Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Illustration | Drawing Fashion Forward

Friday, December 19th, 2014

At Home, 1967
Published in The New York Times Magazine

Mixed media
© Courtesy of Estate of Antonio Lopez and Juan Ramos
and Galerie Bartsch & Chariau



Drawing Fashion.
Masterpieces of a Century
Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg
Hamburg | Germany
19th December 2014 > 3 May 2015



I own a copy of Paris Vogue’s ‘Homáge a Paris’ June / July 1985 issue, the cover illustrated with a painting of a bare-shouldered, three-quarter length female model against a minimal evening backdrop of the city, unmistakable because of the small, blurred, floodlit silhouette of the The Arc de Triomphe in the distance, placing her, unmistakably on the sophisticated and romantic Champs-Élysées. Hands, clenched below her chin, she wears long black gloves, with diamond earrings and a diamond necklace. Her black hair is piled high on top of her head. Her black-mascara’d eyes closed in ecstasy, her full red-lipped mouth with even white teeth smiles wide with sheer delight. The perfect picture of Parisian glamour – a huge gold ribbon cinches the waist of her spangled black dress, and, extending off both sides of the cover, binds her image to the magazine. The message is unmistakable. The artist who created it was René Gruau (1909 > 2004).

Georges Lepape
Untitled, 1915
Published on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar

Watercolour and gouache
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014



Mats Gustafson
Kopfbedeckung, 2005
Fashion from Comme des Garçons

Watercolour
© Mats Gustafson / Art + Commerce



Réne Gruau
Untitled, 1955
Fashion from Dior
Published in International Textiles

Brushed ink and gouache
© Nachlass Réne Gruau



Gruau, whose heyday was in the 1940s and 50s was one of the main attractions in the enormously successful, Drawing Fashion: 100 years of fashion illustrated exhibition in 2010 at London’s Design Museum. From today, and deservedly so, re-jigged and rearranged to suit the new venue, the same material is getting a fresh outing under the title Drawing Fashion. Masterpieces of a Century at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg. The new exhibition celebrates the genre as represented in 165 images, covering the whole of the 20th century period, with a few examples from the 21st, from the unique collection of original artworks of renowned Munich art dealer Joelle Chariau.

Split into seven sections – the first two representing a particular style or epoch – the extravagant art deco of the 1910s and twenties is followed by the more dignified fashions of the thirties and forties. Each subsequent decade is represented by its outstanding illustrators – the fifties by René Gruau (1909 > 2004), the sixties to eighties by the remarkable, prolific and highly-influential New Yorker, and close associate of Karl Lagerfeld, Antonio (Antonio Lopez, 1943 > 1987), who worked in Paris from 1969 to the mid 70s. Then come those who are still working today like, sensitive master of the watercolour wash, the Swede, Mats Gustafson (b 1951), the Swiss, François Berthoud (b 1961), of whom Anna Piaggi Vogue Italia fashion contributor and style icon – wrote: ‘While François illustrates fashion in an apparently formal and decorative way, in reality he analyses his subject in depth and with an elegant sense of detachment before recreating it in his atelier-laboratory…. with a sharp sense of irony and a visual culture rooted in conceptual art!’ This section also includes Parisian Aurore de La Morinerie (b 1962), who spent two years studying the Chinese calligraphy that was to become a formative influence on her style.

François Berthoud
Girl in a room
, 1996
Fashion from Jil Sander, published in Interview Review

Monotype and oil
© François Berthoud



The Fashion Illustration Gallery (Paris) website has examples of work by most, but not all of the big names from the 20th and 21st centuries. Their list is dived into two alphabetically-ordered groups – the younger illustrators, followed by the more mature or no longer living, or so it appears – which puts flavour of the moment, David Downton, whose slick, nostalgic style pays tribute to those who went before him – such as Gruau – right at the top. It’s interesting to see, however, some young people like Daisy De Villeneuve, with her own inimitable, primitive style, pushing the genre in a very personal and alternative direction. Former fashion designer, Richard Haines‘ matter-of-fact, laid-back watercolour sketches come close to caricature. Award-winning, Japanese fashion illustrator Hiroshi Tanabe, who quickly became established after leaving college in 1990, has an assured graphic hand that produces reduced, often minimal images with a whiff of the 1970s about them, which are at the same time bang up to date.



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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 | Imi Knoebel – Works in Progress

Friday, November 14th, 2014

Cut-up 5, 2011
Acrylic, aluminium, polythene pipe
Olga and Stella Knoebel Collection
Photo Ivo Faber




Imi Knoebel. Works 1966 > 2014
Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg
Wolfsburg > Germany
Until 15th February 2015




Prolific, having produced well over 1000 works between 1966 and 2014, 75-year-old German artist Imi Knoebel has had 40 one man shows, but not a single one at a major venue in London, or in New York City.

