Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Exhibitions | Exploring Bally

Thursday, March 7th, 2019

Bernard Villemot, 
Bally
– La mappemonde, 1988



Bally – Swiss Shoes Since 1851
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich
Zürich | Switzerland
14 March > 11 August 2019



Thomas Cugini,
fashion photography
SS 1970, 1970



In 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tensing Norgay conquered Everest in Bally boots. Synonymous with functionality, modernity and refined design, Bally’s finely-crafted, high-traction hiking boot is now commonly seen walking city streets.

The international luxury goods brand was founded as a shoe manufacturer in a small Swiss village in 1851. Now based in Milan, but still with shoes at its core, Bally creates two new collections per year that include women’s and men’s bags and accessories, as well as women’s ready-to-wear fashion. Championing exploration, discovery, and sport, its expanding range includes military and sports shoes.

Bally ski boot, 1930s



Pioneering from the beginning: despite resistance from the local shoemakers’ guild, Carl Franz Bally organised his company’s shoe production along industrial lines. He was a progressive employer, who, with remarkable foresight realised that his factory workers would be happier (and healthier) with comfortable conditions and access to decent food. The canteen Bally established for them in 1879, was replaced in 1915 by The Kosthaus. Set in parkland, it was an early commission for Karl Moser, who would later be hailed as one of the fathers of Swiss modernism. It included a large dining room, rooms that could be rented and showers for use by Bally employees, who nicknamed it the Parkhotel.

The Subtle Art of
Shoe Caring,
Bally booklet, 2014



Bernard Villemot,
Bally, 1979



Bally opened its first shop in Geneva in the early 1870s. One in Buenos Aires soon followed, as well as others in Paris and London. More recently, in the 1980s, Bally was one of the first to establish an outlet in post-reform China. Its forward-thinking and modern aesthetic – reflected strongly in its graphics, as well as in its shop interiors – has continued to play a key role in its development and in the way the company presents itself. Its London flagship store was designed by David Chipperfield Architects in 2014.

Bally, Scribe
campaign,
AW 2018
Photo Maurizio
Bavutti, 2018


In addition to many examples of advertising and print material, Bally – Swiss Shoes Since 1851 at Museum für Gestaltung Zürich presents a cross-section of the whole range of Bally shoes from different eras. It will start out by featuring pieces from the spring/summer 2019 collections and later update the display with others from the new autumn/winter collection.

All images courtesy Museum für Gestaltung Zürich © Bally Schuhfabriken AG


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Books | On The Isokon

Monday, February 25th, 2019

Lawn Road Flats, 1955
Courtesy University
of East Anglia,
Pritchard Papers



Isokon and the
Bauhaus in Britain

By Leyla Daybelge
& Magnus Englund
240 pp hardback,
over 160 illustrations.
Published by Batsford,
7 March 2019



Despite their sensitivity towards the plight of the three prominent Bauhäusler fugitives from Hitler’s Nazi regime – when they turned up on their doorstep, at their invitation – Jack and Molly Pritchard must have felt extremely fortunate.

Modernism – and socialism – had been already thriving in London’s Hampstead, when, in 1929, the Pritchards bought a large plot of land in the leafy, then very reasonably-priced suburb. Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Ben Nicholson were living and working close by in the purpose-built Mall Studios and were friends with the aspiring young architect, Wells Coates. The Bauhaus building in Dessau had been completed in 1926 and in 1931, Jack and Coates went to visit it with Serge Chermayeff. Soon after, the Pritchards, commissioned Coates, whose concept for the project would be very much inspired by the co-operative philosophy of the Bauhaus community, to design Lawn Road Flats; an experimental social housing project for middle-class professionals that would be better-known later at the Isokon building. Construction finished just in time for former Bauhaus director, Walter Gropius’s arrival in 1934 when he and his wife immediately moved in.

