Posts Tagged ‘Moma’

Art | Bodys Isek Kingelez: Extreme Model World

Friday, May 11th, 2018

Africanisch (detail), 1994
Paper, paperboard, plastic,
various other materials
Private collection
Photo Kleinefenn



Bodys Isek Kingelez:
City Dreams
Museum of Modern Art
New York | USA
26 May 2018 > 1 January 2019



Bodys Isek Kingelez
in Kinshasa, 1990
Photo André Magnin,
courtesy André Magnin



The idea of 21st-century visionaries creating buildings and even whole cities from recycled materials doesn’t seem that strange. In remote Kinshasa however, in 1978, when artist Bodys Isek Kingelez started to make his ‘extreme models’ or ‘extreme maquettes,’ of buildings out of found materials, such as bottle caps, commercial packaging and plastic, the Belgians and French who worked at the National Museum, staggering in confusion and disbelief, accused him of having stolen his technique. Soon after the Museum gave him a job as a restorer and ‘banned’ him from making sculpture.

But Kingelez persevered and although in the early 1980s, he had still never seen any city other than Kinshasa, ‘not even in photos’, the intricately-constructed models he was making began to develop into his vision of a world that he believed could be built and lived in, in the present, or in the future, and represented his hopes of renewal in a de-colonised Africa. ‘I wanted my art to serve the community that is being reborn to create a new world,’ he would say later, his Utopia still to materialise, ‘I created these cities so there would be lasting peace, justice and universal freedom. They will function like small secular states with their own political structure, and will not need policemen or an army.’

Ville de Sète 3009, 2000
Collection Musée International
des Arts Modestes, Sète, France
© Pierre Schwartz ADAGP,
courtesy MIAM



Nippon Tower, 2005
Courtesy Aeroplastics
Contemporary, Brussels
Photo Vincent Everarts



Belle Hollandaise, 1991
Collection Groninger Museum
Photo Marten de Leeuw



Plagued by poverty, mistrust in the country’s banks and a deepening economic crisis Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (previously the Belgian Congo, briefly called Zaire), where bumper to bumper traffic clogs the city while the outskirts are without either roads or electricity, has become one of the world’s worst megacities. Perhaps if its authorities and decision-makers had aligned themselves with Kingelez’s way of thinking, things might have turned out somewhat differently. Referring to himself as a designer, an architect, a sculptor, engineer, [and] artist’, he regarded his work as ‘an irrefutable contribution to life and science’, but remained forever conscious that in Africa, art was new and not yet properly understood and that political leaders were wary of it and unable to grasp its importance.

Kinshasa la Belle (detail), 1991
CAAC – The Pigozzi
Collection, Geneva
© Bodys Isek Kingelez
Photo Maurice Aeschimann,
courtesy CAAC



Having been invited to exhibit at Jean Pigozzi’s Contemporary African Art Collection (CAAC) in Paris, by 1989, Bodys Isek Kingelez (b Jean Baptiste, 1948) was catapulted to global acclaim. His work has since been featured in numerous international exhibitions and is included in the private collections of both Pigozzi and Agnes B, among others. In 1992 he began assembling entire cities with numerous buildings, avenues, parks, stadiums and monuments and, when his first large-scale imaginary city, Kimbembele Ihunga – named after the village in which he was born and brought up – was shown there in 1995, Kingelez created an homage to Jean Nouvel, architect of the Fondation Cartier building in Paris.

This month over 30 of the 3000 models Kingelez constructed during the course of his career, which ended with his death in 2015, go on show in Bodys Isek Kingelez: City Dreams at The Museum of Modern Art in New York.

All works by Bodys Isek Kingelez, made from paper, cardboard, plastic and various other materials. All images courtesy MoMA


Tell us what you think
The Blog is about art, architecture, books, design, gardens and anything else that currently interests us that 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 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


Share this post
Facebook Twitter Linkedin

Exhibitions | Josef Albers’ Bauhaus Photocollages

Friday, November 11th, 2016

Untitled (Bullfight, San Sebastian), 1930/1932
Gelatin silver prints mounted on board



El Lissitzky, Dessau, 1930/1932
Gelatin silver prints mounted on board



One and One Is Four:
The Bauhaus Photocollages
of Josef Albers
Museum of Modern Art
NYC | USA
23 November 2016 > 2 April 2017



Anyone interested in the roots of modern graphic design will be aware of the ground-breaking work of Moholy-Nagy and Herbert Bayer at the Bauhaus in the 1920s; the name of their fellow Bauhaus master, Josef Albers (American, born Germany 1888 > 1976, best-known for his signature Homage to the Square series, 1950 > 1976) wouldn’t come immediately to everyone’s mind. A new exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art and a new book, however, while demonstrating Albers’ importance as a modernist photographer – an aspect of his work that remained largely hidden until after his death – more importantly, shows how Albers’ dynamic juxtaposing of images, assembled with the object of relating a story in immediate, visual terms, foreshadowed the photojournalistic layouts which would begin to appear in the mid-1930s in magazines such as the legendary and highly-influential VU.

