Archive for May, 2015

Photography | Germaine Krull: Female Photographer No 1

Friday, May 29th, 2015

Advertisement for fashion designer, Paul Poiret, 1926
Centre Pompidou, Paris. Musée national d’art moderne /
Centre de création industrielle. Photo © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI,
Distribution RMN-Grand Palais / Georges Meguerditchian



Germaine Krull
A Photographer’s Journey
Jeu de Paume
Paris | France
2 June > 27 September 2015



Cover of the portfolio Métal, 1928, by Germaine Krull
Collection Bouqueret-Rémy. © Estate Germaine Krull,
Museum Folkwang, Essen



The great American photographer, Mary Ellen Mark (1940 > 2015), died this week.

Although the importance of women photographers in the history and development of photography is no longer disputed, it remained obscure until recent decades. As early as the 1830s, Constance Talbot (1811–1880) – wife of William Henry Fox Talbot experimented with the process and may have been the first woman ever to take a photograph. British photographer Julia Margaret Cameron (1815 > 1879) became known for her closely-cropped portraits that would have an impact on 20th century photographers, both male and female. For the time being, however, it would be almost exclusively men who took up photography as a profession. The idea of the female career photographer wouldn’t properly materialise until free-spirited women such as Gertrude Krull (1897 > 1985), the subject of a major retrospective exhibition opening at Paris’s Jeu de Paume, next week, thrust herself headlong into the male-dominated mêlée in the 1920s.

Pol Rab (Illustrator), 1930
Photomontage, Gelatin silver print.
Amsab-Institute of Social History, Ghent



Advertisement for Gibbs, in L’Illustration, n°4533, 18 January 1930
Private collection



Marseille, June 1930
Gelatin silver print. The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Thomas Walther Collection.
Gift of Thomas Walther



Born in East Prussia (now Poland), and having had a peripatetic, uncertain childhood, after studying photography in Munich, Krull became a communist and made her way to Moskow. By 1925 she was in the Netherlands, where, fascinated by the dockyard cranes and machinery, she photographed them, later publishing her pictures in portfolio form under the title Métal (1928) at the next stop on her journey, Paris. The whirl of excitement Métal created would earn her work as a regular contributor to the now legendary, but then new and thrusting reportage magazine, VU. Her close-up pictures of tramps for VU were a sensation. Now, with a string of regular commissions from other magazines including, Jazz, Variétés, Art et Médecine and L’Art vivant, she began earning a proper living from photography, paying her own way from the money she earned from her uncompromising and versatile photographic skill.

American documentary photographer, Margaret Bourke-White (1904-1971), who would achieve monumental fame, began her career at about the same time. Another American, Lee Miller, a successful fashion model in New York during in the 1920s, was unable to withstand the magnetic draw of Paris, where she became a fashion and art photographer. Later, during World War II, transforming herself into a war correspondent for Vogue, covering events such the London Blitz, the liberation of Paris, and the concentration camps at Buchenwald and Dachau.

Jean Cocteau, 1929
Gelatin silver print, 1976. Collection Bouqueret-Rémy



Mary Ellen Mark was just one prominent figure among the full-time women photographers who followed these pioneers, and includes such famous practitioners as Eve Arnold (1912 > 2012), Diane Arbus (1923 > 1971), Inge Morath (1923 > 200), Annie Leibovitz (1949 >), Sally Mann (1951 >), Bettina Rheims (1952 >), Ellen von Unwerth (1954 >), Nan Goldin (1953 >), Cindy Sherman (1954 >) and Alex Prager (1979 >), to name but a few. Their work and successes continue to influence and inspire the more recent and ever-growing number of women within the profession.

Germaine Krull would have an extraordinary life spanning nine decades and four continents, producing photographic images that are easily comparable with that of her male avant garde contemporaries: Man Ray (1890 > 1976), László Moholy-Nagy (1895 > 1946) and André Kertész (1894 > 1985).