Jack & Molly in 1928
Courtesy Pritchard
Family Archive



Launch of Lawn
Road Flats in 1934



Marcel Breuer, left,
and Ise and Walter
Gropius, celebrate
Lawn Road Flats’ first
birthday in 1935
Courtesy of University
of East Anglia,
Pritchard Papers



As the English Heritage plaque on the Isokon building unveiled last year reveals, London, as it turned out, having been only a staging post in their journey before each travelled on to the USA, Gropius lived there until 1936; Marcel Breuer, who arrived in 1935, left in 1937, and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, enjoyed a brief stay in 1935. The length of the Bauhäuslers’ residence wasn’t important, however; their presence was enough to indicate their approval of the building, immediately giving it iconic status. It also served to establish Britain as an important centre for European modernism. Sadly, Jack Pritchard’s attempts to launch three more, similar schemes in Manchester, Birmingham and Windsor, for which Walter Gropius and Maxwell Fry were to be the architects, failed. Meanwhile, both Gropius and Moholy-Nagy seriously considered setting up an English Bauhaus and, in 1935, Gropius applied for the role of Principal of the Royal College of Art but didn’t to get the appointment. Nevertheless, the models that had been established at Dessau were later widely adopted by British art schools. Breuer’s furniture design work and Moholy-Nagy’s projects – from graphic design to retail and film – with a range of prestigious UK clients, enriched the visual landscape and design vocabulary of 1930s Britain.

The Pritchards’
Penthouse flat,
photographed in
2016, furnished
with Isokon designs

Photo courtesy
TheModernHouse.com



Isokon Furniture
Company logo, left,
designed by László
Moholy-Nagy in 1936.
Aluminium Long
Chair, 1933, designed
by Marcel Breuer
for Swiss company
Embru; the direct
inspiration for the
plywood Isokon
Long Chair



Anyone who was lucky enough to be invited to dinner, or just for a drink, in the Isokon’s Breuer-designed Isobar during the mid-30s could easily have rubbed shoulders with the Bauhäuslers, with Hepworth, Moore, Nicholson or Naum Gabo, as well as with visitors from abroad such as Le Corbusier, Charlotte Perriand and Alvar Aalto. Berthold Lubetkin, Erno Goldfinger and Erich Mendelssohn hung out there, as did Nikolaus Pevsner and Agatha Christie. Later, after the 1938 Kristallnacht pogrom, and the Anschluss in Austria, another former Bauhaus director Mies van der Rohe and former Bauhaus master, Paul Klee, might also have been found at the Isobar, along with Piet Mondrian, who lived in Hampstead from 1938 to 1941. True to the area’s socialist associations, it was also estimated that a total of 32 people involved with Soviet espionage lived in the building, or around Lawn Road, during the 1930s and early 1940s.

In July 1955, when Jack and Molly Pritchard celebrated the Lawn Road Flats’ 21st birthday, their guests included designers Robin and Lucienne Day and architects Alison and Peter Smithson. Reyner Banham was there too, as well as retailer Anthony Heal. Wells Coates, who was now teaching at Harvard, travelled back to attend the event.

The building began its decline in the 1960s after the ageing Pritchards sold it. Until recently, Magnus Englund lived in what was their Isokon penthouse. Englund, one of the founders of the interior design company, Skandium, has championed the building’s revival. He and Leyla Daybelge, former Head of Press for Contemporary and Design at Sotheby’s, who currently writes for the Daily Telegraph, co-authored the forthcoming publication. Jam-packed with fascinating and often unexpected detail – the entire building was painted dark brown during the Blitz to prevent the Luftwaffe from using it as a navigation landmark – the book contains over 160 images encompassing the history of the building’s design as well as the sex, death and espionage that are all part of its dramatic story.

The book has a pale pink cover, which, because most people think that the building is brilliant white, may come as a surprise. In fact, Wells Coates original, 1934 paint specification was 1/8th pink and has been strictly adhered to in the renovation.

Batsford’s Isokon and the Bauhaus in Britain features anecdotes by Zeev Aram, whose gallery is hosting an accompanying exhibition with the same title from 7 > 30 March.

