Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Books | Flying in the Face of Adversity

Friday, January 8th, 2016


Burkitshi horsemen hunt with eagles in the Altai mountains of western Mongolia



Hunting with Eagles
In the Realm of the Mongolian Kazakhs
Photographs by Palani Mohan
Published by Merrell
Hardcover + jacket
128 pp / 85 duotone illustrations
Available now



The exotically dressed chap with an eagle perched on his gloved hand set in a dramatic, mountainous landscape, on the front cover of this book, might be modelling Alexander McQueen menswear. Only he’s not. The photograph could be an example from an early 20th century anthropological study similar, say, to Martin Gusinde’s formidable work on the tribes of Tierra del Fuego. But it isn’t. It was taken just recently by Indian-born, Hong Kong-based photographer Palani Mohan in the wilderness of the vast and isolated Altai mountains of western Mongolia, close to its borders with China and Russia, and shows a real life, nomadic Kazakh using a golden eagle to hunt his prey, just as his ancestors have done for hundreds of years before him.

Unusual clouds form at high altitudes as the wind rises over the mountains



While the subject matter is lent a heroic, even stylish dimension by the photographs it is, nevertheless, infused with pathos. Ethnic Kazakhs, numbering around 100,00 are Mongolia’s largest minority, but no more than fifty to sixty true eagle-hunters or burkitshi, as they are known locally, are left. ‘I have an important job to do’, Mohan told Orazkhan, one of the oldest and wisest of the men who hunt with eagles, who sipped yak’s milk tea while howling winter winds brought fresh snow to the desolate valley outside, ‘to document the burkitshi before they disappear.’ And over the years he photographed them, Mohan would learn the intimate details of their relationship with the birds that are integral to the existence of these stoic people. How they take female eagles – larger and more powerful than the males – from the nest as pups then treat them as part of the family. How the burkitshi hand-feed the eaglets – as they do their own children – to develop a bond of trust, even love, before training them to hunt their prey: the foxes that provide food for the hunters’ wives and children, whose pelts are made into the warm clothing that is essential for survival in the harsh Altai climate. It is this close family bond that ensures the mature eagles return to present their kill to the hunters. Poignantly, however, after ten to fifteen years, the eagles past their prime, all bonds must be broken and every bird returned – with the reluctance of all parties involved – to the wild.

Golden eagles – like children – are treated as part of the family



Exceptionally well-printed – perhaps appropriately, in nearby China – on premium quality smooth coated paper, Merrell PublishersHunting with Eagles is simply designed in the tradition of the best documentary photography books, with all of the emphasis on Palani Mohan’s extraordinary pictures, which, judging by those on his website, are the most accomplished he has produced to date.

All photographs courtesy Merrell Publishers
© Palani Mohan







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

The Blog’s publishers insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being 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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Design | Punchy Image / Sensitive Touch

Friday, November 13th, 2015

Karl Gerstner, Auch Du bist liberal /
You’re liberal too
, 1956.
Political poster
© Karl Gerstner / Muriel Gerstner
(represented by Maria Jurkovic)



Handzeichen / Hand Signs
Museum für Gestaltung – Schaudepot
Zürich | Switzerland
27 November 2015 > 28 February 2016

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Bitte berühren! / Please touch!
Museum für Gestaltung – Schaudepot
Zürich | Switzerland
27 November 2015 > 20 March 2016

+

Poster Collection 27:
Die Hand / The Hand
Edited by the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich
Lars Müller Publishers, (2015)
98 pp, 120 illustrations,
paperback



Armin Hofmann,
Stadttheater Basel 63/64, 1963.
Concert poster
Photo Max Mathys
© Armin Hofmann



Kōichi Saitō
Ongakuza / Soap Bubbles Floated,
They Floated into Outer Space, 1989.
Film poster



As powerful, expressive, beautiful, and versatile as they have the potential to be, left to their own devices hands can get a bit restless, drift around, feel a little lost. But give them a purpose – gripping, punching, pointing, caressing, adding weight to an argument – and they instantly come into their own. Three, more or less, simultaneous design events – two exhibitions, the publication of a new book – all related – invite us to take a closer look at hands.

In Michaelangelo’s ubiquitous painting The Creation of Adam (c 1512), God thrusts out his hand, boldly pushing forward a single finger to touch lonely and anxious-looking Adam’s rather limp one. The entire message behind the picture is in the interplay of those two hands – something any good poster designer instinctively understands. Even these Michaelangelo hands, however, would remain impotent as a poster image until set to work with type, plus perhaps a few additional visual props, to communicate whatever the commission demands. Handzeichen / Hand Signs, the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich’s forthcoming exhibition brings together both diverse and similar examples – political, commercial, arts-related, and social – of international poster design, all incorporating the hand, each utilising the hand’s symbolic strength for maximum impact, to present a brief cultural history of how it has been used as a design element to express a wide variety of meaningful messages. Lars Müller PublishersPoster Collection 27: Die Hand /The Hand, the latest in this well-designed, high quality and apparently limitless series, is published to coincide with this exhibition and features examples from the Museum’s vast archive.

