Bracketology run wild: Pick your curatorial final four. I’ve got Rugoff, Schimmel, Tsai and Higgs. (But the bracket is missing Auping, Zelevansky, Fogle, Grynsztejn and plenty of others.)
Tyler Green Modern Art Notes
Archive for February, 2007
In recent years we’ve seen curators realize a number of artworks conceived — but not made — by artists before they died. The most prominent of these projects is Nancy Spector’s realization of a Felix Gonzalez-Torres for the U.S. pavilion in the upcoming Venice Biennale. The Venice presentation will “feature a never-before-realized work in the entrance courtyard of the Pavilion: two adjoining reflecting pools that form a figure eight, the sign of infinity, as both a silent mirror on our collective culture and a beacon of hope,” wrote Spector in her show proposal. FG-T originally designed the piece for the sculpture park at Western Washington University.
This week MAN will feature Q&As with Spector, Hirshhorn director Olga Viso, and Andrea Rosen Gallery FG-T guru Michelle Reyes on realizing the unrealized. Today: Nancy Spector.
MAN: How’s the run-up to Venice looking?
NS: We’re pretty much on track. We’re still waiting for some loan forms to be returned, we’re fund raising actively. Other than that, we’re ready. It’s right around the corner.
When creating an unrealized work of art, a piece that an artist conceived before his/her death, do you have a set thought process through which you work in deciding whether or not to make the artwork, or is it entirely artist-specific?
I think it depends on the artist, that frame of mind. Felix [has] a whole list of possible materials you can use to realize a piece, which is the case for the stacks and the candies. But for the pools, it’s not really the same, salvaging a decaying medium.
In my Q&A with Hirshhorn director Olga Viso (coming tomorrow), she talked about how she considers this question similar to the questions conservators face after an artist’s death, how to maintain the integrity of the artwork as the artist intended it.
I don’t know if it’s a conservation question but a question of trying to stay as true to intent and aesthetics. I guess that’s what conservators do too. It’s working forwards and not working backwards. Maybe for certain artists it’s closer to a conservation problem.
We have something here [at the Gugg] called the variable media initiative which has become in conservation circles and in digital art circles a well-known process that’s being shared by a network of museums. It really deals with re-fabricatable work or work that has components that will become obsolete. And we do extensive interviews with living artists about how they can imagine their work migrating to different forms or emulating different forms or making the charge that there would be a point where it can’t be exhibited anymore. Take, for example, Jenny Holzer’s use of LED signs: She could, in theory, say you can’t use new technology, which is actually not the case but you get the idea…
We didn’t have a conversation with him about this piece, but his work has served as a case study. What do you do when the candy is no longer made? When the company is going out of business, which is happening. For obvious reasons, you can’t stockpile candies. What’s most important: The color? The shape? Each candy piece of Felix’s, I think you can reduce it to one of those things. In some case it was flavor and color… Those are things that we deal with in talking to our conservators.
As we get into re-evaluating conceptual-heavy artists of the 1970s and 1980s, is this going to become an emerging trend, a question that we examine more and more often?
I would say for me it’s case by case, because it’s not something that I would plan on doing. Or really see myself as a curator who would take that on on a regular basis This is a very specific situation where I’d worked with him during his lifetime, and I knew this unrealized work and I knew that I wanted to make this proposal to Venice and having this element that had not yet been seen by the public.
This is not something I’d do with an artist’s having not had experience working with the artist personally. I don’t want to say never, but the realization of the Smithson barge: I don’t think any of those curators had worked directly with Robert Smithson (though obviously Nancy Holt had). But for me it was much more coming out of some confidence of having many, many, long conversations with Felix and knowing that there is this re-fabricatable aspect of his work and that there is no one way with materials. As with the stacks and the candies, the pools exist in a couple different sketches, They first appeared in 1992 as a proposal for Western Washington University. And then as part of a project in 1994 at the CAPC in Bordeaux. Both sketches are untitled and weren’t given a subtitle.
That [Bordeaux proposal] involved a pool embedded in the ground indoors with a sound element, and at the same time he made sketches for an outside set of pools. The outdoor pools don’t have a sound element. It’s a motif, the touching circles, as you know with the clocks, the nickel silver rings, the edition he did with Patrick Painter.
What did he leave behind about the actual building of the piece, so to speak?
He left drawings and descriptions of different kinds of materials, from local stone to just stone to concrete, so it’s kind of a variable range. The other things were dimensions for the diameter. And a suggestion of height. I’m researching the writings now, the correspondence between him and the curator in Bordeaux.
Will the artist’s process be presented in any way, as part of the exhibition, in a catalogue, etc.?
We will probably not exhibit the sketches, which is the decision of the [Felix Gonzalez-Torres] Foundation. But I’m certainly going to write about the process in an essay for the catalogue because I think we should be very transparent about how we did it, the research and such in terms of what people will be looking at. There’s also a reference to astronomical events [in his writings], and he’d he’d wanted an astronomer to write for the Bordeaux catalog.
If you saw the Apple iPhone commercial during the Oscars you probably immediately thought Christian Marclay. The Apple ad appears to be a direct crib from Marclay’s 1995 Telephones. (Various editions of the piece are owned by the Orange County Museum of Art and the Toledo Museum of Art. It’s included in this YouTube clip.)
Previously: Nissan loves Matt Johnson. Ford loves Damien Ortega.
Glasstire has posted a provocative poll about the MoMA trustees/Glenn Lowry situation.
I’ll be the first to use this groaner: This site is Wack.
But seriously: This is a new way of doing an exhibition website. It’ll be interesting to see how it works/evolves….
UPDATED 3:43 EST: See below.
Ten days ago MAN broke the story that the de Young is only the second art museum in the world to take the infamous AEG King Tut show. I also reminded you why art museums had avoided the show as if it were a Thomas Kinkade show — until John Buchanan foolishly took the show for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
Here are five shows that the de Young should be giving San Francisco instead of insulting it by using city property to enrich a private corporation:
Richard Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park series: It’s time for this show. FAMSF owns one of the best, too. Maybe the de Young and LACMA should organize it together — this show is near the top of shows LACMA should be doing instead of ‘contemporary glass.’
David Park retrospective: Twenty years ago Richard Armstrong organized a Whitney show of David Park paintings from the 1950s, and in 1977 the Oakland Museum gave Park a full retrospective. In recent years it’s been evident that Park’s influence on contemporary painting is alive and well: See Schutz, Dana.
Architects: Bernard Maybeck, Julia Morgan, Bakewell & Brown: Three major California-based architectural biggies. The de Young should probably do all three.
Clyfford Still retrospective: Abstract expressionism was quite possibly born in the East Bay shipyards where Still worked during World War II. Maybe the de Young and the Clyfford Still Museum should partner to tell that story.
Mel Ramos retrospective: Just for fun.