Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Art | Jimmie Durham’s Confusing World

Friday, October 20th, 2017

Self-Portrait Pretending to
Be a Stone Statue of Myself
, 2006

Colour photograph.
Collection of fluid archives,
Karlsruhe,
Courtesy
ZKM Center for Art and
Media, Karlsruhe



Jimmie Durham:
At the Center of the World
Whitney Museum of American Art
New York City | USA
3 November 2017 > 28 January 2018



Tlunh Datsi, 1984
Puma skull, shells,
turquoise, turkey feathers,
metal, sheep and deer
fur, pine, acrylic paint.
Private collection, Belgium



Duchampian appropriation or cultural theft? No one, including the artist, evidently, seems very sure. Nevertheless, blazing an inexorable trail of controversy in its wake – the retrospective exhibition was originally shown at the Hammer Museum, in Los Angeles, before travelling to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis – Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World, is scheduled to open early next month at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.

Central to the debate is that Durham, who has been described as having ‘made a career out of being Cherokee’, and, allegedly, once claimed to be Cherokee, has no known ties to any Cherokee or other Native American community. The Native American newspaper Indian Country Today has even gone so far as to publish an editorial with the title Dear Unsuspecting Public, Jimmie Durham Is a Trickster categorically stating: ‘Durham is not a Cherokee in any legal or cultural sense… [He] has no Cherokee relatives; he does not live in or spend time in Cherokee communities; he does not participate in dances and does not belong to a ceremonial ground.’

Head, 2006
Wood, papier-mâché,
hair, seashell, turquoise,
metal tray.
Fondazione Morra Greco,
Naples, Italy.
Image courtesy
kurimanzutto, Mexico City



Sculptor, performance artist, essayist and poet, American- born, Durham (age 77), has actually been based in Europe since 1994, where, in art circles and galleries his name is spoken with great reverence and he has been honoured with solo exhibitions at many major venues including: Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin and Fondazione Querino Stampalia, Venice, (both 2015), MuHKA – Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp (2012), Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2009), Kunstverein Munich (1998), ICA, London and Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels (both 1993). On London’s Serpentine Gallery website – the exhibition Jimmie Durham: Various Items and Complaints was shown there in 2015 – the introductory write-up explains: ‘His work addresses the political and cultural forces, eg, the forces of colonialism that construct our contemporary discourses and challenges our understanding of authenticity in art.’ In the press release for their impending exhibition, the Whitney says that it does not attempt to resolve the current controversy and, more cautiously, contends that ‘Durham’s work offers a crucial perspective on the history of American art and life.’

Malinche, 1988 >1992
Guava, pine branches,
oak, snakeskin, polyester
bra soaked in acrylic
resin and painted gold,
watercolour, cactus leaf,
canvas, cotton cloth,
metal, rope, feathers,
plastic jewellery, glass eye.
Stedelijk Museum voor
Actuele Kunst (SMAK),
Ghent, Belgium
Image © SMAK/Dirk Pauwels



Starting out as an artist in Texas in the 1960s, by the 70s, Durham was heavily involved in civil rights activism in the United States for African Americans and Native Americans, and served on the central council of the American Indian Movement (AIM). After a major falling out with them, Durham turned back to art, basing himself in New York, where he achieved moderate success. Becoming disillusioned with the art market, however, he left the city in the 1980s then , after deciding that he ‘didn’t want to be a part of the American dream,’ departed the country altogether, relocating to Mexico. Having since lived and worked in Dublin, Brussels and Marseilles, he is now based between Berlin and Naples. By all accounts he hasn’t set foot in America since 1995, and, claiming that his doctor advised him against the journey, didn’t turn up for the Hammer opening.

‘There is no true history,’ says Durham in a video on the Hammer website, while the artist recently explained, albeit somewhat confusingly, to the New York Times, ‘I am perfectly willing to be called Cherokee, but I’m not a Cherokee artist or Indian artist, no more than Brancusi was a Romanian artist.’ Even more confusingly, bearing in mind the aforementioned Indian Country Today editorial, the New York Times themselves inform us, in their same article, that Durham was ‘Born to a Cherokee family in rural Arkansas’.

Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World at Whitney Museum of American Art, features around 120 works – drawings, collage, printmaking, photography, and video, from 1970 to the present.

