistís intent. Given Artschwagerís voracious imagination and diverse intellectual curiosities, however, it seems fitting (at least in this case) to engage in an exercise of extrapolation. To begin our exploration, letís consider the iconic Arizona (2002). This haunting work borrows its composition from a well-known photograph of the bombing of the battleship USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Although the attack occurred during the artistís lifetime, just short of his eighteenth birthday, he did not paint this traumatic scene until over half a century later. Rather than going to a vintage news source, he used an image reproduced in an issue of the New York Times published in 2002, in an article drawing parallels between the lack of military preparedness at Pearl Harbor and the terrorist attack of September

11, 2001, sixty years later.3 In both cases, the leaders of the US nation, ˇ rst President Franklin D. Roosevelt and later President George W. Bush, had to respond to the loss of many American lives, faced polarized climates in domestic politics, and chose to catapult the United States into large-scale wars overseas. These historical parallels lend the painting an undeniable portentous quality. Although Artschwager saw combat as a US soldier during World War II, and later experienced the tragedy of 9/11 along with the rest of the American public, his image does not seem charged with the emotions or opinions of its maker. Instead, the sinking ship is rendered on the artistís signature textured support in an almost impressionistic manner. Up close, it is easy to get lost in the complexity of the painted surface, on which the image is barely recognizable. Take a step back and the faint silhouette of the ship starts to appear as a shadow or a ghost, becoming clearer only with distance, like history itself. A decade earlier, Artschwager painted another military scene, altering his source imagery more overtly. Tank (1991) shows an M-1 tank driving toward us through a hazy landscape. A soldier looks out from the turret and a witnessing figure stands in the foreground.

Artschwager fills this equivocal context with formal dynamism. One of the largest of the artistís paintings, Tank is over ten feet wide, and its imposing size enhances the drama of the scene. A single yellow headlight shines at the compositionís center, serving as an unexpected visual focal point. A matrix of bold, protruding orthogonal lines fractures the picture plane, creating both a physical boundary and a conceptual distance between viewer and subject. The decorative thus subdues the primacy of the ˇgurative, calling attention to the workís surface and tactility. The imagery comes from a documentary photograph, but its narrative is abstracted: meaning is derived from the observer, not declared by the observed. As with Arizona, the source image for Tank was clipped from the New York Times. The headline of the story it accompanied, from May 21, 1990, emphatically reads ìArmy and Air Force Fix Sights On the Changing Face of War.î The article details the waning Soviet threats to the United States during the tail end of the Cold War. At the time, the US Army was reducing the size of its heavy armored-combat units in Europe and creating a more versatile ìfast reaction forceî able to deploy quickly anywhere in the world. One might assume that the tank in the photo shows

2

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 121

17/01/2019 17:24


Richard Artschwager, Tank, 1991, Formica and acrylic on ˇber panel and wood, in painted wood and Formica artistís frame, 83 × 121 inches (210.8 × 307.4 cm). Collection The Broad Art Foundation, Los Angeles. Photo: Dorothy Zeidman

American troops in battle, but the newspaperís caption tells us that it was actually engaged in a military exercise in West Germany in 1987.4 What the viewer sees, then, is the illusion of war (or the ìface of war,î as the headline reads) rather than a moment in military history. What you see is not what you think you seeóthe eyes betray the mind. Removed from its context, the image of the tank, with all the symbolic associations that accompany it, takes on its own visual potency, rife with ambiguity. In addition to using his grid method to transpose this picture into painting, Artschwager made extra effort to study his eponymous subject, drawing many sketches of tanks and even taking Polaroids of a toy tank. Even when Artschwager was painting people, his newsprint references allowed him to maintain an emotional distance. Such is the case with Timothy McVeigh, the allusive protagonist of two of Artschwagerís most unnerving pictures. McVeigh is best known by his epithet ìThe Oklahoma City Bomber.î In April of 1995, he was responsible for detonating a truck packed with explosives in front of the Federal Building in downtown

Richard Artschwagerís clipping from New York Times article published Monday, May 21, 1990. Source image: United States Army

122

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 122

17/01/2019 17:32


Richard Artschwagerís clipping from New York Times article published Thursday, May 4, 1995. Source image: United States Army

Oklahoma City, killing 168 civilians. Until the attack of 9/11, the Oklahoma City bombing was the most devastating terrorist attack in US history. Unlike the airplane hijackers of 2001, the culprits in Oklahoma City were not a foreign threat but came from within. In the group portrait Natural Selection (1995), McVeigh stands with his basic-training platoon in Fort Benning, Georgia. All wear military fatigues, and McVeighís face is blank and serious, so that he recedes into the anonymity of the crowd. Not yet infamousóan enemy to his country deemed worthy of the death sentenceóMcVeigh appears in Natural Selection as a dutiful soldier. Only with knowledge of the abhorrent act he would commit after the source photograph for this painting was taken does the sinister context of this otherwise banal group portrait come to light. Although working in the same year as the Oklahoma City bombing, Artschwager presented his subject in a remote, objective manner similar to his treatment of Arizona, created a half century after the event depicted. Painted a year after Natural Selection, Untitled is another portrait of McVeigh. Artschwager once again used his oblique grisaille style, but this time he showed McVeighís sunken eyes and austere expression close up, suggesting a disquieting emotional disengagement on his subjectís part. Artschwager extracted his source image from another New York Times story, this one headlined ìA Life of Solitude and Obsessionî and written by Robert D. McFadden.5

Published on May 4, 1995, as the investigation of the Oklahoma City bombing was still in progress, this psychologically probing proˇ le of McVeigh chronicles his life up until the bombing. McFadden states no position on McVeigh, but his negative opinion is clear. Neither

Natural Selection nor Untitled, on the other hand, reveals the artistís attitude toward his controversial subject. Neither contains any overt visual clues about McVeighís history (other than his military service). The titles of the paintings are similarly ambiguous: they do

not identify McVeigh, or even hint at the context of the Oklahoma City bombing. Instead, the artist provides the elusive title Natural Selection for the viewerís gestation. By referencing the language of Charles Darwin, Artschwager likens McVeigh more to a specimen, controlled by the laws of evolution, than a man responsible for his own choices. Seeing him through a scientiˇcally objective lens, one might rationalize his motivation as the direct result of his environment. This is certainly one interpretive option: to view McVeigh not only as a ruthless killer but more complexly as a victim of circumstance. Natural Selection and Untitled invite viewers to contemplate the artifice of social constructs that justiˇes or makes allowances for certain behavior. Why do we reward the man who kills viciously in war but punish him for the same act in the name of his personal convictions? Unlike the extensive New York Times profile of McVeigh, Artschwagerís paintings do not aim to answer any of these hard questions. They instead remain apolitical and nonpedantic, receptive of diverse and even controversial interpretations. Along with the famous and infamous subjects Artschwager

Richard Artschwager, Natural Selection, 1995, acrylic on Celotex, in metal artistís frame, 28 ½ × 34 ½ inches (72.4 × 87.6 cm). Private collection

123

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 123

17/01/2019 17:32


captured in portraits, his group scenes of unidentiˇable faces are just as poignant and multifaceted. One such work, Night Watch (1999), portrays a throng of captive Jews interned at Drancy, near Paris, during World War II. Under the Vichy government, Drancy served as a holding pen from which approximately 76,000 Jews were sent to Nazi extermination camps, notably Auschwitz. The artistís title sets the atmosphere, as men, women, and children stand close together in the uncertainty of the night, awaiting their unforeseeable future. To add another layer of intrigue, we must also consider the unavoidable allusion to the masterpiece of Dutch painting that bears the same title, Rembrandtís Night Watch (1642). But where that work depicts promenading militia men bathed in dramatic light, Artschwagerís subjects are painted in unassuming tones of gray. Dramatic irony is the driving source of the tension in this picture: the unidentiˇed victims await a tragic fate, but cannot fully apprehend either the Holocaust itself or the monumental inf luence it would have in shaping the world for succeeding generations.

Yet the viewer, with historical prudence, knows how this catastrophic tale ends. As a soldier in the US military, Artschwager had experienced the horror of World War II ˇ rsthand. The image for his painting comes from a much later source, though, a New York Times article published in 1997, ìFrench Church Issues Apology to Jews on War.î The article, by Roger Cohen, reports an admission of responsibility by the Roman Catholic Church for French collaboration in the Holocaust. On the occasion of this public apology, Archbishop Olivier de Berranger of St.-Denis delivered a speech from the infamous Drancy in which he stated, ìNo society, no individual, can be at peace with himself if his past is repressed or dishonest. The time has come for the church to submit its own history . . . to a critical reading.î6 Until 1995, France had never ofˇcially conceded culpability for sending Jews to death camps. The archbishopís statement came right before the ˇ fty-seventh anniversary of a Vichy-regime declaration, on October 3, 1940, that set forth over 160 anti-Semitic laws. This decree paved the way for Jewish internment, resulting in

Richard Artschwagerís clipping from New York Times article published Wednesday, October 1, 1997. Source image: Worldview Pictures

the death of a quarter of Franceís Jewish population. The archbishopís speech was likewise given in apprehension of the trial of Maurice Papon, the ˇ rst senior ofˇcial of the Vichy government to stand trial for Holocaust crimes. At the age of eighty-seven, he was charged and convicted for the death of 1,560 Jews.7 Consideration of the subject matter of Night Watch in the context of

a news story afˇ rms its persisting relevance. Over ˇ fty years after the end of World War II, a Holocaust-related story made the front page of the New York Times. As in many of Artschwagerís paintings sourced from the news, the atrocities portrayed are offset by an undercurrent of compassion. Painted in a style radically divergent from that of Night Watch, a chaotic procession of bodies,

Richard Artschwager, Night Watch, 1999, charcoal and acrylic on ˇber panel and wood, in metal artistís frame, 49 × 74 ¾ × 3 inches (124.5 × 189.9 × 7.6 cm). Collection The Broad Art Foundation, Los Angeles

124

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 124

25/01/2019 10:08


barely legible as such, populates the surface of Excursion (2002). The melding forms, rendered with expressionistic strokes, could read as a group engaged in a leisure activity, a communal stroll or some kind of procession. Artschwager has chosen a strategy of obfuscation rather than illustration. Loose, gestural markings infuse the scene with surreal elements from the artistís imagination and transform the source image into something uniquely his own. The approach makes it hard to identify Excursion as a tragic scene of a population in exile: it is based on a photograph of the exodus of Arab citizens from a village near Haifa during the ˇ rst few months of Israelís formation, in 1948.8 The previous year, the United Nations had set forth a resolution to divide the land of Palestine and establish the Jewish state. Soon thereafter, soldiers from the Israel Defense Forces penetrated the region and bloody conˇ ict ensued, eventually generating the expulsion of over 70,000 Palestinian Arabs from Lydda (the Israeli Lod) and Ramle (Ramla). Their march of departure was part of what is today known as the Nakba, Arabic for ìdisasterî or ìcatastrophe.î9 Although Artschwagerís source image illustrates a speciˇc historical moment of Arabs vacating their homes, the anonymous marching group in Excursion could stand in for any community in exile. Once again for Artschwager, the work alludes to historical patterns of repetition. Just as the Holocaust imprisoned and massacred generations of European Jews, so did Zionism expel Arab citizens living in Palestine in 1948. As an American soldier in Europe during World War II, born to a Prussian-Protestant father and a Ukrainian-Jewish mother, Artschwager had a family lineage and personal history intimately tied to historical narratives of conˇ icting cultures and agendas. Despite his psychic and temporal distance from the scene he depicted, Excursion lives in the liminal space between his own story and a universal trope of conquest and suffering.10 News images are familiar, a visual idiom we see every day, yet they most often portray momentous events removed from our persona l l ives. T h is tension between the banal and the bewildering gives life to the artworks inspired by Artschwagerís primary sources. Unlike many politically engaged artists of his time, A rtschwager did not push an agenda or use art as a means of critique. Instead the work resolutely

Richard Artschwager, Excursion, 2002, acrylic on ˇber panel, in metal artistís frame, 48 ¼ × 50 inches (122.6 × 127 cm). Courtesy the artist and Xavier Hufkens, Brussels

holds a mirror up to the world. Artschwager also took inspiration from his immediate surroundings. Using his imagination and his expert draftsmanship, he transformed elements he extracted from quotidian environments into a world of fantastic narratives. In the mid-1970s, he began making drawings of six everyday objects in his studio and homeóa door, a window, a basket, a mirror, a rug, and a tableóthat he then combined in a multitude of conˇgurations. Continuing with this motif, and using grounds of Celotex and Formica, he created strange, beautiful landscapes using these images. The work of historical European artists served as a great source of inspiration for Artschwager as well. In particular, he appropriated the dramatic compositions of Tintoretto and the domestic scenes of …douard Vuillard, riffing on the masters with his own conceptual spin. In the case of Tintorettoís ìThe Rescue of the Body of St. Markî (1969), he mimicked the architectural setting and one-point perspective of Tintorettoís mammoth masterpiece

of the 1560s, in the Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan. In place of Tintorettoís dramatically posed subjects, however, Artschwager inserted oblique geometric shapes, with the one exception of St. Markís gestural hand. With this conceit he focused

the emotional intensity on a single ˇgurative element. The Artschwager work thus functions as a sort of visual treatise, deconstructing the formal elements that make Tintorettoís painting a ìsuccessfulî masterwork.

