Posts Tagged ‘Pop Art’

Sculpture | Early Oldenburg

Friday, April 5th, 2013

Claes Oldenburg: The Street and The Store
Claes Oldenburg: Mouse Museum/Ray Gun Wing

14th April – 5th August, 2013
Museum of Modern Art
New York City, USA

Claes Oldenburg
Typewriter Eraser
14th April – 5th August, 2013
Christie’s Sculpture Garden
New York City, USA

Claes Oldenburg’s early work, The Street (1960) – an installation that conjures the gritty and chaotic atmosphere of downtown New York City – and The Store (1961-64) – a large group of handmade, brightly painted sculptures depicting a myriad of commercial products and foodstuffs – redefined the concept of sculpture, putting him on the road to establishing himself as one of the 20th century’s most important artists. Both pieces, along with Mouse Museum and Ray Gun Wing, created in the 1970s as self-contained ‘museums’ to house careful arrangements of the artist’s personal archives of American popular culture, and tests and experiments from his studio, are being put on view, simultaneously, at the Museum of Modern Art.

Born in 1929, in Stockholm, Sweden, the infant Oldenburg was shuttled back and forth between Scandinavia and the US until his parents finally settled in Chicago in 1936. After studying literature at Yale he took art courses in Chicago. In 1953 he became a US citizen and moved to New York City three years later. He soon came into contact with Jim Dine and Tom Wesselman and found himself part of a new group of artists, who were challenging the might of abstract expressionism. The pop artists, as they were later christened, produced figurative and representational images, and used found objects, to create art that was a visual commentary on consumerism.

Produced in 1960, Oldenburg’s The Street is an installation made of bits of newspaper, scraps of sacking, cardboard objects and papier-mâché, cut, torn, crumpled then assembled to create a fragmented panorama of the contemporary metropolis, inspired by New York’s Lower East Side of the 1950s.

Shifting focus the following year, Oldenburg began creating The Store, an environment first presented in a group show at New York’s Martha Jackson Gallery, and afterwards in a real rented storefront on East Second Street, which was filled with sculptures – objects made from plaster soaked canvas painted in layers of enamel paint – representing the products on sale in shops throughout the neighborhood.

He continued to develop The Store up until 1964, creating further versions of it and producing a large selection of Store sculptures and drawing, many of which have been brought together for the Museum of Modern Art show. However, during 1962-63 – a time of experimentation for Oldenburg – he became interested in reinterpreting commonplace objects like light switches, hamburgers, lipsticks and typewriters. He transformed hard things to soft (and vice versa), radically changed scale, and played around with erotic analogies to body parts.

Following on from this, Oldenburg started his fantastic monument projects in 1965. Coinciding with MoMA’s exhibition, Christie’s Private Sales is exhibiting and offering Typewriter Eraser – the once-ubiquitous US office accessory wittily transformed into a large monumental sculpture – executed in 1976 in painted aluminum, stainless steel, ferroconcrete and bronze. In 2009 the same item was sold at Christie’s New York for the world auction record price of £1,460,000/$2,210,500.

Claes Oldenburg sculptures from top
7-Up, 1961
Enamel on plaster-soaked cloth on wire.
140.7 x 99.7 x 14cm (55 3/8 x 39 1/4 x 5 1/2ins)
Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution
Joseph H. Hirshhorn Purchase & Bequest Funds, 1994
©Claes Oldenburg, 1961
Photo Lee Stalsworth

Floor Cone, 1962
Photographed in front of Dwan Gallery, Los Angeles, 1963
Oldenburg van Bruggen Studio
©Claes Oldenburg

Floor Burger, 1962
Canvas filled with foam rubber and cardboard boxes,
painted with acrylic paint
132.1 x 213.4 x 213.4 cm (52 x 84 x 84ins)
Collection Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. Purchase, 1967
©Claes Oldenburg, 1962
Photo Sean Weaver

Pastry Case, I, 1961-62
Painted plaster sculptures on ceramic plates, metal platter and
cups in glass and metal case
52.7 x 76.5 x 37.3 cm (20 3/4 x 30 1/8 x 14 3/4ins)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
The Sidney and Harriet Janis Collection
©Claes Oldenburg, 1961-62
Photo MoMA Imaging Services

Typewriter Eraser, 1976
Painted aluminum, stainless steel, ferroconcrete and bronze
227.3 x 203.2 x 177.8 cm (89 1/2 x 80 x 70 ins)
Number three from an edition of three
Photo Christie’s Image 2013

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Art | Picasso in Black & White

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Picasso Black and White
Solomon R Guggenheim Museum
New York City, USA
5th October, 2012 – 23rd January, 2013

Using only black, white and grey with sometimes a hint of ochre or perhaps blue, Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) was master of the monochrome. And although the Guggenheim’s press release attempts to convince us that this aspect of the artist’s work is frequently overlooked, who among us could forget or have failed to notice Picasso’s austere and sombre Guernica, 1937 – his knee-jerk reaction to the merciless bombing by German and Italian warplanes, at the behest of the Spanish Nationalist forces, of a defenceless Basque village during the Spanish Civil War.

