History of Our World

I Like America and America Likes Me | Joseph Beuys

Posted in Art, Performance, Photography by R on August 23, 2010

‘For me it is the idea of the word that produces all images. It is the key sign for all forms of moulding and organizing. When I speak using a theoretical language, I try to induce the impulses of this power, the power of the whole understanding of language which for me is the spiritual understanding of evolution.’
But language is not to be understood simply in terms of speech and words. That is our current drastically reduced understanding of language, a parallel to the reduced understanding of politics and economics. Beyond language as a verbalization lies a world of sound and impulses, a language of primary sound, without semantic content, but laden with completely different levels of information.
Every form of life speaks a language, untapped and unheard.


Joseph Beuys : Coyote

Caroline Tisdall




Joseph Beuys

Caroline Tisdall



Sachlich | Christian Boltanski

Posted in Art, Object, Photography by R on July 3, 2010

Objets confisqués par les Nazis et déposés au Musée Central des Juifs, Prague
(Items confiscated by the Nazis and deposited in the Central Jewish Museum, Prague)

Inventaire des objets ayant appartenu à une femme de Baden-Baden
(Inventory of items that belonged to a woman from Baden-Baden)

Les habits de François C.
(The clothes of Francis C.)

Objets trouvés dans les égouts de Zurich pendant la semaine du 1er au 10 Juin
(Items found in the sewers of Zurich during the week of 1 to June 10)

Sachlich (Objective), part of a four part series that comprises Kiddish, surveys Boltanski’s principal motifs of place, memory and loss.

The banal tenor and specificity of context in Boltanski’s still-lifes introduce an interesting dialogue as the tonality and depth, or lack thereof, in his photographs render what are reasonably delicate subjects, into mute and objectified echos from a nonspecific time or place. Boltanski’s infatuation with confiscated war relics, (post-) belongings and objet trouvé presented throughout his tetrad make reference to the anonymity and translucence of memory, the interstitial space between sentimentality and indifference, and ultimately focus on transience, singularity and, often forced, despondency. These topos are poignantly represented in the thin vellum leaves of Sachlich that obscure and adumbrate the overleaf images, possessing the lucidity and vagrant non-specificity of memory itself.

Boltanski’s canon analyses notions of detachment and ephemerality in peculiar ways; monolithic aggregates of found and disregarded objects, candles and oxidized copper, or works of stone bare insight into an artist who’s works, ideologies and prehistory are often conflicting. Having absented himself from formal education in his preteens, Boltanski moved from rudimentary sculpture, drawing and painting to installations of pensive and introspective sculptural, filmic, and photographic works; questioning his own substance and significance in relation to memory, lineage and cultural praxis – the multidisciplinary nature and varied scale of these installations characterizes his work to date. An undercurrent throughout Boltanski’s work, and something that can often be difficult to grasp, is the over-simplification, and to a large degree the denial, of intellectual reason. When Boltanski’s work seems to display a profound melancholy or contemplation on histories past, it is the artist who abruptly categorizes his works as quotidian debris, coincidence or ‘stupid’ objects – stating that that it is ‘simply much easier to be dead, than to be alive.’*



Christian Boltanski : Toni Stooss : Catrin Wesemann




Christian Boltanski



Piedmont | Josef Koudelka

Posted in Art, Photography by A on June 3, 2010

Settimo Torinese, Bridge & Rivoli, Castello di Rivoli, Museum of Contempory Art, work by Maurizio Cattelan.

Carema, Via Francigena & Val Varaita.

Turin, lake in front of the Palazzo del Lavoro.

Lake Maggiore; Turin, Lingotto, former Fiat factory, test track; Isola Bella, gardens of the Palazzo Borrome & Robilante, cement works.

Settimo Torinese, construction site for high-speed rail link & Pragelato, livestock market.

The earth in Piedmont is a kaleidoscope of colours. In some areas, it is as red as the soil of India. In others it is almost black. In the interior, it comes in every shade of yellow and brown. Generations of peasants broke their backs in the fields in the hope of being rewarded with a plentiful harvest in the summer months.

