Archive for June, 2015

Design | Forgotten Swiss Lamm that Roared in Italy

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Fashion 1960, for professional travellers, la Rinascente, 1960
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, Poster Collection



Lora Lamm – La vita è bella
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich
Zürich | Switzerland
Until 16 August 2015



The garden – the house in the country – the city terrace, la Rinascente, 1956
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, Poster Collection



The celebrated department store chain, La Rinascente, founded in 1917, (in Thai ownership since 2011) remains little known outside of Italy. With the exception of Switzerland, the same can be said of Swiss polymath designer / illustrator / art director, Lora Lamm.

La Rinascente was one of a number of innovative companies, including the tyre manufacturer, Pirelli, that during the post-war period latched on to the idea – pioneered by Olivetti – of establishing in-house advertising and PR departments that would develop a rapport with a new breed of designers with whom they collaborated to produce highly-creative advertising and promotional material.

Lamm, though often previously overlooked – she doesn’t rate a Wikipedia entry – whose work was synonymous with La Rinascente’s success during the period, was a major contributor to Italian design in the 1950s and 1960s. This month, in recognition of her contribution to the advancement of Swiss design both nationally and internationally, the Swiss Federal Office of Culture has awarded her the annual Grand Prix Design Award 2015.

Sales, 1957
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, Poster Collection



Fashion spread, la Rinascente, c 1960
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, Poster Collection



Roles, Pirelli, 1961
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, Poster Collection



Lamm (b 1928), studied graphic design from 1946 to 1951 in Zürich under, among others, the former Bauhaus master Johannes Itten, and was afterwards drawn to flourishing Milan, which was enjoying an economic boom. After gaining a foothold at Studio Boggeri, where well-regarded Swiss designers were already working, she later moved to Panettone Motta Milano as a packaging designer. In 1954, on the recommendation of the Swiss graphic designer Max Huber, who was already an established designer at La Rinascente – he had designed their logo – Lamm was taken on by the company, where she was soon made responsible for the design and production of the store’s in-house magazine, Cronache.

Inspired by the latest graphics produced for international department stores in New York and Tokyo that she mixed freely with the rational, modernist influences she brought from Switzerland, Lamm rapidly imposed her own design vision that served the management’s purpose of attracting female clientele to La Rinascente.

Schools department, la Rinascente, 1958
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, Poster Collection



After Huber left the store in 1958, Lamm was put in sole charge of the creative department, producing the company’s catalogues, posters, advertisements, invitations, mailers, packaging and other publicity, but still found time to carry out freelance work for Pirelli, Elizabeth Arden and Olivetti.

The light, positive feelings embodied in her work for the store characterised by illustrations of charming, child-like simplicity, and by fluid and elegant typography, was carried through to her posters for Pirelli. Here she juxtaposed whimsical illustration against perfectly-drawn black, scraper-board images of tyres, and often used photography.

In 1963, Lamm returned to Zürich, where she still lives and continues to work.

Lora Lamm – La vita è bella, currently showing at the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich’s Schaudepot is an exhibition concerned almost exclusively with the designer’s poster work. A limited selection of original Lora Lamm poster designs is available to buy via the Swiss gallery, Artifiche.

All posters designed by Lora Lamm, © the artist, courtesy of Museum für Gestaltung Zürich



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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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Books | Linder: Slicing Through the Cheesecake

Friday, June 19th, 2015

Child of the Mantic Stain, 2015
Acrylic on paper



Mouth to Mouth Interview
Dawn Ades, CBE, curator, educationalist, Fellow of the British Academy, former Tate trustee, Professor of History of Art at the Royal Academy, and author of Photomontage (Pantheon, 1976) talks to artist Linder, about her work, and her finely-crafted, fascinating and X-rated monograph, published by Ridinghouse.

Linder, born in Liverpool (1954, aka Linda Sterling) has eight items of early work in the permanent collection at Tate Britain. Exhibited internationally, with solo UK shows at The Hepworth Wakefield, and Tate St Ives, her career spans almost four decades. Once muse to Morrissey, she acknowledges her debt to surrealism, expressionism and punk. Best known for her record sleeves for The Buzzcocks, she creates photomontages, often obscuring the more graphic details of heterosexual and homosexual pornographic images with overlaid flowers, or everyday household commodities. In her latest work (above) she is experimenting with a different medium.

Girls of the World X, 2012
Photomontage



The Myth of the Birth of the Hero II, 2012
Photomontage



Dawn Ades You mentioned that you are including a single work from this new period of experimentation in the book, a kind of endnote (Child of the Mantic Stain, 2015 (above)). And the crucial thing, as you were saying earlier, is that it is no longer a photomontage.

Linder It is definitely not photomontage. I’m not quite sure what it is yet, it feels new and very exciting.

