Flavorwire Surveys Bike Art Since Duchamp
By Eli Epstein-Deutsch
posted: 03-18-11
Liste, 2009 Basel Switzerland. Artist unknown
Image Source

"Did the non-functional bike craze begin with Marcel Duchamp?" asks Flavorwire, referring to the bicycle wheel M.D. famously mounted upside down on a stool in 1913, creating what was most probably the first kinetic sculpture. There's no question that creative bike culture is hot. At Critical Mass a couple years ago I saw a bike of the hyper-functional, rather than non-functional variety: it could make waffles while being ridden! (It had everything on it from a cage with chickens for the eggs, to a fully loaded shotgun for protecting such an awesome vehicle).

But now, Flavorwire, the culture arm of Flavorpill, has compiled an "Unofficial Art Bike Survey," a slideshow of bikes purposed only for the enjoyment of us aesthetes. It's about time. Highlights include a two-wheeler tastefully crushed flat by Ai Weiwei, and er...a fixie with swastikas for wheels ridden by Olav Westphalen...if highlight can really be said in reference to the latter. (At least mechanically, that one actually worked: artistically, however, it is difficult to say)

I might have added Gabriel Orzoco's "Four Bicycles (There is Always One Direction)

More bicycle art we should check out? Write to us in the comments.


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Huws of the "Word Vitrines" Brings Duchamp to (Forest) Life
By Eli Epstein-Deutsch
posted: 03-17-11
So just create Duchamp's artworks again!
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"Piss Off I'm A Fountain," read the eponymous "word vitrine" of Bethan Huws's 2008 London exhibition. The text was laid out in white-on-black on an announcement board, the kind you'd see at a post office or a university auditorium. It's actually kind of hilarious spoof on Duchamp's ultimate art-world spoof: the urinal that called itself a Fountain and put itself forward as art. The defiance of the statement "Piss off..." reminds me of the critic Wayne Anderson's contemptuous statement, quoted in Tout-Fait by Francis Naumann, that "modern art...ends its second fifty-year phase with a urinal pretending to be a fountain while asking to be pissed in" ("Wayne Anderson, Duchamp, the Failed Messiah," Tout-Fait, 10/2010).  Yet, perhaps "The Fountain" isn't asking to be pissed in, but just the opposite: it's indignantly forbidding it! Huws's piece jocularly suggests this sentiment, while producing another Duchampian provocation: framed text exhibited in a museum. And even though it's meaningless, somehow I can't shake the sound association between "vitrine" and latrine.

Of course, there is no relation. A vitrine is a glass case, usually used for displaying valuable objets d'art. "Word vitrine" then, means a case for displaying words. Just to clarify, it never means somehow using a word as transparent casing to display something else, which would be interesting in its own right. So, I am behind the gesture: words are valuable. One of Huws' classic word vitrines says simply "Hollywood." Hollywood is a very valuable word indeed.

The neo-Dada wit animating Huws'  project should be getting clearer. This pedigree in itself is not distinguishing for a conceptual artist. But Huws is also among the select group of contemporary installation sculptors outlandishly indebted to Duchamp, if not precisely in the tank for him. A note of critique and destabilizing intent, even challenge, is evident throughout Black and White Animals, her new show at Centre International d'Art et du Paysage.

The exhibit reconstructs several of Duchamp's works, incorporating them in novel formations. In Forest, for instance, she arranges a thicket of bottle racks, referencing the readymade of the same object, in a pattern recalling the conifer woods in the sculpture park on the island of Vassivier, where the Centre International is located. This poetic and paradoxical evocation of landscape in microcosm shows up Duchamp's fairly brusque stab at the form in Etant Donnes, even as it relies on its predecessor for some of its allusive punch. Here is anxiety of influence at its most productive, though perhaps it is the late Duchamp who should be the anxious one.

Then, Huws' fairly straightforward yet still unsettling take on Duchamp's major installation itself, titled Etants Donnes, is actually just a disembodied arm, which, like that of Duchamp's splayed nude, holds aloft an electric lamp. Here, Huws simply seems to be playing with signification, as well as themes of embodiment and disembodiment. This perhaps befits an artist who removes figuration entirely in favor of verbal shadowboxing And in fact she is again up to her usual tricks with the vitrines. One here reads "Et Duchamp? c'est un trou normand." Time to get out your French dictionary...beware of false cognates though. And did you know that Duchamp was a Norman?

Through June 19th.