All images courtesy Pavilion Books




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Art | Djurberg & Berg’s Stop-motion Journey

Friday, February 8th, 2019

We Are Not Two
We Are One
, 2008

Stop-motion animation
video + music, 5:33 mins



Djurberg & Berg
A Journey Through
Mud and Confusion with
Small Glimpses of Air

Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
Frankfurt | Germany
28 February > 26 May 2019



Its-the-Mother, 2008
Stop-motion animation
video + music, 6:00 mins



In the 1950s, American artist, Robert Breer, invited the ageing Marcel Duchamp (1887 > 1968) to his Paris studio. Duchamp’s first reaction to the abstract, animated films Breer showed him was, ‘Very nice, but don’t you think they’re a bit too fast?’

Swedish Contemporary artist Nathalie Djurberg uses the same stop-motion technique as Breer (1926 > 2011). Slow and incredibly laborious, it involves the production of multiple still images that, when run together, create the illusion of movement. But, while Breer’s objective was the least possible feeling of continuity, Djurberg produces dreamlike realities that have the appearance of live-action movies.

The Experiment at
Moderna Museet 2018,
installation view
Photo Åsa Lundén /
Moderna Museet



Djurberg first became known as an artist/filmmaker in 2003. She met fellow-Swede and experimental sound producer Hans Berg the following year; they have since worked together as a duo. Berg’s soundscapes add their own dimension to the intense scenes which Djurberg conjures up, constructs, lights and photographs.

As a student at Malmö Academy, which had no animation course, Djurberg went through a period during which she started to play around with photographing her sculptures and began to question whether what she was producing was art. Her overwhelming compulsion to make it for its own sake would provide the impetus for her to proceed. Sensitive and thoughtful, despite the erotic – even pornographic – content of some of the pair’s work, Djurberg insists that she is non-confrontational; her dearest wish is not to provoke. She relates strongly to the characters she creates, who, ‘may express different characteristics, and oscillate between different emotional states, but are all the same person’.

Dark-Side-of-the-Moon, 2017
Stop-motion animation
video + music, 6:40 mins



Open Window, 2011
Stop-motion animation

video + music, 5:54 mins



By contrast, cool and unemotional, Berg comes across as a total geek. His music is not a post-production addition, however; it is made simultaneously with Djurberg’s creation of sets and her sculptural figures, and with the animation process. Berg also composes techno music, which he performs in live concerts. The techno music, he says, intermingles with his film and animation work and vice-versa. He loves the idea of fusing the two, which he sees as an entirely new approach to creativity.

While, in visual terms, Djurberg and Berg’s creations may have something in common with British animator Nick Park’s stop-motion films featuring Wallis & Gromit, they form part of the multi-faceted genre of kinetic art that includes works as diverse as Alexander Calder’s Mobiles and Bridget Riley’s op-art, as well as Breer’s films. Marcel Duchamp’s Bicycle Wheel (1913) sculpture – the first fine art that moved – was almost certainly influenced by early cinema.

A Journey Through Mud and Confusion with Small Glimpses of Air – the title is Djurberg’s description of her and Berg’s journey so far – at Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt was first shown in 2018 at Moderna Museet, Stockholm. The exhibition includes some forty video and sound works from the past two decades. Early works such as My Name is Mud (2003) and Tiger Licking Girl’s Butt (2004) will be screened alongside large-format installations, including The Parade (2011), The Potato (2008) and The Experiment (2009). Their more recent productions: One Need Not Be a House, The Brain Has Corridors (2018) and Dark Side of the Moon (2017), will be on show together with numerous sculptures and the duo’s first virtual-reality work It Will End in Stars (2018).

All works by Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg.
All images © Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018


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Exhibitions | Perfecting Warhol

Friday, February 1st, 2019

Candy Spelling, 1985,
photographed
at The Factory
Polaroid



Andy Warhol at Casa Perfect
Casa Perfect
Los Angeles | USA
15 February > 22 March



Edie & Kipp
Film still



The Couch
Film still



We feel very honoured. Casa Perfect – which, in our ignorance, The Blog had never heard of, but which somehow has heard of us – has kindly sent us an invitation to a private cocktail party celebrating its first fine art installation, during Frieze Los Angeles, when it is hosting a selling exhibition of ‘never-before-seen’ photographs and films made by Andy Warhol.

