Posts Tagged ‘Max Ernst’

Books | Linder: Slicing Through the Cheesecake

Friday, June 19th, 2015

Child of the Mantic Stain, 2015
Acrylic on paper

Mouth to Mouth Interview
Dawn Ades, CBE, curator, educationalist, Fellow of the British Academy, former Tate trustee, Professor of History of Art at the Royal Academy, and author of Photomontage (Pantheon, 1976) talks to artist Linder, about her work, and her finely-crafted, fascinating and X-rated monograph, published by Ridinghouse.

Linder, born in Liverpool (1954, aka Linda Sterling) has eight items of early work in the permanent collection at Tate Britain. Exhibited internationally, with solo UK shows at The Hepworth Wakefield, and Tate St Ives, her career spans almost four decades. Once muse to Morrissey, she acknowledges her debt to surrealism, expressionism and punk. Best known for her record sleeves for The Buzzcocks, she creates photomontages, often obscuring the more graphic details of heterosexual and homosexual pornographic images with overlaid flowers, or everyday household commodities. In her latest work (above) she is experimenting with a different medium.

Girls of the World X, 2012

The Myth of the Birth of the Hero II, 2012

Dawn Ades You mentioned that you are including a single work from this new period of experimentation in the book, a kind of endnote (Child of the Mantic Stain, 2015 (above)). And the crucial thing, as you were saying earlier, is that it is no longer a photomontage.

Linder It is definitely not photomontage. I’m not quite sure what it is yet, it feels new and very exciting.

The Berlin dadaists chose to call themselves monteurs rather than artists to distinguish their activity from collage, which was already part of a modernist tradition with cubism.

I made my early photomontages with the same curiosity as a mechanic lifting up the bonnet of a malfunctioning car. I was already familiar with a lot of the artists – Hannah Höch, John Heartfield, El Lissitzky, Raoul Hausmann and Max Ernst, but your book Photomontage encouraged me to look far more deeply at the connections between each artist. [Books] provided me with a new visual vocabulary, as well as a verbal one, introducing words such as ‘photomontage’, ‘clitoris’ and ‘hegemony’, all of which I use still. When I was eighteen, in 1973, I enrolled at Manchester Polytechnic on a Foundation Course in Art and Design. I thought that I would find like-minded souls with whom I could swap notes about Millet, de Beauvoir and the Brontë sisters – they all seemed equally important at the time. It wasn’t quite what I had hoped for. We studied briefly in each department to experience the courses on offer at degree level: textile design, industrial design, fine art, advertising, etc. I chose to study graphic design. I felt that I stood more chance to

When did you begin cutting images up?

It was only in the summer of 1976, that I began to use the scalpel as a creative instrument. As we began to come of age, musically, sartorially and graphically, we started to cut things up – we cut up our hair, our coats and our magazines. We painted the walls of our bedrooms black, wore bin bags as dresses, our underwear as outerwear, dog collars instead of diamanté and dyed our hair with Crazy Colour, [but] I was far happier sitting in my room on a Saturday night studying Lissitzky’s Wolkenbügel than dancing to [Rod Stewart's] Tonight’s the Night in Rafters nightclub in Manchester. I wanted to make stab incisions into the host culture around me.

Making your incisions in the magazine pictures was pretty aggressive, as an initial move.

Over the years, the cuts made by my scalpel have all had a mood of their own, alternately violent, sensual, cold, premeditated or spontaneous, depending upon my mood and the work that I wanted to create.

With many of the photomontages, the addition is clear. The latest household goods, for example, in one of the sequences in Pretty Girls: hoover, stereo, TV. But in others the relationship is more ambiguous, for instance between bodies and food, the cakes, buns, biscuits. Then with the flowers, the roses in particular, sometimes they’re paired with pornographic images, sometimes with ballet dancers.

I use pornographic imagery variously as a decoy, bait, a lure, a fake aesthetic arrest; I have to stop people in their tracks somehow. The cut-out cakes, buns and biscuits floating on the pornographic pictorial plane simultaneously coax and repel. So, the bun and the breast both vie for our attention; the visual engineering gives equal torque to both engines of desire; the prizes on offer for the winner may be sugar, semen or both. The rose, the iris, the orchids and lilies work in different ways.

Roses have been a strong, sustained part of your iconography…

I love the litany of rose names: Super Star, Peace, Tiffany, Red Radiance, Proud Land, Crimson Glory, Pink Peace, Bewitched, Fragrant Cloud, Europeana, New Dawn, Christian Dior. Somebody, somewhere must have decided that the vermillion petals of their new rose should be christened Super Star. Meanwhile the women in Playboy were only ever given one name: Tania, Carole, Suzy, Lena.

Salad, 1977
Photomontage on paper

Does [the 1970s] period have a more personal meaning for you? You also go back and use magazines from the 1950s and 60s, don’t you?

