Archive for the ‘sculpture’ Category

Sculpture | Robots à la Fonssagrives

Friday, February 27th, 2015

SLS, 2012
46 x 21in / 117 x 53cm
Bronze



Mia Fonssagrives-Solow: Robots
Kasher Potamkin
New York City | USA
Until April 4th 2015



KA, 2009
36 x 16in / 91 x 41cm
Aluminium


CQ2, 2014
16 x 10in / 91 x 25cm
Bronze


Rhodes, 2012
24 x 12in / 61 x 30in
Aluminium


The words SOLD OUT shout proudly from beneath a picture of a cute silver robot ring on the Gagosian’s on-line shopping page. The rings are from an edition made in 2010 by sculptor and jewellery designer, Mia Fonssagrives-Solow. If you’re interested in seeing something more substantial, over twenty of her bronze and aluminium sculptures of robots, fembots and aliens that she created over the last seven years, are being exhibited for the first time in Mia Fonssagrives-Solow: Robots at New York’s Kasher Potamkin gallery.

Should the surname Fonssagrives sound familiar – born Lisa Bernstone in 1911, Mia’s mother was a Swede, who studied painting, sculpture and dancing in Berlin, before moving to Paris, where she met and married Fernand Fonssagrives and became a model. Before the couple moved to the United States in 1939, she had already achieved international modelling stardom and was recognisable from the covers of magazines such as Town & Country, Vogue, and Harper’s Bazaar. Working with fashion photographers including George Hoyningen-Huene, Man Ray, Horst, Erwin Blumenfeld and Richard Avedon, it was reported that she was the ‘highest paid, highest praised, high fashion model in the business.’ Meanwhile, Fernand became a fashion photographer himself, whose career also took off to the point where he was, reportedly, the highest paid photographer in New York. But, sadly, by 1950 things had gone awry between the golden couple and they divorced. Shortly after Lisa married another very famous photographer, Irving Penn. ‘She was the inspiration and subject of some of Penn’s greatest photographs,’ said Alexander Liberman, editorial director of Condé Nast , which publishes Vogue. In later life, Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn would become a fashion designer and also a sculptor, producing unremarkable, semi- abstract, figurative work in marble, bronze and fibreglass, and represented by the Marlborough Gallery in New York.

Growing up on the farm the family bought at Huntington on Long Island, Mia was nevertheless constantly immersed in her parents’ world of fashion and art. She says that Penn proved irresistible. Ultimately, she considered him to be her second father. But as she grew and was sent to a progressive, mixed-sex senior school in the city, she struggled, caused trouble, and after being banned from one class, ended up doing woodwork instead. The processes of working with wood, the odours of the freshly cut raw material, the glues, and the resinous finishes, all left a strong impression on her that would influence her future creativity. After attending New York’s famous design school, Parsons, Mia and a friend decided to move to Paris to create a fashion collection together. Things were going remarkably well, but after a time Mia had become restless. However, a timely stroke of luck got them a contract to design clothes for a new Woody Allen film, What’s New Pussycat? (1965) that was filmed in Paris, and they went on to great success designing for Hollywood stars and other films, including the James Bond classic, Thunderball. Ten years later, Mia gave it all up to refine her woodworking skills, afterwards becoming a sculptor and jewellery-maker. She was later to marry self made New York property developer Sheldon Solow, who, according to Forbes magazine has a current net worth of $3.6 billion.

Her sculptures have graced Asprey and the windows of Cartier and Bergdorf Goodman, but not everyone would refer to Mia Fonssagrives-Solow’s robots – ranging in height from young child size to small adult – as high art. However, in an art world dominated by ’serious’ work that a lot is written about and sells for ever-increasing amounts of ’serious’ money, sculpture that is capable of putting a smile on the otherwise mean-mouthed face of a ’serious’ critic is not too bad a thing.

