ÂŠ Martin Parr/Magnum Photos
New Limited Editions from Aperture Visit Aperture in person or at aperture.org/prints The Non-Conformists Limited-Edition Box Set includes an 8 x 10 in. gelatin-silver print of Anniversary tea, Boulderclough Methodist Chapel,Â 1975 (above), signed and numbered in an edition of 100, in slipcase with The Non-Conformists by Martin Parr (Aperture, 2013). For inquiries, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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S U M M E R 2014
BARBARA PFLAUMER EDITOR IN CHIEF
CHRISTINA DAVIDSON CREATIVE DIRECTOR
PATRICIA MCCLAIN COPY EDITOR
FOUNDER AND PUBLISHER
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Painting: La Mort D’Anibal, 2014 by Umar Rashid, Acrylic, Ink, Coffee, Tea On Paper, 40 x 52 in. Painting courtesy Morgan Lehman Gallery
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The Letters of Paul Cézanne Edited and translated by Alex Danchev Alex Danchev’s crystalline translation of Cézanne’s letters includes more than twenty that were previously unpublished and reproduces the beguiling sketches and caricatures with which Cézanne occasionally illustrated his words. J. Paul Getty MuseuM cloth $39.95
The Greek Vase Art of the Storyteller John H. Oakley This richly illustrated volume presents ancient Greek vases not merely as beautiful vessels to hold water and wine, but also as instruments of storytelling and bearers of meaning. J. Paul Getty MuseuM cloth $29.95
Stained Glass Radiant Art Virginia Chieffo Raguin Beautifully illustrated with reproductions from the remarkable collection at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Stained Glass addresses the making of stained glass windows, their iconography and architectural contexts, their patrons and collectors, and the challenges of restoration and display. J. Paul Getty MuseuM Paper $20.00
The Window in Photographs Karen Hellman This elegantly conceived volume considers the motif of the window as an enduring photographic symbol. J. Paul Getty MuseuM cloth $24.95
Architecture in Photographs Gordon Baldwin Architecture is second only to portraiture as the most favored subject for the camera. From Greek temples to Gothic cathedrals to modern-day skyscrapers, this lavishly illustrated book presents a panoply of different architectural structures and styles. J. Paul Getty MuseuM cloth $24.95
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TABLE OF CONTENTS 6
BARET BOISSON An interview with the L.A. artist
10 ARTISTS DRINKING BEER Umar Rashid & Oliver Arms 16 JORI FINKEL An interview with the art critic 20 DIANA, THE HUNTRESS Newly restored at the Philadelphia Museum of Art 24 PUBLIC ART Assessing two sculptures at LACMA 28 VIVIAN MAIER Discovering the street photographer 40 GALLERY Face Value: Portraiture in the Age of Abstraction
A word from the editor
26 Exhibit: James Turrell 34 Collecting: The Phillips Collection 38 Exhibit: Basquiat Drawings 48 Excerpt: Lost Art of the 20th Century 50 Excerpt: Hammershoi and Europe 54 Documentary: Tim’s Vermeer 56 Fiction: Art on Fire 60 Perspective 61 Contributors
Artwork: Willem de Kooning, Asheville, 1948. Oil and enamel on cardboard 25 9/16 x 31 7/8 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1952 © 2014 The Willem de Kooning Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
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A WORD FROM THE EDITOR
hould museums be free? This past February the Hammer Museum of Los Angeles permanently eliminated their admission fee. They were able to accomplish this through the generous gifts supplied by two donors, Erika Glazer and Brenda Potter. Museums both in LA (the Getty) and around the country (Baltimore, Cleveland, Indianapolis and, of course, all the Smithsonian museums) also offer this benefit to their visitors. The Hammer believes that free admission is the right thing to do. As Director Ann Philbin says, “It is part of our institutional ethos—we want to foster a generosity of spirit which emphasizes the essential importance of dialogue, culture, creativity in everyone’s lives—regardless of one’s ability to pay.” This attitude is already paying the museum rich rewards, both in attendance and good will, but is it realistic for all? Most large museums calculate that admission income accounts for a small percentage of their overall budget, generally 3% to 8%. Larger museums such as the Metropolitan ask their visitors for a “suggested” donation of $25, which accounts for 15% of their budget. Virtually every museum of consequence offers its public a free day on a monthly basis or a corporate-sponsored free day (the good people at Target are one of the greatest benefactors to museums on this front), etc. But free admission undercuts many existing membership programs that are the life’s blood to a preponderance of museums. If museums removed admissions from the equation would people come in greater numbers? Most museums report their attendance goes up significantly on their admission-free days. But if these free days were the norm, one wonders whether the attraction would hold. The reality is that the only way for many families to afford a day at most museums is to remove the cost of admission. If museums believe that they need to court the constituency of tomorrow, they will have to make up these lost funds in other ways. Yours, Barbara Pflaumer Editor in Chief firstname.lastname@example.org
ON THE COVER:
Rest, the Beautiful Sisters by Oliver Arms, 84 x 72 inches, oil on canvas, 2013
BARET BOISSON Baret Boisson is a self-taught L.A. artist known for her portraits of historical figures from Abraham Lincoln to Rosa Parks as well as commissioned works for such notables as Elizabeth Taylor and Jimmy Fallon. We talked to Boisson about her career, her artwork, and her storytelling.
Eleanor Roosevelt (2012) Mixed Media on Board (72”x60”)
Foreground: Where did you study— how did you start? Baret Boisson: I was born in Florence, Italy. My parents were both artists. We moved to South America when I was quite young, and I lived in South America between Dutch Guinea and French Guinea until I was seven, and then we moved to the states for a few years. When I was ten I was sent to boarding school in 6
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France until high school, when I went to the French Lycée in New York. Foreground: Your French is good. Boisson: My French is pretty good, but I had a kind of eclectic upbringing and never studied art, never picked up a paintbrush. My parents were both so talented—I usually have their art all over the place but now my art has taken
I Do (Fallon-Juvonen Wedding Portrait) (2008) Mixed Media on Canvas (36”x18”)
over and so I don’t. I didn’t start paint- Boisson: I think both actually. My boying until I moved to L.A. friend was a male model at Ford, and he made lots of money, and I had lots of Foreground: What did you study in money. I was working at Random House school? but I would go out at night and come Boisson: I studied political science, back and just feel empty, that I really minored in East Asian studies and Wom- hadn’t connected with anybody, that it en’s studies at Barnard. I spoke five was just a lot of artifice. I would spend languages, I have no propensity for math, money on clothes that I could not wear I cannot figure out a tip, I cannot bal- ever again, and we had a house in the ance a checkbook, I can’t do anything Hamptons. But there was this enormous with numbers but I can remember every disparity between my internal and exterstory you tell me. So basically I thought nal lives that became too difficult to I would be doing something with interna- reconcile. So I moved out here, but I had tional politics but really leaning towards a very hard time for close to five years. diplomacy, or translating—it always had something to do with people. Foreground: Can you speak a little bit about that? Foreground: What prompted you to Boisson: I had just quit my job at Ranmove to California? Had you had enough dom House, but I was still into this of the East Coast? whole cerebral world. I had no friends Boisson: I really had grown too sensi- here aside from my best friend who tive to my environment—stepping over lived in Santa Barbara, but I didn’t know people to go to the subway—just too anyone in Los Angeles proper. It took much stimulus, and I needed to leave. quite a while to get to know people that I liked. Then [in ‘94] we had the Foreground: Was it a growing dissatis- big earthquake, and at that moment I faction, or did you have a revelation? had never been more scared; I thought 7
Windemere (Fallon-Juvonen Engagement Portrait) Acrylic on Canvas (26”x 20”) The Highest Bliss (Sumner Redstone Wedding Portrait) Acrylic and Ink on Canvas (30”x23”)
Rosa on Bus (2012) Mixed Media on Canvas (36”x48”) 8
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I was going to die for sure and in the aftermath became really depressed. I was buying bags of chocolate-covered raisins and sitting in my bed and not going out, not answering the door— really isolating myself. One day a friend asked me to come over, and he had music on and wine. And he had this board and paint and he was painting and just having fun doing it ... Art wasn’t foreign, or the appreciation of art, but never in terms of actual doing it, and I did it and I loved it immediately. I don’t know what to liken it to except my being a fish and finally finding water. Right away it spoke to me, and right away I felt completely fulfilled. I finished that painting and we got together again and I finished another painting.
and through that and word of mouth I just started doing a lot of celebrity wedding portraits. Foreground: I saw your Tom and Katie painting—did they sit for that or was that done from a photo? Boisson: Nobody sits. I am self-taught and it takes me forever to paint. I have no tricks—it’s just completely visceral. I really don’t plan anything out and so if anyone wanted to sit for a portrait they would really be in trouble. Foreground: Do you consider your style naïve? Boisson: Maybe initially because I didn’t have any skills...