The majority of them were so poor that the only food they could afford to eat was polenta, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Big families would crowd around the table en masse to tuck into this peasant fare, perhaps flavored with a few dried anchovies if they were lucky (these would typically have been conveyed on the back of a mule from the neighbouring region of Liguria, to be hung right above the dining table). For many the only way to keep warm was to sleep next to the animals.

Shortly after Bonaparte’s exile in St Helena, the idea of a unified Italy, which had evaporated centuries before with the fall of the Holy Roman Empire, was reborn in Piedmont. Or, at least, an idea of a unified Italy, which many believe has yet to be realized fully. In fact, some maintain that all you would need to do is get behind the wheel of a car and drive from Turin to Trapani in Sicily, via Bolzano near the Austrian border, watching the way the landscape changes beyond the safety barriers, and stopping off at roadside service stations along the way.

– Giuseppe Culicchia


Koudelka Piedmont

Josef Koudelka : Xavier Barral : Giuseppe Culicchia : Luisa Nitrato Izzo

Thames & Hudson



Josef Koudelka



The Art of Rachel Whiteread

Posted in Architecture, Art by A on May 20, 2010

Ghost, 1990.

Untitled (Black Bed), 1991.

Untitled (Wardrobe), 1994.

Untitled (Cast Iron Floor), 2001.

Valley, 1990.

Water Tower, 1998 – 1999.

Untitled (Amber Bed), 1991.

When referring to the specific atmosphere of a space, one often speaks metaphorically, filling it with fear, sorrow or tension. In this context, the essential presupposition is the initial emptiness of the space, which allows the viewer to fill it with something. Hardly anyone has interpreted this process as literally as the British artist Rachel Whiteread. Characterized by a certain monumentality, her sculptures push towards a chain reaction of emotional, symbolic, metaphorical, personal, and ethical/political reflections.

The viewer searches for signs to explain the vague feeling inside, tries to discover personal traces of the inhabitants in the spaces, or projects his or her own visions on or into it. Recollections, memories past and present, private and public, themes of intimacy, domestic life, childhood, loss, and death come to the fore, but the uniformity of the plaster, rubber and concrete yields nothing; blocking any sense of narrative or identity.

These spaces reveal no symbols from which one might read a personal spatial meaning or even a history. Within the solidifying of spatial volumes, the possibility of being becomes lost. The fact that the material and shape of the objects have a certain resemblance to tombstones or even mausoleums – which has been claimed repeatedly about Ghost – nourishes a feeling of permanence and finality; a feeling that can only be described as hollow.


The Art of Rachel Whiteread

Chris Townsend : Rachel Whiteread

Thames & Hudson



Rachel Whiteread

Thames & Hudson


Joseph Beuys and the Celtic World

Posted in Art, Object, Performance by R on May 19, 2010

Joseph Beuys (photographed by Caroline Tisdall).

Beuys completing the Brain of Europe drawing for his Hearth installation at the Royal Feldman Gallery, New York 1975 (photographed by Caroline Tisdall).

Beuys at Sandycove, where James Joyce lived before leaving Ireland for Europe (photographed by Caroline Tisdall).

Beuys investigating the plant life of Ireland, November 1974 (photographed by Caroline Tisdall).

Performing Celtic (Kinloch Rannoch) Scottish Symphony, 1970 (photographed by Richard Demarco).

Beuys at the Giant’s Causeway, Antrim, Northern Ireland, c.1970 (photographed by Caroline Tisdall).

Forrest Hill Poorhouse doors, c.1980 (photographed by Caroline Tisdall).

Caroline Tisdall in conversation with Sean Rainbird, 2001.

Sean Rainbird: Is there a single work in the Bits and Pieces collection that has an especial importance for you?

Caroline Tisdall: There are many themes running through the collection; lots about alchemy, humour, about plants and the transformation of energy. Interconnecting Vases [Two Vases with Precious Water 1975] is probably one of the definitive images in this collection. It was made with blood and insulin, when Beuys was in hospital in 1975 following his heart attack. He was having treatment in Düsseldorf before he went to the spa in Bad Rothenfelde.

SR: So it commemorates a private event, when his health was endangered and he was physically at his most vulnerable?

