Archive for March, 2014

Art | Surfing Over Manhattan

Friday, March 28th, 2014

No Title (Here and there), 1995
Pen and ink on paper
Private Collection, New York




Are Your Motives Pure?
Raymond Pettibon Surfers 1985 > 2013
Venus Over Manhattan
980 Madison Avenue
New York City | USA
3rd April > 17th May 2014

Stylistically, Raymond Pettibon’s work stems from comic book art, but has little in common with that of Roy Lichtenstein. Besides, much of its content: American history, literature, sports, religion, politics, and sexuality, doesn’t celebrate the images thrown up by capitalism, but rather, is his very personal critique of contemporary life, through which, according to his biography on the Tate’s website, he [seeks] to redefine attitudes toward values in art and culture. He does, however, have super-heroes: the sea is one of them, of which across the top of No Title (The sea, the), 2005, in uncompromising capital letters he writes:

‘THE SEA, THE MOUNTAIN-RIDGE, NIAGARA, AND EVERY FLOWERBED PRE-EXIST, OR SUPER EXIST, IN PRE-CANTATIONS, WHICH SAIL LIKE ODORS IN THE AIR, AND WHEN ANY MAN GOES BY WITH AN EAR SUFFICIENTLY FINE, HE OVERHEARS THEM, AND ENDEAVORS TO WRITE DOWN THE NOTES, WITHOUT DILUTING OR DEPRAVING THEM.’

and the lone surfer is another, of whom on the same painting, below, he scrawls:

‘He is the person in whom all these powers are in the balance, the man without impendiment [sic], who sees and handles that which others dream of, traverses the whole scale of experience, in virtue of being the largest power to receive and impart it.’

No Title (When the surf), 2008
Private Collection via CFA Berlin, Armonk, NY


Akin to the rantings of some Bible-belt preacher, Pettibon’s enigmatic messages often appear almost biblical in tone – and, in presentation, the word / picture ensembles are reminiscent of the work of English painter, engraver and mystic William Blake (1757>1827), who claimed that most of his work as a writer and artist was done under the direct inspiration of spiritual guides. Could Pettibon’s inspiration rise from a similar source? Well, no, the press release for this exhibition, informs us that his prolific output of drawings and paintings stem from the ‘do-it-yourself’ aesthetic of Southern California punk rock album-covers, concert flyers, and fanzines. His brother, Greg Ginn – Pettibon is a pseudonym– was a founder member of West Coast punk band Black Flag, founded in the late 70s. Pettibon, himself, who briefly played bass in the band, came up with its name and designed its logo. However, feeling that the negativity of punk ruined a lot of people’s lives, his heart was never in it, but he retained his links with the music world, designing the cover of Sonic Youth’s album Goo, in 1990.

Much of Pettibon’s visual output looks like the work of someone who never went near an art college, nor sketched a nude in a studio, which is a correct assumption to make – self-trained, he graduated from UCLA in 1977 with a degree in economics, beginning his working life as a maths teacher, before launching his career as an artist – but then you’re taken aback because the drawing, while not on a par with Leonardo da Vinci’s dexterity, exactly, is often fluid and well-observed. On the other hand, the execution can verge on the primitive, and so perhaps Pettibon’s is a kind of idiosyncratic folk art like graffiti – you can almost imagine it appearing overnight scrawled across the walls of an underpass, or the previously pristine screening erected around the construction site of some shiny new high-rise development.

No Title (This left was), 2012
Pen, ink, colored pencil, acrylic, gouache and collage on paper
Courtesy Venus Over Manhattan, New York


It’s unsurprising to find that Pettibon is a serial tweeter (@RaymondPettibon), and here the themes that are integral to his paintings, continue. Unsupported by visuals, his splurge of cryptic, political and sexual statements take on a curious life of their own, and might constitute an ongoing separate body of work. Recent Pettibon tweets include:

My liiver’s fine.How’s yr concience?Fine.Bcuzz u are a sociopath.Swell.
I’m patriotic.I jerked Obama off.
Teach yr children to disrespect cops,stand up to the pussies.They are wicked.
See the Pandas.
!0.5K followers?More than Jim Jones had at Jonestown.
My elbow tube sock.Easy access.Call the shots.

Venus Over Manhattan’s show is the first exhibition to focus exclusively on Raymond Pettibon’s surfer paintings. Are Your Motives Pure? Raymond Pettibon Surfers 1985-2013, brings together forty works spanning a quarter century of the artist’s career. Somewhat contradictorily, it takes its title from the earliest work on view, painted in 1987, but who, in what might be Pettibon’s parlance, gives a f*ck! The artist, born in 1957 in Tucson, Arizona, who lives and works in the beach town of Venice, California, is, however, not a surfer, nor does he consider his paintings ’surfer art’ – as typified by much of the very much slicker examples to be seen on websites such as Club of the Waves.

