Archive for November, 2014

Exhibition | Ear (+ Eye) Music

Friday, November 28th, 2014

Radio – Rural Electrification
Administration poster,

Lester Beall, 1937

Silkscreen print
Gift of the designer
© 2014 Lester Beall Estate /
Licensed by VAGA




Making Modern Music: Design for Eye and Ear
Museum of Modern Art
New York City | USA
Until 15th November, 2015




iPod, Jonathan Ive,
Apple Industrial
Design Group, 2001

Polycarbonate plastic
and stainless steel
Manufactured by Apple, Inc.
Gift of the manufacturer

Radio poster
Hiroshi Ohchi, 1954
Silkscreen print
Gift of the designer




Don’t you wonder sometimes,
‘Bout sound and vision…

… David Bowie asked rhetorically on his album Low in 1977. The unbidden response was encrypted somewhere within the 300+ archived objects, including handwritten lyrics, original costumes, fashion, photography, film, videos, set designs and his own instruments, on show at the retrospective exhibition David Bowie is, at London’s V&A in 2013, that is touring the world’s most prestigious museums. A sequel to the show, the eponymously titled film, was released this month and is currently being screened in over 40 countries across the globe.

This post, and the new exhibition at MoMA, Making Modern Music: Design for Eye and Ear, around which it is based, is not about David Bowie, nor is it about musicians, per se, but it is about the way in which – especially in the 20th and 21st centuries – music, design and technology, combined to produce objects and experiences that greatly altered our perception of what music is.

Sound and Vision is notable for its juxtaposition of electric guitar and synthesiser-led instrumental, overlaid with Bowie’s introverted lyrics. The exact origins of the electric guitar are obscure, but the idea was being played around with as early as the 1920s, and it’s fair to say that it became and remains the most important and popular instrument of the last sixty years. Its introduction signalled a major change in musical technology and has shaped the sound and direction of modern musical styles, as well as the look, presence and body language of guitarists – from Les Paul to Jimi Hendrix, to Slash and Synyster Gates – and the composition of bands, across the world; similar claims can be made for the synthesiser.

Radio-Phonograph (model SK 4/10),
Dieter Rams, Hans Gugelot, 1956

Painted metal, wood, and plastic
Manufactured by Braun AG
Gift of the manufacturer

Théâtrophone poster,
Jules Chéret, 1890
Lithograph
Printer Chaix (Ateliers Chéret), Paris
Given anonymously
© 2014 Jules Chéret /
Artists Rights Society (ARS)




With limited success, the concept of creating synthetic music was experimented with in the latter years of the 19th century. In the 20s, when the term ’synthesiser’ was born, people began to develop instruments that combined electronic sound generators and sequencers. Some four decades later, Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (1962) had an un conventional soundtrack that featured bird calls and the noise of beating wings, all produced on the Mixturtrautonium, invented by German, Oskar Sala in 1952.

Later German electronic music pioneers, Kraftwerk, were formed in Düsseldorf in 1968, where the original line-up featured keyboards, including an early synthesiser, an electric flute and electric violin. In January, 2013, with reference to the group’s February concerts, Kraftwerk – The Catalogue 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8, in Tate Modern’s cavernous Turbine Hall, Neil McCormick, writing in The Telegraph, under the headline, Kraftwerk: the most influential group in pop history? explained that ‘the group’s style was driven by strong aesthetic choices, and a shift towards minimalism.In the same piece he described them as, A four-piece dressed in sober business suits, standing immobile at their technology stations, making synthetic music that was sparse, linear and rhythmic, yet decorated with enticing melody, writing songs that implied an almost mystical reverence for the ordinary objects of an industrial world,‘ an entirely new method of presenting music to an audience, complete with the most advanced technology available. Their first single, Autobahn (1974), however, was met with a mixed response. Nevertheless, Kraftwerk became quickly established as the pre-eminent electronic band of our times. Their ’sound painting’, musical compositions, using innovative looping techniques and computerised rhythms, had a major international influence across a wide range of music genres, paving the way for the DJs, who began to dominate nightclubs in the late 1980s. Meanwhile, the ‘bubble-machines’ that were used to create the immersive light projections of the psychedelic era, were superseded by strobe lighting and later by the mesmeric computer-synchronised laser shows commonly used to create atmosphere for live music events in the 21st century.

