Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Exhibitions | Moholy-Nagy: Future Present Plus

Friday, May 27th, 2016

Photogram, 1926
Gelatin silver photogram
Los Angeles County Museum of Art,
Ralph M Parsons Fund
Photo © Museum Associates/LACMA



Moholy-Nagy: Future Present
Solomon R Guggenheim Museum
NYC | USA
27 May > September 2016



Construction AL6 (Konstruktion AL6), 1933 > 34
Oil and incised lines on aluminium
IVAM, Institut Valencià d’Art Modern, Generalitat



We were taking a look at the Bauhaus and specifically the work of MOHOLY-NAGY, whose surname our enthusiastic art teacher spelled out for us in large capital letters on the chalkboard – I know now he didn’t know how to pronounce it properly. He’d also dispensed with his subject’s first name, László, which he was probably on similar uncertain terms with. This was in the late 1960s when detailed information on 20th century avant garde art and artists was relatively sparse, and a few years prior to the last major retrospective of László Moholy-Nagy’s (1895 > 1946) work in the United States.

The Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, describing their forthcoming Moholy-Nagy: Future Present retrospective, which includes some 300 works by the Hungarian painter, photographer, typographer, film-maker, theorist, Bauhaus professor (1923 > 1928), director of the short-lived New Bauhaus in Chicago, and founder of Chicago’s Institute of Design, gathered from a wide range of international sources, explains that despite his prominence during his lifetime, few previous exhibitions have conveyed the experimental nature of Moholy-Nagy’s work – his enthusiasm for industrial materials, his radical innovations with movement and light. This may be so in the US, but in Germany the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt showed some of the same experimental pieces, albeit a smaller selection, in 2009.

Room of the Present (Raum der Gegenwart),
Constructed in 2009 from plans
and other documentation dated 1930

Mixed media
Installation view: Play Van Abbe – Part 2:
Time Machines,
Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven,
April 10 > September 12, 2010
Photo Peter Cox, courtesy Art Resource, New York



B‑10 Space Modulator, 1942
Oil and incised lines on perspex in original frame
Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York



Dual Form with Chromium Rods, 1946
Perspex and chrome-plated brass
Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York
Photo Kristopher McKay
© Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation, New York



Exhibitions such as these are important and provide vital opportunities for seeing carefully-curated and well-presented original works in the round and at full scale, and each brings something new that extends our understanding of a particular artist’s oeuvre. Related lectures and films are often presented and extensive catalogues produced that serve to extend the event itself and bring in additional revenue for the venue. It’s also true to say that, since the 1960s, and especially since open-access historical archives have been made available online by many institutions, in recent decades research facilities available to the general public (as well as teachers) have improved beyond measure. As a prelude to visiting a show, or as a post-visit extension of it, whereby we build on our experiences and impressions, each of us – with a little effort – is now in a position to examine complex artists such as Moholy-Nagy – everyone tends only to use his surname and has learn how to pronounce it correctly via the internet – in great detail and with relative ease.

The Moholy-Nagy Foundation was set up in 2003, and has a comprehensive online image database featuring work in every medium he experimented in, as well as dependable biographical details and a photo library. There’s more, too, presented from other viewpoints at Bauhaus Online and elsewhere on the sites of galleries and museums where exhibitions of his have been presented.

By viewing exhibitions, reading publications and looking at website information about the artists who worked before, at the same time, and after the period in which Moholy-Nagy was active, it’s possible to see what influenced him, how he related to and influenced others, and to place him in an accurate and broad historical perspective. For instance, perhaps it was coincidental, but although the Calder Foundation site claims that Alexander Calder, following a visit to Piet Mondrian’s studio made his first wholly abstract compositions and invented the kinetic sculpture in 1930, Moholy-Nagy’s kinetic sculpture Light-Space-Modulator, designed in 1922, was exhibited for the first time in Paris, also in 1930. And, while MoMA’s site explains that Man Ray claimed to have invented the photogram (christening it the Rayogram) in Paris in 1921 – although the practice had existed since the earliest days of photography – less than a year later, Moholy-Nagy was making his own photograms. Argentine-born Italian artist Lucio Fontana founded the Spazialismo (spatialism) movement in 1947, stating in its manifesto that art should embrace science and technology, but it’s not difficult for us to discover elsewhere that this principle, had been the cornerstone of Moholy-Nagy’s practice since he drew his first inspiration from the Russian constructivists in 1918.

In the 21st century exhibitions such as Moholy-Nagy: Future Present at the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, once viewed as self-contained events, have come to represent points of both arrival and departure for those wishing to educate themselves about art.

