Miami Art Basel 2015 – Must See Exhibitions, Best Parties and Events – Updated Dec. 2, 2015

Changes abound for the upcoming Miami Art Basel week 2015. The NADA Art Fair has a new home – the spectacular billion dollar upgraded historic Fontainbleau Hotel. In all previous locations the fair was free to enter – no more; it now $20 a head. The Rubell Family Collection stays in the forefront of the pulse of the artworld with an all woman artists exhibition that will rotate works over the duration of the show. The Marguiles Warehouse will feature a massive four custom built room exhibition of the work of Anselm Kiefer, whose retrospective I saw at the Royal Academy in London in the fall of 2014. The ICA Miami will be getting its new building in 2017 – meanwhile it will have a show of the NYC video artist Alex Bag. The de la Cruz Collection is doing a survey show loaded with art stars working in abstraction. With NADA, Scope, Pulse all having returned to Miami Beach, the major art fair action on the Miami side is now Art Miami and its Context Art Fair. Miami Projects has also moved to Miami Beach into the Deauville Hotel, which NADA just left after last year. Also up will be three stellar shows at Mana Contemporary – including the Frederick Weisman art foundation in Los Angeles, a selection of the Jorge Perez collection, and a selection of Latin America art. There will also be work from artists working in Bushwick. The other major offering will be the exhibition of representational and realist art curated by Jeffrey Deitch and Larry Gagosian that will be in the Moore Building in Miami’s white-hot Design District, and the Nari Ward retrospective at the Perez Art Museum, now under the direction of Franklin Sirmans. Isaac Julien’s 15 screen video project commission for Rolls Royce makes its North American debut at Young Arts in Wynnwood.
Miami has a couple of new gallery districts – Little River and Little Haiti, that offer warehouse sized exhibition spaces.
Up the road we can look forward to the opening of the Faena Arts Center in Miami Beach, the new ICA Miami building, and the Museum of Latin American art by Miami gallerist Gary Nader.
Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles. he recently interviewed William Pope L. at MoCA in Los Angeles for the November 2015, 15th Anniversary issue of FROG magazine.
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Art Basel 2015 Sketch Book: 8 Artists to Watch

Mega Guide To Art Basel Miami Beach 2015: Tuesday

Gary Pini

Yves Behar is the recipient of the 2015 Design Miami “Design Visionary Award” and he’ll be honored with a special exhibit in the D/M venue behind the convention center through December 6. The VIP preview is today, December 1st. A student team from Harvard was chosen to design the fair’s entrance for their submission, “UNBUILT,” a collection of foam models of unrealized design projects. Expect thirty five exhibitors inside including Firma Casa from Brazil, showing new works by the Campana Brothers, and Italian gallery Secondome, with hand-crafted limited editions.

The Miami Project is also launching a new spin-off this year called SATELLITE that will show various “experimental” projects in unoccupied properties up near their 73rd Street base. One of those, “Artist-Run,” will fill the rooms in the Ocean Terrace Hotel (7410 Ocean Terrace, Miami Beach) with different installations from 40 artist-run spaces, curated by Tiger Strikes Asteroid. It’s open from December 2nd to 6th, with a VIP/media event today, December 1st, from noon to 10 p.m. ALSO: Trans-Pecos, the music venue out in Queens, New York, and Sam Hillmer from the band Zs, are putting together a 5-day music program in the North Beach Amphitheater, emphasizing “musical practitioners with some form of art practice.”

X Contemporary launches their inaugural fair in Wynwood running from December 2nd through Sunday, and a VIP opening on December 1st from 5 to 10 p.m. Twenty eight exhibitiors will be on hand, plus special projects including “Grace Hartigan: 1960 – 1965” presented by Michael Klein Arts; a look at the “genesis of street art” curated by Pamela Willoughby; and “Colombia N.O.W.” presented by TIMEBAG.

Target Too InstallationPULSE Miami Beach returns to Indian Beach Park (4601 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach) starting with a big “Opening Celebration” at 4 p.m. today, December 1st, featuring a panel discussion put together by Hyperallergic; an interactive piece by Kate Durbin called “Hello, Selfie!” and a live performance by Kalup Linzy. On December 5th, PULSE celebrates the City of Miami via a talk at 5 p.m. on “Future Visions of Miami” and a “Sunset Celebration” from 5 to 7 p.m. Fair visitors can check out “TARGET TOO,” an installation referencing items sold at the stores, originally on view in NYC last March. There’s a complimentary shuttle from the convention center, and the fair is open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Saturday.

Wynwood Walls (2520 NW 2nd Avenue, Miami) has a lot planned this year including “Walls of Change” with 14 new murals and installations and the debut of a new adjacent space called “The Wynwood Walls Garden.” The walls are by Case, Crash, Cryptik, el Seed, Erenest Zacharevic, Fafi, Hueman, INTI, The London Police, Logan Hicks and Ryan McGinness. Over in the “garden,” the Spanish art duo Pichi & Avo are doing a mural on stacked shipping containers and in the events space, Magnus Sodamin will be painting the floors and walls. The VIP opening is on December 1st in the early evening, but then it’s open to the public from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. Goldman Properties’ CEO Jessica Goldman Srebnick talks about how art transformed the Wynwood neighborhood in THIS Miami New Times piece. We also hear that New York developer (and owner of Moishe’s Moving, Mana Contemporary etc.) Moishe Mana is planning a new mixed-use development on his 30 acres of land in the middle of Wynwood.

Jeffrey Deitch and Larry Gagosian are co-presenting an exhibition of figurative painting and sculpture called “UnRealism” at 191 NE 40th Street, Miami. The opening is on Tuesday, December 1st, but it will be on view all week. According to the NYT, artists featured in the group show will include Urs Fischer, Elizabeth Peyton, John Currin and David Salle. In conjunction with the exhibition, the artist Rashaad Newsome will lead an “art parade” starting at 6:30 p.m. today at 23 NE 41st Street, Miami and ending at 4001 NE 41st Street.

CONTEXT Art Miami will feature 95 international galleries this year, along with several artist projects and installations including 12 listening stations dedicated to sound art; areas dedicated to art from Berlin and Korea; solo exhibitions by Jung San, Satoru Tamura, Mr. Herget and four others; and a “fast-track” portrait project of workers at Miami International Airport. Context and Art Miami — celebrating its 26th year — open with a VIP preview benefiting the Perez Art Museum Miami on Tuesday, December 1, 5:30 to 10 p.m., at 2901 NE 1st Avenue in Midtown, Miami. The fair is open to the public from December 2nd through the 6th.

ICA Miami (4040 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami) opens a major survey of works by the video and performance artist Alex Bag — including her interactive installation “The Van” — on December 1st. The museum recently announced the appointment of Ellen Salpeter, Deputy Director of NYC’s Jewish Museum, as its new director and they’ve just broken ground on a new, permanent home in the Design District. The 37,500 -square-foot building was designed by the Spanish firm Aranguren & Gallegos Arquitectos and is scheduled to open in 2017. Shannon Ebner also has a show, “A Public Character,” on view in the museum during AB/MB and up until January 16, 2016. This is the inaugural program in the museum’s new performance series.

The fourth edition of UNTITLED Miami is on the beach at Ocean Drive and 12th Street from December 2 to 6, with a big VIP preview on December 1st from 4 to 8 p.m. They’ve got 119 international galleries along with non-profit orgs from 20 countries. New this year will be an UNTITLED radio station broadcasting via local Wynwood Radio with interviews, performances and playlists by artists, curators etc.

PAPER Magazine is hosting (and participating in) several events during AB/MB. On Tuesday, December 1st, 6 p.m., David Hershkovits will be “in conversation” with Fab 5 Freddy and David Koh on the topic, “Art On Film,” followed by a special screening of Koh’s film “Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict.” The Tribeca Film Festival Shortlist is presenting the event at The Miami Edition (2901 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach) and SOTO sake sponsors. On Tuesday night (late) and also at the EDITION, PAPER, Silencio, A Hotel Life and One Management host the one year anniversary of the hotel’s BASEMENT nightclub with DJs Seth Troxler, Nicolas Matar and Orazio Rispo.

The Wolfsonsonian FIU Museum (1001 Washington Avenue, South Beach) is open all week with several exhibitions including “An Artist on the Eastern Front: Feliks Topolski 1941,” “Margin of Error,” “Orange Oratory,” “Philodendrum” and “Miami Beach.”

Moishe Mana’s Mana Contemporary (318 NW 23rd Street, Miami) in Wynwood plans several exhibitions during AB/MB including “Made in California,” featuring selections from L.A. collector Frederick R. Weisman’s Art Foundation; “A Sense of Place,” with over 60 works from the collection of Jorge M. Perez; and “Everything You Are Not,” key works of Latin American art from the Tiroche DeLeon collection. All are up from December 3rd thru the 6th, with a VIP preview on December 1st. Mana Urban Arts is also doing a collab with The Bushwick Collective at the former RC Cola Plant (550 NW 24th Street, Miami) that includes over 50 artists — so far the list includes Ghost, GIZ, Pixel Pancho, Case Maclaim and Shok-1 — plus skateboarding, DJs, live music etc.

Bortolami Gallery is opening a year-long exhibition called “Miami” by the French conceptual artist Daniel Buren on December 1st in the M Building (194 NW 30th Street, Miami). The show marks the 50th anniversary of his works with fabric and the 8.7 cm stripe. By periodically installing new works, Buren will also alter the exhibition during the year.

Previewing their upcoming South Beach studio, SoulCycle will pop-up poolside at the 1 Hotel (2341 Collins Avenue, South Beach) starting on Tuesday, December 1st. They plan to open permanently in the hotel in January 2016. The 1 Hotel also offers a fitness and wellness line-up for guests and visitors all week.

Miami gallery Locust Projects (3852 N. Miami Avenue, Miami) returns with their “Art on the Move” series of artists’ projects in public spaces around Miami during December. This year’s work, “NITE LIFE,” by LA-based artist Martine Syms, includes a series of prints displayed on the backs of buses and at bus stops, based on “Chitlin’ Circuit” concert posters by Clyde Killens. There’s a reception for the project, curated by PAMM’s director Franklin Sirmans, on December 1st, 7 to 10 p.m. Also check out the gallery’s site-specific installation “PORE” by Martha Friedman and “Beatriz Monteavaro: Nochebuena” in the project room.

Brickell City Centre (750 South Miami Avenue, Miami) is giving a sneak peek at their work-in-progress development in downtown Miami with an invite-only event, “Illuminate the Night,” on December 1st featuring the unveiling of “Dancers,” a sculpture by UK artist Allen Jones; () music from Wooden Wisdom DJs (Elijah Wood and Zach Cowie) and a 150,000 square-foot glass, steel and fabric structure called “Climate Ribbon” by Hugh Dutton.

The Bass Museum (2100 Collins Avenue, South Beach) is closed for renovations until next year, but they’re still hosting “outdoor activations” in the surrounding park including the AB/MB PUBLIC sector and the display of a neon sign, “Eternity Now,” by Swiss artist Sylvie Fleury. They are co-hosting a private dinner with Salon 94 Gallery on Tuesday in the Miami Beach EDITION Hotel.

Zurich’s Galerie Gmurzynska hosts an invite-only cocktail party at The Villa Casa Casuarina (1116 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach) on December 1, with Sylvester Stallone and Germano Celant. The gallery will be showing a retrospective of works by Karl Lagerfield in their stand at AB/MB, curated by Celant.

The DREAM South Beach (1111 Collins Avenue, South Beach) hooked-up with Brooklyn-based artist — and new GQ “style guy” — Mark Anthony Green for an exhibition of, according to Green, “what 2015 meant to me in both a macro and micro sense…wins, losses, heartbreak and promotion.” The hotel will have a pop-up shop curated by the artist, and guests will get a complimentary print. There’s a welcome reception on Tuesday, a private dinner and afterparty with the Green and A$AP Rocky on Friday and a pool party hosted by YESJULZ on Sunday afternoon.

FLAUNT Magazine and Guess host a private dinner at the Nautilus Hotel in December 1 in honor of their latest cover stars Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas and Julie Mehretu. After dinner, there’s a poolside party with a screening of “ME” and music by the Martinez Brothers and Pusha T. Expected guests include “ME” writers Susan Taylor & Jefrey Levy and Gina Gershon.

The 2015 edition of Elle Decor’s Modern Life Concept House premieres with a VIP breakfast on December 1st at 250 Wynwood (250 NW 24th Street, Miami). Visits from December 2 to 4 are open to the public with a $35 donation to pediatric cancer research and a reservation via jacquelyn@zm-pr.com. The 6,000 square-foot home will showcase 4 leading designers selected by ED editor-in-chief Michael Boodro.

An exhibition called “LAX – MIA: Light + Space” opens on Tuesday, December 1st, 5 to 8 p.m., at the Surf Club (9011 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach). The show was curated by Terry Riley, Joachim Pissaro and John Keenan of PARALLEL and is hosted by The Surf Club and Fort Partners. It’s on view until December 12th, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, closed on Sunday.

Art Basel Basecamp (46 NW 36th Street, Miami), hosted by HGABmag, returns with a space to “re-group, re-fresh and re-energize” featuring charging stations, information booths, giveaways and art installations. Stop in from December 1 to 6, 4 p.m. to midnight daily; and don’t miss their “Alice in Wynwood” closing party on Saturday night.

The first edition of the Curatorial Program for Research Film Festival takes place on December 1, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Cannonball (1035 North Miami Avenue, Suite 300, Miami). The program, “Earthbound,” was curated by Niekolaas Johannes Lekkerkerk in collaboration with Dwelling Projects. There will also be a silent auction.

New York-based developer Robbie Antonio debuts his REVOLUTION collection of pre-crafted structures during Design Miami/2015. The limited edition homes and pavilions have been designed by 30 noted architects and designers including Zaha Hadid, Richard Gluckman and the Campana Brothers. The VIP launch is in the Design Miami tent on Tuesday evening.

NYC club No.8 pops-up in the Rec Room at the Gale Hotel (1690 Collins Avenue, South Beach) with DJs including JusSke, Fly Guy and Ross One; the hotel’s Regent Cocktail Club features live jazz, Cuban cocktails, Samba and soul tunes. They’ve also got a digital art installation by Aerosyn Lex.

White Cube’s kick-off party is tonight at Soho Beach House with Giogio Moroder spinning and lots of Moet.

NYC/LA art collective Collapsing Scenery presents “Metaphysical Cops,” a one-night-only video installation on December 1st, 5 to 10 p.m., in the Surf Med Pharmacy (7430 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach). It’s a part of the new Satellite Art Fair.

Chloe Sevigny by Pamela Hanson“ICONS,” an exhibition of photos by Pamela Hanson opens at the Shore Club.

BOHO Hunter (184 NW 27th Street, Miami) hosts Monica Sordo’s SS 2016 collection with music from Bea Pernia on December 1st, 7 to 10 p.m.

Miami’s Diana Lowenstein Gallery (2043 N Miami Avenue, Miami) is showing new works by Udo Noger in a show called “Geistlos.” On view all week.

Alejandra Von Hartz Gallery (2630 NW 2nd Avenue, Miami) has their second solo show by Marta Chilindron, “Temporal Systems,” on view during AB/MB. The multi-dimensional sculptures “explore basic geometric forms, color, transparency, light, space, time and perspective.”

When you pass through Art Miami, look for copies of Jerry Powers’ new Art Miami Magazine, that fair’s first dedicated publication,

STK Miami (2311 Collins Avenue, South Beach) hosts The Drip Factory pop-up gallery featuring artist Louis Carreon doing live painting and music by DJ What on December 1st, 8 to 11 p.m. Invite only.

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Blog

Must-See New Media at Miami Art Week

Yesterday Kate Durbin’s ‘Hello!Selfie​’ performance at PULSE Miami Beach, Photo: Rollin Leonard, 2015

This time of the year, the whole art scene gathers in Miami to—let’s be honest—enjoy the beach, often more than the overwhelming art-filled fairs. Many of our longtime favorite creators converge at this year’s festivities, so to support their efforts, we’ve compiled a coup d’oeil of some quality digital art happenings.

Swapping its successful one-shot hypersalon satellite project for a PULSE Miami Beach booth, TRANSFER gallery offers a more streamlined way to reach a wider audience. “The collaborative experiment that was hypersalon set in motion so many amazing exhibitions and exchanges that unfolded in the past year. But in the end, we managed to create a mostly non-commercial format amidst the biggest feeding frenzy of the commercial art world—not a sustainable project in the ABMB environment,” Kelani Nichole, founder and director of TRANSFER tells The Creators Project.

Transfer gallery’s booth under the massive PULSE Miami Beach tent, 2015

“This year, I went for the exact opposite, securing a white cube in a tent on the beach. TRANSFER is quite fortunate to have the support of PULSE to open their fair to a challenging format of social-media based performance, and their Conversations curated section gave us the perfect opportunity to present two artists working with issues of technology and the body,” Nichole adds. TRANSFER showcases recent works by Faith Holland and Kate Durbin with support from Giovanna Olmos. Both artists will be taking part in panels and screenings.

Faith Holland ‘Sub/emissions’ 2015 40″ x 40″ Digital Painting on Canvas, Edition of 3 + 1AP, Transfer gallery, 2015

Kate Durbin’s Hello!Selfie​ performance yesterday at PULSE Miami Beach, Photo: Rollin Leonard, 2015

Holland brings her orgasm-inspired and cumshot-generated bodies of works—including her figurative and dynamic Visual Orgasms​ GIF series and juicy abstract Ookie Canvas paintings, comprising a never-seen-before composition called Peter North. Kate Durbin will present video pieces created from footage of previous iterations of Hello!Selfie​, a social media-rooted performance that explores and questions selfie culture in public spaces.

DiMoDa VR installation at Satellite Projects fair, 2015

Alfredo Salazar-Caro and William James Richard Robertson offer Satellite Projects, giving fairgoers the chance to experience DiMoDA, an Oculus Rift-powered VR installation. Filled with delightful digital works by artists Claudia Hart, Tim BerresheimJacolby Satterwhite, as well as Aquanet 2001 by Salvador Loza and Gibran Morgado, the nonlinear virtual exhibition opens new perspectives in terms of curation and museum experiences.

On the other side of the bay, Wynwood-located X-contemporary provides viewers with a bunch of activities ranging from panel discussions, art, and DJ performances, to one-of-a-kind projects in addition to the many artworks showcased by the 30 or so worldwide exhibitors.

Dye sublimation on aluminum, Sara Ludy, Fin (Heat sander), 2015, bitforms gallery

Taking over the beach with its huge tent designed by architects John Keenen and Terence Riley of K/R, the new edition of UNTITLED features many international exhibitors—including the NYC-based bitforms gallery—who explore contemporary curatorial cohesion through today’s wide-ranging art practices.

“bitforms gallery has been a part of the contemporary art world for 14 years,” Steven Sacks, director and owner of bitforms gallery tells us.“We have a very specific focus on new media artists covering a wide range of generations and media types.” His booth brings an impressive roster of artworks by artists such as Manfred Mohr, Daniel Canogar, Jonathan Monaghan, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Sara Ludy, and Quayola, artists who all strongly contribute to the solidification of new media art within the ruthless contemporary art landscape.

Inkjet print mounted on Dibond, Jonathan Monaghan, Dorilton, 2015, bitforms gallery

“The art fairs are an amazing place to reach thousands of art-centric people and introduce and educate them about our unique program, which typically does stand out amongst more traditional galleries. UNTITLED art fair is a smaller, curated fair with more experimental artists, compared to the larger Art Basel fair, which has a lot more traditional art,” Sacks concludes.

Computer, Kinect, display, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, 1984×1984, bitforms gallery, 2014

bitforms gallery’s booth at UNTITLED, 2015

Most of the fairs will run through the December 6, 2015.

Click here for more details about PULSE, and here for more on UNTITLED. Click here to check out TRANSFER booth, and here to check out the bitforms booth.

Related:

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The Definitive Guide to Art Basel Miami 2015, Part One

By  | December 1, 2015

So you’ve made it to MIA for Art Basel 2015, but have you secured a coveted spot on the event’s hautest guest lists? Fear not—we’ve got intel on all the can’t-miss pop-ups, star-studded bashes, and gallery celebrations of the week. Check back for part deux, tomorrow. We hope you remembered to pack your VIP card with your sunnies…

Tuesday, December 1

PAPER Magazine & The Miami Beach Edition Bash
Intel: Celebrate PAPER magazine’s December cover girl Paris Hilton at an intimate, seated dinner.
Location: 2901 Collins Ave., 9:30 p.m. RSVP to johnv@papermag.com

Bello Magazine Kicks Off Art Basel
Intel: The fashion and entertainment mag, with BRAVOTV philanthropist and art gallerist Adriana De Mourainvites Art Basel, invites visitors to join stars from Pretty Little Liars and America’s Next Top Model) for a celebration.
Location: Suitsupply Penthouse, 1000 17th Street., Miami Beach, FL 33139, 6:30 p.m.

W Magazine and Roberto Cavalli Party
Intel: W mag and Roberto Cavalli celebrate the opening of No Man’s Land: Women Artists From the Rubell Family collection.
Location: Rubell Family Collection, 95 NW 29th Street, 7:30-9:30 p.m.

Locust Projects Celebrates “Martha Friedman: Pore”
Intel: The nonprofit space Locust Projects is hosting a cocktail reception celebrating Martha Friedman’s new site-specific installation Pore, which includes four sculptures made from 1,000 pounds of rubber (they’re attached to costumes that will be activated during an experimental performance by dancer Silas Reiner).
Logistics: 3852 North Miami Avenue, 7-10 p.m.

MANA Contemporary VIP Dinner
Intel: MANA Contemporary is hosting an exclusive dinner (Zaha Hadid, Dasha Zhukova, Salman Rushdie, etc.) to preview its new exhibitions. Also on tap is a performance by the Miami Symphony Orchestra.
Location: Mana Wynwood Convention Center, 6-8 p.m. Invitate only.

Galerie Gmurzynska Dinner
Intel: Galerie Gmurzynska hosts a cocktail dinner with Germano Celant and Sylvester Stallone.
Location: 1116 Ocean Drive, 8:30 p.m. Invite only.

Faena Hotel Unveiling Party
Intel: This exclusive unveiling of the hotel owned by art collector, developer, and hotelier Alan Faena promises a start-studded crowd.
Location: Faena Hotel, 10:30 p.m. Invite only.

SLS South Beach Gallery and Pop-Ups
Intel: The building transforms into a mixed-media gallery for hotel guests, collectors, and tastemakers showcasing artists and collaborations. The series of installations will vary from public art displays to pop-up retail shops. Par example: Laura Kimpton Property-Wide Installations, Africa Aycart Portraits at The Bazaar by José Andrés, Never-Before-Seen Andy Warhol Pieces at Sam’s Lounge, J. Open HeART Installation at Katsuya & Hotel Pool Duck, Poolside Retail Pop-Up Shops.
Location: 1701 Collins Ave.

Brickell City Centre Bash
Intel: Brickell City Centre is transforming one block of its three-block construction site into an event space. Wooden Wisdom (Elijah Wood + Zach Cowie) will set the vibe. VIPs and local influencers will join Brickell for a lighting ceremony of its newly completed Climate Ribbon (150,000-square-foot glass, steel and fabric by designer Hugh Dutton).
Location: Brickell City Centre, 67 SW 8th St., 7 p.m. RSVP to Brickellcitycentre@taraink.com

Boho Hunter Basel Kick Off
Intel: Monica Sordo invites those in MIA to visit Boho Hunter for cocktails, music by Bea Pernia, and a selection of her collection with sales to benefit The Duerme Tranquilo Foundation.
Location: Boho Hunter, 184 NW 27th St., 7-10 p.m.

Tribeca Shortlist “Art on Film”
Intel: The movie streaming service from Lionsgate and Tribeca Enterprises hosts “Art on Film” with hip hop pioneer, visual artist and filmmaker Fab 5 Freddy (Fred Brathwaite), independent producer David Koh (Submarine Entertainment) and moderated by PAPER Magazine founder/editor David Hershkovits. Following will be a special screening of the film Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict.
Location: The Miami Beach EDITION, 2901 Collins Ave., 6 p.m. RSVP to rsvp@tribecashortlist.com

SoulCycle Pop-Up
Intel: Get your fitness fix at the SoulCycle pop-up studio, which features live art by Brooklyn-born, L.A.-based Gregory Siff.
Location: 1 Hotel South Beach (2341 Collins Ave., Miami Beach), December 1-4

Architectural Digest “Refuge” Preview Party
Intel: Margaret Russell, editor in chief of Architectural Digest, is throwing a preview party with 1 Hotel’s founder Barry Sternlicht and CEO of the LeFrak Group Richard LeFrak.
Location: 1 Hotel South Beach, 6-9 p.m. Invite only.

The Surf Lodge x Art Basel Miami Beach
Intel: Hamptonites, find solace in Miami this week—The Surf Lodge pop-up offers artist-hosted dinners, poolside cocktail parties, pop-up shop, and wellness classes from Equinox Wednesday through Friday at 10 a.m. Expected guests include Jeremy Scott, Rocky Barnes, Rosario Dawson, Daniel Arsham, André Saraiva, Shepard Fairey, and Jayma Cardoso. Pop into the Surf Lodge Pop-Up Shop to peruse brands including Studio 189 from Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah, Reds, and Del Toro shoes, each day from 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Location: The Hall South Beach (A Joie de Vivre Hotel), December 1-6, 8-10 p.m. Invitation only.

 

Wednesday, December 2

Jeremy Scott Party
Intel: Jeremy Scott hosts his annual exclusive bash.
Location:
Invite only.

W Magazine and Faena Art’s Roller Disco Beach Party
Intel: Stefano Tonchi and Ximena Caminos celebrate the opening ofAngeles Veloces Arcanos Fugaces, an immersive roller-disco installation by Assume Vivid Astro Focus at Faena Beach.
Location: Faena Beach, 36th Street and the Ocean, 7:30-9:30 p.m.

VH1’s The Breaks Lounge
Intel: Join for a private press preview and a VIP performance by Mack Wilds.
Location: The Breaks Lounge, 801 Ocean Drive at 8th Street. Press preview 4-8 p.m., performance 8-9 p.m.

Burberry + Art Hearts Fashion Miami Art Basel Week at Spectrum Opening Night Gala Presented by Planet Fashion TV
Intel: Join for a VIP cocktail reception before a Burberry fashion show, an artistic runway presentation by Art Hearts Fashion featuring designers Amato Haute Couture, House of LiJon Sculpted Couture and Mister Triple X by Erik Rosete. Stick around for a performance by Island Def Jam recording artist Cris Cab.
Location: Spectrum Miami, 1700 NE 2nd Avenue (NE 2nd Ave. at NE 17th St.), 6-9 p.m.

Kim Hastreiter and PAPER Magazine Party
Intel: Grab a drink and crash some cymbals with Kim Hastreiter, Pink Martini’s Thomas Lauderdale and China Forbes, and PAPER’s Mr. Mickey at a singalon featuring accompanying percussion and singing by art and design luminaries.
Location: Meridian Ave. and 19th St., 5-7 p.m. RSVP to mijin.son@civic-us.com

 

Thursday, December 3

PAMM Presents: Dimensions, by Devonté Hynes and Ryan McNamara
Intel: Flock to Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) for a one night only performance by Ryan McNamara and Devonté (“Dev”) Hynes, including an original multi-part composition by Hynes, an internationally-acclaimed musician and producer, and sculptural elements and choreography by McNamara, a celebrated performance artist
Location: 1103 Biscayne Boulevard, 9 p.m. to midnight

Brown Jordan and Sunbrella
Intel: The two join photographer Gray Malin for a celebration of art, design and travel, for a first look at the new Miami Design District flagship, an 8,600 square-foot, three-level store of re-imagined native Florida materials, which officially opens January 2016. The event will serve as a “first look” and the store will officially open in January 2016.
Location: 3650 North Miami Avenue

El Tucán
Intel: EL Tucán hosts an exclusive performance by actress and singer Cucu Diamantes, amid trompe l’oeuil murals designed by artist Happy Menocal.
Location: December 3-5, 8 p.m.

The Four Seasons Hosts Antonio Dominguez de Haro
Intel: A retrospective of 17 paintings by Spanish painter Antonio Dominguez de Haro.
Logistics: Four Seasons Hotel, December 3, 6-9 p.m. rsvp@dkcnews.com

EDITION Gallery Pop Up
Intel: EDITION Hotel hosts a pop-up with Bill Powers’ Half Gallery & Harper’s Books and Louis B James Gallery, including book signings by Justin Adian and Sue Williams. On the second floor, virtual artist Jeremy Couillard offers an otherworldly experience with an interactive exhibition.
Location: Bungalow 252, Miami Beach EDITION, 2901 Collins Ave. December 3-6. By appointment only.

 

Friday, December 4

Wall at the W Hotel: Paris Hilton
Intel:Paris Hilton spins alongside Mr. Mauricio for an evening presented by Belvedere Vodka.
Location: 2201 Collins Ave, 11 p.m. RSVP to Heidi@Taraink.com.

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Partner \
A Guide to Art Basel: The Must-see Shows and Showcases
Now in its 14th year, Art Basel is bigger and swankier than ever before
Presented By //
T.M. Brown // December 1, 2015

Every year around this time, thousands of dealers, buyers, artists, and scenesters descend on South Florida for Art Basel Miami. Now in its 14th year, the stateside spinoff of the Swiss art fair—and let’s be honest, calling Art Basel an art fair is like calling the Pope a priest—is bigger and swankier than ever before, attracting galleries from all over the globe and providing one of the world’s biggest stages for upcoming artists.

Before we get to all the shows you should be heading to while you’re in Miami, we here at SPIN want to hook you up with an exclusive invitation to K-PAX, a launch event to showcase the collaboration between PAX + K-HOLE, on the rooftop of the Gale South Beach this Friday, December 4th at 5:00 PM, brought to you by the folks at PAX vaporizers.

III Points Art Basel Concert Series (Thursday, December 3 — Saturday, December 5 at Mana Wynwood)
ADVERTISING

If SXSW moved to Berlin for a year, started wearing a lot of Acne and Gosha Rubchinskiy, and got really into DJ Rashad and Rødhåd, you’d have III Points. The three-year old art, tech, and music festival is quickly becoming a compulsory event for people who have traditionally flocked to Austin in March, so when they decide to throw a three-night concert series in the middle of Art Basel, you know it’s going to be good.

Life and Death Showcase with Richie Hawtin (Thursday, December 3 at 9:00 PM)

III Points Art Basel’s opening night brings iconic label Life and Death to Miami for the fourth time in as many years and the Italian powerhouse did not disappoint with its lineup. The showcase at Mana Wynwood brings Tale of Us, Mind Against, and Thugfucker to the DJ booth, providing a collection of artists that weave the worlds of pop, house, funk, and disco into a singular soundtrack. Oh, and techno legend Richie Hawtin just announced he’ll be joining the Life and Death crew as a special guest so those tickets are going to be hard to come by.

Jamie XX and Four Tet (Friday, December 4 at 9:00 PM)

Jamie xx and Four Tet combine forces once again to provide the centerpiece of III Points concert series. If you haven’t heard what these boys can do when they’re in the booth together, listen to their exceptional BBC One Essential Mix from March and prepare to be blown away by the effortless combination of everything from jungle to electro pop to soul into one smooth set. Both are finishing years filled with international acclaim so this set will be something of a victory lap and we’re all the richer for it.

A$AP Rocky and Kaytranada (Saturday, December 5 at 9:00 PM)

A$AP Rocky and Kaytranada close out the III Points concert series but this Saturday night set is anything but a come down. Rocky is fresh off a huge year including his sophomore release At. Long. Long. Last. ASAP and rumors that he’s working on a project with Kanye West, while Kaytranada has been pounding the DJ circuit, plying his funky house trade at every club worth its salt the world over. Both should be in rare form at Mana Wynwood.

Fuck Art Let’s Dance (Thursday, December 3 at The Electric Pickle at 10:00 PM)

By far the best name of any party happening in Miami during Art Basel week—or any party in any city during any other week—the yearly shindig is bringing Kim Ann Foxman, Justin Strauss, and Miami Players Club to the Electric Pickle in Wynwood for a suite of DJ sets mixing deep house tracks with just the right amount of tropical groove. To cap the night off, Miami staples Psychic Mirrors will be playing one of their legendary live sets, mixing together soul, funk, and psychedelic sounds into something singularly South Beach.

Superfine! Jet Set Jubilee (Thursday, December 3 at 8300 Northeast 2nd Avenue at 7:00 PM)

Ever wanted to see Shamir perform while surrounded by an “immersive” 3000 square foot chandelier designed by the Miami-born, Brooklyn-based artist Diego Montoya? Yeah, that’s what I thought. The minds at Superfine! have put together another expertly curated series of concerts in tandem with their impeccable for contemporary art and design. This time around they’ve brought in Shamir—fresh off his acclaimed debut album Ratchet—for a performance that is larger than life. Literally. That chandelier is going to be huge.

Green Velvet and Tiga (Friday, December 4th at Trade at 11:00 PM)

Any show featuring Green Velvet promises to be as strange as it is fantastic. Techno’s resident oddball is ready to take on Miami alongside Tiga, a 1-2 punch that will satisfy hardcore techno purists and newcomers alike. This show is flying slightly under the radar but don’t sleep on it, these two are the real deal.

DJ Mustard and Fabolous (Saturday, December 5th at Toejam Backlot at 9:00 PM)

DJ Mustard’s fingerprints have been all over the pop and hip-hop landscape for the last year and change so it makes sense that he’s the headliner at this Saturday night show. He’ll be joined by rap stalwart Fabolous for a night of throwback hits mixed with Mustard’s signature sound. RSVP at CLSoundtrack[at]fresh.guestcode.com.

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Fashion, Featured

The Fabulous 5.5: Art Basel Planning Guide #3

December 1, 2015

Under the Radar 2015

With dozens of places to go, thousands of things to see, and a million elbows, here are a few special spots. For those of you who make a career at this, or a career out of bragging about this, or travel to go where fewer have gone, here are 5.5 selections.

#5: Ai Weiwei pops up at Basel more than a pop-up. Why 2015? Colored vases from the Mary Boone Gallery at Art Basel. Protesters: please leave Mr. Wei’s vases alone.

Colored Vases

#4: Say my name; say my name: Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri. New York’s Salon 94 brings this Aboriginal Australian’s oil paintings to life mirroring textiles and mimicking sand sculpture. If you know about dreamtime, here it is in reality. Also at Art Basel.

 

Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri

 

#3: Joris Van de Moortel: This Belgian artist from Antwerp will present his solo work for the first time in the USA presented by the Denis Gardarin Gallery at UNTITLED. The art teacher’s question, “What is going on in this picture?” earns a lengthy response with works from Rotten Sun, Van de Moortel’s sculpted, painted, musical installation.

 

Jan Van de Moortel image by WeDocumentArt

#2: Larissa Bates at NADA in the Fountainebleau. Out of Vermont, Costa Rica, St. Augustine’s Monya Rowe Gallery and ARTADIA, there is something of Italy 1450, Ubud 1980, and Tokyo 2005 in one painting, then outback, desert, and prep school in the next.

 

Larissa Bates

#1: Jennifer Rubell is always on point. Over the years, she has fed Miami’s Art Basel crowd breakfast a dozen times – things like oatmeal, Sun Maid raisins, yogurt, dripping honey, and massive portions of delicious creativity. This year’s food-based installation: Devotion – bread, butter, and a couple to be married later. 9-11am on December 3 at The Rubell Family Collection 95 NW 29th Street.

Jennifer Rubell

 

.5: The weather forecast is bad, on the radar, not under it.