A good deal of his exhibitions have, however, been held in Germany’s top museums and galleries. In 2009, concurrent with his Zu Hilfe, Zu Hilfe show at Berlin’s prestigious New National Gallery, his exhibition ICH NICHT / ENDUROS was being shown at the city’s Deutsche Guggenheim – a phenomenal achievement. Many other Knoebel exhibitions have taken place in prominent venues across the globe from Rome to Osaka, Istanbul to Montreal, Sao Paulo and San Francisco. To date, his work has appeared in over 100 group shows, and the Deutsche Bank has more than 200 of his pieces in their collection. Knoebel’s works are also held in numerous public collections, including Dia in Beacon, New York State, the Fonds Regional d’Art Contemporain in France, the Kunstmuseum St Gallen in Switzerland, the Kunstammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Germany and the Malmö Konsthall in Sweden. In 2008, he created the stained glass windows in the Notre Dame Cathedral in Reims, France. So why have I, and – if you are resident in the UK – probably you, never heard of him?

Grace Kelly III-5, 1990
Acrylic on wood
Schauwerk Sindelfingen
Photo Nic Tenwiggenhorn




Schwarzes Kreuz, 1968
Oil paint on linen on hardboard base
Olga and Stella Knoebel Collection
Photo: Nic Tenwiggenhorn


Kadmiumrot A, 1976/84/90
Red cadmium on plywood
Sammlung Siegfried and Jutta Weishaupt
Photo Archiv Weishaupt, Schwendi




Aside from exhibiting in a group show, The Indiscipline of Painting, at Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, and Tate St Ives, and taking part in the Homage to Beuys event at The Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1987, and in another Unbound: Possibilities in Painting, at the Hayward Gallery, London, in 1994, he would seem to have been largely ignored by us Brits. But it’s not only us; while he has been invited as a solo exhibitor to other US cities, Knoebel hasn’t had a single one-man show at any of the big venues in New York.

Perhaps the anomaly can be put down to timing. While Knoebel was a child growing up in Dessau – home from 1919 >1933 to the Bauhaus school – the non-representational abstract art that had been developed early in the 20th century via cubism and such artists as Robert Delaunay, Kazimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian had reached its apotheosis in the 1950s New York-led abstract expressionist movement. Minimalism, sometimes described as a reaction against abstract expression emerged, also in New York, in the early 1960s when Knoebel would have been an undergraduate. From 1962 > 1964 he attended classes based on the ideas of the Bauhaus foundation course taught by Johannes Itten and László Moholy-Nagy. His final years of art education were spent under influential German performance and installation artist, sculptor and printmaker Joseph Beuys at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, where he produced his first key work, Raum 19 / Room 19. An arrangement of seventy-two separate geometric, hand-crafted, bare wood parts; it was a summation of, and trumpeted every influence he was under at the time. But already the art world had moved on and British and American pop art was the new vogue that emerging German artists such as Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter were flirting with, whose work from this period would form the basis of their future international fame.

Mamafou, 1989/2003/2009
Acrylic, wood, hardboard,
copper, Finnish birch plywood
Olga and Stella Knoebel Collection
Photo Ivo Faber




Significantly, for artists like Knoedel, pop tore up and painted over the accepted rules of reverence that had previously been applied to the art that paid homage to the early 20th century European art movements. From then on, and into the 21st century, New York and London continue to dominate an art market in which abstract art was considered, for the most part, as anachronistic. Meanwhile, Imi Knoebel, born Klaus Wolf Knoebel, who it is said: created the sobriquet ‘Imi’, to explore an artistic identity from a purist, experimental stance – famous everywhere else – continued, and continues, to produce remarkable and relevant work, like his latest pieces that might be made up of the freshly-unpacked elements of flat-packed furniture, or perhaps left over bits and pieces from a construction site, using simple form and basic colour as the sole contents of his palette.

For Knoedel, from the outset, each item of his work was part of an expanding whole. His pieces are never fixed in position or in time. He thinks nothing of returning to earlier works, adjusting, altering them, or indeed adding to them as the mood takes him. Therefore, the completion dates cannot be fixed and are amended each time he revisits a work.

The Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg will be the first institution in nearly twenty years to present a comprehensive exhibition, Imi Knoebel. Works 1966 > 2014, of the oeuvre of this important German artist.

All Images © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014
Courtesy Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg




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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 | Egon Schiele: Egon Schiele

Friday, October 17th, 2014

Self-Portrait as Kneeling Nude, 1910
Black chalk and gouache on paper
Leopold Museum-Privatstiftung, Vienna, Austria



The Radical Nude
The Courtauld Gallery
London, United Kingdom
23rd October 2014 > 18th January 2015



Standing Nude with Stockings, 1914
Black chalk and gouache
Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, Germany



If you like Egon Schiele’s work, there’s no better time than right now to see a great deal of it. No less than three exhibitions of the Austrian artist’s work are currently showing around Europe and in America, respectively, while Egon Schiele: The Radical Nude, opens at the Courtauld Gallery in London next week, and is claimed be the first ever museum show in the UK devoted entirely to the artist. A fact that, if true, is a shocking oversight.

