Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Books | Rainy Days in Glass Houses

Friday, November 9th, 2018

Shinjuku Gyoen
National Garden
Greenhouse
,
Tokyo, Japan



Glasshouse
Greenhouse

India Hobson +
Magnus Edmondson
of Haarkon

Pavilion Books
224pp hardback.
October 2018



Royal Botanic
Gardens, Kew
,

London, UK



‘It usually rains wherever we go,’ British photography duo, Magnus Edmondson and India Hobson tell us in the introduction to their book, ‘[it] makes us thankful we chose a project about inside gardens of the world.’

What they refer to as their ‘Greenhouse Tour’ began at the University of Oxford Botanic Garden, where they became smitten by ‘the idea that someone would construct an entire building with the purpose of housing plant life.’ It would take them to distant locations such as Singapore, California’s Palm Springs, Adelaide in Australia and Tokyo in Japan; they travelled to Germany, Denmark and The Netherlands, and many other UK destinations, including Edinburgh, London and Cornwall and, not least, to a DIY allotment greenhouse in their home town.

Private Cacti
Collection, North
Yorkshire, UK



Royal Botanic
Garden,
Edinburgh
, UK



This is a nice, accessible book; it’s well-produced; the layout is clean and unfussy; the text is easy and accessible; the photography is well-composed and consistent. It’s clear that the authors, who are architecture and design fans, and plant enthusiasts – as opposed to plant experts – derive great pleasure from their obsession with glasshouses. Plants and architecture, however, are brought to life by light – it gives them form, it flatters them, bringing out their best features. In the majority of the many pictures included, sunlight scarcely penetrates the verdant interiors from where blue skies are rarely glimpsed through the intricate and ingeniously-designed glass roofs that protect them.

Exotic plants and
waterfall, Cloud
Forest at Gardens by
the Bay
, Singapore



Edmondson and Hobson, who go by the joint name Haarkon, are based in Sheffield, a city renowned for its annual rainfall of 747mm. It’s unfortunate that their overcast weather went on tour with them.

All photos by Haarkon, courtesy Pavilion Books, from Glasshouse Greenhouse by India Hobson and Magnus Edmondson


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Architecture | Sky-High with Street Credibilty

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

MahaNakhon,
Bangkok, Thailand,
Büro Ole Scheeren +
OMA

Photo Hufton + Crow



Best Highrises 2018/19
The International
Highrise Award 2018

Deutsches
Architekturmuseum
Frankfurt | Germany
3 November 2018 >
3 March 2019



Beirut Terraces,
Beirut, Lebanon,
Herzog & de Meuron
Photo Iwan Baan



Aside from the obvious symbolism of its subject matter, this is a very sexy competition. A fact that was, presumably, not lost on The City of Frankfurt which initiated it in 2003. The International Highrise Award, now considered the world’s most important architecture prize for high-rises, was guaranteed to establish Frankfurt as a centre for architectural innovation and to draw global attention to the city, which continues to host the event.

Oasia Hotel
Downtown, Singapore,

WOHA
Photo K Kopter



But why Frankfurt? Due to the historical value of their existing buildings many other European cities, have rejected skyscraper construction. Frankfurt’s inner city area, however, was destroyed by Allied bombing during World War II and only a small number of its landmarks were rebuilt, which left ample room for modern high-rises that would stand as monuments to reconstruction. Outside Germany, Frankfurt is simply called Frankfurt; in German-speaking countries the city is given its full name Frankfurt am Mein (Frankfurt on the Mein river), and sometimes referred to as ‘Mainhattan’ – a reference to its impressive high rises and skyscrapers that began to appear in the 1960s and where architect Coop Himmelblau’s European Central Bank (2015) is situated. The intervening years saw hundreds of high-rises erected in the city, however, the Commerzbank Tower, at 259 metres, built in 1997, is destined for the moment at least to remain the tallest.


2 views of

Torre Reforma,
Mexico City, Mexico,
L Benjamín
Romano

Winner of The International
Highrise Award 2018

Photo (top) Iwan Baan.
Photo (above)
Alfonso Merchand



Although extremely high, landmark buildings continue to go up around the world, especially in China, which now has 30 of the world’s tallest, the criteria on which their design is based has somewhat altered. Hybrid usage is on the rise, while single-use buildings are becoming rare. One trend emerging in Southeast Asia and China involves grouping individual structures together in ensembles, which is creating developments that define their surrounding areas and even whole districts. While extraordinary aesthetics and trailblazing design have not lost their attraction, this year’s IHA competition has placed greater emphasis on functionality, innovative building technology, sustainability, cost-effectiveness and how high-rises contribute to the urban fabric and encourage street-life.

