December 6, 2008

saturday painting stars...

FRANK STELLA: Works on canvas from the 60's,
Van de Weghe Fine Art -- 521 West 23rd Street
November 8 - December 20, 2008

Trenton Doyle Hancock / FEAR
James Cohan
533 West 26th Street
November 20, 2008 - January 10, 2009

October 22, 2008

Shaker Visual Poetry (Gift Drawings & Gift Songs)

Sacred roll [untitled booklet], 1840-43. Anonymous. Ink and watercolor on paper.

from ubuweb:

The United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing — called "Shakers" — originated in England in the mid-eighteenth century and soon centered around the person of Ann Lee (Mother Ann, or Mother Wisdom, or simply Mother), who became "the reincarnation of the Christ Spirit … Ann the Word … Bride of the Lamb." The group practiced communal living and equality of the sexes, along with a reputedly complete abstention from sexual intercourse. After persecutions and jailings in England, Ann brought them to America in 1774, where for many years they thrived on conversions, reaching a maximum size of 6,000 before their demise in the twentieth century.

Between 1837 and 1850 ("known as the Era of Manifestations") the Shakers composed (or were the recipients of) "hundreds of … visionary drawings … really [spiritual] messages in pictorial form," writes Edward Deming Andrews (The Gift To Be Simple, 1940). "The designers of these symbolic documents felt their work was controlled by supernatural agencies … — gifts bestowed on some individual in the order (usually not the one who made the drawing." The same is true of the "gift songs" and other verbal works, and the invention of forms in both the songs and drawings is extraordinary, as is their resemblance to the practice of later poets and artists.

N.B. "To be sure, the term drawing is a misnomer, because the Shakers did not use it themselves when they were referring to these works. In the few Shaker documents in which the gift drawings are mentioned, they are typically referred to as sheets, rolls, signs, notices, tokens of love, presents, rewards, hearts — sometimes prefaced by the adjective sacred. This definition focuses on the function of the works as gifts from heavenly spirits, rather than on the form in which the gifts were materialized. In fact, the gift drawings often include titles, captions, inscriptions, and extended texts, in English as well as in scripts written in indecipherable tongues, that place them on an uninterrupted continuum with other manifestations of belief, such as inspired writing, ecstatic movement, and spontaneous speech, especially in the form of song." (Thus: France Morin, in Shaker Gift Drawings and Gift Songs, The Drawing Center, New York, and UCLA Hammer Museum, 2001 — a book packed with generous examples, from which those shown here have been extracted.)

Spirit Message, 1843. Anonymous.

"The [Shaker] drawings … are documents of ‘visions’ taking a physical form that is, in most instances, highly contained and organized. Nonetheless, within this ordering are chaotic details and decorations, flourishes of line and color, as well as indecipherable texts and, alternately, those that read with heart-stopping clarity. A vision seen or heard by one Shaker member as a divine manifestation is then transcribed by another, assaulting on several fronts the modern notion of authorship. Whether intentionally or not, the Shakers contradicted many traditional notions of art-making, just as the relative freedom afforded them in their chosen home, the United States, allowed them to pursue a rigorous life of communal devotion very unlike the ‘cult of the individual’ that the new country promulgated." (Ann Philbin and Catherine de Zegher, in Shaker Gift Drawings and Gift Songs, The Drawing Center, New York, and UCLA Hammer Museum, 2001.)

Tree of Heaven, 1844. James M. Mott. North Union, Ohio.

"Gift drawings are also typically distinguished by their precise graphic quality, which links words elegantly written in upright, noble scripts with their delicately rendered visual counterparts as unified elements of thoroughly structured designs." (France Morin, in Shaker Gift Drawings and Gift Songs, The Drawing Center, New York, 2001.)

October 19, 2008

Love, Giorgio Morandi

Morandi's paintings aren't big....they are sort of quiet and yet really alive....I really dug the consistency of his paint, the non-color colors, the crowds of bottles, cartons, shells, and pared-down landscapes....the roominess of his small compositions....the proto-Guston, proto-Rothko, proto-Cezanne-ness of his work....and yet they're entirely Morandi paintings....his brushwork will surprise you....the watercolors and etchings will surprise you.....his three horizon lines will surprise you.....there are 110 works in this comprehensive survey, the first of its kind in the US.....don't miss it, it is up at the Met until December 14. (Thanks MBH)

September 28, 2008

i love you do you love me [LB]

Caught the last few minutes of the Louise Bourgeois show at the Guggenheim.
I love LB's brave and energetic paintings from the late 40's.

September 20, 2008

15 minutes with you

The Smiths - Reel Around the Fountain - Live at the Hacienda, Manchester, 6 July 1983.