Women and children carrying their possessions in exodus from Lydda, Palestine, 1948. Image © Bettmann/Getty Images

125

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 125

17/01/2019 17:32


to consider in relation to Artschwagerís source-based paintings. Transforming his printed reference images into paint, and rendering them in his unique visual idiom, Artschwagerís pictures are liberated from the realm of documentary objectivity. Rather than capturing a ˇ xed moment, they conflate the artistís imagination with allusions to cyclical historical patterns that continue to repeat. The works thus resonate with enduring relevance.

Richard Artschwager, Tintorettoís ìThe Rescue of the Body of St. Markî, 1969, acrylic on Celotex, in metal artistís frame, 46 ½ × 51 ¼ inches (118.1 × 130.2 cm). Private collection

Artschwagerís alterations and subversions of Vuillard present a more nuanced result. Here, knowledge of Vuillardís own practice is essential to understanding Artschwagerís meta-artistic approach. The French artist was both an avid amateur photographer and a collector of photographs.11 Like many Post-Impressionist artists of his generation in Paris, he gravitated toward the handheld camera, a cutting-edge invention introduced by Kodak in 1888, paving the way for the proliferation of personal photography. Vuillard often used his own photographs as the starting point for paintings. As snapshots often do, his paintings capture intimate moments and are tinged with nostalgia. Reenvisioning familiar domestic scenes in oil was itself an act of remembrance. Artschwager followed in the same vein in his works inspired by Vuillard. Printed reproductions served as his reference. For Recollection (Vuillard) (2004), Artschwager gridded out a color reproduction of Vuillardís Family Lunch (1899) for easy transposition.12 The palette and composition of the resulting work at first appear quite

similar to Vuillardís painting, but Artschwager made key alterations. Where Vuillardís interior setting is animated by elaborately patterned walls and a crowded table setting, Artschwagerís is sparse and subdued. With the chaotic decorative elements edited out, the painting is ˇ lled with a languid stillness. Additionally, the male ˇgure at the left end of the table does not read a newspaper, as he does in Vuillardís original, but looks up, acknowledging his environment and the woman and infant opposite him. These subtle shifts in the ˇguresí comportment, and in their relations to their surroundings, lend the picture an uncanny atmosphere. In the magazine where Artschwager found the Vuillard image, the painting was overlaid with a text that reads, ìTurner predicted ëthe end of artí when photography was invented, but for the next-generation Nabi group it served as a vital aide-memoire.î This caption throws an interesting light on Artschwagerís version of the painting. As a self-proclaimed ìrecollectionî rather than a faithful copy of his source, Artschwagerís painting demonstrates the fallacy of memory.

The impression an artwork makes on usóthat which remains in our memory after the image has been registered by our eyesóis critical

1. See Bonnie Clearwater, Richard Artschwager: ìPaintingî Then and Now, exh. cat. (North Miami: Museum of Contemporary Art, 2003), p. 15. 2. Jennifer Gross, for example, writes that Artschwagerís ìrefusal of color conˇ rmed an interest in painting as a surface without the distractions of emotion and representation; gray removed sensation from pictures.î Gross, Richard Artschwager!, exh. cat. (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 2012), p. 9. 3. Kurt M. Campbell, ìThink Tank: In 1941, Too, a Wounded, Unprepared America Cast About for Blame,î New York Times, July 27, 2002. 4. Michael R. Gordon, ìArmy and Air Force Fix Sights on the Changing Face of War,î New York Times, May 21, 1990. 5. Robert D. McFadden, ìA Life of Solitude and Obsessions,î New York Times, May 4, 1995. 6. Archbishop Olivier de Berranger, in Roger Cohen, ìFrench Church Issues Apology to Jews on War,î New York Times, October 1, 1997. The Drancy photograph is one of the illustrations for this article. It had been previously published in Walter Goodman, ìFrench Role in Sending Jews to Death,î New York Times, December 7, 1994, in relation to the documentary Drancy: A Concentration Camp in Paris 1941ñ1944 (1994), directed by Stephen Trombley. 7. Cohen, ìFrench Church Issues

Tintoretto, Discovery of the Body of Saint Mark, 1562ñ66, oil on canvas, 156 × 157 ½ inches (396 × 400 cm). Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan

126

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 126

25/01/2019 10:08


Richard Artschwager, Recollection (Vuillard), 2004, acrylic on ˇber panel, in wood artistís frame, 51 × 74 inches (129.5 × 188 cm). Collection of Allison and Warren Kanders Apology to Jews on War.î 8. Artschwagerís source image, clipped from an unidentiˇed newspaper, is accompanied by the caption, ìHaifa, Israel, June 26, 1948. A month after the Jews proclaimed their state, Arab refugees moved, in part on foot, to Tulkarm, the West Bank.î 9. See Benny Morris, ìHaifaís Arabs: Displacement and Concentration, July 1948,î Middle East Journal 42, no. 2 (Spring 1988):241ñ45. 10. ìArtschwager recognizes that the meaning of the images he culls from newspapers will change over time. . . . Even when his source is speciˇc and timely, he aims for universality.î Clearwater, ìPaintingî Then and Now, p. 41. 11. See Elizabeth W. Easton, ed., Snapshot: Painters and Photography, Bonnard to Vuillard, exh. cat. for the Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, and the Indianapolis Museum of Art (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011), pp. 1ñ13. 12. The magazine from which Artschwager clipped his reproduction of Family Lunch (1899; also known as The Roussel Family at Table) has not been identiˇed. Richard Artschwager artwork © Richard Artschwager/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Photos: Rob McKeever unless otherwise noted

…douard Vuillard, The Family Lunch, 1899, oil on cardboard, 22 ¼ × 35 ¼ inches (58 × 91 cm). Private collection. Artwork © …douard Vuillard/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Patrice Schmidt, MusÈe d'Orsay, Paris © RMN Grand Palais/Art Resource, NY

127

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 127

17/01/2019 17:33


CHRIS BURDEN: AT A CROSSROAD Fred Hoffman reminisces about seeing the 1979 presentation of The Big Wheel and examines the work’s significance in relation to subsequent sculptures by the artist.

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 128

17/01/2019 17:33


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 129

17/01/2019 17:33


T

hroughout the 1970s, Chris Burden tested the limits of his body’s tolerance for discomfort, stress, and pain as part of an expansive performance practice that captivated the art world’s attention. Burden got off to a fast start with his master’s thesis at the University of California, Irvine, when his Five Day Locker Piece (1971) had him confi ned in a locker for five days. Seven months later he followed this work with Shoot ()97)), a piece in which he directed a fellow artist to shoot a rifl e bullet through his arm. A third early performance, Transfi xed ()974), had Burden essentially crucified on the back of a Volkswagen Beetle, a nail hammered through each palm. Burden’s performances of the )97,s set the bar, catapulting him to the forefront of this quickly emerging platform for cutting-edge contemporary art. Having demonstrated his identity as a maker of sculpture—though sculpture significantly removed from traditional concepts of the medium—and his commitment to advancing the dialogue of contemporary art, by the end of the decade Burden was ready to make a significant shift in his production. In )979, his sculptural works began to outnumber his performance pieces. In these fi rst sculptures, including The Reason for the Neutron Bomb, What the World Might Have Been, and The Big Wheel, motifs and interests that would continue throughout his career began to take shape. In )979, Burden exhibited The Big Wheel at the Rosamund Felsen Gallery in Los Angeles. The work comprises a 6,,,,-pound cast-iron flywheel mounted vertically on a wooden support structure of six-by-six-inch timbers. Accompanying this unexpected and mesmerizing object is a modified Italian Benelli 25, cc motorcycle, positioned in front of the flywheel. The back wheel of the bike is raised off the fl oor and suspended by a small wooden device. Upon inspection one realizes that the function of this device is to enable the bike’s back wheel to become engaged with the much larger flywheel. The venue of The Big Wheel ’s initial exhibition was a modest-sized gallery located down an alleyway off La Cienega Boulevard, a heavily trafficked street that was then the city’s gallery row. I recall that when I fi rst encountered the work, on the opening day of the exhibition in which it was fi rst shown, it was at rest; Burden and an assistant (most likely the future food critic Jonathan Gold, the artist’s assistant at the time) were huddled over the motorcycle, making some adjustments to its motor. Soon thereafter Burden mounted the bike and the engine was fi red up. The sound was overwhelming,

significantly enhanced by reverberation pounding against the confi nes of the room in which it stood, and heightened by the sheer improbability of having to deal with a roaring motorcycle in an art gallery. Burden slowly and methodically revved the engine, seeking to take the bike to its maximum capacity in fi rst, then second, then third gears, and fi nally opening the throttle full blast. As the speed of the engine increased, the artist maintained his total and undivided focus on achieving the maximum amount of horsepower from each gear. The sound was almost deafening. The experience was fascinating yet forbidding: while you were physically drawn to the power that this vehicle was creating, your ears rebelled against your eyes’ desire to witness this absorbing spectacle. As the bike’s back wheel generated torque, it was transferred to the flywheel, so that both increased speed in unison. Burden maintained the bike’s maximum speed in its highest gear for a couple of minutes, then decelerated and turned off the bike’s engine, rocking it forward to disengage from the flywheel, which, by this time, had itself taken on an overwhelming presence. Here again, the viewing of the work became a matter of attraction and repulsion: watching a three-ton flywheel spinning at about thirty miles an hour is hardly something you are prepared to experience so close at hand, let alone in the interior of an art gallery. Not only was the size of the object formidable, but now all kinds of thoughts raced through my mind, especially what might happen if the object’s force and weight separated it from its supporting base. Visions of the wheel busting out of the gallery and racing down the street were just one of my fantasies. What was particularly disconcerting was how quiet this massive object was, even at its peak power and speed. The sound coming off the wheel was like a light, whispering wind; it was a sound not just seductive but virtually hypnotic. All of my fantasies of danger and destruction were nullified by the actual peacefulness of my sensory experience, heightened by the contrast with the previous roar of the engine as Burden ground through the gears. The confl ict between the thoughts of the mind and the feelings of the body and senses seemed ultimately to be resolved in favor of visceral response. As object, the wheel facilitated a soothing, contemplative experience. Because the raw and primordial energy of this unwieldy mechanical object served no utilitarian function, it invited a voyeuristic journey into a more ethereal realm. At the same time, at this initial showing I never forgot that “the real world” was just behind the room’s white walls. The potential for real destruction seemed much more