Photography was central to Warhol’s oeuvre. In the early 1960s, he began appropriating images of Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy, Marlon Brando, and Elvis Presley. Enticingly, Casa Perfect is located at Presley’s former home – he lived there for six years at the height of his career – in an exclusive area of Beverly Hills. The mid-century property recently became the LA outpost of David Alhadeff’s painstakingly-curated, contemporary furniture and interior accessories outlet, The Future Perfect.

Diana Vreeland, 1983,
photographed
in her infamous red
living room at her
5th Ave apartment
Polaroid



Crosses, 1982,
photographed at
The Factory and
used as source
material to create
prints and paintings
Polaroid



Alhadeff, who founded his company in 2003, and who also has galleries in New York and San Francisco, thinks that shopping has become a chore. Casa Perfect, where visitors are welcome strictly by appointment only, presents gallery-like vignettes in a residential setting. Alhadeff says that it is his way of providing clients with a more intimate, personal experience with important, collectable design and of ‘reawakening the excitement of discovering the new’.

It’s perhaps something of a paradox, however, that Alhadeff, whose business prides itself in presenting short-run, often handmade pieces by named designers – items that are out of reach to the vast majority of people – has chosen to exhibit Andy Warhol’s work at Casa Perfect. Despite the artist’s fixation with wealth, money and fame, he probably did more to democratise art than any artist before him. He was strongly opposed to the noble ideals of the 19th-century British Arts and Crafts movement that espoused a return to craftsmanship and rejected the Industrial Revolution. Famously embracing mass-production, Warhol once declared that he wanted to be a machine.

Lou Reed
Film still




Archie & George
Film still



Andy Warhol at Casa Perfect, featuring images of, among others, Jane Fonda, Lana Turner, Tina Chow, Candy Spelling, Diana Vreeland and Lou Reed, will include photo-booth strips, silver gelatin prints and short films. Apologies: the company refuses to share the prices of its exhibits, and there is no available online link to the show for us to post for you.

All images by Andy Warhol, from the James Hedges Foundation, courtesy Casa Perfect


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Photography | Ray K Metzker in Contrast

Friday, January 11th, 2019

Early Philadelphia, 1962



Ray K Metzker:
Black & Light
Howard Greenberg Gallery
New York City | USA
> 2 March 2019



Chicago – Loop, 1958



If there’s a spectral force lurking at the point where darkness and light bang up against one another, Ray K Metzker (1931 > 2014) captured it with his camera, bottled it and used it sparingly to imbue his starkly contrasty images with powerful sculptural form and tantalising depth.

But there was nothing ethereal about his approach. A pragmatist, who was intent on conveying the complex realities of modern, urban life, Metzker met his subject matter head-on, creating virtuoso compositions in which architecture, objects and the human form are afforded parity.

City Whispers, 1982



Pictus Interruptus, 1979



Early Philadelphia, 1963



Metzker studied photography in the late 1950s at Chicago’s Institute of Design under Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind. When he began his career as a photographer, he rejected abstract expressionism and its preoccupation with feelings, which had dominated art in America for more than a decade, and embraced the objectivity of the emergent minimal art.

Innovative and experimental, in his later work, Metzker created images from assemblages of printed film strips; he cropped and collaged details of his own photographs to create unique and powerful new images, and he waved flimsy pieces of paper in front of his camera lens to produce random effects.

Early Philadelphia, 1969



Metzker had his first solo exhibition at MoMA in 1967. During his 60-year career as a photographer, he had more than 50 solo exhibitions at major museums around the world.

Ray K Metzker: Black & Light at Howard Greenberg Gallery features the photographer’s early street photography from Chicago in the 1950s and Philadelphia in the 1960s. It also includes images from his 1960 > 61 European excursion, photographs from the series Pictus Interruptus from 1976 >1980, from his early 1980s series City Whispers, as well as examples of his collage series Whimsy and Arrestation.