All photos courtesy Kasher Potamkin



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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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Design | Lino (Murano Maestro) Tagliapietra

Friday, February 13th, 2015

Coronato, Murano, 2000
Estimate $10,000 > $15,000
Sculptural vessel in blown
and battuto glass
36 x 12 ins / 91.4 x 30.5 cm



Lino Tagliapietra
Modern Ceramics and Glass
Rago Arts and Auction Center
Lambertville, New Jersey, USA
Exhibition until 13th February 2015
Sale 14th February 2015



A long way from the island of Murano in the beautiful Venetian Lagoon, Lambertville can be found, as it says on the Rago website, ’midway between Philadelphia and New York City.’ In the production of fine glass objects, Murano has led the world since the 14th century. Lambertville was a thriving 19th century factory town where great quantities of a diverse range of goods – from underwear to rubber bands – were made in vast quantities. But while Murano continued to develop or refine a wide range of glass-making technologies that include crystalline glass, enamelled glass (smalto), gold-threaded glass (aventurine), multicoloured glass (millefiori), and milk glass (lattimo), in Lambertville, which had previously grown up around a once important crossing on the Delaware river, by the 1970s, commerce had waned considerably. Unsurprisingly, its quality so consistently high, Murano’s art glass and glass figurines, glass chandeliers, wine stoppers and hundreds of thousands of tourist souvenirs found their way to every corner of the world. In the meantime, once Lambertville’s factories disappeared and the town was cleaned up, its fortunes improved to such an extent that it also became a tourist destination.

Test Piece, Murano, 1984
Blown glass vase
9 x 6 ins / 22.8 x 15.2 cm



Venetian glass artist, Lino Tagliapietra was born in Murano in 1934 and, when little more than a boy, was sent to work in the island’s glass factories. Aged 21, he was granted the title Maestro (Master glass blower) and made fine items for some of the most prestigious glassworks on the island. At the Venice Biennales, which he regularly attended, Tagliapietra was fascinated by the work of Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, and Ellsworth Kelly. In the 1960s, with supreme technical and aesthetic standards that earned him significant commercial success, he started to create his own modern artistic forms. Renowned American glass sculptor Dale Chihuly (b 1941) visited Murano in 1968, where he taught Tagliapietra the techniques he had developed, which Tagliapietra passed on to the other maestri. In return Tagliapietra taught Chihuly, the Venetians’ glassworkers secrets.


Bilbao, Murano, 2001
(Shown from three angles)
Sculptural vessel in blown
and battuto glass
23.5 x 13 in / 59.6 x 33 cm



Tagliapietra’s material of choice is effetre glass, or F3 – an abbreviated form of fratelli tre, ‘three brothers’ – is a variety of soda-lime glass. This type of material is usually used for making lamps, and is worked by using a torch to melt and shape it at 945°C. It is considered a medium-soft glass and is popular because of its wide colour range and the ease with which it is moulded and shaped. Genuine glass of this type is made by the Effetre International Company on Murano, where Tagliapieta was artistic and technical director from 1976 to 1989. But teaching has defined the artist, who first visited the United States in 1979. He has since led workshops and taught in glass programmes around the world, but especially in America – the Haystack School of Crafts, Deer Isle ME, Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood WA, Rhode Island School of Design RI, MIT Glass Lab, Cambridge MA – but also at the Toyama Art School, Toyama, Japan, and the University of Sydney, Australia, and in many more education establishments. He set up on his own in 1990 and dedicated himself to creating unique pieces, which soon became sought after, and many of which are now in the permanent collections of some of the most eminent museums in the world, including, among many others, London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York, and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Lausanne, Switzerland. He is also represented in numerous galleries and private collections. In 2009, the Museum of Tacoma dedicated a major travelling retrospective exhibition to Tagliapietra’s work, which was also hosted by other American museums including: The Smithsonian, Washington DC, and the Palm Springs Art Museum, California.

