Archive for November, 2015

Art | Back to Front

Friday, November 27th, 2015

Giulio Paolini
Senza titolo, 1964
Paper, masonite board
Photo Giuseppe Schiavinotto.
Archivio Luciano Pistoi



Recto Verso
Fondazione Prada
Milan | Italy
3 December 2015 > 7 February 2016



Daniel Dezeuze
Chassis avec feuille de plastique tendue, 1967
Wood, plastic
Courtesy Galerie Bernard Ceysson



Question. Take nothing at face value. Nothing is ever quite what it seems, especially in terms of art. Even Kazimir Malevich’s groundbreaking and uncompromising Black Square, 1915 – the first non-objective or abstract painting – was this year, when Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery examined it for the first time with x-rays, discovered to have two earlier paintings hidden beneath it’s surface.

While historical precedents occur in Byzantine art – two-sided icons bearing representations of the virgin and child on one side and the crucifixion on the other – and elsewhere, perhaps the multi-facetted Marcel Duchamp (1887 > 1968) was one of the earliest modern artists to play with the concept of recto/verso, in which the flip-side of a piece of art is given equal and serious consideration, along with the front. By 1915, he had already conceived of and started working on his complex, monumental work, The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even / The Large Glass, (1915 > 23), a free-standing glass construction, almost three metres tall by two wide, which was specifically intended to be viewed from both sides.

Malevich (1879 > 1935) had said, ‘It is from zero, in zero, that the true movement of being begins,’ and it was the Zero group of post-World War II, originally European, artists, who would seek to annihilate all forms of representation within art. To celebrate the possibilities inherent in ‘nothingness’, and attempting to penetrate the mysterious concept of the fourth dimension, they began examining the canvas itself and the frame around which it was stretched, with a view toward breaking through its confines. Lucio Fontana would famously slash his canvases, while other Zero artists would turn them to face the wall so as to better appreciate their construction, and to suggest that what happens on the hidden, or reverse side of a work of art is just as worthy of consideration as what happens on the more normally exposed ‘front’.

Thomas Demand
Lightbox, 2004
C-Print / Diasec
© Thomas Demand, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn / SIAE, Rome.
Courtesy Sprüth Magers



Giulio Paolini
Decima Musa, 1966
Three triangular canvases.
© Giulio Paolini
Photo Attilio Maranzano.
Private Collection, Bari



Roy Lichtenstein
Stretcher Frame with Vertical Bar, 1968
Oil and magna on canvas
© Estate of Roy Lichtenstein / SIAE 2015



Leading exponent of arte povera in the late 1960s, Italian painter and sculptor, Giulio Paolini (b 1940), who trained as a graphic designer and countered what he considered to be the ‘picturesqueness’ of France’s art informel, abstract art movement of the 1940s and 50s, by concentrating on the basic components of painting – canvas, frame, paint of a single colour – or even the abolition of paint in favour of a completely bare surface. And, in the year that pop artist Roy Lichtenstein produced his own stripped-down recto / verso paintings, the cataclysmic events of May 1968 in Paris implanted the idea in a generation of French youth that it was their task to dismantle every form of received structure, including those in contemporary art. They were to embark on a radical deconstruction of accepted mediums. The support/surfaces group of artists, that emerged in France, that included, among others, founder member Daniel Dezeuze (b 1942), rejecting the often unwieldy, modular constructions of American minimalism – the established avant garde art of the period – sought lightness and physical freedom. They considered the portability of art and the use of basic and cheap materials, such as strips of newspaper, bed-sheets, dish-cloths and scraps of canvas they used to make it, as important, which led some to re-assess the simplicity of the canvas-based painting. However, by 1970, they were insisting that painting could ‘exist only through the systematic elimination of all subjective practice,’ via the rejection of the brush, but, interestingly, not the painting. In some of the resulting works, the picture plane vanished completely, and all that remained was the support material.

Recto Verso, at Fondazione Prada presents artworks by artists from different generations and across a range of genres, all of which consciously push the hidden concealed or forgotten phenomenon of ‘the back’ firmly into the foreground.

All images courtesy Fondazione Prada


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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 that may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier



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Photography | War & Peace in B/W & Colour

Friday, November 20th, 2015

Robert Capa, West of Namdinh, Indochina (Vietnam), May 1954
International Center of Photography, New York
© Robert Capa / ICP /Magnum Photos



Capa in Color
Jeu de Paume-Château de Tours
Tours | France
21 November 2015 > 29 May 2016

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Don McCullin ‘War and Peace’
Christie’s Lecture in aid
of
the Tusk Trust
Christie’s London
London | UK
9 December 2015



Robert Capa, Party, Rome, Italy, August 1951
International Center of Photography, New York
© Robert Capa / ICP /Magnum Photos



The gritty and graphic black and white photography that Robert Capa (b Budapest 1913, d Indochina 1954) is famous for – the Spanish Civil War, World War II, the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and the First Indochina War – tell the dramatic and poignant story of armed conflict and political strife in uncompromising terms by a fearless photographer who made no bones about being right there amongst the action. To equal effect, Capa applied the same treatment to documenting European cities in the immediate aftermath of WWII. Amongst the many posthumous retrospective exhibitions of his work, however, virtually none of the colour images that he produced on another camera, which he used alongside that loaded with black and white film, have ever appeared in print.

