Blogs Untitled (Blog) Acquisitions

Philosophical Chili

In order to pack in some primary research, last week I visited the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, and the Cunningham Dance Foundation.  The building that houses the Rauschenberg space used to be an orphanage (St. Joseph Mission of the Immaculate Virgin), and it retains traces of this almshouse in […]

The "chapel" space at the Rauschenberg Foundation in New York. Photo by Abi Sebaly.

In order to pack in some primary research, last week I visited the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, and the Cunningham Dance Foundation.  The building that houses the Rauschenberg space used to be an orphanage (St. Joseph Mission of the Immaculate Virgin), and it retains traces of this almshouse in its broad wooden stair cases, the behemoth cast iron stove in the kitchen, and the multi-story “chapel” in the back of the building.  It’s hard not to have a transformational experience when you’re in this cavernous room by yourself, looking high up through a large skylight, experiencing a sense of quiet that is otherwise totally unnatural to the beast that is Manhattan.  The Rauschenberg staff was extremely helpful, in spite of the fact that it was sunny and everybody probably wanted to be at the beach.  It was particularly exciting to explore a batch of files that had just come up from Captiva, Rauschenberg’s Florida home. Among my findings, Bob’s instructions for making chili:

RAUSCHENBERG’S CHILI (also published in M Magazine in April 1986)
“I think chili is a philosophy.  A sophisticated dish built out of scraps.  My refrigerator is not sociologically, organically regional enough to prevent me from shopping a couple of days for my leftovers.  Hot is paramount.  A variety of meats in taste and texture are necessary to give that second-day awareness: ground meat, chopped gizzards and calf livers, chicken.  Start with onions and chilis.  Cook them in oil until they are soft.  Start adding other stuff; green peppers, meat, stock or water, and more hot peppers.  Cook for density and add spices (chili powder, oregano, cumin) to make the initial encounter seem tolerable.  Don’t add tomatoes or beans.  Sour cream and naturally cooling guacamole can be used as first aid.  Serve frozen mango, watermelon, and key lime pie for dessert.”

At the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, I explored Cunningham-related materials that have already been housed there.  As the Cunningham company comes to a close, its administrative files, photographs, films, and other similar materials will take up residence there.

And finally, I spent a day at Merce Cunningham Dance Company’s home on the far west side, on what is verifiably one of the city’s windiest streets.  The dancers were rehearsing for their upcoming Mexico City tour, and everyone else was equally purposeful and busy in their work.  Most of my time was spent in the archives, grasping as much information as I could from archivist David Vaughan, who has been steadfastly chronicling the company’s history since its early beginnings.

L: Photographing materials at the Rauschenberg archive. Photo by Matt Magee. R: Rauschenberg's design for Springweather and People (1957) costumes. Photo by Abi Sebaly.

 

Archivist David Vaughan at the Cunningham Dance Foundation. Photo by Abi Sebaly

Hi Res with the House Lights Up

As the Cunningham Collection continues to be catalogued, here are more close-ups of the aquisition items.   This week’s images focus on Antic Meet (1958), a piece that the Merce Cunningham Dance Company will present as part of their Farewell Legacy Tour at the Walker’s McGuire Theater this November 4/5/6.  Robert Rauschenberg costumed the piece with both his own designs and loot gathered from the New York second […]

L: Sunglasses from Antic Meet (1958). R: Detail of the 4-armed, no-neck Antic Meet sweater that Merce knit himself.

As the Cunningham Collection continues to be catalogued, here are more close-ups of the aquisition items.   This week’s images focus on Antic Meet (1958), a piece that the Merce Cunningham Dance Company will present as part of their Farewell Legacy Tour at the Walker’s McGuire Theater this November 4/5/6.  Robert Rauschenberg costumed the piece with both his own designs and loot gathered from the New York second hand stores of the day.   When Merce was creating a dance, he rarely discussed backstory and structure with Rauschenberg.  But in a rare 1958 letter to Bob, he writes of Antic Meet, “I hope it’s dazzling rather than willy-nilly… it’s like a series of vaudeville scenes which overlap…This all comes from Dostoevsky.” (from Changes: Notes on Choreography, by Merce Cunningham, 1968)

If you could turn a costume inside out, crawl underneath a set piece, press your nose up against a Rauschenberg backdrop, this is what you might see…

L: Detail from Merce's Antic Meet (1958) chair. R: Merce Cunningham in Antic Meet (1958). Photo by Richard Rutledge.

