Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Art | Surfing Over Manhattan

Friday, March 28th, 2014

No Title (Here and there), 1995
Pen and ink on paper
Private Collection, New York




Are Your Motives Pure?
Raymond Pettibon Surfers 1985 > 2013
Venus Over Manhattan
980 Madison Avenue
New York City | USA
3rd April > 17th May 2014

Stylistically, Raymond Pettibon’s work stems from comic book art, but has little in common with that of Roy Lichtenstein. Besides, much of its content: American history, literature, sports, religion, politics, and sexuality, doesn’t celebrate the images thrown up by capitalism, but rather, is his very personal critique of contemporary life, through which, according to his biography on the Tate’s website, he [seeks] to redefine attitudes toward values in art and culture. He does, however, have super-heroes: the sea is one of them, of which across the top of No Title (The sea, the), 2005, in uncompromising capital letters he writes:

‘THE SEA, THE MOUNTAIN-RIDGE, NIAGARA, AND EVERY FLOWERBED PRE-EXIST, OR SUPER EXIST, IN PRE-CANTATIONS, WHICH SAIL LIKE ODORS IN THE AIR, AND WHEN ANY MAN GOES BY WITH AN EAR SUFFICIENTLY FINE, HE OVERHEARS THEM, AND ENDEAVORS TO WRITE DOWN THE NOTES, WITHOUT DILUTING OR DEPRAVING THEM.’

and the lone surfer is another, of whom on the same painting, below, he scrawls:

‘He is the person in whom all these powers are in the balance, the man without impendiment [sic], who sees and handles that which others dream of, traverses the whole scale of experience, in virtue of being the largest power to receive and impart it.’

No Title (When the surf), 2008
Private Collection via CFA Berlin, Armonk, NY


Akin to the rantings of some Bible-belt preacher, Pettibon’s enigmatic messages often appear almost biblical in tone – and, in presentation, the word / picture ensembles are reminiscent of the work of English painter, engraver and mystic William Blake (1757>1827), who claimed that most of his work as a writer and artist was done under the direct inspiration of spiritual guides. Could Pettibon’s inspiration rise from a similar source? Well, no, the press release for this exhibition, informs us that his prolific output of drawings and paintings stem from the ‘do-it-yourself’ aesthetic of Southern California punk rock album-covers, concert flyers, and fanzines. His brother, Greg Ginn – Pettibon is a pseudonym– was a founder member of West Coast punk band Black Flag, founded in the late 70s. Pettibon, himself, who briefly played bass in the band, came up with its name and designed its logo. However, feeling that the negativity of punk ruined a lot of people’s lives, his heart was never in it, but he retained his links with the music world, designing the cover of Sonic Youth’s album Goo, in 1990.

Much of Pettibon’s visual output looks like the work of someone who never went near an art college, nor sketched a nude in a studio, which is a correct assumption to make – self-trained, he graduated from UCLA in 1977 with a degree in economics, beginning his working life as a maths teacher, before launching his career as an artist – but then you’re taken aback because the drawing, while not on a par with Leonardo da Vinci’s dexterity, exactly, is often fluid and well-observed. On the other hand, the execution can verge on the primitive, and so perhaps Pettibon’s is a kind of idiosyncratic folk art like graffiti – you can almost imagine it appearing overnight scrawled across the walls of an underpass, or the previously pristine screening erected around the construction site of some shiny new high-rise development.

No Title (This left was), 2012
Pen, ink, colored pencil, acrylic, gouache and collage on paper
Courtesy Venus Over Manhattan, New York


It’s unsurprising to find that Pettibon is a serial tweeter (@RaymondPettibon), and here the themes that are integral to his paintings, continue. Unsupported by visuals, his splurge of cryptic, political and sexual statements take on a curious life of their own, and might constitute an ongoing separate body of work. Recent Pettibon tweets include:

My liiver’s fine.How’s yr concience?Fine.Bcuzz u are a sociopath.Swell.
I’m patriotic.I jerked Obama off.
Teach yr children to disrespect cops,stand up to the pussies.They are wicked.
See the Pandas.
!0.5K followers?More than Jim Jones had at Jonestown.
My elbow tube sock.Easy access.Call the shots.

Venus Over Manhattan’s show is the first exhibition to focus exclusively on Raymond Pettibon’s surfer paintings. Are Your Motives Pure? Raymond Pettibon Surfers 1985-2013, brings together forty works spanning a quarter century of the artist’s career. Somewhat contradictorily, it takes its title from the earliest work on view, painted in 1987, but who, in what might be Pettibon’s parlance, gives a f*ck! The artist, born in 1957 in Tucson, Arizona, who lives and works in the beach town of Venice, California, is, however, not a surfer, nor does he consider his paintings ’surfer art’ – as typified by much of the very much slicker examples to be seen on websites such as Club of the Waves.