All artworks created by László Moholy-Nagy
© 2016 Hattula Moholy-Nagy/VG Bild-Kunst,
Bonn/Artists Rights
Society (ARS), New York
All images courtesy © Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation, New York


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The Blog’s publishers insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees that may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier

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Art | Edward Kienholz: Five Car Stud

Friday, May 13th, 2016

Edward Kienholz
Detail of Five Car Stud, 1969 > 1972
Mixed media tableau
Dimensions variable
© Kienholz
Courtesy L A Louver, Venice, CA
Photo © Tom Vinetz 2011



Kienholz: Five Car Stud
Fondazione Prada
Milan | Italy
19 May > 31 December 2016



Edward Kienholz
Five Car Stud, 1969 > 1972
Mixed media tableau
Dimensions variable
© Kienholz
Courtesy L A Louver, Venice, CA
Photo © Tom Vinetz 2011



The American artist Edward Kienholz died in 1994 and was buried in a 1940 Packard coupé. The forthcoming presentation at Fondazione Prada of his ghoulish Five Car Stud installation feels something like an exhumation. The artwork, produced between 1969 and 1972, having been first exhibited in 1972 at Documenta 5 in Kassel, and the subject of great controversy at the time, barely shown in public thereafter, was buried deep within a private collection in Japan for almost forty years.

Five Car Stud is a life-sized reproduction, complete in every harrowing detail, of a night scene of brutal racial violence. Lit by the headlights of four cars and a pickup truck, set in an isolated location, a black man portrayed with a double face – one expresses sadness and resignation, the other terror and rage –  has been knocked to the ground. Four white men wearing gruesome masks, pin him down as another prepares to castrate him. While his terrified son looks on from the passenger seat of his car, a sixth masked man stands guard with a shotgun. Shocked and powerless, a white woman – the victim’s date – is forced to witness his ordeal.

Everyone has heard of the beat generation writers – William S Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac – but beat generation artists such as Edward Kienholz (1927 > 1994), who shared the literary movement’s ideals of rejecting materialism and the creation of explicit portrayals of the human condition, are perhaps less familiar. Kienholz grew up in Washington State and never attended art college. By working at various times as a nurse, bar-owner, car dealer, handyman (his truck carried the inscription Ed Kienholz – Expert), he gained experience and insights that would provide invaluable inspiration for the ‘art of repulsion’, based on realistic, re-imagined situations, he wanted to create.

Having relocated to Los Angeles in 1953, adopting assemblage as his medium Kienholz embarked on a creative route that led him to make small-scale ‘tableaux’ such as O’er the Ramparts We Watched, Fascinated (1959), which is included in this exhibition. Not included, but as forceful, visceral and grimy as Burrough’s prose, Kienholz’s The Beanery (1965) forms part of Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum collection, and is a life-sized reconstruction of a decaying bar on Santa Monica Boulevard. The artist applied a special paste – a mixture of beer, rancid fat, urine, mothballs and cigarette ash – to his creation to give it the authentic stink. In terms of ambition it can be seen as a portent to Five Car Stud.

Edward & Nancy Reddin Kienholz
The Bronze Pinball Machine with Woman Affixed Also, 1980
Mixed media assemblage
© Kienholz
Courtesy L A Louver, Venice, CA



Edward & Nancy Reddin Kienholz
Jody, Jody, Jody, 1993-94
Mixed media tableau
© Kienholz
Courtesy L A Louver, Venice, CA



Like many of the later twentieth century art genres, assemblage had its roots in cubism and dada. Indeed, Kienholz’s work first gained national exposure when it was shown alongside that of European artists Picasso, Kurt Schwitters and Marcel Duchamp, among others, in The Art of Assemblage at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1961, after which he began to gain international recognition. However, in terms of content and treatment, Kienholz’s approach had more in common with the German Neue Sachlichkeit artists’ Otto Dix and George Grosz’s unforgiving depiction of Weimar Society and the First World War. By 1970, his 11+11 Tableaux exhibition was being presented in Stockholm, Amsterdam, Düsseldorf, Paris, Zürich and London.

From 1972 onwards, Kienholz worked in exclusive collaboration with his wife, Nancy Reddin Kienholz. Constantly travelling between their homes in Hope, Idaho and Berlin, and later Texas, the couple produced shockingly thought-provoking pieces such as in The Bronze Pinball Machine with Woman Affixed Also (1980), in which a woman’s spread legs and exposed vagina cast in bronze are attached to a pinball machine, the female body relegated to an object of sexual entertainment. The artwork Jody, Jody, Jody (1994), inspired by a single real life event, is nevertheless a comment on general attitudes toward child abuse. Both pieces (shown here) will be shown in Milan.