 

L: The under carriage of Merce's Antic Meet chair. R: Merce's initials, sewn by Rauschenberg into Antic Meet's corduroy cape.

 

R: MCDC in Antic Meet (1958). Photo by Matthew Wysocki. Note Merce in the background, wearing the notorious sweater. L: The 4-armed, no-neck sweater that Merce knit himself.

 

Let Them Eat Cage Cookies

We wouldn’t be doing the Cunningham acquisition justice if we didn’t have at least one story about food. Here is a short anecdote and recipe for John Cage’s almond cookies, a treat that made the rounds through the Merce Cunningham Dance Company establishment and its friends. Cage and Cunningham were introduced to a macrobiotic diet by Yoko Ono, and the cookies reflect those healthy precepts. Merce was particularly fond of these, and now you can make them, too.

John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Robert Rauschenberg, London 1964. Photo by Douglas H. Jeffery

We wouldn’t be doing the Cunningham acquisition justice if we didn’t have at least one story about food.  Here is a short anecdote and recipe for John Cage’s almond cookies, a treat that made the rounds through the Merce Cunningham Dance Company establishment and its friends.  Cage and Cunningham were introduced to a macrobiotic diet by Yoko Ono, and the cookies reflect those healthy precepts.  Merce was particularly fond of these, and now you can make them, too.

THE SHORT HISTORY:   Laura Kuhn [now director of the John Cage Trust] and John Cage were at the house of Teeny Duchamp, in France. John decided to make them his cookies. Teeny, her cook, et al, were put off by the idea of health food cookies, but the cook got the ingredients together. John, with Laura, made the cookies.  When they were done, John offered them around, and everyone reluctantly took one. But shortly after eating their first one, they each took another…


THE RECIPE:

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a food processor, grind:
1 c. raw almonds
1 c. raw oats
Combine almonds and oats in a large bowl.  Stir in:
1 c. whole wheat flour or brown rice flour (if you want a gluten free option, you may need to add slightly more than the 1 c. brown rice flour, so that you are later able to form balls with the dough)
Add ground cinnamon to the dry mixture.
To the dry mixture, add:
1/2 c. almond oil (other nut oils work as well)
1/2 c. real maple syrup (no Aunt Jemima!)

Stir mixture until you are able to form one-inch balls.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet.  Flatten slightly, and press a small dollop of your favorite jam or preserves (jelly is too thin) into the center of each cookie.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, turning the pan once, halfway through the baking process.  Cookies are done when light golden brown.  They store well in the fridge.

On the Walker’s acquisition of the Merce Cunningham Dance Co. collection

Last week the Walker announced its acquisition of a comprehensive collection of some 150 works from the Merce Cunningham Dance Company: set pieces, costumes, painted drops, and props, created over several decades by artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, and John Cage, Cunningham’s longtime partner. As director Olga Viso notes, “The […]

Robert Rauschenberg created the "parachute" costumes and other set pieces for "Antic Meet," 1958 Cunningham work.

Last week the Walker announced its acquisition of a comprehensive collection of some 150 works from the Merce Cunningham Dance Company: set pieces, costumes, painted drops, and props, created over several decades by artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, and John Cage, Cunningham’s longtime partner.

As director Olga Viso notes, “The acquisition of these works is groundbreaking for the Walker and for the museum field at large, affirming our longstanding commitment to bringing together diverse artistic practices to form a cross-disciplinary blend of programs. We enjoyed a lasting relationship with Cunningham beginning in the early 1960s and look forward to inspiring future generations with programs, exhibitions, and new scholarship devoted to his legacy of innovation and collaboration.”