Climbing grips
Photo F X Jaggy + U Romito



Konstantin Datz, Braille Cube,
Rubik’s Cube for the Blind, 2010
© Konstantin Datz



Watchmaker’s tools, 1990s
Photo F X Jaggy + U Romito



Designed by nature to assist early man in building a life for himself, used to scrape, smash, gather and kill, sometimes to draw and paint and carve, over a relatively long period human hands became adept at making tools to work with, at building and farming, and later skilled in the art of writing. Up until quite recently, it must be said, in the developed world, hands led an interesting sort of existence. But then along came 21st century technology…

Albeit playing the role of the hand tool that thousands of man-made objects throughout history have before it, the new Apple wireless keyboard – now reduced to about about two-thirds of the length of the older versions – still has actual keys that you can push down to type letters that instantly appear in your on-screen electronic document, but only very a light touch is required from the user. The myriad of touch-screen devices, including smartphones, hole-in-the-wall cash machines, interactive maps, gallery guides that have become an integral part of our daily lives exemplify same reductive story. Here, the ‘key’ your finger reaches for may resemble the 3D analogue version you’re familiar with, but it’s completely flat, devoid of form and texture, reduced to an electronically-generated image behind a shiny glass screen. The featherlight touch of a fingertip tapped gently upon it is enough to transport you anywhere you want to go on your digital journey. And, afterwards, if your phone isn’t already taking up all the space, you can slip your redundant hands back into your pockets. With a variety of real objects from the area of contemporary product design, to really touch, really feel, and to really do things with, Museum für Gestaltung’s Bitte berühren! / Please touch! exhibition, offers a helping hand to hands that are suffering from their ever-diminishing role in our rapidly-changing, technology-dominated society.

All images courtesy Museum für Gestaltung Zürich and Lars Müller Publishers.
All image content from the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich collections


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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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Design | Logos Unlimited

Thursday, October 15th, 2015

1967 poster for Italian car manufacturer Fiat. Changes of colour and configuration give the various brands and models their unique identity.
© Armin Vogt / Reiwald Werbegentur for Fiat



Logo Modernism
By Jens Müller + R Roger Remington
Published by Taschen
Hardcover + jacket
432 pp, multilingual edition in
English / German / French.
Available now




6000 logos explore the distillation of modernism in graphic design



Not so amazing, I suppose, as finding a Charles Eames chair in a skip, I picked up a compact, concise book in used but good condition, jam-packed with logos, symbols and signs, off the top of an overflowing litter bin at the offices of a magazine I was working in Germany in 2001. It’s a little gem, called Zeichen + Signets / Signs + Emblems, originally published in 1982 by Bruckmann München in association with the famous design bible Novum Gebrauchsgraphik, (copies can be found online for around €12). Many of the same logos also appear in Taschen’s great big – soon to be even bigger, when the XL version comes out – new tome of a book, Logo Modernism, which covers the period from around 1940 to 1980, ie, from when ‘modernism in graphic design really began to take hold’ and before the post-modern era began. Amongst the 6000 logos included – almost every one credited and dated – some examples from the 1990s that share the same or a similar spirit are also shown.

Cleanly and simply laid out, in black on white cartridge paper with generous margins, the designs grouped into those based upon squares, dots, lines or crosses, and so on, with seemingly limitless permutations of approach, limited only by their method of production and with an eye to how they might be used in the limited variety of media available at the time, share a certain unity that contemporary computer-aided branding designers, often producing work intended for a much broader range of uses, find it neither useful, nor necessary to adhere to.

Massimo Vignelli’s, 1967, simple and striking
visual identity for American Airways
© Massimo Vignelli for American Airlines



Case studies such as Armin Vogt’s 1968 Fiat logo that continued to be used, albeit with modifications, until 1999, and FHK Henrion’s 1969 LEB (London Electricity Board) revamp, over a spread, or up to six or eight pages, act as breakers at irregular intervals throughout the book, and show how simple designs could be adapted to create distinctive visual identities.

Each of the studies has a useful potted history of the designer, while towards the back of the book there’s an extended, illustrated profile section on several leading designers of the period, including Adrian Frutiger and Paul Rand, describing and demonstrating via examples of their work, the consistent approach each adopted or developed over the course of their careers.

Almost limitless as a logo archive for the period, Taschen’s Logo Modernism means business about the business of good design.

All images courtesy Taschen


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Books | Cosy Contemporary – Maximising on Minimal

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

Living room with wide wood floorboards, minimal
cantilevered shelf and Eames rocker in a home in Barcelona



The Monocle Guide
to Cosy Homes

By Monocle
Published by Gestalten
402 pp, full color
Clothbound hardcover
Text in English
Available now



Monumental Mies van der Rohe-style architecture in São Paulo
softened with wood furniture, a large rug and soft lighting



I can lay claim to being the first person ever to tell the architect John Pawson – in about 1988, before he was world famous, but was nevertheless well-known amongst the London design and architecture cognoscenti for his minimal approach – that any of his interiors felt cosy.

It was the first house Pawson had adapted for himself and his family to live in – pictures of which are rarely seen now – that we were photographing for a main feature in The Sunday Times Magazine. Invited to have a look around before a group of friends would arrive for a casual supper to which I was welcome, I had got there at about five-thirty. John led me past his signature, geometric wood staircase that due to the gaps he used in his treatment of the edges appeared to float. Via the main living area – two rooms knocked together to create one making the interior of the relatively small house less cramped than it was originally – he took me through the white kitchen. Nothing cluttered up or was even visible on the long, wide work surfaces. Sliding open a drawer with his fingertips – there was no handle – he showed me his ingenious built-in and very sensible system, designed to keep the assorted implements necessary for cooking, tidy and accessible. Outside, down a few steps were a lawn and a single, elegantly-shaped tree, probably birch. To a height of about two metres above the white-painted end and two side walls, all about two metres high, tennis-court-style chain-link fencing had been erected, up and across which climbing plants – evergreen, all the same – were trained, so that nothing but sky was visible above them.

