Archive for October, 2012

Art | The Scream at MoMA

Friday, October 26th, 2012

Edvard Munch: The Scream
The Museum of Modern Art
New York City, USA
Until 29th April, 2013

Putting Edvard Munch’s The Scream on show at this time of year, when ghosts and ghouls are the order of the day, is something of a MoMA masterstroke. Almost as popular and recognisable an image as Leonardo’s Mona Lisa, The Scream has captured public imagination since 1895, when it was created. The artist’s masterpiece will, no doubt, be a huge draw. Of the four versions of the image produced between 1893 and 1910, this pastel is the only one remaining in private hands. Translated from the original Norwegian the words inscribed in red paint below it read:

‘I was walking along the road with two of my friends. The sun set – the sky became a bloody red. And I felt a touch of melancholy – I stood still, dead tired – over the blue-black fjord and city hung blood and tongues of fire. My friends walked on – I stayed behind – trembling with fright – I felt the great scream in nature.’

Associated, during the 1890s, with the international development of symbolism – which concerned itself with expressive representations of emotions and personal relationships – Munch is recognised as a precurser of 20th century expressionism, in which introspection and intuition are given precedence over more scientific approaches to art such as those found in naturalism and impressionism. The hairless figure under the yellow-orange sky is him and was originally conceived as part of the epic Frieze of Life series, which explored modern life by focusing on the themes of love, angst, and death. Like the rest of us, he would appear to have been just as fascinated by life’s horrors as by its beauty.

The MoMA exhibition also includes two paintings, The Storm and Melancholy, as well as eight of Munch’s prints. Among these are the woodcut, Angst, and his renowned Self-Portrait, both from 1895.

Edvard Munch images from top
The Scream, 1895
Pastel on board
© 2012 The Munch Museum/The Munch-Ellingsen Group/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Self Portrait, 1895, signed 1896
Lithograph
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of James L. Goodwin in memory of Philip L. Goodwin. 71.1959.
© 2012 The Munch Museum/The Munch-Ellingsen Group/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Angst, 1896, signed 1897
Woodcut
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchase 1174, 1968.
© 2012 The Munch Museum/The Munch-Ellingsen Group/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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Auction | Carlo Mollino’s ‘Villa K2′ Furnishings

Friday, October 19th, 2012

20th Century Decorative Art & Design:
Including an Important Private Collection of Works by Carlo Mollino
Christie’s
King Street, London, UK
Exhibition: 18th-23rd October, 2012
Sale: 23rd October, 2012

Flamboyant Italian Architect, designer, and writer, Carlo Mollino (1905-1973) was an obsessive skier and pilot who loved driving racing-cars, and was a master of erotic photography. In 1951, at the height of his powers, having recently completed construction of the Lattes publishing house and the RAI auditorium in Turin, exhibited his furniture designs at the Brooklyn Museum, New York, and embarked on the first of a series of buildings in the Alpine resort of Cervinia, Mollino was commissioned by industrialist, Luigi Cattaneo, to design a unique family retreat on an elevated site in the foothills of the Alps, with majestic views over Lake Maggiore.

It was a dream commission and Mollino, remarkable in the thoroughness with which he approached everything in his life – during the 1930s, he had conducted a detailed photographic survey into the traditional regional architecture of the Val d’Aosta, the timber buildings of which, with raised superstructures, open galleries, and pitched roofs, were to provide the architectural inspiration for the Casa Cattaneo, allowing him to design a building that embraced modernity, whilst retaining a local, Italian identity appropriate for the setting – designing the building as well as every item of furniture and every fitting within it, didn’t disappoint.

Oregon pine was imported to clad the interior walls to which each plank was fastened with brass bolts. Other walls were rendered with a textured, granulated surface containing shimmering fragments of crystal, and the floor of the entrance hall was laid with a mosaic of locally-sourced, cut and polished river pebbles. Mollino designed the dining suite – estimated at £500,000-700,000 and the centre-piece in the forthcoming Christie’s sale of the villa’s furnishings – to be the central focus for Luigi Cattaneo’s extended family gatherings. The distinctive bi-partite backed dining chairs, with splayed legs, blending elegant streamlining with rustic sturdiness, were carved from chestnut, while the table is in oak. An elegant, modern painted steel and brass ceiling light that was suspended over the green linoleum-surfaced table, has an innovative perforated canopy that allowed light to be gently diffused across the room and could be adjusted in order to modify luminosity – estimated sale price is £150,000-200,000. Curiously, coat-hooks occupied a special place for Mollino and every interior he designed features different examples; those in the entrance corridor at Casa Cattaneo were in brightly-coloured ceramic and reveal a surrealistic tendency. Along with beds and cabinets, two sets of these are included in the sale. In 2005, a unique oak and glass table, designed by Mollino for the Casa Orenga, completed in 1949, sold for £2.3m ($3.8 m), at Christie’s in New York, setting a world record for twentieth-century decorative art, yet to be broken.

Trained in technical engineering, during his career, Mollino designed record-players, radios, cars, racing tracks, fuel stations, aircraft and airport hangars but  from 1933 to 1973, when he died suddenly, he had produced a total of only a dozen or so architectural works, many having been destroyed, abandoned, or altered beyond recognition. Among his masterpieces, was the Società Ippica Torinese, horse racing stadium, (in collaboration with Vittorio Baudi di Selve, 1937–1940, demolished 1960) in which, taking inspiration from Alvar Aalto and Erich Mendelsohn, Mollino used rationalism to intensify and extol the metaphysical elements of the project. His building for the Slittovia di Lago Nero (1946-1947), elements of which provide a model for the later Casa Cattaneo, is a re-think of the traditional Alpine ski-lift building. Innovator and dreamer, Mollino, at the time professor of architectural composition at the Politecnico of Torino, referred to his interior for the new Teatro Regio in Turin (1965-1973) as ‘a shape somewhere between an egg and a half-open oyster’. In 1955 he created the Bisiluro, a racing car which took part that year in the 24 Hours at Le Mans.