Revered today as not just a central figure in Austrian expressionism, but as one of the most important artists of the early 20th century, Egon Schiele (1890 > 1918) had his first solo exhibition at Vienna’s Galerie Miethke in 1911. Just seven years after, he and his pregnant wife, infected by the Spanish flu epidemic that swept across Europe during 1918, tragically died. Despite Schiele’s short life, however, he produced a prodigious amount of work, and the mere fact that his oeuvre can sustain so many simultaneous exhibitions – Egon Schiele: Beginning and End, at the Egon Schiele Museum, Tulln, Austria, Egon Schiele: Portraits at the Neue Galerie in New York, Egon Schiele – Jenny Saville, at Switzerland’s Kunsthaus Zürich, in which 35 paintings by Schiele are juxtaposed against 16 large-format works by the British artist, Jenny Saville (1970-) – pays tribute to its superb quality and breadth.

Two Women Embracing,1915
Gouache, watercolour and pencil
Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest



In 1906, judged a failure at the village school because all he wanted to do was draw pictures, the fifteen-year-old Schiele was sent to Vienna to study art, where he was immediately accepted at the city’s prestigious Academy of Fine Arts. Soon after he met Gustav Klimt, one of the most prominent members of the Austrian Secession, and was adopted as one of the great artist’s protogés. 1909 saw four of Schiele’s pictures accepted for the Internationalen Kunstschau / International Art Show, organised by a committee headed by Klimt. At this point Schiele made the decision to leave the Academy and to set up his own art group, the Neukunstgruppe / New Art Group, with eight others, of which he was both president and secretary. His work beginning to draw international interest, he was invited to join the Sema artists association in Munich, which numbered Paul Klee among its members. Schiele also exhibited at the Goltz Gallery in Munich with Der Blaue Reiter / The Blue Rider group whose prominent members included Franz Marc and Wassily Kandinsky.

In 1912, Schiele was arrested and charged with the kidnapping of a minor – the charge was later dropped – and 125 of his erotic drawings were confiscated. ‘Hindering the artist is a crime,’ he wrote after being forced to spend three days in prison for his alleged dissemination of immoral images.

Erwin Dominik Osen, Nude with Crossed Arms, 1910
Black chalk, watercolour and gouache,
Leopold Museum-Privatstiftung, Vienna



His first exhibitions outside of the Austro-Hungarian empire, in Rome, Brussels and Paris came in 1913. Between 1915 and 1917, he saw military service in Prague – during which he continued to take part in exhibitions. Released from service, Gustav Klimt having died, Schiele took responsibility for organising the 49th Wiener Secession exhibition for which he also produced the poster. The event was an enormous success, and earned him many commissions from Viennese society.

Sharply focussed, Egon Schiele: The Radical Nude homes in on some of Schiele’s most radical, inspirational and influential works. The Courtauld Gallery exhibition includes more than thirty items – oil paintings, watercolours and drawings – all of them nudes, assembled from international public and private collections. Their frank content draws comparison with some of those Schiele almost certainly influenced, for example, Lucien Freud, albeit Freud’s nude figures were mostly set against some sort of background, whereas Schiele’s were not. Freud’s nudes would surely have been a better choice for comparison than Jenny Saville’s, for the Zürich show.

Images courtesy The Courtauld Gallery



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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 | ZERO

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

Piero Manzoni, Achrome, 1961
Fibreglass wool in artist’s box
Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York
Gift, Manzoni Family, 1993, 93.4225
© 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS) / SIAE Rome




ZERO: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s–60s
Guggenheim Museum
New York City | USA
10th October 2014 > 7th January 2015




However much we deplore them and the death and destruction they represent, wars are often the catalysts for new developments in art. Wars, in terms of art, therefore, have a positive as well as a negative value. Before them comes the art of anger, protest and propaganda; during, the art that strives to represent the truth of the situation – from whichever viewpoint the artist is in sympathy with – after, comes the art created out of the need to move on; an experimental period, which can be a tremendously productive one.

Otto Piene, Light Ballet (Light Satellite) (top)
and Light Ballet (Light Drum), 1969
Chrome, glass, and light bulbs
Moeller Fine Art, New York
© Otto Piene
Photo courtesy Moeller Fine Art, New York




Born in the decade when the US government, in its bid to lead the way in the ‘conquest of outer space’ called its pioneering satellite program ‘Vanguard’, ZERO (1957 > 1966) was established in Europe by Düsseldorf-based artists Otto Piene and Heinz Mack. Piene explained that by naming the group ZERO, their aim was to suggest ‘pure possibilities for a new beginning, as at the countdown when rockets take off… the zone in which the old turns into the new.’ It would focus on light, movement and space, while closely examining the relationship between man, nature and technology.