Read all the details about the acquisition in our press room — as well as the excellent coverage at the New York Times, the Star Tribune, at Minnesota Public Radio, and elsewhere.

The Art of the Getaway: Winter trips featuring work by Walker artists

In the spirit of the season, when various media outlets take to recommending more or less extravagant “winter getaways,” we suggest basing a trip on some favorite recent additions to the Walker collections. If you enjoyed swaying in the hammocks that were part of the Hélio Oiticica and Neville D’Almeida’s CC5 Hendrixwar/Cosmococa Programa-in-Progress, on view […]

In the spirit of the season, when various media outlets take to recommending more or less extravagant “winter getaways,” we suggest basing a trip on some favorite recent additions to the Walker collections.

If you enjoyed swaying in the hammocks that were part of the Hélio Oiticica and Neville D’Almeida’s CC5 Hendrixwar/Cosmococa Programa-in-Progress, on view at the Walker last summer … 

… then book a flight Los Angeles, where you can plunge into the artists’ psychedelic swimming pool: 

 162548.CA.1202.swimm#731A98

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)  has just opened Suprasensorial: Experiments in Light, Color, and Space, described as “the first museum exhibition to situate pioneering Latin American artists among the international canon of those working with light and space.” Its highlight is Cosmococa-Programa in Progress, CC4 Nocagions (above), which, according to the LA Times’ Culture Monster blog, was never realized during Oiticica’s lifetime. But at MOCA, this 90-centimeter-deep pool even comes with a lifeguard and a changing room. Bring your own suit, or buy a disposable one on site. (On view through February 27, 2011.)

It’s hard to see in the image above, but the pool in Cosmococa-Programa in Progress, CC4 Nocagions is surrounded by projections of images from a book by John Cage; that composer’s work is also featured in a stunning installation by Tacita Dean that just opened at the Walker December 16: Merce Cunningham performs STILLNESS (in three movements) to John Cage’s composition 4’33” with Trevor Carlson, New York City, 28 April 2007 (six performances; six films):

loading image

Fans of this work may wish to jet off to Glasgow for an experience quite the opposite of an L.A. swimming pool. Do as Guardian UK arts blogger Charlotte Higgins did: Trudge through a picturesque snowy park to a “small and exquisite exhibition” of Dean’s work at a gallery intriguingly named The Common Guild, whose attentive staff may even welcome you with a cup of hot tea. It includes the work below, part of the series ‘Painted Kotzsch Trees’ I- VI (Through February 5)

http://www.thecommonguild.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/TD_KotzschI_low-res-359x428.jpg

 

For something rather more monumental from the British artist, wait until October and go to London. That’s when the Tate Modern will unveil Dean’s installation in the cathedral-esque Turbine Hall, which follows Ai Wei-Wei’s current installation of 100 million hand-made porcelain sunflower seeds.

 

 
 

Adieu, Sigmar Polke

  “Sigmar Polke, an artist of infinite, often ravishing pictorial jest, whose sarcastic and vibrant layering of found images and maverick, chaos-provoking painting processes left an indelible mark on the last four decades of contemporary painting, died yesterday in Cologne, Germany.” – from the New York Times‘ Arts Beat blog The Walker enjoyed a long history […]

 

Polke with his artwork at the Walker, May 1995. Photo by Glenn Halvorson

“Sigmar Polke, an artist of infinite, often ravishing pictorial jest, whose sarcastic and vibrant layering of found images and maverick, chaos-provoking painting processes left an indelible mark on the last four decades of contemporary painting, died yesterday in Cologne, Germany.”
– from the New York Times‘ Arts Beat blog

The Walker enjoyed a long history with Polke, whom former Walker chief curator Richard Flood called “probably the closest thing we have to a history painter in the latter part of the century.” In 1994, it acquired a comprehsive archive of the artist’s prints and other editioned works spanning the first thirty years of his career. This collection continued to grow and today comprises a remarkable body of work: prints, photographs, three-dimensional constructions, artist’s books, and other special publications.  

