Archive for September, 2014

Photography | Edward Weston: The Master Set

Friday, September 26th, 2014

Sotheby’s
Photographs
Exhibition 26th > 29th September 2014
Auction 30th September 2014
New York City | USA

What an exciting day it will be for photography buffs, fans and collectors next Tuesday at Sotheby’s, New York. The morning auction session starts at 10 am with lots 1 > 107, and resumes at 2pm, when lots 109 > 236 will go under the hammer. What about the missing lot 108, you may ask?

These two sessions include work by many masters of the medium, and will be especially strong in 20th Century modernist images. Alexander Rodchenko’s Steps (1929), and Imogen Cunningham’s Amphitheatre (Mills College) (c1928), along with Lewis Hine’s Mechanic at Steam Pump in Electric Power House (1925), together with examples of Ansel Adams, El Lissitzky, and Edward Steichen’s work, and that of many other important photographers, are on view during the pre-auction exhibition beginning today. But these sessions shrink to mere sideshows when compared to the extraordinary sale of lot 108, which falls between them, and must represent the most fabulous single lot in a photography auction, ever.

Lot 108 consists of a job lot of 548 photographs, many of them rare and unseen, by the great American photographer Edward Weston (1886 > 1958), printed by his son Cole Weston mostly between 1958 and 1988, and is likely to become legendary. Mounted, 536 stamped and signed by Cole Weston, 12 with the Cole Weston Trust stamp, signed by (Edward’s granddaughter) Cara Weston, and nearly all with title, date, and negative number, spanning the entire range of the photographer’s career, and called The Master Set, they are expected to sell for an estimated $2,000,000 > 3,000,000 (£1,220,500 > 1,830,700).

Please accept our apologies for the lack of individual details for each image; on this occasion, Sotheby’s was unable to grant our request to provide any.

Edward Weston Photographs courtesy Sotheby’s, New York


Tell us what you think
The Blog is about art, architecture, books, design and gardens, and anything else that currently interests us which we think might interest you.

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


Share this post
Facebook Twitter Linkedin

Art | Lee Bul: Ikonoclast

Friday, September 19th, 2014

After Bruno Taut (Devotion to Drift), 2013
Mixed media

Photo Jeon Byung-cheol


Lee Bul
Ikon Gallery
Birmingham | UK
Until 9th November 2014

+

Lee Bul
Korean Cultural Centre (KCC)
London | UK
Until 1st November 2014


Lee Bul, 2013
Photo Kim Jae-won


As I write, artist Lee Bul’s own website, showing only a detail of her Diluvium, 2012, is, rather aptly as it turns out, under renovation. Diluvium – dictionary definition: geology term for superficial deposits formed by flood-like operations of water – a giant floor installation, is entirely constructed of shaped plywood sheeting, stepped and ramped to create an uneven and disconcerting surface – a landscape over which it might prove difficult to trace a safe path. It could also be suggestive of a carefully-designed ruined building, or ruined building site. However, it has the allure of something more polished; a working model for a civil engineering project by architect Zaha Hadid, perhaps. Contemporary architecture (and architectural history) is just one of a diverse range of sources, including but not limited to, cinema, literary and European history, as well as the political and cultural history of her own country, that Bul draws on for inspiration for pieces that have earned her an international reputation as an artist.

In the late 1980s, when South Korean, Bul, was graduating from Hongik University, where she had attended a course in academic sculpture, the country was emerging from a period of dictatorship and military rule. With an economy yet to be put on track and democratic reforms in their infancy – the future was neither bright, nor bleak, but vague, unformed. Bul, born 1964, and having grown up in a patriarchal society wanted to get things moving, and to stake an uncompromising claim for women to have an equal share in the country’s fate. Flying in the face of the artistic conventions of her native land, for some of her first guerilla-like, performance-based pieces, she paraded in public dressed in provocative full-body soft sculptures, that were alluring and at the same time – sprouting tentacles – grotesque. A commentary on the impermanence of beauty and the powerlessness of women, Majestic Splendor (1997), rotting fish in a sequinned skin, caused a stink and the resulting furore only served to affirm her global reputation as an intrepid emerging artist, when she installed it at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Representing South Korea in the 1999 Venice Biennale, Bul, who lives and works in Seoul, has been at the forefront of the push to elevate Asian contemporary art to critical acclaim.


