Summer Reading

Summer Reading: Give Us CPR

As the editors of Art Practical and Daily Serving get ready to take their end-of-summer vacations, we find ourselves swapping reading lists—the articles we’ll dive into once have some uninterrupted time to catch up on what our colleagues have been writing. We’ve gotten so excited about what’s on our lists that we want to share them with our readers. Between now and Labor Day, Daily Serving will feature the efforts of our fellow chroniclers of art and culture as part of our Summer Reading series. Today we are pleased to bring you an excerpt of Gerald FitzGerald’s essay on the art market and provenance. This article was originally published in the May/June 2014 issue of Art Papers, and we thank their editors for making this series possible. Enjoy!

Street view of Knoedler & Co.

Street view of M. Knoedler & Co. Image from the blog of Masterworks Fine Art.

Provenance is the origin and history of ownership of a painting or object, and it is essential to determining the object’s authenticity, monetary value, and secure title. Although reveling in sales boosted both by new market interest and freshly minted dot-com billionaires, the international art and antiquities market will soon stumble badly unless it embraces new technologies to centralize and to radically increase the scope, quality, and authority of provenance research.

The art market currently generates about $60 billion annually. It does so without meaningful regulation and is myopic in the intelligent use of contemporary tools. It functions almost precisely as it did in the early 19th century. Trust still governs in an increasingly untrustworthy environment. As a result this market is rife with forgery, fakery, looting, and sales of stolen objects, all accompanied by a morass of litigation. The way out of this quagmire lies not with increased legal action but in sewing shut the gaping holes in provenance research that permit such chicanery. The creation of a nonprofit Center for Provenance Research (CPR), funded by a small levy on market sales, is sorely needed to vet the legitimacy of what is traded. The greatest deterrent to fraud on the market is a decreasing ability to get away with it.

The 2011 closing of the highly respected M. Knoedler & Co., then the oldest gallery in New York, reportedly resulted from its sale—quite possibly unknowingly—of fake modernist paintings. In China, the Jibaozhai Museum cost approximately 6.4 million GBP to build in 2010, but it was shut down in 2013 after the discovery that nearly all its 40,000 artifacts were knockoffs. Not long ago, a small group of Germans was convicted of selling forged modern “masterpieces” to sophisticated collectors, including several works “authenticated” by experts. The group was charged with creating fourteen forgeries; its leader, however, who pled guilty and received a short sentence (much of it served at his home), claims to have forged and sold more than 200 paintings. Police recovered about eighty.

Read the full article here.

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Summer Reading

Summer Reading: The Education of a Collector, or Jeff Dauber Explains Why Tech Bros Don’t Buy Art

As the editors of Daily Serving get ready to take their end-of-summer vacations, we find ourselves swapping reading lists—the articles we’ll dive into once have some uninterrupted time to catch up on what our colleagues have been writing. We’ve gotten so excited about what’s on our lists that we want to share them with our readers. Between now and Labor Day, Daily Serving will feature the efforts of our fellow chroniclers of art and culture as part of our Summer Reading series. Today we are pleased to bring you Glen Helfand’s essay on collector Jeff Dauber and the importance of art education. Dauber notes, “I know someone who has three massive homes, a private jet, multiple cars, about a hundred horses—and not one single piece of art. And he could go out and buy any damn thing he wants—with the change he finds in his dryer. He didn’t grow up around art. He wasn’t exposed.” This article was originally published on August 18, 2014, on our sister site Art Practical. Enjoy!

David Hevel. Jay Z Killed the Pussycat, 2006; mixed media. Courtesy of Jeffrey Dauber.

David Hevel. Jay Z Killed the Pussycat, 2006; mixed media. Courtesy of Jeffrey Dauber.

Jeff Dauber is a brash, outspoken, and abundantly tattooed collector who also happens to work in tech. He’s been deeply engaged in both sectors for over twenty years and immersed in art since childhood. By trade, he is an electrical engineer who has long worked in Silicon Valley. He manages large production teams, a well-paying position in a flush field. During his career, he’s worked for more than one major company in the South Bay, as he does currently, though when I interviewed him about his collecting practice, his one stipulation was that his current employer remain unstated. It’s corporate policy, he says, and we’re here to talk about his private collection, not one that represents his industry. Collecting art, however, is difficult to separate from the factors that make it possible. More on that later.

