Tuesday, September 29, 2020
Monday, September 28, 2020
Cologne, Germany: Edition Mat Mot, 1965
46 x 55 x 4.5 cm.
Edition of 100 signed and numbered copies
Enrico Baj made his New York debut in 1960, when Marcel Duchamp and André Breton included him in a group exhibition at D’Arcy Galleries titled “Surrealist Intrusion in the Enchanter’s Domain.” He was one of the last artists who Breton aligned with Surrealism.
In a 1963 essay, Breton described Baj's series Generals (pictured below), which would remain the artists' best known work:
"A quite recent period in Baj's work has singled out from this brutish regiment several incarnations of the 'general in full dress uniform', a category summed up unforgettably by Benjamin Péret as being 'the grossly glided, perfectly poverty-stricken' [....] Had it not been for Baj, I would have been less attuned to the sight of the goldbeaters'-skins bulging out from behind all this paraphernalia."
These absurdist military characters adorned with medals and military regalia, which the artist found in flea markets, first appeared in his work in 1959, and in the next two years he produced around forty of the 'generals'. He would periodically return to them throughout his career, until his death in 2003.
They were also the basis for his contribution to the Editon Mat Mot Collection 65. Personaggio decorato (or "Decorated Figure", in English) became the subject of a debate about authorship and value within the Mat Mot series.
Baj's gallerist, Arturo Schwarz, wished to handle sales of the work, and objected to their low cost, fearing it would undermine his gallery prices. The work, he argued, was too similar to Baj's larger practice and would undercut sales and impact market value.
Presumably at his urging, Baj initially refused to sign the multiples. Daniel Spoerri (founder and co-editor of Edition Mat Mot) eventually capitulated and agreed to indicate that the works were fabricated by Spoerri, distinct from an 'original' (see above pink poster). This ran counter to Spoerri's goal with the series, which was to de-emphasize the hand of the artist.
Sunday, September 27, 2020
Friday, September 25, 2020
Selection from Survival: Men don't protect…
New York City, USA: Self-published, 2006
43.2 x 58.4 x 40 cm.
Edition of 10 [+2 AP] signed and numbered copies
Valued at approximately $70,000 US, the work is a Danby Imperial white marble footstool engraved with a Truism from the Survival Series. The underside is incised with the artist's studio inventory number edition number.
Thursday, September 24, 2020
Vinalhaven, USA: Self-published, 1998
91.4 x 91.4 x 45.7 cm.
Edition of 6 [+ 4 AP] signed, numbered and dated copies
"A cardinal symbol of Pop art, LOVE (Blue Outside Red Inside) is a quintessential example of Robert Indiana’s ability to use text and language to transcend conventional distinctions between Minimalism, Pop art, and modernism. Indiana orientates the four letters that constitute the word over a strict cruciform axis, the gridding of which he only jeopardizes with the playful energy emitted from the tilted “O”. Radiating in cerulean and carmine, LOVE (Blue Outside Red Inside) serves as an homage to the artist’s father who worked at a Phillips 66 gas station in the Midwestern United States during the Great Depression: at once deeply personal and emblematic of the American experience, the work echoes the red logo set against a blue Indiana sky. A fundamental component of Miles and Shirley Fiterman’s collection of exceptional examples of Pop art, Indiana's LOVE (Blue Outside Red Inside) has achieved global recognition since its conception in 1966, and versions of the work have been installed in public and private collections across the United States as well as in Canada, Europe, South America, Asia, and Israel. Ascribed to the sculpture’s vibrant palette and instantaneous impact, LOVE (Blue Outside Red Inside) has become an iconic Pop motif that takes its place in the pantheon of imagery alongside Andy Warhol’s soup cans and Roy Lichtenstein’s Ben-Day dots.
By the mid 1960s, the New York art world was experiencing an unprecedented change of artistic tides as Minimalism was rapidly gaining popularity and the first wave of Pop art was nearing the end of its reign. Indiana championed the duality that characterized the climate with the conception of LOVE, marrying the two movements in the visual immediacy of the work, which is reminiscent of the bold, arresting quality of billboards and advertisements. The word “love” appears frequently within his oeuvre, as evidenced by the emergence of its iconography in a series of poems he composed in 1958 before its appearance in his seminal paintings Four Star Love, 1961, Portland Museum of Art, Maine and Love is God, 1964. It was these explorations in two-dimension that laid the groundwork for Indiana to propel the composition into the third dimension: “I like to work on a square canvas, since the way I put the letters down, it is the most economical, the most dynamic way to put four letters on a square canvas. This is how the LOVE came about…” (Robert Indiana, quoted in Barbarelee Diamonstein, Inside New York’s Art World, New York, 1979, pp. 151-153). By transposing the abstract concept of “love” into a tangible three-dimensional object that can be seen and touched, Indiana has engaged with Conceptualism, Pop, and Minimalism.
