Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

Photography | Ursula Schulz-Dornburg in Transit

Friday, July 27th, 2018

Erevan – Parakar
(from the series:
Transit
Places, Armenia
), 2004

Gelatin silver print.
Städel Museum,
Frankfurt am Main



Ursula Schulz-Dornburg:
The Land In-Between
– Photographs from 1980 to 2012
Städel Museum
Frankfurt am Main | Germany
Until > 9 September 2018



From Medina to
Jordan Border
(from the series: From
Medina to Jordan
Border), 2003
Gelatin silver print.
Archive of the artist



Ursula Schulz-Dornburg just keeps on going. One of Germany’s most well-respected and well-travelled photographers, who was born in Berlin in 1938, has traversed Europe, the Middle East and Asia for more than forty years in pursuit of border landscapes, places of transit and relics of past cultures. Her images are a vigorous demonstration that where you go, what you do there and what you bring back are far more important than where you come from.

Based in Düsseldorf since 1969, Schulz-Dornburg rebuffs the comparisons her work draws with that of the ‘Düsseldorf School’ of photographers that grew up in the city around Bernd and Hilla Becher and includes, among others, their former students Andreas Gursky and Thomas Struth, and with which she is often associated. But the superficial similarities between her work and the Bechers’ (who never taught her) – extended series of analogue, black and white images, shot with the same lens and from the same angle, and often devoid of people are difficult to shrug off. Describing herself as a campaigner and activist, however, Schulz-Dornburg insists that her photography, unlike theirs, has always been political. Her training as a photojournalist in Munich from 1959 to 1960, and having been born into a family of architects, she says, have been the most important and enduring influences on her images.

Valley of the Tombs
(from the series:
Vanished Landscapes,
Palmyra, Syria), 2010
Gelatin silver print.
Städel Museum,
Frankfurt am Main



Vanished Landscapes,
Iraq, Marsh Arabs
(from the series:
Vanished Landscapes,
Iraq, Mesopotamia), 1980
Gelatin silver print.
Private collection, USA



While Schulz-Dornburg is interested in the marks humans have left behind in the landscape in the course of lengthy historical processes, as well as in recent political changes of the kind brought about, for example, by the Gulf Wars (between 1980 and 2003) her work has a parallel with that of the Dutch photographer Marie-José Jongerius, who has explored America’s ruination of its western landscape, via its unquenchable thirst for water. Although the end results look entirely different, Schulz-Dornburg’s approach to her subject matter is also reminiscent of Canadian Edward Burtynsky’s strategy of producing ‘idyllic’ photographs of recycling yards, mines, quarries and refineries that represent his search for a dialogue between attraction and repulsion.

Kronstadt (from the
series: Kronstadt), 2002
Heliography.
Archive of the artist



From Medina to
Jordan Border

(from the series: From
Medina to Jordan
Border), 2003

Gelatin silver print.
Archive of the artist



To date, her travels have taken her to such diverse destinations as the Tigris in ancient Mesopotamia, Iraq (1980), the Sulawesi area of Indonesia and the hermitages along the route to Santiago de Compostella, Spain (1996). Many of her projects have been published as books or catalogues to the swathe of over 50 solo exhibitions, from Italy’s Venice to Santa Monica in California, she has had since 1997. One of the series of Soviet-era bus stops she began photographing that year in Armenia and continued documenting until 2011, was recreated by the architects Herzog & de Meuron for a project in Burgos, Spain in 2007 that ran until 2012.

With some 250 works, Ursula Schulz-Dornburg: The Land In-Between – Photographs from 1980 to 2012 at Städel Museum is the first-ever comprehensive institutional survey of the photographer’s oeuvre.

All photographs by and © Ursula Schulz-Dornburg, courtesy Städel Museum


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Photography | Who was Who in 20th Century Art

Friday, June 22nd, 2018

Jeff Koons, 1993
Vera Isler
© VG-Bildkunst,
Bonn 2018



Artist Complex.
Photographic Portraits from
Baselitz to Warhol
Museum für Fotografie
Berlin | Germany
29 June > 7 October 2018



Most of us know what Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso looked like. But, until the Renaissance, when the likes of Michaelangelo began surreptitiously inserting images of themselves into their own paintings, few outside their close circle of family, friends and patrons were able to identify them. That isn’t to say that people wouldn’t have been curious, however, the situation changed little until the invention of photography in the 19th century, when the first photographs of artists such as Edgar Degas, were produced. Coincidentally, the photographic portraits included in this forthcoming exhibition at Berlin’s Museum für Fotografie are restricted to the period from 1917, when Degas died, to the year 2000.