I had seen Dauber’s collection before, back in 2006 when I wrote about the renovation of his Potrero Hill home by architect Thom Faulders, who created a stylized, futuristic ceiling because Dauber put a premium on wall space for his art. I recall paintings by Travis Somerville and Chester Arnold, and outlandish, grotesquely oversized fake flower and taxidermy arrangements by David Hevel. In the ensuing eight years, Dauber’s collection has matured and expanded, and he’s moved into a second home around the corner (also spiffed up by Faulders) where he lives with his art. He keeps the original house to display and store his collection; it’s cheaper, he admits, than keeping it in a professional storage facility.

Read the full article here.

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Summer Reading

Summer Reading: All Mother Tongues Are Difficult

As the editors at Art Practical and Daily Serving get ready to take their end-of-summer vacations, we find ourselves swapping reading lists—the articles we’ll dive into once have some uninterrupted time to catch up on what our colleagues have been writing. We’ve gotten so excited about what’s on our lists that we want to share them with our readers. Between now and Labor Day, Daily Serving will feature the efforts of our fellow chroniclers of art and culture as part of our Summer Reading series. Today we are excited to present an excerpt of Nada Zanhour’s review of Mounira Al Solhs work at the Sfeir-Semler Gallery in Beirut. This article was originally published on June 30, 2014, in REORIENT, and we thank the editors for their help in making this series possible. Enjoy!

Mounira Al Solh. Eat My Script, 2014; still from video, 24 min 50 sec.

Mounira Al Solh. Eat My Script, 2014; still from video; 24:50.

Lebanese artist Mounira Al Solh’s latest solo exhibition, All Mother Tongues are Difficult, tells a story of exodus and the continual movement of individuals from their country of origin to new realms. Such journeys are seldom straightforward and unidirectional; humans are communicative beings, and language presents itself as a tool for survival. Naturalisation and migration demand substantial personal changes, as old ways and habits must be “shed” in order for one to adapt to their new environment. Accordingly, in her exhibition, Al Solh uses the current influx of Syrian refugees into Lebanon as a starting point.

As one enters the premises of the Sfeir-Semler Gallery in Beirut, they step into a space filled with Damascene clogs–iconic objects safely stowed away in the region’s collective memory–comprising the installation Clogged. Extensively featured in older, popular films, these clogs are typically worn in hammams (bath houses). Audiences in the gallery are encouraged to try on a pair from among the dozens arranged there, and roam about in the space whilst “taking in” the rest of the exhibition. The installation, inspired by the phrase walk a mile in a man’s shoes before you judge him, invokes the notion of travel as well as the continuous wandering of refugees.

Lying adjacent to the scores of clogs, I Strongly Believe in Our Right to be Frivolous presents a series of mixed-media portraits. These works constitute a growing body of pieces that will eventually encompass 1,000 portraits. The series is based on illustrations inspired by the artist’s interviews with Palestinian–Syrian refugees who were again exiled, this time to Lebanon. The conversations are depicted through fragmented scribbles that highlight dramatic changes forced upon individuals in times of political turmoil. Al Solh’s practice reflects her intrigue with regard to the human dimensions of political issues; that is, the force politics has on an individual level. The artist takes on the role of a witness here to document human experiences in times of political havoc, using geopolitical forces as backdrops to her subjects’ stories.

Read the full article here.

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Summer Reading

Summer Reading: Fade to Black (Mike Kelley)

As the editors at Art Practical and Daily Serving get ready to take their end-of-summer vacations, we find ourselves swapping reading lists—the articles we’ll dive into once have some uninterrupted time to catch up on what our colleagues have been writing. We’ve gotten so excited about what’s on our lists that we want to share them with our readers. Between now and Labor Day, Daily Serving will feature the efforts of our fellow chroniclers of art and culture as part of our Summer Reading series. Today we are pleased to present an excerpt of Howard Singerman’s reflection on the Mike Kelley retrospective at MoMA PS1, originally published in the Summer 2014 issue of X-TRA Contemporary Art Quarterly. Many thanks to the editors at X-TRA for their help in making this series possible. Enjoy!

Mike Kelley. Day Is Done, 2005–06; Installation views in Mike Kelley at MoMA PS1, 2013. © 2013 MoMA PS1. Photo: Matthew Septimus.

Mike Kelley. Day Is Done, 2005–06; installation view, Mike Kelley at MoMA PS1, 2013. © 2013 MoMA PS1. Photo: Matthew Septimus.