No Title (The sea, the), 2005
Ink, oil and watercolor on paper
Courtesy Venus Over Manhattan


Since Pettibon’s emergence as an artist in the 1980s his work has been exhibited widely in the USA and internationally. Recent solo exhibitions include David Zwirner Gallery, New York (2013), the Kunstmuseum Luzern, Lucerne (2012), Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2006), Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2005). His first American museum presentation, organized by The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago in collaboration with the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1998, travelled to The Drawing Center, New York and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

A participant in numerous group exhibitions worldwide, including at the Istanbul Biennial (2011), Liverpool Biennial (2010), SITE Santa Fe, New Mexico (2010 and 2004), Venice Biennale (2007 and 1999), Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2004, 1997, 1993, and 1991), and documenta XI, Kassel, Germany (2002), his work is held in the permanent collections of, among others, the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris,Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Tate Gallery, London; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

Pettibon is represented by Regen Projects in LA, and Sadie Coles in London.


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Photography | Multi-media as Message

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Figure in Six Sections, 1965
Gelatin silver prints on wood blocks
Collection Kathe Heinecken
Courtesy Robert Heinecken Trust, Chicago


Robert Heinecken: Object Matter
Museum of Modern Art
New York City | USA
15th March > 7th September 2014

If Robert Heinecken’s early work was to be pigeonholed along with the pop artists – because he graduated from college in 1960 – then rather than squashing it in with Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein’s, it would perhaps be more appropriate to put it alongside that of the British artist Richard Hamilton – aka The Father of Pop. Hamilton had produced his shocking and enormously influential Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing? a collaged poster image for an exhibition at London’s Whitechapel Gallery, in 1956. In it a picture of a naked woman cut from a pornographic magazine poses on a sofa, while a bodybuilder holds an oversized ‘Pop’ lollipop close to his genitals, the unlikely scene set in the artist’s depiction of a modern, urban living room filled with domestic gadgets included a TV, and the cover of a comic framed and hung on the wall like a painting. It’s possible, though, that Heinecken, who studied for his BA and MA at the University of California (UCLA) had never heard of Hamilton, but like him he was a multi-medium artist who used photography, sculpture, printmaking, and collage to create his works.

MANSMAG: Homage to Werkman
and Cavalcade, 1969
Offset lithography on bound paper
Courtesy Robert Heinecken Trust, Chicago

Recto / Verso #2, 1988
Silver dye bleach print
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Mr & Mrs Clark Winter Fund




If pop art was characterised by the portrayal of aspects of popular culture and its powerful impact on contemporary life, its iconography – sourced from television, comic books, film and magazines, and advertising – presented without praise or condemnation – Heinecken, who also had little in common with his West Coast contemporary artist Ed Ruscha – sometimes grouped with the pop artists – viewed commercial photography as an emblem of the corruptible values of contemporary life. His works explore this theme along with kitsch, sex, pornography (sometimes hard core – related images were not made available to the press for this exhibition), and gender.

Heinecken, however, did have much in common with Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008), and was similarly unclassifiable. Rauschenberg’s New York Times obituary explained that: ‘Building on the legacies of Marcel Duchamp, Kurt Schwitters, Joseph Cornell and others, he thereby helped to obscure the lines between painting and sculpture, painting and photography, photography and printmaking, sculpture and photography, sculpture and dance, sculpture and technology, technology and performance art – not to mention between art and life.’ It could almost have been Heinecken’s.

Cybill Shepherd / Phone Sex, 1992
Dye bleach print on foamcore
Robert Heinecken Trust, Chicago
Courtesy Petzel Gallery, New York

Typographic Nude, 1965
Gelatin silver print
Collection Geofrey & Laura Wyatt,
Montecito, California



Establishing the photography program at UCLA in 1964, where he taught until 1991, he styled himself as a ‘paraphotographer’ because he rarely used a camera, however, Heineken (1931-2006), radically expanded the range of possibilities for photography and art. Like Rauschenberg and Duchamp before him, he was a precursor of appropriationist artists such as Richard Prince, who at the end of the 1970s, along with Barbara Kruger in the 80s, began borrowing existing photographic images from printed reproductions and bringing them into an artistic context, thereby altering their original meaning. Seen by many as a printmaker rather than a de facto artist, the worldwide fame that came to Rauschenburg and Ruscha, and later to Prince and Kruger, eluded Heinecken. That said, since 1964, he has had over sixty one-man shows, at, for example: the Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson, and a 35-year retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1998). His work is in many private and public collections. Robert Heinecken: Object Matter, MoMA’s forthcoming exhibition, is the first retrospective of the artist’s work since his death in 2006, and covers fifty years of his extraordinary career, from the early 1960s to the late 1990s.


