Archive for the ‘sculpture’ Category

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.


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



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Design | Modernist Posters

Friday, May 1st, 2015

Paul Rand,
Minute Man, 1974
Estimate $1,000 > $1,500



Modernist Posters
Swann Auction Galleries
New York City | USA
Exhibition May 2, 4, 5, 6, 7
Sale 7 May 2015
13.30 EST / 18.30 GMT



Pentagram,
AIA New York
Group of ten posters,
1990s > 2000s
Estimate $2,000 > $3,000



Richard Avedon,
The Beatles
One of four posters
and a banner, 1967
Estimate $2,000 > $3,000



If you punch ‘American posters’ into Google search, and click the Images option, page upon page of disordered, unsifted stuff will come up. There’ll be a few great designs you recognise instantly. Just a few. Much of it will be mediocre. A lot of it will be rubbish. You’ll wonder what some of it is doing there. If you refine your search and put in, say, ‘American film posters’, the first few pages at least will roughly match the subject, but it’ll be a random selection of everything with those key words attached. You could do the same for American music posters, or advertising posters. If you happen to  find a couple of items that you like, even if the colour is reasonably accurate, they’ll probably be in low resolution, so the detail will be fuzzy, which means you won’t get more than a general idea of what the original poster is like. If you feel like buying a poster, you’ll be lucky to find an original, and, if it’s more than a few years old, you’ll most likely have to put up with a copy, having little idea of the quality until it arrives.

Now that bidding online is commonplace, sales like next week’s Modern Posters at New York’s Swann Auction Galleries are open to a worldwide market, which is great for them, but in turn also allows us to look at a vast amount of original, often rare examples of graphic design on our computer monitors, or mobile devices, in fairly decent image resolution. The beauty is that all of the material has been examined by experts, and usually comes from private or corporate collections. These days, the sale catalogues, available in book-form for most auctions that can be ordered in advance on-line, are usually very well-researched and well-produced, and contain detailed information on each item, its provenance and general state. Sometimes the catalogues themselves become, over time, collectable.

Kenneth D Haak & Paul Smith,
Get All The News / And Get It Right /
The New York Times, c 1951
Estimate $1,000 > $1,500



George Maciunas,
USA Surpasses All The
Genocide Records!, 1969
Estimate $400 > $600



Often, just as on eBay, you can bid up to a certain deadline, but taking part in the live sales is more fun. With a bit of savvy and a few deft clicks, you can buy a design classic at a good price and arrange to have it delivered direct to your door. Better still, even if you have no intention of buying, but happen to be in the right place – in this instance, New York – you can stroll around the viewing exhibition inspecting any or all of the lots for free, returning as often as you want before the sale starts.

Swann’s auction includes archive Swiss, Polish, German, French and Japanese posters, as well as many by British artists. There’s a 1907 poster by Munich secessionist artist Franz von Stück, and a Peter Behrens design for the Deutsche Werkbund exhibition, 1914. Swiss polymath Max Bill is represented by an advertising poster (1932) for the modernist furniture company Wohnbedarf. No less than seven Cassandre posters are in this sale, including his famous Dubonnet (c1956) work, estimated at $2,000 – $3,000. Nine single lot Edward McKnight Kauffer posters range in estimated price from $500 > $18,000, while three Abram Games WWII works will also be sold. There’s a Massimo Vignelli (1963) poster for Pirelli, and a square poster by Gerit Rietveld.

Andy Warhol,
Fifth New York Film Festival /
Lincoln Center, 1967

Estimate $1,500 > $2,000



Tomi Ungerer,
The Voice / The Magician, 1968,
for The Village Voice
Estimate $500 > $750



Constantly exposed to a lot of American TV and films, and some American magazines – up until recently, unless we visited America, had access to the Art Director’s Club annuals, or specifically searched for them on the internet, Britons and Europeans rarely had the opportunity to see a representative selection of original American posters, let alone buy them. Comprising roughly 50% of the total number of lots, a small sample of these accompany this post.

The Modern Posters sale at Swann Auction Galleries also includes rare non-poster items, such as Herbert Bayer and Walter Gropius’s Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar 1919 – 1923, bound volume, and Bayer’s Austellung / Europäisches Kunstgewerbe exhibition catalogue (a copy of which is in the MoMA collection), both with bold and uncompromising typographic cover treatments. There’s also a group of 7 copies of bauhaus, the school’s magazine, first published in 1926, with cover designs by Herbert Bayer, Joost Schmidt and Hannes Meyer, from the 1928-29 period, for which bidding is expected in the $3,000 > 4,000 bracket. A group of 8 issues of the magazine Vanity Fair, published between 1930-35 is estimated at $700 > 1,000.

Images Courtesy Swann Auction Galleries



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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 whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier



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Auction | Hockney Etched & Aquatinted

Friday, April 24th, 2015

The Enchantress with Baby Rapunzel,
Plate 14, Rapunzel,
Six Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm, 1969
Estimate €500 > 600



Interiors
Christie’s
Paris | France
Exhibition 25 > 28 April 2015
Sale 28 > 29 April 2015



Bizarrely, this sale, taking place over two days in Paris, next week, under the catch-all heading ‘Interiors’, includes ‘fine decorative arts and highlights collectible automobiles’. Ironically, these sorts of events have been described as ‘up-market garage sales’, but, once in a while – this being one of those occasions – the big auction houses – and they all do it – put on a sale that includes a whole heap of items that are almost impossible to categorise or group in any meaningful way.

