Archive for December, 2014

All Categories | Omnipresence 2014 / 2015

Friday, December 26th, 2014

2014 proved to be an exciting year at The Blog.

We published posts relating to exhibitions as diverse as Egon Schiele; The Radical Nude at London’s Courtauld Gallery, and Robert Heinecken: Object Matter at MoMA in New York, to another about VKhUTEMAS – often called the Russian Bauhaus – at Berlin’s Martin-Gropius-Bau museum. We admired rare and exotic posters in The Art of Travel, exhibited at Cannes during the annual film festival and auctioned afterwards by Christie’s.

We showed a selection of compelling images from Roxanne Lowit Photographs Yves Saint Laurent, a glitzy new book – with an introduction by no less a figure than Pierre Bergé – and wrote about Vitra’s more modest new publication Everything is Connected, which relies totally on visual language rather than written text to relate the company’s labyrinthine story.

We loved Korean artist Lee Bul’s captivating installations at the UK’s Ikon Gallery in Birmingham, and the Museum für Gestaltung’s 100 Years of Swiss Design exhibition – as well as the accompanying Lars Müller book – showing selections from the Museum’s consolidated collections, now housed at the Schaudepot in Zürich’s burgeoning New Toni development.

We covered the Saul Steinberg 100th Anniversary Exhibition at Pace MacGill in New York, and we assembled our own photographic tribute to The Years of ‘La Dolce Vita’, from the paparazzi images on show at the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, in London.

We published extracts from Christie’s International Head of 20th Century Decorative Art & Design Philippe Garner’s scintillating interview with Zeev Aram, on the subject of Japanese furniture designer Shiro Kuramata. And we salivated over Serge Mouille’s 1950s sculptural lighting included in Phillips Design sale in New York.

We hope the journey so far has been as interesting for you as it has for us.

As the globe – at least in communication terms – continues to shrink, the cultural landscape forever widens and diversifies. What was formerly remote has often become more easily accessible. In response, 2015 will see The Blog extending its reach and venturing into geographical and subject areas we may have so far ignored, exploring and gaining entry for our followers to a broader range of thought-provoking, disparate and topical events in the omnipresent visual arts and associated artistic disciplines.



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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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Illustration | Drawing Fashion Forward

Friday, December 19th, 2014

At Home, 1967
Published in The New York Times Magazine

Mixed media
© Courtesy of Estate of Antonio Lopez and Juan Ramos
and Galerie Bartsch & Chariau



Drawing Fashion.
Masterpieces of a Century
Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg
Hamburg | Germany
19th December 2014 > 3 May 2015



I own a copy of Paris Vogue’s ‘Homáge a Paris’ June / July 1985 issue, the cover illustrated with a painting of a bare-shouldered, three-quarter length female model against a minimal evening backdrop of the city, unmistakable because of the small, blurred, floodlit silhouette of the The Arc de Triomphe in the distance, placing her, unmistakably on the sophisticated and romantic Champs-Élysées. Hands, clenched below her chin, she wears long black gloves, with diamond earrings and a diamond necklace. Her black hair is piled high on top of her head. Her black-mascara’d eyes closed in ecstasy, her full red-lipped mouth with even white teeth smiles wide with sheer delight. The perfect picture of Parisian glamour – a huge gold ribbon cinches the waist of her spangled black dress, and, extending off both sides of the cover, binds her image to the magazine. The message is unmistakable. The artist who created it was René Gruau (1909 > 2004).

Georges Lepape
Untitled, 1915
Published on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar

Watercolour and gouache
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014



Mats Gustafson
Kopfbedeckung, 2005
Fashion from Comme des Garçons

Watercolour
© Mats Gustafson / Art + Commerce



Réne Gruau
Untitled, 1955
Fashion from Dior
Published in International Textiles

Brushed ink and gouache
© Nachlass Réne Gruau



Gruau, whose heyday was in the 1940s and 50s was one of the main attractions in the enormously successful, Drawing Fashion: 100 years of fashion illustrated exhibition in 2010 at London’s Design Museum. From today, and deservedly so, re-jigged and rearranged to suit the new venue, the same material is getting a fresh outing under the title Drawing Fashion. Masterpieces of a Century at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg. The new exhibition celebrates the genre as represented in 165 images, covering the whole of the 20th century period, with a few examples from the 21st, from the unique collection of original artworks of renowned Munich art dealer Joelle Chariau.

