Multiples — art produced in affordable editions for the ’60s middle-class — are being celebrated at Marian Goodman Gallery and MoMA.
Somewhere around the fall of 1967, a couple of new-minted Ph.D.’s, feeding six kids on an income of something like $9,000, set out to decorate their modest house. They brought home a wall-filling banner by the Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein, which had a dotty seascape cut into its cloth. And a tabletop set of “soft” drums made of canvas, by his colleague-in-Pop Claes Oldenburg. Also, a colorful set of abstractions: Squares within squares by Josef Albers of the Bauhaus.
Those Ph.D.’s were my parents, and I’m pretty sure my career as a critic has its roots in that art — art that we’d never have lived with but for an outfit called Multiples, Inc. During its decade-long heyday, in a space on Madison Avenue in New York, the company made and sold new kinds of art that invited something close to mass production, allowing prices that even some young academics could manage.
Multiples, Inc., first opened its doors 55 years ago this winter. On Jan. 12, that birth is being celebrated in a show at the New York gallery of Marian Goodman, now one of the world’s leading dealers but first known as a founder of Multiples.
The company was born in a spirit “close to the socialist idea that art should be accessible,” Ms. Goodman recalled a few years ago. She and her partners “felt that if young people could buy something really beautiful it could change the audience — an audience that had become elitist because the art was so expensive.”
The high-end, high-octane market for contemporary art that we now take for granted had arisen less than a decade before Multiples, Inc., and in 1965 it could still seem a dubious development; a less exclusive and exclusionary alternative had instant appeal. “Artists who questioned the status of art as a luxury commodity embraced multiples as a more democratic art form,” reads a wall text at the Museum of Modern Art, whose recent expansion has made room for an entire gallery dedicated to “The Art of the Multiple.”
Early on, the goal was to replace the handmade expressionism of the 1950s with work that explored the materials and mass production of the space age. For her very first multiples, Ms. Goodman got artists to work with sleek, industrial Plexiglas; even if those pieces only got released in a few dozen copies, that could be enough to make them close kin, conceptually, to plastic goods produced by the million.
A brooch by Lichtenstein, bearing a woman’s face in his trademark spotty style, was actually issued by Multiples, Inc., at a price of just $25. Working with industrial goods made by others, by 1967 the company was offering up stacks of mirrored glass by Robert Smithson, the land art pioneer and, in 1968, space-shaping lengths of cord by the conceptual sculptor Fred Sandback.
Within less than a decade, however, Multiples, Inc., had begun to lose steam. Its most ambitious projects had often lost money: The popular Pop ones, like Oldenburg’s drums or the Lichtenstein pin, cost at least as much to make as they sold for. By the ’80s, when Multiples was mostly reduced to publishing prints, the serious art market was becoming utterly driven by “top prices for unique works,” according to the Swiss curator Dieter Schwarz, who organized the Multiples show at Goodman. That market had — and has — mostly written off the middle-class clients that Multiples, Inc. was founded for.
That hasn’t meant the absolute death of art produced in editions. Fine prints have always existed. Museum gift shops and certain galleries still offer modestly priced objects by artists as famous as Damien Hirst or Jeff Koons. But few of those objects carry the charge — aesthetic or social — that multiples did in the ’60s. Instead of commenting on our commercial culture, they can seem fully complicit with it. In 2012, the great curator Germano Celant, who died last year of Covid-19, closed a major essay on multiples by decrying the way they had lost their ideals, turning instead “into a sort of second or third fashion line of art.” At worst, a 21st-century multiple can be like the $5,000 road bike that a billionaire buys with pocket change, to go with the $500,000 Ferrari.
More substantial multiples do still get made, in the full Goodman tradition, mostly as fund-raisers for innumerable good causes. Last year, the California Institute of the Arts near Los Angeles announced that it would be celebrating its 50th birthday, in 2021, by getting 50 impressive alumni to conceive multiples for CalArts to sell. Multiples have retained just enough of their “provocative and disorienting message,” as Celant’s essay put it, to make them a good fit for today’s progressive causes. But hived off into this separate, do-gooder corner, the multiple has lost some of the impact it had when it truly went head-to-head with the art world’s one-offs.