Capitalising on her earlier successes, she published further portfolios: 100 x Paris (1929), Études de nu (1930), Le Valois (1930), La Route Paris-Biarritz (1931), and Marseille (1935). She also created what is credited by Michel Frizot – curator of the Jeu de Paume exhibition, Germaine Krull: A Photographer’s Journey – as the first photo-novel, La Folle d’Itteville (1931), with Georges Simenon.

This exhibition will also be shown at Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, Germany, 15 October 2015 > 31 January 2016. All images © Estate Germaine Krull, Museum Folkwang, Essen, courtesy Jeu de Paume


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Photography | The End of the World in Pictures

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

K’terman, the spirit Xalpen’s baby, entirely daubed in red ochre, his body covered with fluffy goose down, is presented to the women by the shaman



The Lost Tribes of Tierra del Fuego
Photographs by Martin Gusinde
Published by Thames & Hudson

Texts by Christiane Barthe,
Dominique Legoupil, Marisol Palma
Behnke + Michael Taussig

Cloth-bound hardback, tipped on
plate to front (no jacket)
280 pp, 200+ duotone photographs



The men dance to drive away storms and bring good weather



‘On Navarino Island, facing the south coast of Tierra del Fuego, stands the most unlikely of museums,’ writes publisher and co-editor Xavier Barral, in his introduction to The Lost Tribes of Tierra del Fuego, ‘the southernmost museum in the world.’ Barral is referring to The Martin Gusinde Anthropological Museum, founded in 1974, in Chile, which pays homage to the Selk’nam, Yamana and Kawésqar, the tribes that originally inhabited the region.

It was during a chance conversation with Christiane Barthe, director of the Heritage Unit of the photographic collections at Paris’s Musée du Quai Branly, with whom he would later co-edit the book, that Barrall first heard of Martin Gusinde, whose archives had lain, undisturbed for decades, but carefully conserved by the priests at the Anthropos Institute, near Bonn, in Germany.

Gusinde had arrived in Tierra del Fuego as a German missionary, in 1919, his mission to help convert the three indigenous peoples of the archipelago at the unhospitable, windswept, snowy tip of South America: the Selk’ Nam, Yamana and Kawésqar, to Christianity. Ironically, however, fascinated by what he saw and experienced, he was to become one of very few westerners ever initiated into the Indians’ rites.

The Shoort spirits Télil, representing the sky of rain (northern sky), and Shénu, representing the sky of wind (western sky). Each mask, known as an asl, was made of guanaco leather stuffed with dried leaves and grasses



At the same time, aware that he was witnessing ways of life fast disappearing before the inexorable advance of civilisation – the remote islands were first discovered in the 16th century – Charles Darwin visited them on The Beagle in 1832 – the first missionaries established themselves there in 1869 – these days they have their own official Fin del Mundo / The End of the World website – using a portable darkroom, Gusinde began carefully documenting his discoveries and, over the course of five years, produced more than a thousand photographs, over 200 of which are beautifully reproduced in this carefully-crafted book.

Dwarfed by the scale of photographer Edward S Curtis’s classic and monumental twenty-volume The North American Indian, begun in 1898, containing 1,500 images, accompanied by over 700 portfolio prints, and issued as a limited edition from 1907 > 1930, The Lost Tribes of Tierra del Fuego, published in the UK by Thames & Hudson, and in France by Éditions Xavier Barral, is modest, but nonetheless impressive.

Curtis’s project had been a funded, carefully planned exploration and survey of the lives of all eighty North American tribes, but many of his photographs are, according to the Northwestern University Digital Library Collections website, ‘essentially contrived reconstructions rather than true documentation.’ Albeit he arrived some 50 years after the first missionaries, Gusinde’s images, due to his deep immersion in the tribal culture, are probably more authentic.

Around 150 prints from the Gusinde archive will be included in an exhibition curated by Christine Barthe and Xavier Barral, as part of the 2015 Rencontres d’Arles Festival in France, from 6 July > 20 September.

