Dan Devening is an artist, educator (he’s on the faculty of the Paintings and Drawings Department of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago), and the creative force behind one of my favorite Chicago galleries, devening projects + editions. At the end of this month, devening projects will open a new exhibition titled Multiplemix that features new editioned work by artists such as Candida Höfer, Liam Gillick, Sarah Morris, and Sigmar Polke. I’ve always wanted to learn more about the thinking that goes into a set of artist’s multiples, so I took this opportunity to pick Dan’s brain a bit about how editions are made and why the making of multiples can be an exciting area for artists–as well as art collectors–to pursue.
Claudine Ise: What led to your interest in collecting, exhibiting, and publishing artists’ multiples?
Dan Devening: My interest in editions and multiples probably grew out of a few particular experiences. Foremost is my undergraduate focus in printmaking at the University of Nebraska. I was drawn to the printmakers because they seemed to operate in this cool zone between a kind of macho, working-class culture and this incredibly anal technical virtuosity. Plus, they seemed to have the most fun — working late into the night, printing complicated multi-color lithos and etchings… and getting a little high on all those chemicals that we learned later would probably take years off our lives. The printmaking area was led by Thomas Majeski and Gary Day, two artists who realized that the medium would change dramatically as technology advanced (this was the late 70s, by the way) and as a result, continually brought in non-printmakers as visiting artists to force us to work the potential of the medium. As students, we would assist or print for these artists, many of whom forced us to solve all kinds of crazy technical problems that may or may not be possible on the press. We aimed to please and were driven by this intense need to prove our worth by handing over an exquisitely printed edition at the end of their visit. Because most of these artists were not printmakers limited by some preconceived technical standard, they approached the process in a very innovative way that forced us to continually search for solutions.
Since I made my first appearance on the Art21 blog about six weeks ago, commenting on the now-infamous censoring of David Wojnarowicz’s video A Fire in My Belly at the National Portrait Gallery’s Hide/Seek exhibition, the incident has continued to make waves. Among many blogs, Hyperallergic and ArtInfo have followed the story closely, providing careful updates throughout its development. A few decisive twists and turns deserve to be highlighted here, as not many cases have echoed so strongly in the recent years. This run-through will serve as a brief introduction to my main theme of interest: the difficult relationship between art’s visibility, potency, and meaning, as they unravel in the context of presentation and interpretation.
The manifestation of support for Wojnarowicz’s video has been overwhelming, with multiple institutions and organizations taking it up as soon as the Smithsonian Institution decided to pull it from the show. Transformer Gallery in Washington D.C., the New Museum in NYC, as well as a slew of institutions throughout the country put on display what was meant to be erased, on the scale that – arguably – has never been seen before. Even Stephen Colbert weighed in on the issue.
In condemnation of his action, Secretary of the Smithsonian, G. Wayne Clough, who single-handedly made the decision to take down Wojnarowicz’s video, has been repeatedly called to resign.
Artist AA Bronson asked for his own contribution to the exhibition to be returned and is currently in legal deadlock with the institution, which refused to return the piece before the loan agreement’s stipulated date. According to the Art Newspaper, another request for the “solidarity” removal came in an unprecedented gesture from the owner of Untitled, Self-Portrait by Jack Pierson, a hedge-fund specialist, and collector Jim Hedges, who demanded that his work be taken down, at least until Wojnarowicz’s video is brought back on view.
Following this outpouring of various attempts to counteract the conservatives’ demands to severely limit what constitutes art, Robin Cembalest, the executive editor of ARTnews, wrote incisive commentary on what institutions can and should do to prevent the escalation of the next Culture Wars.
In this week’s roundup: Allora & Calzadilla play Beethoven from inside their pianos, Margaret Kilgallen will soon be honored, Laurie Anderson is planning delusions for Chicago, and more.
