Posts Tagged ‘Antwerp’

Photography | Harry Gruyaert: Fifty-Fifty

Friday, September 7th, 2018

Belgium, Antwerp. Carnival, 1992



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



Belgium, Antwerp. Zoo, 1975



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

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

Belgium, Banneux, 1975



Belgium, Boom, 1988



Belgium, Province of Limburg, 1975



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

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

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



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

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

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

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


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Photography | Saul Leiter’s Fragmented Fashion

Friday, November 25th, 2016

Harper’s Bazaar, Mexico (fashion), 1960



Saul Leiter
Gallery Fifty One Too
Antwerp | Belgium
25 November 2016 > 28 January 2017



Carriage SeriesHarper’s Bazaar, October 1960



You don’t look at a Jackson Pollock painting; you don’t look at a Willem de Kooning. You look into them. The same is true of these titans of abstract expressionism’s contemporary and close associate, Saul Leiter’s photographic work, in which the subject is often fragmented, obscured by reflections, condensed between surfaces, or otherwise obstructed by passers-by and blurred incidental foreground detail.

Drawn to surfaces and textures, to shapes and shadows, and to the fluid expanses between the abstract and the figurative, Leiter, speaking of the ambiguity that runs through his work, once said: ‘I like it when one is not certain what one sees. When we do not know why the photographer has taken a picture, and when we do not know why we are looking at it, all of a sudden we discover something that we start seeing. I like this confusion.’

Self-portrait with Deborah



Untitled, 1950s



Leiter (1923 > 2013), born in Pittsburgh, had moved to New York in 1946 intending to be a painter – in the early days he exhibited alongside de Kooning – and although he continued to paint throughout his life, he became engrossed with the creative potential of photography as an art form. Starting with black and white, by the early 1950s he was successfully experimenting with colour, and in 1953 a substantial group of his colour photographs were selected by Edward Steichen for an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art.

Carol Brown, Harper’s Bazaar, c 1960



Perhaps on the basis of his street photography – for which he is best-known – of New York’s East Village, where he lived and worked for more than 60 years, Leiter has been lumped in with the amorphous ‘New York School of Photography’, which is said to have included, among others, pragmatic photojournalists such as Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Bruce Davidson, Robert Frank, William Klein, Helen Levitt, and Weegee. Leiter, however, who happened to reside in the city over the same period as them, was light on social realism. He possessed a sensibility that was rooted more firmly in fine art, and while stylistically his work was closer to the ‘New York School’ painters, his lyrical treatment of subject matter had much in common with the gentler compositions of an earlier epoch: that of the Impressionists, and with the paintings of French symbolist artist Pierre Bonnard (1867 > 1947), who endeavoured to evoke mystical ideas, emotions, and states of mind via the medium of scenes from everyday life.

Barbara, c 1951



In the late 1950s, recognising Leiter’s unique eye for beauty and elegance combined with a modern edge, art director Henry Wolf commissioned him to photograph fashion, first for Esquire and later for Harper’s Bazaar as well as for Show. Very soon Leiter was working in Europe for the French magazine Elle, and in Britain for Vogue, Queen, and Nova. Nevertheless, the fickleness of the fashion world ensured that his good fortune didn’t last, and he sank into a lengthy period of obscurity. In time, however, his reputation was restored after several exhibitions at New York’s Howard Greenberg Gallery in the 1990s, when his work experienced a new surge of popularity and his colour photography, in particular, garnered wide acclaim. A monograph, Early Color, was published by Steidl in 2006 and was quickly followed by a series of international exhibitions, beginning with In Living Color (2006), at the Milwaukee Museum of Art. Solo shows of Leiter’s photography have since been presented at Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris, the Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam, Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, and Diechtorhallen, Hamburg. His work is now included in the permanent collections of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Baltimore Museum of Art, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, among many other public and private collections.

Carmen, Harper Bazaar, c 1960



Saul Leiter at Gallery Fifty One Too in Antwerp, which has regularly shown Leiter’s work, runs concurrently with the city’s FOMU Foto Museum retrospective. The majority of the photographs included in the Gallery Fifty One Too exhibition, however, have never been presented before, and provide insight into less familiar elements of the photographer’s diverse oeuvre, particularly his work for fashion magazines.

All photographs © Saul Leiter Foundation, courtesy Gallery Fifty One


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Architecture | Design | Objects des Architects

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Arts Décoratifs du XXe siècle & Design Contemporain
Sotheby’s
Paris, France
Exhibition: 22nd, 23rd, 24th & 26th November, 2012
Sale: 27th November, 2012

If it isn’t a contradiction in terms, the phenomenon of modern architects creating furniture, and sometimes decorative items, for use in the buildings they design and elsewhere might well be termed a ‘tradition’. And the importance of this tradition is confirmed in the upcoming Arts Décoratifs du XXe siècle & Design Contemporain sale at Sotheby’s, Paris, which features items by, among others, Le Corbusier (with Pierre Jeanneret), Gio Ponti and Tadao Ando: architects whose work overlapped in a time span stretching from early 20th century modernism, through mid-century modern to whatever label we’re currently attaching to 21st century contemporary.

