Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco’

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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Art | Richard Serra Draws

Friday, April 12th, 2013

Richard Serra: Double Rifts
Gagosian Gallery
Beverly Hills, California, USA
17th April – 1st June 1, 2013

Richard Serra draws. Richard Sera sculpts. He sees each as an autonomous activity. He doesn’t make drawings of the sculptures he intends to create – he makes models. Neither does he make drawings of his finished sculptures.

Serra, born in 1938 and probably the world’s best-known contemporary sculptor, who has produced large-scale, site specific pieces for clients around the globe, and whose work has been celebrated in two retrospectives at The Museum of Modern Art, twenty years apart, whose major recent drawing exhibitions include Richard Serra Drawings: Work Comes Out of Work, Kunsthaus Bregenz (2008); Richard Serra Drawings: A Retrospective, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2010 – travelled to San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Menil Collection, Houston in 2012) was drawing long before he became a sculptor. In San Francisco where he grew up, his proud mother would introduce her young son, who sketched on pink butchers’ roll paper, as Richard ‘The Artist’.

Richard Serra doesn’t paint. As a student at Yale – where he was accepted on the strength of 12 drawings – he painted, but he paints no more. Paintings, in his opinion, are produced with the viewer in mind, while drawings are for the artist. Drawing every day, Serra insists that the practice is primary to artists and gives them grounding. He would always rather look at someone’s drawings – Van Gogh’s, Rembrandt’s – than at their paintings. Indeed drawing to him, reveals far more than painting about the way an artist thinks and sees.

In his search for an individual way forward in his drawing, Serra says that there came a point quite early on in his career when, faced with the entire history of anyone else who had ever made a mark on a piece of paper, he realised that he needed to adopt a radical approach. Abandoning representation and any anecdotal references to other things, he discovered that by defining the form he was creating in relation to the space around it, relating it to the architecture, to the floor, the walls and to the ceiling, he could draw with space, thus ‘making space palpable’.

It’s only to be expected that Serra, who pushes the concept of drawing to its limits and whose drawings are often almost as monumental as his sculptures, uses unconventional methods to create them. Unwilling to ‘make art out of the art store’, as he puts it, he uses paint-stick – a cheap material made from paraffin with a little oil mixed in – that he has melted, stamped on and even put through a meat grinder, as his medium. Often he draws with a big brick of paint-stick on handmade paper, but has also created series drawings with ink and rollers at the print shop he uses in LA.

In interviews on YouTube Serra talks about how spatial differences have always interested him, about the idea of people ‘entering into the space of a drawing’, and how – citing Cézanne’s paintings of fruit, as an example – he tries to imply gravity within the structure of his drawings. For his installation drawings his object has become to ‘create a space within the space that differs from the architectural container.’ Consequently, as an exhibitor he is extremely hands on – when drawings intended to work in one gallery are transferred to another, he may even alter them to function to his satisfaction within the new context.

The Richard Serra: Double Rifts show at the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills is an exhibition of Richard Serra’s recent drawings.

Drawings from top
Double Rift #5, 2012, Richard Serra
Paintstick on handmade paper
289.6 x 537.2 cm (114 x 211 1/2 ins)

Double Rift #9, 2013, Richard Serra
Paintstick on handmade paper
214 x 611.5 cm (84 1/4 x 240 3/4 ins)
Images ©Richard Serra. Courtesy the artist & Gagosian Gallery


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The Blog is about art, architecture, gardens, books, design and anything else that currently interests us which we think might interest you

The publishers of The Blog insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees which may, under any circumstances, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier

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