Blogs Centerpoints

Centerpoints: Brazil, Eames, Musical Migration

• When in 1985, the film Brazil was held from distribution in North America by execs at Universal for being inappropriate, its director, Terry Gilliam, wrote a letter to studio head Sidney Sheinberg asking about its release — which he published as a full-page ad in Variety. It read: “Sidney Sheinberg, When are you going […]

• When in 1985, the film Brazil was held from distribution in North America by execs at Universal for being inappropriate, its director, Terry Gilliam, wrote a letter to studio head Sidney Sheinberg asking about its release — which he published as a full-page ad in Variety. It read: “Sidney Sheinberg, When are you going to release my film, ‘Brazil’? Terry Gilliam.” Letters of Note has the story.

SFMOMA’s addition is budgeted at $325 million, quintuple the $60 million spent on its 1995 building, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Add to that another $230 to operate the facility. The reason: The museum is acquiring the collection of late Gap founder Donald Fisher and his wife wife Doris. Estimated value: Over a billion dollars.

• The color of the year for 2012, according to Pantone: “Tangerine Tango.”

• Trailer: EAMES: The Architect and The Painter, now touring the U.S. (but, alas, not coming to Minneapolis).

• In the spirit of one of Daniel Eatock’s contributions to our show Graphic Design: Now in Production wrapping paper made from pricetags — here’s a look at wrapping paper made up of QR codes. When you scan ‘em, they offer gift suggestions (which is odd, considering you’re already in wrapping mode.)

• Er, rapping paper.

• Via Happy Famous Artists, a motion-graphics look at the evolution of western dance music, from 1800 to today.

• Your moment of “feel-o-meter” smokestack.

• Want to read more like this? Check out the running archives of “Art News From Elsewhere,” updated constantly on the new Walker homepage.

Centerpoints: Symbology, farming and ancient Greece

• The slow task of moving a 340-pound boulder—the centerpiece of Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass to be installed at LACMA—106 miles is slowed further by bureaucracy: Each of 100 jursidictions the stone rolls through require permits to allow passage. • Artist Wim Delvoye on the difference between how he and Ai Weiwei view China: “He […]

• The slow task of moving a 340-pound boulder—the centerpiece of Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass to be installed at LACMA—106 miles is slowed further by bureaucracy: Each of 100 jursidictions the stone rolls through require permits to allow passage.

• Artist Wim Delvoye on the difference between how he and Ai Weiwei view China: “He is a very, very angry man, very angry in China. They have done things to him, and he cannot forgive. I’m a foreigner, I’m an outsider, I see things more with rose-colored glasses.”

• The graphic design associated with Occupy Wall Street—a dancer performing an arabesque atop Wall Street’s iconic bull—has something in common with the logo of the hacker group Anonymous: Links to ancient Greek iconography.

We Make Money Not Art looks at Trevor Paglen’s photography of U.S. government “black ops” sites; the project is related to a piece in the current Walker show, Graphic Design: Now in Production, which features a series of official patches created for secret military projects.

• Artist Matthew Moore was featured in the Walker’s 2008 exhibition Worlds Away: New Suburban Landscapes with his plantings that mimicked the kinds of suburban communities that were eating up precious agricultural land near his family’s Phoenix-area farm. Now he’s got a new project, the Digital Farm Collective:

Using time-lapse photography, I began filming all the crops on our farm, and soon started inviting other farmers to do the same. Using specially designed solar-powered, weather-resistant units housing digital time-lapse cameras, farmers around the world can film their crops.

Must-read: The New York Times on Estee Lauder heir Ronald Lauder’s philanthropic giving, art buying (he bought his first artwork by Egon Schiele when he was 13, using money from a bar mitvah gift) and “tax avoidance techniques.”

Alec Soth: “I want to photograph your dog”

For Angus, who came into my life from Border Collie Rescue of Minnesota this summer, this is a pretty big deal — appearing on a Walker blog. But it’s nothing compared to what it could be: he could star in a photo by Alec Soth.

For Angus, who came into my life from Border Collie Rescue of Minnesota this summer, this is a pretty big deal — appearing on a Walker blog. But it’s nothing compared to what it could be: he could star in a photo by Alec Soth.

The acclaimed Twin Cities–based photographer (and subject of a Walker solo show last winter) writes that he’d “happily photograph your dog if you are the winning bidder of a portrait session on our eBay Auction page.” But while artistic, the project is also altruistic: He’s donating the proceeds from the auction to his friend, writer, sometimes collaborator and dog lover Brad Zellar, to help cover his “mountain of medical bills.”

