Blogs Centerpoints Exhibitions

Nam June Paik at the Walker: A History of Experimentation

Last summer, I initiated the conservation of Anti-Gravity Study, a two-channel, 25-monitor video artwork by Nam June Paik, whose tapes are part of the Walker Archives’ documentation collection. While working on this project, I also discovered the rich history that Paik has with the Walker, and the following is an account of this research as well […]

Paik installing Fish Flies on Sky (1976), another artwork in which monitors were mounted to a gallery's ceiling. Photograph: Paik Estate 

Paik installing Fish Flies (1976). Photograph: Peter Moore Estate

Last summer, I initiated the conservation of Anti-Gravity Study, a two-channel, 25-monitor video artwork by Nam June Paik, whose tapes are part of the Walker Archives’ documentation collection. While working on this project, I also discovered the rich history that Paik has with the Walker, and the following is an account of this research as well as the ongoing conservation of Anti-Gravity Study. 

An artist who continually reinvented every medium with which he engaged, Nam June Paik is perhaps best known for recognizing video’s creative potential and elevating it to artistic status. Born in Seoul in 1932, Paik began his career as a musician, creating experimental compositions while also realizing new sounds with classical instruments. He pursued these experiments in Germany, where he collaborated with composers Karlheinz Stockhausen and John Cage and met George Maciunas, who would later invite Paik to join Fluxus when he moved to New York City in 1964.

In the late 1950s, Paik expressed increased interest in the theoretical and conceptual properties of video and a desire to further expand his technical knowledge and skill of the medium. During this time, he carried out his own experiments with video technology, especially in regards to using magnets to alter the polarity of the cathode ray tube inside televisions. Paik also made connections with members of the scientific community to merge the disciplines of art and technology through the works he produced.

In 1963, Paik met engineers Hideo Uchida and Shuya Abe, and it was this partnership that led to the creation of the Paik/Abe Synthesizer, a revolutionary device that allowed artists to manipulate closed-circuit video broadcasts and pre-recorded footage themselves as opposed to having to rely on technicians. The objectives of the synthesizer are echoed throughout Paik’s entire oeuvre and artistic process as he strived to challenge conceptions of the medium and the role technology increasingly played in everyday life: “the key point of today is how to strike the best balance in the interface of the man/machine, or hardware/software. It has been a basic philosophy behind the design of video synthesizer” [source].

The art world soon took notice of Paik’s experimentation with video. In 1965, the New School for Social research organized Paik’s first solo show, Nam June Paik: Cybernetics followed by the Bonino Gallery’s Paik exhibition—Electronic Art—the same year.

Martin Friedman, the Walker’s director from 1961 to 1990, heard about Paik while collaborating with the Howard Wise Gallery on the exhibition Light/Motion/Space. In a letter from Wise to Friedman, Wise describes Paik as follows, “40-ish, Korean, produces patterns in TV tubes by use of magnets. Hand operated. He is Charlotte Moorman‘s partner, or perhaps assistant.” Friedman was intrigued and eager to include Paik in the exhibition. He even expressed interest in inviting both Paik and Moorman to perform at the Walker.

Cover of Lights in Orbit catalogue.

Cover of Lights in Orbit catalogue

Light/Motion/Space featured artworks by artists who were experimenting with light as an artistic medium, and included 65 artworks. Thirty-five of the works were on loan from Howard Wise and shown in the earlier Lights in Orbit (1967), and artworks by eight additional artists were added to Light/Motion/Space. This exhibition also proved to be an excellent platform to introduce Paik’s video artworks to Midwest audiences, since it featured a group of international artists, all of whom pushed the boundaries of their respective medium.

Light/Motion/Space featured Paik’s Electronic Blues (1966) and Electronic Waltz (1967). These two color, single-channel videos were part of Paik’s “dancing patterns” artworks that he created during the mid-1960s using magnets to manipulate a video’s image. One of the most iconic of these was Magnet TV, which is also an early example of Paik’s “prepared televisions” and his first video sculptures. With these artworks, Paik deconstructed the television while adding a participatory element to the medium, since viewers could influence the television’s image by moving its magnet.