All photographs © Estate of Ray K Metzker, courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York. All prints are gelatin silver prints


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Exhibitions | When the Bauhaus went Dutch

Friday, January 4th, 2019

Theo van Doesburg,
Grundbegriffe der neuen
gestaltenden Kunst,
part 6, Bauhausbücher
series. Design
Theo
van Doesburg, 1925

Private collection,
with thanks to DerdaBerli



Netherlands ⇄ Bauhaus
– Pioneers of a New World
Museum Boijmans
Van Beuningen
Rotterdam | Netherlands
9 February > 26 May 2019



Postcard of the
Bauhaus in Weimar,
appended and graffitied
by Theo van Doesburg
with the message
‘before the collapse,
bombed by n’dimensional
style artillery.’

September 1921



The postcard, above, expresses explicit intent. Sent by feisty Dutchman, Theo Van Doesburg, in September 1921, it shows a picture of the Bauhaus building in Weimar that he smothered with pro-De Stijl graffiti. Van Doesburg had meant business when he moved to Weimar earlier that year. Painter, poet, art critic, designer, typographer, architect, performance artist, as well as a founder member and self-appointed ‘ambassador’ of the burgeoning De Stijl group, he was hell-bent on converting the Bauhaus to adopt a new approach. The design school’s director Walter Gropius, however, who allowed him to lecture, decided not to invite him to become a master. Not easily put off, Van Doesburg promptly installed himself in an adjacent building and by June had set up his own course and was poaching Bauhaus students.

Marcel Breuer, four
side tables, c 1926
Nickel-plated metal,
lacquered in four colours.
Collection Büscher



Stemming from cubism and influenced by constructivism, De Stijl – of which Piet Mondrian was also a prominent member – advocated pure abstraction and universality in art, architecture and design. It stripped out everything but the essentials of form and colour, restricting itself to only verticals and horizontals: to black, white and primary colours. While Gropius had objected to Van Doesburg’s dogmatic and aggressive views, younger Bauhaus masters, including, importantly, Mies van Der Rohe, recognising that in order to progress the school needed to break away from its German expressionist roots and open itself up to international influences, were inspired by them. Student, then master, Marcel Breuer, would develop his signature tubular steel furniture based on De Stijl principles.

2019 might be the one-hundredth anniversary of the establishment of the legendary design school but what would grow to become universally recognised as Bauhaus style owes much to the Dutch, and the Dutch aren’t going to let anyone forget it.

Jan Buijs, Nacht – when
I’m building, 1917
Mixed media on paper.
Private collection



Walter Gropius (author),
Lyonel Feininger (cover
design), Programm des
Staatlichen Bauhauses
in Weimar, April 1919
Woodcut. Private collection,
with thanks to DerdaBerlin



Netherlands ⇄ Bauhaus – Pioneers of a New World at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is less about the cross-pollination that occurred between The Netherlands and the Bauhaus and more about underlining the fact that Dutch ideas were instrumental in ‘modernising’ it. Less brutal than Van Doesburg’s graffiti, the two small arrows inserted into the title of this exhibition are a subtle hint that ideas flowed, in the first instance, from The Netherlands to the Bauhaus, before anything flowed back.

László Moholy-Nagy,
Prospectus 14,
Bauhausbücher, 1929
Letterpress.
Collection Flip Bool



But the Dutch can’t have it all their own way; the multi-talented Hungarian, Lazlo Moholy-Nagy who arrived at the Bauhaus in 1923, ostensibly to run the foundation course, who, between 1923 and 1928, played a significant part in all aspects of its further modernisation, was also photo editor of the Dutch avant-garde magazine International Revue from 1927 to 1929, which had significant impact on contemporary Dutch photography. When, in 1933, the Nazi regime forced the closure of the Bauhaus, and provoked the modernist diaspora – inadvertently, causing modernist ideas to disseminate more quickly around the globe – Moholy-Nagy relocated to Amsterdam, where he remained for two years, collaborating with De Stijl artists and experimenting with colour film and photography. His 1934 solo exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, was enormously influential.

