Wednesday, November 13, 2019

This week on Tumblr: Wallets

This week on Tumblr: wallets and billfolds by Group Material, Dean Baldwin, Rosemarie Trockel, Sam Cotter, David Shrigley, Keith Haring, Masanao Hirayama and others. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Roy Lichtenstein | Pyramid

Roy Lichtenstein
New York City, USA: Self-published, 1968
37.6 cm x 50.2 cm x 50.2 cm.
Edition of 300 signed and numbered copies

A colour screenprint on lightweight card stock board folded into a 3-dimensional object, printed by Fine Creations, Inc., New York. The edition size is listed as three hundred, but reportedly the impressions were stacked together too soon after printing, before the ink had fully dried, leaving more than two thirds of the edition unfit for release. Lichtenstein estimates that only between fifty and one hundred were ever made available for sale, as well as some artists' proofs. I found number 60 at auction, here, number 64 here, and number 97, here, suggesting that Lichtenstein's estimates were on the low side.

The estimated value is around five grand, depending on condition.

Several paintings of pyramids were produced around the same time:

"Lichtenstein did not turn to the pyramidal form at random. Pyramids were popular amongst the 1960s minimalists; a shape that a number of them called upon. Principal amongst the exponents of this motif was Sol Lewitt who made massive outdoor pyramids from blocks of stone, and indoor versions in trademark cubes of wood; he even extrapolated the form into his wall drawings and experimented with different geometric iterations. Meanwhile, in 1964, Robert Morris created the celebrated Corner Piece sculpture, now owned by the Guggenheim Museum, which re-articulated the gallery space, relating to the viewer on an immediate physical and temporal basis. Flavin took a different approach to exploring the pyramid shape when he created the series of Monuments for Tatlin during the late 1960s. This was minimalism as figuration; in pre-fabricated neon tubes, he approximated Vladimir Tatlin’s proposed design for the Monument to the Third International (1919-120): the Bolshevik cenotaph would have dwarfed the Eiffel tower if realised. Flavin’s homage to it is semi-ironic: simplistic where the proposed monument was a complex structure of intricate design. The glow of Flavin’s pre-fabricated neon tubes seem to parodise the traditional grandeur of overpowering architecture.

Like Flavin, Lichtenstein was working in a representational manner in Pyramids; his shapes are not just exercises in abstract geometry, but rather, with yellow monochromatic ground and grisaille shadow and sky, they are graphic reductions of architectonic landscapes. In this regard, Lichtenstein can be seen as one of a number of artists in the Twentieth Century who have called upon the Pyramids as subject matter. Gerhard Richter created paintings of pyramids in 1964 and 1966 in his idiosyncratic photo-painting style. Like Lichtenstein, he found that the iconic nature of the Egyptian Pyramids allowed for total recognisability, even when refracted through the prism of a conceptually advanced painterly style.  In the years following Lichtenstein’s work, Keith Haring used pyramids regularly. He valued them for their symbolic portent, for in American culture in the 1960s,’70s, and ‘80s, Pyramids were closely associated with UFO sightings and extra-terrestrial life, based on the 'Ancient Astronauts' conspiracy theorists, who argued that many sites like the Pyramids at Giza were built by visiting aliens in ancient and prehistoric times. In this light, it is interesting to note that a possible source of inspiration may have been a House of Secrets comic strip, which showed an alien life form hovering near a great pyramid.

Pyramids is on one level an exemplar of Roy Lichtenstein’s 1960s praxis: a bold, graphic depiction of an instantly recognisable subject, executed in bright colour that evokes the aesthetic of popular comic books. Yet, in other respects, it represents a dramatic progression within his style; a move towards a more sophisticated, even academic approach to art, where formal qualities are valued on the same level as poetic meaning. It is a work of dramatic immediacy that is immediately recognisable as Lichtenstein. In this regard, we are reminded of the artist’s 1988 assessment: “All painters take a personal attitude toward painting. What makes each object in the work is that it is organized by that artist’s vision. The style and the content are also different from anyone else’s. They are unified by the point of view – mine. This is the big tradition of art” (Roy Lichtenstein cited in: Calvin Tomkins, Roy Lichtenstein: Mural with Blue Brushstroke, New York 1988, p. 42)."
- Sotheby's auction catalogue

Monday, November 11, 2019

Jack Coke’s Farmer’s Co-op | Human Flux Trap

Jack Coke’s Farmer’s Co-op
Human Flux Trap
New York City, USA: Fluxus, 1969
4.9 x 10 x 11.9 cm.
Edition size unknown

Very little information is available about the two Fluxus editions credited to Jack Coke's Farmer's Co-op (this, and Find the End). Jack Coke taught at the St. Cloud State College in Minnesota, alongside Paul Shartis. He had introduced his students to some of the boxed works being produced by Fluxus artists and assigned that they create their own. Shartis was impressed with the results and sent them to Maciunas, who initially misattributed them to the artist.

The students came from farming backgrounds and opted to label themselves the "St. Cloud State College Farmer’s Cooperative", which later was shortened to "Jack Coke’s Farmer’s Co-op".