I will sit right down,
Waiting for the gift of sound and vision
And I will sing, waiting for the gift of sound and vision
Drifting into my solitude,
Over my head…

The combined gift of sound and vision was delivered, via the avant-garde ideas of furniture and interiors designers, product designers, graphic designers and architects, who made significant contributions in their respective eras to how we experience music, among them Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Serge Chermayeff, Dieter Rams, Saul Bass, Jonathan Ive, Frank Gehry and Daniel Libeskind. Its content drawn entirely from the Museum’s collection, Making Music Modern: Design for Eye and Ear gathers designs for auditoriums, instruments, and equipment for listening to music, along with posters, record sleeves, sheet music, and animation.

All images from the archives of The Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA.
Courtesy The Museum of Modern Art




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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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Photography | Guy Bourdin: Red or Dead

Friday, November 21st, 2014

Charles Jourdan advertising campaign, spring 1976



Guy Bourdin: Image-Maker
Somerset House
London | UK
27th November 2014 > 15th March 2015



Charles Jourdan advertising campaign, autumn 1977



The Pentax calendar, 1980



Vogue Paris, May 1970



Charles Jourdan advertising campaign, autumn 1979



The photographer Guy Bourdin (1928 > 1991), whose favourite colour was blood red, needs no introduction, and his uncompromising pictures tell their own stories. Good news for us, because we are on holiday this week and don’t have time to write one of our usual in-depth previews/reviews. Don’t miss Guy Bourdin: Image-Maker at Somerset House!

All images by Guy Bourdain © The Guy Bourdin Estate, 2014
Courtesy Somerset House



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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 | Imi Knoebel – Works in Progress

Friday, November 14th, 2014

Cut-up 5, 2011
Acrylic, aluminium, polythene pipe
Olga and Stella Knoebel Collection
Photo Ivo Faber




Imi Knoebel. Works 1966 > 2014
Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg
Wolfsburg > Germany
Until 15th February 2015




Prolific, having produced well over 1000 works between 1966 and 2014, 75-year-old German artist Imi Knoebel has had 40 one man shows, but not a single one at a major venue in London, or in New York City.

A good deal of his exhibitions have, however, been held in Germany’s top museums and galleries. In 2009, concurrent with his Zu Hilfe, Zu Hilfe show at Berlin’s prestigious New National Gallery, his exhibition ICH NICHT / ENDUROS was being shown at the city’s Deutsche Guggenheim – a phenomenal achievement. Many other Knoebel exhibitions have taken place in prominent venues across the globe from Rome to Osaka, Istanbul to Montreal, Sao Paulo and San Francisco. To date, his work has appeared in over 100 group shows, and the Deutsche Bank has more than 200 of his pieces in their collection. Knoebel’s works are also held in numerous public collections, including Dia in Beacon, New York State, the Fonds Regional d’Art Contemporain in France, the Kunstmuseum St Gallen in Switzerland, the Kunstammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Germany and the Malmö Konsthall in Sweden. In 2008, he created the stained glass windows in the Notre Dame Cathedral in Reims, France. So why have I, and – if you are resident in the UK – probably you, never heard of him?

Grace Kelly III-5, 1990
Acrylic on wood
Schauwerk Sindelfingen
Photo Nic Tenwiggenhorn




Schwarzes Kreuz, 1968
Oil paint on linen on hardboard base
Olga and Stella Knoebel Collection
Photo: Nic Tenwiggenhorn


Kadmiumrot A, 1976/84/90
Red cadmium on plywood
Sammlung Siegfried and Jutta Weishaupt
Photo Archiv Weishaupt, Schwendi




Aside from exhibiting in a group show, The Indiscipline of Painting, at Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, and Tate St Ives, and taking part in the Homage to Beuys event at The Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1987, and in another Unbound: Possibilities in Painting, at the Hayward Gallery, London, in 1994, he would seem to have been largely ignored by us Brits. But it’s not only us; while he has been invited as a solo exhibitor to other US cities, Knoebel hasn’t had a single one-man show at any of the big venues in New York.