Foreground: You had skills; you didn’t Foreground: Do you remember what have training... Boisson: But the skill only comes the paintings were? Boisson: The first one was of two boys because of my eye, because it takes me and the second one was of my dog a long time to get where I want to go. Lucky. Both hang now in my mother’s For example, if I am doing a wedding beautiful kitchen in Southampton. And portrait, I can see what it is supposed within months I was getting commis- to look like, I can see that it’s not right, but I can’t get there any faster than sions. by trying things by accident and then Foreground: Artists generally wait a sometimes things happen by mistake long time to get commissions. How did that I end up loving. I feel as though I am lucky I wasn’t trained because I have you go from A to B? Boisson: Almost right away a friend my own style which separates me. It’s of mine who was married to the head super personal but also I have no rules of MTV and Viacom commissioned me —I am glad my characters don’t have to to do an anniversary portrait for her be perfect. [After years of] feeling like I hadn’t husband, and then they gave a wedding gift of my painting to [media magnate] been doing anything with my education, Sumner Redstone. There happened to I realize that through my work I am tellbe an article in the New York Times about ing stories and connecting with people. what to give the mogul or whatever who And that’s what I had hoped to be doing has everything, [and I got mentioned], all along. 9
Foreground editor Barbara Pflaumer recently joined noted artists Umar Rashid (aka Frohawk Two-Feathers) and Oliver Arms for brews and a conversation about the art world. Learn more about the artists and see their works at morganlehmangallery.com and oliverarms.com.
UMAR RASHID & OLIVER ARMS LOS ANGELES, CA from Chicago, first I lived in Inglewood and then I lived in Westchester adjacent, then Koreatown, and then to Lincoln Heights, and there were all these hawks there. I was wowed by them and was about to cut this Mohawk hair style and just Pflaumer: So when you had your recent show came up with this hippie idea of Frohawk Two“Heartbreaking and shit, but that’s the globe. The Feathers. Battle of Manhattan” at Morgan Lehman Gallery Pflaumer: And you’ve had this identity for how in New York it was Frohawk Two-Feathers? long—10 years? Rashid: It was Frohawk Two-Feathers Rashid: Ten years. Pflaumer: How did you come to the persona of Oliver Arms: You were Frohawk when I met you in 2003. I bought a skateboard from him, it’s Frohawk? Rashid: When I moved to Los Angeles in 2000 great, it’s in my kitchen... Barbara Pflaumer: Umar, do you wish to go by Umar or Frohawk Two-Feathers? Umar Rashid: Well, if this is recorded then I have to go by Frohawk; it’s interchangeable.
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Irene of the Sisters of the Red Wood (2014), Acrylic, Ink, Coffee, Tea On Paper, 44h x 30w in (111.8h x 76.2w cm) Clovis and Beertje (2014), Acrylic, Ink, Coffee, Tea On Paper 44h x 30w in (111.8h x 76.2w cm) Tallyman (2014), Acrylic, Ink, Coffee, Tea On Paper, 30h x 22w in (76.2h x 55.9w cm) The Fall of Avalon and the purge of the Christians. A victory robe made for Bonnie Prince Johnnie by an unknown Cree. (2014), Acrylic On Deer Skin
In the back of every artist’s mind you think the show you did is going to turn everything upside down, and you don’t know whether you are going to get a chance to do this again. —
Pflaumer: Was it an art piece? Arms: Yes, and I had just bought a brand new sofa and we were drinking together and he said I want to see your stuff. My studio was a toxic waste dump—all oils, etc., and he had this skateboard, and I said I want to buy this. I bought it for $425. Pflaumer: It was a bargain, I suspect... Arms: Gorgeous piece. We sat down on my brand new, white sofa. I wrote him a check for $425, he left, I walked him outside, I went back upstairs and looked at where he had been sitting and there was this cobalt blue streak of oil paint he had picked up from my studio. Pflaumer: Oh no! Arms: So I went downstairs and got some turpentine... Pflaumer: Did it take it out? Arms: Yup, the couch is still there. ... It was back then when we would drink and talk about history, and the Frohawk component was to take great liberties with imaginative history under that auspice. Pflaumer: Imaginative history, faux history...? Rashid: Yeah but not completely faux but based on actual history. Pflaumer: Tell about your experience at Art Miami Basel. Arms: I didn’t go. Pflaumer: You didn’t go—you sent artwork! Arms: I basically emptied my studio, sent everything off, took a few days and then got back to work, so I didn’t go. I tried to synthesize from reports of people who were there, and one thing I do know is that there was a lot of discussion about the rise of the celebrity and the celebrity party, where it is starting to overshadow the actual fair itself.
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Rest, the Beautiful Sisters, 84 x 72 inches, oil on canvas, 2013
Pflaumer: Like Sundance. Arms: You have a lot of people who want to do serious business, and having to wade through 20 of tomorrow’s pop stars is annoying. The whole thing is starting to get out of hand.
mine—and he said, “I’m sorry, I cry when something moves me this much.”
Pflaumer: It’s all this branding opportunity nonsense... Arms: That’s what I am saying, it’s branding opportunity for luxury brands using it as a platform for launches, so I didn’t go but I have been before. And I love it because it’s like the Olympics for my peers and myself. The last time I went I was training for a marathon and so during the day I would run up and down the beach and then I’d go to the fair and at night I would go out to dinner with my art dealers for free dinners and then the next day I would go running again. And the other thing is that it does show you, for the cynic, a lot of people go [to see the art]...
Pflaumer: That would have been too much? Arms: That would have been an abuse of a tender moment. Rashid: I don’t think I could have resisted the temptation: “yeah, man, you owe me those tears.” Arms: Heroism is bullshit. What would you say to your hero? I would say nothing to my heroes. If I met John Lennon or fucking Freddie Mercury, I have nothing to say to them, I would rather listen to their record. When you’re an artist you can lose sight of that.
Pflaumer: Civilians, when the celebrities are gone... Arms: Yeah, Umar and I will complain about the daily grind of what we do, and then you see people who are really moved by our work. It is astonishingly humbling for me. Rashid: Exactly.
Pflaumer: Did you tell him it was yours? Arms: No I didn’t tell him.
Pflaumer: Obviously the satisfaction is in the work and making the work, but then knowing the work has a life after you finish and you put it out there and you know you’re never going to touch it again... Rashid: I go into the worse depression, post-partum; it’s like having a baby. When I have had one of my shows, and after the fanfare is over, the parade is done, I feel as though I could jump off a building.
Pflaumer: Why? Pflaumer: In a way, that’s why I’m surprised you Rashid: Because you have worked so long to create something and cultivate an idea and then turn didn’t go. it into something that can be seen and shown, Rashid: Too much anxiety for that. Arms: Dealers don’t like it when their artists are heard or experienced, and then when that period running around; for them it’s like a trade show. is over you either don’t know what you are goYet when I was there before I had one of the ing to do or you just know that that moment will most powerful experiences I have ever seen. I never happen again—that moment is gone. had a painting up. When you’re a painter, aside from openings, you don’t get to see how people Pflaumer: But you know you’re going to make respond to your work, so I was kind of hover- something else, so why is it so painful? ing near my painting watching people. This guy Rashid: In the back of every artist’s mind you walked up to the painting and he was looking think the show you did is going to turn everyat it, and I saw tears coming down his face. He thing upside down, and you don’t know whether turned and looked at me—he didn’t know it was you are going to get a chance to do this again. 14
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Arms: It’s deeply personal, and we have to dig deep and it sucks—it’s hard work. I’m not complaining, but I just spent a year making the work for this show, and then I got a two-week window where it was celebrated and that felt really good. You see it in a dirty studio with cobwebs, then on pristine bleached walls and people are around. I remember walking into one of my shows and I didn’t even correlate that I had actually created the show. Pflaumer: You actually had a stranger experience? Arms: Yeah. I had divorced myself. I had put so much work into producing the show that when the show was done and shipped my brain just shut down. I got to New York and I didn’t correlate that I was able to experience my work as a voyeur.
Yeah, Umar and I will complain about the daily grind of what we do, and then you see people who are really moved by our work. It is astonishingly humbling for me. —
Pflaumer: What was that like? Arms: Great. This guy’s a great painter. And then fast forward to a month later, standing at a blank canvas, in a crappy ass studio that stinks and your friend comes over and gets paint on your sofa. Pflaumer: Do you go to other people’s openings? Arms: Yes. Virtually every artist goes and then says “this sucks,” but I don’t associate with people whose work I cannot admire. I only hang out with artists whose work I respect, because they inspire me. They move me or they challenge me. Rashid: Sometimes you can appreciate the hand in the work. Something technically well done…. Arms: It’s easier to be moved by strangers’ work than people that you know. Pflaumer: What do you think of the art scene in Los Angeles? Rashid: I think it’s great—you have affordable spaces to create work, you have the influence of transients, artistic and otherwise, the world comes here, it’s a great metropolitan city. Its sunny all the time so paint dries fast … Arms: Great light. L.A. rocks.
