Archive for the ‘Exhibitions’ Category

Photography | Brasilia, Utopia, and Inertia

Friday, April 15th, 2016

Chamber of Deputies (Annex IX) #2, 2012



Vincent Fournier
‘Brasilia’
The Ravestijn Gallery
Amsterdam | The Netherlands
16 April > 28 May 2016



Brasilia, the purpose-built federal capital of Brazil, constructed from scratch in the middle of the 1950s by urban planner Lucío Costa with landscape designer Roberto Burle Marx and architect Oscar Niemeyer, is grappling with a dilemma. Planned for around 500,000 inhabitants, in 1960 – the year of its inauguration – there were already almost 140,000 people resident in the city. By 1970 the figure had grown to 537,000. It has now reached 2.5m and is growing at a phenomenal rate of almost 3% per year. The question is how to reconcile the pressing needs of the increasing population with the utopian dream on which the city was founded.

The Claudio Santoro - National Theatre,
ceramic tile panel
by Athos Bulcão, 2012



The torpid atmosphere pervading the narrative in Vincent Fournier’s ‘Brasilia’ series seems to imply that a solution, which deals effectively with the situation, if indeed one does emerge, might be a long time in coming. The anonymous single figure in his Chamber of Deputies (Annex IX) #2, 2012, could be looking for an inspired idea in the landscape beyond his circular window. The image conveys no sense of anticipation, but the bored children photographed at The Claudio Santoro National Theatre appear to have been waiting for some time – the security man, a permanent fixture, is rooted to his position.

The Itamaraty Palace - Foreign Relations Ministry,
spiral stairs, 2012



Having been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1987, Brasilia’s extremely strict planning controls ensure that, unlike it’s close contemporary, Le Corbusier’s Chandigarh (still only tentatively listed for UWHS status), which is gradually being eroded and is at risk from the ad hoc mixed development that scars most other Indian cities, and where slum areas have already been established, the pristine Brazilian city’s limits are still easily distinguishable from the expanse of virgin landscape into which it was introduced.

The Itamaraty Palace - Foreign Relations Ministry,
wood and steel panel
by Athos Bulcão, 2012



Inertia stops the energetically curving spiral staircase in Fournier’s photograph of the Foreign Relations Ministry, at The Itamaraty Palace, dead in its tracks, while a busy wood and steel decorative panel at the same location masks a hive of inactivity.

Unesco go so far as to admit that Brasilia is vulnerable to urban development pressure including increased traffic and public transport requirements, but insist that the singular and outstanding value of Lucio Costa’s scheme, ‘which remains wholly preserved, both physically and symbolically’, is not in jeopardy.

The Ravestijn Gallery is showing a selection of 36 photographs from Vincent Fournier’s ‘Brasilia’ series, prints from which form part of the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the LVMH Contemporary Art Foundation in Paris.

All photographs are C-prints on Ilford Fine Art Baryta with white border
All images courtesy The Ravestijn Gallery


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Exhibitions | Victoria & Albert’s Secret

Friday, April 8th, 2016

Contemporary
dominatrix ensemble
from House of Harlot
© Sister Sinister



Undressed:
A Brief History of Underwear

Victoria & Albert Museum
London | UK
16 April 2016 > 12 March 2017



In Serge Nazarieff’s classic book Early Erotic Photography (Taschen, 1993), aside from a little gauzy chiffon, the odd petticoat or gartered stocking tops, all the women shown are totally naked, many in full frontal poses. Reminiscent of anthropological studies, with little left to the imagination, the images  – although they almost certainly did at the time they were taken – paradoxically, emote no particular sexual excitement. As the designs of lingerie company Agent Provocateur, joint-sponsors of the V&A’s forthcoming exhibition along with Revlon, exemplify, underwear contrives to be far more provocative than actual nudity could ever be.

Shorty stretch brief
designed by DaDa



Jean Paul Gaultie
underwear-inspired
dress, 1989



Wearing underwear is generally understood as a mark of civilisation, but far from being developed for practical purposes female underclothing was originally developed as a fashion aid. The crinoline depended on a hidden wooden framework and eighteenth and nineteenth century wasp waists were made possible via the use of a substantial corset. American dance pioneer Isadora Duncan shed her restrictive corset in the 1910s, and while in the following decade Coco Chanel discarded it in favour of comfort and casual elegance in her clothing designs, Karl Lagerfeld would reintroduce the corset for the Chanel Spring 2014 Couture collection. Controversially, in the 1950s, to make it possible for women to wear his New Look, Christian Dior came up with the ‘waspie’, which may have been only five or six inches deep, but was usually worn over an additional, body-shaping panty- or roll-on girdle. Rather than by the mythical bra-burning of American women’s liberationists, the new independent spirit of the 1960s women was encapsulated in Mary Quant’s body stocking.

