Archive for the ‘Fashion’ Category

Auction | Photography versus Deforestation

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Sebastiao Salgado
Mentawai people on
Siberut Island,
Indonesia, 2008
Estimate €11,500 > 13,500



Objectif Arbres
Sotheby’s
Paris | France
Exhibition 28th March > 31st March 2014
Charity sale 31st March 2014
Supporting the Anne Fontaine Foundation

Objectif Arbres, the French title of this travelling exhibition that began its journey in New York, in April last year, and ends it in Paris on March 31st, sounds far more romantic than the English one, Trees in Focus. But the beautiful examples of photography on show are there to make a serious point, and the proceeds of this sale will go towards a very good cause.

Almudena Caso
Arbolitos x seis, #12, 2006
Assembly under Plexiglas
Estimate €3,000 > 3,300

Laurent Elie Badessi
The tree of love, Brooklyn, 2014
Chromogenic print

Estimate €2,000 > 2,500

Sarah Moon
L’ombre du palmier, 2010
Estimate €6,000 > 7,000


Thirty-five internationally-renowned photographers each with their own personal approach, and representing diverse areas of the art – from reportage photographers Sebastião Salgado and Martine Franck, to Sarah Moon, Pamela Hanson and Antoine Verglas, who shoot fashion and beauty – have each donated photographs on the theme of trees, which will be put on show at Sotheby’s, Paris, and afterwards be auctioned in aid of the Anne Fontaine Foundation. New York-based French-Brazilian designer Fontaine, founder of the massively successful Anne Fontaine online clothing company, set up the non-profitmaking foundation in 2011 to raise awareness of the rapid deforestation taking place in many parts of the world, especially in the Amazon basin.

Steve Miller
Jungle, 2008
Collage on aluminium
Estimate €2,500 > 3,000


The aim of the exhibition is to confront the visitor with the relationship between humans and nature. Fontaine has also persuaded high-quality publishing house Assouline to publish the images in a book – for every book sold, ten trees will be planted, which must be a pretty good deal. Deforestation is an ugly business, and unless it can be halted and put into reverse with the help of organisations such as hers, it may become impossible to take such beautiful and poignant photographs in the future.

All Photos © the photographers, and Art Digital Studio / Sotheby’s


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

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Books | London Youth 1978-1987

Friday, February 21st, 2014

Boy George, Le Beat Route 1981


78–87
London Youth – Derek Ridgers

Photographs by Derek Ridgers
Introductory text by John Maybury
Published by Damiani / February 2014
21.5 x 31.5 cm / 160 pp / hardback

Steve and friend, left, and Matin, right, Bowie Night at Billy’s 1978


Eye-witness and participating member of London’s edgy youth culture scene during the unique period this book documents, video artist and film director John Maybury’s introductory text is so sharp and well-written that all we’re going to do is select a few short edited passages from it and allow Derek Ridgers formidable images, as they appear in this beautifully-produced book, do the rest.

Charlotte at the Dayglo Ball, Heaven 1984. Right, Paul, Kings Road 1984


John Maybury: Curiously the London represented in these images might be recognisable to a twenty-year-old today – a recession coming after an extended period of boom and bust, but there the similarities end. Post swinging London, the euphoria dissolved into a grey reality, with a political and media class confused by the rallying cry of the Sex Pistol’s [sic] No Future – but there was…

At Feltham Rugby Club 1981. Right, Mark, Leicester Square, 1981


JM: Against the depressing backdrop of a grey London demoralised by IRA bombs, riots in Brixton, Toxteth and at the Notting Hill Carnival, the miners’ strike and general civil unrest, going clubbing offered an escape…  The Roxy and Louise’s begat the Vortex, Bowie Night at Billy’s, Le Beat Route, the Blitz, Le Kilt, the Batcave, Hell, White Trash, Legends, the People’s Palace, and Taboo, where events would take place mid-week. To walk into one of them was to enter a kaleidoscope world of like-minded hedonists.

Martin and Steve, Kings Road 1981. Right, Chelsea, 1980


JM: Suddenly ordinary kids were adopting styles and attitudes that threw their parents into tailspin. Before long the streets of Soho, Camden Lock, the Kings Road and Kensington High Street were crawling with ‘these children that you spit on as they try to change their worlds’.

Charlotte and Jeffrey at the Alternative Miss World, Earls Court 1981


JM: Sex (that became Seditionaries and mutated into Worlds End, Boy and PX, the stalls at Beaufort market and Kensington market, provided street-style catwalks. Punk was about watching bands. Now we were watching each other.