Capa began experimenting in colour as early as 1938, using Kodachrome to document the Sino-Japanese War and was disappointed when only four of his colour pictures (the more hard-hitting of which were not available to accompany this post, but some of which can be seen here) that he regarded as lacking nothing in comparison to his monochrome images, were selected for use in Life magazine. Despite his best efforts, none of his 1941 World War II colour photographs ever reached publication. Capa in Color at the Jeu de Paume’s outpost in the Château de Tours – organised in conjunction with the International Center of Photography (ICP), New York, which showed the exhibition for the first time this summer – provides Europe with the rare opportunity to see this unseen and revealing body of work.

Robert Capa, Woman on the beach, Biarritz, France, August 1951
International Center of Photography, New York
© Robert Capa / ICP /Magnum Photos



Robert Capa — Capucine, French model and actress, on a balcony, Rome, Italy, August 1951
International Center of Photography, New York
© Robert Capa / ICP /Magnum Photos



Well-known for his pursuit of beautiful women, lover of actress Ingrid Bergman, who he met when she was entertaining American soldiers in Europe, in 1945, Capa followed her to Hollywood, where, in an attempt to reinvent himself as a photographer, he worked for American International Pictures for a short time. Suggestive of uncertainty and wandering, the glamorous colour images of his postwar career are devoid of the gravity of his war stories. Having revealed that his great wish was to become an ‘unemployed’ war photographer, but unsure of his role in the more playful and prosperous colourful world that magazines were keen to promulgate, in 1954, Capa accepted a Life magazine assignment in Southeast Asia where French forces had been fighting for eight years. Under fire in a dangerous area, he left his jeep and stepped on a landmine, later dying of his injuries.

Don McCullin (b 1935), who is to present his War and Peace fundraising lecture for the Tusk Trust, in aid of conservation, community development and environmental education programmes across Africa, at Christie’s London in December, has been quoted as saying that he doesn’t like to be termed a war photographer. ‘It’s like saying I work in an abattoir; it’s like being called a criminal,’ he said.

Only a few years after Capa perished, McCullin, having just finished national service in the RAF, took his first published photo of The Guvners, a local Finsbury Park gang posing amongst the remains of a bombed-out house, which appeared in The Observer in 1958. Three years later, having secured a contract with the newspaper, he took his first war photographs for it, covering the Cyprus war. McCullin worked for The Sunday Times Magazine between 1966 and 1984, a period in which he considers he produced his finest work. Most famous for his photos of Vietnam and Cambodia, his Sunday Times assignments took him to Biafra, the Belgian Congo, Northern Ireland, Bangladesh, the Lebanese Civil War, El Salvador, and the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. In a recent interview published on the Christie’s website he explained, ‘I found wars exciting when I first went to photograph them. I thought this is fun, the bullets are flying – it’s a bit Hollywood. Then I started going to wars where the civilian population was suffering the most, and that brought about a change in me.’

Don McCullin, The Guvnors in their Sunday Suits, Finsbury Park, London, 1958
© Don McCullin, courtesy Hamiltons Gallery



Don McCullin, Palestinian Woman returning to ruins of her house, Beirut
© Don McCullin, courtesy Hamiltons Gallery



McCullin took huge risks in order to take his photographs. Threatened with a knife at a Muslim checkpoint in Beirut, blinded by CS gas during a riot in Derry, he was wounded by mortar shell fragments in Cambodia. He was most frightened when, having been arrested by Idi Amin’s thugs in Uganda he was taken to a notorious prison where they were murdering hundreds of people every day with sledgehammers. He survived; but admits to being damaged. His relentless bravery undimmed, his urge to go wherever the action is unassuaged – aged 77, he covered the war in Aleppo, Syria, for The Times – sharing a home with his third wife, he now has a firm base in Somerset, where his friend, David Bailey, is a neighbour.