Soth reports that Zellar has been suffering from unexplained dizzy spells that have resulted in a fall requiring hospitalization and a battery of neurological tests. Zellar tells me he’d rather not go into his condition — suffice it to say he and doctors still aren’t quite sure what’s going on — but he’s grateful for the generosity of Soth and many others.

Among many other accomplishments, Zellar is the author of Suburban World: The Norling Photos, which features a forward by Soth, and Conductors of the Moving World, published by Soth’s Little Brown Mushroom imprint as a fundraiser for victims of the tsunami and earthquake in Japan earlier this year.

Of course, the winning bidder in Soth’s auction isn’t constrained to dog portraiture, but apparently both his and Zellar’s love of dogs made for a good pitch. I emailed Zellar to ask about Wendell — “a shelter dog as well as a Chilean Dasher, one of only three dog breeds ever to appear on the endangered species list,” he wrote back, I think facetiously (as I don’t see many references online to the breed) — only later to realize he’d already written this sweet ode to his canine pal, whom he puts to bed each night with a vow to again “try like hell to make some new magic” in the morning.

Update: Sorry, Angus, somebody else won the eBay auction — with a bid of $9,100.

Centerpoints: Punk’s Lascaux

Graffiti uncovered on walls in a London flat are works of art meriting the site’s preservation, says a British archaeologist. The apartment was rented in the mid-’70s by members of the Sex Pistols, and many of the images were drawn by John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten. “The tabloid press once claimed that early Beatles recordings discovered at the BBC were the most important archaeological find since Tutankhamun’s tomb,” says John Schofield of the University of York. “The Sex Pistols’ graffiti in Denmark Street surely ranks alongside this and — to our minds — usurps it.”

More art news inside.

• In an early commemoration of its 50th birthday in 2015, Modern Art Oxford (formerly the Museum of Modern Art Oxford) is exhibiting 50 promotional posters from its exhibitions, curated by artists Simon and Tom Bloor. Included are posters for shows by Donald Judd, Joseph Beuys, Yoko Ono, and Alexander Rodchenko. Creative Review notes that the names of designers has been omitted, a problem it’s trying to rectify on its site.

• A plan floated by Minnesota Republicans to dedicate funds from the Legacy Amendment, a voter-approved constitutional measure directing a 3/8-cent sales tax to arts and environmental projects, for a Vikings stadium would hurt small arts groups, according to sources in an MPR story on the plan.

• Punk’s Lascaux: Graffiti uncovered on walls in a London flat are works of art meriting the site’s preservation, says a British archaeologist. The apartment was rented in the mid-’70s by members of the Sex Pistols, and many of the images were drawn by John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten. “The tabloid press once claimed that early Beatles recordings discovered at the BBC were the most important archaeological find since Tutankhamun’s tomb,” says John Schofield of the University of York. “The Sex Pistols’ graffiti in Denmark Street surely ranks alongside this and — to our minds — usurps it.”

• First China accused artist Ai Weiwei of trafficking in pornography for sharing an artwork in which he and several women were photographed nude. Now Facebook seems to be getting in on the action: When documentary filmmaker Alison Klayman posted Ai’s image, the social networking site automatically removed it. She then altered the photos to cover the figures’ “naughty parts” with the Facebook logo, in hopes of conforming with the site’s community standards. The result: Her personal account was disabled. She writes:

Nudity is not always pornography, and censorship is not only about government. Considering that I complied with Facebook’s “Community Guidelines” as soon as I was warned, I am left guessing about why my personal account was disabled. Could it be that it was an automatic action that is taken whether or not a warning is heeded? Was it retribution for using Facebook’s logo to highlight their censoring of the images?

• Winners of the 2011-12 MCAD-Jerome Foundation Fellowship for Emerging Artists have been announced. Congratulations to Twin Cities artists Richard Barlow (a detail of his silver bromide painting is pictured above), Lauren Herzak-Bauman, Alison Hiltner, and Jehra Patrick (who works here at the Walker) and Gregory Euclide, of Le Sueur, Minn.

• It’s Thanksgiving week. You have much to be grateful for, Minnesota artists!

Centerpoints: Pina, Marina and pepper spray

Inside: Marina Abramovic, Clyfford Still, Ai Weiwei, Peter Haakon Thompson, Zhao Zhao, Yoko Ono, John Lennon, Wim Wenders, Raymond Pettibon and others.