All images courtesy of Thames & Hudson,
© Anthropos Institute, Sankt Augustin, Germany


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Design | Functional Sculpture

Friday, May 15th, 2015

Philippe Hiqily,
Henri Samuel chair,
designed 1975,
2004 edition

Sotheby’s estimate:
€20,000 > 30,000



Christie’s
Design, Vent du soir /
Design Day Sale
Paris | France
Exhibition 15 + 16 + 18 + 19 May 2015
Sale 19 May 2015

+

Sotheby’s
Design 20e siècle /
20th Century Design

Paris | France
Exhibition 16 + 18 May 2015
Sale 21 May 2015



Charlotte Perriand,
Free form table / desk,
designed 1956.
Steph Simon edition c 1960
Solid saple wood.
Christie’s estimate:
€120,000 > 180,000



Along with everyone else in the Sculpture Garden at MoMA, you can sit, looking cool – imagining you’re a sculpture yourself – on sculptor Harry Bertoia’s sculptural Side chairs. But you can’t do it indefinitely, because, if we’re being completely honest, they aren’t really that comfortable, especially if the little pad that prevents the supermarket trolley style grid from embedding itself into your bottom, is missing. On the Knoll website – they produce and market Bertoia’s furniture – it says that Harry, who was primarily a sculptor, ‘found sublime grace in an industrial material, elevating it beyond its normal utility into a work of art.’ But surely, since chairs, and, for that matter, any other item of furniture must be functional, the Side chair is disqualified from ‘art’ status. Does it matter one way or the other?

Georges Jouve,
Mirror, c 1955
Glazed ceramic.
Christie’s estimate:
€8,000 > 12,000

Jean Prouvé,
Table, c 1939
Painted and folded sheet steel.
Christie’s estimate:
€80,000 > 100,000



It would seem that Donald Judd, who created sculpture that looked like furniture and furniture that might be art, thought it did. An extract from a 1993 Judd essay called It’s hard to find a good lamp reads: ‘…[S]omeone asked me to design a coffee table. I thought that a work of mine, which was essentially a rectangular volume, with the upper surface recessed, could be altered. This debased the work and produced a bad table, which I later threw away. The configuration and the scale of art cannot be transposed into furniture and architecture. The intent of art is different from that of the latter, which must be functional. If a chair or a building is not functional, if it appears to be only art, it is ridiculous… A work of art exists as itself; a chair exists as a chair itself.’

Serge Mouille,
Pair of wall sconces with
Saturn motif, c 1957
Black + white lacquered metal
Sotheby’s estimate:
€4,000 > 6,000

Pierre Chareau,
Desk MB 405 + stool SN 3, c 1928
Wrought iron and rosewood
veneer desk + wrought
iron and rosewood stool
Sotheby’s estimate:
€250,000 > 350,000



On the other hand, as Design Museum Director Deyan Sudjic said in his 2008 obituary about the great Italian designer/architect Ettore Sottsass: ‘We live in a world which values the useless ahead of the useful, which celebrates art, untainted by the least hint of utility, above the ingenuity of design that is burdened by function, and creates a cultural hierarchy to match. It was perhaps the greatest achievement of Sottsass’s long and remarkable career that he made this distinction irrelevant.’

Zaha Hadid’s designs for amorphous benches and stools are intended to blur the line between utility and sculpture. Like her architecture, their streamlined curvaceousness isn’t purely functional, nor is it merely decorative. They are functional pieces, in that they are meant to be sat on, but just having them around enlivens a space and raises the spirits, rendering them objects of desire.


Eugène Printz,
Modernist console, c 1931
Palm wood veneer
Sotheby’s estimate:
€30,000 > 50,000



Many of the – in theory – functional, and sought after items being sold in the forthcoming Christie’s ParisDesign, Vent du soir /Design Day Sale, and in Design 20e Siècle / 20th Century Design at Sotheby’s Paris, including those shown here, were designed in the modern period, but, ironically, their sculptural qualities a result of their creators’ uncompromising searches for authenticity, they could easily be taken as examples of the rule-breaking that came to be a defining characteristic of postmodernism.