Intercession, 72 x 72 inches, oil on canvas, 2012-2013 15
JORI FINKEL A CONVERSATION WITH THE ARTS REPORTER
hen art reporter Jori Finkel was laid off from the L.A. Times last year due to budget cuts, the public outcry included a letter to the Times from more than a dozen Southern California museum directors. “It is especially unfortunate to see you dismiss your only staff reporter specializing in art now that Los Angeles is increasingly recognized worldwide as the most influential center for contemporary art and culture,” stated the letter. Foreground recently spoke to Finkel about her career as an arts journalist and about the state of arts reporting in general.
Foreground: Since leaving the L.A.Times it seems you are even busier as a cultural journalist in Los Angeles. Jori Finkel: I have been busy—there is no shortage of subjects in the L.A. art world. I have ongoing relationship with the New York Times, and then I’ve signed
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on as the Los Angeles correspondent for The Art Newspaper. It means that they are interested in L.A. in the broadest possible sense, and they are also interested in what’s happening in San Francisco and some cities which, frankly, the L.A. Times was not interested in having me cover.
Foreground: What are the challenges of writing for these two very different publications—do you have different assignments from each? Finkel: One of the things that makes it different for me is that The Art Newspaper has given me a great space for comment and analysis pieces, Op-Ed style pieces where I can step back and weigh in on important topics in the art world. Recently I did a column on the California Resale Royalty Act and the five lessons Congress should learn from it before enacting a new bill that has been proposed giving artists resale royalties in the U.S. Or my newest piece looks at how curators are avoiding Mike Kelley’s suicide in writing about his death (read the piece here: http://www.theartnewspaper.com/blogs/The-life-and-deathof-Mike-Kelley/32265). My coverage ranges from doing profiles of artists in their studios talking about the way the paint drips or to be more contemporary, the video formats they use, to covering museum issues and market trends. I find it really interesting to look at institutions that are shaping the way we interact with art— here in Los Angeles, at the Getty, LACMA, MOCA or the Hammer. I get great pleasure in that full range.
“Writing a column where I can put my own neck out on the line and get to some of the juicy or loaded conversations that take place in the art world but don’t always get aired is important, I think.”
now that I’ve been covering art for 20 years. Sometimes I can’t get my sources to talk as openly on record as they do with me personally, since people tend to be fearful when they feel like an article might expose the inner workings of the art world or pull the curtain back on some behavior. So writing a column where I can put my own neck out on the line and get to some of the juicy or loaded conversations that take place in the art world but don’t always get aired Foreground: Is writing an opinion piece is important, I think. new for you? Finkel: I’ve done it before—I had a Foreground: Do you think that Los column in Art + Auction when I first Angeles has an unusual or unique culmoved to L.A. almost a decade ago. I tural atmosphere? think it’s even more important for me Finkel: Yes. My point of comparison
and for a lot of people the point of comparison is New York. So does L.A. feel different from New York as an art community? The answer is absolutely yes. L.A. feels to me so artist-centered right now, while New York is more mar-
“The fact that they are all so young means that there are a lot of changes taking place in leadership, in museum identity and vision. The institutions are really still articulating their purpose here, which really makes it an exciting time to be a journalist in this city.”
but we don’t have the same number of collectors at the Ellsworth Kelly level as found in New York and Europe. So the market is less developed. On the other hand, I can’t think of another city that has as many extraordinary art schools. There are so many artists teaching here, artists studying here, artists staying here—and it really creates an environment where it feels as though anything is possible. Additionally, our institutions are so young: LACMA was only founded 50 years ago, the Hammer about 25 years ago, and the Getty didn’t take its current form at the top of the hill until 1997. The fact that they are all so young means that there are a lot of changes taking place in leadership, in museum identity and vision. The institutions are really still articulating their purpose here, which really makes it an exciting time to be a journalist in this city.
Foreground: What do you think the future is for cultural reporting? Finkel: Of course you are asking the question of someone who had her position as an art reporter eliminated. ...I was ket oriented, driven by big sales not rather stunned by the decision, considjust at auctions but at the galleries as ering [the L.A. Times] managed to keep well. For example when Matthew Marks a half dozen of TV reporters and half a opened his gallery here in L.A., his Ells- dozen of film reporters, and I was the worth Kelly show sold out to collectors only one dedicated to visual arts. from Europe and New York before it officially opened. I’m not saying there Foreground: It is shocking. haven’t been sales of Kelly’s work in Finkel: That was not a good sign. On L.A. since then, and the presence of the other hand there are a lot of blogthis show helped develop the market, gers these days—there are very low
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barriers for someone to start a blog and write about the art that they see, the art that they like, the art that they make—and that’s a great thing. The only question, and it’s a big question, is how do you monetize it? Are there careers as art reporters or cultural reporters to be had outside of New York? And if not, how does this impact the cultural life of all the smaller cities?
Foreground: Amen to that. I like what you’ve just said, but I also have to quite honestly say that I think it’s wishful thinking since people don’t do that now and we have a super structure or an infrastructure in place that should allow for that. I hope you are right but I am not optimistic. Finkel: Yes, there’s a lot of misinformation floating out there.
Foreground: The blogs are interesting but they don’t meet the level of journalism that I expect from someone like you—and the people you have worked for. They operate without a check and balance system fundamental to real journalism. Finkel: Absolutely, it’s pretty clear the standard has changed. The priority is being first. I think one of the things that could happen in the future, what I hope could happen in the future, is that instead of editors being the only arbiters of what good journalism is, the readers will be arbiters of what journalism is. Readers will learn, maybe it will take a year or two, that a particular writer gets the facts wrong, or doesn’t bother to give both sides fair play. That’s really all you can hope for in an age when so many people have a Facebook or Twitter account and act as publishers themselves with their updates: that they will become sophisticated enough to tell the difference between good journalism and sloppy, slapdash, put-it-up-therefast Huffington Post-style writing.
Foreground: It’s Wikipedia world. Finkel: Wikipedia is not that inaccurate, and they’ve done studies comparing entries to old-school encyclopedias proving it. The crowd-sourced model, where multiple editors are jumping in to do checks and balances with an amateur Wikipedia editor, seems to work. So maybe that’s one of the models we will be going towards. I make it a point, for example, whenever I read a news article online, to read the comments as well: If there is something missing from the article or something skewed about it, often somebody is going to post a comment on that. Foreground: Was there a cultural journalist that you particularly admired or do admire who is still out there? Finkel: I am a huge fan of the writer Janet Malcolm. I think she is extraordinary for having the courage to follow the kind of intricacies and subtleties of a situation without fitting the details into some pre-conceived narrative, like assuming this guy is guilty. You can see her thinking as she writes. And she’s a great thinker.
DIANA, THE HUNTRESS
ne of the iconic works in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s collection is Augustus Saint-Gauden’s sculpture Diana, The Huntress, which has stood at the top of the Great Stair Hall in the West Foyer of the museum for the past 80 years. Recently, through a generous grant from the Bank of America, the museum has been able to re-gild the Diana and return her to her original state. Made for the second iteration of Madison Square Garden in New York City in 1893, the Diana came to the PMA in 1932 when the Garden was torn down. By the time the sculpture arrived in Philadelphia, it had undergone an unfortunate renovation and most of its original gilding had been removed. Since it was the height of the Depression it was deemed unwise, if not unaffordable, to re-gild it at that time. Over the years, its antique appearance was accepted, until the Bank of America’s Global Art and Heritage Branch stepped up to return the sculpture to its intended state. Foreground recently spoke with Andrew Lins, the Neubauer Family Chair of the Conservation Department and Senior Curator of Decorative Arts, and Kathleen Foster, the Robert L. McNeil, Jr., Senior Curator of American Art, and Director of the Center of American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art about the re-gilding of the seminal sculpture. 20
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Foreground: How did it come to pass that after more than 80 years the sculpture was re-gilded? Andrew Lins: The project actually developed when I had a call from a representative of the Bank of America, Allen Blevins [Senior Vice President, Director Global Art and Heritage Programs, Global Corporate Social Responsibility, Bank of America] who had spoken to Merv Richards (a former paintings conservator at the PMA) now of the National Gallery. Alan asked Merv whom he could recommend he talk to about possible projects and Merv mentioned me. Alan called and asked me to submit a list of different projects for review by BOA. They decided which they would support. These
that was symbolic of the “Gilded Age” in effect, and it wasn’t meant to look like a retiring, discrete Greek antiquity, which is what it has served as for the last 80 years. So it was a misrepresentation of the intent of the maker and of the wishes of the architect Stanford White.