Although his own work is sought after and sells for thousands of pounds via his gallerist, Hamiltons, McCullin deplores the pretentiousness of photographers who call themselves artists. Having dabbled in colour, he remains a master of black and white photography. Now 80 years old, he turned his attention to landscape in the late 1980s. ‘After all, a landscape cannot cry or bleed,’ he has said. In 2010 he went in search of the Roman ruins spread across the Middle East and North Africa, photographing them for his book, Southern Frontiers: A Journey Across The Roman Empire. His newer images include British landscapes, notably of Somerset. Hauser & Wirth Somerset, in Bruton, is currently hosting the exhibition Don McCullin: Conflict – People – Landscape.

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The Blog is about art, architecture, books, design and gardens, and anything else that currently interests us that 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 that may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier



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Design | Punchy Image / Sensitive Touch

Friday, November 13th, 2015

Karl Gerstner, Auch Du bist liberal /
You’re liberal too
, 1956.
Political poster
© Karl Gerstner / Muriel Gerstner
(represented by Maria Jurkovic)



Handzeichen / Hand Signs
Museum für Gestaltung – Schaudepot
Zürich | Switzerland
27 November 2015 > 28 February 2016

+

Bitte berühren! / Please touch!
Museum für Gestaltung – Schaudepot
Zürich | Switzerland
27 November 2015 > 20 March 2016

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Poster Collection 27:
Die Hand / The Hand
Edited by the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich
Lars Müller Publishers, (2015)
98 pp, 120 illustrations,
paperback



Armin Hofmann,
Stadttheater Basel 63/64, 1963.
Concert poster
Photo Max Mathys
© Armin Hofmann



Kōichi Saitō
Ongakuza / Soap Bubbles Floated,
They Floated into Outer Space, 1989.
Film poster



As powerful, expressive, beautiful, and versatile as they have the potential to be, left to their own devices hands can get a bit restless, drift around, feel a little lost. But give them a purpose – gripping, punching, pointing, caressing, adding weight to an argument – and they instantly come into their own. Three, more or less, simultaneous design events – two exhibitions, the publication of a new book – all related – invite us to take a closer look at hands.

In Michaelangelo’s ubiquitous painting The Creation of Adam (c 1512), God thrusts out his hand, boldly pushing forward a single finger to touch lonely and anxious-looking Adam’s rather limp one. The entire message behind the picture is in the interplay of those two hands – something any good poster designer instinctively understands. Even these Michaelangelo hands, however, would remain impotent as a poster image until set to work with type, plus perhaps a few additional visual props, to communicate whatever the commission demands. Handzeichen / Hand Signs, the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich’s forthcoming exhibition brings together both diverse and similar examples – political, commercial, arts-related, and social – of international poster design, all incorporating the hand, each utilising the hand’s symbolic strength for maximum impact, to present a brief cultural history of how it has been used as a design element to express a wide variety of meaningful messages. Lars Müller PublishersPoster Collection 27: Die Hand /The Hand, the latest in this well-designed, high quality and apparently limitless series, is published to coincide with this exhibition and features examples from the Museum’s vast archive.

Climbing grips
Photo F X Jaggy + U Romito



Konstantin Datz, Braille Cube,
Rubik’s Cube for the Blind, 2010
© Konstantin Datz



Watchmaker’s tools, 1990s
Photo F X Jaggy + U Romito



Designed by nature to assist early man in building a life for himself, used to scrape, smash, gather and kill, sometimes to draw and paint and carve, over a relatively long period human hands became adept at making tools to work with, at building and farming, and later skilled in the art of writing. Up until quite recently, it must be said, in the developed world, hands led an interesting sort of existence. But then along came 21st century technology…

Albeit playing the role of the hand tool that thousands of man-made objects throughout history have before it, the new Apple wireless keyboard – now reduced to about about two-thirds of the length of the older versions – still has actual keys that you can push down to type letters that instantly appear in your on-screen electronic document, but only very a light touch is required from the user. The myriad of touch-screen devices, including smartphones, hole-in-the-wall cash machines, interactive maps, gallery guides that have become an integral part of our daily lives exemplify same reductive story. Here, the ‘key’ your finger reaches for may resemble the 3D analogue version you’re familiar with, but it’s completely flat, devoid of form and texture, reduced to an electronically-generated image behind a shiny glass screen. The featherlight touch of a fingertip tapped gently upon it is enough to transport you anywhere you want to go on your digital journey. And, afterwards, if your phone isn’t already taking up all the space, you can slip your redundant hands back into your pockets. With a variety of real objects from the area of contemporary product design, to really touch, really feel, and to really do things with, Museum für Gestaltung’s Bitte berühren! / Please touch! exhibition, offers a helping hand to hands that are suffering from their ever-diminishing role in our rapidly-changing, technology-dominated society.