Split into seven sections – the first two representing a particular style or epoch – the extravagant art deco of the 1910s and twenties is followed by the more dignified fashions of the thirties and forties. Each subsequent decade is represented by its outstanding illustrators – the fifties by René Gruau (1909 > 2004), the sixties to eighties by the remarkable, prolific and highly-influential New Yorker, and close associate of Karl Lagerfeld, Antonio (Antonio Lopez, 1943 > 1987), who worked in Paris from 1969 to the mid 70s. Then come those who are still working today like, sensitive master of the watercolour wash, the Swede, Mats Gustafson (b 1951), the Swiss, François Berthoud (b 1961), of whom Anna Piaggi Vogue Italia fashion contributor and style icon – wrote: ‘While François illustrates fashion in an apparently formal and decorative way, in reality he analyses his subject in depth and with an elegant sense of detachment before recreating it in his atelier-laboratory…. with a sharp sense of irony and a visual culture rooted in conceptual art!’ This section also includes Parisian Aurore de La Morinerie (b 1962), who spent two years studying the Chinese calligraphy that was to become a formative influence on her style.

François Berthoud
Girl in a room
, 1996
Fashion from Jil Sander, published in Interview Review

Monotype and oil
© François Berthoud



The Fashion Illustration Gallery (Paris) website has examples of work by most, but not all of the big names from the 20th and 21st centuries. Their list is dived into two alphabetically-ordered groups – the younger illustrators, followed by the more mature or no longer living, or so it appears – which puts flavour of the moment, David Downton, whose slick, nostalgic style pays tribute to those who went before him – such as Gruau – right at the top. It’s interesting to see, however, some young people like Daisy De Villeneuve, with her own inimitable, primitive style, pushing the genre in a very personal and alternative direction. Former fashion designer, Richard Haines‘ matter-of-fact, laid-back watercolour sketches come close to caricature. Award-winning, Japanese fashion illustrator Hiroshi Tanabe, who quickly became established after leaving college in 1990, has an assured graphic hand that produces reduced, often minimal images with a whiff of the 1970s about them, which are at the same time bang up to date.



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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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Design | Serge Mouille Lights up New York

Friday, December 12th, 2014

Serge Mouille
Simple floor lamp with Lampadaire shade,
designed 1953
Painted aluminium, painted tubular steel, brass
Produced by Atelier Serge Mouille, editioned by Galerie Steph Simon, France
Estimate $10000 > 15000 / £6370 > 9550 / € 8070 > 12100



Design
Phillips
New York City, USA
Exhibition 10th > 16th December
Sale 17th December



Born in Paris in 1922, and best known for his elegant, minimal, insect-like lamp designs of the 1950s, Serge Mouille originally trained as a silversmith at Paris’s École des Arts Appliqués, where he graduated in 1941, and taught from 1945. That year he opened his own metalwork studio, producing commissioned hand-rails, wall sconces and chandeliers for a small list of clients. A somewhat subdued start for a man whose design work would come to be compared with Alexander Calder’s sculptures, and who, in 1952, was to create a revolutionary stainless steel car, the Zebra, that, sadly, never made it to production.

Serge Mouille
Pivoting two-armed wall light with Lampadaire and Casquette shades,
designed 1953

Painted aluminium, painted tubular steel, brass
Produced by Atelier Serge Mouille, editioned by Galerie Steph Simon, France
Estimate $12000 > 18000 / £7639 > 11460 / €9680 > 14520



Perhaps it did all begin with Calder. But Calder himself had probably seen, or was aware of, the pioneering work of the constructivists and dadaists, of Naum Gabo and Marcel Duchamp, who invented kinetic art, imbuing their modernist works with movement. And Mouille, certainly knew Calder – 24 years his senior – well enough for the sculptor to have given Mouille’s girlfriend a small mobile as a present, so the comparisons that have been made could have some justification. It may have been, however, that in his design work, Mouille was reacting to the feelings in the air at the time, and whereas Calder’s work is about equilibrium and enlivened space, the younger man’s was based on simplicity and static balance.