1950s Y-front point
of sale material



Side hoop petticoat
covered in linen,
retailed by A Schabner,
England, 1778



It has existed for centuries, and entry to its world had become freely available on the internet for anyone with the appetite to search, but the 2011 publication of the erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey initiated the masses into the ‘kinky’ side of sex, with the result that sales at lingerie and sex toy retailer Ann Summers, according to the industry monitor Draper’s, rocketed by a dramatic 78% year-on-year. However, with around 25% of sales, Marks and Spencer’s somewhat tamer women’s underwear continues to dominate the UK market.

Nylon and lycra
girdle, 1960s



Man’s linen shirt,
Great Britain, 1775 > 1800
and underdrawers,
France, 1775 > 1799



For this show, men’s underwear, too, is coming out of the closet and women, eager to get men out of their practical, supportive, but lumpy Y-fronts and into something softer and more appealingly-streamlined, have played a strong role in popularising current styles. Calvin Klein’s spring 2015 men’s underwear marketing featuring Justin Bieber might have been a clear homage to the brand’s iconic 1992 campaign featuring Marky Mark (Mark Wahlberg), but Kate Moss’s inclusion in the earlier video, wearing identical shorts to Mark, guaranteed the product’s success. In a tribute to Moss’s performance, last year Rihanna, who became a creative director for the brand’s women’s wear posed topless in a pair of men’s Puma undershorts.

Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear at the Victoria & Albert Museum will display more than 200 examples of underwear from custom-made 18th century items to pieces by designers such as John Galliano, Juicy Couture, Stella McCartney, La Perla, Rigby & Peller, Paul Poiret, Schiaparelli, Paul Smith, and Vivienne Westwood.

All images courtesy the V&A
All items © Victoria and Albert Museum, London, unless otherwise stated


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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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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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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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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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Architecture | Japan’s Unmodern Architects

Friday, March 4th, 2016

Sou Fujimoto, House NA, Tokyo, 2007 > 11
Image © Iwan Baan



A Japanese Constellation:
Toyo Ito, SANAA, and Beyond
Museum of Modern Art
NYC | USA
13 March > 04 July 2016



Toyo Ito, Tod’s Omotesando Building, Tokyo, 2002 > 04
Image © Nacása & Partners Inc



Perhaps the Museum of Modern Art should consider temporarily altering its title. For the duration of this forthcoming contemporary Japanese architecture exhibition, Museum of Unmodern Art – or even Unmodern Architecture – might be more appropriate.

If modernity is about simplification, clarity and the stripping away of ambiguity, the work of Toyo Ito, SANAA (Sejima and Nishizawa and Associates), and the younger generation of Japanese architects who all share a similar philosophy doesn’t conform to this ideal. While at first glance the overall whiteness of their architecture might provide a reminder of rationalist perfection, it is soon apparent that here, humanism has been playfully nudged aside for the sake of humanity.

When Toyo Ito (b 1941) was still at school in the 1950s, the world had been boiling over with all manner of individuals and movements, not only in art, design and architecture, but also in the performing arts and in literature, all seeking a new way forward. By now the spatialist ideas formulated by Lucio Fontana in Milan during the previous decade, had been mixed in and melded with those of the Zero artists, who took light and space as their palette and exerted a global influence. At around about the same time, Gutai, the first radical, post-war artistic group in Japan became established. Emphasising the relationships between body, matter, time, and space, through conceptual, performance and painting, stressing freedom of expression, Gutai challenged the prevailing notions of art itself. Published in 1963, Niikuni Seiichi’s Zero-on, long considered the best individual collection of Japanese concrete poetry – in which the meaning or effect is conveyed partly or wholly by visual means – focussed avant garde ideas that had been around since the 1930s. It’s not surprising then that Ito and his peers, graduating from Tokyo University’s Department of Architecture in 1965, would draw upon this heady mix of influences to create a new kind of architecture.

Ito, established his first office in Tokyo, Urban Robot (Urbot), in 1971 – renamed Toyo Ito & Associates in 1979 – and won his first architecture award for his Silver Hut in 1986. Designed to function as his own home it was nevertheless an expression of his desire to create architecture that ‘felt like air and wind’. Ito has become one of the world’s leading architects and has received dozens of prestigious awards, including the 2013 Pritzker Architecture Prize. Attacking strict adhesion to rationalism, he has described how the system of the grid was established in the twentieth century, but that while its global popularity allowed a huge amount of architecture to be built in a short period of time, it made the world’s cities homogenous, making the people living and working in them homogenous too. By modifying the grid, as in such projects as his critically-acclaimed Sendai Mediatheque, one of the most identifiable characteristics of which is its structural columns, comparable in shape to large trees in a forest, rising up through the layers of the almost transparent building, Ito says that he attempts to find ways of bringing buildings closer to their surroundings and the natural environment.

