JULIET, THE LAST WILD MACAW IN RIO
Some have claimed she’s indulging a forbidden romance. More likely, loneliness compels her to seek company at Rio de Janeiro’s zoo.
Either way, a blue-and-yellow macaw that zookeepers named Juliet is believed to be the only wild bird of its kind left in the Brazilian city where the birds once flew far and wide.
Almost every morning for the last two decades, Juliet has appeared. She swoops onto the zoo enclosure where macaws are kept and, through its fence, engages in grooming behavior that looks like conjugal canoodling. Sometimes she just sits, relishing the presence of others. She is quieter — shier? more coy? — than her squawking chums.
Blue-and-yellow macaws live to be about 35 years old and Juliet — no spring chicken — should have found a lifelong mate years ago, But Juliet hasn’t coupled, built a nest or had chicks, so at most she’s “still just dating.” _LATimes
ON THIS DAY IN 1432, AT SAINT BAVO’S CHURCH IN GHENT
a great altarpiece by Hubert & Jan van Eyck was dedicated.
Here, its exterior, w/ portraits of donors Jodocus & Lysbette Vijd.
Zacharias, at top left (where you'd begin, natch),
shows you that you're going to be reading a book.
Because that's what the Ghent Altarpiece is -- a big book.
Salvation assured: Jodocus & Lysbette Vijd pray together
on the exterior of the altarpiece they commissioned
Money well spent!
In a low room over the church doors, overlooking the city,
Mary hears some remarkable news and replies (upside down, speaking to God),
"I am the handmaiden of the Lord".
View out the window of Mary's chamber.
Opened, in all its glory:
the Lamb of God, aka the Ghent Altarpiece.
Deësis: Mary, reading a good book (and why not),
God the Father (or is it Christ), and John, also w/ book.
Reading is your pathway to divine understanding
Pelican, sacrificing itself for its children,
woven into the hanging right behind God/Christ
Those early Netherlandish painters and their symbolism!
Jewel-encrusted Crown of Life at the feet of God/ Christ
Behold, the Lamb of God:
prophets, clergy, & saints gather in an infinitely rich landscape
to adore the mystic lamb beyond the fountain of life.
Incredible heart of the Ghent Altarpiece
The lamb of God, giving his blood for you
but his rich wool for Flanders.
The economy of early modern religion!
The Virgin Martyrs have lined up in alphabetical order:
Agnes, Barbara, Catherine, Dorothy.
Love this moment of whimsy in the mystical adoration of the lamb
Prophets & Old Testament figures adore Mystic Lamb.
Van Eyck rivals nature in creating innumerable individual faces.
Read the book!
Old testament figures join the princes of the church
for a very special book club meeting
Van Mander says he can tell which part each one is singing
by the expressions on their faces. Can you?
Van Eyck angel, singing, 1432.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, speaking, 2018. Just saying.
First couple Adam and Eve have a good spot on the inside
in spite of their unfortunate food preferences.
Cain & Abel: humanity’s first murder,
depicted in feigned stone above Eve
Upper panels of the Ghent Altarpiece more or less safely hidden
in a salt mine, Altaussee, Austria, 1945.
Stabilizing the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb before bringing it home
from the Altaussee mines after World War II, 1945.
The Ghent Altarpiece in the conservation studio.
Time for some super spa treatment!
Not what you are thinking!
There are multiple full-scale copies of the Van Eycks' masterpiece.
Everybody wanted one! Trendy!
Not the real thing either!
This panel of the Ghent Altarpiece, the Just Judges,
was stolen in 1934 and never recovered.
What you see today in Ghent
is an excellent copy, but a copy nonetheless.
SECRET GARDEN: DAVID HORVITZ
I met David Horvitz three years ago when he hand-delivered me an edamame plant he had been offering to his community via social media. Now, three years later, we meet again to conduct this interview in the garden he has been building. The garden in question is a previously vacant lot in Arlington Heights, a neighborhood in Central Los Angeles, near the Underground Museum and his studio. The lot, which became vacant after the house on the property burned down, is roughly 5,000 square feet and, prior to Horvitz’ interventions, was mostly dirt, grass and weeds. “I’m always finding buried knicknacks from the house when we dig. A lot of marbles,” Horvitz tells me.
