Posts Tagged ‘SFMOMA’

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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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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