In a disfigured country, still reeling from the shockwaves of World War II, in which Germany had been at the epicentre, the core group, later joined by another German, Günther Uecker, fostered connections among artists but stressed individual authorship. It was to attract a related network that would span continents, linking artists in Germany, Italy and The Netherlands to others in Brazil, Japan, and North and South America. ZERO sought to annihilate all forms of representation within art in order to celebrate the possibilities inherent in ‘nothingness’: to move beyond the confines of the canvas and so attempt to penetrate the mysterious concept of the fourth dimension. Fire, earth and air would figure prominently in their artworks. Through connected artists such as Yves Klein – who also became a member of French art movement Nouveau RéalismeJean Tinguely, and Lucio Fontana, ZERO would re-define painting, explore the monochrome, and serial structures, and produce artworks made from flames and smoke, filling whole galleries with their environmental works, they would turn to the deserts and skies as viable sites for art. Highly influential, one 1961 show, ZERO: Edition, Exposition, Demonstration, held both inside and outside Galerie Schmela in Düsseldorf, in which performers marked out a ‘Zero zone’ with white paint around other participants, blew bubbles and launched a balloon into the night sky was witnessed by artist Joseph Beuys – who had his first one man show that year and started to give action-performances in 1963 – and Nam Juin Paik, Korean founder of video art.

Yves Klein, Untitled red monochrome (M 63), 1959
Dry pigment in synthetic resin on board
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
Gift, Andrew Powie Fuller and Geraldine Spreckels
Fuller Collection, 1999, 2000.28
© 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS),
New York / ADAGP, Paris




Lichtraum; Hommage à Fontana / Light Room: Homage to Fontana (1964) , being shown for the first time in the United States, in the forthcoming Guggenheim exhibition ZERO: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s > 1960s, is an installation containing a projection of a painting by Lucio Fontana, and individual contributions by Mack, Piene, and Uecker, as well as the only two works produced in collaboration by the trio. The piece is particularly significant as an expression of the genesis of the group’s philosophy. In 1949, Fontana, the man who later dismissed Jackson Pollock – generally regarded as the most forward-thinking painter of the early 1950s – as merely ‘post-impressionist’, had written, ‘I assure you that on the moon… they will not be painting, but making spatial art.’ ‘Spazialismo,’ as he christened his own movement, established in 1947, he explained, ‘would be an art contained in space in all its dimensions.’ In 1956 > 57, also anticipating the ZERO movement’s aims, another Italian artist and later group member, Piero Manzoni had determined to find a means of expressing the power of the subconscious via the creation of completely subjectless work that emphasised the surface and materials as the only focus of the piece.

In his book, Space Age Aesthetics (2009), author Stephen Peterson tells us that in the year of Lichtraum’s creation, philosopher Marshall McLuhan wrote ‘There is no longer any sense in talking about the artist’s being ahead of his time. Our technology is, also, ahead of its time,’ which could be taken to signify, whether or not it was true, that the writing was already on the wall for ZERO’s demise that followed, two years later, in 1966.

Heinz Mack, New York, New York, 1963
Aluminium and wood
Private collection
© 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS),
New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Photo Heinz Mack




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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 | Lee Bul: Ikonoclast

Friday, September 19th, 2014

After Bruno Taut (Devotion to Drift), 2013
Mixed media

Photo Jeon Byung-cheol


Lee Bul
Ikon Gallery
Birmingham | UK
Until 9th November 2014

+

Lee Bul
Korean Cultural Centre (KCC)
London | UK
Until 1st November 2014


Lee Bul, 2013
Photo Kim Jae-won


As I write, artist Lee Bul’s own website, showing only a detail of her Diluvium, 2012, is, rather aptly as it turns out, under renovation. Diluvium – dictionary definition: geology term for superficial deposits formed by flood-like operations of water – a giant floor installation, is entirely constructed of shaped plywood sheeting, stepped and ramped to create an uneven and disconcerting surface – a landscape over which it might prove difficult to trace a safe path. It could also be suggestive of a carefully-designed ruined building, or ruined building site. However, it has the allure of something more polished; a working model for a civil engineering project by architect Zaha Hadid, perhaps. Contemporary architecture (and architectural history) is just one of a diverse range of sources, including but not limited to, cinema, literary and European history, as well as the political and cultural history of her own country, that Bul draws on for inspiration for pieces that have earned her an international reputation as an artist.

