Posts Tagged ‘Philadelphia’

Photography | Ray K Metzker in Contrast

Friday, January 11th, 2019

Early Philadelphia, 1962

Ray K Metzker:
Black & Light
Howard Greenberg Gallery
New York City | USA
> 2 March 2019

Chicago – Loop, 1958

If there’s a spectral force lurking at the point where darkness and light bang up against one another, Ray K Metzker (1931 > 2014) captured it with his camera, bottled it and used it sparingly to imbue his starkly contrasty images with powerful sculptural form and tantalising depth.

But there was nothing ethereal about his approach. A pragmatist, who was intent on conveying the complex realities of modern, urban life, Metzker met his subject matter head-on, creating virtuoso compositions in which architecture, objects and the human form are afforded parity.

City Whispers, 1982

Pictus Interruptus, 1979

Early Philadelphia, 1963

Metzker studied photography in the late 1950s at Chicago’s Institute of Design under Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind. When he began his career as a photographer, he rejected abstract expressionism and its preoccupation with feelings, which had dominated art in America for more than a decade, and embraced the objectivity of the emergent minimal art.

Innovative and experimental, in his later work, Metzker created images from assemblages of printed film strips; he cropped and collaged details of his own photographs to create unique and powerful new images, and he waved flimsy pieces of paper in front of his camera lens to produce random effects.

Early Philadelphia, 1969

Metzker had his first solo exhibition at MoMA in 1967. During his 60-year career as a photographer, he had more than 50 solo exhibitions at major museums around the world.

Ray K Metzker: Black & Light at Howard Greenberg Gallery features the photographer’s early street photography from Chicago in the 1950s and Philadelphia in the 1960s. It also includes images from his 1960 > 61 European excursion, photographs from the series Pictus Interruptus from 1976 >1980, from his early 1980s series City Whispers, as well as examples of his collage series Whimsy and Arrestation.

All photographs © Estate of Ray K Metzker, courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York. All prints are gelatin silver prints

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

Ceramics | Made by Hand: Modernist by Nature

Friday, December 7th, 2018

Bernard Leach,
Charger with banded
decoration, St Ives,
England, c 1960s
Estimate $500 > 700

Philadelphia |
Exhibition > 10 December 2018
Sale 10 December 2018

Lucie Rie,
Handled dish,
London, late 1950s
Estimate $1,000 > 1,500

The British studio pottery illustrated alongside this piece and shortly to be sold at auction, dates from between the late 1950s and the early 1970s, when Brutalist architecture – much of which has since been demolished – flourished, however, each item was lovingly produced by hand and with the greatest sensitivity to materials.

During this period, even the elderly Bernard Leach (1887 > 1979), often referred to as the father of British studio pottery, who co-founded The Leach Pottery in remote Cornwall in 1920 and had been extremely influential, who adopted the folk-tradition approach espoused in the 19th century by William Morris, was producing pieces, such as his Charger with banded decoration, top, that would have looked very much at home against raw concrete, brutalist interiors.

Hans Coper
Composite form with
ertical impression,
Frome, 1970
Estimate $6,000 > 8,000

At a time when many of his peers were abandoning city life and heading for the country, it was significant that Ian Godfrey (1942 > 1992), like his mentor, Lucie Rie, chose to set up his pottery in urban central London in the 1960s. Godfrey made highly individual mythological and fantasy-based, decorative pieces, inspired by predynastic Mediterranean and Chinese bronze forms. His King & Queen in Court and Bowl with wheel design, are both included, alongside other examples of his work in this sale. Born in Austria, Rie (1902-1995) had established herself as a ceramicist in Vienna, where she came under the influence of the Secessionist, Josef Hoffman. She is, however, better known for the work she produced after fleeing the Nazis and relocating to London in 1938. Developing a style stimulated by contemporary architecture and design, which flew in the face of Leach’s philosophy, Rie, who is represented by a single, modest item in this auction, see above, was responsible for raising British studio pottery to the level of an art form that would stand alongside any other and for giving it a Modernist edge. She taught at the Camberwell School of Art from 1960 to 1971, where Godfrey was her star student, and received an honorary doctorate from the Royal College of Art in 1969.

