Archive for October, 2016

Design | Swiss Paris

Friday, October 28th, 2016

Adrian Frutiger
Type study OCR B,
c 1963



Les Suisses de Paris
Grafik und Typografie
Museum für Gestaltung
Zürich | Switzerland
4 November 2016 > 19 March 2017



André Baldinger,
Eiffel-Level 2
Font family, 2005 > 2009

© André Baldinger



Jean Widmer /
Visuel Design
Centre Georges
Pompidou
logo
proof, 1977



In contrast to Switzerland, where an older generation of designers and typographers dominated the limited market, Paris offered a warm welcome to the influx of young Swiss designers who went there to find work in the 1950s. Resting on its diminishing reputation as a centre for the artistic avant garde, in terms of current trends, the city’s home-grown designers lagged a long way behind their Swiss neighbours, many of whom had adopted the elementary principles of Swiss or international style, but whose work also soon reflected the emerging visual art styles of Op art and Pop, who drew influences from iconoclastic French new wave / Nouvelle vague cinema ideas, as well as from America.

Jean Widmer
Galeries Lafayette,
unpublished
advertising, 1959



Friedrich Schrag
(art director),
Irving Penn
(photographer).

Adam magazine
cover, 1961



During 1950, 60s and 70s many Swiss designers would become established in Paris and come to occupy key positions within the French design industry. Among them, and one of the first to arrive, Jean Widmer came to study then got a job in an advertising agency. Becoming art director at the department store Galeries Lafayette in 1959 he introduced the innovative idea, picked up on a trip to New York, of entertaining the store’s shoppers rather than just selling to them. Moving to the fashion magazine Jardin des Modes, where he began to playfully mix photographic images and typography Widmer became involved in a competition with fellow-Swiss Peter Knapp (Knapp, incidentally, among other things, re-drew the Galleries Lafayette logo, and, revolutionised French television), who was at Elle in Paris, as well as with Henry Wolf at Harper’s Bazaar in New York. ‘It was very stimulating, he told Eye magazine in 1999, ‘you knew all the others were doing interesting things so you really had to prove yourself.’ By the late 60s, Widmer had adopted a simpler, more rational approach, which led to him producing tourism pictograms in the 1970s, and French motorways signs in 1978. In 1977, his company Visuel Design were responsible for the Centre Georges Pompidou logo.


Fred Rawyler,
Fashion show
invitation
for Indreco,
Summer 1967



Of the more recent Swiss designers to take up residence in Paris, André Baldinger, now a renowned designer, typographer and art educator, went there in 1995. His many accolades include the AB Eiffel font for the Eiffel Tower signage project. For forty years Bruno Suter divided his time between Lucerne and Paris, working for luxury brand clients such Hermès, Lanvin, Galéries Lafayette, as well as for Benetton. Fred Rawyler is probably best-known for his Hermés headscarf designs, while Adam men’s magazine art director, Friedrich Schrag commissioned prominent international photographers such as Irving Penn to produce covers.

Adrian Frutiger’s career had taken off in Paris when he moved there the same year as Jean Widmer and became artistic director of the type foundry Deberny & Peignot. In 1961 with 10 years successful work behind him, during which he developed his font family Univers – an immediate, global success – he left and opened a graphics studio with two partners outside Paris, that produced typefaces and created logos and corporate identities. In France, Frutiger designed lettering systems for Paris’s Orly airport and for the Paris Metro as well as a new information system for the Charles de Gaulle air terminal, while he was also commissioned to create fonts and signage for the Swiss highways. From 1963 to 1981, Frutiger was responsible for the design and adaptation of typewriter and composer fonts at the IBM World Fair and his computer type OCR B became a worldwide standard in 1973.

Les Suisses de Paris, Grafik und Typografie, at the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich presents the work of 20 Swiss protagonists from the period.

All images courtesy Museum für Gestaltung Zürich
All images from the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich Plakatsammlung, except André Baldinger, Eiffel-Level 2


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Photography | Mert & Marcus: Generation Sex

Friday, October 21st, 2016

Mert & Marcus
Tied Up, 2001



Mert & Marcus
Works 2001 > 2014
Phillips
London | UK
24 October > 3 November 2016

>

Phillips
Paris | France
9 > 16 November 2016



Mert & Marcus
Time for a Swim, 2005



For all the fetishism and indeed, nudity, of their imagery, sexiness, as such, is often in short supply in the work of fashion photographers Mert & Marcus, a selection of which will go on show from next week in a series of selling exhibitions at Phillips in London and Paris. But has ’sexy’ fashion photography gone out of fashion and, if so, how has the situation come about?