All work by Jimmie Durham, © The artist.
All images courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art


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Photography | Albert Renger-Patzsch: Beautiful World

Friday, October 13th, 2017

Kauper, Hochofenwerk,
[Kauper, blast furnaces]
,
Herrenwyk, Lübeck, 1927
Albert Renger-Patzsch Archiv /
Stiftung Ann und Jürgen Wilde,
Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich



Albert Renger-Patzsch
Things
Jeu de Paume
Paris | France
16 October 2017
> 21 January 2018



Hände [Hands], 1926 > 1927
Collection Ann und Jürgen Wilde



Eminent photo-historian, the late Bruce Bernard’s Photodiscovery book (1980) contains useful, sometimes lengthy potted histories of the photographers whose work he decided to include. He was dogged and persistent in his research, so, as the German photographer’s entry is severely limited, it is safe to presume that when Bernard was gathering the material together almost forty years ago, little information was available on Albert Renger-Patzsch (1897 > 1966), whose work is the subject of a forthcoming retrospective at Jeu de Paume. During the intervening years, which have seen a revival of interest in the 1920s German Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) group that included George Grosz, Otto Dix and Max Beckmann, with which Renger-Patzsch was associated, and fuelled by the popularity of the work of later and contemporary photographers such as Bernd and Hilla Becher, Martin Parr and William Eggleston – who it might be said followed in the same tradition – knowledge about him has grown and examples of his oeuvre have become more accessible.

Natterkopf [Snake's head], 1925
Berinson Gallery, Berlin



Landstraße bei Essen
[Country road
near Essen], 1929
Albert Renger-Patzsch Archiv /
Stiftung Ann und Jürgen Wilde,
Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich



Renger-Patzsch took his first photographs, aged twelve, in Würzberg, Bavaria. His first job was as a chemist, then he did a stint as a photography archivist before becoming a freelance documentary and press photographer in 1925. As with the somewhat older German photographer, Karl Blossfeldt (1865 > 1932), whose work would not achieve public attention until 1928 when his book Urformen der Kunst [Art Forms in Nature] was published, Renger-Patzsch’s scientific background exerted a strong influence on his photography. In his own very influential book Die Welt ist schön [The World is Beautiful], which appeared that same year, Renger-Patzsch displayed images from both nature and industry; all shot in a clear, uncluttered style closely related to the detached and literal renderings of reality espoused by the Neue Sachlichkeit painters, whose approach reflected the resignation and cynicism of the post-World War I period in Germany.

Stapelia variegata,
Asclepiadaceae, 1923
Albert Renger-Patzsch Archiv /
Stiftung Ann und Jürgen Wilde,
Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich



Jenaer Glas (Zylindrische
Gläser) [Jena Glassworks
(Cylindrical beakers)], 1934
Museum Folkwang, Essen



The development of the photographic process itself had been the result of in-depth scientific research. Some 19th century artists would take advantage of the medium’s capacity to record details that they could employ as reference for their paintings, and a few photographers would use it for its documentary potential, but it was generally viewed as a method of creating images that resembled paintings and executed in a style that intentionally distanced it from reality and was referred to as pictorialism. In his strong belief that his subjects did not require any enhancement Renger-Patzsch rejected pictorialism and forgoing painterly techniques, such as soft focus, recorded the exact, detailed appearance of his subjects, in an attempt to discover beauty in everyday things and places, in the ordinary and the mundane. Some of his contemporaries who were working in similar areas at the time and whose approach, like Renger-Patzch’s eschewed the emotional and the spiritual in favour of the rational and sometimes political, and whose photography was a response to the rapid industrialisation of Europe and America, included Lazlo Moholy-Nagy, August Sander and Edward Weston.

From the early 1930s Renger-Patzsch taught photography, and afterwards, while working as a freelance photographer, focused on personal projects. As with his early work, his later subjects were natural and industrial: Eisen und Stahl [Iron and Steel], 1930, Bäume [Trees], 1962), and Gestein [Stones], 1966.

Albert Renger-Patzsch: Things, at Jeu de Paume, including over 150 prints, is an overview of the themes and directions, which marked the photographers’ career.