In the late 1980s, when South Korean, Bul, was graduating from Hongik University, where she had attended a course in academic sculpture, the country was emerging from a period of dictatorship and military rule. With an economy yet to be put on track and democratic reforms in their infancy – the future was neither bright, nor bleak, but vague, unformed. Bul, born 1964, and having grown up in a patriarchal society wanted to get things moving, and to stake an uncompromising claim for women to have an equal share in the country’s fate. Flying in the face of the artistic conventions of her native land, for some of her first guerilla-like, performance-based pieces, she paraded in public dressed in provocative full-body soft sculptures, that were alluring and at the same time – sprouting tentacles – grotesque. A commentary on the impermanence of beauty and the powerlessness of women, Majestic Splendor (1997), rotting fish in a sequinned skin, caused a stink and the resulting furore only served to affirm her global reputation as an intrepid emerging artist, when she installed it at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Representing South Korea in the 1999 Venice Biennale, Bul, who lives and works in Seoul, has been at the forefront of the push to elevate Asian contemporary art to critical acclaim.


Maquette for Mon grand récit, 2005
Plaster, steel mesh, wood, silicone,
paint, crystal and synthetic
beads, aluminum rods, stainless steel
wire, foamex
Private collection, Seoul
Photo Rhee Jae-yong*

Via Negativa (interior detail), 2012
Installation view, Lee Bul exhibition,
Mudam Luxembourg, 2013-14
Photo © Remi Villaggi

Diluvium, 2012
View of ‘The Studio’ section,
Lee Bul exhibition, Artsonje Center, Seoul

Plywood on steel frame
Seoul, 2012
Photo Jeon Byung-cheol


More recent works in which utopia and dystopia, totalitarianism and capitalism are central motifs, played off one against another, are executed with dazzling élan. After Bruno Taut (Devotion to Drift), a new commission for Lee Bul at Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery, references the German expressionist architect Bruno Taut (1880–1938). Alluding to the exponential growth and unsustainability of the modern world, dripping with a mass of crystalline shapes, this beautifully-executed, suspended sculpture, might easily be mistaken for a somewhat damaged Swarovski chandelier.

Ikon is also showing a selection of early drawings, studies, installations and other sculptural pieces that includes Mon grand récit: Weep into stones… (2005), a highly complex piece constructed from diverse materials, including polyurethane, Foamex board, synthetic clay, stainless- steel and aluminium rods, acrylic panels, wood sheets, acrylic paint, varnish, electrical wiring, and lighting. The piece features what might be a towering white skyscraper, from near the top of which a looping highway, descends to hover over a representation of a slab of mountainous landscape, supported by a spindly scaffolding structure. The piece also incorporates a tower continually flashing out an LED message: ‘weep into stones / fables like snow / our few evil days’, a tiny Tatlin’s Tower (Monument to the Third International), a modernist staircase that featured in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, and an upturned cross-section of the Hagia Sofia.

Exhibited widely since 1987, represented by numerous well-known galleries, her work can be found in many important collections, throughout the world.

All images, courtesy Studio Lee Bul, Seoul, and Ikon, except *courtesy PKM Gallery, Bartleby Bickle & Meursault, Seoul


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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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Exhibition | Saul ‘The New Yorker’ Steinberg

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Chest of Drawers Cityscape, 1950
Gelatin silver print


Saul Steinberg
100th Anniversary Exhibition
Pace + Pace / MacGill Gallery
New York City | USA
Until 18th October 2014


What is a cartoonist? What is an illustrator? Where does one draw the line between illustration and fine art? What happens when you mix illustration with photography; is the end product an illustration or a still life photograph? If you draw something on a 3D object and photograph it; is the result an illustration, or a photograph? And, what if the person who did the drawing, wasn’t the photographer? Whose work is the final image? Does any of these questions matter? Certainly not to Saul Steinberg whose unique creations, equally at home on the pages of magazines and on gallery walls, can’t be confined to a single category or movement, nor did he allow his palette to be bound by any restrictions. His art, if that is how we choose to refer to it, informed by cubism, surrealism, dadaism and pop – indeed he fraternised with many key figures across all areas of the arts, including Pablo Picasso, Alexander Calder, Marcel Breuer, Le Corbusier, Vladimir Nabakov, Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul-Satre, to name but a few – is both catholic and democratic, his influences from high art as well as from low, his subject areas from Wall Street to the gutter.


Girl in Tub, 1949
Gelatin silver print


I first came across Steinberg’s View of the World from 9th Avenue, 1976, reproduced as a poster, hung on the kitchen wall of some illustrator friends, at the Royal College of Art halls of residence in London, in 1977. They’d just returned from New York – which I was yet to visit – bringing the poster back as a souvenir. Having up to that point only ever seen the city in photographs or films, its colossal architecture dominating everything else, leaving me daunted at the thought of ever going there, I was struck by the simplistic, friendly Steinberg depiction of New York as a place in which the people at street level just carried on as they might in any European city – going to work, shopping, wandering around the broad pavements of Manhattan, oblivious to events elsewhere in their country, and beyond. And later, when I’d seen a few Woody Allen films, it occurred to me that here were some life-size characters, who might have been the miniature people that populated Steinberg’s illustration.