The confl ict between the thoughts of the mind and the feelings of the body and senses seemed ultimately to be resolved in favor of visceral response. As object, the wheel facilitated a soothing, contemplative experience.

than the fantasy of a restless mind. Burden was able to make this feeling of sublime danger an important part of his practice, from his fi rst performances all the way through his highly engineered sculptures. All of these works disrupted any passive consumption of his art. Shortly after the )979 exhibition of The Big Wheel, I wrote the fi rst critical review of the work for Artforum: Inescapably, then, this piece has humanistic implications. Burden’s work has attempted to expose the fallacy in depending upon institutionalized order and security. He has therefore evoked feelings of unexpected danger and menacing violence in order to demonstrate that the irrational can provoke feelings of honor and respect. Big Wheel might possibly be one

130

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 130

17/01/2019 17:33


of the artist’s most successful pieces precisely because it presents these issues through a form that is physically, emotionally, and erotically engaging.1 With the creation of The Big Wheel Burden successfully integrated performance and object-making. When I saw the work at its initial showing, I did not recognize how much this single exhibition would mark a turning point in the artist’s career. Jumping forward, in 1996 Burden unveiled The Flying Steamroller as the centerpiece of his major survey exhibition at mak, the Museum für angewandte Kunst (Museum of Applied Arts), Vienna. Much like The Big Wheel, The Flying Steamroller has two lives, at rest and in motion, but unlike the earlier work, his sculpture for Vienna was monumental in scale. It would become the fi rst of several

large-scale works incorporating functional vehicles or machines removed from their “normal,” expected usage or setting, such as 200(’s 1 Ton Crane Truck and 2013’s Porsche with Meteorite. The Flying Steamroller comprises a 1()8 Huber roadgrader, weighing twelve tons, attached by a pivoting arm to a counterbalance weight. As Burden states in his description of the piece, “The steamroller is driven in a circle until its maximum speed is reached. At the same time, a hydraulic piston is activated and pushes up the beam from which the steamroller is suspended, causing the steamroller to lift off the ground.” Once off the ground, it spins for several minutes. The fi rst time I watched this massive object as it began to move faster and faster, eventually lifting off the ground, my mind immediately raced back to that day on La Cienega Boulevard when Burden fi red up his motorcycle.

Previous spread: Chris Burden, The Big Wheel, 1979, cast iron flywheel powered by a 1968 Benelli 250 cc motorcycle, 9 feet 4 inches × 14 feet 7 inches × 11 feet 11 inches (2.8 × 4.4 × 3.6 m) Above: Chris Burden with The Big Wheel, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 2009. Photo: Don Kelsen/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

131

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 131

25/01/2019 10:09


urban planning and development. Burden’s original client never followed through on the proposal, and it took another twenty-four years before an artworld institution recognized Beam Drop: Inhotim, the expansive sculpture park near Belo Horizonte, Brazil, commissioned a version in 2,,8. A third installation occurred in 2,,9 at the Middelheim Museum, Antwerp. From the moment when the spectators assembled at dawn at Inhotim, it was evident that something strange and unexpected was about to unfold. We stood in front of a large gray square of dense, quasi-liquid concrete that had been poured into the earth, alongside which was positioned a )25-foot crane. Positioned off to the side of this mysterious “construction” site were piles of steel I-beams, both old and new, ranging from fi fteen to forty feet in length. Seeing these three related construction elements—beams, concrete, and heavy lifting equipment—I began to make wild speculations about what was about to unfold. Soon hard-hat-wearing workers reached for the end of the very long cable hanging down from the top of the crane’s boom and connected it to an I-beam. At this point I began to recognize that a very different kind of structure was about to be created. Within seconds, the steel mass was hoisted above the pit to the maximum height of the boom’s vertical reach. Lifted to that height, the beam was soon to take on a new life. After a short period of adjustment, a command was given to the crane operator and the beam was released into free fall. In less than a second or two, one end of it had plunged into the cement pit and half its mass had disappeared into the murky substance. The sounds and sensations of impact were like nothing I had previously experienced. While partially shocking, even a bit disturbing, they were equally exhilarating; whichever of the two responses the spectators might have felt, they spontaneously let out expressions of relief and exaltation. Feelings of shock, excitement, and even fear were no smaller with the dropping of subsequent I-beams. In fact they were heightened. While in one sense the mystery of what was to occur diminished, speculation about how each dropped I-beam would interact with those previously dropped only increased. As the number of dropped I-beams increased (at Inhotim, approximately seventy-five were dropped over a period

Like the earlier experience, the thrill of watching a giant yellow steamroller, removed from its “normal” context as it circled in a large but nonetheless enclosed exhibition space, was countered by “what if ” fantasies of this object becoming a destructive force. Now seventeen years removed from the artist’s initial presentation of a large-scale “functioning” machine, the structural support and mechanism used to propel The Flying Steamroller airborne was fully engineered and unquestionably reliable. Even so, the spectator’s mind always holds on to the possibility of something improbable occurring. Countering those fears, the sound emanating from this massive form as it rose from the ground was reminiscent of the peace and tranquility that The Big Wheel conjured up after it was disengaged from the motorcycle. As with The Big Wheel, if you went with the unexpected experience of engagement with Burden’s massive steamroller as it circled in the air, you realized that the experience of this object actually transported you out of your daily lived experience into a subtler realm not bound by your expectations, your fears, your need for order and predictability.

Falling between these two sculptures, Burden’s )984 Beam Drop at Art Park in Lewiston, New York, holds an additional key to the development and continuities of his practice. Beam Drop consisted of approximately sixty steel I-beams, each raised approximately ),, feet into the air by crane and then dropped, one after the next, into a thirty-fivefoot-square pit of freshly poured concrete. The original Beam Drop, planned and conceived as a temporary exhibition, was subsequently destroyed, and is today known only from photos and a short fi lm produced at the time. The work was fi rst conceived in response to a developer’s request for a sculpture for an urban setting in Northern California. Because Burden’s potential client was a builder, the artist saw it as “efficient” to “build a great sculpture that was both big and affordable without turning to outside resources.” He felt that the client’s familiarity with I-beams, concrete, and cranes would make him more comfortable with the realization of the project. Not only did Burden see this as effi cient, he also saw it as a “fun way” of doing something different with materials so associated with construction, and by extension with

This page, top: Chris Burden, The Big Wheel, 1979, cast iron flywheel powered by a 1968 Benelli 250 cc motorcycle, 9 feet 4 inches × 14 feet 7 inches × 11 feet 11 inches (2.8 × 4.4 × 3.6 m). Installation view at the New Museum, New York in 2013–14. Photo: Benoit Pailley This page, bottom: Chris Burden, The Flying Steamroller (drawing), 1991, ink on photocopy paper, 8 ½ × 11 inches (21.6 × 27.9 cm)

32

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 132

17/01/2019 17:33


of seven hours), it became evident that they would inevitably hit each other as they made their way toward the cement foundation. After the release of about fi fteen beams, the sounds accompanying their impact, both with other beams and with the cement in the pit, were significantly enhanced, becoming an even more central part of the experience. The sound of beams tearing into each other was not merely disturbing; it brought on the feeling of fear. As the space in the pit for each additional beam diminished, it became more likely that a dropped beam would hit another. While at fi rst the possibility of a beam hitting another and flying away was just a thought, and idea, near the end of the process it became a reality and a new concern for the spectator. With the execution of Beam Drop Burden expanded his approach to performance art. The work also introduced radical new possibilities of form, composition, and even beauty. For the artist, the challenge was to fi nd a way “to use the steel as Jackson [Pollock] used the paint.” As Burden saw it, Beam Drop asks the question “How did it get there and how did it happen?” Unless you

actually witnessed the installation, the completed artwork never really answers these lingering questions. In part, then, Beam Drop implies the telling of a story, giving this nonrepresentational artwork a kind of narrative content. What the “story” of the work is remains unclear, and in many ways is not that important. It will differ according to what any one viewer brings to the moment of viewing. What is important is how Beam Drop transcends the limitations of most abstract sculpture. To the degree that part of one’s initial response to the work is to question how and why, the sculpture separates itself from most other postwar works, whether gestural or Minimal. In good part this separation results from the way in which the physicality of Burden’s forms has left the evidence of their impact with the concrete foundation. The beams haven’t simply dropped into place; rather, they thrust and contorted themselves as they made their way toward the concrete, gouging out and dislodging sections of it. Even more profoundly, some beams, dropped near the end of the “event,” dramatically crashed into previously positioned beams and rebounded out of the pit and into the realm of

Above: Chris Burden, The Flying Steamroller, 1996, steel, concrete, 1968 Huber road grader, height: 21 feet (6.4 m), diameter: 56 feet 6 inches (17.2 m). Installation view at the Chelsea College of Arts, London, 2006. Photo: Locus +

Following spread: Chris Burden, Beam Drop New York, 1984, approximately 60 I-beams, concrete, 35 × 35 feet (10.7 × 10.7 m). Destroyed 1987. Installation view at Artpark, Lewiston, New York. Photo: Chris Burden All artwork © 2019 Chris Burden/Licensed by The Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

33

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 133

17/01/2019 17:33


gasping spectators. The traces of violent actions found throughout the foundation, the beams lying against and at acute angles to the initial beams standing perpendicular to the base, and the beams displaced entirely from the pit raise the question “What has happened here?” Our visceral response to Beam Drop is significantly different from our visual engagement with a painting. The “story” of how this work came into being, at least in part, becomes the description of an event in which we could have participated as spectators. Because Beam Drop in some ways relates to our experience of the world, engagement with it separates itself from our involvement with Pollock’s gestural forms, or with the way we experience Richard Serra’s monumental objects. The Abstract Expressionist and Post-Minimalist object-makers may invite us to ponder their methods of operation, but we are much more drawn to an aesthetic consideration of the resulting forms. While Beam Drop shares certain formal and compositional affinities with the work of Mark di Suvero, Tony Smith, and Richard Serra, the fact that it can equally fulfi ll a mission often reserved

for representational art, that of conveying a narrative—telling a story—gives it a unique historical and aesthetic position. Beam Drop presents a challenge to postwar abstract sculpture. What makes it especially compelling is that it was accomplished by an artist who, five years after The Big Wheel, was primarily concerned and associated with performance-based art. Burden’s willingness to challenge assumptions and the limitations of his body enabled him to recognize the opportunities presented by the less-thanfully-controlled circumstances of Beam Drop. Having learned to trust uncertainty early on, Burden was simply more adapted to engage sculptural opportunities that other artists might have resisted. How rare it is for a work to declare its seriousness and at the same time have lightness and playfulness. While there is no denying the sense of authority asserted by the massive steel forms of Beam Drop, this is not the entirety of our takeaway from the work. Equally, we question how its creation could have happened; and in attempting to answer that question, we must inevitably recognize its maker as a provocateur, artfully playing

with our expectations, our comfort levels, our need for clarity and correctness. Beam Drop simultaneously declares states of order and disorder, peacefully coexisting. The work’s formal organization links it to a historical lineage. But the existence of forms that have smashed into each other, some even having busted out of their “designated” confi nes, declares that this work of art is far different from its historical predecessors, and reminds us that its maker also sought out a “lighter” side for the viewer’s experience, driven by inquisitiveness and the need to have fun.

1 Fred Hoffman, “Chris Burden, Rosamund Felsen Gallery,” Artforum 18, no. 5 (January 1980):78. 2. Chris Burden, quoted in Hoffman, ed., Chris Burden (Newcastle upon Tyne: Locus + Publishing, 2007), p. 274. 3. Burden, in Hoffman, Beam Drop: Chris Burden, exh. cat. (Antwerp: Middelheimmuseum, 2009), p. 20. From an interview with Burden on February 19, 2009, in the artist’s studio, Topanga, California. 4. Ibid. 5. Ibid.