CT: It is a symbol of love, friendship and reciprocity. ‘C’ and ‘D’ [Cosmas and Damian] with the cross, the triangle and, at the bottom ‘J’ and ‘C’, which could be Joseph and Caroline. The triangle is usually a trinity symbol. In all my earlier writings, I must confess I rather suppressed the Christian angle, but should acknowledge it more now. We did talk about it a lot. Fundamental to his work was the transformation of material and I think you almost have to be brought up a Catholic to use that as a creative principal.

I am a Celt and a total pagan. We often talked about spirituality. By the 1980’s he was certainly not a practicing Catholic. … But there were many elements of Catholicism he kept, like the reincarnation of souls. He also had some fundamental ideas about death and what it means as a destination. In this collection, on an ironic level, is the Hat For Next Time [1974]. After his encounter with the Dalai Lama in 1975 he was very attracted, in later life, to Buddhism. It led to the Amsterdam conference Art meets Science some years later.

It shows in his work with Nam June Paik – particularly the works with the flame. It wasn’t exclusively a Buddhist flame though; think of his saying ‘schütze die Flamme’ (guard the flame). That connects to German philosophy and produces echoes in different cultures. He was confident talking about things which were very difficult to talk about or even taboo; Braunkreuz [‘brown cross’, the distinctive brown pigment Beuys used], the German oak. He felt himself to have grown up in a Catholic, Celtic enclave [in Cleves]. The Lower Rhine is a strange spiritual place, literally quite cut off from Germany like a bend in the river.

SR: What part does language play in this?

CT: He was very deeply rooted in the German language. His whole idea of rehabilitating Germanic imagery and symbols was because he felt that any country which cannot look at its own history is built on foundations of sand and will turn more and more to modern materialism which completely denies spirituality. He felt that was really dangerous not only because of materialism, but also because of a backlash; politically, a spin back into neo-Nazism. One so wishes he had been there when Germany was reunified [in 1989] and the whole spiritual vacuum was exposed, comparing the legacy of both forms of materialism; capitalist materialism and de-spiritualised, grey, Eastern materialism.

SR: Do these sentiments come to a head in any place in Germany you visited, or in any symbolic taboos he confronted?

CT: We went to Externstein in 1975 when he was still recovering from his heart attack. It was a day trip to an absolute taboo place, as it was one of Hitler’s shrines to the Germanic spirit. All the Germanic gods were meant to be there; one of those fat fertility goddesses was dug up there. He wanted his photograph taken with his hand over his heart. What came out was a de-politicized image. It was tongue-in-cheek but like an oath-swearing gesture. He has the confidence to do that. just like the 7000 Oaks project [1982, Kassel] which was growing in his mind at the time. The oak is the symbol that you find on the Iron Cross [a military decoration]. The Nazis had really tried to subsume it into their hierarchy of symbols. As Beuys always said, it is terrible to deny the ‘oakness’ of your countryside just because of the Nazis. If you do that, you deny your own culture, your own history. In Bits and Pieces, the earliest work is an oak-leaf drawing from 1957, a collage, the earliest I have ever seen [Untitled]. I think it is an incredible drawing, so perfect. It has his old-fashioned signature, the early sort, on the bottom right.

SR: Can his use of Braunkreuz be viewed in light of your comments about national identity?

CT: The same goes for that brown colour. That terrible Nazi thing of ‘blood and earth’ [Blut und Boden]. He actually dared to take materials like that and use them, and he reinstalled them in the canon of their ‘Germanness’.

SR: I have always been intrigued by his use of Gothic script at certain points in his career.

CT: Gothic script has its own history. If we were German we would feel sad it fell of of use because of the Nazis. Beuys wanted to undermine the misuses and reappropriate the sources. You have to remember Heinrich Böll too, doing a huge examination of the German spirit in his writing, in books like The Lost Honour of Katharine Blum and Faces of a Clown.

SR: How well did they know one another?

CT: Beuy’s friendship with Böll was very significant. You can follow it through the decades. Böll always used to apologize for being boring! Beuys always had difficulty reading his work, of getting beyond Chapter One. They knew each other well enough for him to feel how it went on after that. The Organization for Direct Democracy through Referendum and the Free International University for Interdisciplinary Research [FIU] were both collaboration with Heinrich Böll. It was was great for Beuys to have a kindred spirit like that on his level, and vice versa…

SR: At what point did he intimate that he was building a collection for you. Or did it become obvious over time that this was happening?

