Posts Tagged ‘Andy Warhol’

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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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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Design | Modernist Posters

Friday, May 1st, 2015

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



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



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



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



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

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

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



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



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

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

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

Estimate $1,500 > $2,000



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



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

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

Images Courtesy Swann Auction Galleries



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

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



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Art | Erwin Wurm in Sixty Seconds

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

One Minute Sculpture, 1997
C-print

Courtesy Centre Pompidou, Paris
and FRAC Limousin, Limoges



Erwin Wurm:
One Minute Sculptures

Städel Museum
Frankfurt am Mein | Germany
7th May > 13 July 2014

How many minutes have passed since the instant in 1997 when Austrian artist Erwin Wurm (1954 >) began producing the works in this series? The mind boggles… Seven years ago he was probably wondering himself how long the idea of inviting gallery / museum visitors to become sculptures themselves, albeit for only 60 seconds – that’s 840 seconds (14 minutes) less than Andy Warhol allegedly promised us all that we could be famous for – would endure. But, like Christian Marclay’s audiovisual work, The Clock, lasting 24 hours – on view at Paris’s Centre Pompidou from 17th May > 2nd July, where it was first shown in 2011 – Wurm’s concept has remained fresh and stood the test of time.


Fat Car (Convertible), 2005
Polystyrene / styrofoam and polyester


Of course, audience partition in art isn’t new. It was an integral part of Futurism (key dates 1909 > 1944) which both celebrated and derided the crowd as a force for the future and as representative of the primitive past. In 1920, at the reading of the Dadaist manifestos by, among others, Francis Picabia, André Breton and Tristan Tzara, which ended in uproar – exactly as they intended – the audience pelted the stage with rubbish. Yves Klein in France and Yoko Ono in New York City were pioneers of performance based art, and part of a broad movement originating in the 1950s and 60s, when artists began pushing the boundaries of contemporary art, sometimes combining elements of music, dance and sculpture in their attempts to create new forms of artistic expression, for which audience participation was often integral. While Wurm’s creations are nowhere near as epic as the cast of thousands, human nude art installations that New York based photographer Spencer Tunick has been creating all over the world for the past 20 years. As an artist he is no less serious, questioning the role of galleries / museums in contemporary society, his work no less sophisticated for appearing – at least superficially – fun and sometimes funny.


One Minute Sculptures, 1997
C-prints

Courtesy Centre Pompidou,
Paris and FRAC Limousin, Limoges


From his early minimalist clothing sculptures that he began producing in the 1980s, throughout his many exhibitions at a range of international venues that include the Vitra Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany, Dallas Contemporary, USA, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris, France, and the Albertina in Vienna, Austria, through the ephemeral One Minute Sculptures to the grotesquely bloated objects such as Fat Car (2000 / 2001) and Fat House (2003), Wurm has concentrated consistently on expanding the concept of what a sculpture, when it is no longer cast in bronze or chiselled from marble, could be.

The main thrust of Erwin Wurm: One Minute Sculptures at the Städel Museum is built on the dynamic between the artist and the audience. Visitors to previous One Minute Sculpture events have been invited, by means of the artist’s sketches suggesting nothing more than a hint or starting point, among other things, to balance their bodies on oranges, to insert a range of desktop items into every orifice in their heads, and to create a sculpture using only their own bodies and a folding sunbed, but always only for one minute.

In addition to the living sculptures with which the visitors can interact and temporarily become part of the Städel collection, some twenty selected photographs and films from the series will also be on show.

All images except* © Studio Wurm / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014


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

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




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Photography | Auctions | Portraits of Women

Friday, November 9th, 2012

Modern & Contemporary Photographs
Yann Mouel
Drout
Paris, France
Sale: 9th November, 2012

Photographies
Sotheby’s
Paris, France
Sale: 16th November, 2012

Photographies
Christie’s
Paris, France
Sale: 16th & 17th November, 2012

Modern & Contemporary Photography
Villa Grisebach
Berlin, Germany
Exhibition: 23rd–27th November, 2012
Sale: 28th November, 2012

Are real women, as portraiture subjects for photography under-represented? Maybe. A glance through the catalogue of today’s Yann Le Mouel auction of Modern & Contemporary Photographs in Paris – one of four major European photography auctions this month – reveals that of the 261 lots some 42 are portraits of well-known 20th century male figures or groups, among them: politician Fidel Castro, artists Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol, musicians Johnny Hallyday, Serge Gainsbourg, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, Billy Idol, fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, and photographer Donald McCullin. Although many unidentified females appear, often nude, partially-clothed or in a couple of instances, pornographic poses, famous or even identified women are rather less in evidence. Of the few labeled ladies, Princess Diana in tiara and pearls, photographed by Patrick Demarchelier, Colette by Janine Niepce and Weegee’s Norma Devine at Sammy’s Bar, New York, 4 December, 1944, strike a bold presence.