Southend Seafront on Bank Holiday, 1979


JM: Notorious camera whores like Boy George, Marilyn or Steve Strange not only deserved to be photographed but expected it. Being photographed served as an affirmation that your particular ‘look’ set you apart as somebody… In 78–87 London Youth, Derek Ridgers makes each and every one a hero or heroine of their own drama with one click.


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


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Design | Vintage 2013

Friday, November 8th, 2013

Vintage – Design with a History
Museum für Gestaltung
Zürich, Switzerland
13th November, 2013 – 6th April, 2014

East London, the area formerly known as East Berlin, and New York’s Lower East Side, have far more in common than their location in the eastern precincts of capital cities. Undoubtedly there are areas, north, south, east and west, in other major cities around the globe that, having been neglected and run down for a variety of reasons, are experiencing similar processes of regeneration, in which to a large extent rather than buildings having been demolished and new ones erected, a variety of former commercial warehouses and industrial workshops have been converted into apartments, offices, cafés, bars and shops. These three, however, currently exert the greatest influence at an international level, on fashion and lifestyle trends. Each boasts distinctive 21st century buildings, but down at street level, at times, and in certain locations within each, it’s difficult to separate one from another, especially since an overriding taste for vintage predominates in all.

In 1966, the US Customs Department legalised the definition of ‘antique’ as referring to art, buildings, furniture, accessories or personal possessions that are over 100 years old. Borrowed from wine-making, the meaning of the term ‘vintage’, was adapted and used to denote items in the same categories that were newer than 100 years old.

Over the coarse of the past couple of decades, these precepts themselves have become old fashioned. Currently, it would seem, anything older than last week can qualify as vintage and the description is taken to stand for the increase in value of any manufactured object that is a result of aging, selection or shortage – even when their patina is artificially created. Vintage, properly used, however, stands for a whole look – rather than any single item – and to achieve it requires a confident but relaxed attitude to the mixing of 20th and 21st century styles from a variety of periods.

Those who live in vintage-styled homes, or dress in vintage outfits, or do both – which is common – would much rather, sort her or his way through tightly-packed clothes racks at places such as Berlin’s Mauerpark Flohmarkt (Flea Market), than buy a new item of clothing, or an accessory, in a conventional shop. They might collect original or re-issued vinyl records, but at the same time live very much in the moment and are certain to own or desire the latest smartphone or tablet. They know their way around every aspect of the internet, too. They’ll tweet, text, chat, Skype, bank online and be guided to anywhere they need to go on their cranky old upright bikes by GPS.

It’s not surprising, when items falling into either category are displayed together, that the descriptions ‘vintage’ and ‘retro’ are often mistakenly taken by consumers to mean the same thing. Although there is a clear distinction, the confusion can at times be intended by the dealer, who may try to pass off new articles with fake patina or retro styling that apes much earlier genuine designs, as genuine vintage items. But, it must be said that often customers with little knowledge of design history don’t understand or appreciate the difference, or even care. Some prominent manufacturers, on the other hand, hoping to cash in on growing worldwide interest in vintage, have launched new products with bang up to date features that boast retro styling. Nikon, for instance, have just brought out the Df, a lightwight full-frame digital SLR camera, retailing at a whopping £1,865.76 (€2,215.62 / $2,999.95), which ‘pays homage to analogue camera styling’. With mechanical dials taken from the company’s famous ‘F’ series (1959) of 35mm film cameras – originals can easily be found in second-hand camera shops, on market stalls, and on eBay. The Df comes with an optional wireless mobile adapter, and the camera can be fired remotely by syncing it to a smartphone or tablet. Retro styled cars have been around since the late 1990s – the Prowler, launched in 1997, with exposed front wheels, was American manufacturer Plymouth’s take on a modern hot rod and arguably spearheaded the trend. In 2007, fifty years after it was first launched, the Fiat 500 was rebuilt, redesigned and relaunched, with many of its original features intact. But perhaps the Porsche Citroen 911 DS Franken-Sportscar by American design group Brandpowder, combining elements of two of the most renowned vehicles ever produced – albeit as a Photoshopped image – is the only one of these cars that merits the description ‘vintage’.

Vintage – Design with a History, the forthcoming exhibition at Zürich’s Museum für Gestaltung, will take a look at the special qualities inherent to original pieces from the world of fashion, furniture and product design, with the objective of throwing light on the current yearning for items from the relatively recent past and aims to explore commercial responses to the demand. In this regard, Belgian fashion designer Martin Margiela is considered by the curators to be an important figure. Various pieces, spanning the range of his reinterpreted second-hand textiles from the early 1990s to designs that deal conceptually with fashion’s expiry date appear throughout the themed sections of the exhibition.