By most accounts, the Mike Kelley retrospective exhibition at MoMA PS1 was a resounding success. The old public-school building seemed the perfect environment for Kelley’s work, given its themes and iconography, and it was always packed. There were crowds of young people, more than a few in elaborate costumes; art students, or people who fit that description; and families with children in strollers. One hopes the kids were young enough not to know what they were looking at, but with Freud and Kelley both, it is likely that no child is ever young enough not to be traumatized, if only after the fact. Every time I went, there were lines waiting to get into the gallery that housed his Deodorized Central Mass with Satellites, (1991/1999); it’s not clear to me why that work in particular, but it became a popular Instagram and Tumblr image and blog entry. The Brooklyn Rail’s reviewer calls the work “iconic,” though I’m not sure how it got to be, or even whether it was before PS1. The atmosphere was oddly joyful or, maybe fittingly, carnivalesque. I don’t know what people made of the work, but there was palpable goodwill and a real respect for how hard Kelley worked, and how much different work he produced. As one blogger put it: “We all have the same 24 hours in a day and I have to strive harder to make the minutes count.” “It’s a testament to how much productivity and creativity can come from a mind that is challenged and passionate about their craft. Hoping to gain more of that perspective this year.”

Walking through the exhibition, I felt myself quite distant from the crowds (a conventional modernist feeling, I know), wondering what they got from the works assembled, beyond lessons in productivity, time management, and goth punk sensibility; what they took in or imagined it was about. You might hear this as elitist and pedantic, given that I am presuming a right, or at least a righter, way to think about the work. Maybe so. I do have some sense of the interpretative horizon of Kelley’s work and I’ve written a lot about at least some aspects of it. But my estrangement was not only “critical distance” or aristocratic distaste; it was also affective, and not about the crowd at all. PS1 was very much a haunted house for me, as it was for many who knew Mike, and if the show was affirming, it was also, at least for me, sad and angering. 

Read the full article here.

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Summer Reading

Summer Reading: Amie Siegel

As the editors at Art Practical and Daily Serving get ready to take their end-of-summer vacations, we find ourselves swapping reading lists—the articles we’ll dive into once have some uninterrupted time to catch up on what our colleagues have been writing. We’ve gotten so excited about what’s on our lists that we want to share them with our readers. Between now and Labor Day, Daily Serving will feature the efforts of our fellow chroniclers of art and culture as part of our Summer Reading series. Today we are pleased to present an excerpt of Lynn Hershman Leeson′s interview with artist Amie Siegel, originally published in the Winter 2014 issue of BOMB Magazine. Many thanks to the editors at BOMB for their help in making this series possible. Enjoy!

Amie Siegel. Still from Provenance, 2013; HD video, color, sound; 40 minutes, 30 seconds. Images courtesy of the artist and Simon Preston Gallery, New York.

Amie Siegel. Still from Provenance, 2013; HD video, color, sound; 40:30. Courtesy of the Artist and Simon Preston Gallery, New York.

Lynn Hershman Leeson: There is a relationship in all of your work—from The Sleepers to Black Moon/Mirrored Malle, to Provenance—in the way it extends beyond the viewer’s first presumption. Can you talk about where your pieces actually end, if they are ever complete, or if they are designed to be perpetually incomplete?

Amie Siegel: The way I’ve been working recently is to create projects that have a constellation of works within them. They are distinct but interconnected works, shown together or separately to varied extents, depending on the piece. That’s true of Black Moon and Black Moon/Mirrored Malle as well as the new work, Provenance. The new film traces the furniture of Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret backward from collectors’ homes to exhibitions to auctions to “restoration”—and finally to Chandigarh, India, where they originated, so to speak. Then, just this past Saturday, I filmed the Post-War and Contemporary sale at Christie’s in London, where the first in the edition of Provenance was auctioned. The film of the auction, Lot 248, is now a second element of the work—to be exhibited with the first. The third element predates the auction: the auction-catalog spread proof, embedded in Lucite. There are multiple objects, temporalities, and gestures, and they can mirror and complicate one another.

LHL: What happened at the auction? Does the person who bought it also own the furniture?

AS: There were multiple people bidding—in the room and on the phones. People had also left written bids for the piece. Naturally, my aspiration was to let it get up into higher figures not for monetary purposes but for screen time. [laughter] An auction lot can go by quite fast. I could have ended up with a twelve-second film. The multiple bids became an extended volley. I wouldn’t be at all surprised, given the wide dispersal of the furniture and the overlaps between design and art collecting, if the person who bought the film also owned some of the furniture.

Read the full article here.