•  Videos of police pepper-spraying nonviolent student protesters at UC-Davis went viral over the weekend, and one result is the new Tumblr site peppersprayingcop.tumblr.com, which has plenty of art references: The cop who casually sprayed students at point blank range finds himself superimposed into Picasso’s Guernica, da Vinci’s The Last Supper, Yoko Ono and John Lennon’s anti-war Bed-In, and Jacques-Louis David’s The Death of Marat, to name a few.

• Following her big MoMA retrospective last year, performance artist Marina Abramovic (who also got the pepper-spray photoshop treatment) “experienced a radical shift in status: art-world divinity to crossover media star,” writes the New York Times‘ Guy Trebay.

• Chinese authorities want to pin another crime on Ai Weiwei: Distributing pornography. Ai’s assistant Zhao Zhao has reportedly been interrograted by police over a photo of a nude Ai appearing beside four likewise nude women. Now the Guardian reports that some of Ai’s fans are tweeting nude self-portraits to the artist in solidarity. Hyperallergic captures some of their NSFW creations.

Pina — Wim Wenders’ 3D film about choreographer Pina Bausch — is among the 15 shortlisted documentaries for the next Oscars.

• Our friends at Intermedia Arts here in Minneapolis have launched ArtsHub, a shared office/creative confab arrangement for artists. It’s the brainchild of artist Peter Haakon Thompson, who’s behind several local arty institutions, including the Art Shanty Projects (in which artists reimagine ice-fishing shacks for more creative purposes) and The A Project (in which arts supporters identify themselves to neighbors by putting signs bearing a bright red A in their windows).

• In conjunction with its exhibition The Air We Breathe, featuring 30 works commissioned by artists including Raymond Pettibon and Amy Sillman on equal rights for same sex couples, SFMOMA hosted a livestreamed panel discussion Friday about the state of the campaign for marriage equality. I’m curious what the artistic response will be here in Minnesota to next fall’s ballot measure that proposes to add a ban on same-sex marriage into the state constitution.

• The new Clyfford Still Museum opens in Denver.

• With new protests against the military government in Egypt, new graffiti is appearing in Tahrir Square.

Centerpoints: Chili Peppers, Raymond Pettibon, and Miranda July’s deer legs

• Ai Weiwei makes the cover of the Nov. 21 issue of Newsweek‘s international edition, filmmaker Alison Klayman reports. In the accompanying piece he discusses his captivity earlier this year: “I really wished someone could beat me, because at least that’s human contact. Then you can see some anger. But to dismiss emotion, to be […]

Ai Weiwei makes the cover of the Nov. 21 issue of Newsweek‘s international edition, filmmaker Alison Klayman reports. In the accompanying piece he discusses his captivity earlier this year: “I really wished someone could beat me, because at least that’s human contact. Then you can see some anger. But to dismiss emotion, to be cut off from any reason, or anger, or fear, psychologically that’s very threatening.”

• The Red Hot Chili Peppers pays homage to artist Raymond Pettibon in a video for their new song that uses animations “inspired by” the LA artist’s work.

• Rob Walker on the duel shower head as “a moral crossroad.”

• Miranda July, one of the artists featured in Lynn Hershman Leeson’s film !Women Art Revolution (screening  at the Walker Nov. 18-20), is selling things — things like a “lucky pair of deer hooves given as a gift by a friend” and “collection of 43 stolen oil paints” — at a pop-up store in Manhattan’s NoHo neighborhood. The items are inspired by her new book It Chooses You (McSweeney’s).

2011 Turner Prize winner Karla Black: “Art is a sort of boxed-off little bit of civilized society where permission is given for us to freely behave like the animals we are.”

• As New York Mayor Bloomberg orders tents and belongings cleared from Occupy Wall Street’s Zuccotti Park encampment in advance of Thursday’s plan to shut down the New York Stock Exchange, PDN looks inside Occupy London’s tents through the work of photographer Ben Roberts.

• It’s Give to the Max Day here in Minnesota. Yes, we’re doing it, as are heaps of other worthy nonprofits that could use your donation.

Centerpoints: Vonnegut, Herzog, and Angry Birds

• “It’s exhilarating for a man to be shot at unsuccessfully”: Filmmaker Werner Herzog discusses getting shot at, his unequivocal opposition to the death penalty, and his new film, Into the Abyss. • To commemorate publication of the book Saul Bass: A Life In Film & Design (designed by Bass’ daughter Jennifer), Art of the […]

• “It’s exhilarating for a man to be shot at unsuccessfully”: Filmmaker Werner Herzog discusses getting shot at, his unequivocal opposition to the death penalty, and his new film, Into the Abyss.

