Archive for October, 2017

Art | Jimmie Durham’s Confusing World

Friday, October 20th, 2017

Self-Portrait Pretending to
Be a Stone Statue of Myself
, 2006

Colour photograph.
Collection of fluid archives,
Karlsruhe,
Courtesy
ZKM Center for Art and
Media, Karlsruhe



Jimmie Durham:
At the Center of the World
Whitney Museum of American Art
New York City | USA
3 November 2017 > 28 January 2018



Tlunh Datsi, 1984
Puma skull, shells,
turquoise, turkey feathers,
metal, sheep and deer
fur, pine, acrylic paint.
Private collection, Belgium



Duchampian appropriation or cultural theft? No one, including the artist, evidently, seems very sure. Nevertheless, blazing an inexorable trail of controversy in its wake – the retrospective exhibition was originally shown at the Hammer Museum, in Los Angeles, before travelling to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis – Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World, is scheduled to open early next month at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.

Central to the debate is that Durham, who has been described as having ‘made a career out of being Cherokee’, and, allegedly, once claimed to be Cherokee, has no known ties to any Cherokee or other Native American community. The Native American newspaper Indian Country Today has even gone so far as to publish an editorial with the title Dear Unsuspecting Public, Jimmie Durham Is a Trickster categorically stating: ‘Durham is not a Cherokee in any legal or cultural sense… [He] has no Cherokee relatives; he does not live in or spend time in Cherokee communities; he does not participate in dances and does not belong to a ceremonial ground.’

Head, 2006
Wood, papier-mâché,
hair, seashell, turquoise,
metal tray.
Fondazione Morra Greco,
Naples, Italy.
Image courtesy
kurimanzutto, Mexico City



Sculptor, performance artist, essayist and poet, American- born, Durham (age 77), has actually been based in Europe since 1994, where, in art circles and galleries his name is spoken with great reverence and he has been honoured with solo exhibitions at many major venues including: Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin and Fondazione Querino Stampalia, Venice, (both 2015), MuHKA – Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp (2012), Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2009), Kunstverein Munich (1998), ICA, London and Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels (both 1993). On London’s Serpentine Gallery website – the exhibition Jimmie Durham: Various Items and Complaints was shown there in 2015 – the introductory write-up explains: ‘His work addresses the political and cultural forces, eg, the forces of colonialism that construct our contemporary discourses and challenges our understanding of authenticity in art.’ In the press release for their impending exhibition, the Whitney says that it does not attempt to resolve the current controversy and, more cautiously, contends that ‘Durham’s work offers a crucial perspective on the history of American art and life.’

Malinche, 1988 >1992
Guava, pine branches,
oak, snakeskin, polyester
bra soaked in acrylic
resin and painted gold,
watercolour, cactus leaf,
canvas, cotton cloth,
metal, rope, feathers,
plastic jewellery, glass eye.
Stedelijk Museum voor
Actuele Kunst (SMAK),
Ghent, Belgium
Image © SMAK/Dirk Pauwels



Starting out as an artist in Texas in the 1960s, by the 70s, Durham was heavily involved in civil rights activism in the United States for African Americans and Native Americans, and served on the central council of the American Indian Movement (AIM). After a major falling out with them, Durham turned back to art, basing himself in New York, where he achieved moderate success. Becoming disillusioned with the art market, however, he left the city in the 1980s then , after deciding that he ‘didn’t want to be a part of the American dream,’ departed the country altogether, relocating to Mexico. Having since lived and worked in Dublin, Brussels and Marseilles, he is now based between Berlin and Naples. By all accounts he hasn’t set foot in America since 1995, and, claiming that his doctor advised him against the journey, didn’t turn up for the Hammer opening.

‘There is no true history,’ says Durham in a video on the Hammer website, while the artist recently explained, albeit somewhat confusingly, to the New York Times, ‘I am perfectly willing to be called Cherokee, but I’m not a Cherokee artist or Indian artist, no more than Brancusi was a Romanian artist.’ Even more confusingly, bearing in mind the aforementioned Indian Country Today editorial, the New York Times themselves inform us, in their same article, that Durham was ‘Born to a Cherokee family in rural Arkansas’.

Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World at Whitney Museum of American Art, features around 120 works – drawings, collage, printmaking, photography, and video, from 1970 to the present.