Cover of Light/Motion/Space catalogue.

Cover of Light/Motion/Space catalogue

In Paik Video, art historian Edith Decker-Phillips explains the creative and technical process behind these artworks:

“The power of attraction of the magnet hinders the electronic beam from filling up the rectangle surface of the TV screen. The field of lines is drawn up and builds veil-like patterns within the gravitational field of the magnet. If the magnet stays in this fixed position, the picture remains stable. There are only minor variations created by fluctuations in the electrical power supply. By moving the magnet, forms can be endlessly varied.” 

Using light as an artistic medium within Light/Motion/Space. UNTITLED (1966) by Ben Berns.

Using light as an artistic medium within Light/Motion/Space. UNTITLED (1966) by Ben Berns.

Electronic Blues (1966) displayed television news coverage of politicians, including future American president Richard Nixon. The magnet attached to the monitor impacted its electronic signals, causing the broadcast video to become distorted and creating what Friedman aptly referred to as Nixon’s “malleable physiognomy.” In this case, however, the magnet proved detrimental to the artwork—and exhibition—by causing the television to implode and smoke to fill the gallery. The exhibition briefly closed after this incident.

Friedman immediately phoned Paik about this problem, and an apologetic Paik arrived from New York on the afternoon of the same day to replace the monitor’s cathode ray tube and fix a short circuit. Unfortunately, the work continued to malfunction and was not featured in the exhibition when it later toured to the Milwaukee Art Center. Paik also did not see any use in replacing it with one of the other, yet older, color televisions in his equipment library:

“Easiest solution for all and probably the only one possibility is to forget about my color TV work in Milwaukee, but it might hurt me in the long range, if the rumour spreads in this small art world that my work is fragile.”

Richard Nixon's "malleable physiognomy" on view in Electronic Blues.

Richard Nixon’s “malleable physiognomy” on view in Electronic Blues

In more recent years, time-based media conservators have assumed the challenge of restoring and preserving Paik’s works for future generations of viewers. Paik, however, was already acutely aware of the technical challenges his works posed in 1967.

Paik also referred to the mishap at the Walker in a letter and follow up phone call to Friedman while in the midst of applying for a Rockefeller Foundation grant. Friedman recalls the exchange (which he shared in his May 2007 Art in America article, “Nam June on the Mississippi”):

‘“Please don’t expose me!’ [Paik] implored. The call was followed by a two-page letter describing his intention to establish the ‘world’s first studio for electronic video art’ at the State University in Stoney Brook. It concluded with an urgent request. Paik entreated, ‘Don’t forget to add that as far as you know, I am neither a Hippie nor a Beatnik. I am pretty SQUARE [emphasis Paik’s].’”

Whereas magnets attached to the monitor’s picture tube also manipulated the imagery of Electronic Waltz, this artwork didn’t carry the same radical weight as Electronic Blues with its malleable politicians. Exhibited on a television encased in a wooden frame, Electronic Waltz instead captivated viewers with its gyrating Möbius band that changed color as it moved against a black background.

The television used for this artwork was gifted to Paik by Jasper Johns sometime during the early 1960s. In a conversation with Walker Visual Arts Curator Joan Rothfuss in 2002, Johns revealed that the previous owners of the house he purchased on Riverside Drive in New York in 1963 left the set behind. Having recently met Paik, Johns was familiar with his experimental use of video technology and growing interest in color television, which was still a relatively new invention at this time and one that Paik had recently began incorporating into his video artworks. Johns later regretted offering the television to Paik: upon further inspection, he discovered that its dials could calibrate the television solely to one color—red, green, or blue. He found this to be a marvelous feature, but didn’t know Paik well enough to rescind his offer. Johns’ generosity, however, was the Walker’s gain since it allowed the museum to become one of the first American art institutions to usher Paik’s foray into the possibilities color television technology provided the medium of video.

Martin Friedman and Hubert Humphrey, 38th Vice President of the United States, viewing Electronic Waltz.