No Title (The sea, the), 2005
Ink, oil and watercolor on paper
Courtesy Venus Over Manhattan


Since Pettibon’s emergence as an artist in the 1980s his work has been exhibited widely in the USA and internationally. Recent solo exhibitions include David Zwirner Gallery, New York (2013), the Kunstmuseum Luzern, Lucerne (2012), Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2006), Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2005). His first American museum presentation, organized by The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago in collaboration with the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1998, travelled to The Drawing Center, New York and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

A participant in numerous group exhibitions worldwide, including at the Istanbul Biennial (2011), Liverpool Biennial (2010), SITE Santa Fe, New Mexico (2010 and 2004), Venice Biennale (2007 and 1999), Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2004, 1997, 1993, and 1991), and documenta XI, Kassel, Germany (2002), his work is held in the permanent collections of, among others, the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris,Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Tate Gallery, London; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

Pettibon is represented by Regen Projects in LA, and Sadie Coles in London.


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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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Auction | Photography versus Deforestation

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Sebastiao Salgado
Mentawai people on
Siberut Island,
Indonesia, 2008
Estimate €11,500 > 13,500



Objectif Arbres
Sotheby’s
Paris | France
Exhibition 28th March > 31st March 2014
Charity sale 31st March 2014
Supporting the Anne Fontaine Foundation

Objectif Arbres, the French title of this travelling exhibition that began its journey in New York, in April last year, and ends it in Paris on March 31st, sounds far more romantic than the English one, Trees in Focus. But the beautiful examples of photography on show are there to make a serious point, and the proceeds of this sale will go towards a very good cause.

Almudena Caso
Arbolitos x seis, #12, 2006
Assembly under Plexiglas
Estimate €3,000 > 3,300

Laurent Elie Badessi
The tree of love, Brooklyn, 2014
Chromogenic print

Estimate €2,000 > 2,500

Sarah Moon
L’ombre du palmier, 2010
Estimate €6,000 > 7,000


Thirty-five internationally-renowned photographers each with their own personal approach, and representing diverse areas of the art – from reportage photographers Sebastião Salgado and Martine Franck, to Sarah Moon, Pamela Hanson and Antoine Verglas, who shoot fashion and beauty – have each donated photographs on the theme of trees, which will be put on show at Sotheby’s, Paris, and afterwards be auctioned in aid of the Anne Fontaine Foundation. New York-based French-Brazilian designer Fontaine, founder of the massively successful Anne Fontaine online clothing company, set up the non-profitmaking foundation in 2011 to raise awareness of the rapid deforestation taking place in many parts of the world, especially in the Amazon basin.

Steve Miller
Jungle, 2008
Collage on aluminium
Estimate €2,500 > 3,000


The aim of the exhibition is to confront the visitor with the relationship between humans and nature. Fontaine has also persuaded high-quality publishing house Assouline to publish the images in a book – for every book sold, ten trees will be planted, which must be a pretty good deal. Deforestation is an ugly business, and unless it can be halted and put into reverse with the help of organisations such as hers, it may become impossible to take such beautiful and poignant photographs in the future.

All Photos © the photographers, and Art Digital Studio / Sotheby’s


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Photography | Multi-media as Message

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Figure in Six Sections, 1965
Gelatin silver prints on wood blocks
Collection Kathe Heinecken
Courtesy Robert Heinecken Trust, Chicago


Robert Heinecken: Object Matter
Museum of Modern Art
New York City | USA
15th March > 7th September 2014

If Robert Heinecken’s early work was to be pigeonholed along with the pop artists – because he graduated from college in 1960 – then rather than squashing it in with Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein’s, it would perhaps be more appropriate to put it alongside that of the British artist Richard Hamilton – aka The Father of Pop. Hamilton had produced his shocking and enormously influential Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing? a collaged poster image for an exhibition at London’s Whitechapel Gallery, in 1956. In it a picture of a naked woman cut from a pornographic magazine poses on a sofa, while a bodybuilder holds an oversized ‘Pop’ lollipop close to his genitals, the unlikely scene set in the artist’s depiction of a modern, urban living room filled with domestic gadgets included a TV, and the cover of a comic framed and hung on the wall like a painting. It’s possible, though, that Heinecken, who studied for his BA and MA at the University of California (UCLA) had never heard of Hamilton, but like him he was a multi-medium artist who used photography, sculpture, printmaking, and collage to create his works.