It was no co-incidence that M&M were commissioned by Vogue Paris to create the magazine’s September 2013 Grunge Fever cover. When grunge had emerged in Seattle’s music scene in the mid-80s, it brought with it a certain attitude personified by the band Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain – in photos he invariably appeared tortured and listless – who struggled with an addiction to heroin before committing suicide, aged 27, in 1994. That year, Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, both born in 1971 – Alas in Turkey and Piggott in Wales – met in England. Piggott was assisting fashion designer Alexander McQueen and taught Alas how to use a camera. Deciding to work together, three years later they took their first photographs to style magazine Dazed & Confused, who used one on the cover.

In 1990, photographer Corrine Day’s first collaboration with Kate Moss for The Face had captured grunge’s so-called ‘truth over perfection’, zeitgeist. Day and Moss’s deadpan British Vogue debut in 1993 would prove enormously influential, sending shock waves throughout the fashion industry and setting fashion photography on a course from which it has since struggled to break free. Overnight, the accessible sexiness that had first appeared in David Bailey’s pictures of Jean Shrimpton in the 1960s vanished. It was as if the life behind the eyes of the waif-like models the agencies began recruiting had been switched off. Encouraged by fashion editors, as the models stared into the void, their angular limbs falling into ungainly shapes, the younger photographers’ lenses drooling unaccountably, eroticism in fashion photography simply drained away.

Like fashion itself, sexual allure is a generational thing, but the phenomenon couldn’t be put down entirely to that – what was construed as alluring in the 1920s was still relevant in the sexually excessive 60s and 70s and the hedonistic 80s. Grunge, however, while dumping flirtation entirely, replaced the closeness of the model, who wore either a wary expression or one of of sheer boredom that communicated nothing, with distance.

Looking back, it’s not difficult to conclude that Beaton’s theatrically-posed fashion photography had lacked intimacy; Parkinson’s were too polite, and that Penn was more interested in lighting their elegant shapes than he ever was in expressing the sexuality of his models. Taking a cue from Germany’s Twen and French Elle, in the 60s and 70s, British magazine Nova made sex a mainstay: its photographers, such as Harry Peccinotti, Hans Feurer and Duffy inviting everyone to the seductive orgy that extended across its fashion and feature pages. Peccinotti’s 1971 landmark How to Undress in Front of Your Husband cover was a sensation, and the same year the magazine published a cover featuring a fetishist image of a masked blonde model in a black corset and fishnet stockings holding a coiled whip. Guy Bourdin’s photography for Nova and elsewhere was dark, sexy and challenging. Darling of the foot fetishists, interestingly, a search for his shoe images on Google, yields, among others, M&M’s Parallel Lines (included in the Phillips exhibition), miscredited to Bourdin on Pinterest. But Helmut Newton is generally given credit as the photographer who introduced fetishism, S&M and bondage into commercial photography. M&M’s inspiration is clear, but the lust and pent-up energy in Helmut Newton’s Big Nude (1978) is totally missing from their coolly stark, Lara, 2010. In his earlier work, technique and personality were foremost for Avedon, but his 1992 fetishistic photographs of model Stephanie Seymour, probably exerted an influence on M& M’s direct approach and cropping. The pair undoubtedly looked at Herb Ritts work, too, when creating Peeling Apple, 2010.

The chill wind of minimalism blew through fashion photography in the late 90s, crystallising it into frigid images of stiff, skeletal models – sexless beings that relentlessly haunted the pages of style magazines from Paris to Milan and London to New York. It was as if passion had suddenly died. The legacy of grunge wasn’t entirely to blame; in Comme des Garçons’s Spring / Summer 1997 show, Body Meets Dress, Dress Meets Body, Japanese designer, Rei Kawakubo, by freely adding to and adapting the female body’s lumps and bumps, was attempting to re-cast womenswear as gender-neutral.

Mert & Marcus
Peeling Apple, 2010



Mert & Marcus
Lara, 2010



A polished slickness began to materialise around about this time in the work of the emerging fashion photographers, amongst them Mert & Marcus, that would lead to enduring careers at the pinnacle of their profession. The emotion and inclusivity that are essential elements of sexy fashion images, however, remained absent. Mario Sorrenti and Miles Aldridge’s work still bears that same sense of detachment – the eroticism rarely ringing true.

