Serkan Ozkaya, Dave Muller and the hand-drawn newspaper


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On Friday, the Courier-Journal newspaper in Louisville, Ky., printed its front page not as neat type and crisp photographs, but as an artist’s hand-drawn reproduction of neat type and crisp photographs. Conceptual artist Serkan Ozkaya and five local art students executed the replica in graphite, including the explanatory story ‘Art on Deadline,’ which was then printed for the full run of the paper.

If the project sounds familiar, perhaps you’re recalling a front page of the Los Angeles Times’ Sunday Calendar that appeared 12 years ago next month. A cover story on the city’s internationally prominent art scene coincided with ‘Sunshine & Noir: Art in L.A., 1960-1997,’ a sprawling survey exhibition opening that week at Denmark’s Louisiana Museum. Artist Dave Muller was invited to replicate the section’s front-page layout in pencil and acrylic washes, with a large space left empty at one side to accommodate a photograph by artist Ruben Ortiz-Torres. The two young artists were chosen to represent a next generation of L.A. artists, who were just emerging after the European show’s cut-off date.


One of my favorite parts of Muller’s rendering is the errant drop of red paint just to the right of the second ‘A’ in ‘Calendar.’ The accidental mark, intentionally reproduced on the cover, made the work into a sort of Postmodern drip-painting.

Muller, whose most recent exhibition closed last week at Blum & Poe Gallery, has been making visually exquisite, conceptually provocative hand-drawn replicas of printed matter since 1994. His first subjects were invitations and posters to gallery exhibitions by fellow artists -- Andrea Bowers, Sam Durant, Sharon Lockhart, Tony Oursler, etc. -- and later included newspaper stories about art, the spines of books on the artist’s bookshelves, favorite record album covers and several art magazine covers. These works chronicle -- as well as participate in -- the complex social networks among artists, who are threaded through an institutional apparatus that includes galleries, museums and publications.Think of his hand-drawn appropriations as still lifes of printed objects, portraits of an art scene or the media-saturated landscape of contemporary life.

Titled ‘Millenium,’ the cover for The Times was included in the artist’s mid-career drawing survey, ‘Dave Muller: Connections,’ which traveled to the UCLA Hammer Museum in 2002. And therein lies a very strange coincidence -- one that further underscores just how savvy is Muller’s pinpointing of those networks’ uncontrolled influence and undeniable power. His museum survey was organized by the Center for Curatorial Studies Museum at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y. Five years earlier -- on May 18, 1997, the day Muller’s ‘Millenium’ appeared on and as The Times’ front page -- a young, Istanbul-born artist was hard at work as a student in the graduate art program at Bard. His name was Serkan Ozkaya.

-- Christopher Knight

Credits: Top, Associated Press; Dave Muller and Blum & Poe Gallery