All work by Jimmie Durham, © The artist.
All images courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art


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Photography | Albert Renger-Patzsch: Beautiful World

Friday, October 13th, 2017

Kauper, Hochofenwerk,
[Kauper, blast furnaces]
,
Herrenwyk, Lübeck, 1927
Albert Renger-Patzsch Archiv /
Stiftung Ann und Jürgen Wilde,
Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich



Albert Renger-Patzsch
Things
Jeu de Paume
Paris | France
16 October 2017
> 21 January 2018



Hände [Hands], 1926 > 1927
Collection Ann und Jürgen Wilde



Eminent photo-historian, the late Bruce Bernard’s Photodiscovery book (1980) contains useful, sometimes lengthy potted histories of the photographers whose work he decided to include. He was dogged and persistent in his research, so, as the German photographer’s entry is severely limited, it is safe to presume that when Bernard was gathering the material together almost forty years ago, little information was available on Albert Renger-Patzsch (1897 > 1966), whose work is the subject of a forthcoming retrospective at Jeu de Paume. During the intervening years, which have seen a revival of interest in the 1920s German Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) group that included George Grosz, Otto Dix and Max Beckmann, with which Renger-Patzsch was associated, and fuelled by the popularity of the work of later and contemporary photographers such as Bernd and Hilla Becher, Martin Parr and William Eggleston – who it might be said followed in the same tradition – knowledge about him has grown and examples of his oeuvre have become more accessible.

Natterkopf [Snake's head], 1925
Berinson Gallery, Berlin



Landstraße bei Essen
[Country road
near Essen], 1929
Albert Renger-Patzsch Archiv /
Stiftung Ann und Jürgen Wilde,
Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich



Renger-Patzsch took his first photographs, aged twelve, in Würzberg, Bavaria. His first job was as a chemist, then he did a stint as a photography archivist before becoming a freelance documentary and press photographer in 1925. As with the somewhat older German photographer, Karl Blossfeldt (1865 > 1932), whose work would not achieve public attention until 1928 when his book Urformen der Kunst [Art Forms in Nature] was published, Renger-Patzsch’s scientific background exerted a strong influence on his photography. In his own very influential book Die Welt ist schön [The World is Beautiful], which appeared that same year, Renger-Patzsch displayed images from both nature and industry; all shot in a clear, uncluttered style closely related to the detached and literal renderings of reality espoused by the Neue Sachlichkeit painters, whose approach reflected the resignation and cynicism of the post-World War I period in Germany.

Stapelia variegata,
Asclepiadaceae, 1923
Albert Renger-Patzsch Archiv /
Stiftung Ann und Jürgen Wilde,
Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich



Jenaer Glas (Zylindrische
Gläser) [Jena Glassworks
(Cylindrical beakers)], 1934
Museum Folkwang, Essen



The development of the photographic process itself had been the result of in-depth scientific research. Some 19th century artists would take advantage of the medium’s capacity to record details that they could employ as reference for their paintings, and a few photographers would use it for its documentary potential, but it was generally viewed as a method of creating images that resembled paintings and executed in a style that intentionally distanced it from reality and was referred to as pictorialism. In his strong belief that his subjects did not require any enhancement Renger-Patzsch rejected pictorialism and forgoing painterly techniques, such as soft focus, recorded the exact, detailed appearance of his subjects, in an attempt to discover beauty in everyday things and places, in the ordinary and the mundane. Some of his contemporaries who were working in similar areas at the time and whose approach, like Renger-Patzch’s eschewed the emotional and the spiritual in favour of the rational and sometimes political, and whose photography was a response to the rapid industrialisation of Europe and America, included Lazlo Moholy-Nagy, August Sander and Edward Weston.

From the early 1930s Renger-Patzsch taught photography, and afterwards, while working as a freelance photographer, focused on personal projects. As with his early work, his later subjects were natural and industrial: Eisen und Stahl [Iron and Steel], 1930, Bäume [Trees], 1962), and Gestein [Stones], 1966.

Albert Renger-Patzsch: Things, at Jeu de Paume, including over 150 prints, is an overview of the themes and directions, which marked the photographers’ career.

