Archive for June, 2013

Design | Marcel Breuer: Defying Gravity at Villa Noailles

Friday, June 28th, 2013

Marcel Breuer… Sun & Shadow Exhibition
Design Parade 8 Festival
Villa Noailles & Tour des Templiers
Hyères, France
Festival: 5th – 7th July, 2013

Exhibitions at the Villa: 5th July – 29th September, 2013
Exhibitions at Tour des Templers: 6th July – 29th September, 2013

Book: Marcel Breuer à la villa Noailles
Directed by Stéphane Boudin-Lestienne & Alexandre Mare
Available July, 2013

Conference: Villa Noailles gardens, 7th July, 2013

Each summer, as part of the international Design Parade festival and the permanent exhibition Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles, A life as Patrons, the Villa Noailles, focuses its attention on a theme or an artist connected with the famous couple and their modernist villa, designed and built for them by Robert Mallet Stevens between 1923 and 1927. This year, in Design Parade 8 it’s key modernist figure Marcel Breuer’s turn.

Although well known amongst designers and architects, the organisers argue that Breuer (1902-1981) remains strangely unheard of amongst the general public, and that his architecture in particular is overlooked. Their aim, via the forthcoming events at Hyéres, near Toulon on France’s Mediterranean coast, is to raise more general awareness of Breuer’s achievements.

‘Breuer defied gravity, searching for a balance between the stable and the vertiginous, between the functional and the symbolic, between emptiness and fullness, write curators Stéphane Boudin-Lestienne & Alexandre Mare, citing the striking slate tile covered ecumenical chapel in the ski resort of Flaine (1974) and its nearby hotel Le Flaine (1969), which partly overhangs a cliff, as emblematic of the boldness that was a feature of Marcel Breuer’s career.

Only 18 years old when he arrived at the Bauhaus in Weimar, Breuer’s phenomenal talent quickly raised him, in a few years, from student to Bauhaus teacher. The Africa chair (1921), a kind of giant throne, incorporating decorative sculptures, and upholstery from the Bauhaus weaving workshop, was his first finished design. His later experiments in wood owed much to the De Stijl movement, particularly to Gerrit Rietveld’s work. His first real breakthrough occurred in 1925, when, inspired by his Adler bicycle frame, he began designing chairs in tubular steel. At first, he marketed these through Standard Möbel, the company he set up, but licensing agreements with furniture manufacturers such as Thonet, soon followed. Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles were amongst the first to acquire several of Breuer’s radical B3 (decades later named Wassily by Italian manufacturer Gavina) chairs, which they installed at the Villa and in Marie-Laure’s boudoir in their Paris home.

Breuer first ventured into architecture in 1923, with his design for a small apartment block, and in 1925 he devised a single family dwelling in metal – das Kleinmetallhaus. Prefabricated from standardised industrial components, the window and door panels could be hung on a modular frame, allowing the house to be constructed in just three weeks. In 1927, he built prefabricated metal terraced houses for the young masters of the Bauhaus – by now relocated to Dessau and housed in the iconic building designed by Walter Gropius for which Breuer provided folding, tubular steel theatre seating, dining tables and stools for the canteen – including himself, Josef Albers, Hannes Meyer, Herbert Bayer, Otto Meyer-Ottens and Joost Schmidt. The Harnischmacher House (destroyed in WWII), which Breuer was commissioned to design for a rich, private client in Wiesbaden, Germany, in 1932, shows influences from Le Corbusier, whom he had met in Paris some years before.

By 1932 Breuer was creating furniture from aluminum which was to win international competition in Paris. Invited by Gropius, who was already there, he emigrated to London in 1935, becoming involved with him at the Isokon Furniture Company, for which Breuer produced a number of designs in plywood. He continued to experiment with plywood construction after moving to the United States in 1937, where he and Gropius – who had gone there before him – formed a joint studio. However, during the 1940s the two fell out.

