The Missing i:

Charles Arnold and „A Decade of California Color

In 1970, on the occasion of the exhibition, ‘A Decade of California Color’ at the Pace Gallery, New York, a catalog-portfolio of the same name was published.
Contained in a stiff cardboard cover jacket, this collection of loose leaf papers consisted of fourteen pages printed on glossy offset paper (each 7 x 10 inches): a pink cover page with the title of the exhibition, and one black and white page for each of the thirteen participating artists.
The cover illustration depicts a map of Los Angeles superimposed on the skyline of New York City. The artists’ names radiate away from each other, appearing as stylized sun-beams or, with respect to the looming, pointy tower in the center, waves or signals being emitted.

The publication presented here is a facsimile of a counterfeit copy of this portfolio, which has remained in the archive of the Galerie C&V since 2007. Close inspection of this portfolio reveals traces of manipulation (fig. 1): on the cover illustration, at the end of the artist Charles Arnold’s name, there is a spot that has been retouched.

Further research has made clear that there was no Charles Arnold in the exhibition, although one of the participating artists was in fact named Charles Arnoldi.

The retouching of the cover was thus done in order to remove the i from the end of Arnoldi. Charles Arnold’s artist page otherwise shows no obvious sign of being retouched. The paper is less stiff, and has a somewhat darker color. The portfolio does not contain a page for Charles Arnoldi.

Fig. 1 - Cover retouching made visible under black light
Placing both the original, unaltered portfolio side by side with the counterfeit allows for a comparison of the two artist’s pages*. Charles Arnold’s biography is identical with Arnoldi’s. Slight typographical imprecisions have been retained, and the layout and positioning of the two pages are identical.
At 24 years of age, Charles Arnoldi was one of the youngest participants in ‘A Decade of Califonia Color’. In the portrait photograph he sits relaxed in an armchair with his legs crossed.
* The counterfeit copy of the porfolio was given to the C&V Archive by Boris Kahnert, on the occasion of the exhibition ‘Kommentar als selber was’ (Commentary as its own thing) in 2007.
An unaltered portfolio was found through an Internet bookseller in the US. It turns out that the book was in fact rare, costing 300 US-dollars. This newly acquired catalog actually contained the Arnoldi artist page.
The portrait on the Arnold page depicts an older person with a mustache in a comparatively strained pose. He leans strangely into the picture from the left, supporting himself with his arm on some books. A blank sheet of paper hangs on the wall in the background.
In his left hand he holds a piece of paper on which an image is partially visible. When this image is heavily enlarged, it is recognizable as the portrait of Arnoldi from his respective artist’s page. In other words, the supposed Charles Arnold brings back into the image the page that was replaced through the falsification.
Jerry Mc Millan is credited as the photographer of Charles Arnold’s artist portrait. No name is present, however, under the portrait of Charles Arnoldi. Two of the other portraits in the catalog are by McMillan**: those of Billy Al Bengston and Ed Ruscha. The remaining artist’s pages are either credited to the pictured artist or remain uncredited, the only exception being the portrait of Robert Irwin, taken by Larry Bell.

The artworks shown in the illustrations on the Arnold and Arnoldi pages also differ. The work of Charles Arnoldi is captioned ‘Untitled, 1970 polyethylene and dry pigments’, with no dimensions given. A three-dimensional structure made of welded plastic sheeting hangs on a wall from two points. The darker sections are likely due to the application of the dry pigments mentioned in the caption.***

The artwork of Charles Arnold also has no title, and its dimensions are not given. It is possible that the reproduction is only a detail of the work. The composition is determined by four circular areas whose grey tones in the black and white reproduction indicate different colors. These ‘points’ are sharply delineated from the background, and surrounded by a halo of their own color.

Arnold’s ‘Untitled’, with its blended colors, is suggestive of wet on wet watercolor painting. The entire image is grainy, which one might attribute to the photographic reproduction. The surface of the artwork is otherwise absent of texture.

The caption indicates that the technique of the work, dated from 1970, is ‘colored wax on glass’. There are none of the characteristic traces of painting with wax. The depiction shows what is probably the result of a melting process.

The counterfeit copy of the portfolio also contains two additional inserts not found in the original.

1. A page torn from a book with dimensions 4.5 x 7.5 inches. Both front and back sides show installation views. The image on page ‘21’ is captioned ‘Pace Gallery, New York, 1970’; that on the back side, page ‘22, Ace Gallery, Los Angeles, 1971’. The name ‘Bell’ is printed beside both page numbers.

**Jerry McMillan, born in 1936, has photographed Ed Ruscha since their studies iniOklahoma.

***Jane Livingstone describes in „Art in America“ (5/1970) the process of.fabrication:

„He executes them in a matter of hours, from the first stacking and heat-seaming of the polyethylene sheets (four or more layers in the work) the final application of the water-soluble pigments, which he accomplishes by pinning the plastic receptacle on the wall and pouring the dry paint in from the top...“

2. A folded DIN-A4 paper with typed notes. The lightly yel-lowed page has letterhead from the ‘Association of Norwegian Students Abroad’

Some of the notes are in fact bibliographical reference codes for books and periodicals (the abbreviations, ‘A.I.’, ‘AiA’ and ‘NYT’ standing for the publications Art International, Art in America and The New York Times). In addition, the codes allude to artists, for example ‘Wallace Berman’, and ‘Bell’. At the lower right corner, one finds the abbreviation 'Ch. A.’.