Would you recognise the German artist George Baselitz? If you saw a picture of Sonia Delaunay would you know it was her? A portrait of Jean Arp is included in this exhibition but do you know what his equally-talented wife, the artist, painter, sculptor, textile designer, furniture and interior designer, architect and dancer, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, looked like?

Alberto Giacometti,
Paris 1960,
Christer Strömholm
© Christer Strömholm /
Strömholm Estate



Marina Abramovic, 1994,
Thomas Adel
© Thomas Adel



Not content to admit that the images going on show will simply satisfy visitors’ superficial curiosity about the 20th century artists whose work they are familiar with but whose faces they may not know, the curators of Artist Complex are at pains to explain that their aim is to establish that what an artist looks, or looked like, matters. Taking the idea of the artist as often being associated with ingenuity, creativity and freedom of composition and linking it to the theories of Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung, who defined a ‘complex’ as ‘a structure of feelings, thoughts and memories that determine our thoughts and actions,’ might be over-intellectualising things just a bit, though, when, in many cases, the artists’ complex and/or debauched lifestyles and their interactions with peers would have had an equally-influential effect upon their own appearance. The personality and point of view of the photographer, as well as the relationship between the photographer and the artist – for example, that between Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O’Keeffe – undoubtedly had a very significant bearing on the resulting portraits, too.

Jean Arp, 1958,
Pablo Volta
© Pablo Volta



Georg Baselitz, 1989,
Jérôme Schlomoff
© Jérôme Schlomoff, 1988


Featuring around 160 works, Artist Complex. Photographic Portraits from Baselitz to Warhol at the Museum für Fotografie features portraits of world-famous artists such as Salvador Dalí, Frida Kahlo, Jeff Koons, Marina Abramović and Max Beckmann, as well as some less-familiar names, produced by a broad range of international photographers including Berenice Abbott, Brassaï, Henri-Cartier Bresson, Gisèle Freund and Arnold Newman, and again, some more obscure ones. All of the portraits on show are from the extensive collection of Angelika Platen, who is well-known in Germany for her own photographs of artists.

All images courtesy Museum für Fotografie and The Platen Collection


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Exhibitions | Roland (Don’t Call me an ‘Artist’) Topor

Friday, June 8th, 2018

Monkey Hammer
on the Chin
, 1972

Lithograph.
Galerie KK Klaus
Kiefer, Essen



Roland Topor
Panoptikum
Museum Folkwang
Essen | Germany
29 June > 30 September 2018



Schlusschor, 1991.
Theatre poster for
Münchner Kammerspiele

Offset print.
Deutsches Plakatmuseum
im Museum Folkwang



Dark but sharply witty, Roland Topor’s pen and ink drawings, sometimes with a flat wash of colour added, focusing on the relationship between the sexes, the absurdities of human existence, and the futility of endeavour was the visual equivalent of literature. During the 1970s, he produced many illustrations for Elle (France), and, from 1971-1995, regularly for The New York Times. Alongside prominent international contemporaries such as Milton Glaser and Tommy Ungerer, Topor’s work was a mainstay of the illustration annuals, eagerly pored over by art students of the period, and would influence a whole generation of magazine illustrators, who came to the fore over the next couple of decades.

Topor (1938 > 1997), however, never restricted himself to illustration. Having trained at the Beaux-arts de Paris in the 1950s, he vehemently rejected being pigeonholed as an ‘artist’. His illustrations had first appeared, in 1958, in the dada- and surrealist-flavoured Bizarre revue but he would go on to become a successful novelist, playwright, actor, costume and stage designer, filmmaker, songwriter and television writer. Few have enjoyed such success across so many diverse areas of creativity.

