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THE DAILY PIC (Vacation rerun, from Nov 1, 2013): Today’s image, appropriately, shows “Miss November, 1954”, whose image starred in a recent lecture at the Artist’s Institute by the great architectural historian Beatriz Colomina. Colomina presented research by her team at Princeton showing how, throughout the 1950s and 60s, Playboy magazine was a crucial promoter of modern design. It published features on cutting-edge architects and designers and often posed playmates in their classic pieces – as here, where model Diane Hunter sits in a butterfly chair by Jorge Ferrari Hardoy. Colomina didn’t mention it, but it seems to me there’s some kind of equation, both social and formal, between the pared-down chairs and the girls perched on them – something about men’s ownership of biomorphic (and biological) modernity. (Interesting that the bodies now look vintage but the chairs haven’t dated at all.) Colomina did show how Playboy, with its circulation of seven million, would have had vastly more reach and influence than any design magazine. Any architect featured in Playboy – Mies and Wright and Bucky Fuller, but also the radicals at Ant Farm and Yale’s dean of architecture  – “becomes a model poised at the very heart of the Playboy dream,” said Colomina. Strangely, from his very first editorial Heffner felt a need to apologize for keeping his readers inside the well-designed home, and away from the woods and wilds found in other men’s magazines. Colomina argues that this is because home decor was traditionally women’s territory, and a  manly man wouldn’t go there. Rather than pretending to buy the mag for the writing and really ogling the girls, which was the classic Playboy-reader excuse, many playboys were pretending to buy for the babes, while actually hunting for decorator tips. “Architecture turned out to be much more seductive than the Playmates,” Colomina said.
For a full visual survey of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.

Jul 22, 2014

THE DAILY PIC (Vacation rerun, from Nov 1, 2013): Today’s image, appropriately, shows “Miss November, 1954”, whose image starred in a recent lecture at the Artist’s Institute by the great architectural historian Beatriz Colomina. Colomina presented research by her team at Princeton showing how, throughout the 1950s and 60s, Playboy magazine was a crucial promoter of modern design. It published features on cutting-edge architects and designers and often posed playmates in their classic pieces – as here, where model Diane Hunter sits in a butterfly chair by Jorge Ferrari Hardoy. Colomina didn’t mention it, but it seems to me there’s some kind of equation, both social and formal, between the pared-down chairs and the girls perched on them – something about men’s ownership of biomorphic (and biological) modernity. (Interesting that the bodies now look vintage but the chairs haven’t dated at all.) Colomina did show how Playboy, with its circulation of seven million, would have had vastly more reach and influence than any design magazine. Any architect featured in Playboy – Mies and Wright and Bucky Fuller, but also the radicals at Ant Farm and Yale’s dean of architecture  – “becomes a model poised at the very heart of the Playboy dream,” said Colomina. Strangely, from his very first editorial Heffner felt a need to apologize for keeping his readers inside the well-designed home, and away from the woods and wilds found in other men’s magazines. Colomina argues that this is because home decor was traditionally women’s territory, and a  manly man wouldn’t go there. Rather than pretending to buy the mag for the writing and really ogling the girls, which was the classic Playboy-reader excuse, many playboys were pretending to buy for the babes, while actually hunting for decorator tips. “Architecture turned out to be much more seductive than the Playmates,” Colomina said.

For a full visual survey of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.