• To commemorate publication of the book Saul Bass: A Life In Film & Design (designed by Bass’ daughter Jennifer), Art of the Title‘s Ian Albinson created a visual history of some of the late designer’s most memorable film sequences. (Albinson curated the film titles section of the Walker exhibition, Graphic Design: Now In Production.)

• Despite protestations by Yvonne Rainer and 52 others, a Marina Abramović performance the choreographer dubbed “grotesque” and a “public humiliation” went on as scheduled over the weekend. LA MOCA’s $2,500-a-plate (minimum) fundraiser included human centerpieces and prone nudes topped with skeletons. The LA Times quotes several attendees who said Rainer’s “exploitation” charge was a stretch, while C-Monster offers a cheaper alternative to Abramović’s centerpieces: a $12 version using an Angry Birds piñata.

• Reader Marianne writes in to Letters of Note: “In 1989 my husband passed on; I was 36-years-old and left with 3 small children. For some reason I wrote to Kurt Vonnegut and thanked him for his books and his compassion. I did not expect a reply. He must have been a kind man, as he sent this to me within a month of writing to him.” Read the letter.

The Guardian reports that, concerned about global warming and gallery expenses, Tate director Nicolas Sirota is urging fellow museum heads worldwide to drop long-held rules on gallery temperature and humidity. “We need to devise imaginative new solutions to resolve the dichotomy between long-term collections care and expensive environmental conditions,” he reportedly said at a recent conference. I’m curious if Liberate Tate, the activist group that’s trying to pressure Serota and the Tate to drop oil giant BP as a sponsor, will have a response to the plea.

• Minnesota Public Radio and the City of Minneapolis have teamed up to launch Sound Point, “a new interactive audio tour that allows visitors to use their mobile devices to access stories about works of public art in Minneapolis.”

Centerpoints: Wojnarowicz redux?

A year after the controversial removal of a video by the late David Wojnarowicz from the National Portrait Gallery show HIDE/SEEK, the exhibition is set to open in Brooklyn, and some religious groups are again calling for the censure of the piece, which includes brief footage of ants crawling on a crucifix. This and more, inside.

• A year after the controversial removal of the late David Wojnarowicz’s video A Fire in My Belly from a National Portrait Gallery show on the role of sexual identity in modern art, religious groups are renewing efforts to censor the work. The offending show, HIDE/SEEK, is set to open at the Brooklyn Museum of Art next week, and some are calling for the work — which includes a short bit of footage showing ants crawling on a crucifix — to be removed. But the museum doesn’t seem likely to budge. Director Arnold Lehman said the show will go on as intended by its curators, and he defended the entire presentation: “For a city that prides itself on diversity and creativity, there couldn’t be a better exhibition.” Here’s the entire work, which the Walker screened last year.

• Famed choreographer Yvonne Rainer is no fan of the performance Marina Abramović has planned for LA MoCA’s annual gala this weekend. In a letter to museum director Jeffrey Deitch, Rainer wrote, “It has come to my attention that a number of young people will be ensconced under the diners’ tables on lazy Susans and also be required to display their nude bodies under fake skeletons.” Calling the performance a “grotesque spectacle” and a “degrading” form of fundraising, she writes:

Subjecting her performers to public humiliation at the hands of a bunch of frolicking donors is yet another example of the Museum’s callousness and greed and Ms Abramovic’s obliviousness to differences in context and to some of the implications of transposing her own powerful performances to the bodies of others. An exhibition is one thing — this is not a critique of Abramovic’s work in general — but titillation for wealthy diners as a means of raising money is another.

• Five “portable murals” by Diego Rivera will be reunited for this weekend’s opening of a solo show by the late Mexican artist at MoMA. The works are “large blocks of frescoed plaster, slaked lime, and wood that feature bold images drawn from Mexican subject matter and address themes of revolution and class inequity.” While that theme is particularly fitting today, the presentation is historic as well: It reunites many of the works from a 1931 solo show, MoMA’s second ever monographic exhibition.

