Thursday, February 26, 2009

life without

life without buildings
is a bummer - one of my favorite bands ever -
with only one proper record, some singles and
a great live record (and I hate live records..)
I played them for a friend recently who then
described them as
"the Sundays meet the Fall"
which I thought pretty apt...

band members Chris Evans
and Sue Tompkins went on to
turn their awesome art rock into just
awesome ART...

two books

that go with me
everywhere right now

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

jesus lizard in the 90's.....

More Exciting Art to see in NYC next week

Jonathan Horowitz
Retrospectiveat PS1
(as well as Kenneth
Anger show there as well...)

"Official Vatican Portrait of
Pope Benedict XVI Torn in Half
(After Sinéad O'Connor),” 2008.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

excited to go to

in nyc


44-Year-Old Indie Film Distributor Is Closing

New Yorker Films, the distributor that helped introduce American moviegoers to the works of Bernardo Bertolucci, Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Ousmane Sembène, announced on Monday that it was going out of business after 44 years.

One of the most influential distributors of foreign and independent films, New Yorker has amassed a library of more than 400 titles, including Jean-Luc Godard’s “Breathless” and Claude Lanzmann’s epic Holocaust documentary “Shoah,” said Dan Talbot, who founded the company in 1965.

Mr. Talbot, 82, said in a telephone interview that the company was going out of business because its library was being sold. It had been pledged as collateral on a loan taken out by its former owner, Madstone Films, which bought New Yorker Films in 2002.

The library could be auctioned off as early as next week, he added.

New Yorker Films held rights to distribute movies to theaters and to institutions like colleges, and also to release DVDs.

Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, the specialty-film multiplex on the Upper West Side that Mr. Talbot owns, is unaffected by the travails of New Yorker Films.

For more than four decades Mr. Talbot has been one of the most prominent figures in art-house cinema in New York and the United States, controlling not only New Yorker Films but also several theaters (including the New Yorker Theater, now defunct, an important revival house at Broadway and 88th Street).

“Without a doubt it was the pre-eminent distributor of foreign art films in the United States from the mid-1960s really into the ’80s,” J. Hoberman, the senior film critic of The Village Voice, said of New Yorker Films. “And for much of the time he was the only game in town.”

The company’s comes at a troubled time for independent film companies. Last year, several of the big studios shuttered or downsized their specialty divisions. Warner Brothers, for example, closed Warner Independent Pictures and Picturehouse.

Mr. Talbot said he was crushed by the end of the company. “I nurtured this,” he said. “These films are like babies.”

But the next film on the New Yorker docket, “Fados,” will open on schedule at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas on March 6, he said.

“I bought that film with my own money,” Mr. Talbot said.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I had this job in the late 90's/early oughts for which I had to write about film directors for this funny database, and somehow I ended up writing about karel zeman - because there was a retrospective of his films at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and I swear - the week i spent in the theater watching these movies was like some kind of crazy time out of mind, psychadelic journey into the future feature films based on max ernst collage books - i was able to get some bootleggy dvd's off of ebay - but seriously - these are begging for a criterion reissue please...

Thursday, February 19, 2009


retrospective at GAGOSIAN


U.C.L.A - Le Conte Ave & Westwood Blvd, Westwood, CA 90024

TG will perform a live soundtrack to Derek Jarman’s 60min alchemical film
'In The Shadow of The Sun' ( filmwork 1974, TG soundtrack 1980 & 2006)


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Art of Gay Cool

BS Top - Gooch Rauschenberg Johns 174

To the pre-Harvey Milk generation, Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns defined the quiet cool of gay culture. Brad Gooch recalls the abstract expressions of their art, lives, and love.

A plot point in the timeline of gay history was the 2008 release of Milk, featuring Sean Penn’s beating-heart portrayal of the San Francisco supervisor and gay activist shot dead in 1978 by a (seeming) closet case’s bullet, matched in the film only by documentary footage of the political martyr himself. (The real Harvey Milk was a veritable Lenny Bruce of comic timing and New York City street smarts.) The movie did the trick. Exiting Chelsea Cinemas, I fought back tears, ready to raise my fist at any future invocations (with applause lines and “Jesus”-in-four-languages) by Prop-8 bashing Rick Warren.

But an equally poignant plot point in 2008, tugging in another direction entirely: the death of the artist Robert Rauschenberg, in May. His style in death as in life could have not have been more different. If Harvey Milk was hot-under-the-collar, heading west to sample the liberated Castro-district lifestyle, Rauschenberg, 82—a mere five years older—was too-cool-for-school. His coy, house-style New York Times obituary set the gay blogosphere spinning as it clocked a two-year marriage early on, and son; a companion; and more muted, of the artist Jasper Johns, in the '50s, “The intimacy of their relationship…a consuming subject for later biographers and historians.” Missing was mostly the G-word, a wrong the Advocate righted with “Gay Artist Robert Rauschenberg Dead at 82.”