Breuer was teaching at Harvard and had built a house for himself in Lincoln, Massachusetts, in 1939. In between designing several private homes, and two further ones for himself, he was set to embark on an epic architectural journey that would see him building an abbey, a convent, and auditoriums for various universities. In the Netherlands, he built a large department store in Rotterdam and the American Embassy at the Hague. He was chosen to design the UNESCO headquarters in Paris (with Pier Luigi Nervi and Bernard Zehrfuss, inaugurated 1958), and in 1960, designed the IBM Research Center in la Gaude, France. He went on to create New York’s Whitney Museum (inaugurated 1966, with Hamilton Smith) and, before his retirement in 1977, he had built the aforementioned ski resort, set up Marcel Breuer Associates in Paris, been involved in numerous important projects, buildings, administrative complexes, large company headquarters, universities, banks, dams, as well as urban housing (ZUP de Bayonne).

Shortly after Breuer’s death in 1981, Furnitures and Interiors, a retrospective exhibition opened at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Robert Gatje and Marion Jossa, who joined Breuer’s New York-based studio in 1953 and 1963 respectively, will be present at the Villa Noailles conference.

Images from top
Zinc plated steel and wood lounge chair
Made by Embru, distributed by Wohnbedarf, 1932
Galerie Mandalian-Paillard
Photo Lothaire Hucki, Villa Noailles

IBM La Gaude, Building 1, 1962
Frontage and supports
Photo Guillemaut, property of MBA

Five B10 tables, Nickel plated steel. Black laminated wood top
Made by Thonet, circa 1927
Galerie Mandalian-Paillard
Photo Stéphane Briolant

Ecumenical chapel, 1974, Flaine ski resort
Photo Guillemaut, property of MBA

Lounge chair
Made by Isokon, 1936
Marc Hotermans and Galerie Mandalian-Paillard collections
Photo Lothaire Hucki, Villa Noailles

Marcel Breuer in his third house,
New Canaan, Connecticut, circa 1975
Photo Knoll International

B3 / Wassily armchair
Nickel plated metal, Eisengarn fabric
Made by Thonet, 1931-32
Galerie Mandalian-Paillard
B9 table (variation)
Made by Standard-Möbel, circa 1927
Marc Hotermans collection
Photo Lothaire Hucki, Villa Noailles

B3 ‘Wassily’ armchair and B9 nested tables
in the vicomte’s outdoor bedroom at Villa Noailles
Photo Thérèse Bonney, published in Art & Décoration, August 1928
Villa Noailles collection


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Art | Ellsworth Kelly – More Real at 90

Friday, June 21st, 2013
Ellsworth Kelly: Panel Paintings 2004 – 2009
The Phillips Collection
Washington DC, USA
22nd June – 22nd September, 2013

The Matthew Marks Gallery in New York, represent Ellsworth Kelly, who is the subject of their current show, Ellsworth Kelly at Ninety. Opening the relavent ‘Works in Exhibition’ page on their website, one gets an overview of the shapes and colours that have preoccupied the artist during recent years. Almost child-like in simplicity, they might comprise the elements of a dismembered Alexander Calder mobile. Though less playful when viewed singly, each of Kelly’s paintings emotes a similar subtle sense of balance and is as easy on the eye as Calder’s sculptures.

Born in 1923 in Newburgh, New York, Ellsworth Kelly, has a prolific career spanning over 60 years. Comparisons with Calder stem from when Kelly, then 25 years-old, arrived in Paris after WWII, where he met and came under the influence of both Calder – by then 48 and firmly established amongst the modernist pioneers, having been working in the city since the 1920s – and Brancusi, already 70, whose simplification of natural form had a lasting effect on him. It was then that Kelly began to produce abstract work although, due to the illness and depression brought on by his war experiences, at first he restricted his palette to black and white. Over the next few years, he immersed himself both in the rich historical resources of Paris, its architecture and contemporary art scene, discovering Henri Matisse, whose paper cut-outs he admired along with Jean Arp’s colourful collages. As is evident in the images illustrating this post, the geometry and simplicity of form expressed in the work of the De Stijl artists, Georges Vantongerloo and Piet Mondrian, particularly impressed Kelly and would remain abiding influence throughout his life. He sites Fernand Léger’s use of bright colours as being particularly inspirational. In his mid-80s, in a throw-back to those early Paris days, as a reflection of his concerns over the controversies surrounding US involvement in the Iraq war, Kelly was to return, temporarily, to working only in black and white. But generally, he says, he is not political; as with Calder, he paints in bright colours because he wants his paintings to have a good spirit.