All images courtesy Christie’s and Sotheby’s, respectively.
Donald Judd quote © Judd Foundation.


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The Blog’s publishers 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 whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier



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Art | Zhao Zhao: Unbroken Star

Friday, May 8th, 2015

Constellations No 11, 2015
Oil on canvas



Zhao Zhao: Constellations II
Chambers Fine Art / 前 波 画 廊
New York City | USA
15 May > 22 August 2015



Multi-media artist, Zhao Zhao 赵赵



In August 2012, Spiegel Online reported that China was cracking down on Ai Wei Wei protégé, Zhao Zhao. Meanwhile, top British art book publisher Phaidon’s blog, at the head of a post that posed the question ‘Is Zhao Zhao set to become the next Ai Wei Wei?’ showed an installation view of Officer, Zhao’s broken Chinese officer sculpture exhibited at Chambers Fine Art, in 2011. Ai Wei Wei (b 28 August 1957, Beijing, China), although forced to remain in Beijing, and Zhao Zhao – who worked with the latter for seven years – against all odds, and with continuing global support, enjoy phenomenal and well-deserved international success.

Since 2011, as well as featuring in numerous group shows around the world, Zhao Zhao (b Xinjiang, China, 1982), ignored by the Chinese press, has had the following solo exhibitions:

2012 Nothing Inside, Alexander Ochs Gallery, Beijing, China
2013 Zhao Zhao: Constellations, Chambers Fine Art, New York, USA
2014 Zhao Zhao: Uncertainty, Chambers Fine Art, Beijing, China
2015 Zhao Zhao: Omnipresent, Roberts & Tilton, California, USA



Constellations No 10, 2015
Oil on canvas



His forthcoming show, Zhao Zhao: Constellations II, is a continuation of the fragments theme, triggered by his involvement in a serious motor accident in 2011, when his head hit the windscreen of a car he was travelling in. Recovering, turning his misfortune around, he rescued the shattered glass and used the pattern of cracks caused by the violent impact as inspiration for his sculpture, Fragments (2007) – a steel slab assembled from numerous irregular pieces radiating from the centre. It appeared again in Untitled (2013), a painting of a possibly dead and probably raped, naked and spreadeagled woman in an exaggeratedly heavy and ornate, gilt frame, in which the glass has been violently broken, cracks spreading out from a point between the woman’s thighs.

For the Constellations series, with difficulty, and great personal risk – in China private ownership of guns is illegal – Zhao experimented with shooting bullets into glass. Having photographed each result, he stacked them, in different combinations, one on top of the other – the exhibition catalogue cover is a digital, composite photograph made up of thirty images – to create an illusion of space and depth. Afterwards, using a severely restricted palette, with Prussian blue as a common ground, against which the bullet holes resemble stars, he painstakingly reproduced a selection of these as finely-detailed, photo-realistic paintings. New works from the series, will be exhibited in Zhao Zhao: Constellations II at Chambers Fine Art.

Images courtesy of the artist and Chambers Fine Art


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Design | Modernist Posters

Friday, May 1st, 2015

Paul Rand,
Minute Man, 1974
Estimate $1,000 > $1,500



Modernist Posters
Swann Auction Galleries
New York City | USA
Exhibition May 2, 4, 5, 6, 7
Sale 7 May 2015
13.30 EST / 18.30 GMT



Pentagram,
AIA New York
Group of ten posters,
1990s > 2000s
Estimate $2,000 > $3,000



Richard Avedon,
The Beatles
One of four posters
and a banner, 1967
Estimate $2,000 > $3,000