CT: That’s a very interesting question. I’ve never thought about it. Everything with Beuys happened in such a natural way, but I imagine that by the time whole sets of things came, like the four botanical drawings Rosemary, Calendula (Marigold), Nasturtium, Pomegranate [all 1975], he was obviously building up to something. Rosemary is obviously for remembrance. And he was very fond of my mother, who was a Shakespearean actress in her younger days. And I was born in Stratford-upon-Avon. So rosemary features in the botanical things. Then calendula, which is an incredibly important homeopathic plant. When he sent it it was an amazing orange like the sun.

The collection reflects pretty accurately what was going on while it was being formed. He then actually suggested exhibiting it, and we showed it at Paul Negau’s Generative Art Gallery in 1976. By then it had its main themes: its Celtic and botanic themes, its mystical theme, alchemy and politics. The other thing there from the beginning was his interest in language: plays on words and the examinations of puns, differences between languages and curious things about English. Like the riddle in Three Hares 1975: ‘Drei Hasen und die Ohren drei und doch hat jeder seiner zwei’ (if there are three hares and three ears, how can each hare have two ears?).

SR: What strikes me is that it is a very practical lexicon, not a set of instructions, but a densely planted approach to someone’s art. You can read a lot of these objects very directly.

CT: Absolutely. It gives you the homeopathic, the herbal, Rudolf Steiner, biodynamics, concerns with nature as a whole, the environment, the imbalance of the spirit and the material. These run through the whole block.

SR: He seemed to have a special gift of allowing a small object to speak volumes about complex issues and projects.

CT: Take the bandage, for instance, issued to German soldiers during the war [Untitled 1977]. If you put that in a vitrine it becomes monumental; it gives you the theme of the war and a whole phase of his autobiography, and in signing such an object, he claimed it’s whole history.

Bits and Pieces 1957-85, [is] a rich body of objects, drawings and multiples compiled over a decade by the artist for the writer and filmmaker Caroline Tisdall. Numbering around 300 items Bits and Pieces constitutes a comprehensive lexicon of the artist’s material and ideas.


Joseph Beuys and the Celtic World | Scotland, Ireland and England 1970-85

Sean Rainbird

Tate Publishing



Joseph Beuys

Sean Rainbird

Tate Publishing


Kárhozat (Damnation) | Béla Tarr

Posted in Art, Film by B on May 9, 2010

The occasional, labored sound of inertia and friction emitted by the motion of mining cable cars disrupts the unnerving silence of Karrer’s (Miklós Székely B.) austere and sparsely furnished apartment as lethargic conveyances endlessly traverse along an overcast, desolate landscape, veiled in fog. This opening sequence of Kárhozat permeates the very essence of the film. The first collaborative project between Hungarian novelist László Krashnahorkai and filmmaker Béla Tarr (along with Tarr’s editor and wife, Agnes Hranitzky), Damnation is a bleak and nihilistic portrait of isolation, emotional betrayal, and ennui. Using a near static camera, slow pans, languid character motion, pervasive inclement weather, bleak industrial landscape, and a melancholic soundtrack by composer Mihaly Vig, Tarr reflects the desolation and spiritual lethargy of the directionless and morally bankrupt protagonists. Beautifully filmed and with haunting performances, this film cemented Tarr’s status as one of cinema’s most intriguing and powerful directors.


Kárhozat (Damnation)

Béla Tarr : László Krashnahorkai : Agnes Hranitzky



Kárhozat (Damnation)

Béla Tarr


Heaven and Earth | Anselm Kiefer

Posted in Architecture, Art, Object by R on April 26, 2010

Studies for The Seven Heavenly Palaces, Barjac, 1973-2001

October 5, 2004 | Barjac

Michael Auping: Titling an exhibition Heaven and Earth, as we have done here, requires a little explanation. Perhaps we should just begin with the very simple question, do you believe in heaven?

Anselm Kiefer: The title Heaven and Earth is a paradox because heaven and earth don’t exist anymore. The earth is round. The cosmos has no up and down. It is moving constantly. We can no longer fix the stars to create an ideal place. This is our dilemma.