were projects that might otherwise not be undertaken due to cost, and this was certainly one of those. Foreground: Why did you consider this not only worthy but also in need of attention? Lins: Well, the sculpture was stable and wasn’t in danger structurally or having any problems, but its surface had been substantially altered by a restoration in 1932 before it was shipped to the museum from New York. The net effect of the changes by weather and this restoration was to make the piece look totally unlike it was originally intended. It had been a lovely, naked, gilded figure
Foreground: Tell me about Saint-Gauden’s technique for the sculpture construction. Lins: He modeled Diana using two different models — one for the head and one for the body — that he then joined together. He modeled them, just as he modeled everything else, working them up in clay and converting it to a plaster. The plaster was the basis from which the sculpture was manufactured at a factory at a little town in Ohio called Salem. It was made by a process of hot pressing sections of copper sheets that were then riveted and soldered together, making a very light and thin structure with an armature inside such that it could serve as a weather vane. If it had been cast in bronze as opposed to being made out of copper sheet — which was only 20,000th of an inch thick, typical of sheeting for roofs and the like — it would have weighed so much it couldn’t have turned. This is exactly how the Statue of Liberty was made, more as a means of containing costs due to its gigantic size, but with Diana it was to assure that she would rotate with the wind. Foreground: I have seen two different heights for the sculpture; I always thought it was 18’…. Lins: No, actually there were two versions 21
DIANA, THE HUNTRESS
of the beaten copper sheet; the first one was 18’ high, and Stanford White and Saint- Gaudens were concerned that it was too big. When it was put up on the tower, they mulled it over for not very long and decided that it was too big. Within about a year of its first installation, they went to the board and asked for permission to take it down and replace it. The first Diana was not nearly as well modeled and graceful as the second one, and it was shipped out to Chicago to the Columbian Exposition 1893. It was placed on top of the Agricultural Building. The Exposition came and went; it was quite successful but then the grounds were left and there was no one there to account for the homeless who gathered there. The winter was very cold in 1894, and there was a fire that got out of control. The Agriculture Building was destroyed, yet there was something left of her because she was last displayed at the entrance to the Art Institute when a show of Saint-Gaudens work in 1909, the first retrospective, was mounted. The figure down to about the waist was displayed outside; what happened to it after that is not known. Foreground: Having been familiar with the Diana in its former appearance, I have to say I was taken aback by its new iteration. Will the gold fade with time or is the color stable? Lins: No, that’s one of the things about gold — it won’t fade itself. We are actually working on a way to cut the reflection a little bit to make the sculpture glow rather than glimmer. Of course, it’s different but 22
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it is the way it was intended to be. It was one of the most egregious misrepresentations of appearance the museum had in its collections. It was not intended to be an antique figure and really is all about the energy and spirit of the exuberance of “Gilded Age.” Having it be dull and gray for so long, it has been difficult for people to adjust to it immediately, but it is closer to the artist’s intent. Foreground: Are there various shades of gold? Kathleen Foster: Actually — this was fabulous — they were able to find remnants of the original gold on the sculpture, in her hair and in between her toes. Literally, there are these fantastic machines that can analyze it and identify the exact gold with which she was gilded. So, yes, gold leaf comes in a spectrum of colors; it is actually quite surprising. This is a very red gold. Andrew actually had evidence that her scarf [part of the original sculpture that blew off 15 years after the 1893 installation and was never replaced] was in a different gold, which just shows you how keen or how hip that Saint-Gaudens was that he thought of the gold as a palette and he wanted her scarf to look different from her body. Foreground: Augustus Saint-Gaudens was much sought after in his day, wasn’t he? Foster: From the middle of the 1880s to his death in 1907 he was considered the best. He was the trendsetter and the most in demand. I just don’t think there is any controversy about that. So the museum is lucky to have two of his very finest pieces. We acquired a beautiful sculpture by Saint-Gaudens called the Angel of Purity. If you look down to toward the American Gallery, you can see the Angel of Purity installed on the wall, spot lit, and she is glowing. From a particular perspective of the museum, one can see two of the finest works Saint-Gaudens ever did. And considering the city of Philadelphia has a couple of other Saint-Gaudens pieces, including The Pilgrim, which is a sculpture of the great puritan striding forward, blowing in the wind, carrying a Bible and looking quite formidable, on Kelly Drive, we are well represented by this great sculptor of the late 19th century.
Foreground: Is it true that this is the only nude Saint-Gaudens ever did? Foster: Yes, it is the only nude sculpture he ever did. Most of his commissions in the United States are for General Sherman or Abraham Lincoln, historical figures that are in contemporary dress. And so the women’s figures, the allegorical figures tend to be figures of victory like the angel who is leading Sherman’s horse, or the angel that is flying above Colonel Shaw in the Shaw Memorial. Lins: The modeling is quite extraordinary; it is very subtle and yet all the forms are very well defined, very minimal, so that the skill of the sculpture was extraordinary. The fewer of the cavities that you have the better that the light will bounce off the surface. The light from the daylight and the light from the night was part of the intention since Diana was really essentially a beacon. In fact, a brazen beacon because she was only the female nude that Saint-Gaudens ever did.
LEARN MORE Foreground recommends our readers look at the links put up by the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Conservation Department on the research they have done on Diana, The Huntress. The sculpture returns on view in early June 2014.
Foreground: Now that Diana has been re-gilded, how does that effect how one “reads” her as a piece of sculpture — what are the challenges? Foster: The main problem is that people see her from right below her or at the foot of the stairs, which is a tiny percentage of the viewing distance that Saint-Gaudens originally imagined, so she seems much brighter up close than she would have if you had been standing on the sidewalk in Madison Square. So that is a problem of proximity. The fact that she has now been brought down to earth means we have to soften the affect she had when she was up on top of a 400-foot tower. That is the kind of tweaking that we are working on right now. In addition, lighting her properly has been a challenge. Our lighting guy, who is fabulous, has taken temporary lights and placed them on the wall behind her to see the affect and what makes the contour darker against the back wall. One reason we are trying to bring the light down and backlight her is to make sure that the three-dimensionality continues to read in dark places where she should be dark and light in the places where she should be light, etc. So that she reads as a sculpture. She is very beautiful now but the shininess on her, at the moment, is a problem we haven’t yet conquered it completely. 23
Urban Light and Levitated Mass at LACMA
MYTH OR MENACE by Daniel Klein
here is no missing the precisely planted and tiered ironworks, Urban Light by artist Chris Burden, since the sculpture is located at the entrance to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Wilshire Boulevard. One is meant to wander among the columns along with children who rush to play hide-and-seek and couples trying to find a spot to take photos. One cannot help but admire the uniform paint and metal restoration of each of the 202 authentic Los Angeles streetlights. The installation has impressive aspects: The ironworks’ cascading arrangement in order from smaller to larger with the more ornate at the center creates a sensation that they are intelligent, sentient beings as well as the formation of a Greek temple-like structure. The globes, and individual configurations, that were based on the identities of particular communities, sources of civic pride for those neighborhoods, are beautiful and delicate atop the massive gray light poles. At night, the sculpture is a beacon, attracting the moths of nocturnal appreciation. Day and night, people assemble, taking photos and making videos, and the sculpture has become an L.A. landmark, appearing in ads, television shows and movies. And yet something is missing. While Urban Light is meant to evoke L.A. in times gone by and the romance with which one filters memories, it isn’t really what that time was like at all. What’s missing is the charm, mystery, and mystique of winding your way down a street from glow to glow; stopping to sit at a bench in between; leaning against the hard-ribbed light pole; or stepping just outside the halo of light. Had the artist staggered and randomized the layout, it still would not feel natural, in an urban sense. No, one wants to stroll through the installation, stop to linger; to be watched over by the protective strength of a few of these steel and glass sentinels. It would be impossible to experience that in Burden’s piece because the light posts are regimentally jammed tightly into the space, a feat in itself.