- Bruce Nauman‘s Office Edit I (Fat Chance John Cage) from Mapping the Studio (2001) is on view as part of SFMoMA’s Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance, and the Camera Since 1870. Nauman’s video, now part of the museum’s permanent collection, exposes the camera a medium for displaying how we interact with each other. The exhibition in on view until April 17, 2011.
- Mark Bradford donates $100,000 to launch a Kickstarter initiative called United States Artists or USA Projects, that is opening up a new front for art philanthropy. It’s described as a “fund-raising social networking Web site” that exists to discover the best artists in the United States.
- Check out Allora & Calzadilla at the MoMA from now until January 10. They will be performing their Stop, Repair, Prepare hourly in the Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium, beginning at 11:30 a.m. each day. This piece was acquired by MoMA in 2009 and is being publicly performed in the Museum for the first time.
You are an artist living in Bushwick, Brooklyn. It’s been a few years since you received your Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art degree from Carnegie Mellon University. You work as a freelance graphic and web designer and actor headshot photographer. You enjoy creating art and enjoy showing your artwork to others, so you find various opportunities to share your art with others. You participate in the Bushwick Open Studios. You apply to as many open calls for artwork as you can find on the Internet, occasionally being seduced into a pay-to-play call or donation auction event. You also create an artist’s website, but the web traffic is more like a parking lot, so you start blogging, tweeting, and uploading content to various online art communities to engage in some kind of conversation with other artists but the simplistic comments of “nice work” and “awesome stuff, man” make you sorta depressed. You meet with a Chelsea gallerist but she’s disinterested in your CV until the letters M-F-A are printed onto the paper since “that painting over there is a couple thousand more than that painting here because that artist over there went to Columbia.” So you apply to Columbia thinking you’re a shoe-in since your mom and sister got their graduate degrees there, but you’re rejected.
If you decide to give up, update your website. A security breach in your web hosting provider’s internal system devastates .0006% of online content originating in the United States and any computers accessing the affected information. Your website was erased and the virus attaches to your computer. All your artwork you’ve ever documented and digitally archived is now lost forever. THE END
If you decide to reapply to graduate school, continue reading.
In this week’s roundup, Mark Bradford repurposes South L.A. urban detritus, Allora & Calzadilla perform at MoMA, Raymond Pettibon goes hard in the paint, artists have a couple of firsts, and much more.
- Mark Bradford: Alphabet features new work relating to an ongoing poster project in which Mark Bradford repurposes messages from advertisements his finds in South L.A. as social commentary. This exhibition is currently on view at The Studio Museum in Harlem until March 13, 2011.
- William Wegman and Fay: Polaroids 1987 – 1995 is now on view at the Senior & Shopmaker Gallery. This show features the photography of William Wegman and includes an e-catalog for online viewing. This exhibition closes on December 24.
- An exhibition preview of the work of Vija Celmins will be on display as part of the Menil Collection on November 18. Vija Celmins: Television and Disaster, 1964-66 explores a specific time frame and subject matter of the artist’s work and will uncover groundwork that helped build her career. This exhibition is on view from November 19, 2010 – February 20, 2011.
- Miami Art Museum presents Susan Rothenberg: Moving in Place, the artist’s first museum show in over a decade and the first exhibition in South Florida. The exhibition features the work of Susan Rothenberg, including work ranging from her early horse paintings of the mid-1970s to more recent pieces. This show is on view until March 6, 2011.
In this week’s roundup: An-My Lê captures the American armed forces, Allora & Calzadilla explore physical and temporal displacement, Julie Mehretu examines the metaphysical aspects of art, and more!
- “Memory, materiality, monsters, and motion” provide the basis for Stop Motion, an exhibition at Friedrich Petzel Gallery that juxtaposes the work of artists Allan McCollum and Keith Edmier. “The new and newly combined pieces embody both artists’ desire to bring life to the inanimate, invisible, absent or imaginary. The concept of frozen time — or life stopped and examined at a single moment – forms the mirror side of this desire.” Stop Motion is on view September 9 – October 23.