Stellato glass vase,
Marseilles, 1991
12 x 6.5 x 3 ins /
30.5 x 16.5 x 7.6 cm



Aged sixteen, David Rago began dealing in American decorative ceramics at a flea market in his home state of New Jersey. Over the years, his business grew and grew, so that today, with two partners, one of whom is his wife Suzanne Perrault, he oversees Lambertville’s prestigious Rago Arts and Auction Center, dealing exclusively in 20th and 21st century antiques and collectibles. Suzanne, who is in charge of contemporary glass at Rago, and David have both visited Murano, but have yet to enjoy the pleasure of hosting Lino Tagliapietra in Lambertville. However his work has often been sold there, and on Saturday afternoon, the Modern Ceramics and Glass auction, features six of the Maestro’s key pieces.



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



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Art | Man Ray + Sugimoto = Objects + Equations

Friday, January 30th, 2015

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



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

+

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



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



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

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

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

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

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



Man Ray, Shakespearean Equation,
Twelfth Night
, 1948

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



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

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

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



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



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

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

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



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



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Art | Seeing Double – SOTO in Paris + New York

Friday, January 16th, 2015

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



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

+

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



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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Un orange Inférieur, 1984
Paint on wood and metal


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


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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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



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All Categories | Storms, Smoke & Power Cuts

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

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

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

Best wishes for 2015



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

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

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All Categories | Omnipresence 2014 / 2015

Friday, December 26th, 2014

2014 proved to be an exciting year at The Blog.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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 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 | Serge Mouille Lights up New York

Friday, December 12th, 2014

Serge Mouille
Simple floor lamp with Lampadaire shade,
designed 1953
Painted aluminium, painted tubular steel, brass
Produced by Atelier Serge Mouille, editioned by Galerie Steph Simon, France
Estimate $10000 > 15000 / £6370 > 9550 / € 8070 > 12100



Design
Phillips
New York City, USA
Exhibition 10th > 16th December
Sale 17th December



Born in Paris in 1922, and best known for his elegant, minimal, insect-like lamp designs of the 1950s, Serge Mouille originally trained as a silversmith at Paris’s École des Arts Appliqués, where he graduated in 1941, and taught from 1945. That year he opened his own metalwork studio, producing commissioned hand-rails, wall sconces and chandeliers for a small list of clients. A somewhat subdued start for a man whose design work would come to be compared with Alexander Calder’s sculptures, and who, in 1952, was to create a revolutionary stainless steel car, the Zebra, that, sadly, never made it to production.

Serge Mouille
Pivoting two-armed wall light with Lampadaire and Casquette shades,
designed 1953

Painted aluminium, painted tubular steel, brass
Produced by Atelier Serge Mouille, editioned by Galerie Steph Simon, France
Estimate $12000 > 18000 / £7639 > 11460 / €9680 > 14520



Perhaps it did all begin with Calder. But Calder himself had probably seen, or was aware of, the pioneering work of the constructivists and dadaists, of Naum Gabo and Marcel Duchamp, who invented kinetic art, imbuing their modernist works with movement. And Mouille, certainly knew Calder – 24 years his senior – well enough for the sculptor to have given Mouille’s girlfriend a small mobile as a present, so the comparisons that have been made could have some justification. It may have been, however, that in his design work, Mouille was reacting to the feelings in the air at the time, and whereas Calder’s work is about equilibrium and enlivened space, the younger man’s was based on simplicity and static balance.

As an antidote to their dreary post World War II existence, Europeans had begun searching for a new, more optimistic aesthetic. Wartime advances in technology had made it possible for designers to produce new types of furniture and home accessories that were stronger, but lighter in feel and look, than anything that had existed before, and the fast-expanding post-war population, would provide a ready market for them. Meanwhile, by the early 1950s interest in avant garde kinetic art was growing. Ernest Race’s jaunty Antelope chair, commissioned to furnish the outdoor terraces of the newly built Royal Festival Hall for the 1951 Festival of Britain, fulfilled its practical requirement, but had echoes of the playfulness of Calder’s work. It had the lightness of structure that was associated with kinetic art and shared something with the organic flavour of modernism that designers like Arne Jacobsen in Denmark, and Gio Ponti and the brothers Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni in Italy, were also experimenting with. In the USA Charles and Ray Eames, Harry Bertoia and Eero Saarinen championed this same warmer, humanist approach to design.

