Posts Tagged ‘Gagosian Gallery’

Art | Richard Serra Draws

Friday, April 12th, 2013

Richard Serra: Double Rifts
Gagosian Gallery
Beverly Hills, California, USA
17th April – 1st June 1, 2013

Richard Serra draws. Richard Sera sculpts. He sees each as an autonomous activity. He doesn’t make drawings of the sculptures he intends to create – he makes models. Neither does he make drawings of his finished sculptures.

Serra, born in 1938 and probably the world’s best-known contemporary sculptor, who has produced large-scale, site specific pieces for clients around the globe, and whose work has been celebrated in two retrospectives at The Museum of Modern Art, twenty years apart, whose major recent drawing exhibitions include Richard Serra Drawings: Work Comes Out of Work, Kunsthaus Bregenz (2008); Richard Serra Drawings: A Retrospective, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2010 – travelled to San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Menil Collection, Houston in 2012) was drawing long before he became a sculptor. In San Francisco where he grew up, his proud mother would introduce her young son, who sketched on pink butchers’ roll paper, as Richard ‘The Artist’.

Richard Serra doesn’t paint. As a student at Yale – where he was accepted on the strength of 12 drawings – he painted, but he paints no more. Paintings, in his opinion, are produced with the viewer in mind, while drawings are for the artist. Drawing every day, Serra insists that the practice is primary to artists and gives them grounding. He would always rather look at someone’s drawings – Van Gogh’s, Rembrandt’s – than at their paintings. Indeed drawing to him, reveals far more than painting about the way an artist thinks and sees.

In his search for an individual way forward in his drawing, Serra says that there came a point quite early on in his career when, faced with the entire history of anyone else who had ever made a mark on a piece of paper, he realised that he needed to adopt a radical approach. Abandoning representation and any anecdotal references to other things, he discovered that by defining the form he was creating in relation to the space around it, relating it to the architecture, to the floor, the walls and to the ceiling, he could draw with space, thus ‘making space palpable’.

It’s only to be expected that Serra, who pushes the concept of drawing to its limits and whose drawings are often almost as monumental as his sculptures, uses unconventional methods to create them. Unwilling to ‘make art out of the art store’, as he puts it, he uses paint-stick – a cheap material made from paraffin with a little oil mixed in – that he has melted, stamped on and even put through a meat grinder, as his medium. Often he draws with a big brick of paint-stick on handmade paper, but has also created series drawings with ink and rollers at the print shop he uses in LA.

In interviews on YouTube Serra talks about how spatial differences have always interested him, about the idea of people ‘entering into the space of a drawing’, and how – citing Cézanne’s paintings of fruit, as an example – he tries to imply gravity within the structure of his drawings. For his installation drawings his object has become to ‘create a space within the space that differs from the architectural container.’ Consequently, as an exhibitor he is extremely hands on – when drawings intended to work in one gallery are transferred to another, he may even alter them to function to his satisfaction within the new context.

The Richard Serra: Double Rifts show at the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills is an exhibition of Richard Serra’s recent drawings.

Drawings from top
Double Rift #5, 2012, Richard Serra
Paintstick on handmade paper
289.6 x 537.2 cm (114 x 211 1/2 ins)

Double Rift #9, 2013, Richard Serra
Paintstick on handmade paper
214 x 611.5 cm (84 1/4 x 240 3/4 ins)
Images ©Richard Serra. Courtesy the artist & Gagosian Gallery


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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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