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In the end it’s telling that only from out across the street can you truly take in the whole sculpture, which begs the question: Is Urban Light primarily a night drive-by experience? In contrast to Urban Light, walking through the lively outdoor cafe area to the north of the LACMA lot, visitors get their first glimpse of the seemingly impossible: a 340-ton rock — an artwork titled Levitated Mass, by artist Michael Heizer. A stylized 456-foot concrete trench is cut into the ground below the crushed granite surface that surrounds Levitated Mass. Fifteen-feet deep, It features a built-in railing and leveled spaces giving relief and pauses periodically down the walkway until one finally stands beneath the behemoth.The two steel braces at the sides of the Mass were not part of the initial design, and one wishes they weren’t there, to be honest—their absence would’ve only added to the thrill. As a public rock in a public space, Levitated Mass is pretty daring — not unlike the best of the late installation artist Luther Utterback’s limestone installations. Levitated Mass takes up a lot of space, which is crucial, for one needs room to reflect on it by approach as well as standing underneath it. If one reads the label for the artwork found on the northwest corner of the museum lot, an interesting perspective on the scale of Levitated Mass is provided. One marvels at the technical exigencies of the piece, i.e., how it arrived at the museum, the process of transporting it from Riverside (its original point of origin), who decided that this was the rock, etc., as well as considering the discussions and arguments must have ensued over whether or not to give up almost an entire block of prime real estate for a rock. Los Angeles should consider itself fortunate that rock won over scissors. Left: Urban Light by Chris Burden, Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Right: Levitated Mass, 2012 by Michael Heizer, Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
EXHIBIT Los Angeles County Museum of Art
he first major retrospective of Turrell’s work in over thirty years, James Turrell, A Retrospective examined this Los Angeles-born artist’s work over the past fifty years. The exhibit was comprised of almost 50 works including light projects, holograms, installation pieces and overviews of Turrell’s ongoing work on the Roden Crater project (Turrell’s obsession for over forty years — located in the Painted Desert of Arizona, a 400,000-year-old, 600-foottall extinct volcanic cinder cone being turned into a work of art). Light for artists is, obviously, the key ingredient, and Turrell, as the catalogue which accompanies the exhibition says, examines the “thing-ness” of light itself and, as Turrell is quoted, “Light is not so much something that reveals as it itself is the revelation.”
JAMES TURRELL, A RETROSPECTIVE
James Turrell in front of Roden Crater Project at sunset, October 2001, Photo © Florian Holzherr 26
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There is a theatrical experience at the root of Turrell’s work that does not easily translate into the written word. His work references everything from Copernicus to Josef Albers — the latter especially with his Skyspaces. As Albers explored the square and the permutations of color, so has Turrell explored how light as it
travels across a square in the ceiling of an architectural space forces our eyes to deal with the same perceptual experiences. These are subtle yet powerful revelations, and Turrell often references “the brilliance of color experienced in a lucid dream when the eyes are closed” — or to the Quaker practices of his religious upbringing, which describe meditation as “going inside to greet the light.”
Lately one of Turrell’s most beautiful Skyspaces, Tending, (Blue) a work specifically created for the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, has been deemed “destroyed” as a result of a behemoth high-rise building erected next to it encroaching into the airspace of the piece. Although the artist and the museum have a plan for recreating the work, as of the moment, it is closed until funding can be secured. What is remarkable about Turrell’s genius with these works is that he can essentially remove all the elements of the metropolis in which they reside and establish a peaceful environment, bordering on divine sensory deprivation. One room in the LACMA installation in particular was hypnotic; it featured a single work, a 40-foot-wide pink light
titled Raemer Pink White. Sounds simple, yet it is an enormously powerful piece. The viewer sits in a room across from the artwork, which seems both recessed and indented simultaneously, and yet the more one looks, the more one sees. The space seems to fluctuate. It has been said that Turrell purposely keeps rooms empty while filling them with electric light — there is a futuristic quality to the experience that is difficult to describe, which is always the problem with Turrell’s work. The viewer is confounded, engaged and mesmerized all at the same time.
(LEFT) Bridget’s Bardo, 2009 by James Turrell, Ganzfeld, Installation view at Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany, 2009, Photo © Florian Holzherr (TOP) Breathing Light, 2013 by James Turrell, LED light into space, dimensions variable, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, purchased with funds provided by Kayne Griffin Corcoran and the Kayne Foundation, Photo © Florian Holzherr (BOTTOM) Raemar Pink White, 1969 by James Turrell, Shallow Space, Kayne Griffin Corcoran, Los Angeles, Photo © Florian Holzherr
Vivian Maier Street Photographer Edited by John Maloof Text by Geoff Dyer powerHouse Books www.powerhousebooks.com
Finding Vivian Maier CLICK HERE for documentary tour schedule
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acquired Vivian’s negatives while at a furniture and antique auction while researching a history book I was co-authoring on Chicago’s NW Side,” says John Maloof. “From what I know, the auction house acquired her belongings from her storage locker that was sold off due to delinquent payments.” What Maloof discovered was the unknown work of the unknown street photographer Vivian Maier [1926-2009] — nanny, loner, visual poet. Maloof’s find launched a blog, a Kickstarter project, a forthcoming documentary, museum exhibits, and a new book, briefly excerpted here. Vivian Maier represents an extreme instance of posthumous discovery: of someone who exists entirely in terms of what she saw. Not only was she
entirely unknown to the photographic world, hardly anyone seemed to know that she even took photographs. While this seems unfortunate, perhaps even cruel — a symptom or side effect of the fact that she never married or had children, and apparently had no close friends — it also says something about the unknowable potential of all human beings. As Wislawa Symborska writes of Homer in her poem “Census”: “No one knows what he does in his spare time.” —Geoff Dyer From Vivian Maier, Street Photographer, edited by John Maloof, text by Geoff Dyer, powerHouse Books 2011, www.powerhousebooks.com. Text and photographs reprinted with permission. All rights reserved. 29
“Maier’s recent, sudden ascent from reclusive eccentric to esteemed photographer is one of the more remarkable stories in American photography.” —David Zax, Smithsonian
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“Ms. Maier’s streetscapes manage simultaneously to capture a redolent sense of place and the paradoxical moments that give the city its jazz...” —David W. Dunlap, lens.blogs.nytimes.com
“She had an incredible eye for the small details and proved to be rigorous in framing, often concentrating strongly on the detail she wanted to show… without caring too much for the surroundings.” —Photoble.com 32
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“The arresting, artfully framed scenes from the streets and byways of New York, Chicago and beyond seem alive with movement.” —Katie Beck, BBC.co.uk
Yale University and The Phillips Collection yalebooks.com/art Made in the U.S.A. is on view at The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. through August 31 phillipscollection.org.
MADE IN THE U.S.A. AMERICAN ART FROM THE PHILLIPS COLLECTION Edited by Susan Behrends Frank
ecades before the United States was recognized as the world’s center for contemporary art, Duncan Phillips (1886-1966) sought out and celebrated the work of America’s living artists. For over forty years, Phillips was a major force in promoting American modernism, through acquisitions, exhibitions, and the presentation of American art in his museum, as well as through his writing. Unconstrained by conventions of museum display, works of art from different countries and epochs hang side by side at The Phillips Collection. In part, this practice reflects the early concerns of the collection’s founder to show that the art of the United States could hold its own with that of Europe. The earliest photographs of installations at The Phillips Collection date from 1923. They show how Phillips hung the work of contemporary Americans, such as Ernest Lawson, Julian Alden Weir,
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“Our most enthusiastic purpose will be to reveal a richness of the art created in the United States, to stimulate our native artists and afford them inspiration...to show how our American artists maintain their equality with, if not indeed their superiority to, their better-known foreign contemporaries.” —Duncan Phillips, 1921 (OPPOSITE PAGE, LEFT) Maurice Sterne, Benares, 1912, Oil on canvas 39 3/4 x 30 1/2 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC. Aquired 1946. (CENTER) Karl Knaths, Maritime, 1931, Oil on canvas 40 x 32 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Aquired 1931. (RIGHT) Thomas Eakins, Miss Amelia Van Buren, c. 1891, Oil on canvas, 45 x 32 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Aquired 1927. (THIS PAGE) Bradley Walker Tomlin, No. 9, 1952. Oil on canvas, 84 x 79 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Aquired 1957.
Photograph: Duncan Phillips on a transatlantic journey, 1920s. Courtesy of The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC
(LEFT) Childe Hassam, Washington Arch, Spring c. 1893, Oil on canvas, 26 1/8 x 21 5/8 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Aquired 1921. (RIGHT) Stefan Hirsch, New York, Lower Manhattan, 1921, Oil on canvas, 29 x 34 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Aquired 1925.