Ian Godfrey,
King & Queen in Court,
London, c 1965
Estimate $800 > 1,200

Ian Godfrey,
Bowl with wheel design,
London, c 1965
Estimate $200 > 300

Rie’s fellow emigré, the German, Hans Coper (1920-1981) had turned up, penniless, at her workshop in 1946 looking for work but with no previous experience in a pottery studio. With her encouragement, he went on to become one of Britain’s most celebrated craftsmen. Coper also taught at Camberwell – where he also taught Ian Godfrey – and at the Royal College of Art. His pieces, such as Composite form with vertical impression, above, were often made up of individual, separately thrown shapes that he manipulated and joined to create abstract sculptural forms.

Joanna Constantinidis,
Untitled envelope form,
Essex, England 1970
Estimate $400 > 600

The early work of Joanna Constantinidis (1927 > 2000), born in York, who trained at Sheffield before moving to Essex, owed much to Leach. Singularly independent, however, having seen work by Rie and Coper, by the 1960s she had adjusted her approach and developed spare Modernist forms, like the one above, that drew inspiration from ancient Greece, medieval pottery, Staffordshire slipware and salt glaze.

Although they might well have been, the items shown were not excavated from a site where a British brutalist building once stood but have been languishing, far away from their place of origin, in important US collections in Washington DC, San Francisco, New York and Pennsylvania. Along with further items of British studio pottery items that extend the genre’s story into the 21st century, the forthcoming Design sale at Freeman’s includes some 130 lots and offers a varied selection of master American studio artisans.

All images courtesy Freeman’s

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

Art | Ellsworth Kelly – More Real at 90

Friday, June 21st, 2013
Ellsworth Kelly: Panel Paintings 2004 – 2009
The Phillips Collection
Washington DC, USA
22nd June – 22nd September, 2013

The Matthew Marks Gallery in New York, represent Ellsworth Kelly, who is the subject of their current show, Ellsworth Kelly at Ninety. Opening the relavent ‘Works in Exhibition’ page on their website, one gets an overview of the shapes and colours that have preoccupied the artist during recent years. Almost child-like in simplicity, they might comprise the elements of a dismembered Alexander Calder mobile. Though less playful when viewed singly, each of Kelly’s paintings emotes a similar subtle sense of balance and is as easy on the eye as Calder’s sculptures.

Born in 1923 in Newburgh, New York, Ellsworth Kelly, has a prolific career spanning over 60 years. Comparisons with Calder stem from when Kelly, then 25 years-old, arrived in Paris after WWII, where he met and came under the influence of both Calder – by then 48 and firmly established amongst the modernist pioneers, having been working in the city since the 1920s – and Brancusi, already 70, whose simplification of natural form had a lasting effect on him. It was then that Kelly began to produce abstract work although, due to the illness and depression brought on by his war experiences, at first he restricted his palette to black and white. Over the next few years, he immersed himself both in the rich historical resources of Paris, its architecture and contemporary art scene, discovering Henri Matisse, whose paper cut-outs he admired along with Jean Arp’s colourful collages. As is evident in the images illustrating this post, the geometry and simplicity of form expressed in the work of the De Stijl artists, Georges Vantongerloo and Piet Mondrian, particularly impressed Kelly and would remain abiding influence throughout his life. He sites Fernand Léger’s use of bright colours as being particularly inspirational. In his mid-80s, in a throw-back to those early Paris days, as a reflection of his concerns over the controversies surrounding US involvement in the Iraq war, Kelly was to return, temporarily, to working only in black and white. But generally, he says, he is not political; as with Calder, he paints in bright colours because he wants his paintings to have a good spirit.

