Note: This exhibit is scheduled to close on 3/31/07.
Specially assembled portfolios (or boxes) of artwork are a common moneymaking item for fine art presses and non-profit art organizations. The practice goes back decades and perhaps originated with Marcel Duchamp’s “Boîte-en-valise” (1935-41). In San Francisco, 871 Fine Arts is presenting a small, interesting show, “Portfolios and Boxes,” that covers a surprising range of artistic styles.
Top of the charts for fun is the “Rubber Stamp Portfolio” from 1976, which includes work by Richard Artschwager, Chuck Close, Agnes Martin, Myron Stout, Tom Wesselmann, and eight others. In the display, the Stout piece was placed next to the Wesselmann and appears to echo the female crotch in the Wesselmann (detail photo above). Perhaps this is a sly bit of stagecraft by the proprietor, Adrienne Fish. On the website of Parasol Press, publisher of the portfolio, the Stout piece is shown oriented the other way, resembling a flying saucer.
Another contender is the Richard Pettibon box from 1998 that includes 12 lithographs and one original drawing (photo at top).
Ritualists will be interested in “Das O. M. Theater,” a 1971 box by the notorious Viennese Actionist, Hermann Nitsch. It includes collages made with “blood” and gauze, and Aktion photographs like the one below. (O.M. = Orgien Mysterien. Orgies and mysteries, dude!)
For relief—sort of—turn to the photographic prints in the “Ventriloquisms” portfolio by Laurie Simmons (photo below).
A variation from the flat work is “7 Objects, 1969,” which includes objects by Eva Hesse, Bruce Nauman (soundtrack from videos, photo below), Richard Serra, Keith Sonnier, and several others.
The gallery does not have a website. The address is 49 Geary St., Second Floor. The phone is (415) 543-5155. The hours generally are Tuesday-Saturday, 10:30-5:30. In addition to the artwork, there is an excellent art bookstore at the back.
(Apologies for the quality of the photos; I didn't use the right settings during my visit and had to salvage what I could.)