(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Museum of Modern Art

“All familiar things can open into strange worlds”*…

Jasper Johns, Three Flags, 1958; Whitney Museum of Art

A thoughtful consideration of a modern master…

In​  the summer of 1953, after a stint in the army, Jasper Johns, aged 23, moved back to New York City. There, a few months later, he met Robert Rauschenberg. Their artistic and romantic partnership would last until 1961; the company they kept included John Cage and Merce Cunningham. In this heady atmosphere, Johns chose, in autumn 1954, to destroy all his prior work, and to begin the paintings that made his name when they were shown four years later: flags, targets and numbers crafted in encaustic (pigment mixed in hot wax) with collage (often mere newspaper) on canvas…

Johns made an exceptional entrance in early 1958: his first show at the new Leo Castelli Gallery nearly sold out, with three paintings immediately purchased by MoMA, and one piece appearing on the cover of ARTnews. Then 27, he had sized up the New York art world precisely, dominated as it then was by the formalist model of ‘modernist painting’ used by Clement Greenberg to champion Abstract Expressionism, and deftly deflected its discourse towards what Leo Steinberg would term ‘other criteria’.

In a studied phrase Johns spoke of his position as one of ‘shunning statement’. This suggests an aversion to polemics, political as well as artistic, that goes beyond temperament, a fatigue with the heated ideologies of the period (the Korean conflict, the McCarthy hearings, the Cold War). And Johns did muffle his subjects along with his gestures; his large White Flag (1955) is literally whited out. Might this intimate a ‘painting degree zero’ in line with the ‘writing degree zero’ posed by Roland Barthes against Sartrean commitment at around this time? ‘I can’t imagine my work being used to accomplish anything socially,’ Johns said. This is less negation than neutrality à la Barthes, for whom ‘the neutral’ was a way to baffle conceptual binaries, to undo ideological oppositions, to mess with ‘the paradigm’…

On the occasion of the Whitney’s (@whitneymuseum) show (through February 13) “Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror,” Hal Foster‘s “Which red is the real red?,” from @LRB.

* Jasper Johns


As we look closely, we might spare a thought for Francis Picabia (Francis-Marie Martinez de Picabia); he died on this date in 1953.  A French avant-garde painter, poet and typographist, Picabia experimented with Impressionism and Pointillism before becoming a Cubist. He then became one of the early major figures of the Dada movement in the United States and in France, and was later briefly associated with Surrealism.

See his work at the record of a major retrospective hung at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2017 on their web site.

Francis Picabia, 1919, inside Danse de Saint-Guy


Social Media: Systematically Gaming the System…




As we reconsider acting on those Yelp reviews, we might recall that it was on this date in 1967 that “La Bateau,” a 1953 paper cut by Henri Matisse was hung in New York’s Museum of Modern Art…  upside down.  It remained on inverted display for 47 days.  Genevieve Habert, a stockbroker, noticed the mistake (by comparing the hanging to the photo in the catalogue).  As it was a Sunday night and there were no curatorial officials on duty, Habert informed the New York Times, which in turn notified Monroe Wheeler, the Museum’s art director… who had the piece rehung correctly on Monday.




Written by (Roughly) Daily

October 17, 2011 at 1:01 am

Paper Tiger…

Dollar surfer, opus 571, with Breaking Wave
Medium: One uncut U.S. dollar (each)
Composed: 2010
Folded: 2010
Size: 1.5″

Robert J. Lang parlayed his Cal Tech PhD into a career as a physicist and engineer, one in which he authored or co-authored over 80 publications and 50 patents.  But by 2001, Lang’s passion for the intersection of mathematics and the manipulation of paper won out, and he became a full time origami artist.

True to his path, his work combines aspects of the Western school of mathematical origami design with the Eastern emphasis upon line and form to yield models that are at once distinctive, elegant, and challenging to fold.  They have been shown in exhibitions in New York (Museum of Modern Art), Paris (Carrousel du Louvre), and Kaga, Japan (Nippon Museum Of Origami), among others.

Dr. Robert Lang folding an origami American flag, which includes 50 stars and 15 white and 13 red stripes, from a single uncut square.  (source)

The first Westerner ever invited to address the Nippon Origami Association’s annual meeting, he lectures widely on origami and its connections to mathematics, science, and technology, and teaches workshops on both artistic techniques and applications of folding in industrial design.

See a gallery of Lang’s current work (and click around for explanations of theory and technique); read profiles of him and his work in The New Yorker and in Smithsonian; and watch him in this Wired video.

Redpath Pteranodon, opus 506
Medium: One uncut square of St.-Armand paper
Composed: 2007
Folded: 2007
Size: 15″
Comments: This model was commissioned by the Redpath Museum of Natural History in Montreal, Quebec, for folding in life size (3 meter wingspan). The full size version is currently installed at the Museum.

As we rethink recycling, we might recall that it was on this date in 1786 that 12 delegates from 5 sates (New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Virginia) convened the Meeting of Commissioners to Remedy Defects of the Federal Government in Annapolis, Maryland (AKA, the Annapolis Convention) to discuss approached to improving on the Articles of Confederation.  The session was adjourned four days later for want of critical mass:  New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and North Carolina had appointed commissioners who failed to arrive in Annapolis in time to attend the meeting, while Connecticut, Maryland, South Carolina and Georgia had taken no action at all.

Still, the Annapolis attendees produced a report that led to the convening the following year of the Philadelphia Convention of 1787… better known as the Constitutional Convention.

Report from the Annapolis Convention (source)

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