Archive for the ‘sculpture’ Category

Design | Sitting on top of the 20th Century

Friday, December 11th, 2015

Gerrit Thomas Rietveld (1888 > 1964)
Steltman chairs, pair, designed 1963
(T
he second is a mirror image of the above)
Stained oak.
Estimate $80,000 > 120,000



Design Masterworks
Christie’s
Rockefeller Plaza
New York City | USA
Exhibition 12 > 16 December 2015
Auction 17 December 2015



Marc Newson (1963 >)
Lockheed Lounge, designed 1990
Fibreglass-reinforced polyester resin core,
blind-riveted sheet aluminium,
rubber-coated polyester resin.
Estimate $1,500,000 – 2,000,000



Looks can be deceiving. Amongst the rare and much sought-after items in Christie’s forthcoming Design Masterworks sale, a pair of Steltman chairs, for instance, designed by Gerrit Rietveld in 1963 – placing their production firmly in the mid-century period – are rooted in the far more remote early modernist years, while hints of the 1960s’ brutalist architectural style are also easily detected in the form.

Superficially, with its Sputnik aesthetic, Marc Newson’s three-legged Lockheed Lounge, with a blind-riveted sheet aluminium finish, also reminiscent of post-war airliners, produced as a limited edition of ten, in 1990, toward the end of the twentieth century, might well have been designed when Arne Jacobsen was sketching out his Drop chair for his SAS Radisson Blue Hotel in the late 1950s. (Incidentally, recently relaunched by Fritz Hansen, the Drop is now available with a plastic shell in a selection of colours with matching powder-coated legs.)

Arne Jacobsen (1902 > 1971)
Drop chair, designed c 1958
Copper-plated steel, leather
Estimate $20,000 > 30,000


Hans Wenger (1914 > 2007)
Easy chair, designed 1953
Oak, leather, fabric upholstery
$30,000 > 50,000



The spindly legs, of course, are always a dead giveaway, but, paradoxically, the upholstered full, rounded back and chunky armrests of Hans Wenger’s Easy chair, 1953, are strongly suggestive of the art deco period that spawned Jean Prouve’s Sanatorium armchair, whose tapered seat shape and slimmer armrests in turn foreshadow the lightness of form that would appear in late 1940s and 1950s furniture design, made possible through the use of new materials and improved production techniques brought about by advances in technology.

Jean Prouvé (1901 > 1984)
Sanatorium armchair, c 1932
Painted metal, leather, stretched canvas
Estimate $140,000 > 180,000



Although more chair designs, notably by Gio Ponti and Finn Juhl are included, Design Masterworks at Christie’s isn’t confined to seating. The tightly-edited series of lots, each with impeccable provenance and stand-alone individuality, flying in the face of chronological categorisation, features a striking c 1930 wall light from the palace of the Maharaje of Indore made by Max Krüger, Flavio Poli’s Valva siderale internally-decorated glass vase, 1954, and Carlo Mollino’s anthropomorphic maple, tempered glass and brass An Occasional Table made around 1950.

All images courtesy and © Christie’s


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

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



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Auction | I Buy & Sell Therefore I Am

Friday, October 9th, 2015

Roberto Capucci
The Butterfly Dress, Haute Couture, 1985
Full-length gown in pleated and
stiffened silk taffeta.
Estimate £3,000 > 5,000



A Visual Odyssey
Selections from LAC
(Lambert Art Collection)
Staged by Jacques Grange
Christie’s, King Street
London | UK



Gordon Coster
Fashion for Marshall Field, c 1934
Gelatin silver print
Estimate £600 > 800



Of collectors, Baroness Marion Lambert once said: ‘[They're] hoarders, and probably fodder for shrinks. I’m no exception, although with the years I have learned to control myself, while weeding out the mediocre and superfluous from the essential and best…’. Doyenne of the art, and particularly photography collecting world, she has also learned exactly when to buy and how best to sell. On Friday 14 October, around 300 items from the Lambert Art Collection, which she amassed with encouragement from her late husband Baron Philippe Lambert of the Belgian banking family, will be sold in London via a groundbreaking sale by Christie’s in association with Simon de Pury.

The baroness achieved certain notoriety in 2004, when, having pioneered the collecting of photography as an art form since the early 1980s, she named her collection Veronica’s Revenge, after the patron saint of photographers (and, incidentally, laundry-workers). Roman Catholics, apparently, believe that a woman called Veronica, later canonised, wiped the face of Jesus when he fell under the weight of the cross on the way to Calvary, leaving an image of his face on the cloth, thus creating the first example of image transfer. Lambert’s intention had been to hang her collection in the new headquarters of the Bank Brussels Lambert Suisse in Geneva. However it contained, among other works deemed perhaps understandably by the bank’s senior executives as too shocking for their clients, Larry Clark’s Tulsa, (1971), a portfolio of ten prints of naked teenagers playing with guns and injecting amphetamine.

Giving up on that idea, shortly afterwards, with the help of Swiss auctioneer de Pury – once described for his flamboyant auctioning style and jet-set lifestyle as ‘the Mick Jagger of art auctions’, then chairman of Phillips de Pury & Company – the 300 works were sold for a total of $9.2m in a record-breaking 100% sell-out, single-owner New York sale that far exceeded the $6.3m estimate. When the last item, Barbara Kruger’s iconic 1983 image, I Shop Therefore I Am, fetched $601,600, spontaneous applause erupted in the saleroom.

Marilyn Minter
Twins, 2005
Chromogenic print
Estimate £20,000 > 30,000



Erwin Blumenfeld
La Pudeur, 1937
Gelatin silver print
Estimate £8,000 > 12,000



It was Baroness Lambert, always keen to try out new ideas, who again and more recently approached de Pury – his having left Phillips in 1997, set up his own company which later merged with Phillips, which he once more had left, now running an art consultancy de Pury & de Pury with his wife – asking him if he would be prepared to embark on an internet-only auction of the collection she had built up in the intervening years. He accepted the challenge, but in the end a hybrid solution was agreed upon, which involved his teaming up with Christie’s.