All images by Albert Renger-Patzsch, courtesy Jeu de Paume
© Albert Renger-Patzsch / Archiv Ann und Jürgen Wilde, Zülpich / ADAGP, Paris 2017


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Cinema | Antonio’s Girls & Boys on Sex Fashion & Disco

Friday, October 6th, 2017

Donna Jordan, for 20 Ans, 1970,
drawn by Antonio Lopez



Antonio Lopez, Jardin
du Luxembourg, Paris, 1971,
photographed by Juan Ramos



Antonio Lopez 1970:
Sex Fashion & Disco
Directed by James Crump
Cinema release,
12 October 2017



Carol LaBrie, for
Italian Vogue, 1971,
drawn by Antonio Lopez



Anyone who knows about fashion knows that ‘fashion illustrator’ is an inadequate description of Antonio Lopez. Born in Puerto Rico, raised in the Bronx, Lopez’s talent for drawing was more than equalled by his charismatic power to draw around him the most exciting group of individuals in the fashion world of the early 1970s and, as a liberal and progressive stylist, to exert an influence on fashion itself that remains apparent even now – according to W Magazine – in the current collections at Louis Vuitton, Saint Laurent and Kenzo.

So, that the forthcoming film documenting the social and cultural milieu in which Lopez (1943-1987) lived and worked – beginning in the tumultuous late 1960s, against a background of the Vietnam War, political assassinations in the USA and often violent international student protest, when he embarked on a quest for beauty and pleasure in the vortex of New York’s thriving and hedonistic club scene – justifiably places him centre-stage, comes as no surprise.

Nevertheless, focussed on the period Lopez spent in New York and Paris between 1969 and 1973, and set to a soundtrack of music by Donna Summer, Marvin Gaye, Isaac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield, Chic, and the Temptations, director James Crump’s Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex Fashion & Disco, featuring archive footage and original interviews with principal characters among the artist’s colourful and sometimes outrageous associates including, among others, Jessica Lange, Grace Jones, Bob Colacello, Jerry Hall, Grace Coddington, Patti D’Arbanville, Karl Lagerfeld, Juan Ramos, Bill Cunningham, Yves Saint Laurent, Joan Juliet Buck, and Michael Chow, makes some unexpected revelations.

Jerry Hall and Antonio
Lopez,
Paris, 1972,
photographed by Juan Ramos



Eija Vehka Ajo, Juan Ramos,
Jacques de Bascher,
Karl Lagerfeld and Antonio
Lopez, Paris, 1973,
*from Sex Fashion & Disco



Jessica Lange, Paris, 1974,
photographed by Antonio Lopez



For instance, it turns out that bisexual Lopez had an intimate relationship with his teenage discovery, Jerry Hall – the pair, we discover, lived together for two years, much to the consternation of Juan Ramos, Lopez’s art director and long-time partner.

It’s common knowledge that Karl Lagerfeld, became so smitten with Lopez, who had decamped with his entourage to Paris in 1969, that he lent them an apartment on Boulevard Saint-Germain. However, photographer Bill Cunningham recalls in the film that when Lopez was diagnosed with AIDS following his return to New York in the mid-70s and appealed to Lagerfeld for help, the designer deserted him. Lopez died, aged 44, in 1987 of an AIDS-related complication.

The fashion cognoscenti are aware that Antonio’s legendary drawing sessions were arranged along exactly the same lines as fashion photo shoots and were every bit as complex. Antonio’s Girls, as they were known – he talent-spotted unusual beauties such as Grace Jones, Pat Cleveland, Tina Chow, and Warhol superstars Donna Jordan, Jane Forth and Patti D’Arbanville – were the models whom he transformed into goddesses in his drawings. It might still catch some unawares to discover that Academy Award-winning actress Jessica Lange, who was amongst them, had been broke and studying mime when she met Lopez and started modelling for him in Paris.

Crump’s recent work includes, Troublemakers: The Story of Land Art unveiling the enigmatic lives and careers of artists Robert Smithson (Spiral Jetty), Walter De Maria (The Lightning Field) and Michael Heizer (Double Negative), which premiered at the 2015 New York Film Festival and at Fondazione Prada in Milan. For Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex Fashion & Disco, he was given unlimited access to the thousands of drawings, photographs, Super 8 and 16mm film and video that make up Lopez’s archive.

All images from Sex Fashion & Disco, courtesy the film’s producers. Used by permission.
All images, except *, © The Estate of Antonio Lopez and Juan Ramos, 2012


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Art | Deconstructing the Diorama

Friday, September 29th, 2017

Richard Barnes,
Man with Buffalo, 2007
Inkjet print
137.2 x 167.7cm
© Richard Barnes



Diorama
Inventing Illusion
Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
Frankfurt | Germany
6 October > 21 January 2018



Hiroshi Sugimoto,
Earliest Human Relatives, 1994
Silver gelatin print
42.3 × 54.3 cm
© The artist
Courtesy Sugimoto Studio



Contemporary artists such as Jeff Wall, Isa Genzken, and Hiroshi Sugimoto have dusted off the long redundant diorama format and updated it. Examples of their visions of how aspects of our culture can be re-staged via the revived medium, have been gathered together with that of many others, for new major exhibition in Germany highlighting the stories behind the development of this form of presentation, alongside a chronology of events that took place in parallel to it.

