Posts Tagged ‘Constantin Brancusi’

Sculpture | Brancusi On and Off the Pedestal

Friday, July 20th, 2018

Endless Column,
version 1, 1918
Museum of Modern Art,
New York.
Gift of Mary Sisler.
Photo Thomas Griesel

Constantin Brancusi Sculpture
Museum of Modern Art
New York City | USA
22 July 2018 > 18 February 2019

During the Roman period, when sculpted figures were first elevated on columns, those represented were imbued with ‘untouchable’, divine status, and rendered remote. Albeit his birds are positioned high up, in the early 20th-century, Constantin Brancusi (1876 > 1957) brought sculpture back down to earth; his heads of children and sleeping women are set low down and his portrait pieces are designed for viewing at eye level.

Fish, 1930
Blue-grey marble
on three-part
pedestal of one
and two
limestone cylinders.
Museum of Modern Art,
New York.
Acquired through
the Lillie P
Bliss Bequest
(by exchange).
Photo Imaging
& Visual
Department, MoMA

Pedestal design having remained pretty much the same for 2000 years, the arrival of Brancusi’s revolutionary innovations that transformed sculpture’s relationship to the space it inhabits, and how the viewer experiences it, caused a sensation. Serving simultaneously as components of the artwork and as their support, each of his pedestals – made from wood, limestone, or marble – became an integral element of his finished pieces, raising or lowering them to heights that suit their subject matter.

Young Bird, 1928
Bronze on two-part
limestone pedestal.
Museum of Modern Art,
New York.
Gift of Mr and Mrs
William A M Burden

While, Brancusi generally treated the pedestal as a secondary element, in Endless Column, version I, 1918, it became the sculpture itself. It consisted of a single symmetrical element – a pair of truncated pyramids, one upright, the other inverted – repeated to produce a continuous vertical structure that Brancusi called his  ‘column for infinity.’ He would afterwards repeat the concept at larger scales and in different materials, to serve as an architectural element and for free-standing monuments. Endless Column paved the way for future sculptors to relinquish pedestals altogether and facilitated their taking sculpture in a wide variety of different directions.

With his friend Man Ray, who introduced him to the medium, Brancusi made films that stand as a testament to his desire for his work to be experienced in the round, in relation to an environment and to other things. Rarely seen, a number of his films will be shown alongside 11 sculptures by the artist that form part of the Museum’s holdings, displayed together for the first time, in the forthcoming exhibition Constantin Brancusi Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art.

All works by Constantin Brancusi, © 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Images courtesy Museum of Modern Art

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Art | Man Ray + Sugimoto = Objects + Equations

Friday, January 30th, 2015

Man Ray, Mathematical Object, 1934-35
Gelatin silver print.
The J Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.
© Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society
(ARS), NY / ADAGP, Paris 2015

Man Ray – Human Equations:
A Journey from Mathematics to Shakespeare
The Phillips Collection
Washington DC | USA
7th February > 10th May 2015


Hiroshi Sugimoto:
Conceptual Forms and Mathematical Models
The Phillips Collection
Washington DC
7th February > 10th May 2015

Hiroshi Sugimoto, Surface of
Revolution with Constant Negative Curvature
(Conceptual Form 0010), 2004
Gelatin silver print.
Collection of the artist, New York

In bringing together the work of Man Ray and Hiroshi Sugimoto, in two separate but connected exhibitions under the same roof, The Phillips Collection, which first opened its doors to the public in 1921, and refers to itself proudly as America’s ‘first museum of modern art’, has done something very clever and very appropriate.

The museum’s policy of stressing the continuity between the art of the past and of the present, by combining works of different nationalities and periods, offers a broad-based, experimental approach to 20th and 21st century art. And, while in each case, the pieces brought together in these two new shows would easily warrant exceptional stand-alone exhibitions, their being shown simultaneously at the same venue, prompts comparison and contrast, each gaining by virtue of proximity to the other – Man Ray (American, 1890 > 1976) representing the old avant garde – Sugimoto (Japanese, b 1948), inspired by the former, the more contemporary.