Over the summer, the MoMA gallery Rauschenberg shares with Johns and Cy Twombly, two living masters with whom he was romantically linked during the making of several of the works hanging, became an ersatz shrine. On the morning I visited, one guy was taking an iPhone picture of his boyfriend in front of “Bed” (1955)—made from Rauschenberg’s own sheet and quilt, daubed with fingernail polish and striped toothpaste, on a day the artist was too poor to buy canvas. Hanging catty-cornered, Johns’s “Painting Bitten by Man” (1962)—surely reading like the work of a painter scorned, with its gouge of teeth marks in gray encaustic. Unmistakable was the hot charge of art that even the Times obit suggested carried “some black-humored encoded erotic message.”

When I first arrived in Manhattan in 1971, such don’t-ask-don’t-tell art was all the rage. John Ashbery bristled at being identified as a gay poet; Elizabeth Bishop refused to be included in anthologies of women’s poetry. We were on the cusp of Rauschenberg-cool and Milk-hot. But the durable allure of Rauschenberg and Johns, their coded love and art, is not just cranky nostalgia. When I spoke with bad-boy artist Francesco Vezzoli—his art-market spoof “GREED, A New Fragrance by Francesco Vezzoli” opened at Rome Gagosian this week—he said, “To me, Rauschenberg and Johns are mythological as two serious, strong people, sharing ideas, and creating work together. I find that deeply inspiring. And I see very little around today. We are living in such a plus-one world.”

Luckily, Friday-casual has taken hold in the art world, as more eyewitnesses fill in the blanks of a love—and art style—that smugly shrugged off speaking its name. The connect-the-dots picture that emerges from all the deep gossip is of lives as difficult to label as Rauschenberg’s “combines,” neither painting nor sculpture—a term given him by Johns, whose grandfather was a farmer. For by the time they met in 1954, Rauschenberg had divorced Sue Weil (a feature on them making “blueprint art” appeared in Life magazine) and taken up at Black Mountain College with Cy Twombly, who later married Tatiana Franchetti, with whom he had a son, Alessandro. The next summer, Johns had a “fling” with Rachel Rosenthal, reborn as a performance artist and now living in LA.

By 1957, as a pair of geniuses pioneering the artists-in-industrial-lofts lifestyle at 278 Pearl St.—Bob on the fifth floor, “Jap” on the fourth—they were an item with an agenda: to upend art history. “Jasper and I used to start each day by having to move out from Abstract Expressionism,” Rauschenberg once said. Johns designed a gold-leaf frame for Rauschenberg’s oedipal “Erased DeKooning Drawing”—a violation that took three weeks and 15 rubbers. On a studio visit to Rauschenberg, Leo Castelli saw Johns’s “White Flag,” and offered him a solo show instead—on January 20, 1958, a date circled in red as the moment the new art world supplanted the old. (Many of these bold and sensuous flags, targets, numbers are now on display in “Focus: Jasper Johns” at MoMA.)

After a run of seven years, the Picasso and Braque of American art split, supposedly the result of finding a dancer in one or the other’s bed, but equal-parts due to the fame that wreaked havoc on other painter pairs: Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner, Bill and Elaine DeKooning. “What had been sensitive and tender became gossip,” said Rauschenberg in a rare mention. “It was sort of new to the art world that the two most well-known, up and coming studs were affectionately involved.” Instead of public bickering, they made revenge paintings: the titles of Johns’s “NO” and “Liar” self-explanatory; Rauschenberg made the ambivalent “Slow.” Adding extra frisson to the memorial at the Met, where Bill Clinton spoke, was Johns’s last-minute slipping into an aisle seat. The End.

Having devolved to Johns vs. Rauschenberg, these two struggling boho talents wound up slumdog millionaires. Two nights after his death, Rauschenberg’s “Overdrive” sold for $14.6 million; ever the “it” painter, Johns’s “Figure 4” had outsold him a few years earlier at $17.4 million. In art history, their achievement rivaled the invention of Cubism. Yet among the children of Harvey Milk, they’ve had some rough going. In the 1990s, Milk’s ancient rallying cry set the tenor: “I’m Harvey, and I’m gay” kind of stuff. If you didn’t pin a label on your lapel, you faced being dragged out of the closet. In 1993, Jonathan Katz, wrote The Art of Code, which is full of “gotcha” moments: Rauschenberg’s “Interview” (1955) was a closet, with door; Johns’s drawn shades, shut books, proof of “closeted identity.”