To mark the 65th anniversary of Magnum Photos, Sotheby’s Paris is offering a unique set of 65 images dedicated to the nude – an unusual subject for this co-operative, whose photographers are better known for chronicling world events – a very mixed bag of works in which images by Henri Cartier-Bresson and Eve Arnold are included alongside those from the younger generation of Magnum photographers, such as Paolo Pellegrin and Harry Gruyaert. Jane Mansfield and Marylin Monroe are amongst the mainly female subjects, of whom few others are identified. Elsewhere in the same sale, there’s an unusual full length photograph of Lizica Conreanu, Romanian dancer and member of Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes posed in a dance position, in the artist’s studio, by sculptor Constantin Brancusi, together with a stark, asymmetrical, untitled head and shoulders portrait of a woman by Dora Maar. Diane Arbus offerings include Woman with a Briefcase and Pocketbook, N.Y.C., 1962 and topless, Waitress, Nudist Camp, N.J., 1963. Bold, explicit images from Helmut Newton’s Big Nudes series, each identified by first name only, are also on offer.

A print of Peter Lindbergh’s The Wild Ones, shot in New York in 1991 that features super-models, Cindy Crawford, Tatjana Patiz, Helena Christensen, Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Karen Mulder and Stephanie Seymour is included in the Christie’s sale in Paris, next weekend. There’s a couple of pictures of Kate Moss, too, and hot American art photographer Alex Prager’s Eva, from the series Week-end, 2009. All beautiful, but do models really count as famous people? Perhaps a few, like Kate Moss, transcend their clothes-horse role and become celebrities, in the process taking on tangible personality. Striking close-ups by Man Ray of mannequins push female anonymity to the limit, however his striking, uncompromising profile of the surrealist artist, Bona, 1955 – who, with a little research, it was possible to discover is Bona de Mandiargues – has profound substance. Peter Beard’s Karen Blixen in Rungstedland for the End of the Game, Dec. 3rd, 1961 is up close and feels very personal. Here too, Cecil Beaton’s multiple-exposure, portrait of actress Beatrice Lillie, shot around 1930, makes a strong statement. Interestingly, (always referred to as ‘first wife of László Moholy-Nagy‘) Lucia Moholy’s 1926 portrait of artist Lily Hilderbrandt, is one of the few images of named women, in these four November auctions, photographed by a woman. Another is Annie Liebovitz’s remarkable Louise Bourgeois, New York, from 1997, being sold at Berlin’s Villa Grisebach, where 184 lots are on offer, varying in content from recent architectural photography by minimalist photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto, Boring Photographs, 2000, 468 C-type prints by Martin Parr, and works by Daido Moriyama, to 1950s and 60s images by Will McBride and much earlier stuff from photography pioneers such as Karl Blossfeldt. Images of identifiable women, again, are few in number but there is a very sensuous, sexually-liberated, colour portrait of Marilyn Monroe, shot in 1962, from the man who surely captured her character and vivacity better than any other, Bert Stern – a snip at an estimated €1.000-1.500. There’s also a characterful and beguiling, 1976 close-up by Robert Lebeck of Romy Schneider in a tweed flat cap, smiling, with a cigarette in the corner of her mouth. Jackie Kennedy and her Sister at the Funeral of Robert Kennedy, New York, 1968, by the same photographer and showing the grieving sisters, kneeling side by side, hands clasped in prayer, draws the emotions in another direction. Milton H Greene’s 1952 portrait of Marlene Dietrich – recognisable from her swathe of blonde hair and perfectly-shaped legs – whose face isn’t shown, cleverly turns the negative aspect of anonymity on its head.

Anonymity itself is of course compelling and single names – probably often invented, sometimes with the intention of obscuring the the identity of the sitter or of adding exotic cachet – tantalising. Full, real names, however, lift the veil and bring the viewer into direct contact with the subject, whatever the sex, allowing us the privilege of intimacy and them the dignity of existence and perhaps a deserved place in history.

Images from top
From the Villa Griesbach sale:
Louise Bourjois, New York, 1997
Annie Leibovitz
Gelatin silver print

Marylin Monroe, From ‘The Last Sitting’, 1962
Bert Stern
C-Print, 1978. Kodak-Paper

Marlene Dietrich, 1952
Milton H Greene
Vintage gelatin silver print with gouache

From the Christie’s sale:
Karen Blixen in Rungstedland for the End of the Game, Dec. 3rd, 1961
Peter Beard
Gelatin silver print mounted on cardboard, enhanced with ink, gouache
and blood

Kate Moss, Little Nipple, 2001
Rankin
Archive Lambda print

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Art | Collectors, Marcel Brient & Hélène Rochas

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Marcel Brient Collection
– La Page Française
Sotheby’s, Paris, France
Exhibition: until 24th September, 2012
Sale: 24th September, 2012

The Collection of Hélène Rochas
Christie’s, Paris, France
Exhibition: until 26th September, 2012
Sale: 27th September, 2012

Art always was an expensive commodity. In the 21st century it has become an investment of choice/a choice investment. Expressed through a personal art collection, however, character and taste remain invaluable assets. Two French collectors, Hélène Rochas – who died in 2011 – and Marcel Brient, both rich but with very different collections surrounded themselves with pieces that they liked by artists they admired. Next Monday, a substantial part of Brient’s collection will be sold at Sotheby’s, Paris, and just along the road at Christie’s the contents of Rochas’s home go under the hammer on Thursday, 27th September.