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Books | The Op-Art of the Invisible

Friday, March 7th, 2014

Singular Point


Poemotion 2
Takahiro Kurashima
Designed by Takahiro Kurashima
Lars Müller Publishers / 2013
64 pp / 30 images / hardback
170 x 230 mm / 6 3/4 x 9 ins
ISBN 978-3-03778-351-1
English text

Red Square


When this beautiful, finely-crafted little book arrived we thought ‘Yes, isn’t it nice,’ but we’ve been looking at op-art since Josef Albers started playing around with it at the Bauhaus, closely followed by Victor Vasarely. In the 1960s and 70s Bridget Riley’s mind-bending compositions made us woozy and weak at the knees. So what’s so special about these images?

Covers of Poemotion 1 and Poemotion 2


Had we seen Japanese advertising art director Takahiro Kurashima’s black and white bestselling Poemotion 1, prequal to the all colour Poemotion 2, we would immediately have realised that something was missing. As it happened, the all important sheet of etched black film – required to make the images interactive – that must be laid over the graphic abstract patterns to create the moiré effects that set them wildly spinning and vibrating, was accidently left out of the package.

Untitled

Penrose Triangle


For all its small proportions and lightness of touch, the concept of Poemotion 2 is based in philosophy. Kurashima quotes Galileo, who in 1623 wrote: ‘The universe cannot be read until we have learned the language and become familiar with the characters in which it is written. It is written in mathematical language. The letters are triangles, circles and other geometric figures, without which it is humanly impossible to comprehend a single word.’ The design of the book is both minimal and warm, which makes it feel very much of the moment, but Kurashima was strongly influenced by Hans Knuckel and Jurg Nanni’s Seesaw (1994), also produced by Swiss masters of the modern book, Lars Müller Publishers, which he says taught him about the sense of invisibility.

All images © 2014 Takahiro Kurashima & Lars Müller Publishers


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Art | Long Day’s Journey into Night

Friday, January 17th, 2014

Fullmoon@Cape Verde, 2013
C-print



Darren Almond:
To Leave a Light Impression
White Cube
South Galleries, Bermondsey, London, UK
22nd January –13th April, 2014

The White Cube press release for Wigan-born Darren Almond’s forthcoming exhibition at their Bermondsey gallery, tells us he ‘lives and works in London’, which is somewhat misleading. From his London base, Almond travelled back and forth across the globe, visiting every continent over a period of thirteen years to create his Fullmoon series of photographs. These, together with his Present Form series and a group of small bronze sculptures, will be included in the show.

To Almond, who has a deep connection to landscapes – their geology, myth and history – travel is elemental. The Arctic Circle, Siberia, the holy mountains in China and the source of the Nile have all drawn him. Time and duration, place, personal history, and collective memory are the palette from which he creates his sculptures, films, photographs, and works on paper. In terms of execution, sometimes his concepts are relatively simple and at other times far more complex. For Terminus, Almond negotiated the relocation of the original bus shelters of the town of Oswiecim (formerly Auschwitz) to make an emotive installation about historical loss. Tide, in which 600 digital clocks were lined up along a wall, simultaneously registering the relentless passage of time, evoked the ‘clocking in and clocking out’ procedure of factory workers.

Present Form: Ceithir, 2013
C-print



Fullmoon@Cerro Chaltén, 2013
C-print



The works in the Darren Almond: To Leave a Light Impression show at White Cube are the product of Almond’s journeys to Patagonia, Tasmania, the Cape Verde Islands and the Outer Hebrides.

In 1998, Almond began making a series of landscape photographs, which he calls Fullmoons. Each were taken during a full moon in diverse and remote geographical locations. These images, made possible by harnessing the moonlight and using exposures times of 15 minutes or more, appear ghostly, bathed in an unexpectedly brilliant light, as if night has been transformed into day.

His Patagonia pictures – referencing romantic landscape painting – employ classical compositions. Suffused with an apparently supernatural light – the result of the lack of airborne pollution – devoid of any signs of the hand of man, the terrain appears immaculate, timeless.

The passing of time and man’s need to measure it are the subject of Pesent Form, for which Almond photographed 4,000-year-old, ravaged and moss-covered standing stones and circles, on the Isle of Lewis and on the Outer Hebrides. Whereas, the outcrops of black solidified lava, that appear to be still smouldering, in his large-scale photographs taken on the volcanic Cape Verde Islands, off the west coast of Africa, bear witness to their raging, seething birth.