Even so, I didn’t consciously go looking for Steinberg’s work – as I had done for that of Milton Glaser and Seymour Chwast, the Push Pin Studios design and illustration heroes of my early college years. And when I started working for a living, I knew that behind the cover of the The New Yorker – which a few of my journalist colleagues at The Sunday Times Magazine studiously read, toting the latest issue around the office as symbols of their literary status and aspirations – there were great swathes of words, which to me, as a ‘visual journalist’, held little appeal. So, although I was certainly aware of his fame and that he was held in high regard, I never knew, until now, that over six decades, Steinberg’s work featured on the cover of The New Yorker no less than 90 times and appeared 1,200 times on its inside pages, before he ended his collaboration with the magazine in 1987 (recommenced, 1993), or that his View of the World from 9th Avenue is regarded by connoisseurs as one of his most notable creations for the magazine – ripped off, adapted, its text changed to suit many major cities across the country, his lawyers were constantly in pursuit of the perpetrators.

Up until I first visited New York in 1997, some nineteen years after seeing the poster, despite what had become my almost daily contact with photographers and sometimes with illustrators based there and elsewhere in the United States, the city remained for me remote, beyond my horizon. And a few more years would pass before I stumbled across a fascinating little book called Saul Steinberg Masquerade (Viking Press, 2000, a reprint, or perhaps re-design of the original Steinberg: The Mask, 1966). It contained The Mask series, an inspired collaboration by Steinberg and the photographer, Inge Morath, between 1959 and 1963, in which Steinberg’s friends posed anonymously in group and individual photographs, having donned paper bags drawn with plain or fantastic faces. Morath had become fascinated by Steinberg and his ‘Steinbergian universe’, whilst living in Vienna in the 1940s, long before she came into contact with him; it wasn’t until she joined Magnum and moved to Paris, where she met Henri Cartier-Bresson, who had taken a portrait of Steinberg, that she even knew what he looked like. Cartier-Bresson described him as ‘un homme délicieux, d’une si grande intelligence’. Irving Penn, too, would create a studio portrait of Steinberg wearing one of his nose masks, in 1966 – during his long career, he sat for many famous photographers, including Arnold Newman and Lee Miller.


Untitled, c 1950
Gelatin silver print


Saul Steinberg (1914 > 1999) was a Jewish Romania-born American. He studied philosophy and literature at the University of Bucharest, and trained as a draughtsman during the 1930s, in Milan. Fleeing Italy’s new anti-semitic laws, in 1941, he arrived in the United States the following year, and had his first one-man show there a year later. He married the only prominent abstract expressionist artist, Hedda Sterne, in 1951, but left her and took up with a German photography and design student in 1960. His work has been the subject of dozens of exhibitions around the globe and produced numerous publications. Saul Steinberg 100th Anniversary Exhibition at Pace + Pace / MacGill Gallery includes work from five decades of Steinberg’s career, exploring the man who himself explored the world and adapted his medium to suit whatever he found in it. Saul Steinberg: A Biography by Deirdre Blair was published by Nan A Talese / Doubleday in 2012. The Musees Strasbourg website has a useful and succinct Steinberg biography in list form.

The Saul Steinberg Foundation is a nonprofit organisation established as a result of the artist’s will. His collection of his own works was divided between the Foundation and Yale University, which also received Steinberg’s archives. The Foundation holds the copyrights to Steinberg’s artworks and writings.

While Steinberg remains for many ‘The man who did that poster’, The New York Times called him ‘a veritable Leonardo of graphic drollery,’ in 2006. On the Magnum Photos site, in the credit for an Inge Morath portrait of him, shot as part of the Mask series, it might have amused him to see himself still quaintly referred to as a ‘draughtsman’, which is perhaps as good a description as any.

All images by Saul Steinberg, © The Saul Steinberg Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, USA. Courtesy Pace and Pace / MacGill Gallery, New York, USA


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Design | Swiss Design Bank

Friday, September 5th, 2014

Blattmann Metallwarenfabrik AG, MEWA, Kettle TECA, 1949 /
Alfred Roth, Aluminium Chair, 1933 / Wilhelm Kienzle, Cactus Watering Can
Photo FX Jaggy + U Romito


100 Years of Swiss Design
Museum für Gestaltung – Schaudepot
Zürich | Switzerland
27th September 2014 > 8th February 2015


It’s somehow unsurprising to find that, safe in its vaults, Switzerland has the largest collection of Swiss design in the world. While the vast majority of the 800 items in 100 Years of Swiss Design, a new exhibition opening this month at the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, are drawn from the bank of 500,000 pieces the museum has built up over its 140-year history, a few items are on loan from elsewhere.