THE DAILY PIC:  I came across this Warhol portrait of Robert Rauschenberg the other week in Andrea Caratsch’s gallery in Zurich. I was shocked to find that one of the most significant works of the 20th century was selling for less than $2 million – maybe five per cent of what less important, later Warhols can fetch. Last I checked, it still had not been bought. (Caratsch wouldn’t take my Sam’s Club card.)
Made in 1962, this is, as far as I can tell, the earliest portrait of a living sitter in Warhol’s mature career, and one of his very earliest silkscreens. (I don’t count his movie-star images as portraits: They are closer to Rembrandt’s “heads” of Aristotle or Jesus.) That means this work is a first experiment in the genre that filled the final two-thirds of Warhol’s career.
The 1962 portrait features one of the cutting-edge artists that Warhol was most keen on emulating, and whose friendship he had only just managed to win. Average museumgoers, and even experts, don’t always realize how deeply committed Warhol was to the classic, egghead avant-garde, and how deeply immersed he was in it at this point in his career; this portrait stands as his declaration of that commitment. It also comes at just the moment when Warhol was able to turn the tables on Rauschenberg, by offering to help his elder learn the new photo-silkscreen technique. (Although the tale’s also told that Rauschenberg taught him.)
Rauschenberg was also some kind of model for Warhol of what it was to be a successful gay artist, even if he had once rejected Warhol as too “swish” for his tastes. I think you can read Rauschenberg’s un-swish-ness from the way Warhol depicts him here, in an image that has none of the camp playfulness of Warhol’s Pop works from this era. Drowning in a deep-blue sea, Rauschenberg has stronger echoes in this portrait of his own Black Paintings, or of Warhol’s later “Disasters”, than of Warhol’s “Troy Donohue” or “Marilyn” silkscreens. You could almost read this dour, barely-there portrait as being in mourning for, or at least a token of, Rauschenberg’s closeted life. With its figure small and lost, gazing up into the heavens, this is one of the most wistful images Warhol ever made. All that blackness, and the filmic stutters running down the surface of the work, remind me most of Warhol’s dark and cryptic “Shadow” silkscreens from 1978.
The painting also comes close to being a direct quote from the all-blue monochromes of Yves Klein. Warhol cannot have missed the Frenchman’s 1961 New York show with Leo Castelli, who became Warhol’s own dealer not long after.  (A couple of years later, Warhol was asking a lover, the art historian Robert Pincus-Witten, to tell him what Klein was like.) Klein is one of the few artists of this era who can rival Warhol for his mix of brainy profundity and absurdist play, and this portrait almost proves the connection. Within a year or two, Warhol was including Kleinian monochromes in his silkscreened diptychs; this earlier “Rauschenberg” can almost be thought of as a collapsed diptych, with a silkscreen portrait sandwiched on top of a blue monochrome. Which means there’s also cancelling-out going on – a deliberate attempt to make a portrait that conceals more than it shows. Warhol may have admired and envied Bob Rauschenberg, but more than anything he wanted to cast the shadow of his own art over his new friend’s. This darkling portrait casts that shadow, symbolically, before Warhol had made a whole lot of art that could actually outshine Rauschenberg’s. (Image courtesy Andrea Caratsch, © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.)
The Daily Pic also appears at blogs.artinfo.com/the-daily-pic. For a full inventory of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.

Jul 18, 2014

THE DAILY PIC:  I came across this Warhol portrait of Robert Rauschenberg the other week in Andrea Caratsch’s gallery in Zurich. I was shocked to find that one of the most significant works of the 20th century was selling for less than $2 million – maybe five per cent of what less important, later Warhols can fetch. Last I checked, it still had not been bought. (Caratsch wouldn’t take my Sam’s Club card.)

Made in 1962, this is, as far as I can tell, the earliest portrait of a living sitter in Warhol’s mature career, and one of his very earliest silkscreens. (I don’t count his movie-star images as portraits: They are closer to Rembrandt’s “heads” of Aristotle or Jesus.) That means this work is a first experiment in the genre that filled the final two-thirds of Warhol’s career.

The 1962 portrait features one of the cutting-edge artists that Warhol was most keen on emulating, and whose friendship he had only just managed to win. Average museumgoers, and even experts, don’t always realize how deeply committed Warhol was to the classic, egghead avant-garde, and how deeply immersed he was in it at this point in his career; this portrait stands as his declaration of that commitment. It also comes at just the moment when Warhol was able to turn the tables on Rauschenberg, by offering to help his elder learn the new photo-silkscreen technique. (Although the tale’s also told that Rauschenberg taught him.)

Rauschenberg was also some kind of model for Warhol of what it was to be a successful gay artist, even if he had once rejected Warhol as too “swish” for his tastes. I think you can read Rauschenberg’s un-swish-ness from the way Warhol depicts him here, in an image that has none of the camp playfulness of Warhol’s Pop works from this era. Drowning in a deep-blue sea, Rauschenberg has stronger echoes in this portrait of his own Black Paintings, or of Warhol’s later “Disasters”, than of Warhol’s “Troy Donohue” or “Marilyn” silkscreens. You could almost read this dour, barely-there portrait as being in mourning for, or at least a token of, Rauschenberg’s closeted life. With its figure small and lost, gazing up into the heavens, this is one of the most wistful images Warhol ever made. All that blackness, and the filmic stutters running down the surface of the work, remind me most of Warhol’s dark and cryptic “Shadow” silkscreens from 1978.