Brian Ulrichinterviewed here in conjunction with the 2008 Walker exhibition Worlds Away: New Suburban Landscapes — is featured on The Guardian today for his new book Is This Place Great or What, which compiles photos from his eight-year documentation of American consumer culture. Also, on Monday, he was featured in the paper’s The Big Ideas podcast, discussing his project as it relates to Ernst Fritz Schumacher’s notion of “Buddhist economics.”

• Closed for two months, the New York Historical Society reopens today with new facilities, including a children’s history museum and a new restaurant. Another feature getting attention: Keith Haring’s 1986 work Doodle, which was once part of the now-closed Pop Shop, now hangs above the society’s admissions desk.

• Occupy Wall Street’s Arts & Culture Committee is asking sculptor Mark di Suvero for help in getting barricades removed from around his work Joie de Vivre in Zuccotti Park. “We believe that cordoning off your gift to the people of New York goes against your intentions for the work, as well as the very spirit of public art,” the committee wrote in a letter. “‘Joie de Vivre’ is especially poignant as this movement actively fights to empower people of marginalized economic status. Indeed, that struggle is the joy of life.”

• The inaugural Modern Art Notes podcast is up and features an interview with artist Chris Burden on, among other topics, the role of risk-taking in art.

• The New York Times takes note of artist Pedro Reyes’ trip — with his puppet versions of Karl Marx and Adam Smith — to Occupy Wall Street.

Your moment of: Ping pong pajamas with Alec Soth

At his Tumblr blog Little Brown Miscellanea, photographer Alec Soth writes that part of the contract for the new book Rodarte, Catherine Opie, Alec Soth stipulated that he’d receive a pair of pajamas from Kate and Laura Mulleavey, the sister fashion-design team working under the name Rodarte. “Instead they sent me a box full of […]


At his Tumblr blog Little Brown Miscellanea, photographer Alec Soth writes that part of the contract for the new book Rodarte, Catherine Opie, Alec Soth stipulated that he’d receive a pair of pajamas from Kate and Laura Mulleavey, the sister fashion-design team working under the name Rodarte. “Instead they sent me a box full of PJ’s – one for every day of the week,” he reports. “In exchange for their generosity, I’ve made them this product endorsement video.”

Centerpoints: Style Wars, spotted horses and Christo

• Henry Chalfant and Tony Silver’s seminal 1984 documentary Style Wars condensed some 30 hours of 16 mm footage into a groundbreaking 69-minute film on the origins of hip hop culture. Now the unused footage — including clips of a b-boy battle featuring the Rock Steady Crew and interviews with legendary graffiti artists Kase 2, […]

• Henry Chalfant and Tony Silver’s seminal 1984 documentary Style Wars condensed some 30 hours of 16 mm footage into a groundbreaking 69-minute film on the origins of hip hop culture. Now the unused footage — including clips of a b-boy battle featuring the Rock Steady Crew and interviews with legendary graffiti artists Kase 2, Dondi and Seen — are deteriorating and in need of restoration. Enter: Kickstarter, where the filmmakers are fundraising to find the $28,000 needed to save and restore the outtakes.

Poster designs for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games were revealed on Friday, with posters going on sale in the Olympics shop. The 12 participating artists: Martin Creed, Anthea Hamilton, Howard Hodgkin, Chris Ofili, Bridget Riley, Rachel Whiteread, Fiona Banner, Michael Craig-Martin, Tracey Emin, Gary Hume, Sarah Morris (poster detail above) and Bob and Roberta Smith. Here’s one designer’s response to the series.

• New research suggests that 25,000-year old paintings of spotted horses found in caves in southwest France were realistic rather than symbolic renderings. The much-debated question may be put to rest after scientists compared modern horse DNA with that of Stone Age horses to find that the leopard-spotted ones existed. Said one researcher, “Why they took the effort making these beautiful paintings will always remain a miracle to us. It’s an enigma, but it’s also nice to see that if we go back 25,000 years, people didn’t have much technology and life was probably hard, but nevertheless they already endeavored in producing art. It tells us a lot about ourselves as a species.”

• U.S. regulators have given the go-ahead to artist Christo to install 5.9 miles worth of suspended fabric over the Colorado River. The Over the River project is expected to bring in $121 million in economic activity and attract some 400,000 viewers over the installation and presentation of the work.

• As the Walker’s backstage signature wall adds some historic names — dancers on the Merce Cunningham Dance Company’s final tour ever — here’s a look at the same kind of wall at New York City Center.

• Letters in history: Jimi Hendrix’s 1966 pre–Hey Joe postcard to his father while on tour in Germany.

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