All images courtesy Museum für Gestaltung Zürich and Lars Müller Publishers.
All image content from the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich collections


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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 that may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier



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Fashion | Iris van Herpen: High-Tech Hero

Friday, November 6th, 2015

Voltage, dress, January 2013
In collaboration with Philip Beesley
Laser cut 3D polyester film lace, micro fibre.
Collection of the designer



Iris van Herpen:
Transforming Fashion
High Museum of Art Atlanta
Atlanta Georgia | USA
7 November 2015 > 15 May 2016



Biopiracy, dress, March 2014
In collaboration with Julia Koerner and Materialise
3D-printed TPU 92A-1, silicon coating

Collection of Phoenix Museum of Art.
Gift of Arizona Costume Institute



It was announced this week that the focus of the Costume Institute Benefit at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in May 2016, will be on technology’s impact on fashion. The event will be co-chaired by Jonathan Ive, Taylor Swift, Anna Wintour and Idris Elba – a somewhat mixed bag of nevertheless prominent names – while the eminent Karl Lagerfeld, Miuccia Prada and Nicolas Ghesquière will sit as honorary chairs. Oddly, Swift is the only American included and Ive the only one with any in-depth technology-related knowledge. Sounding, perhaps appropriately, like the latest blockbuster video game, Manus x Machina will be the title of the accompanying exhibition, with the subtitle Fashion in an Age of Technology. The image – a dress with a silicon feather structure and mouldings of bird heads on a cotton base – used on the Met website with the announcements for both events is from the autumn/winter 2013 > 14 collection of visionary Dutch designer Iris van Herpen (b 1984).

Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion, opening tomorrow at the High Museum of Art Atlanta – a comprehensive survey of her career to date, with 45 outfits from 15 collections, designed between 2008 and 2015, includes some of the world’s first examples of 3-D printed fashion.

Hybrid Holism, dress, July 2012
Metallic coated stripes, tulle, cotton.
Collection of the designer



Magnetic Motion, dress, September 2014
3D printed transparent photopolymer,
SLA (sterolithography) resin.
High Museum of Art, purchased with funds
from the Decorative Arts Acquisition Trust
and through prior acquisitions



Lady Gaga and Beyoncé have worn van Herpen’s futuristic dresses, as has British actress Tilda Swinton. Björk is a big fan, too – donning the designer’s creations for live concerts and for the covers of both her Biophilia album, and the single, Crystalline. In 2014, eminent champagne-maker Dom Pérignon approached van Herpen to be the most recent collaborator in its Power of Creation series, which has seen creative talents such as Marc Newson, Jeff Koons and David Lynch produce innovative special edition packaging for the brand. Earlier this year, van Herpen, who trained as a classical ballerina for fifteen years before working for Alexander McQueen – whose Spring / Summer 2010 show, incidentally, was all digitally-printed – created bespoke garments for visionary dance performance in Spatial Reverse, Warren du Preez and Nick Thornton Jones’ ethereal short film in which the definition of contemporary clothing is pushed to the limit.

Andrew Bolton, Curator of The Costume Institute, is quoted on Vogue.com as saying, ‘Traditionally, the distinction between the haute couture and prêt-à-porter was based on the handmade and the machine-made, but recently this distinction has become increasingly blurred, as both disciplines have embraced the practices and techniques of the other.’ Van Herpen is responsible for some of that blur. Having garnered international acclaim for her couture designs, which interweave traditional handwork with groundbreaking technology, computer modelling and engraving, constructed in collaboration with architects, engineers and digital design specialists, she has cleverly adapted and applied the same ideas for use in her phenomenally-individual and successful prêt-à-porter clothing. A selection of her acclaimed shoes designs (including 3D-printed examples), created in collaboration with United Nude – co-founded by architect Rem Koolhaas – will feature in the High’s show.

Capriole, ensemble, July 2011
In collaboration with Isaie Bloch
and Materialise.
3D printed polyamide.
Groninger Museum, 2012



With a long list of awards including, most recently, the 2015 Marie-Claire Prix de la mode, for best Dutch conceptual designer and the 2014 ANDAM Awards Grand Prix, Iris van Herpen is widely heralded as a pioneering new voice in fashion, known and respected for her willingness to experiment – exploring new fabrics created by blending steel with silk or iron filings with resin. While she may not (yet) have such a big name as those chairing the Costume Institute Benefit, perhaps an additional chair should be pulled up to the table for one whose forthcoming show at the High must be considered as far more than a taster for next year’s Manus x Machina, in which, no doubt, her work will feature prominently.

The designer’s first solo show in the USA, Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion, makes it’s debut at the High Museum of Art Atlanta before touring North America.

All images courtesy The High Museum of Art Atlanta.
All photos Bart Oomes, No 6 Studios, except 5, by Ingrid Baars, © Iris van Herpen


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The Blog is about art, architecture, books, design and gardens, and anything else that currently interests us that 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 that may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier



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