Mark Dion,
Paris Streetscape, 2017
Diverse materials
180 x 250 x150 cm
Courtesy Mark Dion /
Galerie in Situ
– Fabienne Leclerc, Paris.
Photo Aurélien Mole



Redolent of museum visits on rainy Sundays in our youth, their subject matter often anthropological, dioramas were intended to transport us to another time and place. The time was often hundreds, thousands or even millions of years ago; the place was conjured up in painted papier-mâché and invisibly joined to a painted backdrop. While it sometimes references the past, and employs many of the established techniques – albeit with a technological twist – the new work is imbued with irony and even humour, and the main emphasis is on the here and now.

Jean Paul Favand,
Naguère Daguerre 1, 2012
Digital light installation
with 19th Century canvas
270 x 410 cm
Musée des Arts Forains
© Jean Paul Favand
Photo Jean Mulatier



The museum scenes were invariably miniaturised and usually viewed through a peephole: turning the scale on its head, Jeff Wall places a giant-sized ageing, nude, female figure in a labyrinthine modern museum interior. In Richard BarnesMan with Buffalo, a curious buffalo approaches the set-builder. For his life-sized Paris Streetscape, Mark Dion adopts a deconstructed approach, cramming the diverse elements inside an internally illuminated glass-fronted box set on wheels.

Jeff Wall, The Giant, 1992
Lightbox with transparent
photography
39 x 48 x 13 cm,
Private collection
© Jeff Wall



Jean Paul Favand’s Naguère Daguerre (2012), which relies on two restored canvases from a nineteenth-century mechanical theatre references Louis Daguerre – inventor of the daguerreotype photographic process in the 1830s, and one of the fathers of photography – who was involved, in the early 1820s, in developing the first diorama theatre as a walk-in, optical-mechanical playhouse in Paris.

Diorama Inventing Illusion at Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt is the first comprehensive examination of the diorama.

All images courtesy Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt


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Books | Futura: Functional and Devoid of Doodahs

Friday, September 22nd, 2017

Entrance to the German
exhibit at the 5th Milan
Triennale
in 1933

From the magazine Die Form



Futura: The Typeface
By Petra Eisele, Annette
Ludwig and Isabel Naegele

Laurence King Publishing
Hardback
520 pp / 500 illustrations
October 2017



László Moholy-Nagy (cover),
Foto-Qualität: Zeitschrift
für Ware und
Werbung, 1931
Bauhaus Archive,
Museum of Design Berlin



2017 is the 90th anniversary of Futura, which, in 1969, became the first typeface to land on the moon.

Based on the geometric forms that became synonymous with Bauhaus design, German designer Paul Renner ’s Futura typeface was released in 1927 by the Bauer Type Foundry. Loved and hated by the Nazis, it would succeed where they failed in conquering Europe and indeed the rest of the world. A favourite of Lazlo Moholy-Nagy and Jan Tschichold, Futura was adopted by French poster designer Jean Carlu during the interwar period. In American Paul Rand liked that it was ‘functional and devoid of doodahs and ringlets’, while some years later, Futura Extra Bold became, reputedly, film director Stanley Kubrick’s favourite typeface. For the logo of their 2017 joint venture menswear label, Jijibaba, furniture designer Jasper Morrison and Jaime Hayon chose to use Futura.

The highly influential Futurist Manifesto was published in 1909, but the movement quickly lost impetus and was displaced by its competing isms – cubism and later surrealism. Futurism’s namesake, Futura, however, one of a host of experimental sans serif types being developed in the early 20th century, cut a swathe through its rivals – in particular Erbar – to become established as the predominant typeface family of the period.