1954 saw Kelly back in New York during the heyday of abstract expressionism but, fiercely independent, he avoided aligning himself with that movement or any other. In the late 1950s and the early 1960s, he was among the first artists, including Frank Stella, to discard the conventional square or rectangular painting format in favour of irregularly shaped canvases or panels. When he places one panel on top of another panel, he has said about the effect achieved, that it makes the work ‘more real’. His exhibition Panel Paintings 2004 – 2009 at Washington DC’s Phillips Collection, comprises seven of his multi-panel works. These large-scale, rectilinear pieces blur the boundaries between painting and sculpture and make more sense when seen in the round – playing with light and shadow, dramatically engaging with space – which is how he intends them to be viewed.

Also showing in Washington DC, Ellsworth Kelly: Colored Paper Images, is an exhibition of 23 prints at the National Gallery of Art.

MoMA is currently showing the Chatham Series, the first series of paintings, Kelly produced after leaving the city for upstate New York, in 1970. For an overview of all Ellsworth Kelly 90th birthday-related events happening in New York, go to the GalleristNY blog.

Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, the Barnes Foundation’s ‘first show of contemporary art in ninety years,’ and first by a living artist is Ellsworth Kelly: Sculpture on the Wall, dominated by the 1956-57 Sculpture for a Large Wall, made of 104 anodized aluminum panels, some of them colored red, blue, yellow and black, arrayed in four long rows each measuring 65 feet.

All works above from Ellsworth Kelly: Panel Paintings 2004 – 2009
at The Phillips Collection
. From top

Yellow Relief over Red, 2004
Oil on canvas, two joined panels
Private collection

Green Blue Black Red, 2007
Oil on canvas, four panels
Private collection

White Diagonal II, 2008
Oil on canvas, two joined panels
Private collection

Red Relief, 2009
Oil on canvas, two joined panels
Private collection

All photos Jerry L Thompson, courtesy the artist. ©Ellsworth Kelly

Tell us what you think
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
Share this post
Facebook Twitter Linkedin

Art | Andrew Wyeth in China

Friday, April 13th, 2012

Andrew Wyeth in Beijing & Hong Kong
Yuan Space, Beijing, China
14th April – 12th May, 2012
Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Center
24th – 30th May, 2012
Christie’s, New York, USA
Date to be announced, September, 2012

When Snoopy’s dog house burned down in November 1966, sadly his Van Gogh was destroyed along with it, but the strip’s cartoonist, Charles M Schulz, saw to it that the painting was quickly replaced with one by the artist Andrew Wyeth, of whose work he was a great admirer. In 1977 Wyeth was the first American artist since John Singer Sargent to be elected to the French Académie des Beaux-Arts. A Wyeth retrospective at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2006, running over 15 weeks, drew more than 175,000 visitors, the museum’s highest-ever attendance for a living artist. In 2007 he received the National Medal of Arts from George W Bush and in the same year, in the Springfield Up episode of The Simpsons, Mr Burns has a painting of Wyeth’s iconic Christina’s World, 1948 – MoMA Collection, bought in 1948 for $1800 – in his den, except that in his version Burns lanky body replaces the more shapely female figure. The entire neighbourhood of Thunder Hill in the village of Oakland Mills, Columbia in Maryland has street names derived from his paintings. But although Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009) was one of the most popular and revered artists in the history of American art, perhaps it was for this very popularity that he was also one of its most criticised, especially within the art world. According to Michael Kimmelman, who wrote Wyeth’s obituary in The New York Times: ‘Because of his popularity – a bad sign to many art world insiders – Wyeth came to represent middle-class values and ideals that modernism claimed to reject. ‘Kimmelman went on to say that art critics mostly heaped abuse on Wyeth’s work, saying he gave realism a bad name. Hopper’s realism was okay, apparently, but Wyeth’s wasn’t. Some experts regarded him as a facile realist, not an artist but merely an illustrator. Lashing out in all directions and perhaps further isolating himself, Wyeth expressed general disdain for the abstract expressionists. And so the antagonistic situation festered and boiled throughout the latter part of his life.