This exhibition will be the first at the Schaudepot (Open Collections) – in the New Toni-Areal, a recently converted former milk processing plant – where the museum’s poster, design, applied arts and graphics archives – previously distributed in separate locations around the Zürich – have come together under one roof. But it’s not only the location which is new. With a total of 26% additional space, the core of the assembled archive is a free-standing, high bay, storage facility – a six-metre-high shelving system – housing chairs, lamps, posters, cupboards and ceramics, which is being opened to the public for daily tours on specific themes, and where they can examine items in the collection at close quarters, for the first time. The museum’s globally-important assets have also been made accessible via the eMuseum site, where the pictures in the database are reproduced as a digital catalogue, exclusively illustrating the collection stock – and the service has been made available free of charge.

While Switzerland is renowned as an expensive country to visit, until the end of September when prices are set to rise, the adult entrance fee at the Museum is only 12 Swiss Francs (CHF) / just under £8, and an annual pass is available for 50 CHF / £33, which is a pretty good deal. There’s no entry fee for children under 12 years.


Sigg AG, Hot Water Bottle with Stopper 1925 + 1968
Photo FX Jaggy + U Romito

Willy Guhl, Beach Chair, 1954
Photo FX Jaggy

Oskar Zieta, Plopp, 2007 / Frédéric Dedelley, Melancholic Diamond, 2007
Photo U Romito

Wisa-Gloria AG, Three Wheeler, 1970,
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, Design Collection

Photo FX Jaggy + U Romito


In 1949, the multi-talented Swiss architect, artist, painter, typeface designer, industrial designer and graphic designer, who at one time, served on the Zürich City Council, and was later elected to the Swiss National Parliament, Max Bill (1908 > 1994), singled out the Feller company’s light switch, ubiquitous throughout Switzerland, as ‘perhaps the ultimate form for a light switch.’ An image of the switch is being used on the publicity material for the exhibition, overlaid by a photograph of Willy Guhl’s classic Beach chair, for Eternit, 1954. Manufactured by companies like Therma, Embru, Langenthal, Horgen-Glarus, Sigg and Mammut, many more examples of often everyday products, typifying the high quality, functionality and charm of Swiss design, such as Hans Coray’s Landi chair and the USM Haller system are included in the 100 Years of Swiss Design exhibition.

Swiss book design is also one of country’s greatest assets, and later this month, or in early October (German edition. English language edition, probably December) the inimitable Lars Müller Publishers are bringing out 100 Years of Swiss Design, edited by the Müseum für Gestaltung Zürich, Christian Brändle, Renate Menzi and Arthur Rüegg. With 700 pictures and featuring 100 key works from the Museum’s collection, it presents the cream of the country’s design in chronological order – from their regional roots, at the beginning of the 20th century, to those dreamed up and produced for today’s global market. Also from Lars Müller Publishers, 100 Years of Swiss Graphic Design, a companion to the above, is already out in Europe (German and English editions), and will be available in the US and Canada at the end of September, 2014.


Heller drittel, Max Bill,1959 > 69
Auction estimate CHF 25,000 > 30,000 / £16,500 > 20,000


Max Bill, who was a student at the Bauhaus in Dessau between (1927 > 1928) worked closely with masters Josef Albers, Wassily Kandinsky, László Moholy- Nagy and Oskar Schlemmer, as well as his fellow Swiss, Paul Klee. Eminently bankable, his paintings and sculptures are well-represented in Christie’s 30th Swiss Art Auction in Zürich on September 22nd. It was László Moholy-Nagy, who had introduced Bill to the work of the De Stijl group, especially that of Mondrian, whom Bill visited in Paris, but the work of other De Stijl members, Georges Vantongerloo and Theo Doesburg were to make a greater impression upon him. Similarly based on geometric composition, Fritz Glarner, whose work is also included in the sale, owes much to influences drawn from De Stijl.

All products illustrated, except Will Guhl Beach Chair, from Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, Design Collection. All photos © ZHdK.
Painting image courtesy of Christie’s


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All Categories | The Blog Will Return Next Week

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

Untitled #1, Norfolk, UK

Untitled #2, Norfolk, UK

Untitled #3, Norfolk, UK

Photographs by Pedro Silmon, 2014




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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 | Daniel Buren in Situ

Friday, August 15th, 2014

Above and below
20 Diamonds for the Façade: work in situ
,
2014
Transparent vinyl, white opaque (blue, green, red, yellow)



Daniel Buren
Catch as catch can: works in situ
Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art
Gateshead | UK
Until 12th October, 2014




Thirty metres high, and extending to the full height of the glazed section of the Baltic’s west elevation, Daniel Buren’s 20 Diamonds for the Façade: work in situ – a series of giant transparent diamond shapes – transforms the exterior of the one time flour mill building, on the Gateshead side of the river Tyne, into a giant stained glass windowed, modern cathedral. Inside, the lift well, stairs and passageways saturated in richly coloured light, the effect comes close to spiritual; a welcome sanctuary on a typically rainy mid-summer’s day on Tyneside.

