Posts Tagged ‘Mexico’

Books | Architecture Beyond Belief

Friday, February 16th, 2018

Capilla Abierta de la Gratitud /
Gratitude Open Chapel
by Tatiana Bilbao Studio +
Dellekamp Arquitectos



Landscape of Faith
Interventions Along the
Mexican Pilgrimage Route
Edited by Tatiana Bilbao Estudio.
Photographs by Iwan Baan.
Lars Müller Publishers
Paperback + jacket,
320 pages, 202 images,
English + Spanish text.
Available now



Mirador Espinoza del Diabolo /
Espinoza del Diabolo Lookout Point
by ELEMENTAL



El Camino de Santiago in Spain, Kumano Kodo in Japan, the Middle East’s Abraham Path and The Pilgrims’ Way in England: often enduring extremely arduous conditions, pious travellers around the world have walked, crawled and shuffled on their knees, along these famous pilgrimage routes for many hundreds of years.

But in Mexico where, every year, three million people trek the 117 kilometres of La Ruta del Peregrino (The Pilgrim’s Route), over the isolated and rugged terrain that stretches from Ameca to Talpa de Allende, to visit the site where the Virgin is alleged to have appeared in the 17th century, the pilgrims weren’t happy. For a start, the trail was badly marked; and while they were content to bear their crosses with equanimity, there were no proper resting places and they didn’t see why they should continue having to put up with unsanitary conditions and the absence of fresh drinking water.

After decades of complaints, in 2008, the government finally acted. To appease the wayfarers, a project was launched with the initial aim of furnishing them with better conditions. Nine local and international architecture studios – Godoylab, Tatiana Bilbao Studio, Dellekamp Arquitectos, Christ & Gantenbien, Ai Wei Wei + Fake Design, Luis Aldrete, HHF Architects, ELEMENTAL, Rozana Montiel, Estudio Arquitectura – were invited to create infrastructural interventions along the route.

The iconic structures that resulted, provided people with places to rest and reflect. The aggrandisement of the journey and its rituals, however, was also intended to broaden its appeal thereby attracting an audience that might include more secular visitors, whose spending on local goods and services would help the government to achieve its bigger goal of boosting the area’s economy.

Ermita Las Majadas /
Las Majadas Hermitage
by Tatiana Bilbao Studio



Mirador Los Guayabos /
Los Guayabos Lookout Point
by HHF Architects



Mirador Cerro del Obispo /
Cerro del Obispo Lookout Point
by Christ & Gantenbein



Vacio Circular / Void Temple
by Dellakamp Arquetitos +
Rozana Montiel



The vertical, chunky format of Landscape of Faith falls somewhere between that of a guidebook and a missal but whereas either of those would be chock-a-block with dense text, here words are confined to a short, general introduction, a concise essay on pilgrimage and brief descriptions of each separate project (plus an arcane prose poem by Verónica Gerber Bicecci), allowing generous space for Dutch photographer Iwan Baan’s pictures.

Bahn (b 1975) produces work for the world’s top architectural practices – SANAA, Herzog & de Meuron, OMA, Tadao Ando and Toyo Ito are among his regular clients. His appeal lies in his unique ability to focus on the connection between architecture and the surrounding environment, including those who populate it. In this instance, it could be said that he has done such a comprehensive job as to render an excursion to the isolated Mexican site, for all but the most penitent sinner or devout architecture groupie, almost unnecessary.

As the book reveals, when questioned, those who do go there appear to value the architectural structures less for their aesthetic merit than for the functional services they now provide and for the plentiful supply of flat surfaces on which they can leave commemorative graffiti.

Landscape of Faith is published this month by Lars Müller Publishers.

Spreads and page from the book © 2018 Lars Müller Publishers and the authors. All photographs by Iwan Baan, © Iwan Baan


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Exhibitions | Josef (& Anni) Albers’ Homage to Mexico

Friday, October 27th, 2017

Detail of stonework,
Mitla, c1937
Gelatin silver print.
The Josef and Anni
Albers Foundation



Josef Albers in Mexico
Solomon R Guggenheim Museum
New York City | USA
3 November 2017
> 18 February 2018



Study for Homage to
the Square: Consent, 1971
Oil on Masonite.
Solomon R Guggenheim
Museum, New York.
Gift, The Josef
Albers Foundation, Inc,
91.3895



Josef and Anni Albers liked to travel. Between 1927 and 1933 when the Bauhaus – where he was professor of art and design and she taught weaving – was officially closed and their move to the USA, the pair had visited Tenerife in the Canary Islands, Barcelona in Spain, Avignon, Biarritz, and Paris in France, and Geneva and Ascona in Switzerland. No sooner had they arrived in America than they took a trip to Cuba, before, in 1935, they packed their bags for the first of their eventual fourteen visits to Mexico and Latin America.

In truth the German-born duo had known far more about Central and South America than they did about the United States, having fallen in love with the pre-Columbian art they saw in the collections of German museums. Once Josef was established in a teaching post at the newly founded Black Mountain College in North Carolina, they took advantage of their first opportunity – he even learned to drive just so they could make the journey – to go to Mexico.

