Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Explanation as Composition: Provenance #7



The provenance of this work was written during a collaborative writing session at LACE on 30 January 2011. Writers include: Amanda Ackerman, Harold Abramowitz, Kate Durbin, Sarah Shun-lien Bynum and Teresa Carmody. Event writer collaborators: Aimee Bender, Allison Carter, Mark Z. Danielewski, Carribean Fragoza, Veronica Gonzalez, Janice Lee, Harryette Mullen, Janet Sarbanes, Anna Joy Springer, and Stephen Van Dyck.


In 1961, the work momentarily disappeared for a 24-hour period, to the great dismay of the French authorities, who feared a heist or sabotage (or both a heist and sabotage). It had been loaned to the Minneapolis Biennial for an exhibition entitled New Realists/Old Fantasists, which paired works of what would soon come to be called Pop Art (by artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Richard Hamilton) with older works seen as historical precursors or provocation. The Minneapolis police were called in to investigate, but were slow to take action in the case. Indeed, the head investigator was quoted in the Minneapolis Star Tribune the following morning as saying, "You mean they made this kind of junk back then too?" Luckily, the drunken songs of the pavilion's night watchman alerted the Biennial staff to the work's whereabouts later that evening. They found him in the supply closet with the work balanced on his knees, fondling it and singing, inexplicably, "Jack Was Every Inch a Sailor." The work was promptly restored to the curators at the Musée D’Accord, who blamed the surrounding Pop paintings and sculptures (though not the work itself), for the watchman's apparent mental breakdown, and declined to press charges.

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