I often use imagery from the early 1970s. I also went through a phase of making photomontages using 1950s glamour magazines, adding one rose to each. They’re restorative; something blossoms there rather than stasis. As a very young child, my step-grandfather would show me glamour photography. I couldn’t read books very well then but I could read the change in the sexual charge in the air.

Those were pornographic images? This was nudes? Glamour photography?

Yes, these were pornographic images and it happened to me from a very young age – from around three years onwards. My step-grandfather engineered a very incestuous relationship with his granddaughter. I look back at similar images in my archive and try to work out who was trying to cast glamour upon whom in that upstairs bedroom in Liverpool.

Pretty Girls, 1977 / 2007 (detail)
Pigment print of original artwork

Against Interpretation, 2012
Duratrans on lightbox
Edition of 3 + 1 AP

You say you just work on a kitchen table, but you must have an archive of material?

I have a large archive of material that’s very well organised by year and subject. There are rows of storage boxes labelled variously with, ‘Lips: Glossy’, ‘Birds: British’, ‘Gay Porn: Contemporary’, ‘Ballet Books: 1940s’, ‘Cake Decorating Books: 1960s’, etc.

You’ve worked with fashion, with pornography, but also with very ‘domestic’ images. How do these function in your work?

The domestic images ventriloquise the everyday, that with which we are most familiar and which we feel most in control of. A cut-out photograph of a coffee percolator which has migrated from the world of interior design to the claustrophobic world of the glamour model – as in Pretty Girls – immediately presents a sphinx-like conundrum. The objects of desire, the shiny new kettle and the nude, parade before us, each one vying to foreground the other. Something peculiar happens when they both inhabit the foreground at the same time.

There must be a certain amount of glee in the subversion, and deconstruction, of the images.

I sometimes laugh out loud at the work that I make.

This text above is composed of edited excerpts from the complete interview which appears in the Ridinghouse book Linder, from which all of the images are also taken.

Text excerpts © Linder and Dawn Ades, courtesy Ridinghouse, London
All images by Linder, © Linder, courtesy Stuart Shave / Modern Art, London

Linder in conversation with Dawn Ades
Published by Ridinghouse 2015
Hardback, 270 pp
225 colour images
Available now

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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 Blog’s publishers 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 | Meret Oppenheim

Saturday, August 3rd, 2013

Meret Oppenheim Retrospective
Berlin, Germany
16th August – 1st December, 2013

On a visit to Berlin this spring I went to the Martin-Gropius-Bau museum to see their tremendously well staged Kosmos Farbe exhibition, in which the two Swiss-born Bauhaus masters Johannes Itten and Paul Klee’s work was carefully arranged to allow for comparison and contrast. The same venue will host Meret Oppenheim: Retrospective, the first ever major retrospective of the Berlin-born (1913) artist, brought up in Switzerland.

Oppenheim studied in Basel, where she saw an exhibition of Bauhaus work that included some by Paul Klee that inspired her to produce a series of pen and ink drawings in a school notebook – her own first surrealist work – which proved to be the catalyst for her move to Paris in 1932 to attend the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. Meeting André Breton gained her the entré she had sought to the surrealist circle, with whom she would exhibit her own work for the first time the following year; a year which would see Man Ray posing her nude with an etching press, in a famous series of photographs that includes Erotique voilée (1933, above).

Named after Meretlein, a wild child who lives in the woods in Gottfried Keller’s novel Der Grüne Heinrich (The Green Henry), Oppenheim was quickly adopted by the group whose members, including Alberto Giacometti, (Jean) Hans Arp, Max Ernst, Francis Picabia and Dora Maar, identified her as the perfect embodiment of the surrealist woman, the femme-enfant through whose youth, naivety and charm, they believed had direct access to the world of dreams and the unconscious. Produced decades later her self-portrait, Skull and Ornament (1964) – an x-ray image of her head in profile, complete with large, ringed earrings – might be interpreted as the artist allowing us a glimpse of this mythical inner persona.

Oppenheim returned to Basel in 1937, entering a period of personal and artistic crisis, during which she worked sporadically, destroyed much and even went back to art school. When she began working in earnest again in the 1950s, she produced works based mainly on earlier sketches. Her painting Schwarze Strich-Figur vor Gelb, (above), produced between 1960 and 1981, is a clear reference to her original inspiration, Paul Klee’s work.

Linking her firmly to her surrealist friends, her humorous treatments of everyday materials in odd combinations, often suggestive of metamorphosis, would become some of the distinctive features of her work. However, Oppenheim wasn’t in it just for laughs. She became well-known for her emancipatory, non-conformist attitude and her critical approach to gender stereotyping, making her a central role model for 20th century women artists. ‘Freedom isn’t given to you – you have to take it’, she said, summing up her stance in 1975. And, right up to her death in Basel in 1985, the artist’s work courted controversy. When the city of Bern, famous for its traditional fountains commissioned her to design her Tour-fontaine (in Waisenhausplatz), inaugurated in 1983, and produced when she was already entering her seventies, residents queued up to sign petitions demanding its removal.