Images from top
Martin Margiela top, 1989–2001
Boutique Roma
Photo Betty Fleck © ZHdK

Levi’s denim jacket, 1960s, USA
Showing natural signs of wear, in the exhibition this
denim jacket is contrasted with items of clothing which, on leaving
the factory, show artificially produced traces of use

Jeansmuseum Ruedi Karrer
Photo Betty Fleck ©ZHdK

Marcel Breuer, Metal Band Chair, model 1082, 1935
Found by its present owner in a chicken coop,
this chair is the most expensive object on show

©Embru-Werke

Arrangement of vintage pieces, Möbel Zürich, 2012
Photo Regula Bearth ©ZHdK


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All Categories | The Blog is on Holiday

Friday, September 6th, 2013

This Way, 2012, Pedro Silmon

Our Mapplethorpe Curated by Huppert blog post was published early this week

Watch out for our next post on, or around, September 27th

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

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Photography | Reutersward: Nudes & Landscapes

Friday, August 16th, 2013

Blaise Reutersward: Aktstudien und Deutsche Landschaften
(Nude studies and German Landscape)
Camera Work
Berlin, Germany
24th August – October 12th, 2013

Following in the wake of then deputy fashion director Kerstin Schneider, photographer Blaise Reutersward’s unruly shock of blond hair seemed to arrive in my office at German Elle in Munich, a millisecond before he did. It was the late 1990s and and most of the female staff were dressed head-to-toe in black (Tom Ford) Gucci or maybe Jil Sander, the younger ones in less expensive Strenesse, the editor, Renata Rosenthal in Issey Miyake – sometimes with scarily-weird green contact lenses. On the surface, Blaise, tanned, in bright blue and white checked shirt and jeans – I’m not sure what he wore on his feet, probably Converse – was a breath of fresh air, much like his photography, the naturalness of which cut a swathe through the rather stilted, heavily stylised stuff that was coming out of Paris and New York at the time. Reutersward’s models didn’t pose, they moved about under blue skies with puffy, whispy white clouds in them, wearing the clothes with ease, their hair catching the breeze. But, Reutersward himself, unsmiling, hiding beneath his hair, avoiding eye-contact, ostensibly coming in to discuss layout ideas for his photographs was deeply serious about his work and knew exactly how he wanted it to be presented.

Born in 1961, in Stockholm, Sweden, where he still lives and is based, in the one picture (2010) of him that resulted from an internet search, only sea and sky fill the background, although the tan remains, replaced by a stubble crop the long blond hair is gone, and he sports a black T-shirt – maybe a sop to fashion, or perhaps signifying the broody, mysterious side to the photographer that I had been aware of at our single meeting and which would later be revealed via his personal work.

Unable to compete with German Vogue for the best photographers, German Elle was and probably remains the poor relation, but, certainly during the period I was the magazine’s art director (1996-1999) – many of the photographers coming in via the fashion department, who were extremely picky about who they would work with – it provided a testing ground for talented new, not necessarily young – Blaise would have been around 35 years old at the time – photographers, keen for a chance to get published. Reutersward was one of those who impressed German Vogue and soon found himself regularly shooting for them, and throughout the past 15 or so years, for French Vogue as well as those in Japan and China. He may not have achieved the success or fame of giant of Swedish fashion photography, Mikael Jansson, but he has stuck to his guns, consistently producing sensitive, timeless images of female fashion and beauty, most often in a natural setting with a minimum of artificial lighting.

Typically understated, Reuterward’s website shows nothing other than a slideshow of a few dark photographs from Aktstudien und Deutsche Landschaften, his forthcoming exhibition of large format nude portraits and German landscapes at Berlin’s Camera Work. The landscapes new, the nudes produced over the past 10 years, he uses his great skill and unique eye for composition to create an intense dialogue between the objects of his obsession.