September 10, 2008

Party at Phong's | Curated by Chris Martin

Reception, Friday, September 12
7-10 pm
Janet Kurnatowski Gallery
205 Norman Avenue, Brooklyn NY

September 6, 2008

allison schulnik, thursday night at mike weiss.

Allison Schulnik
Niagara Falls #5 (Currier & Ives), 2008
oil on canvas
84 x 136 inches

(detail) Niagara Falls #5 (Currier & Ives), 2008

some of her other paintings featured kind of scary weird clowns.

Big Hobo Clown Head, 2008
oil on canvas
72 x 60 inches

see it in person -- September 4, 2008 - October 11, 2008
mike weiss gallery (click here)

August 19, 2008

mellow candle

If you've been getting your hippy on this summer like I have, you may want to check out, Mellow Candle. I was turned onto Mellow Candle a few years ago, and just today finally got copies of their records, "Swaddling Songs" and "The Virgin Prophet-Unreleased Sessions 1969-70." Outrageously good if you're at all interested in the British/Irish Folk Rock Psychedelic Explosion at the end of the 1960's - beginning of the 70's.

Described as, "Dynamic arrangements, exquisite harmonies, lyrically intoxicating and mischievously mysterious, the voices, songs and vision of the writers within Mellow Candle are, like a wardrobe into Narnia or the sleepinduced faerie of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the gateway to another world. Often compared, erroneously, to Renaissance — with whom there is only the superficial comparison of piano-led arrangements — Mellow Candle occupy a unique place in the prog pantheon, an Irish group with almost no Irish reference points and bearing more relation to Jethro Tull as fronted by Siouxsie Sioux and Judy Dyble with Vincent Crane on the keys. It’s crazy but it’s true."
superthanks DK.

August 13, 2008


Jaws, the 1975 thriller/horror film directed by Steven Spielberg.

Damien Hirst, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, 1992

Marsden Hartley, Eight Bells Folly: Memorial to Hart Crane, 1933, oil, 30 5⁄8" x 39 3⁄8"

John Singleton Copley, Watson and the Shark, 1778, Oil on Canvas, 182.1 x 229.7 cm

August 5, 2008


Georges Rouault, The Three Judges c.1936

Al Held, Black Angel, (c. 1964)

July 31, 2008

like a seer (v.h.)

Rosette ca. 1856, Pen and brown-ink wash on vellum paper folded twice. 8"x 7"

What Victor Hugo was searching for in these drawings were signs that would stimulate his imagination and suggest directions for his pen. Hugo interpreted these foldings, not for psychological purposes like the Swiss physician Hermann Rorschach with his famous tests introduced in 1921, but like a seer. He developed the symmetry, discerned resemblances, discovered figures and carried out all kinds of permutations. Reversal (or, better still, reversability), metamorphoses and fusion were themes so firmly rooted in Hugo's praxis that one commonly finds in his compositions a landscape reflected in water or a figure that reads equally well either way up. ---Florian Rodari.

Octopus with the initials V. H., ca. 1866, Ink wash on paper

Ma Destinée, 1867, 17.4 cm x 25.9 cm

July 3, 2008

Rock My Religion (1982-84) by Dan Graham on ubuweb

Rock My Religion (1982-84) by Dan Graham (b. 1942)
1982-84, 55:27 min, b&w and color, sound

Rock My Religion is a provocative thesis on the relation between religion and rock music in contemporary culture. Graham formulates a history that begins with the Shakers, an early religious community who practiced self-denial and ecstatic trance dances. With the "reeling and rocking" of religious revivals as his point of departure, Graham analyzes the emergence of rock music as religion with the teenage consumer in the isolated suburban milieu of the 1950s, locating rock's sexual and ideological context in post-World War II America. The music and philosophies of Patti Smith, who made explicit the trope that rock is religion, are his focus. This complex collage of text, film footage and performance forms a compelling theoretical essay on the ideological codes and historical contexts that inform the cultural phenomenon of rock `n' roll music.

Original Music: Glenn Branca, Sonic Youth. Sound: Ian Murray, Wharton Tiers. Narrators: Johanna Cypis, Dan Graham. Editors: Matt Danowski, Derek Graham, Ian Murray, Tony Oursler. Produced by Dan Graham and the Moderna Museet.

June 3, 2008

UNLIKELY @ W139 Amsterdam

17 May -22 June 2008
Friday 16 May: Opening 21:00

An exhibition of Leo de Goede with:
Elizabeth Cooper, Terry Haggerty, Jasmine Justice, Bertold Mathes, Klaus Merkel, Sonia Rijnhout and Gary Stephan

iPhotos taken during the Unlikely discussion evening and opening, May 14/16, 2008.

May 31, 2008

eidolon by jasmine justice + jesse farber

Hello superdigit readers, another post from my visit to Amsterdam.
While there, I got to see my friends, Jesse Farber and Jasmine Justice's SUPER new video collaboration. In this piece, Death is posited as an eidolon, or astral double, of Life.