Martin Friedman and Vice President Hubert Humphrey viewing Electronic Waltz

In 1975, Friedman invited Paik back to the Walker to discuss creating an entirely new video artwork for The River: Images of the Mississippi. According to Friedman, the focus of the exhibition was “on how that ‘father of waters’ had been perceived not only by explorers and the first settlers along its banks but also painters and early photographers who wended their way along its 2,500 mile course.” Friedman saw Paik’s TV Sea at in January 1975 at the Bonino Gallery, and was eager to see how Paik would use video to depict the mighty river.

This issue of Design Quarterly was the catalogue for the exhibition.

An issue of Design Quarterly was dedicated to the exhibition

A merging of the natural with the scientific was a recurring motif throughout Paik’s oeuvre, particularly during the 1970s. TV Garden (1974–78), one of these seminal works, featured color television sets of various sizes installed on a gallery’s floor among live plants. All of the monitors played Paik’s earlier collaboration with John J. Godfrey, Global Groove (1973), which merged art, performance, and technology. In Fish Flies on Sky (1975), monitors of various sizes were mounted to a gallery’s ceiling and played a video of goldfish swimming.

TV Sea installed at the Guggenheim. This artwork is also part of the museum's collection.

TV Sea installed at the Guggenheim. This artwork is also part of the museum’s collection. Photo: Guggenheim Museum

In the resulting Anti-Gravity Study, Paik articulated the ethos of The River exhibition while simultaneously building on this visual language of nature and technology.

Bob Harris, a filmmaker who Paik worked with this project, helped create the footage for Anti-Gravity Study. In summer 1976, Harris traveled from the Minneapolis to New Orleans along the Mississippi River capturing his journey on 8mm, color film, and focusing his lens on wildlife, riverboats and barges, the St. Louis Arch, and fish swimming in ponds at the St. Louis Zoo. Paik later transferred this footage to video and skillfully edited two channels for Anti-Gravity Study using the Paik/Abe Synthesizer.

anti_gravity_1 anti_gravity_2 anti_gravity_3

Within The River, Anti-Gravity Study was displayed on 20 color and five black-and-white CRT monitors that were on loan from General Electric solely for the exhibition. A custom bracket was constructed to mount them 10 feet high to Gallery Four’s ceiling.

In the exhibition’s brochure, Anti-Gravity Study is described not as a video artwork but as a video environment. This description is particularly apt since Anti-Gravity was exhibited within its own black box, where visitors could lie down and become ensconced in an accelerated version of Harris’ voyage down the Mississippi. Anti-Gravity was also the last of the exhibition’s 274 artworks and installed in a section called 20th Century Images along with the only other moving image artwork, Louis Hock’s 16mm, color multi-projection film, Mississippi Rolls. 

Paik worked with Charles Helm, then the Walker’s audio-visual producer and technical director for performing arts, to install the monitors, which were each calibrated to a different color and mounted at various angles. Using the Walker Archives’ resources, including photographs, exhibition records, and a building diagram of Gallery Four, Helm, Walker Archivist Jill Vuchetich, and I were able to better ascertain how and where the monitors were mounted.

A video environment within the Walker's Gallery 4.

Anti-Gravity Study, a video environment within the Walker’s Gallery Four

The floor of the gallery was carpeted and viewers could stand, sit on the stairs, or lie down. And since the monitors were each mounted at different angles, a visitor’s experience of this artwork was influenced by their location within the space. If sitting at the top of the galley’s stairs, for example, visitors would likely have only seen the different colors of the monitors beaming down onto the floor, instead to the footage itself that would be seen by lying directly underneath the monitors. The absorbing atmosphere of this artwork encouraged visitors to pause and perhaps even stay awhile after they came to the end of The River.

Anti-Gravity currently exists only as the 3/4-inch tapes that were used to exhibit the work in 1976. This placed great emphasis on stabilizing these tapes, as well as on the importance of exhibition documentation.

