Thursday, July 30, 2020

Tracey Emin | Every Part of Me’s Bleeding

Tracey Emin
Every Part of Me’s Bleeding
New York City, USA: Lehman Maupin, 1999
49.5 x 34cm
Edition size unknown

A machine-folded promotional poster from Emin's first solo exhibition in the United States, from May 1st to June 19th, 1999.

Available for $100 US, here.

"Tracey Emin was born in London in 1963 and was raised in the seaside town of Margate on the English coast. After leaving school at an early age, Emin enrolled at Maidstone College of Art in Kent at the age of 20 and studied painting. She then went to London where she completed a Masters in Painting at the Royal College of Art. Emin is a storyteller whose subject matter comes from Emin's own rich life. Emin's first one-person gallery exhibition at the White Cube titled "My Major Retrospective" included family memorabilia accompanied with each related story and also presented an archive of Emin's early paintings which she had destroyed. Her book "Exploration of the Soul" told the story of her life from her and her twin brother's conception, their birth and early life to the age of 13. She presented this collection in a series of readings during a journey across America. In 1995, Emin opened The Tracey Emin Museum in London. At the museum, Emin sat with her work and spoke with visitors to encourage an exchange of experiences.

"Every Part of Me's Bleeding" will consist of many works done in a variety of media including several large-scale sculptures, drawings, neon pieces, video and a quilt. One large-scale piece in the exhibition is a seaside beach hut from a past vacation spot of Emin's friend artist Sarah Lucas, Emin and a former boyfriend. The actual hut has been carefully taken apart and reassembled in the main gallery space. Through the poetry of her honest retelling of unique and intimate life-events Emin establishes a generous dialogue between the viewer and the artist. The personal expands to the universal in the way Emin takes a feeling about her life and forms it into a genuine expression of a human emotion."
- press release

"By Jan Avgikos

"Girl talk" never much enjoyed the primetime exposure it has long deserved until last year, when the House Judiciary Committee chose to post transcripts of Monica Lewinsky's intimate phone conversations with Linda Tripp on the Internet for all to read. I particularly liked the part where Tripp tells Lewinsky she's starting to "think like him" and then muses over how she would like to kick him in the balls until they were flat like little pancakes. It's a perfect example of the "discourse": direct, uncensored, unfettered by gentility or reserve, and, when appropriate, graphically violent. Of course, we all know you should never kick anyone in the balls (even if it seems like a good idea at the time), but the point of "girl talk" is that the speech itself is liberating, even a substitute for action when action may be impossible.

We haven't heard a lot of "girl talk" in the galleries of New York lately—but that's nothing new. Male rants, after all, are considered cultural; female rants, premenstrual. Same ol' same ol'. If it's still the case that transgressive behavior by women is dismissed as simple "acting out," you get the sense that that's just fine with Tracey Emin, an artist who revels in hysteronics— mostly in relation to love gone bad.

There's nothing particularly enlightened in Emin's talk. And yet, despite her hard-baked litany of abuses suffered and her often scatological subject matter, she has a charming way with language. In her most recent show, she marries passionate, handwritten phrases—"Every Part of Me's Bleeding"; "My Cunt is Wet with Fear"— with cool blue neon. You feel her willful occupation of Conceptual art's formal turf (think Bruce Nauman, Richard Serra, Joseph Kosuth) as well as her wicked put-down of its pompous austerity and authority. It's even better when her rapacious bombast lands on one of the most treasured of feminist-art icons, the handmade quilt. Emin trades in the flowery phrases found in ladies' heirloom handiwork for turbo-charged, Medusan rage directed at all the guys who've done her wrong. In Psycho Slut, I999, the eponymous words are (mis)spelled out (PYSCO SLUT) in big, bold lettering appliqued at the top of the quilt, as are phrases plucked from the maker's inner monologue: "I didn't know I had to ask to share your life"; "You see I'm one of the best"; "You know how much I love you."
- Jan Avgikos, Artforum, October 1999

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Jenny Holzer | Selection from The Survival Series (Fingers slide where the brain...)