Andrew Wyeth was born into an artistic family in Chadds Ford, a small town in Pennsylania, about 30 miles from Philadelphia. His father NC Wyeth was a well-known illustrator, whose fame and talent in the 1920s attracted the attention of celebrities such as F Scott Fitzgerald who would come to visit him. NC drove his frail and ailing son – too feeble to attend school – hard, pushing him to develop drawing skills at an early age with the obsessive goal of making him follow in his father’s footsteps and become an illustrator. But Andrew resisted, preferring to paint the deserted landscapes he discovered on his wanderings. He liked the idea that figures could be implicit in his paintings but nevertheless went on to include in them his friends, a black handyman (A Crow Flew By 1949-50), and neighbours Karl and Anna Kuerner. Although he adapted portraits of others to include details of his father, who died in 1945, Wyatt never painted him. His ‘Helga‘ series of more than 200 paintings and sketches came with a whiff of scandal – he didn’t tell his wife about them until they were finished in 1985 – and received national publicity, travelling to major cities throughout the USA. These intimate studies – many of them full figure nudes – of neighbour Helga Testorf, made him very rich.

In Wyeth’s style of painting, that became known as ‘Magic’ Realism, everyday scenes are imbued with a dream-like air of mystery, coupled with barely concealed melancholy. He recorded the arid Pennsylvania and Maine landscapes, rural houses, and rickety shacks with great detail, painting in each tiny blade of grass, individual strands of hair, and every subtle nuance of light and shadow. The Brandywine River Museum, in Chadds Ford houses much of the Wyeth collection.

Wyeth’s work was as rural as Warhol’s was urban, his nudes as earthy as Warhol’s girls (and boys) were dirty, but while the rural can easily look picturesque to the city dweller, and might appear to pander even unintentionally to wide appeal, urban art is by nature of its situation radical and intended for a strictly limited, edgier audience. Ubiquity and the passage of time can render almost any image passé – The Mona Lisa, The Hay Wain, Van Gogh’s SunflowersThe Scream – and perhaps Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World has fallen victim to the same fate. But Warhol’s once iconoclastic Marilyn Diptych has, too – so far to a somewhat lesser extent – and The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone LivingDamien Hirst’s shark – will not be immune.

It’s not so surprising, then, that Wyeth’s work as opposed to Warhol’s and Pollock’s was deemed acceptable to the powers that be in 1980s China, where it became immensley popular. The press release for the forthcoming Andrew Wyeth in China exhibitions contains the following quote from Li Xian Ting – often called the godfather of Chinese contemporary avant-garde – academic consultant to the exhibition, who on this occasion may well be toeing the party line: ‘When Wyeth’s work first caught the eyes of artists of this generation, we were mainly under the influence of Socialist Realism from the 40s and (Russian) Peredvizhniki art in which the relation [sic] between the narrative and ideology featured heavily. Historically, young Chinese artists’ classical training was figurative and representational. At the time, the only way to rebel against Social Realism was to embrace Modernism, entailing a complete abandon [sic] of representation. This would have implied, starting from zero to reincarnate a new self under the banners of Cubism and Abstract Expressionism. And just as artists found themselves at this impasse, Wyeth’s works appeared. They were melancholic, poetic, but at the same time they developed on the skills and possibilities of representation. This deeply moved the burgeoning Chinese artists and inspired many to ask themselves the question: is it possible for us to hold on to the artistic training we grow up with, and still create something new that is different from Modernist art? And obviously, Wyeth provided them with such a possibility.’ Perhaps Chinese conservatism isn’t so far removed from Middle America’s. Meanwhile, Chinese conceptual artist, architect, designer and activist Ai Weiwei’s first solo exhibition in Italy wow’s the West at the Lisson gallery in Milan until 25th May, 2012.

Paintings from top
Study for ‘Lovers’, 1981
Drybrush and watercolor on paper
© Andrew Wyeth

Citizen Clark, 1957
Drybrush and watercolor on paper laid down on board
©Andrew Wyeth, Private Collection

Faraway, 1952
(Portrait of the artist’s son, Jamie)
Drybrush on paper
© Andrew Wyeth

The Works of Andrew Wyeth is organized by Yuan Space in cooperation with Christie’s and Adelson Galleries

Please leave a comment
Look out for The Blog’s posts on art, architecture, gardens, books, design and anything else that interests me and I think might interest you

Share this post
Facebook Twitter Linkedin