Gino Sarfatti
Floor lamp, model no 1003b, c 1946
Painted aluminum, painted tubular brass, brass, marble
Manufactured by Arteluce, Italy
Estimate $5000 > 7000 / £3180 > 4460 / €4030 > 5650



Great Magnusson-Grossman
Grasshopper
floor lamp, model no. 831, 1950s
Painted aluminum, painted tubular metal, brass
Manufactured by Bergboms Malmö, Sweden.
Interior of shade impressed with G-33-BERGBOM
Estimate $8000 > 12000 / £5090 > 7640 / €6450 > 9680



Pierre Guariche
Equilibrium
floor lamp, c 1951
Brass, painted aluminum, painted steel
Manufactured by Disderot, France
Estimate $12000 > 18000 / £7639 > 11460 / €9680 > 14520



Mouille had claimed that his lighting fixtures were ‘… a reaction to the Italian models, which were beginning to invade the [French] market in 1950,’ and which considered ‘too complicated.’ He may have been referring to Gino Sarfatti’s (1912 > 1985) work, which is relatively simple and functional, while sharing a similar aesthetic to his own. A few years younger than Mouille, Pierre Guariche (1926 > 1995), and sometimes referred to as one of France’s most famous, post-war furniture designers, also created finely balanced lamps, such as his Equilibrium floor lamp, produced c 1951. From Sweden, the anthropomorphic Grasshopper floor lamp – more giraffe- than insect-like – was devised in the 1950s by prolific industrial designer, interior designer and architect, Greta Magnusson-Grossman (1906 > 1999).

In 1953, the French furniture and interior designer, Jacques Adnet, who had first risen to fame in the art deco period, asked Mouille to design lighting fixtures for him, and, having found his forte, Serge Mouille would devote himself almost exclusively to it for the rest of his life (d 1988). He received a Diploma of Honour at the Brussels Expo in 1958, and at about the same time began to design institutional lighting – over several years creating items for the University of Antony in Strasbourg, for a school in Marseilles and for the Bizerte Cathedral in Tunisia. With the invention of neon tubes, in the 1950s, Mouille was inspired to design a series of floor lamps that combined incandescence and fluorescence. Mouille’s legacy of 1950s lamps remain, however, the last word in timeless elegance. Several exquisite early examples will be included, alongside others by his contemporaries, and many fine items of classic modern furniture, in Design, Phillips forthcoming auction in New York.

All images courtesy of Phillips. © Phillips



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Art | Imi Knoebel – Works in Progress

Friday, November 14th, 2014

Cut-up 5, 2011
Acrylic, aluminium, polythene pipe
Olga and Stella Knoebel Collection
Photo Ivo Faber




Imi Knoebel. Works 1966 > 2014
Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg
Wolfsburg > Germany
Until 15th February 2015




Prolific, having produced well over 1000 works between 1966 and 2014, 75-year-old German artist Imi Knoebel has had 40 one man shows, but not a single one at a major venue in London, or in New York City.

A good deal of his exhibitions have, however, been held in Germany’s top museums and galleries. In 2009, concurrent with his Zu Hilfe, Zu Hilfe show at Berlin’s prestigious New National Gallery, his exhibition ICH NICHT / ENDUROS was being shown at the city’s Deutsche Guggenheim – a phenomenal achievement. Many other Knoebel exhibitions have taken place in prominent venues across the globe from Rome to Osaka, Istanbul to Montreal, Sao Paulo and San Francisco. To date, his work has appeared in over 100 group shows, and the Deutsche Bank has more than 200 of his pieces in their collection. Knoebel’s works are also held in numerous public collections, including Dia in Beacon, New York State, the Fonds Regional d’Art Contemporain in France, the Kunstmuseum St Gallen in Switzerland, the Kunstammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Germany and the Malmö Konsthall in Sweden. In 2008, he created the stained glass windows in the Notre Dame Cathedral in Reims, France. So why have I, and – if you are resident in the UK – probably you, never heard of him?