Marli Heimann, All During an Hour, 1931/1932
Gelatin silver prints mounted on board



Paris, Eiffel Tower, 1929/1932
Gelatin silver prints mounted on board



Paul Klee, Dessau, 1929/1932
Gelatin silver prints mounted on board



One and One Is Four: The Bauhaus Photocollages of Josef Albers, a new installation featuring 16 photocollages, is on view at The Museum of Modern Art, while the book of the same title by Sarah Hermanson Meister, with 140 pages and 120 colour and duotone illustrations, is published by MoMA and by Thames & Hudson outside the US and Canada.

All images by Josef Albers, from the Museum of Modern Art collection, courtesy MoMA, © 2016 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo John Wronn


Tell us what you think
The Blog is about art, architecture, books, design and gardens, and anything else that currently interests us that 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 that may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier


Share this post
Facebook Twitter Linkedin

Architecture | Japan’s Unmodern Architects

Friday, March 4th, 2016

Sou Fujimoto, House NA, Tokyo, 2007 > 11
Image © Iwan Baan



A Japanese Constellation:
Toyo Ito, SANAA, and Beyond
Museum of Modern Art
NYC | USA
13 March > 04 July 2016



Toyo Ito, Tod’s Omotesando Building, Tokyo, 2002 > 04
Image © Nacása & Partners Inc



Perhaps the Museum of Modern Art should consider temporarily altering its title. For the duration of this forthcoming contemporary Japanese architecture exhibition, Museum of Unmodern Art – or even Unmodern Architecture – might be more appropriate.

If modernity is about simplification, clarity and the stripping away of ambiguity, the work of Toyo Ito, SANAA (Sejima and Nishizawa and Associates), and the younger generation of Japanese architects who all share a similar philosophy doesn’t conform to this ideal. While at first glance the overall whiteness of their architecture might provide a reminder of rationalist perfection, it is soon apparent that here, humanism has been playfully nudged aside for the sake of humanity.

When Toyo Ito (b 1941) was still at school in the 1950s, the world had been boiling over with all manner of individuals and movements, not only in art, design and architecture, but also in the performing arts and in literature, all seeking a new way forward. By now the spatialist ideas formulated by Lucio Fontana in Milan during the previous decade, had been mixed in and melded with those of the Zero artists, who took light and space as their palette and exerted a global influence. At around about the same time, Gutai, the first radical, post-war artistic group in Japan became established. Emphasising the relationships between body, matter, time, and space, through conceptual, performance and painting, stressing freedom of expression, Gutai challenged the prevailing notions of art itself. Published in 1963, Niikuni Seiichi’s Zero-on, long considered the best individual collection of Japanese concrete poetry – in which the meaning or effect is conveyed partly or wholly by visual means – focussed avant garde ideas that had been around since the 1930s. It’s not surprising then that Ito and his peers, graduating from Tokyo University’s Department of Architecture in 1965, would draw upon this heady mix of influences to create a new kind of architecture.

Ito, established his first office in Tokyo, Urban Robot (Urbot), in 1971 – renamed Toyo Ito & Associates in 1979 – and won his first architecture award for his Silver Hut in 1986. Designed to function as his own home it was nevertheless an expression of his desire to create architecture that ‘felt like air and wind’. Ito has become one of the world’s leading architects and has received dozens of prestigious awards, including the 2013 Pritzker Architecture Prize. Attacking strict adhesion to rationalism, he has described how the system of the grid was established in the twentieth century, but that while its global popularity allowed a huge amount of architecture to be built in a short period of time, it made the world’s cities homogenous, making the people living and working in them homogenous too. By modifying the grid, as in such projects as his critically-acclaimed Sendai Mediatheque, one of the most identifiable characteristics of which is its structural columns, comparable in shape to large trees in a forest, rising up through the layers of the almost transparent building, Ito says that he attempts to find ways of bringing buildings closer to their surroundings and the natural environment.

SANAA, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art,
Kanazawa, Japan, 1999 > 2004
Image © SANAA



Gallery director Julia Peyton-Jones described the 2009 reflective aluminium Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in London by SANAA, as ’strange and gorgeous’. Representing a later generation of Japanese architectural practices, SANAA was founded in 1995 by Kazuyo Sejima (b 1956) – who had served an apprenticeship under Ito – and Ryue Nishizawa (b 1966), and won the Pritzker Prize – two years before Toyo Ito was awarded his – in 2010.

Echoing Ito’s unmodern sentiments, the architects themselves have referred to their Rolex Learning Centre in Lausanne (2010), where the building’s library, restaurant, exhibition areas, offices, etc are differentiated by undulations of a continuous floor, which rises and falls to accommodate the different uses, while allowing vistas across this internal spaces as a ‘landscape for people.’ In line with their belief that buildings should never lose the natural and meaningful connection with their surroundings, SANAA have recently completed a sinuous concrete, steel, wood and glass walkway that winds across the landscape of a nature reserve in Connecticut.