Their human scale, and composition – leftover bits of mannequin dummies, threadbare clothing, or plaster casts of real human bodies, and real wristwatches – render Kienholz’s installations unnervingly realistic. The viewer may experience repulsion or sympathy but is instantly transformed into a voyeur, participation is mandatory and unavoidable.

Following restoration Five Car Stud appeared in 2011 and 2012, first at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and then at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark. Today it is part of the Prada Collection, and is being shown for the first time ever in Italy in this eponymously titled show at Fondazione Prada.

All images courtesy Fondazione Prada


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The Blog’s publishers insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees that may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier


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Photography | Kathy Ryan: Modern Times

Friday, May 6th, 2016

Office Romance, 5:39 p.m. October 30, 2014



Office Romance, 9:15 a.m. August 14, 2014



Office Romance, 9:43 a.m. September 23, 2013



Kathy Ryan
Office Romance
Howard Greenberg Gallery
New York City | USA
Until 19 June 2016



To say that Kathy Ryan knows her subject inside out is an understatement. She shot every image in this exhibition inside the New York Times building – the workplace she loves. But the visual subjects that matter to her are not restricted to architect Renzo Piano’s landmark structure (built 2000-2007); although nowadays her more appropriate title is director of photography, Ryan has been chief picture editor of The New York Times Magazine since 1987.

Office Romance, 10:32 a.m. September 17, 2015



Office Romance, 9:54 a.m. November 20, 2015



Office Romance, 9:59 a.m. August 11, 2013



Ryan is one of the few who commission and select photography for prominent editorial publications who have become legendary. Echoes of legendary photographers’ work – Man RayLaszlo Moholy NagyBerenice AbbotErwin Blumenfeld – are evident in hers, and serve as evidence of the gamut of her visual knowledge. Here the atmosphere pays homage to painter Edward Hopper, there the minimal treatment is reminiscent of some of Frank Stella’s stripe work. However there is nothing nostalgic in her pictures, which were first published on her Instagram feed (kathyryan1 with 96K followers); she has a great talent for commissioning new and interesting contemporary photography, often from unexpected sources, in particular from artist photographers such as Taryn Simon and Thomas Struth, among many others. Kathy Ryan’s own pioneering spirit is reflected in these intimate images from her everyday world.

Each 6 x 6 inch (15.25 x 15.25cm) image produced as an archival pigment print on 14 x 11 inch (35.55 x 27.95cm) paper for Kathy Ryan, Office Romance at Howard Greenberg Gallery, was photographed on Ryan’s iPhone. Office Romance was published in book form by Aperture in 2014.

All images courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery


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Design | Georges Jouve – Mid-Century Master Potter

Friday, April 29th, 2016

Calice vase, circa 1955
Black and white glazed ceramic
Estimate €4,000 > 6,000



Design
Sotheby’s
Paris | France
Exhibition 19 > 21 + 23 May 2016
Sale 24 May 2016



Three Boule vases, circa 1955
Ceramic, glazed in orange,
red and green
Estimate €15,000 > 20,000



You can see it in the simple, sculptural forms of Serge Mouille’s lighting designs of those few years, and in Charlotte Perriand’s Free form table, 1956. It was as if, suddenly, in the mid-1950s, all the avant-garde French designers agreed to adopt a different kind of modernism. The mood swing, however, could be attributed to a growing international interest in the elegant forms emerging in the new and popular kinetic art and the effect of technologies developed during World War II that had been taken up by designers such Charles and Ray Eames, who had experimented with fibreglass, plastic resin and wire, to produce new types of furniture and home accessories that were stronger, but lighter in feel than anything that had existed before.

The new products had a knock-on effect to interior design, and, so as not to look incongruous in the new settings, ceramics would have to change, too. All of the examples of work shown here are by the prominent French ceramicist Georges Jouve (1910 > 1964) and were created in or around 1955.

Occasional table, circa 1955
Metal, black and white glazed
ceramic and cement
Estimate €8,000 > 12,000



Banane bowl, circa 1955
Yellow glazed ceramic
Estimate € 8,000 > 12,000



In the 1940s Jouve, who had trained as a sculptor at Paris’s prestigious École Boulle, and who, having escaped from a German prison camp, learnt local potter’s techniques in the South of France, began producing rustic semi-figurative, decorative work inspired by the religious figurines of the locality. Back in Paris, in 1944, he was producing robust pottery, often demonstrating an ironic humour; his Vase femme a nichons – literally translated as Woman with tits vase – of which he produced many versions, is a bust of a voluptuous woman with large breasts squeezed onto a pedestal base.