Invitation to a book-burning
event in Königsplatz, Munich, 1933

Münchner Stadtmuseum



Advertising leaflet for
Foto-Auge: 75 Fotos der Zeit,
collected by Franz Roh
and Jan Tschichold.
F Wedekind, Stuttgart, 1929.
Photomontage: El Lissitzky
Freese collection,
Frankfurt am Main



When, in 1933, the National Socialists seized power in Germany, Paul Renner (1878 > 1956) was director of the national printing school in Munich. He had decided to restrict the German exhibit for the fifth Milan Triennale to the country’s graphic design and to contribute his own slideshow illustrating the historical progression of letterforms by juxtaposing them against other arts from the same period. Renner was increasingly harassed by the Nazi authorities, who seized some of the material he was working on, featuring examples of photomontage, which they regarded as ‘Russian propaganda against Germany’. They complained specifically that there was an imbalance in favour of roman type over the Gothic script that was becoming a key feature of Nazi propaganda. Renner was arrested, then released, there being no evidence that he was affiliated with the Communist Party. To solve their dilemma the authorities suggested a stylistic link between his typeface Futura and the forms of the New Architecture, which they maintained had Russian associations. Renner’s renunciation of the traditional forms of gothic type in Futura was therefore deemed anti-German. He was subsequently dismissed from his position the following year. Interestingly, in the year that they shut down the Bauhaus, the Nazis hadn’t been deterred from using Futura for an invitation to a 1933 book-burning event in Munich. The official plaques commemorating the winners at the 1936 Olympics stadium in Berlin, as well as many of the Reich’s propaganda publications were also in Futura.

Applications of Futura:
portfolio of commercial
jobs from c1953/54

Klingspor Museum
Offenbach am Main



Bradbury Thompson:
Alphabet as Image,
1948
Credit T/C



When the future cried out for a radical new font, paradoxically, Paul Renner had looked to the past for ideas. He described the Roman square capitals as the prime inspiration and basis for determining the forms of Futura, his first sketches of which were shown in 1924. These experimental drawings contained unusual, sometimes eccentric, characters, but the typeface was revised again and again until Renner was satisfied that it was an ‘exact precise and impersonal typeface of our time’. Renner’s design for the stencil font, Futura Black, was released in 1929, then between 1930/31 and 1950 an entire spectrum of weights and styles were added to the typeface family, making it suitable for any possible use, including future flights to the moon.

Laurence King Publishing’s lavishly-illustrated and beautifully-produced forthcoming book, Futura: The Typeface, includes expert essays by Steven Heller, Erik Spiekermann and Christopher Burke.

All images courtesy Laurence King Publishing


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Art | Figuring Out French Painting 1900 > 1950

Friday, September 15th, 2017

Serge Ivanoff, Portrait de femme
Oil on canvas
Estimate €7,000 > €10,000



Another 20th Century:
Arts of Figuration 1900 > 1950
Christie’s
Paris | France
Exhibition 15 > 19 September 2017
Sale 19 September 2017



André Devambez, La place publique
Gouache on cardboard
Estimate €2,000 > €3,000



During the first half of the 20th century, representational painting was for the most part sidelined in favour of the ‘modern’ abstract art that came to dominate France and the rest of the world. In Paris, which since the 19th century had been the epi-centre of the global art scene, aside from the surrealists and a few notable exceptions, such as Balthus and André Derain, the work of figurative artists disappeared almost entirely from view. It would be a serious oversight, however – as the work coming up for sale in this forthcoming auction amply demonstrates – to believe that representational portraits, still life and landscape painting had ceased to be produced.

Henri Deluermoz,
Homme retenant un cheval
Oil on canvas
Estimate €7,000 > €12,000



Ferdinand Loyen du Puigaudeau,
Champ de coquelicots
Oil on canvas
Estimate €8,000 > €10,000



Even when, in the 1980s, international interest in figurative art was reignited, the majority of these earlier artists remained obscure. Many of the most talented and foremost among these, such as André Devambez, Henri Deluermoz, Raphaël Delorme, Bernard Boutet de Monvel, Ferdinand Loyen du Puigaudeau, and Russian emigré Serge Ivanoff, are still largely unknown outside of France, so much so that Christie’s have not gone to the trouble of issuing an English-language version of the catalogue. Nevertheless, their work is worthy of international interest.

Well-known in France as a children’s book illustrator, André Devambez (1867 > 1944) was a professor at the School of Fine Arts in Paris. He was appointed as an official painter for the French Air Ministry in 1929; plunging views and wild perspectives of scenes swarming with Lilliputian figures, are typical characteristics of his work.

Henri Deluermoz (1876 > 1943?) was a much-respected and highly gifted animal painter, who exhibited at the Salon from 1909, and also produced tapestries and illustration, while portraitist, Serge Ivanoff (1893 > 1983) left his native Russia for Paris in 1922 and, from 1930, travelled the world working for the French weekly newspaper, L’illustration.