Shortly after it was completed the Cattaneo retreat – in homage to the mountain peak scaled by an Italian expedition in 1954 – acquired the title ‘Villa K2′. In the decades since completion, the intimacy of the perfectly-designed interior continued to provide inspirational refuge to successive generations of the Cattaneo family and has, up until now, survived intact.

Images from top
Unique Suspension Light, 1953
Estimate: £150,000-200,000

Casa Cattaneo, ‘Villa K-2′, Agra, Italy, 1953-54

Unique and Important Dining Suite, 1953
Estimate: £500,000-700,00

Four Coat Hooks, 1954
Estimate: £8,ooo-12,000

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Photography | Burtynsky’s Pivot Irrigation

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Edward Burtynsky
Pivot Irrigation
New Release of Photographs
from
Howard Greenberg Gallery
& Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery

Mines, Railcuts, Homesteads, Quarries, Urban Mines, Ships, Oil, Water – the headings listed under Works on Edward Burtynsky’s homepage – might easily represent the interests of utilities investment companies, but Burtynsky’s preoccupations are far removed from theirs. As a photographer he seeks out the often remote source of the materials on which our modern lifestyle depends; he records them, uncompromisingly, then presents us with his disarmingly simple and remarkably beautiful images, meant, he explains, as metaphors to the dilemma of our existence.

British First World War artist John Nash’s paintings, and lithographs – of which Burtynsky’s photographs are oddly reminiscent – of battered landscapes of mud, vast craters and broken trees possess similar, opposing powers of allure and offence. But while Nash’s images rail against the futile destruction wrought by peoples upon one another, Burtynsky is a green warrior whose rancour is a consequence of humanity’s crimes against nature. The vast dumps of burning tyres, the great mountains quarried almost out of existence, the recycling yards, are laid out before us so that we can reflect upon them and the uneasy contradiction they represent.

For the Pivot Irrigation series, Canadian, Edward Burtynsky, travelled to the Texas Panhandle, where large-scale, pivot crop irrigation or centre-pivot irrigation is common. Equipment rotates around a pivot and crops are watered with sprinklers, producing circular patterns when the fields are viewed from an ariel perspective. The farmlands in the region rely on the Ogallala Aquifer, a large body of underground water beneath the Great Plains – once, nine times greater in capacity than Lake Erie – as a water source. It is a non-renewable resource, rapidly being depleted. In images that resemble primitive art – Peru’s Plain of Nazca – examples of decorative marquetry, or formal abstraction, these new Burtynsky photographs, reveal astonishingly graphic industrial mark-making on a gigantic scale.


Images from top

Pivot Irrigation #10
High Plains, Texas Panhandle, USA , 2011

Pivot Irrigation #11
High Plains, Texas Panhandle, USA , 2011

Pivot Irrigation #13
High Plains, Texas Panhandle, USA , 2011

Pivot Irrigation #22
High Plains, Texas Panhandle, USA , 2011

Photographs © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier, Toronto/Howard Greenberg & Bryce Wolkowitz, New York

Works from the series will be on view at the following art fairs
Paris Photo, 15th-18th November, 2012
Art Basel Miami Beach, 6th-9th December, 2012
PULSE Miami, 6th-9th December, 2012

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Art | Picasso in Black & White

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Picasso Black and White
Solomon R Guggenheim Museum
New York City, USA
5th October, 2012 – 23rd January, 2013

Using only black, white and grey with sometimes a hint of ochre or perhaps blue, Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) was master of the monochrome. And although the Guggenheim’s press release attempts to convince us that this aspect of the artist’s work is frequently overlooked, who among us could forget or have failed to notice Picasso’s austere and sombre Guernica, 1937 – his knee-jerk reaction to the merciless bombing by German and Italian warplanes, at the behest of the Spanish Nationalist forces, of a defenceless Basque village during the Spanish Civil War.

Picasso, who is reputed to have said that colour ‘weakens’ apparently purged colour from his work in order to highlight its formal structure. And while his coloured pieces could sometimes be as brash as Pop art or compete with any of the more outlandishly-hued Van Gogh paintings, in cleverly concentrating solely on Picasso’s black and white output, the exhibition’s curators reveal an understated, often alluringly delicate side to the artist through works that provide insight with regard to his experimental, pioneering investigations into Cubism and his delving into Surrealism.

The Guggenheim’s phenomenal chronological presentation extending across Picasso’s entire 70-year career, includes significant loans—many of which have not been exhibited or published before—drawn from museum, private, and public collections across Europe and the United States, together with numerous works from the Picasso family and includes, among some 118 paintings, sculptures and works on paper, the tortured Head of a Horse, Sketch for Guernica.

Pablo Picasso Images from top
Tête de femme, profil droit [Marie-Thérèse], 1934
Collection of Aaron I. Fleischman
© 2012 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Photograph, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

L’accordéoniste, 1911
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Solomon R Guggenheim Founding Collection, by gift
© 2012 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Photograph by Kristopher McKay. © The Solomon R Guggenheim
Foundation, New York

Tête de cheval, étude pour Guernica, 1937
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Bequest of the artist
© 2012 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Photograph, © Archivo fotográfico Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina
Sofía, Madrid

L’homme à la pipe, 1923
Private collection, Courtesy Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso
para el Arte
© 2012 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Photograph by Eric Baudouin

La cuisine, 1948
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Acquired through the Nelson A. Rockefeller Bequest, 1980
© 2012 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Photograph, The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA/Art Resource, New York

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