Due to the deterioration that had taken place over time, I didn’t want to risk playing the 3/4-inch tapes myself. I instead worked with DuArt Restoration in New York City, which cleaned the tapes, baked, and transferred them onto an archival videotape master and digital file. And despite not having the same video environment as 1976 viewers, being one of the first people to view this footage in forty years was truly an incredible experience:

Anti-Gravity Study was accompanied by a version of Paul Robeson singing ‘Ol Man River, whose lyrics describe the flowing Mississippi contrasted against the hardships of African Americans laborers. Within the context of this artwork and exhibition, the song was slowed down to half its speed, creating a droning effect that could be interpreted as expressing these workers’ exhaustion as they worked along the river. An additional soundtrack of crickets and other insect sounds was added to this song, but played back in real time.

Besides undertaking efforts to stabilize and transfer the videotapes, recreating the soundtrack was an additional factor. This part of the project is ongoing, but a short clip of its progress can be heard below:

Whereas Anti-Gravity Study demonstrated the Walker’s commitment to exhibiting media artworks and collaborating with Paik, none of Paik’s artworks had yet been acquired by the museum. Friedman thought it was time to rectify this absence, and in 1987, he approached Paik about acquiring one of his artworks for the permanent collection. Paik instead suggested combining the earlier Electronic Waltz and footage from Anti-Gravity Study alongside new material. The result was 66-76-89 (1989), a four-channel video sculpture displayed on 32 monitors of various sizes that combined two earlier artworks shown within Walker exhibitions and showcased Paik’s mastery of video imaging effects and Chroma key technology. These effects are both commonly found throughout his entire oeuvre, and especially in artworks from the mid-1970s onward.

66-78-89

66-78-89

After 1990, the Walker acquired other seminal Paik artworks, including TV Bra for Living Sculpture and TV Cello. Paik’s single channel works, including Global Groove and Merce by Merce by Paik (1975), are also represented in the Ruben/Bentson Moving Image Collection. 66-76-89 is currently on view as part of Art at the Center: 75 Years of Walker Collections. TV Cello was recently on view as part of Art Expanded: 1958–1978.

The conservation of Anti-Gravity Study is ongoing. For questions regarding this artwork or to provide information on its history, please contact Caylin Smith.

Sez Oprah: “everyone’s crazy about” International Klein Blue

The freight trucks arrived at the Walker last week and installation crews are currently installing Yves Klein’s first U.S. retrospective in more than 30 years, Yves Klein: With the Void, Full Powers, which opens here October 23. Meanwhile, thanks to the show’s acclaimed run at the Hirshhorn in Washington, D.C. — and fashion editors and […]

yves klein blue acessories

from "The Color of Style for Fall 2010," in the October issue of "O"

The freight trucks arrived at the Walker last week and installation crews are currently installing Yves Klein’s first U.S. retrospective in more than 30 years, Yves Klein: With the Void, Full Powers, which opens here October 23. Meanwhile, thanks to the show’s acclaimed run at the Hirshhorn in Washington, D.C. — and fashion editors and stylists, whose long-range schedules are nicely in sync with the museum world’s — “International Klein Blue” has become the breakout hue for fall.

A sizable fashion-and-home spread in Oprah’s O magazine features an interview with Leatrice Eiseman, head of the Eiseman Center for Color Information and Training, who notes that IKB “has a luminous, intense quality that’s really striking. … You’re drawn into it, almost like you’re seeing a light illuminated through it. It’s magical, mystical, infinite, deep” — an observation that sounds strikingly similar to reviwers’ takes on Klein’s monochromes in the retrospective.

As with Oprah’s stylists in the image above, those at Anthropologie are also sprinkling IKB pigment around like so much fairy dust — or its close cousin, presuming they were unable to acquire Klein’s actual, patented IKB pigment. The picture below, from the Walker’s Shape of Time exhibition of works from the Walker collection, shows a trough of the true blue stuff, positioned in front of Klein’s Mondo Cane Shroud.

