Archive for January, 2019

Photography | Ray K Metzker in Contrast

Friday, January 11th, 2019

Early Philadelphia, 1962



Ray K Metzker:
Black & Light
Howard Greenberg Gallery
New York City | USA
> 2 March 2019



Chicago – Loop, 1958



If there’s a spectral force lurking at the point where darkness and light bang up against one another, Ray K Metzker (1931 > 2014) captured it with his camera, bottled it and used it sparingly to imbue his starkly contrasty images with powerful sculptural form and tantalising depth.

But there was nothing ethereal about his approach. A pragmatist, who was intent on conveying the complex realities of modern, urban life, Metzker met his subject matter head-on, creating virtuoso compositions in which architecture, objects and the human form are afforded parity.

City Whispers, 1982



Pictus Interruptus, 1979



Early Philadelphia, 1963



Metzker studied photography in the late 1950s at Chicago’s Institute of Design under Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind. When he began his career as a photographer, he rejected abstract expressionism and its preoccupation with feelings, which had dominated art in America for more than a decade, and embraced the objectivity of the emergent minimal art.

Innovative and experimental, in his later work, Metzker created images from assemblages of printed film strips; he cropped and collaged details of his own photographs to create unique and powerful new images, and he waved flimsy pieces of paper in front of his camera lens to produce random effects.

Early Philadelphia, 1969



Metzker had his first solo exhibition at MoMA in 1967. During his 60-year career as a photographer, he had more than 50 solo exhibitions at major museums around the world.

Ray K Metzker: Black & Light at Howard Greenberg Gallery features the photographer’s early street photography from Chicago in the 1950s and Philadelphia in the 1960s. It also includes images from his 1960 > 61 European excursion, photographs from the series Pictus Interruptus from 1976 >1980, from his early 1980s series City Whispers, as well as examples of his collage series Whimsy and Arrestation.

All photographs © Estate of Ray K Metzker, courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York. All prints are gelatin silver prints


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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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Exhibitions | When the Bauhaus went Dutch

Friday, January 4th, 2019

Theo van Doesburg,
Grundbegriffe der neuen
gestaltenden Kunst,
part 6, Bauhausbücher
series. Design
Theo
van Doesburg, 1925

Private collection,
with thanks to DerdaBerli



Netherlands ⇄ Bauhaus
– Pioneers of a New World
Museum Boijmans
Van Beuningen
Rotterdam | Netherlands
9 February > 26 May 2019



Postcard of the
Bauhaus in Weimar,
appended and graffitied
by Theo van Doesburg
with the message
‘before the collapse,
bombed by n’dimensional
style artillery.’

September 1921



The postcard, above, expresses explicit intent. Sent by feisty Dutchman, Theo Van Doesburg, in September 1921, it shows a picture of the Bauhaus building in Weimar that he smothered with pro-De Stijl graffiti. Van Doesburg had meant business when he moved to Weimar earlier that year. Painter, poet, art critic, designer, typographer, architect, performance artist, as well as a founder member and self-appointed ‘ambassador’ of the burgeoning De Stijl group, he was hell-bent on converting the Bauhaus to adopt a new approach. The design school’s director Walter Gropius, however, who allowed him to lecture, decided not to invite him to become a master. Not easily put off, Van Doesburg promptly installed himself in an adjacent building and by June had set up his own course and was poaching Bauhaus students.

Marcel Breuer, four
side tables, c 1926
Nickel-plated metal,
lacquered in four colours.
Collection Büscher



Stemming from cubism and influenced by constructivism, De Stijl – of which Piet Mondrian was also a prominent member – advocated pure abstraction and universality in art, architecture and design. It stripped out everything but the essentials of form and colour, restricting itself to only verticals and horizontals: to black, white and primary colours. While Gropius had objected to Van Doesburg’s dogmatic and aggressive views, younger Bauhaus masters, including, importantly, Mies van Der Rohe, recognising that in order to progress the school needed to break away from its German expressionist roots and open itself up to international influences, were inspired by them. Student, then master, Marcel Breuer, would develop his signature tubular steel furniture based on De Stijl principles.

2019 might be the one-hundredth anniversary of the establishment of the legendary design school but what would grow to become universally recognised as Bauhaus style owes much to the Dutch, and the Dutch aren’t going to let anyone forget it.

Jan Buijs, Nacht – when
I’m building, 1917
Mixed media on paper.
Private collection



Walter Gropius (author),
Lyonel Feininger (cover
design), Programm des
Staatlichen Bauhauses
in Weimar, April 1919
Woodcut. Private collection,
with thanks to DerdaBerlin



Netherlands ⇄ Bauhaus – Pioneers of a New World at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is less about the cross-pollination that occurred between The Netherlands and the Bauhaus and more about underlining the fact that Dutch ideas were instrumental in ‘modernising’ it. Less brutal than Van Doesburg’s graffiti, the two small arrows inserted into the title of this exhibition are a subtle hint that ideas flowed, in the first instance, from The Netherlands to the Bauhaus, before anything flowed back.

László Moholy-Nagy,
Prospectus 14,
Bauhausbücher, 1929
Letterpress.
Collection Flip Bool



But the Dutch can’t have it all their own way; the multi-talented Hungarian, Lazlo Moholy-Nagy who arrived at the Bauhaus in 1923, ostensibly to run the foundation course, who, between 1923 and 1928, played a significant part in all aspects of its further modernisation, was also photo editor of the Dutch avant-garde magazine International Revue from 1927 to 1929, which had significant impact on contemporary Dutch photography. When, in 1933, the Nazi regime forced the closure of the Bauhaus, and provoked the modernist diaspora – inadvertently, causing modernist ideas to disseminate more quickly around the globe – Moholy-Nagy relocated to Amsterdam, where he remained for two years, collaborating with De Stijl artists and experimenting with colour film and photography. His 1934 solo exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, was enormously influential.

All images courtesy Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen


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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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