Saturday, March 31, 2018

Daniel Spoerri | L'Optique Moderne

Daniel Spoerri
L'Optique Moderne
New York City, USA: Fluxus, 1963
[124 pp.], 20 x 14 x 0.8 cm.
Edition size unknown

Made in collaboration with the French Nouveau Realist visual artist and Lettrist poet François Dufrêne, L'Optique Moderne contains fifty-seven images of the artist wearing altered eyeglasses. The most infamous of these was a pair affixed with a hinged pin, which would presumably pierce the wearer's retina (blindness as a way of seeing?). Other glasses included in the volume featured bent earpieces, allowing them to be held at any distance from the eyes.

The spectacles had first been exhibited two years prior, at Galerie KOEPCKE in Copenhagen, in the September of 1961. They were shown again in 1964 and destroyed later at a "junkie party", with the artist only able to salvage a few pairs.

Somehow Spoerri's book was reviewed in the London Times Literary Supplement on September 3rd, 1964, who described it as "a stout booklet of photographs showing the thin-faced author-editor-dancer-impressario wearing numerous novel types of spectacles, with characteristic small punning, assonant verses by François Dufrêne on the even (orange-and-black) pages".

The artist putting on the altered glasses is one of the most iconic images from Spoerri's career and it also led to his most influential artist book, An Anecdoted Topography of Chance: "It was after constructing a pair of eyeglasses equipped with needles to poke the eyes out that I felt the urge to recreate objects through the memory instead of actually displaying them."

The book was published and designed by George Maciunas, and featured his trademark typography on the cover. Other hallmarks of his design include onion skin and coloured pages throughout.

After hearing reports from Dick Higgins that the print job was botched and the books were unsellable, Maciunas refused to pay the printer, abandoning more than half of the planned edition of seven-hundred. However, this could have been a scheme planned from the beginning, as Maciunas was notorious for stiffing his suppliers and spent the last few years of his life wearing altered glasses of his own. In 1975, an unpaid bill to an electrician led to a beating by "mafia thugs" which left him blind in one eye, along with a deflated lung, four broken ribs and thirty-six stitches in his head.

By the fall of 1963 Maciunas was advertising in Fluxus newsletters than only twenty copies of L'Optique Moderne remained, and a few months after that "2 copies left", according to Jon Hendricks' Fluxus Codex. Today the title is exceedingly rare, though copies are held in the collection of the Walker Art Centre, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Bonotto Foundation.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Lawrence Weiner | Iceland Homily

Lawrence Weiner
Iceland Homily
26.3 x 41.5 cm.
Edition of 30 [+ 10 AP] signed copies

Lasercut aluminium with mirrored backing, wooden frame.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Cary Leibowitz | I need to grow up and be taken seriously said the clown at the urinal

I need to grow up and be taken seriously said the clown at the urinal by Cary Leibowitz opens tonight at Invisible Exports, in NYC. The exhibition features new paintings, ceramics and photo-collages. The opening reception takes place between 6 and 8 tonight, and the exhibition continues until May 13th.

"In 2016, at a Los Angeles auction, Cary Leibowitz bought, as a present for his husband, a desk that once belonged to Joan Collins. When the desk was delivered they were delighted to discover, tucked into its drawers, an entire cache of stuff that belonged to Collins—including her wallet and Neiman Marcus credit card. Collins has always been an icon to Leibowitz, but this show — I Need to Grow Up And Be Taken Seriously Said the Clown At the Urinal — is the first oriented towards her presence, with a number of Leibowitz’s iconic text paintings addressing her, especially the idea that what we love about Joan Collins is that she wants to be Joan Collins as much as we want to be Joan Collins.

The exhibition will also feature new Americana photo-collages, new text paintings (such as George Washington Redecorates Mount Vernon, Elizabeth Taylor is Thinking About Fried Chicken, Ugh He’s Crying Again, and Respect for the United States Constitution is a Turn On), as well as new ceramic works—the hand-glazed objects Leibowitz has produced periodically throughout his career as a distinctive form, the unique bespoke multiple.

For decades, Leibowitz has been the New York art world’s master painter of abjection and neurosis, self-loathing, self-doubt, and self-interrogation—“like a human dynamo of insecurity,” Rhonda Lieberman wrote in Artforum in 1992. In those years, he was still known as Candyass, a prankster-critic of neo-expressionist grandiosity—and one whose self-mocking good humor belied a universe of anxiety below the surface, particularly as the AIDS crisis devastated New York. He hosted a talk show (Talk Show), appointed himself the director of Fake Chanel (a menorah was a collection centerpiece), became a sort of poster-boy for the Pathetic Aesthetic, and turned sleek, self-important galleries into Candyass Carnivals full of pennants blaring irony, Americana paintings that managed to have it (i.e. the whole American vernacular tradition) both ways, valentines to underappreciated movie stars, and multiples that mocked art-as-commerce even as they were offered, themselves, for sale. His uproarious text paintings of self-lacerating one-liners, typically composed against pastel-colored wood “canvases,” were a self-conscious counterpoint to neo-expressionist grandiosity and the new pop spectacle of the art world of the time (mixing elements of therapy, interrogation, social and institutional critique, and stand-up comedy routine). But his work was also and always deeply personal and idiosyncratic, driven by anxieties, neuroses, and premonitions of difference—and by the nagging of crippling conscience that lies always beneath, or behind, or just around the corner, with a mocking and knowing wink. For I Need To Grow Up, Leibowitz will be throwing a new element of awkward Americana paintings into the mix, including Copley-esque works and butcher signs.