 


b

The North American Premiere Of Isaac Julien’s Commission For The Rolls-Royce Art Programme To Be Shown During Art Basel In Miami Beach

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

GOODWOOD, England, Nov. 17, 2015 — Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, in partnership with the National YoungArts Foundation, will present the North American debut of Isaac Julien’s work Stones Against Diamonds (Ice Cave) during Art Basel in Miami Beach 2015. The work by the Turner Prize nominated artist, commissioned as part of the Rolls‑Royce Art Programme, will be shown from 1-5 December 2015 at the National YoungArts Foundation ­– located at the nexus of Miami’s Wynwood Arts District, Arts and Entertainment District and Edgewater. The video installation will fill the interior of the magnificent YoungArts Jewel Box across 15 screens, the largest and most impressive presentation of the work to date.

UBS Art Collection Highlights

This year’s annual presentation of work from the UBS Art Collection explores the theme of Inside:Out, complementing and drawing inspiration from the bright, airy and sophisticated redesign of the UBS Lounge and its new hanging garden. The installation features approximately 30 works of art by 15 artists that reflect the notion of bringing the outside in, breaking down barriers between fiction and reality and between public and private space to create images inspired by fantasy, pleasure, sensation, nature and alternative landscapes. A highlight is the newly acquired Native Land (2014), a lightbox by Doug Aitken. Filled with a mosaic of colorful roadside signs, this work highlights the intrusion of advertisements in the American landscape. Additional featured artists include Vija Celmins, Francesco Clemente, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Gilbert & George, Andreas Gursky, Catherine Opie, Marc Quinn, Caio Reisewitz, Gerhard Richter, Pipilotti Rist, David Schnell, Simmons & Burke, Xaviera Simmons, Thomas Struth and Corinne Wasmuht. The works, selected by UBS Art Collection Curator for the Americas Jacqueline Lewis, represent a globally diverse range of artists, themes and media, including installations, kinetic sculpture, painting, drawing and photography.

Miami Herald | MiamiHerald.com

UNREALISM

Unrealism: Exhibition of figurative art organized by mega-dealers Jeffrey Dietch and Larry Gagosian. The Moore Building-Elastica, 191 NE 40th St., Design District. 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Free. bridgehouseevents.com.

LITTLEST SISTER FAIR

Gallerist Anthony Spinello launches his Little River space with the fourth Littlest Sister, a “faux” invitation art fair featuring 10 unrepresented women-identified Miami artists in a presentation curated by Sofia Bastidas. Each artist has a solo booth; the fair also includes a sector on sound and performance presentations and a series of critical panels exploring arts and real estate, writing, design and collecting. 7221 NW Second Ave.; littlestsister.com. 8-11 p.m. Monday; noon-7 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. Free.

 Sean Kelly X Chrome Hearts: Work by Marina Abramović, Los Carpinteros, Jose Dávila, Robert Mapplethorpe, Mariko Mori, Alec Soth and Kehinde Wiley. Chrome Hearts, 4025 NE Second Ave., Second Floor. Free.

100+ Degrees in the Shade: A Survey of South Florida Art: Work by South Florida artists. 3900 N. Miami Ave., Design District. 11-9 p.m. daily. Free.

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ARTSY

Your All-Encompassing Guide to Miami’s Sprawling Art Scene

By Alexxa Gotthardt

To the contemporary art set, Miami is a place of annual pilgrimage, where productivity and decadence play nice. Each December, gallerists, collectors, artists, and curators make their way to the palm-studded metropolis to sell their wares, mount exhibitions, and party in duds that would make Miami Vice’s Crockett and Tubbs proud. Art Basel in Miami Beach might be considered the nucleus of this activity, but with satellite fairs and ephemeral exhibitions opening in Art Deco monuments and beach bungalows alike, it’s high time to take a comprehensive look at what’s happening across the city’s sprawl, from South Beach to Little Haiti.

Diana Nawi, photo by Mylinh Trieu Nguyen; Emmett Moore, photo by Gesi Schilling; Nina Johnson-Milewski, photo by Gesi Schilling; Jorge Perez.

With guidance from four Miamians—gallerist Nina Johnson-Milewski, artist Emmett Moore, curator Diana Nawi, and collector and philanthropist Jorge Perez—we highlight the art spaces and watering holes of a city where beaches and swamps, American and Latin American traditions, and collections of rare palm trees and blue chip art collide. Our take away: even after the art-crowd’s dust settles, Miami is a mysteriously enchanting place where cultural output of all persuasions churns.

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Miami Beach

Photos by Gesi Schilling.

Edged by sherbet-hued high-rises and beaches dotted with hotel lounge chairs, this skinny strip of land—some call it a sandbar on steroids—is where Miami’s more flamboyant character traits originate. Separated from the mainland by Biscayne Bay, this is the sandy ground on which the holiest Art Deco edifices, flashiest clubs, and the smallest bathing suits consort. It’s also home to sprawling art fairs, beachside pop-up projects, old-school restaurants, and dive bars heralded by glowing neons that look like they were forged in the ’50s.

A. Art Basel in Miami Beach

Miami Beach Convention Center, 1901 Convention Center Drive

After Art Basel expanded to Miami in 2002, settling into the Miami Beach Convention Center (between the beach and the Botanical Garden), the city quickly became an annual stop for collectors and artists. As the parent of an ever-growing brood of art fairs that crop up during the first week of December, this mainstay is the first stop for many people, thanks to its mix of booths from the biggest, bluest-chip galleries and ambitious younger spaces, curated projects, and a constant flow of programming.

B. Design Miami/

Meridian Avenue & 19th Street, adjacent to the Miami Beach Convention Center

Across the street from Art Basel, this sophisticated fair hosts a robust cohort of galleries focused on contemporary and historic design, from immersive architectural environments to jewel-like light fixtures that fit in the palm of your hand, created by the world’s most inspired designers—Giò Ponti, Maria Pergay, and Julie Richoz among them.

Rendering of UNBUILT: Design Miami/ Harvard GSD Pavilion. Courtesy of Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Insider tip: Don’t miss Kengo Kuma’s nomadic tearoom, rendered completely in plastic, at Galerie Philippe Gravier, or Jean Prouvé’s 1939 military hut—the only one of its kind still in existence—at Galerie Patrick Seguin.

C. Bass Museum of Art

2100 COLLINS AVENUE

Though this museum, founded in 1963 and housed in an impeccably preserved Art Deco structure, is currently under renovation, conceptual artist Sylvie Fleury is hanging her site-specific Eternity Now on the building’s facade from December 1st through May 31st, 2016.

The glowing neon sign is a part of Art Basel and the Bass’s five-year-running public art collaboration in Collins Park, which is adjacent to the museum. This installment, curated by Public Art Fund’s Nicholas Baume, brings works by Sam FallsKatharina GrosseJacob Kassay, and Hank Willis Thomas to the lush lawn.

D. Nautilus, a SIXTY Hotel

1825 COLLINS AVENUE

Two blocks away and right off the beach, a shiny renovation of this hotel is accompanied by activations from “Greater New York” breakout artist Mira Dancy (with a sprawling mural), Katherine Bernhardt (with a plucky fresco on the floor of one of the pools), Eddie Peake (with a mirrored rooftop installation), and other works tucked playfully into idiosyncratic spaces throughout the compound. Curated by Artsy’s Elena Soboleva, Artsy Projects: Nautilus is a collaboration between Artsy and the hotel.

E. The Standard Spa Miami Beach

40 ISLAND AVENUE

Swing by the swank Standard hotel, just off Miami Beach on Belle Isle, for a snack on its expansive deck, or pick up one of Miami-based artist Jim Drain’s limited-edition posters, released for fair week.

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South Beach

A. UNTITLED

Ocean Drive and 12th Street

This curatorially driven satellite fair on the beach boasts booths by The Hole, Taymour Grahne, Steve Turner, and even Aperture Foundation. Throughout the week, performances move through the tent and its surrounding landscape. Don’t miss artist and choreographer Madeleine Hollander’s MILE, beginning each day on the east side of the structure at 4 p.m. Also on our radar is UNTITLED Radio, a series of daily radio shows that replace traditional art fair panel discussions.

B. Scope

801 Ocean Drive

This year marks Scope’s 15th anniversary in Miami. They bring 120 exhibitors along with curated sections Juxtapoz Presents, the Breeder Program, and FEATURE, the last featuring 10 booths that highlight new approaches to photography.

C. La Sandwicherie

229 14th Street

For a much needed dose of sustenance after a long day of fair hopping, grab a stool at La Sandwicherie’s counter, where you’ll likely devour one of their signature sandwiches—all available on a croissant in lieu of bread or bun. Wash it down with a smoothie or early evening beer. Or come back late night for a snack and hazy conversation with the post-party art crowd. It’s one of the few places in South Beach that’s open very late—until 5 a.m.

D. Mac’s Club Deuce

222 14th Street

Miami’s oldest bar, Mac’s Club Deuce is also the city’s greatest dive, offering a swirl of whiskey and jukebox tunes to colorful regulars, pool sharks, and wobbling newbies alike. Last year, its Hawaiian shirt-sporting owner, Mac Klein, turned 100.

Exterior of The Wolfsonian-FIU. Courtesy of The Wolfsonian–FIU.

E. Wolfsonian-FIU

1001 Washington Avenue

This museum is one of the crown jewels of Miami curiosities. Founded by Miami philanthropist and passionate collector-wanderer Mitchell Wolfson in 1986 to house his ever-growing collection of decorative art and propaganda—his collecting habits famously began with a stockpile of treasured vintage hotel keys—this wunderkammer is housed in a boxy, stunningly beautiful Mediterranean Revival building. Up now, don’t miss “Margin of Error,” which takes a look at “cultural responses to mechanical mastery and engineered catastrophes of the modern age—the shipwrecks, crashes, explosions, collapses, and novel types of workplace injury that interrupt the path of progress.”

F. Puerto Sagua

700 Collins Avenue

Insider tip: For a quick, low-key, and delicious bite (don’t miss the flan), take a seat at this Cuban diner—and take home one of their fantastic paper placemats, complete with a vintage Miami map. Take note: after a kitchen fire, Puerto Sagua has temporarily closed its doors but is set to reopen on November 30th, just in time for fair week.

G / H / I. Joe’s, Milo’s, and Prime 112

11 Washington Avenue; 730 First Street; 112 Ocean Drive

Insider tip: For a longer, more luxurious meal, try one of Jorge Perez’s favorites: Joe’s for stone crabs, a local delicacy (everyone wears bibs); Milo’s for fresh fish; and Prime 112 for a nice big steak.

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North Beach

A. Faena Hotel

3201 Collins Avenue

Collector and hotelier Alan Faena’s newest complex fuses a freshly minted hotel with an ambitious art space called Faena Forum, designed by Rem Koolhaas’s OMA. While the Forum won’t open until spring 2016, its programming kicks off—and into the streets, during the first week of December, when assume vivid astro focus installs a kaleidoscopic roller-disco on the beach. It’s open to the public, who can take a spin to DJ sets.

Rendering of assume vivid astro focus’s roller rink. Courtesy of FAENA ART.

B. EDITION Hotel

2901 Collins Avenue

While it might be best known for the long lines that amass outside its club (cool-kid magnet BASEMENT), EDITION hosts a set of diamond-in-the-rough projects in its poolside bungalows. If you can find them through the long marble lobby and stand of towering potted banana plants, Louis B. James (Bungalow 262) shows virtual reality-laced works by Jeremy Couillard, and Harper’s Books (Bungalow 252) hosts a signing with artist Sue Williams of her new, gorgeous monograph on December 2nd.

C. NADA

The Fontainebleau Miami Beach, 4441 Collins Avenue

Making a move from the charmingly retro Deauville Beach Resort way uptown to the high-gloss Fontainebleau marks a big shift for the New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) fair, which is focused on younger galleries. From L.A.’s Anat Ebgi to Berlin’s SANDY BROWN to New York’s Karma, its exhibitors are known for bringing an inspired mix of new work into the fold.

D. PULSE

Indian Beach Park, 4601 Collins Avenue

A couple of blocks north is another fair that’s carved a place for itself on the main drag. From mainstay galleries like Yancey Richardson to groundbreaking nonprofits like Visual AIDS and RxArt, most booths here mount focused presentations of works of two to three artists. Don’t miss the fair’s curated section, PLAY, surfacing innovative video and new media selections from idiosyncratic New York-based curator Stacy Engman.

E. Miami Project and Art on Paper

Deauville Beach Resort, 6701 Collins Avenue

Take a cab a few minutes north, and you’ll find satellite fairs Miami Project and Art on Paper, taking NADA’s place at the Deauville Beach Resort. Also filling this hub is a dynamic selection of performance, installation, and new media interventions from SATELLITE, a multipart curatorial effort. We’re especially excited that Brooklyn bar and concert venue Trans Pecos is setting up shop there with sets by Fade to Mind and Michael Beharie, among others.

F. Sandbar Lounge

6752 Collins Avenue

Insider tip: Across the street, visit Sandbar Lounge, a sand-covered dive bar for a drink and game of pool after a long day trekking up the beach.

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Design District

As you pass across the causeway that traverses Biscayne Bay, Downtown Miami’s skyline comes into focus. Behind it lie some of the city’s most dynamic cultural spaces. You might first land in the city’s Design District, just north of highway 195, where boxy warehouses and parking garages have, in recent years, been converted into sharp design shops, art galleries, and restaurants.

A. ICA Miami

4040 NE 2nd Avenue

While its new Aranguren & Gallegos Arquitectos-designed building begins construction, the one-year-old ICA brings a strong assortment of contemporary exhibitions to its temporary home. This season surfaces a solo exhibition by radical video artist Alex Bag, which Diana Nawi is keenly anticipating. For his part, Emmett Moore is looking forward to future programming: “I’m excited to see the new ICA building. They’ve managed to put on some great shows in their temporary space so I can only imagine what’s in store.”

B. de la Cruz Collection Contemporary Art Space

23 NE 41st Street

Around the corner, visit one of Miami’s acclaimed private art collections, brought into the public sphere by Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz. This year, the group show “You’ve Got to Know the Rules…To Break Them” promises irreverent highlights from the couple’s encyclopedic holdings of today’s most influential work.
Insider tip: “The private collections in Miami are amazing troves of contemporary art,” says Diana Nawi.

Installation view of “Beatriz Monteavaro: Nochebuena.” Courtesy of Locust Projects.

C. Locust Projects

3852 North Miami Avenue

Since its founding in 1998, this artist-run nonprofit space has produced a steady stream of experimental projects. This month, it’s a platform for ambitious work by a bevy of young artists—sculptor Martha Friedman, choreographer Silas Riener, installation artist Beatriz Monteavaro, and conceptual artist Martine Syms.

Insider tip: And as you traverse the city, look out for Syms’s NITE LIFE—graphic prints, emblazoned with phrases like “Darling It Won’t Be The Same Always” plastered on city buses and bus stops. They resemble mid-1900s “Chitlin’ Circuit” posters, which advertised shows at venues where black musicians could perform freely and securely during segregation.

D. Jeffrey Deitch and Larry Gagosian’s “UNREALISM” at the Moore Building

191 NE 40th Street

Sometime rivals Jeffrey Deitch and Larry Gagosian embark on their first collaboration over four floors (about 28,000 square feet) of this Design District architectural gem. Their joint curatorial project, “UNREALISM,” brings together artists—from John Currin to Elizabeth Peyton to Jamian Juliano-Villani—representing a renaissance in figuration.

Larry Bell’s 6 x 6 An Improvisation. Copyright of Larry Bell. Photo by Alex Marks, 2014. Courtesy of Chinati Foundation.

E. Larry Bell’s 6 x 6 An Improvisation at the Melin Building

Suite #200, Melin Building, 3930 NE Second Avenue

White Cube brings Larry Bell’s 6 x 6 An Improvisation—an ethereal installation built from towering, reflective glass panels—to Miami. The Light and Space pioneer’s masterwork promises a quiet, contemplative reprieve from the teeming fairs and sprawling collection shows.

F. Mandolin

4312 NE 2nd Avenue

Insider tip: For lunch or dinner, try one of Nina Johnson-Milewski’s favorites, Mandolin: “It’s such a lovely atmosphere, owned and operated by the nicest people.” It also serves some of the city’s best seafood, on a hidden patio dotted with sky blue chairs and fresh flowers.

G. Michael’s Genuine

130 NE 40th Street

Insider tip: Or for heartier fare in an equally unhurried environment, grab a seat at Michael’s Genuine, opened by James Beard-honored Michael Schwartz. It’s one of Jorge Perez’s favorites. You’ll have no regrets after devouring the Harris Ranch black angus burger (don’t dare skimp on the brioche bun).

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Little Haiti / North Miami

In the 1800s, this area, north of downtown Miami, was covered with lemon groves, from which it drew its first nickname, “Lemon City.” Today, it’s defined by its Haitian immigrant population and burgeoning art scene.

A. Gallery Diet

6315 NW 2nd Avenue

Founded by impresario Nina Johnson-Milewski in 2007, this Miami mainstay recently moved north from Wynwood to a four-building, 15,000 square-foot compound in the heart of Little Haiti. “I’m loving our new home,” says Johnson-Milewski. “For the first time in nearly ten years I have windows and outdoor space. Who knew Vitamin D was so essential?” “Trees in Oolite,” the gallery’s first design exhibition, uses this fresh air to its full advantage. In the complex’s courtyard, brutalist furniture by Emmett Moore, Katie Stout, and Snarkitecture sits among lush mango, avocado, and oak trees. Inside, don’t miss Ann Craven’s solo show of lush skyscapes she painted en plein air in Maine, with the moon and the occasional candle as her only light sources.

B. Spinello Projects

7221 NW 2nd Avenue

This experimental space is up to its old boundary-pushing tricks during fair week with “Littlest Sister,” a conceptual exhibition that calls itself a “faux” art fair, with the tagline “Smallest Art Fair, Biggest Balls.” The project gathers “booths” by 10 women-identified artists, all unrepresented and working in painting, installation, new media, and performance.

C. Michael Jon Gallery

255 NE 69th Street

This gallery’s roster is chock full of up-and-coming artists from across the country—Paul Cowan, Math Bass, and JPW3, to name a few. This month, Sofia Leiby brings bright, active paintings that resemble letters and words breaking out of alphabetic confines and wiggling their way to abstraction.

D. Fiorito

5555 NE 2nd Avenue

Insider tip: Travel south past Little Haiti Park and you’ll find Fiorito, a small Argentinian restaurant that’s “a good local spot for a low key dinner,” says Emmett Moore. “I have dreams about their grilled octopus.”

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Wynwood

Haas & Hahn mural in progress at Wynwood Walls. Courtesy of Wynwood Walls. Photo by Martha Cooper.

Wynwood has become the poster child for the rampant expansion of Miami’s art scene to the mainland, and likewise into the city’s streets. Over the last six years, murals have spread across the concrete walls of the district’s abandoned factories and warehouses. Galleries and private collections have followed suit, marking a cultural renaissance for this formerly industrial neighborhood, nicknamed “Little San Juan” for its still-vibrant Puerto Rican community.

A. Wynwood Walls

2520 NW 2nd Avenue

Pioneered by vociferous street art advocate Jeffrey Deitch, along with late real estate developer Tony Goldman, the murals that make up Wynwood Walls were some of the first carrots to draw the international art set to Wynwood in 2009. Every year, new murals are added to the colorful cohort that includes street art’s most influential names—and some of its undisputed masterworks—from Aiko to Shepard Fairey to Futura to Os Gemeos. This year, 14 new murals and installations (by Fafi, Crash, Logan Hicks, and more) are unveiled.

B. Rubell Family Collection

95 NW 29th Street

Amassed by charismatic patrons Donald and Mera Rubell, this expansive collection is housed in a monumental 45,000-square-foot space that was once owned by the Drug Enforcement Agency. This year, they present “NO MAN’S LAND,” focused on the influential output of female artists ranging from Michele Abeles and Jenny Holzer to Shinique Smith.

Insider tip: Don’t miss Jennifer Rubell’s Devotion, one of the artist’s signature interactive food-based installations that, this year, explores buttering bread as an act of intimacy and interpersonal connection, on December 3rd from 9–11 a.m.

C. The Margulies Collection at the WAREhOUSE

591 NW 27th Street

Housed in a repurposed Wynwood warehouse, this must-see private collection belongs to Miamian Martin Z. Margulies. This year, don’t miss new exhibitions of work by Anselm Kiefer and Susan Philipsz, as well as recent acquisitions of pieces by Mark Handforth, Lawrence Carroll, and more.

D. Spencer Finch’s Ice Cream Truck

3401 NE 1st Avenue

Insider tip: While strolling through the neighborhood, drop by artist Spencer Finch’s ice cream truck. “His solar-powered truck will provide anyone in the area with edible frozen works of art free of charge,” explains Jorge Perez.

Mana Wynwood’s facade. Image courtesy of Mana Contemporary.

E. Mana Wynwood

318 NW 23rd Street

This year, Mana Contemporary unveils a 30-acre campus—every corner devoted to contemporary art and culture—that rivals its much talked-about New Jersey compound. Large-scale exhibitions highlighting three influential private collections (the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation, the Jorge M. Pérez Collection, and the Tiroche DeLeon Collection) herald this new mainstay on the Wynwood circuit.

F / G. Art Miami and CONTEXT Art Miami

3101 NE 1st Avenue

These sister art fairs, the 26-year-old Art Miami and the four-year-old Context, are must-see stops in Wynwood.

H / I. Panther Coffee, Gramps

1875 Purdy Avenue; 176 NW 24th Street

Insider tip: For a caffeine boost, pass through a the doors of a Barry McGee mural-swathed building to Panther Coffee. Or for a stiff drink among creative Miamians, try Gramps, “pretty much the only bar I got to,” says Emmett Moore. “It has a lot of the qualities of old Miami dive bars with some silly artsy stuff mixed in.”

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Park West/Downtown

Taking the southern route from Miami Beach to the mainland, across the MacArthur Causeway, you’ll land in Park West, with Downtown Miami just south of you. Here, skyscrapers house big business and club culture alike. In recent years, the adjacent waterfront, formerly monopolized by the run-down Millennium Park, has transformed into Museum Park, an impeccably manicured landscape of gardens and cultural centers.

A. The Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM)

1103 Biscayne Boulevard

This stunning museum, which opened its Herzog & de Meuron-designed doors in 2013, recently brought star curator Franklin Sirmans on as director to helm its ambitious program. This fall, don’t miss Nari Ward’s mid-career retrospective, “Sun Splashed,” curated by Diana Nawi, and Miami-based artist Nicolas Lobo’s “The Leisure Pit,” which showcases large-scale concrete sculptures, festooned with the occasional flip-flop, that he forged in a swimming pool.

B. Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation

1018 North Miami Avenue

This stunning building, its facade covered in over one million tiles that together resemble a verdant junglescape, houses patron Ella Fontanals-Cisneros’s comprehensive collection of primarily Latin American art. Up now, don’t miss Cuban artist Gustavo Pérez Monzón’s “Tramas.”

C / D / E. The Corner, NIU Kitchen, and Zuma

1035 N. Miami Avenue; 134 NE 2nd Avenue; 270 Biscayne Boulevard Way

Insider tip: For a cocktail (we recommend their Hurricane, complete with passion fruit shrub and pineapple) pop into The Corner, Diana Nawi’s “go-to bar.” For dinner, head south to NIU Kitchen’s beautiful nook for delicious Catalan fare. Or for a more dramatic dining experience, make a reservation at Zuma for elegant Japanese plates enjoyed from a perch overlooking the water.

Photo by Gesi Schilling.

—Alexxa Gotthardt

A Short List of Miami Art Week Events

Gagosian, Stallone and even Edvard Munch are bringing it this year

Isaac Julien’s Stones Against Diamonds (Ice Cave) at Art Basel in Miami Beach 2015. (Photo: Courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars)

ven Isaac Julien’s Stones Against Diamonds (Ice Cave) at Art Basel in Miami Beach 2015. (Photo: Courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars)

Miami Art Week gets a bad rap for being a nonstop rager, what with the Cristal, the caviar and the unicorn rides (trust me, Peter Brant can make that happen). But, in salute to the fact that what’s on view (I’m talking about art, not bikini models) can be just as intoxicating, we picked out just a handful of events that put the emphasis on art.
For a huge and updating list of events, see observer.com/art

MONDAY NOVEMBER 30

Isaac Julien | Commission for Rolls-Royce Art Programme in Miami for Art Basel in Miami Beach
Opening
Jewel Box, National YoungArts Foundation
2100 Biscayne Boulevard
And we’re off! Rolls-Royce, the choice car of haughty old Englishmen and ’90s rappers, has commissioned a new work by influential British artist Isaac Julien titled Stones Against Diamonds (Ice Cave) to be shown at the YoungArts Jewel Box as part of Art Basel Miami Beach 2015. Covering 15 screens, Mr. Julien’s tour-de-force was shot inside isolated glacial ice caves in the Vatnajökull region of Iceland. The artist interpreted this remote landscape as a metaphor for the subconscious, a place of rich beauty that can only be accessed through psychoanalysis and artistic reflection. Damn that’s deep! So if you’re rollin’ through Miami’s Wynwood District this year in your souped up KIA, maybe stop into this exhibit for a much-needed ego (and id) check.

A moon painting by Anne Craven. (Photo: Courtesy of Maccarone, New York)

A moon painting by Anne Craven. (Photo: Courtesy of Maccarone, New York)

Gallery Diet
Ann Craven’s I Like Blue 
Opening reception
6315 NW 2nd Avenue
5-8 p.m.
A teacher’s influence lasts a lifetime. Prime example: One of painter Ann Craven’s former students from a class in 2004 eventually decided to open a gallery in the Basel host-city of Miami. That student was Nina Johnson-Milewski, owner/director of Contemporary art collector favorite, Gallery Diet. Cut to 2015, and that student is about to open a show of her former teacher’s work at her new location in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Little Haiti. Ms. Craven’s painterly goodness is reason enough to see this show—she has serious chops—but this will also be the best place to find crusty die-hard Miami locals, the art lovers who run this city for more than just one week out of the year.

TUESDAY DECEMBER 1

Jarry Deigosian.

Jarry Deigosian.

“Unrealism”
Organized by Gagosian Gallery and Jeffrey Deitch
Moore Building
3841 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami
Opening reception 5-8 p.m.
This is kind of like when the Penguin and the Riddler teamed up for the very first time: it was fearsome yet wildly entertaining. But what has finally brought former art world foes Larry Gagosian and Jeffrey Deitch together under one Design District roof? Figurative painting, of course. You just know it will be a humdinger, too, with works from both the older guard like John Currin, Elizabeth Peyton and David Salle and the very new guard, which includes young hotshots like Jamian Juliano-Vilani and Ella Kruglyanskaya. It’s all part of the evil duo’s diabolical plot to reallocate collector funds to their secret offshore lair, part of a grander scheme to take over the world… Can nothing stop them?

Yo! Adrian, Picasso, et al.

Yo! Adrian, Picasso, et al.

Galerie Gmurzynska ‘dinatoire’ for Germano Celant and Sylvester Stallone
Villa Casa Casuarina
1116 Ocean Drive
8:30 p.m. Private
Guest curator Germano Celant organized the Art Basel Miami booth for this Zurich gallery with some top-notch artists (Picasso, Dubuffet, you know, the usual masterworks) and there’s a party in honor of this fact. It will be held at the sumptuous Villa Casa Casuarina, better known as the former castle-like home of the late fashion designer Gianni Versace, a.k.a. the Versace Mansion. Oh and the star of such mega-hits as Stop or My Mom Will Shoot! and Rhinestone should be making the scene…Mr. Stallone is an accomplished painter himself, f.y.i. Sadly, the event is invite only, but if you Netflix Rocky in your hotel while drinking little bottles of booze from your mini-fridge, you can convince yourself it’s more or less the same thing.

THURSDAY DECEMBER 3

NADA Miami Beach 2012 Photo by Andrew Russeth)

NADA Miami Beach 2012 (Photo: Courtesy of Andrew Russeth)

NADA Miami Beach art fair
Private preview
Fontainebleau Miami Beach 
4441 Collins Avenue
10 a.m.-2 p.m.
The market for emerging art is as dead as Dean Martin, right daddio? Wrong. That’s exactly what these fat cats want you to think so they can get all the primo goodies for themselves. Well, we can’t let that happen, can we? This is what you do: set four alarm clocks the night before. Print out your list of potential emerging art targets. I suggest you wear something that you can move well in (a track suit maybe) and show up to the Fontainbleau a few hours early. You might even want to wear some elbow and kneepads. The Horts are not afraid to throw an elbow or two when jockeying for position in front of the Canada gallery booth, and you shouldn’t be either. Okay, deep breath… Let’s do this.

FRIDAY DECEMBER 4

8d609ec7922ef783ea8a71772a967092 A Short List of Miami Art Week Events

Miami meet Munch.

Edvard Munch Art Award
Shelbourne Hotel South Beach
1801 Collins Avenue
By invitation, or Art Basel First Choice
VIP card
Now this is a big deal. The Edvard Munch Art Award is back after an almost 10-year hiatus, and the winner will be announced in Miami during Basel Week (yes, that thud is the sound of  Munch rolling over in his grave.) The 500,000 NOK award (roughly $58,000) is given to “an emerging visual artist, no older than 40 years of age, who has demonstrated exceptional talent within the last five years.” The award also includes a solo exhibition at the Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway. Not a bad haul. That, plus the fact that the reception should be filthy with good-looking Scandinavian models, has us considering this party a rather hot ticket.

–HAMPTONS MAGAZINE
What to Expect at Art Basel in Miami Beach This YearBy Matt Stewart | November 20, 2015 | Culture
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Art & Culture

The Fabulous 5.5: Art Basel Planning Guide #2

November 17, 2015

Top Art Basel Bar Escapes 2015

Walking around during Art Basel exhausts everyone. Feet hurtin’, eyes burnin’, throat in need. Like a European museum tour, it doesn’t take long for one to burn out. If you are of age, liquid respite beckons.

Who has what it takes near the venues?

Consider these 5 places to escape, and a few semi-non-suggestions.

 

Do Not Sit5. Do Not Sit On the Furniture is not a command, but a location at 423 16th Street and the premier beach club for the subterranean set. It’s dark, tight, and a global DJ hideout/paradise. It’s designed like Europe — unpretentious and built for dance.

Regent4. The Regent Cocktail Club: On the corner of 17th and James right in the thick of all things on the Beach rests the regent in the rear of the Gale. No place on the Beach feels this much like the famous old-time, pricey, classy New York City barrooms like the King Cole in the St. Regis or Bemelman’s at the Carlyle. If Cleaveland Jones and his Trio are playing like they often do on Thursday nights, settle in for a few delightful, stirring Brazilian-tinged sets. They got skills.

Radio Bar3. Radio Bar South Beach: All those burnt sienna, earthy tones minus any vestiges of natural light make for a good post-modern, post-apocalyptic vibe. It’s both contemporary and sci-fi Twilight Zone – if something happens outside, you might drink your way through it. Easter Island mugs, a pool table, and stylish cocktails contribute. 814 1st Street and looking very different outside from inside.

Broken Shaker2. Broken Shaker: The old Indian Creek Hotel became the Freehand Hostel and these Bar Lab dudes, Gabriel Orta and Elad Zvi got semi-famous and started making freaky cocktails and suddenly, yeah like, you know, the place got very hip. Amid the gorgeous patio garden are serious cocktails making waves like this one a while back: Kale and Pineapple Caipirinha. 2727 Indian Creek Drive. You can also chill upstairs at 27.

Repour1. Repour: Established in 2015, Repour has developed serious rapport going as far as the bar in Miami Beach least likely to reveal photos showcasing it. Laid back on the beach, lots of handwritten stuff, rarely overcrowded, and beautiful drinks make this locally popular spot in the lobby of the Albion a champion.

.5 Less than worthy: Take your pick. Cool bad-secret is out backroom Bodega, gorgeous view/too tight dresses at Juvia, UFC/NRA/armed to the teeth/hidden entrance Foxhole, no one can stand it but Anthony Boudain Club Deuce, but none of which could ever be worse than rock-bottom Clevelander (except maybe Mangos).

 

MIAMI NEW TIMES

Art Basel Miami Beach 2015 Party Guide

Art Basel Miami Beach 2015 Party Guide

Photo by Nate “Igor” Smith/drivenbyboredom.com

Spring break forever.

Yes, art world, Art Basel in Miami Beach is almost here. And you can pretend all you want that you’re coming to Miami exclusively for the high-brow art and lectures, but nobody’s going to judge you if you manage to get some serious partying done while you’re in town. This is Miami, and if there’s one thing we’re really good at, it’s partying.

And rest assured, there will be tons of parties during Miami Art Week. From the completely free to invite-only, here is the most complete collection of musically driven, nightlife events — with a dash of art thrown in, because, you know, we aren’t savages. And thanks to a generous 5 a.m. closing time — 24 hours in Miami’s Park West district — there’s plenty of time for you to make an Art Basel mistake. (Good news is that mistake probably has a flight back to New York to catch on Sunday.)

Check back often for updates, because we will continue to update this list as more events get announced. Don’t see your event listed here? Send us an email.

Tuesday, December 1

Slap & Tickle Art Basel with Dave1. 10 p.m. Tuesday, December 1, at Bardot, 3456 N Miami Ave, Miami; 305-576-5570; bardotmiami.com. Tickets cost $15 to $20 plus fees via showclix.com.

Favela Beach with Mr. Brainwash, Jus-Ske, Ruen, and Reid Waters. 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, December 1 at Wall Lounge, 2201 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-938-3130; wallmiami.com. Tickets cost $50 to $70 via wantickets.com.

Wednesday, December 2

Behrouz & Friends Art Basel Edition with Damian Lazarus, Behrouz, and Bedouin, Wall Lounge, 2210 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets $50 via wantickets.com.

A Very Superfine! Kickoff Party with Baio (of Vampire Weekend) and Lauv, presented by Superfine! House of Art and Design, the Citadel, 8300 NE Second Ave., Miami. Tickets $25 via superfine.design/tickets.

Thursday, December 3

PAMM presents “Dimensions” by Devonté Hynes (Blood Orange) and Ryan McNamara, Pérez Art Museum Miami, 1103 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Open only PAMM Sustaining and above level members as well as Art Basel Miami Beach, Design Miami, and Art Miami VIP cardholders.

Life and Death Art Basel with Tale Of Us, Mind Against, Thugfucker, and special guest Richie Hawtin, Mana Wynwood, 318 NW 23rd St., Miami. Doors 9 p.m.; tickets $15 to $66 via residentadvisor.net.

Connan Mockasin, Bardot, 3456 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Doors 10 p.m.; tickets $15 to $20 via showclix.com.

A Jetset Jubilee with Aeroplane with a super special guest (TBA), presented by Superfine! House of Art and Design, the Citadel, 8300 NE Second Ave., Miami. Tickets $25 via superfine.design/tickets.

Immortal Technique with Hasan Salaam, DJ Static, and El B. 7 p.m. at Churchill’s Pub, 5501 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-757-1807; churchillspub.com. Tickets cost $25 plus fees via eventbrite.com. Ages 18 and up.

Friday, December 4

When Pigs Fly presented by Link Miami Rebels with artists TBA, Trade, 1439 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets $15 to $35 via residentadvisor.net.

tINI and Bill Patrick, Heart Nightclub, 50 NE 11th St., Miami. Tickets $20 to $30 via residentadvisor.net.

Safe Off/Basel 2015 with Martyn, the Black Madonna, and Diego Martinelli, Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Tickets $18.35 to $21.15 via residentadvisor.net.

Miami Nice Art Basel, All-White Yacht Party, South Beach Lady, Hyatt Dock, 400 SE Second Ave., Miami. Tickets $60 via wantickets.com.

