Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Art | Man Ray + Sugimoto = Objects + Equations

Friday, January 30th, 2015

Man Ray, Mathematical Object, 1934-35
Gelatin silver print.
The J Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.
© Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society
(ARS), NY / ADAGP, Paris 2015



Man Ray – Human Equations:
A Journey from Mathematics to Shakespeare
The Phillips Collection
Washington DC | USA
7th February > 10th May 2015

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Hiroshi Sugimoto:
Conceptual Forms and Mathematical Models
The Phillips Collection
Washington DC
7th February > 10th May 2015



Hiroshi Sugimoto, Surface of
Revolution with Constant Negative Curvature
(Conceptual Form 0010), 2004
Gelatin silver print.
Collection of the Artist, New York



In bringing together the work of Man Ray and Hiroshi Sugimoto, in two separate but connected exhibitions under the same roof, The Phillips Collection, which first opened its doors to the public in 1921, and refers to itself proudly as America’s ‘first museum of modern art’, has done something very clever and very appropriate.

The museum’s policy of stressing the continuity between the art of the past and of the present, by combining works of different nationalities and periods, offers a broad-based, experimental approach to 20th and 21st century art. And, while in each case, the pieces brought together in these two new shows would easily warrant exceptional stand-alone exhibitions, their being shown simultaneously at the same venue, prompts comparison and contrast, each gaining by virtue of proximity to the other – Man Ray (American, 1890 > 1976) representing the old avant garde – Sugimoto (Japanese, b 1948), inspired by the former, the more contemporary.

Man Ray, Mathematical Object, 1934–35
Gelatin silver print.
Collection L Malle, Paris.
© Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society
(ARS), NY / ADAGP, Paris 2015

Mathematical Object: Curvature Circles
at a Point of Negative Curvature
, c 1900

Brill-Schilling Collection.
Institut Henri Poincaré, Paris.
Photo Elie Posner



Man Ray, Shakespearean Equation,
Twelfth Night
, 1948

Oil on canvas.
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden,
Smithsonian Institution.
Gift of Joseph H Hirshhorn, 1972
© Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society
(ARS), NY / ADAGP, Paris 2015.
Photo Lee Stalsworth



Legendary surrealist, muti-media artist, Man Ray was a pioneer in the exploration of the intersection of art and science that defined a significant component of modern art in Europe and in America, at the beginning of the 20th century. He created his Shakespearean Equations – a series of paintings that he considered to be the climax of his creative vision – in the late 1940s. Drawing upon photographs of 19th-century mathematical models he had produced in the 1930s, the series was a culmination of 15 years of experimentation.

The Phillips are showing more than 125 Man Ray works, side by side with the original plaster, wood, papier-mâché and string models  – made in Germany in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to illustrate geometrical properties for the investigation and teaching of algebraic equations – from the Institut Henri Poincaré (IHP) in Paris, accompanied by the artist’s photographs of these strikingly odd forms. ‘Although nearly every significant Man Ray exhibition since 1948 has included at least one of the Shakespearean Equations, no exhibition or publication has ever brought all three components together for an in-depth study,’ says Man Ray – Human Equations: A Journey from Mathematics to Shakespeare curator, Wendy Grossman. ‘In fact, Man Ray never witnessed the triangle of mathematical object, photograph, and painting displayed as an ensemble.’

Hiroshi Sugimoto, Surface of Revolution
with Constant Negative Curvature
(Mathematical Model 009), 2006
Aluminum and mirror.
Pace Gallery, New York



Hiroshi Sugimoto, Dini’s Surface:
A Surface of Constant Negative Curvature
Obtained by Twisting a Pseudosphere
(Mathematical Model 004), 2006
Aluminum and iron.
Pace Gallery, New York



Hiroshi Sugimoto’s career has defined what it means to be a multi-disciplinary contemporary artist, blurring the lines between photography, painting, installation art, and most recently, architecture. Featuring five photographs and three sculptures Hiroshi Sugimoto: Conceptual Forms and Mathematical Models at The Phillips Collection is the first exhibition to juxtapose his photographs of 19th-century mathematical plaster models, with his own aluminium or stainless-steel mathematical models.