Not a company to stint on its sale pitch, no less than eleven videos, each an introduction to artists or other aspects of what became the Visual Odyssey event appear on the Christie’s website, the first being an introduction by Simon de Pury and Christie’s Chairman and Head of Postwar and Contemporary, Francis Outred, who talks about this sale as being an evolution of the legendary 2004 auction. Describing the main difference between that and next week’s sale, Outred, who praises Lambert’s ever-restless eye, is that although it contains a good deal of photography, A Visual Odyssey, spanning three centuries, and which includes objects that are as diverse as a wonderfully minimal Donald Judd desk and two chairs from 1989, to a 1953 Fiat 500 C Topolino, is about how to acquire a variety of great things and how you can successfully put them together. To that end, and as if the idea of Simon de Pury teaming up with Christie’s wasn’t going to turn a enough heads, exalted French interior designer Jacques Grange – his customers included Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, Isabelle Adjani, Princess Caroline of Monaco, Alain Ducasse, Valentino, Karl Lagerfeld and Paloma Picasso – he owns and lives in Colette’s former Palais Royal home – was invited to stage the exhibition, assembling all of the items together for twelve preview days at Ely House in London’s Dover Street.

A Visual Odyssey: Selections from LAC (Lambert Art Collection), the sale, takes place on 14 October at Christie’s, King Street, London, the first day of Frieze Week 2015. It will be presented on both the de Pury and Christie’s websites.

All images courtesy Christie’s


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

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



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Art | Paris Goes Out of This World

Friday, September 25th, 2015

Robert Longo
Untitled (Astronaut Tereshkova,
First Woman in Space), 2015

Charcoal on mounted paper.
2 panels, each 238.8 x 121.9 cm




Space Age
Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac
Paris Pantin
Paris | France
27 September > 23 December 2015



Stephan Balkenhol
Mann auf Rakete /
Man on a Rocket
, 2015

Wawa wood.
Photo Philippe Servent



It looked slick, cool and clever. Everyone was very excited when Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong stepped off the Lunar Module’s ladder and onto the Moon’s surface, on July 20, 1969. What had hitherto been the stuff of dreams, comic books, science fiction novels and film, was suddenly happening for the first time, live on our TV screens. Armstrong’s iconic ‘…one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind,’ footprint image made a deep impression on the art world. The years of preparation had already had a huge influence on artists such as Korean-American Nam Juin Pak (1932 > 2006), and the moon landing itself, lent credence to influential Argentine-Italian artist Lucio Fontana’s 1949 claim, ‘I assure you that on the moon no-one will make paintings, but they will make spatial art.’ He would go on to prophesy, ominously ‘… Art, as it is thought of today, will end.’ Sadly, Fontana, who died in 1968, just missed the big show.

Lee Bul
Aubade IV, 2015
Stainless-steel structure,
acrylic, polycarbonate sheet,
glass paint, LED lights,
electrical wiring, fog machine



Cory Arcangel
MIG 29 Soviet Fighter Plane

and Clouds, 2005
2 handmade hacked Nintendo
cartridges & games systems
multi-channel projections



Anselm Kiefer
Das Grab in den Lüften /
The Grave in the Air,
1991

Mixed media installation
comprised of glass, stone,
earth, lead, wood and iron.
Photo Philippe Servent



What might Fontana have made of this new show in the four vast halls of Paris Pantin for which 20 artists of different generations contribute works, in a variety of media, inspired by the notion of outer space – its diverse connotations, from science to utopia? In an era where news of space flights and happenings on space stations is so commonplace that they barely rate a like, never mind a retweet, have conventional art works become redundant?

Robert Rauschenberg (1925 > 2008) is represented by a large dynamic wall sculpture, constructed from, among other elements, an aeroplane part and a bicycle frame, the whole redolent of undefined wreckage, but clearly referencing early attempts at manned flight. There’s also a layered acrylic print on a sheet of mirrored aluminium by Rauschenberg that plays with the notion of surface, depth and even volume – Fontana experimented in similar areas – but is in a disarming and fairly conventional, framed format.

Robert Rauschenberg
Roads (Shiner), 1992
Acrylic on mirrored aluminium.
© Robert Rauschenberg
Foundation / VAGA,
New York / ADAGP, Paris.
Photo John Berens



Harun Farocki
Eye / Machine I > III, 2001 > 2003

Double-channel installation,
sound, colour, 25 / 17 /15 minutes.
Courtesy Estate Harun Farocki



Never predictable, ever ambiguous, the new piece, Aubade IV (2015), included from Korean artist Lee Bul (1964 >), made up of four elements, might represent a battle in space. It incorporates LED lights and a fog machine, and is elusively yet aptly described as ‘of variable dimensions’, which has become common practice for installation work, but is particularly appropriate in this instance, because there’s a sense that the viewer is looking at a snatch from a scene that might shift and change at any moment .

Untitled (Astronaut Tereshkova, First Woman in Space), 2015, from American painter/sculptor Robert Longo, aged 52, who first came to the fore in the 1980s with a series depicting sharply-dressed men and women writhing in contorted emotion, has contributed a piece made up of two huge monochrome panels (each 238.8 x 121.9 cm), executed in the age-old medium of charcoal. Set at right angles to one another, each picks up a reflection of the other, imbuing it with an immersive, weightless quality.

What might have shocked Fontana is that, in amongst the aeroplane parts and the double-channel video installations, Space Age at Galerie Thaddeus Ropac, includes a few oil paintings and even some figurative sculpture.

All items and images courtesy Galerie Thaddeus Ropac, Paris / Salzburg


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

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


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Sculpture | On the Other Side of Richard Deacon

Friday, August 28th, 2015

Siamese Metal #1, 2008
Steel. Private collection.
Photo Mathias Schormann



Richard Deacon
On The Other Side
Kunstmuseum Winterthur
Winterthur | Switzerland
Until 15 November 2015



North – Fruit, 2007
Glazed ceramic. Private collection.
Photo Hans Ole Madsen

Alphabet C, 2009
Powder-coated steel.
Courtesy Galerie Ropac, Paris.
Photo Charles Duprat



Visitor figures for Richard Deacon’s 2014 retrospective exhibition at Tate Britain in London – the UK’s teeming metropolis – were massive. The previous year the sculptor’s large, permanent outdoor work ‘Footfall’ had been installed at Kunstmuseum Winterthur in the relatively small city of Winterthur – population 108,000 – located in the northern canton of Zürich, Switzerland. A selection of 40 works produced during the past 10 years, augmented by others already in the Kunstmuseum’s collection, form the body of On The Other Side, the artist’s current and first solo exhibition there.