Raphaël Delorme, Répétition
Oil on canvas
Estimate €15,000 > €20,000



It’s obvious from looking at his paintings that Raphaël Delorme (1890 > 1962) had a strong connection with the theatre. Trained as a set designer in Bordeaux, his interest in architecture and enhanced perspectives is instantly apparent in his orderly, and skilfully constructed neo-classicist paintings that, nevertheless emote an underlying humour and have a distinctive, modern edge.

A later associate of Edgar Degas, Ferdinand Loyen du Puigaudeau (1864 > 1930) had formed a friendship with Paul Gaugin at Pont Aven, and afterwards concentrated on transcribing the effects of nocturnal artificial lighting: from candles to fireworks, to lanterns. After a stay in Venice in 1904 > 1905, he devoted himself to the radiations of the sun and the moon and the luminous effects of colour.

Bernard Boutet de Monvel,
Les Rochers
Oil on canvas
Estimate €8,000 > €10,000



Ardent traveller and dandy, Bernard Boutet de Monvel (1881 > 1949), exhibited as early as 1903 in the main French Salons, before settling in Fez (Morocco) in 1917, where, from his terrace, he painted numerous views of the city rendered as compositions of rigorous geometric shapes. He was in New York at the time of the 1929 stock market crash, where he had been making a living as a society portraitist, but, when the commissions dried up, took to painting the skyscrapers of Manhattan, in abstract compositions as well as photographic realism. Produced around 1922, Les Rochers, which features in Another 20th Century: Arts of Figuration 1900 > 1950 at Christie’s, is a study of the Adrar des Ifoghas and was used to illustrate the book The First Crossing of the Sahara (1923).

All images Christie’s Images Limited 2017, courtesy Christie’s


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Exhibitions | Olivia Locher Fights Back

Friday, September 8th, 2017

I Fought the Law (Ohio), 2014
In Ohio it’s illegal to disrobe in front of a man’s portrait



Olivia Locher: I Fought the Law
Steven Kasher Gallery
New York City | USA
14 September > 21 October 2017



I Fought the Law (Nevada), 2016
In Nevada it’s illegal to put an American flag on a bar of soap



While it may seem reasonable for Massachusetts to impose a ban on upskirt photos or for a man to be seen to be sexually aroused in public, why has a small town in Texas barred children from wearing unusual haircuts? Why is riding a bike in a swimming pool illegal in California? And, why is it against the law in Kansas to serve wine in teacups?

I Fought the Law (Kentucky), 2016
In Kentucky it’s illegal for anyone to lick a toad



I Fought the Law (Pennsylvania), 2015
In Pennsylvania it’s illegal to tie a dollar bill to a string
and pull it away when someone tries to pick it up



Artist Olivia Locher, who scoured the statute books of all 50 states in America, discovering these peculiar eccentricities and many others, doesn’t have the answers to these questions, but has created a series of striking photographic images lampooning some of the hundreds of decisions, big and small, made every year by local and state lawmakers.

I Fought the Law (Hawaii), 2015
In Hawaii one isn’t allowed to place coins in one’s ears



But Locher, whose work has been exhibited internationally, including at Aperture Foundation / New York, Le Dictateur / Milan, and Fashion Space Gallery / London, and has appeared in numerous magazines such as the New York Times Magazine, W, Neon, and Interview hasn’t just done it for fun; sometimes confrontational, often amusing, her photographs are intended to raise serious points about politics and social conventions.

Olivia Locher: I Fought the Law at Steven Kasher Gallery is the artist’s first New York solo exhibition and marks the publication of her first monograph which bears the same title (Chronicle Books, September 2017).

All images by Olivia Locher, courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery, New York.


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Art, Books, Design, Etc… | See You in September!

Friday, August 4th, 2017

Ferry Journey,
Procida > Naples,
2017
iPhone image
© Pedro Silmon 2017



The Blog
August Break
See You in September!