34

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 134

25/01/2019 10:09


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 135

17/01/2019 17:33


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 136

17/01/2019 17:33

The artist speaks with Gagosian Quarterly about interrogating perceptions, questioning illusions, and the primacy of intuition.

JIA AILI: HUMAN NATURE


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 137

17/01/2019 17:33


W

hen you’re working, are you thinking about narrative in any sense? Or are the paintings intended to escape narrative-based readings? I almost never have a narrative in mind when I’m beginning a work, I start out from pure intuition. But quite a few viewers discover narratives, particularly in the larger-scaled pieces. That made me realize that narrative is about a way of reading—a visual narrative is produced by the order of vision. What a painting expresses depends on more than its image alone. I don’t think my paintings are born out of the emotion or feeling of a certain moment; I hope their meaning emerges from a more complete level. For me, the action of painting involves facing specific, delicate matters. I rarely make overall cultural assumptions, I prefer to focus on the relativity and absoluteness of painting, on using color, shape, and structure to create transcendental vision. I have a portrait [Untitled, 4,)9] that adds a complete circle to the body of a normal model. At fi rst glance, people usually mistake the figure for a man with a big belly. While that visual illusion may make them uncomfortable, it also stimulates them, wakes up their aesthetic processes. What should representational painting be today? What is our present reality, and what is the act of creating images? Those questions lead to another: what is the essence of being a painter? There are different opinions on that; my own is that the painter is the person most closely related before, during, and after the production of vision. If you allow that viewers will come up with their own narratives in looking at your paintings, narratives beyond your control, is there anything you hope for from them—any way you’d like to see them respond? When we’re looking at a figurative painting, our usual response is to focus on the perception created illusionistically rather than on the illusion itself. It’s the same in our daily behavior: people often use the perceptions created by illusion to understand and ponder the world and measure what they see. When we look at paintings, we need to broaden our perspective and see the illusion itself, or go farther and try to experience the whole process of illusion. That’s when we may really begin to understand painting. Many paintings create illusions and ask people to live in those illusions, inadvertently and comfortably. Sometimes I want to make the illusion less comfortable, to inspire viewers to think. Discomfort induces doubts. If they can try to appreciate the artist’s most subtle and delicate perception and intention in the creative process, then when they look at works in different genres or forms, new perspectives and understandings will emerge. For me, the painting process fl ows naturally along like the processes of life. It’s not a hierarchical progression. As long as life exists, experience will continue, and there will always be dilemmas. Once I thought painting meant solving issues little by little and making the work perfect, but now I realize that although you wanted to solve and improve, that’s impossible to achieve. Speaking of how art reflects on human nature, my personal experience is that the process of painting involves the basic elements of painting. Every second involves interrogating the most profound 38

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 138

17/01/2019 17:33


39

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 139

17/01/2019 17:33


40

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 140

17/01/2019 17:33


NOWADAYS, I REALIZE MORE AND MORE CLEARLY THAT THE ARTISTIC CONCEPT I AGREE WITH BELONGS TO HUMANS RATHER THAN GODS. and meticulous contemporary perception related to human nature. You’re in a state of total concentration. What I call perception or intuition is prior to logic. For an artist, that’s the key precondition. Is there any experience that remains central to you—something informing your work in a permanent way? After graduating from Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts in 4,,2, I stayed there to teach. I was a young teacher and not many students were willing to listen to my views on art; they were busy grafting their knowledge of art onto strategies of success. Although I was curious about that, it also made me panic. That crisis slowly overwhelmed me and I felt I had to leave. In the spring of 4,,+, I moved to Beijing, and settled near the city in a place called Black Bridge Village. There were people there from all over the country—migrant workers from remote areas, vendors, rock musicians waiting for contracts, released prisoners, psychics and living Buddhas, independent fi lmmakers, and of course artists like me, trying to make a living in Beijing. Their faces and eyes are still vivid to me today. We woke up every day to our own realities, or not so much our own realities but our common situation. I knew that countless people were leading such existences on Beijing’s outskirts, like besieging soldiers who could not yet conquer the city. The Olympic flame came to Beijing in 4,,8, and while the fi reworks shone in the sky, there were also tiny sparkles in our eyes. In that brief moment we seemed to have the pride and dignity that only people inside Beijing deserved. It was in that year that I began to create the oil-painting series We Are from the Century [4,,8–))]. In those years, while planting our own fields, we kept on observing the city. But eventually the 4

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 141

17/01/2019 17:33


Throughout: Jia Aili studio 2017–18. Photo: Jia Aili. Artwork © Jia Aili

real-estate coalitions of the city we thought we were going to invade swept us away. I lost my cheap rented studio, rolled up my canvases, and moved somewhere more marginal still. But I remember this group of people who really fell into art. They had an overpowering desire to take the reality around them as their subject, to keep trying for more far-reaching visual forms, and to surpass existing criteria of evaluation through the creation of works that were radical but still emotional. In the various ideas and values they acquired, they had the consciousness and integrity of true intellectuals. So you can see that I have always been a marginal figure, but as an artist I prefer to see my work as based on looking, based on the gaze, because it makes me feel I mean something, although I still can’t tell you what painting is. A decade has passed in a blink of an eye and now I’m in New York again, where Bob Dylan, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and J. D. Salinger have all lived. But no matter how the situation changes, I want my art to retain the temperature of honesty. In the same way, is there any idea or principle you keep permanently in mind while you’re working? When I’m painting, I’m always asking myself whether everything in front of me is true feeling and thought. Any kind of petit bourgeois emotional overflow will lead me into misunderstanding. In fact I’ve made many such mistakes, letting a work lose its granular sense of life and get pretentious,

which disgraces my original intention. Painters should be concerned with human nature, beginning with themselves. Work that’s mannerist, work that pretends to be simple—it’s all a disease. There’s no sincere experience in that kind of work; everything becomes affectation. Under cover of success, your intentions and beliefs have slipped away. If an artist loses his concern for human beings, he loses his reason to make art. That’s why we say that attitude supports method. Nowadays, I realize more and more clearly that the artistic concept I agree with belongs to humans rather than gods. As Nietzsche said, How can those who live in the light of day comprehend the depths of night?

In previous bodies of work, the religious or divine surfaces in diverse ways—in fi guration and metaphor, for instance. Does religious thought factor into these new works? Many of us today believe that we’re living at a turning point. While we’re grateful for the rapid developments we’ve seen in science and technology, they are quietly changing our aesthetics and our thoughts. Behind the many difficulties we face is a deep spiritual crisis: in contemporary society, the divine is fading away. People today are more and more inclined to see everything as a “resource.” A lot of literature and art conveys sadness, even despair, about the contemporary religious and humanistic status quo. The end of an era is the end of some ways of living and thinking, and the arrival of a new era may not necessarily bring peace and light.

42

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 142

17/01/2019 17:33


May 2–5, 2019

Featuring The New York Correspondence School. Image: 2018 © Ray Johnson Estate © Matthew Ronay

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17.indd 143

17/01/2019 17:33


LOVE is not a Flame Part i . . . as though twilight Might be read as a warning to those desperate For easy solutions. —John Ashbery

L o

v

e

is

a

t

ru

pe t!

pet

m

Love is a t

!

Mark Z. Danielewski

08_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_152-157.indd 152

17/01/2019 14:07


— Bwraaaaaaah! Aaaah! Aaaah! Aaaaah!

Petro the Peacock sounds the dusk! Love is a trumpet! Love cannot help but sound the dusk! And Love cannot help but answer Love! Love will answer! Love will emerge from the dust! One of these nights!

— Bwraaaaaaah! Aaaah! Aaaah! Aaaaah! — I can’t tell you how often I dream of shooting him. — I thought it was someone honking. Or a car alarm gone funny. — Meet Petro. Can you see the stupid thing? — Petro? — Petro the Peacock. He’s looking for a mate. Been looking for at least two years. There used to be a colony around here. Who knows how they got started. Not much left of them now. Killed I guess by traffic and coyotes. Probably raccoons mostly. Raccoons get the eggs. And the young ones. Maybe they can even take down a big one like Petro. I’d love him in my oven. Though I’d need two ovens. — Petro’s big? — I’m amazed you haven’t seen him yet. You’ve lived here, what, five years? — I only met you this week.

— Bwraaaaaaah! Aaaah! Aaaah! Aaaaah! Petro the Peacock’s call rises out against enfolding night. Then with hardly an effort, only a few wingbeats, Petro the Peacock rises to an even higher branch. How the sky broadens then! Stars dance and land! Love will answer! No matter the season! No matter this winter! Love will answer! Petro the Peacock’s trumpet is magnificent! And magnificence must answer magnificence! nd i s clo sed! ! sed

u re

Fi

F i r e undisclo

!

LOV

a trum

t pe

u m p

E!

nd i s clo sed! ! sed

u re

Love is a

tr

Fi

F i r e undisclo

— I think he’s up in my tree. — Petro? Peacocks fly? — You know his name but you don’t know if he flies? I thought you were peacock guy? — I don’t know the first thing about peacocks. Or birds. Unless they're in the meat section. I’m a painter. — I’m pretty sure your Petro is up there. By the sound I’d say near the top. Too dark to tell. — How tall is this thing? — The arborist said 130 feet. Canary Island pine. — I love the big trees around here. — Is that what you paint, Frank? — Just people. — Why’s that? — You write poems about trees? — Who told you I wrote poems?

Petro the Peacock moves slowly along the narrow branch to where he will hear more, behold more. Evening breezes tumult the top limbs and a sudden wrap of bats flirts in the smoky shifts. The way the tree sways pleases Petro the Peacock. One more step though and his branch will go away.

08_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_152-157.indd 153

17/01/2019 14:08

et


— Do you think he knows what he’s doing? — As you pointed out yourself, Tony, I don’t even know if he can fly. — I wonder if his call comes with the imagination of who he’s after. Or is it just like a hiccup that sticks around until it’s replaced by something that feels good? One of the first times I was drunk, in college believe it or not, on weak beer that came in thick plastic pitchers, half of it foam, we were running across campus to a party, and I burped, or I thought I burped. In fact, I’d thrown up, and I didn't stop running either, just sprayed beer foam all over the lawn, kept running too, and worse didn’t think twice about it, until later. — Are those the kind of poems you write? Beer poems? — I’ve had worse ideas. The people you paint, are they recognizable? — Yeah. Or at least the people I paint say they recognize themselves. — What I write isn’t recognizable. I try to develop for readers a new feeling that perhaps will make the world beyond the world we think we know . . . more available. — No wonder it took us five years to meet. You’re so modest. — And I thought it was your red cap. — Do you seriously think a dumb bird like Petro has feelings? — No question. I just don’t know how those feelings live from moment to moment. I’m not sure he thinks twice. — He’s cocky. I can tell you that. Struts everywhere. Like he owns the place. Like right now he owns your Canary Island pine tree. Thanks by the way. Never knew the name. Always just saw a huge trunk. And the pine cones that come down like hand grenades. — I think we solved that. We put flashing up around where the trunk splits in three. Now the squirrels can’t reach the pine cones and chew them loose. — Flashing won’t keep Petro the Peacock out of your tree. — I hope not. I hope he makes his home up there. — When you say we, who’s we? — Sorry. Habit.

Petro the Peacock snaps up a beetle. Stabs a pine needle. Below, the nonflyers disappear inside the roost. Soon small splashes of light ignite both sides of the ravine. Later, on the opposite slope, up on the highest ridge, coyote yips begin to chorus. Redwood smoke hints away the cold. Petro the Peacock hears something below, clumsy and close by, slowly shambling up the hill, through ferns, fountainbush and poison oak, finally stopping in a heave of tree leaves and snapping twigs.

—Bwraaaaaaah! Aaaah! Aaaah! Aaaaah! Love is a trumpet love cannot help but answer. Lo

e

is

a

v

t

ru m pe

t!