Sturdy and complete – Deacon’s sculptures have no loose ends – they nevertheless convey sensitivity through their carefully-selected materials and the fine finishes each individual piece is given. Much of his ability to achieve the high standard of workmanship he requires, derives from his close working relationship with his collaborator of thirty years, Matthew Perry. On the Tate blog, Perry explained: ‘Richard has an idea; he wants to put things together in a certain way, and I go away and make a vocabulary for him to work with. The reality of this work is that it’s always eccentric and it’s very hand-made, it’s not a process of mass production. You have very complex shapes that have to be joined, and they are routed together so that they are strong, but elegant.’



Footfall, 2013, installed at Kunstmuseum Winterthur
Stainless steel.
Photo Serge Hasenböhler

Infinity #34, 2008
Steel. Private collection.
Photo Ken Adlard

Undergrowth, 2006
Glazed ceramic. Private collection.
Photo Ken Adlard



Born in 1949 in Bangor, Wales, winner of the 1987 Turner Prize and one of the UK’s most successful artists, the dome-headed and bespectacled 66 year-old – two years older than his close contemporary sculptor of similar standing, Antony Gormley – is based in London where he is represented by the highly-respected Lisson Gallery, on whose site Deacon’s impressive list of achievements is listed. However, he is also represented by galleries in Denmark, France, Germany, Spain, one on America’s east coast and another on its west. He has exhibited with increasing regularity since 1975 in galleries and museums throughout the world, from London to Caracas, from Maastricht to Tokyo, picking up public and private commissions along the way, including the design of stage sets for the Ballet Rambert.

At one time referring to himself as fabricator, as opposed to sculptor, he later qualified his statement by explaining that he liked the double sense of the word fabrication in English, which can mean a construction as well as an imagined event. However, rather than taking the more conventional sculptor approach of having an idea then choosing a material to execute it in, Deacon uses the material itself as a starting point and has taken inspiration from, among others, rocks, minerals and chains. He has drawn inspiration from such diverse sources as mathematics, caves, carved Buddhas, Donald Judd’s work and, famously, even a toy model of Marge Simpson’s head.

Copper, 2012
Wood, epoxy resin and copper pigment.
Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, New York.
Photo Cathy Carver



Deacon’s method of organising work for his shows is also unusual. Although at first he made work especially for exhibitions, he later changed things around so that he now continuously builds up a stock, constructing exhibitions based on that stock, with the object of achieving better continuity. On The Other Side at Kunstmuseum Winterthur – a compact gallery with big ideas, which in recent years has hosted exhibitions of work by such major names as Édouard Vuillard, Gerhard Richter and Richard Hamilton – is restricted to works in wood, metal and ceramics used in organic and constructed shapes

All photos courtesy Kunstmuseum Winterthur. © The photographers


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

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



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Exhibitions | Honnegger’s Concrete Rugs

Friday, August 14th, 2015

H 12, 2005
Hand tufted rug



Gottfried Honegger
– Teppich Konkret / Concrete Rugs
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich
Zürich | Switzerland
26 August > 1 November 2015



H 27, 2005
Hand tufted rug



Not to be confused with the subject of our previous post, Concrete Buildings – What’s Not to Love Now? – the rugs in this exhibition are certainly not made of concrete. To be clear, the term ‘concrete art’ was first introduced in 1930 by De Stijl founder, Dutch artist Theo van Doesburg (1883 > 1931) in his Manifesto of Concrete Art, published in the first and only issue of the magazine Art Concret. While the members of De Stijl envisioned the ideal fusion of form and function, in his manifesto van Doesburg maintained that there was nothing more concrete or more real than a line, a colour, or a plane (a flat area of colour). Gottfried Honegger, aged 97, whose rugs embody the spirit of concrete art as well as those of De Stijl, is a leading artist with a major retrospective on show at the Centre Pompidou in Paris until 14 September, 2015.

It’s fitting that the Honigger’s rug exhibition is being shown in Switzerland, not just because Honegger is Swiss, but because another Swiss artist, former Bauhaus student Max Bill (1908 > 1994), who took up the concrete art (aka concrete-constructivist art) baton, organised the first international exhibition of work by the movement in Basle, in 1944. Bill stated that the aim of concrete art is to create ‘in a visible and tangible form, things which did not previously exist – to represent abstract thoughts in a sensuous and tangible form’. Some years later, Gottfried Honegger would go one stage further, declaring that the primary purpose of art is to change the world. There is a museum of concrete art in Zürich. Somewhat less well known than the great Bill, Gottfried Honneger (aka Gottfried Honegger-Lavater) is nevertheless a prominent figure in the story of concrete art.

H13, 2005
Hand tufted rug



During a sojourn in Paris in 1939, he produced a few landscape paintings and some portraits in a cubist style, but the outbreak of war meant he returned to Switzerland, where he created little more that might be called fine art until 1949. He studied window-dressing at the Zurich Kunstgewerbeschule and afterwards became a very successful graphic designer. From 1955 to 1958 he was art director of the Basel-based pharmaceuticals company Geigy, which, as well as being involved in pioneering drugs research, had an in-house packaging and publicity design department. The cutting edge work produced at Geigy was crucial to the development of the globally-influential Swiss Style in graphic design.

On a trip to New York in 1958, where he met several abstract expressionist painters, Honegger decided to become an artist himself, and stayed there. His first exhibition, in which he showed monochrome paintings on surfaces covered by a repetitive pattern of geometric elements in thin card, was held in the city. Relocating to Paris in 1961, he would concentrate on painting, exploring circles and squares, and by 1968 had begun to produce sculpture. One of the first artists based in France to be inspired by the possibilities opened up by computers, in 1970, he produced computer-aided low relief works. His multi-panel paintings with cut-out sections that involve the wall behind in the work, were executed in the 1980s.

H18, 2005 (detail)
Hand tufted rug



In 1990, Honegger and his wife Sybil Albers were instrumental in setting up l’Espace de l’Art Concret, at Mouans-Sartoux, close to Mougins, in the South of France, a museum dedicated to concrete art. Ten years later they donated their personal collections of over 550 works by avant-garde and abstract artists to the French state, with the proviso that they are kept on permanent exhibition in a purpose-built building, designed by Swiss architects, Gigon and Guyer.