In the meantime, you might enjoy taking a second look at some of the 350+ topical posts, about art, architecture, books, photography, etc that we’ve published since 2009. Just click on a particular month in our Archive (left), or select one of the Categories (below left)

Photo courtesy Pedro Silmon


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Art | Derain, Balthus, Giacometti: A Reality Check

Friday, July 28th, 2017

King of the Cats, 1935, Balthus
Oil on canvas.
Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts
de Lausanne, Suisse.
Gift of la Fondation Balthus
Klossowski de Rola, 2016.
© Balthus © Nora Rupp,
Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts
de Lausanne, Suisse



Derain, Balthus, Giacometti:
An Artistic Friendship
Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris
Paris | France
Until 29 October 2017



Self-portrait, 1920,
Alberto Giacometti

Oil on canvas.
Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel.
Photo Robert Bayer / Beyeler Collection,
© Succession Alberto Giacometti
(Fondation Alberto et Annette
Giacometti, Paris & ADAGP, Paris), 2017



It’s really worthwhile travelling to mainland European cities to see exhibitions such as this one. They don’t usually travel, and at first sight, they might appear parochial but they provide an insight into the lesser-known aspects of the development of modern art, and are of enormous significance when looked at in a broader context.

The rather benign title belies the fascinating story of how much more than ‘friendship’ bound, André Derain (1880 > 1954), Balthus (1908 > 2001) and Alberto Giacometti (1901 > 1966) together. Having developed their talents independently, as artists in 1930s Paris they discovered a shared passion for the realism of the present, but also for figurative tradition, that would inform the work they produced throughout their careers and exert a long-lasting influence on artists outside of France from the 30s right up to the present.

André Derain, born near Paris and the eldest of the trio, is reputed to have been involved with Henri Matisse and Maurice Vlaminck, in the development of Fauvism. Having seen the Negro Sculpture exhibition in London in 1920, Derain was one of the first artists to begin collecting African tribal art and probably inspired Picasso and Braque to introduce primitive elements to Cubism. By the 1920s, however, he had put aside his own pre-war experimentation and, working in a style that reflected his admiration for the Old Masters, was bent on trying to depict modern life more realistically, while imbuing it with symbolic meaning, by using voluptuous colour, poetic allusions and visual wit. In the process, he drew respect from a younger generation of artists that would include Balthus, who he first met in 1933, and Giacometti.

Of Polish aristocratic descent, Balthasar Klossowski, who became known by his childhood nickname ‘Balthus’ (in later life he preferred to be referred to as the Count de Rola) was born in Paris. Typically uncompromising, in a 1998 interview with Le Figaro, a few years before his death, Balthus, described how ‘False art lovers, speculators, buy what they cannot understand…’ and that, ‘This phenomenon has favoured the emergence of the dictatorship of non-figurative art, to which the no less repulsive Expressionist, Surrealist and Minimalist dictatorships are opposed, all making equal promises of unpleasant rebirths… When I paint,’ he told the newspaper’s readers, ‘I don’t seek to express myself but the world.’

Balthus’s cultured upbringing, between France and Switzerland and travels in Germany, brought him into contact with well-known writers and also with the Symbolist painter Pierre Bonnard, whose paintings, along with those of the Renaissance artists, Piero della Francesca, Ucello and Masaccio that he studied in Italy, would significantly influence the work he would go on to produce himself. The series of paintings of scenes of daily indoor and outdoor life, and portraits that first established his reputation as an artist in Paris, contained elements of the fantastic realism practiced by the German Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) artists George Grosz, Otto Dix and Max Beckman, but also revealed a strong appreciation for the values of the Parisian Forces Nouvelles group, which, like Derain, eschewed abstraction and the surrealist tendencies sweeping through Paris in favour of the revival of draughtsmanship and realism.

The Artist and his Family,
1920-21, André Derain

Oil on canvas.
Collection particulière,
© Ted Dillard.
Photo © ADAGP, Paris 2017



Alberto Giacometti’s father, Giovanni was a respected impressionist painter, however symbolist painting would exert a strong influence on the work Alberto began to produce as an adolescent in Switzerland. Having begun studying in Paris in 1922, he would fall under the influence of Fernand Léger. In 1928, having become enveloped by his interest in African and Oceanic artefacts, he embarked on a series of sculptures of women and flat heads. Inspired by the death of his father – his dramatic Head-Skull of 1934 showed strong African and Oceanic influences.