Since his own beginning as an artist, Almond’s work has appeared in countless exhibitions around the world, and has won major art prizes. His films have been shown in biennales from Tel Aviv in Israel to Palm Beach, Florida. Among others, Almond has had one-man shows at London’s Tate Britain, Zürich’s Kunsthalle, the de Appel Centre for Contemporary Art in Amsterdam, at the University of Chicago, at Düsseldorf’s K21 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, and at SITE Santa Fe. A finalist in the 2005 Turner Prize, Almond also participated in the 2003 Venice Biennale. In 2011 his work was featured on a billboard in New York City overlooking Chelsea’s High Line Park. Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin put on his All Things Pass exhibition in 2012, and his Hemispheres and Continents show at Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, last year, was shown in Madrid and Japan.

All Images © Darren Almond, except portrait ©Richard Dawson
Courtesy White Cub
e


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Interview | Art Criticism in Exile

Friday, January 10th, 2014

mouth2mouth interview | imagined by pedro silmon
dave hickey | art critic (currently in self-imposed exile)


Dave Hickey is regarded as, arguably, one of today’s most astute art critics. Despite their often jocular tone, his latest body of essays, published by Ridinghouse under the collective title Pirates and Farmers, Essays on Taste, are a serious, personal rant against the celebrity-and money-driven culture of the global art establishment in the 21st century.

Written in first person, the cleverly-edited content, although not chronologically organised, reads like a mini-autobiography. In 1951, aged eleven, Hickey says, he left his mother’s house, ‘and for the next thirty-five years, travelled, wrote and did a lot of drugs’ and dabbled in group sex. Despite these diversions he managed to graduate from Texas Christian University in 1961 and to be awarded a PhD a couple of years later. He fell down a mountain in Peru. He hung out at Andy Warhol’s Factory. He became a rock journalist, ‘a good, slick magazine writer, and relatively punctual’, and lived for a while in Nashville. In the 1980s in his home town of Fort Worth, Texas, where his mother was ‘furiously dying’, it occurred to him that ‘there might be an expiration date on stupid adventures.’ In 1989, a book of his short fiction Prior Convictions, was published. The nascent 1990s saw his relocation to the West Coast, and when it dawned on him that drugs had killed all of his friends, he realised he was a ‘talented’ writer who didn’t need drugs to write. Somewhere along the line he began attending art exhibition openings, writing about art, and was invited to curate shows. In the 1960s he had been owner-director of an art gallery in Austin, Texas: A Clean Well-Lighted Place, and became director of the Reese Palley Gallery in New York. He lived in Las Vegas for 20 years, taking up gambling, which he regarded as a ‘private refuge’. Despite his having vociferously criticised both the concept of biennials as ‘trade shows for curators in search of internationally certified installations to fill out their exhibition schedules,’ Hickey was chosen to curate SITE, Santa Fe’s fourth biennial, Beau Monde: Toward a Redeemed Cosmopolitanism (2001-2). In 2008, he moved to Santa Fé, New Mexico.

His critical essays have been published in two volumes: The Invisible Dragon: Four Essays on Beauty (1993, republished with revisions in 2009) and Air Guitar: Essays on Art and Democracy (1997). Hickey has written for many American publications, including Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, Art News, Art in America – where he was executive editor – Artforum, and Vanity Fair, as well as for The London Review of Books and Frieze in the UK, and Zürich’s Parkett. He currently holds professorships at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and the University of New Mexico.


Has art criticism contributed to recent trends in the art market?

I look around me every day and thank the gods of art that no piece of art criticism written by me or anyone else has contributed a single whiff of pheromone to the fragrant panache that has sustained the art world market in luxury goods for nearly two decades.

So, what has changed?
During art’s tenure as a luxury commodity, economic problems have arisen. The vestigial infrastructure of arbiters still exists; it just doesn’t arbitrate. Writers like myself are expensive, and professors will write for free to gain tenure. So writers and talkers like myself, who would rather be right than rich, are out of the value game.

What about the media itself?
The Chinese wall that divided advertising from editorial has disappeared completely. Advertisers can suppress coverage. They can even buy coverage with a back cover ad, a nice lunch, and a little schmooze.

What else was different when you were a young art dealer?
My Mentors, Leo Castelli, [et al], believed a dealer’s job was to build great collections and create an art market in which price and value maintained some magnetic attraction. Maybe we aesthetes were wrong. Maybe everything we liked was crap, and art is nothing but decorative fodder that costs too much or too little depending on your disposable income.

Can the art market, as a market in art, tolerate this situation?
Unlike precious stones, rare metal, and Fabergé cloisoneé, works have no intrinsic value. You can’t break art down and sell it for parts, with the exception of Damien Hirst’s diamond skull.