It must have been either early or late on in the year, when it starts to get dark round about six o’clock, and having been shown the little niches built into the floor-to-ceiling bedhead upstairs, where money, watches, etc might be deposited so as to remain out of sight, I paid a quick visit to the bathroom with its deep, square wooden tub – the toilet, which at first I was at a loss to locate, hidden beneath a lidded wooden bench. I re-joined John in the pristine, white space of the living/dining room with its wide-boarded wooden floor, plain white blinds that he had contrived to open from the bottom, that were drawn halfway up for privacy, and just enough to mask out any intrusive views of the outside. Other than a wooden dining table and (I think) two wooden benches, there was no freestanding furniture. Half a dozen floor-to-ceiling panels along the greater part of one side, were closets, containing anything from store-cupboard items such as tinned food, to a television that could only be watched if the door of the particular cupboard in which it was located was kept open. There were other benches built into the alcoves on either side of the chimney-breast, in the simple square aperture of which a (wood?) fire was ablaze…

Stockholm interior shot through simple square windows with cushions,
dog, blazing fire, plants and lanterns – all the elements of cosiness in place



That was a long time ago and long before Canadian journalist, entrepreneur, and magazine publisher Tyler Brûlé launched Wallpaper*, the style and fashion magazine, in 1996, at a time when minimalism, in terms of global interior design and architecture was at its zenith, John Pawson having been commissioned to design the Calvin Klein Collections Store, New York, completed in 1995. Not long afterwards, French design diva, Andrée Putman (1925 > 2013) would be quoted as saying: ‘Minimalism in interior design has become a caricature. Everywhere you find shops or hotels with an ambience that makes you feel like you are in a refrigerator.’ She could easily have made the same observations about some minimalist-inspired homes. In 2007, having left Wallpaper* in 2002, Brûlé launched Monocle, which carries the tag-line ‘A briefing on global affairs, business, culture and design.’ Monocle also has a website, a 24-hour radio station and a shop, and publishes various other spin-offs including books. Published by Gestalten, the latest of these is The Monocle Guide to Cosy Homes.

The book’s unobtrusive format and simple typographic clothbound cover dispenses with the more usual, but unnecessary paper wrapper, and is a cosy coral pink. Inside, the pages are laid out in a manner consistent with Monocle magazine, however the book is constructed as a manual. At the front, essays by such design luminaries as Ilse Crawford, Terence Woodgate and Stephen Bailey appear alongside The River Café’s Ruth Rogers‘ description of the perfect kitchen, while a section called The Directory, at the back, shows how best to plan your kitchen, as well suggesting cosy places to live wherever you happen to be in the world, and offers craftsmen and retailers for your consideration.

Practical arrangements for ‘the most important room in the house’.
Another spread suggests cosy arrangement for seating in the living area



Functional, fold-away Le Corbusier-influenced and
approved kitchen, by Janette Laverrière for a Paris apartment



As unlikely as it may seem, the minimal modernist aesthetic, sometimes visible, often obscured, provides the unlikely framework on which The Monocle Guide to Cosy Homes comfortably sits. Albeit every example shown is contemporary, the influences of early modernists such as Adolph Loos, Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe – all of whom continue to influence the work of such minimalists as John Pawson and David Chipperfield, neither of whose work, understandably, is included – is not difficult to spot. Much of the furniture, too, is either first generation modernists like Alvar Aalto, or second generation / post war modernists, such as Arne Jacobsen, Charles and Ray Eames, and Hans Wenger, all of whose pieces might be chosen as sculptural accessories for a minimal interior. While fake ‘vintage’ will never have lasting value, the sense of history inherent in patina is important; in his introduction Brûlé tells us that ‘a few dents and scratches only make them [our homes] better.’ What is uncovered by this book is that we’ve learned from modernism – and minimalism which was one development from it – that a little less can be a lot more. Uncontrolled clutter remains a no-no – we need to keep our houses in reasonable order – but it’s fine to put some pictures up and to scatter a few cushions about. It’s important to remember that people make and live in homes and unlike the majority of books and magazines about the subject, this one shows quite a lot of them.

…By now John’s wife, Catherine, had come home and we were introduced. As the fire started to glow, candles were lit and the whiteness of the walls glowed a soft golden yellow. The bunch of friends arrived all at the same time. Conversation filled the room. Wine was poured from the big 1.5 litre bottles John preferred, and very soon we were all sitting at the table enjoying a simple cosy supper.

Photographs of the book pages by Pedro Silmon



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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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Books | Concrete Buildings – What’s Not to Love Now?

Friday, August 7th, 2015

Pierresvives by Zaha Hadid Architects, 2002 > 12, Montpellier, France
Archives, a library and sports department offices for the Hérault region.
The inclined concrete building combined with graphic
windows combine to give an impression of rapid movement

Photo © Iwan Baan



100 Contemporary Concrete Buildings
By Philip Jodidio
Published by Taschen
Hardcover, 2 volumes in slipcase,
730 pp, full colour



Bicentennial Civic Centre by Lucio Morini + GGMPU,
2010 > 2012. Córdoba, Argentina
Ministerial offices with cutout concrete facade
Photo © Leonardo Finotti



In the minds of many, concrete is synonymous with real or fictional, dysfunctional worlds. And, no matter how good they are, novels such as J G Ballard’s Concrete Island, in which his character Robert Maitland, a wealthy architect, finds himself stranded in a section of wasteland in the middle of a relentlessly busy motorway intersection and is forced to survive in his crashed Jaguar on whatever he manages to forage, don’t do concrete’s reputation any favours. Taschen’s non-fiction two-volume boxed set, celebrating the diversity of the best buildings constructed from this versatile, man-made stone, just might.