SANAA, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art,
Kanazawa, Japan, 1999 > 2004
Image © SANAA



Gallery director Julia Peyton-Jones described the 2009 reflective aluminium Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in London by SANAA, as ’strange and gorgeous’. Representing a later generation of Japanese architectural practices, SANAA was founded in 1995 by Kazuyo Sejima (b 1956) – who had served an apprenticeship under Ito – and Ryue Nishizawa (b 1966), and won the Pritzker Prize – two years before Toyo Ito was awarded his – in 2010.

Echoing Ito’s unmodern sentiments, the architects themselves have referred to their Rolex Learning Centre in Lausanne (2010), where the building’s library, restaurant, exhibition areas, offices, etc are differentiated by undulations of a continuous floor, which rises and falls to accommodate the different uses, while allowing vistas across this internal spaces as a ‘landscape for people.’ In line with their belief that buildings should never lose the natural and meaningful connection with their surroundings, SANAA have recently completed a sinuous concrete, steel, wood and glass walkway that winds across the landscape of a nature reserve in Connecticut.

Akihisa Hirata, Showroom H Masuya,
Niigata, Japan, 2006 > 07

Image © Nacása & Partners Inc



Akihisa Hirata, Foam Form (Project),
Kaohsiung, Taiwan, 2011

Image © Akihisa Hirata Architecture Office
and Kuramochi + Oguma



Junya Ishigami, Kanagawa Institute of Technology
Workshop, Kanagawa, Japan, 2005 > 08

Image © Junya.Ishigami + Associates



Currently ranked among the hottest architectural practices in the world, with a string of much talked about projects behind them, including the Art Gallery of New South Wales, in Sydney, and the Louvre Lens, and many more – such as the new national gallery in Budapest’s City Park, won against fierce competition from Norway’s Snøhetta architects – in the pipeline, the company is enjoying exponential success.

A Japanese Constellation: Toyo Ito, SANAA, and Beyond at the Museum of Modern Art offers a retrospective of recent works by three generations of internationally acclaimed designers, including Sou Fujimoto, Akihisa Hirata, and Junya Ishigami.

All images courtesy the Museum of Modern 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 | 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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Culture | From Bauhaus to Black Mountain

Friday, February 19th, 2016

Hazel Larsen Archer, Merce Cunningham dancing,
contact sheet, c1952-53
Estate of Hazel Larsen Archer and Black
Mountain College Museum and Arts Center



Leap Before You Look:
Black Mountain College 1933-1957

The Hammer Museum
Los Angeles | California | USA
21 February > 15 May 2016



Josef Albers, Tenayuca, 1943
Oil on fibreboard
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
© The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/
Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York



Adolph Hitler did modernism a great service. Paradoxically, in trying to stamp out the movement’s philosophies, in particular by systematically harassing the Bauhaus, whose staff eventually decided to close the school rather than compromise with the Third Reich, he guaranteed the international dissemination of modernist teaching.

Some of the key Bauhaus figures passed through London, leaving a legacy of teaching ideas that would be a major influence on institutions such as the Royal College of Art in the postwar period. But sooner or later, the majority of them emigrated to the USA.

When former director Ludwig Mies van der Rohe arrived in Chicago in 1938, where he was appointed head of the architecture school at the Armour Institute of Technology (later, Illinois Institute of Technology/IIT), László Moholy-Nagy had already established the New Bauhaus there the previous year. Walter Gropius, would become a senior professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, while Marcel Breuer taught at Yale. In 1933, the year the Bauhaus had ceased operations, Josef Albers, speaking no English, had also begun teaching at Yale. However, via a recommendation from the Museum of Modern Art, he was soon hired as the first head of Black Mountain College, a new art school in the relative obscurity of Ashville, North Carolina.

Far less well-known internationally than the New Bauhaus – only scant references are made to it via any currently available UK sources – 10 years ago London’s Arnolfini gallery held an exhibition of a limited selection of the school’s works – the Tate website honours it with just 200 words  – by the 1940s, Black Mountain College became the ideal of experimental arts education in America.