1954 saw Kelly back in New York during the heyday of abstract expressionism but, fiercely independent, he avoided aligning himself with that movement or any other. In the late 1950s and the early 1960s, he was among the first artists, including Frank Stella, to discard the conventional square or rectangular painting format in favour of irregularly shaped canvases or panels. When he places one panel on top of another panel, he has said about the effect achieved, that it makes the work ‘more real’. His exhibition Panel Paintings 2004 – 2009 at Washington DC’s Phillips Collection, comprises seven of his multi-panel works. These large-scale, rectilinear pieces blur the boundaries between painting and sculpture and make more sense when seen in the round – playing with light and shadow, dramatically engaging with space – which is how he intends them to be viewed.

Also showing in Washington DC, Ellsworth Kelly: Colored Paper Images, is an exhibition of 23 prints at the National Gallery of Art.

MoMA is currently showing the Chatham Series, the first series of paintings, Kelly produced after leaving the city for upstate New York, in 1970. For an overview of all Ellsworth Kelly 90th birthday-related events happening in New York, go to the GalleristNY blog.

Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, the Barnes Foundation’s ‘first show of contemporary art in ninety years,’ and first by a living artist is Ellsworth Kelly: Sculpture on the Wall, dominated by the 1956-57 Sculpture for a Large Wall, made of 104 anodized aluminum panels, some of them colored red, blue, yellow and black, arrayed in four long rows each measuring 65 feet.

All works above from Ellsworth Kelly: Panel Paintings 2004 – 2009
at The Phillips Collection
. From top

Yellow Relief over Red, 2004
Oil on canvas, two joined panels
Private collection

Green Blue Black Red, 2007
Oil on canvas, four panels
Private collection

White Diagonal II, 2008
Oil on canvas, two joined panels
Private collection

Red Relief, 2009
Oil on canvas, two joined panels
Private collection

All photos Jerry L Thompson, courtesy the artist. ©Ellsworth Kelly


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The publishers of The Blog insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees which may, under any circumstances, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier
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Art | James Turrell – Shining Light

Friday, June 14th, 2013

James Turrell
Solomon R Guggenheim Museum
New York City, USA
21st June – 25th September, 2013

‘I like to work with [light] so that you feel it physically, so you feel the presence of light inhabiting a space,’ says American installation artist James Turrell. ‘My desire is to set up a situation to which I take you and let you see.’ What he has called his ‘thingness of light’ becomes your experience, and it can be an unnerving one. Turrell gives light volume. The result is awe-inspiring and so compelling that walking away from one of his works is a struggle; having left it the urge to return can be almost insuperable.

Fittingly, Turrell’s first solo show since 1980 in a major New York venue, in which his new site-specific work, Aten Reign (2013) – six years in the planning – will transform the rotunda of Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic building into one of his luminous and immersive Skyspaces, opens at the Guggenheim Museum on the summer solstice.

Turrell (born, 1943) already had a degree in perceptual psychology when, in 1966, he embarked on a master’s degree at the University of California and started playing around with the idea of creating 3D sculptures using only light as his medium. He was and isn’t the only late 20th/early 21st Century artist to see creative possibilities in the phenomenon of light; Wedgework V (1975), part of a series Turrell began in 1969, in which he caused light to fall across spaces so as to divide them diagonally, creating seemingly palpable planes and surfaces, was installed in the recent Light Show at London’s Hayward Gallery alongside light-based works by a group of international artists that included Olafur Eliasson, Jenny Holzer and Dan Flavin. But while the others have their moments Turrell’s body of work is perhaps more consistent, single-minded and unique – the result of sustained and endless research, begun while he was still a student and became involved with Edward Wortz at the Los Angeles County Museum. Wortz, a psychologist, was investigating states of sensory deprivation, especially in relation to the disorientation and hallucinatory effects on humans that result from immersion in uniform fields of light and colour, once reference points such as objects and horizons have been removed. The early experiments they did together formed the foundation of Turrell’s approach to his very personal, minimal form of art which probes the limits of perception, and have informed it throughout his career.

