Archive for June, 2017

Art | John Minton: Demon Painter

Friday, June 16th, 2017

Portrait of John Minton,
Soho, 1952, John Deakin

Gelatin silver print,
Image courtesy
Michael Hoppen Gallery,
© The Condé Nast
Publications Limited



John Minton:
A Centenary
Pallant House Gallery
Chichester | UK
1 July > 1 October 2017



‘Being fatally drawn to the human race, what I want to do when I photograph it is to make a revelation about it. So my sitters,’ – who included, among many others, the painters Lucien Freud, Francis Bacon, and John Minton – all members of the Soho-based neo-romanticist circle of artists – ‘turn into my victims. But I would like to add that it is only those with a demon, whose faces lend themselves to be victimised at all.’ John Deakin (1912 > 1972), photographer

Sadly, within a few years of his sitting with Deakin, Minton (1917 > 1957), overwhelmed by his demons, would take his own life. In the 1940s and early 50s, he had been regarded as one of the most talented of his generation, particularly for his figurative drawing skills.

Portrait of Kevin Maybury, 1956
Oil on canvas,
© Tate, London 2017 /
Royal College of Art



Children by the Sea, 1945
Oil on canvas,
Tate, London,
© Tate, London 2015 /
Royal College of Art



From 1948 up until his death, Minton taught at London’s Royal College of Art. Charismatic – he attracted a crowd of student followers, who became known as ‘Johnny’s Circus’ – he nevertheless possessed a self destructive character and despite personal advances, such as the new colour palette he developed after travels to Corsica, Jamaica, and Spain, was constantly plagued by self-doubt. While his early work was clearly influenced by European modernist ideas, when the abstract expressionist trend that arrived from New York in the 1950s swept through the London art scene and his fellow neo-romanticists, Freud and Bacon, found ways of moving on that increased the relevance of their work, Minton, feeling threatened and sidelined, his commitment to figurative art seemingly outmoded, fell into deep depression. Composition: The Death of James Dean (1957), was his last ambitious picture, and it’s possible that he identified with the ill-fated Hollywood film star, killed in a car accident, aged twenty-four, in 1955.

Bridge from Cannon
Street Station
, 1946

Oil on canvas,
Pembroke College
Oxford JCR Art Collection,
© Royal College of Art



Neville Wallis, 1952
Brighton and Hove Museum,
Royal Pavilion & Museums,
Brighton & Hove
© Royal College of Art



Significantly, 2017 is not only the centenary of the artist’s birth and the 60th anniversary of Minton’s tragic death, but this year also marks 50 years since the decriminalisation of male homosexuality in England and Wales. Minton was homosexual as was his close associate, the artist Keith Vaughan (1912 > 1977). While Minton tormented himself over his sexuality, Vaughan filled his journals with philosophical musings around the problems facing a gay, figurative painter in the 1950s, whose primary subject was the male nude. Vaughan’s works becoming increasingly abstract: Minton stuck doggedly to producing uncompromising, figurative portraits of young male students and friends.

John Minton: A Centenary, at Pallant House Gallery, will present a substantial number of paintings, many of them drawn from the collection of the Royal College of Art, and also includes book illustrations – among them, those for Elizabeth David’s A Book of Mediterranean Food (1950) – posters and lithographs that demonstrate his status as a leading post-war illustrator. As contextual aids, a display of paintings by William Coldstream, who taught at the RCA alongside Minton, will also be on show, together with an exhibition of the work of Minton’s neo-romantic contemporaries.

All painting images courtesy Pallant House Gallery


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Exhibition | Hella Jongerius: Lost in Colour

Friday, June 9th, 2017

Hella Jongerius prepares
for Breathing Colour
at the Jongeriuslab



Breathing Colour
by Hella Jongerius
Design Museum
London | UK
28 June > 24 September 2017



A grey ‘colour catcher’
destined for the Noon
section of the show



Although she claims to feel like an absolute beginner with it, Berlin-based, Dutch designer, Helen Jongerius lives and breathes (and probably eats and sleeps) colour. In March this year, she received the 2017 Sikkens Prize. One of the Netherlands’ oldest independent art prizes, it was established in 1960 – three years before the designer’s birth – and is awarded to individuals or institutions that are considered to have made a special contribution to the field of colour. Previous winners include Gerrit Rietveld (1960), Le Corbusier (1963), Donald Judd (1993) and Bridget Riley (2013). However, her Woven Movie that is a continuation of German textile designer Anni Albers’ pioneering work at the Bauhaus, which focussed on finding new, mass-production weaving techniques, will run the length of her forthcoming show at the Design Museum.