Picasso, who is reputed to have said that colour ‘weakens’ apparently purged colour from his work in order to highlight its formal structure. And while his coloured pieces could sometimes be as brash as Pop art or compete with any of the more outlandishly-hued Van Gogh paintings, in cleverly concentrating solely on Picasso’s black and white output, the exhibition’s curators reveal an understated, often alluringly delicate side to the artist through works that provide insight with regard to his experimental, pioneering investigations into Cubism and his delving into Surrealism.

The Guggenheim’s phenomenal chronological presentation extending across Picasso’s entire 70-year career, includes significant loans—many of which have not been exhibited or published before—drawn from museum, private, and public collections across Europe and the United States, together with numerous works from the Picasso family and includes, among some 118 paintings, sculptures and works on paper, the tortured Head of a Horse, Sketch for Guernica.

Pablo Picasso Images from top
Tête de femme, profil droit [Marie-Thérèse], 1934
Collection of Aaron I. Fleischman
© 2012 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Photograph, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

L’accordéoniste, 1911
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Solomon R Guggenheim Founding Collection, by gift
© 2012 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Photograph by Kristopher McKay. © The Solomon R Guggenheim
Foundation, New York

Tête de cheval, étude pour Guernica, 1937
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Bequest of the artist
© 2012 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Photograph, © Archivo fotográfico Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina
Sofía, Madrid

L’homme à la pipe, 1923
Private collection, Courtesy Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso
para el Arte
© 2012 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Photograph by Eric Baudouin

La cuisine, 1948
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Acquired through the Nelson A. Rockefeller Bequest, 1980
© 2012 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Photograph, The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA/Art Resource, New York

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Photography | Lee Friedlander

Friday, August 26th, 2011

Lee Friedlander: America By Car/The New Cars 1964
1st September – 1st October 2011, Timothy Taylor Gallery, London

A good few years ago, in 1978, when I was a graphic design student at the Royal College of Art, someone from the Fiorucci company, came to offer our group the chance to design the graphics for their delivery van. At the time Fiorucci were doing great clothes, especially jeans and T-shirts – later worn in the US by trendsetters Andy Warhol and Madonna. They had a very interesting branding style, based around a melange of 1950s and 1960s Americana, bright colours and animal prints – a kind of pop art sensibility – without ever having a fixed logo. Luckily for me, my concept was chosen: to paint an image of two girls driving an open-top pink Cadillac – shades of Thelma & Louise (1991) – on to either side of the van, matching the wheel positions of the real 3D vehicle and the 2D painting to achieve a trompe l’oeil effect, the van to be kitted out with white wall tyres. Similar ideas are fairly commonplace these days.

Unusually, for a photographer who is considered to be in some senses, as pop an artist as Richard Hamilton and Roy Lichtenstein, Lee Friedlander, whose main body of work he has said, takes the ’social landscape’ of America as its subject matter, produces only black and white images. Much of pop art, despite the bright colours, had a bleakness about it. It was never the celebration, which at first sight it might be perceived to be but rather, often a cynical comment on a culture that was and remains, dominated by consumer goods and services and the popular idols and icons that are seen as vital to our existence.

Friedlander, was born in 1934 and has been active in photography since 1948. After studying in Pasadena, California, he moved to New York City in 1956 and began photographing jazz musicians for record sleeves. His first one-man show was in 1963. In the 60s and 70s his work appeared regularly in magazines such as Art in America, Esquire and Sports Illustrated. His pictures captured the look and feel of contemporary American society. One of his most successful works at the end of the 1970s was his production of a series of images of urban industrial landscape along the Ohio river valley, shot in documentary form, Factory Valleys: Ohio and Pennsylvania (1982). At around the same period, Friedlander went to Japan and photographed the Japanese landscape, some of which appeared in Cherry Blossom Time in Japan (1991). His book Flowers and Trees, in contrast to his urban photography, celebrates the beauties of nature. He is also well-known for his later portrait and nude studies. In 2005, the Museum of Modern Art presented a major retrospective of Friedlander’s career, including nearly 400 photographs from the 1950s to the present. In the same year he received a Hasselblad International Award. The retrospective was presented again in 2008 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). At the same time, a more contemporary selection of his work, Lee Friedlander: America By Car, was displayed at the Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco. The same series of images was on display, in its entirety at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City in late 2010. Previously unseen in the UK, it’s these compelling images, all taken from the driver’s seat of the hire car that Friedlander drove across most of America’s fifty states that are on show next month at London’s Timothy Taylor Gallery.