Cold Water about to hit the Prince,
Plate 28, The Boy who left Home to learn Fear,
Six Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm, 1969
Estimate €700 > 1,000



The Boy hidden in a Fish,
Plate 4, The little Sea Hare,
Six Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm, 1969
Estimate €1,000 > 1,500



The black Cat leaping,
Plate 25, The Boy who left Home to learn Fear,
Six Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm, 1969
Estimate €700 > 1,000



If you have the patience to trawl through the lot lists, however, it’s often possible to find real gems like this cache of 17 David Hockney (b 1937) prints, each being sold separately, and two colour photographs, selling as one lot.

The photographs, Sea view from living room, c1970, and Hollywood Window, April 1974, both share a sombre, empty feel, although a shaded figure appearing in the latter, imbues it with a tentative optimism. The first image probably relates to the break up of Hockney’s relationship with Peter Schlesinger, the second is possibly suggestive of the new boyfriend he took up with in 1974.

The Princess in her Tower,
Plate 2, The little sea hare,
Six Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm, 1969
Estimate €1,500-2,000



Five of the prints are coloured etchings and aquatints from Hockney’s The Blue Guitar series (1976 >1977), while the remaining 12 are from his earlier series, Six Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm (1969), a selection of which are shown here. Their sparseness influenced by the reductive aspects of the minimalism he would have encountered in America, that no doubt struck a chord with his strict methodist upbringing, their subject matter stemming from his studious appetite for literature, they demonstrate a maturity of drawing and mastery of technique that render his 1961 > 1963 reworking of William Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress (1733), crude in comparison. Representing some of his finest work in the medium, these prints in Christie’s Paris Interiors auction would certainly sit better on the walls of one’s home than propped up against one in someone else’s garage.

FYI, Six Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm with Illustrations by David Hockney was first published in book form by the Royal Academy of Arts in 1970, with a later edition appearing in 2012.

All images are etchings with aquatint on wove paper,
published by Petersburg Press, London, 1969.
All images courtesy Christie’s



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



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Photography | Lee Friedlander’s Little Screens

Friday, March 27th, 2015

All images by Lee Friedlander from The Little Screens series
Estimate $200/300,000



Sotheby’s
New York City | USA
Photographs
Exhibition until 31 March 2015
Sale 1 April 2015



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Paul Strand’s unique and beguiling Rebecca platinum print will lead Sotheby’s New York’s April 1st Photographs sale. The auction also includes a complete up-to-date set of Nicholas Nixon’s extended portrait series The Brown Sisters – 40 photographs taken annually between 1975 and 2014 in 8 x 10 inch format. However, Lee Friedlander’s The Little Screens – a suite of 38 photographs selling as a single lot – steals the show.

In our post, Lee Friedlander: America By Car / The New Cars, about the 2011 exhibition at London’s Timothy Taylor Gallery, we observed that, ‘The compositional references suggest the montages of Richard Hamilton.’ The Little Screens is a good illustration of the artists’ singular approaches to the creation of images of similar situations with comparable subject matter, and the way in which their perspectives differed. Hamilton’s colourful collage, Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing? (1956), in which the living space around the body-builder male figure and his pin-up, parasol-hatted partner, is choc-full with up-to‑the-minute furniture and contemporary household must-haves: the vacuum cleaner, tinned ham, a tape recorder, the tropical plant and of course the TV, with its black and white image. For The Little Screens series Friedlander reverses the emphases, depopulating each snatch and broader portion of otherwise banal, dimly lit American interior, making the bright, close-cropped image on the TV the star, and only sign of life. It’s interesting to note too, that, although all-colour prime-time television became available throughout the USA in 1966, Friedlander – who would, in the 1980s, choose to shoot a series on Japanese cherry blossom in monochrome – stuck resolutely to black and white photography for The Little Screens, which he created throughout the course of the 1960s.


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European Modernism is also well-represented in Sotheby’s Photographs in works by László Moholy-Nagy, Man Ray and Pierre Dubreuil. A print of Richard Avedon’s Marilyn Monroe will feature alongside Irving Penn’s Rock Groups. Among a long and varied list of lots, contemporary works by Robert Rauschenberg, Larry Sultan and Olafur Eliasson will also be sold. A selection of 38 images from The Little Screens – the largest group ever to come to auction and a far greater number than appear on Lee Friedlander’s gallerist, the Fraenkel Gallery’s website, which otherwise carries a substantial cross-section of the photographer’s work – are included in the sale and viewing exhibition.