Chaoyang Park
Plaza, Beijing, China,
MAD Architects

Photo Hufton + Crow



Organised jointly with the Deutsches Architekturmuseum and DekaBank, both also based in Frankfurt, aimed at architects and developers whose buildings are at least 100 metres high, the biennial competition is judged by a panel of prominent architects, structural engineers, real-estate experts and architecture critics from across the globe.

Best Highrises 2018/19 at (DAM) Deutsches Architekturmuseum, focuses on the main prize-winner and five finalists, (all shown here), but presents all 36 nominated structures.

All images courtesy DAM


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Auction | Pierre Bergé’s Mega-Artist: Bernard Buffet

Friday, October 26th, 2018

Autoportrait sur
fond noir
, 1956

Oil on canvas.
Estimate €100,000 >
150,000



Pierre Bergé
From One Home to Another
Sotheby’s
Paris | France
Exhibition + Sale
29 > 31 October 2018



Boeuf écorché, 1954
Oil on canvas.
Estimate €200,000 >
400,000



A dozen paintings by French artist Bernard Buffet will be exhibited and sold in a charity auction in Paris next week. Redolent of the pair’s intense, shared history during the 1950s, and also perhaps the turbulence of their later relationship, they were collected by Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent, and are among 1000 items from Bergé’s homes in Paris, Normandy, Provence and Morocco included in Sotheby’s sale.

In 1974, in France, where painter, lithographer, and etcher Buffet’s work was as instantly recognisable as an Yves Saint Laurent (1936 > 2008) trouser suit, he was voted the public’s favourite post-war artist. Born in Paris in 1928, tellingly, growing up during the Nazi occupation, he was only 16-years-old when he enrolled in art classes, afterwards progressing to the École des Beaux-Arts, where his prolific output was first noted. Having found a sponsor and adopted an expressionist approach, his work was exhibited in a mixed show in 1946 that immediately gained him public attention. When the magazine Connaissance des arts named the 10 best post-war artists of 1958, Buffet, aged 30, was at the top of the list. That same year, the first retrospective of his work was held at the Galerie Charpentier. Buffet was a founder-member of the short-lived anti-abstraction L’Homme Témoin (Witness) group, which argued passionately in favour of representational art. In spite of his popular recognition, and perhaps to some extent in envious reaction against it, his bold rejection of abstraction – at the time, the dominating trend – earned him the scorn of many of his contemporaries. Once hailed as the artistic successor to Picasso, he would later experience more general derision.

According to Nicholas Foulkes’ 2016 biography, Bernard Buffet: The Invention of the Mega-Artist: ‘He was a bisexual, an alcoholic recluse and a socialite [who] quickly became a part of the same pack of young, successful artists that included Françoise Sagan, Yves Saint Laurent, Roger Vadim and Brigitte Bardot… He bought a castle, a Rolls-Royce, a boat and an island by age 30, all from the proceeds of his painting. Postwar European society did not appreciate such a display of wealth.’ He would fall into near oblivion, his work reviled as vulgar: the epitome of bad taste.

Jaguar 1955, 1984
Oil on canvas.
Estimate €50,000 >
70,000



Tête de Bretonne, 1955
Oil on canvas.
Estimate €30,000 >
40,000



Nature morte
à la sole
, 1952

Oil on canvas.
Estimate €100,000 >
150,000



Over the course of a career lasting more than 50 years, which ended with his tragic suicide in 1999 – after a prolonged battle with Parkinson’s disease – Buffet created more than 8,000 paintings and a large number of prints and was inducted into the Académie des Beaux-Arts. Revolving around concepts related to art history, religion, death, sexuality, popular culture, and politics, his work is invariably graphic, often figurative, is atmospherically melancholic, and always rendered in a sombre palette. It forms part of the collections in many prominent international museums, including those of Tate Modern, London, Museum of Modern Art, New York, and of the dedicated Bernard Buffet Museum in Japan (inaugurated, 1973).