Are today’s arbiters different from those of earlier times?
Back in the day, serious players invested art with value in public. They were willing to put their reputations on the line, take chances, and make public bets on the value and longevity of problematic artworks. This coterie of arbiters included gallerists, collectors, critics, scholars, magazine editors, auction houses, curators and acquisition committees. The ongoing public quarrel over ‘quality’ raged for nearly a century, and generated a fairly stable constellation of relative value among players. Now these arbiters have fallen into disgrace.

What effect has this had on contemporary artists?
There are generations of artists for whom a consensus of professional respect could carry them through times of no money better than money could carry them through times of no respect. A few museum shows and a nice essay during a lull meant that your prices would still be there when the spotlight swooped back.
Ellsworth Kelly, Bruce Nauman, and Ed Ruscha have had moments of eclipse. A non-pecuniary consensus of esteem among honest professionals carried them through the valley of the shadow. Gossip and slick magazine ink doesn’t offer the same fallback support. There are artists out there now who came into public vogue in the mid-1980s, after honest judgement was suppressed. They are still wondering where the help was when they needed it. Numerous contemporary luminaries will soon be wondering the same thing.


Dave Hickey: Pirates and Farmers, Essays on Taste
Edited by Karsten Schubert and Doro Globus
Softback, 192pp
Published by Ridinghouse, 2013

All imaginary interview answers extracted in part or in full from the essay Some Things Are Better than Others – of which an edited version (Revision Number Five: Quality) was first published in Art in America, vol 97, no 2, February 2009 – amongst the collection of essays, written between 2000-2012, which appear in:

Photo of Dave Hickey by Christine Taylor


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The publishers of The Blog 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 which may, under any circumstances, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier

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Art | Prune Nourry’s Terra Cotta Daughters

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Terracotta Daughter #1, 2013
Terracotta Daughter #2, 2013
Terracotta Daughter #3, 2013
Terracotta Daughter #4, 2013
Terracotta Daughter #5, 2013
Terracotta Daughter #6, 2013
Terracotta Daughter #7, 2013
Terracotta Daughter #8, 2013


Terracotta Daughter #1–#8, Prune Nourry, 2013
Lithographs, 50 x 70 cm
Edition of 80 + 12 AP
€400.00 each + packing + shipping
More information: info@prunenourry.com

Making its debut last week on a 6.4m / 21ft screen at Art Basel – Miami Beach, Terracotta Daughters, which traces the course of multi-disciplinary French artist Prune Nourry’s latest project, is a full-length feature documentary. The large-scale finished work itself, the Terracotta Daughter Army, presented for the first time at Magda Danysz Gallery in Shanghai in September, 2013, comprises 108 unique, life-size sculptures, produced in collaboration with local Chinese craftsmen, and is the artist’s reflection, through the appropriation of the unearthed Xi’an two-thousand-two-hundred-year-old Terracotta Warrior army, upon the issue of gender imbalance in China. It has been extended into the edition of eight prints shown above.

Prune Nourry, born in 1985, New York-based, where she is currently resident artist at the Invisible Dog Center, Brooklyn, presented her project Genesis – a demure pole dance, in which a model in skin-coloured leotard performs to a slow classical piece by Vivaldi – for the first time at the historic Casino Venier in conjunction with the 2013 Venice Biennale.

In 2010, as part of a 3-year project based around gender imbalance in India, drawing parallels between the cow – sacred animal and symbol of fertility – and her observance of the undervalued condition of India’s women, Nourry created life-like figurative sculptures, the Holy Daughters, that were part sacred cow, part girl, in resin, placing them in the streets of New Delhi before stepping back to film the reactions of local men. Bronze sculptures of the same design were included in exhibitions in 2011, in Berlin and Paris. She has taken part in many international group shows since 2004, as a performance artist as well as contributing installations, and had her first solo show in 2011.

After Shanghai, the Terracotta Daughter Army goes on a world tour, stopping first in Paris at the Centquatre Art Centre and Magda Danysz Gallery, and visiting Switzerland and the USA, before returning to China in 2015, where it is to be buried – the event no doubt, documented on film – until 2030.

Photos Anne-Gloria Lefevre
Courtesy Prune Nourry


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Books | Art School Archive

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Paul Winstanley: Art School
Text by Jon Thompson with an interview by Maria Fusco
Published by Ridinghouse, 2013
288pp, Hardback

The relatively permanent studios belonging to established artists have little in common with those in which, year after year, an endless succession of British undergraduate fine art students work towards achieving their degrees. Each summer, in preparation for a fresh intake, art school studios are cleaned out and white-washed over, leaving little trace of their previous occupants – those having now or long since, through talent or good fortune, become successful, famous; others who fell foul of mediocrity or plain laziness; those who lost interest, the failures – so that nothing but the anonymous emptiness of the spaces themselves remains.