And at last love does answer. —Mreagggacch. Not Bwraaaaaaah! Aaaah! Aaaah! Aaaaah! Not even close but with notes nonetheless bound up in a retch that somehow pounds Petro the Peacock’s now expanding chest. Petro the Peacock abandons darting the tree. Petro the Peacock is already flying. The branch gone. Tree gone. Even the sky’s gone. Wings shift back and forth on the glide down. Petro the Peacock knows the call came from deep in the jade on the steep slope above the lightsplashed roost. Many hollows wait there within the thick rambling succulents where now and then even a deer will bed down for a night. Petro the Peacock lands in one such clearing. Head high. Eyes alert.

08_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_152-157.indd 154

—Bwraaaaaaah! Aaaah! Aaaah! Aaaaah!

17/01/2019 14:09


Love answers at once. —Mreagggacch.

So shocked by its immediacy, Petro the Peacock almost flies off. He should hear its difference and Petro the Peacock does understand difference but still something bound up in agony moves beyond differences and draws Petro the Peacock to a calm. Petro refolds his wings. Preens. Struts. Sees. Almost flies off again. Not feathers but fur, sweat-damp stripes of too familiar black and gray, heavy on one side, eyes shuttered by thick yellow mucous, and smearing hind legs an ooze of shit. Love is not this. Love is not a raccoon. —Mreagggacch.

But love is a trumpet and love cannot help but answer Love.

—Bwraaaaaaah! Aaaah! Aaaah! Aaaaah! The raccoon lifts his bewildered head before vomiting again, his whole body a sudden shake, a failing Petro the Peacock can only know by the awful reverberations sounding his heart . . . The roost below reawakens with new light. An abrupt creak. Slam. The raccoon tries to make another sound, but this time it is too low and already sinking, at once a failure to escape, falling back within, the vanishing of which almost vanishes the raccoon, love too, if not for the continuing vibration violent upon its paws, next to which Petro the Peacock settles, catching a nearby scuttle, snapping at a cricket. ov

a tr e is

u

m p et

!

L

o

ve

—Mreagggacch.

L

The rustle that comes next, however, isn’t bug bustle but something bigger. Much bigger. The shaking jade alone should have launched Petro the Peacock far from here on panicked wings. But this keeps him: is

a

tr

u

m

pe

t!

Lo

v

e

is

a

t

Lo

ru m ve is a t

Lo

ru ve is a t

t!

m

t!

pe

pe

ru m

No matter how feeble or how displayed in differences no heart can entirely know, Love is Love and Love quiets Petro the Peacock’s wing even as the coyote lopes into the clearing.

pet!

At once, pain self-inflicted slices up Petro the Peacock’s back, something still so wrong there, if Petro the Peacock still keeps insisting on pain, through which an achievement awaits that will make of himself something else, other, something greater, to shock even a coyote into retreat, even as Petro the Peacock already knows himself once again defeated, by pain, by old injury, this lessening with every vain attempt to unfurl nothing finally lowering his head, as the coyote lunges forward, forcing Petro the Peacock off, if still not flying, only a hop-flap to the other side of the raccoon.

—Bwraaaaaaah! Aaaah! Aaaah! Aaaaah!

08_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_152-157.indd 155

17/01/2019 14:10


Love is a trumpet love cannot help but answer.

—Bwwwaah! The coyote darts for the jade. The raccoon twitches and groans. Petro the Peacock’s heart nearly stops. The nonflyers plod up into the clearing. Once again Petro the Peacock doesn’t fly. This time hopping behind the raccoon, now haloed in bright light brought by the nonflyers. — Very impressive, Tony. — Just an old boat horn. I’m amazed there’s enough air in the can for it to work. Oh Christ. — Careful. Could be rabies. — More like distemper. Saw this back in Ohio. Wiped out dozens of raccoons.

As nonflyer Tony kneels, Petro the Peacock finally flies up to a low overhanging oak branch. — Whoa! Did you see that? — Petro I imagine? — What’s he hanging around a sick raccoon for? Lo

ve is

Lo

a tr

ve

um

is

a

tr

pet!

um pet!

The nonflyer Tony wraps up the raccoon in folds of dark green and heads down the hill. Petro the Peacock flies after them, and just in time too: out from under the jade lunges the coyote, a powerful leap, teeth scarring the night, snapping feathers off Petro the Peacock’s train, sparking small twists of pain, sharp enough to veer his flight down toward the hillside deck, before beating wings again right Petro, soaring him to high pine branches above three trunks banded in moonlight. — You want me to call Animal Control? — They’ll just euthanize the thing. — Well, what the hell else you gonna do with it? — Go to a vet, I guess. — They’ll euthanize it too. For certain they’ll tell you it’s illegal to keep a raccoon as a pet. — I don’t want it as a pet, Frank. I want it to live. — Ohio must have been pretty bad. — For lots of reasons.

08_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_152-157.indd 156

17/01/2019 14:13


Petro the Peacock watches the nonflyers disappear into the lightsplashed roost with his raccoon. Later, Petro the Peacock watches nonflyer Frank cross the gray waterless river that divides the ravine. Two nonflyers leap on him and without wings to hurl himself free Frank falls. He lies a shadow. Later, red and blue lights writhe the ravine with their cries. Love is not this cry. Nor is Love the crying that comes later. Petro the Peacock should heed their portent, depart for distant trees, the higher limbs he knows so well, beyond sirens, snap of teeth, stab of claws, beyond Love’s strange and still residing answer, no longer strange, Love’s answer is never stranger. Petro the Peacock watches dark claim the roosts on both slopes. Petro the Peacock watches the moon rise. Petro catches the gold slice of a mountain lion crossing over from the reservoir. Skunks rustle the Mexican sage. Spiders spin vocations alive with caught drops of light. Only much later, by three strong wingbeats, does Petro the Peacock descend to the roof. Here he will settle. Here where Love lies hidden. Here where his heart beats wide knowing his raccoon lies near —

somewhere

under

his watch.

© 2018 Mark Z. Danielewski, All Rights Reserved § Atelier Z: Regina M. Gonzales

08_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_152-157.indd 157

17/01/2019 14:15


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 150

25/01/2019 10:00


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 151

25/01/2019 10:00


EDEK BARTZ Spencer, so how is life? SPENCER SWEENEY Life is pretty good, Edek.

I was looking through your exhibitions from [2014] and it was quite interesting to see how different they were. In Brussels [She, at c l e a r i n g gallery], you made a really elegant exhibition of small paintings and drawings, with one painting hanging over the fi replace. A friend of mine who also saw that show told me he expected from you this kind of exhibition, these kinds of paintings, nice little drawings, and then empty walls. In Glasgow [Monads and Party Paintings, at the Modern Institute], the exhibition was full of big works and it really fi lled up the whole space. How do you think about doing an exhibition? Do you think about the space fi rst, or do you have an idea of what you’d like to show? SS Those two situations happened quite naturally. I also have several different modes of working that come forth. Sometimes the expression can end up being quite simple and maybe have a simple elegance to it. That’s just something that I like to explore when the mood hits me. At other times the work can be much more aggressive and busy. There are just different moods that come over me that I explore while I’m working. As far as how those shows wound up, I took a look at the space in Brussels and it was this very beautiful townhouse. As soon as I saw that, the fi rst thing that popped into my mind was smaller, more subdued works. That’s something I’m interested in and something I do from time to time. That kind of mode of work seemed to fit within that space, so I thought I would try it out. Then it was also interesting to play with the sparseness of the works, working with fewer paintings and drawings and playing with the spatial relations and the negative spaces between them. For the Modern Institute show, that’s a much bigger space with lots of very high ceilings and lots of wall space and it just seemed like the right thing to do at that time. We sent over a bunch of work and started playing around with different installation ideas. One wall called to be fi lled from floor to ceiling all the way up the wall. On another wall, we decided to hang the work very low, close to the EB

ground. We left another wall completely blank. For me those two shows were both about experimenting with installation. I learned a lot from being put into that situation of dealing with those two very different types of gallery spaces. I hung the Brussels show together with my friend Harold Ancart. We had a long night and a day of discussion where we explored different configurations and possibilities. It’s nice to work with another artist you’re friends with and whom you respect. That seems like an important part of the creative experience, or the artistic experience—being able to chat and go through ideas with another person who is alive and doing the same thing. EB The show you did with VeneKlasen/Werner, Berlin, in 2013 [Berlin Paintings] was again a totally different kind of show. Every show that I know now is really completely different. There’s always your work, but the setup is totally different. In Berlin, you lived in that space, right? SS The show in Berlin was a continuation of a kind of experiment that I started at Gavin Brown’s the fall before that. Rather than set up an exhibition of art objects and then leave, the idea was to

transform the gallery into a studio and a performance and theater space wherein I would ask some people to collaborate. We would work on a piece of theater together and all the time be working on paintings and sculptures, and then we presented the theatrical piece at the fi nissage, when the show ended. EB Do you like working with other artists? Not only visual artists but musicians and people from the theater and from other art styles? SS I do, I do. I think that kind of communication is very important; well, it’s very important to me. But I don’t always choose to work that way. I do like to work alone as well. I fi nd that I need to do both to be satisfied. I need collaboration and I need that type of interaction and communication and the synergy that comes about through it. At the same time, I need to work in solitude quite often as well. EB Is it the same when you play guitar in bands with your friends? Is it about playing music, about being a rock musician, or about a kind of communication? SS It’s defi nitely about communication and the experimentation and the creative process and just

152

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 152

25/01/2019 10:00


the love of music. There’s the love of music. There’s the love of art and that’s what drives us to spend our time doing this. I’ve been playing guitar with my friends Sadie Laska and Lizzi Bougatsos. They’re both musicians and visual artists as well. It’s just something we’ve always done, actually—I’ve been playing with them for as long as I’ve been in New York. Soon after I moved here, I met Lizzi and Sadie and we started playing together in a band called “Actress.” Musically it was complete improvisation. Now we’ve been improvising together for quite a long time, so it’s interesting to continue with that and see how these skills and this unspoken language develop. It’s like cooking, playing music, painting, or working on performances, it all somehow seems to boil down to utilizing the same kind of sensitivity. That’s something that’s important to us, and that seems to be what we strive to spend our lives doing. EB Is there a difference if you’re playing with professional musicians or with artist friends? SS I think it’s very similar. Maybe you could define the professional attitude as taking what you’re doing seriously and challenging yourself. That’s kind of how we play together, even when we’re improvising. Even if some of us aren’t professional musicians, we still take it quite seriously and still push ourselves very hard to create something that we fi nd musically interesting. The difference is, I’ve gone on tour with professional musicians and then you have the framework of their material to present. But at the same time, within that framework, there’s a great amount of opportunity for improvisation. I’d say it’s very similar. It just depends on your approach to it and how seriously you take it. EB Is music an important part of your life? SS Yes. It’s always been. Sometimes I think I can only blame my mother for that, because I was born a couple of months premature and had to spend a long time in an incubator. My mother requested that they pipe the classical-music radio station into my incubator. I can’t get the music out of me now. Music is very much a part of my physical makeup. EB Was it rock music that really got you in the

beginning? What was the fi rst music that made you think you wanted to make music too? SS It’s funny, because this is kind of a model for what I continue to do. The fi rst musical experience I can remember is sitting down with my mother’s copy of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, listening to that, and at the same time drawing on the album cover with crayons. I still have that album. I opened it up to the centerfold, where you have all four Beatles sitting there in their psychedelic bandleader outfits with a bright yellow background. I immediately reacted to the rich, saturated colors in that print, and I started drawing all over the Beatles with crayons while listening to the music. I was reacting to the music and I was reacting to the color of the photographic print and partaking in that by drawing on it myself. I think that’s what I still do—I’m always listening to music as I’m painting. EB Do you listen to everything at the same time? Or do you have times where you only listen to one style of music? SS I think there’s a pretty healthy mix going on, because I do love to listen to classical music and I do of course love to listen to rock and funk and different types of dance music and African music. I’d say it’s a mix of exactly those types: classical, rock ’n’ roll, things that would have to be considered more experimental, funk, dance music, reggae, African music. That’s pretty much it. EB That’s your song mix—it seems great. You sent me some YouTube videos of classic Egyptian Arab singers like [Mohammed] Abdel Wahab. Are you interested in this? SS Ver y much so—especially Abdel Halim Hafez, whose video I sent you. There’s a very poignant beauty there, because at the time those fi lms were made he was dying of cancer and doing pain management with different medications. There is a real beauty in that tragic kind of situation, and there’s this great amount of drama that comes forth when people express themselves at a time when they’re facing mortality so closely. The guy’s such an incredible talent and I just thought that fi lm was really remarkably special. That’s why I think it’s such amazing music—it’s such an amazing

