Archive for January, 2017

Photography | Mountain Highs

Friday, January 20th, 2017

Maurice Schobinger,
Face to Face – Lenzspitze, 2015

© Maurice Schobinger,
Collection du Musée de l’Elysée



Vertical No Limit.
Mountain Photography

Musée de l’Elysée
Lausanne
Switzerland
25 January  >  30 April 2017



Charles Charnaux,
Le Cervin, c 1910 > 1920

© Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne,
Collection du Musée de l’Elysée



Fear? Exhilaration? The young city gent with his back toward the viewer in German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich’s famous Wanderer above the Sea of Fog (1818), might have felt a mixture of both.

Friedrich himself (1774 > 1840) died just as photography was being born. The early photographers would soon capture real images of the mountains – referred to with awe as God’s Country – a hitherto cursed and surreal place, inaccessible to man – allowing ordinary people to view the object of their fear and fascination in close up for the first time, albeit at safe distance.

Yann Gross,
Avalanche 4, 2006

© Yann Gross



Roland Gay-Couttet,
Aiguille d’Argentiäre escalade,
c 1960 > 1970

© Hubert Gay-Couttet
et Samuel Gay-Couttet



As citizens of 21st century citizens of the world, we like to think of ourselves as more worldly, less superstitious and less fearful than our forebears. We go hill walking and do a little rock-climbing, but leave scaling the highest and most precipitous peaks to the professionals. Many of us have taken a ski lift to the top of an alpine mountain and skied down a proscribed route. The braver among us have gone off piste. We’ve all gazed down with fascination and curiosity on seemingly endless expanses of snowy pinnacles from aircraft windows, but few of us have asked to be deposited by helicopter on an isolated, snow-covered summit with just a pair of skis to get us off it. Just like our ancestors, we are content to be voyeurs, happy to experience the more extreme thrills vicariously via the lens of an intrepid photographer.

René Burri,
Alpes suisses vues d’avion, 1981

© René Burri – Magnum Photos,
Collection du Musée de l’Elysée



John Jullien,
Traversee de la Mer de Glace, c 1880

© Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne,
Collection du Musée de l’Elysée



Transported through time, dressed in a sharp contemporary style suit, and positioned before a huge digital, photographic image in the exhibition Vertical No Limit. Mountain Photography at Lausanne’s Musée de l’Elysée, would the feelings of Friedrich’s young man have drastically altered, or be much different from our own? Probably not.

All images courtesy Musée de l’Elysée


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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 | Larry Bell’s Finish Fetish

Friday, January 13th, 2017

CS 9.24.15 B, 2014
Mixed media on red Hiromi paper



Larry Bell: Pacific Red
Frederick R Weisman Museum of Art
Pepperdine University
Malibu, California | USA
21 January > 2 April 2017



CS 10.31.14, 2014
Mixed media on red Hiromi paper



CS 11.4.14 A, 2014
Mixed media on red Hiromi paper



Larry Bell’s work reached a turning point in the late 1970s when he began transferring the same reflective coatings he had been applying on his sculptural glass installations to paper, to produce his Vapor Drawings. A few years later he would use Mylar (a form of polyester resin used to make heat-resistant plastic film) and laminating film, in layers fused on to stretched canvas to create his Mirage works. His more recent Light knot sculptures – gravity-defying, complex spatial mirrored forms, a 3D development from the Mirage works – are made exclusively from Mylar coated with metals and quartz. Highly reflective, the sheets are twisted, knotted and hung from the ceiling, where they turn and undulate with the slightest of air currents, like sinuous, flexible mirrors.

As Bell says, his work has always been about the properties of light and the way it interacts with surfaces, it’s about volume and illusion, it reflects light, transmits it and absorbs it, all at the same time. Hints of of his pursuit of these qualities were already present in crude form in his early paintings, such as Untitled, 1959, and have become the principal assets of his mesmerising CS series from 2014. Their genesis traceable to Bell’s obsession with the finishes he developed and eventually released from his minimal glass works, the two-dimensional CS paintings are composed from abstract forms that appear as a shimmering vortex of light, creating the illusion of three-dimensional, highly sculptural space.

While he states on his own website that he is convinced the internet is the best way to tell the world about his work, Bell stresses that ‘the Net precludes the sensate experience of seeing [them] in real space.’ While similar frustration must be felt by many artists, in Bell’s case, as the limitations of the images above demonstrate, it must be particularly acute.

Untitled, 1959
Oil on canvas



Bell, originally from Chicago, had studied in Los Angeles, where he established himself in Venice in 1959. He has maintained a studio there, although his current base is Taos, New Mexico. His early 1960s works had consisted of abstract paintings on paper and shaped canvases, and resembled boxes drawn in isometric projection. Glass and then mirrors were substituted for parts of these when he began to explore the spatial ambiguity that would eventually lead to the glass cube and standing glass panel sculptures, which were to establish his national and international reputation. A pioneer of the California Light and Space movement, Bell was also associated with the Finish Fetish artists, including John McCracken and Robert Irwin, who produced works that required exacting craftsmanship, time-consuming labour and a high degree of manual dexterity to achieve their impeccable finish, evocative of the meticulous aesthetics of California’s car and surfing culture.

Over the course of his 50-year career, Bell’s work has been shown at numerous museums and in public spaces in the United States and abroad. His work is in the collections of major museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Steely Museum, Amsterdam; the Tate Gallery, London; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; and many others.

Pacific Red at Frederick R Weisman Museum of Art, is a historical survey of Larry Bell’s oeuvre and features a new installation designed especially for the galleries.

London’s White Cube Bermondsey is having a show of Larry Bell’s work in April.

All works by Larry Bell, images courtesy The Frederick R Weisman Museum of Art. CS work photos Alan Shaffer


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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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