The substance of this nothingness became the subject matter for artist Paul Winstanley. His art school photographs, taken at over 50 colleges throughout England, Scotland and Wales during the summers of 2011 and 2012, are unsensational. Shot in straightforward documentary style, he refers to them as an archive. Their palpable silence, their sameness as much as their differences, draw the viewer’s curiosity to examine them closely and to compare them, one with another, while publisher Ridinghouse’s new book Paul Winstanley; Art School allows us to consider them in total as a body of work.

Having exhibited his paintings since the 1970s, Winstanley taught part-time during the 80s and 90s at Falmouth then at Goldsmiths, London. In some ways, through these photographs he is perhaps tracing the course and experiences of his own educational journey. Born in 1954, he attended Lanchester Polytechnic – now Coventry University – from 1972-73, then from 1973-76 was at Cardiff College of Art, after which he went to the Slade School of Art (1976-78). But it was during his teaching years that the idea began to germinate. At the time, however, involved in paintings of interiors – TV rooms, lounges, waiting rooms – that were institutional in nature, he put the concept to one side. Returning to it later, he began to consider the empty studio spaces as empty potential, which led to his visiting a few colleges, ostensibly, to take some reference photographs. He had often used photographs before to assist with his paintings, however, now realising the documentary value of photography and its suitability for recording the fine detail of the locations that he wished to show, unaltered, exactly as he found them, decided to make it the actual medium for the project.

An exercise in minimalism, Paul Winstanley: Art School is sensitively-designed. Its matt varnished cover, in putty and grey hues, the sparse elements in the photograph suggesting a shallow bass-relief, bring to mind details of the disused ex-US Air Force base and town buildings bought and recommissioned by the late artist Donald Judd – now administered by the Chinati Foundation – at Marfa, Texas, for use as gallery spaces and offices. The inside pages are without folios – a simple list of the British cities Winstanley visited providing the only clue to the locations of the uncaptioned pictures that follow, all of which are shot with rigidly identical perspective and reproduced in the same, upright format. A blank page on the left of a double-spread, is (I think) the only indication that the images of one art school are finished and another begun. While the main section of the book is printed on a luxuriously-heavy, white, smooth-coated stock, with semi-gloss varnish over each picture, at the back the essay by Jon Thompson and interview by Maria Fusco, both appear on lightly cream-tinged uncoated paper.

Coinciding with the publication of the book, the exhibition Art School, which includes new paintings and photographs by the artist is running at the Kerlin Gallery, Dublin, Eire until 7th January, 2014.

Paul Winstanley photographs from top
Art School 96, 2011–12
Art School 136, 2011–12
Art School 50, 2011–12
Art School 224, 2011–12

All photos ©Paul Winstanley. Courtesy the artist and Ridinghouse, London
All taken at f2.8 with a Cannon 5D Mark 2 camera, using a 24-70mm lens in natural light, where possible


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The publishers of The Blog 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 which may, under any circumstances, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier

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Cars | Art-of-the-States

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Sotheby’s
Art of the Automobile
Sotheby’s Manhattan Galleries
New York, USA
Exhibition: 18th – 21st November, 2013
Sale: 21st November

Pistonhead: Artists Engage the Automobile
1111 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, Florida, USA
3rd – 8th December, 2013

A couple of years ago, during one of her TV talk shows, American media proprietor, actress, producer, and philanthropist, Oprah Winfrey handed out little sealed boxes to each of her 275 member audience. Deafening shrieks, screams and laughter filled the air when, invited by her to open them, each box contained the keys to a brand new German VW Beetle, which Oprah had given to everyone as a present.

It’s no surprise that, despite these turbulent economic times, in the country which boasts 16 lane highways, where the car is adored and deified, some of the most phenomenal, car-related events in the world take place there.

Another of these is due to happen next week, when the sky-high 10th floor galleries of Sotheby’s Manhattan headquarters building at 1334 York Avenue provides the extraordinary setting for an extraordinary exhibition of over 25 rare and historic cars from all the great makers around the world. All will go under the hammer in RM Auctions and Sotheby’s Art of the Automobile sale. The star attraction, one of the most coveted and collectible cars of all time, the 1964 Ferrari 250 LM, with coachwork by Carrozzeria Scaglietti, which finished eighth overall and first in class at the 1968 24 Hours of Daytona, with the sale’s highest estimated price tag of $12m-15m, is ironically, again, not an American car. Alongside it, however, beautiful, legendary and rare US Lincoln, Chevrolet and Plymouth designs, as well as cars from many international celebrated producers – Aston Martin, Talbot-Lago, Mercedes Benz, Maserati – the list is endless – each with legitimate provenance and from every era of motoring history are well-represented.