outpouring of emotion. EB Do you know Abdel Wahab, Umm Kulthum, all that classic stuff? SS I know what I know and I’m learning—I’m defi nitely no expert on the genre. EB How d id you f i nd out about Oma r Souleyman? SS I met Omar when he played at our club. I did a painting to advertise the show and his manager called me and said Omar really loves the painting. I said I’d like to give it to him. She arranged for us to meet the night after the show and I was able to give him that painting and meet him, which was really great. His manager translated for us so we got to hang out and talk for a while. Then they asked me to do an album cover for his next LP, so I did that, too. That’s how I got to know Omar. EB It’s a great cover. I bought the record just to have the cover. SS It’s a funny story—I don’t think Omar likes the cover. I was talking to Joe Bradley at an art opening and he was like, “I was reading how you did the painting for the Omar Souleyman cover.” I said, “Yeah. What an honor it was to do the artwork for such a great performer.” Then he was like, “Yeah, he was talking about how he didn’t really like it. He felt it didn’t really capture him in a way he was happy with.” I was crushed. I just went home and got very depressed. But I’m over it now. EB I think it looks great. I’ve had this experience a few times—when artists work with musicians, they’re never satisfied with the cover. SS I think that’s really part of the creative vision within an artist’s head, and how it exists as it travels from the headspace into the physical world. An artistic vision is something that is perhaps never achieved. What you get is the artist’s attempt and the limitations of the physical world. It’s always a different thing, and it’s very diffi cult. I wasn’t happy with the album cover either, because the designer muted all the colors. I was going for a major impact with this red, and when I got it, I was like, “What the fuck happened?” The designer said he was trying to make it look like an old classic album cover. I was like, “You didn’t!” I was really upset and then Omar was upset. But at the end of 53

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 153

25/01/2019 10:00


the day, it is what it is, and it’s a great album. I’m glad I was able to be a part of it. EB This brings me back again to the Glasgow show, because you had this wall with your posters. It was funny because when you came [to the SoART artist-in-residence program on Millstätter See, Austria, in 2014], you sent me the list of things you needed and it read something like “canvas for party paintings.” I remembered that the e-mail announcements for events at your club always come with a drawing or something. So I want to ask you, why are you doing these “party paintings” on canvas? SS I’m doing them on linen. It’s really just what I had lying around at the time. I felt like if I wanted to use a good amount of paint, or work wet on wet,

then it couldn’t be a work on paper—I needed something that was really durable, and I thought that linen would be more versatile than anything else. EB It was a practical decision, because this was the easiest way for you? SS Yeah, well, I had a bunch of linen around. I knew the linen would be more versatile than paper, but also I started to enjoy the idea of it being a poster, which has a pragmatic functionality to it, and then using this kind of fi ne-art material with a history to it. I was enjoying that relationship as well. EB What is it like to do a poster for you? SS I have a serious connection to poster art, actually. It’s very much within my history and my background in growing to understand the visual arts. As a young child, I would collect fl iers for punkrock shows—mimeographed letter-sized fl iers. It introduced me to the work of people like Raymond Pettibon and Pushead, who’s a great album-cover and poster artist. I used to go around and take them down from the streetlights where they were taped. I still have a big stack of them. I remember looking at the Raymond Pettibon fl iers for Black Flag and thinking, I’ve really got to try this because I think I can do this. So there’s that, and also a strange experience I had in grade school when I copied a Toulouse-Lautrec print. We were presented with a large cardboard box fi lled with images and the assignment was to copy something. My choice was a Toulouse-Lautrec print of a woman in a hat with opera gloves on. Later in my life, much later, I realized it was actually a drawing of a man in drag. As a child, I didn’t know that—I was seeing her as a woman. I’ve always enjoyed that connection as I do these paintings to advertise parties and shows at the club. I’ve enjoyed thinking about Toulouse-Lautrec and how he did the same thing for the Moulin Rouge. EB Next time you come to Vienna, I’ll introduce you to my friend Bruce Meek. He’s an English guy. In the ’70s he did a lot of psychedelic posters for the Fillmore East and West and all the psychedelic album covers. SS Oh wow—I’d love to meet him.

He’s a very nice guy. He’s a friend of Procol Harum and all these bands, because they all grew up together. He couldn’t be a musician so he decided to make posters. He lives next to my house, on the corner. I’ve had these records for twenty-five years and now I meet him. That’s quite interesting. SS I’ve always been lost in certain album covers. I have very early memories of spending a lot of time looking at album covers, so that’s there, too. And actually I’ve done a few album covers. I did the Omar one and then I did one for Will Oldham. I did one for TV Baby. At a certain time it seemed as if the vinyl LP was going to be completely obsolete and would just stop being manufactured, but it hasn’t. In fact it’s experiencing a revival, which is great. People really held on to it and it has a lot to do with the sound quality—it’s a really great-sounding format if played through a good system. All the artwork I’ve done has experienced releases on vinyl and has been printed on album jackets. That’s pretty great. It’s a healthy industry. Surprisingly enough, it persevered. EB I’m buying all the Sun Ra record reissues— they have these great sleeves, which are made by Sun Ra himself. SS Those drawings are amazing. So good. There’s a very healthy reissue market taking place. There are all these record-printing plants organized to get the licensing and agreements to reissue all kinds of rare records that for a long time were very hard to fi nd. They’re doing a good job, too— they’re putting out quality pressings. EB Yeah, the 180 grams. That’s really very good quality. SS It’s really nice when you can get it on a nice, thick piece of vinyl like that. EB Many years ago, I was with Urs Fischer in Vienna giving a lecture about music. I always ask artists to bring the ten or fi fteen most important records in their life. I just want to sit down with them and put on the records and listen to them. You know Urs, yes? What do you think would be his taste? SS Let’s see. I was hanging out with him and Tony Shafrazi a couple of nights ago and we got into EB

!4

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 154

25/01/2019 10:00


Opening spread: Spencer Sweeney in his studio, New York. Photo: Rob McKeever Previous spread: Installation view Spencer Sweeney: Monads and Party Paintings, The Modern Institute, Osborne Street, Glasgow, 2014. Courtesy of the artist and The Modern Institute/Toby Webster Ltd, Glasgow Photo: Ruth Clark Opposite: Spencer Sweeney, To be titled, 2018, oil on linen, 71 ½ × 43 inches (181.6 × 109.2 cm) Right: Spencer Sweeney, To be titled, 2018, oil pastel on paper, 22 × 30 inches (55.9 × 76.2 cm)

a big argument over music. It was over what they like and what I don’t like, I guess. Urs and I enjoy a lot of the same music, our tastes can be quite similar, but Tony started talking about that band Gorillaz, which is the guy from Blur or something? They made this cartoon video and I think that’s a real low point. I can’t stand that kind of stuff. I just fi nd it fucking horrible. We got into this thing and Tony’s like, “What do you mean you don’t like the Gorillaz? You don’t like these cartoons?” I’m like, “No, I hate that stuff.” I just completely went off. I was in that kind of a mood. EB At the time when I did the lecture with Urs he was a young guy, really covered in tattoos, as you know. I think it was 2000. The lecture was at the university of applied arts in Vienna. First of all, the students thought he was another student, because he looked like a student. And also when they saw him, they assumed he was kind of a hard guy who would listen to semihardcore music. And what he played was really incredible because it was only soft, romantic stuff like Willie Nelson, country music, Diana Ross. The kids couldn’t believe it. By the way, I made a book out of this [Secret Passion: Artists and Their Musical Desires]—it’s really funny to read about different artists’ musical tastes and also the explanation of why they like this track, this band, and so on. SS I want to see this book. I think there was a point up until the early 2000s where it did seem like people who appreciated a certain kind of music had a certain look that was in unison with the music. People expected that, in a way. Thankfully, I don’t think that happens quite the way it used to. I don’t like for things like music to be so uniform oriented. Unless you’re Devo. I remember moving to New York and some of the fi rst work I was able to get was as a DJ. It used to be that when you’d go into record stores, people would ask you what kind of music you played. It was all very specialized at that moment and you were expected to say that you played progressive house music, or trance, or whatever. People felt like they had to stick to a genre. That was a big question at the time musically, it was just kind of the way

people felt it had to be, I suppose—it’s not so much that way anymore. I could put a mark on when it started to happen, it was right around the end of the ’90s—the 2000s was the point where everyone just loosened up with identifying and sticking with genres. Things became much less specific and genre-oriented as far as DJ culture goes. Especially since the Internet has opened up this instant transfer of information, that kind of idea has really loosened up. You fi nd people being exposed to all types of things without having to walk a certain path in their lives that might have led to an attachment to a certain lifestyle or look. It’s interesting to see things change like that. Urs was part of that change in the story that you told because people were expecting him to be into a certain thing, but he is into many different things for many different reasons. EB That’s why I told you this story, because I thought it was really interesting. It’s not to fulfi ll the expectation. Just do what you do. Do you think it’s the same in art, that the artist is getting more specialized? Is it similar to music, or is it totally different? SS Wow, I have to wonder. I had only really thought of it in musical terms so far, but I can theorize about the effect this might have on the artistic community and visual arts. Basically, I think you have to look at the transfer of information over the Internet as an opportunity for a heightened state of awareness. That’s the good side of it. What we’ve seen happen is, there seems to be a proliferation of people living as artists, working as artists. I’ve seen that happen within the past ten or fi fteen years. There defi nitely has been a huge growth in that profession—people working as professional artists. That also might have to do with there being more information available. People know more about artists. It’s all there, and people are learning so much. I also think it might be a generational thing, where people who were able to participate in the countercultural activism of the ’60s may be more open to the idea of sending their children to art school. That could have something to do with it. I don’t know, but I can see it’s having a huge effect on the world culturally as far as what you might call pop culture.

It’s made a very significant mark on the geography of pop culture. People are very aware now. A larger group of people is more aware of the creative community than I think they ever have been. EB But it also happened because you always read in newspapers and magazines about this incredible wealth of artists. You don’t read about art; you only read about what they have, they have these incredible castles and they have this and they have that. You only read about money and figures. You think this would be a good career because it looks quite easy. It’s not. But it looks like it is. SS Yeah, and we’ve been identified as if we’re out to accumulate huge wealth. EB Two days ago I was in a little rock place in Vienna. There was a band from America called Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, one of these independent little bands that are playing in small clubs. They put on an incredibly good concert. The band is getting maybe $2,000 for the concert, but they’re five people and they have to pay for their own travel—so the real money they’re getting after the gig is maybe $200. But they love to play and you really can see and feel and hear it. There’s no money in this normal music business. SS Yeah. It’s troubling if you consider the state of the art market and how it’s an overblown bubble in things like auction activity and other matters. You see the focus shift from the quality of the personal expression of an artist to things like the power and the commerce of the whole thing. As an artist I fi nd that sickening, but at the same time there’s a positive—I feel very fortunate that I can live off of my artwork. But it’s troubling to think of a young artist entering this market and trying to focus beyond how many pieces you can sell, or what you can do to make it sell, or how you can make as many works as possible. That’s not what artistic drive should be. It’s a strange thing… Edek, you’re such a good storyteller—I was just thinking of that story you once told me about when you brought Jimi Hendrix to play at the concert hall in Vienna. EB In the Konzerthaus? I think it was 1969. At the time, there weren’t any rock venues in Vienna. !!