As an antidote to their dreary post World War II existence, Europeans had begun searching for a new, more optimistic aesthetic. Wartime advances in technology had made it possible for designers to produce new types of furniture and home accessories that were stronger, but lighter in feel and look, than anything that had existed before, and the fast-expanding post-war population, would provide a ready market for them. Meanwhile, by the early 1950s interest in avant garde kinetic art was growing. Ernest Race’s jaunty Antelope chair, commissioned to furnish the outdoor terraces of the newly built Royal Festival Hall for the 1951 Festival of Britain, fulfilled its practical requirement, but had echoes of the playfulness of Calder’s work. It had the lightness of structure that was associated with kinetic art and shared something with the organic flavour of modernism that designers like Arne Jacobsen in Denmark, and Gio Ponti and the brothers Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni in Italy, were also experimenting with. In the USA Charles and Ray Eames, Harry Bertoia and Eero Saarinen championed this same warmer, humanist approach to design.

Gino Sarfatti
Floor lamp, model no 1003b, c 1946
Painted aluminum, painted tubular brass, brass, marble
Manufactured by Arteluce, Italy
Estimate $5000 > 7000 / £3180 > 4460 / €4030 > 5650



Great Magnusson-Grossman
Grasshopper
floor lamp, model no. 831, 1950s
Painted aluminum, painted tubular metal, brass
Manufactured by Bergboms Malmö, Sweden.
Interior of shade impressed with G-33-BERGBOM
Estimate $8000 > 12000 / £5090 > 7640 / €6450 > 9680



Pierre Guariche
Equilibrium
floor lamp, c 1951
Brass, painted aluminum, painted steel
Manufactured by Disderot, France
Estimate $12000 > 18000 / £7639 > 11460 / €9680 > 14520



Mouille had claimed that his lighting fixtures were ‘… a reaction to the Italian models, which were beginning to invade the [French] market in 1950,’ and which considered ‘too complicated.’ He may have been referring to Gino Sarfatti’s (1912 > 1985) work, which is relatively simple and functional, while sharing a similar aesthetic to his own. A few years younger than Mouille, Pierre Guariche (1926 > 1995), and sometimes referred to as one of France’s most famous, post-war furniture designers, also created finely balanced lamps, such as his Equilibrium floor lamp, produced c 1951. From Sweden, the anthropomorphic Grasshopper floor lamp – more giraffe- than insect-like – was devised in the 1950s by prolific industrial designer, interior designer and architect, Greta Magnusson-Grossman (1906 > 1999).

In 1953, the French furniture and interior designer, Jacques Adnet, who had first risen to fame in the art deco period, asked Mouille to design lighting fixtures for him, and, having found his forte, Serge Mouille would devote himself almost exclusively to it for the rest of his life (d 1988). He received a Diploma of Honour at the Brussels Expo in 1958, and at about the same time began to design institutional lighting – over several years creating items for the University of Antony in Strasbourg, for a school in Marseilles and for the Bizerte Cathedral in Tunisia. With the invention of neon tubes, in the 1950s, Mouille was inspired to design a series of floor lamps that combined incandescence and fluorescence. Mouille’s legacy of 1950s lamps remain, however, the last word in timeless elegance. Several exquisite early examples will be included, alongside others by his contemporaries, and many fine items of classic modern furniture, in Design, Phillips forthcoming auction in New York.

All images courtesy of Phillips. © Phillips



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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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Architecture | Merry VKhUTEMAS

Friday, December 5th, 2014

I Leonidov
Lenin Institute, Vorobyovy Gory, Moscow, 1928
Thesis project, a
rchitectural model
Metal, plastic, plywood, thread
Reconstruction, 1981, I Kuzmin




VKhUTEMAS – A Russian Laboratory of Modernity
Architecture designs 1920 > 1930
Martin-Gropius-Bau
Berlin | Germany
5th December 2014 > 6th April 2015




VKhUTEMAS, often referred to as the ‘Russian Bauhaus’, was a legendary modernist art school established in post-revolution Moskow. It was a hot-house for the creation of designs for the new world that the revolution had opened up for its students to explore and help to build. Their many architectural schemes would not look out of place in 21st century cities.