Man Ray, Mathematical Object, 1934–35
Gelatin silver print.
Collection L Malle, Paris.
© Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society
(ARS), NY / ADAGP, Paris 2015

Mathematical Object: Curvature Circles
at a Point of Negative Curvature
, c 1900

Brill-Schilling Collection.
Institut Henri Poincaré, Paris.
Photo Elie Posner

Man Ray, Shakespearean Equation,
Twelfth Night
, 1948

Oil on canvas.
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden,
Smithsonian Institution.
Gift of Joseph H Hirshhorn, 1972
© Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society
(ARS), NY / ADAGP, Paris 2015.
Photo Lee Stalsworth

Legendary surrealist, muti-media artist, Man Ray was a pioneer in the exploration of the intersection of art and science that defined a significant component of modern art in Europe and in America, at the beginning of the 20th century. He created his Shakespearean Equations – a series of paintings that he considered to be the climax of his creative vision – in the late 1940s. Drawing upon photographs of 19th-century mathematical models he had produced in the 1930s, the series was a culmination of 15 years of experimentation.

The Phillips are showing more than 125 Man Ray works, side by side with the original plaster, wood, papier-mâché and string models  – made in Germany in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to illustrate geometrical properties for the investigation and teaching of algebraic equations – from the Institut Henri Poincaré (IHP) in Paris, accompanied by the artist’s photographs of these strikingly odd forms. ‘Although nearly every significant Man Ray exhibition since 1948 has included at least one of the Shakespearean Equations, no exhibition or publication has ever brought all three components together for an in-depth study,’ says Man Ray – Human Equations: A Journey from Mathematics to Shakespeare curator, Wendy Grossman. ‘In fact, Man Ray never witnessed the triangle of mathematical object, photograph, and painting displayed as an ensemble.’

Hiroshi Sugimoto, Surface of Revolution
with Constant Negative Curvature
(Mathematical Model 009), 2006
Aluminum and mirror.
Pace Gallery, New York

Hiroshi Sugimoto, Dini’s Surface:
A Surface of Constant Negative Curvature
Obtained by Twisting a Pseudosphere
(Mathematical Model 004), 2006
Aluminum and iron.
Pace Gallery, New York

Hiroshi Sugimoto’s career has defined what it means to be a multi-disciplinary contemporary artist, blurring the lines between photography, painting, installation art, and most recently, architecture. Featuring five photographs and three sculptures Hiroshi Sugimoto: Conceptual Forms and Mathematical Models at The Phillips Collection is the first exhibition to juxtapose his photographs of 19th-century mathematical plaster models, with his own aluminium or stainless-steel mathematical models.

‘There is a deep connection between mathematics and photography that originated in the invention of photography itself, a tradition that has carried into the 21st century,’ says exhibition curator Klaus Ottmann, ‘Hiroshi Sugimoto’s work exemplifies this tradition, and this exhibition reflects the artist’s desire to combine a ‘very craft-oriented’ practice with making ‘something artistic and conceptual’.

Inspired by Man Ray, in 2004, Sugimoto photographed forty four 19th century mathematical and mechanical models, from two collections in Tokyo. Also made in Germany – at around the same time as those Man Ray had photographed in the 1930s – they had been produced as visual aids for students’ understanding of complex trigonometric functions. Demonstrating his engagement with 19th-century craftsmanship, empirical philosophy, and conceptual art, Sugimoto gave his series of photographs the title Conceptual Forms. The following year, he began manufacturing his own mathematical models using precision computer-controlled electronic milling machines. Several metres tall – paying tribute to the work of another pioneer of modernism, one of the most influential sculptors of the early 20th-century, Constantin Brâncuși – Sugimoto’s ‘endless’ structures are minimal representations of highly complex mathematical equations of infinity. Made from aluminium, they either project upward as twisted columns from iron bases or rise as cones from thin, mirrored discs into infinity.