Sir Norman Foster, and Foster and Partners, responsible for many of the world’s key buildings of the last 30 years have designed sofas, lamps, bookcases, door handles and even sanitary ware for a range of clients, including Knoll, Molteni & Co, Acerbis and Nomos. There’s even a Gherkin lamp available from Kundalini. If modernism hadn’t already caught up with the future, Zaha Hadid’s and Amanda Levete’s respective oeuvres might still be referred to as futuristic. Zaha Hadid ArchitectsZ-Scape Furniture, designed in 2000 and produced by Sawaya & Moroni, is an ensemble of lounge furniture, whose forms derive from geology, glaciers and natural erosion but the company has also created equally-arresting and sculptural vases, lamps and tables. At Future Systems and currently, at AL_A, Levete has produced sinuous benches for Established & Sons and, in collaboration with Phillips, lighting, notably the Edge light. Always keen to control every aspects of the furnishing of his interiors, John Pawson, too, has had several of his spare furniture pieces produced by Driade. Common amongst all of the products created by these architects is quality design and a high degree of craftsmanship.

The fine, glazed earthenware Classical Conversation/’L'architetto’ bowl included in the Sotheby’s sale was produced by him around 1924, just one year after Gio Ponti began his career as an architect, during a period when he was influenced by and associated with the Milanese, neo-classical Novecento Italiano movement. Ponti would go on to become one of his country’s most important 20th century modernist architects, industrial designers, artists and publishers – he founded and was twice editor of Domus magazine. Building offices for Fiat during the war years, the attention attracted by his Pirellone/Pirelli Tower (completed, 1960), in Milan, earned him worldwide fame and international commissions, including the Denver Art Museum, 1971. His renowned furniture designs for Cassina include the 1957 Superleggerra/Superlight chair, and he produced lights for, among others, Artemide and Fontana Arte.

Le Corbusier – still probably the most famous architect in the world, and certainly of the 20th century, his array of built work too vast and familiar to list here – and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret’s wood and partially grey lacquered free-standing cabinet, was made in 1927, having been designed for The Poplars/Maison Guiette residence. Built by the practice in Antwerp, the house is an early and classic example of the International Style. Having been joined by Charlotte Perriand, Le Corbusier and Jeanneret presented their new concepts in furniture design at the 1929 Paris Salone d’Automne. That same year, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, whom Le Corbusier had probably met, along with Walter Gropius during a sojourn in Berlin, created the Barcelona chair for his avant garde German pavilion at the Barcelona Exposition. Although only two Barcelona chairs were made for the exposition, the design was put into production and became so popular that, with the exception of a sixteen-year period, it has been continuously manufactured. Earlier, In 1908, Le Corbusier had studied architecture under Joseph Hoffman in Vienna – himself an architect who loved to design furniture – and would have been familiar with Hoffman’s designs, based famously on the square, and particularly the Kubus chair, 1910, which was almost certainly an influence on his and his co-designers’ very cubic Grand Confort armchair, albeit the construction is entirely different. Centre-piece of the Salone d’Automne show, the famous design was reissued by Cassina in 1965. The company makes some fourteen other Le Corbusier furniture items, including the equally familiar LC4 chaise longue and LC6 dining table.

In a kind of reversal of the process, in 1924, furniture-maker, Gerrit Rietveld built the Rietveld Schröder house and filled it with objects he designed. When Eileen Gray, famous for her sumptuous Art Deco lacquered screens suddenly became a modernist convert, she built her exquisitely modern home, Villa E1027, designing for it radical, but equally luxurious pieces that required production by skilled craftsmen. Her Bibendum chair, originally created for the the rue de lota apartment in Paris, in 1925, lay largely forgotten until an original re-surfaced in a 1972 auction, which prompted a new production of the design classic. Eero Saarinen, studied sculpture in Paris and architecture at Yale before working on furniture design with Norman Bel Geddes and practicing architecture with his father, Eliel. His furniture for Knoll includes dining and low tables, the Executive chair, the Tulip chair, and the Womb chair and ottoman.

During the 1980s, when Alberto Alessi took over the management of the Italian Alessi kitchen utensil company, he began collaborations with designers, and especially with architects, to produce high-end, exclusive products. Among the best known of the company’s product range from this period are Richard Sapper’s kettle with a two-tone whistle and Michael Graves‘ kettle with the bird shaped whistle.

By 1941, when future Pritzker Prize winner (1995), Japanese architect Tadao Ando was born, modern architecture was firmly on the world map. Having taken no formal training Ando travelled the world visiting buildings by Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Kahn, then established Tadao Ando Architect and Associates in Osaka, in 1968. Strongly influenced by his traditional Japanese background his architectural style emphasises empty space to represent the beauty of simplicity, placing the inner feeling of a structure before its appearance. Working primarily in exposed cast-in-place concrete, from a formidable list of 154 completed projects, Ando is best known for The Church of Light in Osaka, 1989, The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts in St Louis, 2001, and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 2002. Current projects include a mausoleum for fashion designer, Tom Ford. His minimal buildings are designed to contain little in the way of furniture, however he has lately collaborated with Danish furniture company Carl Hansen & Son on a project to develop a prototype chair honoring the aesthetic of the late Danish designer Hans Wegner, which will be available in 2013. In 2011, to mark their 90th anniversary, he created a limited edition vase for leading Venetian glassmakers, Venini, established in Murano in 1921. At an estimated sale price of €35,000-45,000, a set of three of these vases, all signed and dated and coming from a private collection in Germany, is included in the Sotheby’s sale.

Objects included in the Sotheby’s sale, from top
Tadao Ando
Set of three coloured glass vases in anthracite, red and ochre, 2011, for Venini
Estimate €35,000-45,000

Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret
Wood and partially grey lacquered wood, double-sided cabinet, circa 1927
Estimate €12,00-15,000

Gio Ponti
Glazed earthenware bowl, Classical Conversation/’L'architetto’, 1924
Estimate €15,00-20,000

Photographs ©Sotheby’s/ArtDigital Studio

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The Blog is about art, architecture, gardens, books, design 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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