Marcel Brient
On the occasion of the sale of four major works by Zhang Xiaogang and Yue Minjun, In London, in 2008, Saatchi Online’s Corentin Hamel interviewed Marcel Brient and Catherine Thieck, joint manager of the New Galerie de France. Thieck, who was asked by Hamel why she had become interested in Chinese artists in the early 1990s, explained that she had only ever worked with five Chinese artists and that Marcel Brient had become intrigued by their work but took his time to choose what to buy: ‘There was no Marcel Brient takeover bid for Chinese artists,’ she said. ‘He has never been to China. There was nothing exotic or strategic about his interest. And I was not that good at explaining the sociological or cultural context. Brient would reflect, then make his choice, at home or in the gallery, with just his eye and mind.’

When he did decide to buy, Brient told the Saatchi interviewer: ‘My first choice was Zhang Xiaogang. I was struck by the beauty of his work, his great intelligence and powerful political impact. With him, China seemed to be taking off, so to speak. So this was a strong, historic opportunity. These very nice, very gentle paintings were clearly denouncing something harsher. A new chapter was about to be written. To me, this way of expressing historical change recalled the painting of the Renaissance.’

Brient’s acquiring art has always been more of a personal adventure than a commercial undertaking. He likes to discover works by chance, rather than specifically seeking them out, and via the close relationships he developed with, among others, Louis Clayeux, Director of Galerie Maeght in Paris from 1948-65, who took him to visit Alberto Giacometti in his studio; Galerie Durand-Dessert; the dealers Claude Bernard and Yvon Lambert, and the aforementioned, Galerie de France. But, it is Brient’s own taste that ultimately leads him to the artists he admires. As with the interest he later developed in Chinese contemporary artists, Brient had been one of the first to purchase works by John Currin, Sigmar Polke, Jeff Koons, Kara Walker and Felix Gonzales-Torres.

Around 100 items from Brient’s collection will be sold. Collectively – if you can excuse the pun – they provide a rich overview of artistic creativity in France during the 1960s and reflect the career of this intuitive acquisitor who discreetly amassed one of the largest agglomerations of contemporary art in France.

In West Berlin on 18th February, 1968, 10,000 people had demonstrated against the Vietnam War. Among the paintings by Michel Parmentier included in the sale is the powerful 18 Février 1968. Important works by the Nouveaux Réalistes are also featured, among them Poussette empaquetée /Packed stroller , 1962, by Christo, who, having previously produced abstract paintings had begun to wrap objects in canvas or plastic. Seita, 1966/7, is an oversized matchbox by Raymond Hains, whose aim was to construct bridges between banal everyday life and the world of creation. Hungarian-born Simon Hantaï, later a leader of the Support/Surface movement, is represented by several canvases that were first folded, crumpled and soaked in colour before being un-folded, these include the delicate Etude, 1969.

Brient lives in a modest apartment with unadorned walls. He rarely gives interviews and never attends social events. These pieces he picked out and handed over to Sotheby’s for the sale are a didactic selection intended to fire up others to be inspired, as he was, by the work of the artists he supported through the acquisitions he made in France in the sixties.

Hélène Rochas
In 1944 on the eve of French liberation, 42-year-old Marcel Rochas, already a famous French fashion designer, who had founded a successful perfume business in 1925, and whose early work had been supported by Jean Cocteau, Paul Poiret and Christian Berard, had just married a young woman, Hélène, who he met on the metro in 1941. The couple chose the ground floor of a 19th century hôtel particulier (rather grand townhouse or inn) at 40, rue de Barbet de Jouy, in Paris’s plush 7th arrondissement, as their new home. Only 11 years later, Marcel died. Hélène Rochas, suddenly a rich widow, was to live in the apartment for the rest of her life, over time furnishing each room with the collection of contemporary paintings, classical furniture and Chinese porcelains she assembled with a seamless unity.

In his touching introduction to Christie’s extensive 216-page sale catalogue, Frédéric Mitterrand, France’s Former Minister of Culture and Communication tells us of how, in their tributes to her after her death, New York celebrated Hélène Rochas as France’s wonder woman. But he claims that they and others in the fashion business gave only part of the truth, without revealing her essential grace. ‘ Madame Rochas’s exquisite manners,’ Mitterand informs us, expressed her profound respect for all people; and, ‘through extraordinarily free, refined taste, she paid tribute to the best artists, known or unknown, from times long past and from her own era.’