Grace Kelly III-5, 1990
Acrylic on wood
Schauwerk Sindelfingen
Photo Nic Tenwiggenhorn




Schwarzes Kreuz, 1968
Oil paint on linen on hardboard base
Olga and Stella Knoebel Collection
Photo: Nic Tenwiggenhorn


Kadmiumrot A, 1976/84/90
Red cadmium on plywood
Sammlung Siegfried and Jutta Weishaupt
Photo Archiv Weishaupt, Schwendi




Aside from exhibiting in a group show, The Indiscipline of Painting, at Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, and Tate St Ives, and taking part in the Homage to Beuys event at The Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1987, and in another Unbound: Possibilities in Painting, at the Hayward Gallery, London, in 1994, he would seem to have been largely ignored by us Brits. But it’s not only us; while he has been invited as a solo exhibitor to other US cities, Knoebel hasn’t had a single one-man show at any of the big venues in New York.

Perhaps the anomaly can be put down to timing. While Knoebel was a child growing up in Dessau – home from 1919 >1933 to the Bauhaus school – the non-representational abstract art that had been developed early in the 20th century via cubism and such artists as Robert Delaunay, Kazimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian had reached its apotheosis in the 1950s New York-led abstract expressionist movement. Minimalism, sometimes described as a reaction against abstract expression emerged, also in New York, in the early 1960s when Knoebel would have been an undergraduate. From 1962 > 1964 he attended classes based on the ideas of the Bauhaus foundation course taught by Johannes Itten and László Moholy-Nagy. His final years of art education were spent under influential German performance and installation artist, sculptor and printmaker Joseph Beuys at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, where he produced his first key work, Raum 19 / Room 19. An arrangement of seventy-two separate geometric, hand-crafted, bare wood parts; it was a summation of, and trumpeted every influence he was under at the time. But already the art world had moved on and British and American pop art was the new vogue that emerging German artists such as Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter were flirting with, whose work from this period would form the basis of their future international fame.

Mamafou, 1989/2003/2009
Acrylic, wood, hardboard,
copper, Finnish birch plywood
Olga and Stella Knoebel Collection
Photo Ivo Faber




Significantly, for artists like Knoedel, pop tore up and painted over the accepted rules of reverence that had previously been applied to the art that paid homage to the early 20th century European art movements. From then on, and into the 21st century, New York and London continue to dominate an art market in which abstract art was considered, for the most part, as anachronistic. Meanwhile, Imi Knoebel, born Klaus Wolf Knoebel, who it is said: created the sobriquet ‘Imi’, to explore an artistic identity from a purist, experimental stance – famous everywhere else – continued, and continues, to produce remarkable and relevant work, like his latest pieces that might be made up of the freshly-unpacked elements of flat-packed furniture, or perhaps left over bits and pieces from a construction site, using simple form and basic colour as the sole contents of his palette.

For Knoedel, from the outset, each item of his work was part of an expanding whole. His pieces are never fixed in position or in time. He thinks nothing of returning to earlier works, adjusting, altering them, or indeed adding to them as the mood takes him. Therefore, the completion dates cannot be fixed and are amended each time he revisits a work.

The Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg will be the first institution in nearly twenty years to present a comprehensive exhibition, Imi Knoebel. Works 1966 > 2014, of the oeuvre of this important German artist.

All Images © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014
Courtesy Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg




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Photography | The Fine Art of Protest

Friday, October 10th, 2014

Gilles Caron
Daniel Cohn Bendit in front
of the Sorbonne
, Paris, 6th May, 1968

Silver print on barium-coated paper, 2014
Estimate €3000 > 4ooo



Protest! Art+Design 1960-1980
PIASA
Paris | France
Exhibition 24th > 28th October 2014
Sale 28th October 2014



The Magnum co-operative was founded in Paris, in 1947, by a small group of gifted and sought after documentary photographers, who wanted to continue working independently, but recognised the negotiation advantages of being part of a group. The accepted norm, at the time, was that the copyright for commissioned photography belonged to the clients. Magnum protested vociferously and set out to change all that. Insisting that the copyright of their members must remain their own property, the group triggered a worldwide resistance movement among photographers. Succeeding years saw the re-drafting of international copyright laws that nowadays guarantee statutory protection for the copyright of a photographer’s work.