The 1990s saw his relief works, freed from the flat plane, transform into sculptures in painted metal, and in 1999, Transfiguration (Metamorphosis) a retrospective of Honegger’s painting and sculpture work was shown at Jean Nouvel-designed Fondation Cartier in Paris – itself a fusion of design and form in steel and glass. Honegger’s more recent work, the Pliages is in the form of white cylinders with foldout cut-away sections.

The rugs on display in the forthcoming Gottfried Honegger – Teppich Konkret exhibition in the Schaudepot at the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, are a natural extension of the artist’s relief pieces, simply executed in another medium.

All images courtesy Museum für Gestaltung Zürich
All rugs by Gottfried Honegger © Tisca Tiara


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

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



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Exhibitions | Reminder: Don’t Miss These…

Saturday, August 1st, 2015

McDermott & McGough, Those Moments, 1955, 2010
Tricolour carbon print. Courtesy the artists and Cheim & Read, New York.
On show at The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, see below



The Blog team return next week.
Whether you’re staying at home or travelling,
here’s our selection of some of the best
of what’s on show this summer >>>



Doug Aitken, Sunset (black and white), 2011
Hand carved foam, epoxy with LED lights and hand silk-screened acrylic.
Courtesy the artist, 303 Gallery, New York, Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich, Victoria Miro Gallery, London and Regen Projects, LA. Photo © Brian Forrest.
On show at the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, see below



>>> Until 23 August 2015
Coop Himmelb(l)au
Frankfurt Lyon Dalian

DeutschesArchitekturmuseum (DAM)
Frankfurt | Germany
Vienna-based architectural practice with the long-winded name Coop Himme(l)blau Wolf D Prix & Partner, long-time player on the international architecture scene, founded in 1968 in response to the predominance of rectilinear grids, set out to liberate architecture from its functional confines by rendering space more dynamic and buildings gravity-defying. The exhibition presents three of the studio’s latest projects: the new European Central Bank building (2015) in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, the Musée des Confluences (2014) in Lyon, France, and the Dalian International Conference Centre in China (2012), see image below.

>>> Auction 28 Aug 2015
Japanese Whisky
Christie’s
Admiralty | Hong Kong
Featuring Hanyu Ichito’s Full Cards Series of 54 bottles of the spirit, each with beautifully-designed individual labels on a playing card theme, which are expected to sell for HK$1.8 m > 2.4 m / £150,000 > 200,000 / US$230,000 > 310,000.

>>> Until 28 August 2015
Joana Vasconcelos:
Material World

Phillips
(Selling exhibition)
London | UK

Forty works representing various periods of sculptor and installation artist Joana Vasconcelos’s career to date, coinciding with the publication of her monograph by Thames & Hudson.

>>> Until 13 September 2015
Perfect Likeness:
Photography and Composition

The Hammer Museum
Los Angeles | USA

Having reached a point when everyone thinks he / she is a photographer, and where photography of every possible style and quality pervades every corner of our daily lives, this exhibition looks at the carefully composed images of fine art photographers such as Thomas Demand, Andreas Gursky, McDermott & McGough and Jeff Wall.

>>> Until 13 September 2015
Design Derby:
The Netherlands – Belgium (1815 > 2015)

Museum Boijmans
Van Beuningen

Rotterdam | Netherlands

Like for like Dutch and Belgium design objects – from sumptuous and elegant Belgian art nouveau to the more austere Dutch version, and from the contemporary tours de force of Belgium design to the level-headed Dutch design of today – confront one other in friendly competition.

>>> Until 25 October 2015
Fast Fashion
The Shadowy Side of Fashion

Museum für Kunst und
Gewerbe Hamburg

Hamburg | Germany
A critical glimpse behind the scenes of fashion – consumerism, economic interests and ecological issues – throwing light upon fashion and its victims; poverty and affluence; global and local effects; wages and profits; garments and chemicals; clothes and ecology; as well as new fibre technologies.

>>> Until 26 September 2015
Larry Bell 2D-3D:
Glass & Vapor

White Cube, Mason’s Yard
London | UK
Larry Bell (b 1939, Chicago) is a leading exponent of the California ‘Light and Space’ movement. The exhibition includes three early glass installations as well as collages on paper and new, kinetic Light Knot sculptures. To coincide with a major presentation of a Standing Wall installation of thirty-two, six foot square glass panels (c1989 >2014) currently on show at the Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas, USA, at White Cube, Bell has installed 6 x 8 An Improvisation.

>>> Until 27 September 2015
Doug Aitken
Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
Frankfurt | Germany
Following on from his Station to Station: A 30 Day Happening extravaganza at London’s Barbican, The Shirn dedicates its entire exhibition space, inside and out, to the impressive work of American multimedia-artist Doug Aitken, in the most comprehensive solo presentation of his film, music, architecture, performance and sculpture in Germany and elsewhere to date, see image above

>>> Until 27 September 2015
Germaine Krull
A Photographer’s Journey

Jeu de Paume
Paris | France
The idea of the female career photographer – rather than dabbler or dilettante – didn’t properly materialise until free-spirited women such as Gertrude Krull (1897 > 1985) thrust herself headlong into the male-dominated mêlée in the 1920s.



One-sheet poster for Sullivan’s Travels, directed by Preston Sturges, 1941
Poster art direction by Maurice Kallis. Courtesy Sikelia Productions.
On show at MoMA in New York, see below

Dalian International Conference Centre, China, by
Coop Himmelb(l)au Wolf D Prix & Partner, in Vienna, Austria

Photo © Duccio Malagamba.
On show at the Deutsches Architekturmuseum, Frankfurt, see above



>>> Until 27 September 2015
What is Luxury?
V&A
London | UK
The world’s biggest museum of the decorative arts and design has a permanent, historic collection of over 4.5 million objects. By definition it is a museum of things, many of which are extremely valuable and considered to be luxurious items. With over 100 objects, ‘From a diamond made from roadkill to a vending machine stocked with DNA, a golden crown for ecclesiastical use to traditional military tailoring, this exhibition addresses how luxury is made and understood in a physical, conceptual and cultural capacity.’

>>> Until September 30
Scorsese Collects [film posters]
Museum of Modern Art
New York City | USA
In celebration of director Martin Scorsese’s enduring commitment to the preservation of international film culture, MoMA presents 34 works from his collection, centred around a rare, billboard-size poster for the 1951 film Tales of Hoffmann. The exhibition will be accompanied by the film series Scorsese Screens throughout August.

