Archive for February, 2016

Art | Self-Portraiture Without the Self

Friday, February 26th, 2016

Mark Leckey, Leckey Legs, 2014
3D Photopolymer print
Courtesy Galerie Buchholz,
Köln/Berlin/New York
Photo Sven Laurentt



Me / Ich
Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
Frankfurt | Germany
10 March > 19 May 2016



Erwin Wurm, Selbstporträt
als Essiggurkerl
, 2010

Acrylic, acrylic lacquer,
lacquered wooden pedestals,
36-piece installation
Photo Museum der Moderne Salzburg
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016



Eberhard Havekost, Hotel, 2003 (2)
Inkjet on paper, framed Edition of 5
Courtesy Galerie Gebr Lehmann
Photo Werner Lieberknecht



In September 2014, The Guardian published their Top 10 Self-portraits in Art. Of the one hundred or so self-portraits Rembrandt van Rijn produced during his lifetime, including around fifty paintings, thirty-two etchings and seven drawings, just two were selected. The list, which was biased towards British artists included Lucian Freud’s Reflection With Two Children (Self-Portrait) (1965) and Self-Portrait With Charlie (1995) by David Hockney. Women artists were represented by, among others, Artemisia Gentileschi’s Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting (1638-39), and Tracey Emin’s I’ve Got It All (2000). In the writer’s opinion, Hockney ‘paints the ideal of honest observation’ and Picasso’s self-portraits are more to do with self-examination than an invitation to you to examine him too closely. Interestingly, and unusual for her, Untitled Film Still #48 (1979) by Cindy Sherman is the only one of the ten which doesn’t show the artist’s face.

Jürgen Klauke, Toter Fotograf, 1988/93
2-part photograph on baryta paper,
Courtesy Galerie Elisabeth & Klaus Thoman,
Innsbruck/Wien & the artist
Photo Jürgen Klauke
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016



Jun Ahn, Self-Portrait (Seoul), 2008/2014
Archival pigment print
© Jun Ahn, Courtesy Christophe Guye Galerie



A forthcoming exhibition in Germany will explore the contemporary art concept of ’self-portraiture without the self’ – or at least, for the most part, without the face. Among those artists included using photography as their medium, who have determined that body parts alone will suffice, Wolfgang Tillmans chooses to show only his knee, while Eberhard Havekost’s contribution is a detail of a hotel room interior with the toes of the artist’s right foot poking up into it; Friederike Pezold’s, Brustwerk, 1973, is a six-part polyptych in which her hands manipulate her naked breasts. In typically entertaining fashion, discarding his flesh and blood entirely and replacing it with a pickled vegetable, for his installation Selbstporträt als Essiggurkerl, 2010, sculptor Erwin Wurm portrays himself as a series of 36 gherkins of various sizes, each placed vertically on a sort of cityscape of white plinths. Showing no actual paintings, Ryan Gander displays the palettes he allegedly used during the production of his self-portrait/s.

Thorsten Brinkmann, Brinkmann, 2006
Carton, Sneaker, plastic legs and jeans of the artist,
Courtesy Teutloff Museum eV
Photo Thorsten Brinkmann
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016



In the face of the selfie’s universal democratisation of the self-portrait, are contemporary artists beating a retreat into the comparative safety of an arcane anonymity? Who’s to say? Featuring 40 works by international artists such as Joseph Beuys, Sarah Lucas, Nam June Paik, Rosemarie Trockel, and Gillian Wearing, Me/Ich, the forthcoming exhibition at Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, will probably throw up more questions than it does answers.

All images courtesy Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt


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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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Culture | From Bauhaus to Black Mountain

Friday, February 19th, 2016

Hazel Larsen Archer, Merce Cunningham dancing,
contact sheet, c1952-53
Estate of Hazel Larsen Archer and Black
Mountain College Museum and Arts Center



Leap Before You Look:
Black Mountain College 1933-1957

The Hammer Museum
Los Angeles | California | USA
21 February > 15 May 2016



Josef Albers, Tenayuca, 1943
Oil on fibreboard
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
© The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/
Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York



Adolph Hitler did modernism a great service. Paradoxically, in trying to stamp out the movement’s philosophies, in particular by systematically harassing the Bauhaus, whose staff eventually decided to close the school rather than compromise with the Third Reich, he guaranteed the international dissemination of modernist teaching.

Some of the key Bauhaus figures passed through London, leaving a legacy of teaching ideas that would be a major influence on institutions such as the Royal College of Art in the postwar period. But sooner or later, the majority of them emigrated to the USA.

When former director Ludwig Mies van der Rohe arrived in Chicago in 1938, where he was appointed head of the architecture school at the Armour Institute of Technology (later, Illinois Institute of Technology/IIT), László Moholy-Nagy had already established the New Bauhaus there the previous year. Walter Gropius, would become a senior professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, while Marcel Breuer taught at Yale. In 1933, the year the Bauhaus had ceased operations, Josef Albers, speaking no English, had also begun teaching at Yale. However, via a recommendation from the Museum of Modern Art, he was soon hired as the first head of Black Mountain College, a new art school in the relative obscurity of Ashville, North Carolina.