Jamie xx and Four Tet, presented by III Points and Young Turks, at Mana Wynwood, 318 NW 23rd St., Miami. Doors 9 p.m. Tickets $25 to $400 via showclix.com.

Miami Hearts Design, hosted by Karelle Levy with a KRELwear living installation, with Afrobeta and Millionyoung, presented by Superfine! House of Art and Design, the Citadel, 8300 NE Second Ave., Miami. Tickets $15 via superfine.design/tickets.

Avey Tare (Animal Collective) DJ set with Byrdipop and Uchi (live), Bardot, 3456 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Doors 10 p.m.; tickets $15 to 20 via showclix.com.

Nakid Magazine Issue Release Party celebrating Jen Stark. 10 p.m. Friday, December 4, at Libertine, 40 NE 11th St., Miami; 305-363-2120; libertinemiami.com. Admission is $10.

Saturday, December 5

Danny Howells, Do Not Sit On the Furniture, 423 16th St., Miami Beach. Doors 10 p.m.; tickets $20 via residentadvisor.net.

Crew Love Art Basel with Soul Clap, PillowTalk (live), Nick Monaco, Navid Izadi, Jeremy Ismael, and Miami Players Club, Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Tickets $15 to $35 via residentadvisor.net.

Big Times in Little Haiti with Jeffrey Paradise (of Poolside), Gilligan Moss, and Krisp, presented by Superfine! House of Art and Design, the Citadel at 8300 NE Second Ave., Miami. Tickets $25 via superfine.design/tickets.

David Squillace. 11:30 p.m. Saturday, December 5, at Wall Lounge, 2201 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-938-3130; wallmiami.com. Tickets cost $40 to $70 via wantickets.com.

Sunday, December 6

The Visionquest Experience with Visionquest (Lee Curtiss, Ryan Crosson, Shaun Reeves), DJ Three, Behrouz, and more, Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Tickets $20 to $30 via residentadvisor.net.

Dark Basel with Necro and Madchild. 7 p.m. at Churchill’s Pub, 5501 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-757-1807; churchillspub.com. Tickets cost $20 plus fees via eventbrite.com. Ages 18 and up

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Market News

NADA Miami Beach Will Move to the Fontainebleau Hotel

The Fontainebleau lobby.COURTESY FONTAINEBLEAU MIAMI BEACH

The Fontainebleau lobby.

COURTESY FONTAINEBLEAU MIAMI BEACH

NADA Miami, the New Art Dealers Alliance’s fair during Art Basel Miami Beach in December, will be moving to the Fontainebleau Hotel on Collins Avenue for its 2015 edition. NADA opened in Miami in 2003, and in 2009 moved to the Deauville Beach Resort, in North Miami Beach, where the fair remained through last year.The de la Cruz Collection is doing a survey show loaded with art stars working in abstraction.

==
The ICA Miami

ALEX BAG

On view December 1, 2015 – January 31, 2016

ICA Miami will present a solo exhibition dedicated to video and performance artist Alex Bag during Art Basel Miami Beach in 2015. On view in ICA Miami’s Atrium Gallery, The Van (Redux)* centers around one of Bag’s key videos, The Van, 2001, and features a dramatic new site-specific installation. This exhibition marks the first major U.S. presentation of the artist’s work since 2009.

 

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The Rubell Family Collection

Genzken I Schauspieler
Isa Genzken, Schauspieler, 2013

NO MAN’S LAND

Women Artists from the Rubell Family Collection

December 2, 2015, through May 28, 2016

 

The Rubell Family Collection/Contemporary Arts Foundation is pleased to announce its upcoming exhibition, NO MAN’S LAND: Women Artists from the Rubell Family Collection, on view in Miami from December 2nd, 2015 through May 28th, 2016. This exhibition will focus on and celebrate work made by more than a hundred female artists of different generations, cultures and disciplines. These artists will be represented by paintings, photographs, sculptures and video installations that will entirely occupy the Foundation’s 28-gallery, 45,000-square-foot museum. Some galleries will contain individual presentations while others will present thematic groupings of artists. Several installations have been commissioned specifically for this exhibition.

In order to present the exhibition’s scope and diversity the Foundation will rotate artworks on view throughout the course of the exhibition, presenting different artists at different times. All of the artworks in the exhibition are from the Rubells’ permanent collection.

Other exhibitions organized by the Foundation include 30 Americans, which is currently on view at the Detroit Institute of Art through January 18, 2016 and 28 Chinese which is currently on view at the San Antonio Museum of Art through January 3, 2016. 30 Americans has now been presented at 9 institutions and seen by over one million people.

A fully illustrated catalog with essays will accompany the exhibition. A complimentary audio tour will also be available.

To celebrate the opening of NO MAN’S LAND, Jennifer Rubell will be presenting Devotion, her 12th annual large-scale, food-based installation on December 3, 2015 from 9 to 11 a.m. Devotion will explore the everyday gesture as a medium for the expression of love. Using bread, butter, and a couple engaged to be married as her media, Rubell will transform the simple act of cutting and buttering bread into a poetic exploration of repetition as devotion

 

List of artists:

Michele Abeles
Nina Chanel Abney
Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Kathryn Andrews
Janine Antoni
Tauba Auerbach
Alisa Baremboym
Katherine Bernhardt
Amy Bessone
Kerstin Bratsch
Cecily Brown
Iona Rozeal Brown
Miriam Cahn
Patty Chang
Natalie Czech
Mira Dancy
DAS INSTITUT
Karin Davie
Cara Despain
Charlotte Develter
Rineke Dijkstra
Theo Djordjadze
Nathalie Djurberg
Lucy Dodd
Moira Dryer
Marlene Dumas
Ida Ekblad
Loretta Fahrenholz
Naomi Fisher
Dara Friedman
Pia Fries
Katharina Fritsch
Isa Genzken
Sonia Gomes
Hannah Greely
Renée Green
Aneta Grzeszykowska
Jennifer Guidi
Rachel Harrison
Candida Höfer
Jenny Holzer
Cristina Iglesias
Hayv Kahraman
Deborah Kass
Natasja Kensmil
Anya Kielar
Karen Kilimnik
Jutta Koether
Klara Kristalova
Barbara Kruger
Yayoi Kusama
Sigalit Landau
Louise Lawler
Margaret Lee
Annette Lemieux
Sherrie Levine
Li Shurui
Sarah Lucas
Helen Marten
Marlene McCarty
Suzanne McClelland
Josephine Meckseper
Marilyn Minter
Dianna Molzan
Kristen Morgin
Wangechi Mutu
Maria Nepomuceno
Ruby Neri
Cady Noland
Katja Novitskova
Catherine Opie
Silke Otto-Knapp
Laura Owens
Celia Paul
Mai-Thu Perret
Solange Pessoa
Elizabeth Peyton
R.H. Quaytman
Aurie Ramirez
Magali Reus
Marina Rheingantz
Bridget Riley
Cristina Lei Rodriguez
Pamela Rosenkranz
Amanda Ross-Ho
Jennifer Rubell
Analia Saban
Lara Schnitger
Collier Schorr
Dana Schutz
Beverly Semmes
Mindy Shapero
Nancy Shaver
Cindy Sherman
Xaviera Simmons
Lorna Simpson
Shinique Smith
Lucie Stahl
Jessica Stockholder
Sarah Sze
Aya Takano
Fiona Tan
Mickalene Thomas
Rosemarie Trockel
Kaari Upson
Hannah Van Bart
Paloma Varga Weisz
Marianne Vitale
Kara Walker
Mary Weatherford
Meg Webster
Carrie Mae Weems
Jennifer West
Sue Williams
Haegue Yang
Anicka Yi
Lisa Yuskavage

 

EXHIBITION SPONSORS:

2015 16 sponsors 2

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THE MARGULIES
COLLECTION
AT THE WAREHOUSE
OPENS TO THE PUBLIC
WITH NEW EXHIBITIONS
OCTOBER 28, 2015 THROUGH APRIL 30,, 2016

2015-2016

What are the new acquisitions on exhibition this year?
Anselm Kiefer, Susan Philipsz, Meuser, Lawrence Carroll, Mark Handforth, Liat Yossifor

Who are the artists new to the Warehouse collection?
Susan Philipsz, Mark Handforth, Liat Yossifor

What artists have permanent installations at the Warehouse?
Pier Paolo Calzolari, Anthony Caro, Willem de Kooning, Donald Judd, Olafur Eliasson, Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Flavin, Michael Heizer, Donald Judd, Amar Kanwar, Kiefer, Jannis Kounellis, Sol LeWitt, Joan Miró, Isamu Noguchi, Michelangelo Pistoletto, George Segal, Richard Serra, Tony Smith, Franz West

Checklist of Artists in this year’s Exhibitions
Magdelena Abakanowicz, Ronald Bladen, Martin Boyce, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Anthony Caro, John Chamberlain, Willem de Kooning, Willie Doherty, Ursula Schultz Dornburg, Olafur Eliasson, Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Dan Flavin, Kendall Geers, Antony Gormley, Mark Handforth, Michael Heizer, Pieter Hugo, Hans Josephsohn, Amar Kanwar, Anselm Kiefer, Jannis Kounellis, Sol LeWitt, Richard Long, Meuser, Domingo Milella, Jackie Nickerson, Joan Miró, Isamu Noguchi, Michelangelo Pistoletto, George Segal, Richard Serra, Tony Smith, Simcha Shirman, Alec Soth, Michael Spano, Franz West, Pavel Wolberg, Manabu Yamanaka

 ==

NYTimes
Miami’s art museums are grabbing headlines with splashy staff hires and well-heeled additions to their boards. Yet when it comes to actual artwork, the city’s marquee collectors — and their personally run exhibition spaces — continue to steal the show. The latest example of “The Miami Model”? A sprawling retrospective from the German blue-chip artist Anselm Kiefer that fills nearly a quarter of the 45,000-square-foot Margulies Collection at the Warehouse — a garment factory transformed into a showcase for art holdings of the real estate developer Martin Margulies.The exhibit opens Wednesday, but “it will be up forever,” Mr. Margulies said. “If you think I ever want to go through this again … .” he trailed off, motioning to the flurry of activity throughout the Warehouse this week. Mr. Kiefer directed a small army of art handlers whirring about on hydraulic lifts, racing to install an array of 25,000-pound detritus-filled sculptures, 10-feet-high neo-runic paintings, and charcoal wall inscriptions, just hours before a dinner benefiting the Lotus House homeless shelter. The works include the new sculpture, “Ages of the World,” a 17-foot stack of 400 unfinished canvases, lead books, rubble and dried sunflowers.Mr. Margulies played down the show being any kind of aesthetic shot across the bow of the Pérez Art Museum Miami, despite his public feud with that institution over its continuing to receive millions in tax dollars from a struggling community rather than relying solely on private contributors. Instead, Mr. Margulies hoped visiting schoolchildren would learn from Mr. Kiefer’s handiwork: Don’t let meager materials limit your vision. “They should realize this is the creative process of an artist.”Mr. Kiefer, 70, remains a controversial figure within the art world, alternately lionized and denounced for artwork invoking both World War II Germany and the kabbalah. Some see transcendent statements, others a reduction of the Jewish experience to kitsch. Both factions will find plenty of grist at the Warehouse, where Mr. Kiefer’s works refer to everything from the poet and Nazi labor camp survivor Paul Celan to the Old Testament’s Lilith.“Important work always creates polarization,” Mr. Kiefer explained. “The victims understand. Those people who see in me a glorifier of fascism — when you look into them, you find they have something to hide themselves.” As for the distinction between having his work shown in a “private” versus public museum, Mr. Kiefer hoped the former would proliferate. Collectors should be free to bypass museum curators, he said, and lavishly pursue their own tastes. He compared the phenomenon with the early 20th-century construction of public libraries by moguls like Andrew Carnegie: “I think it was J. P. Morgan who said, ‘If you die rich, it’s a mistake.’ ” BRETT SOKOL
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The de la Cruz Collection

The de la Cruz Collection presents their 2016 exhibition “You’ve Got to Know the Rules…to Break Them.” Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz have selected a group of artists from their personal collection who have been associated with defining 21st century practice. Self-aware of the influence that technology and the rise of consumerism has had on their work, artists exhibited follow the cool forms of Minimalism, Conceptualism and Abstract Expressionism, while injecting their works with subtle negations of their own process. Looking at traditional techniques behind painting and sculpture, these works co-exist timelessly as strategies of stylistic appropriation raise questions of subjectivity and originality.

“You’ve Got to Know the Rules…to Break Them” contextualizes New American Abstraction with German Neo-Expressionism, revealing earnest explorations of the artists technical acumen.Through experimentation, they antagonize accepted practices by drawing upon a variety of themes including cultural, historical and sociopolitical modes.

Per contra, the third floor contains a study in portraiture and memory with the works of Félix González-Torres, Ana Mendieta and Rob Pruitt. By transforming everyday objects and using energetic gestures and repetition, González-Torres, Mendieta and Pruitt accept diverse ideologies and reject the notion that art has a single vantage point.

By merging a variety of styles and mediums, the works selected for this year’s exhibition mirror contemporary culture while allowing an open-ended conversation of various interpretations and possibilities. Artist in the exhibition: Allora & Calzadilla, Tauba Auerbach, Walead Beshty, Mark Bradford, Joe Bradley, Dan Colen, Martin Creed, Aaron Curry, Peter Doig, Jim Drain, Isa Genzken, Félix González-Torres, Mark Grotjahn, Wade Guyton, Rachel Harrison, Arturo Herrera, Evan Holloway, Thomas Houseago, Alex Israel, JPW3, Alex Katz, Jacob Kassay, Martin Kippenberger, Glenn Ligon, Michael Linares, Nate Lowman, Adam McEwen, Ana Mendieta, Albert Oehlen, Gabriel Orozco, Jorge Pardo, Manfred Pernice, Sigmar Polke, Seth Price, Rob Pruitt, Sterling Ruby, Analia Saban, Josh Smith, Reena Spaulings, Rudolf Stingel, Cosima von Bonin, Guyton/Walker, Kelley Walker, Christopher Wool.

===

Mana Contemporary Announces Its 2015 Miami Art Week Program

Presenting exhibitions from three of the most prestigious private art collections in the United States.

Nov 03, 2015, 16:01 ET from Mana Contemporary

MIAMI, Nov. 3, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Mana Contemporary is pleased to announce its second edition of programming during Miami Art Week, taking place from December 3 to 6, 2015. Held at Mana’s 30-acre campus in the Wynwood arts district, this event will inaugurate the central 140,000-square-foot building’s new role as the Mana Wynwood Convention Center.

Mana Contemporary will present a diverse roster of exhibitions and programs, including:

Made in California: Selections from the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation
Made in California—a phrase popularized in Ed Ruscha’s groundbreaking text/image works—will be a must-see exhibition during Miami Art Week. Frederick R. Weisman was a pioneering Los Angeles collector of California art as it emerged as a center for contemporary art in the 1960s. He built a collection that includes many of the artists that rose to prominence under the legendary Ferus Gallery, and who went on to define art movements such as Light and Space, Finish Fetish, Postmodernism, and beyond. Under the direction of Mrs. Billie Milam Weisman, the foundation continues to amass a substantial collection of Los Angeles and California art. On view will be works by John Baldessari, Mary Corse, Ron Davis, Sam Francis, Joe Goode, Tim Hawkinson, Robert Irwin, and Ed Ruscha, among many others.

A Sense of Place: Selections from the Jorge M. Pérez Collection
Co-curated by Patricia Hanna and Anelys Alvarez
Including a selection of over 60 works from the collection of Jorge M. Pérez, A Sense of Place is an exhibition that explores cultural identity by way of the collection’s recent acquisitions of works by artists from Latin America. Despite the fact that these artists are working in a globalized world, where technology and communication transcend physical boundaries, many of these artists continue to construct personal and cultural identities by exploring ideas that are specific to their contexts of origin. The show will examine the idea of building cultural identity, and how artists use abstraction, architecture, politics, and memory to carve out a sense of place, and how those concerns are reflected in Pérez as a collector and Miami as a developing city. Pérez, named one of the most influential Hispanics in the U.S. by TIME magazine, is considered a visionary for incorporating the arts into his South Florida real estate developments.

Everything you are I am not: Latin American Art from the Tiroche DeLeon Collection
Curated by Catherine Petitgas
Everything you are I am not presents a selection of key works of Latin American contemporary art from the Tiroche DeLeon Collection. Borrowed from a piece in the collection by Argentine artist Adrian Villar Rojas, the title of the exhibition alludes to the common practice among contemporary artists from the region to subvert the canons of mainstream art to produce thought-provoking, often humorous works. With 55 pieces by 30 artists, the exhibition will explore several different facets of this approach. The Tiroche DeLeon Collection was established in January 2011 by Serge Tiroche and Russ DeLeon with a focus on the up and coming art scenes of Asia, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe. London-based Petitgas is one of the world’s most respected collectors of Latin American art, as well as a writer, lecturer, and art historian.

Mana Urban Arts x Bushwick Collective
Mana Urban Arts Project is collaborating with Bushwick Collective to bring live graffiti painting by 50 influential artists to Mana Wynwood’s RC Cola factory. Renowned artists include: Ghost (New York), GIZ (New York), Pixel Pancho (Italy), Case Maclaim (Germany), and Shok-1 (England). The industrial space adjacent to Interstate 95 will transform into a vibrant scene featuring a skateboarding exhibition, breakdancing, DJ performances, and live music.

ALSO ON VIEW AT MANA WYNWOOD

PINTA Miami
PINTA Miami is the only curated boutique art fair with a specific geographic focus that looks to be an international platform for Ibero-American art identities and issues. The fair will showcase the best of abstract, concrete, neo-concrete, kinetic, and conceptual art movements. PINTA has updated its format to present a fully curated fair, featuring an international team of recognized curators chosen to direct each of the five newly designated sections of the fair.

SPECIAL EVENTS

VIP Preview Reception
An exclusive preview dinner will feature a performance by the Miami Symphony Orchestra.

III Points Music Festival
In partnership with III Points, Mana Contemporary will present a series of after-hours music events in Mana Wynwood’s 36,000-square-foot sound stadium.

SHOW INFORMATION

Mana Contemporary
December 3-6, 2015
Mana Wynwood Convention Center
318 NW 23rd Street
Miami, FL 33127
www.manacontemporary.com

Preview Reception
Tuesday, December 1: 6pm9pm: By invitation only

Public Hours
Thursday, December 3: 11am – 8pm
Friday, December 4: 11am – 8pm
Saturday, December 5: 11am – 8pm
Sunday, December 6: 11am6pm

Admission
Admission to Mana Contemporary’s events at Mana Wynwood is complimentary, unless otherwise noted. For tickets and information regarding PINTA Miami, please visit pintamiami.com.

 

Art Basel is just a month away. Last year the fair attracted 73,000 visitors to the Miami Beach Convention Center and this year’s 14th edition looks to be even bigger and better, with 267 galleries from 32 countries exhibiting from December 3rd to the 6th — plus the former head of NYC’s Armory Show, Noah Horowitz, is now running the fair.

Rendering of the new Miami Beach Convention Center
Work on the $615 million renovation of the convention center is scheduled to begin as soon as AB/MB ends, so look for big changes next year. The $20 million re-do of Lincoln Road is also moving along with NYC’s James Corner Field Operations, the firm that did The High Line, winning the contract to update the original Morris Lapidus design from the 1950s.

All the AB/MB side-sectors return, including SURVEY with 14 booths showing “historically informed” works; NOVA, where you’ll find 34 younger galleries showing new works; and sixteen POSITIONS galleries focusing on emerging artists, including Villa Design Group‘s installation of 10 doorways derived from the scene of the 1997 murder of Gianni Versace on Ocean Drive and, “Polyrhythm Technoir,” a filmed “allegory to contemporary electronic music” by Henning Fehr, Danji Buck-Moore and Phillip Ruhr, presented by Galerie Max Mayer.

UNBUILTYves Behar is the recipient of the 2015 Design Miami “Design Visionary Award” and he’ll be honored with a special exhibit in the D/M venue behind the convention center from December 2 through 6. A student team from Harvard was chosen to design the fair’s entrance pavilion for their submission, “UNBUILT,” a collection of foam models of unrealized design projects. Expect thirty five exhibitors including Firma Casa from Brazil, showing new works by the Campana Brothers, and Italian gallery Secondome,with hand-crafted limited editions.

Several changes and new editions are coming to the numerous — 18 and counting — satellite fairs: Miami Project and Art on Paper move into the Deauville Beach Resort (6701 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach), the former site of the NADA fair; while the 13th edition of NADA heads down the street to the Fontainebleau (4441 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach).

The Miami Project is also launching a new spin-off this year called SATELLITE that will show various “experimental” projects in unoccupied properties up near their 73rd Street base. One of those, “Artist-Run,” will fill the rooms in the Ocean Terrace Hotel (7410 Ocean Terrace, Miami Beach) with different installations from 40 artist-run spaces, curated by Tiger Strikes Asteroid. It’s open from December 2nd to 6th, with a VIP/media event on December 1st from noon to 10 p.m. ALSO: Trans-Pecos, the music venue out in Queens, New York, and Sam Hillmer from the band Zs, are putting together a 5-day music program in the North Beach Amphitheater, emphasizing “musical practitioners with some form of art practice.”

Grace HartiganX Contemporary also joins the crowd with their inaugural edition in Wynwood running from December 2nd through Sunday, and a VIP opening on December 1st from 5 to 10 p.m. Twenty eight exhibitiors will be on hand, plus special projects including “Grace Hartigan: 1960 – 1965” presented by Michael Klein Arts; a look at the “genesis of street art” curated by Pamela Willoughby; and “Colombia N.O.W.” presented by TIMEBAG.

Kate Durbin’s “Hello Selfie” / Courtesy of the Artist/Photographer Jessie AskinazPULSE Miami Beach returns to Indian Beach Park (4601 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach) starting with a big “Opening Celebration” at 4 p.m. on December 1st featuring a panel discussion put together by Hyperallergic, an interactive piece by Kate Durbin called “Hello, Selfie!” and a live performance by Kalup Linzy. On December 5th, PULSE celebrates the City of Miami via a talk at 5 p.m. on “Future Visions of Miami” and a “Sunset Celebration” from 5 to 7 p.m. Fair visitors can check out “TARGET TOO,” an installation referencing items sold at the stores, originally on view in NYC last March. There’s a complimentary shuttle from the convention center, and the fair is open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Saturday.

Wynwood WallsWynwood Walls (2520 NW 2nd Avenue, Miami) has a lot planned this year including “Walls of Change” with 14 new murals and installations and the debut of a new adjacent space called “The Wynwood Walls Garden.” The walls are by Case, Crash, Cryptik, el Seed, Erenest Zacharevic, Fafi, Hueman, INTI, The London Police, Logan Hicks and Ryan McGinness. Over in the “garden,” the Spanish art duo Pichi & Avo are doing a mural on stacked shipping containers and in the events space, Magnus Sodamin will be painting the floors and walls. The VIP opening is on December 1st in the early evening, but then it’s open to the public from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. Goldman Properties’ CEO Jessica Goldman Srebnick talks about how art transformed the Wynwood neighborhood in THIS Miami New Times piece. We also hear that New York developer (and owner of Moishe’s Moving, Mana Contemporary etc.) Moishe Mana is planning a new mixed-use development on his 30 acres of land in the middle of Wynwood.

The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum at FIU (10975 SW 17th Street. Miami) will have 5 exhibitions featuring 4 Miami-based artists: Carola Braco, Rufina Santana, Carlos Estevez and Ramon Espantaleon. Plus there will be a show called “Walls of Color” with murals by the post-war NY artist Hans Hofmam and, this year, the annual “Breakfast in the Park” on Sunday, December 6th, 9:30 a.m. to noon, honors American sculptor Alice Aycock.

Pauchi Sasaki’s speaker dressThe Mandarin Oriental Miami (500 Brickell Key Drive, Miami) and Peru’s gallery MORBO host an exhibition called “Pure Abstraction” by Peruvian artist Alex Brewer, aka HENSE, in the hotel’s Peruvian restaurant, La Mar by Gaston Acurio. There’s a VIP preview in the restaurant on December 3rd featuring a violin performance by Pauchi Sasaki who’ll be wearing her dress made from speakers.

A previous food installation by Jennifer RubellThe Rubell Family Collection (95 NW 29th Street, Miami) will present a big exhibition called “No Man’s Land” featuring women artists from their extensive collection. It’s up from December 2nd until the end of May and will include paintings, sculptures, photos and videos by over 100 female artists. Because of the large number of works, artworks will be rotated throughout the course of the show. Jennifer Rubell will present her twelfth large-scale, food-based installation,”Devotion,” on December 3rd, 9 to 11 a.m. She’ll be using “bread, butter, and a couple engaged to be married” as her media.

Robert Smithson’s “Spiral Jetty” from the air.

“Our Hidden Futures” is the overall theme for this year’s AB/MB film program. Over 50 films and videos will be screened on the giant projection wall outside of the New World Center (500 17th Street, South Beach), plus over 80 more can be accessed in the convention center film library. The Colony Theater (1040 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach) will be showing director James Crump’s Troublemakers: The Story of Land Art on Friday, December 4, 8:30 p.m., followed by a panel discussion with Crump and Basel film curator Marian Masone. The evening screenings in SoundScape Park include short films with program themes ranging from “Speak Easy” to “Vanishing Point.”

Rachel in the Garden (2003), by John Currin; © John Currin. Photography by Rob McKeever. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

Jeffrey Deitch and Larry Gagosian are co-presenting an exhibition of figurative painting and sculpture in the Moore Building (3841 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami). The opening is on Tuesday, December 1st, but it will be on view all week. According to the NYT, artists featured in the group show will include Urs Fischer, Elizabeth Peyton, John Currin and David Salle.

Since 2005, the KABINETT sector of AB/MB has invited galleries to display curated installations. This year, there are 27 exhibitions including a new work by L.A. artist Glenn Kaino called “The Internationale” that re-interprets the iconic Pierrot character — and his “only friend,” the moon — interacting with visitors via “seminal texts on post-colonial theory.” Galerie Krinzinger will be showing Chris Burden’s “Deluxe Photo Book 1971 -1973,” documenting the first three years of his performances. And Galerie Lelong will present a selection of shaped, “erotic” canvases by the Puerto Rico-based artist Zilia Sanchez.

CONTEXT Art Miami, the sister fair to Art Miami, will feature 95 international galleries this year, along with several artist projects and installations including 12 listening stations dedicated to sound art; areas dedicated to art from Berlin and Korea; solo exhibitions by Jung San, Satoru Tamura, Mr. Herget and four others; and a “fast-track” portrait project of workers at Miami International Airport. Context and Art Miami — which is celebrating its 26th year — open with a VIP preview benefiting the Perez Art Museum Miami on Tuesday, December 1, 5:30 to 10 p.m., at 2901 NE 1st Avenue in Midtown, Miami. The fair is open to the public from December 2nd through the 6th.

“Coven Services” (2004) by Alex Bag

ICA Miami (4040 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami) presents a new theatrical performance called “Artist Theater Program” by Erika Vogt, Shannon Ebner and Dylan Mira on Thursday, December 3rd at 4 p.m. Ebner also has a concurrent show, “A Public Character,” on view in the museum during AB/MB and up until January 16, 2016. This is the inaugural program in the museum’s new performance series. Also opening on December 1st is a major survey of works by the video and performance artist Alex Bag, including her interactive installation “The Van.” The museum recently announced the appointment of Ellen Salpeter, Deputy Director of NYC’s Jewish Museum, as its new director and they’ve just broken ground on a new, permanent home in the Design District. The 37,500 -square-foot building was designed by the Spanish firm Aranguren & Gallegos Arquitectos and is scheduled to open in 2017.

Installation by Alan SonfistMiami’s “art hotel” The Sagamore (1671 Collins Avenue, South Beach) has a new installation by environmental/landscape sculptor Alan Sonfist on view all week, along with their incredible Cricket Taplin Collection of contemporary art. The hotel’s annual VIP brunch — featuring a new Electronic Arts Intermix installation — is on Saturday, December 5th, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“Subway Station” by Louis Lozowick

The INK Miami Art Fair celebrates their 10th anniversary and maintains their exclusive focus on printmaking and works on paper. They’re back in the Suites of Dorchester (1850 Collins Avenue, South Beach) from Wednesday, December 2nd, through Sunday. Highlights include a lithograph by Louis Lozowick called Subway Station, NYC (1936) at Susan Teller Gallery’s booth and A World in a Box (2015) by Mark Dion published by Graphicstudio/U.S.F.

New York-based branding and event collective FAME is popping-up in Miami from December 2 to 6 with their ” Superfine! House of Art & Design” (8300 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami) in Little Haiti. They’re promising “the arty party of the year” with a big opening night December 2nd, 6 to 10 p.m, featuring a gigantic chandelier installation by Diego Montoya and music all week from Gilligan Moss, Lauv and more TBA. Plus, Afrobeta plays on Friday at a party hosted by PAPER fave, textile artist Karelle Levy.

The fourth edition of UNTITLED Miami is on the beach at Ocean Drive and 12th Street from December 2 to 6, with a big VIP preview on December 1st from 4 to 8 p.m. They’ve got 119 international galleries along with non-profit orgs from 20 countries. New this year will be an UNTITLED radio station broadcasting via local Wynwood Radio with interviews, performances and playlists by artists, curators etc.

Mega Guide to Art Basel Miami Beach 2015: Part 3

 

Things are really starting to come together at Argentine developer Alan Faena’s new residential and arts district between 32nd and 36th Streets on Collins Avenue. By the time AB/MB rolls around, the Faena Hotel Miami Beach should be up and running, and construction is now complete on the Foster + Partners residential tower. The Faena Forum (above), designed by OMA Rem Koolhaas, should be open in April 2016. For Basel Miami 2015, they’ve planned a series of cool events including: A roller-disco installation by assume vivid astro focus that will be open to the public daily on the beach and feature local and international DJs; a “theater curtain” installation called “A Site To Behold” by Spanish artist Almudena Lober that lets visitors play alternate roles of “actor” and “performer”; and a site-specific “sand and light” installation by Jim Denevan.

The Perez Art Museum Miami (aka PAMM) — designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects Herzog & de Meuron — had it’s big debut in 2013 in downtown Miami’s Museum Park. On December 3rd, 2015, 9 p.m. to midnight, they’ll be premiering a collab performance by Devonte Hynes of Blood Orange and Ryan McNamara called “Dimensions” that includes elements of dance, music and sculpture. Also, during this open house for members and VIPs, you can check out their current exhibitions including Nari Ward’s “Sun Splashed,” Firelei Baez’ “Bloodlines,” and a show of Aboriginal Australian abstract painting.

Moishe Mana’s Mana Contemporary (318 NW 23rd Street, Miami) in Wynwood plans several exhibitions during AB/MB including “Made in California,” featuring selections from L.A. collector Frederick R. Weisman’s Art Foundation; “A Sense of Place,” with over 60 works from the collection of Jorge M. Perez; and “Everything You Are Not,” key works of Latin American art from the Tiroche DeLeon collection. All are up from December 3rd thru the 6th, with a VIP preview on December 1st. Mana Urban Arts is also doing a collab with The Bushwick Collective at the former RC Cola Plant (550 NW 24th Street, Miami) that includes over 50 artists — so far the list includes Ghost, GIZ, Pixel Pancho, Case Maclaim and Shok-1 — plus skateboarding, DJs, live music etc.

Lots of music events and parties are starting to come in, including a show with Jamie xx and Four Tet on Friday, December 4th, in the Black Room at Mana Wynwood (318 NW 23rd Street, Miami), presented by III Points and Young Turks. Tickets are available HERE. At the same venue, Life & Death records presents Tale of Us, Mind Against, Thugfucker and “special guest” Richie Hawtin on December 3rd. Tickets are HERE. We also hear that Danny Howells will be spinning at Do Not Sit On The Furniture (423 16th Street, Miami Beach) on Saturday, December 5th; and Marco Carola and Stacey Pullen are at Story (136 Collins Avenue, South Beach) on Saturday, December 5th.

Photo via

Two young London-based artists, Walter & Zoniel, will set up a large, hand-built camera in the Delano Hotel (1685 Collins Avenue, South Beach) from December 2nd to the 5th for a performance piece called “Alpha-Ation.” They’ll be creating exclusive, hand-colored portraits of “high-profile” figures all week and have already shot Lindsay Lohan and Tinie Tempah. The work is presented by the UK gallery Gazelli Art House. There’s also an invite-only reception with the artists at the Delano on Saturday night.

Hans Ulrich Obrist

AB/MB’s Conversations and Salon series brings together artists, curators, gallerists, historians, critics and collectors for 23 talks and panels all week. Jenny Holzer and Trevor Paglen kick things off on December 3rd, 10 to 11 a.m., in the Hall C auditorium. Other “conversations” include London’s Serpentine co-director Hans Ulrich Obrist on Friday morning and Genius Grant winner Nicole Eisenman on Sunday. In the Salon series, Obrist will also moderate a conversation between artist Alex Israel and author Bret Easton Ellis on “the evolution of the L.A. art scene.”

L.A. painter and installation artist Lisa Solberg will preview her latest project, “Mister Lee’s Shangri-La,” at Soho Beach House (4385 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach) on Saturday, December 5th. The work — “an immersive exotic dance club sheltered inside a greenhouse” — will then be on view at MAMA Gallery (1242 Palmetto Street, Los Angeles) in L.A. as of December 19th.

Photo by Julian Mackler/BFA.com

Adrien Brody isn’t just a great actor. He’ll be showing several of his paintings during AB/MB in a show called “Hot Dogs, Hamburgers and Handguns” at Lulu Laboratorium (173 NW 23rd Street, Miami) in Wynwood. The show was curated by Spanish-American artist Domingo Zapata and the big opening party starts at 10p.m. on December 2nd.

Calypso St. Barth Beach Boutique pops-up in the Soho Beach House (4385 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach) all week from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. They’ll also be hosting VIP events for artists including Jen Stark and Mira Dancy.

The National YoungArts Foundation‘s (2100 Biscayne Blvd., Miami) current show, “The Future Was Written,” features an interactive work by Daniel Arsham that asks visitors to use any of 2,000 chalk objects to draw on the gallery walls. On view until December 11th.

Chrome Hearts celebrates their new collaborators, Laduree and Sean Kelly Gallery, on December 2nd, 8 to 11 p.m., in the Chrome Hearts (4025 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami) shop in the Design District with a private, VIP party featuring works by Sean Kelly artists including Marina Abramovic, Los Carpinteros, Jose Davila, Robert Mapplethorpe and many more. Also there’s a special performance by Abstrakto and DJ set from Atlanta de Cadenet Taylor.

The MoMA Design Store and online skate deck site, The Skateroom, will open a pop-up in the Delano Hotel (1685 Collins Avenue, South Beach) from November 30th to December 6th. The “immersive installation” will sell limited-edition skateboard decks featuring Andy Warhol artworks including his Campbell’s Soup cans, Guns, Car Crash etc. A portion of the proceeds will go to Skateistan, a non-profit org that uses skateboarding to empower youth. The private VIP opening is December 2, 8 to 11 p.m.

Louis Vuitton (140 NE 39th Street, Miami) will be presenting “Objets Nomandes” — a new collection of foldable furniture and travel accessories — in their new store in the Design District during AB/MB, as of December 3rd. The pieces are collabs with international designers including the Campana Brothers, Maarten Baas and Nendo. You can also check out the world-exclusive unveiling of a lounge chair designed by Marcel Wanders.

ArtCenter/South Florida has an “off-site” installation called “D.O.A.” by the Israel-based artist Dina Shenhav over in Miami’s Little River District at 7252 NW Miami Court. Shenav will create a hunter’s cabin filled with “hunter” paraphernalia sculpted from yellow foam. Up from November 29th until the end of January.

