Revisiting the Richard Pettibone show at the Tang I was watched like a hawk by the security guards. My mission was to get a photo of one of the double-sided glass cases holding a bunch of his little paintings, to show how perfect the backs are. Pettibone makes tiny stretchers using tiny nails, with tiny braces. The backs are as captivating as the fronts.
But I couldn't get a photo because the security guards at the Tang are the most attentive you will ever see. Walking up to the mezzanine level where the Kathy Butterly sculptures are on exhibit a lady leapt up from her chair and smiled at me. I felt so bad continuing on to the Pettibone show - she seemed like she really wanted to watch someone.
The Tang's "no photography" rule is exasperating on this visit especially because so much of Richard Pettibone's own photo-realist work of the seventies was produced from polaroids taken in museums. He took photos of work by his contemporaries as well as that of artists like Eakins, Gerome, and Ingres. Those polaroids, often taken at odd angles, were then reproduced exactly - including the white borders of the polaroid.
From a wall text at the Tang beside the photo paintings -
"In 1974, Richard Pettibone moved away from mere emulation of Photorealist style by incorporating historical works of art into the pictures. Using photographs he had taken in New York museums, Pettibone depicts white-bordered snapshots of ..
Taken at lateral angles, the picture emphasizes the works in situ status. These tiny, exquisite paintings reiterate art history's reliance on photography to propagate our knowledge about painting."
It's ironic and sad that the Tang, which promotes itself as a teaching museum, forbids that further propagation.
UPDATE 12/05/07: Nobody ever commented on this post, but I did soon hear from both a Pettibone and co-curator Michael Duncan. The Pettibones sent me a CD of images, and Michael Duncan asked for my address and said he would send a copy of the catalogue... but HE NEVER DID!