Maquette for Mon grand récit, 2005
Plaster, steel mesh, wood, silicone,
paint, crystal and synthetic
beads, aluminum rods, stainless steel
wire, foamex
Private collection, Seoul
Photo Rhee Jae-yong*

Via Negativa (interior detail), 2012
Installation view, Lee Bul exhibition,
Mudam Luxembourg, 2013-14
Photo © Remi Villaggi

Diluvium, 2012
View of ‘The Studio’ section,
Lee Bul exhibition, Artsonje Center, Seoul

Plywood on steel frame
Seoul, 2012
Photo Jeon Byung-cheol


More recent works in which utopia and dystopia, totalitarianism and capitalism are central motifs, played off one against another, are executed with dazzling élan. After Bruno Taut (Devotion to Drift), a new commission for Lee Bul at Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery, references the German expressionist architect Bruno Taut (1880–1938). Alluding to the exponential growth and unsustainability of the modern world, dripping with a mass of crystalline shapes, this beautifully-executed, suspended sculpture, might easily be mistaken for a somewhat damaged Swarovski chandelier.

Ikon is also showing a selection of early drawings, studies, installations and other sculptural pieces that includes Mon grand récit: Weep into stones… (2005), a highly complex piece constructed from diverse materials, including polyurethane, Foamex board, synthetic clay, stainless- steel and aluminium rods, acrylic panels, wood sheets, acrylic paint, varnish, electrical wiring, and lighting. The piece features what might be a towering white skyscraper, from near the top of which a looping highway, descends to hover over a representation of a slab of mountainous landscape, supported by a spindly scaffolding structure. The piece also incorporates a tower continually flashing out an LED message: ‘weep into stones / fables like snow / our few evil days’, a tiny Tatlin’s Tower (Monument to the Third International), a modernist staircase that featured in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, and an upturned cross-section of the Hagia Sofia.

Exhibited widely since 1987, represented by numerous well-known galleries, her work can be found in many important collections, throughout the world.

All images, courtesy Studio Lee Bul, Seoul, and Ikon, except *courtesy PKM Gallery, Bartleby Bickle & Meursault, Seoul


Tell us what you think
The Blog is about art, architecture, books, design and gardens, and anything else that currently interests us which we think might interest you.

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


Share this post
Facebook Twitter Linkedin

Exhibition | Saul ‘The New Yorker’ Steinberg

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Chest of Drawers Cityscape, 1950
Gelatin silver print


Saul Steinberg
100th Anniversary Exhibition
Pace + Pace / MacGill Gallery
New York City | USA
Until 18th October 2014


What is a cartoonist? What is an illustrator? Where does one draw the line between illustration and fine art? What happens when you mix illustration with photography; is the end product an illustration or a still life photograph? If you draw something on a 3D object and photograph it; is the result an illustration, or a photograph? And, what if the person who did the drawing, wasn’t the photographer? Whose work is the final image? Does any of these questions matter? Certainly not to Saul Steinberg whose unique creations, equally at home on the pages of magazines and on gallery walls, can’t be confined to a single category or movement, nor did he allow his palette to be bound by any restrictions. His art, if that is how we choose to refer to it, informed by cubism, surrealism, dadaism and pop – indeed he fraternised with many key figures across all areas of the arts, including Pablo Picasso, Alexander Calder, Marcel Breuer, Le Corbusier, Vladimir Nabakov, Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul-Satre, to name but a few – is both catholic and democratic, his influences from high art as well as from low, his subject areas from Wall Street to the gutter.


Girl in Tub, 1949
Gelatin silver print


I first came across Steinberg’s View of the World from 9th Avenue, 1976, reproduced as a poster, hung on the kitchen wall of some illustrator friends, at the Royal College of Art halls of residence in London, in 1977. They’d just returned from New York – which I was yet to visit – bringing the poster back as a souvenir. Having up to that point only ever seen the city in photographs or films, its colossal architecture dominating everything else, leaving me daunted at the thought of ever going there, I was struck by the simplistic, friendly Steinberg depiction of New York as a place in which the people at street level just carried on as they might in any European city – going to work, shopping, wandering around the broad pavements of Manhattan, oblivious to events elsewhere in their country, and beyond. And later, when I’d seen a few Woody Allen films, it occurred to me that here were some life-size characters, who might have been the miniature people that populated Steinberg’s illustration.