FYI, some lucky devils in this world have coffee tables made with vitrines full of (yes, patented) IKB pigment, as shown at Design Crisis, whose co-blogger Erin is “OBSESSED with Yves Klein and his badass blue.” She covered Yves Klein: With the Void, Full Powers here, but last March (i.e. months before the current Klein-o-rama), she also wrote a lengthy post on Klein and interior design, which she called “a labor of love. As in, I literally feel like I just squeezed out a giant blue baby” — a comment that must have had Klein dancing with delight somewhere in his blue heaven. After all, he liked to say that he “impregnated” visitors to one of his gallery openings with IKB, in the form of cocktails that carried his International Klein Blue out into the world, via their urine.

Moving back to fashion, the IKB trend also embraces looks for men; the following puzzling angle on Kleinian fashion from the “men’s clothing, men’s wear” blog may well be a result of a Google translation, but it does attempt a broader art-historical positioning of the artist:

2011 Spring Men's ten week point prevalence

Jil Sander

2011 Spring Men's ten week point prevalence

Prada

“In 1957, French artist Yifukelai because (Yves Klein) in Milan exhibition on display at the 8 same size , similar group of green pigments painted canvas – ” Klein Blue , ” an official appearance in front of the world . Since then, this color was officially named ” International Klein Blue “(International Klein Blue, called IKB). Looking around the spring and summer show season games Gucci handbags, all from Jil Sander to Prada Klein blue preference seems to have added a large number of blocks of color rendering , so the original white male models become more pale , sharp . Live to 34 -year-old Klein, June 6, 1962 in a heart attack . He is considered the most important representatives of Pop ArtFigureOne , and Andy Warhol (Andy Warhol), Marcel Duchamp (Marcel Duchamp) and Yuesefubo AES (Joseph Beuys) , together known as the second half of the 20th century the greatest contribution to world arts The four artists”

The Walker’s  design director, Emmet Byrne, has been digging up more on this storied and celebrated hue — watch the design blog for a series of upcoming posts on the topic.

Paul the Psychic Octopus Predicts Your “50/50″ Votes!

The World Cup may be over, but Paul the Psychic Octopus still has some work cut out for him before he retires. He’s been busy predicting which artworks will be chosen for the upcoming exhibition, 50/50: Audience and Experts Curate the Paper Collection. Since there are 180 works to vote on, and 5,000 possible match-ups […]

The World Cup may be over, but Paul the Psychic Octopus still has some work cut out for him before he retires. He’s been busy predicting which artworks will be chosen for the upcoming exhibition, 50/50: Audience and Experts Curate the Paper Collection. Since there are 180 works to vote on, and 5,000 possible match-ups to predict (*), he’s going to be pretty busy until the polls close on September 15.

You have your work cut out for you too: VOTE NOW!

* (We were trying to figure out the formula for this, but our math is a little rusty. If anybody knows it, please share.)

Robert Bergman, Alec Soth, and contemporary portraiture

    Robert Bergman: Portraits, 1986-1995 opened at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts a few days ago, following a pretty amazing triple-play last fall, with Bergman shows at the august National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.; P.S. 1, the MoMA affiliate in Queens devoted to contemporary art; and the Yossi Milo Gallery in Chelsea. Among a host of glowing […]

 

Untitled, 1989; © Robert Bergman

 

“Adelyn, Ash Wednesday, New Orleans, Louisiana”; 2000; Alec Soth

Robert Bergman: Portraits, 1986-1995 opened at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts a few days ago, following a pretty amazing triple-play last fall, with Bergman shows at the august National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.; P.S. 1, the MoMA affiliate in Queens devoted to contemporary art; and the Yossi Milo Gallery in Chelsea. Among a host of glowing reviews (see below) and compelling profiles of the Minneapolis-raised Bergman (who turned down a show at the MIA in 1968 and has worked almost entirely outside art-world circles until now), critic Andy Grundberg sparked a controversy in the current Aperture magazine when he concluded that ”  … Bergman is out to convince us that he is a great photographer. Unfortunately, he has appeared a half-century too late.”It wasn’t long before Alec Soth called out a “photo critic rumble!” on his Little Brown Miscellanea blog, pointing to Aperture’s Exposures blog, where David Levi Strauss countered Grundberg with the title of his response, claiming that Bergman is “Right on Time.” Reading the review, the response to the review, Grundberg’s counter-response, and the commentary from others is a great primer on some key issues related to contemporary photography.

