Posts Tagged ‘Jenny Holzer’

Art | James Turrell – Shining Light

Friday, June 14th, 2013

James Turrell
Solomon R Guggenheim Museum
New York City, USA
21st June – 25th September, 2013

‘I like to work with [light] so that you feel it physically, so you feel the presence of light inhabiting a space,’ says American installation artist James Turrell. ‘My desire is to set up a situation to which I take you and let you see.’ What he has called his ‘thingness of light’ becomes your experience, and it can be an unnerving one. Turrell gives light volume. The result is awe-inspiring and so compelling that walking away from one of his works is a struggle; having left it the urge to return can be almost insuperable.

Fittingly, Turrell’s first solo show since 1980 in a major New York venue, in which his new site-specific work, Aten Reign (2013) – six years in the planning – will transform the rotunda of Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic building into one of his luminous and immersive Skyspaces, opens at the Guggenheim Museum on the summer solstice.

Turrell (born, 1943) already had a degree in perceptual psychology when, in 1966, he embarked on a master’s degree at the University of California and started playing around with the idea of creating 3D sculptures using only light as his medium. He was and isn’t the only late 20th/early 21st Century artist to see creative possibilities in the phenomenon of light; Wedgework V (1975), part of a series Turrell began in 1969, in which he caused light to fall across spaces so as to divide them diagonally, creating seemingly palpable planes and surfaces, was installed in the recent Light Show at London’s Hayward Gallery alongside light-based works by a group of international artists that included Olafur Eliasson, Jenny Holzer and Dan Flavin. But while the others have their moments Turrell’s body of work is perhaps more consistent, single-minded and unique – the result of sustained and endless research, begun while he was still a student and became involved with Edward Wortz at the Los Angeles County Museum. Wortz, a psychologist, was investigating states of sensory deprivation, especially in relation to the disorientation and hallucinatory effects on humans that result from immersion in uniform fields of light and colour, once reference points such as objects and horizons have been removed. The early experiments they did together formed the foundation of Turrell’s approach to his very personal, minimal form of art which probes the limits of perception, and have informed it throughout his career.

Turrell’s work prompts self-awareness and meditation, influences drawn from his Quaker faith, with its ’straightforward, strict presentation of the sublime.’ An avid pilot with over twelve thousand hours of flying experience: he doesn’t do it just for fun but considers the sky an abundant source of ideas, as a studio, material and canvas. He admires Angkor Wat, Machu Picchu, and the Mayan and Egyptian pyramids – places and structures that have influenced his thinking. This is the man who, in order to extend his explorations of light and space from the studio into the landscape, conceived the idea, in 1974, of transforming an extinct volcano, roughly 400,000 years old and 600 feet high (Roden Crater, near Arizona’s Painted Desert and the Grand Canyon) into a monumental art statement. Work on the volcano continues. Meanwhile, Turrell has installed art pieces in twenty-two countries across the globe, from Yucatán to Tasmania, and in fourteen US states.

James Turrell is one of three concurrent, independently curated exhibitions of the artist’s work taking place this summer in the USA. Together, the exhibitions at the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, form a three-part retrospective.

James Turrell works from top
Rendering for Aten Reign, 2013
Daylight and LED light
Site-specific installation, Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York
©James Turrell
Rendering Andreas Tjeldflaat, 2012 ©SRGF

Rendering for Aten Reign, 2013 (x3)
Daylight and LED light
Site-specific installation, Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York
©James Turrell
Rendering Andreas Tjeldflaat, 2012 ©SRGF

Meeting (from the portfolio First Light), 1989–90
Aquatint, 108 x 75.6 cm
Peter Blum Edition, New York
©James Turrell
Photo Courtesy Peter Blum Edition, New York

Afrum I (White), 1967
Projected light, dimensions variable
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Panza Collection, Gift 92.4175
©James Turrell
Installation view: Singular Forms (sometimes repeated), Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York, March 5–May 19, 2004
Photo David Heald ©Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation, New York

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Show & Auction | Lucio Fontana, The Last Futurist

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Modern & Contemporary Art and Identita’ Italiana

Sotheby’s Milan, Exhibition until 22nd November, 2011
Auction 22nd & 23rd November, 2011

‘And what is there to see in an old picture except the laborious contortions of an artist throwing himself against the barriers that thwart his desire to express his dream completely?’ – Extract from The Futurist Manifesto, first published in France’s Le Figaro in 1909.

Much as the Italian Futurists, whom he would have been aware of in this youth, Lucio Fontana (1899-1968) was perhaps seen as getting rather carried away by his own enthusiasm when in the 1950s he declared: ‘I make holes; infinity passes through them; light passes through them, there is no need to paint.’