Mega Guide to Art Basel Miami Beach 2015: Part 4

Gary Pini

One of our fave AB/MB sectors, PUBLIC, just announced this year’s list of 26 artists who’ll be doing site-specific installations and performances all week in Collins Park. Several caught our eye: a jemstone-encrusted “Healing Pavilion” enhanced with “metaphysical properties” by Sam Falls; a group of tall chairs from the original production Robert Wilson’s “Einstein on the Beach;” a giant set of red lips by Sterling Ruby; and a monumental deer lawn ornament by Tony Tasset. Opening night is Wednesday, December 2nd, 7 to 9 p.m., and it features a female tai chi master, male bodybuilders, men on skateboards, a dandy hobo and an evening performance by Yan Xing.

Tony Tasset, Deer, 2015Photo cred. Kavi GuptaSCOPE returns to South Beach from December 2 to 6 (VIPs get in on the 1st) with 120 exhibitors from 22 countries, plus several special sections including Juxtapoz Presents, the Breeder Program for new galleries and FEATURE, showcasing photography. For a fourth year, the fair collabs with VH1 on a music series featuring up-and-coming artists. There’s also an invite-only party with recording artists Mack Wilds and Lil’ Dicky on Friday night at Nikki Beach, sponsored by SCOPE, VH1 and BMI.

As usual, there are lots of cool things happening at The Standard Miami (40 Island Avenue, South Beach) during the week including: The Standard X The Posters launch of their collab poster by Miami-based artist Jim Drain to celebrate the hotel’s 10th anniversary (available in the hotel’s gift shop), a VIP-only cocktail party hosted by Andre Saraiva, a book signing with Cheryl Dunn for her “Festivals Are Good,” a “chopped art” party with the Bruce High Quality Foundation and, of course, there’s the annual Lazy Sunday BBQ hosted this year by Creative Time on December 6th.

The design team of George Yabu & Glenn Pushelberg return to the BASEMENT nightclub in the Miami Beach EDITION Hotel (2901 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach) for an invite-only party with London’s Horse Meat Disco crew and special guest Giorgio Moroder on Thursday, December 3rd. They’re also hosting a private luncheon in the hotel’s Matador Room on Friday and launching a biannual “bookazine” called YP: Transformation, with the first issue available exclusively in the EDITION Hotel during AB/MB.

The EDITION also hosts pop-up exhibitions by NYC galleries in two of their fab bungalows: Half Gallery and HarperCollins Publishers will feature paintings by Daniel Heidkamp, an installation by Tom Sachs and book signings by Justin Adian, Sylvie Fleury and Sue Williamson; Salon 94 will have an installation by Jeremy Couillard.

JJeremy Couillard, Bowery Video Wall, 2014PULSE Miami Beach (4601 Collins Avenue, Indian Beach Park) just announced their 2015 series of special projects including: a neon installation by Texas artists Alicia Eggert and Mike Fleming, a sculpture called “Trees” by Gordon Holden, a faux apartment building by Chris Jones, “Over and Under” by Francis Trombly and a small architectural piece inspired by Corbusier by New York artist Jim Osman. The fair’s PLAY section for video and new media will be curated by Stacy Engman.

Francis Trombly, Over and Under, 2015Bortolami Gallery is opening a year-long exhibition called “Miami” by the French conceptual artist Daniel Buren on December 1st in the M Building (194 NW 30th Street, Miami). The show marks the 50th anniversary of his works with fabric and the 8.7 cm stripe. By periodically installing new works, Buren will also alter the exhibition during the year.

Daniel BurenSpanish luxury fashion house LOEWE (110 NE 39th Street, Miami) opens a group show called “Close Encounters” on Wednesday, December 2nd, 6:30 to 9 p.m. The artists are Anthea Hamilton, Paul Nash, Lucie Rie and Rose Wylie; and the hosts for the evening are Jonathan Anderson, creative director of Loewe, with Don and Mira Rubell. Invite only.


Anthea Hamilton, Dance, 2012

Previewing their upcoming South Beach studio, SoulCycle will pop-up poolside at the 1 Hotel (2341 Collins Avenue, South Beach) starting on Tuesday, December 1st. They plan to open permanently in the hotel in January 2016.

Absolut Elyx, Sean Kelly Gallery, Paddle8 and Water For People celebrate WATER, “the most important drink in the world,” with a private charity auction and party at the Delano Hotel (1685 Collins Avenue, South Beach) on Thursday, December 3rd, 7 to 10 p.m. Look for a live performance by the Swedish singer Elliphant and a DJ set by Jasmine Solano.

ElliphantPhoto Cred. Corey OlsenRicardo Barroso and Eva Longoria celebrate the launch of “Ricardo Barroso Interiors” at Casa Tua (1700 James Avenue, South Beach) on December 3rd. The book includes 240 color photographs of his past and present work, with an accompanying text by Barroso and Fionn Petch and a foreword by Longoria. Invite only.

Ricardo BarrosoMolteni (4100 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami) celebrates their 80th anniversary on December 3rd, 7 to 10 p.m., with a VIP soiree featuring “Amare Gio Ponti,” the first film about the legendary Italian architect and designer.

https://player.vimeo.com/video/142146817
Libertine, one of the new clubs in downtown Miami’s 24-hour party district, hosts a release party for Nakid Magazine‘s latest issue and their cover artist Jen Stark on Friday night, December 4th. Stark recently collab’ed with Miley Cyrus on MTV’s VMA Awards and has a new installation at Miami International Airport.

Jen StarkCorona brings their “Electric Beach” to the Clevelander Hotel (1020 Ocean Drive, South Beach) on December 5th, 3 to 8 p.m., with a live performance by Chilean artist DASIC, and tons of music from Craze, Astronomar, Ape Drums and TJ Mizell.

DasicBrown Jordan and Sunbrella are getting together to showcase photographs by Gray Malin at a sneak-peek preview of Brown Jordan’s new store in the Design District. The invite-only opening is on Thursday, and the store should be open at the beginning of the new year. Some of the photos from the show will be on view there permanently and others are from Malin’s personal collection.

Gray Milan, A La Plage, 2012The Surf Lodge pops-up all week at The Hall South Beach Hotel (1500 Collins Avenue, South Beach) with a series of invite-only artist dinners, events and performances.

JohnsonRoadProjects Summer 2015 exhibition: The Red, Green and Yellow Show by Los Angeles based artist and writer Vincent Johnson

The October Paintings - Orange Summer

The October Paintings – Orange Summer

The October Paintings - Grey Sea

The October Paintings – Grey Sea

The October Paintings - Red Bottle in Green

The October Paintings – Red Bottle in Green

https://johnsonroadprojects.wordpress.com/

JohnsonRoadProjects is the new artist run space and curatorial inquiry by Los Angeles based artist and writer Vincent Johnson

Vincent Johnson’s The Red, Green and Yellow Show at Johnson Road Projects in Los Angeles – Summer 2015 exhibition

Art Aragon Golden Boy Bail Bonds
Art Aragon Golden Boy Bail Bonds, color photograph by Vincent Johnson
DSC07793
The Green Bug (2010), color photograph by Vincent Johnson
The Deville
Deville Motel Downtown Los Angeles (2002), color photograph by Vincent Johnson
SouthernGentsPClub
Southern Gents Private Club (South Central Los Angeles) (2002), color photograph by Vincent Johnson
NyHostel4
New York Hostel Kitchen (2003), color photograph by Vincent Johnson
IMG_1750
LA artist Vincent Johnson
 IMG_5827
Miami Beach Public Telephone (2014), color photograph by Vincent Johnson
IMG_2260
Figueroa Hotel Parking Sign (2013), color photograph by Vincent Johnson

Welcome to the 2015 summer exhibition of Los Angeles-based artist and writer Vincent Johnson at Johnson Road Projects in Los Angeles. Vincent Johnson received his MFA in Painting and Critical Theory from Art Center College of Design. His work has been exhibited in major institutions in the U.S., Germany, Canada and Portugal. His work have been sold in art fairs in Miami, New York, Los Angeles and Portland. Johnson’s works have been reviewed in Artforum, Art in America, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. Vincent Johnson most recently presented his research on Belgian Congo copal painting media at Theaster Gates Black Artist Retreat [B.A.R] in Chicago. Johnson also recently interviewed artist William Pope L. at his nine part exhibition at MOCA in Los Angeles for FROG magazine.

This thematic exhibition is curated from the artist’s extensive body of works and is based solely upon the presence of the colors red/or green and/or yellow being found in the works. The exhibition includes both photographs and paintings that engage and capture iconic objects found in the American urban landscape. Each work appears to embody one of the three primary colors named in the exhibition’s title. The exhibition provides exposure to the works of these artists across the span of three months; additional works will be added to the exhibition over the duration of the show.

Frank Stella’s Whitney Museum Retrospective – Reviews, Images and Texts

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THE ART NEWSPAPER LONDON

Exhibitions

Frank Stella’s decline: on the artist’s Whitney Museum retrospective

Critical conviction regarding Stella’s work has fallen with the quality of the art

by Pac Pobric  |  7 December 2015
Frank Stella’s decline: on the artist's Whitney Museum retrospective

Frank Stella painting in 1964. Photograph by Ugo Mulas
One measure of an artist’s worth is the writing he or she inspires. By that test, Frank Stella is no longer so worthy. Critics of his current retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York have treated him as everyone else has since the close of his early period (1958-1966), with high esteem and little critical rigor. There is much cognitive dissonance. The reviews are full of gushing admiration for an artist who is rightly considered foundational for the history of post-war art, but there is barely any exegesis. In the New York Times, Roberta Smith wrote that “the totality of the show can make the mind reel with ideas, insights and arguments,” but what those ideas, insights and arguments were was left unaccounted. It seems there is nothing new left to say.

For this, Stella is to blame. For the past 40 years his art has put little pressure on critics, making it easy to pass over without commentary. This was not always the case. His best pictures, fr om the pre-Black Paintings (1958) until the Irregular Polygon series (1965-66) motivated fierce polemics. “Carl Andre and I were fighting over his soul,” the critic Michael Fried remembered of the 1960s, because with Stella, back then, everything was at stake. His stripe pictures—which include the Black Paintings (1959-60), the Aluminum series (1960) and Copper series (1960-61), the Notched V series (1964-65) and Running V series (1964-65), which are each represented in the exhibition—led either to a new Gilded Age of painting, as Fried demanded, or opened into the expanded field of Minimalism with Andre and Donald Judd.

Frank Stella, Empress of India (1965). © 2015 Frank Stella/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Digital Image © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY.

The debate, though often technical (Fried especially was perhaps too fine a formalist, too minute in his descriptions), was at bottom a question of tradition versus apostasy. For Fried, writing in 1963, nothing less than “the entire dialectic of modernist painting from Manet to the present” was at play in Stella’s work. Fried believed in divine continuity. The pictures carried forward a great tradition with renewed religious zeal. To not see the work this way was to not see the work at all. In the epigraph to Art and Objecthood, Fried’s 1967 attack on Minimalism, he quoted the American Theologian Jonathan Edwards to equate the longevity of painting with sacred vision: “We every moment see the same proof of a God as we should have seen if we had seen Him create the world at first.”

For Judd, this was lunacy. Stella had cut all ties. He was no painter, but the inventor of the Minimalist totem. “I thought of Frank’s aluminum paintings as slabs, in a way,” he told the radio DJ Bruce Glaser in 1964. Stella’s works were “specific objects”, in Judd’s phrasing, and they insisted on new vocabulary. There was nothing divine here, nothing that could be explained with reference to continuity: “We recognize that the world is 90% chance and accident,” he told Glaser, speaking on behalf of his Minimalist contemporaries.

Even critics who reviled Stella elevated their rhetoric. In a 1964 New York Times review of Stella’s show at Leo Castelli gallery, Brian O’Doherty wrote that the paintings “announce that a new kind of human animal is around, a new response to living life—one that is anti-emotion, anti-human, anti-art (by trangressing its limits of expression or non-expression) and that is even anti-anti.”

In the heady 1960s, arguments over Stella’s work were about first principles, the foundations on which everything else is built. What do we value? Tradition or revolution? Continuity or “chance and accident”? Humanism or structuralism? Fundamental questions lead to fundamental claims and the best pictures at the Whitney—Black Paintings like Die Fahne Hoch! and the Marriage of Reason and Squalor (both 1959), or the Running V picture De la nada vida a la nada muerte (1965)—are built on a solid formal foundation. In these works, one stripe determines the rest. They are just “one thing after another,” as Judd one wrote. Here is Stella’s conviction pure and clean: the knowledge that one move can have enormous implications.

Frank Stella, redjang (2009). © 2015 Frank Stella/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

For Michael Auping, the Whitney show’s curator, little has changed, conceptually, between 1959 and today. Although a work like redjang (2009) may look little like a stripe picture, Auping writes in the exhibition catalogue that the painter’s later bombast is “fundamentally not that far from Stella’s earliest visions of abstract painting.” He wants to draw a straight line through the work with space as the common denominator. Already in the Black Paintings, Auping sees “the illusion of a gentle vibration, like the strings of an instrument that have been plucked.” The pictures for him are not as flat as they seem. It is a slow evolution, not a break, that leads to physically invasive work like redjang. “There is an illusionism that a lot of people don’t see in the Black Paintings,” Auping told me when I interviewed him in September. “You’ll see that accelerated.”

The point extends throughout the installation. Although it is roughly chronological, there are moments wh ere radically different works stand together. We are meant to see correspondences between, for example, De la nada vida a la nada muerte and The Whiteness of the Whale (IRS-I, 2X) (1987) from the Moby Dick series (1986-97), which are hung across from one another in one gallery.

This is a tedious tinkering. Auping is a fine curator with impeccable taste and his loyalty to Stella is beyond doubt. But his narrative, in which one work justifies another in a long historical chain, is proof of how feverish arguments about tradition and revolution—about the revelation of God in painting, about the “new kind of animal” borne of Stella’s work—have cooled into simple explanation. Auing’s assertions cannot countenance histrionic work like Talladega (1980) from the Circuit series (1980-84), with its garish design. No justification will make this Rococo confection into a serious work of art. In a review of Stella’s 1987 Museum of Modern Art survey in New York, Arthur Danto wrote that three similar works were each “a furious razzle of dashing curves” which looked “as if they had been picked by Cyndi Lauper to knock your eyes out.”

Frank Stella, Gobba, zoppa e collotorto (1985). © 2015 Frank Stella/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Frank Stella, Gobba, zoppa e collotorto (1985). © 2015 Frank Stella/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Stella, at this point, could only inspire such ridiculous criticism. His art could no longer foster rigorous debate, let alone compel conviction. Talladega carries no principles. It makes no appeals. It is enough to write of it what Jason Farago in the Guardian recently wrote of another piece by Stella, that it is “a ghastly pileup of cast aluminum painted with wavy, tie-dye patterns”.

The artist got to Talladega because pictures like Die Fahne Hoch! are at the end of painting, both formally and conceptually. From there, unless Stella was to repeat himself, there was nothing left to do but begin putting back in everything he had taken out. The Minimal solution was unsustainable. Between 1959 and 1965, Stella drove the stripe paintings through every conceivable variation. Shape became a dimension with the Aluminum series after Stella’s friend, the painter Walter Darby Bannard, suggested he cut away the corners of his pictures. The V series put colour in focus, as with a work like Empress of India (1965). Movement became a factor with the Running V pictures. But then Stella ran out of options. Philip Leider, the founding editor of Artforum and one of Stella’s most vocal supporters, saw the problem clearly in 1978: “It is a matter of having taken things as far as possible, only to find oneself trapped in an outpost of art, with work threatening to come to a standstill, thin and uncreative.”

Frank Stella, Chocorua IV (1966). © 2015 Frank Stella/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Stella avoided the standstill with his Irregular Polygon pictures of 1965-66 but at tremendous cost. These paintings broke with his earlier work. Gone was simplicity, replaced by boisterous shape and ostentatious colour. First principles were jettisoned as was “one thing after another”. It is impossible, from the orange parallelogram of Effingham II (1966), to imagine the necessity of the rest of the work. The Irregular Polygons were no longer foundational. They added to the history of painting, but not at its bedrock. The pictures were creative, yes, but frivolously so. The work lowered the stakes. Hilton Kramer summarised it best in his 1966 review of these paintings: “It leaves me with too great a sense of all that has been lost from the universe of artistic discourse.”

Stella has made some agreeable pictures since then and some of them are included in the show. Gur I (1968) from the Protractor series (1967-71) is a handsome work, largely because the black outlines of certain shapes hold together the otherwise flashy colour. Gobba, zoppa e collotorto (1985) from the Cones and Pillars series (1984-87) is similarly kept in check by its cleaner lines. The Whiteness of the Whale (IRS-I, 2X) in particular has some raw, if uncoordinated, power. But it too is appetizing only because it has large, flat areas of unmediated colour.

At bottom, these works are undemanding. Agreeable, handsome, appetizing: these are gentle terms devoid of passion because the art inspires little. Still, it is not that Stella lost ambition. He was brave to leave behind the stripe pictures and risk his career, critically and financially, on radically new work. Nor did his imagination fail. Only an inventive, if eccentric, mind can picture work like The Whiteness of the Whale (IRS-I, 2X). The problem, instead, is structural. The bones of his work for the past 40 years have not been able to support any polemics.

Frank Stella in his studio in the mid-1960s. © Frank J. Thomas Archives.

Stella, to his credit, refuses to see so. He works with the wilful myopia any self-respecting artist must cultivate. “And like all artists, I believe what I’m doing now is the best,” he told the Telegraph in 2011. He does not make art for us anymore, but for himself and for the future. Jerry Saltz was right to say in his New York magazine review that this work is directed towards “the superorganism of art history.” Perhaps taste will expand in years to come and Stella’s later art will become more palatable. Yet that would be a small success. Critics to come may find pleasure in this work, but it is difficult to imagine them feeling that the art is necessary. That is true only of Stella before 1966. Today we look to that period simply for the preservation of whatever ideals we once fought over. It is those ideals we must find a way to fight over again.

Frank Stella, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, until 7 February 2016

the guardian london

Frank Stella at the Whitney – from impassive abstraction to riotous baroque

Whitney Museum, New York
One of the longest careers in American art has produced everything from tasteful nonagons to bombastically lurid steel sculptures – but collected into this epochal show, it all starts to make sense

Frank Stella: a career with more twists than the track at the Monaco Grand Prix
Frank Stella: a career with more twists than the track at the Monaco Grand Prix. Photograph: Justin Lane/EPA

You can wait your whole life for your paintings to win attention, and another life again before anyone calls them masterworks. Or, if you’re Frank Stella, it can happen to you at 23. In 1959, a year out of Princeton, he was included in Sixteen Americans – a landmark show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art that pulled the plug once and for all on abstract expressionism and set the stage for the multifarious art of the 1960s. Stella, young and unafraid, was the star, represented by four large paintings composed of nothing but taut, uniform black stripes.

Fifty-six years later, and in the home stretches of a career with more twists than the track at the Monaco Grand Prix, Stella has another epochal New York museum show, this one all his own. This weekend, the Whitney Museum of American Art opens the doors for Frank Stella: A Retrospective, the first showcase for a living artist in its admirable new riverside home. It comes at a decisive moment for abstract painting in the United States, booming again after years of false death notices. And it affords a valuable, at times vexing, but ultimately rewarding opportunity to map one of the longest careers in American art, one that has gyrated from impassive two-dimensional abstractions to riotously baroque reliefs and sculptures. (The show is organized along with the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, to which it will travel in 2016 before heading to the De Young in San Francisco.)

The show is, by necessity or choice, smaller than presupposed: just 120 works in the career of a frighteningly prolific artist. (A chronology of Stella’s exhibitions in this show’s catalogue runs to 67 pages.) But three of the four black paintings he showed in Sixteen Americans are here: The Marriage of Reason and Squalor, Arundel Castle, and Die Fahne Hoch, the last acidly titled after a Nazi anthem. (Titles are the only domain in which Stella gets expressive: paintings are named after his friends, or allude to authors, or get as obscure as Balinese anthropological jargon.) Stella painted the stripes with a housepainter’s brush, and instead of oil paint he turned to commercial enamel. Each one featured stripes running in a pattern derived from the shape of the canvas and the size of the brush, laid out in certain formats: a cross, a diamond, a series of concentric arches.

A viewer and one of Frank Stella’s paintings of concentric squares.
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A viewer and one of Frank Stella’s paintings of concentric squares. Photograph: Justin Lane/EPA

The gestural expression of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning or Franz Kline still admitted flights into psychological or biographical interpretation. Stella slammed that door shut, in favor of rules, repetition, method. “What you see is what you see,” he notoriously declared in 1966. But what do you actually see in Stella’s black paintings? Not the exacting precision of later minimalism – a designation Stella always hated, and would flamboyantly rebel against soon enough – but a more irregular, more painterly surface. Stella’s stripes were made without the aid of masking tape, and often the black paint bleeds into the white gaps, or gets thicker and thinner as Stella applied differing pressure or various numbers of coats. They suck in space, but create space too. They’re unexpectedly tactile and full of depth. They are so much more than a philosophical argument about the nature of painting – they are paintings, basta, and damned good ones.

In 1960 Stella started introducing right angles into his stripes, but a funny thing happened: on a rectangular canvas, once you change the shape of the stripes, you’re left with a blank space. Stella’s ingenious solution was to cut away the leftover parts of the canvas, and to stretch the remainder on a shaped armature, with corners incised or a central hole evacuated. They were his first forays into a career-long obsession with diagonal, twisted, or otherwise irregular canvas shapes. Stella’s supports are as important as his surfaces. With his irregular polygons, the stripes were gone, replaced by angular expanses of hot pink and deep green on canvases in the shape of wonky nonagons. Then came curved canvases, in the form of his protractors: concentric arcs of the sort of solid colours found in posters for Woodstock, and which have graced decades of pages of Architectural Digest.

Stella’s sculptures are ‘a torrent of aluminum and steel’
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Stella’s sculptures are ‘a torrent of aluminum and steel’. Photograph: Justin Lane/EPA

It was a strange development for an abstract painter at first derided for making nihilistic paintings-about-painting. Yet Stella was unfussed. As he told the MoMA curator William Rubin in 1969: “My main interest has been to make what is popularly called decorative painting” – decorative being the ultimate insult in western modernism, though no bad thing in other traditions – “truly viable in unequivocal abstract terms”. The protractors thus form a first salvo in the next, and not always loved, phase of Stella’s career, in which minimal impassivity gives way to an unruly, sometimes outrageous merging of painting, sculpture and even architecture. Often the results were extraordinary, especially in the true knockouts of this retrospective: his Polish Villages (1971–73) and Brazilian Birds (1974–75), which cunningly slot multiple geometric pieces into fitted arrangements. (One of the Polish Villages here is so rewardingly constructed that Stella didn’t paint it at all, and allowed us to see the untreated wood.)

Just as often, though, Stella’s move into painted reliefs went bust, as in his bracingly hideous Khar-pidda 5.5x (1978), featuring pretentious cutouts of French curves painted with rebarbative splotches. Later standalone sculptures are uneven, too, though he has improved in recent years. In the 1990s they often felt like wannabe paintings; a torrent of aluminum and steel, immodestly named Raft of the Medusa after Géricault’s giant painting, offers little reward from different angles. He does much better when the accepts medium’s three-dimensionality, as in two elegant starbursts on one of the Whitney’s many balconies, both from 2014 and among the most impressive works on view here.

Stella’s more minimalist work: ‘it’s OK if you don’t love both’
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Stella’s more minimalist work: ‘It’s OK if you don’t love both.’ Photograph: Justin Lane/EPA

And what of the baroque, swooping, miles-over-the-top works of the 1980s and 1990s, above all the painted aluminum riffs on Moby-Dick? Reviled – I mean, reviled – in their day as mere adornments for corporate office lobbies, they have happily matured with age and now appear much more pugnacious, seething with rainbow stripes and graffiti-like markings that spill from the frontal panels on to the sides. (Always smarter about space than colour, Stella got his chromatic groove back here.) Even the clunkers, such as a ghastly pileup of cast aluminum painted with wavy, tie-dye patterns, exhibit prodigious, indeed Melvillian, ambition. They are the works of an artist unwilling, unable, to sit still.

It has become a commonplace that Stella peaked too early, and that the deep-thinking black paintings and other inexpressive canvases of the 1960s have more virtue than the hulking late works, whose swooping forms seem more pedestrian. Yet art history is not a one-way street. Wide-open gaps in the gallery walls of this important exhibition, which offer glimpses of future works from earlier bays and vice versa, allow us to conceive of Stella’s career as a single, unceasing effort to grapple with painting’s potential. So does the judicious hang, in which a few key works from Stella’s early days pop up in the later galleries; a 1962 painting of concentric rainbow squares hangs next to a colossal 2009 assemblage of fibreglass and steel. It’s OK if you don’t love both. No one could love every work from such a wildly inconstant artist. But it’s his boundless and commendable evolution, rather than some static mastery, that is the mark of Stella’s seriousness.

  • Frank Stella: A Retrospective, on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York until 7 February

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NEW YORK MAGAZINE

October 30, 2015 9:15 a.m.

Toward a Unified Theory of Frank Stella

By

Chocorua by Frank Stella Photo: Courtesy of Whitney Museum of Art

Let the museum begin. With its brand-new fifth-floor-filling Frank Stella retrospective, the recently christened Whitney Museum of American Art jumps into the fray to see if and how its new rawish spaces will work for big surveys of contemporary art. Along with Jasper Johns and Ellsworth Kelly, Stella is among the last great living postwar foundational artists, one of the creators of Minimalism itself. Yet beginning with a Stella show is risky museum business. Even stalwart Stella aficionados find this axiomatic artist all over the place and hard to parse. While his early work is worshiped as among the clearest and most convincing in the Minimalist canon, many of the same people abhor his later paintings, which look like giant curving caramelized flying carpets or Jurassic triceratops heads jutting off walls. For many, Stella’s maximal art, his lapsed Minimalism, is seen as a betrayal of his canonical early geometric paintings. Few artists have ever seemed to execute such an about-face.

No matter. For 15 years this artist was as unstoppable as an icebreaker in his painterly progress, churning out series after series, building on and advancing not only his art but painting. Stella changed art history in those years; the first hard-core Minimalist painter, he set the table for all of the hard-edged and geometric painters and all those who’ve explored shaped or unbound painting ever since. He was among the first to deal as directly as possible with the perception of material, form, and color. Soon thereafter, no less, he expanded his terms so far and so fast that he also became a primary forerunner to the pluralistic, expansive, and unfixed Postminimalism that defined the late 1960s and 1970s.

That decade-and-a-half period began in 1958 — when this exhibition begins, too — with four muddy-colored, sodden strippy paintings that look like walls divided into fuzzy strata. You see him riffing on art history, using text and brush-y gesture. But you also see the Minimalism that is incipient. Then, from 1959 to his Diderot Series of 1974, Stella hits the equivalent of 15 years of almost all home runs. That’s a run longer than Cubism; and in between there, between 1971 and 1973, is my favorite of all of his paintings, the Polish Village Series, in which Stella breaks the flat surface of painting, begins working on constructed, shifting planar three-dimensional surfaces. Between 1970 and 1987 he’d had not one but two Museum of Modern Art retrospectives. Everyone had to deal with Stella; the theory crowd revered him, ditto curators, critics, decorators, architects, and museums.

But around 1977 Stella had gone off the optical-topological reservation, making art that made his critical support evaporate almost overnight. All of a sudden this most logical-looking, orderly, reasonable artist turned his work into what looked like willy-nilly expressionistic chaos to his critics. I think all of Stella’s work is of a piece; even when I don’t like them, the recent crazy-quilt contorting optical organisms of high-intensity color — these blistered fissures, furrows, and abstract flying buttresses — contain much of the protoplasmic concreting structure and clarity of the early work. But in those days there were wars over the canon, with critics lining up on one side or another of arguments; if you were for one thing, this necessarily pitted you against other things. Critics made careers championing artists and villainizing apostates. Stella, once the origin point of Minimalism, was now seen as a traitor to the faith. As critic Andrew Russeth recently pointed out, by 1981 bigwig theoretician and art historian Douglas Crimp used the words pure idiocy in connection to Stella. By now even those who admire him admit to being exhausted by his art. The most common joke about Stella is that many wish that his career had played out in reverse, ending up at the beginning so that everyone could understand him again.

I’m a Stella fan who can’t deny his importance but who also wouldn’t want to live with most of these things. From his gigantic, early fluorescent-colored Protractor Series ­— one at the Whitney is 50 feet long (!) — to the late tarantula-like psychedelic-colored hyperconstructions, Stella’s art doesn’t have human scale; it’s not really for people so much as the superorganism of art history. Or skyscraper lobbies, public spaces, the Vatican. And let’s face it: Due to his wild-style sense of color, pocked lava-flow surfaces, and cacophonous compositions that look like three-dimensional maps of Pangaea, Stella’s art can be really garish. So allow me to prepare Whitney viewers to be tested by this exhibition. You are going to have to deal with stringent high Minimalism and Swiftian compositional morphologies. Plus, the show is installed only quasi-chronologically, so it’s difficult to simply track his development. But this survey isn’t about linear progress so much as it’s about showing all the rhizome-like connections between everything Stella has done. The same ideas are almost always in play. Still, the later work will have many thinking that these things are only painted scrap metal, while the early, logical-looking hard-edged work will make many others wonder if they aren’t just geometric illustrations and diagrams that anyone could make. Just math. Finally, the show as a whole might also leave people wondering if anything abstract blown up this big and made this colorful might command momentary attention. My advice: Embrace the paradoxes, go with the flow, see if you can find the cosmic through line that allows you to see why Minimalism is so important and why the artist who helped fashion it went so far in a seemingly contradictory direction to pursue all of its implications.

Photo: Jerry Saltz

A pep talk to all viewers before they begin the show: Remember that all artists start by establishing a set of internal rules or structures that they can build on and work against but that they cannot predict. As conceptualist Sol LeWitt put it, “The idea becomes the machine that makes the art.” Stella is emphatically not a conceptual artist, but he worked similarly. He said, “I don’t make Conceptual Art. I need the physical thing to work with or against.” So, when considering the systems and strategies he established to produce his work, think physically, in surface and space, not just reflexively about ideas. And see color as a structural element, a material in itself.

Stella’s rudimentary rules immutably and immediately appear in the four Black Paintings from 1959 that begin this show. Stated simply: Stella follows the shape, plane, surfaces, and structures of the painting. Thus, these works are black enamel house paint on raw canvass, each consisting of concentric bans and blank areas that follow and repeat the outside shape of the painting, like two-dimensional nesting bowls: rectangles within rectangles, squares within squares, radiating diamonds, and the like. Each ban is the width of one paintbrush with a hair’s-breadth of raw canvas evident between the bans; this gives the paintings a misty atmospheric perspective. To me it also implies the art-historical perspective Stella is trying to extend: the flattening of space that takes place in painting from the mid-19th century through the Cubists, Mondrian, and Malevich to the shattering all-over nonhierarchical composition of Jackson Pollock. Stella was 23 years old, a graduate of Princeton, having just arrived in New York, when he seemed to breech this space further. Stella’s Black Paintings were so radical in their self-elaborating, just-the-facts structure that while they were instantaneously included in an important 1959 MoMA show called “Sixteen Americans,” the museum’s PR department refused to distribute photos of them to the international press, for fear, Stella said, of “embarrass[ing] the museum.” But contrary to claims that Stella was reacting against Abstract Expressionism, he says the Black Paintings were his “own version of Ab-Ex.” I think that they most closely resemble the big bang of Jasper Johns’s 1954-1955 Flag — its stripes, repetition, structure, concreteness, and direct way of painting — even down to the sense of the flat-footed careful way it’s painted. In a sense, much of Stella’s early works are really abstract flags.

Please do not get hung up on this touchstone series the way many historians have, fetishizing this work to the point where these works have not only been deemed “the last paintings,” but seen as Stella’s best work. It’s true that almost all perspectival armature and part-by-part composition fall away in these paintings. This is truly the “plain power” that Donald Judd championed in art. But in fact this was only the beginning of Stella’s thought; he rightfully calls this merely his “early work.” Instead, try and see the Black Paintings as essentially presenting the rules and structures that Stella will follow and work against through the rest of his career — and that are ever present in the rest of this crazed show. Within the borders and on these surfaces Stella is suggesting that composition is inherent before the painter makes any mark on it; that present in every painting is a geometry that the artist simply elaborates or works against — physical and planar conditions that are already there, that are, in a sense, self-creating. Think of cave paintings and how the artist is always in dialogue with surface contour. Or a tattoo artist. The revelation of this work is seeing a painting that has seemingly been determined by itself, commanded to be this way by universal laws of geometry. What gets really dicey is when the geometry and structures in his later works get so chaotic and convoluted that we begin to glean a kind of dark matter of mathematics, things that don’t fit the script but are there nevertheless.

In addition, there’s another plus to the Whitney’s semi-chronology that helps channel another big thing about art that is mostly unacknowledged and maybe a little embarrassing to the art world: Most artists can barely follow what they’re up to anyway and are mainly trying to just keep up — or not fizzle out or hit a dead end or fall into habit. Here, in just the first 15 years of his development, you see Stella unspool, using either notched, metallic, zigzag, irregularly shaped canvasses, polygons, chevrons smushed together or alone, broken-up protractors, sail shapes, and a whole atlas of approaches. In the Polish Village Stella goes for it, forsakes two-dimensional flatness, and breaks the plane into three dimensions, applying paint, felt, and other materials to surfaces that cut and slant into and out of eccentric shapes, elaborating internal geometries that you can barely keep track of. From here Stella just keeps following the forms, materials, colors, structures, techniques, spaces, and surfaces of his art — creating a schism and then burrowing as deep into it as he can. What’s interesting about the critical rejection of Stella that commences once he moves on from strict Minimalism is that when other early Minimalists, like Robert Morris, moved on, these same critics explained it by saying that Morris and others were working in the “expanded field of sculpture.” Cool. But Stella is simply working in the “expanded field” of painting.

To me this is where some of the later bodies of Stella’s work fit in. And why, even though he’s prone to cranking out a lot of work that looks like God-awful space junk, I always pay attention to this artist, from the transcendental undulations and pretty pulsating swoops of the Indian Bird Series (1977–79) and the Circuit Series (1980–84) to the mutating topologies and operatic geometry-in-a-wind-turbine of the Moby Dick Series (1986–89). Or maybe the Romantic in me can’t resist an artist who says he loves Melville’s epic “voyage around the world and battling God all the way.”

Even with all the fireworks, many will wonder, why do a Stella show now? In truth, I recoiled when it was announced that the Whitney’s maiden big retrospective was to be Frank Stella. What a pain, I thought. Stella is always having big gallery shows; his off-and-on-again art is always available. And the arguments around it have grown annoying and rote. The thought of performing all of this at the new Whitney seemed awry, at best. It also rubbed me the wrong way that this first gigantic retrospective was co-curated by Whitney director Adam Weinberg. “He should get out of his curator’s ways,” I groused.

It turns out, however, that as with many decisions made on Weinberg’s watch, this Stella show stirs up interesting issues. First, Weinberg began as a curator, and his obsessive hands-on experience of working with tricky living artists serves this show well; he reins in Stella’s all-over tendencies just enough. (Although there will still be many who rue the chronological laxness.)

More important, it’s impossible not to consider Stella in this time of abstract painting and sculpture. Stella is the artist who launched 10,000 careers; artists as varied as Peter Halley, Sarah Morris, Ugo Rondinone, Matthew Ritchie, and Thomas Scheibitz, who have used Stella’s structures, compositional strategies, and specific colors, to Isa Genzken, Mark Grotjahn, Jessica Stockholder, Katharina Grosse, Steven Parrino, and countless others who’ve followed Stella into the expanded fields of painting. Not to mention dozens of Zombie Formalists who owe Stella lots.