Which brings us back to Soth. It’s too bad the Bergman show ends (August 22) before From Here to There: Alec Soth’s America opens (September 12); it would be fun to zip between the MIA and the Walker and compare the formidable portraits by these two photographers.

That said, would it spark another photographic controversy to claim that the average art fan might conduct such an exercise just as well or even better with a dual-monitor setup? (To be clear — a display of considerably higher quality than is presented on this page.) Photographs reproduced in books are one thing — in a recent interview related to his show here, Soth said “A picture in a book is often nearly as good, and sometimes better, as a picture on a wall” — but has a similar argument been made for photographic display on computers? Notwithstanding the shift to digital photography over the past 15 years or so, that idea seems more germane than ever with the impending iPad revolution.

Robert Bergman’s work reviewed in (among many other places):
The Wall Street Journal
The Washington Post
Brooklyn Rail

Plant as Decorative Element in a Gallery

One aspect of my position as a photographer here at the Walker is to document the exhibitions. This has been an ongoing process dating back to the beginning of the Walker Art Center. While reviewing images of past exhibitions, I began to notice something now absent in the galleries, potted plants.  Up until the opening […]

One aspect of my position as a photographer here at the Walker is to document the exhibitions. This has been an ongoing process dating back to the beginning of the Walker Art Center. While reviewing images of past exhibitions, I began to notice something now absent in the galleries, potted plants.  Up until the opening of the Barnes building in 1971, potted plants were a staple in the galleries.  While there are few exhibition views containing patrons, the plants were always present.  In these images they seem to act as the stand-ins for the patrons, sometimes aloof and in the background or congregating around the radiator as if in discussion.  And then there are those that are really into the work, standing in front of a sculpture’s light, their shadows enveloping the work.

Due to a multitude of reasons, plants only reappear in the galleries if they are part of the artwork.  Many of the plants seem to have been around for many years and well taken care of by the staff.  Enjoy this look at Exhibition Photography and Plants from the Walker archives.

Bits & Pieces: art & inspiration

Inspiration as taste sensation: Many a diner has been delighted by “Spoon, Cube, and Cherry,” the dessert at the Walker’s 20.21 that pays tribute to the Spoonbridge and Cherry centerpiece in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. In similar fashion, San Francisco pastry chef Caitlin Williams Freeman has gone on a bender with the art collection at the San Francisco […]

“Michael Jackson & Bubbles” by Jeff Koons, with “Jeff Koons White-Hot Chocolate” dessert by Caitlin Williams Freeman

Inspiration as taste sensation: Many a diner has been delighted by “Spoon, Cube, and Cherry,” the dessert at the Walker’s 20.21 that pays tribute to the Spoonbridge and Cherry centerpiece in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. In similar fashion, San Francisco pastry chef Caitlin Williams Freeman has gone on a bender with the art collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Along with a Mondrian cake and the slyly named Koons-inspired dessert drink above, she’s concocted “works” for SFMOMA’s coffee bar that include a plate of cookies which, before consuming, you assemble into your own mini Richard Serra sculpture; a fudgsicle shaped like an Ellsworth Kelly sculpture; a Richard Diebenkorn parfait; and more. It’s a treat just to look at the spread on Readymade magazine’s website. Should it get you dreaming of a future career in pastry, browse the ArtsConnectEd website and tell us below which Walker artworks you’d turn into delectable edibles. (Dessert image above by Charlie Villyard.)

What inspires Alec Soth? The photographer, whose first survey opens at the Walker in September, just uploaded the second video for his “Continental Picture Show,” which is part of the New York Times’ Opinionator blog. People are, accordingly, quite opinionated about it. As part of its new MN Original program, Twin Cities Public Television also recently broadcast an interview with and a segment on Soth, which includes Walker curator Siri Engberg.