‘There is a deep connection between mathematics and photography that originated in the invention of photography itself, a tradition that has carried into the 21st century,’ says exhibition curator Klaus Ottmann, ‘Hiroshi Sugimoto’s work exemplifies this tradition, and this exhibition reflects the artist’s desire to combine a ‘very craft-oriented’ practice with making ‘something artistic and conceptual’.

Inspired by Man Ray, in 2004, Sugimoto photographed forty four 19th century mathematical and mechanical models, from two collections in Tokyo. Also made in Germany – at around the same time as those Man Ray had photographed in the 1930s – they had been produced as visual aids for students’ understanding of complex trigonometric functions. Demonstrating his engagement with 19th-century craftsmanship, empirical philosophy, and conceptual art, Sugimoto gave his series of photographs the title Conceptual Forms. The following year, he began manufacturing his own mathematical models using precision computer-controlled electronic milling machines. Several metres tall – paying tribute to the work of another pioneer of modernism, one of the most influential sculptors of the early 20th-century, Constantin Brâncuși – Sugimoto’s ‘endless’ structures are minimal representations of highly complex mathematical equations of infinity. Made from aluminium, they either project upward as twisted columns from iron bases or rise as cones from thin, mirrored discs into infinity.



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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 whatsoever, fall due must be borne by the source supplier



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Art | Seeing Double – SOTO in Paris + New York

Friday, January 16th, 2015

Doble progresión azul y negra, 1975
Paint on metal
View of the work in situ at Galerie Perrotin, 2015
Photo Livia Saavedra



Jesús Rafael Soto
Chronochrome
Galerie Perrotin
Paris | France
Until 28th February 2015

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Jesús Rafael Soto
Chronochrome
Galerie Perrotin
New York | USA
Until 21st February 2015



s / t, (Mur bleu), 1966
Paint on wood and metal
View of the work in situ at Galerie Perrotin, 2015
Photo Guillaume Ziccarelli



Venezuelan kinetic artist, sculptor and painter Jesús Rafael Soto was born in 1923 and died in 2005. He trained at art school in Caracas and went to Paris in 1950, which remained his base for the rest of his life. A recent retrospective at the the Centre Pompidou (2013), and his inclusion in Dynamo. A Century of Light and Movement in Art 1913-2013 at Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris (2013), as well as his inclusion in the current ZERO: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s–60s at the Guggenheim Museum in NewYork – in the building where Soto had a major retrospective in 1974 – have all contributed to a much-deserved rediscovery of this internationally-important artist and his oeuvre.

In earlier decades, as will undoubtably be the case now, a great deal was written about Soto (1923 >2005), and, throughout his lifetime he was passionately vociferous in extolling and defending the virtues of kinetic art in numerous and insightful press interviews and letters.

‘I have always tried to make art where given forms, even geometric ones, don’t count. My investigations have nothing to do with the objects themselves. My painting tries to represent movement, vibration, light, space, time, things that exist but which do not have a determined form, and the only way I have found to do this is to attempt to represent the relationships between them. Relationships are an entity, they exist and so they can be represented.
Soto in conversation with Pedro Espinoza Troconis, 1960

In Paris he had attended lectures on constructivism, on Mondrian and neoplasticism. He saw work by Kandinsky and came into contact with Sophie Taeuber- Arp, as well as being drawn to the work of the Bauhaus masters, Moholy-Nagy, Klee and Albers. He would say later: ‘There is no need to see White Square on White Background to appreciate it. It is enough to know the proposition. I saw this painting recently in New York. I was no more moved than by the idea I had already formed of it. I had known of its existence since 1949. Wonderful! I said then. That sums it up. By painting white on white, Malevich was saying: Let’s paint light as light. Let’s lay it directly on the canvas. No need for the objects we normally use to capture it.’
Soto, as quoted by Jean Clay, Jesús Rafael Soto, Visages de l’art moderne, Lausanne, Éditions Rencontre, 1969