All images courtesy Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen


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Photography | Think Luigi Ghirri

Friday, December 28th, 2018

Rimini, 1977



Luigi Ghirri
The Map and the Territory
Jeu de Paume
Paris | France
12 February > 2 June 2019



Modena, 1971
Courtesy Matthew
Marks Gallery



Ironically, since he was obsessed by maps, it seems particularly odd that until now Luigi Ghirri, a photographer whose importance was recognised internationally during his lifetime, never had a retrospective exhibition outside of his home country. This forthcoming show, in France, focuses on the astonishing body of work he produced over the course of a single decade at the start of his career.

Padova, 1973
Università di Parma



Bastia, 1976



Salzburg, 1977
Private collection.
Courtesy Matthew
Marks Gallery



Born in the northern area of Reggio Emilia, and based in Modena, Italy, Ghirri (1943 > 1992) was a trained surveyor when he began taking photographs in his spare time in the early 1970s. Revealingly, he once said that he was interested in, amongst other things: objects charged with desires, dreams, collective memories, windows, mirrors and human beings seen through images, because that is exactly what you get. Direct and infused with subtle wit, his photographs and photomontages from this period, which channel diverse influences from surrealism to pop art, stop you in your tracks, play games with your perception and, most especially, make you think. Ghirri’s mature work, though equally as thought-provoking, was often more gentle in its irony.

Brest, 1972
CSAC, Università
di Parma



The recent revival of interest in Ghirri’s oeuvre was sparked by The Aperture Foundation’s first book in English on the photographer, published in 2008. In 2011, Thomas Demand organised the show La Carte d’Après Nature around Ghirri’s photographs, at Matthew Marks Gallery in New York, which has been followed by a host of other exhibitions in Italy and elsewhere around the world.

Previously shown in 2018 at Folkwang Museum, Essen, Germany and at Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, Luigi Ghirri: The Map and the Territory is at Jeu de Paume in Paris.

All images photographed by Luigi Ghirri, courtesy Jeu de Paume, © Estate Luigi Ghirri


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Music | Doing it in the Dark

Friday, December 14th, 2018

Pitch Dark:
Giny Vos, Katharina Gross,
Arnold Marinissen

Stedelijk Museum
Amsterdam | Netherlands
21 + 22 December 2018



As I child I was frightened by the dark. Afraid to get up, I often wet the bed. Nowadays, I wake up in the middle of the night, pressing thoughts on my mind and, conscious that my wife is easily disturbed, write urgent, blind notes to myself before taking the opportunity to pee. In the light of morning, needless to say, what seemed so important is much diminished, which is just as well, because my scribblings are often indecipherable.

I’ve never eaten in one of those tomb-like restaurants that started to appear in the 1990s, where light of any kind, from cigarette-lighters or cellphone displays, for example, is totally banned and in which diners are forbidden to leave their seats by themselves. ‘By voluntarily abandoning your visual impulses you will be able to experience what wonderful work your other senses are capable of,’ Berlin’s Unsicht-Bar’s website advises the would-be diner, while London’s Dans le Noir restaurant explains, ‘Dining in pitch darkness, hosted and served by visually impaired people, will focus and sharpen your senses.’ But when you want to pee, how does that work? Are you led out by the hand?

Picture 2


Impressions and sensations caused by a total absence of light form the basis for the forthcoming performance Pitch Dark in which, ’An interplay of light, drama and music aims to transport the visitor to another state of consciousness.’ The intention is that the interaction between acoustic, optical and spatial stimuli, based on the neurophysiological effects that occur when you close your eyes: the images, after-images and motions perceived on the inside of your eye-lids, will play with your individual perception.

Picture 3


Tempted by the subject matter of this post, I tried to write it with my eyes closed, which was fun but didn’t work; a one finger typist, I’m just not expert enough at navigating a keyboard without looking at it. Seriously though, it got me wondering how musicians, Giny Vos, Katharina Gross and Arnold Marinissen are going to cope with playing their instruments in Pitch Dark, an interplay with cello, electronic music, percussion and field recordings, at the Stedelijk Museum, and how, if I attend the event, I’ll be able to find the loos.

