October 5, 2011 § Leave a comment
October 5, 2011
The first weekend of October in Los Angeles was the official beginning of Pacific Standard Time, a six-month long collaboration of more than 60 cultural institutions across Southern California coming together for the first time, through a multitude of simultaneous exhibitions and programs, to tell the story of the Los Angeles art scene from 1945-1980. Collectors, museum professionals and art dealers from around the world traveled to LA, striving to get to as many of the VIP events, private collection tours and gallery receptions as they could. With over 70 galleries in Los Angeles and several in New York also participating, the Gemini workshop in Los Angeles and our gallery in New York each mounted complimentary exhibitions focusing on the works made during or inspired by the Pacific Standard Time era. These two exhibitions, titled Pacific Standard Editions, aspire to represent the time when the Gemini workshop and its artists burst onto the West Coast scene, making a rich and unique contribution to this burgeoning period in the history of art in Southern California.
On Saturday, October 1st, as a treat for special invited guests, Gemini opened the doors to its LA workshop and offered a glimpse of the tremendous effort that goes into edition-printing. Visitors watched as Master Printers editioned the enormous Serra Double Level II etching, Ed Ruscha’s colorful Liberty lithograph and Julie Mehretu’s 12-panel masterpiece Auguries. Notable among the many guests were Pacific Standard Time Chief Curator Andrew Perchuk, and former Gemini salesperson Lindsey Christensen, who returned to LA for the weekend festivities and to quickly visit the new Los Angeles art fair, Art Platform.
The following afternoon, Richard Tuttle landed at LAX, arriving on the new non-stop American Airlines flight from Santa Fe, carrying only a small canvas duffle. He came to town to check in on the ceramic project he is producing at Gemini and to sign the exquisite new etching that will be released this Fall. Sidney and I whisked Tuttle away to Maxfield, fashion central for Hollywood and the music business, so he could buy something for the Pacific Standard Time festivities at the Getty Museum that evening. With Tuttle dressed in a stunning new bright-green corduroy Balmain shirt, off the three of us headed to the hilltop Getty in Brentwood for the opening of Crosscurrents in L.A.: Painting and Sculpture, 1950-1970, where hundreds of LA artists, collectors, artworld luminaries and out-of-town visitors gathered at the gala reception.
Tuttle spent the following two days at Gemini, signing, numbering and hand-writing the title at the bottom of each impression of his new etching For John Altoon. To each impression he also added a curled pencil mark, unique to each sheet. The mark starts within the boundaries of the image, just above the signature, and, with drama and energy, spirals out to the margin of the paper. Tuttle also resolved the framing of his six new ceramic series, each of which is uniquely formed out of red earthenware clay. All are individually slip decorated, with the exception of the sixth series, which was finished with a yellow glaze. In three of the six “editions” – actually series of unique works – wires, copper and other materials are added to the surfaces.
On his last evening in Los Angeles, Tuttle accompanied Sidney and me to a conversation between John Baldessari and Christopher Knight, held in the Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer Museum. We were also joined by Kalyn and Sidney’s assistant, Kate Guillen. Christopher Knight, Pulitzer Prize nominated journalist and long-time writer for the Los Angeles Times, began the evening by showing the promotional film created for Pacific Standard Time. The witty video features actor Jason Schwartzman being pursued by the voice and oversized head of Baldessari, who encourages Schwartzman not to be intimidated by fine art. It was a fun and engaging way to warm up the audience for the provocative and lively discussion that ensued. Knight began the conversation by asking Baldessari about his early days in National City, California, and Baldessari was very revealing in the personal and creative journey that after many years brought him the international acclaim that he enjoys today. He spoke of how he learned “more about painting from [ceramist] Peter Voulkos than anybody else,” and recalled meeting Paul Brach at University of California at San Diego in 1967. Two years later, Brach became the founding dean at Cal Arts, and recruited Baldessari to come teach at the school, where he met Nam June Paik, Alan Kaprow and many other artists whose work and careers impacted Baldessari. The evening was filled with informative dialogue on the mechanical process of Baldessari’s artmaking as well as the philosophical approach to the “what is art” question that artists ever since Duchamp have been exploring.
June 21, 2011 § Leave a comment
June 21, 2011
There is no place like home. We have just touched down in Los Angeles after 3 exhausting but thrilling weeks in Europe. Skipping the madness of the opening days of the Venice Biennale, Sidney and I, accompanied by our daughter, the much-admired jewelry designer Suzanne Felsen, and her long-time companion Kevin Swanson, instead began our trip in Berlin. We were eager to explore the city’s extraordinary art and architecture and take in a few fabulous meals, following the recommendations of some dear friends.