This polite, graceful lady had catholic tastes. Alongside her friends Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé, Hélène Rochas was one of the first to start an important Art Deco collection and in 1974, she commissioned four portraits of herself from Andy Warhol. The same year, she acquired Ben Nicholson’s 1933 abstract painting Violon et guitare. She hung the Nicholson facing a striking neoclassical sofa, flanking it with a pair of ormulu-mounted neo-classical vases from Harewood Castle in England. A life-size Portrait of Lucien Guitry by Edouard Vuillard dominated the entrance hall. The living room, which overlooked a pretty green and white garden, was presided over by Braunes Schweigen, a 1925 oil painting by Wassily Kandinsky, hung above a sofa. On one of a pair of neoclassical side tables in the same room stood a large 1954 terracotta vase by Picasso. A massive Balthus painting, Japanese woman with red table, 1967-76, covered one entire wall of the petit salon where Madame Rochas hosted friends and guests. Important examples of classical furniture and European objets d’art, as well as old master and 19th century paintings and drawings could be found throughout the apartment.

Hélène Rochas counted herself as very lucky for having had the chance to encounter some of the 20th century’s most creative minds in the arts, literature and painting as well as music and show business. She enjoyed the opportunity of frequenting the salons of aristocrats and great patrons, but as much as anything it was her own curiosity, her appetite for discovery and keen sense of aesthetics, that  fashioned her taste. As her experience grew, her ideas changed and shifted, she followed new directions but her quest was always quality. Her collection reflects the rich and varied international milieu in which she appears to have so naturally shone. Her collection is estimated to realise €8m ($10.5m,£6.5m).

Works from top
Michel Parmentier
Peinture no.10, 1965
Glycero painting on canvas
Estimate €30,000 – 40,000
©Sotheby’s/ArtDigital Studio

Christo
Poussette empaquetée/Packed stroller, 1962
Plastic and string
Estimate €120,000 – 180,000
©Sotheby’s/ArtDigital Studio

Andy Warhol
Portrait de Hélène Rochas, fond vert tendre, 1974
Acrylic and silk screen ink on canvas
Estimate €200,000-300,000

Jean Lambert & Jean Dunand
Deux masques, circa 1925
Lacquered eggshell on oak
Estimate €60,000-80,000

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Photography | Dennis Hopper’s 1960s

Friday, September 14th, 2012

Dennis Hopper – The Lost Album
Vintage Photographs of the 1960s
Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, Germany
Until 17th December, 2012

Dennis Hopper’s first major exhibition of 400 photographs from the thousands he took between the years 1961 and 1967, was at Fort Worth Museum, Texas in 1970 – one year after the release of the counterculture film, Easy Rider, which he directed, co-starred in and also co-wrote. Mounted on cardboard, without frames or glass, the small prints that he sometimes numbered on the back and to which he added brief notes were attached directly to the wall and kept in place by thin strips of wood. When the show finished everything was put into storage, tucked away in five large crates that lay forgotten and were only re-discovered after his death in 2010.

In Dennis Hopper: The Wild Ride of a Hollywood Rebel by Peter L Winkler, (Barricade Books, 2011), the author reveals how Hopper, who came from Kansas, told James Dean, while on the set of Rebel without a Cause, in which he had small role: ‘I hated my home life, the rules, the regimentation… everybody neurotic because they weren’t doing what they wanted to do, and yelling at me when I wanted to be creative, because creative people end up in bars.’ Born in 1936, Hopper would have been in his mid to late twenties when he took the images that form the exhibition at Berlin’s Martin-Gropius-Bau: Dennis Hopper – The Lost Album, none of which have been exhibited in Europe before. In the late 1950s he had left home and gone to San Diego, California to study acting. Having achieved early success, his acting career in Hollywood stalled in 1958, as the result of a serious spat with the director of From Hell to Texas, whereupon Hopper left for New York to study method acting with the legendary Lee Strasberg at the Actors’ Studio. Aside from acting, he wrote poetry and produced paintings and after receiving his first camera as a gift in 1961, took up photography.

Hopper’s photographs reflect the atmosphere of an exciting and turbulent era in the USA when America, via photographers like Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Gary Winogrand and Diane Arbus, was re-inventing the documentary tradition. And while perhaps his work at this stage is not quite so recognisably individual or always as accomplished as that of these esteemed contemporaries, like theirs, Hopper’s is spontaneous, intimate and keenly observed: it captures an epoch, its protagonists and milieus. Many of the pictures on show are of the icons to whom he was attracted: including James Rosenquist, Andy Warhol, Paul Newman and Jane Fonda but Hopper exercised an intense enthusiasm and curiosity for everything he encountered, from street life in Harlem to bullfights in Tijuana and cemeteries in Mexico. His relentless thirst for photographic subjects led from his family to musicians, Hell’s Angels and hippies, and to his accompanying Martin Luther King on a civil rights march through Alabama, capturing the essential moments of their lives in the prints that are a fascinating album of just a few years of his own.

Dennis Hopper images from top
Paul Newman, 1964
Malibu, California, USA

James Rosenquist, 1964
Billboard Factory, Los Angeles, California, USA

Double Standard, 1961
Los Angeles, California, USA

Andy Warhol, Henry Geldzahler, David Hockney, and Jeff Goodman, 1963
USA

Martin Luther King, Jr, 1965
Montgomery, Alabama, USA

All photographs © The Dennis Hopper Trust
All photographs courtesy of The Dennis Hopper Trust

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Design | Swarovski Goes Digital at Design Museum

Friday, August 24th, 2012

Digital Crystal: Swarovski at the Design Museum
The Design Museum, London, UK
5th September – 13th January, 2013

When, in 1989, Terence Conran whose concept it was to create ‘the first museum of modern design’, in London, and whose company converted a 1940s banana warehouse into the Design Museum, his involvement may have had a little to do with personal vanity but probably wasn’t an exercise in brand awareness for his then-burgeoning string of high-quality retail outlets and smart restaurants. Along with Conran, the project was funded by many companies, designers and benefactors whose aim was to raise design awareness and the general standard of British design.