The painting also comes close to being a direct quote from the all-blue monochromes of Yves Klein. Warhol cannot have missed the Frenchman’s 1961 New York show with Leo Castelli, who became Warhol’s own dealer not long after.  (A couple of years later, Warhol was asking a lover, the art historian Robert Pincus-Witten, to tell him what Klein was like.) Klein is one of the few artists of this era who can rival Warhol for his mix of brainy profundity and absurdist play, and this portrait almost proves the connection. Within a year or two, Warhol was including Kleinian monochromes in his silkscreened diptychs; this earlier “Rauschenberg” can almost be thought of as a collapsed diptych, with a silkscreen portrait sandwiched on top of a blue monochrome. Which means there’s also cancelling-out going on – a deliberate attempt to make a portrait that conceals more than it shows. Warhol may have admired and envied Bob Rauschenberg, but more than anything he wanted to cast the shadow of his own art over his new friend’s. This darkling portrait casts that shadow, symbolically, before Warhol had made a whole lot of art that could actually outshine Rauschenberg’s. (Image courtesy Andrea Caratsch, © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.)

The Daily Pic also appears at blogs.artinfo.com/the-daily-pic. For a full inventory of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.

Posted at 4:32 PM
[Permalink] 129 notes

THE DAILY PIC: This is a stack of prints by Kaspar Müller. They’re from a project called  Tropic of Cancer, in which Müller has put on sale every single object he owns, from a stack of Artforum magazines to his stereo set. The prints are on view in the group show called “The Saint Petersburgh Paradox”, now at the Swiss Institute in New York. (There’s a dedicated phone line for anyone who would like to make an offer: +49 176 9098 8107.) Müller’s not the first artist to host such a sale, but in every case I’m attached to the way they work with commodities already out there in the world, instead of adding to our mass of consumables. Has anyone thought of Duchamp’s readymades as the first attempt at green art? 
The Daily Pic also appears at blogs.artinfo.com/the-daily-pic. For a full inventory of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.

Jul 17, 2014

THE DAILY PIC: This is a stack of prints by Kaspar Müller. They’re from a project called  Tropic of Cancer, in which Müller has put on sale every single object he owns, from a stack of Artforum magazines to his stereo set. The prints are on view in the group show called “The Saint Petersburgh Paradox”, now at the Swiss Institute in New York. (There’s a dedicated phone line for anyone who would like to make an offer: +49 176 9098 8107.) Müller’s not the first artist to host such a sale, but in every case I’m attached to the way they work with commodities already out there in the world, instead of adding to our mass of consumables. Has anyone thought of Duchamp’s readymades as the first attempt at green art? 

The Daily Pic also appears at blogs.artinfo.com/the-daily-pic. For a full inventory of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.

Posted at 4:00 PM
[Permalink] 38 notes

THE DAILY PIC:  This is “Matter on the Move”, a 1969 piece by the Israeli artist Benni Efrat, recreated recently for the “Other Primary Structures" show at the Jewish Museum in New York. All it is is a huge block of foam rubber, deformed by the massive sheet of steel that has been lowered onto it. Almost 50 years on, I love the way it seems to predict the kinds of geometrically regular deformations that we now expect to see in computer simulations. (A friend who was a pioneer in digital imaging remembers fooling around with such shapes in the 1970s.) Artists have always created sights that we otherwise would not get to see – whether by means of pigment on cave walls, oil paint on canvas, steel dumped on rubber or charged particles moving around on silicon chips. (Photo by Kris Graves; work courtesy the artist, Tel Aviv © Benni Efrat)

The Daily Pic also appears at blogs.artinfo.com/the-daily-pic. For a full inventory of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.

Jul 16, 2014

THE DAILY PIC:  This is “Matter on the Move”, a 1969 piece by the Israeli artist Benni Efrat, recreated recently for the “Other Primary Structures" show at the Jewish Museum in New York. All it is is a huge block of foam rubber, deformed by the massive sheet of steel that has been lowered onto it. Almost 50 years on, I love the way it seems to predict the kinds of geometrically regular deformations that we now expect to see in computer simulations. (A friend who was a pioneer in digital imaging remembers fooling around with such shapes in the 1970s.) Artists have always created sights that we otherwise would not get to see – whether by means of pigment on cave walls, oil paint on canvas, steel dumped on rubber or charged particles moving around on silicon chips. (Photo by Kris Graves; work courtesy the artist, Tel Aviv © Benni Efrat)

The Daily Pic also appears at blogs.artinfo.com/the-daily-pic. For a full inventory of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.

Posted at 4:00 PM
[Permalink] 29 notes

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