L’atelier, 1956
Oil on canvas.
Estimate €80,000 >
120,000



Astute businessman, Pierre Bergé (1930 > 2017), who evidently continued to purchase Bernard Buffet’s work, even after its popularity had plummeted, would no doubt have been delighted that having undergone a reappraisal, and been the subject a 2016 retrospective exhibition at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, the average compound annual return for the artist in 2018 is 9.9%, with 85.2% of works increasing in value, which bodes very well for Pierre Bergé: From One Home to Another at Sotheby’s Paris.

All works by Bernard Buffet, images courtesy Sotheby’s


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Art | Call of the Wild

Friday, October 19th, 2018

Ana Mendieta, Bird
Transformation
, 1972

Colour photograph,
Vintage print.
Louisiana Museum
of Modern Art,
Denmark. © Estate
of Ana
Mendieta
Collection, LLC.
Courtesy Galerie
Lelong & Co New York.
Photo Poul Buchard /
Brøndum & Co



Wilderness
Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
Frankfurt | Germany
1 November 2018 >
3 February 2019



Thomas Struth,
Paradise 21
Yuquehy/Brazil, 2001
© Thomas Struth



Should the haze now suddenly clear, the figure gazing out into the abyss in Caspar David Friedrich’s Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog (c1818) might well be met with, not the sublime wilderness he has been seeking, but a conservation area. Devoid of industry, the vista, would very likely be marred by pylons and old quarry workings, and crisscrossed by access roads; there might be a dam with an enormous lake behind it; hikers in brightly-coloured jackets threading their way along a track far below, while buzzing around overhead, an inquisitive drone records every detail of the valley.



Gerhard Richter,
Tiger, 1965
Oil on canvas.
Museum Morsbroich.
© Gerhard Richter 2018



Georgia O’Keeffe,
From the Plains ll, 1954
Oil on canvas.
Museo Thyssen-
Bornemisza



Heinz Mack during
shooting of the film
Tele-Mack, in the
Tunisian desert, 1968.
Photo E Braun /
Archiv Mack



Wildernesses, in the original, geographical sense – locations that deny human access and in which raw nature is left to its own devices – have become rare and are becoming rarer. But, as a western, cultural concept, wilderness is also representative of the ethos of the free spirit, of an alternative philosophical model at odds with accepted values of culture, domestication and civilisation. In the spirit of the Romantic period, and following Friedrich and others’ lead, artists have continued to explore wilderness from both these perspectives.



Lin May Saeed,
The Liberation of
Animals from
their Cages XVII /
Olifant Gate, 2016
Tool steel and
lacquer. Courtesy
Jacky Strenz, Nicolas
Krupp, the artist.
Photo Wolfgang Günzel



Tracing the connections between wilderness and art, the exhibition Wilderness at Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt brings together over 100 20th and 21st century paintings, photographs, graphics, video and sound works, sculptures, and installations by some 35 international artists, including Julian Charrière, Ian Cheng, Marcus Coates, Tacita Dean, Mark Dion, Jean Dubuffet, Max Ernst, Camille Henrot, Asger Jorn, Per Kirkeby, Joachim Koester, Ana Mendieta, Georgia O’Keeffe, Gerhard Richter, Henri Rousseau, and Carleton E Watkins.

All images courtesy Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt


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Design | Everything Ponti

Friday, October 12th, 2018

Pirelli Tower,
Milan,
1960
© DR



Tutto Ponti,
Gio Ponti Archi-Designer
Musée des Arts Décoratifs
Paris | France
19 October 2018 >
10 February 2019



Living Room at Villa
Planchart, Caracas, 1957
Photo Antoine Baralhe.
Fondation Anala
et Armando Planchart



In Italian, Gio Ponti’s surname, means, appropriately, ‘bridges’. Over the course of a career that spanned more than 50 years, during which time he became the most important and influential designer/architect in Italy, his talents traversed everything from glassware design to ceramics; he created chairs, lighting, fabrics and cutlery, screenplays for cinema, as well as stage sets and costumes for La Scala. He established his architecture practice in 1921 and built private villas in Paris (1926), Eindhoven and Caracas (Villa Planchart 1953 > 1957), company headquarters, such as Milan’s landmark Pirelli Tower (1957) – at 127 metres, Europe’s tallest building at the time, that was a symbol of Italy’s post-war ‘miracolo’ reconstruction period – and public buildings, including Taranto cathedral (1970) in southern Italy and the Denver Art Museum (1974).