Anni Albers and Alexander Reed, Neck Piece, 1940
Aluminium strainer, paper clips, and chain
The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation
© The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/
Artists Rights Society New York.
Photo Tim Nighswander/Imaging 4 Art



Buckminster Fuller, Black Mountain College,
1948/1990, Nancy Newhall

Gelatin silver print
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
©1948, Nancy Newhall, ©2014 The Estate
of Beaumont and Nancy Newhall.
Permission to reproduce courtesy of
Scheinbaum and Russek Ltd, Santa Fe, NM



John Cage, Hazel Larsen Archer
Gelatin silver print
Estate of Hazel Larsen Archer and Black
Mountain College Museum and Arts Center



Conceived by the – by all accounts – brilliant scholar John A Rice, BMC was a completely new type of college based on US philosopher John Dewey’s principles of progressive education. Dewey – reputedly the most significant educational thinker of his era in America – believed that human beings learn through a ‘hands on’ approach and that teachers and students must learn together. Bauhaus students and staff had lived and eaten side by side and embraced a modern lifestyle that included the whole person – body, mind and soul. In the 1919 Bauhaus manifesto Walter Gropius had announced that theatre, lectures, poetry, music, and costume parties, were all part of the programme. The parties promoted contact between the college and the public, an idea that Dewey also endorsed.

Josef Albers, despite his language difficulties, would quickly develop a system that successfully combined both Dewey’s and Bauhaus educational principles, and assemble a board of directors that included Albert Einstein. With great aplomb he put together a formidable and diverse faculty made up of, among others, his talented textile-designer wife Anni Albers, Walter Gropius, Jacob Lawrence, Willem de Kooning, R Buckminster Fuller, Ruth Asawa, and Cy Twombly. Famous alumni would include Robert Rauschenberg, who would describe Albers as having influenced him to do ‘exactly the reverse’ of what he had previously been taught, and John Cage, who staged his first ‘happening’ at the school.

Ruth Asawa, Untitled (S 272), c1955
Copper and iron wire
Private Collection. © Estate of Ruth Asawa.
Photo Laurence Cuneo



Albers left in 1949. As a result of a shift in trends that saw students and faculty drawn towards the cities of San Francisco and New York, in 1953, BMC, having endured 10 years longer than the Bauhaus, closed. A powerhouse, modern educational establishment, the college’s revolutionary and influential methods and ideas would fundamentally change the way in which the visual arts were taught across America, and leave behind a lasting legacy.

Presenting a broad selection of paintings, sculpture, textiles and photography, and including over 250 objects by nearly 100 artists, Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957 at The Hammer Museum is the first comprehensive museum exhibition about the school.

All images courtesy The Hammer Museum


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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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Exhibitions | The State of the Art of the Skatepark

Friday, February 12th, 2016

Magny-les-Hameaux, Île-de-France
Photo Stéphane Ruchaud, 2016


Rue Léon Cladel, Paris
Agence Constructo & Raphaël Zarka, 2012
Photo Stéphane Ruchaud, 2016


Toulouse, Midi-Pyrénées
Photo Maxime Delvaux, 2016


Courbevoie, Paris
Photo Stéphane Ruchaud, 2016


Baumes-les-Dames, Franche-Comté
Photo Cyrilles Weiner, 2016


Bois-le-Roi, Île-de-France
Photo Stéphane Ruchaud, 2016



Landskating
Architecture Exhibition
Villa Noailles
Hyères | France
21 February > 20 March 2016



Oddly contoured, possessed of an eerie, otherworldly atmosphere, had they been around in the early 20th century, Edward Hopper might have been inspired to paint empty skateparks. Perhaps it was an oversight on his part  – maybe the subject wasn’t sophisticated enough to appeal to his taste – that JG Ballard never constructed a dystopian epic with skateboarding culture as its hub.

Rooted in Los Angeles in the 1950s when surfers, looking for something to surf when the ocean waves were too flat, hit on the idea of taking to the streets on strips of plywood with roller skate wheels attached, skateboarding, having developed into a global youth leisure pursuit –  its sister sport, snowboarding was first included in the winter Olympics in Japan, in 1998 – has been recommended for inclusion at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Early skateboarders called their invention ’sidewalk surfing’, but with lumber purloined from construction sites they also constructed skateboarding ramps in their backyards/gardens. These, together with the curving surfaces of drained swimming pools were the forerunners of today’s skateparks. Skateboarding, therefore, was about the emancipation and creative re-use of existing space, so perhaps the very idea of trying to construct a state-of-the-art skateboard park is a contradiction in terms and British architect Guy Hollaway’s (2015) plans for the world’s first multi-storey arena in Folkstone, based on the premise put forward by the developer that ‘it might stop people leaving because there’s nothing to do there’, probably run contrary to the renegade/make-do/spontaneous ethos of skateboarding aficionados.

One section of the forthcoming exhibition Landskating at Villa Noailles focuses on a photographic commission – from which the images above are extracted – of thirty or so skateparks in France, and another explores the architecture of nine international skateparks. However, the object of the show is to examine the effect of the global proliferation of skateparks on youth culture, urban regeneration and town planning.

All photographs courtesy the Villa Noailles © the photographers


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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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