Turrell’s work prompts self-awareness and meditation, influences drawn from his Quaker faith, with its ’straightforward, strict presentation of the sublime.’ An avid pilot with over twelve thousand hours of flying experience: he doesn’t do it just for fun but considers the sky an abundant source of ideas, as a studio, material and canvas. He admires Angkor Wat, Machu Picchu, and the Mayan and Egyptian pyramids – places and structures that have influenced his thinking. This is the man who, in order to extend his explorations of light and space from the studio into the landscape, conceived the idea, in 1974, of transforming an extinct volcano, roughly 400,000 years old and 600 feet high (Roden Crater, near Arizona’s Painted Desert and the Grand Canyon) into a monumental art statement. Work on the volcano continues. Meanwhile, Turrell has installed art pieces in twenty-two countries across the globe, from Yucatán to Tasmania, and in fourteen US states.

James Turrell is one of three concurrent, independently curated exhibitions of the artist’s work taking place this summer in the USA. Together, the exhibitions at the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, form a three-part retrospective.

James Turrell works from top
Rendering for Aten Reign, 2013
Daylight and LED light
Site-specific installation, Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York
©James Turrell
Rendering Andreas Tjeldflaat, 2012 ©SRGF

Rendering for Aten Reign, 2013 (x3)
Daylight and LED light
Site-specific installation, Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York
©James Turrell
Rendering Andreas Tjeldflaat, 2012 ©SRGF

Meeting (from the portfolio First Light), 1989–90
Aquatint, 108 x 75.6 cm
Peter Blum Edition, New York
©James Turrell
Photo Courtesy Peter Blum Edition, New York

Afrum I (White), 1967
Projected light, dimensions variable
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Panza Collection, Gift 92.4175
©James Turrell
Installation view: Singular Forms (sometimes repeated), Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York, March 5–May 19, 2004
Photo David Heald ©Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation, New York


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Auction | 20th & 21st Century Design

Friday, June 7th, 2013

Design
Phillips
New York City, USA
Viewing: 5th–11th June, 2013
Sale: 11th June, 2013

On 25th April this year, auction house Phillips’ London Design Auction achieved the company’s highest ever result, totaling a humongous £6,109,375 / $9,286,250 / €7,147,969. Diego Giacometti’s (1902-1985) Torsade table and Marc Newson’s (b.1963) Orgone Stretch Lounge, each of which sold for£248,500 / $377,720 / €290,745, were the top two lots. Hoping to repeat that success in the forthcoming Design sale at their flagship galleries at 450 Park Avenue in New York, Phillips have gathered together some 115 interesting and diverse works by important, international 20th and 21st century designers.

While another of Newson’s Orgone series, produced around 1993 in aluminum and made by British coachbuilders specializing in the restoration of Aston Martin cars, is included, Ron Arad’s (b.1951) polished aluminium Important unique ‘Afterthought’ chair, 2007, (below) will also be sold.

Prominent amongst the Scandinavian items on sale is a large, double-spiral wall light – one of only 26 originals – from the Scala Cinema and Concert Hall, Århus Theater, circa 1955, by Danish architect, Poul Henningsen (1894-1967), or PH, as he is better known, who, synonymous with Danish lighting design, produced more than 100 lamps in his lifetime.

French designers will be strongly represented by, among many other items, a pair of doors designed by Jean Prouvé (1901-1984) for the Maisons Tropicales project, circa 1949. Prouvé’s studio produced Charlotte Perriand’s (1903-1999) architectonic Bibliotheque, circa 1954, that is also included in the sale and for which, incidentally, artist Sonia Delaunay chose the colours. French sculpture has a presence in the form of Alexander Noll’s (1890-1970) carved, abstract, elm wood piece, Untitled, circa 1970, and François-Xavier LaLanne’s (1927-2008) patinated bronze, Singe Avise (Grand), circa 2005, which, estimated at £613,560-920,160/$400,000-600,000/€523,480-785220, leads the auction.


Images from top
Poul Henningsen
Large double-spiral wall light, from the Scala Cinema and Concert Hall, Århus Theater, circa 1955
Estimate £230,014-383,325/$150,000-250,000/€114,630-327,150

Charlotte Perriand
Bibliothèque, circa 1954
Estimate £306,700-460,080/$200,000-300,000/€261,720-392,550

Alexandre Noll
Untitled, circa 1970
Estimate £184,030-276,085/$120,000-180,000/€157008-235,530

Ron Arad
Important unique ‘Afterthought’ chair, 2007
Estimate £306,700-460,080/$200,000-300,000/€261,720-392,550

Images courtesy of Phillips


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The publishers of The Blog insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees which may, under any circumstances, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier

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