Robert Spencer, and John Henry Twachtman, alongside the work of European artists Gustave Courbet, Alessandro Magnasco, and El Greco, for example. In this approach, Phillips affirmed his belief that American artists were the equals of European masters of any period, simultaneously expressing the idea of temperamental affinities connecting artists of different times and nations. American artists were enthusiastic from the outset about having their work incorporated into a collection that included paintings by European masters. Georgia O’Keefe, for example, conveyed her excitement to Alfred Stieglitz shortly after her visit to the Phillips in March 1926, where she saw her work and that of Arthur Dove included with pictures by proto-modern masters such as Courbet, Honoré Daumier, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and El Greco. Born into a wealthy Pittsburgh family, Phillips was the second son and namesake of a glass manufacturer and his wife, Liza Irwin Laughlin, who was an heir to the Jones and Laughlin Steel Company in Pittsburgh. They moved to Washington, D.C., in 1896, building themselves a mansion near Dupont Circle. The young Phillips attended private schools and moved easily among the city’s political and social elite as an adult. After graduating from Yale, he set out to make his way as an art critic in New York, where he and his older brother, James, began visiting galleries, buying paintings for their own pleasure, and advising their parents on acquisitions for the family’s small collection of American art. Throughout his life, Phillips gave American artists his patronage and encouragement. In 1929, he wrote that “the true artist needs a friend and a true patron of art has nothing better to give the world than the helping hand he extends to the lonely, lofty spirits. It was the maxim that guided him in his lifelong quest to assemble a collection of the best of American art for all to see and enjoy. From Made in the U.S.A.: American Art from the Phillips Collection, edited by Susan Behrends Frank, Yale University and The Phillips Collection, yalebooks.com/art. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
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Winner: Bywater Prize for Fiction Finalist: Shelf Unbound Writing Competition
“...The superb craftsmanship of a master storyteller at work.”
—Out in Print
“Art on Fire is alive with passion, humor, and real truth.”
—Lambda Literary Review
Art on Fire by Hilary Sloin
oung, wild, and subversive artist Francesca deSilva lived hard and died young in a tragic fire that also destroyed most of her art. Growing up in the shadow of her brilliant sister Isabella, Francesca was always second best. Overlooked by her parents, she turned to her grandmother, whose adoration shriveled to rejection when Francesca was caught in bed with the chess genius Lisa Sinsong on her eighteenth birthday. Art on Fire is the pseudo-biography of Francesca’s short but colorful life, interspersed with essays on her paintings by critics, academics, and psychologists. These razorsharp satires on art, lesbian life, and the academic world puncture pretentiousness with every paragraph.
EXHIBIT Acquavella Galleries New York, acquavellagalleries.com distributed by Rizzoli International, rizzoliusa.com Jean-Michel Basquiat: Drawing, Work from the Schorr Family Collection is on view at Acquavella Galleries, New York, through June 13.
JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT: DRAWING Work from the Schorr Family Collection
by Fred Hoffman
(THIS PAGE) Jean-Michel Basquiat, “Untitled (Estrella)”, 1985, Oil paintstick, graphite, and colored pencil on paper, 29 1/2 x 41 5/8 inches (74.9 x 105.7 cm), The Schorr Family Collection, Art ©The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat/ ADAGP, Paris/ARS, New York 2014 (OPPOSITE PAGE) Jean-Michel Basquiat, “Untitled (Boxing Ring)”, 1981, Oil paintstick on paper, 22 1/8 x 30 1/8 inches (56.2 x 76.5 cm), The Schorr Family Collection, Art © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat/ADAGP, Paris/ARS, New York 2014 38
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or Jean-Michel Basquiat, drawing began with conscious as well as unconscious observation and the simultaneous consumption of source material. He approached this process with eyes and mind wide open, constantly absorbing, rarely judging. His sources were an amalgamation of his own, personally-lived experiences combined with his continually inquisitive engagement with a plethora of subjects ranging from world history; mythology, scientific fact, sport as well as musical personalities and history; anthropology, human anatomy and physiology; and varying aspects of non-Western cultures. A good portion of what Basquiat consumed was the result of his immersion as a young black male in urban society and culture. Basquiat had the unique ability to mix and match, combining references and topics, often transforming or altering them from their original meaning, context, and usage. Basquiat’s ability to integrate image and text resulted in a seamless interplay between these two traditionally distinct means of responding to what one has observed. For Basquiat, writing a text would take on the same function as drawing an image. As conveyed in the drawings of the artist, there are no gaps between image and text. There are no demarcation lines articulating where one ends and the other begins, and there is no prioritization of one being any more or less important than the other. This is only made more evident by the density of “information” presented. In Basquiat’s drawings there is rarely any breathing room. Rather, you are sucked in and carried along an often intricate and complex journey through a maze of references which oftentimes make little rational sense but nonetheless feel like they have a reason to exist. Text and images from Jean-Michel Basquiat: Drawing by Fred Hoffman, Acquavella Galleries 2014, acquavellagalleries.com. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved. 39
Face Value: Portraiture in the Age of Abstraction by Brandon Brame Fortune, Wendy Wick Reaves, and David C. Ward with Patricia Quealy National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. in association with D. Giles Limited, London npg.si.edu; gilesltd.com 40
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Signs by Robert Rauschenberg (1925â€“2008), color screenprint,1970. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Art ÂŠ Robert Rauschenberg Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Face Value: Portraiture in the Age of Abstraction is on view at the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. through January 11, 2015. 41
American Collectors (Fred and Marcia Weisman) by David Hockney (born 1937), acrylic on canvas, 213.4 x 304.8 cm (83 7/8 x 120 in.) 1968. Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; restricted gift of Mr. and Mrs. Frederic G. Pick (1984.182)
eports of its death were exaggerated but persistent in the art world; in mid-twentieth century America, everyone seemed to agree that portraiture was finished as a progressive art form. Larry Rivers noted in 1961 that when he started painting the figure in the early 1950s, he was “cocky and angry enough at the time to want to do something no one in the New York art world doubted was disgusting, dead, and absurd.” Willem de Kooning, in 1960, also said it was “absurd” to make “a human image, with paint, today.” In the pages of Time magazine in 1968, painter Alfred Leslie was quoted: “modern art had, in a sense, killed figure painting.” … [Yet] the social unrest and political activism of the time, empowering minorities and those marginalized in any way, emphasized the importance of asserting the multiple identities of the individual. Emerging questions of personal and cultural identity – including issues of gender, sexuality, health, and age – would put a new emphasis on the self and the body, pointing the direction for a resurgence of portraiture in the late 20th century. —Wendy Wick Reaves and Brandon Brame Fortune
Text and images from Face Value: Portraiture in the Age of Abstraction by Brandon Brame Fortune, Wendy Wick Reaves, and David C. Ward with Patricia Quealy, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. in association with D. Giles Limited, London 2014, npg.si.edu. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved. 42
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Interior with Leland by Louisa Matthíasdóttir (1917–2000), Oil on canvas 87.6 x 78.7 cm (34 1/2 x 31 in.)1945–46. Private collection.