Now the world has moved on yet again, historical traumas are the stuff of Oscar contention, a page has been turned. “No labels” is the fashion statement of kids belonging to Gay-Straight Alliances in high schools across America. And as gay life has moved from boho elitism to near bourgeoisie respectability—who cares more about marriage and religion?—the challenge of living life in a bigger world resounds. A perk of the choices of Johns and Rauschenberg (and Sontag, and others) was their chance to be players in the larger world rather than put in a box and dismissed. “I’m obsessed these days, too, by Sartre and Beauvoir,” says Vezzoli of his admiration for such partnered geniuses.

With all the post-gay complications of civil unions, wedding portraits in the Times, Daddy Mommies, surrogate eggs and sperm, and all-male baby showers, maybe we’re winding back to a time when nuance is acceptable again. Even Jonathan Katz now stresses the subtle humor of Johns and Rauschenberg: “They were closeted, but their closet had a screen door.”

Brad Gooch is a professor of English at William Paterson University in New Jersey. His latest book, Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor, is due to be published in February 2009.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Cramps Frontman Lux Interior


Favorite new album cover

the jury's still out
on the actual band though...

Rare Bits & Pieces

Artist Richard Prince has amassed an idiosyncratic collection of first editions and literary curios.

By Geoff Nicholson

If by some chance you happen to be passing through Rensselaerville, a formerly wealthy, now eerily becalmed, mill town in far upstate New York, you might possibly notice a neat, substantial, brick-built house at the center of town. It’s elegantly austere, nineteenth-century, with two doors and six windows symmetrically arranged on the front, and on the side is one of those plaques telling you how far you are from other places in the world: 29 miles from Catskill, 262 from Montreal, and 2,358 from Panama.

It would be a uniquely alert traveler who’d see that plaque and immediately think, “Ah yes, Panama, the Canal Zone, allegedly the birthplace of artist, appropriator, photographer (indeed rephotographer), and all-round provocateur Richard Prince. This must be the building where he keeps his rare-book collection.” But that’s exactly what it is.

A cursory acquaintance with Prince’s art might not suggest he’s the most bookish of artists. His iconography features Marlboro men, cowboys (clothed and naked), nurses (ditto), “girlfriend” imagery from biker magazines, hoods from muscle cars, sometimes muscle cars themselves. His latest works feature doctored photographs of Rastamen and big-breasted women. It’s not exactly Virginia Woolf territory. And yet, and yet.

There have always been clues about Prince’s literary side. The artist’s books and catalogues he’s produced demonstrate a bibliophilia not shared by all visual artists. Photographs have appeared in some of them showing neat stacks of books, like the one in his 2004 publication Man of a dozen or so volumes, all first editions, paperbacks by Charles Willeford and Rudolph Wurlitzer on top, hardbacks by Don DeLillo and Richard Price at the bottom.

Prince has also produced some quirky literary texts. A 1985 piece, published in ZG magazine, is a conspicuously faked, yet very knowing, interview with J. G. Ballard, the gimmick being that the older, more established Ballard is the one asking all the questions. A few years later, in the terrific essay “Bringing It All Back Home,” Prince describes his feelings about collecting, presenting himself as a New York flaneur, energetically seeking out and buying books, some of them rare and valuable, some not, though his preference is evidently for the former. “I want the best copy,” he writes. “The only copy. The most expensive copy. . . . I want the copy that is rarer than anyone had previously dreamed of. I want the copy that dreams.”

These days, as I discovered when I met up with him in Rensselaerville, Prince is able to get exactly what he wants. When he bought Brigid Berlin’s legendary but little-seen, and indeed unpublished, Cock Book for $175,000, in 2005, the acquisition was reported as both gossip and art-world news.

To visit the Prince Library is a pleasure and a privilege and also something of a rarity. Prince explained that he didn’t bring many people there. “Most people just aren’t that interested in books,” he said uncomplainingly. “It’s like a gentleman’s club with only one member.” About once a week, he drives the few miles from his house to the library and sits alone there, enjoying his collection, examining (to take examples more or less at random) his copy of The Colossus inscribed by Sylvia Plath to Ted Hughes, complete with a little heart drawn next to his name, or a first edition of Jack Smith’s The Beautiful Book (Dead Language Press, 1962), one of two hundred, with nineteen tipped-in photographs; a copy sold at auction for a little over $34,000 last year.

Prince says he doesn’t imagine there are any local bad elements planning a heist, but even so there’s a serious security system, and within the house is a sanctum sanctorum, a room-size, walk-in fireproof safe where the truly irreplaceable treasures live. It comes as no surprise to discover that the interior of the building is laid out like a very fine exhibition space. The place is uncluttered, the collection and the visitor are given room to breathe, yet the moment you enter you’re in no doubt that you’re surrounded by wonders.