The Berlin dadaists chose to call themselves monteurs rather than artists to distinguish their activity from collage, which was already part of a modernist tradition with cubism.

I made my early photomontages with the same curiosity as a mechanic lifting up the bonnet of a malfunctioning car. I was already familiar with a lot of the artists – Hannah Höch, John Heartfield, El Lissitzky, Raoul Hausmann and Max Ernst, but your book Photomontage encouraged me to look far more deeply at the connections between each artist. [Books] provided me with a new visual vocabulary, as well as a verbal one, introducing words such as ‘photomontage’, ‘clitoris’ and ‘hegemony’, all of which I use still. When I was eighteen, in 1973, I enrolled at Manchester Polytechnic on a Foundation Course in Art and Design. I thought that I would find like-minded souls with whom I could swap notes about Millet, de Beauvoir and the Brontë sisters – they all seemed equally important at the time. It wasn’t quite what I had hoped for. We studied briefly in each department to experience the courses on offer at degree level: textile design, industrial design, fine art, advertising, etc. I chose to study graphic design. I felt that I stood more chance to

When did you begin cutting images up?

It was only in the summer of 1976, that I began to use the scalpel as a creative instrument. As we began to come of age, musically, sartorially and graphically, we started to cut things up – we cut up our hair, our coats and our magazines. We painted the walls of our bedrooms black, wore bin bags as dresses, our underwear as outerwear, dog collars instead of diamanté and dyed our hair with Crazy Colour, [but] I was far happier sitting in my room on a Saturday night studying Lissitzky’s Wolkenbügel than dancing to [Rod Stewart's] Tonight’s the Night in Rafters nightclub in Manchester. I wanted to make stab incisions into the host culture around me.

Making your incisions in the magazine pictures was pretty aggressive, as an initial move.

Over the years, the cuts made by my scalpel have all had a mood of their own, alternately violent, sensual, cold, premeditated or spontaneous, depending upon my mood and the work that I wanted to create.

With many of the photomontages, the addition is clear. The latest household goods, for example, in one of the sequences in Pretty Girls: hoover, stereo, TV. But in others the relationship is more ambiguous, for instance between bodies and food, the cakes, buns, biscuits. Then with the flowers, the roses in particular, sometimes they’re paired with pornographic images, sometimes with ballet dancers.

I use pornographic imagery variously as a decoy, bait, a lure, a fake aesthetic arrest; I have to stop people in their tracks somehow. The cut-out cakes, buns and biscuits floating on the pornographic pictorial plane simultaneously coax and repel. So, the bun and the breast both vie for our attention; the visual engineering gives equal torque to both engines of desire; the prizes on offer for the winner may be sugar, semen or both. The rose, the iris, the orchids and lilies work in different ways.

Roses have been a strong, sustained part of your iconography…

I love the litany of rose names: Super Star, Peace, Tiffany, Red Radiance, Proud Land, Crimson Glory, Pink Peace, Bewitched, Fragrant Cloud, Europeana, New Dawn, Christian Dior. Somebody, somewhere must have decided that the vermillion petals of their new rose should be christened Super Star. Meanwhile the women in Playboy were only ever given one name: Tania, Carole, Suzy, Lena.

Salad, 1977
Photomontage on paper



Does [the 1970s] period have a more personal meaning for you? You also go back and use magazines from the 1950s and 60s, don’t you?

I often use imagery from the early 1970s. I also went through a phase of making photomontages using 1950s glamour magazines, adding one rose to each. They’re restorative; something blossoms there rather than stasis. As a very young child, my step-grandfather would show me glamour photography. I couldn’t read books very well then but I could read the change in the sexual charge in the air.

Those were pornographic images? This was nudes? Glamour photography?

Yes, these were pornographic images and it happened to me from a very young age – from around three years onwards. My step-grandfather engineered a very incestuous relationship with his granddaughter. I look back at similar images in my archive and try to work out who was trying to cast glamour upon whom in that upstairs bedroom in Liverpool.

Pretty Girls, 1977 / 2007 (detail)
Pigment print of original artwork



Against Interpretation, 2012
Duratrans on lightbox
Edition of 3 + 1 AP



You say you just work on a kitchen table, but you must have an archive of material?

I have a large archive of material that’s very well organised by year and subject. There are rows of storage boxes labelled variously with, ‘Lips: Glossy’, ‘Birds: British’, ‘Gay Porn: Contemporary’, ‘Ballet Books: 1940s’, ‘Cake Decorating Books: 1960s’, etc.

You’ve worked with fashion, with pornography, but also with very ‘domestic’ images. How do these function in your work?

The domestic images ventriloquise the everyday, that with which we are most familiar and which we feel most in control of. A cut-out photograph of a coffee percolator which has migrated from the world of interior design to the claustrophobic world of the glamour model – as in Pretty Girls – immediately presents a sphinx-like conundrum. The objects of desire, the shiny new kettle and the nude, parade before us, each one vying to foreground the other. Something peculiar happens when they both inhabit the foreground at the same time.