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 155

25/01/2019 10:00


Left: Spencer Sweeney, To be titled, 2018, pencil and gouache on paper, 11 5∕8 × 16 3∕8 inches (29.5 × 41.6 cm) Artwork © Spencer Sweeney Photos: Rob McKeever Hand lettering: Spencer Sweeney

The only venue we could book was the Wiener Konzerthaus, which is a classical venue where classical concerts are normally held. We booked this venue for him and the equipment arrived— these twenty-fi ve huge Marshall amplifiers and all these instruments. It was clear it was going to be really fucking loud. This was absolutely clear. What didn’t arrive was the light system, the spots. We very quickly rented two small lights where you can push them up and have ten bulbs on the left and right. Before the concert, the police came and checked the stage to see if everything was secured and in order. They looked at the Marshall amps and said, “What’s this?” I said, “These are the lights.” Then we pointed up at the lights and said, “This is the sound.” This was the end of the ’60s—we could do this because nobody knew better at the time. When Jimi Hendrix started to play, it was so loud that people were sitting on the fl oor, not on the chairs, because they thought it would be less when you sat on the floor, which is of course stupid. They had the impression that they could hide or something. I was backstage and Jimi Hendrix came back during the set and said, “What happened? Why are the people sitting on the floor?” But the funny thing about the concert was that it was so loud that in the next room, which was quite far away from this one, the glasses and the bottles fell down. It was so loud that the whole building was shaking. Everything was vibrating. It was a great experience. SS Oh my God, yeah. Cool. EB In 1971 I worked on a Pink Floyd concert at a music festival in Carinthia. One of the biggest Austrian classical piano players, Friedrich Gulda, set up this festival with world music and rock music and jazz and everything, and he had the idea to invite Pink Floyd. Today you can’t even imagine how this could happen—that we could get Pink Floyd to come play in a little village in Carinthia. I don’t know how we managed to convince them, but they were coming, and we set up the show in the backyard of a very beautiful baroque church. It was, of course, sold out, and we’d been really relaxed about the show.

T he f irst pa r t of t he prog ra m wa s t he orchestra playing a Mozart piano concerto with Friedrich Gulda, and the second part was Pink Floyd. You could see Pink Floyd’s equipment on the stage and, in the front, the music stands and chairs of the classical orchestra who were the supporting act. The village police offi cer came and said we had to immediately cancel the show. He had heard from the traffic police that thousands of cars were coming. We said that was good for us but they said the village was too small and we had to cancel. I told him that it didn’t matter if we canceled because they were coming anyhow, and if they got there and the show wasn’t happening we would really get in trouble. I pretended that I was so professional, and that I had a lot of experience working on many big open-air shows and therefore knew how to handle this, which was of course a lie. After he left I realized that we were really in trouble if thousands of people were coming, because in that venue you only could sell 700 tickets, which is nothing. So we decided to turn it into a free concert. We opened the doors, and in came three or four thousand people. And of course the village was out of control. All the kids were lying in the grass, on the lake, and fucking around everywhere. It was like Woodstock in the Carinthia. It was a great evening but the next day, the village looked like a huge trashcan and the mayor came and immediately told us this was the end of the festival. SS That’s a great story. What a great experience. And you went back last year? EB I wanted to see it again, because I never had the feeling that it was so small. But I was standing in this church, and it’s incredible that anyone could have had the idea of doing a Pink Floyd concert there. We thought the church would be a nice backdrop for the band, but they’d already done the double album, Ummagumma (1969), and were already a very famous band. Spencer, I want to ask one question: When I look through your work I see a lot of portraits, but they don’t seem to be of real people. What is it about with the portraits? SS It’s a combination of things. W hen I’m

painting, I often become very involved with these different personalities that come about. If I’m to sit down and start to draw a figure, I become engaged with these different personalities, these different spirits. It’s something that I keep going to almost automatically. It has to do with this certain idea of souls, just different, unique human characteristics. This is what a soul is. Sometimes I sit down to draw and a face comes about. I’ll fi nd that it bears a striking resemblance to someone I know and it has come about without me looking for it. At other times I will sit down with somebody and do their portrait. I enjoy that experience very much. It’s an automatic process of a personality that comes about from the motion of my hand and from my imagination. I like the format of the portrait. There’s this kind of singular expression, maybe, say, a facial expression, that becomes the focus of the work. I also like how on the side there are little hints that tell a story in terms of the dress or the location, the environment in which the character sits. I enjoy that format very much. I fi nd myself making a lot of portrait-sized canvases. That’s something I really enjoy. I enjoy playing with the historical aspect of that. I also just enjoy having this character come forth in a very automatic way, almost straight from the subconscious. To me that’s a pleasing kind of process to embark upon and see through. It just really appeals to me. There are levels to it. It becomes a psychological study, which you can turn on to yourself, and it also becomes an expression of the different characteristics of human psychology and emotion. To me, there’s a lot to focus on. EB I think it’s a really interesting aspect in your work over the last years. Spencer, this evening I’m going to see a movie about chaabi music [North African festival music]—there’s a huge movement in Egypt now, these new rap guys. It’s really, really interesting. I’ll send you a link. You have to check it out. SS Oh, yeah. I want to check out the Egyptian rap scene, for sure. This is an edited version of an interview originally published in Spencer Sweeney (Brooklyn: Kiito-San, 2016).

!6

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 156

25/01/2019 10:00


ATELIER CALDER ANNOUNCES 2019 ARTISTS IN RESIDENCE

Postcard showing aerial view of Calder’s home and studio in Saché. © 2019 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

EVA KOT'ÁTKOVÁ WILLIAM LAMSON ALICE ANDERSON

CALDER FOUNDATION

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 157

25/01/2019 10:00


GIACOMETTI, MARCH 16TH – JUNE 30TH, 2019 – TOULOUSELAUTREC MUSEUM, ALBI – THE WORKS IN THIS EXHIBITION 30 sculptures in bronze, or in plaster, bearing witness of a tireless quest for capturing the reality embodied by the model. 44 drawings and 12 engravings, several of which had never been exhibited until yet, evoke Giacometti’s artist and poet friends, among which Igor Stravinsky, Michel Leiris, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre or René Char. GIACOMETTI AT THE TOULOUSE-LAUTREC MUSEUM The Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti (Paris) presents, in collaboration with the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum, the first exhibition in Albi devoted to the works by Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966). Like Toulouse-Lautrec, Giacometti was interested in the humankind, and working from life took a considerable share of his career. This new exhibition, especially conceived for the exhibition rooms of the Palace of La Berbie, proposes to enlighten this work by the artist about the human figure through more than 80 works produced between his coming to Paris in the 1920’s and the end of his career. The chronological and thematic tour, which goes through Giacometti’s di3erent creation periods, arranges the sculptures face to face with the drawings which, he often recalled, were for him the essential tools for understanding the model and the vision.

Buste d’Annette VIII , 1962 , Bronze , 59 x 28,7 x 22,8 cm , Collection de la Fondation Giacometti, Paris © Succession Alberto Giacometti (Fondation Giacometti Paris + ADAGP Paris) 2018

D’APRÈS MODÈLE

FONDATIONGIACOMETTI

MUSÉE TOULOUSE-LAUTREC Palais de la Berbie 81003 Albi cedex — France Tél. : + 00 33 5 63 49 48 70

Avec le soutien de

www.musee-toulouse-lautrec.com

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 158

25/01/2019 10:00


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 159

Helen’s Morocco Painting (19) - Photography by Rob McKeever, © 2018 Brice Marden/Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York

BRICE MARDEN

MOROCCO

22.02 - 12.03.2019

25/01/2019 10:00


‘Seated Ballerina’ © Jeff Koons

AT THE ASHMOLEAN BOOK NOW 7 Feb–9 Jun ashmolean.org 8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 160

25/01/2019 10:00


STERLING RUBY: SCULPTURE February 2 ñ April 21, 2019

nashersculpturecenter.org

Sterling Ruby, The Cup, 2013. Foam, urethane, wood, and spray paint, 92 x 115 1/2 x 88 in. (233.7 x 293.4 x 223.5 cm). Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Collection. Photo: Robert Wedemeyer, courtesy Sterling Ruby Studio Sterling Ruby: Sculpture                             

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 161

25/01/2019 10:00


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 162

25/01/2019 10:00


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 163

25/01/2019 10:00


8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 164

25/01/2019 10:00


NEW BRITAIN MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART

Clockwise from top left: Neil Jenney (b. 1945), Forest and Lumber, 1969, Acryclic on canvas with painted wood frame, 54 1/2 x 63 in., Courtesy Gagosian, JENNE 1969.0018; Modern Africa, 2016, Oil on canvas in artistís frame, 74 x 101 x 3 in., Courtesy Gagosian, JENNE 2016.0001; North America Depicted (Canadian #2), 2003ñ2007, Oil on wood, 8 x 95 5/8 in., Courtesy Gagosian, JENNE 2007.0001, All images © Neil Jenney

NEIL JENNEY: AMERICAN REALIST through March 17, 2019 ROBERT LEHMAN DISTINGUISHED LECTURE: AN EVENING WITH NEIL JENNEY IN CONVERSATION WITH DOUGLAS DREISHPOON Tuesday, February 5, 5:30-7 p.m. Snow date: Thursday, February 7, 5:30-7 p.m. 5:30 p.m. reception; 6 p.m. conversation AT THE NEW BRITAIN MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART 56 LEXINGTON STREET, NEW BRITAIN, CT Exhibition Sponsors Neil Jenney: American Realist made possible by the generosity of the Special Exhibition Fund donors, including John N. Howard, Sylvia Bonney,                          Kelly and Jonathan Jarvis, and Carolyn and Elliot Joseph.

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 165

25/01/2019 10:00


Lunch Monday–Saturday 12–3pm Dinner Monday–Saturday 6–11pm 976 Madison Avenue, New York T. 212 906 7141 reservation@kappomasanyc.com

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 166

25/01/2019 10:00


Photo by Patrick Crawford/Blackletter 8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 167

25/01/2019 10:00


GAGOSIAN SHOP 976 Madison Avenue, New York Hours: Monday–Saturday 10–7:30 shop@gagosian.com +1 212 7 6 1224

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 168

25/01/2019 10:00


A WA R E

n

Fr an ce

an d

ab ro ad

awarewomenartists.com is a documentary platform featuring a growing database of over 400 illustrated biographical presentations of artists and an online magazine

im pr ov e

ng

rd wa re d an

a

kn ow le dg e

A

gi er em

nďŹ co

ou r

discover

women artists and their art on the occasion of monthly museum visits

an

of w om en

W

inform

A

ar t th ists an t ks hro to ug pa h rt rou ne n rs d hi ta ps ble w s, ith un sy iv m er po sit si ie um sa s nd an m ds us tu eu dy m d s ay si

restore

the presence of 20th-century women artists in the history of art

Archives of Women Artists Research & Exhibitions

ed rm

an m wo

ar

h ac te tis

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 169

RE

Graphisme : Lisa Sturacci

share

ar ye

information on the works of women artists by way of printed publications

awarewomenartists.com @9

25/01/2019 10:00


GAME CHANGER: KAHNWEILER

Each issue we pay homage to a person who influenced the course of contemporary art. Here is renowned dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler (188(–1 7 ). Text by Michael Cary. It is great artists who make great dealers. —D. H. Kahnweiler