MA: And yet we keep trying to find new ways to get to ‘the ideal place’, the place we assume we came from – to find the right direction.

AK: It is natural to search for our beginnings, but not to assume it has one direction. We live in a scientific future that early philosophers and alchemists could not foresee, but they understood very fundamental relationships between heaven and earth, that we have forgotten. In the Sefer Hechaloth, the ancient book that came before the kabbala, there is no worry of directions. It describes stages, metaphors, and symbols that float everywhere. Up and down were the same direction. The Hachaloth is the spiritual journey toward perfect cognition. North, south, east, and west, up and down are not issues. For me, this also relates to time. Past, present, and future are essentially the same direction. It is about finding symbols that move in all directions.

MA: You are not a ‘New Age’ spiritualist. I know that for sure, but some people who see your images may wonder just what your position is in regard to religion.

AK: My spirituality is not New Age. It has been with me since I was a child. I know that in the last few decades religion has been made shiny and new. It’s like a business creating a new product. They are selling salvation. I’m not interested in being saved. I’m interested in reconstructing symbols. It’s about connecting with an older knowledge and trying to discover continuities in why we search for heaven.

MA: I can see fragments of continuity in your works between symbols that are ancient and those that take a more modern form, and for me that suggests a kind of hope within your landscapes. But there are also some very dark shadows in your images, literally in terms of color , as well as in metaphor and content. It is as if in the same image we see a liberation of knowledge but the dark weight of history.

MA: Christian images are apparent in your work, but in many ways not as apparent as Jewish or Gnostic references.

AK: Later, I discovered that Christian mythology was less complex and less sophisticated than Jewish mythology because the Christians limited their story to make it simple so that they could engage more people and defend their ideas. They had to fight with the Jewish traditions, with the Gnostics. It was a war of the use of knowledge. However, it wasn’t just a defense against outside ideas. It was aggressive. Like politics, they wanted to win. You know, the first church in Rome was not defensive and not aggressive. It was quiet. It was spiritual in the sense of seeking a true discussion about God. It was exploring a new idea about humanity. But then there was ‘iglesias triumphant’, the Triumph of the Church. And then the stones were stacked up and the buildings came, and the construction of the Scholastics, Augustine, and so on. They were very successful in limiting the meaning of the mythology. There were discussions about the Trinity and its meaning. anyone who had ideas that complicated their specific picture was eliminated. This made Christianity very rigid and not very interesting. Whenever knowledge becomes ridgid it stops living.

MA: In 1966, you visited the Monastery at La Tourette. Was this before you made the decision to be an artist?

AK: I began studying law. I didn’t study law to be a lawyer, but for the philosophical aspects of law, constitutional law. I was interested in how people live together with out destroying each other.
I went to La Tourette while I was studying law. It may sound strange to go from the study of law to La Tourette, but it really wasn’t. I had always been interested in law from a spiritual aspect. A constitution is not unlike the idea of a church doctrine. People need a context or a content, something to bind them together. This could be stretched to mythologies. Law, mythology, religion – they are all structures for investigating human character.

MA: Why did you go to La Tourette in the first place? I don’t imagine that you went only to see a Le Corbusier building. You stayed there for three weeks.

AK: The Dominicans were there. I liked their teaching. They have an interesting history. I had read that they had many discussions with Le Corbusier about the shape of the building and the materials. It was a point in my life when I wanted to think quietly about the larger questions. Churches are the stages for transmitting knowledge, interpreting knowledge and ideas of transcendence. It’s a history of conflicts and contradictions. A church is an important source of knowledge and power. Le Corbusier knew that. I stayed there for three weeks in a cell. I thought about things. In a place like that you are not simply encouraged to think about God but to think about yourself, Erkenne dich selbst. Of course, you think about your relationship to god.
Also, for me it was an inspiring building in the sense that a very simple material, a modern material, could be used to create a spiritual space. Great religions and great buildings are part of the sediment of time; like pieces of sand. Le Corbusier used the sand to construct a spiritual space. I discovered the spirituality of concrete – using earth to mould a symbol, a symbol of the imaginative and spiritual world. He tried to make heaven on earth – the ancient paradox.