Pitch dark images created by Pedro Silmon


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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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Ceramics | Made by Hand: Modernist by Nature

Friday, December 7th, 2018

Bernard Leach,
Charger with banded
decoration, St Ives,
England, c 1960s
Estimate $500 > 700



Design
Freeman’s
Philadelphia |
PA | USA
Exhibition > 10 December 2018
Sale 10 December 2018



Lucie Rie,
Handled dish,
London, late 1950s
Estimate $1,000 > 1,500



The British studio pottery illustrated alongside this piece and shortly to be sold at auction, dates from between the late 1950s and the early 1970s, when Brutalist architecture – much of which has since been demolished – flourished, however, each item was lovingly produced by hand and with the greatest sensitivity to materials.

During this period, even the elderly Bernard Leach (1887 > 1979), often referred to as the father of British studio pottery, who co-founded The Leach Pottery in remote Cornwall in 1920 and had been extremely influential, who adopted the folk-tradition approach espoused in the 19th century by William Morris, was producing pieces, such as his Charger with banded decoration, top, that would have looked very much at home against raw concrete, brutalist interiors.

Hans Coper
Composite form with
v
ertical impression,
Frome, 1970
Estimate $6,000 > 8,000



At a time when many of his peers were abandoning city life and heading for the country, it was significant that Ian Godfrey (1942 > 1992), like his mentor, Lucie Rie, chose to set up his pottery in urban central London in the 1960s. Godfrey made highly individual mythological and fantasy-based, decorative pieces, inspired by predynastic Mediterranean and Chinese bronze forms. His King & Queen in Court and Bowl with wheel design, are both included, alongside other examples of his work in this sale. Born in Austria, Rie (1902-1995) had established herself as a ceramicist in Vienna, where she came under the influence of the Secessionist, Josef Hoffman. She is, however, better known for the work she produced after fleeing the Nazis and relocating to London in 1938. Developing a style stimulated by contemporary architecture and design, which flew in the face of Leach’s philosophy, Rie, who is represented by a single, modest item in this auction, see above, was responsible for raising British studio pottery to the level of an art form that would stand alongside any other and for giving it a Modernist edge. She taught at the Camberwell School of Art from 1960 to 1971, where Godfrey was her star student, and received an honorary doctorate from the Royal College of Art in 1969.



Ian Godfrey,
King & Queen in Court,
London, c 1965
Estimate $800 > 1,200



Ian Godfrey,
Bowl with wheel design,
London, c 1965
Estimate $200 > 300



Rie’s fellow emigré, the German, Hans Coper (1920-1981) had turned up, penniless, at her workshop in 1946 looking for work but with no previous experience in a pottery studio. With her encouragement, he went on to become one of Britain’s most celebrated craftsmen. Coper also taught at Camberwell – where he also taught Ian Godfrey – and at the Royal College of Art. His pieces, such as Composite form with vertical impression, above, were often made up of individual, separately thrown shapes that he manipulated and joined to create abstract sculptural forms.

Joanna Constantinidis,
Untitled envelope form,
Essex, England 1970
Estimate $400 > 600



The early work of Joanna Constantinidis (1927 > 2000), born in York, who trained at Sheffield before moving to Essex, owed much to Leach. Singularly independent, however, having seen work by Rie and Coper, by the 1960s she had adjusted her approach and developed spare Modernist forms, like the one above, that drew inspiration from ancient Greece, medieval pottery, Staffordshire slipware and salt glaze.

Although they might well have been, the items shown were not excavated from a site where a British brutalist building once stood but have been languishing, far away from their place of origin, in important US collections in Washington DC, San Francisco, New York and Pennsylvania. Along with further items of British studio pottery items that extend the genre’s story into the 21st century, the forthcoming Design sale at Freeman’s includes some 130 lots and offers a varied selection of master American studio artisans.