La Cornuta coffee
machine for Pavoni, 1948
© Photo Gio Ponti
Archives, Milan



Glass lamp 0024, 1933
© Photo Gio Ponti
Archives, Milan



Superleggera 699,
for Cassina, 1957
© Photo Gio Ponti
Archives, Milan



Drawing his earliest influences from the Venetian villas of Andrea Palladio, Ponti celebrated the machine but, unlike many 20th century modernists, never rejected classicism and craftsmanship. In collaboration with his protogeé, Piero Fornasetti, he took pleasure in creating decorated furniture designs flouting modernist conventions that dictated the abolition of applied ornament. An enemy of dogma, whose work never conformed to any particular ‘ism’, Ponti’s tenet was that styles corrupt and [if we conform to them] our ideas become corrupt themselves.

His design and architecture became synonymous with Italian ‘cool’ of the 1950s and 1960s. He was the designer behind Pavoni’s iconic La Cornuta coffee machine (1948) that would dominate the bars of cafés throughout Italy, in London and in New York, where customers might also find themselves sitting on one of his Superleggera – ‘super-light’ – chairs (1957).

Taranto cathedral,
1964 > 1970
Photo Luca Massari



While Gio Ponti’s work is admired today by enlightened design enthusiasts and highly coveted by collectors it remains little known in France. Despite the big Gio Ponti exhibition held at London’s Design Museum in 2002, the situation in the UK is similar. Including some 400 items, as its title suggests, Tutto Ponti, Gio Ponti Archi-Designer at Musée des Arts Décoratifs, is a major retrospective exhibition, bridging every aspect of Ponti’s multi-faceted career, with the aim of introducing the wider public to the work of this creative genius of the Italian design scene.

All images courtesy Musée des Arts Décoratifs


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Exhibitions| Café Pop Revisited

Friday, October 5th, 2018

Snack bar at the
Spiegel Cafeteria
Verner Panton was
commissioned to
design in 1968.

Photo Bernhardi /
Spiegel Verlag, 2011



68. Pop and Protest
Museum für Kunst
& Gewerbe Hamburg
Hamburg | Germany
18 October > 17 March 2019



1968. Soviet tanks roll into Prague, Martin Luther King Jnr and Robert Kennedy are assassinated, riots explode on the streets of Paris. As Anti-Vietnam war protests burgeon in the US and civil unrest ushers in a state of emergency in Northern Ireland, Der Spiegel, the German weekly news magazine – one of Europe’s largest and most influential publications with a moral authority based on many years of vigorous investigative journalism – commissions a Pop Art cafeteria.

Fifty years on, in 2018, we’re in the midst of another era of tremendous political upheaval and uncertainty in which the central aspects of our liberal and democratic way of life – freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to democratic participation, gender and racial equality – are under threat. But whereas, currently, any prospect of hope seems absent, 1968 overflowed with it.

Colour Proof –
Red Flag, 1968,
Gerd Conradt (b 1941)
16mm film still.
© Gerd Conradt,
Mandala Vision



Twiggy, 1966,
by Ronald Traeger
© Tessa Traeger



Donna UP5 armchair
with Bambino UP6
(prototype), 1969,
designed by
Gaetano
Pesce (b 1939)

Photo © manufacturer,
Cassina & Busnelli



In the late 1960s, international protests gave impetus to emerging revolutionary ideas that it was generally felt – especially amongst the young – were capable of changing the world for the better. Critical discourse and public debate flourished and imaginative ways of rising up against conservative, authoritarian structures were developed that promoted sexual freedom and demanded equality for all. Avant-garde forms of expression in all artistic disciplines – progressive music, unconventional fashion and uninhibited design, controversial theatre, and socially critical cinema – blossomed and were all utilised as non-violent methods of bringing about change.