Akihisa Hirata, Showroom H Masuya,
Niigata, Japan, 2006 > 07

Image © Nacása & Partners Inc



Akihisa Hirata, Foam Form (Project),
Kaohsiung, Taiwan, 2011

Image © Akihisa Hirata Architecture Office
and Kuramochi + Oguma



Junya Ishigami, Kanagawa Institute of Technology
Workshop, Kanagawa, Japan, 2005 > 08

Image © Junya.Ishigami + Associates



Currently ranked among the hottest architectural practices in the world, with a string of much talked about projects behind them, including the Art Gallery of New South Wales, in Sydney, and the Louvre Lens, and many more – such as the new national gallery in Budapest’s City Park, won against fierce competition from Norway’s Snøhetta architects – in the pipeline, the company is enjoying exponential success.

A Japanese Constellation: Toyo Ito, SANAA, and Beyond at the Museum of Modern Art offers a retrospective of recent works by three generations of internationally acclaimed designers, including Sou Fujimoto, Akihisa Hirata, and Junya Ishigami.

All images courtesy the Museum of Modern Art


Tell us what you think
The Blog is about art, architecture, books, design and gardens, and anything else that currently interests us that 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 that may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier

Share this post
Facebook Twitter Linkedin

Art | Drawing Revisited

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Julian Opie
Pine forest. 7., 2014

Vinyl on wall
© Julia Opie. Courtesy of Lisson Gallery.
Unique, site-specific installation for
Line at Lisson Gallery



Tom Wesselmann
Study for Mouth, 8, 1966

Synthetic polymer paint and pencil on paper
© Estate of Tom Wesselmann/
Licensed by VAGA, New York City, NY
On show in Drawing Then at Dominique Lévy



Line
Lisson Gallery
London | UK
22 January > 12 March 2016

+

Drawing Then:
Innovation and Influence in
American Drawings of the Sixties

Dominique Lévy
New York City | USA
27 January > 19 March 2016



In 2015, auction house Christie’s broke records by selling $1 billion worth of art in the space of a week. A recent article on US-based ArtBusiness.com contends that ‘the art market is superheated to the point of meltdown’ and that prices for art by the ‘right artists’ are skyrocketing, however, it brings us back down to earth by telling us that ‘…[contemporary] art has no empirically measurable or quantifiable properties. It’s just mushed around paint, metal, wood, plastic, digital files, photosensitive surfaces, audio, video, clay, and whatever else those wacky artists can get their hands on,’ which begged the site’s query, ‘How on earth do galleries wring value out of that?’

Somewhat more elegantly, last December, British Telegraph newspaper art critic, Mark Hudson, informed us that interest in what’s happening now – at least on this side of the pond – seems to have diminished to an alarming extent. ‘As the era of the Young British Artists recedes into history,’ said Hudson, ‘the new generation of contemporary artists has failed not only to strike a chord with the public, but to create any overarching sense of identity.’ He went on to explain that ‘many of those in the know now give Frieze a miss and head straight for the neighbouring fair Frieze Masters [that] is a cornucopia of every kind of art that isn’t strictly contemporary: illuminated manuscripts hang beside tribal masks, classical sculpture and an unbelievable array of 20th-century art.’

Eva Hesse, Untitled, 1966
Ink, gouache and pencil on paper

© The Estate of Eva Hesse
Courtesy Hauser & Wirth
On show in Drawing Then at Dominique Lévy



Ed Ruscha, Trademark [#3], 1962
Oil, ink, gouache, and pencil on paper

© 2015 Ed Ruscha
On show in Drawing Then at Dominique Lévy



Perhaps two new shows, one in New York City, the other in London, both taking drawing as their subject, can be interpreted as a joint signal from the art world itself that a timely reappraisal of contemporary fine art basics might not be a bad idea. Each looks at themes in drawing since the 1960s, when accepted values of all descriptions – perception, time, the environment, identity, and gender – had a great impact on artists, who began to explore new perspectives and techniques and experimented with a limitless array of untried materials. Via a questioning of earlier, narrower approaches to the subject, a fundamental re-evaluation and reinterpretation of drawing was initiated and the notion of the medium radically changed, creating the basis of our understanding of what drawing – and art in the broader sense – constitutes today.

Drawing Then at Dominque Lévy coincides with the 40th anniversary of the 1976 exhibition Drawing Now at MoMA, and is inspired by it. The show features more than seventy works by forty American artists, including Carl Andre, Mel Bochner, Chuck Close, Dan Flavin, Eva Hesse, Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, Ed Ruscha, Frank Stella, Richard Tuttle, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol and Tom Wesselmann, almost half of whom were not represented in the earlier exhibition.

K Yoland, Red Line through Dump
(Marfa, West Texas, USA), 2013

Archival ink jet print
© K Yoland. Courtesy the artist
On show in Line at Lisson Gallery



Tom Marioni, One Second Sculpture, 1969
Black and white photograph

© Tom Marioni. Courtesy the artist
On show in Line at Lisson Gallery



Monika Grzymala, Raumzeichnung (Vortex), 2015
at Albertina Vienna, Austria

3.6 km black and white masking tape
© Monika Grzymala. Courtesy the artist
Ephemeral site-specific installation
on show in Line at Lisson Gallery



Meanwhile, Line at London’s Lisson Gallery, guest-curated by Drawing Room is a more broad-based survey than the US exhibition. Drawing is interpreted here as both a physical entity and an intellectual proposition. Spanning the late ’60s through to performative and site-specific pieces made to intermingle in the three-dimensional volume of the gallery, and extending via sound into the space, works by fifteen international artists, among them Julian Opie, Monika Grzymala, Tom Marioni and Richard Long, are included.