One city inspires another: Minneapolitans take a lot of ribbing for supposedly being slaves to New York — but today’s Wall Street Journal has a story about how the first-ever New York Gallery Week was inspired by one art dealer’s visit to the “Minneapple” –and The Quick and the Dead exhibition at the Walker:

“The week was conceived by Casey Kaplan—owner of an eponymous art gallery on West 21st Street—after experiencing the buoyant vibe in Minneapolis, where industry types congregated to see the Walker Art Center’s exhibit “The Quick and the Dead” last year.

‘You really felt a community in Minneapolis,’ Mr. Kaplan said. ‘A lot of gallery owners had flown in. There were people from MoMA. Every one was enthusiastic and wanting to be in the moment. It was such a contrast from New York.’ “

So was it just about New Yorkers transplanting themselves, for a moment, into our idyllic Midwestern metropolis, or is something more going on? Read the full story here.

Inspired to show off: On another photographic note: a couple of weeks ago, we invited people to step into David Lamelas’ spotlight, on view in The Talent Show exhibition, for a portrait. Check out all of the results here.

Bits & Pieces: a Tino Sehgal tell-all, “The Subconscious Shelf,” and more

A new kind of art speak: Now that Tino Sehgal’s This Progress exhibition at the Guggenheim is over, its flesh-and-blood artworks are talking, giving the inside scoop on working a Tino Sehgal gig and “the pressure of nonstop thoughtful conversation.” A new kind of literary analysis: The New Yorker’s book bloggers have a nifty new service […]

A new kind of art speak: Now that Tino Sehgal’s This Progress exhibition at the Guggenheim is over, its flesh-and-blood artworks are talking, giving the inside scoop on working a Tino Sehgal gig and “the pressure of nonstop thoughtful conversation.”

A new kind of literary analysis: The New Yorker’s book bloggers have a nifty new service analyzing photos of readers’ bookshelves.

Image submitted to "The Subconscious Shelf"

What does last-minute airfare to Germany cost these days? James Turrell’s Wolfsburg Project, his largest-ever museum installation, closes April 5 at the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg. Here’s a video, if you can’t hop the pond. Or come console yourself in Turrell’s Sky Pesher at the Walker

James Turrell, Bridget's Bardo, 2009; © James Turrell, Foto: Florian Holzherr, 2009

A magical encounter with Dolphin Oracle II: read the account from Santa Fe artist and designer Amy Conway.

 

Expanding Access

In July 2009, the Walker Art Center celebrated the first of two years of funding from the MetLife Foundation for its Open Door Accessibility Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to be inclusive as possible when offering guided tours of our galleries and hands-on art-making experiences.  For this grant, our core audiences are people […]

full group-Irwin

In July 2009, the Walker Art Center celebrated the first of two years of funding from the MetLife Foundation for its Open Door Accessibility Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to be inclusive as possible when offering guided tours of our galleries and hands-on art-making experiences.  For this grant, our core audiences are people who are blind, people who are deaf, and people who have cognitive disabilities, including those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.  Existing access programs include:

  • Contemporary Journeys, tours and art-making for people with Alzheimer’s and their care partners
  • Touch Tours of the Walker collection (exploring objects through touch).
  • Verbal Description Tours, using descriptive language to convey visual details (also included in Touch Tours).
  • Multi-Sensory Tours, incorporating various props to allow visitors different points of entry to access artworks.
  • Large Print Exhibition Labels, available at the lobby desks.
  • Assisted Listening Devices for tours and events in the Cinema and McGuire Theater.
  • Qualified ASL interpretation upon request (four week’s notice required for tours and art labs, two week’s notice for Cinema and McGuire Theater events). 

We are also developing accommodations for these communities including: a Braille version of our visitor guide, tactile diagrams of select pieces in the Walker collection, new and more user friendly gallery stools and folding chairs, and a selection of audio described programs.

Members of local non-profit, arts, education, and disability communities along with Walker staff and volunteers have come together to form an access advisory group.  On January 12, our group met to discuss access initiatives at the museum.  We gathered in the Friedman Gallery, the site of Robert Irwin’s immersive installation Slant, Light, Volume.  It was important to meet and discuss accessibility in the context of a gallery, exactly where we intend to expand access.  As some of the members of the group are blind or have low vision, we began with a detailed verbal description of the installation.  A sign language interpreter was also on staff.