MA: Could we go back and talk a little bit more about your education as an artist? You went to the university in Freiburg.

AK: Yes. But first I had a nineteenth-century idea that the artists is a genius – that art comes out of him naturally and he doesn’t need any education. I had always thought this, even as a child. You could say that I had too much admiration for artists. I thought they all came from heaven. Later I found out than an artwork is only partly done by the artist, that the artist is part of a larger state of things – the public, history, memory, personal history – and he must just work to find a way through it all, to remain free but connected at the same time.

MA: And later on you went to see Joseph Beuys, although you didn’t officially study with him.

AK: No. I was living in the forrest in Hornbach and had made some canvases. I had heard of Beuys and so I took my canvases to Düsseldorf to show him. He was impressive. I liked him very much. His dialogue was broad and he could be very impressive. He had a world view, not just the view of an artist. I think I appreciated him more because I had studied law.

MA: How so?

AK: Art cannot live on itself. It has to draw on a broader knowledge. I think both of us understood that at the tim ewe knew each other.

MA: Although I never met him, you and Beuys seem very different to me. He was more extroverted and you are more introverted, or at least less public.

AK: We were different, and as a young artist I needed to question that difference. Nevertheless, I learned a lot from him, even though he was not my teacher. I could talk to him about larger issues.

MA: In his interviews and writings, Beuys often evoked the word ‘spiritual’. How do you think he meant that?

AK: That is complicated. We were both in Germany at a certain time – a time when a dialogue about history and spirituality needed to begin. It was difficult to separate the two subjects There was a sense of starting over. To evoke the spiritual not only looking at ourselves but into the history of our nation. It was not just a matter of a critique. It had to be deeper than that. So yes, Beuys was a spiritual man. The artist is naturally spiritual because he is always searching for new beginnings.

MA: Here on the grounds of your home in Barjac, France, you are creating a monumental installation of stacked concrete rooms or ‘palaces’ that go up hundreds of feet into the air, asa well as a sprawling series of connected underground tunnels and spaces containing palettes, books, and lead rooms. Are you working your way through the palaces of heaven?

AK: I follow the ancient tradition of going up and going down. The palaces of heaven are still a mystery. The procedures and formulae surrounding this journey will always be debated. I am making my own investigation.


Heaven and Earth

Anselm Kiefer



(The catalogue is published on the occasion of the exhibition Anselm Kiefer: Heaven and Earth organized by Michael Auping for the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth)


Anselm Kiefer


Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth


Celestial Realm | Wang Wusheng

Posted in Art, Photography, Print by R on April 16, 2010

Pines and stones in mist, taken at Heavenly Sea New Path, June 2004, 11 AM

Pine forest below Cool Refreshing Terrace, taken at Lion Peak, December 1984, 3 PM

Peaks and cloud in valley, taken at the Heavenly Sea New Path, June 2004, 5 PM

18 Disciples of Buddha down mountain ridges, taken at Dawn Pavillion, May 1984, 3 PM

Rare rock in mist, taken at Heavenly Sea New Path, June 2004, 1 PM

Natural rock and pines at the foot of Lion Peak, taken at Lion Peak, November 1984, 10 AM

North Sea Guest House, taken at Lion Peak, November 1984, 4 PM (detail)

Now-I-Believe-It Peak, taken at Dawn Pavillion May 1984, 1 PM

Clouds, taken at White Goose Peak, November 1991, 8 AM (detail)

Pine forest in mist, taken at Stone Bamboo Shot Bridge, June 2004, 4 PM

Dogen, one of Japan’s foremost medieval Zen priests, wrote in the Sansui-kyo chapter of the Shobogenzo that “to view sansui is to meet yourself before you were born.” The self before birth is a self beyond time and space. Dogen, wrote that this self is a ‘formless self’ no one has ever seen. This yet unformed self is the essence of sansui. A depiction of something beyond time and space whose appearance is yet unformed. As I stood before Wang’s photographic sansui, I could feel this acutely.

Wang’s stoicism shows itself in the strategic placement of of dark forms, at times centering the frame on forms whose blurring and gradation are overpowered by blackness.
Not mere shadows, the depth of his blacks represent …void and the silence of time.