Photographs from top
Aktstudie 002
Grevgatan, Stockholm, Sweden

Deutsche Landschaft 1205
Ariel view of Sylt, Germany

Deutsche Landschaft 1207
Schönau am Königssee,
Berchtesgaden National Park,
Bavaria, Germany

Deutsche Landschaft 1206
Neinhäger Holz,
Mecklenburger Bucht, Germany

All images ©Blaise Reutersward
Courtesy Camera Work


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

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mouth2mouth | Philip Treacy on Photography

Friday, February 1st, 2013

mouth2mouth | interview
philip treacy | milliner

Over 30 of his hats were worn at HRH Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding. Probably the world’s best-known hat designer, Philip Treacy began his career in 1990, in London, having been taken under the wing of the late Isabella Blow. Milliner of choice for many top fashion designers, he created hats for Alexander McQueen’s white haute couture collection at Givenchy, for Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel, as well as for Valentino, Ralph Lauren and Donna Karen. In 2000 Treacy was invited to present the first ever Paris couture show dedicated to millinery. Named British Accessory Designer of the Year five times at the British Fashion Awards, he created hats for film – Harry Potter – for Grace Jones, Daphne Guinness, Naomi Campbell, Lady Gaga and Madonna. A new book, Philip Treacy by Kevin Davies, the result of a 20-year collaboration between the milliner and his long-time friend, photographer Kevin Davies, is published in February by Phaidon. Former creative director at Tatler turned photographer, Pedro Silmon asked Treacy about his passion for photography and photographers.

In the introduction to your and photographer Kevin Davies’ book you say that every hat you ever made began, in your mind, as a photograph. Who is the photographer?
Always Irving Penn. He was the quintessential hat photographer.

A hat is an idea. A suggestion. A hat isn’t an inanimate object you put on your head – it’s supposed to do something – you’re drawing with material to create an illusion. I identify with photographers because they’re doing the same thing as I am.

Is there a particular genre of photographer you like best?
Iconic Hollywood. Greta Garbo’s photographer, Clarence Sinclair-Bull, George Hurrell. Those I discovered in the books I saw for the first time when I went to art college in Dublin. The photographers who invented glamour and made people look beautiful: Hoynigen-Huhne, Edward Steichen, Horst, Cecil Beaton, Angus McBean.

Which other photographers’ work do you like?
Helmut Newton. He was very persuasive and impressed me so much with his charm that I felt I couldn’t seriously say no when he asked to photograph me, who hates having his photograph taken – topless!
Bruce Weber is amazing. His black and white is really colour. So many tones… He put my hats on male models. Such a simple idea but it worked and just looked fantastic. Avedon asked me to make a hat specifically for an Egoïste cover he was shooting with Stephanie Seymour as the model. He was like a teenager – full of energy – really excitable.

Photographers are engaging and obsessive and I understand that. I like photographers that have a point of view and who put their stamp on a picture as if they’ve painted it. You can always tell a Sarah Moon, a Deborah Turbeville, a Paolo Roversi – they have a signature look and extraordinary personality. People like Nick Knight continue experimenting but his pictures are always identifiably his. I like David LaChapelle, who’s charming and has amazing vision. Although I haven’t worked with him a lot, I find Steven Meisel’s work exceptional and unusual – unlike anyone else’s.
One of the biggest influences on me and someone who has been a great inspiration, is Jean-Paul Goude. He’s so talented he doesn’t need to be an arse-hole. He’s a intriguing and charismatic. A designer’s dream. He has incredible ideas that are so simple they show he’s a genius.

What about newer photographers?
I think Mert & Marcus are great. They asked me to make a lace mask for them for the 90th Anniversary cover of French Vogue (2010). I’ve also been working with the German photographer, Cathleen Naundorf, who produces massive, very stylised polaroids.

Which photographers you haven’t enjoyed working with, and why?
I don’t think I’ve come across any… Photographers are like a race of people. I like working with them all.

Sometimes my hats are sent out by publicists to be photographed and I hate it when the photographer tries to do something edgy that just doesn’t work. The best photographers just photograph the hats – no tricks.

Do you like to go on shoots?
Shoot culture has become very irritating and makes going to a shoot daunting experience. So many people. And every time an image pops up on the computer screen, everyone has something to say. I remember when it was the photographer’s point of view that was important. That’s why I was such a fan of Irving Penn, who once took a portrait of me for American Vogue in his little glass-roofed Paris studio, where there was no lighting, no assistant, just a simple chair and a small table, his little camera, him and his charm. Fascinating!…

Do you collect photographs?
I have two wonderful Penn prints – one black and white, one colour – and five of Garbo by Clarence Sinclair Bull, plus a few others by Bruce Weber, Arthur Elgort and Ellen von Unwerth.

Do you have a preference for black and white or colour photographs?
I prefer black and white – it’s more dramatic. But it depends… Colour is a different language. Black and white is more romantic… But, I don’t see it in black and white. I love all the colours in it. What I also love are the really dark pictures that people like Clarence Sinclair Bull did in the 1920s and 30s. The pictures were about darkness, not about light – a lot of photography now is too bright.