Even so, I didn’t consciously go looking for Steinberg’s work – as I had done for that of Milton Glaser and Seymour Chwast, the Push Pin Studios design and illustration heroes of my early college years. And when I started working for a living, I knew that behind the cover of the The New Yorker – which a few of my journalist colleagues at The Sunday Times Magazine studiously read, toting the latest issue around the office as symbols of their literary status and aspirations – there were great swathes of words, which to me, as a ‘visual journalist’, held little appeal. So, although I was certainly aware of his fame and that he was held in high regard, I never knew, until now, that over six decades, Steinberg’s work featured on the cover of The New Yorker no less than 90 times and appeared 1,200 times on its inside pages, before he ended his collaboration with the magazine in 1987 (recommenced, 1993), or that his View of the World from 9th Avenue is regarded by connoisseurs as one of his most notable creations for the magazine – ripped off, adapted, its text changed to suit many major cities across the country, his lawyers were constantly in pursuit of the perpetrators.

Up until I first visited New York in 1997, some nineteen years after seeing the poster, despite what had become my almost daily contact with photographers and sometimes with illustrators based there and elsewhere in the United States, the city remained for me remote, beyond my horizon. And a few more years would pass before I stumbled across a fascinating little book called Saul Steinberg Masquerade (Viking Press, 2000, a reprint, or perhaps re-design of the original Steinberg: The Mask, 1966). It contained The Mask series, an inspired collaboration by Steinberg and the photographer, Inge Morath, between 1959 and 1963, in which Steinberg’s friends posed anonymously in group and individual photographs, having donned paper bags drawn with plain or fantastic faces. Morath had become fascinated by Steinberg and his ‘Steinbergian universe’, whilst living in Vienna in the 1940s, long before she came into contact with him; it wasn’t until she joined Magnum and moved to Paris, where she met Henri Cartier-Bresson, who had taken a portrait of Steinberg, that she even knew what he looked like. Cartier-Bresson described him as ‘un homme délicieux, d’une si grande intelligence’. Irving Penn, too, would create a studio portrait of Steinberg wearing one of his nose masks, in 1966 – during his long career, he sat for many famous photographers, including Arnold Newman and Lee Miller.


Untitled, c 1950
Gelatin silver print


Saul Steinberg (1914 > 1999) was a Jewish Romania-born American. He studied philosophy and literature at the University of Bucharest, and trained as a draughtsman during the 1930s, in Milan. Fleeing Italy’s new anti-semitic laws, in 1941, he arrived in the United States the following year, and had his first one-man show there a year later. He married the only prominent abstract expressionist artist, Hedda Sterne, in 1951, but left her and took up with a German photography and design student in 1960. His work has been the subject of dozens of exhibitions around the globe and produced numerous publications. Saul Steinberg 100th Anniversary Exhibition at Pace + Pace / MacGill Gallery includes work from five decades of Steinberg’s career, exploring the man who himself explored the world and adapted his medium to suit whatever he found in it. Saul Steinberg: A Biography by Deirdre Blair was published by Nan A Talese / Doubleday in 2012. The Musees Strasbourg website has a useful and succinct Steinberg biography in list form.

The Saul Steinberg Foundation is a nonprofit organisation established as a result of the artist’s will. His collection of his own works was divided between the Foundation and Yale University, which also received Steinberg’s archives. The Foundation holds the copyrights to Steinberg’s artworks and writings.

While Steinberg remains for many ‘The man who did that poster’, The New York Times called him ‘a veritable Leonardo of graphic drollery,’ in 2006. On the Magnum Photos site, in the credit for an Inge Morath portrait of him, shot as part of the Mask series, it might have amused him to see himself still quaintly referred to as a ‘draughtsman’, which is perhaps as good a description as any.

All images by Saul Steinberg, © The Saul Steinberg Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, USA. Courtesy Pace and Pace / MacGill Gallery, New York, USA


Tell us what you think.
The Blog is about art, architecture, books, design and gardens, and anything else that currently interests us which we think might interest you.

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


Share this post
Facebook Twitter Linkedin

Design | Swiss Design Bank

Friday, September 5th, 2014

Blattmann Metallwarenfabrik AG, MEWA, Kettle TECA, 1949 /
Alfred Roth, Aluminium Chair, 1933 / Wilhelm Kienzle, Cactus Watering Can
Photo FX Jaggy + U Romito


100 Years of Swiss Design
Museum für Gestaltung – Schaudepot
Zürich | Switzerland
27th September 2014 > 8th February 2015


It’s somehow unsurprising to find that, safe in its vaults, Switzerland has the largest collection of Swiss design in the world. While the vast majority of the 800 items in 100 Years of Swiss Design, a new exhibition opening this month at the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, are drawn from the bank of 500,000 pieces the museum has built up over its 140-year history, a few items are on loan from elsewhere.