Joseph Beuys, icon of Germany’s postwar avant-garde, billed his 600 multiples — including his famous felt suit — as central to the spread of his ideas about art, functioning like “an antenna which is standing somewhere and with which one stays in touch,” as he put it. Only a few multiplists have similar ambitions today.
Tacita Dean, a leading British artist now based in Berlin, has always been a market contrarian: The slow-burn films that made her famous are only sold as reels of actual, archaic film. So, over the last nine months, her idea of “productive” time spent in lockdown included forging the signature of Christian Dotremont, a long-dead Belgian surrealist, on 100 facsimiles of a postcard he once sent. She ordered 100 letterpress copies of a business card once handed out by the abstractionist Piet Mondrian, then hand-corrected the address on each one to match a penciled correction on the prototype.
For another multiple, she stamped the words “Stamp Out Stamping” onto 100 vintage index cards — once on the first card, twice on the second and so on until the last card was just about stamped out with stampings.
Her pandemic total came to 50 different eccentric multiples, each remade 100 times, for a just-finished portfolio titled “Monet Hates Me.” (The title comes from Ms. Dean’s discovery of a scrap of French script by Claude Monet that seemed to spell out “hate Tacita.” It was one of several modest objects that the artist dug out during a year she spent in the archives of the Getty Research Institute in California; they became the sources for her pandemic multiples.)
Ms. Dean hopes to have the whole box of goods priced at something like 150 euros (about $184) per object, with all 50 adding up to less than she might normally get for a single photo or drawing. Or about what my parents paid, in inflation-adjusted dollars, for their Lichtenstein banner.
“I knew that I was sabotaging myself by working on something that would make me zero money,” she said in a recent phone interview. But her goal was to put an entire “exhibition in a box” within reach of the most modest museums and libraries — or households. Ms. Dean speaks of her pandemic project as “anti-fetishized,” and of its clear roots in the democratized multiples of Multiples, Inc.
Those origins are even clearer in one of the most notable multiples of recent times, by the Danish artist Danh Vo. (He’s best known for his full-scale copy of the Statue of Liberty, shown in 250 separate parts.)
Twelve years ago, Mr. Vo discovered a touching 1861 letter by a French missionary to his father, written in Vietnam as the priest awaited execution by the country’s anti-Catholic regime. Mr. Vo took that letter and had his own immigrant father copy it out in the fancy script he’d learned as a child in Vietnam. The two men then offered it for sale for 300 euros, or roughly $369 today, in as many handmade copies as the world wanted. Mr. Vo figures that, by now, his father has written out the letter almost 2,000 times.
“If I contributed anything in the arts, it’s with this work,” said Mr. Vo on a call from his home outside Berlin, adding, “I even tell collectors, ‘Why would you buy anything else?’” The admittedly cryptic piece touches on faith and identity, artistic and manual labor, immigration and assimilation, East and West, colonized and colonizer.
Mr. Vo sees the letter’s almost trivial price tag as adding conceptual heft to the piece. He laughs about copies of it that have come up in auctions, given that a new one can always be ordered for the original price — which, with inflation, actually amounts to a steady decline in real cost.
“I wanted my best work to be the cheapest work,” said Mr. Vo. That’s a perfectly sensible statement that only seems strange because, in the years since the high-end market eclipsed Multiples, Inc., we’ve come to think that the best art always bears the biggest price tag.
Multiples, Inc.: 1965-1992
Opens Jan. 12 through Feb. 27, Marian Goodman Gallery, 24 West 57th Street, 212-977-7160; email@example.com. Because of Covid-19, appointments should be booked in advance.
Canadian students create program that turns your thoughts into abstract art | Venture – Daily Hive
A team of students from the University of Alberta has developed a program that turns its wearer’s thoughts into pieces of abstract art.
Called RemBRAINdt, the program uses a 3D-printed headset and electroencephalography (EEG) to record a user’s brain activity through their skull, explained Eden Redman, the president of NeurAlbertaTech and team lead on the project.