And beyond that, this show is an interesting declaration from the Whitney itself, saying, “Move over, other big New York museums — while we’re delving into American art history and drilling into current art, we’ve also now got this new space to do the big-gun shows big.” Indeed, the Whitney’s former Breuer home would never have been able to house this show on one floor. Perhaps this Whitney retrospective is also a way of laying a greater claim to Minimalism in general and more specifically Stella, who has long been thought to have a more natural home at MoMA. Or maybe it’s that he doesn’t fit neatly anymore into the Modernist party line now that he’s a lapsed Minimalist. Or MoMA is saying that two surveys of one artist not named Picasso or Matisse is more than enough for one institution. Whatever you think, go to the Whitney’s Stella-verse; see when you have to bail on him. It’ll tell you a lot about yourself.

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THE NEW YORKER MAGAZINE
The Art World November 9, 2015 Issue
Big Ideas
A Frank Stella retrospective.
By Peter Schjeldahl

 

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“Effingham II” (1966). Stella’s swagger made him a god of the sixties art world. Credit Courtesy The Glass House / Ars, NY

The Frank Stella retrospective at the Whitney Museum will likely provoke varied opinions, on a scale from great to god-awful. The crowded installation of huge abstract paintings, reliefs, sculptures, and painting-sculpture hybrids, augmented by works on paper, tracks the New York artist’s fifty-seven-year career. At the start is the deathly glamour of Stella’s Black Paintings—bands in matte enamel, separated by fuzzy pinstripes of nearly bare canvas—which shocked everyone with their dour simplicity when they appeared in a show at the Museum of Modern Art, in 1959. Those works, which Stella began making when he was a senior at Princeton, amounted to tombstones for Abstract Expressionism and heralds of minimalism. The new show ends with one crazy-looking mode after another, mostly in the form of wall-hung constructions, created since the early nineteen-seventies. In between are too few of the swaggering compositions—of target-like concentric stripes, designs based on compasses and protractors, and shaped canvases that echo the shapes painted on them—that made Stella a god of the sixties art world, exalting tastes for reductive form, daunting scale, and florid artificial color. His impact on abstract art was something like Dylan’s on music and Warhol’s on more or less everything.

Nothing that Stella has made since exercises such authority. His last works to cause much critical stir, dating from the early seventies, extend the lexicon of his shaped canvases to reliefs of angled planes, made from wood and covered with colored paper, corrugated cardboard, and felt. The surfaces are seductive, seen close up, and the configurations are majestic, all but flying across the wall, when beheld from a distance. The works suggest a racy rebirth of Cubism, but trends in post-minimalism and conceptualism were taking center stage in the art world at that time, and Stella’s ripostes were strained. In the mid-seventies, he opened up his painting to actual space by fragmenting it into floating cutout metal shapes that he slathered with paint and sometimes glitter: disco modernism, you could call the work, but it’s more strenuous than ecstatic. There followed ever more aggressive free-form assemblies of jutting planes, twisted pipes, cones and cylinders, and hectic brushwork, the effect of which was like very loud music that has neither tune nor tone.

In “Working Space,” a book derived from a series of lectures that Stella delivered at Harvard in the early eighties, he framed his new work as an answer to a crisis in abstract painting. He saw a precedent in Caravaggio’s invention, in around 1600, of Baroque spatial illusion, in which the space in a picture appears continuous with the space outside it. But Stella’s theory proved more gripping than his practice. Caravaggio, in service to the militant piety of the Counter-Reformation, devoted his dramatic style to fervently envisioned religious content, such as the appearance of the risen Christ at Emmaus. The story told and the manner of its telling conjoin in Caravaggio’s work. Stella’s fealty to abstract art as a cause and an ideal—the only content that his art allows—can seem remarkably frail by comparison. It led him into willful eccentricities that may raise unkind questions about the cogency of his early triumphs.

Stella was precocious and exceedingly well schooled, qualities that are now the norm but which were rare among earlier generations of American modern artists, whose routes to fame tended to be serpentine. He was born in 1936 and grew up in Malden, Massachusetts. His father was a gynecologist, his mother a housewife who had attended design school. They both liked to paint. Stella graduated from Phillips Academy, Andover, where his classmates included Carl Andre, whose sculpture later came to define minimalism. Stella immersed himself in art history and was inspired by sophisticated elders, including Bartlett H. Hayes, Jr., a painter who was the director of the nearby Addison Gallery of American Art. Hayes promoted the art of two German-American painters who were also pedagogues: the proto-Abstract Expressionist Hans Hofmann, who had his own school in New York, and the Bauhaus-nurtured color theorist Josef Albers, at Yale. Stella absorbed a bias for painting as a systematic and even calculated enterprise. His good fortune in mentors followed him to Princeton, where he was encouraged by Stephen Greene, a minor painter and legendary teacher. A visit to New York in 1958 introduced him to Jasper Johns’s sensationally phlegmatic paintings of flags and targets, a model that he tentatively adapted to large-scale abstraction. Then came the Black Paintings, which, besides rocketing him to fame, promulgated a new idea of what art can do and, more to the point, what it can do without.

The idea—of painting limited to its essential means—was powerfully espoused by the critic Clement Greenberg, and was further refined by Michael Fried, an art historian and critic who was Stella’s classmate at Princeton. Fried championed Stella and other artists, notably Kenneth Noland and Jules Olitski, who hewed to Greenberg’s doctrine of modernist painting as progressive art for art’s sake. “Frank Stella’s new paintings investigate the viability of shape as such,” Fried wrote in an influential essay, “Shape as Form,” in 1966. Such thumping rhetoric, here with a faintly bizarre metaphor of paintings performing like a team of detectives, typifies the confidence of what came to be called “formalist” art and thought. The issues involved, which led Fried to attack the bluntness of most minimalist art as vulgarly “theatrical,” were esoteric but, for those in the know, galvanizing. In those days, serious critics could still at least seem to exert real worldly power. Leo Castelli, whose Olympian gallery Stella joined in 1959, took careful note of their tendencies, even as he began to eclipse them as the pilot of a soaring art market that didn’t trouble itself with theoretical distinctions.

Stella’s cynosure then, and perhaps his problem now, was a coolness beyond cool. In a telling passage from “Working Space,” he recounts a youthful misgiving about the grand masters of Abstract Expressionism, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, whom he revered. He writes, “I sensed a hesitancy, a doubt of some vague dimension which made their work touching, but to me somehow too vulnerable.” The older artists had established New York as the imperial court of artistic innovation. It was time for their heirs to start behaving with an impunity befitting emperors. The stars of Pop and minimal art did so, though in most cases with some degree of irony. Warhol’s Factory poked fun at itself as a cottage-industry miniature of commercial mass culture. Minimal art related itself to new forms of public space—corporate lobbies and plazas, airports, malls, and freeways, synopsized in white-box galleries—which seemed to render obsolete the contemplation of discrete pictures and sculptures. But Stella wanted to maintain the grandeur of post-Renaissance Western painting, updated through the elimination of the muss and fuss of religion, politics, psychology, and other all-too-human weaknesses.

I don’t know what to make of Stella’s later works. His most famous apothegm—“What you see is what you see”—is no help, if seeing is supposed to imply comprehending. Looking is futile except as an inspection of the wizardly ways in which Stella made the works, with welds, flanges, castings, and, increasingly, computer-generated patterns. Always, there are self-consciously poetic titles, a habit of Stella’s since he gave the Black Paintings names like “Die Fahne Hoch!” (“The Flag on High!,” from a Nazi anthem) and “The Marriage of Reason and Squalor II.” In the eighties and nineties, he made works referencing the hundred and thirty-five chapters of “Moby-Dick.” The titles function as apostrophes of meaning. Meaning exists. It’s just not “what you see,” except through tortuous efforts of association.

Stella made a permanent difference in art history. He is extraordinarily intelligent and extravagantly skilled. But his example is cautionary. Even groundbreaking ideas have life spans, and Stella’s belief in inherent values of abstract art has long since ceased to be shared by younger artists. His ambition rolls on, unalloyed with self-questioning or humor. The most effective installations of Stella’s later works that I have seen are in corporate settings, where they can seem to function as symbols of team spirit. Rather than savoring his work now, you endorse it, or not. ♦

‘Frank Stella: A Retrospective’ Review

A retrospective of Frank Stella’s work at the Whitney traces the winding career of an artist who solves problems at every turn.

ENLARGE
Photo: Frank Stella/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY/Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY

New York

As the first artist to receive a one-person retrospective at the new Whitney Museum of American Art, Frank Stella is an odd choice. Closely associated with the Museum of Modern Art, where he has had two retrospectives, one when he was only 34, the 79-year-old artist could hardly be more different from Jeff Koons, whose bright and shiny Pop was the subject of the final retrospective in the uptown Whitney. Mr. Stella’s abstract paintings and sculptures are fiercely self-involved, bristling with hard or jagged edges, and so lacking in sentimentality and cute jokes that they dare to be unlovable.

Frank Stella: A Retrospective

Whitney Museum of American Art

Through Feb. 7, 2016

This honor, however, accomplishes two strategic goals. It recommits the museum to the High Modernism of Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism that the apotheosis of Mr. Koons had cast in doubt. And this tightly edited presentation of about 100 works in its light-filled rooms and on one of its open-air terraces allows the museum to brag to its rivals: Anything you can do, we can do better.

Guest curator Michael Auping advances the Whitney’s case with his cogent decisions. Given the task of comprehending one of the most analyzed artists alive—the list of previous exhibitions and articles in the catalog runs 30 pages—he has presented Mr. Stella as a relentless worrier, arguing with himself for more than 50 years about how best to represent or mold space.

The two canvases that face the elevator as you enter—the square, labyrinthine, black-hearted “Pratfall” (1974) and the panoramic hurricane of candy-colored whorls and reticulated blobs “Das Erdbeben in Chili, N#3” (1999)—set up a dialectic that runs around the floor: between closed and open forms, rigorous geometry and brash improvisation, the optical and the material, two and three dimensions, material fact and pictorial illusion, flat and curved, painting and sculpture.

The show is chronological, punctuated by out-of-sequence works that suggest that the past is never really past for Mr. Stella. The many turns in his career, while unpredictable, are seen as the logical outcome of problems he has wrestled with and never pinned to the mat.

As Mr. Auping writes in the catalog: “Everything about Stella’s art is physical—a process of building things up, tearing them down, and reworking them.”

The first surprise for those who know the work mainly through reproductions is how brushy his early canvases are up close. His black, so-called Pinstripe Paintings in the late ’50s and those that followed in aluminum, copper and purple made him famous. Like the targets and numbers of Jasper Johns, they were hailed by some as rebukes to the mystical rhetoric and grandiosity of Pollock, Newman, and Rothko.

Mr. Auping believes otherwise—that Mr. Stella built upon the abstract vocabulary of the New York School. “The Black Paintings are as much Rothko as Johns in their moody and ambiguous depth,” he writes.

The shaped canvases of the 1960s and ’70s, with their cheerier hues, made Mr. Stella’s art safe for the corporate boardroom. The scale of his work ballooned in these years. “Damascus Gate, Stretch Variation III” (1970) is 50 feet long and 10 feet tall. At the same time his paintings were pushing away from or gouging into the wall, as in “Kamionka Strumilowa IV” (1972).

ENLARGE
Photo: Frank Stella/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

The series from the late ’80s based on chapters from “Moby-Dick” brought forth some of his most exuberant works, such as “The Whiteness of the Whale” and “The Grand Armada.” But his reliance on narrative and geographic meanings, when by choosing abstraction he has sacrificed them, can suggest insecurity as well as ambition.

His most quoted maxim, “What you see is what you see,” is as plain a declaration of Yankee pragmatism as you can find. And yet, perhaps no American artist of his stature has drawn more from European and Russian art. The enthusiasm for Caravaggio expressed in his 1986 book, “Working Space,” caught many off-guard.

Growing older has made him even more responsive to his times. In work from the ’70s and ’80s, one sees the glitter of disco and the aggressive spatterings of subway graffiti. In the past two decades he has generated bent shapes with aid from computer programs.

The next-to-last room features a group of pieces as silvery gray as the Hudson River, visible through the windows. “K. 459” (2012), a bundle of Plexiglas and steel pipe, is coyly perched with two thin legs on the floor; “Raft of the Medusa (Part I)” (1990) needs a steel armature to hold up the coruscation of shredded aluminum. (It could be the remains of a jet engine reconstructed by the NTSB after a midair disaster.)

After years of denying that his wall protrusions were sculpture, the artist has finally admitted as much. The museum’s third-floor terrace has two examples from 2014. Both are stars. One is solid, armored in black carbon-fiber plates, half matte, half shiny. The other is a lattice of wood. One is warlike, a death star; the other lets the city breathe through its open spaces.

Whether seen as just another set of formal oppositions or as something more, they’re further evidence that Mr. Stella continues to move forward by contraries.

Mr. Woodward is an arts critic in New York.

Gerhard Richter: Articles, Information, Images (2015)

The Art of Gerhard Richter

Hermeneutics, Images, Meaning

By: Christian Lotz
Media of The Art of Gerhard Richter

Published: 10-22-2015
Format: Hardback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 256
ISBN: 9781472589019
Imprint: Bloomsbury Academic
Illustrations: 16 colour illustrations in plate section: pp.180-181
Dimensions: 6 1/8″ x 9 1/4″
List price: $112.00
Online price: $78.40
Save $33.60 (30%)

Qty:

– See more at: http://www.bloomsbury.com/us/the-art-of-gerhard-richter-9781472589019/#sthash.JD3gmdU9.dpuf

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Gerhard Richter Colour Charts in London – Presented by Dominique Lévy First Time Since 1966

Amy Lin

Gerhard Richter’s Colour Charts will be on display for the first time in the last five decades at Dominique Lévy gallery in London. The exhibition will present some of the best colour panels by the celebrated German artist. Colour Charts exhibit highlights a crucial moment in the artist’s career and works that are situated across several leading art movements of the twentieth century. Gerhard Richter has embraced industrial materials and commercial serialism designating the series as Pop Art although he has once stated that “Colour Charts manifest the influence of a Duchampian model of Conceptual Art“.

 

Dominique Lévy,catalogue, raisonné, picture, august,news, square, 2006, just great, come, number, world, page, began, atlas, set, fields, cologne cut 2007, colours, work, search, pictures, glass, 1974, London

Sample Card for Enamel Paint from Ducolux, 1963

Paint Sample Cards by Gerhard Richter

Gerhard Richter was inspired by a collection of paint sample cards noticed in one Düsseldorf hardware store. The artist was captivated by the chromatically rich industrially designed selection that was completely deprived of any aesthetic motives. He had copied the originals exactly and the composition of colors was random throughout the process. At first, Gerhard Richter’s friend Blinky Palermo would visit the artist’s studio and randomly call out the names of sample color cards, which were then incorporated into the artwork. Later the artist himself had chosen the colours randomly in order to remove the artistic impact on the compositions. These colorful paintings have been the initiator for Gerhard Richter’s renowned multi-colored abstract paintings created in the following decades. The series was crucial for the artist’s future works partly because for the first time in his carrier, Gerhard Richter was able to capture a referent and its symbolic representation in the same painting. On a visual level, Colour Charts series is pure abstraction but the paintings are also a representation of industrial color sample cards that inspired the artist and therefore and object in its own right.

 

Dominique Lévy,painting, richter's, window, english, make, number,arts, 4900, news, work, search, photographs, white, history, books, collections, arangement, arts, group, squares, press, november, deutsch, quotes, videos, like, people, different, life, english, 4900, richter's, colours, London, raisonné, 2011

Left : Gerhard Richter – Fünfzehn Farben (Fifteen Colours), 1966 – 1996, photo by Tom Powel Imaging / Right : Gerhard Richter – Sechs Gelb (Six Yellows), 1966, photo by Volker Naumann, courtesy of Museum Frieder Burda

The 50th Anniversary of the Colour Charts

The exhibition at Dominique Lévy will mark a 50 years anniversary of Colour Charts series. Each painting consists of multiple monochromatic rectangles or squares of glossy enamel painted onto a white background. The size of the canvases varies and while some are only few feet tall others almost reach human height. The installment will include single Colour Chart painted in 1971. when the artist begun to expand the series after a five-year break. This monumental 180 Farben (180 Colours) painting that consists of twenty panels with a three-by-three white-based grid, will be provided by Gerhard Richter Archive in Dresden. Museum Frieder Burda in Baden-Baden will lend one of the artist’s biggest single-panel paintings Sechs Gelb (Six Yellows) for this occasion.

 

Dominique Lévy, page germany, book, home, book, 2014, quotes, film, group, London

Gerhard Richter – Fünfzehn Farben (Fifteen Colours), 1966 – 1996, photo by Tom Powel Imaging

Abstract Painghtings and Archival Documents at Dominique Lévy

Gerhard Richter’s Colour Charts exhibition will open on October 13th at Dominique Lévy gallery in London. Apart from enamel on canvas paintings the exhibit will feature a selection of archival documents related to the series, including an original 1960s Ducolux paint sample card that inspired the artworks. Additionally the exhibit will be accompanied by a comprehensive publication dedicated to the series. Exhibition of some of Gerhard Richter’s best Colour Chart paintings will close on January 16th, 2016

 

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Featured image: Gerhard Richter – 180 Farden (180 Colours), 1971, photo by David Brandt, courtesy of Gerhard Richter Archive
All images courtesy of Dominique Lévy gallery

MOUSSE

“Gerhard Richter: Colour Charts” at Dominique Lévy, London

October 18~2015

Dominique Lévy is pleased to announce “Gerhard Richter: Colour Charts,” an exhibition featuring a vital group of paintings selected from the artist’s original nineteen “Colour Charts” produced in 1966. Presented with the support of the Gerhard Richter Archive, the exhibition is the first to focus on the earliest works of this series since their inaugural appearance at Galerie Friedrich & Dahlem, Munich in 1966. At once paradoxical and coalescent, the “Colour Charts” highlight an important moment in the artist’s career and are situated across multiple leading art movements of the twentieth century.

In celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Colour Charts’ inception, the exhibition brings together works from multiple prominent international institutions. These include the Hamburger Kunsthalle, who is lending 192 Farben (192 Colours), 1966, Richter’s earliest fully realised Colour Chart and the only work from this series executed in oil, and the Museum Frieder Burda in Baden-Baden who is lending Sechs Gelb (Six Yellows), 1966, one of the largest single-panel “Colour Charts,” originally exhibited at Friedrich & Dahlem in 1966. “Gerhard Richter: Colour Charts” also features an earlier work, Sänger (Singer), 1965/1966, a Photo Painting with a colour chart of various shades of red painted on the obverse side of the canvas, which provides an integral insight into the artist’s conception of the series. Additionally, Richter’s 180 Farben (180 Colours), 1971, has generously been provided by the Gerhard Richter Archive in Dresden. Comprised of twenty panels, each with a three-by-three grid, this work is the first Colour Chart Richter produced when he returned to the series in 1971, after a five-year hiatus. “Gerhard Richter: Colour Charts” is accompanied by a comprehensive book featuring newly commissioned essays by Dietmar Elger, Head of the Gerhard Richter Archive; Hubertus Butin, curator and author of several key texts on Richter; and Jaleh Mansoor, Professor at the University of British Columbia, whose research concentrates on modern abstraction and its socio-economic implications. This book is the first publication dedicated to the original “Colour Charts.”

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at Dominique Lévy, London

until 16 January 2015

“Gerhard Richter: Colour Charts” installation views at Dominique Lévy, London, 2015

Courtesy; Dominique Lévy, London.

– See more at: http://moussemagazine.it/gerhard-richter-levy-2015/#sthash.XMoMd1Qf.dpuf

WALLPAPER

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BROOKLYN RAIL
 
  • DEMYSTIFYING GERHARD RICHTER’S GESTURAL ABSTRACTION

Painting in the Gap between Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art

In the mid-1970s, Gerhard Richter began making large, colorful, tactile abstract paintings whose sketchy, rough, and blurry effects make us aware of the tools and techniques used and the complicated pictorial thinking involved.1 Sometimes paint is applied with brushes, but more often it is smeared, dabbed, rubbed, blotted, streaked, and dripped with house painting brushes, palette knives, squeegees, and pieces of wood or glass. The emphatic paint textures created may be sensuous or plain, coarse or smooth, even or inconsistent. The shapes created are irregular, vague, incomplete, overlapped, and compressed. These paintings have been described as “gestural” or “painterly,” although Richter refers to them as his “Abstracts,” and they now constitute the largest and most consistent portion of his enormous, erratic oeuvre. They have made him one of the leading abstract painters of the last 40 years and have been the subject of much discussion, yet a cogent, plausible understanding of them is still needed. How should we interpret, respond to, and contextualize them art historically?

These works have been associated with Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Conceptualism, and Neo-Expressionism, but are not easily situated in any of these. They are most frequently interpreted as examples of the problems and complexities of postmodern painting. Scholars have concluded that Richter’s work demonstrates that painting since the 1960s has become meaningless and irrelevant and that expression and content are no longer possible, intended, or desired. They claim that he is causing this deconstruction of painting, that his work is as much a part of the process as it is indicative of it. The problem with these interpretations is that they are counter intuitive to the creative impulse and replace it with postmodern theoretical discourse. How is it possible for an artist to devote his life to such a nihilistic project as destroying the importance, appeal, and efficacy of his own creations? These interpretations linger even though Richter has refuted them in numerous statements and interviews over the years. Scholars often mistakenly take Richter’s comments about his technical process and visual thinking as explanations of meaning and purpose.

These interpretations relate Richter’s abstract paintings to Conceptual Art since they claim his works explore ideas about contemporary painting and are not important as individual images. The supposed historical self-awareness and reflexive ontology of Richter’s paintings are basic to postmodernism and related to Conceptual Art. Although they do not seem as expressive, emotive, spiritual, or philosophical as the mid-century abstract painting to which they are visually most similar, they are not as detached, aloof, and impenetrable as usually thought. Realizing this requires looking at them without imposing theoretical agendas on intuitive responses or substituting them for artistic purpose. We must remember that artworks that are connected stylistically sometimes convey or elicit very different ideas, responses, and feelings. The connection of Richter’s abstractions to Neo-Expressionism seems logical at first because this movement originated in Germany around the time Richter began making these works. However, if Richter is questioning and undermining expression and meaning, how is he part of a movement that supposedly revitalized painting and its expressive capabilities?  Moreover, Neo-Expressionism is such a broad and varied movement that it seems almost a moot point to debate Richter’s place in it.

Richter’s abstract paintings have definite stylistic affinities to Abstract Expressionism in their painterliness, residual evidence of technical processes, bold and powerful effects of color and light, and large scale. Yet they are obviously different in their aesthetic, emotive, and expressive effects. What explains their ambivalent similarity to Abstract Expressionism? They are better understood if their relationship to Pop Art is reconsidered. Pop Art is the mitigating bridge to earlier abstraction that helps explain this complex relationship. This is not surprising since Richter’s career blossomed in the early 1960s, shortly after he moved to West Germany and immersed himself in modernist painting and abandoned the Socialist Realism he studied in his youth. This was just when Pop Art was rapidly gaining attention and acclaim and Abstract Expressionism was falling into historical context. In the 1960s Richter was very interested in Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, and Roy Lichtenstein. His abstract paintings evolved as he absorbed, reinterpreted, and synthesized various aspects of Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art. The connection between Richter and Pop Art is rooted in his blurry paintings based on photographs of his youth, family, Germany during and after World War II, current events, and political issues, such as “Uncle Rudi” (1965), “Eight Student Nurses” (1966), and “October 18, 1977” (1988). Since these emulate but distort mass media imagery, they have been associated with Pop Art, and Richter became a major proponent of the style in Europe. Over the years, critics have related everything Richter has done to Pop Art in one way or another. Richter’s drastic shifting among different painting styles has further complicated how his work has been interpreted. He demonstrates how stylistic development has become so complex, unpredictable, and erratic since the 1960s. In spite of widely accepted postmodernist theories which suggest otherwise, we still expect an artist to develop in a rather linear, orderly, logical way and are surprised when he does not.

Lichtenstein’s paintings of brushstrokes, such as “Little Big Painting” and “Big Painting No. 6” (both 1965),2 make us acutely aware that a painting consists of brushstrokes and marks of paint deliberately created. Done in the wake of Abstract Expressionism, they seem to be satirical criticisms or expressions of doubt about the philosophical and spiritual capabilities of painting, especially abstraction, and attempt to demystify its aesthetic and expressive possibilities. Lichtenstein’s diagrammatic isolation of a few brushstrokes in the manner of comic book illustration parallels Richter’s fascination with paint marks and brushstrokes, which often led him to a curious arbitrariness and ambivalence in his disconnected, barely modeled paint application. Whereas “Red-Blue-Yellow[Catalogue Raisonné 330] (1972) is a jumble of squiggly brushstrokes, “Abstract Painting” [CR 398–1] (1976) and “Abstract Painting” [CR 432–8] (1978) feature distinct brushstrokes described emphatically while evading emotion. In the earlier painting the scattered gray and white paint lines are most noticeable, while in the later painting the most conspicuous brushstrokes are the intersecting broad areas of blue and yellow. Many of Richter’s early abstract paintings were based on photographic close-ups of paint surfaces.In “July” [CR 526] (1983), narrow strokes of green, broad patches of lightly shaded gray, red, yellow, and scribbles of orange create a composition with sharply discordant colors and textures and unevenly dispersed shapes. Richter has discussed his pursuit of “rightness” in pictorial composition, color, and technique, but this idea about painting seems anachronistic today.  “July” offers an elusive resolution of purely abstract elements rooted in Pop Art’s vivid, gaudy colors.

In “Abstract Painting” [CR 551–6] (1984), swirling streaks of gray and green and broad, thick, slightly modulated brushstrokes of dark green and brown allude to the evocative possibilities of painterly abstraction, but never achieve the potent feeling or genuine sensitivity of Abstract Expressionism because Richter’s technique is not as fluid and elegant. This composition is rather similar to Gottlieb’s Bursts (1957 – 74), except the irregular, brushy forms across the bottom of Gottlieb’s paintings are more nuanced and indicative of the artist’s presence and feeling. Richter is receptive to Lichtenstein’s skepticism about the mystique of painting but does not completely agree with it. The complex relationship between Richter and Abstract Expressionism is apparent if Richter’s “Abstract Painting” [CR 587–5] (1985) is compared to de Kooning’s large abstractions of the late 1950s, such as “Palisade” (1957). In de Kooning’s painting, violently brushed areas of blue, brown, and tan streak, twist, and crash into one another, while Richter’s painting features a large red blotch, spiky black lines, and broadly scraped marks of green. Both have lots of blue and brown, but Richter’s are so smoothly rendered as to suggest a landscape background, while de Kooning fluidly integrates these colors spatially with more spontaneous, liberated rendering and traditional blending of different colors and tones. De Kooning achieves a cohesion of forms, textures, and colors that Richter fails to achieve and probably never attempted. In the de Kooning we sense genuine self-revelation and feeling. This is much less apparent in the Richter, and Pop Art’s filtration of earlier abstraction is the reason.

From 1969 to 1972, Lichtenstein did numerous paintings about mirrors and their reflections that used the Ben-Day dot system and various illustration techniques to explore these complex visual phenomena. These paintings may be mildly satirical comments on Greenbergian modernism’s ideas on the absence of space when total flatness is achieved. This series led to the merging of the mirror surface with the painting surface in works like “Mirror # 3 (Six Panels)” (1971),3 which are purely abstract in their own right. Richter has often explored the picture surface in similar ways. “Abstract Painting” [CR 554–2] (1984) has broad areas of blue, gray, and yellow-green that are smoothly rendered in most areas, except their intersecting, overlapping contours make it seem as if they squirm against one another as they confront or cling to the picture plane. The long, bent marks of green and orange on the left are similar in pictorial effect to the short parallel lines commonly used in illustrations to indicate reflections in mirrors and other shiny surfaces. “Abstract Painting” [CR 630–4] (1987) has rectangular areas of evenly-textured blue and yellow-green applied with a paint roller that engage the picture plane and attempt to merge with it. In the late 1980s and after, with the enormous “January” [CR 699] (1989) and “Abstract Painting” [CR 840–5] (1997), Richter’s fusion of painting and picture plane is virtually complete. Both Lichtenstein and Richter flaunt the mass printing methods that they have employed or imitated. Richter uses squeegees, sponges, wood, and plastic strips to scrape, flatten, abrade, and congeal paint in an even, consistent way over the entire canvas. The use of various implements creates systematic, mechanical effects of textures and colors that mitigate the expressive connection usually expected between a painter and his media.

Warhol demonstrated for Richter some of the most salient aspects of Pop Art, like serial repetition, even dispersal of compositional elements, the blunt presentation of the subject, and the quasi-expressive distortion possible with vivid, garish colors and other visual effects derived from advertising, packaging, and mass printing. Richter absorbed these innovations into a more expressive, abstract mode. He has said he was particularly fascinated with Warhol’s ability to obscure and dissolve images and that he was moved emotionally by his Death and Disasters series. This series consisted of paintings in which Warhol silkscreeened photographs of electric chairs, automobile accidents, suicides, murders, and similarly disturbing subjects onto canvases and probed their meanings by repeating the same photographs, adding vivid colors, blurring, fading, and shifting the photographs while printing them, and altering their scale. Serial repetition and the strict emulation of commercial imagery are first apparent in Richter’s abstractions in his color chart paintings of the late-1960s, in which many small rectangles of single hues are evenly dispersed on the canvas. These were based on color charts produced by paint manufacturers. Although their subject is typical of Pop Art, their flatness, composition uniformity, and large size are just as characteristic of Color Field painting. They are a virtually perfect merger of these separate but concurrent movements.

Warhol’s influence on Richter’s abstract paintings is most apparent in his work of the past 25 years. “Abstract Painting” [CR 758–2] and “Abstract Painting” [CR 759–1] (both 1992) are two examples of how serial repetition across the composition is the primary visual effect. In the first, silvery gray vertical streaks cling to the picture plane as paler tones between them suggest depth. In the second, a sketchy grid of purple-gray blotches and streaks has the look and feel of an early Warhol silkscreen painting. “Abstract Painting” [CR 795] (1993) is a good example of Richter’s success in combining serial repetition with deliberate fading and blurring. Vertical strips of green, red, blue, and orange rendered as fuzzy, hazy forms create horizontal vibrations on the canvas. This suggests that the painting presents a frame from a film of totally abstract images or a ruined and stained film, forever changing yet never really doing so. Warhol used repetition, fading, and blurring for emotional resonance very effectively in “Marilyn Diptych” (1962),4 creating an elegiac mood appropriate for the untimely death of the actress. Richter often uses blurring and fading in his paintings based on photographs, where their emotional impact is similar. In the past 25 years, he has often used the same pictorial devices in his abstractions to evoke similar emotions.

“Abstract Painting” [CR 778–2] (1992) is particularly interesting because it is an expressive abstract image based heavily on what Richter learned from Warhol. It features a grid-like array of white square areas tainted with blue and yellow. Oil paint has been textured methodically but creatively with large brushes and squeegees on the smooth metallic surface to create long, thin lines that make the shapes appear to shimmer and vibrate horizontally. Small areas of bright red are dispersed across the composition; some are rectangular blotches of thick, smooth paint and others are drips and streaks of fluid paint. This manipulation of red conveys a sense of shock, danger, and violence similar to Warhol’s Death and Disasters. A good comparison with Richter’s painting may be made with Warhol’s “Red Disaster,”5 in which a photograph of an electric chair is drenched in red ink and repeatedly printed as blurry in a grid-like arrangement on the canvas. Richter has admitted to his concerns about social malaise, psychological alienation, death, loss, and self-doubt, which he observed during his childhood in post-World War II Germany as the damage done by the war to many Germans became apparent. Warhol’s “Statue of Liberty” (1962),6 is intriguingly similar to Richter’s painting in its emotively suggestive impact. This painting repeats a photograph of the American monument as blurred, hazy, and tilted with empty space on the left while large areas of blue and gray and smaller areas of bright red stain the printed and altered photographs. Warhol has shocked the viewer with the unsettled, endangered, and violated presentation of this American icon. However, his blunt repetition and lack of personal touch ultimately render his meaning uncertain, and our initial emotional response is quickly halted. Warhol said that emotional responses to these provocative and disturbing photographs were neutralized by their abundant reproduction in the news media, that this desensitized viewers to the horrors shown. Richter’s abstract paintings often do very much the same thing.

The vivid, garish, and clashing colors in many of Richter’s abstract paintings were probably inspired by those Pop artists who exaggerated the simplified, bold, and eye-catching qualities of magazine illustrations, posters, signs, and billboards. Rosenquist’s billboard paintings demonstrate how the intense, vibrant, and sensuous qualities of his subjects are made acutely obvious, gaudy, overwhelming, and chaotic through abrupt and improbable juxtapositions of forms, the extreme distortion and intensification of shapes, colors, and textures, and compositions where crowding, overlapping, and bizarre scale play with our recognition and interpretation of the familiar. Richter has known Rosenquist since at least 1970, when they met in Cologne, and he saw his work there and in New York City that year. Some of Rosenquist’s billboard paintings of the 1970s and 1980s are quite similar to Richter’s abstractions from the mid-1970s to the late-1980s. Since the 1970s, Rosenquist has explored an increasingly wider range of subjects, including the cosmic, supernatural, and imaginary, and his style has often become more abstract, with lurid, dazzling, and startling colors as well as extreme, surprising textures that often clash visually.

Richter’s “Clouds” [CR 514–1] (1982) is a large horizontal canvas with broad brushstrokes of dark green across the top, smoother, wider areas of blue across the bottom, and dabs and streaks of orange textured with squeegees and trowels on the right. The most jarring aspect of this painting is that the blue which we would assume is the sky is illogically located in the bottom of the composition, as if the world is upside-down. Such bizarre transformations and dislocations are common in Rosenquist’s paintings and have become more extreme over the years. They are apparent in “Star Thief” (1980), in which a sliced view of a woman’s face, bacon, and various metallic forms float in outer space, and “The Bird of Paradise Approaches the Hot Water Planet” (1989), in which a colorful bird-insect creature passes through layers of thick clouds with the radiant yellow light of a sun filling the space behind it. Richter’s “Pavillion” [CR 489–1] (1982) consists of firmly isolated areas of disparate colors and textures with irregular, barely described contours, including smooth areas of blue and green, mottled lava-like orange, and wavy strokes of gray. This painting seems to contain abstract equivalents to the atomic blasts, clouds, astronauts, and canned spaghetti in Rosenquist’s “F-111” (1964 – 65). Richter’s “Abstract Painting” [CR 591–2] (1986) is a tour de force of vivid, explosive colors and extremely rich, sensuous textures, which vary from flowing, lava-like orange on the right to darker tan on the left, plus dry streaks of green and indigo scattered across the composition but mostly gathered in the left and center. A precisely rendered, dark triangular form that resembles a designer’s ruled square juts into the foreground through an opening in these clumps and masses of paint. It is similar to many of Rosenquist’s later paintings in its vivid, lush, and unrealistic textures and colors.

Although Richter’s abstract paintings were affected greatly by the aesthetics of Pop Art, they have no connection to most of the subjects that Pop Art usually explored. Despite being visually related to Abstract Expressionism, they are not particularly spiritual, philosophical, introspective, cathartic, or existential. The best explanation of what they mean actually comes from Richter, but it has long been buried under verbose theory. He has said that these abstract paintings are visualizations of imaginary places and experiences, of what has been conceived and invented by the artistic imagination. This is similar to the changing themes in Rosenquist’s works in the 1970s and 1980s, to his bizarre, fantastic, and dreamlike subjects, although Rosenquist’s paintings have always remained representational. Richter’s pursuit of pictorial “rightness” in his abstract paintings, of organizing and balancing the components of a composition for visual, emotive, and expressive impact, is also essential to their meaning. This is as traditional as it is timeless, but some of his works are clearly more effective than others in this respect. “Abstract Painting” [CR 591–2] and “Abstract Painting” [CR 778–2] seem to have this elusive pictorial “rightness,” when colors, textures, shapes, and forms come together in an image that is whole, appealing, and captivating.