Horvitz has worked with horticulture in several instances, though this is certainly his largest-scale and most ambitious plant-based work to date. The artist, age 39, who now lives and works in his native Los Angeles (after a stint in New York on graduating from Bard’s MFA program in 2010), first exhibited horticultural work when he planted seeds in a book that eventually grew into a tree. The seeds used were collected from Zuccotti Park during the Occupy Wall Street protests there. When making this work, Horvitz was “thinking about the trees as shelter and also as witness to this political moment that was happening in the background of the landscaping.” The tree was donated to, and currently resides at, Bard College, where it was planted in the ground and has since grown quite large. This notion of trees in the foreground, with bodies as subplot, persists throughout his oeuvre, culminating in his most recent work, his garden.
When I arrive, the garden, which is still awaiting its concrete benches, is awash with midday sun. The space is entirely exposed, as much to the elements as to the street. The street, despite its proximity to bustling Washington Boulevard, is residential and fairly quiet. We walk through the garden while Horvitz gestures and tells me each tree or new bloom’s horticultural story—where they’re native to, where the seeds are from, and how they grow. He spots a new bloom—a tiny green leaf sprouting from the soil almost invisible to the untrained eye—and is visibly excited, placing a rock next to it to ensure “we (I know that in reality he means me but is too polite to say so) do not trample it.”
After obtaining permission from the lot’s landlord, Horvitz teamed up with architectural design firm TERREMOTO to transform the derelict space into a garden. When planting they talked about holding a designated space reserved for people but decided, instead, to allow the trees to dominate. In urban gardens, trees typically exist in the background, activated by the bodies that visit—thinking of his earlier project, they wanted to consider how it might feel for bodies to take a backseat while the trees hold centerstage. So far, they have planted over 100 trees. The garden’s concept required rocks so Horvitz and David Godshall, of TERREMOTO, reached out to LACMA Curator Christine Y. Kim to gather rubble from the museum’s demolition site. The result is a zen rock garden, a transplant of urban ruins from a renowned longstanding art space repurposed to another (much more transient) art space. If LACMA’s controversial and politicized demolition has been critiqued as a symbol of waste and excess, then Horvitz’ garden is the antithesis; a space lacking in financial incentive built up from the ruins of a domestic building and incorporating ruins from an institutional one.
The Davids (Horvitz and Godshall) are unclear exactly how the location will be used. They may open it up to arts programming such as related talks, performance and happenings. Though it may just be a garden, open by appointment. He mentions its visibility to the public and that some neighbors have expressed wanting to have a BBQ or party there. While wanting the space to feel communal, there is simultaneously a need to preserve. The main rule is that it is a place for the plants, where the people are merely visitors. This tension of public vs. private continues to make itself known; the garden is visible from the street but behind a gate under lock and key. There have been several instances of graffiti which Horvitz is undecided on how to address. “I’m tempted to keep it,” he says. “Or incorporate it into a mural.”
Horvitz has long been considering the boundary between public and private. Since graduating from Bard in 2010, he has become quite known for his mail art and virtual artwork, drawing on the influence of conceptual artists before him like Bas Jan Ader and On Kawara. His early film “Rarely Seen Bas Jan Ader Film” (2009) was uploaded to YouTube under the premise that it was “found in Ader’s locker at UC Irvine after his disappearance at sea in 1975, and that the film was assumed unusable because it abruptly runs out just as the figure enters the water.” The few-second-long black-and-white film depicting a figure biking into the ocean was then made into an artist edition book, published by 2nd Cannon Publications. This blurring of fact and fiction, or history and mythology, discreetly inserts itself into the narrative—thus questioning the bounds of privacy by pushing them. I was first introduced to his practice with his 2007 work, I will think about you for one minute, where one can pay $1 and Horvitz will think about them for one minute, emailing them the time he starts thinking, and the time he stops. With this piece (still ongoing) he challenges the intimacy and visibility between artist and audience, momentarily collapsing the distance between the two. Particularly notable is the second email he sends once the minute is up: “I’ve stopped thinking about you.” Here, Horvitz draws a stark line between the public and private.
Central to Horvitz’ work is the notion of access. Alongside many gallery and institutional exhibitions, including a group exhibition at the ICA Los Angeles this Spring, a solo at Nassauischer Kunstverein Wiesbaden in Germany earlier this year and exhibitions at Praz-Delavallade and Yvon Lambert in 2020, Horvitz extends his practice to inexpensive printed matter and free downloadable materials. His books are translated into 32 languages (so far), and his web content is downloadable via PDF, audio file or transcript from the website itself. He refutes the gate keeping oft associated with the arts and refers to his collectors less as “buying” his work, instead favoring the word funding. In one body of work, “Donations to Libraries” (2010), Horvitz donated archival boxes—one of which went to MoMA New York. The boxes, which appear as first-edition hardbound books but in reality contain a bottle of gin and a glass, were purchased by collectors who, in the acquisition contract, agree to buy a new bottle for the bookcases (which still live at the respective libraries) each year.