Che Guevara, 1968,
Gert Wiescher (b 1944)
Offset print.
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn



Orange dining room,
Spiegel Canteen,
1969, designed
by Verner Panton

Photo Bernhardi /
Spiegel Verlag, 2011



It was in this spirit of optimism and willingness to challenge accepted norms that in 1968 the Der Spiegel publishing house decided to react against the strict rigidity of the Bauhaus-style architecture of its then headquarters building by commissioning Danish designer, Verner Panton (1926 >1998), to create what turned out to be one of the most radical and unconventional interiors Germany had ever seen. The cafeteria was only part of a bigger story – though none of these survived Der Spiegel’s move to a brand new building in 2011 – Panton also designed the building’s entrance area with its courtyard and lobby, employees’ swimming pool in the basement, the editorial conference rooms and lounges, as well as the colour schemes for the hallways of the administration areas.

This year, however, having been dismantled and installed at the Museum für Kunst & Gewerbe Hamburg in 2014, Panton’s wildly-colourful cafeteria, with its harmonious geometric forms and flowing, atmospheric transitions, where world events and political scandals were mulled over, discussed and debated for almost five decades, is the centre-piece of the forthcoming exhibition 68. Pop and Protest.

All images from the exhibition, 68. Pop and Protest, courtesy Museum für Kunst & Gewerbe Hamburg


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Ceramics | The Handmade Tale

Friday, September 28th, 2018

Yoshitomo Nara,
Untitled, 2007
Glazed ceramic.
Estimate £60,000
> £80,000



Shape & Space:
New Ceramic Presence
Phillips
London | UK
Sale 5 October | 2018
Ticket-only admission.
Exhibition 28 September >
5 October 2018



Lucie Rie,
Footed bowl, 1985
Stoneware, matt
blue glaze with
golden manganese lip.
Estimate £40,000
> £60,000



Kathy Butterly,
Overgrown, 2001
Glazed earthenware,
glazed porcelain,
Estimate £12,000
> £16,000



When artist Clare Twomey’s interactive installation, Factory: the seen and the unseen, comprising a 30-metre workspace, with eight tonnes of clay, a vast area of drying racks, and over 2,000 fired clay objects, opened this time last year at Tate Modern it was seen as a sign of the times.

The carefully-curated items in Phillips’ forthcoming sale encapsulate the story of contemporary ceramics up to the present, when the medium has finally cast off its poor-relation-of-fine-art status, and is recognised as a major art form.

Many contemporary potters have chosen to preserve the customary feel and look of the 20,000-year-old craft. The influence of Picasso’s early, decorated, utilitarian pieces – he produced 633 different ceramic editions between 1947 and 1971– is apparent in Yoshitomo Nara’s 2007, Untitled plate (top), which also evokes traditional Japanese pottery. Others opted for experimental approaches and unconventional aesthetics. Phillips’ lots include Kathy Butterly’s quirky, anthropomorphic Overgrown (above), from 2001. Butterly took her cues from the revolutionary California Clay Movement’s Ken Price, whose elemental 1983 piece, Edo, also in this sale, fuses painted ceramic, maple, painted wood, and glass, but went further.

Ai Weiwei
He Xie, 2010
(Detail and
complete work).
Porcelain, in
approximately
2,300 parts.
Estimate £400,000
> £600,000



While each finely-crafted, porcelain crab in Ai Weiwei’s He Xie (Chinese for crab but also meaning ‘harmonious’), above, emotes the intimacy and human scale of the handmade, the complete piece, suggesting mass food production, mass population, and mass politics, has a more sinister undercurrent. Twomey’s Factory installation, in which the public could mould or cast jugs, teapots and flowers was inclusive and democratic, and, although it hasn’t worked out that way, Picasso’s idea was to make his work accessible and affordable.

Roy Lichtenstein
Ceramic Sculpture
#10
, 1965
Painted and
glazed ceramic.
Estimate £250,000
> £350,000



This tightly-edited auction includes an exclusive group of 31 items by 24 artists, among them, Lucio Fontana, Lucie Rie, Sarah Lucas, Hans Coper and Ron Nagle. The viewing exhibition for Shape & Space: New Ceramic Presence at Phillips is open to the public. The auction, in which lot estimates vary between £7,000 to £600,000, is a ticket-only event.