If you punch ‘American posters’ into Google search, and click the Images option, page upon page of disordered, unsifted stuff will come up. There’ll be a few great designs you recognise instantly. Just a few. Much of it will be mediocre. A lot of it will be rubbish. You’ll wonder what some of it is doing there. If you refine your search and put in, say, ‘American film posters’, the first few pages at least will roughly match the subject, but it’ll be a random selection of everything with those key words attached. You could do the same for American music posters, or advertising posters. If you happen to  find a couple of items that you like, even if the colour is reasonably accurate, they’ll probably be in low resolution, so the detail will be fuzzy, which means you won’t get more than a general idea of what the original poster is like. If you feel like buying a poster, you’ll be lucky to find an original, and, if it’s more than a few years old, you’ll most likely have to put up with a copy, having little idea of the quality until it arrives.

Now that bidding online is commonplace, sales like next week’s Modern Posters at New York’s Swann Auction Galleries are open to a worldwide market, which is great for them, but in turn also allows us to look at a vast amount of original, often rare examples of graphic design on our computer monitors, or mobile devices, in fairly decent image resolution. The beauty is that all of the material has been examined by experts, and usually comes from private or corporate collections. These days, the sale catalogues, available in book-form for most auctions that can be ordered in advance on-line, are usually very well-researched and well-produced, and contain detailed information on each item, its provenance and general state. Sometimes the catalogues themselves become, over time, collectable.

Kenneth D Haak & Paul Smith,
Get All The News / And Get It Right /
The New York Times, c 1951
Estimate $1,000 > $1,500



George Maciunas,
USA Surpasses All The
Genocide Records!, 1969
Estimate $400 > $600



Often, just as on eBay, you can bid up to a certain deadline, but taking part in the live sales is more fun. With a bit of savvy and a few deft clicks, you can buy a design classic at a good price and arrange to have it delivered direct to your door. Better still, even if you have no intention of buying, but happen to be in the right place – in this instance, New York – you can stroll around the viewing exhibition inspecting any or all of the lots for free, returning as often as you want before the sale starts.

Swann’s auction includes archive Swiss, Polish, German, French and Japanese posters, as well as many by British artists. There’s a 1907 poster by Munich secessionist artist Franz von Stück, and a Peter Behrens design for the Deutsche Werkbund exhibition, 1914. Swiss polymath Max Bill is represented by an advertising poster (1932) for the modernist furniture company Wohnbedarf. No less than seven Cassandre posters are in this sale, including his famous Dubonnet (c1956) work, estimated at $2,000 – $3,000. Nine single lot Edward McKnight Kauffer posters range in estimated price from $500 > $18,000, while three Abram Games WWII works will also be sold. There’s a Massimo Vignelli (1963) poster for Pirelli, and a square poster by Gerit Rietveld.

Andy Warhol,
Fifth New York Film Festival /
Lincoln Center, 1967

Estimate $1,500 > $2,000



Tomi Ungerer,
The Voice / The Magician, 1968,
for The Village Voice
Estimate $500 > $750



Constantly exposed to a lot of American TV and films, and some American magazines – up until recently, unless we visited America, had access to the Art Director’s Club annuals, or specifically searched for them on the internet, Britons and Europeans rarely had the opportunity to see a representative selection of original American posters, let alone buy them. Comprising roughly 50% of the total number of lots, a small sample of these accompany this post.

The Modern Posters sale at Swann Auction Galleries also includes rare non-poster items, such as Herbert Bayer and Walter Gropius’s Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar 1919 – 1923, bound volume, and Bayer’s Austellung / Europäisches Kunstgewerbe exhibition catalogue (a copy of which is in the MoMA collection), both with bold and uncompromising typographic cover treatments. There’s also a group of 7 copies of bauhaus, the school’s magazine, first published in 1926, with cover designs by Herbert Bayer, Joost Schmidt and Hannes Meyer, from the 1928-29 period, for which bidding is expected in the $3,000 > 4,000 bracket. A group of 8 issues of the magazine Vanity Fair, published between 1930-35 is estimated at $700 > 1,000.

Images Courtesy Swann Auction Galleries



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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 whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier



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