Editor-in-chief of French art magazine Connaissance des Arts in Paris since 1980 – his numerous published books include the Taschen series on contemporary American, European and Japanese architects, as well as monographs on Tadao Ando, Norman Foster, Santiago Calatrava, and Richard Meier – the books’ author, Philip Jodidio’s reputation and experience lend gravitas to subject matter already weighted down by its long-established association with urban decay and the detritus of past wars and present conflicts, but paradoxically imbues concrete’s history with unexpected lightness and sensitivity, in what must be the most comprehensive study thus far on the subject.

Amongst the global selection of individual architects (except for Foster, probably excluded because concrete is of a lesser importance than glass and steel in his building palette) and architecture practices’ projects, all the aforementioned practitioners are included. Alongside other famous names, such as Luis Baragan, Marcel Breuer, David Chipperfield, Antoni Gaudi, Herzog & de Meuron, Denys Lasdun, Oscar Niemeyer and of course Le Corbusier and Zaha Hadid, the publication also features many architects whose names are probably less familiar, but nonetheless worthy of inclusion.

Roberto Garza Sada Center for Arts, Architecture and Design,
Tadao Ando, 2009 > 12. New Mexico, USA
Part of the University of Monterrey, Monterrey.
The massive concrete
anchor of the building provides ample shade for pedestrians

Photo © Shigeo Ogawa



Jodido’s informative introduction reminds us that the Romans used concrete, but it comes as a surprise to learn that the ancient Egyptians invented and sometimes built with a variation of it. It’s interesting to discover that the concrete rotunda of the Pantheon was constructed without steel reinforcement – the key element that greatly strengthens the substance, allowing it to perform far better under stress, and which has been the backbone of countless concrete structures since the technique was invented by a Frenchman in the mid-1850s. By 1889, we learn that the first reinforced concrete bridge had been built in San Francisco and the construction of the Théâtre des Champs Élysées in Paris in 1913 established concrete – up until then regarded as ‘vulgar’ in certain quarters – as a ‘quality’ building material. Used, misused and abused, it is one that is as ubiquitously employed today in the construction industry, as once were bricks, wood and stone. Jodidio’s book set is about now rather than then, and our picture selections compare three recently-completed very different ‘quality’ buildings of similar scale from around the world, built for very different uses and designed by three very different architectural practices.

Lavishly-illustrated with high-quality photographs and sometimes the building plans of monumental as well as retail and small-scale residential projects, and with mug shots of the majority of the architects, as well as a respectable amount of informative text in English, French and German, you certainly get a lot for the modest price. From a readers’ perspective, however, the very long measure used for the relatively small – 11 or 12pt – condensed, sans serif text, throughout the book, might have been easier on the eye with more leading, or split into two, or even three columns.

Taschen has been known to publish gigantic books, as well as small fat ones. These two are neither excessively large, nor, at 352 pages each, so abnormally thick as to invite comment, but not only is the 100 Contemporary Concrete Buildings package designed to resemble a sturdy and uncompromising block of concrete, it is almost as heavy as one.

All images courtesy Taschen


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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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Books | Linder: Slicing Through the Cheesecake

Friday, June 19th, 2015

Child of the Mantic Stain, 2015
Acrylic on paper



Mouth to Mouth Interview
Dawn Ades, CBE, curator, educationalist, Fellow of the British Academy, former Tate trustee, Professor of History of Art at the Royal Academy, and author of Photomontage (Pantheon, 1976) talks to artist Linder, about her work, and her finely-crafted, fascinating and X-rated monograph, published by Ridinghouse.

Linder, born in Liverpool (1954, aka Linda Sterling) has eight items of early work in the permanent collection at Tate Britain. Exhibited internationally, with solo UK shows at The Hepworth Wakefield, and Tate St Ives, her career spans almost four decades. Once muse to Morrissey, she acknowledges her debt to surrealism, expressionism and punk. Best known for her record sleeves for The Buzzcocks, she creates photomontages, often obscuring the more graphic details of heterosexual and homosexual pornographic images with overlaid flowers, or everyday household commodities. In her latest work (above) she is experimenting with a different medium.

Girls of the World X, 2012
Photomontage



The Myth of the Birth of the Hero II, 2012
Photomontage



Dawn Ades You mentioned that you are including a single work from this new period of experimentation in the book, a kind of endnote (Child of the Mantic Stain, 2015 (above)). And the crucial thing, as you were saying earlier, is that it is no longer a photomontage.

Linder It is definitely not photomontage. I’m not quite sure what it is yet, it feels new and very exciting.

The Berlin dadaists chose to call themselves monteurs rather than artists to distinguish their activity from collage, which was already part of a modernist tradition with cubism.

I made my early photomontages with the same curiosity as a mechanic lifting up the bonnet of a malfunctioning car. I was already familiar with a lot of the artists – Hannah Höch, John Heartfield, El Lissitzky, Raoul Hausmann and Max Ernst, but your book Photomontage encouraged me to look far more deeply at the connections between each artist. [Books] provided me with a new visual vocabulary, as well as a verbal one, introducing words such as ‘photomontage’, ‘clitoris’ and ‘hegemony’, all of which I use still. When I was eighteen, in 1973, I enrolled at Manchester Polytechnic on a Foundation Course in Art and Design. I thought that I would find like-minded souls with whom I could swap notes about Millet, de Beauvoir and the Brontë sisters – they all seemed equally important at the time. It wasn’t quite what I had hoped for. We studied briefly in each department to experience the courses on offer at degree level: textile design, industrial design, fine art, advertising, etc. I chose to study graphic design. I felt that I stood more chance to

When did you begin cutting images up?