All images by Albert Renger-Patzsch, courtesy Jeu de Paume
© Albert Renger-Patzsch / Archiv Ann und Jürgen Wilde, Zülpich / ADAGP, Paris 2017


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Cinema | Antonio’s Girls & Boys on Sex Fashion & Disco

Friday, October 6th, 2017

Donna Jordan, for 20 Ans, 1970,
drawn by Antonio Lopez



Antonio Lopez, Jardin
du Luxembourg, Paris, 1971,
photographed by Juan Ramos



Antonio Lopez 1970:
Sex Fashion & Disco
Directed by James Crump
Cinema release,
12 October 2017



Carol LaBrie, for
Italian Vogue, 1971,
drawn by Antonio Lopez



Anyone who knows about fashion knows that ‘fashion illustrator’ is an inadequate description of Antonio Lopez. Born in Puerto Rico, raised in the Bronx, Lopez’s talent for drawing was more than equalled by his charismatic power to draw around him the most exciting group of individuals in the fashion world of the early 1970s and, as a liberal and progressive stylist, to exert an influence on fashion itself that remains apparent even now – according to W Magazine – in the current collections at Louis Vuitton, Saint Laurent and Kenzo.

So, that the forthcoming film documenting the social and cultural milieu in which Lopez (1943-1987) lived and worked – beginning in the tumultuous late 1960s, against a background of the Vietnam War, political assassinations in the USA and often violent international student protest, when he embarked on a quest for beauty and pleasure in the vortex of New York’s thriving and hedonistic club scene – justifiably places him centre-stage, comes as no surprise.

Nevertheless, focussed on the period Lopez spent in New York and Paris between 1969 and 1973, and set to a soundtrack of music by Donna Summer, Marvin Gaye, Isaac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield, Chic, and the Temptations, director James Crump’s Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex Fashion & Disco, featuring archive footage and original interviews with principal characters among the artist’s colourful and sometimes outrageous associates including, among others, Jessica Lange, Grace Jones, Bob Colacello, Jerry Hall, Grace Coddington, Patti D’Arbanville, Karl Lagerfeld, Juan Ramos, Bill Cunningham, Yves Saint Laurent, Joan Juliet Buck, and Michael Chow, makes some unexpected revelations.

Jerry Hall and Antonio
Lopez,
Paris, 1972,
photographed by Juan Ramos



Eija Vehka Ajo, Juan Ramos,
Jacques de Bascher,
Karl Lagerfeld and Antonio
Lopez, Paris, 1973,
*from Sex Fashion & Disco



Jessica Lange, Paris, 1974,
photographed by Antonio Lopez



For instance, it turns out that bisexual Lopez had an intimate relationship with his teenage discovery, Jerry Hall – the pair, we discover, lived together for two years, much to the consternation of Juan Ramos, Lopez’s art director and long-time partner.

It’s common knowledge that Karl Lagerfeld, became so smitten with Lopez, who had decamped with his entourage to Paris in 1969, that he lent them an apartment on Boulevard Saint-Germain. However, photographer Bill Cunningham recalls in the film that when Lopez was diagnosed with AIDS following his return to New York in the mid-70s and appealed to Lagerfeld for help, the designer deserted him. Lopez died, aged 44, in 1987 of an AIDS-related complication.

The fashion cognoscenti are aware that Antonio’s legendary drawing sessions were arranged along exactly the same lines as fashion photo shoots and were every bit as complex. Antonio’s Girls, as they were known – he talent-spotted unusual beauties such as Grace Jones, Pat Cleveland, Tina Chow, and Warhol superstars Donna Jordan, Jane Forth and Patti D’Arbanville – were the models whom he transformed into goddesses in his drawings. It might still catch some unawares to discover that Academy Award-winning actress Jessica Lange, who was amongst them, had been broke and studying mime when she met Lopez and started modelling for him in Paris.

Crump’s recent work includes, Troublemakers: The Story of Land Art unveiling the enigmatic lives and careers of artists Robert Smithson (Spiral Jetty), Walter De Maria (The Lightning Field) and Michael Heizer (Double Negative), which premiered at the 2015 New York Film Festival and at Fondazione Prada in Milan. For Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex Fashion & Disco, he was given unlimited access to the thousands of drawings, photographs, Super 8 and 16mm film and video that make up Lopez’s archive.

All images from Sex Fashion & Disco, courtesy the film’s producers. Used by permission.
All images, except *, © The Estate of Antonio Lopez and Juan Ramos, 2012


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The Blog is about art, architecture, books, design, photography 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 made available 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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