As with much of his work from the last decade, all of the America by Car images images are in square format. Heavy, dark and angular, the struts of the car’s structure divide up and frame portions of the view through the windows. A steering wheel butts in on the right. The wing mirror on the left isolates a detail of the scene behind the car, or contains an image of the photographer. A car, like some strange monument to the American dream is hoisted high up into the sky on a slender pole, while a fence bars the way forward. The compositional references suggest the montages of Richard Hamilton and possibly Mondrian, as well as, Picasso’s cubism, while looking at the subject matter one can’t help thinking about John Chamberlain’s crunched and mangled car sculptures. There are voyeuristic references, too, to Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window.

The TTG show will also exhibit The New Cars 1964, a portfolio of 33 images, originally commissioned by Harper’s Bazaar and also previously unseen in the UK. Bazaar’s intention was to showcase that year’s much-anticipated new cars but Friedlander’s gritty and uncompromisingly modern images proved too much for the magazine’s editor-in-chief and were never used.

The Fiorucci thing all happened near to the end of the RCA course and once Fiorucci had taken my design away to put into production, we sort of lost touch. Providentially, however, I ended up living in a flat not far from the Fiorucci headquarters in Clapham, South London, and one morning, parked on the main road, directly opposite the end of the street sat the delivery van. I crossed the road to take a closer look at it. It somehow didn’t look quite right – truncated in some way – then I realised that this van was much more compact than the one I’d traced out of the Herz hire company’s catalogue and applied the original design to. Whether the mistake was mine, or Fiorucci’s, I just don’t know but I couldn’t help feeling rather ashamed and was happy never to see the van again.

Image: Montana’, 2008
Gelatin-Silver Print
15 x15 ins/38 x38 cm. Sheet 20 x 16 ins/50.8 x 40.6 cm
© Lee Friedlander, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

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Don’t miss the eighth instalment, posted today, of This is for you, Pedro Silmon’s new on-line novel, serialised exclusively on The Blog.


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Swiss goes pop in Düsseldorf

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011


Zeitgeist & Glamour: The decades of the jet set

February 5th – May 15th, 2011, NRW Forum Düsseldorf, Germany

Diane Arbus, Eve Arnold, Richard Avedon, David Bailey, Harry Benson, Guy Bourdin, Raymond Depardon, Terence Donovan, Elliott Erwitt, Ron Galella, Dennis Hopper, William Klein, Robert Mapplethorpe, Billy Name, Terry O’Neill, Bob Richardson, Jeanloup Sieff, Francesco Scavullo, David Bailey, Lord Snowdon, Bert Stern (Bert Stern’s Twiggy, VOGUE, 1967. © Bert Stern. See above)… just some of of the photographers, whose work is represented in this exhibition, many of whom were or became, alongside the glamorous subjects they followed from the Côte d’Azur, St. Moritz, Paris, London, Rome, and New York– among them, Brigitte Bardot, Jackie Kennedy, Maria Callas, Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Mick Jagger, Karl Lagerfeld – jet-setters themselves.

On show are 400 photographs, never exhibited before in public, from the Swiss collector Nicola Erni that collectively capture the unique zeitgeist of the 2oth century’s Swinging 60s and early 70s – Warhol’s Factory, Studio 54, Swinging London, Blow up, Pop Art, sex, drugs and rock‘n’roll – as seen through the lens of famous portrait and fashion photographers. Individually, each of these was creating new styles of photography, developing new techniques and forms of presentation that shaped the visual culture of the era. The paparazzi (See picture above – which may well have been the product of a prior arrangement between and in the interests of both subject and photographer(s) – by Giacomo Alexis: Un gelato in faccia di Rino Barillari da Sonia Romanoff in Via Veneto, Roma, 1970. © Giacomo Alexis) are represented, too; a new breed of photographer, who took pictures of famous personalities in their private lives and sold them to whichever newspaper and magazine bid the highest.

Were you around in the 60s & 70s? What do/did you think about all this stuff?
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