It was only in the summer of 1976, that I began to use the scalpel as a creative instrument. As we began to come of age, musically, sartorially and graphically, we started to cut things up – we cut up our hair, our coats and our magazines. We painted the walls of our bedrooms black, wore bin bags as dresses, our underwear as outerwear, dog collars instead of diamanté and dyed our hair with Crazy Colour, [but] I was far happier sitting in my room on a Saturday night studying Lissitzky’s Wolkenbügel than dancing to [Rod Stewart's] Tonight’s the Night in Rafters nightclub in Manchester. I wanted to make stab incisions into the host culture around me.

Making your incisions in the magazine pictures was pretty aggressive, as an initial move.

Over the years, the cuts made by my scalpel have all had a mood of their own, alternately violent, sensual, cold, premeditated or spontaneous, depending upon my mood and the work that I wanted to create.

With many of the photomontages, the addition is clear. The latest household goods, for example, in one of the sequences in Pretty Girls: hoover, stereo, TV. But in others the relationship is more ambiguous, for instance between bodies and food, the cakes, buns, biscuits. Then with the flowers, the roses in particular, sometimes they’re paired with pornographic images, sometimes with ballet dancers.

I use pornographic imagery variously as a decoy, bait, a lure, a fake aesthetic arrest; I have to stop people in their tracks somehow. The cut-out cakes, buns and biscuits floating on the pornographic pictorial plane simultaneously coax and repel. So, the bun and the breast both vie for our attention; the visual engineering gives equal torque to both engines of desire; the prizes on offer for the winner may be sugar, semen or both. The rose, the iris, the orchids and lilies work in different ways.

Roses have been a strong, sustained part of your iconography…

I love the litany of rose names: Super Star, Peace, Tiffany, Red Radiance, Proud Land, Crimson Glory, Pink Peace, Bewitched, Fragrant Cloud, Europeana, New Dawn, Christian Dior. Somebody, somewhere must have decided that the vermillion petals of their new rose should be christened Super Star. Meanwhile the women in Playboy were only ever given one name: Tania, Carole, Suzy, Lena.

Salad, 1977
Photomontage on paper



Does [the 1970s] period have a more personal meaning for you? You also go back and use magazines from the 1950s and 60s, don’t you?

I often use imagery from the early 1970s. I also went through a phase of making photomontages using 1950s glamour magazines, adding one rose to each. They’re restorative; something blossoms there rather than stasis. As a very young child, my step-grandfather would show me glamour photography. I couldn’t read books very well then but I could read the change in the sexual charge in the air.

Those were pornographic images? This was nudes? Glamour photography?

Yes, these were pornographic images and it happened to me from a very young age – from around three years onwards. My step-grandfather engineered a very incestuous relationship with his granddaughter. I look back at similar images in my archive and try to work out who was trying to cast glamour upon whom in that upstairs bedroom in Liverpool.

Pretty Girls, 1977 / 2007 (detail)
Pigment print of original artwork



Against Interpretation, 2012
Duratrans on lightbox
Edition of 3 + 1 AP



You say you just work on a kitchen table, but you must have an archive of material?

I have a large archive of material that’s very well organised by year and subject. There are rows of storage boxes labelled variously with, ‘Lips: Glossy’, ‘Birds: British’, ‘Gay Porn: Contemporary’, ‘Ballet Books: 1940s’, ‘Cake Decorating Books: 1960s’, etc.

You’ve worked with fashion, with pornography, but also with very ‘domestic’ images. How do these function in your work?

The domestic images ventriloquise the everyday, that with which we are most familiar and which we feel most in control of. A cut-out photograph of a coffee percolator which has migrated from the world of interior design to the claustrophobic world of the glamour model – as in Pretty Girls – immediately presents a sphinx-like conundrum. The objects of desire, the shiny new kettle and the nude, parade before us, each one vying to foreground the other. Something peculiar happens when they both inhabit the foreground at the same time.

There must be a certain amount of glee in the subversion, and deconstruction, of the images.

I sometimes laugh out loud at the work that I make.


This text above is composed of edited excerpts from the complete interview which appears in the Ridinghouse book Linder, from which all of the images are also taken.

Text excerpts © Linder and Dawn Ades, courtesy Ridinghouse, London
All images by Linder, © Linder, courtesy Stuart Shave / Modern Art, London

Linder
Linder in conversation with Dawn Ades
Published by Ridinghouse 2015
Hardback, 270 pp
225 colour images
Available now



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

The Blog’s publishers insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being 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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Books | Black American Dolls

Friday, June 5th, 2015

Male doll with large hands.
Artist unknown, circa 1920
Cotton / straw / string
This figure might have been intended to
represent
the archetypal strong man




Black Dolls
From the collection of Deborah Neff
Edited by Frank Maresca
Published by Radius Books
+ the
Mingei International Museum
Clothbound + jacket,
232 pp / 140+ colour images / 30+ bw

+

Black Dolls
Mingei International Museum
San Diego | California | USA
Until 5 July 2015




Wide-eyed girl doll.
Artist unknown, late 19th century
Cotton / glass
The down-turned mouth embroidered with coarse
thread gives this doll an eerie presence



Unlike some commercially-produced dolls, that have the ability to speak, but say nothing of any significance, the dolls featured in this beautifully-designed book and exhibition, made by ordinary African Americans between 1850 and1930, and are all mute, but speak volumes.