VKhUTEMAS, or Вхутемас, isn’t an actual Russian word, but is apparently an acronym for Высшие художественно-технические мастерские / Vysshiye Khudozhestvenno-Tekhnicheskiye Masterskiye, which roughly translated, means Higher Art and Technical Studios. Alexander Kudryavtsev, head of the Moskow Architecture Institute – a direct descendant of VKhUTEMAS – has described the school as the ‘boiler where the new art was smelted.’

Having deposed the Tsar and Russia’s wealthy overlords and landowners, and taken over power in 1917, the new Bolshevik government had expressed a desire to divert art training away from the classically-based fine arts toward applied art in industry and manufacturing, with the intention of transforming it into a far more valuable and productive asset to the new communist state. Set up as the result of a decree from Lenin himself, VKhUTEMAS’s brief was ‘to prepare master artists of the highest qualifications for industry, and builders and managers for professional-technical education.’ To this end, the faculties of architecture, painting, and sculpture became art workshops, and were united with the wood- and metalworking, printing, textiles, and ceramics production workshops, as a single autonomous university department.

V Krinsky
Skyscraper VSNKh. Moscow, Lubyanskaya square, 1922 > 1923
Tracing paper, pencil and coloured pencil
Remade, 1966




VKhUTEMAS class, school year 1927 > 1928
Exhibition of student‘s work on ‘Evidence and expression of mass and weight’




V Krinsky
Composition in space, 1921
Experimental-methodic study work in colour and spatial composition
Paper, pencil and gouache




A new curriculum was drawn up, based upon teaching the disciplines: colour, volume, space, and graphic design. The student body, by all accounts, numbered ’several thousands,’ and the 100- strong staff included many who were already revered as leading figures of the Russian avant-garde, as well as others whose names would, on an international level, become synonymous with it. They included El Lissitzky, Naum Gabo, Konstantin Melnikov, Lyubov Popova, Alexander Rodchenko, Varvara Stepanova, Vladimir Tatlin and Wassily Kandinsky, who would later become a Bauhaus master. Under their tutelage the school quickly developed into a centre for experiments in constructivism, rationalism, and suprematism.

A major achievement of VKhUTEMAS was the three-tiered basic course, in which all students, after first developing their art techniques, went on to incorporate them into vocational, specialised industrial or professional education. Augmenting this basic course were chemistry, physics, mathematics, geometry, scientific colour theory, foreign language studies, art history, as well as classes in the Theory of shadows,’ and military training.

A Rodchenko
Spatial construction No 5, 1918
Reconstruction, 1982, A Lavrentiev
Producers: I Terenin, Y Orlov, L Alekseeva,
N Kapustin




M Korzhev
Abstractive exercise to detect the mass and weight, 1921
Paper, ink, watercolour




In 1925 VKhUTEMAS students, alongside their teachers, Melnikov and Rodchenko, exhibited at the Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes in Paris. However, in 1927, as a result of a desire amongst the authorities to steer the school away from the fine art direction it was veering off in, and back towards industrial design and manufacturing, it was renamed VKhUTEIN (Higher Artistic-Technical Institute). That same year a group of students was despatched on a visit to the Bauhaus – founded in 1919 in Dessau, and by now relocated to Weimar – and in 1928 Bauhaus students made a return visit to Moskow.

Plagued by bitter internal disputes and disagreements with the authorities, VKhUTEMAS never achieved the prominence of the Bauhaus and in 1930, the Russian avant-garde side-lined in favour of social realism and empire-style architecture, it was closed down. Nevertheless, as the 250 works on show in VKhUTEMAS – A Russian Laboratory of Modernity, Architecture designs 1920 – 1930 at Martin-Gropius-Bau, the school played an important role in the early development of European modernism.

The exhibition was organised by Moscow’s Shchusev State Museum of Architecture

All images © The Shchusev State Museum of Architecture Moscow




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




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