Flood organized the 1995 retrospective Sigmar Polke: Illumination, which featured Frau Herbst und ihre zwei Töchter (Mrs. Autumn and Her Two Daughters) (pictured below), the huge 1991 painting whose combination of fanciful, almost surreal imagery, gorgeous abstraction, and translucent fabric has made it a Walker favorite. 

 

Flood said of Polke’s innovation with this work: 

“… you have this meta thing and, then, you put it on a transparent surface, this totally permeable skin, that is accepting light and at the same time dealing with the notion of illusionistic space, but in a very real architectural way, just lifting it off the wall, allowing you to see the support structure through it. I think his contribution is bigger than I’m describing. At the same time, it’s amazing that people did not think of this earlier. It’s kind of astounding. All of these things look quite simple. Was that a big idea? Actually, yes, it was a big idea. But did the big idea have to be complicated? Not really. I take great heart in that as well.”

A  key early work from Polke – Apparat, mit dem eine Kartoffel eine andere umkreisen kann (Apparatus Whereby One Potato Can Orbit Another) — goes on view August 12 as part of a new exhibition, A Shot in the Dark, in the Medtronic gallery.

Roberta Smith’s obituary at the New York Times

Apparat, mit dem eine … on ArtsConnected.org

Sigmar Polke in the Walker collection at ArtsConnected.org

A Shot in the Dark (opens August 12)

 

Polke, circa 1960s

Bits & Pieces

Reports on the burning of Hélio Oiticica’s work have been somewhat exaggerated: The artist’s work is not a quite a near-total loss. Stories a couple of days ago cited that “90%” of the work made by Oiticica, a major figure of the Brazilian avante garde in the late 1960s and early 1970s, had been destroyed […]

Reports on the burning of Hélio Oiticica’s work have been somewhat exaggerated: The artist’s work is not a quite a near-total loss. Stories a couple of days ago cited that “90%” of the work made by Oiticica, a major figure of the Brazilian avante garde in the late 1960s and early 1970s, had been destroyed in a fire at the home of Oiticica’s brother César in Rio de Janeiro. Now César and others been able to look more closely at the damage, reporting that a number of works were spared and for others, restoration is possible. No word yet on how such devastation could occur — reportedly the storage spaces had humidity control, sprinklers, and fire alarms — but no doubt more is yet to come with this story. In related and bittersweet news, Oiticica’s CC5 Hendrixwar Cosmococa, acquired by the Walker in 2007, goes on view here on February 27, 2010.

chuck close

"Big Self-Portrait," Chuck Close, collection Walker Art Center

The man who brought us (Chuck) Close: A recent story in the Akron Beacon Journal delves into the history of Linda, a Chuck Close portrait that’s considered a key piece in the collection of the Akron Art Museum. Turns out that Rosenkrantz’s husband, Christopher Finch, is not only a former associate curator at the Walker, but according to the Beacon Journal story, Finch is responsible for Close’s Big-Self Portait becoming a key piece in the Walker’s collection: “in 1968 [he] had persuaded the museum to buy a Close, which, as it happened, was the first Close to go into a public collection.”

Take the “Collector Challenge”: This nifty game at PBS.org tests your eye based around the collection of Dorothy and Herbert Vogel—the librarian and postal worker who became renowned for amassing a hugely important collection, mostly of conceptual and minimalist works. Now they’ve dispersed that collection to 50 museums in 50 states; the Vogels selected the Weisman Art Museum in Minnesota. To Have it About You: The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection opens there this Friday.; you might also want to check out the documentary film Herb and Dorothy.

Miroslaw-Balks-How-It-Is-001

Photograph: David Levene, via The Guardian UK

“It embraces you with a velvet chill”: So says the Guardian about How It Is, Miroslaw Balka’s new installation in the Tate Modern’s cavernous Turbine Hall, which is basically a gigantic, raised steel box that visitors can walk under—or inside (see video here). The latter choice means you get swallowed by darkness — unless giggling youths illuminate the interior with their cell-phone cameras. Is that the equivalent of ignorant theater-goers interrupting a performance when their cell phones ring?