Its founding principles being to make works of art available to all, to educate working people and to inspire British designers and manufacturers, it was royal patronage that provided the driving force behind the Victoria & Albert Museum, set up in 1852 in the wake of the enormous success of the Great Exhibition the previous year. In a boom time for British industry, generous Victorian benefactors and a less competitive art market than today’s meant that the young museum was able to make many very important acquisitions and quickly build up the most astonishing collections. Although it set out to acquire the best examples of metalwork, furniture, textiles and all other forms of decorative art from all periods, it also acquired fine art – paintings, drawings, prints and sculpture – in order to tell a more complete history of art and design but recognising, and this is key, that there was a significant difference between the two. Commercial sponsorship of design would follow in the 1890s when Arthur Lasenby Liberty built strong relationships with many leading English designers who were prominent figures in the Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau movements. Liberty himself, through his commissions, became instrumental in the development of Art Nouveau and in consequence his shop, Liberty, became one of the most prestigious in London.

Everyone is getting in on the relationship/benefactor/sponsor/collaborator act these days, and in particular there’s an ever growing crossover between luxury goods brands, architecture, design and the arts. It’s difficult to see where it will all end up. On the one hand, if fashion companies flirt with fine artists, inviting them to collaborate – as, notably, Marc Jacobs did at Louis Vuitton in 2002 with one Japanese artist, Takashi Murakami (who had already worked with Issey Miyake) and more recently with another, Yayoi Kusama – they blur the line between fine art and commerce. On the other hand, it can be said that in modern times the practice has been going on since the 1960s, when Pop art turned commercialism on its head, Op art visual illusions were applied to fabrics that were turned into dresses and Yves St Laurent designed his 1965 Mondrian dress. Taking hold of the baton in 2003, milliner Philip Treacy put Andy Warhol images on to his hats.

Selfridges and Primark owner the Canadian, Weston family claimed the top fashion spot in The Sunday Times Rich List, 2012. No strangers to art sponsorship, through the Garfield Weston Foundation, they are among the most generous supporters of the arts in Britain. Selfridges’ creative director Alannah Weston is quoted as having said: ‘My goal is to make Selfridges a destination where people can have an extraordinary experience. I have to surprise, amaze and amuse them.’ And by transforming and opening up the store’s interiors, establishing a gallery in the basement and by inviting well-known artists and young hopefuls to create cutting edge window displays, since she took on the role in 2003, she has certainly done that. And, if that wasn’t enough, she’s appointed The Shard’s architect Renzo Piano to redesign the entire store.

We’re in the middle of a confusing time when architects – Rem Koolhaas, 2009, United Nude – launch fashion footwear collections and design the stores they are sold in; when designers of the Olympic Torch, Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby have shown non-functional designed objects at the Haunch of Venison gallery and Farrow & Ball are the official paint sponsor of Manchester City Galleries. Last year Swarovski, collaborators with the Museum of the forthcoming exhibition Digital Crystal: Swarovski at the Design Museum, worked with the Hello Kitty brand and Manhattan-based, Taiwanese Canadian Jason Wu’s Resort 2013 fashion collection, will contain hundreds of Swarovski crystals. Shared core values: artfulness, simplicity, creativity and beauty, apparently make it a safe bet to presume that Hello Kitty and Jason Wu customers will appreciate Swarovski’s creations and vice versa. Maybe, in the post-analogue era ‘when our relationship with objects and even with time is changing’ these same reasons are behind Swarovski and the Design Museum’s joint project, because  with these sorts of temporary partnerships it’s always a quid pro quo situation – nobody’s in it for nothing.

Swarovski, the world’s leading manufacturer of cut crystal was established in Austria in 1895 and has a long tradition of links with the fashion and jewellery industry, collaborating in the 1950s with Christian Dior and Coco Chanel to create avant-garde crystal jewellery. 42-year-old Nadja Swarovski, vice-president of international communications at the company began her career at the Gagosian Gallery, which probably explains a lot about her interests and the areas she’s taken the company into.

Now in its tenth year, the Swarovski Crystal Palace project – one of Nadia’s initiatives – has commissioned some of the world’s foremost  designers including Zaha Hadid, Yvés Behar, Studio Job, Ross Lovegrove, Tom Dixon and more. Initially, the idea was to reinterpret crystal chandeliers but the project has evolved into an experimental design platform allowing designers to conceptualise, develop and share their most radical works. In 2009 Nigel Coates, Professor of Architecture at the Royal College of Art designed 43 Swarovski ‘Cloudeliers’ for the restaurant at Glyndebourne and in 2011, St Paul’s Perspectives, was created by architect John Pawson, who used a precision-made Swarovski Optik lens and a suspended spherical steel mirror to reflect a new vision of the Geometric Staircase of St Paul’s Cathedral. As well as others, Ron Arad, Yves Béhar, Paul Cocksedge, Troika and Fredrikson Stallard – who actually include a section called Sculpture on their website – have been asked to take part in the Design Museum exhibition, reworking existing pieces commissioned from them by Swarovski, in response to the exhibition brief.