NOTES

  1. To see the Richter paintings discussed in this essay, consult gerhard-richter.com.
  2. See, respectively, whitney.org/Collection/RoyLichtenstein/662, lichtensteinfoundation.org/0391.htm.
  3. See tate.org.uk/art/artworks/warhol-marilyn-diptych-t03093.
  4. See mfa.org/collections/object/red-disaster-34765.
  5. See www.warhol.org/ArtCollections.aspx?id=1541.
  6. For the works by James Rosenquist, see www.jimrosenquist-artist.com.

Contributor

Herbert R. Hartel, Jr.HERBERT R. HARTEL, JR. received his doctorate in modern, contemporary and American art from the CUNY Graduate Center and his B.A. in studio art and art history from Queens College. He has taught at Hofstra University, Baruch College, John Jay College, and Parsons School of Design. He has published articles in Source: Notes in the History of Art, Journal of the American Studies Association of Texas, Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, and New York History, and numerous reviews in The Art Book and Cassone: The Online Magazine of Art. He is particularly interested in 20th century American art, abstraction, and symbolism

112 Green Street – Soho – New York 1970 – Gordan Matta Clark

Arts & Culture

112 Greene Street

July 25, 2012 | by

Exterior of 112 Greene Street. Photo by Cosmos Andrew Sarchiapone.

I met with Jessamyn Fiore in the air-conditioned back offices of David Zwirner’s Chelsea gallery in late June to discuss her new book, 112 Greene Street, a series of interviews with artists who helped found or were associated with the eponymous location, one of the first alternative art spaces in New York City. Opened in 1970 by artists Jeffrey Lew, Alan Saret, and Gordon Matta-Clark, 112 Greene Street served not as a commercial gallery but as a space in which artists could create and exhibit works collaboratively. Their participation in the burgeoning SoHo art scene also included cofounding FOOD, a pay-what-you-wish restaurant known for its delicious soups. Back then, the neighborhood more closely resembled a small village, rather than the glamorous, high-end shopping district it is now, and all of the artists associated with 112 Greene Street who were interviewed by Fiore remember that communal period fondly.

Fiore has a direct lineage to the groundbreaking gallery: her mother, Jane Crawford, was married to Gordon Matta-Clark, who died from pancreatic cancer in 1978 at age thirty-five. Known for his daring “building cuts”—literal dissections of buildings slated for demolition—Matta-Clark was, by all accounts, charismatic and widely admired and loved. Fiore herself ran a nonprofit art gallery in Dublin for several years before relocating to New York, where she curated an exhibition at Zwirner about 112 Greene Street last winter. She is warm, easygoing, and candid; it’s easy to see why the artists, whom she considers her friends, would trust her to preserve their memories in print.

Chance encounters played such a big part in the manifestation of 112 Greene Street.

There were a lot of chance meetings involved in its creation. But I think they were a reflection of that community at the time. The art world in New York was a lot smaller. In one Richard Nonas story, he goes to Max’s Kansas City for the first time and ends up meeting Carl Andre and Richard Serra, and they get in a conversation and he goes to see their studio. There are lots of these kinds of stories.

It was also key that Jeffrey Lew and his wife, Rachel Wood, had bought the building and let out the floors to various people. But it really only came together when Jeffrey saw what Alan Saret was doing with his own studio at the time. Alan renamed his studio Spring Palace and opened it up for exhibitions and performances by other artists. So, for example, Joan Jonas came in and did a performance where George Trakas actually built a set for her to perform on. So when the business that was in 112 Greene Street moved out, Jeffrey had a big, empty, ground-floor space and basement, and Alan came on board and helped Jeffrey set it up. And Alan’s uncle was the first backer of 112 Greene Street, whatever that means. No one goes into detail as to exactly what the business relationship was, but he was able to give some kind of initial funding.

How did they convince him to fund the project?

Jeffrey had an amazing ability to meet people and get them involved. A few people I talked to said there was a bit of an air of mystery about Jeffrey as to how he actually got this stuff done, but he would get it done. In the beginning, 112 Greene Street was supported by a series of backers, and Jeffrey would say, “People come on board and I convince them to support it, but then after a while, they want something. They want their name on something or they want some kind of influence on it, and that’s when I say no way and let them go.” He really had this pretty incredible attitude of, What I’m doing is great and it’s working, so give me the money to do it.

When he and Alanna Heiss initially met with the NEA, which was just becoming interested in creating grants for independent art venues, that was his attitude, too—which I think is pretty incredible. In a day and age when we’re so used to having to bend over backward for any kind of funding, to go in and say, If you like what I’m doing, just give me the money and leave me alone—it takes guts.

How did it all come together?

Alan Saret had an architecture degree and was doing jobs he found incredibly boring. But he was working with materials that he later used in his work—wire and meshes and so on. From the start, he had a philosophy about art that was quite radical at the time but which became the beginning of a whole movement. He was quite anticommercial. He had very high standards as to where his work should be shown and the context it should be shown in. He wasn’t interested in sacrificing his creative process or the work’s integrity in order to be included in an institution or to have a commercial gallery. And he really believed that an artist’s whole life is his artwork. So this idea of living and showing and working in the same space—it was very central to his philosophy of what an artist is.

So he provided the philosophical framework from which Gordon and Jeffrey were able to take a leap and open up 112 and allow it to be a space where artists could work, show, communicate, and really embrace the idea that the gallery shouldn’t just be a white cube. It wasn’t that they were anticommercial—artists would still sell work, if somebody wanted to buy it—but their primary goal wasn’t to sell, and they weren’t creating works they thought they could sell. And I think that gave the space a freedom that was necessary for those artists at that moment to push boundaries and take risks, to make works that might be destroyed afterward. Often they were, at the end of the exhibition, destroyed or thrown away.

Installation of works by Alan Saret in progress, ca. 1970. Photo by Cosmos Andrew Sarchiapone.

Nonas describes being against the pedestal, or the idea that the viewer is at a remove from the object. “You couldn’t isolate anything from the world in 112,” he says, “because 112 took over.” It seems like the works were almost interventions in the space.

The physical space of 112 Greene Street was key to the works themselves. They were responses to that context. And I think it was Nonas who said that the most successful shows there were those that really used that space, that could have only been done in that space. A lot of people have described coming in and seeing the raw floors and walls with chunks missing, and then noticing the artwork and wondering, What’s the work and what’s the space?

Gordon did a whole series in the basement that embraced that particular environment—dark, dank, and dirty—to create works that would counteract it. Once, during winter, he planted a cherry tree, put grow lights around it, and created a mound of grass. Suddenly you had a beautiful garden in this underground, urban, disused space.

Gordon Matta-Clark’s Cherry Tree at 112 Greene Street, 1971 Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Courtesy The Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark and David Zwirner, New York.

The stories about Gordon I found especially compelling. In particular the way people responded to the tree.

Rachel had a great story about it. When it was in its full glory, they had an opening, and a woman came down and saw it, and ended up taking off all her clothes and lying on the mound of grass under the lights. And Gordon absolutely loved that. He loved not only that his piece provoked that kind of response but also that it inspired this woman to participate in it and experience it.

Something I never really thought about with 112 Greene Street is dance. And you actually devote quite a bit of room to it.

Suzanne Harris’s Flying machine at 112 Greene Street, 1973. Courtesy Jene Highstein.

I do! Because I was blown away when I really began to look into what happened here. 112 was a space where visual artists and dancers and filmmakers came together and collaborated and participated in one another’s work and, in that way, informed one another’s practice. A number of visual artists participated in the dance performances, and some of the dancers, in turn, started making visual installations. Suzanne Harris, for instance, started out in dance and performance and then began creating sculptures that were activated by her own body. She created a sort of rigging for herself and another dancer so they could hang from the ceiling like puppets. They were connected, so if one person moved their arm, the other person’s arm would move, too. They would have to perform in unison, or in response to each other.

On the other hand, you had Gordon, who was very much a visual artist, an installation artist, building pieces that were also stages. His Open House was a Dumpster outside 112 Greene Street, in which he created a house with corridors and doors, though it didn’t have a ceiling. He invited the Natural History of the American Dancer, which was a dance company based at 112, to perform it in, and he made a film of them activating his piece.

SoHo was then fairly abandoned. All these massive factory buildings lay empty, so the entire area had this feeling of falling apart. How did the artists respond to the deterioration?

For his first piece within 112 Greene Street, Alan found huge pieces of metal cornicing, dragged them back to 112, and suspended them from the ceiling. It was a way of bringing the outside into the space and reconfiguring it as an artwork. Gordon’s first solo show at 112 included some of his first cuttings, the Bronx Floors series, where he cut segments from the floors of abandoned South Bronx housing projects. It was a form of obsolete architecture. He paired his cuttings with photographs of the sites they were cut from. Later, he did Splitting, in which he actually cut an entire house in half—but his architectural cuts were always paired with photographs.

One of my favorite pieces that he did at 112 is Walls paper, where he took photographs of the walls of semidemolished buildings and made giant prints on newsprint. He brought all of those into 112 to create a kind of wallpaper composed of walls. He also had a large stack of prints available for people to take home and put it on their own wall.

The way this generation of artists is different from the ones slightly preceding it, is that a lot of the work had a social context, a sense of social responsibility. They weren’t making art for art’s sake. They wanted to have a larger impact on and relationship to what was happening in the city. New York was then near bankruptcy. There was a massive homeless population and a tremendous amount of urban decay and poverty. People wondered if the city was going to last. The artists were very connected to that—it was their environment, their home, and it was also their source of inspiration.

The collective spirit was so strong, it comes through even in the way they shared meals together.

Tina Girouard, Carol Goodden, and Gordon Matta-Clark in front of FOOD, 1971. Photo by Richard Landry, with alteration by Gordon Matta-Clark. Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Courtesy The Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark and David Zwirner, New York.

 

I think it was Richard Nonas who described it as the result of a contingent of artists who had moved up from the South and brought with them a food culture in which the main gathering place was around the dinner table. Tina Girouard and Richard Landry and Mary Heilmann rented out a building on Chatham Square for something like five hundred dollars and made huge dinners there—everyone would come around. Food played a role in the work of some of the artists, too. When Gordon was invited to participate in a show underneath the Brooklyn Bridge in 1971, he roasted a pig as part of his work and gave the food away. In the second iteration of his Dumpster piece, Dumpster Duplex, he built a second floor onto the space, with a working barbeque.

Food was essential to how people related to one other, and in SoHo there weren’t many places to go at that time to eat and to drink, so FOOD restaurant came about as a natural extension of these activities. Opened by Carol Goodden and Gordon, the restaurant had food performances, and artists would be invited in to create a meal. Robert Rauschenberg was invited to do one, and Gordon did a meal called Matta-Bones, where everything he served was on the bone and at the end he drilled holes through the bones to make necklaces. He did another meal called Alive, where everything was alive. That one sounds  kind of gross.

He also made a film with Robert Frank on a day in the life of FOOD restaurant. It’s one of my very favorite films by Gordon. It starts with them going to the Fulton Fish Market and buying the fish for the day, and then you see them setting up, and then people eating. And at the end of the night, it’s the whole group sitting around the table, talking.

The way the group dispersed is very bittersweet.

I chose to end the book with the exhibition “Anarchitecture,” which took place in March 1974. The artists for that show consisted of Gordon Matta-Clark, Suzanne Harris, Richard Nonas, Jene Highstein, Tina Girouard—the core Anarchitecture group, a group that got together and discussed ideas around architecture, space, language, and subverting existing norms. “Anarchitecture” culminated with a show at 112 Greene Street in which each artist contributed a few photographs that they felt represented their idea of anarchitecture, such as liminal or overlooked spaces, and they made the works anonymous.

Installation view of “112 Greene Street: The Early Years (1970–1974),” curated by Jessamyn Fiore at David Zwirner, New York. Courtesy David Zwirner, New York.

And what’s fascinating about this exhibition is that there is absolutely no documentation of it. I pored through the artists’ archives—and these artists were generally very good about documenting their work—but not a single one had a picture of this show. We have the works that were in it. We know what it was about. But no one took pictures of it. I think it was almost a good-bye to the space. By 1978, they lost the space and had to move to Spring Street. The name changed to White Columns, which still exists today. Sometimes there’s a tendency, particularly nowadays, to create something that is going to be sustainable indefinitely. But the reason these projects and venues are so fantastic is precisely that they’re not meant to last forever.

Claire Barliant is is a freelance writer who lives in Brooklyn. She tweets at @claire_barliant.

Join Jessamyn Fiore at 192 Books on Thursday, July 26, at 7 P.M.

BooksWeekend

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White Columns is New York’s oldest alternative art space. It was founded in 1970 by Jeffrey Lew and Gordon Matta-Clark as an experimental platform for artists. Originally located in SoHo (and known as the 112 Workshop/112 Greene Street), the organization was renamed White Columns when it moved to Spring Street in 1979. In 1991 White Columns moved to Christopher Street in the West Village, and in 1998 the gallery relocated to its present address on the border of the West Village and Meat Packing District.

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vanity fair

Spotlight

December 31, 2010 7:00 pm

Dereliction of Beauty

Gordon Matta-Clark at 112 Greene Street, the celebrated art sanctuary in New York’s SoHo, in 1972. Photograph by Cosmos Andrew Sarchiapone; © 2010 Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
David Kamp spotlights outlaw artist Gordon Matta-Clark.
The conceptual artist Gordon Matta-Clark used the entropic scuzziness of 1970s-era New York as his medium. He fashioned a “garbage wall” out of debris strewn beneath a Brooklyn Bridge access ramp; planted a cherry tree in the dug-out basement of a tatty old industrial building (turned art space) in SoHo; and, wielding an acetylene torch like an X-Acto knife, cut holes in the walls and floors of an abandoned Hudson River pier to create what he called a “sun-and-water temple.” (This, decades before the High Line and similar city-sanctioned reclamations of derelict urban terrain.)

Matta-Clark, who died of pancreatic cancer in 1978 at the age of 35, is the featured artist in a collective historical show called “112 Greene Street: The Early Years (1970–1974),” which opens on January 7 at the David Zwirner gallery, in Manhattan. The exhibition looks back to the beginnings of Matta-Clark’s career and SoHo’s do-it-yourself art scene, and specifically to 112 Greene, the site of a failing ragpicking business when an artist named Jeffrey Lew purchased it, in 1968.

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Lew basically turned his creative pals loose in the building, letting them have the run of the place for exhibitions, performances, guerrilla gardening (it’s where Matta-Clark planted his cherry tree), and all manner of interdisciplinary horsing around. Among those who showed, performed, or worked there were Larry Miller, Alan Saret, Richard Nonas, Suzanne Harris, Philip Glass, Richard Serra, Tina Girouard, Vito Acconci, Don Gummer, William Wegman, Laurie Anderson, Spalding Gray, and a very young Kathryn Bigelow.

But it was Matta-Clark who acted as the site’s animating spirit, erecting a Dumpster domicile out front he called Open House, instigating the creation of Food, the artists’ hangout around the corner (a conceptual piece as much as a restaurant), and, in general, challenging the very precepts of what art is and how it must be displayed. New York, back then, was rife with real estate “outside of society” that suited Matta-Clark’s needs. “The wild dogs, junkies, and I used these spaces to work out some life problem,” he said. “In my case, having no socially acceptable place to work.”<

David Kamp has been a Vanity Fair contributing editor since 1996, profiling such monumental figures of the arts as Johnny Cash, Lucian Freud, Sly Stone, and John Hughes.

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112 Greene Street: The Soho that Used to Be

All images via jessamynfiore.com.

“It is rather inspiring,” writes Peter Schjeldahl in the New York Times, “that in an hour of political crisis this art (despite its makers’ eschewal of revolutionary postures) has arisen to make possible a project like 112 Greene Street.” The year is 1970. The place is Soho, until recently known as the South Houston Industrial District. Here an unemployed artist can buy a six-story cast-iron ex-rag-picking warehouse, and huge chunks of sheet-zinc cornice can lie abandoned on the sidewalk at a demolition site until another artist bribes the garbage men to drive them to his studio. Sculptor Jeffrey Lew owns the six-story building at 112 Greene Street, where the eponymous exhibition space and workshop is taking shape. Alan Saret, who lives a block away, has joined in to get the gallery (extremely loosely) organized, and it is here that his piece “Cornicing,” slung from the ceiling, becomes the sort of art that inspires the young critic.

Saret tells the story of the cornices in 112 Greene Street: The Early Years, 1970–1974, edited by Jessamyn Fiore. Half oral history and half exhibition catalogue, Fiore’s book follows a show she curated last winter at David Zwirner, which prominently featured 112’s celebrated alumnus, Gordon Matta-Clark (1943–1978), along with Saret, Richard Nonas, Tina Girouard, Suzanne Harris, Jene Highstein, Larry Miller, and Richard Serra. The show is lushly documented in the book. In addition, Fiore has interviewed nineteen artists, including Lew and all of the living exhibition participants but Serra, weaving their reminiscences into an episodic narrative. Fiore comes by her interest organically; she ran a nonprofit space, Thisisnotashop, in Dublin. Moreover, her parents, filmmakers Jane Crawford and Robert Fiore, belonged to the 112 circle, Crawford by way of her first marriage, to Matta-Clark. Fiore has an insider’s feel for her subject, and her book is an evocative addition to the archive on downtown scenes — especially since the comprehensive oral history 112 Workshop/112 Greene Street: History, Artists & Artwork (New York University Press, 1981), edited by Robyn Brentano and Mark Savitt, has long been out of print.

It’s easy to see why oral history is the favored mode. These people did wild stuff some forty years in the past. A few got famous. A few, like Matta-Clark and Harris, died young, and have been posthumously canonized or not (Harris’s oeuvre is ripe for reinvestigation). Some left New York decades ago, and some live in the same lofts they renovated under the 1971 artist-in-residence law. Almost all continue to make art, and they remain bracingly nonrevisionist about their shared experience. Their voices nuance a still-evolving historiography, just as their sculptures, films, and performances helped to define post-Minimal and post-Conceptual practice. Nevertheless, part of what fascinates about 112 Greene Street, and sister endeavors like FOOD restaurant and the collective The Natural History of the American Dancer (both discussed by Fiore’s interviewees), is the sense that no single interpretive strategy, not even that of first-person witness, totally explains how it all happened. It’s a synergy of flukes that makes and breaks utopia.

Gordon Matta-Clark with Jeffrey Lew, circa 1971

Gordon Matta-Clark with Jeffrey Lew, circa 1971

Consider, for starters, the almost unimaginable ubiquity of big, cheap spaces, and lackadaisical police and buildings-department oversight, in what was already the most important art city in the world. Art-markets hadn’t yet learned how to sell what the emerging sculptors, dancers, musicians, and photographers were producing. Lew lined up a couple backers for 112, from whom he demanded lump sums and strict noninterference; Carol Goodden founded FOOD with her modest inheritance. The real currency, however, was collaborative experiment. “I have an anarchistic nature,” Lew declares. “I’m an anarchistic phenomenon.” Other blithely anarchistic institution-builders created Avalanche magazine, the Performing Garage, The Kitchen, Mabou Mines, the Grand Union, the Poetry Project, Artists Space, and the Institute for Art and Urban Resources, shortly to become P.S.1. This DIY economy of scale guaranteed that people with skills and tools would be on hand to pitch in when one needed them, and enthusiastic audiences would turn up day after day, night after night. Borrowing an ethos from the counterculture yet jettisoning radical political objectives, the downtown artists could feel confident that they were furthering societal transformation while allowing themselves rambunctious aesthetic freedom; as Schjeldahl’s comments demonstrate in passing, revolution was not their aim, but it wasn’t not on their minds. Mary Heilmann tells Fiore, “Most of us came to 112 as bohemian outsiders and almost Marxists — against capitalist culture.” Bill Beckley puts it this way: “We were all friends then. Some of us were male, some female, some hetero, some gay, some both, or all three, but that wasn’t the issue. The issue was art […] We were negating much about modernist aesthetics, but at the same time we believed that what we were doing was new, and that there was still a possibility of the new.”

112 Greene Street: The Early Years is rife with era-defining anecdotes. Everyone involved, for instance, remembers George Trakas’s “The Piece that Went Through the Floor” (1970), a timber-and-glass structure that punched through from the rough street-level gallery to the even-rougher basement. Lew “freaked out,” Trakas reports cheerfully, but the fact that, at 112, one could carve up the very architecture set the tone. 112 was the place where Matta-Clark — soon to become, himself, building-cutter extraordinaire — planted a flowering sapling under grow-lights in the basement (“Cherry Tree,” 1971). Alice Aycock brought in thousands of pounds of sand, to be randomly sculpted by industrial fans she’d scavenged on Canal Street (“Sand/Fans,” 1971), and Harris and Rachel Wood made dances by bouncing off huge sheets of rubber stretched between the Corinthian columns that gave the ratty space its elegant profile (“Rubber Thoughts on the Way to Florida in January,” 1971). Vito Acconci locked himself in a tiny room with a fighting cock (“Combination,” 1971), which escaped, and had to be trapped by Girouard — whose own piece “Four Stages” (1972) was used as a frame for Mabou Mines performances. It was in the basement, likewise, that Leo Castelli, in sports-coat and loafers, was detained as a “hostage” during the performance “Prisoner’s Dilemma” (1974), an experiment with live-feed, multi-channel video that was masterminded by Serra and Robert Bell, with Spalding Gray and G.H. Hovagimyan playing hooligans pitted against each other by the cops.

Installation view of "112 Greene Street: The Early Years (1970–1974)" at David Zwirner Gallery

Installation view of “112 Greene Street: The Early Years (1970–1974)” at David Zwirner Gallery, January 2011

Eventually 112 got stable funding, and evolved into a normal exhibition space. (White Columns, in Chelsea, is its lineal descendent.) The Greene Street building enjoyed another life in the eighties and nineties as a recording studio, first operated by members of the Philip Glass Ensemble — who had belonged to the coterie from the beginning — and later serving artists from Public Enemy to Sonic Youth. Fiore concentrates, however, on the intense first phase. Was it really anarcho-Marxist? Sort of. Was the art-world transformed by it? Subtly, and not in exclusively anti-careerist ways. “We actually made galleries stronger than they ever were — precisely because we were doing the kind of things that people didn’t necessarily understand,” muses Acconci. “We formed the 80s without realizing it.” Personal fallout was dramatic too. Wood, a dancer and a key figure at FOOD, moved to Vermont in 1976:

I left New York because the very people I cared about were on a “death path,” you know? Because the way they were living was so extreme and it seemed like they had disregard for their own lives. They were going to die, and I didn’t want to stick around for it. And then Suzi died, Gordon died. There was a feeling during this time that it just couldn’t go on forever. And we really had had such a rich and full experience.

No utopia, after all, holds out forever against assimilation and crack-up. But is the story of its “rich and full” early years enticing, urban-mythical? Inescapably. 112 “was just a room, a big room where anything could happen,” Highstein says to Fiore. “It was a time when artists believed that every new work was going to change the world. We actually believed the works we were putting up had the power to change everything — that everything was being reinvented. It sounds really strange today, but we really believed it.”

112 Greene Street: The Early Years, 1970–1974is available at David Zwirner and other online booksellers.

 

New Yorker magazine
The Art World January 17, 2011 Issue
Proto Soho
Gordon Matta-Clark and 112 Greene Street.
By Peter Schjeldahl

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Table of Contents
A too short career: Matta-Clark’s “Small Graffiti: Truck Fragment” (1973), and the artist in “Hair” (1972).
A too short career: Matta-Clark’s “Small Graffiti: Truck Fragment” (1973), and the artist in “Hair” (1972). Credit PHOTOGRAPH BY (RIGHT): CAROL GOODDEN; BOTH: COURTESY ESTATE OF GORDON MATTA-CLARK / DAVID ZWIRNER

The doors were never locked at 112 Greene Street, a vast, decrepit, and virulently fecund artist-run gallery in the primeval SoHo of the early nineteen-seventies. Anyone could go in, at any hour, and do anything, amid semi-regular art shows that sometimes might be mistaken for collections of random debris. “In most galleries, you can’t scratch the floor,” Jeffrey Lew, an artist who owned the building—a former rag-scavenging plant—said at the time. “Here you can dig a hole in it.” In a new show at the David Zwirner gallery, surviving and reconstructed works evoke the scene at 112, minus its charismatic squalor, with primary focus on its leading light, the sculptor and architectural visionary Gordon Matta-Clark, who died at the age of thirty-five, in 1978. I remember a party at Matta-Clark’s Chrystie Street loft. Guests were required to bring whole fish from the Chinatown markets. These were tossed into an aluminum cauldron that dangled from chains over a jerry-rigged gas burner. The dubious stew was consumed when hunger, honed by marijuana, overcame discretion. One had a sense of belonging to a pioneer community, united in poverty and valor. (The happy-go-lucky gastronomy was of a piece with that of Food, a Prince Street restaurant run by and for artists, which Matta-Clark co-founded, in 1971.) The cauldron may have been one that he used to brew up masses of agar (seaweed gelatin), which, hung in leathery sheets on the walls, hosted visually lovely, worrisome microbial cultures, until it rotted away. Art in the early spirit of 112 tended to be nothing if not temporary. It was barely salable, in any case; and very little sold.

Matta-Clark was one of twin sons born to the Chilean Surrealist painter Roberto Matta and the American artist Anne Clark. (Matta-Clark’s brother, Sebastian Matta, was also a painter.) He studied architecture at Cornell, and French literature at the Sorbonne. In Paris, during the events of May, 1968, he was inspired by Guy Debord and the Situationists, who preached attitudes of resistance to what Debord called capitalism’s “Society of the Spectacle.” Back at Cornell in 1969, Matta-Clark assisted in a seminal show of earth art: geological capers by artists including Robert Smithson, Robert Morris, and Richard Long. He arrived in New York City later that year, at a moment made chaotic by economic recession and anti-Vietnam War fury. A rising generation of environmental artists beggared the finances and the physical spaces of even adventurous galleries, which were nearly all still small and uptown. Not for the first time, an avant-garde took form as an eddy in a mainstream unready for it. Launched in 1970 by Lew, in collaboration with Matta-Clark and the brilliant eccentric Alan Saret, who displayed crumples of wire on the floor, 112 led a nationwide wave of do-it-yourself “alternative spaces.” The glory days were brief. Artists who weren’t cherry-picked by dealers settled into government- and foundation-funded cocoons. Lew lamented, “Something special happened during the first three years, and after we got the grants it didn’t happen anymore.” The last really consequential show there was Susan Rothenberg’s big outline paintings of horses, in 1975, which presaged, with shocking force, an epochal return of painting to youthful favor.

Little-known works by Matta-Clark, whose estate is represented by the Zwirner gallery, dominate the new show, mainly drawings of abstracted tree forms and photographs of gaudy street and subway graffiti—a populist novelty then, which at once exacerbated and brightened the time’s cascading urban blight. Both motifs symbolized spontaneous creativity for Matta-Clark. On New Year’s Day, 1971, he planted a cherry tree in the basement of 112 and forced it, with infrared lamps, to blossom in winter. The next year, he mounted a photographic mural of a graffiti-laden subway car on a brick wall outside the back windows of the building’s ground floor. On another occasion, he glossed Marcel Duchamp’s classic jape of signing a urinal “R. Mutt” by importing a found, rag-festooned baby carriage from the street and listing its creator as “George Smudge.” The difference was a kind of urban naturalism, exalting the tumult of the city over the protocols of art space. Robert Rauschenberg’s famous wish to operate in the gap between art and life seems tentative by comparison; Matta-Clark’s approach was gap free. His too short career climaxed after 1973, when he convened a corps of architectural guerrillas, dubbed Anarchitecture, and began to carve voids into condemned structures: stripping a house near Love Canal, New York, of its front; bisecting a house in Englewood, New Jersey. Some interventions—admitting shafts of daylight into an abandoned Hudson River pier and riddling South Bronx apartment buildings with shapely holes—were illegal, but unchecked by authorities. (If you weren’t in New York then, you have no notion of its rampant disorder.) All anticipated the spatial inventions with which architects including Frank Gehry, a declared Matta-Clark fan, would demolish modernist geometry.

The show is curated by Jessamyn Fiore, a young playwright and curator whose mother is Jane Crawford, a filmmaker and Matta-Clark’s widow. For an upcoming book, Fiore has interviewed nineteen veterans of 112, including, notably, dancers who performed there often. A film in the show records a typically startling piece by Suzanne Harris: she and Rachel Wood (who was married to Jeffrey Lew) dancing in the air, their limbs attached to straps that, passed through overhead pulleys, make each woman the other’s puppeteer.

Sculptures in the show include a reconstructed carrot-shaped heap of fresh carrots on the floor by Larry Miller, from 1970, and, by the artist and dancer Tina Girouard, a handsome floor piece of patterned linoleum under a suspended ceiling of patterned fabric, from 1972 and 1973—a sally of Anarchitectural decoration, like the wallpaper that Matta-Clark made, in 1972, from photographs of demolition-exposed walls in the South Bronx, offset-printed in moody colors. Strikingly fine black-and-white photographs by Matta-Clark, from 1974, document found, quasi-architectural subjects—a collapsed building, a fenced array of floodlights in a graveyard. They are like New York ripostes, gritty and brutal, to Ed Ruscha’s influential picturing of clean, bland sites in Southern California. An edge of radical politics is tacit in such work, but hardly ever with the self-congratulatory air that is so tedious in the annals of conceptual art. Matta-Clark and his friends concentrated on how to change the world, not just on why.

Despite Matta-Clark’s reliable ebullience, the 112 cohort was not a cheerful bunch. Times were hard, and they were made harder. Sleek galleries and boutiques brought soaring rents to SoHo. Passionately co-dependent relationships predictably ran aground. These two factors took hold in 1978, when Matta-Clark died, of cancer. Jeffrey Lew and Rachel Wood divorced, and the increasingly bureaucratized gallery decamped to smaller quarters, on Spring Street, and became the alternative space White Columns, which survives today in the West Village. Suzanne Harris died of a heart attack, in 1979. A deeply troubled Sebastian Matta had died after falling from a window in Matta-Clark’s loft, in 1976. Wood told Fiore that she abandoned New York because she despaired of friends who, living recklessly, “were on a death path.” The suggestion of intermingled mania and depression jibes with my memories of the era, in which all days are overcast, if not slept through, between too eventful nights. But I marvel to recall, as well, an assumed dedication to authenticity, in life as in art, that shrugged off concerns of mere personal happiness, not to mention the trivia of conventional success. Jane Crawford quotes the artist David Bradshaw as saying, “Art was doing its job, tearing away its dead flesh, sweating out its poisons.” As good as this show is, the arduous and exhilarating 112 legacy merits a more comprehensive revisit. ♦

Robert Rauschenberg: Interviews, Images and Texts and Texts

Oral history interview with Robert Rauschenberg, 1965 Dec. 21

Rauschenberg, Robert , b. 1925 d. 2008
Painter, Printmaker, Assemblage artist, Collagist
Active in New York, N.Y.

Size: Transcript: 43 p.

Format: Originally recorded on 2 sound tapes. Reformated in 2010 as 4 digital wav files. Duration is 1 hr., 58 min.

Collection Summary: An interview of Robert Rauschenberg conducted 1965 Dec. 21, by Dorothy Seckler, for the Archives of American Art.

In this interview Rauschenberg speaks of his role as a bridge from the Abstract Expressionists to the Pop artists; the relationship of affluence and art; his admiration for de Kooning, Jack Tworkov, and Franz Kline; the support he received from musicians Morton Feldman, John Cage, and Earl Brown; his goal to create work which serves as unbiased documentation of his observations; the irrational juxtaposition that makes up a city, and the importance of that element in his work; the facsimile quality of painting and consequent limitations; the influence of Albers’ teaching and his resulting inability to do work focusing on pain, struggle, or torture; the ‘lifetime’ of painting and the problems of time relative symbolism; his feelings on the possibility of truly simulating chance in his work; his use of intervals, and its possible relation to the influence of Cage; his attempt to show as much drama on the edges of a piece as in the dead center; his belief in the importance of being stylistically flexible throughout a career; his involvement with the Stadtlijk Museum; his loss of interest in sculpture; his belief in the mixing of technology and aesthetics; his interest in moving to the country and the prospect of working with water, wind, sun, rain, and flowers; Ad Reinhardt’s remarks on his Egan Show; his discontinuation of silk screens; his illustrations for Life Magazine; his role as a non-political artist; his struggles with abstraction; his recent theater work “Map Room Two;” his white paintings; and his disapproval of value hierarchy in art.

Biographical/Historical Note: Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008) was a painter and photographer from New York, N.Y.

These interviews are part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and others.

Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America’s Treasures Program of the National Park Service.

How to Use this Interview

  • A transcript of this interview appears below.
  • The transcript of this interview is in the public domain and may be used without permission. Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Robert Rauschenberg, 1965 Dec. 21, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
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Interview Transcript

This transcript is in the public domain and may be used without permission. Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Robert Rauschenberg, 1965 Dec. 21, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Interview with Robert Rauschenberg
Conducted by Dorothy Seckler
In New York
December 21, 1965

Preface

The following oral history transcript is the result of a tape-recorded interview with Robert Rauschenberg on December 21, 1965. The interview was conducted in New York by Dorothy Seckler for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Interview

DS: Dorothy Seckler
RR: Robert Rauschenberg

DS: This is Dorothy Seckler interviewing Robert Rauschenberg in New York, on December 21, 1965. Robert, I have just been explaining to you why I am interested in taking the beginnings of this in terview back to around the period of 1950. Since critics so often discuss your work in terms of its being, as they suggest, a bridge between abstract expressionism and Pop art, it might be interest ing to see how very different it is, how distinct your attitudes and ideas were from either, and from the artists who were figures at either end of that bridge. You were in Algeria or in Casablanca, just before 1953, and perhaps that would be a good point at which to pick it up. You had come back to New York, and were having rather a struggle at that time. As I recall, you were supposed to have been living on Fulton Street on fifteen cents a day. Is that right?

RR: Some days it was twenty five.

DS: Well, one of the things that struck me about that period of struggle some of the people who have written about your work have said that the reason that you were able to take a position of accepting your environment, as opposed to the abstract expressionists, who were rebellious against theirs, was because or they said this about Pop artists in general because the artist was much better treated during this period than he had been when the abstract expressionists were coming along. Now here you still were, after having had some very notable shows at Betty Parsons and, I believe, at Egan. And still this period was a struggle. So apparently your attitudes weren’t being too much influenced by affluence.

RR: I think one of the main differences in my attitude and that of some of the abstract expressionists was based on the fact that my natural point of view was never cultivated, that the creative process somehow has to include adjusting realistically to the situation. I don’t think any one person, whether artist or not, has been given permission by anyone to put the responsibility of the way things are on anyone else. I just don’t find it a very interesting moti vation to work with the idea that things are difficult, or that I won’t accept the fact that things are easy. I think with afflu ence, which was very foreign to me during the period we’re talking about, there are new complications. If you don’t have trouble paying the rent, you have trouble doing something else; one needs just a certain amount of trouble. Some people need more trouble to operate and some people need less. And I felt very rich in being able to pick up Con Edison lumber from the streets and whatever the day would lay out for me to use in my work. In fact, so much so, that sometimes it embarrasses me that I live in New York City as though I’m a guest here.

DS: So that you didn’t feel like a hero, being an artist and working under difficulty.

RR: Well, I think that’s much too easy a way to be a hero.