The Tin Drum, 1979.
Film poster

Offset print,
Deutsches Plakatmuseum
im Museum Folkwang



Suzanne’s Wobble, 1977.
Ink pen and coloured pencil.

Sammlung Jakob
und Philipp Keel



You’re a real
moron, Samuel
, 1968
Ink pen and coloured pencil.

Sammlung Jakob
und Philipp Keel



Of Polish-Jewish origin but born in Paris, Topor spent the early years of his life hidden from the Nazis in South East France. Roman Polanski, from a remarkably similar background, made a film adaptation of Topor’s novel The Tenant (Le Locataire chimérique, 1964 – extended and republished 2006) in 1976, casting himself in the lead role. In 1979, Topor was himself cast in the role of Renfield in Werner Herzog’s film Nosferatu the Vampire. Meanwhile, in 1965 his animated short film Les Escargots, created with animator René Laloux, and incorporating a scene in which a giant snail snatches a scantily-clad woman through her bedroom window and drags her inside his shell, had won the Special Jury Prize at the Cracow Film Festival. His feature-length animated film La planète sauvage (The Fantastic Planet, 1973) earned him a special prize at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival.

Wilful, 1978.
From the series Three
Images of Success
.

Lithograph.
Sammlung Jakob und
Philipp Keel



Topor’s predilection for exposing the hidden meaning of myths and fables was a legacy of his Polish roots. He combined it with his surrealist influences from Rene Magritte, and the sort of stinging political criticism that has lived on in France since the Revolution to devastating effect. Between 1961 and 1966, he worked on the satirical journal Hara-Kiri from where many of the staff went on to form Charlie Hebdo. Rather than a humorist he, reportedly, considered himself a ’smart-arse’ or ‘piss-taker’ and, in 1983, was responsible for creating the popular French TV series Téléchat, which parodied news broadcasts. United Dead Artists published a large format book ReBonjour (Hello again) of Topor’s – often erotic – linocuts, in 2010.

If you missed Topor: a Vision of the World at Paris’s Bibliothèque nationale de France last summer, try to see Panoptikum at Museum Folkwang, which, with a selection of 200 works, including films and costume designs, provides an overview of the diverse output one of the most adroit and adaptable creative minds of his generation.

All images by Roland Topor © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018, courtesy Museum Folkwang


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Art | Power to the Artists

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018

Adelita Husni-Bey,
The Sleepers, 2012
Oil on canvas
© The artist, courtesy
Galleria Laveronica,
Modica



Power to the People
Political Art Now
Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
Frankfurt | Germany
21 March > 27 May 2018



Phyllida Barlow,
Untitled: 100 banners,
2015, 2015
Lumber, plywood, tape,
wadding, fabric, paint,
sand, and plastic
© The artist, courtesy
Hauser & Wirth,
Photo Stefan Altenburger



This show doesn’t shout; it speaks a powerful, sophisticated language appropriate to our age. As we near the second decade of the 21st century, when democracy is facing critical challenges, contemporary artists are reacting by presenting us with an array of less in-your-face, more thoughtful works than those produced in the genre of political art by previous generations.

Halil Altındere,
Ballerinas and Police, 2017
Full HD Video
© The artist, courtesy
the artist and
Pilot Galeri, Istanbul



Edgar Leciejewski,
A Circle Full of Ecstasy
(detail), 2016
77 colour photographs.
Courtesy the artist



Julius von Bismarck,
Figuration #5 (May Day
Riot Police), 2009
Inkjet print
© The artist, courtesy
Alexander Levy, Berlin;
Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf



Just as supporters of democracy are having to change tack in order to deal effectively with the existential threat they are facing, artists have taken on board the rise of populist leaders, of fake news, of totalitarian propaganda, and of neoliberalism, and have adapted their approach.

Mark Flood,
5000 Likes, 2015 / 16
Spray paint on canvas,
(4,344 parts)
© The artist, courtesy
Peres Projects, Berlin,
Photo Matthias Kolb



Osman Bozkurt,
Marks of Democracy /
Portraits of the Voters, 2002
10 C-prints
Deutsche Bank Collection
© The artist



Ricarda Roggan,
Triptychon (Chair, Table
and Partition), 2001
C-Print (detail)
© The artist, courtesy
Galerie Eigen +
Art Leipzig / Berlin



Neither a single group nor an organised movement, the clutch of international artists whose work is included in Power to the People: Political Art Now at Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt nevertheless gel into a single, purposeful force to be reckoned with.