Horvitz addressed the public property conversation head-on in his two bodies of work: “Public Access” (2010–11) where he photographed himself on various California beaches and uploaded those images to the beach’s Wikipedia pages, and “Private Access,” where he did the same thing but on east coast beaches which are adversely privately owned. Exerting his public right both physically and digitally (in the case of the publicly gathered encyclopedia, Wikipedia) Horvitz explored the bounds between private and public access and the feeling of existence and visibility in both spaces. In a similarly terse video work made around the same time, A Walk at Dusk (2018), Horvitz walked through Trump’s Golf Club on the coast in Palos Verdes planting seeds from the Washingtonia robusta, a native Mexican fan palm. A gestural action in the face of the Trump presidency and his intended “wall,” Horvitz reclaims the land (which must, by California law, provide beach access to all 24/7) with native Mexican horticulture, collected from his grandmother’s garden.
Horvitz, who has been working with galleries and institutions for the past two decades, has made a habit of pushing boundaries. For a Frieze New York Project in 2016, curated by Cecilia Alemani, he hired three professional pickpockets to attend the fair and stealthily distribute artworks to randomly selected fairgoers. At last year’s Frieze Los Angeles in Ruinart’s Champagne Room, he organized to gift glass artworks. The caveat being that in order to receive one you had to repeat the daily rotating password, which was shared without context by a mysterious gentlemen whose main role was to walk around the fair whispering the elected password into the ears of the public. Horvitz maintains that he does not eschew the traditional buy/sell market dynamic, rather he prefers to “make it a bit more difficult.”
Horvitz’ garden, as yet untitled, includes an artwork (or group exhibition, as he sometimes refers to it) which is collaborative in nature. Dirt Pile (2021-ongoing) is a cumulative pile of soil, so far featuring contributions from international artists. Morphing his own work with the contributions of other artists, Horvitz shirks direct ownership and invites other artists to inhabit his garden, via the soil from their homes. The garden—to which the landlord could at any moment extinguish David’s rights—is a practice in cultivating the ephemeral. Throughout this project, and over the course of his practice, Horvitz explores the balance between private and public, relishing the tensions between the two. Participating in both public and private spheres, Horvitz straddles both sides and revels in their inextricability. _Kate Caruso_ArtilleryMag
DAVID LYNCH'S WEATHER REPORT 5/8/21
EVOLUTION OR DEVOLUTION? by Tim Schneider
Last week, I started hearing chatter about a new twist in the art world’s crypto-saga: some leaders at major U.S. museums had begun quietly exploring the possibility of selling NFTs of some of their most famous artworks to fundraise after more than a year in shutdown hell. But while the proposition might technically keep institutions clear of the public-relations wildfire that is deaccessioning, this alternative route might actually lead them straight into an even worse disaster.
Now, there is a lot going on in this thought experiment, so let’s begin with the tech side. If you’re still only in the shallow end of the crypto pool, it might be a little jarring wrapping your head around a non-fungible token for a physical object. After all, the nitroglycerine in 2021’s NFT explosion has largely been digital media. But an NFT is really just a claim ticket to an asset (meaning, an artwork). And while the NFT lives on the blockchain, the asset could be physical.
This isn't a brand new idea. Between about 2014 and 2018, a number of startups emerged that were primarily dedicated to creating on-chain title registries for old school, off-chain art like paintings and sculptures. (It was a whole thing. A few of them have kept on keeping on.)
But if there was any in-depth discussion about the idea of monetizing NFTs for works in institutional collections at the time, it got nowhere near the mainstream. I suspect that's because there wasn't much demand for even the for-profit use cases, let alone something else.
Then 2021 started. Yes, NFT prices are still wavy, the overwhelming majority of the money is still going to a select few artists, and most of the tokens ringing up thunderous prices still correspond to strictly digital assets.
But there is some real demand for NFTs certifying ownership of physical assets. For example, of the 10 tokens designer Andrés Reisinger sold in minutes for $450,000 this February, five were to validate tangible pieces of to-be-fabricated furniture. The cocktail of real desire and real wealth can make anything possible almost overnight in every market. So why not museum-sanctioned NFTs of some of history’s greatest artworks? _TheGrayMarket
You’re at a fair and everyone’s wearing masks.
can you recognize these art-world mainstays
from the tops of their faces alone? _artnet
THE ART MARKET OFTEN WORKS IN SECRET. HERE’S A LOOK INSIDE.