Jean-Pierre Laffont
Wanted, Washington, 9th August, 1974
Digital print, 2014
Estimate €1000 > 1500

Who, in the immediate post-WW II years, having lived through a prolonged period of conflict, strife, death and destruction would have imagined that the great expansion of the art market that arrived with the economic boom years of the 1980s, would see contemporary reportage photography – scenes of conflict, of strife, even of death and destruction – become seriously accepted as an art form, and sold as such for substantial sums of money, through galleries and auction houses across the globe? Magnum’s efforts of some three decades before, ensured that a significant part of the money earned from these images was paid to those responsible for their creation, and the same is true now.

Jürgen Schadeberg
Demonstration against the
Falklands War, London, 1982
Ink-jet print on Hahnemühle
paper,
made by the photographer, 2014

Estimate €2000 > 3000

Patrick Chauvel
Girls of the IRA, Belfast,
Northern Ireland, 1969

Digital print on Hahnemühle paper
Estimate €2000 > 2500

Dominated by sculpture, ceramics, posters and prints, cartoons and drawings, and including magazines, books, and furniture, the 295-item list of lots included in Paris-based PIASA’s forthcoming Protest! Art+Design 1960-1980 auction, also contains a number of documentary photographs from the era.

The 1960s and 1970s were periods of profound political and social change, prompted by a new libertarian élan and a burning desire to change the world. These years saw the rise of the feminist, ecology and anti-militarist movements, as well as the emergence of postmodernist ideas in design and architecture. In what is in essence a curated sale, PIASA have brought together a diverse collection of lots representing French and international political radicalism to anti-design, taking in along the way, punk, the feminist movement, and nouveaux realism.

Patrick Chauvel
The beginning of the end, Tehran,
Iran, 11th December, 1978
Digital print on Hahnemühle paper, 2014
Estimate €2000 > 2500

Doàn Tinh Cong
Pathfinders, Vietnam, 1970
Digital print, 2014, on Hahnemühle paper
Estimate €2000 > 2500

Sharing protest as inspiration, but not always immediately recognisable as such, work by artists such as Christo, Christian Boltanski, Yoko Ono, and Joseph Beuys are just a few of those represented. French artist, Annette Message’s Le barbu d’Annette Messager, la femme tatouée, 1975, consists of four photographs of female pubic hair with cartoon-like male faces seemingly tattooed onto the area of the belly above. Tawaraya, is a scaled-down boxing ring designed by Masanori Umeda for the Italian postmodern Memphis group in 1981, estimated price €15,000 > 20,000.

A loose selection of powerful, and almost entirely black and white documentary photographs by, for example, Ian Berry, Gilles Caron and Jean Pierre Laffont, falls somewhere in the middle of the catalogue. Hemmed in by the ironic and the arcane, these images, created by those with a mission to show the world what protest in many of its forms actually looked like, were never produced as art, but are certainly fine, and well worthy of the high prices attached to them by the copyright holders.

Sadly Magnum’s strict copyright policy, prevents us from using any of their photographers’ images with this post.

Images courtesy PIASA



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Art | ZERO

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

Piero Manzoni, Achrome, 1961
Fibreglass wool in artist’s box
Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York
Gift, Manzoni Family, 1993, 93.4225
© 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS) / SIAE Rome




ZERO: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s–60s
Guggenheim Museum
New York City | USA
10th October 2014 > 7th January 2015




However much we deplore them and the death and destruction they represent, wars are often the catalysts for new developments in art. Wars, in terms of art, therefore, have a positive as well as a negative value. Before them comes the art of anger, protest and propaganda; during, the art that strives to represent the truth of the situation – from whichever viewpoint the artist is in sympathy with – after, comes the art created out of the need to move on; an experimental period, which can be a tremendously productive one.