Images courtesy Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt


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Photography | Polaroid: a Unique Project

Friday, March 2nd, 2018

Buttock, 1983
Şahin Kaygun
Hand coloured,
manipulated Polaroid
Type 600 High Speed
© Şahin Kaygun



The Polaroid Project
Museum für Kunst
und Gewerbe Hamburg
Hamburg | Germany
16 March > 17 June 2018



Charles Jourdan 1978, 1978
Guy Bourdin
C-Print, © The Guy
Bourdin
Estate 2017,
courtesy Louise
Alexander Gallery



Each one is unique and can’t be duplicated. They almost always have an unfinished quality. They look more at home pinned or taped on a wall than framed up, behind glass. Polaroid prints are often cited as the precursors of apps such as Instagram but viewing them on phone and computer screens doesn’t do them any favours.

Pulls (CMY), 1997
Ellen Carey
Polaroid Polacolor-Montage
© Ellen Carey, Jayne
H Baum Gallery, NYC, NY
and M+B Gallery, LA, CA



To its credit, The Polaroid Project: At the Intersection of Art and Technology published last year by Thames & Hudson provided well-researched documentation of the medium’s history and showed an array of diverse examples of Polaroid photography. The designers of the more compact Polaroid: The Magic Material (Frances Lincoln, 2016) attempted to format the book to emulate one classic version of the Polaroid print format (8.8 x 10.7 cm) but failed to express the physicality of the prints themselves. While a wide range of photographic prints can be reproduced fairly accurately via high-quality lithography, or better still by using the gravure technique, Polaroids are ideally best seen in the flesh.

August 13, 1979, 1979
André Kertész
Polaroid SX-70
© The Estate
of
André Kertész,
courtesy Stephen
Bulger Gallery



Esther and Bee Jay, 1991
Shelby Lee Adams
Polaroid Polapan Type 52
© Shelby Lee Adams



The Polaroid Project, a travelling exhibition originally shown in summer 2017 at Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth Texas, USA, and then at WestLicht Museum for Photography in Vienna, Austria – it won’t be shown in the UK – provides another opportunity for visitors to do just that at Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe in Hamburg. Some 220 photos by over 100 artists are included in the exhibition, as well as 90 camera models and prototypes.

All images courtesy Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg


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Design | Klaus Staeck: Berlin’s Man of Action

Friday, January 26th, 2018

Lügenbaron / Lying baron, 2017.
(Baron von Münchhausen
was the legendary ‘Lying Baron’)
Offset poster



Klaus Staeck:
Sand in the Gearbox
Museum Folkwang
Essen | Germany
9 February > 8 April 2018



Die Gedanken sind frei /
Thoughts are free, 1979
Offset poster



Sued unsuccessfully 41 times, German graphic designer, publisher, political activist and lawyer, Klaus Staeck has triggered far-reaching scandals often ending in legal disputes aimed at banning his artwork from public display.

The feisty 80-year-old held the office of President of the Academy of Arts in Berlin from 2006 to 2015 and has since been its honorary president. Based in the German capital and almost unknown outside German-speaking areas of Europe, Staeck’s provocative poster designs have pointedly highlighted socio-critical issues and crises in the Federal Republic and occasionally beyond, since the late 1960s.

Vorsicht Kunst /
Caution, Art, 1982
Offset poster



His on-going campaign Aktion für mehr Demokratie / Action for More Democracy founded in 1971, in aid of culture and press freedom, will be presented as a documentary room installation within his retrospective exhibition at Museum Folkwang from next month until April.

Self-taught, Staeck had begun creating posters, postcards, and flyers, while pursuing his legal studies in the 1950s. In 1960, he became a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and was involved in local politics in Heidelberg throughout the 60s.