May 29, 2008

David Altmejd (May 3 - June 14, 2008)

Check out David Altmejd's rad show at Andrea Rosen. Giants, mirrors, spiral staircases, crystals, mixed up body parts, hairy body parts. It's your quasi-queer Six Million Dollar Man meets sculpture fantasy.

May 20, 2008


Vincent Van Gogh, Cottages, 1883
The Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

For me, Rembrandt was all about the browns, and Van Gogh was all about the greens. Standing in front of this painting was HUGE.

John Everett Millais

Millais' most famous picture, Ophelia, is burned into my brain. However, my knowledge of Millais' other works were a bit sketchy. The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam had a large showing of his work that made me a huge fan. Millais' early mystical Pre-Raphellite paintings are preceded by earlier paintings like, The Artist Attending the Mourning of a Young Girl. This early work hooked me at the start of the exhibition.

John Everett Millais
The Artist Attending the Mourning of a Young Girl
about 1847, Oil on board

An inscription from the picture’s back described this scene: ‘The painting represents an incident in Millais’s own life when he was sent for by people unknown to him, but who knew him to be a young artist, to draw a portrait of a girl in her coffin before her burial. The scene moved him so much that when he got home he made this sketch showing himself being asked to draw the girl’s portrait.’

Other later pieces that stood out were...

John Everett Millais
The Rescue 1855, Oil on canvas

The glazes of red in this painting are super intense (not like this jpeg) and almost feel like a photoshop technique when seen in person...this glazing is totally crazy in its' ability to suggest 'fire space' versus 'non-fire space' within the composition....."Inspired by a brewery fire Millais witnessed, and a rare painting of physical action, this scene of modern life shows a fireman carrying three small children he has saved from a blaze, the youngest of whom he delivers into the embrace of their anxious mother. Ruskin praised The Rescue, writing ‘it is the only great picture exhibited this year’, clearly impressed by this novel scene of nocturnal heroism."

Lastly, I wanted to mention an amazing drawing called Awful Protection Against Midges 1853 (Pen and brown ink on laid paper) is a drawing of the artist and a friend sketching plein air while midge insects swarm around them. They smoke cigarettes as a repellent and wear hoods to protect themselves from the biting bugs.

This exhibit came from the Tate London to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, and the link attached to this post's title enables you to view the exhibit room by room as it was presented in London.

Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Jewish Bride, oil on canvas, 1667

This Rembrandt painting, Jewish Bride, is at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and is simultaneously subtle and energetic. The brushwork completely differs across the canvas....the area detailed below and the space behind the figures especially fascinated me. In person, the brushwork, the charged emotional content, and the mysteriousness of the couple's gaze, provided me with a newfound Rembrandt love.

May 18, 2008

Maria Sibylla Merian

I have just returned from Amsterdam, where I saw so many incredible exhibitions and met so many wonderful people. I will be doing various posts from this trip, here is the first on Maria Sibylla Merian, whose work I saw at the Rembrandt House. This exhibition travels to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles and is on view there from June 10 - August 31, 2008.

Maria Sibylla Merian (Frankfurt am Main 1647–1717 Amsterdam) was an exceptional woman who produced a no less exceptional oeuvre. Working in the Netherlands and Surinam, she was the most important and influential natural history artist of her age. Her greatness lies in the way she combined art at the highest level with innovative science. It was her years of scientific research and painstaking observations of insects, reptiles and plants that enabled her to make her meticulously detailed watercolours and prints. She was the first person to depict caterpillars, butterflies and moths at the different stages of their life cycles, together with the host plant on which they fed.

Merian’s adventurous life was as extraordinary as her work. As a child she was taught to draw by her stepfather, who had been a pupil of the famous Jan Davidsz. de Heem. As a newly-married woman she found fame with the publication of a three-volume work on flowers and two books on caterpillars. In 1685 Merian divorced her husband and took her two daughters to the Netherlands, where they joined a religious community in Friesland. Some five years later, when the community ran into financial difficulties, she moved to Amsterdam, where she and her daughters established a flourishing business. The firm of Merian & Daughters sold pigments, brushes, prepared insects and animals preserved in spirits to the countless collectors, dealers and printers who lived and worked in the city.

At the age of 53 Maria Sibylla travelled with her younger daughter to Surinam to study insects in the rain forest there. She returned to the Netherlands two years later—seriously ill but with hundreds of drawings and specimens of butterflies, moths, lizards, snakes and iguanas. They provided the basis for her book Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensis, Ofte Verandering der Surinaamse Insecten which she published in Latin and Dutch in 1705. It brought her international fame. More than three hundred years later her scientific discoveries still stand, and her watercolours and gouaches have lost none of their power and astonishing beauty.