DS: Perhaps the word hero slips in there because at this time there was a kind of attitude among a number of the artists of taking a rather heroic stance. Perhaps, this is really something that the critics opposed almost more than the artists, but there was a feeling of the artist having a role outside of society, let’s say, and sometimes it could become almost a Messianic role with certain artists. This was not, of course, general. It was part of the attitude that emerged. As you were sitting in club meetings at
the Cedar Bar, listening to discussions of that more rebellious attitude, that feeling that the artist has a special role to oppose
the demands and the ways of a commercial, materialistic society, can you remember any particular feelings that you had? Or ways in which you expressed them to yourself or to anybody else at that time?

RR: Well, I don’t know how accurately I remember. It was certainly a lot more complicated and I felt more involved than probably my generalization about it now. But I was in awe of the painters; I mean I was new in New York, and I thought the painting that was going on here was just unbelievable. I still think that Bill de Kooning is one of the greatest painters in the world. And I liked Jack Tworkov, himself and his work. And Franz Kline. But I found a lot of artists at the Cedar Bar were difficult for me to talk to. It almost seemed as though there were so many more of them sharing some common idea than there was of me, and at that time the people who gave me encouragement in my work weren’t so much the painters, even my contemporaries, but a group of musicians that were working: Morton Feldman, and John Cage, and Earl Brown, and the dancers that were around this group. I felt very natural with them. There was something about the self assertion of abstract expressionism that personally always put me off, because at that time my focus was as much in the opposite direction as it could be. I was busy trying to find ways where the imagery and the material and the meanings of the painting would be not an illustration of my will but more like an unbiased documentation of my observations, and by observations I mean that literally of my excitement about the way in the city you have on one lot a forty story building and right next to it you have a little wooden shack. One is a parking lot and one is this maze of offices and closets and windows where everything is so crowded. And I remember I was talking to someone about this one time, and they said well, you know, parking lots are the most valuable real estate in New York City because there’s absolutely no overhead. And I thought this is so absurd, all these officious looking buildings and actually, the best business would be not to have a building at all. I’m getting a little off the subject now.

DS: No, I think that’s fascinating, Bob.

RR: It was this constant, irrational juxtaposition of things that I think one only finds in the city. One doesn’t find that in the
country. I had traveled quite a lot in Europe just previously and I didn’t find it there either. There’s a kind of an architectural
harmony. Whether it’s chauvinism or patriotism anyway, there’s something that tended to unite the people. And so everything
abroad that I came in contact with was so much more coherent or cohesive than I found New York. And I think that even today, New York still has more of this unexpected quality around every corner than any place else. It’s something quite extraordinary.

DS: Yes. Are there particular sections of the city that appeal to you more than others?

RR: Well, I like way downtown near the Battery. I lived down there at this time and for, I guess, the following well, this is where I moved to uptown and I’ve been here for four years and this is 1965. And this is as far uptown as I’ve lived except for one period in my life when my wife was carrying my son and under the insistence of my mother in law we got a ground floor apartment and lived sensibly for about a year or a year and a half. But I like that area down there because maybe there the contract is even more emphasized; it’s more dramatic. On one side of town you have the largest pet store in New York, with all kinds of wonderful animals. At that time they had the Washington Market; that was the only one in the city where you could get all kinds of fresh vegetables and meat. It was like a farmer’s market and imported cheeses. Then, right within the same block they had wholesale plant places. The flower district is up around 26th Street, but this was a different kind of area. And in the next block they had surplus hardware stores galore. And electronic equipment. And then across town, you had the Fulton fish market. The two were separated only by big business. And during the day, the streets would be so filled with people that it looked like an ant hill that had just been kickedtrover. And then Bam at six o’clock you could hear footsteps three blocks away. And the buildings were the tallest there. I always like being close to water if I have the choice. And if the roasting of coffee wasn’t too strong, you could always smell the fish market. I think that is a very rich part of town.

DS: Yes.

RR: But I don’t find the rest of the city lacking in this quality I’m talking about. Every time I’ve moved, my work has changed
radically. And I think that if it didn’t change radically naturally, then I’d do something about it and I’d force it to change. In
this place the light is so different you can’t till so much because it’s a gray day but sometimes the light is so white in
here, it’s not to be believed, because of these skylights. And that’s a very different kind of light from other studios that I’ve been in where the ceilings weren’t as high, but maybe the windows were bigger, and so there you’d get the light as it reflected, as it bounced off the floor and it would always be warmed up. All these things I think are the well, they certainly, I’d say, are the job of an artist to move with these things as though they are additional qualities rather than an attitude about painting which makes one move into a place and force on it a particular working atmosphere that they remember as being the one that they like. And I think that carries through I think that attitude also makes a different kind of painting. And whereas my work was never a protest of what was going on, it was only the expression of my own involvement, it always had the possibility of being some other way. But if it were, I guess I’d have to be someone else.

DS: This is all so fascinating, the feelings you had about the city. I can recall that I was told that Franz Kline when he took a place had something covering the window nailed up. I’m very fond of Franz Kline and his work, but it does illustrate a kind of different attitude toward a way of responding to what’s around you, yours, as contrasted to some of the feelings of people at that time. Of course, in other ways, you and Franz might have easily shared a sympathy. I can remember the talk he gave at the Museum of Modern Art in which Shredded Wheat played a very important part. Do you remember that talk?

RR: No.

DS: It was on abstract expressionism, and all the critics, Aline Saarinen, and I don’t remember who else, had all spoken very intellectually; and Franz got up and just went on for, oh, a long, long time about the different things, about getting up, and Shredded Wheat right in close to the experience of the moment.

RR: He was beautiful with some pet words like that; Nanook of the North was one of them that he played with. And also his idea about somehow London was the answer to all the good ideas in taste. And Princess Margaret was his idea of when a girl was really beautiful, “like Princess Margaret.” I mean it was just a feeling he had; it was all an abstraction. I don’t think he wanted everybody to look English or anything but it was a style.

DS: I can remember one time when I was in the Cedar Bar and I was wearing a suit that had rather nice tailoring and he came up and said, “Ah, that looks like a suit with English tailoring. Wasn’t that made in London?” It wasn’t, as a matter of fact. But it was so surprising to me because, you know, from everything I knew about Franz and his way of life, elegance of that kind was not something that I would have expected him to be concerned with.

RR: And he wasn’t.

DS: No, I’m sure he wasn’t.

RR: It was just one of his fantasies.

DS: Yes. It was a very interesting fantasy. You’re quite right. Using the word elegance reminds me of something else that I wanted to ask you about at this time, and I think it can easily be cleared up. I recall reading Mr. Tompkins’ very interesting article in The New Yorker about how you began collecting waste materials from where you were living, as you said, the Con Edison wood and so on. It was sort of an implication that the reason the materials were inelegant or everyday, ordinary things, was because you were poor and those were the things that were around. Well, there might have been an implication that if you had been living in a posh environ ment then you might have included, let’s say, gold chandeliers and so on. Then I later came across the reminder that you had made a kind of collage with gold leaf and one very similar in toilet paper.

RR: Right.

DS: So it made an interesting comment on each other.

RR: That was earlier… it was right after the all black and all white pictures. And there had been a lot of critics who shared the idea with a lot of the public that they couldn’t see black as color or as pigment, but they immediately moved into associations and the associations were always of destroyed newspapers, of burned newspapers. And that began to bother me. Because I think that I’m never sure of what the impulse is psychologically. I don’t mess around with my subconscious. I mean I try to keep wide awake. And if I see in the superficial subconscious relationships that I’m familiar with, cliches of association, I change the picture. I always have a good reason for taking something out but I never have one for putting something in. And I don’t want to, because that means that the picture is being painted predigested. And I think a painting has such a limited life anyway. Very quickly a painting is turned into a facsimile of itself when one becomes so familiar with with it that one recognizes it without looking at it. I think that’s just a natural phenomenon. It may be I think it is even an important one. I don’t think that we have the strength over a period of years to see things always as though we hadn’t ever looked at them before to see them new. There may be someone that you’re very close to and you see them every day. If they take a two weeks’ trip or you take a two weeks’ trip, it’s only for about the first fifteen minutes when you’re back together that you notice how they have changed from the idea that you have of the way they look. And then one’s readjusted. I think the same thing happens to painting. So if you do work with known quantities making, puns or dealing symbolically with your materials, I think you’re shortening the life of the work even before it’s had a chance to be exposed. I mean, it hasn’t had a life of its own. It’s already leading someone else’s life.

DS: That’s a fascinating point.

RR: And when I did the well, as I said, I wasn’t sure that I really might have been using materials because they were old or liked black with newspaper because of the burned out look. But I certainly didn’t like the idea of tortured, tarred, because I don’t think that you torture newspaper. A newspaper that you’re not reading can be used for anything; and the same people didn’t think it was immoral to wrap their garbage in newspaper. And I think, you know, that that’s a very positive use for a newspaper. So I did a painting, or a couple of each, one in toilet paper collage, trying to duplicate it in gold leaf. And I studied both paintings very carefully and I saw no advantage to either. I mean, whatever one was saying the other seemed to be able to be just as articulate. So that I knew then that it was someone else’s problem, not mine.

SIDE TWO

RR: We have an auxiliary in case your tape machine isn’t working, which is your memories.

DS: My memory is a very poor auxiliary. What you’re saying is fascinating and I would be desolate indeed if the machine didn’t work. Just to keep in the general period; we’ve jumped about a bit which I’m happy about; back before when you mentioned the black paintings and, of course, the black paintings belong to the same period as the white paintings.

RR: Yes. Excuse me, you know you were talking about the difference in my work during those years and the work that was going on?

DS: Yes.

RR: There was a whole language that I could never make function for myself in relationship to painting and that was attitudes like tortured, struggle, pain. And I never could I don’t know whether it was from my Albers training or my own personal hangup, but I never could see those qualities in paint.

DS: You had, of course, seen them in life.

RR: I could see them in life. And I could see them in representational art that illustrates that fact pictorially. But I never saw in the materials this conflict and I knew that it had to be in the attitude of the painter and a kind of interpretation of the attitude that existed separately, so that if in the future one were to lose the idea that those paintings were made from that it would be very possible to have a completely different attitude about the painting.

DS: Tie were speaking before about the life of a painting and the instability of perception in regard to painting. I think it was Duchamp who had a theory that it’s true that the painting has a lifetime; I think he said fifteen years, I’m not sure do you remember that?

RR: Yes.

DS: Then apparently, however, it comes back into perception for another generation or for posterity possibly on some other basis. And this is what you’re saying now that if two hundred years from now when black may have all sorts of other associations …

RR: Right.

DS: This anguish that was being put in by some abstract expressionist might not be perceived, but the painting may have a different life. In other words, they may bring some other qualities.:.

RR: I think necessarily it will. I’m sure we don’t read old paintings the way they were intended.

DS: No.

RR: I think it is what may be part of my naivete but I think that painting being as extreme as it is now, and it was only extreme in the past by degrees, at this moment in New York you have old masters, new masters, no masters, people painting in all kinds of styles and they all celebrate a certain amount of recognition and tolerance and communication between each other.

DS: If I may say so, you had something to do with it, because at the time when you came on the scene, this was not so.

RR: It didn’t feel like it; I know that. I felt very isolated, but I felt reasonably isolated. I mean I thought there was a good basis for the separation because the points of view were very different.

DS: Did you feel at the same time that the position of some of the abstract expressionists had also opened the way for you? In the sense I’m thinking of this, that at least one of the main results of their point of view had been to restore to the painting a sense of its being an object. Here I’m thinking perhaps even more of we haven’t mentioned Rothko but the idea came in at one point, of the painting as an environment. Barnett Newman told me that he even urged he put a sign in an exhibition saying, “Move up close to the painting.”

RR: Yes.

DS: In other words, not looking at it from a distance, but there it is as an object. Well, while your attitude of what you were going to do with that object was completely different, it was a canvas right in front of you; it was a two dimensional phenomenon; it was a phenomenon like other objects.

RR: Yes.

DS: Would that have been important?

RR: Yes, I’m sure that the climate for my involvement was right. Pollock also … wanted one to be wrapped in the painting. And also the new excitement and variety of ways that the abstract expressionists were applying paint. You could put it on as though it were colored air and it would be painting. Or you could stack it on so thick that it would be a relief. And all of this, all these physical aspects of painting at that time excited me very much. You could do a picture in just black and white. I mean all the things, whether you’re soliciting permission or not, do give you permission.

DS: Did you ever do any pictures in which the pigment was applied in an airy way? Or were you always more apt to work with a very active brush, and so on?

RR: I remember how at different times I had different preoccupations. One of my preoccupations at a period was that I wouldn’t use the same color when I broke loose from those monochromes. And it was after the red. I wouldn’t use the same color in a picture in more than one place. And another was, even though it was an intellectual idea and with its built in limitations, I tried to imply with the different ways that the paint went on, that even though I might know only seventeen that there were thousands.

DS: Coming back to the other thing that you mentioned that you had been at that time very closely associated with John Cage and with other musicians I know that many people have assumed that because of your association, that accident and a philosophy, an outlook of accident was important to your work, since it had apparently been in Cage’s. And I gather that this was not your feeling, that you were once quoted as saying that you didn’t believe in accident any more than anything else. Was that a strongly developed attitude?

RR: I was very interested in many of John’s chance operations. Each one seemed quite unique to me. I liked the sense of experimentation that he was involved in. But painting is just a different medium and I never could figure out an interesting way to use any kind of programmed activity. And even though chance deals with the unexpected and the unplanned, it still has to be organized before it can exist. I think maybe chance works better in a situation like music because music exists over a period of time, and you don’t maintain constantly the you can’t refer back from one area to another area. One’s familiarity or lack of familiarity with time is very different from, say, the size of a canvas, which is what I would compare it to. One can see that a canvas is six feet by eight feet, say, quite accurately. But you can spend two minutes and think it’s five, or thirty seconds and it’s just a different bed for activities there. The only thing that I could get with chance, and I never was able to use it, was that I would end up with something quite geometric or the spirit that I was interested in, indulging in, was gone. I felt as though I was carrying out an idea rather than witnessing an unknown idea taking shape. If this is called accident I certainly used accident, and I certainly used the fact that wet paint will run, and lots of other things. It seems to me it’s just a kind of friendly relationship with your material where you want them for what they are rather than for what you could make out of them. I did a twenty foot print and John Cage is involved in that because he was the only person I knew in New York who had a car and who would be willing to do this. And I poured paint on one Sunday morning. I glued, it must have been fifty sheets of paper together; it was the largest paper I had, and stretched it out on the street. He had an A Model Ford then and he drove through the paint and on to the paper and he only had the direction to try to stay on the paper. And he did a beautiful job of it. Now I consider that my print. It’s just like working with lithography. You may not be a qualified printer but there again, like the driver of the car, someone who does know the press very well collaborates with you and they are part of the machinery just as you are part of another necessary aspect that it takes to make anything. Would you call that accident?

DS: Actually, I’m not sure I’d call anything accident. When paint drips it’s like an insurance company say a man crosses the street and is hit by a car. To that particular individual, it is an accident. But to insurance companies who have tables showing how many people will be hit by a car that year, it’s an expected event.

RR: Yes.

DS: And in a sense though you don’t know exactly where a drip will run, it may wiggle a little in the middle, you know that there’s gravity and you know that paint will drip and so on.

RR: You know that it’s not going to run up.

DS: That’s right. So there’s a certain element in which some of the things that were called chance weren’t.

RR: Anyway, they weren’t all done with I know maybe this is what you’re getting at they weren’t done with some kind of wild abandon where you just shut your eyes and throw things about.

DS: Yes. Well, I don’t think anyone ever imagines that would be possible. Now one other thing that I thought might be a parallel ….

RR: I’m not saying that they’re better for it. But that just never interested me.

DS: …was the use of intervals because I understand in John Cage’s work that he often emphasizes interval and waiting and silences a great deal. And I notice that you have also emphasized leaving open spaces in your paintings and areas in which there is less happening and those work very beautifully in relationship to the things that are happening very fast in other parts of the canvas; and I thought perhaps that there may have been a kind of sharing of feeling about this kind of thing, of the importance of interval and openness.

RR: Well, it’s no secret that we admired each other’s work very much, and still do. But I think that those are like some feeling of variety within a restricted area that are important to if you’re dealing with multiplicity and variation and inclusion as your content, then any feeling of a complete feeling of consistence or sameness is a violation of that attitude; and I had to work consciously to do work that would imply the kind of richness and complexity that I saw around me; and I think those things just got into it. One of my painter friends says I’m awfully good at the edges. It was intended as a joke but I think that that may be true; but there’s been a conscious attempt for me to treat any area whether I only have half an inch more before I hit the wall, or whether it’s dead center, to not treat any one area with a kind of dramatic preference. I dealt with that several ways. One is with a kind of simple minded formal idea about composition by just putting something of no consequence dead center so that when you look there, yes, there it is, but you see that certainly doesn’t matter any more than anything else; that’s not what the center is for. So that ideas of sort of relaxed symmetry have been something for years that I have been concerned with because I think that symmetry is a neutral shape as opposed to a form of design.

DS: There’s quite an important group of younger painters now who are interested in symmetry and in a sense it almost returns to something Byzantine it seems to me.In a curious way the whole thing seems to have come full circle. Whereas your work has always seemed almost the most opposite of Byzantine. There’s no sense of hierarchy at all; you can’t make a hierarchy out of things in your paintings. Nothing can be assigned a position beyond or above anything else so that the relativism is complete, I’d say, as opposed to the structure, which moves up from a base to a high point in which every position is fixed. This is an aside, and I don’t want to take up too much time, but I just wondered in passing how you react to the importance that these new painters are giving to symmetrical design, all over and symmetrically centered.

RR: I enjoy most of it. I think I said this earlier, but I have never felt that one way of working excludes another. In fact, I think
that one of the aspects of my work that I criticize myself for the most is the fact that so many people recognized it as a way of working, as an end in itself, so that the influence that the work has had on other artists to work in what I think they would call the same direction is really one of the work’s weaknesses. And I have forced myself well, if I were interested in styles, I’ve run
through a good many.

DS: That you have.

RR: And it’s always a pleasure to give them up because I feel if one takes an overall point of view, sees my work in general as, you know, massed, then I think that that point can be made. I’m not so facile that I can accomplish or find out what I want to know or explore enough of the possibilities and a way of making a painting, say, in just one painting or two paintings. Sometimes a period of say, silk screen, or all those all red paintings or the ones that I did after the all red ones which I called pedestrian colors. Maybe one will be made up of thirty paintings, maybe one will be made up of fifteen paintings. I can’t tell. There’s no desire to mount. I use as a guide for this, when things seem to work out consistently. It takes three or four paintings to really decide whether you’re just having a lucky streak or whether you have somehow within yourself made some accomplishment that lets working this way be easier for you, where you’re more apt to be successful than unsuccessful. And then when I definitely decide that that’s the case, well then it’s just gone. I mean I just start something else. And I never seem to have any particular problem about like people say, what are you going to do next? And usually while I’m working one way, there’s another attitude that’s growing which as often as not is a reaction from what I’m doing.

DS: Almost the reverse of it perhaps?

RR: Yes.

DS: Would that have been the case just before your show that was called Oracle? I mean how did that very different adventure come about? Well, I suppose it wasn’t so different from some of the objects you’d made before.

RR: Oracle was I had started it I guess two and a half years ago, maybe even longer than that, closer to three. And it was going
to be a radio painting but a concert variation. I did Broadcast, a painting that has three radios in it but only two tuning knobs,
one for volume and one for tuning. And I objected to the fact that one had to be standing so close to the picture that the sound
didn’t seem to be using the space and the way the images were react ing to each other. And that was all right. That was one aspect of it. But through that, having made that and feeling that limita tion with that piece, I wanted to do something that was remote control, that could be separated in the room. I had some canvases stretched, but it took so long I needed help with the radios. And it took so long for me to find the help that I used the paintings for something else. Then later I decided that was a good idea because once I started seeing what was involved I saw that with the weight problem, and the depth the painting would have to be to house the equipment, that painting was the wrong form for that to take. So I started on a sculpture. Then I went to Amsterdam to work at the Stadtlijk Museum with what was going to be a collaboration of about five artists, or six. And because I was working in sculpture, I had three weeks; we found that our ideas were so different that it was very difficult to get together and just make a piece.

DS: Was that with Tinguely? Was he one of the people?

RR: Yes, Tinguely, Niki de Saint Phalle, Per Utvet, Martial Raysse, Daniel Spurry.

TAPE NO. 2

DS: This is Dorothy Seckler continuing a tape with Robert Rauschenberg on December 21, 1965. At the point where we had left off in our previous reel you had mentioned your participation or intended participation with a group of other artists at the Stadtlijk Museum in Holland. I think we might take up at this point what actually happened to that project.

RR: Right. The form that the exhibition took finally was that each person just picked a part of the museum. It was a very interesting experiment for the museum, by the way, because they wanted the artists, instead of just shipping and picking a lot of work, they trusted the artists that they picked to respond in this time in some way or another, doing works that they would show whatever the artist made. I thought that was kind of beautiful for a museum.

DS: Yes.

RR: And the artists were given a salary; they were given money for materials and all the transportation.

DS: And a studio, I assume?

RR: Well, the Museum itself functioned as a studio. They had emptied out about, well it’s a very large museum and we took, I think, almost a quarter of the museum. And each artist then just picked a spot in the museum that he wanted to work and just started in that area. So I was working with the sculpture which became Oracle with the radios. And painting didn’t really interest me. So in a kind of crash program of three weeks I made four pieces of sculpture and some of them quite large. One of them is about ten or twelve feet high and was very densely massed, about eight feet by five feet, and twelve feet high. That was by far the largest work. But I’m not really a sculptor in any traditional sense. I tend to work with materials that are a little heavier and put them together as practically as I can. By being a sculptor, I mean I don’t weld or solder.

DS: How did you put them together?

RR: Just with bolts and nails and wire. And I was working alone. I could have had help there except that the way I work I can never tell anybody what to do to help me unless it is just a very simple thing like “drill three holes here.” And there wasn’t enough of that kind of work for me to warrant my getting over the language barrier. I mean by the time I could have told someone how little they could help me, I could have done it three times myself. But then that had its disadvantages because a lot of the material I was working with it was a very large room and things were in that scale were really too heavy for me. So it was practically disastrous to my health. I was laid up for weeks afterwards. And not to mention the cuts and bruises dealing with airplane parts and things falling. So by the time I left there I had worked so frantically, because I started running out of time, too, and the last week I never even went home from the museum. If I got terribly tired, I’d just lie down on the floor for a few minutes. Because there was no way, as you know, there’s no way of hurrying some things. There’s no way of anticipating how much time it’s going to take. At a certain time you just are through. And I still worked on it a couple of days after the exhibition opened.

DS: Had the sound equipment been sent over there?

RR: No, I didn’t have sound then. I wasn’t continuing this piece, you see. The pieces I made did happen to have sound, but it wasn’t radio sound. I had an electric air pump attached loosely enough as part of the sculpture so that the vibrations of the motor would make a constant rattle and then the air went into a large tub of water and you had this bubbling all the time in contrast with the …

DS: But the water didn’t run freely?

RR: No, it was a closed thing. It was just that the air passing through it made this gurgling. And another piece had clocks that had all been tampered with. We had nine large clocks in it all running at different speeds, some just zipping around and others, you know, barely moving.

DS: Did that interest you?

RR: I got so I was really just sick of sculpture. Nothing appealed to me more when I got back than the gentility of a beautifully
stretched piece of canvas. I couldn’t break anything as I crossed the room, and if it fell on me it wouldn’t hurt a bit. So that
the piece then that I was working on, the radio piece, was put aside. And then I just worked on it from time to time, mostly in rela tionship to the experimentation with the radios to see how that would work. I came back from tour recently with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company and I’m going to move my studio. I had had my silk screens destroyed while I was gone so that I wouldn’t fall back on that. I really wanted to work. I think there’s something about moving and coming back that before you can begin on something new well, I find it morally difficult to simply abandon a work and I got very interested in the sculpture again. I made two addition al pieces and worked on the sound, and so on.

DS: Has it continued to interest you since then? I mean, are you likely to resume?

RR: I think the radio piece probably is the closest thing to what I’m about to do next as one can predict without knowing where one’s going, because I like very much that mixture of technology and aesthetics.

DS: I was interested in what you said last time we talked, I think, about the sound having been important in shifting the focus of the audience, in a sense, in that insuring a certain movement through the exhibition …

RR: Literally.

DS: Literally, yes.

RR: You had a sense of distance that as often as not was distorted. You had the feeling possibly of knowing where you were but where you were was lost.

DS: That’s very expressive. And another thing that you had mentioned which we haven’t recorded was your feeling that it was important that the sound frequencies, that the radio sources, be actual ones, not taped; and your feeling that if you had been able to tape them, it would have been rather like commercial art in that not being an actual …

RR: Yes.

DS: Would you like to enlarge on that in any way?

RR: No, I think that just about says it. I like for the sound to be as fresh as the daily fall of the dust and rust and dirt that
accumulates,.which doesn’t mean that one doesn’t clean it off from time to time. But then that’s another thing. It’s an actuality
of a literal insistence on the piece’s operating and existing in the time situation that it’s observed in. It’s another one of those
things trying to put off the death of the work.

DS: Yes. Did I hear you mention before that you had in mind possibly using at some time in the future a piece in which the wind might work as an actual force?

RR: Yes. I’d like to work with wind and water and plants. It sounds like it’s going to be a garden, but I don’t think it’s going to be, but if it turns out to be a garden that may be my own sneaky way of moving out into the country. I hope I don’t pick this new building out just in order to discover that what I really needed was a farm. In fact, having two dogs now is also an indication that I’m trying to get out.

DS: I think so. Siberian dogs are going to be moving you out into the great open spaces any moment.

RR: Maybe it’s bigger than I am.

DS: I think that would be the cream of the jest for the art world: that the man who was sort of responsible for introducing the whole urban environment into painting moves to the country and becomes a collaborator with sun and wind and rain and flowers.

RR: And beaches.

DS: And beaches, yes. That would be very beautiful.

RR: I might move out there and find that all the work is finished. At that point I might just become a collector of vegetables … and I could be a critic on waves.

DS: Yes. And I could come into the studio and start fooling around with some of this lovely stuff here.

RR: Right.

DS: The bit about the other end of that bridge that we started off with sometime ago, I realize that the point about inclusiveness makes a question about your responses to your so called descendents in Pop art perhaps superfluous. But I thought it might be kind of interesting to try to separate in any way that we can the distinct differences that exist between your outlook and those of some of the leading Pop artists. Of course we haven’t really done all of our in between traveling to bring us up to the point where Pop art appeared. You did mention at some point that you saw a great many people taking what you had sone as a kind of well, simply new kinds of materials, collaging and tires and posters and so on as a new aesthetic element without taking along with it or perceiving that there was a great deal more involved than unorthodox materials.

RR: I don’t think there’s anything really wrong with influence because I think that one can use another man’s art as material either literally or just implying that they’re doing that, without it representing a lack of a point of view. But I also like seeing people using materials that one is not accustomed to seeing in art because I think that has a particular value. New materials have fresh associations of physical properties and qualities that have built into them the possibility of forcing you or helping you do something else. I think it’s more difficult to constantly be experimenting with paint over a period of many, many years. Like Ad Reinhardt said to me one day, and I took it as a compliment until he had finished his remark. He said, “I saw your show.” I think it was the Egan show. He said, “I saw your exhibition.” He said, “Those are very good pictures.” And I said, “Thank you:” And he said, “Yes, it’s too bad.” He said, “Somehow we just can’t help but get better.” And I couldn’t agree with him more.

DS: And I suppose that explains your destruction of the silk screens that everyone was so fascinated by. Does that mean that you don’t ever …?

RR: That’s my own personal relationship with them. It doesn’t mean that I won’t ever use silk screens again. I just don’t have any appetite for them now. But it would have been very easy to come back after being away from the studio for eight months and simply pick up, even though the concepts and the sense of the construction, the choice of color and all of that might have been different. I think the temptation to just use the screens I already had made would have been too great. And I think it’s important for an artist to know his weakness and use it well. I think that the difference in the work that I would have done with silk screen after I got back from the tour and being away from painting would not have been as great as it will be, because I’m having to work in some entirely different medium.

DS: I suppose I should ask this while it’s on my mind. You have, of course, resumed work with silk screen in connection with a commission from Life?

RR: Yes.

DS: … To do a series dealing with the theme of Dante.

RR: I had intended to do that with lithography, but there was a, I don’t know what you’d call it, a legal question there. It’s absurd to do a single print as elaborate as that would have to have been. I mean, it’s just uneconomical. In making prints, one of the values is that you can make several copies or that it is possible to have an edition. And the legal tie up there was that if Life Magazine commissions a work, it has to have an exclusive. I would have had to have made an edition of one. So then I thought, well, how will I get all this photographic material down, and I thought of silk screens. I had about twenty five photographs, because the scale was magazine scale, reduced to one screen. And it was like having just that many palettes but instead of lots of colors laid out you had all of these images on one surface.

DS: It was a very handsome and very provocative piece. One of the things that I’m sure you’ve been asked a great deal about the Life piece is something dealing with its imagery. The various photographic materials deal with areas in contemporary life that are readily identifiable the Negro question, the Jewish issue, the atom explosion, the bomb, concentration camps, apparently I’ not sure exactly where the photomontage of bodies came from.

RR: Yes, it is.

DS: And in a most exciting way. The question that I suppose occurred to me was that well, Mr. Sullivan and other people who have written about your work have always insisted that your intention was one of creating an imagery which remained ambiguous, which could not be pinned down, which could not be directly related to issues. And also, of course, it has been said, or I think perhaps people were interpreting at least what you had said yourself, as taking no position in any attitude of reform concerning the world we live in. Does this represent an exception to that attitude?

RR:No, personally I do take a stance in questions like race issues and atrocities of all sorts. But the Dante illustration one of the problems there was that I was illustrating.

DS: Yes.

RR: Some one asked me yesterday if I really see today as being all made up of hell. And, of course, no is the answer to that.
But if one is illustrating hell, one uses the properties that make hell. I’ve never thought that problems were so simple political
ly that they could, by me anyway, be tackled directly. But every day by consistently doing what you do with the attitude that you do it, if you have strong feelings those things are expressed over a period of time or in a few words as opposed to, say, one Guernica.

DS: Yes.

RR: And that’s just a different attitude. When I was working on Dante, it was during the election year with Nixon and Kennedy. A historian will be able to read that that’s when the Dante thing was done. So that I have never thought that well, I consider the other for me anyway, almost a commercial attitude of illustrating your feelings about something self consciously. If you feel strongly, it’s going to show there. I mean, that’s the only way it can come into my work. And I believe it’s there. The one thing that has been consistent about my work is that there has been an attempt to use the very last minutes in my life and the particular location as the source of energy and inspiration, rather than retiring to some kind of other time, or dream, or idealism. I think cultivated protest is just as dreamlike as idealism. Does that answer that?

DS: Yes, I think it answers it very beautifully.

RR: When I started the Dante illustrations the idea really was to see. I had been working purely abstractly for so long, it was important for me to see whether I was working abstractly because I couldn’t work any other way, or whether I was doing it out of choice. So I really welcomed, insisted, on the challenge of being restricted by a particular subject, which meant that I would have to be involved in symbolism. I mean the illustration has to be read. It has to relate to something that already is in existence. Well, I spent two and a half years deciding yes, I could do that. And I think that all these things that you do it seems to me they can sound rather schoolroomish, like insisting that you make yourself do this to see if you can do it. But it’s so easy to be undisciplined. And to be disciplined is so against my character, my general nature anyway, that I have to strain a little bit to keep on the right track.

End of Side One
Side Two

DS: You were just talking about disciplines when I interrupted.

RR: I think that one of the reasons that I have been so preoccupied with theatre is that it has in an extreme form two of the things that I like. I like the necessary control that one has to have in order to work with other people to put on a piece of theatre. One has to be on the one hand extremely aware of things like tape recorders and what time a piece starts; the responsibility with the lights; one has to have an understanding of the light board; one has to communicate clearly with whoever is running the light board. It’s just the opposite end of the kind of freedom that one has to then necessarily be involved with in order to do the piece. And I think I try to do pieces where every move is not choreographed, but it is planned and there’s a great deal of open trust within an image on the stage. I’m talking about the performance now, as opposed to the discipline of the organization that makes the performance possible, makes it possible for you to see one, or to get to the theater on time, or have the show ready to start. Within the image, there is a kind of freedom that allows one to be much better one time and not as good another. As in painting, it may be the same color, but sometimes red looks better than it does in other paintings. It’s a combination of the necessary co existence of the known and the unknown in a positive relationship, a constructive relationship to each other. Without one or the other, the event wouldn’t be possible. I guess it’s a kind of a fight against dualism, using dualism as using both yes and no at the same time to say yes, I hope.

DS: I was fascinated by the Happening that you presented in the past few weeks, the imagery, the action. References were very beautiful and very inexplicit. I wondered if there’s anything you’d like to say about the way the sequence developed, or, the first impulses that may have brought it about and how it was changed perhaps by people who were in it and by other circumstances.

RR: I don’t call my theatre pieces Happenings. Because of my involvement with theatre through dance, I think I’d refer to them as dance theatre or maybe just theatre or anything else, because my understanding of Happenings is that they came out of a desire painters had who were working with objects, or objects were their content, their subject, a desire to animate those materials. I think mine I think mine comes out of really quite a traditional response to dance. The way I begin is by just having an idea and then if that idea isn’t enough, I have another idea, and a third, and a fourth, and composition could be described as an attempt to mass all these things in such a way that they don’t contrast or interfere with each other, that you never set up a sense of cause and effect or contrast like black and white; but that they either calmly or less calmly just happen to exist at the same time. So one of my main problems in composing a piece is how to get something started and how to get it stopped without breaking a sense of the whole unit that more or less should look continuous and anti climactic, or I don’t know the word for it when one thing simply follows another progressive. Progressive relationship with the elements. And it’s very much the way I work with the paintings. They’re the same kinds of problems.

DS: Yes. Does the performance have a title? I’m sorry I didn’t get a program.

RR: Yes. Map Room Two. The first Map Room was a sketch, really, for what became Map Room Two, which was done at Goddard College, just going up there and staying a week, and at the end of the week giving a performance, working with things that were there and having the ideas on the spot. It would have been impossible to do Map Room One in a theatre, the Cinematek Theatre, where I did Map Room Two, because of just the difference in the architecture of the place. And when it’s at all possible, I like to draw people’s attention to the fact that this is a different place that they’re in, rather than assuming that the stage is where all the magic action is. There was very little to do with the Cinematek that way.

DS: With the white cards?

RR: That’s right. Actually that did move out into the audience.

DS: Yes.

RR: That the audience, which had it been an average situation would have been an inactive part, just on the receiving end of the theatre experience, became a necessary element by using their cooperation, first voluntarily asking them to put the white cardboards on their backs …

DS: Then the lights played over them.

RR: And then using the cardboards as a movie screen …

DS: That was great.

RR: Which if you’d been sitting in the first row, you wouldn’t even have known it was happening, probably.

DS: I liked that. There was another sequence that was interesting in relationship perhaps to your painting although, of course, most of it was related more to dancing. The sequence in which you erased an image into existence, instead of out of existence, I thought was beautiful.

RR: I hadn’t thought of that.

DS: Well, it did seem very much related to your painting at that point but otherwise, of course, one was more involved with action. And it was interesting that you were also a performer and that lovely last sequence where you were very high and very poised and picking up neon wands of colored light in a very poised and deliberate way.

RR: Yes, I used my body as a conductor of electricity by holding a live coil in one hand.

DS: Yes, that was remarkable.