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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 | Ellsworth Kelly – More Real at 90

Friday, June 21st, 2013
Ellsworth Kelly: Panel Paintings 2004 – 2009
The Phillips Collection
Washington DC, USA
22nd June – 22nd September, 2013

The Matthew Marks Gallery in New York, represent Ellsworth Kelly, who is the subject of their current show, Ellsworth Kelly at Ninety. Opening the relavent ‘Works in Exhibition’ page on their website, one gets an overview of the shapes and colours that have preoccupied the artist during recent years. Almost child-like in simplicity, they might comprise the elements of a dismembered Alexander Calder mobile. Though less playful when viewed singly, each of Kelly’s paintings emotes a similar subtle sense of balance and is as easy on the eye as Calder’s sculptures.

Born in 1923 in Newburgh, New York, Ellsworth Kelly, has a prolific career spanning over 60 years. Comparisons with Calder stem from when Kelly, then 25 years-old, arrived in Paris after WWII, where he met and came under the influence of both Calder – by then 48 and firmly established amongst the modernist pioneers, having been working in the city since the 1920s – and Brancusi, already 70, whose simplification of natural form had a lasting effect on him. It was then that Kelly began to produce abstract work although, due to the illness and depression brought on by his war experiences, at first he restricted his palette to black and white. Over the next few years, he immersed himself both in the rich historical resources of Paris, its architecture and contemporary art scene, discovering Henri Matisse, whose paper cut-outs he admired along with Jean Arp’s colourful collages. As is evident in the images illustrating this post, the geometry and simplicity of form expressed in the work of the De Stijl artists, Georges Vantongerloo and Piet Mondrian, particularly impressed Kelly and would remain abiding influence throughout his life. He sites Fernand Léger’s use of bright colours as being particularly inspirational. In his mid-80s, in a throw-back to those early Paris days, as a reflection of his concerns over the controversies surrounding US involvement in the Iraq war, Kelly was to return, temporarily, to working only in black and white. But generally, he says, he is not political; as with Calder, he paints in bright colours because he wants his paintings to have a good spirit.

1954 saw Kelly back in New York during the heyday of abstract expressionism but, fiercely independent, he avoided aligning himself with that movement or any other. In the late 1950s and the early 1960s, he was among the first artists, including Frank Stella, to discard the conventional square or rectangular painting format in favour of irregularly shaped canvases or panels. When he places one panel on top of another panel, he has said about the effect achieved, that it makes the work ‘more real’. His exhibition Panel Paintings 2004 – 2009 at Washington DC’s Phillips Collection, comprises seven of his multi-panel works. These large-scale, rectilinear pieces blur the boundaries between painting and sculpture and make more sense when seen in the round – playing with light and shadow, dramatically engaging with space – which is how he intends them to be viewed.

Also showing in Washington DC, Ellsworth Kelly: Colored Paper Images, is an exhibition of 23 prints at the National Gallery of Art.

MoMA is currently showing the Chatham Series, the first series of paintings, Kelly produced after leaving the city for upstate New York, in 1970. For an overview of all Ellsworth Kelly 90th birthday-related events happening in New York, go to the GalleristNY blog.

Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, the Barnes Foundation’s ‘first show of contemporary art in ninety years,’ and first by a living artist is Ellsworth Kelly: Sculpture on the Wall, dominated by the 1956-57 Sculpture for a Large Wall, made of 104 anodized aluminum panels, some of them colored red, blue, yellow and black, arrayed in four long rows each measuring 65 feet.

All works above from Ellsworth Kelly: Panel Paintings 2004 – 2009
at The Phillips Collection
. From top

Yellow Relief over Red, 2004
Oil on canvas, two joined panels
Private collection

Green Blue Black Red, 2007
Oil on canvas, four panels
Private collection

White Diagonal II, 2008
Oil on canvas, two joined panels
Private collection

Red Relief, 2009
Oil on canvas, two joined panels
Private collection

All photos Jerry L Thompson, courtesy the artist. ©Ellsworth Kelly

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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
Paris, France
Sale: 9th November, 2012

Paris, France
Sale: 16th November, 2012

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
Archive Lambda print

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