Appropriately, American artist Sol LeWitt, who taught at the Museum of Modern Art School, New York between 1964-7, and in 1968 devised an innovative technique of creating large-scale wall drawings that allowed others to produce them to his specifications in nearby or distant locations, has work included in both exhibitions.


Tell us what you think
The Blog is about art, architecture, books, design and gardens, and anything else that currently interests us that 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 that may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier



Share this post
Facebook Twitter Linkedin

Design | Functional Sculpture

Friday, May 15th, 2015

Philippe Hiqily,
Henri Samuel chair,
designed 1975,
2004 edition

Sotheby’s estimate:
€20,000 > 30,000



Christie’s
Design, Vent du soir /
Design Day Sale
Paris | France
Exhibition 15 + 16 + 18 + 19 May 2015
Sale 19 May 2015

+

Sotheby’s
Design 20e siècle /
20th Century Design

Paris | France
Exhibition 16 + 18 May 2015
Sale 21 May 2015



Charlotte Perriand,
Free form table / desk,
designed 1956.
Steph Simon edition c 1960
Solid saple wood.
Christie’s estimate:
€120,000 > 180,000



Along with everyone else in the Sculpture Garden at MoMA, you can sit, looking cool – imagining you’re a sculpture yourself – on sculptor Harry Bertoia’s sculptural Side chairs. But you can’t do it indefinitely, because, if we’re being completely honest, they aren’t really that comfortable, especially if the little pad that prevents the supermarket trolley style grid from embedding itself into your bottom, is missing. On the Knoll website – they produce and market Bertoia’s furniture – it says that Harry, who was primarily a sculptor, ‘found sublime grace in an industrial material, elevating it beyond its normal utility into a work of art.’ But surely, since chairs, and, for that matter, any other item of furniture must be functional, the Side chair is disqualified from ‘art’ status. Does it matter one way or the other?

Georges Jouve,
Mirror, c 1955
Glazed ceramic.
Christie’s estimate:
€8,000 > 12,000

Jean Prouvé,
Table, c 1939
Painted and folded sheet steel.
Christie’s estimate:
€80,000 > 100,000



It would seem that Donald Judd, who created sculpture that looked like furniture and furniture that might be art, thought it did. An extract from a 1993 Judd essay called It’s hard to find a good lamp reads: ‘…[S]omeone asked me to design a coffee table. I thought that a work of mine, which was essentially a rectangular volume, with the upper surface recessed, could be altered. This debased the work and produced a bad table, which I later threw away. The configuration and the scale of art cannot be transposed into furniture and architecture. The intent of art is different from that of the latter, which must be functional. If a chair or a building is not functional, if it appears to be only art, it is ridiculous… A work of art exists as itself; a chair exists as a chair itself.’

Serge Mouille,
Pair of wall sconces with
Saturn motif, c 1957
Black + white lacquered metal
Sotheby’s estimate:
€4,000 > 6,000

Pierre Chareau,
Desk MB 405 + stool SN 3, c 1928
Wrought iron and rosewood
veneer desk + wrought
iron and rosewood stool
Sotheby’s estimate:
€250,000 > 350,000



On the other hand, as Design Museum Director Deyan Sudjic said in his 2008 obituary about the great Italian designer/architect Ettore Sottsass: ‘We live in a world which values the useless ahead of the useful, which celebrates art, untainted by the least hint of utility, above the ingenuity of design that is burdened by function, and creates a cultural hierarchy to match. It was perhaps the greatest achievement of Sottsass’s long and remarkable career that he made this distinction irrelevant.’

Zaha Hadid’s designs for amorphous benches and stools are intended to blur the line between utility and sculpture. Like her architecture, their streamlined curvaceousness isn’t purely functional, nor is it merely decorative. They are functional pieces, in that they are meant to be sat on, but just having them around enlivens a space and raises the spirits, rendering them objects of desire.


Eugène Printz,
Modernist console, c 1931
Palm wood veneer
Sotheby’s estimate:
€30,000 > 50,000



Many of the – in theory – functional, and sought after items being sold in the forthcoming Christie’s ParisDesign, Vent du soir /Design Day Sale, and in Design 20e Siècle / 20th Century Design at Sotheby’s Paris, including those shown here, were designed in the modern period, but, ironically, their sculptural qualities a result of their creators’ uncompromising searches for authenticity, they could easily be taken as examples of the rule-breaking that came to be a defining characteristic of postmodernism.

All images courtesy Christie’s and Sotheby’s, respectively.
Donald Judd quote © Judd Foundation.


Tell us what you think
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



Share this post
Facebook Twitter Linkedin

Art | Jacob Lawrence’s African America

Friday, April 10th, 2015

Panel 48, Housing for the Negroes
was a very difficult problem.

The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Gift of Mrs David M Levy.
© 2015 The Jacob and Gwendolyn
Knight Lawrence Foundation,
Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS),
New York. Digital image © The
Museum of Modern Art / Licensed
by SCALA / Art Resource, NY



One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s
Migration Series and Other Visions
of
the Great Movement North
The Museum of Modern Art
New York City | USA
Until 7 September 2015



Panel 1, During the World War
there was a great migration
North by Southern Negroes.