One of our first activities was to meet up with art collectors Hilde and Busso Bartels, Berlin natives who were able to help us prioritize the many things to see by giving us an extensive driving tour throughout the city. They also introduced us to the extraordinary library at Humboldt University, designed by architect Max Dudler. Low-key on the outside and eye-popping on the inside, it is something that we certainly would have missed without their introduction.
We visited lots of museums, including a stop at the Berggruen Museum, repository of the magnificent collection of Heinz Berggruen, legendary art dealer and father of San Francisco galleriest John Berggruen. While there, we had the good fortune to encounter Olivier Berggruen, the youngest of the Berggruen sons, who took us into a private office to share with us his latest acquisition, an astonishingly fully-rendered Picasso sketchbook.
Beyond the memorable artworks we were privileged to view in the many museums and galleries we visited, we found a number of works by Gemini artists throughout the city. On our daily walk to coffee, we’d see Richard Serra’s Line of the Curve prints in the Westin Hotel, and we made an excursion with a cooperative taxi-driver to the Jonathan Borofsky Molecule Man sculpture in the Spree river (photo). We attended a reception for Andrea Zittel, with whom Gemini has been discussing a project, and saw her fantastic Pattern of Habit exhibition at Spruth Magers. We also attended the opening for Bruce Nauman’s For Children/For Beginners exhibition at the Konrad Fischer Galerie, and unexpectedly found the artist in attendance! It was a wonderful surprise to spend some time with Bruce. After the opening, we wandered around the corner to the lively artworld restaurant Sale e Tabacchi which Gemini artist Julie Mehretu had introduced us to two years ago while she was living in Berlin to complete her Goldman Sachs mural.
Reluctantly, we eventually had to leave Berlin behind, but fortunately our next stop was Switzerland, with its familiar cities, restaurants and routine activities. We landed in Basel on a Friday night, just in time for our first of several dinners at Chez Donati, the artworld darling during Art Basel, and arrived at the convention center the following morning in our blue jeans and tennis shoes, fortified and ready for the labors of installing the Gemini booth. We made enormous progress on our first day, so we felt relaxed on Sunday as we headed to Zurich in order to attend the annual reception for new paintings by John Baldessari at Mai 36 Galerie. In this exhibition, titled Double Vision, Baldessari couples iconic images by great artists such as Cezanne, Lewitt, Matisse and Warhol with the printed name of another artist, written out in his classic formal type. This deliberate false attribution is a classic Baldessari tongue-and-cheek puzzle on art history. He also removes iconic motifs from their traditional context, subjecting them to radical intervention and placing them in an unusual perspective. In all, Baldessari effectively has altered the images’ historical recognition and familiar meaning, while still allowing viewers to identify formal similarities between the originals and his versions.
Back to work on Monday, we completed our efforts in setting up the booth and were ready as the doors to Art Basel opened to enormous crowds on Tuesday. Amongst the many opening day visitors to the Gemini booth was British Museum curator Stephen Coppel, collectors Margrit and Paul Hahnloser and, relaxed and happy with his Zurich exhibition, Baldessari.
June 10, 2011 § Leave a comment
Bruce Nauman: Für Kinder / Beschriebene Kombinationen
Konrad Fischer Galerie – Berlin, Germany
9 June – 30 July 2011
Julie Mehretu: In Praise of Doubt
Di Palazzo Grassi – Punta Della Dogana, Venice
9 April 2011 – 31 December 2012
Larry Bell, Vija Celmins, Ed Kienholz, Kenneth Price, Ed Ruscha, and James Turrell
Venice in Venice, Glow & Reflection – Venice California Art from 1960
4 June – 31 July 2011
May 14, 2011 § Leave a comment
May 14, 2011
On a lovely Saturday afternoon in San Francisco, John Baldessari received an honorary Doctorate from the California College of the Arts. Along with fellow Doctoral recipient Betty Reid Soskin, Baldessari was applauded by the hundreds in attendance at the graduation ceremony held at the Concourse Exhibition Center near the CCA San Francisco campus. Founded in 1907, CCA is one of the most respected schools teaching fine art, architecture, design and arts management to undergraduate and graduate students. Prior notable recipients of honorary Doctorates at CCA include Gemini artists Josef Albers, Frank Gehry, Ann Hamilton, Isamu Noguchi, Claes Oldenburg, Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra, Wayne Thiebaud, James Turrell and Richard Tuttle
Flying from New York on the third leg of our 10-day trip that had begun in Chicago, Sidney and I landed in time to dine on Friday night with John and gallerists Gretchen and John Berggruen. At Saturday’s ceremonies, CCA President Stephen Beal spoke of Baldessari’s considerable influence on students, particularly those at CCA, and of Baldessari’s years of dedication to the teaching and making of art. John, with his typical humility and humor, gave simple words of advice to the graduating students, slyly referencing his own many years of hard work and slowly-gained, eventual success. In closing, he quoted the words of wisdom imparted by an old Japanese surfer he once met in Hawaii: “Paddle, paddle, paddle. Some day big wave come.”