>>> Until 4 October 2015
From Bauhaus to Buenos Aires:
Grete Stern & Horacio Coppola

Museum of Modern Art
New York City | USA
The first major exhibition of the German-born Grete Stern and the Argentinean Horacio Coppola, two leading figures of avant-garde photography who, in the 1930s, established themselves on both sides of the Atlantic.

>>> Until 18 October 2015
The 80s. Figurative
Painting in West Germany

Städel Museum
Frankfurt | Germany
Shedding light on the new and dynamic figurative painting that developed in the 1980s almost simultaneously in Berlin, Hamburg and the Rhineland. Works by among many other artists, Martin Kippenberger, Albert Oehlen, and Salomé.

>>> Until 25 October 2015
Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture
for a Modern World

Tate Britain
London | UK
Retrospective of one of Britain’s greatest artists, Barbara Hepworth (1903 > 1975), one of the few women artists to achieve widespread recognition and international prominence, featuring many of her most significant sculptures in wood, stone and bronze alongside her rarely seen works that exemplified modernism from the 1920s onwards.

>>> Until 25 October 2015
Gilbert & George:
The Early Years

Museum of Modern Art
New York City | USA
‘It’s not a collaboration. . . We are two people, but one artist,’ say the inseparable British artists, Gilbert and George, who have been creating art together for almost fifty years. This exhibition focuses on their early years, from 1969 to 1975, when the art world around them was largely engaged in pop, minimal, and conceptual work, while the pair developed a wholly unique vision.

>>> Until 26 October 2015
Radikal Moderne Planen
und Bauen im Berlin
der Sechziger Jahre

/ Planning and Building
in Berlin in the 1960s

Berlinische Galerie
Berlin | Germany
Via 300 known works and recently rediscovered material representing 30 architects, planners, photographers and artists, this is the first detailed examination of a decade in architecture and urban planning that shaped a city divided not only by a wall, but also by political ideologies.

>>> Until 31 October 2015
Stone Fenoyl (1945 > 1987).
An Imaginary Geography.
A Documentary Record

Château de Tours
(in association with Jeu de Paume)
Tours | France

Famous for his ability to discover and nurture new photographers, and for his admiration of anonymous 19th century photographs, iconographer, curator, art buyer, gallery and Vu agency (now Viva) founder, Pierre de Fenoyl was the first director of France’s National Foundation Photography in 1976. Champion of the work of Brassai, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Duane Michals and André Kertész, alongside prints, documents, films and publications, this retrospective also shows the black and white landscape photography he created himself from 1984.

>>> Until 1 November 2015
Fotografia Futurista
Galleria Carla Sozzani
Milan | Italy
With over one hundred original photographs, representing the work of over thirty photographers, this exhibition demonstrates how, over a fifty-year period, the futurists took possession of the photographic language and used it as a medium to capture the pulse of early 20th century life. In so doing, they transformed photography into the dynamic, potent and multifaceted force it became in both art and commerce in the twentieth century.

>>> Until 31 January 2016
Shoes: Pleasure and Pain
V&A
London | UK
Exploring the euphoria and obsession they can inspire, more than 200 pairs of historic and contemporary shoes from the V&A’s unrivalled international collection, worn by or associated with high profile figures including Marilyn Monroe, Queen Victoria, Sarah Jessica Parker and the Hon Daphne Guinness are on display. Famous shoes, such as the ballet slippers designed for Moira Shearer in the 1948 film The Red Shoes, are exhibited alongside footwear by 70 named designers including Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo and Miuccia Prada.



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Exhibitions | This Summer, Don’t Miss These…

Friday, July 24th, 2015

McDermott & McGough, Those Moments, 1955, 2010
Tricolour carbon print. Courtesy the artists and Cheim & Read, New York.
On show at The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, see below



The Blog team is away.
Whether you stay at
home or go travelling,
h
ere’s our selection of
some of the best of what’s
on show this summer >>>



Doug Aitken, Sunset (black and white), 2011
Hand carved foam, epoxy with LED lights and hand silk-screened acrylic.
Courtesy the artist, 303 Gallery, New York, Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich, Victoria Miro Gallery, London and Regen Projects, LA. Photo © Brian Forrest.
On show at the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, see below



>>> Until 23 August 2015
Coop Himmelb(l)au
Frankfurt Lyon Dalian
DeutschesArchitekturmuseum (DAM)
Frankfurt | Germany
Vienna-based architectural practice with the long-winded name Coop Himme(l)blau Wolf D Prix & Partner, long-time player on the international architecture scene, founded in 1968 in response to the predominance of rectilinear grids, set out to liberate architecture from its functional confines by rendering space more dynamic and buildings gravity-defying. The exhibition presents three of the studio’s latest projects: the new European Central Bank building (2015) in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, the Musée des Confluences (2014) in Lyon, France, and the Dalian International Conference Centre in China (2012), see image below.

>>> Auction 28 Aug 2015
Japanese Whisky
Christie’s
Admiralty | Hong Kong
Featuring Hanyu Ichito’s Full Cards Series of 54 bottles of the spirit, each with beautifully-designed individual labels on a playing card theme, which are expected to sell for HK$1.8 m > 2.4 m / £150,000 > 200,000 / US$230,000 > 310,000.

>>> Until 28 August 2015
Joana Vasconcelos:
Material World
Phillips
(Selling exhibition)
London | UK
Forty works representing various periods of sculptor and installation artist Joana Vasconcelos’s career to date, coinciding with the publication of her monograph by Thames & Hudson.

>>> Until 13 September 2015
Perfect Likeness:
Photography and
Composition
The Hammer Museum
Los Angeles | USA

Having reached a point when everyone thinks he / she is a photographer, and where photography of every possible style and quality pervades every corner of our daily lives, this exhibition looks at the carefully composed images of fine art photographers such as Thomas Demand, Andreas Gursky, McDermott & McGough and Jeff Wall.

>>> Until 13 September 2015
Design Derby:
The Netherlands – Belgium (1815 > 2015)
Museum Boijmans
Van Beuningen
Rotterdam | Netherlands

Like for like Dutch and Belgium design objects – from sumptuous and elegant Belgian art nouveau to the more austere Dutch version, and from the contemporary tours de force of Belgium design to the level-headed Dutch design of today – confront one other in friendly competition.