The Phillips Collection, Washington DC.
Acquired 1942. © 2015 The Jacob
and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence
Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights
Society (ARS), New York.
Photograph courtesy The Phillips
Collection, Washington DC



Panel 17, The migration was
spurred on by the treatment of the
tenant farmers by the planter.’

The Phillips Collection, Washington DC
Acquired 1942. © 2015 The Jacob
and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence
Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights
Society (ARS), New York.
Photograph courtesy The Phillips
Collection, Washington DC



Unlike the few white people he includes – the planter, the judge, the passengers in the whites only section at the front of a bus – the skin of Jacob Lawrence’s fellow black African Americans is almost exclusively painted in the same flat, dark brown tone, mostly devoid of facial features. It is as if he painted them through a white man’s eyes, as a single, solid mass of humanity that didn’t really count, and didn’t deserve to be recognised as individuals.

Admitting that his primary influence was not so much French art, as the shapes and colours of Harlem, Lawrence referred to his style as ‘dynamic cubism.’ And, although superficially his work would appear to fall into the category that in fine art terms is referred to as ‘primitive’, he received art training and there is great sophistication in his power to convey his ideas via sharply-edited, direct images that show influences from film and photographic composition, and cropping. Indeed, Lawrence’s paintings of what has come to be called ‘The Great Migration‘ – the diaspora of 6 million African Americans from the rural southern USA to the urban north east, the midwest, and west, between 1916 and 1970 – are, in their way, equal in impact to the documentary photographs of the likes of Dorothea Lange and Gordon Parks.

Panel 52, One of the largest race
riots occurred in East St Louis.

The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Gift of Mrs David M Levy.
© 2015 The Jacob and Gwendolyn
Knight Lawrence Foundation,
Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS),
New York. Digital image © The
Museum of Modern Art / Licensed
by SCALA / Art Resource, NY



Panel 14, Among the social
conditions that existed which was
partly the cause of the migration
was the injustice done to the
Negroes in the courts.

The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Gift of Mrs David M Levy.
© 2015 The Jacob and Gwendolyn
Knight Lawrence Foundation,
Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS),
New York. Digital image © The
Museum of Modern Art / Licensed
by SCALA / Art Resource, NY



The large-scale immigration of Europeans to the USA, came to an end in 1914 at the outbreak of World War I, and as factory production in the northern states grew, a new source of cheap labour was needed. Descendants of slaves, southern blacks had their freedom, but saw little opportunity to improve their lot. Tired of the sharecropping system, in which they worked the land with little hope of economic gain, they were easy targets for newspaper advertisements that promised wages in the north that averaged three times their earnings in the rural south. Travelling by train, boat, bus, or even horse-drawn cart, hundreds, thousands, then millions of them made their way north.

In the decade between 1910 and 1920, the black population of New York grew by 66 per cent, while in Chicago it was 148 per cent. But these statistics were nothing in comparison to those for Philadelphia, where the influx of blacks reached 500 per cent. Detroit recorded a massive 611 per cent rise. But, in the increasingly crowded conditions of these northern cities, racism and prejudice would become widespread, race riots would flare up, and segregated housing led to the establishment of black ghettos.

Panel 58, In the North the Negro
had better educational facilities.

The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Gift of Mrs David M Levy.
© 2015 The Jacob and Gwendolyn
Knight Lawrence Foundation,
Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS),
New York. Digital image © The
Museum of Modern Art / Licensed
by SCALA / Art Resource, NY



Born of migrant parents and having lived in Harlem since 1913, in 1941, the 23-year-old Jacob Lawrence created a series of 60 small paintings each of which he gave caption-like titles. They were the result of his immersion in debates about African American history, and how it ought to be recorded in art and writing. He spent months studying historical documents, books, photographs and journals, before embarking on his series of paintings – his aim, to create a body of work that would provide the world with an accurate and new vision of how black Americans experienced the era.

For the first time in 20 years, all 60 panels of Lawrence’s Migration Series are reunited for the MoMA exhibition One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series and Other Visions of the Great Movement North. Accompanied by a book, Jacob Lawrence: The Migration Series, co-published with The Phillips Collection, Washington DC. The exhibition is organised by The Museum of Modern Art and The Phillips Collection, in collaboration with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, part of the New York Public Library.

All works from The Migration Series,
1940-41, by Jacob Lawrence, executed
in Casein tempera on hardboard,
18 x 12 ins (45.7 x 30.5 cm)



Tell us what you think
The Blog is about art, architecture, books, design and gardens, 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 whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier



Share this post
Facebook Twitter Linkedin

Sculpture | Tony Smith / Suburban Monumental

Friday, August 29th, 2014

Generation, 1965
Cast bronze, black patina
30 x 35 1/2 x 35 1/2 in / 76 x 90 x 90 cm


Tony Smith
Sculpture and Painting
Timothy Taylor Gallery
London | UK
3rd September > 4th October 2014


Emerging from a New Jersey suburb, taught by László Moholy-Nagy, employed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Tennessee Williams his best man, best friends with Jackson Pollock, father of Kiki Smith, and featured on the cover of Time magazine in 1967, the American sculptor, Tony Smith (1912-1980), rose to dizzying heights of international fame. But, through it all, his early background remained with him, because he liked it that way.