Otto Piene, Light Ballet (Light Satellite) (top)
and Light Ballet (Light Drum), 1969
Chrome, glass, and light bulbs
Moeller Fine Art, New York
© Otto Piene
Photo courtesy Moeller Fine Art, New York




Born in the decade when the US government, in its bid to lead the way in the ‘conquest of outer space’ called its pioneering satellite program ‘Vanguard’, ZERO (1957 > 1966) was established in Europe by Düsseldorf-based artists Otto Piene and Heinz Mack. Piene explained that by naming the group ZERO, their aim was to suggest ‘pure possibilities for a new beginning, as at the countdown when rockets take off… the zone in which the old turns into the new.’ It would focus on light, movement and space, while closely examining the relationship between man, nature and technology.

In a disfigured country, still reeling from the shockwaves of World War II, in which Germany had been at the epicentre, the core group, later joined by another German, Günther Uecker, fostered connections among artists but stressed individual authorship. It was to attract a related network that would span continents, linking artists in Germany, Italy and The Netherlands to others in Brazil, Japan, and North and South America. ZERO sought to annihilate all forms of representation within art in order to celebrate the possibilities inherent in ‘nothingness’: to move beyond the confines of the canvas and so attempt to penetrate the mysterious concept of the fourth dimension. Fire, earth and air would figure prominently in their artworks. Through connected artists such as Yves Klein – who also became a member of French art movement Nouveau RéalismeJean Tinguely, and Lucio Fontana, ZERO would re-define painting, explore the monochrome, and serial structures, and produce artworks made from flames and smoke, filling whole galleries with their environmental works, they would turn to the deserts and skies as viable sites for art. Highly influential, one 1961 show, ZERO: Edition, Exposition, Demonstration, held both inside and outside Galerie Schmela in Düsseldorf, in which performers marked out a ‘Zero zone’ with white paint around other participants, blew bubbles and launched a balloon into the night sky was witnessed by artist Joseph Beuys – who had his first one man show that year and started to give action-performances in 1963 – and Nam Juin Paik, Korean founder of video art.

Yves Klein, Untitled red monochrome (M 63), 1959
Dry pigment in synthetic resin on board
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
Gift, Andrew Powie Fuller and Geraldine Spreckels
Fuller Collection, 1999, 2000.28
© 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS),
New York / ADAGP, Paris




Lichtraum; Hommage à Fontana / Light Room: Homage to Fontana (1964) , being shown for the first time in the United States, in the forthcoming Guggenheim exhibition ZERO: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s > 1960s, is an installation containing a projection of a painting by Lucio Fontana, and individual contributions by Mack, Piene, and Uecker, as well as the only two works produced in collaboration by the trio. The piece is particularly significant as an expression of the genesis of the group’s philosophy. In 1949, Fontana, the man who later dismissed Jackson Pollock – generally regarded as the most forward-thinking painter of the early 1950s – as merely ‘post-impressionist’, had written, ‘I assure you that on the moon… they will not be painting, but making spatial art.’ ‘Spazialismo,’ as he christened his own movement, established in 1947, he explained, ‘would be an art contained in space in all its dimensions.’ In 1956 > 57, also anticipating the ZERO movement’s aims, another Italian artist and later group member, Piero Manzoni had determined to find a means of expressing the power of the subconscious via the creation of completely subjectless work that emphasised the surface and materials as the only focus of the piece.

In his book, Space Age Aesthetics (2009), author Stephen Peterson tells us that in the year of Lichtraum’s creation, philosopher Marshall McLuhan wrote ‘There is no longer any sense in talking about the artist’s being ahead of his time. Our technology is, also, ahead of its time,’ which could be taken to signify, whether or not it was true, that the writing was already on the wall for ZERO’s demise that followed, two years later, in 1966.

Heinz Mack, New York, New York, 1963
Aluminium and wood
Private collection
© 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS),
New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Photo Heinz Mack




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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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