At the end of the analogue era Digital Crystal is intended as a catalyst for debate about the changing nature of memory in the digital world but may also force us to reassess our ideas about the role of designers and architects, and especially the role of fine artists in relation to the commercial world. And certainly there are questions to be asked. There’s something uneasy about design masquerading as art, but is that what it’s doing? Are designers and architects capable of producing great art? Is it all just business as usual? The sponsorship of design and architecture can certainly be said to usefully contribute to innovation when it provides the necessary funds to accomplish experimental projects, large and small, that otherwise might only be dreamt of, and while it can be seen to have democratised art – which must be a good thing – if it also leads to art’s total commoditisation, it remains to be seen whether it will be to art’s long term benefit.

Images from top
Ron Arad, Lolita, originally commissioned in 2004
Redesigned to receive tweets and text messages that can be displayed
on its spiral form

Paul Cocksedge, Crystallize, originally commissioned in 2005
Via single crystals mounted onto a tubular glass frame, trajectory
beams fill the room as light cascades from each crystal

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Art | Gunter Sachs’ Work & Play

Friday, May 18th, 2012

The Gunter Sachs Collection, Evening Auction
Exhibition: 18th – 22 May
Sale:
22nd May, 2012
Sotheby’s, London, UK

At about this time last year Gunter Sachs pointed a gun at his head, shot and killed himself.
‘Farewell, Gunter Sachs,’ wrote Simon Mills in British GQ magazine, ‘You were the last of the true playboys. You slept with Bardot, your white trousers were tight, your hair was fabulous… and you never worked a single day in your life.’ Sachs, born in 1932, was 78 years old and probably had Alzheimer’s. The renowned German playboy who famously courted then married
Brigitte Bardot – the 2nd of his three wives – in Las Vegas, contrary to the above, took his work as a photographer, documentary film-maker, author and industrialist seriously. Sachs left behind three sons – one from his first marriage, two from his third – and a sizeable collection of modern art, which will shortly go under the hammer at Sotheby’s, London.

While Sachs’ taste in women was narrow – they had to be glamorous and sexy – he was at various times closely associated with Iranian consort Soraya Esfandiary, as well as model Claudia Schiffer – the art he collected, at least in terms of genre, was catholic. The 300 artworks and objects to be sold span surrealism, nouveau realism, pop art, art deco and graffiti. Andy Warhol, César, Arman, Yves Klein, René Magritte, Salvador Dalí, Giacometti, Roy Lichtenstein, Tom Wesselmann and Allen Jones, are all represented. True to form, however, a good number of the pieces, portray nude or semi-nude women.
The source of Sach’s wealth had been his maternal great-grandfather, Adam Opel, who had founded the German car manufacturing company, but he also inherited money from his father, Willy, when in 1958 Willy, a supplier of parts to the motoring industry – once accused of fraternising closely with senior Nazis, but later redeemed – chose the same method of suicide as his son. That same year, after a car crash, Gunter’s first wife had also died.

Sachs had met Andy Warhol – whose work he introduced to Germany – in the early 60s at St Tropez and the two became life long friends. He opened galleries in Munich and Hamburg in 1971. Referring to his father’s 1972 Warhol show,
Sachs’ eldest son Rolf, in an interview with The Guardian, recalled: ‘Nothing sold. My father was highly embarrassed, and he bought most of the exhibition himself – which was of course the best investment he ever made.’

From top
Andy Warhol
Gunter Sachs, 1972
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas

Richard Avedon
Brigitte Bardot, Hair by Alexandre, Paris Studio,
Photographed in 1959
Gelatin silver print

Tom  Wesselmann
Great American Nude #51, 1963
Oil and collage on canvas, in three parts

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Art | Andrew Wyeth in China

Friday, April 13th, 2012

Andrew Wyeth in Beijing & Hong Kong
Yuan Space, Beijing, China
14th April – 12th May, 2012
Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Center
24th – 30th May, 2012
Christie’s, New York, USA
Date to be announced, September, 2012