Table lamp, circa 1955
Red glazed ceramic
Estimate €3,000 > 4,000



Cylindre vase, circa 1955
White and black glazed ceramic
Estimate €4,000 > 6,000



Toward the end of the Forties, the influence of cubism and African art was discernible in his latest pieces, and was destined to remain as Jouve started to pare down and to simplify his vases and pitchers, on which in the early 1950s he would sometimes scrawl Picasso-esque line drawings. As the decade’s mid-point approached the surface decoration diminished and all but disappeared, the shapes became more defined, refined, and often more delicate; the potter’s former, murky palette was replaced with a fresh one restricted to strong reds, oranges, yellow, apple green, black, white and grey. Much imitated during the 1960s, the stripped-down tiled-surfaced, rectangular tables illustrated with brash, colourful abstract designs that Jouve had introduced in 1950 would become a fixture of his repertoire, but by 1955 all extraneous structural detail had been abolished, the tile pattern reduced to linear monochrome designs. Each piece retained its handmade qualities and all were signed by the hand that made them.

Jouve’s jokey Banane bowl is a clear indication that he never lost his talent to amuse, and it’s clear in his Calice vase design (both shown above) that while he developed a new style, which was appropriate to the period, he did not make a total departure from his earlier, more solid way of working: he sometimes simply streamlined it a little, which had a similar effect to putting a generously-proportioned lady into a more flatteringly-cut dress.

The forthcoming Design sale at Sotheby’s in Paris includes forty works by Georges Jouve, spanning his entire career.

All items designed by George Jouve
Photos Sotheby’s / Art Digital Studio


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The Blog’s publishers insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees that may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier


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Art | Zero’s Heinz Mack

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

Heinz Mack in his
Düsseldorf studio, 1959

Photo Archive Heinz Mack



Heinz Mack ‘Spectrum’ (1950-2016)
Galerie Perrotin, Paris
Paris | France
23 April > 4 June 2016



Parallelogramm, Heinz Mack, 2016
Stainless steel.
View of the exhibition ‘Spectrum’
at Galerie Perrotin, Paris.
Photo Claire Dorn



Until recent years there was a great big hole in our art education. It is gradually being filled with ZERO – something to celebrate.

The resurgence of interest in the highly-influential European-based ZERO art movement founded in the 1950s, but which by the mid-1970s had all but disappeared, was probably the result of the 2010 sale of the Gerhard and Anna Lenz collection of ZERO art at Sotheby’s in London, in the wake of which major retrospective exhibitions at The Guggenheim in New York, Amsterdam’s Stedelijk, Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin, and the Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais in Paris all followed.

The shows at these prominent institutions, however, as opposed to being about any single artist within the group, have all been mixed. In fact, aside from a solo exhibition this year in Istanbul, and others in equally obscure locations, such as Teheran (2001), ZERO’s visionary founding member, the German Heinz Mack (b 1935), hasn’t had a major one-man show outside of Germany since 1973 – an oversight which this new show at Paris’s prestigious Galerie Perrotin, will go some way to putting right.

Destined to become a significant contributor to the history of 20th century art, having attended the Arts Academy in Düsseldorf, Heinz Mack studied philosophy in Cologne in the mid-1950s and afterwards began to create paintings, reliefs, and sculptures exploring the effects of light, reflections and movement. He first experimented with spatial art through light reliefs and light cubes in polished aluminium in 1958, creating ambiguous works that were difficult to fix mentally or to record photographically.

Mack’s first solo exhibition in 1957 at Galerie Schmela in Düsseldorf, was soon followed by others in Paris, London and, in 1966, New York, where from 1964 > 65 he had briefly lived. However, since the 1966 show, Mack’s work has only appeared in America amongst that of many others in 2001 at MoMA and at Los Angeles County Museum in 2004, as well as, of course, in the 2014, much-belated, first ever, large-scale exhibition in the United States of the group’s work, ZERO – Countdown to tomorrow, 1950-1960s, at The Guggenheim.