Jenny Holzer
Selection from The Survival Series (Fingers slide where the brain...)
New York City, USA: Self-published, [circa 1983/85]
15.3 x 21.7 cm.
painted cast aluminium plaque
Edition of 10 [+ 1 AP]

Holzer celebrates her 70th birthday today.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Jonathan Monk | Waiting for famous people

Jonathan Monk
Waiting for famous people 
Glasgow, Scotland: Self-published, 1995
29.8 x 20 cm.
Edition of five signed and numbered copies (each image)

Cultural and political figures, some living and some dead, including: Elizabeth Taylor, Jackson Pollock, Richard Nixon, Max Ernst, Curt Cobain [sic], The Pope, The Queen, Santa Claus, Anyone, etc. etc.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Erwin Wurm | St. Pauls Pullover

Erwin Wurm
St. Pauls Pullover
Vienna, Austria: Self-published, 1991
51 × 36 × 8 cm.
Edition of 7 signed, dated, titled and numbered copies

Valued at approximately $5000, this boys size 16 sweater comes in a box signed in black felt tip pen, which contains installation instructions and hardware.

Wurm turns 66 today.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Andy Warhol | Campbell's Soup Can (Tomato)

Andy Warhol
Campbell's Soup Can (Tomato)
Boston, USA: Institute of Contemporary Art, 1966
48.9 x 43.2 cm.
Edition size unknown

Warhol first painted Cambell's Soup cans in 1962 and continued with the motif throughout his life. This 1966 shopping bag, published alongside an exhibition at the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art, was the second paper shopping bag. The first screen-printed Soup Can bags were produced for the iconic Pop Art exhibition “The American Supermarket,” organized byBen Birillo in October 1964, at the Bianchini Gallery in New York. Roy Lichtenstein produced a Turkey shopping bag for the same occasion.

It has been suggested that it was other pop artists that led him to the subject matter: the impact of seeing Claes Oldenburg’s Store in 1961, or the Painted Bronze ale cans of Jasper Johns a year prior. Or possibly learning that Lichtenstein was also painting comic strip imagery, led Warhol to seek out alternatives.

Various people have taken credit for suggesting that he paint soup cans over the years. According to Warhol friend Ted Carey, it was the gallerist Muriel Latow who came up with the idea for the cans (as well as for Warhol's money paintings).

Marcel Duchamp dismissed the subject matter as not particularly relevant: "If you take a Campbell Soup Can and repeat it fifty times, you are not interested in the retinal image. What interests you is the concept that wants to put fifty Campbell soup cans on a canvas.”

Robert Indiana said: "I knew Andy very well. The reason he painted soup cans is that he liked soup.”However, Ted Carey’s lover, John Mann, maintained that Warhol painted the Campbell's Soup Cans precisely because he disliked the soup.

Warhol himself was characteristically coy in interviews, declining to answer, or producing answers that contradicted one another. One consistent is that he ate soup every day of his life as a child (for "twenty years"), but he also made clear to note that he ate sandwiches just as often.

Two years before his death, the artist was interviewed for The Face magazine by Fiona Russell Powell and David Yarritu. "I heard that your mother used to make these little tin flowers and sell them to help support you in the early days,” asked Yarritu.

"Oh God, yes, it's true,” Warhol replied, “the tin flowers were made out of those fruit cans, that's the reason why I did my first tin-can paintings...You take a tin-can, the bigger the tin-can the better, like the family size ones that peach halves come in, and I think you cut them with scissors. It's very easy and you just make flowers out of them. My mother always had lots of cans around, including the soup cans."

Reflecting on his career, Warhol cited the Campbell’s Soup Can as his favourite work, adding: "I should have just done the Campbell’s Soups and kept on doing them ... because everybody only does one painting anyway."

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Robert Watts | FluxAtlas

Robert Watts
Flux Atlas
New York City, USA: ReFLUX Editions, 2002
22,8 x 33,2 x 58 cm.
Edition size unknown

Barbara Moore's ReFLUX editions used existing materials from the Maciunas estate to keep Fluxus editions in print and make the works accessible again after the market elevated the prices on items that were once available for a few dollars. As soon as Moore ended production, prices on even these 'reprints' soared.

In this instance, the Maciunas designed offset labels, cards and collected rocks were original, and the plastic box was new (presumably still sourced from the Canal Street surplus stores which remained active in 2002).

A copy is available from Printed Matter, for $500 US, here.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Robert Watts for Flux Cabinet

Flux Cabinet
New York City, USA: Fluxus, 1977
122.5 x 36.8 x 38 cm
Unique work

The Flux Cabinet is the final collective Fluxkit, and can be seen as the culmination of Maciunas' desire to anthologize the work of Fluxus artists. Commissioned by Susan Reinhold (partner of collector Jean Brown’s son, Robert Brown), the work eventually ended up in the Silverman Collection which was subsequently gifted to the MoMA.