Würden Sie dieser Frau
ein Zimmer vermieten? /
Would You Rent a Room
to This Woman?, 1971
Silkscreen print



After his notorious posters, depicting a haggard old woman (actually, Albrecht Dürer’s mother), posing the question: ‘Would You Rent a Room to This Woman?’, mysteriously appeared overnight on 380 advertising pillars during the 1971 Dürer – Year of the City of Nuremberg celebrations – at the time, the city happened to be hosting a house and landowners’ conference – he was catapulted to national fame. The following year Staeck produced and paid for one million posters for the SPD election campaign.

Thema Freihandel /
Free Trade, 2015.
(TTIP = Transatlantic Trade
& Investment Partnership)

Offset poster



Having set up his publishing company Edition Staeck in 1965 – which is still going strong – to sell his prints and raise funds for his political activities, his first works had been woodcuts. In 1967 he switched to screen printing and, when his projects demanded longer print runs, he utilised commercial, offset lithography.

A close friend of Joseph Beuys, Klaus Staeck was invited to exhibit in Documenta 6 (1977), 7 (1982) and 8 (1987) – Germany’s most prestigious exhibition of contemporary art that takes place every five years in Kassel – and from 1986 was a guest professor at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. He became a member of the culture senate of the Free State of Saxony in 2004.

Coca Cola 1, 1970
Silkscreen print



Via his website Unterwegs in Sachen Kunst und Politik / Travels in Art and Political Things, in addition to his own works, Staeck’s online shop sells postcards, posters, books and objects by many of the prominent international, politically-minded artists he has been associated with and who have lent him their support, including Bernd and Hilla Becher, Max Bill, Christo, Günter Grass, Naim June Paik, Blinky Palermo, Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter and Dieter Roth.

Klaus Staeck: Sand in the Gearbox at Museum Folkwang will present 180 of Staeck’s subversive poster designs as well as early prints, postcards and objects. Edition Folkwang / Steidl are publishing a catalogue to accompany the exhibition.

All poster images by Klaus Staeck, courtesy Museum Folkwang © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018


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Photography | The High Life & The Horror

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

Serge Lifar, 1935,
Madame d‘Ora
Gelatin silver print



Madame d’Ora.
Make Me Beautiful!
Museum für Kunst
& Gewerbe Hamburg
Hamburg | Germany
21 December 2017
> 18 March 2018



Separated Calf’s Head,
before 1958, from the
Slaughterhouse series,
Madame d‘Ora
Gelatin silver print



Having your portrait photographed by Madame d’Ora underpinned your claim to a place in the world of the beautiful, the well educated and the famous. But then the world changed. Madame d’Ora (1881 > 1963), who from 1910 had dedicated her work exclusively to Viennese and Parisian fashionable society was Jewish and, as the Germans advanced, was forced to flee the French capital.

Born into a wealthy family – her father was a lawyer at the Viennese palace court – Dora Philippine Kalmus would adopt Madame d’Ora as her professional pseudonym. Having trained as a photographer in Berlin, she established a photography studio with Arthur Benda in Vienna in 1907. The two operated a summer studio from 1921 until 1926 in Karlsbad, Germany, and set up an atelier in Paris in 1925. In the 1920s, she courted the rapidly evolving illustrated press, where her images would appear in upmarket magazines such as Die Dame, Madame, and L’Officiel de la Couture et de la Mode.

Fashion designer
Emilie Flöge
wearing a dress with
Kolo-Moser-Motifs, 1908,
Atelier d’Ora
Gelatin silver print



Woman supporting an
ailing man, 1945/46,
from the Refugees series,
Madame d‘Ora
Gelatin silver print



She photographed fashion for the Wiener Werkstätte, and the long list of those who sat for Madame d’Ora included the clothing designer, businesswoman and lifelong companion of Gustav Klimt, Emilie Flöge. She produced portraits of Coco Chanel, Colette, Russian prima ballerina, Anna Pavlova, and Tamara de Lempicka. Aristocrats like Comtesse Heléne Costa de Beauregard and the modernist patron Marie-Laure de Noailles, Vicomtesse de Noailles, became her clients. However, her camera wasn’t reserved for women; considered the chief architect of modern French ballet, Serge Lifar sat for her, as did Picasso and Maurice Chevalier. In the 1920s Madame d’Ora had photographed flamboyant Jazz-Age entertainer, Josephine Baker, who – by now a French citizen – when war came, joined the Resistance.