When Snoopy’s dog house burned down in November 1966, sadly his Van Gogh was destroyed along with it, but the strip’s cartoonist, Charles M Schulz, saw to it that the painting was quickly replaced with one by the artist Andrew Wyeth, of whose work he was a great admirer. In 1977 Wyeth was the first American artist since John Singer Sargent to be elected to the French Académie des Beaux-Arts. A Wyeth retrospective at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2006, running over 15 weeks, drew more than 175,000 visitors, the museum’s highest-ever attendance for a living artist. In 2007 he received the National Medal of Arts from George W Bush and in the same year, in the Springfield Up episode of The Simpsons, Mr Burns has a painting of Wyeth’s iconic Christina’s World, 1948 – MoMA Collection, bought in 1948 for $1800 – in his den, except that in his version Burns lanky body replaces the more shapely female figure. The entire neighbourhood of Thunder Hill in the village of Oakland Mills, Columbia in Maryland has street names derived from his paintings. But although Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009) was one of the most popular and revered artists in the history of American art, perhaps it was for this very popularity that he was also one of its most criticised, especially within the art world. According to Michael Kimmelman, who wrote Wyeth’s obituary in The New York Times: ‘Because of his popularity – a bad sign to many art world insiders – Wyeth came to represent middle-class values and ideals that modernism claimed to reject. ‘Kimmelman went on to say that art critics mostly heaped abuse on Wyeth’s work, saying he gave realism a bad name. Hopper’s realism was okay, apparently, but Wyeth’s wasn’t. Some experts regarded him as a facile realist, not an artist but merely an illustrator. Lashing out in all directions and perhaps further isolating himself, Wyeth expressed general disdain for the abstract expressionists. And so the antagonistic situation festered and boiled throughout the latter part of his life.

Andrew Wyeth was born into an artistic family in Chadds Ford, a small town in Pennsylania, about 30 miles from Philadelphia. His father NC Wyeth was a well-known illustrator, whose fame and talent in the 1920s attracted the attention of celebrities such as F Scott Fitzgerald who would come to visit him. NC drove his frail and ailing son – too feeble to attend school – hard, pushing him to develop drawing skills at an early age with the obsessive goal of making him follow in his father’s footsteps and become an illustrator. But Andrew resisted, preferring to paint the deserted landscapes he discovered on his wanderings. He liked the idea that figures could be implicit in his paintings but nevertheless went on to include in them his friends, a black handyman (A Crow Flew By 1949-50), and neighbours Karl and Anna Kuerner. Although he adapted portraits of others to include details of his father, who died in 1945, Wyatt never painted him. His ‘Helga‘ series of more than 200 paintings and sketches came with a whiff of scandal – he didn’t tell his wife about them until they were finished in 1985 – and received national publicity, travelling to major cities throughout the USA. These intimate studies – many of them full figure nudes – of neighbour Helga Testorf, made him very rich.

In Wyeth’s style of painting, that became known as ‘Magic’ Realism, everyday scenes are imbued with a dream-like air of mystery, coupled with barely concealed melancholy. He recorded the arid Pennsylvania and Maine landscapes, rural houses, and rickety shacks with great detail, painting in each tiny blade of grass, individual strands of hair, and every subtle nuance of light and shadow. The Brandywine River Museum, in Chadds Ford houses much of the Wyeth collection.

Wyeth’s work was as rural as Warhol’s was urban, his nudes as earthy as Warhol’s girls (and boys) were dirty, but while the rural can easily look picturesque to the city dweller, and might appear to pander even unintentionally to wide appeal, urban art is by nature of its situation radical and intended for a strictly limited, edgier audience. Ubiquity and the passage of time can render almost any image passé – The Mona Lisa, The Hay Wain, Van Gogh’s SunflowersThe Scream – and perhaps Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World has fallen victim to the same fate. But Warhol’s once iconoclastic Marilyn Diptych has, too – so far to a somewhat lesser extent – and The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone LivingDamien Hirst’s shark – will not be immune.

It’s not so surprising, then, that Wyeth’s work as opposed to Warhol’s and Pollock’s was deemed acceptable to the powers that be in 1980s China, where it became immensley popular. The press release for the forthcoming Andrew Wyeth in China exhibitions contains the following quote from Li Xian Ting – often called the godfather of Chinese contemporary avant-garde – academic consultant to the exhibition, who on this occasion may well be toeing the party line: ‘When Wyeth’s work first caught the eyes of artists of this generation, we were mainly under the influence of Socialist Realism from the 40s and (Russian) Peredvizhniki art in which the relation [sic] between the narrative and ideology featured heavily. Historically, young Chinese artists’ classical training was figurative and representational. At the time, the only way to rebel against Social Realism was to embrace Modernism, entailing a complete abandon [sic] of representation. This would have implied, starting from zero to reincarnate a new self under the banners of Cubism and Abstract Expressionism. And just as artists found themselves at this impasse, Wyeth’s works appeared. They were melancholic, poetic, but at the same time they developed on the skills and possibilities of representation. This deeply moved the burgeoning Chinese artists and inspired many to ask themselves the question: is it possible for us to hold on to the artistic training we grow up with, and still create something new that is different from Modernist art? And obviously, Wyeth provided them with such a possibility.’ Perhaps Chinese conservatism isn’t so far removed from Middle America’s. Meanwhile, Chinese conceptual artist, architect, designer and activist Ai Weiwei’s first solo exhibition in Italy wow’s the West at the Lisson gallery in Milan until 25th May, 2012.