As a child, Smith was a frequent visitor at his family’s nearby factory that manufactured, among other things, the ubiquitous American, O’Brien fire hydrants – as featured in photographer Leonard Freed’s famous image. It was perhaps his early experiences there that gave him, in the early 1960s, the confidence to hand over the paper and cardboard maquettes, that were the result of his complex mathematical calculations – his studies of the construction of crystals, and of how octahedrons and tetrahedrons fitted together – to skilled crews of metalworkers, whom he would direct to construct his mammoth sculptures. He would later famously say that he never touched his own sculptures unless photographers asked him to lay a hand on them.

Smith briefly attended painting, drawing and anatomy classes in New York, when, in 1932, after visiting the International Style exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, which had a such a profound effect upon him, he decided to study architecture in Chicago, where he would be taught by, among other, László Moholy-Nagy. Staying just one year, he left to join Frank Lloyd Wright’s studio in 1938. Starting his own architectural business a few years later, despite receiving several prominent commissions, he became disillusioned with the industry, and returned home, ostensibly – although at one stage he opened a bookstore in Newark – to concentrate on art.


Source, 1967
Cast bronze, black patina
12 1/2 x 31 x 30 1/2 in / 32 x 79 x 77

Light Box, 1961
Cast bronze, black patina
26 1/4 x 20 x 22 in / 67 x 51 56 cm

The Fourth Sign, 1974
Cast bronze, black patina
22 1/2 x 55 1/2 x 38 in / 57 x 141 x 96 cm


He would spend most of his remaining adult life in New Jersey, bringing up three daughters with his wife, Jane, two of whom, Kiki and Seton, would become artists in their own right. There were profound lessons to be learnt in banal suburbia, from the repetition of housing styles and the concrete shapes of elevated freeways, that Smith absorbed and took along with him when commuting into New York City, and which would later manifest themselves powerfully in his art. Meanwhile, in the late 1940s and 50s, he would consort with the writer Tennessee Williams and befriend the abstract expressionists, Mark Rothko and Barnet Newman, becoming especially close to Jackson Pollock – the two born in the same year – who would visit Smith’s studio and make his own small sculptures there. Earlier, in 1945, Smith had designed a chapel in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and, in 1951-52, he and Pollack collaborated on the concept for a church that was to house some of Pollock’s abstract paintings and stained glass, however the project fell through.

Smith switched from painting to sculpture in the early sixties. His rarely seen paintings, some of which will be included in the forthcoming show, Tony Smith: Sculpture and Painting – his first solo exhibition in the UK, since 2004 – at London’s Timothy Taylor Gallery, that precede his sculptural work, anticipate the latter with their instinctive arrangements of form in space. However, he was to abandon their organic and bright shapes for clean geometric lines and the signature, uniform, black finish of his large-scale, steel, three-dimensional pieces, first exhibited in 1964. His first one-man show was in 1966. The same year, his work was included in Primary Structures, one of the most important American exhibitions of the 1960s, at the Jewish Museum, New York City. In 1967, Time magazine called Smith ‘Master of the Monumentalists’, springboarding him to global fame.


Untitled, 1960
Oil on canvas
30 1/8 x 24 in. / 77 x 61 cm


Throughout his career, Smith taught at colleges and universities, including New York University, Cooper Union, and Pratt Institute. Kiki Smith, has said that her father’s work contained deep emotion, and that it was he who opened up the eyes of her and her sister to using whatever they wanted to use, to create their art. And, as intensely personal as his work was, there was something human and inclusive about the way he wished viewers to participate in his works – by moving around them, or passing through the spaces he created under and within them. The same was true of the artist’s attitude to the naming of his pieces. Tau, 1961-1962, for example, looked at from one angle suggests a giant letter ‘T’ – Smith himself was often called ‘T’ by friends and those that worked with him – so the title he gave it is the Greek for ‘T’. Although his sculpture work is often seen to have figurative associations, it presaged and was influential upon the minimal art that followed in the wake of abstract expressionism, with artists such as Donald Judd – incidentally, from the same New Jersey suburban area as Smith – adopting similar industrial manufacturing techniques.

In 1998, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, mounted a major retrospective of Tony Smith’s sculpture, architecture, and painting, which was followed by a European retrospective in 2002, in Valencia, Spain. Later, in 2010, Houston’s Menil Collection, hosted a show of his works on paper. In 2012, marking what would have been Smith’s 100th birthday an outdoor installation was installed in New York’s Bryant Park. His work is included in major international collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Menil Collection, Houston; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, and the Kröller-Müller Museum, Netherlands.

All sculptures © Tony Smith, courtesy Timothy Taylor Gallery, London and Matthew Marks Gallery, which represents the Tony Smith estate.