Celebrated by the surrealists as ‘the fairy woman whom all men desire’, much of Meret Oppenheim’s better known pieces are loaded with latent erotic content, which might provide some explanation as to why, when I was at the tender age of 15, in 1970, perhaps unsure of whether he should be showing us it, our very bright and progressive art teacher, closed the door firmly and pulled down the window blinds – it was a winter evening and already dark outside – prior to projecting Oppenheim’s iconic Objet (1936), the fur cup, saucer and spoon, on to a wall, introducing our single sex class to surrealism. Art critic Robert Hughes called it ‘the most intense and abrupt image of lesbian sex in the history of art.’ Years later, when I was studying graphics at London’s Royal College of Art, in a clever and poignant reminder of Objet, my contemporary, the late John Hind – who began working at British Vogue before he’d even finished the course, and would within a few short years become the magazine’s art director – in homage to the artist, made a fur purse as a container for a lipstick, the bright red tip provocatively poking out.

Images from top
Man Ray photograph f
rom the series Erotique voilée  mit handschriftlich
markierten Ausschnitten des Künstlers
, 1933
Galerie 1900–2000, Paris
©Man Ray Trust, Paris / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, 2013

Meret Oppenheim, Pelzhandschuhe, 1936
Ursula Hauser Collection, Switzerland
Photo Stefan Altenburger Photography, Zürich
©VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, 2013

Meret Oppenheim, Schwarze Strich-Figur vor Gelb, 1960–1981
Private collection, Bern
Photo Peter Lauri, Bern
©VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, 2013

Margrit Baumann photograph,
M.O. mit Sechs Wolken auf einer Brücke, 1977, Bern 1982
©Photo Margrit Baumann
Archiv Christiane Meyer-Thoss, Frankfurt am Main

Meret Oppenheim, Eichhörnchen, 1969
Private collection, Montagnola
Photo Peter Lauri, Bern

©VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, 2013

Meret Oppenheim. Retrospective
Hatje Cantz Verlag
Editors: Heike Eipeldauer, Ingried Brugger, Gereon Sievernich
312 pages, 364 images
Museum edition €25

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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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Sculpture | Alexander Calder: The Swedish Collection

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Contemporary Art Evening Auction
London, UK
Sale: 12th February, 2013
Exhibition: 9th-12th February, 2013

Red Skeleton, 1945
Painted metal and wire standing mobile
Estimate £150,000 – 200,000

Untitled, 1954
Painted metal and wire standing mobile
Estimate £150,000 – 200,000

Red Yellow and White, 1955
Painted metal and wire standing mobile
Estimate £150,000 – 200,000

The Red Base, 1969
Painted metal and wire standing mobile
Estimate £150,000 – 200,000

A large collection of modern and contemporary art assembled by an unnamed Swedish individual that includes works by Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Marc Chagall, Max Ernst, Natalia Goncharova and Tom Wesselman will be sold at Sotheby’s over the coming months.

Four delightful Alexander Calder pieces from the Swede’s collection are the opening lots in Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction, and are amongst a phenomenal list of prized items from a wide variety of other sources, alongside which – as with all items exhibited in the viewing galleries – they can be viewed, free of charge.

Calder (1898 – 1976) was immensely popular in Sweden during the 1960s and 70s, when this collection was being assembled, and interestingly – an indication of the country’s particularly receptive attitude to modernism during the post-war period – the first donation to the Moderna Museet, which opened in Stockholm in 1958, had been a Calder.

These four items, all of them miniatures – the largest 40.3 x 30.5 x 10.5cm/15 7/8 x 12 x 4 1/8 inches – have a red theme, and were produced at intervals between 1945 and 1969. Also in this sale is another and unrelated Alexander Calder piece, produced around 1927, and typical of his earlier work, a wire figure on a wooden base, representing John D Rockerfeller – a clever homage to one of the USA’s most recognisable businessmen, the great philanthropist is gently caricatured in a golfing pose. Following a visit to Mondrian’s studio in 1930, Calder made his first wholly abstract compositions and invented the moving kinetic sculptures, dubbed mobiles by Marcel Duchamp, in 1931. By 1943, following a major retrospective at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Calder had begun seeking a way of creating more complex sculptural forms. Red Skeleton, produced in 1945, and the earliest of the sale items, dates from this period of experimentation and exhibits Calder’s new technique of piercing alternating planes. The use of wire and coloured organic forms in this and the other three works, imbues them with irrepressible energy and demonstrates the sculptor’s vituoso technical prowess. Calder was an artist with an extraordinary zest for life: his bright, joyful colours were an invitation to everyone to enjoy his work as much as he enjoyed making it.

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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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