Not exactly a strong signal, more a constant peripheral blip, Daniel Buren has been on my radar since wandering around Paris on another rainy day in late 1986, I first stumbled across – Les Deux Plateaux, known colloquially as the Colonnes de Buren – the English translation ‘Buren’s Columns’ sounds unexciting, but they are anything but – at the Palais-Royal. Although I knew then that it was one of François Mitterand’s Grand Projects, I wouldn’t discover the title of the work until I began researching this post.

14 Rising Cubes Bas-relief (yellow), situated work 2014
paint, plywood and black tape



2 Rising Cubes Bas-relief (paprika), situated work 2014
paint, plywood and black tape



Notwithstanding his longevity as an artist, it comes as a surprise to read in the Baltic’s press release for their exhibition, Daniel Buren, Catch as catch can: works in situ, that he is ‘ widely considered to be France’s greatest living artist, and one of the most influential and important figures in contemporary art for the last 50 years’. Having exhibited work in some of the world’s major galleries and museums – The Solomon R Guggenheim in New York in 2005, the Centre Pompidou, Paris, in 2002 – as well as representing France 10 times at the Venice Biennale, where he was awarded the Golden Lion in 1986, having realised public interventions in Tokyo and Berlin, and most recently at Monumenta 2012 at Paris’s Grand Palais, the artist nevertheless lacks the omnipresence of close American contemporaries like James Turrell and the late Dan Flavin. And what about French installation artist, Christian Boltanski, isn’t he just as prominent as Buren in the global art world? That is not to say, as this exhibition amply demonstrates, that Buren isn’t worthy of, and is less deserving of fame than Turrell, or Flavin, or indeed Boltanski. His public profile is just somehow less pronounced, his works less familiar.

Catch as catch can: work in situ, 2014
10 mirrors framed with white opaque vinyl, transparent vinyl
(7 colours) on skylights



Graduating as a painter from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Métiers d’Art in Paris in 1960, Daniel Buren (born 1938) soon became involved in conceptual art, creating works that drew attention to the indoor, or later outdoor, context in which they were installed. At an early stage, 8.7 centimetre wide vertical stripes, colour or black alternated with white, became his obsession and were to become his signature. Appropriately for the era when neo-classicism took hold among architects in the 1980s, the stripes appeared on the simplified, classical columns that made up Les Deux Plateaux, but although time and architecture have moved on, Buren doggedly persists in including them on or in almost everything he produces.

There’s a rare chance to see a selection of Buren’s reliefs, paintings and sculpture from the past seven years in the Baltic’s Level 3 gallery, which includes the striped, luminous fibre-optic works of his Electric Light series, 2011, as well as a number of astonishingly powerful, geometric, bas-relief wall pieces that bring to mind something of Donald Judd’s work with the square and cube. However, due to the persistence of the stripes, (2 x 8.7cm) in this instance, running up the narrow edges of each piece, these fall short of being truly minimal statements.

Que La Lumiére Soit (Let there be light), situated work 2011
Woven fibre optic, LED (white, green), metal box



It’s a brave man who conjures with North East England’s perpetually changing weather and light conditions, but Buren enjoys the challenge of producing site specific pieces, and has worked with the architecture of the Baltic’s huge Level 4 gallery to realise a single, large scale installation, commissioned specially for and after which the exhibition is titled: Catch as catch can: works in situ. Here, a series of large, square and rectangular, framed mirrors set at an angle to the floor, capture the natural light entering through existing windows set into the roof that Buren has covered in a rectangular pattern made up of coloured vinyl that constantly alter how and where the light falls within the gallery, and the way in which it is reflected in the mirrors, creating an animated, immersive space. Stripes extend along each vertical edge of the mirrors and are reduced to squares on the top and bottom edges, in my opinion, an anachronistic affectation, adding unnecessary clutter.

All images are photo-souvenirs of the exhibition event by Daniel Buren
Photos John McKenzie © DB-ADAGP Paris, courtesy Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art



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All Categories | The Blog Team is on Holiday

Friday, August 1st, 2014

Kielder Water from below the Kielder Observatory, Northumberland, UK

Kielder Observatory, by Charles Barclay Architects, completed 2008

Photographs by Pedro Silmon, 2014




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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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