A dark mass of mountains is not dead space but the very soul of the living mountains. The white sky in his photographs is not an empty sky  but a sky shown after the passing of a raging storm, now bathed in sunlight.

– Seigo Matsuoka (excerpt from Photographic Sansui)

Born in the province of Anhui, Wang Wunsheng (1945-) has been photographing the Yellow Mountains since 1974.


Celestial Realm | The Yellow Mountains of China

Wang Wusheng : Wu Hung : Damian Harper : Seigo Matsuoka

Abbeville Press



Wang Wusheng

Barry Friedman Ltd.

Abbeville Press


What Remains | Sally Mann

Posted in Art, Photography, Print by R on April 14, 2010

Untitled (Matter Lent)

All things summon us to death;
Nature, almost envious of the good she has given us,
Tell us often and gives us notice that she cannot
For long allow us that scrap of matter she has lent…
She has need of it for other forms,
She claims it back for other works.

Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet (1627-1704), “On Death, a Sermon”

Untitled (Matter Lent)

Untitled (Matter Lent)

Untitled (Matter Lent)

Untitled (Matter Lent)

Untitled (Matter Lent)


…He must have ditched the shotgun because by the time he approached the house he only had the pistols. Ducking behind a tree, he put one of them to his head. His shot was tinnily distinguishable from the rifle shots of the police who had appeared at the last moment. He fell among the stumps and bracken, just a kid after all, my son’s age, bled out in the milky winter light.

Untitled (December 8, 2000)

Untitled (December 8, 2000)

Untitled (December 8, 2000)

Untitled (December 8, 2000)


Pensive on her dead gazing I heard the Mother of All,
Desperate on the torn bodies, on the forms covering the battlefields gazing,
(As the last gun ceased, but the scent of the powder-smoke linger’d,)
As she call’d to her earth with mournful voice while she stalk’d,
Absorb the well O my earth, she cried, I charge you lose not my sons,
lose not an atom

And you streams absorb them well, taking their dear blood,
And you local spots, and you airs that swim above lightly impalpable,
And all you essences of soil and growth, and you my rivers’ depths,
And you mountain sides, and the woods where my dear children’s blood
trickling redden’d

Untitled (Antietam)

And you trees down in your roots to bequeath to all future trees,
My dead absorb or South or North – my young men’s bodies absorb,
and their precious blood,
Which holding in trust for me faithfully back again give me many a year hence,
In unseen essence and odor of surface and grass, centuries hence,
In blowing airs from the fields back again give me my darlings,
give my immortal heroes,
Exhale me them centuries hence, breathe me their breath, let not an atom be lost,
O years and graves! O air and soil! O my dead, an aroma sweet!
Exhale them perennial sweet death, years, centuries hence.

Walt Whitman, from Leaves of Grass

Untitled (Antietam)

Untitled (Antietam)

Untitled (Antietam)

Untitled (Antietam)

Untitled (Antietam)

When the land subsumes the dead, they become the rich body of the earth, the dark matter of creation. As I walk the fields of this farm, beneath my feet shift the bones of incalculable bodies; death is the sculptor of the ravishing landscape, the terrible mother, the damp creator of life, by whom we are one day devoured.


What Remains

Sally Mann

Bulfinch Press



Sally Mann

Robert Koch

Bulfinch Press


The Matter of Time | Richard Serra

Posted in Art, Object, Print by R on March 17, 2010

Forming of the plates for The Matter of Time at Pickhan Umformtechnik, Siegen, Germany

Serra (center) and others installing One Ton Prop (House of Cards) at the Museum of Art, RISD, Providence, 1969

Robert Smithson and Richard Serra, 1970

Frames from Hand Catching Lead, 1968

Tilted Arc, 1981. Weatherproof steel, cylindrical section tilted into the ground, 12′ x 120′ (3.66 x 36.58 m), plate thickness 2½” (6.5 cm). General Services Administration, Washington D.C. Installed at Federal Plaza, New York, 1981-89; destroyed by the United States Government, 1989.

Installation of To Encircle Base Plate Hexagram, Right Angles Inverted at 183rd Street and Webster Avenue, Bronx, New York, 1970.

