Tag Archive | Fluxus

Modern Art Monday Presents: George Brecht, Repository

George Brecht Repository
Repository, 1961: Wall Cabinet containing pocket watch, thermometer, plastic and rubber balls, baseball, plastic persimmon, “Liberty” statuette, wood puzzle, toothbrushes, bottle caps, house number, plastic worm, pocket mirror, light bulbs, keys, hardware, photographs (All Photos By Gail)

The objects in this cabinet beg to be activated and handled. A key member of the Fluxus movement, George Brecht (1926 – 2008) choreographed events; more specifically, he turned objects into events by inviting the visitor’s engagement. Repository’s power relies on the strong stimulative nature of the items, and it could never be truly finished because the viewer and the event were always changing. Now that the work has entered an institutional context, however, the need to preserve it overrides the call to participation. Thus, the concept of discovery is forestalled by museum practice, leaving the eventfulness of Repository unfulfilled.

Repository Detail

Repository was Photographed in The Met Breuer (former home of The Whitney Museum), in Manhattan, where it is part of the Museum’s Inaugural Exhibit, Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible. The piece is part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, also in New York City.

Yoko Ono’s One Woman Show 1960 – 1971 at MOMA

Yoko Show Announcement
All Photos By Gail. Click on Any Image to Enlarge for Detail.

99% of the time, Yoko Ono is a subject that just takes too long to talk about. Whether you love her or hate her, few would deny that Ono is one of the more polarizing Pop Culture figures of the past fifty years. Most people likely know her as John Lennon’s second wife, as well as his primary post-Beatles artistic/musical partner, and have probably based their opinion on the couple’s various collaborations — which are quite well known. But before Yoko Ono even met John Lennon, she was a groundbreaking visual artist whose extremely unique and original ideas about what constitutes a viable work of ‘Art’ were fucking with people’s heads. Just being serious.

I first visited Yoko Ono’s One Woman Show 1960 – 1971 at MOMA way back in May, and it’s taken me this long to write about it because I had no idea of how to distill the experience. While I am not at all a fan of Yoko Ono’s music (more about that later), I’ve been conflicted over my intense desire to make hilarious jokes about certain works that I saw in this exhibit, and an equally strong urge to find many aspects of her artistic output not only brilliant, but wildly thought-provoking. The exhibit is only up for another month at this point, so I’m going to post a selection of photos I took at MOMA of various works that caught my attention for whatever reasons, and make comments about them.

Grapefruit Light a Match

One of the highlights of the exhibit is Yoko’s book of artwork concepts, which is called Grapefruit. Grapefruit is a book comprising over 150 distinct artworks. One of the preliminary editions of the book is displayed at One Woman Show in its entirety. The instructions for each work range from the possible to the improbable, often relying on the viewer’s imagination to complete the work. For example, Earth Piece (1963) asks the viewer to “listen to the sound of the earth turning,” whereas Line Piece to La Monte Young I (1964) gives a more literal instruction: “Draw a line. Erase line.”

During the year leading up to the publication of Grapefruit, Ono created this manuscript of 151 typewritten texts with handwritten ink additions, each one transcribed onto the back of a postcard. She then mailed the postcards from Japan to George Maciunas in New York, who hoped to publish her collected works as a Fluxus Edition (Ono ultimately self published the volume in 1964). Many of the artworks presented in this exhibition are based on instructions from this Grapefruit typescript.

Here are a few random pages of Grapefruit from the exhibit:

Portrait of Mary

Clock Piece

Tuna Sandwich Piece

These works may seem absurd and silly, but consider the fact that she had to think of all of these different, mostly abstract ideas, fully conceptualize them, and then write them down. And that’s kind of intense and impressive, I think.

Grapefruit Pages on Wall

There are 150 of these ideas and you can read them all! It is pretty crazy.

Bag Piece (1964)

This photo is from Yoko’s 1964 performance work, Bag Piece, where essentially she is on stage inside a bag. It is considered to be a revolutionary work of performance art. Also, it is a joke that writes itself. Art!

