Archive for March, 2017

Exhibition | A Data Date with Philippe Braquenier

Friday, March 31st, 2017

Competitor at the World Memory Championship in London – 02/12/02013
Created in 1991 by Tony Buzan and Raymond Keene, the World Memory Championships is a memory competition in which participants must memorise as much information as possible within a given timeframe



Philippe Braquenier
Palimpsest
The Ravestijn Gallery
Amsterdam
The Netherlands
7 April > 20 May 2017



Belgian conceptual artist Philippe Braquenier’s diverse and thought-provoking photographic projects have included, among others, a series of images of sealed photographic film containers, each enclosing exposures made during the past 10 years that have never been revealed; a run of portraits of kids and teenagers, whose entire life, he observes, seems to be digitally documented; and a set of pictures of buildings and landscapes sectioned off by yellow tape, intended to question our notion of territory.

The title of his forthcoming exhibition Palimpsest – from which the images shown here are selected – is a noun that can be used to describe an ancient manuscript on which the original writing has been effaced or replaced with more recent text. Taking knowledge and legacy as his theme, Braquenier’s photo essay uses architecture, landscape, people, objects and still life to explore the infrastructures of information repositories, libraries and data centres in both natural and built environments, and examines what is required to sustain the archives of human history. The project will be published in book form later this year.

Metas (Swiss Federal Office of Metrology) – Bern, Switzerland – 17/03/02014
FOCS 1, a continuous cold caesium fountain atomic clock located in Switzerland, started operating in 2004 at an uncertainty of one second in 30 million years, thereby becoming one of the most accurate and unique devices in the world for measuring time



Grotte Chauvet – Vallon-Pont-d’Arc, France – 28/08/02015
Sealed off to the public since its discovery in 1994 and granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 2014, the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave in the Ardèche department of southern France contains the earliest known and best preserved figurative cave paintings in the world, dating from 32,000 > 30,000 BC



Technician – Kista, Sweden – 05/11/02014
Featuring double-thickness bulletproof steel, The Space Station Data Centre is the first modular data hub created by the Swedish broadband provider Banhof. The installation, standing on a base of red lava stones imported from Iceland, functions as a mobile and cheap shelter for servers and uses the low outside temperature to keep them cool



Rue de Vaugirard – Paris, France – 15/11/02014
To familiarise the public with the new unit of measurement established in 1791, a standard metre was installed at sixteen Paris sites in 1796. Only this example, carved in marble to which a brass rule (now missing) was affixed, survives in its original location



Sabey Data Center, Verizon Tower – New York, USA – 14/07/02015
In 2011, Sabey Data Center Properties, the largest privately held developer, owner, and operator of data centres in the United States redeveloped this Manhattan tower creating a 1-million-square-foot facility, and claimed it as the world’s tallest and largest high-rise data centre



Born in 1985, his work having been exhibited internationally at prominent venues such as Foto Museum Antwerpen, The Brussels Royal Museum of Fine Arts, and at Aperture Foundation in New York, Philippe Braquenier ‘Palimpsest’, at The Ravestijn Gallery, is the artist’s first solo exhibition in The Netherlands.

Images courtesy and © Philippe Braquenier


Tell us what you think
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


Share this post
Facebook Twitter Linkedin

Architecture | Richard Rogers on Alvar Aalto

Friday, March 17th, 2017

Elissa & Alvar Aalto c 1957
in Studio Aalto (1954 > 56 /
1962 > 63), Helsinki
Photo Heikki Havas,
Alvar Aalto Museum



Alvar Aalto: Architect
By John Stewart
Foreword by Richard Rogers
Merrell Publishers
Hardback with jacket,
272 pp, 130 illustrations,
Available from 23 March 2017



Internationally celebrated architect, Richard Rogers supplied the foreword to John Stewart’s comprehensive and highly accessible biography of Alvar Aalto (1898 > 1976) – the first in more than 30 years. Roger’s complete text is published for the first time on The Blog:

‘Among the streams and tributaries of modern architecture, Alvar Aalto’s sensitivity forms a bridge between organic contextualism and the cleaner lines and stark classicism of such architects as Le Corbusier.

Aalto’s architectural language is very much his own, clear in its intent, and quite different from the majority of modern architecture in the machine age. All the great classical architecture of the past 2500 years comes from the Mediterranean, whereas the North has always been more sensitive, you might call it more intuitive. There is also a Nordic approach to building that is very responsive to its site.

