Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Yves Klein | Leap into the Void

Yves Klein's October 1960 work Leap Into the Void first appeared in the artists' single day newspaper Dimanche, which was sold at newstands throughout Paris on Sunday the 27th of November, 1960. Klein held a press conference at the Galerie Rive Driote at 11 am on the same day, to announce the project. The four page broadside featured visual works and writings by Klein, including the manifesto Theatre of the Void.

The paper has been reprinted several times (I was given a copy several years ago from someone visiting a fair where they were being distributed for free, I recall) and are available as large PDF downloads here:

Below are images of the paper circulating throughout the city, and the final image is a Google Earth approximation of the original location of the leap.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Micah Lexier | Hand Drawing

This new edition by Micah Lexier was announced only yesterday and already more than a quarter of the edition has sold! Titled Hand Drawing, the work is the 15th edition from Paul+Wendy Projects, and the third in their (informal) series of works in envelopes which are priced at $50 and are each unique.

Micah Lexier's project is a found image of a drawing hand, which has been letterpressed onto Strathmore Writing Paper. Lexier then adds a simple graphite line, recalling his signature A Minute of My Time project, below.

8.5 x 11 inches
Varied edition of 100
Numbered, initialed and dated in pencil by the artist on the reverse

Available here.

Claes Oldenburg | Ray Gun Wing

My mother's most effective story about the disparity between intention and actual child-rearing is about toy guns. Apparently my parents had made the decision that they would be forbidden in the house, a policy that may have lasted a year or two. It seems I was able to fashion a reasonable facsimile out of just about anything: a stick, a golf club, a piece of torn cardboard. I would bite a peanut butter sandwich into the shape of a gun, or construct one out of lego. If it could be pointed, it could be accompanied by vocalizations of gunfire. Based on a quick google search, it seems that these stories are not uncommon.

Claes Oldenburg takes a similar approach to his numerous Ray Gun works: an obsession with the right angle. In addition to creating several Ray Gun sculptures in a variety of materials (plaster, paper-mache, vacuum formed commercial plastics, etc.etc.), he amassed an even larger collection of found ray guns.

"All one has to do is stoop to gather them from sidewalks," wrote Yve-Alain Bois, "he did not even need to collect them himself: he could ask his friends to bring them to him (he accepted or refused a find, based on purely subjective criteria).”

Ray Gun Wing, published by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, in 1977, documents his collection, and proposal for a museum.

(images borrowed from Stopping Off Place)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Ceal Floyer | Egg/Chicken

Ceal Floyer
edition 12, signed and numbered.

Occupy Wall Street calls for an end to the Whitney Biennial

From Artforum:

The Occupy Wall Street’s Arts and Labor group has published a letter to the Whitney Museum of American Art calling for the end to the Whitney Biennial in 2014. The Arts and Labor group claims that the Whitney Biennial “upholds a system that benefits collectors, trustees, and corporations at the expense of art workers.” They add that the Whitney Museum, “with its system of wealthy trustees and ties to the real estate industry, perpetuates a model in which culture enhances the city and benefits the 1 percent of our society while driving others into financial distress.” As a result, the group has called for the Whitney, in its centennial year, to “terminate its collusion with this system of injustice and use its resources to imagine sustainable models of creativity and culture accessible not just to Americans but to 99 percent of the people around the globe.”

Henry Flynt, 1963
Marcel van Eeden, 2003
Mark Pawson, 1990
Ben Vautier, 1986

Sol Lewitt | Lines & Color

Album covers by artists #6: Andres Serrano

Load, the sixth studio album by Metallica, was released in 1996 and spent 4 consecutive weeks atop the charts. The album cover features a photograph by Andres Serrano called Semen and Blood III, from a series of works where the artist mixed his own semen with cow's blood, sandwiched between two sheets of plexiglass.

Lead guitar player Kirk Hammett discovered the photograph while flipping through a collection of the artist's work at the SFMOMA bookstore. "We had no concept for the album: no title, no artwork," he said, "...when I first saw the picture, I thought it looked like hot-rod flames, because I have a hot-rod-flame tattoo."