>>> Until 25 October 2015
Fast Fashion
The Shadowy Side of Fashion
Museum für Kunst und
Gewerbe Hamburg

Hamburg | Germany
A critical glimpse behind the scenes of fashion – consumerism, economic interests and ecological issues – throwing light upon fashion and its victims; poverty and affluence; global and local effects; wages and profits; garments and chemicals; clothes and ecology; as well as new fibre technologies.

>>> Until 26 September 2015
Larry Bell 2D-3D:
Glass & Vapor

White Cube, Mason’s Yard
London | UK
Larry Bell (b 1939, Chicago) is a leading exponent of the California ‘Light and Space’ movement. The exhibition includes three early glass installations as well as collages on paper and new, kinetic Light Knot sculptures. To coincide with a major presentation of a Standing Wall installation of thirty-two, six foot square glass panels (c1989 >2014) currently on show at the Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas, USA, at White Cube, Bell has installed 6 x 8 An Improvisation.

>>> Until 27 September 2015
Doug Aitken
Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
Frankfurt | Germany
Following on from his Station to Station: A 30 Day Happening extravaganza at London’s Barbican, The Shirn dedicates its entire exhibition space, inside and out, to the impressive work of American multimedia-artist Doug Aitken, in the most comprehensive solo presentation of his film, music, architecture, performance and sculpture in Germany and elsewhere to date, see image above

>>> Until 27 September 2015
Germaine Krull
A Photographer’s Journey
Jeu de Paume
Paris | France
The idea of the female career photographer – rather than dabbler or dilettante – didn’t properly materialise until free-spirited women such as Gertrude Krull (1897 > 1985) thrust herself headlong into the male-dominated mêlée in the 1920s.



One-sheet poster for Sullivan’s Travels, directed by Preston Sturges, 1941
Poster art direction by Maurice Kallis. Courtesy Sikelia Productions.
On show at MoMA in New York, see below

Dalian International Conference Centre, China, by
Coop Himmelb(l)au Wolf D Prix & Partner, in Vienna, Austria
Photo © Duccio Malagamba.
On show at the Deutsches Architekturmuseum, Frankfurt, see above



>>> Until 27 September 2015
What is Luxury?
V&A
London | UK
The world’s biggest museum of the decorative arts and design has a permanent, historic collection of over 4.5 million objects. By definition it is a museum of things, many of which are extremely valuable and considered to be luxurious items. With over 100 objects, ‘From a diamond made from roadkill to a vending machine stocked with DNA, a golden crown for ecclesiastical use to traditional military tailoring, this exhibition addresses how luxury is made and understood in a physical, conceptual and cultural capacity.’

>>> Until September 30
Scorsese Collects [film posters]
Museum of Modern Art
New York City | USA
In celebration of director Martin Scorsese’s enduring commitment to the preservation of international film culture, MoMA presents 34 works from his collection, centred around a rare, billboard-size poster for the 1951 film Tales of Hoffmann. The exhibition will be accompanied by the film series Scorsese Screens throughout August.

>>> Until 4 October 2015
From Bauhaus to Buenos Aires:
Grete Stern & Horacio Coppola

Museum of Modern Art
New York City | USA
The first major exhibition of the German-born Grete Stern and the Argentinean Horacio Coppola, two leading figures of avant-garde photography who, in the 1930s, established themselves on both sides of the Atlantic.

>>> Until 18 October 2015
The 80s. Figurative
Painting in West Germany

Städel Museum
Frankfurt | Germany
Shedding light on the new and dynamic figurative painting that developed in the 1980s almost simultaneously in Berlin, Hamburg and the Rhineland. Works by among many other artists, Martin Kippenberger, Albert Oehlen, and Salomé.

>>> Until 25 October 2015
Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture
for a Modern World

Tate Britain
London | UK
Retrospective of one of Britain’s greatest artists, Barbara Hepworth (1903 > 1975), one of the few women artists to achieve widespread recognition and international prominence, featuring many of her most significant sculptures in wood, stone and bronze alongside her rarely seen works that exemplified modernism from the 1920s onwards.

>>> Until 25 October 2015
Gilbert & George:
The Early Years

Museum of Modern Art
New York City | USA
‘It’s not a collaboration. . . We are two people, but one artist,’ say the inseparable British artists, Gilbert and George, who have been creating art together for almost fifty years. This exhibition focuses on their early years, from 1969 to 1975, when the art world around them was largely engaged in pop, minimal, and conceptual work, while the pair developed a wholly unique vision.

>>> Until 26 October 2015
Radikal Moderne Planen
und Bauen im Berlin
der Sechziger Jahre
/
Planning and Building
in Berlin in the 1960s

Berlinische Galerie
Berlin | Germany
Via 300 known works and recently rediscovered material representing 30 architects, planners, photographers and artists, this is the first detailed examination of a decade in architecture and urban planning that shaped a city divided not only by a wall, but also by political ideologies.

>>> Until 31 October 2015
Stone Fenoyl (1945 > 1987).
An Imaginary Geography.
A Documentary Record
Château de Tours
(in association with Jeu de Paume)
Tours | France
Famous for his ability to discover and nurture new photographers, and for his admiration of anonymous 19th century photographs, iconographer, curator, art buyer, gallery and Vu agency (now Viva) founder, Pierre de Fenoyl was the first director of France’s National Foundation Photography in 1976. Champion of the work of Brassai, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Duane Michals and André Kertész, alongside prints, documents, films and publications, this retrospective also shows the black and white landscape photography he created himself from 1984.

>>> Until 1 November 2015
Fotografia Futurista
Galleria Carla Sozzani
Milan | Italy
With over one hundred original photographs, representing the work of over thirty photographers, this exhibition demonstrates how, over a fifty-year period, the futurists took possession of the photographic language and used it as a medium to capture the pulse of early 20th century life. In so doing, they transformed photography into the dynamic, potent and multifaceted force it became in both art and commerce in the twentieth century.

>>> Until 31 January 2016
Shoes: Pleasure and Pain
V&A
London | UK
Exploring the euphoria and obsession they can inspire, more than 200 pairs of historic and contemporary shoes from the V&A’s unrivalled international collection, worn by or associated with high profile figures including Marilyn Monroe, Queen Victoria, Sarah Jessica Parker and the Hon Daphne Guinness are on display. Famous shoes, such as the ballet slippers designed for Moira Shearer in the 1948 film The Red Shoes, are exhibited alongside footwear by 70 named designers including Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo and Miuccia Prada.