Deborah Neff, from whose collection the 100+ unique, hand-crafted dolls are sourced, was attracted to African-American black dolls in particular because she recognised them as some of the best examples of the tradition of creating expressive dolls from found materials – scraps of cloth, leather, coconut shell, ribbon and lace, old socks, and anything else their makers were able to lay their hands on.

Boy doll with striped trousers.
Artist unknown, circa 1900 > 25
Mixed fabrics / mother of pearl / glass
This boy’s trousers, constructed from vertical
strips
of colourful fabrics, bring to mind the Biblical
story of
Jacob and his coat of many colours

Female doll with red bonnet.
Artist unknown, late 19th or early 20th century
Leather / mixed fabrics / 
human hair / mother of pearl
The pristine condition of this doll suggests
it was not used as an object of play



Black dolls are believed to have been created by African Americans for the children in their lives, including those in their own families, as well as white children in their charge. Bearing in mind that, in a single stroke, the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, issued by President Abraham Lincoln, freed around three to four million North American slaves, the earliest of these dolls are likely to have been produced by unknown individuals, who were still enslaved.

Cabinet Card (detail).
Photographer unknown, circa 1870 > 85
Burnham Studio, Norway, Maine


Topsy-turvy doll.
Artist unknown, circa 1920 > 30
Cotton
This example was, apparently, never clothed



Photo postcard (detail).
Photographer unknown, circa 1904 > 18



Curious to know more about the origins of the dolls she collected, and hoping for deeper insight into the lives of African Americans during the late 19th and early 20th century period, Neff began researching contemporaneous photographs, and discovered some surprising images that revealed that while many black dolls belonged to white children, some white dolls, also appear to have been the playmates of black girls. A selection of these photographs forms an essential ingredient of both the publication and the show.

Female doll with puzzled expression.
Artist unknown, late 19th century
Mixed fabrics / animal fur / leather



The minimal black and white, topsy-turvy doll (above), of which the black and white portions are given identical treatment, can, at the flick of a wrist, be transformed from representing a black person, or a white person. Appearing to encapsulate the ideal of a multi-racial and democratic society, perhaps this particular doll was the product of a wishful thinker. Something of an anomaly, it has never been established whether topsy-turvy dolls were typically produced by white or black Americans.

Strange, mysterious – some of them naked, damaged, or ineptly repaired – these dolls’ faces, bodies, clothing and construction, combine to communicate intense emotions. Redolent of a turbulent, dark era in American history, they should perhaps be looked upon less as toys meant for the amusement of children, but rather as poignant reminders of the racial inequalities that persist in US society to this day.



All images courtesy Radius Books,
from Black Dolls, the book, and the
Black Dolls exhibition at Mingei
International Museum
. All dolls, from
the collection of Deborah Neff,
photographed by Ellen McDermott










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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 which may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier



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Photography | The End of the World in Pictures

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

K’terman, the spirit Xalpen’s baby, entirely daubed in red ochre, his body covered with fluffy goose down, is presented to the women by the shaman



The Lost Tribes of Tierra del Fuego
Photographs by Martin Gusinde
Published by Thames & Hudson

Texts by Christiane Barthe,
Dominique Legoupil, Marisol Palma
Behnke + Michael Taussig

Cloth-bound hardback, tipped on
plate to front (no jacket)
280 pp, 200+ duotone photographs



The men dance to drive away storms and bring good weather



‘On Navarino Island, facing the south coast of Tierra del Fuego, stands the most unlikely of museums,’ writes publisher and co-editor Xavier Barral, in his introduction to The Lost Tribes of Tierra del Fuego, ‘the southernmost museum in the world.’ Barral is referring to The Martin Gusinde Anthropological Museum, founded in 1974, in Chile, which pays homage to the Selk’nam, Yamana and Kawésqar, the tribes that originally inhabited the region.

It was during a chance conversation with Christiane Barthe, director of the Heritage Unit of the photographic collections at Paris’s Musée du Quai Branly, with whom he would later co-edit the book, that Barrall first heard of Martin Gusinde, whose archives had lain, undisturbed for decades, but carefully conserved by the priests at the Anthropos Institute, near Bonn, in Germany.

Gusinde had arrived in Tierra del Fuego as a German missionary, in 1919, his mission to help convert the three indigenous peoples of the archipelago at the unhospitable, windswept, snowy tip of South America: the Selk’ Nam, Yamana and Kawésqar, to Christianity. Ironically, however, fascinated by what he saw and experienced, he was to become one of very few westerners ever initiated into the Indians’ rites.

The Shoort spirits Télil, representing the sky of rain (northern sky), and Shénu, representing the sky of wind (western sky). Each mask, known as an asl, was made of guanaco leather stuffed with dried leaves and grasses



At the same time, aware that he was witnessing ways of life fast disappearing before the inexorable advance of civilisation – the remote islands were first discovered in the 16th century – Charles Darwin visited them on The Beagle in 1832 – the first missionaries established themselves there in 1869 – these days they have their own official Fin del Mundo / The End of the World website – using a portable darkroom, Gusinde began carefully documenting his discoveries and, over the course of five years, produced more than a thousand photographs, over 200 of which are beautifully reproduced in this carefully-crafted book.