- Murray Guy will present a solo exhibition with An-My Lê, featuring a “series of exceptional new photographs from the artist’s recent travels with the American armed forces.” The work will be on display September 16 – October 30. An opening reception is scheduled for Thursday, September 16 from 6 to 8pm, and a conversation between An-My Lê and Lynne Tillman will take place Saturday, October 16, at 4:30pm.
- Galerie Chantal Crousel (Paris) presents Allora & Calzadilla, which includes five works by the artists that are organized around physical and temporal displacement. “Gathering material elements from different social, geographical, and cultural systems into the field of a single image/form, the works presented here use metaphor as a structuring and distributional force to expand the frame through which normal circuits of meaning are determined.” The exhibition closes October 16.
What is so compelling about riddles, mysteries, and puzzles? Most people are fascinated by images and objects that are paradoxical or impossible in real life but look oddly convincing and perplexing in 2D. Art:21 Season Four featured contemporary artists Allora & Calzadilla, Mark Bradford, Robert Ryman, and Catherine Sullivan who investigate the boundaries between “abstraction and representation, fact and fiction, order and chaos.” Throughout history, artists have been compelled to explore paradox as contradiction, ambiguity, and truth.
The paradoxical structure of my work is often to engage that place of in-betweenness; to engage it, not to make a picture of it, not to make it its subject, but actually to try to work at that place in a way that demonstrates it, that’s demonstrative, that occupies it. You know it’s very abstract, but concrete.
It would seem that paradox inspires artists to expand their imaginations, derive abstract concepts, and dream bigger.
Art is paradoxical by nature. It both reflects the past and creates the future. It both orders and dis-integrates, and somehow, through the course of both, defies entropy.
Maybe that’s what humans do, too: reflect and create.
Maybe that’s why we need art so badly.
The Penrose stairs is a 2D depiction of a staircase in which the stairs make four 90-degree turns as they ascend or descend yet form a continuous loop, so that a person could climb them forever and never get any higher. This is clearly impossible in 3D but the 2D version achieves this paradox by distorting perspective. The best known examples of Penrose stairs appears in a couple of famous lithographs by M.C. Escher (see top image) and this brings us to Christopher Nolan’s Inception, a film that is billed as a story about dreams but also delves deeper into our fascination with paradox.
Note that this entry is not a review of the film, nor are there any major plot spoilers for those who have yet to see the film. I have seen this film three times on the big screen because if you want to truly understand the mechanics of Inception rather than simply going along for the ride, you need to see the film more than once and spend some time solving its puzzles and untangling its mysteries. I had a different purpose for each viewing and spent some serious time analyzing the art (and design) in the film.
This week in Roundup read about Pepón Osorio’s drowned art, Allora & Calzadilla getting shortlisted, Janine Antoni in motion, and a Hiroshi Sugimoto/James Turrell art counterpoint.
- Allora & Calzadilla are on the shortlist of artists to have their ideas selected for Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth. The winning concept will take its place in Britain’s premier public art spot after Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle by Yinka Shonibare is taken down at the end of 2011. The latest proposals will be revealed in central London next month and the selected work will be announced in early 2011.
- Drowned in a Glass of Water, an installation created by Pepón Osorio was commissioned by the Williams College Museum of Art and is currently on display at 69 Union Street, North Adams, MA (a former Gateway Chevrolet Dealership) until September 7. It will then move to WCMA itself on Sept. 25.
- White Cube Hoxton Square (London) presents Kupferstichkabinett: Between Thought and Action. The exhibition looks at the “pivotal role of drawing in current practice, the exhibition features over 200 works on paper by some of the most significant artists working today” and includes the work of Bruce Nauman and Gabriel Orozco. The show closes August 28.
- Property developer Paddy McKillen’s new arts center at Chateau La Coste (France) will include structures designed by five of the world’s top architects and feature a complementary sculpture park that will include works from artists Louise Bourgeois, Richard Serra and James Turrell. As a work-in-progress, it could be 2011 before the art is finally in place at the new center.