Paintings from top
Study for ‘Lovers’, 1981
Drybrush and watercolor on paper
© Andrew Wyeth

Citizen Clark, 1957
Drybrush and watercolor on paper laid down on board
©Andrew Wyeth, Private Collection

Faraway, 1952
(Portrait of the artist’s son, Jamie)
Drybrush on paper
© Andrew Wyeth

The Works of Andrew Wyeth is organized by Yuan Space in cooperation with Christie’s and Adelson Galleries

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Photography | Lee Friedlander

Friday, August 26th, 2011

Lee Friedlander: America By Car/The New Cars 1964
1st September – 1st October 2011, Timothy Taylor Gallery, London

A good few years ago, in 1978, when I was a graphic design student at the Royal College of Art, someone from the Fiorucci company, came to offer our group the chance to design the graphics for their delivery van. At the time Fiorucci were doing great clothes, especially jeans and T-shirts – later worn in the US by trendsetters Andy Warhol and Madonna. They had a very interesting branding style, based around a melange of 1950s and 1960s Americana, bright colours and animal prints – a kind of pop art sensibility – without ever having a fixed logo. Luckily for me, my concept was chosen: to paint an image of two girls driving an open-top pink Cadillac – shades of Thelma & Louise (1991) – on to either side of the van, matching the wheel positions of the real 3D vehicle and the 2D painting to achieve a trompe l’oeil effect, the van to be kitted out with white wall tyres. Similar ideas are fairly commonplace these days.

Unusually, for a photographer who is considered to be in some senses, as pop an artist as Richard Hamilton and Roy Lichtenstein, Lee Friedlander, whose main body of work he has said, takes the ’social landscape’ of America as its subject matter, produces only black and white images. Much of pop art, despite the bright colours, had a bleakness about it. It was never the celebration, which at first sight it might be perceived to be but rather, often a cynical comment on a culture that was and remains, dominated by consumer goods and services and the popular idols and icons that are seen as vital to our existence.

Friedlander, was born in 1934 and has been active in photography since 1948. After studying in Pasadena, California, he moved to New York City in 1956 and began photographing jazz musicians for record sleeves. His first one-man show was in 1963. In the 60s and 70s his work appeared regularly in magazines such as Art in America, Esquire and Sports Illustrated. His pictures captured the look and feel of contemporary American society. One of his most successful works at the end of the 1970s was his production of a series of images of urban industrial landscape along the Ohio river valley, shot in documentary form, Factory Valleys: Ohio and Pennsylvania (1982). At around the same period, Friedlander went to Japan and photographed the Japanese landscape, some of which appeared in Cherry Blossom Time in Japan (1991). His book Flowers and Trees, in contrast to his urban photography, celebrates the beauties of nature. He is also well-known for his later portrait and nude studies. In 2005, the Museum of Modern Art presented a major retrospective of Friedlander’s career, including nearly 400 photographs from the 1950s to the present. In the same year he received a Hasselblad International Award. The retrospective was presented again in 2008 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). At the same time, a more contemporary selection of his work, Lee Friedlander: America By Car, was displayed at the Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco. The same series of images was on display, in its entirety at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City in late 2010. Previously unseen in the UK, it’s these compelling images, all taken from the driver’s seat of the hire car that Friedlander drove across most of America’s fifty states that are on show next month at London’s Timothy Taylor Gallery.

As with much of his work from the last decade, all of the America by Car images images are in square format. Heavy, dark and angular, the struts of the car’s structure divide up and frame portions of the view through the windows. A steering wheel butts in on the right. The wing mirror on the left isolates a detail of the scene behind the car, or contains an image of the photographer. A car, like some strange monument to the American dream is hoisted high up into the sky on a slender pole, while a fence bars the way forward. The compositional references suggest the montages of Richard Hamilton and possibly Mondrian, as well as, Picasso’s cubism, while looking at the subject matter one can’t help thinking about John Chamberlain’s crunched and mangled car sculptures. There are voyeuristic references, too, to Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window.

The TTG show will also exhibit The New Cars 1964, a portfolio of 33 images, originally commissioned by Harper’s Bazaar and also previously unseen in the UK. Bazaar’s intention was to showcase that year’s much-anticipated new cars but Friedlander’s gritty and uncompromisingly modern images proved too much for the magazine’s editor-in-chief and were never used.

The Fiorucci thing all happened near to the end of the RCA course and once Fiorucci had taken my design away to put into production, we sort of lost touch. Providentially, however, I ended up living in a flat not far from the Fiorucci headquarters in Clapham, South London, and one morning, parked on the main road, directly opposite the end of the street sat the delivery van. I crossed the road to take a closer look at it. It somehow didn’t look quite right – truncated in some way – then I realised that this van was much more compact than the one I’d traced out of the Herz hire company’s catalogue and applied the original design to. Whether the mistake was mine, or Fiorucci’s, I just don’t know but I couldn’t help feeling rather ashamed and was happy never to see the van again.

Image: Montana’, 2008
Gelatin-Silver Print
15 x15 ins/38 x38 cm. Sheet 20 x 16 ins/50.8 x 40.6 cm
© Lee Friedlander, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

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Don’t miss the eighth instalment, posted today, of This is for you, Pedro Silmon’s new on-line novel, serialised exclusively on The Blog.


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