This exhibition will be the first at the Schaudepot (Open Collections) – in the New Toni-Areal, a recently converted former milk processing plant – where the museum’s poster, design, applied arts and graphics archives – previously distributed in separate locations around the Zürich – have come together under one roof. But it’s not only the location which is new. With a total of 26% additional space, the core of the assembled archive is a free-standing, high bay, storage facility – a six-metre-high shelving system – housing chairs, lamps, posters, cupboards and ceramics, which is being opened to the public for daily tours on specific themes, and where they can examine items in the collection at close quarters, for the first time. The museum’s globally-important assets have also been made accessible via the eMuseum site, where the pictures in the database are reproduced as a digital catalogue, exclusively illustrating the collection stock – and the service has been made available free of charge.

While Switzerland is renowned as an expensive country to visit, until the end of September when prices are set to rise, the adult entrance fee at the Museum is only 12 Swiss Francs (CHF) / just under £8, and an annual pass is available for 50 CHF / £33, which is a pretty good deal. There’s no entry fee for children under 12 years.


Sigg AG, Hot Water Bottle with Stopper 1925 + 1968
Photo FX Jaggy + U Romito

Willy Guhl, Beach Chair, 1954
Photo FX Jaggy

Oskar Zieta, Plopp, 2007 / Frédéric Dedelley, Melancholic Diamond, 2007
Photo U Romito

Wisa-Gloria AG, Three Wheeler, 1970,
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, Design Collection

Photo FX Jaggy + U Romito


In 1949, the multi-talented Swiss architect, artist, painter, typeface designer, industrial designer and graphic designer, who at one time, served on the Zürich City Council, and was later elected to the Swiss National Parliament, Max Bill (1908 > 1994), singled out the Feller company’s light switch, ubiquitous throughout Switzerland, as ‘perhaps the ultimate form for a light switch.’ An image of the switch is being used on the publicity material for the exhibition, overlaid by a photograph of Willy Guhl’s classic Beach chair, for Eternit, 1954. Manufactured by companies like Therma, Embru, Langenthal, Horgen-Glarus, Sigg and Mammut, many more examples of often everyday products, typifying the high quality, functionality and charm of Swiss design, such as Hans Coray’s Landi chair and the USM Haller system are included in the 100 Years of Swiss Design exhibition.

Swiss book design is also one of country’s greatest assets, and later this month, or in early October (German edition. English language edition, probably December) the inimitable Lars Müller Publishers are bringing out 100 Years of Swiss Design, edited by the Müseum für Gestaltung Zürich, Christian Brändle, Renate Menzi and Arthur Rüegg. With 700 pictures and featuring 100 key works from the Museum’s collection, it presents the cream of the country’s design in chronological order – from their regional roots, at the beginning of the 20th century, to those dreamed up and produced for today’s global market. Also from Lars Müller Publishers, 100 Years of Swiss Graphic Design, a companion to the above, is already out in Europe (German and English editions), and will be available in the US and Canada at the end of September, 2014.


Heller drittel, Max Bill,1959 > 69
Auction estimate CHF 25,000 > 30,000 / £16,500 > 20,000


Max Bill, who was a student at the Bauhaus in Dessau between (1927 > 1928) worked closely with masters Josef Albers, Wassily Kandinsky, László Moholy- Nagy and Oskar Schlemmer, as well as his fellow Swiss, Paul Klee. Eminently bankable, his paintings and sculptures are well-represented in Christie’s 30th Swiss Art Auction in Zürich on September 22nd. It was László Moholy-Nagy, who had introduced Bill to the work of the De Stijl group, especially that of Mondrian, whom Bill visited in Paris, but the work of other De Stijl members, Georges Vantongerloo and Theo Doesburg were to make a greater impression upon him. Similarly based on geometric composition, Fritz Glarner, whose work is also included in the sale, owes much to influences drawn from De Stijl.

All products illustrated, except Will Guhl Beach Chair, from Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, Design Collection. All photos © ZHdK.
Painting image courtesy of Christie’s


Tell us what you think.
The Blog is about art, architecture, books, design and gardens, and anything else that currently interests us which we think might interest you.

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


Share this post
Facebook Twitter Linkedin