All images courtesy Phillips


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Exhibitions | Modernism Before Modernism

Friday, September 21st, 2018

Hilma af Klint, Group IV,
The Ten Largest, No 7,
Adulthood
, 1907,
from untitled series

Tempera on paper
mounted on canvas



Hilma af Klint, Group IX / SUW,
The Swan, No 17, 1915,
from the SUW/UW Series

Oil on canvas



Hilma af Klint, Group V,
The Seven-Pointed
Star, No 1
, 1908,
from The WUS / Seven-
Pointed Star Series

Tempera, gouache
and graphite on paper
mounted on canvas



Hilma af Klint:
Paintings for the Future
Guggenheim Museum
New York City | USA
12 October  >
3 February 2019
Guggenheim Museum

+

Stones to Stains:
The Drawings of Victor Hugo
Hammer Museum
Los Angeles | USA
27 September >
30 December 2018



Modernism didn’t just happen. It had a history. Full of surprises, and running more-or-less concurrently, these two exhibitions present a fascinating and provocative insight into what happened prior to the emergence of the modernism that we’re all very familiar with.

In 1906, several years before Wassily Kandinsky painted Cossacks – one of the first, widely-recognised, purely abstract works – Swedish artist Hilma af Klint had already begun to create radically abstract paintings. More than half a century earlier French poet, playwright, novelist Victor Hugo had produced a remarkable body of works on paper, which were often indicative, rather than representative of subject matter and that anticipated modernism’s diversity of approach to technique and materials.

Victor Hugo, Abstract
composition with
fingerprints
, c 1864 > 65

Brown ink and wash on paper.
© Bibliothèque
nationale de France



Victor Hugo, Planet, c 1854
Brown ink and wash
over charcoal with white
gouache on paper.
David Lachenmann Collection



Victor Hugo, Silhouette
of a castle struck by
lightning
, c 1854 > 57

Stencil cut from
card, with charcoal,
brown ink and wash.
© Bibliothèque
nationale de France



Sharing an interest in the spiritual with Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian, among other pioneering modernists, who all sought to surpass the restrictions of the physical world, af Klint was a devotee of Theosophy.

They were rarely seen in public during his lifetime but Hugo (1802 > 1885)  produced over 3,000 graphic works that vacillate between the depiction of landscapes and architecture and the rendering of abstract forms and stains. Often relinquishing composition to chance, he would soak or turn the paper, or allow the ink to pool into serendipitous shapes. He employed stencil and collage and incorporated impressions of a variety of materials such as lace, leaves and even his own fingertips. Hugo may have seen and been influenced by the work of British artist, JMW Turner (1775 > 1851), who, having concerned himself more with surface and light than subject matter, has himself been hailed as a proto-modernist.

Convinced the world wasn’t ready for them, Hilma af Klint (1862 > 1944), who left behind around 1300 non-figurative works, exhibited nothing during her lifetime and stipulated in her will that her paintings should not be shown until 20 years after her death. They were exhibited for the first time in 1986, in Los Angeles.

Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future is at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, while Stones to Stains: The Drawings of Victor Hugo will be on show at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.

Images courtesy the Guggenheim Museum and the Hammer Museum, respectively


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Art | Theaster Gates: Back to Black

Friday, September 14th, 2018

Photographs by Isaac Sutton



The Black Image Corporation

Osservatorio
Fondazione Prada
Milan | Italy
20 September > 14 January 2019



Chicago’s Mayor has called the artist, Theaster Gates, ‘…a civic treasure on a par with Chicago’s skyline and downtown museums.’ Quite an accolade for the son of a roofer whose father bequeathed him his tar kettle – a gift not lost on Gates, for whom tar has become a key element in his painting and sculpture work, as in the centre-piece of his Black Madonna exhibition, currently on show at Kunstmuseum Basel in Switzerland.

Having studied urban planning and city design, as well as religion and ceramics, Gates spent 15 years making pots, an activity through which, he says, ‘you very quickly learn how to make great things out of nothing … [and] start to learn how to shape the world.’

Gates, whose Rebuild Foundation bought up condemned buildings in the deprived, predominantly African American South Side district of Chicago and refurbished and repurposed them as community facilities: apartments, a library, workshops for artists, a black cinema – he financed each project by selling artworks made from the scrap material from the previous renovation – led Art Review to refer to him as, ‘The artist who does more outside the gallery than within.’