The published work closely resembles the prototype: a plastic box containing a plastic jewel as bait and a metal trap to catch the greedy participant.

The label, as always, is designed by George Maciunas, whose unused alternative design can be seen below.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Boston Art Book Fair

The third annual Boston Art Book Fair takes place this weekend, from November 8th to the 10th, at the Cyclorama at Boston Center for the Arts (539 Tremont St Boston).

Exhibitors include Anthology Editions, Aperture, Benjamin Ogilvy Projects (pictured above), Bomb Magazine, MIT Press (above), DAP, Draw Down Books (above), Homocats, Random Man Editions, Siglio Press (above) and over a hundred other artists and publishers. The event will also feature installations, DJs, workshops and panel discussions. The Boston Art Book Fair is curated and founded by Randi Hopkins and Oliver Mak.

For more information, visit the website, here.

Bedwyr Williams | Artists That Make Boring Books

Bedwyr Williams
Artists That Make Boring Books
Sackville, Canada: Nothing Else Press, 2019
10 x 8.25 cm.
Edition of 50

Launched last month at the Edition Toronto Art Fair, this magnet is from a series of thirty-eight line drawings titled “Adjunct Curator,” which satirize various art-world personas.

In his Artforum review of this body of work, Calum Sutherland notes "In our modish times, I can only wish you luck in dealing with the grinning “curator with chummy youth leader vibe,” the glazed solemnity of the “boring artist with an interesting name,” the grimace of the tote-bag-toting “toddler faced art fanatic” or the bespectacled smugness of a “curator spattered with poo by performance artist he commissioned.”

The caricatures all have the same small, square format and are, like many people in the art world, framed in black. Each one captures the sense of remove felt in the shallow sociality of exhibition openings or art fairs with their curated wine, hasty introductions, and whispered gossip."

Available from the Nothing Else Press for $5.00 CDN, here.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Richard Tuttle | 8 Poems

Richard Tuttle
8 Poems
Buffalo, USA: Buffalo Art Galleries, State University of New York, 2011
[8] pp., 14 x 8.9 cm., stitch-bound
Edition of 200

Artist's book featuring eight poems: word sculptures written and designed by Richard Tuttle, with two prints as end papers. Hand-bound and foil stamped by Western New York State Book Arts Center, Mohawk Press, Buffalo, in 2011.

A special signed and numbered edition of fifty copies was also released.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Gabor Toth | Please do not masturb

Gabor Toth
Please do not masturb
Budapest, Hungary: Genital Art Project, 1982
14.5 x 10.3 cm.
Edition size unknown

Black and red on cream card, hole-punched to mimic a do not disturb sign. The verso includes Toth's printed label in yellow, address handwritten by the artist. Date stamped 1982.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Bedwyr, I think I missed your performance

Bedwyr Williams
Bedwyr, I think I missed your performance
London, UK: Ceri Hand Editions, 2011
104 pp., 14.9 x 20.8cm., softcover
Edition size unknown

A collection of scripts and crib sheets used in performances by the artist over the past last ten years, illustrated with images of the performances. Published on the occasion of ‘Show’ – an exhibition which included Jack Strange and Edwina Ashton at the Jerwood Space, London.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Bedwyr Williams | My Bad

Bedwyr Williams
My Bad
Birmingham, UK:  Ikon Gallery, 2012
112 pp., 24 x 17 cm., softcover
Edition size unknown

Published to accompany the exhibition Bedwyr Williams: My Bad at Ikon Gallery, this catalogue features contributions from Mark Beasley, Karen MacKinnon and Williams. Comprised largely of newly commissioned installation and sculptural pieces, the traveling exhibition also featured drawings, paintings and photography.

"[My Bad] feels like a tour round Williams's mind – his bugbears, his fantasies, his comic fears and preoccupations. It does not, alas, include films of his performances and so the circle is not quite complete. But there is a round room devoted entirely to his pencil drawings, those closest of all intimations of an artist's day-to-day thoughts. These drawings are surprising to say the least, not unlike John Tenniel in their quirky lexicon of creatures: a pair of half-human turtles conversing glumly by a lake, a lock of hair turning into a woe-begone female figure.

A grand staircase that seems to have a case of the shakes, as if hungover after the all-night ball, a man whose conversation is blocked by his own mutinous lips: these images freeze the gag before the punchline. Bizarre jeux d'esprit, they seem to issue from some other part of Williams's mind, until one considers that the work in this show all belongs to a world outside speech."

- Laura Cumming, The Guardian

Available from Cornerhouse Publications, here, for £17.00. 

Monday, November 4, 2019

Erik Kessels | Read Naked

Erik Kessels
Read Naked
Marche, Italy: Skinnerboox, 2019
148 pp., 16 x 24 cm., hardcover
Edition size unknown

Designed by Geraldine MacDonald and Kessels, this collection of found photographs of naked readers is available from the publishers, here, for 25 Euros.

Given Kessels' background in advertising, it is unsurprising that he launched a standalone site where readers can upload their own nude photographs of themselves reading: