Archive for September, 2018

Ceramics | The Handmade Tale

Friday, September 28th, 2018

Yoshitomo Nara,
Untitled, 2007
Glazed ceramic.
Estimate £60,000
> £80,000



Shape & Space:
New Ceramic Presence
Phillips
London | UK
Sale 5 October | 2018
Ticket-only admission.
Exhibition 28 September >
5 October 2018



Lucie Rie,
Footed bowl, 1985
Stoneware, matt
blue glaze with
golden manganese lip.
Estimate £40,000
> £60,000



Kathy Butterly,
Overgrown, 2001
Glazed earthenware,
glazed porcelain,
Estimate £12,000
> £16,000



When artist Clare Twomey’s interactive installation, Factory: the seen and the unseen, comprising a 30-metre workspace, with eight tonnes of clay, a vast area of drying racks, and over 2,000 fired clay objects, opened this time last year at Tate Modern it was seen as a sign of the times.

The carefully-curated items in Phillips’ forthcoming sale encapsulate the story of contemporary ceramics up to the present, when the medium has finally cast off its poor-relation-of-fine-art status, and is recognised as a major art form.

Many contemporary potters have chosen to preserve the customary feel and look of the 20,000-year-old craft. The influence of Picasso’s early, decorated, utilitarian pieces – he produced 633 different ceramic editions between 1947 and 1971– is apparent in Yoshitomo Nara’s 2007, Untitled plate (top), which also evokes traditional Japanese pottery. Others opted for experimental approaches and unconventional aesthetics. Phillips’ lots include Kathy Butterly’s quirky, anthropomorphic Overgrown (above), from 2001. Butterly took her cues from the revolutionary California Clay Movement’s Ken Price, whose elemental 1983 piece, Edo, also in this sale, fuses painted ceramic, maple, painted wood, and glass, but went further.

Ai Weiwei
He Xie, 2010
(Detail and
complete work).
Porcelain, in
approximately
2,300 parts.
Estimate £400,000
> £600,000



While each finely-crafted, porcelain crab in Ai Weiwei’s He Xie (Chinese for crab but also meaning ‘harmonious’), above, emotes the intimacy and human scale of the handmade, the complete piece, suggesting mass food production, mass population, and mass politics, has a more sinister undercurrent. Twomey’s Factory installation, in which the public could mould or cast jugs, teapots and flowers was inclusive and democratic, and, although it hasn’t worked out that way, Picasso’s idea was to make his work accessible and affordable.

Roy Lichtenstein
Ceramic Sculpture
#10
, 1965
Painted and
glazed ceramic.
Estimate £250,000
> £350,000



This tightly-edited auction includes an exclusive group of 31 items by 24 artists, among them, Lucio Fontana, Lucie Rie, Sarah Lucas, Hans Coper and Ron Nagle. The viewing exhibition for Shape & Space: New Ceramic Presence at Phillips is open to the public. The auction, in which lot estimates vary between £7,000 to £600,000, is a ticket-only event.

All images courtesy Phillips


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Exhibitions | Modernism Before Modernism

Friday, September 21st, 2018

Hilma af Klint, Group IV,
The Ten Largest, No 7,
Adulthood
, 1907,
from untitled series

Tempera on paper
mounted on canvas



Hilma af Klint, Group IX / SUW,
The Swan, No 17, 1915,
from the SUW/UW Series

Oil on canvas



Hilma af Klint, Group V,
The Seven-Pointed
Star, No 1
, 1908,
from The WUS / Seven-
Pointed Star Series

Tempera, gouache
and graphite on paper
mounted on canvas



Hilma af Klint:
Paintings for the Future
Guggenheim Museum
New York City | USA
12 October  >
3 February 2019
Guggenheim Museum

+

Stones to Stains:
The Drawings of Victor Hugo
Hammer Museum
Los Angeles | USA
27 September >
30 December 2018



Modernism didn’t just happen. It had a history. Full of surprises, and running more-or-less concurrently, these two exhibitions present a fascinating and provocative insight into what happened prior to the emergence of the modernism that we’re all very familiar with.

In 1906, several years before Wassily Kandinsky painted Cossacks – one of the first, widely-recognised, purely abstract works – Swedish artist Hilma af Klint had already begun to create radically abstract paintings. More than half a century earlier French poet, playwright, novelist Victor Hugo had produced a remarkable body of works on paper, which were often indicative, rather than representative of subject matter and that anticipated modernism’s diversity of approach to technique and materials.

Victor Hugo, Abstract
composition with
fingerprints
, c 1864 > 65

Brown ink and wash on paper.
© Bibliothèque
nationale de France



Victor Hugo, Planet, c 1854
Brown ink and wash
over charcoal with white
gouache on paper.
David Lachenmann Collection



Victor Hugo, Silhouette
of a castle struck by
lightning
, c 1854 > 57

Stencil cut from
card, with charcoal,
brown ink and wash.
© Bibliothèque
nationale de France



Sharing an interest in the spiritual with Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian, among other pioneering modernists, who all sought to surpass the restrictions of the physical world, af Klint was a devotee of Theosophy.

They were rarely seen in public during his lifetime but Hugo (1802 > 1885)  produced over 3,000 graphic works that vacillate between the depiction of landscapes and architecture and the rendering of abstract forms and stains. Often relinquishing composition to chance, he would soak or turn the paper, or allow the ink to pool into serendipitous shapes. He employed stencil and collage and incorporated impressions of a variety of materials such as lace, leaves and even his own fingertips. Hugo may have seen and been influenced by the work of British artist, JMW Turner (1775 > 1851), who, having concerned himself more with surface and light than subject matter, has himself been hailed as a proto-modernist.

Convinced the world wasn’t ready for them, Hilma af Klint (1862 > 1944), who left behind around 1300 non-figurative works, exhibited nothing during her lifetime and stipulated in her will that her paintings should not be shown until 20 years after her death. They were exhibited for the first time in 1986, in Los Angeles.

Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future is at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, while Stones to Stains: The Drawings of Victor Hugo will be on show at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.

Images courtesy the Guggenheim Museum and the Hammer Museum, respectively


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Art | Theaster Gates: Back to Black

Friday, September 14th, 2018

Photographs by Isaac Sutton



The Black Image Corporation

Osservatorio
Fondazione Prada
Milan | Italy
20 September > 14 January 2019



Chicago’s Mayor has called the artist, Theaster Gates, ‘…a civic treasure on a par with Chicago’s skyline and downtown museums.’ Quite an accolade for the son of a roofer whose father bequeathed him his tar kettle – a gift not lost on Gates, for whom tar has become a key element in his painting and sculpture work, as in the centre-piece of his Black Madonna exhibition, currently on show at Kunstmuseum Basel in Switzerland.

Having studied urban planning and city design, as well as religion and ceramics, Gates spent 15 years making pots, an activity through which, he says, ‘you very quickly learn how to make great things out of nothing … [and] start to learn how to shape the world.’

Gates, whose Rebuild Foundation bought up condemned buildings in the deprived, predominantly African American South Side district of Chicago and refurbished and repurposed them as community facilities: apartments, a library, workshops for artists, a black cinema – he financed each project by selling artworks made from the scrap material from the previous renovation – led Art Review to refer to him as, ‘The artist who does more outside the gallery than within.’

Photographs by Moneta Sleet Jr



Adept at turning preconceived ideas about himself and his work on their heads, for his show at Fondazione Prada Osservatorio Theaster Gates has created a time-capsule of a seminal period in black magazine publishing, within the gallery space. Having dug deep into the Johnson Publishing Company’s 4-million-strong image archive from its ground-breaking Ebony and Jet magazines, that includes photographs of positive everyday events and of the complex realities black Americans faced in the USA during the post-war years, Gates displays his emotive selection on an interactive structure. Elsewhere, furnishings and interior design elements from the company’s mid-century modern Chicago offices, known as the Ebony/Jet Building – a designated Chicago Landmark – are arranged as a comfortable environment, where visitors can browse through original copies of Ebony and Jet.