Soto exhibited with Calder, Duchamp and Vasarely, among others, in 1955, showing several perspex reliefs. Duchamp’s spiral Rotative Demisphère, was to inspire Soto’s Spirale, a perspex relief that, for the first time, demanded the unconscious involvement of the viewer.

Soto was a big fan of Yves Klein finally meeting him in 1958, just after the opening of Klein’s exhibition ‘Le Vide’ (Emptiness). ‘This empty room was clearly characteristic of the monochrome Yves… I warmly embraced the idea of emptiness…’ he is quoted on the official Soto website as having said afterwards.

In the mid-sixties – Soto having initially been friendly with Victor Vasarely – disparaging of op art and keen to distance himself and those who were working in the area of kinetic art from it, Soto stated: ‘Vasarely is an optical painter, who worked in the spirit of the Bauhaus, but who remains a two-dimensional painter. I, on the other hand, consider myself a kinetic painter.
Soto, in conversation with Carlos Diaz Sosa, 1966

In an earlier letter to Kunsthalle Bern, regarding a forthcoming exhibition Light and Motion / Kinetic art / New Trends in Architecture to which kinetic artists had been invited to contribute, Soto made it clear that: ‘Eager to avoid all confusion between our work [the kinetic artists] and the very different work of the so-called ‘optical’ school, we are particularly concerned that the Bern [exhibition] selection be respected – a selection exclusively founded, as its title suggests, on the idea of real movement. It was indeed contrary to our agreement that a large number of so-called ‘optical’ works were added to the kinetic selection we were presenting with our friends at the Brussels exhibition. We are determined henceforth to prevent this kind of confusion as it can only hinder understanding of our work.
Letter, 1965, Soto archive, Paris



Un orange Inférieur, 1984
Paint on wood and metal


Vibración amarilla y blanca, 1994
Paint on wood and metal, nylon


Pénétrable bbl bleu, 1999 – Edition 2007
PVC, métal / PVC, metal
View of the work in situ at Galerie Perrotin, 2015
Photo Livia Saavedra



‘For me, art is a science, a way of knowing the universe… Rather than denying space, I have decided to use it… I gradually realised that modern man could no longer look at an artwork at a single glance, as at the Mona Lisa in the Renaissance. There was a physical problem of perception that forced him to decipher, to look at the work as unfolded, like a film, no longer considering it as a work of art.’
Soto, conversation with Jean-Luc Daval, Journal de Genève, Geneva, 1970

Collaborating closely with the architect Oscar Niemeyer, and, after working on them for over a year in 1975, Soto completed the installation of environments in the foyer and in the entrance to the company canteen at the Renault car factory in the Paris suburb, Boulogne-Billancourt. They comprised of architectural integrations involving grids of vibrating squares covering pillars, a 30 metres long Writing piece, and a ceiling covered with 250,000 hanging stalks set close together. ‘We must interpret the values that, thanks to science, completely change our idea of the universe, and we must propose them in our turn through art…’ Soto said in an interview with Ernesto González Bermejo, in 1979. In the same piece he is quoted as having said that we [mankind] have lost the wonderful idea perpetuated by the Greeks, by Medieval and Renaissance artists, of an art of participation, of monumental art. ‘To make a monumental piece,’ he said, ‘no artist can work alone.’