April 22, 2011 § Leave a comment
April 22, 2011
We don’t always stop the presses to celebrate the artist collaborations at the Gemini workshop, except for the occasional Baskin Robbins ice cream cake from our friend Abel Eljam, because the printers hardly skip a beat when one artist departs, furiously working to print an edition before another artist arrives. For example, by the end of this month Gemini will have hosted four out of town artists this spring – James Rosenquist, Sophie Calle, Daniel Buren and Joel Shapiro.
Gemini GEL at Joni Moisant Weyl is proud to display new and recent Gemini publications by John Baldessari, Jonathan Borofsky, Ann Hamilton and Richard Serra. Each artist’s project at Gemini could not be more different – from lithography and screenprinting to etching to constructions that combine printmaking with fabric and bamboo. These four artists are a perfect representation of the Gemini ‘can-do’ spirit and the diverse specialties of our printing staff.
John Baldessari’s Nose/Silhouette series began with a party! The Gemini workshop printed a photographed nose on fields of color which were made into masks and used as place settings for a dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant Cut. The dinner followed the opening of Baldessari’s spectacular exhibition at LACMA, Pure Beauty, and guests, along with the artist, had great fun posing with the masks. Gemini and the artist resolved to make the images into a series of editioned prints.
Jonathan Borofsky visited the Gemini workshop back in 2008, working with text on Mylar. In 2010 his lithograph God is a Feeling was finally resolved, as was a screenprint of words from his mother:
“Several days before my mother died, I was sitting at her bedside – just talking about things. At one point I casually asked her if she had any words she wanted to leave behind. Without taking any time to think about it, she answered ‘Be Happy, Do the Best You Can, Be Good and Kind’.” – Borofsky
Ann Hamilton made a batch of party hats in honor of Sidney Felsen’s 85th birthday in September of 2009. These small lithographs with collaged fabric to be used as string were just the beginning of her juxtaposition of printmaking and fabric. The sheets of lithography became larger and the process of collaging fabric more complex as ciliary was formed.
Each ciliary begins with lithography on eight sheets of a creamy Japanese paper, Mitsumata. Added to the paper panels is a strip of fabric, adhered to one edge. A narrow accordion fold is applied, and bamboo ribs and hardwood dowels reinforce the folds on the verso.
It is impossible to visit the Gemini workshop without noticing the presence of Richard Serra. Serra has tirelessly pushed the boundaries of printmaking beyond the scale even the Gemini printers might have thought possible, conveying the weight and monumentality of his celebrated sculptural works onto a thin sheet of paper. In recent years Serra’s etching have grown to upwards of 85 inches, but these latest collaborations present a classic Serra study of the curve on an intimate scale. The series of 13 Junction prints, each measuring 16 x 18 inches, render various torque ellipse forms in concentrated, untidy etchings.
(Photographs by Sidney B. Felsen © 2011)
March 10, 2011 § Leave a comment
February 25, 2011
Joni, Sidney and John Baldessari packed up Joni’s Volvo and took off on a road trip to the Palm Springs Art Museum for the opening of JOHN BALDESSARI: A Print Retrospective from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation, on view through June 26th. The trio welcomed the sight of sunny desert weather as they arrived for a weekend of conversation and an after-hours filming at PSAM. The exhibition is graciously on loan from noted Portland art collector Jordan D. Schnitzer, and presents a comprehensive survey of Baldessari’s printmaking, with highlights spanning four decades of Baldessari’s collaboration with prestigious print publishers across the globe, including our own Gemini workshop. Friday evening, Joni and Sidney had the pleasure of walking the museum’s Contemporary Art Council through the exhibition, and principals from the Mixografia workshop as well as Jean Milant of Cirrus added brief comments about their own workshop’s collaborations. Later that evening, in a packed auditorium, Baldessari participated in a spirited conversation with Schnitzer and Museum of Contemporary Art of San Diego Director Hugh M. Davies. On Saturday morning Joni and Sidney accompanied Baldessari and Schnitzer for a video-taped walk-through of the exhibition. Sidney and Gemini Master Printer/Workshop Manager, James Reid, eventually joined in the conversation, at which time the artist recounted stories from his collaborations with Gemini, including the 28 editions that are on view.
Attending the weekend’s festivities were Sidney’s daughter, jewelry designer Suzanne Felsen, and Joni’s West Coast Director Kalyn Olson. Also in the audience Friday night were James Reid’s wife, Liz, and Ellen Grinstein-Perliter, daughter of Gemini co-founder Stanley Grinstein, accompanied by her husband Chuck.
Photo: John Baldessari in front of Person with Guitar (Orange)