This Weekly Roundup features Kentridge’s Egyptian sketchbooks, Louise Bourgeois in The Surreal House, and Mike Kelley’s maiden voyage.
- Scheduled to coincide with the monographic retrospective devoted to the artist at the Jeu de Paume, drawings by William Kentridge will be presented in the Salle d’Actualité of the Department of Graphic Arts, alongside a selection of Egyptian drawings from the Louvre. The work will be on display until August 30.
- A current exhibition at the DHC/ART Foundation for Contemporary Art features the work of Jenny Holzer that deals with the United States-led invasion of Iraq and “holds up language as a mirror to show them and us the consequences of how words are used and misused. This analysis may be too late in some ways, but also just in time to show how language, too, can become a weapon of mass destruction.” The show closes on November 14.
- The New Topographics photo exhibition at SFMOMA offers a chance to look back in time to gauge our psychological and social distance from what we see. This exhibition is a re-creation of a pivotal 1975 exhibition held at the George Eastman House in Rochester, N.Y. and includes the work of Robert Adams who was in the original show. The exhibition is on view until October 3.
- The Barbican Art Gallery presents The Surreal House which consists of a labyrinth of chambers, designed by acclaimed young architects Carmody Groarke and features work by a host of artists, architects and film makers including Louise Bourgeois. The show continues until September 12.
- Work by Season 4 duo Allora & Calzadilla is currently on view at the Aspen Art Museum in the exhibition Restless Empathy. The exhibition examines the process of entering the interior world of another and seeking to make a connection. Eight artists were asked to create new projects or to rethink existing bodies of work to be shown throughout the museum and the town of Aspen itself. Allora & Calzadilla have created a new version of their Hope Hippo (first exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 2005) using local materials. Someone will be seated atop the hippo at all times, reading a newspaper. They will also be supplied a whistle, which they will blow each time they come across a story that they feel exposes or illuminates an injustice. Restless Empathy is on view through July 18.
- Season 3 artist Cai Guo-Qiang has installed his collaborative project Peasant Da Vincis at the newly opened Rockbund Art Museum in Shanghai. The project, which explores the subject of individual creativity, coincides with the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai — “a major international event where countries and companies exhibit their latest inventions so as to show off their political, economic, technological and cultural strengths.” Peasant Da Vincis presents the stories of peasant inventors from all over China who have shown “great enthusiasm and courage in the pursuit of their dreams.” The project invites the inventors to recreate their works, exhibit them, and demonstrate on site how their inventions work. This is done to encourage public discussions about their creations, as well as “the social transformation of hundreds of millions of peasants in the modernization process in China and their huge contributions to urban development.” Peasant Da Vincis closes July 25.
- Out of the Box, an exhibition at the Hammer Museum, celebrates the joint acquisition of the complete archive of prints by Los Angeles publisher Edition Jacob Samuel by the UCLA Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts, Hammer Museum, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Since 1988 Jacob Samuel has published 43 portfolios of prints made by artists, including Barry McGee, Andrea Zittel, (both Season 1), Gabriel Orozco (Season 2), and John Baldessari (Season 5). The number of prints included in each portfolio range from 6 to 36; the exhibition includes more than 550 individual prints. Out of the Box is on view through August 29.
- Variations & Improvisations, a solo presentation of works by Season 4 artist Robert Ryman, opens at The Phillips Collection on June 5. This group of approximately 25 small-scale paintings are drawn from private collections, some of which have rarely been shown in the United States. This will be the first solo showing of Ryman’s work in the Washington area. Variations & Improvisations closes September 12.
- Season 5 artist Julie Mehretu speaks to Artinfo’s Andrew Russeth about her new series of paintings currently on display at the Guggenheim Museum. Read Russeth’s article “All That’s Solid Explodes into Air: A Q&A with Julie Mehretu” here.
- A suite of photographs by Collier Schorr (Season 2) is featured in the June 2010 issue of Dazed & Confused.