Tamara de Lempicka
with a hat by Rose
Descat, 1933,*
Madame d‘Ora
Gelatin silver print



Skinned Rabbit Body,
before 1958, from the
Slaughterhouse series,
Madame d‘Ora
Gelatin silver print



By 1945 d’Ora, incensed and appalled by the cruelty of the Nazis, had adopted a tough-edged, no-frills photographic style that she used to document the fate of refugees in the area around Vienna. Returning to Paris and to the glamorous world of portraiture, her personal artistic response to the horrors of war would nevertheless reach its apotheosis in two haunting photographic series of 1950 and 1958 depicting the bloody, dismembered remains of dead animals in the city’s slaughterhouses.

The exhibition Madame d’Ora. Make Me Beautiful! at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (MKG) presents the first-ever survey of d’Ora’s work and features some 250 photographs spanning her career from the 1910s to 1950s.

All photographs courtesy Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg.
All photographs © Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, except (*) from a private collection in Vienna


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Architecture | Brutalism Bites Back

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

Plumbers and Gasfitters
Employees’ Union Building,
Melbourne, Australia, 1968 > 1971.
Architect Graeme Gunn
Photo Graeme Gunn c 1971



SOS Brutalism
Save the Concrete Monsters!
Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM)
Frankfurt am Main | Germany
9 November 2017 > 2 April 2018



Birmingham City Library,
Birmingham, UK, 1969 > 1973,
demolished 2016.
Architect John Madin
Photo Jason Hood 2016



Brutalism has been given a hard time. Over the past thirty years or so many brutalist buildings across the globe have been destroyed. Many more are now at risk. Some of those bent on their demolition see themselves as avenging angels, ridding the world of ugly, unloved monsters that should never have been erected and which the world would be better off without. Often brutalist buildings were commissioned from noteworthy architects by big companies, cities or governments as symbols of success and of civic and national pride; they were constructed on prime sites, the current real estate values of which give pause for thought.

While no-one, in Britain at least, has gone so far as to prostrate themselves before the bulldozers, flying in the face of the destroyers’ views brutalism has reached cult status on Facebook and Instagram. On the British Brutalism Appreciation Society, Facebook page, one of its many members, Rhys Edmonds, a student at The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), expresses his excitement at having the Grade II listed One Kemble Street, built between 1964 and 1968 by Richard Seifert’s architectural company ‘right next to my Uni campus!’

Though it must be said that many were thrown up quickly and have little architectural merit, even some of the more functional buildings were executed with great care. In August this year, Westminster Council approved the demolition of the striking, brutalist Welbeck Street car park – just off Oxford Street  – designed by Michael Blampied and Partners in 1971. ‘While the car park on Welbeck Street stands out nationally as an exemplar of 1960s car parks, it does not meet the very high bar for listing buildings of this date,’ a spokesperson for Historic England said. The planners’ excuse is that removing the building is in line with the move away from the use of cars in central London.

Sainte-Bernadette du
Banlay,
Nevers, France,
1963 > 1966.
Architects Claude Parent
& Paul Virilio

Photo Bruno Bellec 2008



Sacré-Cœur Cathedral,
Algiers, Algeria, 1955 > 1963.
Architects Paul Herbé
& Jean Le Couteur

Photo Cyril Preiss 2005



Holy Trinity Church,
Vienna, Austria, 1971 > 1976.
Architect Fritz Wotruba
Photo Wolfgang Leeb 2011



Meanwhile, the Centre for Visual Arts and Culture held the day event Caring for Brutalism in Durham last month in response to the Secretary of State’s renewed decision not to list the city’s angular, concrete students’ union building. Designed by Architects Co-Partnership, Dunelm House was completed in 1966 under the supervision of internationally renowned engineer Sir Ove Arup – his remarkable oeuvre was celebrated in a major retrospective exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in 2016 – whose adjacent Kingsgate Bridge opened two years earlier. Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, the noted architecture historian, considered the building, ‘Brutalist by tradition but not brutal to the landscape…the elements, though bold, [are] sensitively composed.’