Dwarfed by the scale of photographer Edward S Curtis’s classic and monumental twenty-volume The North American Indian, begun in 1898, containing 1,500 images, accompanied by over 700 portfolio prints, and issued as a limited edition from 1907 > 1930, The Lost Tribes of Tierra del Fuego, published in the UK by Thames & Hudson, and in France by Éditions Xavier Barral, is modest, but nonetheless impressive.

Curtis’s project had been a funded, carefully planned exploration and survey of the lives of all eighty North American tribes, but many of his photographs are, according to the Northwestern University Digital Library Collections website, ‘essentially contrived reconstructions rather than true documentation.’ Albeit he arrived some 50 years after the first missionaries, Gusinde’s images, due to his deep immersion in the tribal culture, are probably more authentic.

Around 150 prints from the Gusinde archive will be included in an exhibition curated by Christine Barthe and Xavier Barral, as part of the 2015 Rencontres d’Arles Festival in France, from 6 July > 20 September.

All images courtesy of Thames & Hudson,
© Anthropos Institute, Sankt Augustin, Germany


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Art | Jacob Lawrence’s African America

Friday, April 10th, 2015

Panel 48, Housing for the Negroes
was a very difficult problem.

The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Gift of Mrs David M Levy.
© 2015 The Jacob and Gwendolyn
Knight Lawrence Foundation,
Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS),
New York. Digital image © The
Museum of Modern Art / Licensed
by SCALA / Art Resource, NY



One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s
Migration Series and Other Visions
of
the Great Movement North
The Museum of Modern Art
New York City | USA
Until 7 September 2015



Panel 1, During the World War
there was a great migration
North by Southern Negroes.

The Phillips Collection, Washington DC.
Acquired 1942. © 2015 The Jacob
and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence
Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights
Society (ARS), New York.
Photograph courtesy The Phillips
Collection, Washington DC



Panel 17, The migration was
spurred on by the treatment of the
tenant farmers by the planter.’

The Phillips Collection, Washington DC
Acquired 1942. © 2015 The Jacob
and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence
Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights
Society (ARS), New York.
Photograph courtesy The Phillips
Collection, Washington DC



Unlike the few white people he includes – the planter, the judge, the passengers in the whites only section at the front of a bus – the skin of Jacob Lawrence’s fellow black African Americans is almost exclusively painted in the same flat, dark brown tone, mostly devoid of facial features. It is as if he painted them through a white man’s eyes, as a single, solid mass of humanity that didn’t really count, and didn’t deserve to be recognised as individuals.

Admitting that his primary influence was not so much French art, as the shapes and colours of Harlem, Lawrence referred to his style as ‘dynamic cubism.’ And, although superficially his work would appear to fall into the category that in fine art terms is referred to as ‘primitive’, he received art training and there is great sophistication in his power to convey his ideas via sharply-edited, direct images that show influences from film and photographic composition, and cropping. Indeed, Lawrence’s paintings of what has come to be called ‘The Great Migration‘ – the diaspora of 6 million African Americans from the rural southern USA to the urban north east, the midwest, and west, between 1916 and 1970 – are, in their way, equal in impact to the documentary photographs of the likes of Dorothea Lange and Gordon Parks.

Panel 52, One of the largest race
riots occurred in East St Louis.

The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Gift of Mrs David M Levy.
© 2015 The Jacob and Gwendolyn
Knight Lawrence Foundation,
Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS),
New York. Digital image © The
Museum of Modern Art / Licensed
by SCALA / Art Resource, NY



Panel 14, Among the social
conditions that existed which was
partly the cause of the migration
was the injustice done to the
Negroes in the courts.

The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Gift of Mrs David M Levy.
© 2015 The Jacob and Gwendolyn
Knight Lawrence Foundation,
Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS),
New York. Digital image © The
Museum of Modern Art / Licensed
by SCALA / Art Resource, NY



The large-scale immigration of Europeans to the USA, came to an end in 1914 at the outbreak of World War I, and as factory production in the northern states grew, a new source of cheap labour was needed. Descendants of slaves, southern blacks had their freedom, but saw little opportunity to improve their lot. Tired of the sharecropping system, in which they worked the land with little hope of economic gain, they were easy targets for newspaper advertisements that promised wages in the north that averaged three times their earnings in the rural south. Travelling by train, boat, bus, or even horse-drawn cart, hundreds, thousands, then millions of them made their way north.

In the decade between 1910 and 1920, the black population of New York grew by 66 per cent, while in Chicago it was 148 per cent. But these statistics were nothing in comparison to those for Philadelphia, where the influx of blacks reached 500 per cent. Detroit recorded a massive 611 per cent rise. But, in the increasingly crowded conditions of these northern cities, racism and prejudice would become widespread, race riots would flare up, and segregated housing led to the establishment of black ghettos.

Panel 58, In the North the Negro
had better educational facilities.

The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Gift of Mrs David M Levy.
© 2015 The Jacob and Gwendolyn
Knight Lawrence Foundation,
Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS),
New York. Digital image © The
Museum of Modern Art / Licensed
by SCALA / Art Resource, NY



Born of migrant parents and having lived in Harlem since 1913, in 1941, the 23-year-old Jacob Lawrence created a series of 60 small paintings each of which he gave caption-like titles. They were the result of his immersion in debates about African American history, and how it ought to be recorded in art and writing. He spent months studying historical documents, books, photographs and journals, before embarking on his series of paintings – his aim, to create a body of work that would provide the world with an accurate and new vision of how black Americans experienced the era.