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O'Hara's Early Homage to Rrose Selavy
By Maria Goldverg
posted: 03-15-11
Frank O'Hara Reads with Cat
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Poets and painters have been in dialogue since as far back as anyone can tell. But, for Frank O'Hara (1926-1966), the seminal New York School poet who worked as critic for Art News and curator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York squat in the middle of the 20th century, art had been of especial significane. O'Hara's poems often evoke the artists that had been instrumental to his development as a writer and thinker in their characteristic expression of the intimate and casual details of the poet's personal life. John Ashbery, in his introduction to The Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara, notes that O'Hara's early poetry "is anything but literary. It is part of a modern tradition which is anti-literary and anti-artistic, and which goes back to Apollinaire and the Dadaists..." (vii). Though most of these painters are the Abstract Expressionists of the 1940s and 50s with whom O'Hara was friends, Ashbery's insightful depiction of the poet as an inheritor to a lineage of avant-garde artist-provocateurs can be traced back to Marcel Duchamp among others: O'Hara passionately addresses Marcel Duchamp's alter ego and signature, Rrose Selavy in one of his very first poems. Homage to Rrose Selavy, which follows, was written in Cambridge in November of 1949, when O'Hara was only 19 years old. It was first published in Generation, Spring 1951, and can now be found in The Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara printed by the University of California Press.

Homage to Rrose Selavy

Towards you like amphibious airplanes
peacocks and pigeons seem to scoot!

First thing in the morning your two eyes
are shining with all night's funny stories

and every time you sit down during the day
someone drops a bunch of rubies on your lap.

When I see you in the drugstore or bar I
gape as if you were a champagne fountain

and when you tell me how your days and nights
seem to you you are my own stupid Semiramis.

Listen, you are really too beautiful to be true
you egg-beater and the next time I see you

clattering down a flight of stairs like a
ferris wheel jingling your earrings and feathers

a subway of smiling girls a regular fireworks
display, I'll carry you to Venice!

Frank O'Hara

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nothingtoodoo, Terrence Koh
By Jenny Fan
posted: 03-13-11
Terence Koh, Mary Boone Gallery, 2011 Photo:16miles
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The self-described “Naomi Campbell of the art world,” Terence Koh, has a new solo exhibit at the Mary Boone Gallery titled “nothingtoodoo.”  Koh’s past works include a gold-plated ornament of his excrement (Art Basel, 2008) that reportedly was sold for $500,000, a two-headed piano with protruding arms for Lady Gaga at the 2010 Grammy, and a 25 foot long urinal in tribute to Duchamp at the April 2009 “KKK” show at Mary Boone. 

In nothingtoodoo, Koh circles an 8 feet high mound of salt while on his knees.  The immaculate gallery space is purposefully devoid of distracting colors and embellishments, and pushes the visitor to soak in the solemnity and contemplative practice of Koh’s painful act (NYTimes reported that Koh has, since the first week, donned knee-pads). Through March 19, 2011.

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Marjorie Strider Paints a New Woman for Duchamp
By Maria Goldverg
posted: 03-12-11
Strider gives Duchamp's Etant Donnes a new perspective in Eyeful (2010)
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Her work hasn't been exhibited in New York for fifteen years, but pop-artist Marjorie Strider has finally returned to Hollis Taggart Galleries where her much anticipated show opened on March 8th. Her art, happily, remains as we remember it. Bikini-clad women, painted in flat blocks of acrylic paint, playfully engage their audience. And these ladies have real 'depth' to them: in some pieces, the more desirous parts of their bodies physically project out from the canvas. Next to one such relief of a woman's breasts, Come Hither from 1963, hangs the notice: DO NOT TOUCH. It is the only such injunction in the gallery, making Strider's reference hard to miss. In 1947, Marcel Duchamp co-authored a naked and solitary rubber breast, calling it Priere de Toucher or Please Touch. Strider's breasts are markedly different. Firstly, there are two of them. Then, they are clothed. In relief, it also looks as though they have felt the effects of gravity. And, they are truly monstrous in size. Strider's breasts have the strength of a contemporary and distinctly female artist—an artist who was not afraid to grow intimate with the male-dominated line of inheritance drawn from the early avant-garde, only to grow past it.

Needless to say, Duchamp's name should come up quite often where Strider's work is involved as she appears to draw much of her own conceptual vision from the world's original conceptual artist. For instance, Duchamp's seminal Nude Descending a Staircase No. 2 (1912) also finds mention on Hollis Taggart's walls: Strider re-imagines its content for her own portrayal of a near-nude woman stepping down the stairs in her aptly titled, Descending (2010). Where it is obscured in Duchamp, the female form in Strider's piece is recognizable, blunt, and transparent. The woman is quite actually stripped bare and made wholly visible. Strider doesn't seem to have the patience for Cubism's disruptive plurality of perspectives. Descending possesses a different kind of mobility: the hyper-sexual woman descends upon her gallery with all the force of a candid act. There is only one perspective here, and Strider renders it inescapable. We have to leave wondering if maybe viewership can really be so much simpler than, at least as women, we want to imagine it to be.

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