You mention in the book that there were always photographers around the studio at 69 Elizabeth Street in the 1990s. Who were they?
Isabella (Blow) was always bringing people in: Michael Roberts, Alastair Thain – all absolutely obsessed – it was wonderful, manic!

Do other photographers still come in or does Kevin now have exclusive access?
They do, Yes. Kevin doesn’t have exclusive access but with him it’s not in your face. He’s a one man band. Quiet. Not loud. Easy. Often, I don’t notice he’s around. I didn’t really understand the pictures when he first starting doing them. They seemed to be the opposite of what people would imagine – not really about the hats, more about the environment. Now I have some of them framed and up on the wall.

Which photographers’ work is on your mood board right now?
… Everybody’s! Because I’m developing another book, with Rizzoli, that won’t be out for another couple of years.

Images from top
In the Studio, 10th February, 1999

The Royal Wedding, Battersea Studio, 27th April, 2011

In the Studio, 69, Elizabeth Street, 11th November

Images by Kevin Davies from the book
Philip Treacy by Kevin Davies
Phaidon
www.phaidon.com
192 pages, hardback, £39.95/€49.95, February 2013

All photographs © Philip Treacy

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

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

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Auction | René Gruau

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Christie’s Interiors – Style & Spirit
London, South Kensington, UK
Sale: 29th January, 2013
Viewing: January 26th-29th

If you missed the wonderful Dior Illustrated: René Gruau and the Line of Beauty show at London’s Somerset House in 2010, or, if you were fortunate enough to see it but came away aching to own one or more of Gruau’s chic and uncompromisingly graphic, highly collectible, original artworks, here’s your chance. Amongst a mixed bag of almost 400 lots that includes items as diverse as a very handsome pair of mid-20th century German, steel, 10 x 8 field binoculars by Busch (Estimate £2,000-4,000), and a pre-17th century composite elephant bird egg from Madagascar (Estimate £5,000 – 8,000), the catalogue for the forthcoming Christie’s Interiors – Style & Spirit sale, lists four Gruau’s, all at fairly affordable prices.

Images by René Gruau, from top
Point d’exclamation, circa 1950
Gouache on paper, signed
Estimate £2,000-3,000

Le masque, circa 1950
Gouache on paper, signed
Estimate £1,500-2,000

Lady in red, circa 1970
Ink and gouache on paper, signed
Estimate £4,000-6,000

Model for glove, circa 1950
Gouache and ink on paper, unsigned
Estimate £3,000-5,000

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

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

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All Categories | Past Forward

Friday, December 28th, 2012

Christian Marclay – The Clock
MoMA
New York City, USA
Until 21st January, 2013

David Bowie Is
Victoria & Albert Museum
London, UK
23rd March – 28th July, 2013

As we look forward to the David Bowie Is retrospective at London’s V&A in 2013, Christian Marclay’s film, The Clock, ticks away the remainder of 2012 at MoMA in New York, where it opened last week.

Completed in 2010 – already three years old – a monumental icon of contemporary art, The Clock, for which Marclay won a Golden Lion for best artist at the Venice Film Festival in 2011, is cleverly constructed from 24 hours-worth of clips from the past 100 years of cinema, almost all including a clock or a watch. Perhaps the film and the Bowie show can be taken as signs of the times. Certainly, referencing and re-assessing the past was a theme during 2012 and indications are that the trend is set to continue.

If we pause to consider, true innovation is a pretty rare thing and, while there’s no current lack of it, the flow remains uneven by nature. In comparison, art and design history – recent and ancient – is vast and has left an enormous, carefully refined legacy, much of it eminently worthy of our attention, reconsideration and reinterpretation, some of it recyclable.

Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum reopens its doors in April 2013 following an ambitious 10-year renovation programme. Already launched, the very forward-thinking Rijks Studio initiative, makes a digital collection of 125,000 items from the museum’s historical collection accessible to all for free. Members of the public are invited to create their own works of art by downloading high-resolution images and using them in a creative fashion, copyright free.

Editor of the British edition of Harper’s Bazaar, Justine Picardie is the author of several acclaimed books including Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life (HarperCollins, 2010). Talking about her first proper issue (January, 2013), she explains her preoccupations with Chanel, Vreeland, Dior, et al, as an exploration of how understanding the past is a way to move forwards. And it’s important to get it right. Opinions differed on the October launch of Hedi Slimane’s debut collection for Saint Laurent – the label’s original inspirational concepts still present, but updated and made inimitably Slimane’s own, were seen by some as underwhelming.