For the first time in 20 years, all 60 panels of Lawrence’s Migration Series are reunited for the MoMA exhibition One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series and Other Visions of the Great Movement North. Accompanied by a book, Jacob Lawrence: The Migration Series, co-published with The Phillips Collection, Washington DC. The exhibition is organised by The Museum of Modern Art and The Phillips Collection, in collaboration with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, part of the New York Public Library.

All works from The Migration Series,
1940-41, by Jacob Lawrence, executed
in Casein tempera on hardboard,
18 x 12 ins (45.7 x 30.5 cm)



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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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Books | Go Dutch. Lendeert Blok + Marie-José Jongerius

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

Narcissus ‘Polar Ice’, ‘St Agnes’, ‘Mount Hood’, ‘La Riante’, and ‘President Lebrun’



Lendeert Blok.
Les Extravagantes
Éditions Xavier Barral
Photographs Lendeert Blok
Text (in French) Gilles Clément
Cloth-bound hardcover
176 pp, 85 colour and
b/w photographs

+

Marie-José Jongerius
– Edges of the Experiment
Published by Fw:Books
Designed and edited
by Hans Gremmen
Texts (in English) by various
authors, including Jongerius
2 x softcover volumes in slipcase
340 pp



Remarkable plant photographer Karl Blossfeldt (1865-1932), who would have been 27 years in old in 1892 when the first practical and commercially available colour process became available, and would live for another 40, evidently never used colour. Thirty years his junior, the Dutch plant photographer, Lendeert Blok (1895-1986), who took inspiration from Blossfeldt, but was passionate about photographic innovation, would, eventually become famous for his pioneering use of colour.

Blok had studied journalism in South Africa before returning to Lisse, near Amsterdam, and establishing his Photo Technischbureau company, for which he procured work from nearby horticulturalists, producing their display catalogues while experimenting with panoramic formats and colour photography. From 1925, when the use of colour photography remained relatively rare, he began using the autochrome technique, which involved making composite colour images from three colour separations – blue, red and green – on glass plates with potato starches. The resulting images were unique, and could not be duplicated.

Tulipa ‘Fantasy’



Iris ‘Ismene’



Whereas Blossfeldt celebrated the wonder of plants as nature created them, the pioneering Blok was drawn toward horticultural invention and manipulation. And, just as softness and radiance were anathema to the former’s painstakingly detailed and ultimately static, scientific approach, Blok’s images – shot, like Blossfeldt’s, in the studio against plain backgrounds – are strongly redolent of the outdoors. Remaining true to the original flowers, they suggest movement, shifting light and painterly romance, values that harp back to the 19th century aesthetic.

Gilles Clément, who wrote the text for Lendeert Blok: Les Extravagantes, is a French landscape designer, botanist and ecological theorist. He created the André-Citroën Park in Paris (1999), and designed the vast public gardens at the Musée du Quai Branly (2006) in Paris in collaboration with architect, Jean Nouvel.

As the publishers were unable to send The Blog a review copy, we are unable to comment on its design or printing quality.




In stark contrast to Les Extravagantes, Marie-José Jongerius – Edges of the Experiment is, at first sight, a bleak, two-book, boxed set about a bleak subject – America’s ruination of its western landscape, via its unquenchable thirst for water and development in areas where it is naturally scarce. However, somewhat contradictorily, the matter-of-fact images, the non-precious layout treatment and spare packaging contrive to deliver a washed-out, grungy kind of beauty.

Eschewing luxury, the books and slipcase are in various grades of recycled paper or board, while foil-blocking is used as an ironic gesture on both covers.

The opening spread of
volume 1: an arid smog-ridden
shot of Los Angeles,
photographed in 2007 by
Marie-José Jongerius

Hans Gremmen’s Cactus
Desert Scenes: Playmobil
Western, cactus from
the 5251 set
(2 variations)



The project’s editor and ‘curator’, Hans Gremmen, who received a Gold Medal in the Dutch Design Awards for his work on the book Cette Montagne C’est Moi (2012), was also responsible for the design of the complete package. Its feel – the way it is assembled, the layout and typography – has the mainland Northern European design aesthetic, literally, written all over it. More mood-board than structured non-fiction publication, this is collaborative collage, or printmaking in book form. It’s a publishing project, but also an art event and a design project, in which photography, design, journalism, history, and ecological protest, all form a part, and to which 17 international writers and artists, a curator, two architects, a translator, two photographers and an editor/designer have contributed.

Spread within a section
by Taco Hidde Bakker
and Felix van de Vorst,
illustrated with a Krazy Kat
comic strip, stills from
John Ford’s Cheyenne
Autumn
, 1964, and classic
1950s desert scene
photographs by Josef Muench

One of a series of
diagrammatic spreads by
Hans Gremmen, this one
illustrating lakes and
surface water in California



Photographer and researcher, Marie-José Jongerius, is based in Amsterdam. In her studiously calm, simple documentary landscape pictures, over 60 of which, produced over a 10 year period, appear in volume one of Edges of the Experiment, she ‘looks for boundaries, limits and edges between nature and the man-made world.’ Volume two is a collection of essays about the making of the American landscape, illustrated with a wide variety of diverse imagery that includes simple, and beautifully-drawn food production and surface water diagrams, stills from Roman Polanski’s film Chinatown (1974) and westerns, Playmobil cactus scenes, maps, ariel survey photographs, and a portrait of musician Captain Beefheart, among many others.

Lendeert Blok: Les
Extravagantes
images
courtesy Éditions
Xavier Barral,
© Leendert
Blok / Stichting
Spaarnestad Photo

Marie-José Jongerius
– Edges of the Experiment

images,
courtesy Fw:Books



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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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