The cabinet features twenty drawers, containing a wide variety of objects, with works by Maciunas, John Lennon, Jean Dupuy, George Brecht, Ben Vautier, Geoffrey Hendricks, Takako Saito, Mieko Shiomi, Larry Miller, Ay-O, Claes Oldenburg, Joe Jones and Robert Watts.

The eighth drawer (according to Maciunas' drawing for the work) is the Robert Watts work Flux Atlas - a collection of stones, labelled by location (see previous posts).

"The proclivity to organize and classify space evident in the examples listed above is heir both to Maciunas’ own penchant for classification demonstrated by his numerous charts and diagrams, and to the rationalization of space originating with the industrial revolution. Le Corbusier, whose oeuvre Maciunas admired, provided one of the most visible manifestations of the gradual extension to all areas of architectural practice of principles of efficiency to be found in industry. In his design of the Pavilion de l’Esprit Nouveau for the 1925 Exposition des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, particularly in his proposal of the “Casiers standards” [standard storage compartments], as well as in his book L’art decorative d’auhourd-hui, one of four accompanying publications to the exhibition, Le Corbusier foregrounded the importance of storage accommodations for the efficient functioning of home and office. In the core chapter of this book, “Type-Needs,” the architect sets out to formulate man’s “most fundamental desires,” believing that human needs “are not very numerous; they are very similar for mankind” and that “these needs are type, that is to say they are the same for all of us.” He believes in the existence of four types of needs: containment (cups, bottles); shelter (housing); memory aids (filing cabinets and copy letters); and storage (wardrobes and sideboards). The chapter is profusely illustrated with all manners and forms of drawers, cabinets, and filing systems. It might be possible to understand the marriage of storage and history in Maciunas’ work as an attempt to flexibilize this view of functionalism, one that focused on biological needs at the expense of needs based on social identity and tradition, and which pervaded not only Corbusier’s thought but that of many other architects and artists at the height of the machine age. He can be seen, in other words, to be using what Corbusier calls “tools” associated with industry and bureaucracy to satisfy such complex needs as the preservation of and access to history.

But it is only 1965. We have no evidence of Maciunas’ hypothetical evolution toward a manipulation of functionalism to consider needs beyond the basic ones, or conversely toward a consideration of history as a basic human need. What we do know, nonetheless, is that the discussion of functionalism after the war had been rampant for many years. The question after the war was if and how to recover faith in technology and the rationalization of industry when there was ample evidence that they had a major responsibility for the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust. A related discussion took shape around the concept of monumentality, through which, beyond the mere providing of shelter, the expression of human history and traditions was contended as a preeminent objective of architecture. Close friends of Maciunas have often declared that he kept abreast of the latest architectural developments. The very fact of his connection to at least one member of the Situationist International (as potential contributor to the Fluxus No. 2 West European Year-Box I, whose contents were proposed as late as 1962), one of whose several configurations was the Movement for an Imaginist Bauhaus, reveals the possibility that his understanding and embrace of functional design in 1965 might have been far from a simplistic, naïve position, and that it must be given due credit in its engagement with ongoing postwar discussions of functionalism and related issues such as the status of monumentality.

Furthermore, a fundamental turn from the long rejection and historical silence of the Russian avant-garde and the prescription of Social Realism as the mandatory aesthetic choice during Stalin’s rule, was announced late in 1954 by Nikita Khrushchev’s address to the builders, in which he paved the way for the recovery of the functionalism at the heart of Constructivism. As scholar Jean-Louis Cohen expresses, “Khrushchev’s discourse led to a redefinition of architecture as essentially a technical practice, and opened the door to a new type of historical narrative, allowing for the rememoration of the avant-garde.” The history of the avant-garde was not recovered at the expense of, but because of, a renewed faith in efficiency and functionalism.