The (London) Royal Academy’s Building the Revolution: Soviet Art and Architecture 1915-1935 ran over into January, 2012. Reviewing it, The Guardian reminded us that the Russian avant garde which emerged out of the futurist cafés and cabarets of the mid-1910s was probably the most intensive and creative art and architectural movement of the past century. Sergei Tchoban (with partner Sergei Kuznetsov) of SPEECH Techoban/Kuznetsov, designed the astonishingly futuristic and much-praised Russian Pavilion that caused such a stir at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale in August. The entirely QR-coded environment – an homage, conscious or otherwise, to the square: architectural cornerstone of a few thousand years standing, but currently out of favour in a world of curvilinear structures – addressed the country’s future while referencing early 20th century influences. Italian Futurism, 1909-44, will run at The Guggenheim in New York from in 2014. When it appeared, in 1909, the original Futurist Manifesto, that had inspired the Russians, called for the demolition of museums and libraries; Foster + Partners recently mooted $300 million renovation of the New York Public Library in Manhattan, intended to begin with the eviction of 1.2 million books, provoked more adverse reaction than it bargained for. Similarly, London’s uncompromising tall and dynamic Shard, inaugurated in July, caused an immediate sensation, but earned a chilly reception from some quarters for its apparent lack of sensitivity towards the existing cityscape.

Steeped in ancient tradition, the Olympic Games has brought the modern world some its most daring, groundbreaking and well-considered architecture, product design and graphics. The London 2012 Games – modest in terms of scale by comparison to recent predecessors – didn’t fail to deliver more of the same. Among other items, the event’s Olympic torch designed by Barber Osgerby, was buried in a time capsule as part of the ground breaking ceremony for the new Design Museum that will be installed in the former 1962-built Commonwealth Institute, after its rigorous but nevertheless sympathetic redevelopment by John Pawson. Elsewhere, Herzog & de Meuron, architects of the Beijing 2008 Olympics‘ astonishing ‘Bird’s Nest’ stadium, and designers of the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012 (with Ai Weiwei), recently completed the Parrish Art Museum at Southampton on Long Island. ‘Our design for the Parrish is a reinterpretation… of the traditional house form,’  said Jacques Herzog, ‘…something very specific, precise and also fresh.’

This month at Christie’s in New York a lacquered and painted wooden screen made by Eileen Gray in the 1920s, sold for over $1.8 million. Paris, where Gray spent most of her life, hosts a retrospective of her unique work at the Pompidou Centre, starting in February. American photographer, Man Ray, also spent the greater part of his life in Paris. Man Ray’s Portraits is at London’s National Portrait Gallery in February, while Bill Brandt: Shadow and Light will run from March to August at MoMA. It takes Inspired curating with a new and interesting perspective, combined with creative presentation to make exhibitions and events based solely on archival content current and vital.

Frieze Masters was launched in October by Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover, co-founders of Frieze. The new fair, coinciding with, and within walking distance of Frieze London, in Regent’s Park, was based on the idea of applying a contemporary approach to selling pre-21st-century art, from ancient to modern. The inaugural six-day event, in which 90 galleries from 18 countries took part, was attended by around 28,000 international visitors and was a massive hit. Sales were brisk; one of the most significant reports was of widespread contemporary collectors’ interest in historical work and vice versa. Not surprisingly, Frieze Masters will happen again in 2013 and is set to become a regular fixture.

The apposite title of the V&A’s forthcoming show, David Bowie Is, recognises that the David Bowie phenomenon, so influential over the past 40 yearts, is important historically but also as a source of inspiration for today’s and tomorrow’s innovative thinking. Set in motion, sequences from it cast out on to the internet, it’s unlikely that The Clock will ever stop.

Images from top
Original photography for the Earthling album cover, 1997,
Frank W Ockenfels 3

Union Jack coat designed by Alexander McQueen in collaboration with
David Bowie
© Frank W Ockenfels 3, 1997

Video still from The Clock, 2010, Christian Marclay
Single-channel video with sound, 24 hours
©Christian Marclay. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York

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

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

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Design | Swarovski Goes Digital at Design Museum

Friday, August 24th, 2012

Digital Crystal: Swarovski at the Design Museum
The Design Museum, London, UK
5th September – 13th January, 2013

When, in 1989, Terence Conran whose concept it was to create ‘the first museum of modern design’, in London, and whose company converted a 1940s banana warehouse into the Design Museum, his involvement may have had a little to do with personal vanity but probably wasn’t an exercise in brand awareness for his then-burgeoning string of high-quality retail outlets and smart restaurants. Along with Conran, the project was funded by many companies, designers and benefactors whose aim was to raise design awareness and the general standard of British design.