A double spread from
the book showing
Aalto’s Säynätsalo
Town Hall (1952)



Aalto had a great sense of place. His Säynätsalo Town Hall, completed in 1952, is a wonderful piece of urbanism that extends the external public space inside the walls, as I later did in such buildings as the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Law Courts in Bordeaux. And his Rautatalo office building in Helsinki, completed in 1956, is arranged round a raised inner courtyard. Where you draw the line between urbanism and buildings is a matter of judgement, but Aalto’s buildings were more affected by the place than were the more classical buildings of Le Corbusier or Mies van der Rohe, or even the great buildings of classical Athens, and so are more urbanistic.

Aalto had a hard time from the critics in his lifetime – as did Frank Lloyd Wright, who shared his organic approach. Pevsner more or less ignored him, because Aalto did not fit in with his theories of modernism. Even Aalto’s strongest proponent, Sigfried Giedion, was originally cool, perhaps because at the time Le Corbusier was so dominant, so mainstream. But Giedion came round and wrote to Aalto in 1933, inviting him to the CIAM [Congrès Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne] Marseilles-Athens cruise: ‘Athens is expecting a lecture from you. Kindly bring not only your genius but also suitable slides.’ And in the fifth edition of his book Space, Time and Architecture (first published in 1941), Giedion dedicated more space to Aalto than to Le Corbusier or any other of the modern greats.

Alvar Aalto in the 1930s
Photo Aino Aalto (?)
Alvar Aalto Estate /
Alvar Aalto Museum



Alvar Aalto in the 1910s
Photo Alvar Aalto



Aalto put together materials – glass, brick, wood – in a sensitive way, and it all had a tremendous harmony. And there is a feeling of love in whatever he does, particularly in the small things, like cups and saucers, doorknobs and handrails; they are all very much about the hand. In all his work there is a powerful relationship between the smallest things and the largest thing, between his interiors and his exteriors, between his buildings and their context.

For me, Aalto’s architecture is personal, because my cousin Ernesto Rogers met Aalto through CIAM and they became close friends, corresponding and staying with each other in Finland or Italy. Ernesto shared with Aalto an interest in continuity and a scepticism about the extreme view of a clean break with the past, the claim that modernism should have no relationship with the past. On one of Ernesto’s visits to Finland, Aalto was showing off his newly completed Säynätsalo Town Hall, smashed the neon sign and was charged for it.

A double spread from
the book showing
Aalto’s Finlandia Hall
(completed 1971)



Alvar Aalto at
Frank Lloyd Wright’s
Fallingwater with his
children in 1940
Photo Alvar Aalto Estate /
Alvar Aalto  Museum



When, in the early 2000s, I did a travelling exhibition called From the House to the City, Deyan Sudjic, who at the time was editing Domus (which Ernesto had also edited, decades earlier), pointed out that Ernesto had written an article called ‘From the Spoon to the City’. Like Ernesto, Aalto really did think from the spoon to the city.’ © Richard Rogers 2017

Merrell Publishers‘ Alvar Aalto: Architect includes previously unpublished picture material  drawn from the archive at the Alvar Alto Museum and from the Alvar Aalto Estate, a small selection of which is reproduced here.

Richard Rogers foreword text and all images courtesy Merrell Publishers


Tell us what you think
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


Share this post
Facebook Twitter Linkedin

Books | Victor Pasmore: Abstract Inclusive

Friday, March 10th, 2017

Abstract White, Black, Green,
Lilac and Maroon
, 1963 > 65

Suspended construction,
painted wood and plastic.
Courtesy Dan Galeria,
São Paulo, and Alexandra
Mollof Fine Art, London



Victor Pasmore:
Towards a New Reality
By Anne Goodchild,
Alastair Grieve and
Elena Crippa.

Published by Lund Humphries.
Hardback + softback
editions available,
80 colour + 20
b&w images,
120 pp



Countless books have been published on certain 20th century British artists. Relatively few – only 10 are listed on Google, which excludes this new publication – a couple of them substantial tomes covering his essays and writings, but most of them slim exhibition catalogues – have been produced about Victor Pasmore. This one was specially produced to accompany the exhibition Victor Pasmore: Towards a New Reality, which is a partnership project between Djanogly Gallery, Nottingham, where it opened in 2016, and Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, where it goes on show from tomorrow and runs until 11 June 2017.