RR: And then just with the contact with the neon tubes, they came on. I consider that piece more successful than some others that I’ve done simply because maybe it’s that I’ve done enough pieces so that a collective vocabulary is being built up. But I’m now beginning to see more and more things that are possible to do. And if one’s body can be a conductor of electricity, there are all kinds of materials that one could use and activate by hand dancing that, rather than it’s like moving the controls out onto the stage. I like for the lighting man, if the setup permits it, for whoever is running the lights to be visible. And if something has to be moved onto the stage, that one does it in the most simple, direct fashion. That you just walk over and pick. it up and put it there, rather than the proscenium type hiding where everything is supposed to look effortless. I nearly never choreograph expressions for the people that I work with. I think that their bodies should be working totally. They should look as though they are doing something easily. If it’s difficult, necessarily, I don’t want any mask of the activity. It seems to me that it’s so difficult in art particularly to now I’m finding out the same thing is true in real estate to keep in direct touch with exactly what’s going on. I think that in the last twenty years or so, there’s been a new kind of honesty in painting where painters have been very proud of paint and have let it behave openly. I mean, this has been used for different reasons, probably as many different reasons as there are different artists. But it’s very rare well now there’s a new kind of paint which hides it. Like you said before, things have sort of worked their way all the way around again. But for a long time now, one could see a brushload of paint almost as though it had just been put on the canvas, and the artist had just walked away, rather than using the paint only to build an illusion about something else or, say, only wanting the color aspect of paint. All these things are being separated, each one used independently. And I think it’s a very exciting time.

DS: The element of the audience participating in the work of art by its psychological attitude, even by its movement is something that has become more and more pronounced in the last decade. And your directness in dealing with an audience or your involving them even when they weren’t aware of it. For instance, the white paintings, of course, where shadows were cast and people didn’t appreciate this very much but it was still part of your conception.

RR: They had to go all the way across town to see a shadow of themselves. I can see that they might resent it. Think of the happy few, though, who really thought it was worth it. You’d really go away holding your head up.

DS: But even in many other kinds of work, your combines and your silk screens too, I think there’s always been a way of making the audience re experience its own experience in front of the object; and I’ve often wondered also if this process doesn’t continue after leaving the object. If another part of the effect of work like yours isn’t really not only what happens when you’re looking at it, but going away and then meeting in life some of the same elements with a new awareness of what they were like when they were in a different ensemble.

RR: I’m sure that’s happened. The most recent example of that was fan mail that I got from London after the Whitechapel Show. And if I would have answered the letters, I think I would have put the people down a bit for wanting to give me credit for their having looked at where they were going instead of just concentrating on leaving one place and arriving at another place, as though that in between was not part of the trip. Their wanting to compliment the painting for making them do that is kind of an escape.

DS: We lose that innocence very readily, however, and necessarily, because life demands that we keep our attention focused on action and jobs and so on. And, of course, the painter’s privilege is to let us tear away that veil that intervenes between us in a visual sense.

RR: Well, I think that it’s a little more involved than that. I think a particular form of logic and an idea of progress may be protestant or something, but we’ve been encouraged through language and philosophies of all sorts that the important thing is to move from one place to another. And it’s that point and it’s getting there that’s important, and getting where then gets to be the only other aspect of that, and it’s only incidental how you get there.

DS: Yes.

RR: People are very tolerant of any means of getting there. And I don’t see that it’s reasonable that there be that hierarchy of like where you go to is more important than how; because you’re spending time. It’s the same kind of time as you’re going to have when you get there. And it’s you. And you exclude, you falsely, cultivatedly denied the experience of what there is in between.

DS: Paul Tillich seems to feel that’s particularly an American disease because of our tdndency as a people to have this dynamic movement forward.

RR: Oh, I don’t think so. I think it may be even more so in Europe.

DS: Do you?

RR: Because they’re very programmed. Thousands of years of inhibitions have forced them to concentrate on a single aspect, to understand that this is valuable, this is not valuable.

DS: There’s that hierarcy again.

RR: Yes.

DS: Well, I’m glad that you feel that we have some slight freedom from that in this particular environment. I think you certainly contributed to it in terms of the art world. That note of hierarchy breaking is such a very simple one, I think, from everything you said today, that I think it’s not a bad one on which perhaps to wind up today.

RR: Okay.

END OF INTERVIEW


This transcript is in the public domain and may be used without permission. Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Robert Rauschenberg, 1965 Dec. 21, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

A Radical Disregard for the Preservation of Art: Robert Rauschenberg’s Elemental Paintings

Figure 1: Robert Rauschenberg, Dirt Painting (for John Cage), ca. 1953 Dirt and mold in wood box 15 1/2 x 16 x 2 1/2 inches (39.4 x 40.6 x 6.4 cm) Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Art © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

*By Charlotte Healy 

Above: Figure 1: Robert Rauschenberg, Dirt Painting (for John Cage), ca. 1953
Dirt and mold in wood box
15 1/2 x 16 x 2 1/2 inches (39.4 x 40.6 x 6.4 cm)
Robert Rauschenberg Foundation
Art © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

 

In April 1953, Robert Rauschenberg returned to New York after an eight-month sojourn in Europe and North Africa with Cy Twombly. Upon moving into his first permanent studio on Fulton Street, he recommenced work on a group of all black paintings, most with patchy, textured surfaces created with newspaper grounds, begun the previous year. He also constructed a series of Elemental Sculptures out of various unembellished found objects like stones and pieces of wood, often joined with twine. From September to October 1953, many of these works were exhibited for the first time at the Stable Gallery in New York in a two-person show with Twombly. In addition, this exhibition included Rauschenberg’s controversial, pristine, and uniform White Paintings of 1951. Also in fall 1953, he produced two of the most notorious and groundbreaking works of his early career: the proto-conceptual Erased de Kooning Drawing, in which he erased and subsequently framed a mixed-media drawing given to him by Willem de Kooning, and Automobile Tire Print, a collaboration with his friend John Cage, who drove his car over twenty sheets of paper while Rauschenberg inked one of the rear tires. Around the same time, Rauschenberg made a series of rectangular, vertically positioned objects generally referred to as the Elemental Paintings. [1] In each, he employed one of five “elemental” materials, three of which were unconventional for painting: dirt (figs. 1, 3), clay, tissue paper (fig. 2), gold leaf (fig. 4), and lead white paint. It is unclear how many he created of each type, given that only a small number have survived; some are known only through photographic documentation.

In this early series, Rauschenberg challenged the traditional and contemporary imperative that an artwork be inextricably linked to its creator, and embraced physical change. Specifically, he eliminated visible gesture — highly valued at the time by the Action Painters and their advocates — in favor of a heightened sensitivity to the essential character of his chosen media. In essence, he strove to collaborate with his materials rather than control them. Moreover, he showed a disregard for the preservation of these works and others, instead choosing techniques and materials that would allow the works to evolve over time. Ultimately, these works are among the earliest to necessitate a reassessment of conservation practice that takes into account the unorthodox intentions of postwar artists.

One of Rauschenberg’s primary goals in creating the Elemental Paintings was to demonstrate that his chosen materials worked equally well as painting media. Motivated by a lifelong sensitivity to objects of all kinds, he strove to eliminate the traditional hierarchical view of materials that existed in both art and life.[2] As he told Barbara Rose in a 1987 interview, “There’s no such thing as ‘better’ material. It’s just as unnatural for people to use oil paint as it is to use anything else.”[3] This comment elucidates Rauschenberg’s inclusion in the series of at least two paintings done entirely in thickly applied lead white paint, Untitled [small White Lead Painting] (ca. 1953) and White Lead Painting (1953-54).[4] Oil paint, a painter’s traditional medium since the sixteenth century, is as basic as dirt or gold — emphasized by the explicit identification of the paint’s elemental makeup in the titles of these two paintings — and has no particular value over other materials aside from its utility.

In interviews, Rauschenberg often lamented the typically associative and socially coded responses to his black paintings that he had not intended. In 1966, he complained, “Lots of critics shared with the public a certain reaction: they couldn’t see black as pigment. They moved immediately into association with ‘burned-out,’ ‘tearing,’ ‘nihilism’ and ‘destruction.’ That began to bother me…. If I see any superficial subconscious relationships that I’m familiar with — clichés of association — I change the picture.”[5] As a rejoinder, Rauschenberg selected his materials for the Elemental Paintings, as Branden Joseph has suggested, to “observe the operation, and potentially test the limitations, of the attributions of meaning from the social sphere.”[6]

Rauschenberg deliberately exploited the symbolic and associative properties of his materials. In an interview with Walter Hopps, he explained, “For each one I did in gold, I did one [the] approximate same size in toilet paper. I was testing the market. I knew this. Gold stays and toilet paper gets thrown away.”[7] Of course he was right: none of the paper paintings seem to have survived, while at least ten of the Gold Paintings are still extant. According to Twombly, for the one paper painting — or, more accurately, the large upright transparent box filled with crumpled paper — documented in a photograph (fig. 2), Rauschenberg did not actually use toilet paper, but rather tissue paper from shoeboxes. This distinction is of little consequence from a purely monetary perspective: even if it lacks toilet paper’s scatological connotations, tissue paper is equally worthless and expendable, especially compared to a valuable material like gold leaf.

Figure 2: Robert Rauschenberg, Untitled [paper painting], ca. 1953. Tissue paper in glass display case with wood base, 18 x 14 x 4 inches (45.7 x 35.6 x 10.2 cm), dimensions approximate. Lost or destroyed. Photographed by artist. Art © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

In the Gold Paintings, Rauschenberg’s interrogation of the traditional uses and associations of his materials is manifest. In the fifteenth century, the incorporation of precious materials like gold leaf and ultramarine pigment was often stipulated in contracts for commissioned paintings as a way of increasing their value.[8] In icons and Medieval and Renaissance religious paintings, gilding was used to designate the shining heavens and transcendental figures, often adorned with gleaming haloes. By carelessly covering the entire surface with gold leaf and emphasizing its inherent fragility in the Gold Paintings, Rauschenberg seemingly parodied this material’s traditional employment in painting. He went further still, making the gold appear dirty and deliberately mishandled as it cracks and flakes off the support, which undermines the material’s high monetary value. The irregular, haphazard, and organic quality of the gold, dirt, and paper compositions can be interpreted as a kind of heightened “naturalism” of materials.

In the interview with Rose, Rauschenberg explained, “The only thing I like to keep out of a work, no matter what the materials are, is the history of the process of putting it together. I don’t bring that into it.”[9] Accordingly, Rauschenberg’s “naturalistic” treatment of his materials can also be explained as a way of masking any signs of process. He seems to have retained the organic, natural quality of his materials so that the effect of his hand on the surface has not only faded into obscurity, but has been reversed. The materials, particularly the dirt and gold leaf, appear to have returned to their natural states. This “naturalism” is antithetical to another method of concealing the artist’s hand, which requires, in contrast, completely disguising oil paint rather than celebrating it in its natural form: the smooth, crisp, photographically precise, and highly illusionistic style of much French nineteenth-century academic painting can in turn be seen as a kind of “idealization” of oil paint.[10]

A deliberate deviation from the objectives of the particular strain of Abstract Expressionism most famously characterized by critic Harold Rosenberg in his landmark essay “The American Action Painters” of 1952, the Elemental Paintings prioritize chance effects over the visible manifestation of the artist’s process.[11] The surfaces of the Gold Paintings are extremely varied due to the arbitrary and seemingly careless application of sheets of delicate gold (and occasionally also silver) leaf of different tonalities, sometimes glued on top of newspaper and other collage materials (fig. 4). Often crumpled and loosely adhered rather than laid flat on the support, the gold leaf puckers and peels off the surface. Consequently, parts of the support are visible between irregular patches of gold. The unevenly and heavily applied layer of varnish-like glue has discolored, making the gold appear darker in certain areas. The lively surface is further enhanced by the reflectivity of the material.

In the other Elemental Paintings, Rauschenberg similarly emphasized the physical and material quality of the surface over personal gesture. In a Dirt Painting made for Cage (fig. 1), an irregular blue and yellow pattern created by the growth of mold or lichen dominates the surface, producing a completely accidental “composition.” Rauschenberg’s actual labor of packing the dirt into a boxlike wood frame is overshadowed by this chance organic effect. Likewise, in a large Dirt Painting that became known as Growing Painting (fig. 3), Rauschenberg’s efforts were again overshadowed by the effects of nature, which he happily embraced. When asked by Rose what he thought was the most inventive thing he had ever done, the artist gave this work as an example: “I was working on one dirt painting underneath a bird cage. Then grass started growing on it and I had to take care of it.”[12] Apparently, some birdseed had accidentally fallen into the dirt and began to sprout. This chance occurrence inspired Rauschenberg to make a “living” picture, as Calvin Tomkins called it.[13] When he exhibited the work in the Third Annual Stable Gallery Exhibition of January to February 1954, he periodically visited the gallery to water and care for the vegetation he had cultivated.

growing painting

Figure 3: Robert Rauschenberg, Growing Painting, 1953, Dirt and vegetation in wood frame, 72 x 25 inches (182.9 x 63.5 cm), dimensions approximate. No longer extant. Photographed by artist. Art © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

The Elemental Paintings illustrate Rauschenberg’s claim that, “I’ve always felt as though, whatever I’ve used and whatever I’ve done, the method was always closer to a collaboration with materials than to any kind of conscious manipulation and control.” [14] In these works, the inherent nature of the materials themselves plays as much of a role as the artist in determining the final outcome. Like Cage, Rauschenberg was inclined to substitute chance and other impersonal operations for self-expression. According to Tomkins, “what Rauschenberg was getting at was a kind of painting in which the artist — his personality, his emotions, his ideas, his taste — would not be the controlling element.” [15] To Rose, Rauschenberg professed, “I don’t want my personality to come out through the piece.” [16] His disdain for self-expression and his desire to “collaborate” with his materials partially account for his tendency to let his works slowly evolve over time. As he told Rose, “I like the history of objects.” [17] This anti-preservation attitude towards art has a number of ramifications for the collectors of his works and for the conservators who treat them.

Historical accounts reveal Rauschenberg’s radical disregard for the preservation of his art. He painted over many existing works, in part because his lack of financial resources prevented him from purchasing new supplies. According to Hopps, “when the occasion demanded, making new work overrode any sentiment the artist might have had for past accomplishments.”[18] There are numerous examples of White Paintings masked by subsequent paintings and black paintings covering earlier works.[19] For instance, when staying at Cage’s loft while his studio was fumigated in 1953, Rauschenberg discovered an early work of his that his friend had acquired before the two had ever met. He immediately set about turning it into a black painting by applying a newspaper ground and covering it with black paint. Fortunately, Cage, the painting’s owner, did not mind the unsolicited reworking.[20]

Rauschenberg’s enormous White Lead Painting (1953-54) is another example of his apparent indifference to the perpetuation of his early works, even ones that he clearly cared about. Over an extended period, he slowly built up the surface of an approximately six-by-six-foot stretched canvas with layers of lead white paint. According to Twombly, Rauschenberg spent an inordinate amount of time and money on this work, especially given his impecunious circumstances and the relatively high cost of lead white paint. When Rauschenberg moved his studio from Fulton Street to Pearl Street at the beginning of 1955, the size and weight of the piece prevented its removal from his old studio. Consequently, he was forced to abandon the painting.[21]

In his interview with Rose, Rauschenberg recalled destroying Growing Painting (fig. 3) after two white mice he had bought as a present for a friend froze to death in his unheated studio: “So I broke the growing painting into bits. It was another sort of dying. The painting was having problems with the lack of heat anyway. And no one was particularly interested in it. They couldn’t see that there was more to it. There was the feeling that you have to take care of things in order to keep them going. That’s true with art. When the mice died, I killed the painting.”[22] In spite of the ultimately destructive nature of his action, his rationale demonstrates an awareness of how one should take care of art, especially according to modern conservation practice, in which preventive conservation measures are often considered. As explained by MoMA conservators James Coddington and Jennifer Hickey, preventive conservation consists of “taking steps to minimize the potential for damage and to slow degradation processes, thereby postponing or entirely avoiding hands-on restoration of the work. This paradigm is most widely manifest as environmental standards for displaying and storing art.”[23]

Just as he was willing to paint over, abandon, or destroy artworks, Rauschenberg became known for accepting and appreciating changes to his work as his materials transformed over time. For centuries, painters have been using techniques (like applying varnish) and relatively stable materials that allow their works to be preserved with only minor intervention on the part of conservators (for instance, by removing and replacing varnish). In contrast, Rauschenberg’s use of unconventional and often organic materials enabled him to exploit and thematize such physical transformations. No better examples exist than Dirt Painting (for John Cage) (fig. 1) and Growing Painting (fig. 3). Visible change due to natural processes of growth and decay became essential aspects of these works. Both their appearance and material makeup have altered over time.[24]

Some of these changes pose major problems for conservators. The extant Gold Paintings and clay painting have transformed substantially due to the fragility of the materials employed. As a result of Rauschenberg’s haphazard method of application, some of the loosely affixed gold leaf in the Gold Painting that is jointly owned by the Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (fig. 4) has actually detached from the fabric-on-Masonite support and fallen to the bottom of the deep wooden frame. For each of the Gold Paintings, Rauschenberg originally constructed permanently affixed wood-and-glass frames, which have protected them as they have become more fragile.[25] Likewise, the appearance of Pink Clay Painting (To Pete) has also changed over the past sixty years: it has weathered, cracked, endured minor losses, and faded, transforming from bright pink to a dull rusty orange.[26] Rauschenberg devised a unique hinged wooden door over an orange velvet covering, which concealed the rough surface and could be lifted to reveal the painting.[27] However, these protective presentational devices have since been lost, leaving the work even more vulnerable to damage and change than the artist had intended.

Figure 4: Robert Rauschenberg, Untitled (Gold Painting), ca. 1953. Gold leaf on fabric and glue on Masonite in wood-and-glass frame. 12 1/4 x 12 5/8 x 1 1/8 inches (31.1 x 32.1 x 2.9 cm). Joint bequest of Eve Clendenin to the Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Art © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

The one remaining Dirt Painting (fig.1) has also suffered from age. Cage, to whom Rauschenberg dedicated and presented the work, poetically recounted its continual transformation: “The message is conveyed by dirt which, mixed with an adhesive, sticks to itself and to the canvas upon which he places it. Crumbling and responding to changes in weather, the dirt unceasingly does my thinking.”[28] The instability of this work has ultimately resulted in a drastic change in its presentation. Despite their unconventional materials, Rauschenberg intended for all of the Dirt Paintings to be presented vertically on the wall like conventional paintings. In his famous discussion of Rauschenberg’s “flatbed picture plane” in the essay “Other Criteria,” Leo Steinberg described this positioning of Growing Painting as “a transposition from nature to culture through a shift of ninety degrees.”[29] Due to the current fragile condition of Dirt Painting (for John Cage), it must be presented horizontally instead, thus making it appear more like an object than a painting as the artist had envisioned.[30] As Rauschenberg told Rose, “The nature of some of my materials gave me an additional problem because I had to figure out how they could be physically supported on a wall when they obviously had no business being anywhere near a wall. That was the beginning of the combines.”[31] In 1954, the artist began making the wall-mounted and freestanding assemblages incorporating various found objects that he called “combines” and for which he is now best known.

Given Rauschenberg’s embrace of his work’s deterioration and change over time, his use of unstable and ephemeral materials epitomized by the Elemental Paintings has proven problematic for conservators and collectors. Because modern conservation practice dictates a consideration of the artist’s original intent, any conservation treatment of Rauschenberg’s work should take into consideration his acceptance of change and the process of aging, even if it contradicts established conservation standards aimed to protect cultural heritage. As conservator Paula Volent has explained, “Traditionally, the conservator and the curator have attempted to keep the art object frozen in time, both as an historical and aesthetic object. However, dialogue with contemporary artists reveals that, in many cases, this approach may be antithetical to the aesthetic concerns of the artist.”[32] The incongruity of these two seemingly irreconcilable positions can lead to legal and ethical issues.[33] According to conservator Suzanne Penn, who has worked extensively on the art of both Rauschenberg and Anselm Kiefer, it is hard for people to accept signs of age and deterioration “given the high monetary value” of works by these two artists, who both intended for their works to change over time.[34]

Antonio Rava, in addressing some of the philosophical issues of contemporary art conservation, has perfectly summarized the challenges presented by Rauschenberg’s work to conservators: “Should one apply different conservation practices to works created with the aim of defying eternity than to those in which transformation and deterioration play an intentional and integral role?”[35] When conservators consulted Rauschenberg about the treatment of particular artworks, he tended to request minimal intervention, authorizing the stabilization of damaged elements but refusing cosmetic cleaning, asking that any patina, discoloration, or other evidence of age be retained.[36] According to collector Giuseppe Panza di Biumo, “for artists like Rauschenberg, sometimes conservation, even simple cleaning, can be dangerous if done with excessive care, inasmuch as aging and alterations caused by time and dirt embellish the painting. This is work on recapturing the memory; the dirt and yellowing of the surface add a special quality to the work and it is a mistake to remove them.”[37]

Like conservators, museums and private collectors have also realized that they must take into account the artist’s wish to let the work evolve over time. Collector Attilio Codognato has acknowledged the necessity of allowing his works to age: “I own a work by Rauschenberg that was bought thirty years ago, made of organic materials, and therefore with its own life. I am particularly proud of the fact that the work changes, because I think this was also Rauschenberg’s notion: that time works to bring about the work’s metamorphosis. I believe that the perishability of a work does not affect its validity. The work may change, but on a poetic level it always remains the same.”[38]

Sociologist Fernando Domínguez Rubio’s theoretical distinction between “docile” and “unruly” objects elucidates some of the problems museums face with works like Rauschenberg’s Elemental Paintings. According to Domínguez Rubio, works of art are not simply objects. Rather, he prefers to call them “slowly unfolding disasters,” since all artworks are constantly transforming over time due to changes in the environment. The most important task of the museum is to turn these “disasters” into stable objects (primarily through preventive conservation measures), which requires an organized infrastructure that distributes labor and knowledge. Some artworks lend themselves to standard museum divisions more readily than others. Domínguez Rubio calls these “docile” objects. They are more easily stabilized as objects by the museum, given that they can be classified into established categories of artworks (such as paintings, sculptures, and works on paper), which reinforce the traditional roles of museum staff like conservators and curators. On the other hand, “unruly” objects are not so easily turned into stable objects, as they tend to be “elusive and ambiguous,” “variable,” or “unwieldy.” Because they do not fit nicely into the typical divisions of conservation and curatorial knowledge, “unruly” objects often require interdisciplinary collaboration across set boundaries within the museum.[39]

The Elemental Paintings exhibit certain characteristics of “unruly” art objects, especially due to their material deterioration. For instance, conservators and curators at MoMA found it difficult to classify the Gold Painting that the museum jointly owns with the Guggenheim (fig. 4) when it first entered the collection in 1974, presumably because of its unusual materials and collage-like construction. Originally placed in the holdings of the Department of Drawings, it was not transferred to the Department of Painting and Sculpture until 1984, following a review of the museum’s collections for the preparation of the publication of the collection catalogue Painting and Sculpture in the Museum of Modern Art.[40] This reclassification indicates that Rauschenberg’s Gold Paintings do not clearly fit into set divisions of curatorial and conservation knowledge, and likely require collaboration between departments. Undoubtedly, the Dirt Paintings, Pink Clay Painting, and paper paintings would also require interdisciplinary collaboration. According to Amanda Swift, the treatment of the combines in the Panza Collection at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles in 1989 and 1992 “required the collaborative efforts of various groups of conservators” specializing in paper, objects, textiles, and paintings, due to “the bizarre nature of many of the materials incorporated into the combines and the idiosyncratic methods used by the artist in their construction.”[41]

The highly vulnerable state of the Gold Painting has necessitated that it rarely be permitted to travel to other museums, thereby disrupting standard museum practice. In response to a loan request for the exhibition Part Object Part Sculpture at the Wexner Center for the Arts that opened in October 2005, the Guggenheim’s deputy director and chief curator Lisa Dennison wrote:

As you are no doubt aware, Rauschenberg’s Gold Paintings are particularly fragile and any movement, regardless of how carefully done, greatly disturbs their surface. For this reason, we do not feel that we are able to lend on this occasion. Please be assured that my colleagues and I have struggled over your request as we believe in the scholarly merit of your exhibition. I trust however that you will understand that the successful long-term preservation of this piece must be our first and foremost priority.[42]

The Guggenheim’s concerns echo a number of the considerations for loaning works in poor condition outlined by Penn: “One must weigh the risk of transporting, handling, and publicly exhibiting the work against [the] benefits [of loaning a work]…. Should a work of art be jeopardized for an exhibition that may be very pretty and entertaining for the general public, but not necessarily intellectually substantial nor scholarly?”[43] Swift has pointed out that the fragile condition of many of Rauschenberg’s works has “severely limit[ed] their accessibility to the general public.”[44] Evidently, even if museums are willing to respect the artist’s intended deterioration, as reflected by minimal conservation treatments, they have instituted stricter preventive conservation measures (such as travel restrictions) to counteract or at least slow down such transformations.

The Elemental Paintings concisely summarize Rauschenberg’s view of and approach to materials. His subversion of traditional hierarchies of materials, his emphasis on the inherent qualities of his chosen media over personal gesture, and his embrace of physical changes in these early works allowed him to interrogate the standard boundaries and priorities of painting. These three tendencies characterize Rauschenberg’s aesthetic preferences for the remainder of his career, and are particularly evident in the radical combination of a vast array of unusual and sometimes unstable materials in his innovative and celebrated combines of 1954-64. Following his precocious acceptance of deterioration and change in the Elemental Paintings of ca. 1953-54, a wave of postwar art emphasizing degradation and mutability has demanded a revision of standard conservation practice.


*Charlotte Healy is a doctoral student at the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU, where she specializes in the materials and methods of modern art. She received her MA from the IFA in 2013, and wrote her thesis on tactility in Paul Klee’s paintings. She holds a BA from Williams College, graduating with Highest Honors in Art History. She has completed curatorial internships at The Museum of Modern Art, The Phillips Collection, and The Frick Collection. She recently participated in the First Museum Research Consortium Study Sessions at MoMA, and presented a paper at the Cleveland Symposium in October 2014.  


Notes:

[1]. As John Cage wrote, “He changes what goes on, on a canvas, but he does not change how canvas is used for paintings — that is, stretched flat to make rectangular surfaces which may be hung on a wall.” John Cage, “On Robert Rauschenberg, Artist, and His Work,” in Silence (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1961), 100. This is not a completely accurate description of these works, given their thick three-dimensionality.

[2]. According to Walter Hopps, “as a crucial part of his early childhood, Rauschenberg…collected and arranged a great miscellany of things that were meaningful to him, obsessively adding jars and boxes and all sorts of found specimens such as rocks, plants, insects, and small animals” to a compartmentalized “collection wall” he built in his room. Walter Hopps, Robert Rauschenberg: The Early 1950s (Houston: Houston Fine Art Press, 1991), 14. Hopps has suggested that consequently Rauschenberg’s training at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, under the strict instruction of Josef Albers, solidified this inherent “belief in the usefulness and worth of any material.” Hopps, The Early 1950s, 16. Albers’ multimedia approach to teaching was largely informed by his Bauhaus colleague László Moholy-Nagy. Like Moholy-Nagy, Albers stressed the essential properties of a wide variety of materials and the proper way to manipulate and handle each. In response to a question about his time at Black Mountain in an interview with Barbara Rose, Rauschenberg revealed, “I maintained my affection for the materials and the physical aspects of art.” Later in the interview, Rose commented, “The original Bauhaus course that was taught in Germany was based on properties, qualities and characteristics of the materials. This attitude is a central part of your art also.” Rauschenberg replied: “I have a great respect for my materials.” Barbara Rose, An Interview with Robert Rauschenberg (New York: Vintage Books, 1987), 23, 89.

[3]. Rose, An Interview, 58.

[4]. For reproductions of these two works, see “Untitled [small White Lead Painting],” Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, http://www.rauschenbergfoundation.org/art/artwork/untitled-small-white-lead-painting, and Walter Hopps, Robert Rauschenberg: The Early 1950s (Houston: Houston Fine Art Press, 1991), 202, respectively.

[5]. Dorothy Gees Seckler, “The Artist Speaks: Robert Rauschenberg.” Art in America 54, no. 3 (May-June 1966): 76.

[6]. Branden W. Joseph, Random Order: Robert Rauschenberg and the Neo-Avant-Garde (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2003), 92.

[7]. From an unpublished interview conducted January 18-20, 1991. This line is quoted in Joseph, Random Order, 92. In an interview with Dorothy Gees Seckler, Rauschenberg reiterated his desire to compare paper with gold as painting media, again finding them equally valid materials for his purposes: “I did a painting in toilet-paper, then duplicated it in gold-leaf. I studied both very carefully and found no advantage in either: whatever one was saying, the other seemed to be just as articulate. I knew then that it was somebody else’s problem — not mine.” Seckler, “The Artist Speaks,” 81.

[8]. Michael Baxandall, Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), 6-11.

[9]. Rose, An Interview, 90.

[10]. This kind of “idealization” of the medium of oil paint is epitomized by the paintings of Jean-Léon Gérôme. More recently, throughout his career Vik Muniz has taken an “idealizing” approach to various unconventional media, such as dust, chocolate syrup, and garbage — in other words, he masks their identities in order to create recognizable images, which he then photographs.

[11]. In his essay, Rosenberg declared, “At a certain moment the canvas began to appear to one American painter after another as an arena in which to act…. A painting that is an act is inseparable from the biography of the artist.” Harold Rosenberg, “The American Action Painters,” in The Tradition of the New (New York: Horizon Press, 1959), 25, 27. This essay was indicative of the growing preference in the early 1950s for the large gestural canvases of First Generation New York School artists like Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock and the accompanying obsession with their artistic process.

[12]. Rose, An Interview, 56.

[13]. Calvin Tomkins, The Bride & The Bachelors: Five Masters of the Avant Garde (New York: The Viking Press, 1968), 209.

[14]. Ibid., 204. Rauschenberg restated this idea in the 1973 documentary Painters Painting: “You begin with the possibilities of the materials, and then you let them do what they can do, so that the artist is really almost a bystander while he’s working.” Emile De Antonio and Mitch Tuchman, Painters Painting: A Candid History of the Modern Art Scene, 1940-1970 (New York: Abbeville Press, 1984), 92.

[15]. Tomkins, The Bride, 204.

[16]. Rose, An Interview, 72.

[17]. Ibid., 56.

[18]. Hopps, The Early 1950s, 153.

[19]. See throughout Hopps, The Early 1950s.

[20]. Cage recounted this experience in a series of statements on Rauschenberg: “The door is never locked. Rauschenberg walks in. No one home. He paints a new painting over the old one. Is there a talent then to keep the two, the one above, the one below? What a plight (it’s no more serious than that) we’re in! It’s a joy in fact to begin over again.” Cage, “On Robert Rauschenberg,” 101.

[21]. For a more detailed account of the White Lead Painting and Twombly’s assessment of it, see Hopps, The Early 1950s, 163-64.

[22]. Rose, An Interview, 57.

[23]. James Coddington and Jennifer Hickey, “MoMA’s Jackson Pollock Conservation Project — An Ounce of Prevention…,” Inside/Out: A MoMA/MoMA PS1 Blog, December 10, 2012, http://www.moma.org/explore/inside_out/2012/12/10/momas-jackson-pollock-conservation-project-an-ounce-of-prevention.

[24]. As Branden Joseph observed, the Dirt Paintings and Growing Painting “appear as attempts to show matter in its own duration: a duration related to the natural creation or deterioration within which humanity exists, but that is not itself dependent on humanity.” Joseph, Random Order, 61.

[25]. Unfortunately some of these original frames are now missing. See, for instance, “Untitled (Gold Painting),” Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, http://www.rauschenbergfoundation.org/art/artwork/untitled-gold-painting-0.

[26]. In 1991, Hopps assigned this work to 1953. Hopps, The Early 1950s, 212-13. However, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation has reassigned this work to 1952. “Pink Clay Painting (To Pete),” Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, http://www.rauschenbergfoundation.org/art/artwork/pink-clay-painting-pete. For the work’s current condition, see the Sotheby’s condition report. “Contemporary Art Day Auction, Lot 160: Robert Rauschenberg, Pink Clay Painting (To Pete),” Sotheby’s, http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2014/contemporary-art-day-sale-n09142/lot.160.html.

[27]. According to Hopps, “This vibrant juxtaposition of pink and orange recurs throughout Rauschenberg’s palette…. This work in its original incarnation was also an early example of Rauschenberg’s fascination with doors and their functions of concealing and revealing.” Hopps, The Early 1950s, 162.

[28]. Cage, “On Robert Rauschenberg,” 100.

[29]. Leo Steinberg, “Other Criteria,” in Other Criteria: Confrontations with Twentieth-Century Art (New York: Oxford University Press, 1972), 87.

[30]. Hopps, The Early 1950s, 162.

[31]. Rose, An Interview, 58.

[32]. Paula Volent, “When Artists’ Intent is Accidental. Artists’ Acceptance of and Experimentation with Changes and Transformations in Materials,” in Modern Works, Modern Problems? Conference Papers, ed. Alison Richmond (London: Institute of Paper Conservation, 1994), 171.

[33]. Conservator Ann Baldwin has explained some of the legal issues related to artist’s intent: “Artist’s intent has been a focus of professional conferences and is covered under copyright law in federal courts and in California and New York. These laws were written to extend legal protection against many types of alteration, including vandalism, of an artist’s original work. Any type of damage — including significant change resulting from a conservation treatment — may be subject to a legal action.” Ann M. Baldwin, “The Wayward Paper Object: Artist’s Intent, Technical Analysis, and Treatment of a 1966 Robert Rauschenberg Diptych,” Journal of the American Institute for Conservation 38, no. 3 (Autumn-Winter 1999): 416.

[34]. Suzanne Penn, “Johns, Rauschenberg and Kiefer: Preserving the Artist’s Intentions,” The Journal of Art 1, no. 2 (January 1989): 24.

[35]. Antonio Rava, “Robert Rauschenberg,” in Conserving Contemporary Art: Issues, Methods, Materials, and Research, ed. Oscar Chiantore and Antonio Rava (Los Angeles: The Getty Conservation), 211.

[36]. See Volent, “Artists’ Intent,” 172; Baldwin, “Wayward Paper Object,” 417. For the treatment of all the combines in the Panza Collection at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, “it was agreed that no surface should appear ‘pristine’ as this would ‘contradict the artist’s assumed intention.’” Amanda Swift, “Robert Rauschenberg: The Neo-Dada Junk Aesthetic,” in Modern Works, Modern Problems? Conference Papers, ed. Alison Richmond (London: Institute of Paper Conservation, 1994), 168.

[37]. English translation in Rava, “Robert Rauschenberg,” 210.

[38]. English translation in ibid.

[39]. Domínguez Rubio emphasizes that docility and unruliness represent two ends of a spectrum. Fernando Domínguez Rubio, “The (uneasy) rise of the conservator” (presentation at the Mellon Research Initiative conference Conservation and Its Contexts, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, New York, NY, December 7, 2013); Fernando Domínguez Rubio, “Preserving the unpreservable: docile and unruly objects at MoMA,” Theory and Society (August 2014): n.p.

[40]. Collection file 441.1974, Department of Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art, New York; MaryKate Cleary (Collection Specialist, Department of Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art, New York), email message to author, December 18, 2013.

[41]. Swift, “Neo-Dada Junk Aesthetic,” 168.

[42]. Letter dated 7 September 2004, from Lisa Dennison to Sherri Geldin. Collection file 74.2109, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

[43]. Penn, “Preserving the Artist’s Intentions,” 24.

[44]. Swift, “Neo-Dada Junk Aesthetic,” 168.

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