“By making failure, particularly personal failure, his medium and showing particular preference for the lowbrow, the pathetic, the inexpensive, the throw-away,” went the essay accompanying “Cary Leibowitz: Museum Show” (the traveling retrospective that began at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco in 2017, moved to Philadelphia’s ICA museum this winter, and will open at CAMH in Houston later this spring), “Leibowitz throws post-modernism’s slick critique of modernism into harsh relief.”
- Press release

Visit Invisible Exports at 89 Eldridge Street, New York NY 100002, or online at

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Arman | Accumulation

Munich/New York City:Edition Schellmann/John Gibson, 1973
45 × 30 × 5 cm
Edition of 100 signed and numbered copies [+ 10 AP]

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Yoko Ono at the Saville

[Yoko Ono]
Yoko Ono at the Saville
circa 1967
35-15/16 x 22-7/8"
Edition size unknown

Designed by Ono's then-husband Tony Cox, this offset lithograph poster advertises Yoko Ono’s Music of the Mind and the Fog Machine performances at the Saville theatre in the West End of London. The concert also reportedly included a projection of her film Bottoms (Film no 4) in the men’s washroom during her performance.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Sarah Robayo Sheridan | Les Levine: Transmedia 1964-1974

[Sarah Robayo Sheridan, editor]
Les Levine: Transmedia 1964-1974
Oakville, Canada: Oakville Galleries, 2018
188 pp., softcover
Edition size unknown

The catalogue for the touring exhibition of the same name launches tomorrow at Art Metropole, from 2 to 4 pm. Join curator Sarah Robayo Sheridan in conversation with Ihor Holubizky, and catch a rare opportunity to see Les Levine's video Express Doubt.

"For more than five decades, the work of Irish-American artist Les Levine has taken shape across a wide range of techniques, media and approaches. Born in Dublin, Levine immigrated to Toronto in 1957, where he enjoyed his first acclaim as an artist through solo exhibitions at the David Mirvish Gallery, Hart House, the Isaacs Gallery and the Art Gallery of Ontario. On his move to New York City in 1964, Levine's practice quickly proliferated; he would go on to become one of the most exhibited artists of his generation. This beautifully composed monograph surveys the first prolific decade of this highly influential artist's work and brings together a selection of Levine's key works from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s. Working across, beyond, and through media, Levine would become known for developing new approaches to artmaking, establishing new categories such as camera art, disposable art, media sculpture, software art, body control systems, and what he would term Mott art. Constantly expanding the parameters of what could be understood as art, Levine's artworks addressed the conditions and experiences of a rapidly changing media landscape in ways that proved uniquely prescient of contemporary concerns and sensibilities."

- publisher's blurb

Art Metropole / 1490 Dundas Street West, Toronto
Saturday 24 March 2018, 2:00 pm–4:00 pm

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Rodney Graham | God Bless Tiny Tim

Rodney Graham
God Bless Tiny Tim
Brussels, Belgium: MOREpublishers, 2018
68 x 94 cm.
Edition of 25 signed and numbered copies [+ 5 A.P.]

Graham turns the title of a 1968 LP by ukulele player and falsetto singer Tiny Tim into a tribute to the late musician, best known for "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" and for marrying his 17 year old bride on the Tonight Show, with Johnny Carson officiating (power companies reported overloads when more than 40 million people tuned in to watch).

God Bless Tiny Tim is the beak-nosed troubadour's first album, produced by Richard Perry (Captain Beefheart, Harry Nilsson, Diana Ross, Ringo Starr). It featured an orchestrated version of the 1929 song "Tip-Toe Thru' The Tulips" (which reached #17 on the hit parade) and a version of Sony and Cher's "I Got You Babe", in which Tiny Tim duets with himself, performing both the baritone and falsetto roles.

Tiny Tim died in 1996, onstage, singing his signature song.

Graham's MOREpublishers edition is a silkscreen print on C-MAT, 150 gram paper. It is available for 350 €. For more information, contact

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Janet Cardiff | The Secret Hotel

Janet Cardiff/George Bures Miller
The Secret Hotel
Bregenz, Austria: Kunsthaus Bregenz, 2006
107 pp, 25 x 22 cm., hardcover
Edition size unknown

Published in April 2006, in conjunction with a collaborative installation by Cardiff and Miller at the Kunsthaus Bregenz in Austria. Edited by Eckhard Schneider, with essays by Jörg Heiser and Matthias Lilienthal, the book contains text in both German and English, and is accompanied by a CD and vinyl single. The latter contains excerpts from the pair's "Opera for a Small Room."

"The artists break down music, noise, speech, physically and optically accessible spaces, perspectives, found objects, architectonic sculptures, filmed images, and constructed images, then rearrange the constituent parts. The elements coalesce in their works to form a passage through intensified sense impressions, a passage during which it is difficult to distinguish clearly between actual experience and artistically produced perceptual constructs."

- Preface

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Friday, March 9, 2018

Hanne Darboven | Opus 17A

Hanne Darboven
Opus 17A
New York City, USA: DIA Centre for the Arts, 1996
Audio CD, 12.4 × 12.7 cm.
Edition size unknown

A sixty-nine and a half minute long work for Double Bass, performed by Robert Black, produced in association with the exhibition "Kulturgeschichte 1880-1983", 1980-83
at Dia Center for the Arts, March 28, 1996 to June 29, 1997.

Darboven died on this day, nine years ago.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Georges Perec

Georges Perec died 36 years ago today, in Ivry-sur-Seine, France, at the age of 45.