Of the most successful photographers who have consistently produced glamorous and erotic fashion or fashion-based portrait images in recent years, M&M’s stablemate at the Art Partner agency, Mario Testino, stands out. Bucking the trend towards making sex a dirty word in fashion, it was Testino who helped Tom Ford present 1990s Gucci fashion as the antithesis of Kawakubo and Miuccia Prada’s deliberately unattractive, unsexy aesthetic. And Testino has stuck by his guns. In his cover shot of Claudia Schiffer, for German Vogue’s Sex issue in 2008, a fetishist game is suggested by the patent, black mask, while eye contact and body language act as an invitations to play. When he shot a nude Kate Moss for Vogue Brazil’s May 2011 cover, though she coyly turns her body away from the camera, Testino ensured that she only had eyes for you. In the 1990s – he relentlessly continues to employ the same technique – working with the healthy bodied supermodels, mixing them with the most presentable of the new, and by using sophisticated hair and make-up, Steven Meisel, was able to acknowledge grunge, but to retain a high level of sexiness in his fashion photography for Italian, French and American Vogue. Elsewhere, from the 1980s onwards, photographers such as Ellen von Unwerth and Wayne Maser, flew and continue to fly the flag of sexiness, notably through their work for the Guess jeans campaigns.

With German photographer Juergen Teller, who arrived in the wake of grunge, it was always clear that he could do sexy if he wanted to, a fact that shines through in his more recent work, and especially when Giselle is the model. When he isn’t being too crass, Terry Richardson, too, consistently creates sexy and current fashion output.

There is one other twist in the story of fashion photography, which leads back to Marcus Piggott’s old boss, Alexander McQueen, and more specifically to his muse, Isabella Blow – both, sadly, like Kurt Cobain, took their own lives – whose gothic preoccupation with death and sex, though talented in many ways, cast a funereal pall over almost every shoot she was ever involved in.

No lust for life, no joy of sex.

For the exhibition Mert & Marcus: Works 2001-2014 at Phillips’ London headquarters which travels on to Phillips’ Gallery, Paris, the photographers have selected 18 works to be made available for sale for the first time, with subjects including Cara Delevingne, Kate Moss, Karen Elson, Lara Stone and Natalia Vodianova. In addition, four unique-sized one-off works will be offered in the Photographs auction at Phillips London on 3 November 2016.

All photographs by Mert & Marcus, © Mert & Marcus,
courtesy Art Partner and Phillips

Design consultant, photographer and writer, Pedro Silmon is a former art director of The Sunday Times Magazine and of German Elle, and creative director of Condé Nast UK’s Tatler 2001 > 2008. His book, The Bikini, was published by Virgin Books in 1986


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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 | Guinness World Record Prints

Friday, October 14th, 2016

Bernard Cheese (1927 > 1913)
A Fisherman’s Story, 1956
Colour lithograph
© Chloe, Joanna and
Sarah Cheese



Prints for the Pub:
The Guinness Lithographs
Pallant House Gallery
Chichester | UK
19 October 2016 > 15 January 2017



Alistair Grant (1925 > 1997)
Pigeon Racing, 1962
Colour lithograph
© The Estate of the Artist



With sales of more than 100 million copies in 100 different countries and 37 languages, Guinness World Records is the world’s best selling copyrighted book ever. Those responsible for the original Guinness Book of Records, launched in 1955, conceived it as a marketing tool for Guinness Breweries that might be useful for settling arguments in pubs.

Intended to be hung in pubs, bars and canteens, a set of lithographs, depicting records that reflected working class pursuits such as darts, pigeon racing, horse racing, fishing and football was commissioned to illustrate the 1956 annual. The images captured the sense of optimism and democratisation of art in the post-war period and formed part of a broadly-expressed effort to brighten public spaces that led to many commercial organisations including, among others, London Transport and Shell Mex, commissioning artists to create public works and bring art to the masses.