Perhaps the anomaly can be put down to timing. While Knoebel was a child growing up in Dessau – home from 1919 >1933 to the Bauhaus school – the non-representational abstract art that had been developed early in the 20th century via cubism and such artists as Robert Delaunay, Kazimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian had reached its apotheosis in the 1950s New York-led abstract expressionist movement. Minimalism, sometimes described as a reaction against abstract expression emerged, also in New York, in the early 1960s when Knoebel would have been an undergraduate. From 1962 > 1964 he attended classes based on the ideas of the Bauhaus foundation course taught by Johannes Itten and László Moholy-Nagy. His final years of art education were spent under influential German performance and installation artist, sculptor and printmaker Joseph Beuys at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, where he produced his first key work, Raum 19 / Room 19. An arrangement of seventy-two separate geometric, hand-crafted, bare wood parts; it was a summation of, and trumpeted every influence he was under at the time. But already the art world had moved on and British and American pop art was the new vogue that emerging German artists such as Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter were flirting with, whose work from this period would form the basis of their future international fame.

Mamafou, 1989/2003/2009
Acrylic, wood, hardboard,
copper, Finnish birch plywood
Olga and Stella Knoebel Collection
Photo Ivo Faber




Significantly, for artists like Knoedel, pop tore up and painted over the accepted rules of reverence that had previously been applied to the art that paid homage to the early 20th century European art movements. From then on, and into the 21st century, New York and London continue to dominate an art market in which abstract art was considered, for the most part, as anachronistic. Meanwhile, Imi Knoebel, born Klaus Wolf Knoebel, who it is said: created the sobriquet ‘Imi’, to explore an artistic identity from a purist, experimental stance – famous everywhere else – continued, and continues, to produce remarkable and relevant work, like his latest pieces that might be made up of the freshly-unpacked elements of flat-packed furniture, or perhaps left over bits and pieces from a construction site, using simple form and basic colour as the sole contents of his palette.

For Knoedel, from the outset, each item of his work was part of an expanding whole. His pieces are never fixed in position or in time. He thinks nothing of returning to earlier works, adjusting, altering them, or indeed adding to them as the mood takes him. Therefore, the completion dates cannot be fixed and are amended each time he revisits a work.

The Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg will be the first institution in nearly twenty years to present a comprehensive exhibition, Imi Knoebel. Works 1966 > 2014, of the oeuvre of this important German artist.

All Images © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014
Courtesy Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg




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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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Fashion | Roxanne Lowit’s Yves Saint Laurent

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014
YSL model, Paris





Roxanne Lowit Photographs
Yves Saint Laurent
Introduction by Pierre Bergé
Thames & Hudson
208pp hardback
200 photographs, 80 in colour
Designed by Baron & Baron
Available now




‘I love that I met him on top of the Eiffel Tower.’
‘I love how his designs empowered women.’
‘I love his tuxedo; it transformed women’s evening wear.’
‘I love that he had a silly side.’
‘I love that I called him ‘Yves’, even though everyone
else called him ‘Monsieur Saint Laurent’
‘I loved that he had such a passion for his work.’
‘I loved how detail-oriented and hands-on he was.’
– Roxanne Lowit on Yves Saint Laurent




YSL, New York, December 1983




‘Roxanne appeared out of nowhere, placed a big cardboard model of the Empire State Building into [Yves'] arms, and took the picture that was to become so well known.’
Pierre Bergé

‘Yves was a darling, gentle man, who always wanted everyone around him to be happy.’
Jerry Hall

Stripped naked by fans, she was still to sing La Vie en Rose [Yves] said, ‘You cannot go on naked,’ so he took off his tuxedo cummerbund, put it around my breasts, and draped Loulou’s [de La Falaise] scarf on my hips like an Egyptian belly dancer.’
Grace Jones at the opening night at Le Palace




Catherine Deneuve, Paris, 1988




‘…He [Yves] would kid around, you know – something light and very silly. He had a great sense of humour.’

It was absolutely breathtaking! Yves was forever creating magic on the runway…beauty was his only master and it was sacred to him.’

…’I held him tight. It was Yves’ sensitive side that I felt most connected to.’





Shalom Harlow, Haute Couture, Paris, January 1993




‘Roxanne chooses her subjects, scrutinises them, lays them bare, and allows each one to reach a moment of truth.’
Pierre Bergé

‘Yves: you were a genius, an innovator: you changed the world of fashion, and kept the fantasy alive.’
Roxanne Lowit





All photographs © Roxanne Lowit, from
Roxanne Lowit Photographs Yves Saint Laurent,
courtesy Thames & Hudson


















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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







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