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

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



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Home | Contemporary Complementary

Friday, July 17th, 2015

Harry Callahan
Chicago (Trees In Snow), 1950
Gelatin silver print, printed later
Est $10,000 > 15,000



Gaetano Pesce
Up4 sofa, c 1969
Polyurethane foam and stretch fabric upholstery
Est $3,000 > 5,000





Sotheby’s
Contemporary Living
– Photographs, Prints & Design

New York City | USA
Exhibition 18 > 25 July 2015
Sale 22 July 2015





George Nakashima
Mira chair, c 1956
Property of a New Jersey family
American black walnut
Est $700 > 900



If you bought everything in this sale you could probably only furnish one Soho House. But what about your own house, your own apartment? Unless you approach sales like this one with a plan, you’re likely to end up taking home a disparate group of expensive items that are neither use, nor ornament. The combinations might seem endless, but if you’re clever you’ll select individual pieces and assemble groupings that dovetail so easily together that they simply belong that way and couldn’t be better arranged.

You could go for the set of four Captain chairs by George Nakashima and use them with the Trestle table by the same designer. If necessary, Nakashima’s wonderfully sculptural, stand-alone Mira, three-legged chair could be pulled up to the table for an unexpected guest. For a more eclectic mix, there’s a set of six Brazilian dining chairs that would complement the same table. There again, especially for a small dining space that needs to fulfil other uses, Ludwig Walser’s industrial-looking, stackable fibre cement garden seats for Eternit would work on a wood floor indoors, paired with Paul Kjaerholm’s Academy desk, designed for the School of Architecture, Royal Academy, Copenhagen. Another option might be to invite your guests to squat down, Japanese-style, on the floor and to serve dinner on Sergio Rodrigues’s Mucki long bench, in which case you’d need to source a nice, complementary rug from elsewhere.

Ludwig Walser
Four garden seats, c 1960s
Fibre cement
Est $5,000 > 7,000



Alfred Hendrickx
Cabinet, c 1960
Rosewood and chromium-plated metal
Est $ 3,000 > 5,000



Robert Motherwell
Red Sea II (Walker Art Center 242), 1979
Etching and aquatint printed in colours,
on German etching paper, framed plate
Est $5 > 7,000



Poul Kjaerholm
Academy desk for The School of Architecture,
Royal Academy, Copenhagen, c 1955

Oregon pine and chromium-plated steel
Est $3,000 > 5,000



For cosiness Gaetano Pesce’s UP4 sofa, designed in 1969, that reference’s Salvador Dalí’s famous Mae West Lips sofa (1937) will add warmth to your seating area and sit well with Sergio Rodrigues’s Coffee table. The light and airy feel of Fernando and Humberto Campana’s Poltrona Cone chair made from clear polycarbonate and chromium-plated metal would contrast well with the sofa. You’d have to put a graphic print, or strongly coloured cushion on it to prevent it from looking too cold. If you went down this route, perhaps exchanging the glass-topped coffee table for Greta Magnusson Grossman’s wooden Low Bench that could be used for the same purpose would be a good idea. Having done this, it could be worth bidding for Magnusson Grossman’s matching Flip-Top dining table as well, bearing in mind that there’s only a single dining chair of hers in this sale, so you’d have to either shop around, or opt for the six Brazilian dining chairs, which would need to be re-upholstered in a colour that doesn’t clash with the red sofa. But, there again you could select an alternative sofa, like Joaquim Tenreiro’s Sofa, which would require an injection of nearby colour – say, Homage to the Square: ten framed screenprinted works by Joseph Albers, that could be used en masse as a backdrop. If that’s all a bit too colourful, or you need an energy injection, there’s always Robert Motherwell’s Red Sea II (Walker Art Center) print.

André Kertész
Chez Mondrian, Paris, 1926
Gelatin silver print, printed later
Est $5,000 > 7,000



Joe Colombo’s Spider ceiling light would be nice for mood lighting with any of the above, and there are a couple of 1940s Italian table lamps, either one of which would sit happily on top of Alfred Hendrickx rosewood cabinet, with Harry Callahan’s minimal, starkly monochromatic Chicago (Trees in Snow) hung on the wall above it, the linear organic shapes softening the geometry of the Albers, should you decide to go for them. Then again, there’s photographer André Kertész’s atmospheric Chez Mondrian, Paris black and white photograph that you could design an entire house around…

… But this is just us thinking out loud while scrolling through the 249 lots in Sotheby’s Contemporary Living – Photographs, Prints & Design sale. If you happen to be in New York on the viewing days, go along and see the free exhibition, where you’ll get a far better idea of the relative sizes of the various pieces, how they might work together, and whether they’ll fit your home or suit your lifestyle.

Photographs courtesy Sotheby’s


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

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



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Fashion | Vintage Couture Sale You Can’t Afford to Miss

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

Chanel haute couture, 1963
Black sequined cocktail dress from the wardrobe of Romy Schneider
Estimate €1,500 > 2,500



Rencontres Couture à Paris
de la Collection Didier Ludot
/
Paris Encounter with Couture
from the Didier Ludot Collection
Sotheby’s
Paris | France
Exhibition 4 > 8 July 2015
Sale 4:00 CEST 8th July 2015



Thierry Mugler, S/S 1990
‘Rainbow jacket’ in gabardine wool
Estimate €500 > 700



A stone’s throw from the Louvre, in Paris’s premier arrondissement, in the prestigious Palais Royale, La Petite Robe Noire is dedicated to original haute couture versions of the little black dress. ‘A magical garment which exacerbates the femininity of a woman,’ according to Didier Ludot, who was so besotted with it that he opened the shop in 1999, designed his own line that is also sold there, and went so far as to publish a book on the subject. La Petite Robe Noire is one of three shops, the first established in 1975, all owned by Ludot, around the Palais Royal, one specialising in evening couture, the other in ready-to-wear, where – although you may not be able to afford to buy anything – you can touch, feel, and even try on some of the most extraordinary, and impeccably-detailed items of clothing ever produced. Chanel, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Givenchy, Balmain, Lanvin, John Galliano, Yohji Yamamoto and Hermes, are among the many other famous names in couture that appear on the labels.