Untitled (Great Pyramid,
Tenayuca, Mexico), c1940
Gelatin silver print.
Solomon R Guggenheim
Museum, New York.
Gift, The Josef and
Anni Albers Foundation



Prismatic II, 1936
Oil on wood
composition panel.
The Josef and Anni
Albers Foundation



‘For the Albers, art and the visual had to be everywhere in your life, and in Mexico, art was everywhere,’ Josef & Anni Albers Foundation director Nicholas Fox Weber, who knew the couple, was quoted as saying in a fascinating article on the Artsy website in January of this year, ‘They felt that people there were living with visual flair, even if they were living in simple huts – the jewellery that women wore, the serapes, the blankets, the earthenware pottery. They just felt that it was the most natural thing in the world in Mexico to make the visual environment beautiful, which was the dream of the Bauhaus.’

Over the years, the couple amassed a collection of around 1,400 objects, some dating back as far as 1200 BC, including 16th century Aztec pottery as well as ancient and modern Mexican textiles.

In its forthcoming show the Guggenheim has chosen to focus exclusively on the influence Mexico exerted on Josef Albers’ (1888 > 1976) work.

Variant / Adobe,
Orange Front, 1948–58
Oil on Masonite.
Solomon R Guggenheim
Foundation, Gift,
The Josef and Anni Albers
Foundation in honour
of Philip Rylands for his
continued commitment
to the Peggy Guggenheim
Collection 97.4555



Untitled (Uxmal,
Mexico), c1940
Gelatin silver print.
Solomon R Guggenheim
Museum, New York,
Gift, The Josef and
Anni Albers Foundation



‘Mexico is truly the promised land of abstract art,’ Josef wrote to his former Bauhaus colleague Wassily Kandinsky. Although he never simply appropriated what he saw, the influence Josef derived from pre-Columbian art, objects and architecture is clear in the spirit in which he arranged the geometric shapes in his paintings and also in his photographs. The same can be said of Anni’s fabric and jewellery designs. The colours Josef saw while travelling around Latin America had a big impact on his palette too, just as they did on Anni’s.

Josef Albers in Mexico at the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum will feature a selection of rarely seen early paintings from Albers’ Homage to the Square and Variant / Adobe series, as well as a selection of works on paper, photographs and photo-collages, many of which have not been on public display.

All images artwork and photographs by Josef Albers, © 2017 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, courtesy Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York


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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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Sculpture | Ruth Asawa: Line as Form

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

Ruth Asawa: Objects & Apparitions
Christie’s Private Sales
Rockefeller Center
New York City, USA
Exhibition 6th -31st May, 2013

Associated with the formulation of modernism, the concept of line as form is an ineffable paradox that was first explored at the Bauhaus in the 1920s and early 30s. Unlikely then, in 1947, for high-school graduate Ruth Asawa, to stumble upon a language that expressed the complex notion in the looped-wire baskets used for selling eggs in Mexico’s markets. But the promising and curious student, born in 1926 of Japanese immigrant parents, who had grown up during The Great Depression and began studying drawing and painting with professional Japanese artists in the internment camps, where she and her family were confined during World War II, had already travelled to Mexico two years earlier to study Spanish and Mexican Art, and by the time her return visit came around had come under the influence of former Bauhaus master Josef Albers and architect Buckminster Fuller, both teachers at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where she had enrolled. ‘The artist must discover the uniqueness and integrity of the material’, Albers had explained, and intrigued with the idea of experimenting with wire as a medium, Asawa began to loop and twist it in a similar fashion to the Mexican basket makers, producing 3D forms – essentially, drawings in space – made from a single continuous wire. ‘I was interested in wire sculpture because of the economy of a line,’ Asawa said, ‘making something in space, enclosing it without blocking it out. It’s still transparent.’ Many of these sculptures were designed to be hung from the ceiling, and later Asawa hit upon the idea of creating transparent forms within the transparent forms, increasing the complexity and playfulness of her creations.

It wasn’t until 1953 that Asawa began exhibiting her work – in the meantime having been married and given birth to two of the six children she would have by 1959 – in solo and group shows at the San Francisco Museum of Art, The Whitney Museum of Modern Art and at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. By this time she had met and formed a life-long friendship with legendary photographer Imogen Cunningham (1883 -1976). Cunningham, famed for her images of flowers, nudes and industrial landscapes, sensitively captured the sublime lightness and fluidity of Asawa’s work in still life compositions. She produced many pictures of the artist working, as well portraits in which Asawa becomes an element inextricably enmeshed with the sculptural forms of her creations.

In the 1960s, Asawa received major commissions to make public art and in 1970, her work was exhibited in the American Pavilion at the Osaka World’s Fair. So well-established as an artist was she by the early 70s that her sculpture and paintings began being shown in a string of retrospectives at important US venues – San Francisco Museum of Art (1973), Fresno Art Center (1978 and 2001). Asawa is reprented by the Rena Bransten Gallery in San Francisco. Virtually unknown in Europe, in New York, her work can be found in major collections including that of the Solomon R Guggenheim and Whitney Museum of American Art; Objects & Apparations is her first major solo show in the city in over 50 years. Forty-eight works, including sculpture and works on paper – for sale or for private loan – will be presented in a show that takes place in the elevated setting of the 20th floor of 1230 Avenue of the Americas, at Rockefeller Center. Christie’s will offer the sculpture Untitled, above, from the Ruth Asawa Family Collection at their May 15th Post-War and Contemporary Art evening sale.

Imogen Cunningham photographs from top
Ruth Asawa, Sculptor, 1956
(Ruth Holding a Form-Within-Form, 1952)

Untitled
Hanging, six-lobed, multi-layered continuous form within a form
Estimate $250-350,000 (£160-225,000)

Ruth Asawa 2, 1957

All photos: archive pictures ©Imogen Cunningham
Courtesy Christie’s New York

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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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