Ever since a computer file made by the digital artist known as Beeple sold at auction in March for $69 million, observers of the art world have been fascinated and bewildered by the astronomical spike in prices for this type of work — so-called NFT-based art.
The market for this art has grown drastically. From April 5, 2018, through April 15 of this year, 6,158 artists sold 191,208 pieces of NFT-based art for a total of $541,378,383, according to Crypto Art, Roughly half of these transactions took place this past March, giving rise to one of the greatest and most sudden asset booms in history.
As an art collector, I enjoy coming across an intriguing piece of art and asking myself how much I might pay to own it. But as a network scientist, when I encounter a complex phenomenon like the art market, I am inclined to examine its hidden structure, drawing from multiple disciplines (physics, sociology, computer science) to reveal the unseen patterns of relationships that can help explain how it works and why.
From the moment I learned about the world of NFT-based artwork, I’ve been busy doing what I do best: mapping — that is, analyzing and visually representing — the patterns of ownership transactions that underlie the genre’s meteoric rise. My maps show that the market for NFT-based art is extremely insular and tightly connected, even by the standards of the art world. These features of the network may help explain the enormous spikes in sales prices for NFT-based art.
We started our analysis by looking at a website called SuperRaret. Using specialized algorithms, our computers traced every transaction on SuperRare in which an NFT was involved. By April 15 of this year, according to our analysis, 16,198 works created by 887 artists had changed ownership on SuperRare, involving 3,210 collectors and more than 23,000 transactions.
Our next step was to lay out the network in two-dimensional physical space To do that, we had our computers arrange the network so as to minimize the total length of the links among the nodes. This ensured that we would be able to see patterns of ownership clearly: Our hunch was that the network would reveal itself to be fragmented into isolated clusters, each reflecting the specialized interest of collectors in certain types of artists and artworks. But the network we obtained defied our expectations, showing a central, highly interlinked structure — one that contained all but 122 of the more than 16,000 artworks. To give you a sense of how extraordinarily small-world this market is, any two artworks in this network (excluding the 122 exceptions) are connected not through the proverbial six degrees of separation but through a chain of no fewer than three collectors.
This is what the network looks like:
As you can see, the network has several large and easily detectable “communities” — groups of artworks densely linked to one another. What do these communities represent? At first, we suspected that they were collections of artworks in various subgenres of NFT-based art, exhibiting visual or conceptual similarities and thus attracting collectors with similar tastes and affinities. To test this suspicion, we assigned a color to each node corresponding to the artist who created the work. But the resulting cacophony of colors disconfirmed that hypothesis. While there appeared to be a mild preference for certain artists in some of these communities, the pattern appeared more accidental than explanatory.
It looked like this:
We then explored another hypothesis: that the communities represented collectors. This time, we assigned a color to each node corresponding to the artwork’s current owner. This was our eureka moment. The map revealed that each community was associated with a single collector.
Though we tallied 3,210 collectors on SuperRare at the time of our analysis, the bulk of the artworks were in the hands of a few investors. You can see this quite clearly if you look at the primary market, where the largest clusters represent artworks purchased by four early investors, who go by the screennames
It is not unusual in the art world for a small number of enterprising collectors to dominate the primary market for new art. In the 1870s, for example, the art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, who was among the first to recognize the potential of Modern art, acquired more than 5,000 canvases, including about 1,000 Monets, 1,500 Renoirs and 800 Picassos. But typically, as a vanguard rises in prominence, new collectors enter the market and ownership is diversified.
This diversification does not appear to have happened in the world of NFT-based art, at least not yet. Our map of the network showed that the secondary market was even more concentrated than the primary market. During the period we analyzed, two collectors bought a sizable number of works from the early investors, establishing a dominance over the market.
Why is this network significant? For one thing, it suggests that when it comes to the basic economic variables of supply and demand, the supply within SuperRare of artworks for sale is tightly controlled. Combine this controlled supply with the sudden surge of interest in digital art, and you are looking at a demand-driven market.
But more important is the sheer openness of the market. Historically, the art market has thrived in opacity: Works purchased in the primary and the secondary markets often disappear from public view, ending in private collections. Buyers too often lack complete information about comparable prices, supply and other relevant features of the market. Those who have more information — typically, gallery owners and dealers — can make fortunes as a result.
NFT-based art brings a welcome degree of transparency to ownership and transactions. This makes NFTs more than a niche art market. By introducing the idea that artists of all stripes — traditional as well as digital — can use blockchain technology to publicly authenticate their works and openly chronicle their sales history, NFTs promise (or threaten, depending on your perspective) to level the playing field for the entire art market, fundamentally reshaping how art is traded and collected. _NYTimesOpiniion