To See The Sky Base of Staircase

This spiral staircase is part of a new work which was created just for this show, called To See The Sky. To participate in the work, you climb up to the top of the staircase — which is a bit wobbly, and only one person is allowed on it at a time. Some people were actually afraid to climb it, but I had no such issues, heights have never been a Massive Phobia of mine.

To See The Sky Looking Up Staircase

You can see that the staircase goes up pretty high.

Spiral Staircase from Top

I took this photo when I was almost at the top. You can see my friend Jamie looking up and waving at me. Hi Jamie!

To See The Sky

When you get to the top of the staircase, you look up, and you See The Sky. Art!

Three Spoons (1967)

This piece is called Three Spoons, but you can see there are four spoons.

Ceiling Painting

This piece is called Ceiling Painting, which is famous for being the artwork that convinced John Lennon that Yoko was the woman for him. What you are meant do is climb to the top of the ladder, stand fully upright on it, and use the magnifying glass to read what is printed on the canvas, which is mounted to the ceiling. Of course, there no way the museum will allow random visitors to do this, because personal injury lawsuits, but I will just tell you now that the canvas is printed with word, “Yes.”

Still from Fly (1970)
Still from Fly (1970)

In 1970, Yoko made a short film of a fly crawling on a man’s face.

Plastic Ono Band Poster

The exhibit also features a separate gallery inside of a soundproof (thank god) room, where you can look through memorabilia from Yoko’s “musical venture,” the Plastic Ono Band. In this room, you can have your eardrums excoriated by sounds that cannot accurately be described. No me gusta.

White Chess Set (1966)
White Chess Set (1966)

This White Chess Set is the most straightforward piece in the entire exhibit.

Apple (1966)
Apple (1966). Plexiglass Pedestal, Brass Plaque, and Apple.

Water Drop Painting
Waterdrop Painting (1961)

Half a Room 2
Half-A-Room (1967)

Half-A-Room is a group of domestic objects cut in half and mostly painted white. The installation was part of Ono’s 1967 exhibition, Yoko Ono Half-A-Wind Show, at the Lisson Gallery in London.

Air Bottels (1967)
Air Bottles (1967)

The exhibition was the first to include a collaborative work made by Ono and John Lennon, Air Bottles (1967, pictured above). That work came about when Ono told Lennon about this ‘half’ idea that she had for the show. He responded, “Why don’t you put the other half in these bottles,” and thus Air Bottles was conceived as the installation’s counterpoint.

Half a Room

This is the first occasion in which Half-A-Room is exhibited as it was originally displayed, installed directly on the gallery floor.

War is Over Poster
War is Over for $15.00 in the Gift Shop

Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960–1971 may not be everybody’s Bag (see what did there), but if you’ve got an open mind and a pretty broad taste for contemporary art, you may find that Yoko’s art changes your perspective a bit. And you know that can’t be bad.

Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960–1971 will be on Exhibit Through September 7th, 2015 at the Museum of Modern Art, Located at 11 West 53rd Street, Between 5th and 6th Avenues, in NYC.

Hauser & Wirth Presents Selections from the Reinhard Onnasch Collection

Claes Oldenberg
Claes Oldenberg Model for a Mahogany Plug, Scale B. 1969 (All Photos By Gail)

Hauser & Wirth’s cavernous space at 511 West 18th Street is currently hosting a selection of works from the collection of Reinhard Onnasch. A celebration of Onnasch’s longstanding passion for art and collecting, Re-View: Onnasch Collection is curated by Paul Schimmel, celebrated post-war scholar and Partner of Hauser Wirth & Schimmel.

Christo Wrapped Road Sign 1963
Christo Wrapped Road Sign 1963

The exhibition focuses on the period between 1950 and 1970, decades when New York’s cultural influence was unrivaled and some of the most important artistic movements of the 20th century were born. On view will be iconic examples of Pop Art, Fluxus, Color Field, Assemblage, Minimalism and Abstract Expressionism.

Claes Oldenberg Soft Medicine Cabinet
Claes Oldenberg Soft Medicine Cabinet, 1966

The collection will be on exhibit through April 12th, 2014.