MANSMAG: Homage to Werkman
and Cavalcade, 1969
Offset lithography on bound paper
Courtesy Robert Heinecken Trust, Chicago

Recto / Verso #2, 1988
Silver dye bleach print
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Mr & Mrs Clark Winter Fund




If pop art was characterised by the portrayal of aspects of popular culture and its powerful impact on contemporary life, its iconography – sourced from television, comic books, film and magazines, and advertising – presented without praise or condemnation – Heinecken, who also had little in common with his West Coast contemporary artist Ed Ruscha – sometimes grouped with the pop artists – viewed commercial photography as an emblem of the corruptible values of contemporary life. His works explore this theme along with kitsch, sex, pornography (sometimes hard core – related images were not made available to the press for this exhibition), and gender.

Heinecken, however, did have much in common with Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008), and was similarly unclassifiable. Rauschenberg’s New York Times obituary explained that: ‘Building on the legacies of Marcel Duchamp, Kurt Schwitters, Joseph Cornell and others, he thereby helped to obscure the lines between painting and sculpture, painting and photography, photography and printmaking, sculpture and photography, sculpture and dance, sculpture and technology, technology and performance art – not to mention between art and life.’ It could almost have been Heinecken’s.

Cybill Shepherd / Phone Sex, 1992
Dye bleach print on foamcore
Robert Heinecken Trust, Chicago
Courtesy Petzel Gallery, New York

Typographic Nude, 1965
Gelatin silver print
Collection Geofrey & Laura Wyatt,
Montecito, California



Establishing the photography program at UCLA in 1964, where he taught until 1991, he styled himself as a ‘paraphotographer’ because he rarely used a camera, however, Heineken (1931-2006), radically expanded the range of possibilities for photography and art. Like Rauschenberg and Duchamp before him, he was a precursor of appropriationist artists such as Richard Prince, who at the end of the 1970s, along with Barbara Kruger in the 80s, began borrowing existing photographic images from printed reproductions and bringing them into an artistic context, thereby altering their original meaning. Seen by many as a printmaker rather than a de facto artist, the worldwide fame that came to Rauschenburg and Ruscha, and later to Prince and Kruger, eluded Heinecken. That said, since 1964, he has had over sixty one-man shows, at, for example: the Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson, and a 35-year retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1998). His work is in many private and public collections. Robert Heinecken: Object Matter, MoMA’s forthcoming exhibition, is the first retrospective of the artist’s work since his death in 2006, and covers fifty years of his extraordinary career, from the early 1960s to the late 1990s.


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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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Books | The Op-Art of the Invisible

Friday, March 7th, 2014

Singular Point


Poemotion 2
Takahiro Kurashima
Designed by Takahiro Kurashima
Lars Müller Publishers / 2013
64 pp / 30 images / hardback
170 x 230 mm / 6 3/4 x 9 ins
ISBN 978-3-03778-351-1
English text

Red Square


When this beautiful, finely-crafted little book arrived we thought ‘Yes, isn’t it nice,’ but we’ve been looking at op-art since Josef Albers started playing around with it at the Bauhaus, closely followed by Victor Vasarely. In the 1960s and 70s Bridget Riley’s mind-bending compositions made us woozy and weak at the knees. So what’s so special about these images?

Covers of Poemotion 1 and Poemotion 2


Had we seen Japanese advertising art director Takahiro Kurashima’s black and white bestselling Poemotion 1, prequal to the all colour Poemotion 2, we would immediately have realised that something was missing. As it happened, the all important sheet of etched black film – required to make the images interactive – that must be laid over the graphic abstract patterns to create the moiré effects that set them wildly spinning and vibrating, was accidently left out of the package.

Untitled

Penrose Triangle


For all its small proportions and lightness of touch, the concept of Poemotion 2 is based in philosophy. Kurashima quotes Galileo, who in 1623 wrote: ‘The universe cannot be read until we have learned the language and become familiar with the characters in which it is written. It is written in mathematical language. The letters are triangles, circles and other geometric figures, without which it is humanly impossible to comprehend a single word.’ The design of the book is both minimal and warm, which makes it feel very much of the moment, but Kurashima was strongly influenced by Hans Knuckel and Jurg Nanni’s Seesaw (1994), also produced by Swiss masters of the modern book, Lars Müller Publishers, which he says taught him about the sense of invisibility.

All images © 2014 Takahiro Kurashima & Lars Müller Publishers


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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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