In September of 1908, a twenty-six-year-old painter named Georges Braque submitted six paintings to the Salon d’Automne. They were promptly rejected by a jury whose members included Henri Matisse and Georges Rouault. (Even in an avant-garde, there are guards at the gate.) Braque’s response was to take the canvases to an enterprising young dealer, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, who took a prompt action of his own: the day after the Salon closed, he opened Braque’s fi rst solo show, an exhibition of twenty-seven works. Reviewing the show in Gil Blas, critic Louis Vauxcelles wrote that Braque “reduces everything—places and figures and houses—to geometrical patterns, to cubes.” The market for Cubism was born.1 Kahnweiler had been primed for the shock of Cubism by his visit to Pablo Picasso’s studio the year before. In the ramshackle Bateau-Lavoir building in Montmartre, Kahnweiler found Picasso isolated and depressed. The largest composition the artist had attempted to date had gone in a direction his friends couldn’t follow; their reactions had been universally sarcastic and discouraging, to the point of thinking that he’d gone mad and that this “Assyrian” style of painting would be the end of him. When Kahnweiler laid eyes on Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, however, he was stunned and dazzled. He “had the sudden intuition that a whole tradition had been overthrown as of that moment,” and the enthusiasm with which he

tried to understand Picasso’s painting gave the artist a glimpse of a safe intellectual harbor.2 Meeting Picasso and seeing the Demoiselles changed Kahnweiler’s life—and the fact that he returned the following day to buy several gouaches and small paintings changed the artist’s as well. Kahnweiler was born to a prosperous banking family in Mannheim, Germany, in 1884. His work as a stockbroker in the family fi rm brought him to Paris, where he would make daily visits to the Louvre, a short walk from the Bourse. He fell in love with studying in person the paintings he had only ever seen in books, began collecting, and opened his fi rst gallery, at 28 rue Vignon, in the spring of 1907. Kahnweiler embraced art as an adventure; he sought out the most challenging artists—and the most ridiculed—from the very start, with an interest in the Fauves Maurice de Vlaminck, André Derain, and Braque. But it was his recognition of the cataclysm of Cubism that cemented his reputation. Through his choices of which Cubists to exhibit and which to decline, Kahnweiler virtually defi ned the movement, and he signed exclusivity contracts with the four originators: Braque, Picasso, Juan Gris, and Fernand Léger. Armed with two Spaniards and two Frenchmen, this German dealer worked quickly to evangelize the Cubist revolution internationally. He courted the Russian collector Sergei Shchukin, the Swiss Hermann Rupf, and the Czech Vincenc Kramar, and he partnered with Alfred Flechtheim in Düsseldorf, the Thannhausers in Munich, and Alfred Stieglitz and the Washington Square Gallery

in New York. His contracts protected his desire to be the sole conduit bringing the Cubists to market, but he also saw these agreements as gestures of an absolute faith and an effort to protect the artists from fi nancial worries. He maintained that role until 1914. At the outbreak of World War I, Paris was not the safest place for a German national. Kahnweiler was declared an enemy of the state, and his gallery and its contents were sequestered by the French government. He lost everything and spent the remainder of the war in neutral Switzerland, writing critical essays on Cubism and composing Der Weg zum Kubismus (The Rise of Cubism), his booklength study of the movement, which was published in 1920. He also returned to Paris that year, opened a new gallery with a French partner (Galerie Simon, 29 rue d’Astorg), but was unable to reclaim his confiscated stock. The French government dispersed Kahnweiler’s holdings, including over 1,200 canvases by Braque, Picasso, Gris, and Léger, at rock-bottom prices, flooding the market in a series of humiliating auctions held between 1921 and 1923. Kahnweiler would suffer further when, in 1941, he found himself in danger once again, this time for being Jewish during the Nazi occupation of Paris. He successfully “Aryanized” the fi rm by transferring ownership to his stepdaughter, Louise Leiris, before waiting out the remainder of the war in the South of France. He returned to the “Galerie Louise Leiris” after the war and worked side-by-side with Louise until his death, in 1979. Although most of Kahnweiler’s artists abandoned him out of necessity during World War I, he had a rapprochement with Picasso and became, again, the artist’s primary dealer later in life. The two men couldn’t have been more temperamentally different, yet the passionate, bohemian Spaniard and the grave and serious German businessman had formed a close bond at a crucial time in each other’s lives and a critical one in art history. Kahnweiler “liked smiling but disliked laughing,” another dealer, Heinz Berggruen, would remember, “but he was one of those art dealers who do not rely on charm to do their business.”3 Picasso had given Kahnweiler something stronger than charm: an art to defend with intellect and love, and an absolute belief in the rightness of his taste. That conviction was his sales technique. 1. See Louis Vauxcelles, “‘Exposition Braque. Chez Kahnweiler, 28 rue Vignon,’ Gil Blas, 14 November 1908,” in Mark Antliff and Patricia Leighten, eds., A Cubism Reader: Documents and Criticism, 1906–1914, trans. Jane Marie Todd (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2008) p. 48. See also Jack Flam, “The Birth of Cubism: Braque’s Early Landscapes and the 1908 Galerie Kahnweiler Exhibition,” in Emily Braun and Rebecca Rabinow Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2014), pp. 22, 302 n. 1. On Kahnweiler generally see Pierre Assouline, An Artful Life: A Biography of D. H. Kahnweiler 1884–1979 (New York: Fromm International, 1991). 2. Assouline, An Artful Life, pp. 49, 368 n. 58. 3. Heinz Berggruen, quoted in Philip Hook, Rogues Gallery: A History of Art and its Dealers (London: Profi le Books, 2017), pp. 149–50. Brassaï (Gyula Hálasz, called, 1899–1984), Kahnweiler in his office on rue Monceau, before a painting by Picasso, 1962, silver print. Inv.:MP1996-363. Image © Estate Brassaï-RMN. Repro-photo: Franck Raux. Picasso artwork © 2019 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY. Courtesy Musée Picasso, Paris © RMN-Grand Palais/Art Resource, NY

70

8_2019_1_GGMagSpring19_19.01.17 AE 04.indd 170

25/01/2019 10:00


GAME CHANGER: KAHNWEILER Each issue we pay homage to a person who influenced the course of contemporary art. Here is renowned dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler (1884–1979). Text by Michael Cary. It is great artists who make great dealers. —D. H. Kahnweiler In September of 1908, a twenty-six-year-old painter named Georges Braque submitted six paintings to the Salon d’Automne. They were promptly rejected by a jury whose members included Henri Matisse and Georges Rouault. (Even in an avant-garde, there are guards at the gate.) Braque’s response was to take the canvases to an enterprising young dealer, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, who took a prompt action of his own: the day after the Salon closed, he opened Braque’s first solo show, an exhibition of twenty-seven works. Reviewing the show in Gil Blas, critic Louis Vauxcelles wrote that Braque “reduces everything—places and figures and houses—to geometrical patterns, to cubes.” The market for Cubism was born.1 Kahnweiler had been primed for the shock of Cubism by his visit to Pablo Picasso’s studio the year before. In the ramshackle Bateau-Lavoir building in Montmartre, Kahnweiler found Picasso isolated and depressed. The largest composition the artist had attempted to date had gone in a direction his friends couldn’t follow; their reactions had been universally sarcastic and discouraging, to the point of thinking that he’d gone mad and that this “Assyrian” style of painting would be the end of him. When Kahnweiler laid eyes on Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, however, he was stunned and dazzled. He “had the sudden intuition that a whole tradition had been overthrown as of that moment,” and the enthusiasm with which he

tried to understand Picasso’s painting gave the artist a glimpse of a safe intellectual harbor.2 Meeting Picasso and seeing the Demoiselles changed Kahnweiler’s life—and the fact that he returned the following day to buy several gouaches and small paintings changed the artist’s as well. Kahnweiler was born to a prosperous banking family in Mannheim, Germany, in 1884. His work as a stockbroker in the family firm brought him to Paris, where he would make daily visits to the Louvre, a short walk from the Bourse. He fell in love with studying in person the paintings he had only ever seen in books, began collecting, and opened his first gallery, at 28 rue Vignon, in the spring of 1907. Kahnweiler embraced art as an adventure; he sought out the most challenging artists—and the most ridiculed—from the very start, with an interest in the Fauves Maurice de Vlaminck, André Derain, and Braque. But it was his recognition of the cataclysm of Cubism that cemented his reputation. Through his choices of which Cubists to exhibit and which to decline, Kahnweiler virtually defined the movement, and he signed exclusivity contracts with the four originators: Braque, Picasso, Juan Gris, and Fernand Léger. Armed with two Spaniards and two Frenchmen, this German dealer worked quickly to evangelize the Cubist revolution internationally. He courted the Russian collector Sergei Shchukin, the Swiss Hermann Rupf, and the Czech Vincenc Kramar, and he partnered with Alfred Flechtheim in Düsseldorf, the Thannhausers in Munich, and Alfred Stieglitz and the Washington Square Gallery

in New York. His contracts protected his desire to be the sole conduit bringing the Cubists to market, but he also saw these agreements as gestures of an absolute faith and an effort to protect the artists from financial worries. He maintained that role until 1914. At the outbreak of World War I, Paris was not the safest place for a German national. Kahnweiler was declared an enemy of the state, and his gallery and its contents were sequestered by the French government. He lost everything and spent the remainder of the war in neutral Switzerland, writing critical essays on Cubism and composing Der Weg zum Kubismus (The Rise of Cubism), his booklength study of the movement, which was published in 1920. He also returned to Paris that year, opened a new gallery with a French partner (Galerie Simon, 29 rue d’Astorg), but was unable to reclaim his confiscated stock. The French government dispersed Kahnweiler’s holdings, including over 1,200 canvases by Braque, Picasso, Gris, and Léger, at rock-bottom prices, flooding the market in a series of humiliating auctions held between 1921 and 1923. Kahnweiler would suffer further when, in 1941, he found himself in danger once again, this time for being Jewish during the Nazi occupation of Paris. He successfully “Aryanized” the firm by transferring ownership to his stepdaughter, Louise Leiris, before waiting out the remainder of the war in the South of France. He returned to the “Galerie Louise Leiris” after the war and worked side-by-side with Louise until his death, in 1979. Although most of Kahnweiler’s artists abandoned him out of necessity during World War I, he had a rapprochement with Picasso and became, again, the artist’s primary dealer later in life. The two men couldn’t have been more temperamentally different, yet the passionate, bohemian Spaniard and the grave and serious German businessman had formed a close bond at a crucial time in each other’s lives and a critical one in art history. Kahnweiler “liked smiling but disliked laughing,” another dealer, Heinz Berggruen, would remember, “but he was one of those art dealers who do not rely on charm to do their business.”3 Picasso had given Kahnweiler something stronger than charm: an art to defend with intellect and love, and an absolute belief in the rightness of his taste. That conviction was his sales technique. 1. See Louis Vauxcelles, “‘Exposition Braque. Chez Kahnweiler, 28 rue Vignon,’ Gil Blas, 14 November 1908,” in Mark Antliff and Patricia Leighten, eds., A Cubism Reader: Documents and Criticism, 1906–1914, trans. Jane Marie Todd (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2008) p. 48. See also Jack Flam, “The Birth of Cubism: Braque’s Early Landscapes and the 1908 Galerie Kahnweiler Exhibition,” in Emily Braun and Rebecca Rabinow Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2014), pp. 22, 302 n. 1. On Kahnweiler generally see Pierre Assouline, An Artful Life: A Biography of D. H. Kahnweiler 1884–1979 (New York: Fromm International, 1991). 2. Assouline, An Artful Life, pp. 49, 368 n. 58. 3. Heinz Berggruen, quoted in Philip Hook, Rogues Gallery: A History of Art and its Dealers (London: Profile Books, 2017), pp. 149–50. Brassaï (Gyula Hálasz, called, 1899–1984), Kahnweiler in his office on rue Monceau, before a painting by Picasso, 1962, silver print. Inv.:MP1996-363. Image © Estate Brassaï-RMN. Repro-photo: Franck Raux. Picasso artwork © 2019 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY. Courtesy Musée Picasso, Paris © RMN-Grand Palais/Art Resource, NY

170

4


Profile for Gagosian Quarterly

Gagosian Quarterly, Spring 2019  

Gagosian Quarterly, Spring 2019