Lamellenrelief, Heinz Mack, 1963
Aluminium, wood, perspex.
Photo Pierre Antoine



Lichtgitter-Relief, Heinz Mack, 1984
Varnished steel, brass, wood.
Photo Pierre Antoine



Lichtskulptur, 2001
(Detail – replica of the
lost original model from 1976)
Embossed, anodised,
silver-coloured aluminium,
stainless steel.
Photo Archive Heinz Mack



The apparent American ambivalence toward Mack and ZERO’s work throughout the 1970s, 80s and 90s may have its roots in the late 1940s, when, post World War II, for the first time the locus of contemporary art shifted from Paris to New York, where abstract expressionism – often referred to as the first specifically American art movement to achieve international influence – and the work of Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning, was the big draw. ZERO formed by Heinz Mack with Otto Piene, later joined by Günther Uecker, which came to number among many others Yves Klein and Jesús Rafael Soto as members, argued that art should be void of colour, emotion and individual expression, thus placing itself in direct opposition to abstract expressionism, and anathema in the USA. Minimalism and pop art, too, had by the end of the 1950s become powerful forces in the United States and would further strengthen New York’s impregnable position as the world’s art capital – a position it would not willingly relinquish and one which, at the time, and for the next couple of decades, it was easily able to defend.

In recognition of his international importance, in 1970, Mack represented Germany at The Venice Bienale, but, despite having created groundbreaking abstract work, and productions – via his numerous excursions to the Sahara and the Arctic – and actions that foreshadowed land art, as well as having anticipated aspects of minimalism and conceptual art was largely ignored in the US. Over time ZERO itself would disintegrate. Heinz Mack has not been idle, however, and at his studios in Mönchengladbach and Ibiza has continued his systematic and sensual exploration of reflection, and the chromatic light spectrum and its perceptive thresholds, areas in which his contemporary artist heirs, such as Olafur Eliasson, are also active.

Heinz Mack ‘Spectrum’ (1950-2016), curated by Matthieu Poirier, at Galerie Perrotin, Paris, exhibits more than 70 works, including some early pieces that have never previously been shown in public.

All images © Heinz MACK / ADAGP, Paris, 2016, courtesy Galerie Perrotin


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The Blog’s publishers insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees that may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier


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Art | Totally Crazy, Impossible & Wrong Things

Friday, April 1st, 2016

Nefertiti, 2014
7 plaster busts with glasses, wood,
on wooden pedestals with castors
Variable installation
Courtesy Galerie Buchholz,
Köln / Berlin / New York,
David Zwirner, New York /
London and Hauser & Wirth



Isa Genzken: Make Yourself Pretty!
Martin-Gropius-Bau
Berlin | Germany
9 April – 26 June 2016



Five Ears (Detail), 1981
Paper
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam Collection
Photo Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam



Social Facade, 2002
Metal, plastic, and metal foil
Ringier Collection, Zürich
Photo Galerie Buchholz Köln /
Berlin / New York



X-Ray, 1989 / 2015
Black and white photograph
Courtesy Galerie Buchholz, Köln /
Berlin / New York



Actor, 2013
Mannequin, chair, shoes, wig,
wood, fabric, plastic and metal
Dimensions variable
Syz Genf Collection, Courtesy
Galerie Buchholz,
Köln / Berlin / New York



Isa Genzken: Make Yourself Pretty! at Martin Gropius Bau presents a broad spectrum of Genzken’s extraordinary and exceptionally diverse oeuvre, from her early films, drawings, and concrete sculptures to complex collages and everyday items integrated into montages. One of the country’s most important artists – married, incidentally, to Gerhard Richter from 1983 to 1993 – until recently, she was little known outside of Germany.

A short film and biography explain everything you need to know about Isa Genzken and her work.

All works © Isa Genzken, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016
All Images courtesy Martin Gropius Bau


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Photography | A Surreality Check

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

Man Ray, Rayograph (Spiral), 1923
Photogram on silver gelatin paper
© Man Ray Trust / 2015, ProLitteris, Zurich



Real Surreal
− Masterpieces of Avant-Garde Photography
The New Look 1920 > 1950
Museum Bellerive
Zürich | Switzerland
1 April  > 24 July 2016



František Drtikol, Circular segment (Arc), 1928
Pigment print
© František Drtikol-heirs, 2015



So familiar are we with the classic artworks of the surrealist era – lobster telephones, bowler-hatted men with apples floating in front of their faces, and fur cups and saucers – that with a little dexterity, we can easily create entertaining images inspired by them ourselves on our computers or tablets and even on our phones. But, perhaps we’ve allowed our idea of what surrealism was, or indeed is, to be confined to just a few stereotypes, while the thinking on which surrealism was founded provided a point of departure for infinitely diverse imagery.

As World War I raged, the Dada movement threw out all the established conventions of what constituted art. Forming in their wake, the surrealists – originally a literary movement established in 1924 that would, after initial reluctance, welcome painters, then photographers – found new inspiration in founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud’s theories about the unconscious and the interpretation of dreams. Taking Freud’s fundamental rule that his patients must be absolutely honest, and never leave anything out, even if it is unpleasant to expose, together with his interest in the internal mental conflicts that kept experiences buried deep within the mind, as the basis for their explorations they would produce art that was unfettered by rules and conformed to no previously-established formulae.