Its founding principles being to make works of art available to all, to educate working people and to inspire British designers and manufacturers, it was royal patronage that provided the driving force behind the Victoria & Albert Museum, set up in 1852 in the wake of the enormous success of the Great Exhibition the previous year. In a boom time for British industry, generous Victorian benefactors and a less competitive art market than today’s meant that the young museum was able to make many very important acquisitions and quickly build up the most astonishing collections. Although it set out to acquire the best examples of metalwork, furniture, textiles and all other forms of decorative art from all periods, it also acquired fine art – paintings, drawings, prints and sculpture – in order to tell a more complete history of art and design but recognising, and this is key, that there was a significant difference between the two. Commercial sponsorship of design would follow in the 1890s when Arthur Lasenby Liberty built strong relationships with many leading English designers who were prominent figures in the Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau movements. Liberty himself, through his commissions, became instrumental in the development of Art Nouveau and in consequence his shop, Liberty, became one of the most prestigious in London.

Everyone is getting in on the relationship/benefactor/sponsor/collaborator act these days, and in particular there’s an ever growing crossover between luxury goods brands, architecture, design and the arts. It’s difficult to see where it will all end up. On the one hand, if fashion companies flirt with fine artists, inviting them to collaborate – as, notably, Marc Jacobs did at Louis Vuitton in 2002 with one Japanese artist, Takashi Murakami (who had already worked with Issey Miyake) and more recently with another, Yayoi Kusama – they blur the line between fine art and commerce. On the other hand, it can be said that in modern times the practice has been going on since the 1960s, when Pop art turned commercialism on its head, Op art visual illusions were applied to fabrics that were turned into dresses and Yves St Laurent designed his 1965 Mondrian dress. Taking hold of the baton in 2003, milliner Philip Treacy put Andy Warhol images on to his hats.

Selfridges and Primark owner the Canadian, Weston family claimed the top fashion spot in The Sunday Times Rich List, 2012. No strangers to art sponsorship, through the Garfield Weston Foundation, they are among the most generous supporters of the arts in Britain. Selfridges’ creative director Alannah Weston is quoted as having said: ‘My goal is to make Selfridges a destination where people can have an extraordinary experience. I have to surprise, amaze and amuse them.’ And by transforming and opening up the store’s interiors, establishing a gallery in the basement and by inviting well-known artists and young hopefuls to create cutting edge window displays, since she took on the role in 2003, she has certainly done that. And, if that wasn’t enough, she’s appointed The Shard’s architect Renzo Piano to redesign the entire store.

We’re in the middle of a confusing time when architects – Rem Koolhaas, 2009, United Nude – launch fashion footwear collections and design the stores they are sold in; when designers of the Olympic Torch, Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby have shown non-functional designed objects at the Haunch of Venison gallery and Farrow & Ball are the official paint sponsor of Manchester City Galleries. Last year Swarovski, collaborators with the Museum of the forthcoming exhibition Digital Crystal: Swarovski at the Design Museum, worked with the Hello Kitty brand and Manhattan-based, Taiwanese Canadian Jason Wu’s Resort 2013 fashion collection, will contain hundreds of Swarovski crystals. Shared core values: artfulness, simplicity, creativity and beauty, apparently make it a safe bet to presume that Hello Kitty and Jason Wu customers will appreciate Swarovski’s creations and vice versa. Maybe, in the post-analogue era ‘when our relationship with objects and even with time is changing’ these same reasons are behind Swarovski and the Design Museum’s joint project, because  with these sorts of temporary partnerships it’s always a quid pro quo situation – nobody’s in it for nothing.

Swarovski, the world’s leading manufacturer of cut crystal was established in Austria in 1895 and has a long tradition of links with the fashion and jewellery industry, collaborating in the 1950s with Christian Dior and Coco Chanel to create avant-garde crystal jewellery. 42-year-old Nadja Swarovski, vice-president of international communications at the company began her career at the Gagosian Gallery, which probably explains a lot about her interests and the areas she’s taken the company into.