Meanwhile, a little further south, but shortly after, Venus Over Manhattan, Powered by Ferrari, will exhibit 14 cars transformed into sculptures since 1970 by leading modern and contemporary artists in their exhibition Piston Head: Artists Engage the Automobile, at 1111 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, Florida, the dramatic open air parking structure designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron. Piston Head is being organised in conjunction with Art Basel Miami Beach – the annual art fair considered one of the biggest events on the world’s art calendar. Works by an international array of artists: Ron Arad, Bruce High Quality Foundation, César, Dan Colen and Nate Lowman, Keith Haring, Damien Hirst, Virginia Overton, Olivier Mosset / Jacob Kassay / Servane Mary, Richard Phillips, Richard Prince, Tom Sachs, Salvatore Scarpitta, Kenny Scharf, and Franz West, will be on show. Prices for individual pieces will not be announced in advance, but will range from $250,000-7m. And while here, another Ferrari, the LaFerrari state-of-the-art hybrid supercar, unveiled at the 2013 Geneva Auto Show, is likely to steal the show, one of the major highlights will be when Los Angeles-based artist Joshua Callaghan creates a new work in situ – a signature ‘rubbing’ of the car – as part of the exhibition.

Images from top
Ford Galaxie (Car), 2013, detail
Olivier Mosset, Jacob Kassay and Servane Mary
1964 Ford Galaxie

Ferrari 250 LM, 1964
Estimate $12,000,000-15,000,000

Plymouth Road Runner Superbird, 1970
Estimate $400,000-500,000

Talbot-Lago T150-C SS Teardrop Cabriolet, 1938
Estimate $8,000,000-10,000,000

Lincoln Indianaolis Exclusive Study, 1955
Estimate $2,000,000 -2,500,000

Aston Martin DB2/4 Mk II ‘Supersonic’, 1956
Estimate $1,800,000-2,400,000

Vanishing Point (The Artist Cut) (Car), 2012 – 13
Richard Prince

Untitled (Car), 1986, detail, Keith Haring
Enamel on 1963 Buick Special

Photos top, 7&8 Courtesy Venus Over Manhattan

Photos 2-6, Michael Furman ©2013
Courtesy RM Auctions and Sotheby’s New York


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Auction | Playing with the Female Form

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Modern & Contemporary Photographs
Hotel Drouot, Paris, France
Auction: 30th October, 2013
Private previews: by appointment until 25th October, 2013
Exhibition: Hotel Drouot
29th October & 30 October, 2013


Above, Purple Nude. Erwin Blumenfeld, New York, 1940
€1,500–2,000


Distorsion #159. Andre Kertesz, Paris, 1933
€8,000–10,000


The works about to go on show in Centre Pompidou’s Surrealism & the Object (30th October 2013 – 3rd March 2014) demonstrate that objects were the main preoccupation of the surrealist movement. The human body was another, but often, as in Man Ray’s photograph The coat-stand (1920) – one of the exhibits – the body, almost invariably female, was itself objectified.

Ray’s image of Jean Cocteau, showing the artist with his sculpture Débourre-pipes (1928, not shown), the floating, decapitated head of a woman sculpted in wire, is one of almost 300 lots in a varied sale of Modern & Contemporary Photographs at Hotel Drout in Paris, in which an array of early travel photography, modernist interiors, Parisian and American street life, glamour portraits, and portraits of a good number of other famous artists, will be auctioned.

A total of 44 photographs by André Kertesz, from a Swiss collection, exude a strong presence amongst the list of lots. In 1930, Carlo Rim, the editor of the magazine VU, asked Kertész to take his portrait. Kertész, who was already experimenting with distortion, persuaded Rim to do it at the hall of distorting mirrors at Luna Park fun fair in the Bois de Boulogne. Shortly after, a pair of portraits of Rim – one with an overly tapered body, the other making him appear dwarfed – appeared together in VU.

The idea of using distortion in art probably had its genesis in the African and Polynesian wood carvings that had begun to appear in Europe in the late 19th century, the influence of which was absorbed and first exploited by Picasso and later by, among others, Henry Moore, as well as the surrealist sculptor, Giacometti. For many artists, exploring distortion was also a way of dealing with the atrocious mutilations that were the legacy of the Great War.

During the early years of the new century, women had begun to demand, and had won, greater freedom for themselves. Parisian women, during the 1920s, were the first to be released from the corset by Coco Chanel and, in the same decade two-piece bathing costumes, which were little more than a bra and skimpy shorts set, began to appear on the French Riviera. Nudes, as the subjects of ‘tasteful’, artistic photography were becoming less taboo, which led to magazine editors in France becoming more daring. And, impressed by the distorted portraits he saw in VU, the editor of the rather racy Le Sourire (Smile) magazine asked Kertész to make a series of distorted nude images of two female models. However, the editor didn’t – or was not allowed – to publish them, and it wasn’t until 1976, when they appeared in the book André Kertész Distortion (Editions du Chêne Paris), that they became one of the photographer’s most famous series. A number of images from this series, including the bizarre and disturbing Distortion #159, (above), and some of Kertész’s earlier, experimental prints are also included in the sale.