Grete Stern, The Eternal Eye, 1950
Photomontage on silver gelatin paper
© Estate of Grete Stern
Courtesy Galeria Jorge Mara,
La Ruche, Buenos Aires, 2015



Genia Rubin, Lisa Fonssagrives.
Dress: Alix (Grés)
, 1937

Print on silver gelatin paper
© Sheherazade Ter-Abramoff, Paris



Innovative technical developments that emerged in photography at the time rendered the medium far more accessible, allowing the surrealist photographers to be prolific and move rapidly from one experiment to the next. Man Ray would contrive new ways of looking at and presenting subject matter and invented innovative dark room techniques such as solarisation that allowed him to produce prints that were like nothing that had been seen before. He experimented with multiple exposures and produced photograms in the darkroom without a camera.

Bauhaus master László Moholy-Nagy also produced radical surrealist photography, and there is a long list of photographers including Eugène Atget, Herbert Bayer, Hans Bellmer, Brassaï, Florence Henri, Germaine Krull, Herbert List, August Sander and Umbo, among others, some of whom were associated with the movement from its early days, and others who produced surrealist photographs afterwards and right up into the 1950s, each of whom interpreted surrealism from their own individual viewpoint. Real Surreal is an exhibition of the extraordinary work of these photographers, among which certain stylistic approaches to mood, lighting and sometimes propping was common, and form a discernible link, but that bristles with unparalleled innovation in terms of ideas that combine to form the influential and enduring legacy of the movement.

Albert Renger-Patzsch, Self-portrait, 1926/27
Print on silver gelatin paper
© Albert Renger Patzsch Archiv /
Ann und Jürgen Wilde, Köln / 2015,
ProLitteris, Zurich



From the 1960s up until his death in 1991, the French fashion photographer Guy Bourdin, who had first-hand inspiration from Man Ray himself, produced powerful, often shocking and incredibly stylish images, borne out of a surrealist mindset, without ever falling into the trap of aping his hero’s work.

It’s apparent in the work of contemporary fine art photographers such as Cindy Sherman, who approaches her compelling self-portraits from a standpoint which asserts that identity lies in appearance, not in reality, that it remains possible to create work from a unique surrealist perspective. Younger photographers, too, like Amsterdam-based Viviane Sassen, who, having looked hard at the original surrealist imagery then put it to one side, are creating fresh and intense, original work – the stuff that dreams are made of.

Previously shown at the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg in Germany, Real Surreal − Masterpieces of Avant-Garde Photography is showing around 220 works from The Dietmar Siegert Collection.

Related event
Neues Sehen Photographs of
the 1920 and 1930s
from the
Ann und Jürgen Wilde Collection

Pinakothek der Moderne
Munich | Germany
Until 30 September 2016

All images courtesy Museum Bellerive


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The Blog’s publishers insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees that may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier

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Art | Nasreen Mohamedi Meets Taca Sui in New York

Friday, March 18th, 2016

Nasreen Mohamedi, Untitled, c 1975
Ink and graphite on paper
Sikander and Hydari Collection



Nasreen Mohamedi
The Met Breuer
NYC | USA
18 March > 5 June 2016

+

Taca Sui: Steles – Huang Yi Project
Chambers Fine Art
NYC | USA
31 March > 28 May 2016



Taca Sui, Tomb of Prince Lu #2, 2015
Archival pigment print on baryta paper



One relatively young and having established his reputation fairly recently, the other being afforded posthumous, retrospective acclaim, parallels, contrasts and coincidences exist between their respective work and the life stories of two Asian artists of different generations, who almost certainly never met, but have shows opening in New York.

Indian modernist Nasreen Mohamedi (1937–1990) was brought up in Mumbai, often, like New York, described with the epithet ‘the city that never sleeps’. Fine art photographer, Taca Sui was born in Qingdao, like New York, albeit smaller, a port city of skyscrapers. In the mid-1950s, Mohamedi would travel to London to study at Central Saint Martin’s School of Art, while having attended the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing in 2003, Taca went to the United States to continue his studies in 2005.