Far less well-known internationally than the New Bauhaus – only scant references are made to it via any currently available UK sources – 10 years ago London’s Arnolfini gallery held an exhibition of a limited selection of the school’s works – the Tate website honours it with just 200 words  – by the 1940s, Black Mountain College became the ideal of experimental arts education in America.

Anni Albers and Alexander Reed, Neck Piece, 1940
Aluminium strainer, paper clips, and chain
The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation
© The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/
Artists Rights Society New York.
Photo Tim Nighswander/Imaging 4 Art



Buckminster Fuller, Black Mountain College,
1948/1990, Nancy Newhall

Gelatin silver print
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
©1948, Nancy Newhall, ©2014 The Estate
of Beaumont and Nancy Newhall.
Permission to reproduce courtesy of
Scheinbaum and Russek Ltd, Santa Fe, NM



John Cage, Hazel Larsen Archer
Gelatin silver print
Estate of Hazel Larsen Archer and Black
Mountain College Museum and Arts Center



Conceived by the – by all accounts – brilliant scholar John A Rice, BMC was a completely new type of college based on US philosopher John Dewey’s principles of progressive education. Dewey – reputedly the most significant educational thinker of his era in America – believed that human beings learn through a ‘hands on’ approach and that teachers and students must learn together. Bauhaus students and staff had lived and eaten side by side and embraced a modern lifestyle that included the whole person – body, mind and soul. In the 1919 Bauhaus manifesto Walter Gropius had announced that theatre, lectures, poetry, music, and costume parties, were all part of the programme. The parties promoted contact between the college and the public, an idea that Dewey also endorsed.

Josef Albers, despite his language difficulties, would quickly develop a system that successfully combined both Dewey’s and Bauhaus educational principles, and assemble a board of directors that included Albert Einstein. With great aplomb he put together a formidable and diverse faculty made up of, among others, his talented textile-designer wife Anni Albers, Walter Gropius, Jacob Lawrence, Willem de Kooning, R Buckminster Fuller, Ruth Asawa, and Cy Twombly. Famous alumni would include Robert Rauschenberg, who would describe Albers as having influenced him to do ‘exactly the reverse’ of what he had previously been taught, and John Cage, who staged his first ‘happening’ at the school.

Ruth Asawa, Untitled (S 272), c1955
Copper and iron wire
Private Collection. © Estate of Ruth Asawa.
Photo Laurence Cuneo



Albers left in 1949. As a result of a shift in trends that saw students and faculty drawn towards the cities of San Francisco and New York, in 1953, BMC, having endured 10 years longer than the Bauhaus, closed. A powerhouse, modern educational establishment, the college’s revolutionary and influential methods and ideas would fundamentally change the way in which the visual arts were taught across America, and leave behind a lasting legacy.

Presenting a broad selection of paintings, sculpture, textiles and photography, and including over 250 objects by nearly 100 artists, Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957 at The Hammer Museum is the first comprehensive museum exhibition about the school.

All images courtesy The Hammer Museum


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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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Exhibitions | The State of the Art of the Skatepark

Friday, February 12th, 2016

Magny-les-Hameaux, Île-de-France
Photo Stéphane Ruchaud, 2016


Rue Léon Cladel, Paris
Agence Constructo & Raphaël Zarka, 2012
Photo Stéphane Ruchaud, 2016


Toulouse, Midi-Pyrénées
Photo Maxime Delvaux, 2016


Courbevoie, Paris
Photo Stéphane Ruchaud, 2016


Baumes-les-Dames, Franche-Comté
Photo Cyrilles Weiner, 2016


Bois-le-Roi, Île-de-France
Photo Stéphane Ruchaud, 2016



Landskating
Architecture Exhibition
Villa Noailles
Hyères | France
21 February > 20 March 2016



Oddly contoured, possessed of an eerie, otherworldly atmosphere, had they been around in the early 20th century, Edward Hopper might have been inspired to paint empty skateparks. Perhaps it was an oversight on his part  – maybe the subject wasn’t sophisticated enough to appeal to his taste – that JG Ballard never constructed a dystopian epic with skateboarding culture as its hub.