After a baseline reading, the wearer is then shown various words and images that are intended to illicit an emotional response.
A graph is created from that heightened brain activity which RemBRAINdt, using machine learning, is able to translate into abstract art.
Rather than simply reading happiness as yellow or anger as red, though, the device measures emotions and feelings on a gradience, Redman said, ranging between “valance” and “arousal.”
Valance records positive or negative feelings, and arousal measures how calming or exciting something is.
The result is beautifully swirled lines of colour, each piece giving a new look into someone’s mind.
Redman, 24, is currently studying Industrial Design and East Asian Language Studies as an “after-degree,” but has a background in psychology and computational neuroscience.
He first came up with the idea for RemBRAINdt in January 2020 as a way to support a fundraiser at the University of Alberta’s Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute.
Although the project was temporarily stalled when COVID-19 hit, the NeurAlbertaTech team picked it back up, remotely, in the summer.
Since then, RemBRAINdt has eared them some “pretty decent funding,” Redman said, including $20,000 from NeuroNexus 2020, a neurotechnology design competition in Alberta.
It’s also been incorporated as an official business under the name RemBraindt Neurotechnologies Inc.
Post-pandemic, Redman’s long term goal remains having the device at public and private events. Short-term it’s “nose to the grindstone,” as the team continues to improve RemBraindt.
“People are getting interested,” Redman said. “I’m pretty excited.”
Art and technology combine for new Minecraft residency at Mackenzie Art Gallery – Global News
“So many arts and cultural events have had to find their online forms last year and this year. So I suppose this is an attempt to do that in a way that we haven’t really seen,” said Sarah Friend, artist and co-curator of Ender Gallery (“Ender” is the name of one of Minecraft’s digital realms).
“It’s fun, new and crosses different creative communities.”
Friend, who is also a software engineer and is based in Berlin, approached her friends Cat Bluemke and Jonathan Carroll with an idea to create a virtual art space last year.
Bluemke is the digital operations coordinator at the Mackenzie and Carroll is the digital programs coordinator, .
“In talking with them the idea got fleshed out and turned into its current form in partnership with the Mackenzie,” Friend explained.
The first of four planned two-month residencies is scheduled to begin in March.
Anyone with a Minecraft account will be able to log into Ender Gallery to view the art pieces. Friend said discussions are ongoing about finding a way to display the art somewhere within the Mackenzie itself, and added that the Ender Gallery team is planning to document the exhibitions via video as well.
“Though Minecraft is the best-selling video game of all time, its not something that everyone has access to,” Friend said. “So we want this to be available to the widest audience possible.”
Applications for the residencies are being accepted until end-of-day on January 31.
Applicants will need to select their preferred residency period, a written proposal and a portfolio, among other things, but don’t need to be experienced artists or have extensive experience with Minecraft to apply.
Each artist will be paid a $1,600 fee.
“Proposals are already coming in. Some of them look like buildings, filled with different creations, that someone on the server can see and walk through. Other proposals are creations that tell a story as you view them,” Friend said.
“We even have proposals that would be something not built on the server, but installed on the server. Minecraft has a modding community where people create new game functionality within Minecraft, or new skins so that it looks like a different game.”
Friend said the residency follows a growing trend of projects highlighting the artistic potential of video games.
“I think we’ve only begun to see the amount of creative content that will come from that intersection.”
Thames Art Gallery seeking community submissions for Black History Month art quilt – CTV News Windsor
WINDSOR, ONT. —
The Thames Art Gallery is calling on members of Chatham-Kent to celebrate Black History Month by participating in a community art “quilt.”
“Celebrating Black Lives” is the theme of the digitally based installation.
For those who wish to participate, the gallery asks that you complete a work of art on the theme in any media, whether it’s a painting, drawing or writing.
Once complete, photograph your work and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
Gallery staff will print and assemble the works into a community art “quilt” which will be on public display in the ARTspace window for the month of February.
A donation will be made for each participating artist involved to support the distribution of the film “The North Star: Finding Black Mecca.”
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