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Summer Reading

Summer Reading – Mapping New Orleans: The Broadsides of Unfathomable City

As the editors at Art Practical and Daily Serving get ready to take their end-of-summer vacations, we find ourselves swapping reading lists—the articles we’ll dive into once have some uninterrupted time to catch up on what our colleagues have been writing. We’ve gotten so excited about what’s on our lists that we want to share them with our readers. Between now and Labor Day, Daily Serving will feature the efforts of our fellow chroniclers of art and culture as part of our Summer Reading series. Today, from our friends at Pelican Bomb, we are pleased to present “Mapping New Orleans: The Broadsides of Unfathomable City,” in which Ben Morris reviews the book Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas. This review was originally published on June 5, 2014. Many thanks to the editors at Pelican Bomb for their help in making this series possible. Enjoy!

"Bass Lines: Deep Sounds and Soils" from the book Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas. Map concept by Joshua Jelly-Schapiro and Rebecca Snedeker, cartography by Jakob Rosenzweig, artwork by Katie Holten, and design by Lia Tjandra.

“Bass Lines: Deep Sounds and Soils” from the book Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas. Map concept by Joshua Jelly-Schapiro and Rebecca Snedeker, cartography by Jakob Rosenzweig, artwork by Katie Holten, and design by Lia Tjandra.

When Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas (University of California Press) appeared this past autumn, outlets and reviewers across the country praised its efforts to capture the complexity of life in the Crescent City. Part of the appeal, as with its sister publication for San Francisco, focused on the atlas’s detailed visual component. Accompanying the essays by writers and scholars such as Richard Campanella, Antonia Juhasz, and Joel Dinerstein were hand-crafted maps of the city drawn by a team of expert cartographers and artists, maps as meticulously researched as any of the texts.

The editors of Unfathomable City, Rebecca Solnit and Rebecca Snedeker, have maintained that the two components of the book function much like hydrogen and oxygen in water: Together they make one element, but individually they have their own important properties, histories, and purposes. To further highlight these singularities, this spring Solnit and Snedeker reissued four of the maps as independently published broadsides with condensed versions of their accompanying essays. Partnering with the New Orleans Museum of Art, A Studio in the Woods, and others for a series of public and semi-public events, the hope is that the dissemination of these broadsides, as arguments and expositions in their own right, will sponsor a wider conversation about issues in New Orleans’ artistic and cultural life, and the ways in which our culture informs our history, our politics, and our urban footprint.

Read the full article here.

 

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Summer Reading

Summer Reading: The Unlearning

As the editors at Art Practical and Daily Serving get ready to take their end-of-summer vacations, we find ourselves swapping reading lists—the articles we’ll dive into once have some uninterrupted time to catch up on what our colleagues have been writing. We’ve gotten so excited about what’s on our lists that we want to share them with our readers. Between now and Labor Day, Daily Serving will feature the efforts of our fellow chroniclers of art and culture as part of our Summer Reading series. Today, from our friends at Guernica, we are pleased to present “The Unlearning,” in which Tatiane Schilaro considers the work of performance artist Paulo Bruscky. It was originally published on July 15, 2014. Many thanks to the editors at Guernica for their help in making this series possible. Enjoy!

Paulo Bruscky. Xeroperformance, 1980; Super 8 film on video. All images courtesy Galeria Nara Roesler

Paulo Bruscky. Xeroperformance, 1980; Super 8 film on video. All images courtesy of Galeria Nara Roesler.

“Subverting always makes sense if it doesn’t feel like a rule, but if it allows also recreation, which is the same as re-creating.”—Paulo Bruscky

I first encountered Paulo Bruscky’s works in 2013 far from São Paulo, my home, at the show Paulo Bruscky: Art Is Our Last Hope at the Bronx Museum. Bruscky was born in Recife, in the northeast of Brazil, in 1949. He began making art during a hard moment for Brazilian politics: a military dictatorship that lasted from 1964 to 1985. What was important in Bruscky’s early practice was that he was also looking for, and ended up finding, answers to repression by making art meant to experiment, using creativity and imagination to subvert an adverse condition—essentially, starting from scratch. He called this the process of unlearning. Seeing his early pieces was a way of digesting the June 2013 protests that I hadn’t experienced. Bruscky also helped me understand how the events of the 1960s still resonate now.

It’s been fifty years since Brazil was taken over in a military coup; the result was over twenty years of dictatorship. During the 1970s, militants, students, and intellectuals were persecuted, tortured, sent into exile, or killed. Brazil was flooded by ideological hostility from the right and the left. Up in Recife, Bruscky was going against the flow of control: He often worked alone, doing performances in the public space, testing and regularly surpassing the limits imposed by the regime. His first works were part of the “mail art movement,” whereby artworks were sent via the postal service, to spread the word about the oppression.

Read the full article here.

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