It’s interesting to note that the term brutalism does not originate from the English word ‘brutal’, but rather from ‘béton brut’ – the French term for exposed concrete. However, it was coined in the 1950s by a young generation of architects in Britain who used the expression ‘New Brutalism’ to distance their work from the dreariness of post-war architecture. Architecture critic Reyner Banham described the Hunstanton School by Alison and Peter Smithson (and their unrealised Soho House) as ‘points of architectural reference by which the New Brutalism in architecture may be defined’.

Rozzol Melara, Trieste,
Italy, 1969 > 1982.
Architects IACP
(Carlo Celli & Luciano Celli)

Photo Paolo Mazzo 2010



La Pyramide, Abidjan,
Ivory Coast, 1968 > 1973.
Architect Rinaldo Olivieri



Brutalist architecture celebrates rawness and bare construction, qualities that lend themselves well to photography. #SOSBrutalism is a growing database and interactive site that currently contains images of over 1000 brutalist buildings from all over the world. The passionate conservation group behind it, in whose view brutalist buildings are not always made of concrete, ‘but are all ‘rhetorical’ in that they blatantly place the focus on their material or sculptural form’, have joined forces with the internationally esteemed Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM) to present the eponymously-titled SOS Brutalism exhibition. To coincide with the show, this month Park Books publishes SOS Brutalism – A Global Survey, the first ever worldwide survey of brutalist architecture from the 1950s to the 1970s.

All images courtesy the Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM)


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Photography | Albert Renger-Patzsch: Beautiful World

Friday, October 13th, 2017

Kauper, Hochofenwerk,
[Kauper, blast furnaces]
,
Herrenwyk, Lübeck, 1927
Albert Renger-Patzsch Archiv /
Stiftung Ann und Jürgen Wilde,
Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich



Albert Renger-Patzsch
Things
Jeu de Paume
Paris | France
16 October 2017
> 21 January 2018



Hände [Hands], 1926 > 1927
Collection Ann und Jürgen Wilde



Eminent photo-historian, the late Bruce Bernard’s Photodiscovery book (1980) contains useful, sometimes lengthy potted histories of the photographers whose work he decided to include. He was dogged and persistent in his research, so, as the German photographer’s entry is severely limited, it is safe to presume that when Bernard was gathering the material together almost forty years ago, little information was available on Albert Renger-Patzsch (1897 > 1966), whose work is the subject of a forthcoming retrospective at Jeu de Paume. During the intervening years, which have seen a revival of interest in the 1920s German Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) group that included George Grosz, Otto Dix and Max Beckmann, with which Renger-Patzsch was associated, and fuelled by the popularity of the work of later and contemporary photographers such as Bernd and Hilla Becher, Martin Parr and William Eggleston – who it might be said followed in the same tradition – knowledge about him has grown and examples of his oeuvre have become more accessible.

Natterkopf [Snake's head], 1925
Berinson Gallery, Berlin



Landstraße bei Essen
[Country road
near Essen], 1929
Albert Renger-Patzsch Archiv /
Stiftung Ann und Jürgen Wilde,
Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich



Renger-Patzsch took his first photographs, aged twelve, in Würzberg, Bavaria. His first job was as a chemist, then he did a stint as a photography archivist before becoming a freelance documentary and press photographer in 1925. As with the somewhat older German photographer, Karl Blossfeldt (1865 > 1932), whose work would not achieve public attention until 1928 when his book Urformen der Kunst [Art Forms in Nature] was published, Renger-Patzsch’s scientific background exerted a strong influence on his photography. In his own very influential book Die Welt ist schön [The World is Beautiful], which appeared that same year, Renger-Patzsch displayed images from both nature and industry; all shot in a clear, uncluttered style closely related to the detached and literal renderings of reality espoused by the Neue Sachlichkeit painters, whose approach reflected the resignation and cynicism of the post-World War I period in Germany.