Hammett presented the image to the rest of the band and drummer Lars Ulrich was immediately supportive: "I jumped on it the second I saw it," he says. The others were somewhat more reluctant. "To Kirk and Lars, it's art, and it's so deep. To me, it's just a picture some guy took, said singer-guitarist James Hetfield, "I remember when I first saw it, it was, 'So what?' Then they told me what it was, it was: 'Oh, it's definitely more interesting to me now.' But that's about it."

His main argument against using the image was that it might have prevented big box retailers like Walmart from carrying the record: "I think it's bullshit. I want to get music to people who want it. I want it readily available for everybody. Controversy? I don't give two shits about that."

The eventual compromise was that the image was used but Serrano was credited only with "Front cover artwork." The title Semen and Blood III does not appear anywhere on the record. "We're holding back a touch; I'll cop to that," Hammett conceded at the time, "but the reason I thought it was a strong album cover was that it's a beautiful picture. It was the form, not the content, that was great. If that's what we had to do to agree on it as a band, that's what we do."

"It's entirely up to Metallica," said Serrano. "It's their right to do what they will with the image. When I was approached about this, someone said to me, 'But, Andres, don't you want control over how the image will be cropped or what the title of the album will be?' And I said, 'No, I don't.' They're artists just like I am, and I wouldn't think of interfering with their creative process."

"I'm always trying to expand my audience," he continued, and proceeded to list off other examples of his work that he thought could function as album covers. "And if a band were to be really bold, they could choose one from the morgue [series]."

In December of 1997 Guitarworld magazine asked Hetfield if the companion album (Re-Load, released a year later) would also feature an image by Serrano:

"Yes. I hate it, but it has got to match. It's matching hatred. [laughs] I'm not a big fan of the man and his perversions. There's art and then there's just sick motherfuckers, and he's one of them. The thing is, they belong together. I don't care if the guy blows donkeys. The art has got to match."

Several years later, in an interview with Classic Rock magazine, his disdain became even less equivocal:

"Lars and Kirk were very into abstract art, pretending they were gay. I think they knew it bugged me. It was a statement around all that. I love art, but not for the sake of shocking others. I think the cover of Load was just a piss-take around all that. I just went along with the make-up and all of this crazy, stupid shit that they felt they needed to do."

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Fluxus Reader

The Fluxus Reader, edited by artist and Fluxus scholar Ken Friedman, was the first widely available text on the subject. I bought my copy the year it was released, in 1998, at a local Chapters, I think, for less than forty dollars. It was one of the first titles on my then Fluxshelf that I didn't have to hunt down and/or pay through the nose for. It's served as a handy reference ever since, and because I periodically see it elsewhere, I had no idea that it's online price is now somewhere between three and four hundred dollars.

To counter this inaccessibility, and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Fluxus, the Swinburne University of Technology has released a free digital copy of The Fluxus Reader. It can be downloaded in it's entirety, as a 36.7 MB PDF, or chapter by chapter. This is in keeping with Friedman's larger agenda of fostering networks and keeping information flowing. I wrote to him over fifteen years ago, and he responded with a parcel of books, and folder holding more than a hundred printed pages, containing the mailing addresses of hundreds of artists associated with Fluxus.

The book contains texts by Friedman, Dick Higgins, Hannah Higgins (daughter of Alison Knowles and Dick Higgins, and author of Fluxus Experience [2002]), Owen Smith, Simon Anderson, Stephen Foster, Larry Miller and others. One of Miller's two contributions is the transcription of an interview he conducted with George Maciunas on the 24th of March, 1978, less than two months before his death at age 46. The book also features an interview with Maciunas' widow, Billie Hutching. Lastly, the volume includes an extensive chronology and list of works.

It can be downloaded here:

Thanks to Kirk Rader for the heads up.

Anya Gallaccio

Two boxed replicas by Anya Gallaccio, produced by Bookworks:

While reaching for Alma Ata is a set of of 5 slip cast glazed porcelain apples, produced in an edition of 6 signed and dated copies.

Cast, from 2003, is a boxed collection of acorns, together with a cast bronze replica. The buyer is invited to plant the real acorns, wait for them to dry out and die or simply discard them. Produced in an edition of 35.