Archive for June, 2018

Books | Marcel Breuer: Godfather of Brutalism

Friday, June 15th, 2018

Breuer in the fourth-
floor gallery at the
Witney Museum of
American Art, 1966



Marcel Breuer:
Building Global Institutions
Edited by Barry Bergdoll
and Jonathan Massey
Lars Müller Publishers
368 pp / 345 images,
Paperback,
English text,
Available now



Concrete wall of the
Conference Building
and Secretariat
of UNESCO’s Paris
headquarters



The Witney Museum
of American Art, from
the corner of Madison
Avenue and East
Seventy-Fifth Street



Based around a series of scholarly essays drawing on newly available documents held in the Marcel Breuer Digital Archive at Syracuse University, this book contains a great deal of awe-inspiring architectural photography. Some of the images of Breuer’s sculptural buildings are splashed across spreads, while others are included in what might be described as mood boards for 20th century reinforced concrete buildings, or, if you will, brutalist modernism, which is currently enjoying a surge of renewed interest.

By the early 1960s,
Marcel Breuer &
Associates were
involved in numerous,
major international
projects, such as these
in The Netherlands



Breuer (1902 > 81), originally from Hungary, was one of the first students at the Bauhaus and went on to become a teacher there. After its closure, he practised briefly in the UK before emigrating to the USA in 1937, where he further developed the innovative concepts that would make him one of the world’s most influential and sought-after architects. With the recent reopening of Breuer’s Whitney Museum of American Art building (completed 1966) as the Met Breuer in New York, a wider audience has been introduced to and are gaining new insights into the large-scale buildings he built and the cities he planned from the 1930s onwards.

Bell Banner and
church, St John’s
Abbey Church,
Minnesota, USA



In-depth examinations of Breuer’s most famous projects, such as St John’s Abbey, Minnesota, USA (1953, with later additions), UNESCO House, Paris, France (1953), Bronx Campus, New York, USA (1959 > 61) and IBM Research Centre, La Gaude, France (1960 > 62) are all included, however, some of his less-well-known work is also covered in detail. For example, one essay documents how, in 1936, while he was based in London, Breuer collaborated with FRS Yorke to design a model of an ‘ideal’ town – The Garden City of the Future – that would later influence the architecture and planning of post-war British New Towns as well as the monuments of Brasilia.

Innovative high-
and mid-rise housing
developments in
France produced by
the company during
the 1960s and 70s



Presented almost entirely in black and white, and with images in every shade of grey – like the colour of the material the buildings shown inside are constructed from – Marcel Breuer: Building Global Institutions from Lars Müller Publishers is a bold and uncompromising, compact book package. It must be said, however, that some of the smaller drawings suffer and become almost meaningless as a result of being reproduced too small.

All pages from the book courtesy Lars Müller Publishers


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The Blog is about art, architecture, books, design, 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 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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Exhibitions | Roland (Don’t Call me an ‘Artist’) Topor

Friday, June 8th, 2018

Monkey Hammer
on the Chin
, 1972

Lithograph.
Galerie KK Klaus
Kiefer, Essen



Roland Topor
Panoptikum
Museum Folkwang
Essen | Germany
29 June > 30 September 2018



Schlusschor, 1991.
Theatre poster for
Münchner Kammerspiele

Offset print.
Deutsches Plakatmuseum
im Museum Folkwang



Dark but sharply witty, Roland Topor’s pen and ink drawings, sometimes with a flat wash of colour added, focusing on the relationship between the sexes, the absurdities of human existence, and the futility of endeavour was the visual equivalent of literature. During the 1970s, he produced many illustrations for Elle (France), and, from 1971-1995, regularly for The New York Times. Alongside prominent international contemporaries such as Milton Glaser and Tommy Ungerer, Topor’s work was a mainstay of the illustration annuals, eagerly pored over by art students of the period, and would influence a whole generation of magazine illustrators, who came to the fore over the next couple of decades.

Topor (1938 > 1997), however, never restricted himself to illustration. Having trained at the Beaux-arts de Paris in the 1950s, he vehemently rejected being pigeonholed as an ‘artist’. His illustrations had first appeared, in 1958, in the dada- and surrealist-flavoured Bizarre revue but he would go on to become a successful novelist, playwright, actor, costume and stage designer, filmmaker, songwriter and television writer. Few have enjoyed such success across so many diverse areas of creativity.

The Tin Drum, 1979.
Film poster

Offset print,
Deutsches Plakatmuseum
im Museum Folkwang



Suzanne’s Wobble, 1977.
Ink pen and coloured pencil.

Sammlung Jakob
und Philipp Keel



You’re a real
moron, Samuel
, 1968
Ink pen and coloured pencil.

Sammlung Jakob
und Philipp Keel



Of Polish-Jewish origin but born in Paris, Topor spent the early years of his life hidden from the Nazis in South East France. Roman Polanski, from a remarkably similar background, made a film adaptation of Topor’s novel The Tenant (Le Locataire chimérique, 1964 – extended and republished 2006) in 1976, casting himself in the lead role. In 1979, Topor was himself cast in the role of Renfield in Werner Herzog’s film Nosferatu the Vampire. Meanwhile, in 1965 his animated short film Les Escargots, created with animator René Laloux, and incorporating a scene in which a giant snail snatches a scantily-clad woman through her bedroom window and drags her inside his shell, had won the Special Jury Prize at the Cracow Film Festival. His feature-length animated film La planète sauvage (The Fantastic Planet, 1973) earned him a special prize at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival.

Wilful, 1978.
From the series Three
Images of Success
.

Lithograph.
Sammlung Jakob und
Philipp Keel



Topor’s predilection for exposing the hidden meaning of myths and fables was a legacy of his Polish roots. He combined it with his surrealist influences from Rene Magritte, and the sort of stinging political criticism that has lived on in France since the Revolution to devastating effect. Between 1961 and 1966, he worked on the satirical journal Hara-Kiri from where many of the staff went on to form Charlie Hebdo. Rather than a humorist he, reportedly, considered himself a ’smart-arse’ or ‘piss-taker’ and, in 1983, was responsible for creating the popular French TV series Téléchat, which parodied news broadcasts. United Dead Artists published a large format book ReBonjour (Hello again) of Topor’s – often erotic – linocuts, in 2010.

If you missed Topor: a Vision of the World at Paris’s Bibliothèque nationale de France last summer, try to see Panoptikum at Museum Folkwang, which, with a selection of 200 works, including films and costume designs, provides an overview of the diverse output one of the most adroit and adaptable creative minds of his generation.

All images by Roland Topor © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018, courtesy Museum Folkwang


Tell us what you think
The Blog is about art, architecture, books, design, 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 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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