To label Jongerius, who founded the aptly-named Jongeriuslab design studio in 1993, where she has pursued independent, experimental projects with polyurethane, ceramics and textiles, while simultaneously creating products for clients such as Maharam, Danskina, IKEA and KLM, and has earned respect for her skill at fusing industrial and crafts methods, high- with low-tech, and traditional with contemporary, simply as an industrial designer, would be an injustice.

Jongerius has earned
respect for her skill
at fusing industrial and
crafts methods



Everyday life at the studio



Mixing quirky with classic, Jongerius has also designed furniture and household accessories for Vitra. At CasaVitra during Salone del Mobile Milano 2016, visitors were met with giant, twirling spinning tops and colour wheels, representing the past ten years of collaboration between Jongeriuslab and Vitra on the company’s colour and material library. Pitting the power of colour against that of form, the Breathing Colour exhibition will also be an installation – a natural extension of the free-flowing investigative work that is part of the everyday life of the studio – exploring the behaviour of colour and light. Like Plato, Jongerius says, she has become convinced that people can only observe a colour if they can observe the light, the reflection and absorption, and the shadow of it, ‘No wonder then, that people can get lost in colour.’ A series of three-dimensional objects she describes as colour catchers – the faceted surfaces of which are designed to absorb and reflect nearby colours – will be positioned throughout the exhibition space that will be divided into three areas, with simulated daylight conditions for morning, noon and evening.

Semi-translucent
beads mimic the
crisp colours of cold
morning light



The Morning section of the exhibition will explore the differences between lightness and brightness and the hazy feeling of waking up, via a series of illuminated hanging, translucent and semi-translucent beads, whose fragmented reflections mimic the intense and crisp colours created by cold morning light. In the Noon section, projected light will create an illusion of the transition of early morning haze to the intensity of midday, causing the facets of grey catchers displayed on bright surfaces show sharp, bright reflections. Evening will use examples of Eames, Jean Prouve and Verner Panton furniture, to explore the nature and colour of shadows.

Alongside other, existing works from the Jongeriuslab Breathing Colour by Hella Jongerius at the Design Museum will include a circular display of 100 of the designer’s Colour Vases (series 3), from 2010.

All photos Roel van Tour, courtesy the Design Museum


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Design | Art You Can Sit On?

Friday, June 2nd, 2017

Wendell Castle (b 1932).
Chair with Sport Coat, 1978
Carved cherry,
Estimate $12,000 > 18,000




Design
Christie’s | Rockefeller Center
New York City | USA
Exhibition > 6 June 2017
Sale 7 June  2017



Marc Newson (b 1963).
A Diode Lamp (large),
Designed 2006

Lacquered steel, carbon
fibre, aluminium,
moulded glass bulb.
Estimate $10,000 > $15,000



The Marc Newson-designed Diode Lamp (above) is produced by the world-renowned Gagosian Gallery and bears a tag inscribed with the designer’s signature and an indication that it is number 3 in an edition of 10. It begs the question: is the art world appropriating design, or is design infiltrating the art world?

The crossover between art and design is nothing new. Late 19th century artists such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec regularly produced theatre posters in order to provide an income that would allow them to continue to paint. Harry Bertoia, most famous for his Diamond Chair (1952) design, made over 50 commissioned public sculptures, as well as countless Sonambient sound sculptures that he used to create music with, but which were clearly conceived as art pieces. Marc Newson, one of the most influential designers of his generation, has designed furniture and useful household objects such as a mass-produced kettle and a toaster, as well as yachts, and private and commercial aircraft. He also produces handmade functional furniture, such as his Pod of Drawers (1987), for private clients. Perhaps objects such as the latter could fall under the banner of crafts, but surely not of art.

Ivan da Silva-Bruhns (1881 > 1980).
Carpet from the palace of the Maharaja of Indore, c 1930
Hand-knotted wool pile.
Estimate $300,000 > $500,000



Paul Evans (1931-1987).
A Cityscape console table, c 1974
Burl walnut, chrome-plated
steel, later glass top.
Estimate $12,000 > $18,000



In an evidently unsuccessful attempt to clarify the distinction between design and art, shortly before his death in 1994, Donald Judd, who famously made furniture that looked like art, and art that looked like furniture, wrote: ‘The configuration and the scale of art cannot be transposed into furniture… The intent of art is different from that of the latter, which must be functional. If a chair… is not functional, if it appears to be only art, it is ridiculous.’

Harry Bertoia (1915-1978).
A Willow sculpture, 1968
Stainless steel, retrofitted with
stainless steel stand.
Estimate $80,000 > $100,000



It might easily have, but none of Judd’s work features in Christie’s Design sale of over 100 items that prominently includes Wendell Castle’s Magritte-inspired, Chair with Sport Coat, 1978 (top), which, at a push you could sit on. Somewhat confusingly, in his Wikipedia profile, Castle is described as an American furniture artist.

All images courtesy Christie’s


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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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