All images courtesy Freeman’s


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Exhibitions | Building on 3D Lettering

Friday, November 23rd, 2018

Terracotta lettering
facade, for Hackney
Empire Theatre, London,
UK, by Tim Ronalds
Architects
with Richard
Ho
llis
, 2004

© Hélène Binet



3D Lettering on Buildings
Museum für Gestaltung Zürich
Zürich | Switzerland
7 December 2018 > 14 April 2019



Superbüro’s oak
floor number for the
new building at
Neue Volksschule
Brünnen, Bern-West,
Switzerland, by Ernst
Gerber Architekten

and Urech Architekten,
2015 > 2016

© Superbüro



This is how a random bunch of international, commercial businesses enthusiastically advertise the attractions of 3D signage on buildings:

‘3D letters give building signs depth and impact… A 3D lettering sign gives a building a sense of permanence… 3D signage catches the eye by standing out… 3D signs are a great way to add depth and texture to your signage… 3D lettering and 3D logos add an element of sophistication and individuality to your business… If you’d like your 3D signage to stand out, even more, we offer face-lit and reverse-lit lighting options… 3D building signs are a fantastic and great-looking way to brand your building… 3D signs provide that extra visual connection with a building’s occupants… 3D signage can help your business stand out from the crowd… 3D signs give a professional and high-class look… 3D signs can be static or illuminated to help create a modern professional look for your building, reception area or store… 3D signage looks great on monument signs or also on a building… Our eye-catching 3D building lettering will guarantee your signage and brand stands out from the crowd… 3D signs are ideal for commercial building signage, as attention-grabbing retail signs or for creating a strong brand identity in your office reception signage…’

In contrast, the dead-pan title of the forthcoming show, 3D Lettering on Buildings, may sound uninspiring. However, the Swiss are masters of the understatement; what at first sight appear to be low-key exhibitions turn out to be – much like the subject matter of this one – hugely impactful as well as fascinating and informative.

Lochergut, illuminated
lettering sculpture
by Olaf Nicolai on
the Grand Café
Lochergut building,
Zürich, Switzerland,
2006, (modified, 2016),
by Pool Architekten

© Marcel Meury



Detail of Vai com
Deus
(sayings about
God) in applied
relief for a chapel
converted into a gallery
in Lisbon, Portugal,
by R2 Design, 2008

© R2 Design



Detail of biogas
station facade panels
made of Nabasco, in
Dinteloord, Netherlands,
by Studio Marco
Vermeulen
, 2013

© Ronald Tilleman



Although the title gives no clue, the 24 international examples included – all produced during the past twenty years – relate to specific architecture and its surroundings, and are the result of architects and artists, working together in interdisciplinary teams to create bespoke 3D lettering for buildings. For example, Beat Keusch Visuelle Kommunikation collaborated with architects Herzog & de Meuron on signage for Basel’s REHAB Centre for Spinal Cord and Brain Injuries. Respected British designer, teacher and author Richard Hollis worked closely with Tim Ronalds Architects, who undertook the restoration of the Hackney Empire in London, devising giant terracotta letters for its façade. Meanwhile, Pool Architekten asked the German conceptual artist, Olaf Nicolai, to construct a unique 3D light sculpture for the Grand Café Lochergut building in Zürich.

Facade lettering by
Beat Keusch Visuelle
Kommunikation
,
on the new REHAB
building, Basel,
Switzerland, by Herzog
& de Meuron
, 2007

© BKVK



While acknowledging the obvious fact that 3D signage, in the form of recessed inscriptions and bronze letters has been around since ancient times, the exhibition’s organisers demonstrate that new production techniques such as 3D printing and 3D milling, as well as new ways of using conventional processes and materials, are being combined and experimented with to produce signage that fulfils all of the promises made by the commercial businesses, above, with a more thoughtful approach that is pushing hard against creative boundaries.

As well as architectural photographs, some of which we show here, 3D Lettering on Buildings at the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich features a range of scale models, prototypes, documents and films illustrating the creative, manufacturing and installation process.

Photos courtesy Museum für Gestaltung Zürich


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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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