Les Jeux de la Poupée. Hans Bellmer, 1935
€1,000–1,500



Nu blanc. Jeanloup Sieff, Paris, 1967
€2,000–3,000


Gog et Magog. Pierre Molinier, c 1965
€2,500-3,000


As a child, in Germany, Hans Bellmer, (1902-1975) found refuge from an oppressive family atmosphere in a secret garden decorated with toys and visited by young girls, who joined in sexual games. In the 1920s he became involved with the Dada movement, and in 1933, built his life-sized Puppe (Doll) sculpture, a representation of his yearning to escape from the reality of Nazi Germany. In 1934, he published ten photographs of this work accompanied by a prose poem in which he demonstrated how the seemingly innocent pastimes of his childhood had developed into the sexual fantasies of an adult. Acclaimed and adopted by the Parisian surrealists in 1935, he published a French translation of Die Puppe – La Poupé. That summer he altered the sculpture giving it ball-joints to allow for increased mobility – the stomach became a large sphere around which two pelvises could be articulated, each with its own legs and feet – pushing it into the area of distortion. The auction includes a hand-tinted print, made in 1970, entitled Les Jeux de la Poupée (1935, above), and dedicated to Man Ray.

Meanwhile, in a theatrical form of distortion, former landscape painter, who quickly turned to fetishistic/erotic photography, Pierre Molinier’s (1900-1976) Gog et Magog photomontage (1965, above) typically, placing her in a sexy stage set, removes his model’s body, reducing her to a head at the crux of four stockinged legs, each terminating in patent and pointed stilletto-heeled shoes. With something akin to Molinier’s staging, for Jean Paul-Goude’s Grace Jones Revised and updated (1978, not shown, a print is included in this sale), each of the black singer’s limbs, as well as her neck, are slimmed down, stretched and given a highly-polished finish, so that she resembles a life-size, semi-naked, art-deco-inspired, carved mahogany figure.


Nude. Weegee (aka Arthur H Fellig) New York, c 1940
€1,200–1,500


One of the surprises in the Hotel Drout event is a sensitive nude study (above), shot in the studio around 1940, by Weegee (aka Arthur H Fellig) – better known for his stark black and white New York street scene photojournalism. In the 1950s Weegee experimented with distortion, producing nudes, including Nude (easel trick and plastic lens) c 1953-6, which appeared in the book Weegee’s Women, (Showplace, first published, July 1956), in which the model appears to have extremely long, giraffe-like legs, and Marilyn Monroe (plastic lens) c 1960, where a beautiful initial image of MM pursing her lips, eyes closed, as if waiting for the camera to kiss her, is altered in a succession of distortions, rendering her unrecognisable.

Rare examples of male distortion, two of Philippe Halsman’s (1906-1979) famous images of Salvador Dali (not shown), from the photographer and artist’s 1954 collaboration ‘Dali’s Mustache’, will also go under the hammer.

Lot #175, Jeanloup Sieff’s (1933-2000) thin, twisted and angular Nu blanc (1967, above) might be a template for the figure of the modern woman that has proliferated via women’s fashion magazines since the 60s, whereas Erwin Blumenfeld (1897-1969) who is represented in the sale by Purple Nude (1940, top) proves that the visual dismemberment of a female model need not invoke feelings of revulsion, but rather that by careful and sympathetic reconstruction, a sphisticated image of subtle and elegant female beauty can be created.


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The publishers of The Blog 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 which may, under any circumstances, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier

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Photography | New York Garden City

Friday, October 11th, 2013

Oblivious to the beautiful location – Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building Plaza in the heart of Manhattan, with pool, dancing fountains, and Maidenhair tree resplendent in September sunshine – a woman makes a call on her mobile phone.

Did she fall or was she pushed…? Drama at the sedate Museum of Modern Art Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden, designed in 1953 by Philip Johnson.

Had Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood founder member, the painter Sir John Everett Millais, still been around and encountered this scene on New York’s High Line, he might have been moved to recreate Ophelia (1851-52), set in a modern context.

Images from top
Seagram Building Plaza, 2013
MoMA Sculpture Garden, 2013
The High Line, 2013

All Photographs ©Pedro Silmon

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The Blog is about art, architecture, gardens, books, design and anything else that currently interests us which we think might interest you

The publishers of The Blog 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 which may, under any circumstances, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier

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