Former deputy sheriff Isaac Sutton (1923 > 1995), who photographed the first group of images above, became a staff photographer at JPC, and worked there for 42 years, developing intimate friendships with some of the most famous names in show business.

Moneta Sleet Jr (1926 > 1996), whose images appear immediately above, who began working for Ebony magazine in 1955, was the first African-American man to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1969 – for his photograph of the funeral of Martin Luther King Jr. Among many others, he photographed Muhammad Ali, Dizzy Gillespie, Stevie Wonder, and Billie Holiday.

Appropriately, The Black Image Corporation is on show at Milan’s Fondazione Prada Osservatorio, located within the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, built between 1865 and 1967, which was damaged by bombing in 1943 but is now fully restored.

Photos Moneta Sleet Jr and Isaac  Sutton, courtesy Fondazione Prada Osservatorio


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Photography | Harry Gruyaert: Fifty-Fifty

Friday, September 7th, 2018

Belgium, Antwerp. Carnival, 1992



Roots by Harry Gruyaert
Gallery Fifty One
and Fifty One Too
Antwerp | Belgium
11 September > 3 November 2018



Belgium, Antwerp. Zoo, 1975



Colour is very important to photographer Harry Gruyaert, so why is a good deal of the work in this show black and white? The truth is complex and personal.

When Gruyaert (b 1941), having studied photography and filmmaking, upped sticks, leaving his home town of Antwerp in 1962, because he found the place so dull that he couldn’t bear to be there any longer, looking for visual stimulation, he moved to Paris. Nine years later, having spent time in India, Japan, Morocco and New York – where he discovered the vibrant hues of pop art and thereafter shot exclusively in colour – he developed a morbid fascination with his native country. Deciding to return as often as he could in order to record the banality of Belgian life in all its diversity, he found to his frustration that he could only see Belgium in black and white. It was some years later, when he had become more deeply engrossed in the project, that he felt able to begin shooting in colour.

Belgium, Banneux, 1975



Belgium, Boom, 1988



Belgium, Province of Limburg, 1975



Shot between 1970 and 1992, the substantial body of photographs Gruyaert produced – humour is to be found within it but not much joy – tell the story of his relationship with the land and the people he rejected through the eye of a detached voyeur, obsessively observing all that he was no longer a part of.

Although the colour allows for more complex, painterly compositions – of which Gruyaert is a master – and the viewer is conscious of an obvious time shift towards a more affluent decade – occasionally lifting the mood – little separates the content of the colour and black and white images.

Belgium, Brussels. Palais des Beaux Arts-Museum, 1981



Gruyaert, who continues to live in Paris, and insists he is not a photojournalist, nevertheless joined Magnum Photos in 1982. In the early 1970s, while he was living in London, he produced his TV Shots, a series of photographs of distorted colour television images, resembling pop art paintings. Half documentary photographer/half fine artist, Gruyaert’s images in Roots contain as many clues to his struggle with the conflicting strands of his own creativity – contradictions to which he freely admits – and his feelings about his nationality during the 70s and 80s, as they do to the cultural identity of Belgians living in Belgium in the same period.

The monograph Harry Gruyaert was published by Thames and Hudson in 2015. Retrospective exhibitions of the photographer’s work were held at Paris’s Maison Européenne de la Photographie in 2015 and at the Fotomuseum Antwerp in 2018.

The colour images included in Roots by Harry Gruyaert (first published in book form in 2012, and recently republished), are being shown in Gallery Fifty One while, simultaneously, the black and white prints will be on view at Fifty One Too.

All photographs by Harry Gruyaert, ©Harry Gruyaert, courtesy Gallery Fifty One.
All images are archival pigment prints, printed later


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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 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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