Umberto Eco, photocopy of drawing(s)
Dada Stationary (1920)
No one who knows anything will dispute the importance of room treatment so I figured a tour of my walls might be of interest (since we’ve already taken a tour of my desk). In this first photo we have a photocopy of two drawings taken from Umberto Eco’s notebooks. This piece was distributed at a lecture Eco gave at the 92nd Street Y in the late ’80s. Afterward I asked him if he would sign it and he explained (while signing) that someone had taken two of his drawings and super-imposed one over the other obliterating the meaning of each and creating “a Picasso!”. He didn’t sound happy (but it seemed kinda perfect to me).
Under Eco is an original piece of Dada stationary designed by Tristan Tzara from 1920. This was the first thing I ever bought that caused me great concern over how much it cost which has proven to be irrelevant in terms of my enjoyment of it these past 25+ years. Among those named are Tristan Tzara, G. Ribemont Dessaignes, Louis Aragon, Andre Breton, Phillip Soupault, Celine Arnaud, Paul Eluard, Francis Picabia, and Paul Dermee. Some people seem to mistake the Dada painters & poets as nothing more than a bunch of jokers which they were but that wasn’t even the tip of their iceberg. It’s always easier to have things fit into our little picture of the the way things are as opposed to tying to fit ourselves into the larger one that exists without us especially since we’re so much more important in the former.
Marcel Duchamp, New York, 1966
Directly next door to the Dada stationary hangs this portrait of Marcel Duchamp. I owned two photos from this session – Duchamp was smoking a cigar in the other – but I sold that one to pay for this one.
Charles and Ray Eames
On the other side of the bookcase hangs this Eames leg splint from 1942 above Josef Hartwig’s Bauhaus chess set. A friend of Eames (a medical doctor), Wendell G. Scott, saw their experiments with molded plywood in December of 1941 during a visit to their apartment and suggested they develop a leg splint to replace the problematic metal leg splints the military was using. The Eames went to work on a prototype and were awarded a contract by the U.S. Navy in 1942 to supply their molded plywood leg splints as well as a molded plywood body litter. This contract allowed Charles to devote himself full-time to his own work as well as providing the funding for their first shop space at 10946 Santa Monica Boulevard in West Los Angeles. I bought this one from an antique dealer from Ohio at the 26th Street Flea Market back in the ’80s and while he knew exactly what it was, at the time it wasn’t worth much. I’ve had it hanging on my walls ever since where its been mistaken for ‘modern’ sculpture or African Art. So far no one has mistaken it for a Helmholtz resonator.
Sittin on Top of the World (198? – 199?)
I always loved La Grande Baigneuse by Ingres as well as Man Ray’s version so at some point I decided to paint her myself to see how I’d see her.
“Mine’ve been like Verlaine’s and Rimbaud.” Verlaine referred to Rimbaud as a fallen angel which was an inspiration for this painting.
A wicked little etching by cartoonist, animator and musician Gary Leib.
Alfred Jarry, Ubu Roi
Alfred Jarry, Untitled (The Three Palotins) from Les Minuets de sable memorial, Paris (1894)
Elliott Green, Untitled
Alfred Jarry is a fascinating character and his life, books and art served as an important spark for the Dadaists and Surrealists. Behind my head in the listening seat hangs this woodblock print which is an original taken from a damaged copy of Jarry’s Les Minuets de sable memorial. This was the second thing I ever bought which caused me meaningless concern over its cost. Under Jarry is a collage/drawing by Elliott Green an artist I like to consider a friend and whose work I’ve always enjoyed. Elliot’s sense of humor and amusement with all things human are pervasive and infectious.
Doris Beer, The Hoop of a Skirt of 1860
Arthur Rimbaud at the age of 18
I bought that lovely Doris Beer drawing on eBay for a song and it may as well be a surrealist masterpiece as far as I’m concerned. That portrait of Rimbaud is an etching which at one time served as the frontispiece for Rimbaud: The Boy and The Poet (1924) by Edgell Rickword.
Die Neun Planeten
“At first I thought this was so simple but it isn’t.” someone commented about this print by Wolfgang Laib while Wooly Willy looks on knowingly.
African Dogon Animal Mask
This Dogon mask is especially adept at eliminating unwanted resonances.