Remembering visual arts curator Robert Murdoch: Back in 1965, he was the Walker’s first curatorial intern to serve in a program supported by the Ford Foundation, and he returned here from 1983 to 1985 as chief curator. In the ‘70s, as the first curator of contemporary art at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Murdock organized the first solo museum show for Richard Tuttle. Read more in the New York Times’ obituary, and in this Star Tribune piece. Annie Murdock, Robert’s daughter, wrote to us to note that his family has made arrangements for donations in his memory to be made to the Pollock-Krasner Foundation. “This is the first time that the foundation has done anything like this,” she said, “and we hope it will result in building a fund for Emerging Artists in Robert’s memory.”

1. Reports on the burning of Helio Oiticica’s work have been exaggerated (but, sadly, only a little): Stories http://greg.org/archive/2009/10/18/fire_destroys_90_of_helio_oiticicas_work.html a couple of days ago cited that “90%” of the work made by Oiticica, a major figure of the Brazilian avante garde in the late 1960s and early 1970s, had been destroyed in a fire at the home of Oiticica’s brother in Rio de Janeiro. Now Cesar and others been able to look more closely at the damage, reporting that a number of works were spared and for others, restoration is possible. (Greg.org) <http://www.artinfo.com/news/story/32990/fire-destroys-brazilian-artist-helio-oiticicas-works/>

Related and bittersweet news: Oiticica’s CC5 Hendrixwar Cosmococa goes on view here at the Walker on February 27.


2. The man who brought us (Chuck) Close: http://www.ohio.com/news/63970597.html — A recent story in the Akron Beacon Journal delves into the history of Linda, by Chuck Close – which, as Big Self-Portrait is to the Walker, is considered a key piece in the collection of the Akron Art Museum. Turns out that Rosenkrantz’s husband, Christopher Finch, is not only a former associate curator at the Walker, but according to the Beacon Journal story, “in 1968 had persuaded the museum [the Walker, that is] to buy a Close, which, as it happened, was the first Close to go into a public collection.”

3. Take the “Collector Challenge” – this nifty game at PBS.org tests your eye based around the collection of Dorothy and Herbert Vogel—the librarian and postal worker who became renowned for amassing a hugely important collection, mostly of conceptual and minimalist works. Now they’ve dispersed that collection to 50 museums in 50 states; in Minnesota, the Weisman Art Museum was the lucky recipient. To Have it About You opens there this Friday. – link to show at Weisman—http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/herb-and-dorothy/collector-challenge.html

4. It embraces you with a velvet chill”: so says the Guardian about Miroslaw Balka’s How It Is, a gigantic, raised steel box in the Tate Modern’s cavernous Turbine Hall that visitors can walk under—or inside. The latter choice basically means you get swallowed by darkness, a perhaps welcome sensation as Halloween approaches. See The Guardian’s video here. http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/video/2009/oct/12/miroslaw-balka-tate-modern (Closer to home, for Minnesotans at least, is the Soap Factory’s Haunted Basement.)



5. Remembering visual arts curator Robert Murdoch: Back in 1965, he was the first curatorial intern to serve in a program supported by the Ford Foundation, and he returned here from 1983 to 1985 as chief curator. In the ‘70s, as the first curator of contemporary art at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Murdock organized the first solo museum show for Richard Tuttle. Read more in the New York Times’ obituary, and in this Star Tribune piece < http://www.startribune.com/obituaries/64461777.html?elr=KArksUUUoDEy3LGDiO7aiU>. Annie Murdock, Robert’s daughter, wrote to us to note that his family has made arrangements for donations in his memory to be made to the Pollock-Krasner Foundation < http://www.pkf.org/ >. “This is the first time that the foundation has done anything like this,” she said, “and we hope it will result in building a fund for Emerging Artists in Robert’s memory.”

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