Yves Saint Laurent haute couture, A/W 1977 > 1978
Velvet strapless sheath, edged in spiralling flounces of shot wine and green taffeta
Estimate €1,500 > 2,500



Pierre Cardin haute couture, 1966
Pink wool cape with circlet armholes and glass bauble buttons
Estimate €1,200 > 1,800



Schiaparelli haute couture, S/S 1938
‘Circus’ collection. Silk crepe gown printed with designs after Marcel Vertès
Estimate €2,000 > 3,000



Each piece is carefully selected for its technical skill, its beauty, the trademark style of the couturier who created it, and often simply for the elegance of the woman or man – Ludot also stocks menswear – who wore it. Ludot’s vintage collection provides a comprehensive overview of 20th century fashion, and is a tribute to the expertise of the designers, tailors, embroiderers, leatherworkers, feather merchants and lace makers responsible for its creation.

Elegant dressers themselves, Ludot’s mother and grandmother’s wardrobes were always fit to burst with clothes they diligently copied from haute couture. As a small boy, he had attended the fittings and has been specialising and dealing in the fashion business himself for over 40 years. He also curates exhibitions, using his exclusive shop windows as gallery space.

Balenciaga haute couture, A/W 1965 > 1966
Evening dress in satin covered in ostrich feathers
Estimate €6,000 > 8,000



Commes des Garçons by Rei Kawakubo A/W 2000 > 2001
‘Punk’ collection. Tartan jacket with tousled, tasselled hem
Estimate €700 > 900



Needless to say, Ludot’s much written about shops are a mecca for the international fashion crowd, among them American Vogue’s Hamish Bowles, who is a fellow collector and loves to compare notes with him. The rich and famous are discreet visitors, too, but a selection of Ludot’s vintage haute couture is also available to buy in the luxury department stores: Printemps, London’s Harrods and New York’s Barneys. And now, his private collection having grown so large, he has decided to sell over 170 exceptional items via auction at Sotheby’s in Paris, in their Rencontres Couture à Paris de la Collection Didier Ludot sale, next week. ‘Sotheby’s is very chic,’ he told Style.com at the auction house, ‘the first couture show I ever saw was right in this very spot, around 1970.’

All images courtesy Sotheby’s Paris, © Sotheby’s Paris


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



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Design | Functional Sculpture

Friday, May 15th, 2015

Philippe Hiqily,
Henri Samuel chair,
designed 1975,
2004 edition

Sotheby’s estimate:
€20,000 > 30,000



Christie’s
Design, Vent du soir /
Design Day Sale
Paris | France
Exhibition 15 + 16 + 18 + 19 May 2015
Sale 19 May 2015

+

Sotheby’s
Design 20e siècle /
20th Century Design

Paris | France
Exhibition 16 + 18 May 2015
Sale 21 May 2015



Charlotte Perriand,
Free form table / desk,
designed 1956.
Steph Simon edition c 1960
Solid saple wood.
Christie’s estimate:
€120,000 > 180,000



Along with everyone else in the Sculpture Garden at MoMA, you can sit, looking cool – imagining you’re a sculpture yourself – on sculptor Harry Bertoia’s sculptural Side chairs. But you can’t do it indefinitely, because, if we’re being completely honest, they aren’t really that comfortable, especially if the little pad that prevents the supermarket trolley style grid from embedding itself into your bottom, is missing. On the Knoll website – they produce and market Bertoia’s furniture – it says that Harry, who was primarily a sculptor, ‘found sublime grace in an industrial material, elevating it beyond its normal utility into a work of art.’ But surely, since chairs, and, for that matter, any other item of furniture must be functional, the Side chair is disqualified from ‘art’ status. Does it matter one way or the other?

Georges Jouve,
Mirror, c 1955
Glazed ceramic.
Christie’s estimate:
€8,000 > 12,000

Jean Prouvé,
Table, c 1939
Painted and folded sheet steel.
Christie’s estimate:
€80,000 > 100,000



It would seem that Donald Judd, who created sculpture that looked like furniture and furniture that might be art, thought it did. An extract from a 1993 Judd essay called It’s hard to find a good lamp reads: ‘…[S]omeone asked me to design a coffee table. I thought that a work of mine, which was essentially a rectangular volume, with the upper surface recessed, could be altered. This debased the work and produced a bad table, which I later threw away. The configuration and the scale of art cannot be transposed into furniture and architecture. The intent of art is different from that of the latter, which must be functional. If a chair or a building is not functional, if it appears to be only art, it is ridiculous… A work of art exists as itself; a chair exists as a chair itself.’

Serge Mouille,
Pair of wall sconces with
Saturn motif, c 1957
Black + white lacquered metal
Sotheby’s estimate:
€4,000 > 6,000

Pierre Chareau,
Desk MB 405 + stool SN 3, c 1928
Wrought iron and rosewood
veneer desk + wrought
iron and rosewood stool
Sotheby’s estimate:
€250,000 > 350,000



On the other hand, as Design Museum Director Deyan Sudjic said in his 2008 obituary about the great Italian designer/architect Ettore Sottsass: ‘We live in a world which values the useless ahead of the useful, which celebrates art, untainted by the least hint of utility, above the ingenuity of design that is burdened by function, and creates a cultural hierarchy to match. It was perhaps the greatest achievement of Sottsass’s long and remarkable career that he made this distinction irrelevant.’

Zaha Hadid’s designs for amorphous benches and stools are intended to blur the line between utility and sculpture. Like her architecture, their streamlined curvaceousness isn’t purely functional, nor is it merely decorative. They are functional pieces, in that they are meant to be sat on, but just having them around enlivens a space and raises the spirits, rendering them objects of desire.


Eugène Printz,
Modernist console, c 1931
Palm wood veneer
Sotheby’s estimate:
€30,000 > 50,000



Many of the – in theory – functional, and sought after items being sold in the forthcoming Christie’s ParisDesign, Vent du soir /Design Day Sale, and in Design 20e Siècle / 20th Century Design at Sotheby’s Paris, including those shown here, were designed in the modern period, but, ironically, their sculptural qualities a result of their creators’ uncompromising searches for authenticity, they could easily be taken as examples of the rule-breaking that came to be a defining characteristic of postmodernism.

All images courtesy Christie’s and Sotheby’s, respectively.
Donald Judd quote © Judd Foundation.


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

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



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