Photographs by Moneta Sleet Jr



Adept at turning preconceived ideas about himself and his work on their heads, for his show at Fondazione Prada Osservatorio Theaster Gates has created a time-capsule of a seminal period in black magazine publishing, within the gallery space. Having dug deep into the Johnson Publishing Company’s 4-million-strong image archive from its ground-breaking Ebony and Jet magazines, that includes photographs of positive everyday events and of the complex realities black Americans faced in the USA during the post-war years, Gates displays his emotive selection on an interactive structure. Elsewhere, furnishings and interior design elements from the company’s mid-century modern Chicago offices, known as the Ebony/Jet Building – a designated Chicago Landmark – are arranged as a comfortable environment, where visitors can browse through original copies of Ebony and Jet.

Former deputy sheriff Isaac Sutton (1923 > 1995), who photographed the first group of images above, became a staff photographer at JPC, and worked there for 42 years, developing intimate friendships with some of the most famous names in show business.

Moneta Sleet Jr (1926 > 1996), whose images appear immediately above, who began working for Ebony magazine in 1955, was the first African-American man to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1969 – for his photograph of the funeral of Martin Luther King Jr. Among many others, he photographed Muhammad Ali, Dizzy Gillespie, Stevie Wonder, and Billie Holiday.

Appropriately, The Black Image Corporation is on show at Milan’s Fondazione Prada Osservatorio, located within the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, built between 1865 and 1967, which was damaged by bombing in 1943 but is now fully restored.

Photos Moneta Sleet Jr and Isaac  Sutton, courtesy Fondazione Prada Osservatorio


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Photography | Harry Gruyaert: Fifty-Fifty

Friday, September 7th, 2018

Belgium, Antwerp. Carnival, 1992



Roots by Harry Gruyaert
Gallery Fifty One
and Fifty One Too
Antwerp | Belgium
11 September > 3 November 2018



Belgium, Antwerp. Zoo, 1975



Colour is very important to photographer Harry Gruyaert, so why is a good deal of the work in this show black and white? The truth is complex and personal.

When Gruyaert (b 1941), having studied photography and filmmaking, upped sticks, leaving his home town of Antwerp in 1962, because he found the place so dull that he couldn’t bear to be there any longer, looking for visual stimulation, he moved to Paris. Nine years later, having spent time in India, Japan, Morocco and New York – where he discovered the vibrant hues of pop art and thereafter shot exclusively in colour – he developed a morbid fascination with his native country. Deciding to return as often as he could in order to record the banality of Belgian life in all its diversity, he found to his frustration that he could only see Belgium in black and white. It was some years later, when he had become more deeply engrossed in the project, that he felt able to begin shooting in colour.

Belgium, Banneux, 1975



Belgium, Boom, 1988



Belgium, Province of Limburg, 1975



Shot between 1970 and 1992, the substantial body of photographs Gruyaert produced – humour is to be found within it but not much joy – tell the story of his relationship with the land and the people he rejected through the eye of a detached voyeur, obsessively observing all that he was no longer a part of.

Although the colour allows for more complex, painterly compositions – of which Gruyaert is a master – and the viewer is conscious of an obvious time shift towards a more affluent decade – occasionally lifting the mood – little separates the content of the colour and black and white images.

Belgium, Brussels. Palais des Beaux Arts-Museum, 1981



Gruyaert, who continues to live in Paris, and insists he is not a photojournalist, nevertheless joined Magnum Photos in 1982. In the early 1970s, while he was living in London, he produced his TV Shots, a series of photographs of distorted colour television images, resembling pop art paintings. Half documentary photographer/half fine artist, Gruyaert’s images in Roots contain as many clues to his struggle with the conflicting strands of his own creativity – contradictions to which he freely admits – and his feelings about his nationality during the 70s and 80s, as they do to the cultural identity of Belgians living in Belgium in the same period.

The monograph Harry Gruyaert was published by Thames and Hudson in 2015. Retrospective exhibitions of the photographer’s work were held at Paris’s Maison Européenne de la Photographie in 2015 and at the Fotomuseum Antwerp in 2018.

The colour images included in Roots by Harry Gruyaert (first published in book form in 2012, and recently republished), are being shown in Gallery Fifty One while, simultaneously, the black and white prints will be on view at Fifty One Too.

All photographs by Harry Gruyaert, ©Harry Gruyaert, courtesy Gallery Fifty One.
All images are archival pigment prints, printed later


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The Blog is about art, architecture, books, design, 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 made available 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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