Robert F. Kennedy (1925–1968) by Roy Lichtenstein (1923–1997), Silkscreen on Mylar 58.4 x 41.9 cm (23 x 161/2 in.) 1968 National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; gift of Time magazine Woman with Red Mouth by David Park (1911–1960), Oil on canvas, 71.8 x 61.3 cm (28 1/4 x 24 1/8 in.) 1954–55, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C., courtesy Hackett | Mill, representative of the estate of David Park Andy Warhol (1928–1987) by Jamie Wyeth (born 1946), Oil on panel 76.2 x 61 cm (30 x 24 in.) 1976 Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art, Nashville, Tennessee
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The truth, art critic Robert Hughes asserted in 1983, was that realist painting, including portraiture, â€˜did not hibernate in the 50s, and was not woken in the 80s. Instead, people stopped looking at it.â€™ â€”Kim Sajet,
Director, National Portrait Gallery
Marilyn Monroe (1926–1962) by Willem de Kooning (1904–1997) Oil on canvas 127 x 76.2 cm (50 x 30 in.) 1954 Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State University of New York; gift of Roy R. Neuberger
Linus Pauling (1901–1994) by Alice Neel (1900–1984)Oil on canvas 126.4 x 90.2 cm (49 3/4 x 35 1/2 in.) 1969 National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Ornette Coleman (born 1930) by Elaine de Kooning (1918–1989) Graphite with stumping on paper 34.5 x 28 cm (13 9/16 x 11 in.) c. 1965 National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
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You’re doing the figure, you’re still doing the same goddamn thing. You know you never got out of being a figure painter. —Jackson Pollock
to Willem de Kooning at the opening for de Kooning’s “Theme of the Woman” exhibition at Janis Gallery in 1953
MISSING ARTWORKS OF THE 20TH CENTURY by Jennifer Mundy Tate Publishing tate.org.uk/publishing CLICK HERE to view Tate Media’s short films related to the book 48
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any believe that Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain 1917 is one of the most important works of modern art. An ordinary urinal, bought from a sanitary ware store and submitted to the inaugural exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists in New York in 1917, Fountain challenged traditional understanding of what a work of art was or could be. With this piece, Duchamp (though he was not immediately known as its author, for he signed it R. Mutt) appeared to many to assert that anything presented by an artist as a work of art was indeed art, whether or not he or she had actually made it. Duchamp’s position was in fact more subtle than this — in titling and signing this object, and in submitting it for public display, he was testing the different characteristics of what was then thought to constitute an artwork — but the idea of a mass-produced item being used as a work of art had enormous impact on the history of twentieth-century art. Hitherto seen as inextricably linked to the actual making of something by an artist, an artwork became regarded as potentially divorced from the physical act of creation; and later generations of artists followed Duchamp’s lead, exploiting the creative possibilities of using everyday and already made objects. The artwork with which Duchamp so famously challenged the art establishment, however, seems to have been lost almost at once (amazingly, no one is certain how). Until he decided to authorise replicas in the 1950s and 1960s, Fountain was known chiefly through a single black and white photograph, taken immediately after the piece had been rejected by the Society of Independent Artists (the urinal
still had the Society’s label tied to it). In effect, the history of modern art was changed not so much by the artwork itself but by a photograph of it and the associated debates it engendered. Duchamp resigned as one of the directors of the Society of Independent Artists in protest at the rejection of R. Mutt’s Fountain, as did his friend the collector Walter Arensberg (we do not know if Arensberg knew that Duchamp was behind the work or not). Duchamp was in no hurry to reveal that he was R. Mutt, and managed to keep this fact quiet for a few weeks. Shortly after the exhibition opened, the urinal, which had been stored in the exhibition space behind a partition out of the public’s sight, was retrieved and taken to be photographed by [Alfred] Stieglitz, a leading photographer and creator of the 291 Gallery on Fifth Avenue, an important centre for modernist art and photography in New York. For what was to become a famous and much-reproduced photograph, Stieglitz positioned Fountain in front of a colourful painting by the American painter Marsden Hartley, who had recently returned from living in Berlin. Painted in a style that showed Hartley’s engagement with German expressionism, The Warriors 1913 showed massed ranks of the Kaiser’s cavalry, in all their military finery, around a central helmet-shaped hill. Stieglitz never commented upon the reasons why he chose this particular painting from his gallery stock to provide the background, but he may well have been struck by how the painting’s central element, the hill, neatly echoed the shape of Fountain. The painting’s masculine subject may also have seemed a fitting backdrop for a urinal (the pairing may also have been a subtle allusion to Hartley’s homosexuality). With the object positioned slightly off cen-
tre on a wooden block, and with lighting that created a sense of a shrouded, possibly female, shadow figure within it, Stieglitz photographed Fountain in a way that created an absorbing image in its own right. For many people today, Fountain epitomizes Duchamp’s conceptual brilliance and wit in a period associated with the revolutionary dada movement in New York and Europe. But few remember when looking at one of the 1964 replicas that the original 1917 object — the object that defined a shift in modern understanding of the possibilities of art — disappeared almost as soon as it was presented as a work of art. From Lost Art: Missing Artworks of the 20th Century by Jennifer Mundy, Tate Publishing, tate.org.uk/publishing. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
The photograph’s original caption: “Fountain by R. Mutt, Photograph by Alfred Stieglitz, THE EXHIBIT REFUSED BY THE INDEPENDENTS”
HAMMERSHØI AND EUROPE by Kasper Monrad Prestel prestel.com 50
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he motif of the solitary human being comes to expression in earnest in Hammershøi’s interior pictures. He created so many paintings of this type that in his time and for posterity it became his hallmark. Although he settled on his mode of painterly expression at an early stage, a relatively long time passed before he distilled out the interior painting as his most frequent subject. In the early years he often depicted people indoors, but he did not give any clear account of the space they were in. Neither the indication of the character of the interior nor the fine rendering of the light was yet a regular concern in his art. In the first paintings the people are therefore placed in diffuse, unspecified surroundings that cannot be localized. This aroused considerable surprise in Hammershøi’s day. In his review of his works at Charlottenborg in 1886 Karl Madsen emphasized a “peculiarity” in Hammershøi: “There is an extremely vague indication of localities in which the figures found themselves. One does not know where the figures sit, nor does one really know where the light comes from.” Hammershøi’s wife Ida soon exclusively became the model in his interior pictures, yet she remains precisely that — a model. One must not view the pictures as portraits of her in their home. However, Hammershøi constantly assigned changing roles to the solitary woman. In many cases he emphasized her loneliness, while in others he placed the female figure in an arrangement with the space and the furnishings — that is, in an alternation between a symbolic narrative and an aesthetic exploration of the subject. From Hammershøi and Europe by Kasper Monrad, Prestel, prestel.com. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
art + photography BOOKSHELF Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties edited by Theresa A. Carbone Rizzoli
ow did American artists represent the Jazz Age? The exhibition and catalogue Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties brings together for the first time the work of sixty-eight painters, sculptors, and photographers who explored a new mode of modern realism in the years bounded by the aftermath of the Great War and the onset of the Great Depression. www.brooklynmuseum.org Available at Amazon. The Non-Conformists by Martin Parr Aperture
he book takes its title from the Methodist and Baptist chapels that in the mid-1970s characterized an area of Yorkshire and defined the fiercely independent character of the town. In words and pictures, Martin and Susie Parr vividly and affectionately document cobbled streets, flat-capped mill workers, hardy gamekeepers, henpecked husbands and jovial shop owners.
www.aperture.org Available at Amazon.
Miles Davis: The Collected Artwork by Scott Gutterman Insight Editions
n the last decade of his life, trumpet great Miles Davis took up painting and drawing with the same interest in experimentation that had led him from bebop to avant-garde jazz. A new book collects his works, rarely seen by the public, revealing his fascination with color and form. Foreword by Quincy Jones.
www.insighteditions.com Available at Amazon.
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PREMIERE ISSU E
IN THE DEBUT ISSUE ARTISTS DRINKING BEER
Larry Bell and Bob Wilhite share a brew and talk art
DEAD ARTISTS SPEAK
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FOREGROUND INTERVIEW A conversation with Wayne Thiebaud
MY FIRST TIME
Actor Louis Ozawa Changchien’s first trip to the Met
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29 x 29 inches, oil on linen, 2013
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Karan Ruhlen Gallery, karanrhulen.com
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A new documentary explores the artist’s technique
he conceit of Tim’s Vermeer is whether Tim Jenison, a San Antonio-based inventor, can re-create Dutch master Johannes Vermeer’s painting The Music Lesson with the use of mirrors. Seems simple enough as a premise, but it isn’t. This engaging art documentary continues a conversation most recently begun in 2001 by famed artist David Hockney with his controversial publication Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering
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the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters, in which he suggested renowned painters of the 17th century used optics to create their works of art. Jenison takes Hockney’s assertion that our heroes used the camera obscura a step further and seeks to prove that Johannes Vermeer, specifically, used mirrors to fashion his light-filled works. The camera obscura (literally “dark room” in latin), the forerunner of the photographic camera, is an optical means of projecting images—albeit
upside down. The Hockney tome and another by English scholar Philip Steadman, Vermeer’s Camera: Uncovering the Truth Behind the Masterpieces, created an enormous uproar in the art community and sparked the debate over whether Vermeer and his contemporaries were essentially cheating when they employed optics to craft their art. Jenison, a textbook obsessive-compulsive with the time and means to explore his theory about how Vermeer painted, goes about re-creating the scene shown in The Music Lesson down to the nth detail. It takes him over 200 days, and truly it is one of the most remarkable undertakings any of us is likely ever to see. He rents space and transforms it, but not before traveling to Delft, Vermeer’s home (and the center of the 17th-century optics world), making precise measurements of every aspect of the room and all of its contents, having a potter re-create a key pitcher from the paintings, learning to read Dutch, traveling to Buckingham Palace to see the original work (which is owned by the Queen—no small feat in itself) and on and on. He grinds his own lens and makes his own paint! The man is a borderline mad genius, and all this before he paints a single stroke. Let’s not forget, as Jenison himself is first to say, he is not a painter. When he begins to paint he uses the reflected
image and is able to match light and color with great precision. Foreground watched the film with Amy Walsh, Curator of Northern European Paintings from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and for the most part, she felt the information presented in the film was accurate—although they did err when they asserted that Vermeer made no under drawings. Although not visible through the use of x-ray, the paintings have been examined with infrared reflectography, which has revealed under drawings. Aside from this minor misstep, Walsh found the premise of the documentary well presented and plausible. So does this discovery detract from the perception that Vermeer was a genius; was he an artist or an inventor? David Hockney, whose presence in the documentary is both charming and illuminating, basically says “bunk”— that the two were inextricably linked and one does not detract from the other. Why shouldn’t an artist embrace any device that allows him to better deliver this final product? Don’t artists today employ photography, the Internet, etc.? Is that cheating? Made by Penn (narrator and onscreen presence) and Teller (director), the famed Las Vegas magicians, Tim’s Vermeer—regardless of one’s perspective (no pun intended)—is a fascinating documentary and one well worth seeing.