In Maciunas Prefabricated Building System, storage cabinets and the rationalized space of the kitchen area come to serve as structural elements. As late as 1951 at least one manufacturer of factory-built kitchens had experimented with the transformation of the mechanical core of the house — the unit of kitchen and bathroom, what Maciunas calls in his proposal the “Service Cubical” — into its structural core, serving as the load-bearing structure of the prefabricated house. According to a major study published that same year by author Burnham Kelly for the Albert Farwell Bemis Foundation of the Prefabrication Industry in the United States, this development “supports the theory, often put forward, that ultimately the rational prefabricated house will be an outgrowth of the mass-produced mechanical core, rather than the reverse.” No such transformation, however, had been devised for storage cabinets. In contrast to the Soviet prefabricated building system, as he himself analyses in appendix 1 of his pamphlet, in which, as was common practice, walls would function as load-bearing structures, Maciunas indicates in his “Method of Design Development,” that “Storage cabinets are made to substitute for structural walls.” In this manner, cabinets in the house perform a double function, storage and support. As in Le Corbusier’s L’art decorative d’aujourd-hui, shelves and cabinets become an icon of efficiency, the foundational stones of a proposal geared to resuscitate and elevate functionalism.

In the context of an ongoing battle between the symbolic aspirations of social realism and functionalism in the USSR, the return to functionalism meant the recovery of history and tradition, not their cancellation. Efficiency is precisely the way Maciunas proposes for dealing with the past, and in subsequent years, of making history available for future generations. We see it embodied in the many examples of storage units throughout the years, and most notably, in the archive for Jean Brown near the end of his life, where the history of the avant-garde is recovered one cabinet, one document at a time."

Robert Watts | A Flux Atlas

Robert Watts
A Flux Atlas
New York City, USA: Fluxus, circa 1973
21 x 11 x 3.5 cm.
Edition size unknown

An 18-compartment version of the work in the previous two posts. George Maciunas would often design numerous different labels for the same work, here he re-uses the same label regardless of the size box it is affixed to.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Robert Watts | A Flux Atlas

Robert Watts
A Flux Atlas
New York City, USA: Fluxus, 1973
22.5 x 33.3 x 5.6 cm.
Edition size unknown

A plastic box containing twenty-four offset cards and twenty-four collected rocks, with an offset label designed by George Maciunas. 

In late 1972 George Maciunas sent a letter to Dr Hanns Sohm (a dentist, collector and eventual archivist of Fluxus materials) offering the small version (see previous post) for $20 and this larger version for $40, with the note that only twenty of the larger versions were issued. 

The above versions are both from the Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection Gift, at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Robert Watts | A Flux Atlas

Robert Watts
A Flux Atlas
New York City, USA: Fluxus, 1973
12 x 9 x 2.5 cm.
Edition size unknown

In an April 1973 Fluxnewsletter, George Maciunas solicited help in collecting the rocks for Watts' Flux Atlas:

"We need about 50 pebbles (smooth, rounded small rocks) to fit in a compartment not larger than 25mm x 40mm x 15mm from specific and well described locations (country, town vicinity, which beach or shore, which sea, lake or river). This is for a large Geography box by Bob Watts, which will contain pebbles from various parts of the world (so far we have pebbles from Azores, Menorca, Cycladic Islands, Cape Hatterras, end of Long Island, Manhattan, Nova Scotia*, Maine). All contributors will receive a box in return."

This crowd-sourcing of materials was common in Fluxus, from the overt collaborative pieces by Mieko/Chieko Shiomi (her Spatial Poems in particular) to Paul Shartis' Paper Events. Ken Friedman sent some stones but received a letter in April of '73 stating "I got the rocks, but they are too small, they should be about 1/2" diameter or the size to fit the plastic partitioned boxes"

There were several versions of the work produced, including a large 91 stone, produced for the Fluxfest in Seattle, in 1977. This 7-compartment version appears to be the smallest. It was originally offered in Fluxus newsletters for a price of $20, and later discounted to $16 in price list from 1976.

"As is often the case, much of the work necessary to transform the object from a "box of rocks" into a "Flux Atlas" is performed by Maciunas' label design. The compartmentalization of the designation "a flux atlas by bob watts" on the label mirrors the structure of the box's interior. The label's graphic association with a premodern cartographic tradition both indicates that this atlas is founded on actual experience rather than on rational, scientific principles, and participates in the longstanding Fluxus appropriation of outmoded graphic idioms."
- Walker Art Centre

* I'm guessing that Geoff Hendricks provided the Nova Scotia stone (see Canadian Art obituary by Amish Morrell, here). 