Tell us what you think.
The Blog is about art, architecture, books, design and gardens, 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


Share this post
Facebook Twitter Linkedin

Art | Sigmar Polke in or at Another Place

Friday, April 18th, 2014
Modern Art (Moderne Kunst), 1968
Acrylic and lacquer on canvas
Froehlich Collection, Stuttgart





Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963 > 2010
Museum of Modern Art
New York | USA
19th April > 3rd August 2014

The Blog is on holiday this week. If we were in New York, we’d be going to this retrospective exhibition at MoMA, covering the five decade career of German experimental artist, Sigmar Polke (1941-2010). As it is, we’re in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and will be going to see Eduardo Paolozzi’s Bunk! at the city’s Hatton Gallery.


Tell us what you think
The Blog is about art, architecture, books, design and gardens, 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


Share this post
Facebook Twitter Linkedin

Photography | Multi-media as Message

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Figure in Six Sections, 1965
Gelatin silver prints on wood blocks
Collection Kathe Heinecken
Courtesy Robert Heinecken Trust, Chicago


Robert Heinecken: Object Matter
Museum of Modern Art
New York City | USA
15th March > 7th September 2014

If Robert Heinecken’s early work was to be pigeonholed along with the pop artists – because he graduated from college in 1960 – then rather than squashing it in with Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein’s, it would perhaps be more appropriate to put it alongside that of the British artist Richard Hamilton – aka The Father of Pop. Hamilton had produced his shocking and enormously influential Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing? a collaged poster image for an exhibition at London’s Whitechapel Gallery, in 1956. In it a picture of a naked woman cut from a pornographic magazine poses on a sofa, while a bodybuilder holds an oversized ‘Pop’ lollipop close to his genitals, the unlikely scene set in the artist’s depiction of a modern, urban living room filled with domestic gadgets included a TV, and the cover of a comic framed and hung on the wall like a painting. It’s possible, though, that Heinecken, who studied for his BA and MA at the University of California (UCLA) had never heard of Hamilton, but like him he was a multi-medium artist who used photography, sculpture, printmaking, and collage to create his works.

MANSMAG: Homage to Werkman
and Cavalcade, 1969
Offset lithography on bound paper
Courtesy Robert Heinecken Trust, Chicago

Recto / Verso #2, 1988
Silver dye bleach print
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Mr & Mrs Clark Winter Fund




If pop art was characterised by the portrayal of aspects of popular culture and its powerful impact on contemporary life, its iconography – sourced from television, comic books, film and magazines, and advertising – presented without praise or condemnation – Heinecken, who also had little in common with his West Coast contemporary artist Ed Ruscha – sometimes grouped with the pop artists – viewed commercial photography as an emblem of the corruptible values of contemporary life. His works explore this theme along with kitsch, sex, pornography (sometimes hard core – related images were not made available to the press for this exhibition), and gender.

Heinecken, however, did have much in common with Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008), and was similarly unclassifiable. Rauschenberg’s New York Times obituary explained that: ‘Building on the legacies of Marcel Duchamp, Kurt Schwitters, Joseph Cornell and others, he thereby helped to obscure the lines between painting and sculpture, painting and photography, photography and printmaking, sculpture and photography, sculpture and dance, sculpture and technology, technology and performance art – not to mention between art and life.’ It could almost have been Heinecken’s.

Cybill Shepherd / Phone Sex, 1992
Dye bleach print on foamcore
Robert Heinecken Trust, Chicago
Courtesy Petzel Gallery, New York

Typographic Nude, 1965
Gelatin silver print
Collection Geofrey & Laura Wyatt,
Montecito, California



Establishing the photography program at UCLA in 1964, where he taught until 1991, he styled himself as a ‘paraphotographer’ because he rarely used a camera, however, Heineken (1931-2006), radically expanded the range of possibilities for photography and art. Like Rauschenberg and Duchamp before him, he was a precursor of appropriationist artists such as Richard Prince, who at the end of the 1970s, along with Barbara Kruger in the 80s, began borrowing existing photographic images from printed reproductions and bringing them into an artistic context, thereby altering their original meaning. Seen by many as a printmaker rather than a de facto artist, the worldwide fame that came to Rauschenburg and Ruscha, and later to Prince and Kruger, eluded Heinecken. That said, since 1964, he has had over sixty one-man shows, at, for example: the Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson, and a 35-year retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1998). His work is in many private and public collections. Robert Heinecken: Object Matter, MoMA’s forthcoming exhibition, is the first retrospective of the artist’s work since his death in 2006, and covers fifty years of his extraordinary career, from the early 1960s to the late 1990s.


Tell us what you think
The Blog is about art, architecture, books, design and gardens, 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

Share this post
Facebook Twitter Linkedin

Auction | Palm Beach Modern

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Paul McCobb wood and metal
shelving unit/table, made at Wichendon, USA

Estimate $1,000-2,000




Fine Art, Decorative Arts, & Modern Design
Palm Beach Modern Auctions
West Palm Beach, Florida, USA
30th November, 2013

Lenny Kravitz is on it. David Lynch is included. But Frank Ghery and Donald Judd don’t make it and very surprisingly, neither does Harry Bertoia. Of the remaining seventy-five American furniture designers listed on Wikipedia, work by only a handful: Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson, Eero Saarinen, Isamu Noguchi, Frank Loyd Wright, Florence Knoll, and Marcel Breur – although we still think of him as Hungarian, or even German – regularly  come up in UK auctions. The same is probably true for the rest of Europe, which is as well served with British-designed modern and mid-century modern furniture, as we are with Dutch, French, Italian and German designers, plus, of course the work of the many and revered Scandinavians.

