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Title

S.M.S. No.1

Feb 1968


Artists

Various Artists

The Letter Edged in Black Press Inc.

United States of America


About

Artist, dealer, collector and patron, William Copley became involved with art in the mid 1940s when he met John Ployart, who became his brother-in-law and partner in a short-lived gallery in Beverley Hills. Exhibiting the work of the surrealists, who were just beginning to exhibit in New York – René Magritte, Yves Tanguy, Joseph Cornell, Man Ray, Roberto Matta and Max Ernst among others – the gallery sold only two paintings and closed after six months. Copley moved to Paris, where he worked as an artist before he returned to the United States in the early 60s and settled in New York.

Inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s reproductions and multiples of ‘La boite-en-valise’ (the box in a suit-case) 1934–41, Copley set out to produce a new form of art journal in 1966. He invited a diverse range of artists, writers and musicians to submit a work of art that would be reproduced and included, without comment, in a boxed collection that was available by mail order subscription with an edition of 2000. The deliberately ambiguous title ‘S.M.S.’, which was a private joke between Copley and his lawyer, stood for ‘Shit must stop’.

Although decidedly utopian in concept and lasting only six issues, the publication included contributions from Copley’s surrealist friends and representatives from almost every art movement that was vying for public attention at that time: the Fluxus artists, pop artists, minimalist artists, colour field artists, conceptual artists and even the work of Congo the chimpanzee, whose paintings were introduced to the art world by the writer Desmond Morris and were the subject of hilarious debate concerning the validity of abstract art. As the title implied, ‘S.M.S.’ was a reaction against the elitism of the art world in which reputations were made and destroyed by a small clique of dealers, critics and curators. It was the initiative of an artist idealistically striving to provide artists with direct access to a public audience. Contributors, regardless of their current reputation, were paid a standard fee of $100. Their contribution could be any size or form they wished as long as it could be folded down and packaged within a standard carton.

© Art Gallery of New South Wales Contemporary Collection Handbook, 2006


Details


Other Title

SMS #1


Date

Feb 1968


Media categories

Ephemera , Mixed media


Materials used

portfolio of eleven mixed media works


Edition

2000


Dimensions

11 works: dimensions variable :

a - James Lee Byars (USA 1932-97) - 'Black dress' 1968 – photo lithograph on black tissue; 50.5 cm; diameter

a - James Lee Byars (USA 1932-97) - 'Black dress' 1968 – photo lithograph on black tissue; 25.5 x 25.5 cm; envelope

b - Walter de Maria (USA b1935) - 'Chicago project' 1968 - 8 offset lithographs, envelope.; 28 x 21.5 cm; text, each sheet

b - Walter de Maria (USA b1935) - 'Chicago project' 1968 - 8 offset lithographs, envelope.; 19.3 x 24.7 cm; photograph

b - Walter de Maria (USA b1935) - 'Chicago project' 1968 - 8 offset lithographs, envelope.; 30.5 x 22.8 cm; envelope

c - La Monte Young (USA b1935) and Marian Zazeela (USA b1940) - 'Two propositions in black' 1967 - offset lithograph; 25.4 x 60.7 cm; sheet [open]

d - Sol Mednick (USA 1916-70) - 'Hottentot apron' 1968 - photo lithograph; 45.4 x 63.7 cm; image

d - Sol Mednick (USA 1916-70) - 'Hottentot apron' 1968 - photo lithograph; 51.6 x 69.7 cm; sheet

e - Nancy Reitkopf (USA b1938) - 'Luggage labels' 1968 - 6 colour offset lithographs; 9.2 x 17.2 cm; S.S. Titanic

e - Nancy Reitkopf (USA b1938) - 'Luggage labels' 1968 - 6 colour offset lithographs; 19.7 x 11.8 cm; Cavalry Motor Inn

e - Nancy Reitkopf (USA b1938) - 'Luggage labels' 1968 - 6 colour offset lithographs; 17.3 x 8.9 cm; Hiroshima

e - Nancy Reitkopf (USA b1938) - 'Luggage labels' 1968 - 6 colour offset lithographs; 12.1 x 19.9 cm; Hindenburg

e - Nancy Reitkopf (USA b1938) - 'Luggage labels' 1968 - 6 colour offset lithographs; 13.4 x 10.6 cm; Andrea Doria

e - Nancy Reitkopf (USA b1938) - 'Luggage labels' 1968 - 6 colour offset lithographs; 13.2 x 12.7 cm; S.S. Lusitania

f - Kasper König (Germany b1940) - 'My country 'tis of thee: West Germany 1968 (4 views) 1968' 1968 - 4 photo lithographs overlaid with tracing paper; 12.9 x 12.9 cm; image/sheet each photograph

g - Richard Hamilton (England 1922-2011) - 'A postal card for Mother' 1968 - colour photo lithograph, photo lithograph concertina folded; 61.8 x 8.9 cm; photographs overall sheet

g - Richard Hamilton (England 1922-2011) - 'A postal card for Mother' 1968 - colour photo lithograph, photo lithograph concertina folded; 12.7 x 20.3 cm; postcard

h - Su Braden (England b1940) - 'Project for a bridge' 1967 - offset lithograph on tracing paper; 16.2 x 16.2 cm; sheet [folded in a triangle]

h - Su Braden (England b1940) - 'Project for a bridge' 1967 - offset lithograph on tracing paper; 34.7 x 22.8 cm; sheet [open]

i - Christo (Bulgaria/USA b1935) - 'Store front' 1966-67 - colour offset lithograph, mylar; 27.5 x 17.1 cm; card [folded]

i - Christo (Bulgaria/USA b1935) - 'Store front' 1966-67 - colour offset lithograph, mylar; 27.5 x 34.3 cm; card [open]

j - Julien Levy (USA 1906-81) - 'Pharmaceuticals' 1968' - 9 colour offset lithographs, five pill capsules; 13.2 x 13.3 cm; notepad, each sheet

j - Julien Levy (USA 1906-81) - 'Pharmaceuticals' 1968' - 9 colour offset lithographs, five pill capsules; 2 cm; height, each capsule

k - Irving Petlin (USA b1934) - 'Little box of earthquake and cotton' (Cover) 1968 - colour offset lithograph; 35 x 51 cm; cover [open]


Signature & date

Signed l.r. sheet [d], [inscribed on screen] "Sol Mednick". Not dated.
Signed and dated l.l. [h], [inscribed on screen] "Su Braden 1967".
Signed and dated u.r.corner [i], [inscribed on screen] ".../ Christo 1966-67".
Signed l.c. sheets 1-3 of notepad [j] [inscribed on screen] "Julien Levy". Not dated.


Credit

Purchased 1995


Location

Not on display


Accession number

490.1995.a-k


Artist information

Various Artists

Works in the collection

6

Artist information

The Letter Edged in Black Press Inc.

Works in the collection

6


Shown in 2 exhibitions

Exhibition history


Referenced in 1 publication

Bibliography


Michael Wardell, Contemporary: Art Gallery of New South Wales Contemporary Collection, 'Ideas and actions', pg.60-107, Sydney, 2006, 98, 99 (colour illus.).