This is the man who slashed his own canvases and slit open his sculptures. I’d like to use the occasion of this Sotheby’s auction in Milan, in which six of his works go under the hammer, alongside paintings and sculpture from many of Italy’s most revered 20th century artists, among them: Giacomo Balla, Arturo Martini,Giorgio de Chirico, Massimo Campigli, Mario Sironi, Alberto Savinio, Renato Birolli, Luigi Ontani, Gastone Novelli and Domenico Gnoli, to extrapolate a theory I have developed concerning Lucio Fontana.

Fontana, was born in Argentina of Italian immigrant parents, his father being a sculptor. He was in Italy studying engineering when WWI broke out and fought in it. Afterwards he studied sculpture in Milan but soon returned to Argentina before settling once more in Italy. Despite having, with some Italian artist friends, gone to Paris – like de Chirico had, more than a decade before – to join one of the many factions of modern artists there – the Abstraction-Création group – contradictorily, his first one-man abstract art show having happened the year before, Fontana’s sensitive, equine, figurative bronze Bozzetto per i ‘Cavalli che seguono la Vittoria’, 1936, (above middle, and included in the sale) dates from this period. It’s interesting to note, though, that these horses are moving, not static, and the younger one is a little ahead of its parent. 1939 finds Fontana back in Argentina where he founds a private academy and with some of his students writes the Manifesto Blanco, demanding the synthesis of artistic genres and the renunciation of traditional art materials. It recognised that: ’We live in the mechanical age. Painted canvas and upright plaster no longer have a reason to exist.’ In their place, his idea was to merge technology and art to create something entirely new and more suited to the time. Back in Milan in 1947 he wrote another manifesto: Primo Manifesto dello Spezialismo, demanding a new form of space-oriented art. At the time his concept would have seemed improbable and grandiose: to synthesize space, sound, colour, movement and time into a new kind of art.

In 1949, his fiftieth year, Fontana punched holes through painted canvases and created his first spatial environment: an experiment with shapeless objects painted in fluorescent colours illuminated by ultra-violet light to be viewed in a darkened room. Seemingly manifesto-mad, in the 1950s he wrote another three of them and continued to conduct further experiments, slashing and perforating his paintings and sculptures, and even including neon lights, memorably at the 1966 Venice Biennale where he installed an ultra-violet light-room and a violet neon-room. His uncompromising Concetto spaziale, Attesa,1964 (above top, and in the sale), is perhaps the most bald and direct of his attempts to shock the viewer into the realisation that he is not looking at a flat plane. In slashing the canvas he attempts to bring the background – the wall behind – into the painting, giving it another dimension, making the painting into an object or sculpture. Earlier in the century, the Cubists had of course already experimented with this idea but Fontana wanted to push it further. Around about this time, many of his pieces were named Concetto Spaziele, the pierced sculptural form (above bottom, and in the sale) is one of them; here his object is to blur the difference between a solid, rounded, bean-shaped object and a hollow one, thus allowing the inside as well as the outside surface to have a presence.

Looking beyond the limits of the picture, exploring space and science fiction to connect the new art to the dramatic technological and social changes taking place in the middle of the 20th Century, Fontana’s outlook was enormously influential. Ahead of his time, with so many vague and unformed but interesting ideas, it is fair to say that his spatial concept foreshadowed installation and environmental art and his promotion of gesture as art prompted performance as art. A long list of artists emerging in the 1960s and later all owe him a great debt, among them: Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Jenny Holzer, James Turrell, Laurie Anderson, Bill Viola, Christo, Fiona BannerMartin Creed

We will sing of great crowds excited by work, by pleasure, and by riot; we will sing of the multicoloured, polyphonic tides of revolution in the modern capitals; we will sing of the vibrant nightly fervour of arsenals and shipyards blazing with violent electric moons; greedy railway stations that devour smoke-plumed serpents; factories hung on clouds by the crooked lines of their smoke; bridges that stride the rivers like giant gymnasts, flashing in the sun with a glitter of knives; adventurous steamers that sniff the horizon; deep-chested locomotives whose wheels paw the tracks like the hooves of enormous steel horses bridled by tubing; and the sleek flight of planes whose propellers chatter in the wind like banners and seem to cheer like an enthusiastic crowd. Extract from The Futurist Manifesto, 1909.

Lucio Fontana may well have been the last Futurist.

Works from top
Concetto spaziale, Attesa, 1964
Bozzetto per i ‘Cavalli che seguono la Vittoria’, 1936
Concetto Spaziale, Undated

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