In the big New York sales at Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and at Rago in New Jersey, furniture from American designers like Wendel Castell and George Nakashima, regularly appear, but there are those that, even when their names do come up don’t ring more than vague bells with many of the UK’s modern furniture enthusiasts. Tomorrow’s Palm Beach Modern Auctions’ Fine Art, Decorative Arts, & Modern Design sale of 320 lots, includes items by many of those mentioned above, alongside a whole host of other talented American designers with perhaps less international reputations.


Pair of Gary Gutterman perspex stools on
wheels, manufactured by Gary Gutterman, USA

Estimate $500-750

Cabinet/dresser, attributed to Karl Springer, made
in the USA by Karl Springer Ltd, in wood and mirrored metal

Estimate $3,000-4,000

Milo Baughham wood and metal end
table, manufactured by the designer in the USA

Estimate $400-600

Pair of Ward Bennet ‘Sled’ stainless steel and
leather lounge chairs, made in the USA by Brickel Associates

Estimate $3,000-4,000

Travertine, wood and glass cabinet and wall-mounted cabinet
designed by Vladimir Kagan. Made in the USA by Kagan-Dreyfuss Inc

Estimate $3,500-5,000


The New York Times is quoted as having said that Vladimir Kagan is one of the most important furniture designers of the 20th century and that furniture designed by him in the 40s, 50s and 60s have become icons of modernity. Published in 2004, The Complete Kagan: Vladimir Kagan, A Lifetime of Avant-Garde Design, has a preface by Tom Ford, who is a fan. Originally German, born in 1927, Kagan emigrated to the United States in 1938, studying architecture in New York, before opening his first shop there in 1949. His early work included furniture for the Delegate’s Cocktail Lounge at the United Nations and furniture for the ‘Monsanto House of the Future’ displayed at Disneyland from 1957 to 1967. London’s V&A, the Vitra Design Museum and Die Neue Sammlung in Germany all have items of his work in their permanent collections.

Another German émigré Karl Springer, born 1931, who moved to New York in 1957, began his career as a bookbinder, establishing a furniture workshop in Manhattan in the early 60s. By the 1980s there were Karl Springer Showrooms in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Munich and Tokyo. For his bold statement, luxury pieces based on Art Deco, Chinese and Bauhaus styles, made in wood, perspex or plexiglas (called lucite in the US), and mirrored metals, Springer demanded the highest level of materials and delivered high quality craftsmanship.

Gary Gutterman, who formed Axius Designs Inc in 1971, in New York, with Leigh Hammond, made futuristic pieces in stainless steel, glass and perspex.

The much-copied Planner Group furniture by Paul McCobb (1917-1969) was in continuous production at Winchendon, Massachusetts from 1949-1964 and is regarded as one of the best selling collections of the 1950s. From 1950 to 1955, the designer won five Musem of Modern Art Good Design Awards. As well as designing furniture, McCobb produced a wide range of items including textiles, wallpaper, lighting, dinnerware and radios.


‘Writing chair’ in wood and and cane, designed
and manufactured by Pierre Jeanneret in France and India

Estimate $2,000-2,500

Cabinet (in the manner of) Raymond Loewy,
made in Canada by Treco, in plastic, rosewood and metal

Estimate $800-1,200

Mahogany Frank Lloyd Wright-designed
cabinet, made in the USA by Heritage Henredon

Estimate $3,000-4,000


Milo Baughman defined modern design as ‘elegant yet accessible’. Influenced by the engineering and functional ideas developed at the Bauhaus, he fused them with midcentury-modern explorations of materials, earning himself many major manufacturing contracts. Baughman’s wood-panelled Tuxedo Sofa was the inspiration for one gracing Don Draper’s office in the TV drama Mad Men.

Ward Bennett (1917-2003) designed more than 150 chairs, many of which have become classics and can found in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art and Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. Quitting school at thirteen to work in New York’s garment district, at fifteen he designed his first fashion collection. The following year he set off for Europe, where he studied at art schools in Paris and Florence. Mostly self-taught, his skills ranged from illustration, sculpture, and jewellery-making to furniture, and interiors. Returning to New York and quickly developing a reputation for his high-end furniture designs after, his client list included: David Rockefeller, the Chase Manhattan Bank, Tiffany & Co, Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner, and would also work for Italian industrialist Gianni Agnelli. Bennett is considered to be the first American furniture designer to use industrial materials, in his designs for furniture – well in advance of the 1970s fad for hi-tech products.

Furniture by globally-famous, American design heroes, Frank Loyd Wright and Raymond Loewy, are rare sights in Europe. Both are represented in the Palm Beach Modern sale, along with, among others, the great Italian, Gio Ponti, and important French designers, Boris Tabakoff, Piere Paulin and Jean Royere, as well as Swiss maker Pierre Jeanneret (cousin of the more famous Le Corbusier).


Tell us what you think
The Blog is about art, architecture, books, design and gardens, 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

Share this post
Facebook Twitter Linkedin