Shift, 1970-72. Concrete, six sections; section one: 5′ x 240′ (1.52 x 73.15 m); section two: 5′ x 150′ (1.52 x 45.72 m); section three: 5′ x 120′ (1.52 x 36.57 m); section four: 5′ x 105′ (1.52 x 32 m); section five 5′ x 110′ (1.52 x 33.52 m); section six 5′ x 90′ (1.52 x 27.43 m); section thickness: 8″ (20 cm). Installed in King City, Ontario, Canada.

Serpentine, 1993. Weatherproof steel, two units, each comprised of two conical sections, each section: 13’2″ x 52′ (4 x 15.85 m); length overall: 104′ (31.7 m): plate thickness 2″ (5 cm). Collection of Frances and John Bowes, Sonoma, California.

Torqued Ellipse II, 1996. Weatherproof steel, 12′ 29′ x 20’5″ (3.66 x 8.83 x 6.22 m); plate thickness: 2″ (5 cm). Dia Art Foundation. Gift of Leonard and Louise Riggio.

Afangar (Stations, Stops on the Road, to Stop and Look: Forward and Back, to Take It All In), 1990. Basalt, eighteen stones; nine: 9’10” x 1’9″ x 1’9″ (3 x .55 x .55 m): nine: 13’1½” x 1’9″ x 1’9″ (4 x .55 x .55 m). City of Reykjavik, Iceland. Installed Videy Island, Reykjavik Harbor.

Richard Serra, photographed by Robert Frank, 2002

The List:

To roll, to crease, to fold, to store, to bend, to shorten, to twist,
to dapple, to crumple, to shave, to tear, to chip, to split, to cut,
to sever, to drop, to remove, to simplify, to differ, to disarrange,
to open, to mix, to splash, to knot, to spell, to droop, to flow,
to curve, to lift, to inlay, to impress, to fire, to flood, to smear,
to rotate, to swirl, to support, to hook, to suspend, to spread,
to hang, to collect –

of tension, of gravity, of entropy, of nature, of grouping,
of layering, of felting –

to grasp, to tighten, to bundle, to heap, to gather, to scatter,
to arrange, to repair, to discard, to pair, to distribute, to surfeit,
to complement, to enclose, to surround, to encircle, to hide,
to cover, to wrap, to dig, to tie, to bind, to weave, to join,
to match to laminate, to bond, to hinge, to mark, to expand,
to dilute, to light, to modulate, to distill –

of waves, of electromagnetism, of inertia, of ionization,
of polarization, of refraction, of simultaneity, of tides, of reflection,
of equilibrium, of symmetry, of friction –

to stretch, to bounce, to ease, to spray, to systematize,
to refer, to force –

of mapping, of location, of context, of time, of carbonization –

to continue.

The “Verb list” established a logic whereby the process that constituted a sculpture remains transparent. Anyone can reconstruct the process of the making by viewing the residue.
The sculptures resulting from the “Verb list” introduced two aspects of time: the condensed time of their making and the durational time of their viewing.

Both tasks and materials were ordinary. I was tearing lead in place, lifting rubber in place, rolling and propping lead sheets, and melting lead and splashing it against the juncture between wall and floor. The activities were experimental and playful. It wasn’t the question of how to accomplish this or that, nor was it the question of making it up as I went along: it was rather a free-floating combination of both.
I cannot overemphasize the need for play, for in play you don’t extract yourself from your activity. In order to invent I felt it necessary to make art a practice of affirmative play or conceptual experimentation. The ambiguity of play and its transitional character provides suspension of belief whereby a shift in direction is possible when faced with a complexity that you don’t understand. Free from skepticism, play relinquishes control. Play allows one to accept discontinuities and continuities; it also allows one to happen upon solutions or invent them. However, even in play the task must be carried out with conviction. It’s how we do what we do that confers meaning on what we have done.

– Richard Serra (excerpt from Questions, Contradictions, Solutions, 2004)


The Matter of Time

Richard Serra : Hal Foster : Carmen Giménez : Kate D. Nesin



(This publication accompanies the installation of The Matter of Time at the Guggenheim Bilbao. Curated and organized by Carmen Giménez. Sponsored by Arcelor)


Richard Serra


Guggenheim Bilbao