By the 1980s, totally sure of himself and the direction his art was proceeding in, Soto told one author that, ‘If art is to reflect its time it must be at the very forefront of its own concerns, it must reflect avant-garde thought and not limit itself to bearing immediate witness to everyday things.
Marcel Joray, Soto, Neuchâtel, Éditions du Griffon, 1984

‘What is a Pénétrable? It’s the idea of swallowing up the viewer in the artwork.’
Soto, in an interview with Daniel Abadie, Banque Bruxelles Lambert, 1999

Some sixty pieces, produced between 1957 and 2003, from Soto’s estate and various institutions are on show in the Galerie Perrotin Chronochrome exhibitions, taking place simultaneously in its Paris and New York spaces.

Works by Jésus Rafael Soto are included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, both in New York, USA; Tate, London, UK; Stadelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam, both in The Netherlands; Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium; Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina; the Jésus Rafael Soto Museum of Modern Art, Ciudad Bolívar, and Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, both in Venezuela; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, France; and Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan.

All works shown by Jesús Rafael Soto
All images © Jesús Rafael Soto / DACS, London / ADAGP, Paris, 2015,
courtesy Galerie Perrotin
Selected quotes from the official SOTO site



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The Blog is about art, architecture, books, design and gardens, 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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All Categories | Storms, Smoke & Power Cuts

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

Apologies!
Due to a combination of wild storms that blew smoke from the wood fire back down the chimney, setting off  alarms in every room, and covered everything in a fine layer of soot, and the power cut that, in amongst all of this, plunged our friends’ isolated, converted corn mill where we were staying into deep, velvety darkness, The Blog isn’t posting this week.

In the meantime, you might like to take a look at our reminder of the diverse range of international visual arts and events-related subjects we posted in 2014.

Best wishes for 2015



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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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All Categories | Omnipresence 2014 / 2015

Friday, December 26th, 2014

2014 proved to be an exciting year at The Blog.

We published posts relating to exhibitions as diverse as Egon Schiele; The Radical Nude at London’s Courtauld Gallery, and Robert Heinecken: Object Matter at MoMA in New York, to another about VKhUTEMAS – often called the Russian Bauhaus – at Berlin’s Martin-Gropius-Bau museum. We admired rare and exotic posters in The Art of Travel, exhibited at Cannes during the annual film festival and auctioned afterwards by Christie’s.

We showed a selection of compelling images from Roxanne Lowit Photographs Yves Saint Laurent, a glitzy new book – with an introduction by no less a figure than Pierre Bergé – and wrote about Vitra’s more modest new publication Everything is Connected, which relies totally on visual language rather than written text to relate the company’s labyrinthine story.

We loved Korean artist Lee Bul’s captivating installations at the UK’s Ikon Gallery in Birmingham, and the Museum für Gestaltung’s 100 Years of Swiss Design exhibition – as well as the accompanying Lars Müller book – showing selections from the Museum’s consolidated collections, now housed at the Schaudepot in Zürich’s burgeoning New Toni development.

We covered the Saul Steinberg 100th Anniversary Exhibition at Pace MacGill in New York, and we assembled our own photographic tribute to The Years of ‘La Dolce Vita’, from the paparazzi images on show at the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, in London.

We published extracts from Christie’s International Head of 20th Century Decorative Art & Design Philippe Garner’s scintillating interview with Zeev Aram, on the subject of Japanese furniture designer Shiro Kuramata. And we salivated over Serge Mouille’s 1950s sculptural lighting included in Phillips Design sale in New York.

We hope the journey so far has been as interesting for you as it has for us.

As the globe – at least in communication terms – continues to shrink, the cultural landscape forever widens and diversifies. What was formerly remote has often become more easily accessible. In response, 2015 will see The Blog extending its reach and venturing into geographical and subject areas we may have so far ignored, exploring and gaining entry for our followers to a broader range of thought-provoking, disparate and topical events in the omnipresent visual arts and associated artistic disciplines.



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The Blog is about art, architecture, books, design and gardens, 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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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 Blog is about art, architecture, books, design and gardens, 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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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 Blog is about art, architecture, books, design and gardens, 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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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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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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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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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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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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