Art on Fire by Hilary Sloin
Bywater Books | www.bywaterbooks.com
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Complex and brilliantly structured, Hilary Sloin’s Art on Fire is rendered as a biography of an enigmatic, famous painter, Francesca deSilva, whose childhood was warped by neglectful parents and a brilliant but emotionally disturbed older sister. Sloin’s debut novel is a story of art and love and loss and coming of age. Foreground: Tell us about your book. Hilary Sloin: Art on Fire, a fanciful fiction, is the pseudo-biography of an imagined 1980sera painter, Francesca deSilva, who rose to fame almost effortlessly, and whose paintings were celebrated as much for their sensationalized subject matter as for their artistic merit—perhaps even more. DeSilva ran from an unaccepting home at 18 and lived in a cabin beside a railroad track in Wellfleet, Mass. This is where she began painting and where she continued to paint until the end of her brief life. Punctuated by essays on deSilva’s work and written by an imagined panel of experts, art critics, queer theorists, and psychologists, layered with footnotes, Art on Fire merges a coming of age story about love, neglect, and the struggle to be authentic with an absurd, unsparing spoof on art criticism, biography, academia, gay politics, racism, Judaism, mental illness, classism…and more.
unaccepting home at a young age and begins life anew, elsewhere, and with better results. She never moves on from her childhood love, Lisa Sinsong, a genius chess competitor whom she met through her sister and who, much to Francesca’s surprise, rejected Isabella and chose her. Isabella, a child genius who was pathologically adored and indulged by her mother, seems to invert, becoming obsessed with literary women who came to tragic ends and repeatedly planning and attempting to accomplish her own demise. She spends her life at home, emotionally arrested, mentally ill, alcoholic, and without real friendship or intimacy. And yet the book invites us to find humor in this tragedy.
Foreground: What is one of your favorite lines from your book? Sloin: “In the hospital, with no vodka to slow down her thinking, Isabella had learned to soothe herself by enumerating metaphors: the crack of ice cubes under heat (mania) versus Foreground: Tell us about Isabella deSilva. Sloin: Though the book purports to be Franc- the slow bleeding of brown tea into hot water esca deSilva’s biography, her older sister Isabella (depression). The patter of boiling water on is just as pivotal to the story. Francesca flees her the pillow of tea (mania) versus the immeasur-
able slowness of heat (depression)…Cities were mania; farmlands, depression. Paris was mania; New Hampshire, depression…” Foreground: Where did the idea for the book come from? Sloin: I really don’t know. I was very influenced by The Shipping News and by volumes of Vladimir Nabokov’s playful and subversive writing. The sisters came to me first, but it was when I began to make up the paintings and write the phony analyses and criticism that the book took off for me. Foreground: How did you decide on the title? Sloin: The original title was The Unfinished Life of Francesca deSilva. But it was always too long and not very sexy. When Bywater awarded me the Bywater Prize for Fiction they said they wanted a different title. I was actually pleased at the chance to come up with something more exciting. The book is about art and fire and the link between them—metaphorically, literally. So the title seemed a perfect way to suggest the book’s major themes. Foreground: Tell us about yourself. Sloin: I am a writer and former musician who lives with an undersized, intense Jack Russell Terrier named Pluto. I live in the middle of nowhere, at least that’s what people tell me. After losing my
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25-year editing job in 2009, I searched high and low for something else to do. I wanted, of course, just to write, but that was not feasible. As mysteriously as ideas for writing projects assert themselves, so did a passion for antiques take hold of me. Since that time I have spent countless hours out in my workshop—formerly the garage— restoring antiques and selling as many of them as I can. It is almost like being two people—one who works with her brain and one who works with her hands, though I suppose both pursuits demand the participation of each. Since completing Art on Fire I have written a collection of short stories called The Cure for Unhappiness (these can be previewed at www.hilarysloin.com). I am now working on my next novel, Pimpin’ the Frontier, about a middle-aged woman coming apart at the seams amid her life as an antiques dealer.
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...if they are real and true they come to the painting with everything they know and feel and love, and all the things they donâ€™t know, and some of the things they hope... â€”from The Painter by Peter Heller
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CONTRIBUTORS SUMMER 2014 OLIVER ARMS (b. 1970) has had solo exhibitions at Western Project, Los Angeles, CA; and Charles Cowles Gallery, New York, NY. Recent group exhibitions include “OC Collects,” organized by the Orange County Museum of Art and curated by Director Dennis Szakacs and Chief Curator Dan Cameron, Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA; “Elements of Nature,” at the Brevard Art Museum, Melbourne, FL and at the Contemporary Art Center, New Orleans, LA; and “The First Six Years,” at Western Project, Los Angeles, CA. His work is included in the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation in Los Angeles. BARET BOISSON’s love of history is expressed through the figures she’s painted, from Martin Luther King, Jr. to Rosa Parks to Abraham Lincoln and Harvey Milk. Boisson is an entirely self-taught artist who believes in acting as a bridge between her subject and her art. Baret’s painting of Harvey Milk was chosen for the artwork for the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus’ project Harvey Milk 2103: Living the Legacy. Boisson has accepted commissions such collectors as Elizabeth Taylor, Kathy Ireland, Jimmy Fallon, and Seth Rogen. JORI FINKEL is a contributor to the New York Times and the L.A. correspondent for The Art Newspaper. She was previously the staff art reporter at the L.A. Times and, before that, senior editor of Art+Auction magazine in New York. She lectures widely on topics relating to contemporary art and the art market. BRANDON BRAME FORTUNE graduated from Agnes Scott College, and received an M.A. and Ph.D in Art History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has worked at the National Portrait Gallery since 1987. In 1999, she was co-curator of the exhibition Franklin & His Friends: Portraying the Man of Science in Eighteenth-Century America and co-author of the accompanying publication. She was a co-curator for the 2008 National Portrait Gallery exhibition, Recognize! Hip Hop and Contemporary Portraiture, and is the leader of the Portrait Gallery’s “Portraiture Now” team. KATHLEEN FOSTER is The Robert L. McNeil, Jr., Senior Curator of American Art and Director of the Center for American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She is the author of Thomas Eakins Rediscovered and editor of A Drawing Manual by Thomas Eakins, both published by Yale University Press. FRED HOFFMAN met Jean-Michel Basquiat in 1982 and worked closely with him during the artist’s residency in Venice, California, from 1982 to 1984. He co-curated Basquiat’s retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum in 2005. Hoffman is the Ahmanson Curatorial Fellow at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. ANDREW LINS is the Neubauer Family Chair of Conservation and Senior Conservator of Decorative Arts and Sculpture, all at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
KASPER MONRAD is Chief Curator at the Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen. JENNIFER MUNDY is head of collection research at Tate. UMAR RASHID (aka Frohawk Two Feathers) has had recent solo exhibitions at the Wellin Museum of Art (Clinton, NY), the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey (Summit, NJ), the Nevada Museum of Art (Reno, NV), and the Museum of Contemporary Art (Denver, CO). Recent group shows include exhibitions at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (Santa Barbara, CA), the Burlington City Arts (Burlington, VT), and Guerrero Gallery (San Francisco, CA). In Fall 2014, Frohawk will exhibit as a MATRIX artist at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, CT. His work is in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Progressive Collection, 21C Museum, the Nevada Museum of Art, and the Wellin Museum of Art, among others. HILARY SLOIN makes her living as a freelance editor, juggling numerous projects. She’s also been writing—fiction, essays and more—for years. Sloin says her two-way window into the process of writing has proven valuable. Editing other people’s work has made her a better writer. DR. AMY WALSH is Curator of Dutch and Flemish Paintings and head of provenance research at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Amy has a PhD. in seventeenth-century Dutch painting from Columbia University; in addition to LACMA, she has worked for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as the Getty Museum and the Norton Simon Museum. Amy has written and lectured extensively on Dutch and Flemish painting. Her book on the collection of Northern European paintings at the Norton Simon Museum will be published later this year. She is currently preparing for a publication online, a book on LACMA’s important collection of Dutch paintings donated by Edward and Hanna Carter. She is the coauthor of The AAM Guide to Provenance Research, published in 2001 by the American Association of Museums and regarded as the “Bible of provenance research.” WENDY WICK REAVES, curator of prints and drawings, is Interim Director of the National Portrait Gallery. Reaves established the graphic arts department at the National Portrait Gallery in 1974. The collections she has developed include fine-art prints and drawings, rare books and illustrated journals, posters, caricatures and cartoons. Reaves is the curator of numerous exhibitions for the Portrait Gallery on subjects ranging from the 18th to the 20th century. Foreground is published quarterly by Shelf Media Group LLC, PO Box 852321, Richardson, TX 75085. Copyright 2014 by Shelf Media Group LLC. Subscriptions are FREE, go to www.shelfmediagroup.com to subscribe. 61
Published on May 22, 2014
New issue features Baret Boisson, Umar Rashid, Oliver Arms, Jori Finkel, James Turrell, Vivian Maier, and more.