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Aleksandra Mir | I Love Love

Aleksandra Mir
I Love Love
Self-published, 2004
35.5 x 27.5 cm.
Edition size unknown

Monday, July 20, 2020

Nam June Paik | Kim Chee and Sauerkraut

Nam June Paik
Kim Chee and Sauerkraut
Berlin, Germany: Texte zur Kunst, 1997
21 x 5.1 x 2.5 cm.
Edition of 100 signed copies [+APs]

A television remote control and acrylic paint in the colours of the 'test pattern'. From Texte our Kunst number 28. Signed, dated and titled on the verso.

Paik was born in Seoul on this day in 1932.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Alec Finlay | Bynames Handkerchiefs

Alec Finlay
Bynames Handkerchiefs 
Edinburgh, Scotland: Morning Star Publications, 2003
38.5 × 38.5 cm.
Edition size unknown

Produced alongside the artist book of the same name (see previous post), these handkerchiefs feature monogrammed bynames for famous artists  (Hermit Futon, Gorgeous Machines, Denial Burden) and authors (Gabled Gracious Marquees), as woven name tapes sewn into handkerchiefs by Scottish artist Alec Finlay (Elect Finely).

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Alec Finlay | Bynames

Alec Finlay
Gateshead, UK: BALTIC, 2003
80 pp., softcover
Edition size unknown

An anthology of the invented bynames for (mostly) famous writers and artists, conceived and edited by Epic Filley (Alec Finlay). This anthology includes invented names, misspellings, and pseudonyms.

"HERMIT FUTON is Hamish Fulton; who says that walks are like clouds, they come and go.
RUCKSACK MIANG is Richard Long; who also likes to walk, sometimes in straight lines, sometimes in circles.
ONE BRAW NARA is On Kawara; who would like everyone to know he is still alive.
SHERBET & SERGE are Gilbert & George; of Fournier Street, listed in the Yellow Pages under Artist.
MART & LINKAGE are Art & Language; once upon a time they made a little magazine.
DORIC JARDIN is Derek Jarman; whose fugitive garden still flowers on the shingle of Dungeness.
IRON HUMILITY FINALLY is Ian Hamilton Finlay; whose love of names and name-calling is renowned.
DOUBTFUL GARDEN is Douglas Gordon; whose annual record of the names of everyone he meets is famed.
DEMON FIRST is Damien Hirst; who seems to carry a blow torch backwards through life.
TACKY HEMMING is Tracy Emin; also bynamed Racy Woman, Treacly Ermine, Trashy Omen.
TIMON PATTERNON is Simon Patterson; and he really is Mister Names.
HANDS RICH ORBITS is Hans Ulrich Obrist; the curator, who always works so terribly, terribly hard.
AWASH KIPPER is Anish Kapoor; the sculptor, for him a fanfare, tarantra, tarantra.
SOME SAILOR WOOD is Sam Taylor Wood; the photographer, wholikes to take photographs.
COOLING IRIS is Calum Innes; favoured son of Edinburgh, whose paintings give such ocular pleasure.
AUGUST MORNING is Agnes Martin; solitary visionary of Taos, her strong chin betrays Scottish roots.
JAMS CHOICE is James Joyce; Dubliner, name-player, who is celebrating an anniversary this year.
HANDS ARC is Hans Arp; the Alsatian, so handy with paper and scissors.
SILVER RIVER is Susan Hiller; for her a suitably Orphic byname.
DENIAL BURDEN is Daniel Buren; let’s hang-out all the flaps, dress the town for gala day.
SOUL WATER is Sol LeWitt; a byname to bless one who described all conceptual artists as mystics.
HANDY WATERHOLE is Andy Warhol; whose fame-factory collected names, tested them out on sofas.
LAWLESS WINNER is Lawrence Weiner; of New York, of Amsterdam, who sculpts with words.
GORGEOUS MACHINES is George Maciunas; Mr Fluxus, Little Yurgis, who planted Aurucaria.
PEER BRICKBOY is Per Kirkeby; who lays a mean red brick wall.
BARRROW is Basho; of Haiku, who took his pen name from the banana tree which grew outside his hut.
GLAD GOLD is Glenn Gould; pianist, composer. Preudonymist, who couldn’t help but hum along.
MAPLIN is Tatlin; remarkably there was talk of constructing a replica of his tower here in town.
RAINY MARGATE is René Magritte; so please be so kind as to doff your bowler hat.
TITAN is Titian; please proceed upstairs."

- Alex Finlay