Derain, Balthus and Giacometti moved in Paris’s Surrealist circles (only Giacometti joined the Surrealist group – in 1931: he was expelled in 1935), rubbing shoulders on the city’s Left Bank with the likes of Jean Cocteau and Albert Camus. In 1933, André Breton visited Balthus’ studio but was disappointed by the naturalism in the work he saw. However, the following year, when Balthus had his first Paris show at Pierre Loeb’s eponymous Galerie Pierre, Breton could not remain indifferent to the power of the erotic scenes that Balthus had painted (La Toilette de Cathy was shown behind a curtain at the rear of the gallery) and, while accepting their differences, recognised the formidable strength of Balthus’s artistic spirit and values. It was a watershed moment. Derain and Giacometti had also attended the show, the success of which, along with the recognition it generated served to cement their friendship with Balthus, and to underscore the trio’s conviction to forge ahead with their exploration of realism. Giacometti was especially affected; his African and Oceanic style was soon displaced by a more traditional and realistic approach that would remain present even in the haunted figures of his post World War II works.

Mainly focused on the years 1930 to 1960, Derain, Balthus, Giacometti: An Artistic Friendship at Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris includes 350 works (paintings, sculptures, works on paper and photographs) testifying to the dense criss-crossing of ideas that passed between the three.

All images courtesy Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris


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Exhibition | 1937: Munich’s Degenerate Summer

Friday, July 21st, 2017

Exhibition view,
Entartete Kunst,
Munich, 1937

Stadtarchiv München



Munich, Summer 1937.
The ‘Great German Art Exhibition’
and ‘Degenerate Art’
Haus der Kunst
Munich | Germany
Until 4 September 2017



Exhibition view,
Große Deutsche
Kunstausstellung,
Munich, 1937
Stadtarchiv München



In the summer of 1937, when the Haus der Deutschen Kunst (The House of German Art), opened in Munich – Adolph Hitler’s chosen capital of German culture – over 735,000 sightseers came to the city. As the first representative monumental building of the ‘Third Reich’, the building was intended to play a central role in the Führer’s political vision. Aware of the importance of making big statements to maximise impact, Hitler chose Paul Ludwig Troost, who specialised in building ocean liners, to design it. Impressed, lulled into false calm by Nazi propaganda – the extreme political aggression and murderous racism of the regime having not yet manifested itself – visitors also flocked to see, and to have themselves photographed, alongside other architectural projects such the classical Königsplatz, which Troost had redeveloped as a National Socialist parade ground.

Its name simplified, the Haus der Kunst – which for ten years after the war ended was commandeered for use as a US Army casino, and afterwards played host to a motley array of exhibitions – re-opened in 1990 as a museum of modern art. With no permanent collection of its own, it has been a leading international centre devoted to diversity in contemporary art since 2003.

Mel Bochner’s
The Joys of Yiddish,
Haus der Kunst, 2013,
installation view
Photo Wilfried Petzi



Exhibition view,
Große Deutsche
Kunstausstellung
,
Munich, 1937

Stadtarchiv München



In stark contrast, Entartete Kunst (Degenerate Art) – the museum’s inaugural exhibition – was part of a propagandist stunt carefully orchestrated by Joseph Goebbels. Consisting of seized modernist works from the collections of 32 German museums, and literally thrown together in such a way as to make the art look worthless, it opened the day before another well-planned and carefully laid out exhibition, the Grosse Deutsche Kunstausstellung (The Great German Art Exhibition) was launched at the adjacent, historic Hofgarten Gallery.

The idea of staging the Entartete Kunst exhibition in this way was not just to mock modern art, but also to encourage the public to view it as part of an evil plot against the German people. Although only six of the 112 artists featured in it were Jewish, the Nazis claimed that modern art was the product of Jews and Bolsheviks. One display of entirely abstract paintings, was labelled ‘the insanity room’. While Entartete Kunst included works by internationally recognised painters, such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Oskar Kokoschka, alongside others by famous German artists of the time such as Max Beckmann, and the expressionists, Emil Nolde and Georg Grosz, the Grosse Deutsche Kunstausstellung showed regime-approved paintings and sculptures of statuesque nudes, idealised soldiers and romantic landscapes.

Legalising the previous year’s seizures – each having been alphabetically indexed by the Propaganda Ministry – the Law on Confiscation of Products of Degenerate Art would be passed in 1938. Some of the expropriated works were sold at auction in Switzerland; others were disposed of through private dealers, while around 5,000 items were secretly burned in Berlin the following year: a phenomenal loss to 20th century art.

Ironically, while many of the amateur snaps and films included in this archive-based exhibition at the Haus der Kunst would have today’s visitor believe it was a season of idyllic pleasures, Munich, Summer 1937 documents a nightmarish, cultural disaster.

All images courtesy Haus der Kunst


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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 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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