Stapelia variegata,
Asclepiadaceae, 1923
Albert Renger-Patzsch Archiv /
Stiftung Ann und Jürgen Wilde,
Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich



Jenaer Glas (Zylindrische
Gläser) [Jena Glassworks
(Cylindrical beakers)], 1934
Museum Folkwang, Essen



The development of the photographic process itself had been the result of in-depth scientific research. Some 19th century artists would take advantage of the medium’s capacity to record details that they could employ as reference for their paintings, and a few photographers would use it for its documentary potential, but it was generally viewed as a method of creating images that resembled paintings and executed in a style that intentionally distanced it from reality and was referred to as pictorialism. In his strong belief that his subjects did not require any enhancement Renger-Patzsch rejected pictorialism and forgoing painterly techniques, such as soft focus, recorded the exact, detailed appearance of his subjects, in an attempt to discover beauty in everyday things and places, in the ordinary and the mundane. Some of his contemporaries who were working in similar areas at the time and whose approach, like Renger-Patzch’s eschewed the emotional and the spiritual in favour of the rational and sometimes political, and whose photography was a response to the rapid industrialisation of Europe and America, included Lazlo Moholy-Nagy, August Sander and Edward Weston.

From the early 1930s Renger-Patzsch taught photography, and afterwards, while working as a freelance photographer, focused on personal projects. As with his early work, his later subjects were natural and industrial: Eisen und Stahl [Iron and Steel], 1930, Bäume [Trees], 1962), and Gestein [Stones], 1966.

Albert Renger-Patzsch: Things, at Jeu de Paume, including over 150 prints, is an overview of the themes and directions, which marked the photographers’ career.

All images by Albert Renger-Patzsch, courtesy Jeu de Paume
© Albert Renger-Patzsch / Archiv Ann und Jürgen Wilde, Zülpich / ADAGP, Paris 2017


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


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Art | Deconstructing the Diorama

Friday, September 29th, 2017

Richard Barnes,
Man with Buffalo, 2007
Inkjet print
137.2 x 167.7cm
© Richard Barnes



Diorama
Inventing Illusion
Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
Frankfurt | Germany
6 October > 21 January 2018



Hiroshi Sugimoto,
Earliest Human Relatives, 1994
Silver gelatin print
42.3 × 54.3 cm
© The artist
Courtesy Sugimoto Studio



Contemporary artists such as Jeff Wall, Isa Genzken, and Hiroshi Sugimoto have dusted off the long redundant diorama format and updated it. Examples of their visions of how aspects of our culture can be re-staged via the revived medium, have been gathered together with that of many others, for new major exhibition in Germany highlighting the stories behind the development of this form of presentation, alongside a chronology of events that took place in parallel to it.

Mark Dion,
Paris Streetscape, 2017
Diverse materials
180 x 250 x150 cm
Courtesy Mark Dion /
Galerie in Situ
– Fabienne Leclerc, Paris.
Photo Aurélien Mole



Redolent of museum visits on rainy Sundays in our youth, their subject matter often anthropological, dioramas were intended to transport us to another time and place. The time was often hundreds, thousands or even millions of years ago; the place was conjured up in painted papier-mâché and invisibly joined to a painted backdrop. While it sometimes references the past, and employs many of the established techniques – albeit with a technological twist – the new work is imbued with irony and even humour, and the main emphasis is on the here and now.

Jean Paul Favand,
Naguère Daguerre 1, 2012
Digital light installation
with 19th Century canvas
270 x 410 cm
Musée des Arts Forains
© Jean Paul Favand
Photo Jean Mulatier



The museum scenes were invariably miniaturised and usually viewed through a peephole: turning the scale on its head, Jeff Wall places a giant-sized ageing, nude, female figure in a labyrinthine modern museum interior. In Richard BarnesMan with Buffalo, a curious buffalo approaches the set-builder. For his life-sized Paris Streetscape, Mark Dion adopts a deconstructed approach, cramming the diverse elements inside an internally illuminated glass-fronted box set on wheels.

Jeff Wall, The Giant, 1992
Lightbox with transparent
photography
39 x 48 x 13 cm,
Private collection
© Jeff Wall



Jean Paul Favand’s Naguère Daguerre (2012), which relies on two restored canvases from a nineteenth-century mechanical theatre references Louis Daguerre – inventor of the daguerreotype photographic process in the 1830s, and one of the fathers of photography – who was involved, in the early 1820s, in developing the first diorama theatre as a walk-in, optical-mechanical playhouse in Paris.

Diorama Inventing Illusion at Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt is the first comprehensive examination of the diorama.

All images courtesy Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt


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


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