Taca Sui, Pagoda of Six Harmonies, 2015
Archival pigment print on baryta paper



Nasreen Mohamedi, Untitled, c 1975
Ink and graphite on paper
Sikander and Hydari Collection



The work of both artists is essentially monochrome, but whereas painter, photographer and draughtswoman Mohamedi, influenced by Russian suprematist Kazimir Malevich – a founding father of abstract art – among others, made non-representational paintings, semi-abstract photographs and drawings that bear no relation to Indian traditional art, Taca, who left college to assist American abstract expressionist painter Ronnie Landfield – well-known for his use of vibrant colour –produces work that is strongly rooted in China’s landscape, his images relate to geographic locations suggested in classical Chinese literature and are tied to the history, myths and religious traditions of ancient Han culture.

The calmness of mood in Taca’s work, and the reduction of the elements that make up each image, brings to mind Japanese minimalist Hiroshi Sugimoto’s photography, but the artists’ approach to and treatment of respective subject matter is entirely dissimilar. More redolent of the Italian futurist architect Antonio Sant’Elia’s drawings, Mohamedi’s graphic work has drawn comparisons with that of minimalist sculptor Carl Andre. It would be a mistake to label either Mohamedi or Taca as minimalist.

Nasreen Mohamedi, Untitled, c 1972
Gelatin silver print
Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi



Taca Sui, Feilai Peak, 2015
Archival pigment print on baryta paper



On the road to success: their work transformed by their experiences abroad, neither artist completely abandoned their own country for life in the west. Nasreen Mohamedi, having worked for a time in Europe and after spending time in Bahrain, travelled extensively through India, Iran and Turkey, visiting Japan and the USA, before returning to India in the early 1970s to teach in the Faculty of Fine Arts at MS University in Baroda (now Vadodara), while Taca Sui is now based in both Beijing and New York.

Joined in spirit, located in disparate areas of New York, Nasreen Mohamedi opens today at Madison Avenue’s The Met Breuer on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, while Taca Sui: Steles – Huang Yi Project starts in two weeks’ time at Chambers Fine Art in Chelsea, afterwards the shows run concurrently.

All Nasreen Mohamedi images courtesy The Met Breuer
All Taca Sui images courtesy Chambers Fine Art


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The Blog’s publishers insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees that may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier



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Art | John Piper: Man of the Cloth

Friday, March 11th, 2016

Air Motif , 1966
from Chichester Cathedral Tapestry



John Piper:
The Fabric of Modernism
Pallant House Gallery
Chichester | UK
12 March > 12 June 2016



John Piper photographed by Nicholas Sinclair, 2000



Try to bring to mind what a typical, domestic, post-war British fabric design looked like. The image inside your head, if any, will probably resemble one of John Piper’s screen-printed designs for Arthur Sanderson & Sons.

Now imagine how a typical Anglican Church minister (albeit off-duty) should look. Sallow, long in the face, with high cheekbones and large fleshy ears – even by middle age his hair has receded and turned white – your vision might easily be John Piper himself. In his later years, the pious look would become increasingly appropriate to his output, especially with regard to his work in textiles.

Born John Egerton Christmas Piper in 1903, after art school at Richmond and Kingston and a brief year at the Royal College of Art, he began his career as a landscape artist then, after a visit to Paris in 1933, turned to abstraction, producing paintings, prints and collages inspired by Picasso. By 1938, however, he had returned to representational painting. In the 1930s, in pursuit of his great love of architecture, he had worked with John Betjeman on the Shell County Guides, and having been accepted into the Anglican church in 1939, while working as an official war artist from 1940, he asked to be allowed to concentrate on bombed churches. That year he would arrive the morning after the air raid that destroyed medieval Coventry cathedral to record the scene for a series of haunting paintings. During the following decade, having his first exhibition in New York, providing decorations for the British Embassy in Rio de Janeiro, and supervising the design of Battersea Pleasure Gardens with Osbert Lancaster, Piper would achieve national and international fame.

Chiesa de Salute, 1959, issued 1960*
Screenprint on Sanderlin fabric,
made by Arthur Sanderson.
Private collection



Abstract, 1955
Screenprinted rayon.
Published by David Whitehead Ltd.
Private collection



The repeat patterns of his commercial fabric designs – often abstract, sometimes based around architectural themes and landscapes and also including churches – reflected all that was going on in his own life and work in the 1950s. His involvement with textiles wasn’t unique, among his artist contemporaries, Henry Moore and Edward Paolozzi dabbled in fabric design too. But perhaps the catholic mix of subject matter in Piper’s work that rendered it suitable for use in modern, as well as more traditional homes ensured the commercial success that made it ubiquitous.