LOVE (Blue Outside Red Inside) is also denotative of Indiana’s investigation of modernist themes through a Pop lens. According to the artist, the “'LOVE Sculpture' is the culmination of ten years of work based on the original premise that the word is an appropriated and usable element of art, just as Picasso and the Cubists made use of it at the beginning of the century, which evolved inevitably, in both my “LOVE” paintings and sculpture, into the concept that the word is also a fit and viable subject for art” (Robert Indiana, Art New: New York, vol. 1, no. 3, March 1969, n.p.). The sculpture can be interpreted as a conceptual allusion to the manipulation of wordplay at the hands of the Dadaists and Cubists. Just as the “JOU” in Pablo Picasso’s Still Life with Chair Caning, 1911-1912 may be a witty pun on the French word “jouer” (to play) and the popular Parisian newspaper Le Journal, the word “love” implies many connotations, including ones that are amorous, platonic, spiritual, and cultural. As such, LOVE (Blue Outside Red Inside) operates not only within the realm of Pop art, but as a broader reflection on the preoccupation with language and word play in modern art.
Perhaps what makes the work so evocative is its perennial ability to remain timeless. The imagery was already identified as emblematic of the Pop movement when The Museum of Modern Art in New York selected the image for their annual Christmas card in 1965. As Arron Ott noted, “LOVE is capable of holding meaning in a variety of histories. It was created in the shadow of hippie culture but powerful enough to escape that orbit in order to resonate in numerous contemporary and personalized contexts” (Aaron Ott, Robert Indiana: A Sculpture Retrospective, exh. cat., Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, 2018, p. 87). LOVE (Blue Outside Red Inside) crystallizes many of the major themes that Robert Indiana has investigated throughout his career and one of the most fascinating aspects of this work is it’s ability to remain timeless and contemporary at the same time. More than 50 years has passed since it’s conception and it is clear that having served as inspiration whether directly or indirectly to a younger generation of artists Indiana’s LOVE persists in a profound manner."
Labels: Robert Indiana
Monday, September 21, 2020
Sunday, September 20, 2020
Stencil Drawings, Book 1
Maastricht, Netherlands: Self-published, 2019
20 pp., 15 x 21 cm., saddle stitched
Edition of 40
A risograph publication with hand drawn elements, produced during a residency at the Jan van Eyck Academie in June 2019.
Walker's exhibition Disruptions, opened at MKG127 in Toronto yesterday, and continues until October 24th. Read Tatum Dooley’s exhibition essay at the gallery site, here. In lieu of an opening, the artist will be available to meet visitors by appointment on Saturdays during the run of the exhibition.
Saturday, September 19, 2020
New York City, USA: Museum of Modern Art, 1979
Jigsaw puzzle: printed cardboard, boxed
2 x 13 x 8"
Edition of 5000
A five hundred and thirteen piece puzzle produced for the Museum of Modern Art three years The Anastasi Puzzle (see previous post). The dimensions of the completed puzzle are 16 x 20".
Friday, September 18, 2020
The Anastasi Puzzle
New York City, USA: The Museum of Modern Art, 1975
5.75 x 3.5 x 3.5"
Edition of 3000
A Jigsaw puzzle with the printed image of a Jigsaw puzzle, commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art in 1975, for sale in their giftshop. The work is housed in a metal canister with a plastic lid. It was produced in an edition of 3000 in 1975 and a second edition of 1000 was reportedly released the following year, though the work remains scarce. It is valued at approximately $750 US.
In 1979, the artist produced Puzzle Puzzle, also for the MoMA, this time in an edition of 5000 (see following post).
Thursday, September 17, 2020
Wednesday, September 16, 2020
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Self-published, 1987
 pp., 20 x 20 cm., softcover
Edition size unknown
Concrete poetry in Portuguese by the founder of poema/processo, printed in red, blue and green. Edition size is not stated, though most copies were reportedly destroyed in a flood. The work - originally created in 1960 - explores the delicate relationship between numbers and words, and their infinite arrangements, combinations, and possibilities.
Labels: concrete poetry