Rosamund Steed (1937 >)
aka Moss Fuller,
Sailing at Cork, 1962
Colour lithograph
© The Artist



Barnett Freedman (1901 > 1958)
The Darts Champion, 1956
Colour lithograph
© Permission of
Vincent Freedman



Ronald Glendening (1926 > 2014)
Cycle Racing, 1956
Colour lithograph
© Estate of the Artist


Among the best known print sets is the Lyons Lithographs (1947 > 55), originally conceived just after the war to provide redecoration for the Lyons Teashops at a time when refurbishment was impossible due to the unavailability of materials. The Festival of Britain Series of prints had appeared in 1951. It was followed two years later, by the Coronation Series, a group of 40 prints by 36 artists commissioned to record the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II produced at the Royal College of Art, where the six artists chosen to make the first Guinness lithographs: Edward Ardizzone, Edwin La Dell, Bernard Cheese, Brian Robb, Ronald Glendening and Barnett Freedman, all of whom, excluding Brian Robb – who would later become head of Illustration there – were students or staff.

A further group of six artists: David Gentleman, Alistair Grant, Richard Guyatt, Leonard Rosoman, Rosamund Steed and Carel Weight, were commissioned to provide prints for the 1962 book.

Both series are being exhibited in Prints for the Pub: The Guinness Lithographs, at Pallant House Gallery.

All images courtesy Pallant House Gallery


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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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Art | Hessie: Minimalist Feminist Artist

Friday, October 7th, 2016

Hessie in New York, 1960s
Courtesy Domingo Djuric



Hessie
Soft résistance
La Verrière / Fondation d’entreprise Hermès
Brussels | Belgium
7 October > 10 December 2016



Untitled, 1968/1970
Embroidery in pink thread
on paper, two needles



In 1962, seeking to develop her artistic career, a strong-minded and adventurous, black 26 year-old named Carmen Lydia Djuric left her Cuban birthplace and went to live in New York. Having become involved in the thriving art and feminist scene there, she met Montenegrin artist Miodrag Duric, known as Dado, three years her senior. Dado was a protégé of the French artist Jean Dubuffet, and was on a three-month visit to the city. Carmen and Dado fell in love and married. The couple returned together to France and set up home in a converted mill in a small village outside of Paris.

Les Trous (Holes), 1973
Embroidery in blue thread
on perforations in cotton canvas



Untitled, 1990
Coloured fabric and white thread



Grillage (Grid form), 1976
Embroidery in blue, grey and
turquoise thread on cotton canvas



The minimalist work Hessie had encountered in New York was most often produced by male artists, and struck her as authoritarian, monumental and frankly, too masculine for her tastes. In protest, she opted for a softer and freer sort of minimalism, more in tune with her own anti-authoritarian principles, that nevertheless employed a strict economy of means to maximum effect, and began to produce works with the lightest of touch that drew on the craft tradition. Embroidery constitutes the major part of her seductive, rigorous and repetitive compositions of geometric designs in white or coloured thread on unbleached cotton canvas. Given functional, descriptive titles: Grillages (grid forms), Bâtons pédagogiques (teaching sticks), Végétation or Machines à écrire (typewriters), more rarely, her works feature stitched-on buttons, holes, typewritten letters and printed ephemera.

Coming to prominence with the French feminist movement of the 1970s, Hessie earned herself a solo exhibition at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 1975, after which she was included in Combative Acts, Profile and Voices – An Exhibition of Women Artists from Paris, at New York’s AIR Gallery in 1976.

Déchets collages grillage
(‘Waste paper collages grid form’),
1978/1979
Wrapping paper/packaging stitched
on to cotton canvas



Untitled, 1970
Metal and plastic elements and
a piece of card mounted



Hessie celebrated her 80th birthday this year. Dado, with whom she had five children died in 2010. As minimalism went out of fashion in the late 1970s, and feminism lost its provocative edge, Hessie’s popularity as an artist gradually diminished. However, a major revival of interest in her work – although salvageable, much of it had been badly-stored for many years at the mill – was triggered in 2009, when she was given a solo show at the Musée National d’Art Moderne (Paris). The same year Hessie was included in elles@centrepompidou, Women artists in the collections of the Musée National d’Art Moderne. She is represented by Galerie Arnaud Lefebvre (Paris), which, last year, showed her retrospective Survival Art 1969 > 2015.

Hessie: Soft résistance at La Verrière / Fondation d’entreprise Hermès is the second exhibition in the Ballistic Poetry series, devoted to exploration of the disconnection between intention and intuition in certain forms of radical abstraction.

All works by Hessie
Images courtesy Fondation d’entreprise Hermès
All photos of works by Béatrice Hatala © Galerie Arnaud Lefebvre


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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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