This was our first group meeting, so introductions came next, along with testimonials from people about memorable experiences with art museums.  This discussion was important in highlighting some of the individual needs and interests we are trying to address in the access initiative as well as the challenges we face.  The diversity of the group guarantees vibrant and broad discussions.

We continued by examining the grant goals and scope and existing programs, listed above.  We also mapped out future meetings and determined some essential details to be considered in our initiative, including:

  • Creating a welcoming environment
  • How to market our accessibility programming to the community
  • Where to turn attention for future funding

More info is to come.  Do you have suggestions on how the Walker can make the museum more accessible?  We’re listening!  Please post below.  Any questions or concerns you may have regarding accessibility may be directed to access@walkerart.org, or call the access line at 612.375.7564.  Coming next: an introduction to your accessibility group!

Bits & Pieces: From “Twilight” to “Zaire,” and points in between

Robert Pattinson’s got nothing on Francis Bacon! Who needs fan sites and movie trailers when you have ArtsConnectEd.org? See the slideshow presentation created by a Twilight fan, who uses artworks by Bacon and others to illustrate an outline of this, uh, literary sensation. It’s not too early to get a start on next year’s Halloween […]

robert pattinson Bacon - head in grey
Robert Pattinson’s got nothing on Francis Bacon! Who needs fan sites and movie trailers when you have ArtsConnectEd.org? See the slideshow presentation created by a Twilight fan, who uses artworks by Bacon and others to illustrate an outline of this, uh, literary sensation.


big head costume

It’s not too early to get a start on next year’s Halloween costume: Take inspiration from this paper-crafted self-portrait-as-helmet by 3D artist Eric Testroete, inspired by “big-head mode seen in videogames” See more pictures here. (via printeresting.org)

NYC Mayor Bloomberg only narrowly won re-election — and now this. After 66 years in Manhattan, the nonprofit American Craft Council has had it with the cost of doing business there. It is quitting the New York — and following a long trail of artists to greener, more fertile, and far cheaper pastures of Minneapolis, where it will take up residence next summer.

Minneapolis artist David Rathman, who showed here in 2003, has branched out from paintings and drawings to video, with stunning results. See below — best viewed in full screen!



Installation view of Pierre Huyghe’s Wind Chime (after “Dream”) (1997/2009) in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden © 2008 Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGPThe Quick and the Dead lives on. Three works from the highly regarded exhibition were recently acquired by the Walker for its collection. Probably the most familiar is Pierre Huyghe’s Wind Chime (After “Dream”) (left), which became a favorite in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden over the summer. We’ll All Go Together, a sound piece by Susan Philipsz, was an oddly comforting yet slightly eery presence in the underground parking garage (where it kept company with a battered, oil-leaking Buick — a surprise artwork by Trisha Donnelly that appeared the day before the show opened). And Mark Manders’ Life-size Scene with Revealed Figure is an enigmatic work that suggests any number of functions – an alterpiece, an obsolete projector, a stationary puppet — though its ultimate purpose remains mysterious.

Look who’s hanging in the White House

The Huffington Post has an AP story today about the contemporary art revolution that has taken place at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue since the Obamas took up residence there. There have been a few reports on this development since the election — including excited reactions from gallery owners and museum directors — but with today’s story […]

The Huffington Post has an AP story today about the contemporary art revolution that has taken place at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue since the Obamas took up residence there. There have been a few reports on this development since the election — including excited reactions from gallery owners and museum directors — but with today’s story it would appear that the checklist has been finalized (or at least the First Lady’s office released a list earlier this week).

Work by Glenn Ligon and Ed Ruscha, both of whom are important to the Walker’s collection, is on view (at left is a Ligon piece from the Walker – not the White House!), along with pieces Mark Rothko, Jasper Johns, and Richard Diebenkorn; the HP story has a pretty extensive slide show of some of the selections, but the Washington Post’s has even more (along with a review of sorts by critic Black Gopnik).

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