Yes, those are Diane Arbus photographs, uneditioned ones she made herself, essentially contact prints. Yes, that crash helmet with the fabulous psychedelic paint job is signed by Mountain Girl, Ken Babbs, and Ken Kesey. There on the wall is a check from the Security National Bank of Northport, New York, made out from Jack Kerouac to Allen Ginsberg for $40, dated 1960. It’s been framed alongside a wire report of Kerouac’s death and a photograph, and of course these fugitive bits of literary ephemera have become a Prince artwork.

Prince is a conceptualist, and he originally conceived that his collection would cover the period from 1949, the year of his birth and also of the publication of Orwell’s 1984, to the actual year 1984. Neat—perhaps a little too neat. Like many collecting schemes, the boundaries got distorted: acquiring a full set of Black Mask magazine extended it into the past, as did buying a first edition of Ulysses (one of one hundred signed copies, Shakespeare & Co., 1922). Nevertheless, ’49 to ’84 is an “interesting time” for those intrigued by counterculture in its broadest sense: not just the Beats but also the hippies; not just Kesey and Leary but Nabokov and Heller and Pynchon; not just Warhol but also Zap Comix. “I paid $15,000 for Zap, volume 1, number 1,” Prince said. “People thought I was insane.” Then he added, “Basically, my collection is about sex, drugs, Beats, hippies, punks.” Imagine a long, thoughtful pause here. “And great reads.”

The less precious items in the collection are “open access,” on shelves, in cabinets, sometimes arranged into miniature shrines; a frieze of multiple editions of Lolita in many languages, an accumulation of Richard Brautigan publications along with his fishing license from the State of Texas, dated August 13, 1970; fee: $2.15. In a rear room, spread out on a shelving unit, are layers of pulp paperbacks, which I suspect could never live up to the spiciness of their titles and covers: Beat Nymph, Girl Artist, Unfortunate Flesh. Among them, incredibly, was a copy of Grapefruit signed by John and Yoko. Prince looked at it ambivalently, “Yeah,” he said, “this should probably go upstairs.”

When Prince opens the safe upstairs housing his collection of true rarities, there’s initially rather little to see. The books and manuscripts are in custom-made black leather clamshell boxes, their titles stamped in gold on the spines. What’s inside sets the mind and pulse reeling: a copy of Roots inscribed to Buckminster Fuller, an uncorrected proof of Michael Herr’s Dispatches once owned by Hunter S. Thompson, a copy of Catch-22 inscribed to Joseph Heller’s daughter.

A book lover must positively swoon. I can now say I’ve handled Nabokov’s own two-volume Olympia Press edition of Lolita, with his handwritten corrections. And I’ve very nearly handled some Pynchon letters from the early ’60s, by which I mean I’ve held the plastic folder containing them, getting close enough to read his address on Third Street, Manhattan Beach, though Prince asked me not to reveal the recipient.

I’ve also touched some Kerouac marvels—Prince owns a great many. His letters to Neal Cassady, Visions of Cody inscribed to Cassady, various versions of On the Road, advance and review copies and one inscribed to his sister. There’s also a copy signed “to my Buddy Steve”—that’s Steve Allen—and this very book is the one that sits atop the piano in the famous television interview. Alas, I didn’t get to see the scroll manuscript of Big Sur: It was out at the bindery.

There is a strange, and it seems to me admirable, alchemy at work here. Art-market wealth is being transmuted into literary wealth. Of course, it’s an unequal transformation. All the power is on the art side. Prince’s painting Millionaire Nurse sold in 2008 for $4.7 million. However, as Prince has become ever more collectable, he has become ever more of a collector.

“Sometimes,” he told me, “it seems like this collection of mine is too good to be in private hands. It should be in somewhere like the Morgan Library.” In fact, he’s already negotiating to donate it to the Morgan if they let him have an exhibition there for a couple of years. He also has plans to make a catalogue-cum–artist’s book.

“Sometimes,” he said, “I think a catalogue of the collection would be enough for me. I’d still be able to look at it.” But, I suggested, he wouldn’t be able to touch and smell it, rearrange it, and do all those other things that collectors do. “That’s true,” he admitted, though I didn’t sense he’d find that any great problem. “Collecting like this is a full-time hobby,” he said. “And I have other things I want to do.”

Geoff Nicholson’s The Lost Art of Walking: The History, Science, and Literature of Pedestrianism (Riverhead) was published last fall

Sunday, February 1, 2009