There must be a certain amount of glee in the subversion, and deconstruction, of the images.

I sometimes laugh out loud at the work that I make.


This text above is composed of edited excerpts from the complete interview which appears in the Ridinghouse book Linder, from which all of the images are also taken.

Text excerpts © Linder and Dawn Ades, courtesy Ridinghouse, London
All images by Linder, © Linder, courtesy Stuart Shave / Modern Art, London

Linder
Linder in conversation with Dawn Ades
Published by Ridinghouse 2015
Hardback, 270 pp
225 colour images
Available now



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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 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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Architecture | On Holiday with Adolph Loos

Friday, June 12th, 2015

View from the mezzanine gallery
above the double-height restaurant,
towards the Schneeberg mountain
Photographed by Pedro Silmon



The Blog team are in Austria this week.

We’re staying at the Loos Haus Hotel, originally built as a summer house by Austrian and Czecheslovak, pioneering modernist and influential architect, Adolph Loos, for the Khuner family between 1928 and 1929.

See you next Friday…


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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 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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Books | Black American Dolls

Friday, June 5th, 2015

Male doll with large hands.
Artist unknown, circa 1920
Cotton / straw / string
This figure might have been intended to
represent
the archetypal strong man




Black Dolls
From the collection of Deborah Neff
Edited by Frank Maresca
Published by Radius Books
+ the
Mingei International Museum
Clothbound + jacket,
232 pp / 140+ colour images / 30+ bw

+

Black Dolls
Mingei International Museum
San Diego | California | USA
Until 5 July 2015




Wide-eyed girl doll.
Artist unknown, late 19th century
Cotton / glass
The down-turned mouth embroidered with coarse
thread gives this doll an eerie presence



Unlike some commercially-produced dolls, that have the ability to speak, but say nothing of any significance, the dolls featured in this beautifully-designed book and exhibition, made by ordinary African Americans between 1850 and1930, and are all mute, but speak volumes.

Deborah Neff, from whose collection the 100+ unique, hand-crafted dolls are sourced, was attracted to African-American black dolls in particular because she recognised them as some of the best examples of the tradition of creating expressive dolls from found materials – scraps of cloth, leather, coconut shell, ribbon and lace, old socks, and anything else their makers were able to lay their hands on.

Boy doll with striped trousers.
Artist unknown, circa 1900 > 25
Mixed fabrics / mother of pearl / glass
This boy’s trousers, constructed from vertical
strips
of colourful fabrics, bring to mind the Biblical
story of
Jacob and his coat of many colours

Female doll with red bonnet.
Artist unknown, late 19th or early 20th century
Leather / mixed fabrics / 
human hair / mother of pearl
The pristine condition of this doll suggests
it was not used as an object of play



Black dolls are believed to have been created by African Americans for the children in their lives, including those in their own families, as well as white children in their charge. Bearing in mind that, in a single stroke, the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, issued by President Abraham Lincoln, freed around three to four million North American slaves, the earliest of these dolls are likely to have been produced by unknown individuals, who were still enslaved.

Cabinet Card (detail).
Photographer unknown, circa 1870 > 85
Burnham Studio, Norway, Maine


Topsy-turvy doll.
Artist unknown, circa 1920 > 30
Cotton
This example was, apparently, never clothed



Photo postcard (detail).
Photographer unknown, circa 1904 > 18



Curious to know more about the origins of the dolls she collected, and hoping for deeper insight into the lives of African Americans during the late 19th and early 20th century period, Neff began researching contemporaneous photographs, and discovered some surprising images that revealed that while many black dolls belonged to white children, some white dolls, also appear to have been the playmates of black girls. A selection of these photographs forms an essential ingredient of both the publication and the show.

Female doll with puzzled expression.
Artist unknown, late 19th century
Mixed fabrics / animal fur / leather



The minimal black and white, topsy-turvy doll (above), of which the black and white portions are given identical treatment, can, at the flick of a wrist, be transformed from representing a black person, or a white person. Appearing to encapsulate the ideal of a multi-racial and democratic society, perhaps this particular doll was the product of a wishful thinker. Something of an anomaly, it has never been established whether topsy-turvy dolls were typically produced by white or black Americans.

Strange, mysterious – some of them naked, damaged, or ineptly repaired – these dolls’ faces, bodies, clothing and construction, combine to communicate intense emotions. Redolent of a turbulent, dark era in American history, they should perhaps be looked upon less as toys meant for the amusement of children, but rather as poignant reminders of the racial inequalities that persist in US society to this day.



All images courtesy Radius Books,
from Black Dolls, the book, and the
Black Dolls exhibition at Mingei
International Museum
. All dolls, from
the collection of Deborah Neff,
photographed by Ellen McDermott










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 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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