All images from the Collection of C David & Mary Robinson. Courtesy Sotheby’s



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



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Illustration | Comic Art @ Serious Prices

Friday, March 6th, 2015

Nat Neujean, Tin Tin et Milou, 1976
Bronze, 180 cm
Estimate €140,000 > 180,000



Bande Dessinée / Comic Strip Art
Sotheby’s
Paris | France
Exhibition until 6pm today
Auction 7 March 2015



Blutch, Vous n’avez encore rien vu, 2012.
Poster for the film by Alain Resnais, 2012

Pastel on paper
Estimate €3,000 > 3,500



Gabriele del’Otto,
Amazing Spiderman 682,
Arc Ends of the Earth
, 2012.

Alternative cover illustration
Mixed media on paper
Estimate €4,800 > 5,000



Floc’h, Michelle Obama’s Fashion Show
Cover of The New Yorker’s
The Style Issue, 16 March 2009

Mixed media
Estimate €2,200 > 2,500



Like many of my peers during the latter years of the 1960s, in my teens I collected American comics. And I suppose because he was supposed to be a teenager too, DC Comics‘ Superboy was a particular favourite. Naturally I also liked Superman, Batman, and The Flash. I admired the Marvel Comics’ superhero Daredevil, who, even though he had been blinded by radiation – in the process gaining super powers – managed to look great and perform amazing feats. The Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Spiderman and Thor were more Marvel favourites, and I used to scare myself half to death with DC Comics’ Tales from the Crypt.

They had no connection to DC Comics, but I had grown up with DC Thomson & Co Limited’s children’s weeklies, The Beano, Topper and The Dandy, and later, The Victor and The Hotspur, and when I delivered newspapers, I always looked forward to reading the Oor Wullie strip in the Scottish paper The Sunday Post, before pushing it through one of my regular letterboxes. Oor Wullie means Our Willie. Originally created by DC Thompson editor R D Low in 1936, it was drawn for many years by Dudley D Watkins (1907 > 1969). Our Wullie’s trademarks are spiky hair, dungarees and an upturned bucket, which he often uses as a seat. When our own kids reached the right age, my wife and I regularly bought them Oor Wullie, and The Broons annuals for Christmas, which they – and we – read over and over again, and which their friends were always keen to borrow.

Hergé, Le petit vingtiéme.
Recto: Tintin, honneur au jubilaire.
Cover illustration, Le petit vingtième,
#49, 15 December 1938
Indian ink and white gouache on paper
Verso: Tintin, Fifth Anniversary
Journal Tintin Belgian #39,
26 September 1951.
Cover illustration rough
Pencil on paper
© Hergé-Moulinsart
Estimate €450,000 > 480,000



On trips to Paris, we always made a bee-line to FNAC in the rue de Rennes, spending hours leafing through the illustrated books, especially the Barbar stories, begun originally in 1931 by Jean de Brunhoff, who died in 1937, and continued from 1946 by his son Laurent (b 1925). Although they weren’t actually in comic book form, each story was constructed with lots of sequential, situational drawings. It was possible to ‘get’ the story, even without reading the French text – which neither of us could. Our other favourites were The Adventures of Tin Tin, created by Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi (1907–1983), who wrote under the pen name Hergé. I, at least knew these illustrators’ names and work, but there was a huge raft of contemporary illustrated comics and comic books available in the shop, full of the most amazing work, that wasn’t, to my knowledge at the time, to be got anywhere in the UK, except for a single, poky shop called Forbidden Planet, off Tottenham Court Road in central London. There had been others – Dark They Were, and Golden-Eyed, started in 1969, which had followed another called Weird Fantasy, but Forbidden Planet, founded in 1975, outlived them and today claims to be the world’s biggest chain of comic shops, with massive online sales. Now, as the Japanese manga phenomenon proliferates and the graphic novel becomes ever more popular, Sotheby’s Bande Dessinée / Comic Strip Art sale, tomorrow, is a timely opportunity to sample a broad, international cross section of the genre, via the exhibition, the sale, the online catalogue or the printed version, available via their website.

Jacques de Loustal,
Le Gardien 2013

Oil on canvas



Frank Miller, Sin City,
Volume 3, The Big Fat Kill
,
Vertige Graphic, 1996

Indian ink on paper
Estimate €15,000 > 18,000



Ana Miralles, Djinn
Novel illustration
Mixed techniques on paper
Estimate €12,000 > 15,000



On leaving university, my first job had been at The Sunday Times – at that point, incidentally, owned by DC Thompson. In my thirties and early forties, as Art Editor of The Sunday Times Magazine – a weekly supplement to the newspaper – I was probably commissioning more illustration than anyone else in magazines (except, perhaps the art editor at The Radio Times) in London. The Sunday Times Magazine didn’t run a cartoon strip, but when I was asked to redesign Watchword the children’s magazine of the Royal Society for Nature Conservation (which The Sunday Times supported) its editor was keen to have one in it. We settled on the idea of a girl and a boy who would make discoveries in the natural world together. I came up with their names: Flora & Fauna which became the strip’s title. I believe it ran for around five years. It was my first and only involvement with the commissioning of comic strip illustration.

All images courtesy Sotheby’s



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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 whatsoever, fall due must be borne by the source supplier



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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 4 April 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 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 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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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

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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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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

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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



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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