Spiral Motif Green, Violet,
Blue and Gold: The Coast
of the Inland Sea
, 1950

Oil on canvas.
Tate, London



Mural painting on glass, 1963,
in the Rates Hall, Civic Centre,
Newcastle upon Tyne



Arranged in three sections, each based around informative essays by the exhibition’s curator (with Neil Walker), Anne Goodchild, art historian Alastair Grieve and Elena Crippa, curator, modern and contemporary British art at Tate, this new book traces Pasmore’s transformation from the talented figurative artist he established himself as in the late 1930s, to one of Britain’s foremost post World War II exponents of abstract art.

In 1927, aged 19, the young Victor Pasmore (1908 > 1998) – who in the 1970s would design social housing – wrenched, as a result of the death of his father, from the advantages of the cosseted middle-class existence he enjoyed, got a clerical job for London County Council. It would finance his evening class art studies; he would remain in it until he was 30 years old. Pasmore would later gain sponsorship from Kenneth Clark, who had been made Director of The National Gallery.

Spread from the book,
Victor Pasmore: Towards a
New Reality
, showing
paintings of the artist’s
wife, Wendy Blood, that
Pasmore produced between
1941 and 1945




While his early work, influenced by the post-impressionist artists, among them Pierre Bonnard, had drifted close to hazy abstraction, he would adopt both the objective approach of the Euston Road School, and the left-leaning political views of the staff which were at odds with those of the avant garde artists, who they perceived were seeking to isolate themselves and art from the public. His traumatic experiences during the war – his registration as a conscientious objector that was turned down, his conscription and subsequent desertion, the bomb damage to his house in Ebury Street compelling him to relocate with his new wife and children, first to Chiswick and later to Hammersmith – forced him to reassess his work. And before it was over, having studied the theories and writings of Cézanne, Van Gogh and Seurat, and looked again at the work of his hero, Turner, and at Whistler’s flattening of the picture plane, he was preparing for radical change with the object of producing something that was entirely new in art. But that change would not happen overnight.

Pasmore’s first abstract paintings were not shown until 1948 – three years after the major 1945 Victoria and Albert Museum exhibition of Matisse and Picasso’s work, and the National Gallery’s Paul Klee show, whose combined impact would engender seismic changes within a whole generation of British artists – and, even then they were exhibited alongside some of his objective pieces.

When he finally took the plunge and ‘went abstract’ completely, he stressed that his works differed fundamentally from those by Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson and even Piet Mondrian, who had been producing abstract pieces since the 1930s – which he nevertheless admired – because his were not abstractions at all, but autonomous creations from his own mind that referred to no other object, and therefore represented a new reality.

Abstract in White, Black,
Brown and Lilac
, 1957

Relief construction.
British Council Collection



Sunny Blunts Housing
Development, Peterlee
designed by Victor Pasmore
in the 1970s.
Durham County Record Office



The influence of Klee’s work was particularly apparent in Pasmore’s new work but he was drawing inspiration from a wide range of sources, including the geometry found in Le Corbusier’s architecture. He began creating collages; he painted spirals, and made reliefs constructed from industrial materials. By the time he became head of painting at Newcastle University in 1954, he had abandoned conventional oil painting and had contributed to the 1951 Festival of Britain, where he collaborated with architects for the first time. At the ICA, in 1957, (in collaboration with Richard Hamilton and Lawrence Alloway) he exhibited the pioneering installation work an Exhibit comprised of suspended sheets of coloured Perspex, arranged to form an environment into which all visitors were invited to enter and to experience inclusion.

During the mid-60s, having relocated to Malta, Pasmore would produce large abstract paintings and prints made with poured or sprayed colour. He made murals for Kingston bus station, Pilkington Glassworks, and for Newcastle upon Tyne Civic Centre. In the late 1960s and 1970s, his lengthy involvement as head of landscaping at Peterlee would lead to his designing landmark social housing and culminate in the monumental, brutalist Apollo Pavilion public, environmental sculpture.

Compact and tightly edited, though by no means hefty, Victor Pasmore: Towards a New Reality by Anne Goodchild, Alastair Grieve and Elena Crippa and published by Lund Humphries, is sensitively laid out, well illustrated and conforms to high production values. Perhaps the captions, set on a narrow measure, would have been more legible had they been ranged left.

All work illustrated is by Victor Pasmore, images courtesy Pallant House Gallery and Lund Humphries


Tell us what you think
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


Share this post
Facebook Twitter Linkedin