Rooted in Los Angeles in the 1950s when surfers, looking for something to surf when the ocean waves were too flat, hit on the idea of taking to the streets on strips of plywood with roller skate wheels attached, skateboarding, having developed into a global youth leisure pursuit –  its sister sport, snowboarding was first included in the winter Olympics in Japan, in 1998 – has been recommended for inclusion at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Early skateboarders called their invention ’sidewalk surfing’, but with lumber purloined from construction sites they also constructed skateboarding ramps in their backyards/gardens. These, together with the curving surfaces of drained swimming pools were the forerunners of today’s skateparks. Skateboarding, therefore, was about the emancipation and creative re-use of existing space, so perhaps the very idea of trying to construct a state-of-the-art skateboard park is a contradiction in terms and British architect Guy Hollaway’s (2015) plans for the world’s first multi-storey arena in Folkstone, based on the premise put forward by the developer that ‘it might stop people leaving because there’s nothing to do there’, probably run contrary to the renegade/make-do/spontaneous ethos of skateboarding aficionados.

One section of the forthcoming exhibition Landskating at Villa Noailles focuses on a photographic commission – from which the images above are extracted – of thirty or so skateparks in France, and another explores the architecture of nine international skateparks. However, the object of the show is to examine the effect of the global proliferation of skateparks on youth culture, urban regeneration and town planning.

All photographs courtesy the Villa Noailles © the photographers


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Exhibition | Jasper Morrison: The Designs of Others

Friday, February 5th, 2016

Portrait, 2014 © Kento Mori



Jasper MorrisonThingness
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich
Zürich | Switzerland
12 February > 5 June 2016



It’s great that the Museum für Gestaltung is presenting a major retrospective of internationally-acclaimed British designer Jasper Morrison’s work. On the other hand, it’s interesting to be given an insight into what prominent designers like Morrison think of other people’s work. So, in addition, and as part of their My Collection display series, the Museum have asked him to select items from across their permanent collections – not one to do things by half, Morrison picked out eighty-six pieces – and to explain what in particular fascinates him about each. Here are just a few of his choices and comments.

Berthold Akzidenz-Grotesk, 1966 > 1980.
Master font sample sheet.
Designed by Josef Müller-Brockman,
Müller-Brockmann + Co, Zürich, Switzerland
for H Berthold AG, Berlin, Germany

Donated by Shizuko Yoshikawa
Josef Müller-Brockmann Archive /
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich /
Graphic Design Collection



‘I have always felt there to be a mysterious connection between chair design and typography, perhaps typography is the two-dimensional equivalent exercise. Subtle adjustments of shape and width result in extreme differences of expression in a typeface. The quest for a modern looking, ‘normal’ typeface has been long running and brought forth various tangible results, but no font was as successful as the old Berthold Akzidenz-Grotesk. Even major players like Josef Müller-Brockmann used it in his advertisements.’

Steiger-Fauteuil Armchair, early 1930s.
Sprung-chair, designed by Carl Steiger
Bent wood with webbing
Donated by Ruggero Tropeano
Property of Zürcher Hochschule der Künste /
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich /
Design Collection



‘If I could pick one thing from the collection and keep it, it would be this chair. I’ve never heard of Carl Steiger and all I can find out about him is that he seems to have been a talented aviation designer, and that his son was a modern architect. The chair itself seems to be a prototype and some of the connections are hinged, suggesting a certain amount of movement in the structure allowed by the cantilever. The sectional flatness of the structural elements, the sled like shape of the arms, the extended floor rail and the way the back leg lands on it at a reclined angle all add up to suggest great comfort, while the woven webbing is economic, lightweight and decorative and would also have added comfort. It’s one of the Museum’s treasures, a lesser known masterpiece.’

It has long been proven – Traditional
products of modern design, 1970.
Poster designed by Emil Ruder for
Museum für Gestaltung Basel, Switzerland
Property of Zürcher Hochschule der Künste /
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich / Poster Collection



‘Could it be that the shape of a spoon communicates such an elemental sense of objectness because it’s the first tool we learn to use in life? Presented here as a silhouette in white on a black background it’s particularly powerful and effective in representing an exhibition of time-tested forms.’

Wooden trolley, c 1954.
Designed and produced by Benedikt Rohner
For Benedikt Rohner
Property of Zürcher Hochschule



‘The lines of this trolley are uncompromisingly modern for its date of birth. This would have been relatively ahead of its time and quite out of tune with most interiors of its day, except in Switzerland perhaps where there seems to be a natural and traditional appreciation for rational form.’

U-Turn LED spotlight range, 2012.
Designed by Michel Charlot

Produced by Belux



‘The U-Turn family of lights represents something new both formally and technically and that’s quite an achievement these days with the frequency of new products launched on the market. The lamp ‘head’ fixes to the stem magnetically and can be detached and then reattached as it was or flipped over to send the light the opposite way. It can also be very easily adjusted to direct the light with nothing more than the push of a finger. The circular crater pattern on the back of the lamp head serve to increase the surface area and improve cooling of the LED light source, while the middle one serves as the magnet fixing point. The formal elements are well balanced and the result is an accomplished design with added function and lots of character.’

Jasper Morrison’s My Collection is included alongside the exhibition Jasper Morrison – Thingness at the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich Schaudepot.

All images courtesy and © 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 that may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier



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