Now in its tenth year, the Swarovski Crystal Palace project – one of Nadia’s initiatives – has commissioned some of the world’s foremost  designers including Zaha Hadid, Yvés Behar, Studio Job, Ross Lovegrove, Tom Dixon and more. Initially, the idea was to reinterpret crystal chandeliers but the project has evolved into an experimental design platform allowing designers to conceptualise, develop and share their most radical works. In 2009 Nigel Coates, Professor of Architecture at the Royal College of Art designed 43 Swarovski ‘Cloudeliers’ for the restaurant at Glyndebourne and in 2011, St Paul’s Perspectives, was created by architect John Pawson, who used a precision-made Swarovski Optik lens and a suspended spherical steel mirror to reflect a new vision of the Geometric Staircase of St Paul’s Cathedral. As well as others, Ron Arad, Yves Béhar, Paul Cocksedge, Troika and Fredrikson Stallard – who actually include a section called Sculpture on their website – have been asked to take part in the Design Museum exhibition, reworking existing pieces commissioned from them by Swarovski, in response to the exhibition brief.

At the end of the analogue era Digital Crystal is intended as a catalyst for debate about the changing nature of memory in the digital world but may also force us to reassess our ideas about the role of designers and architects, and especially the role of fine artists in relation to the commercial world. And certainly there are questions to be asked. There’s something uneasy about design masquerading as art, but is that what it’s doing? Are designers and architects capable of producing great art? Is it all just business as usual? The sponsorship of design and architecture can certainly be said to usefully contribute to innovation when it provides the necessary funds to accomplish experimental projects, large and small, that otherwise might only be dreamt of, and while it can be seen to have democratised art – which must be a good thing – if it also leads to art’s total commoditisation, it remains to be seen whether it will be to art’s long term benefit.

Images from top
Ron Arad, Lolita, originally commissioned in 2004
Redesigned to receive tweets and text messages that can be displayed
on its spiral form

Paul Cocksedge, Crystallize, originally commissioned in 2005
Via single crystals mounted onto a tubular glass frame, trajectory
beams fill the room as light cascades from each crystal

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Photography | Viviane Sassen’s Parasomnia

Friday, August 10th, 2012

Viviane Sassen: Parasomnia
Text by Moses Isegawa
Prestel
First published, 2011
Second printing, 2012

Award-winning Dutch photographer Viviane Sassen’s monograph features photographs taken during her journeys throughout West and East Africa. The images however, which she has grouped under the title Parasomnia – the name of a sleep disorder involving strange movements, sleep-walking, talking, emotions and terror – are far more than mere travel pictures.

Sassen’s work is the result of an entirely personal, original approach to her subjects. She sees shape and form with the eye of a sculptor; shadow played off against strong light as an abstract artist sees and considers it. Invariably intriguing and remarkable, sometimes her images, though patently tangible, have a surreal quality and appear mysterious, otherworldly.

This exquisitely-produced large-format book, designed by Antwerp-based -SYB- in cooperation with the photographer, might be the catalogue for a show of fine art photography; it could be reportage, but just as easily some of its stark and hauntingly elegant images could illustrate fashion. Indeed, Sassen’s stamping ground is all of these areas and more. Having previously been awarded the Prix de Rome in 2007, last year she won an ICP Infinity Award in the Applied/Fashion/Advertising Photography section. Her phenomenal list of clients has included: Aquascutum, Missoni, Adidas/Stella McCartney, Diesel, Miu Miu, Louis Vuitton and also Vodaphone, Siemens and Vitra. She has had fashion and portrait commissions from, among others, 10 Magazine, Another Magazine, Dazed & Confused, Wallpaper, Vogue France, as well as newspapers Le Monde and the left-wing, progressive Libération.

The photographer’s pictures of mostly young, urban Africans, still life and buildings in Parasomnia evoke a new Africa emerging from the old, struggling to find an identity and a direction in the 21st century, the nightmares of its dark past and often still violent present still causes for general concern, and of many a sleepless night for its inhabitants. They possess a carefully-crafted, consistent ambiguity that challenges the viewer to invent a narrative. Chameleone, a short, lyrical story by novelist Moses Isegawa – who went to live in the Netherlands for 15 years, before returning to his native Uganda in 2006 – written in Uganda in 2011, is included as an introduction to the book and functions as an emotive scene-setter.

Born in Amsterdam in 1972, Sassen lives and works in the city. She has produced a wide variety of memorable images, many of which were made in Africa, the continent in which she spent part of her youth. Libraryman Sweden recently published her photobook Die Son Sien Alles – first and second editions are already sold out – a series of photographs of interiors in the townships of Cape Town. Earlier this year, the images from Parasomnia were exhibited in the Pauza Gallery in Krakow, Poland, however her work has appeared internationally in some 60 solo and group shows since 2000. Viviane Sassen / Laboratorium, 17 years in and out of fashion will run at Museum Huis Voor Fotographie, Marseille, France from 15th December, 2012, to 2nd March, 2013.

Image
Parasomnia, 2010
©Viviane Sassen

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