In 1958 Piper would return to Coventry Cathedral – then under reconstruction by Sir Basil Spenceto design a stained-glass window for its baptistry. The ecclesiastical robes he had created in the early 1950s for the clergy to wear for services at Coventry, and for Chichester and St Paul’s cathedrals may be clearly influenced by those designed by Matisse for the Chapel of the Rosary at Vence in France, but also make reference to the ballet productions Piper was involved in in the 1940s, and for the series of operas by Benjamin Britten, which he worked on.

But religion went out of fashion in the free-loving 60s, and just as Piper was on the cusp of elevation to the immortal pantheon of great British artists, by sacrificing fame for faith, consciously or otherwise, he was perhaps unjustly relegated to the second tier. Piper’s first tapestry designs, however, produced in 1966 for Chichester Cathedral represent a gathering together of a lifetime’s worth of ideas, imagery and personal fervour and are amongst the most important examples of twentieth century religious art. They form the centrepiece of the exhibition John Piper: The Fabric of Modernism at Pallant House Gallery.

All works by John Piper, © The Piper Estate, except* image reproduced by kind permission of Arthur Sanderson, a wholly owned subsidiary of Abaris Holdings Ltd, owners of the original copyright.
All images courtesy Pallant House Gallery


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Art | Self-Portraiture Without the Self

Friday, February 26th, 2016

Mark Leckey, Leckey Legs, 2014
3D Photopolymer print
Courtesy Galerie Buchholz,
Köln/Berlin/New York
Photo Sven Laurentt



Me / Ich
Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
Frankfurt | Germany
10 March > 19 May 2016



Erwin Wurm, Selbstporträt
als Essiggurkerl
, 2010

Acrylic, acrylic lacquer,
lacquered wooden pedestals,
36-piece installation
Photo Museum der Moderne Salzburg
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016



Eberhard Havekost, Hotel, 2003 (2)
Inkjet on paper, framed Edition of 5
Courtesy Galerie Gebr Lehmann
Photo Werner Lieberknecht



In September 2014, The Guardian published their Top 10 Self-portraits in Art. Of the one hundred or so self-portraits Rembrandt van Rijn produced during his lifetime, including around fifty paintings, thirty-two etchings and seven drawings, just two were selected. The list, which was biased towards British artists included Lucian Freud’s Reflection With Two Children (Self-Portrait) (1965) and Self-Portrait With Charlie (1995) by David Hockney. Women artists were represented by, among others, Artemisia Gentileschi’s Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting (1638-39), and Tracey Emin’s I’ve Got It All (2000). In the writer’s opinion, Hockney ‘paints the ideal of honest observation’ and Picasso’s self-portraits are more to do with self-examination than an invitation to you to examine him too closely. Interestingly, and unusual for her, Untitled Film Still #48 (1979) by Cindy Sherman is the only one of the ten which doesn’t show the artist’s face.

Jürgen Klauke, Toter Fotograf, 1988/93
2-part photograph on baryta paper,
Courtesy Galerie Elisabeth & Klaus Thoman,
Innsbruck/Wien & the artist
Photo Jürgen Klauke
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016



Jun Ahn, Self-Portrait (Seoul), 2008/2014
Archival pigment print
© Jun Ahn, Courtesy Christophe Guye Galerie



A forthcoming exhibition in Germany will explore the contemporary art concept of ’self-portraiture without the self’ – or at least, for the most part, without the face. Among those artists included using photography as their medium, who have determined that body parts alone will suffice, Wolfgang Tillmans chooses to show only his knee, while Eberhard Havekost’s contribution is a detail of a hotel room interior with the toes of the artist’s right foot poking up into it; Friederike Pezold’s, Brustwerk, 1973, is a six-part polyptych in which her hands manipulate her naked breasts. In typically entertaining fashion, discarding his flesh and blood entirely and replacing it with a pickled vegetable, for his installation Selbstporträt als Essiggurkerl, 2010, sculptor Erwin Wurm portrays himself as a series of 36 gherkins of various sizes, each placed vertically on a sort of cityscape of white plinths. Showing no actual paintings, Ryan Gander displays the palettes he allegedly used during the production of his self-portrait/s.

Thorsten Brinkmann, Brinkmann, 2006
Carton, Sneaker, plastic legs and jeans of the artist,
Courtesy Teutloff Museum eV
Photo Thorsten Brinkmann
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016



In the face of the selfie’s universal democratisation of the self-portrait, are contemporary artists beating a retreat into the comparative safety of an arcane anonymity? Who’s to say? Featuring 40 works by international artists such as Joseph Beuys, Sarah Lucas, Nam June Paik, Rosemarie Trockel, and Gillian Wearing, Me/Ich, the forthcoming exhibition at Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, will probably throw up more questions than it does answers.

All images courtesy Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt


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The Blog’s publishers insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees that may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier

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