Posts Tagged ‘Tate St Ives’

Design | Christopher Farr’s Rug Editions

Friday, April 26th, 2013

Christopher Farr’s Editions:
Contemporary Rugs for Collectors
Somerset House, London, UK
May 2nd – 30 June, 2013

Christopher Farr’s collaborators are many, and they are as varied as the rugs the eponymously-named company produces. The current and ever-growing list includes some of the most famous and highly-respected names around in modern and contemporary British and international design, architecture and fine art, among them: Gillian AyresIlse Crawford, Gary Hume, Rifat Ozbek, John Pawson and Andrée Putman.

Farr, having studied fine art at The Slade, set up shop with Matthew Bourne as a business partner in 1988. Early success came via a collaboration with the Royal College of Art in 1991, which led to a further collaboration with Romeo Gigli, whose collection was launched at the Milan Furniture Fair in 1993, earning the pair’s rugs international acclaim. ‘Up to that point, Farr says, ‘new rugs were a dirty word. People laughed at us.’ No one laughed in 1997, when Farr and Bourne, with Gunta Stöltzl’s family’s blessing, produced rugs that the Bauhaus designer had designed in the 1920s, nor when they opened their gallery in London’s Notting Hill the same year. The company has produced custom made rugs for The Wellcome Trust, and for Oxford and Cambridge universities. TheWall series was commissioned by architect Sir Michael Hopkins as part of a collection of handmade wall pieces for the UK’s parliamentary building, Portcullis House. Other custom wall pieces were made for the Bank of America building in London. Setting up a fabric division in 2000, the company took a natural step into cloth production, utilizing high quality fabrics, from combed Egyptian cottons and Belgian linens for upholstery, curtains and blinds, to acrylic dyed fabrics for outdoor use.

Following the success of their first show of rugs held in Somerset House last year, the Christopher Farr’s Editions: Contemporary Rugs for Collectors exhibition – previewed during the recent Milano Design Week 2013, where the company also showed a new collection of rugs by celebrated US designer David Weeks – marking the company’s 25th anniversary, unveils the first in a series of limited editions (50-200), in hand-tufted 100% wool, ranging in price from £650 to £1000. Designs by Sir Terry Frost RA (1915-2003), by Bauhaus master Josef Albers (1888-1976) and by his wife, Anni Albers (1899-1994) will be included. Penny Falls by Kate Blee, a London-based textile artist who has been collaborating with Farr since 1987, will also be shown. Renowned still-life artist, William Scott (1913-1989) – the centenary of whose birth is being celebrated in an exhibition running at Tate St Ives until 6th May, 2013 – will be represented by Permutation Brown, and Three Squares by leading British abstract colourist, Sandra Blow RA (1925-2006) – an adaptation from an etching printed in 2003 – will be exhibited. Jeweller, Lara Bohinc’s circular rug, Solar, will appear, alongside Sulspice, a flamboyant op-art design created by Farr, himself.

Rugs from top
Christopher Farr
1.22 x 1.83m
Edition of 15

Sir Terry Frost RA
Variations (Black on White)
Adapted from a 1973 print
2 x 2.13m
Produced in association with the Stoneman Gallery and the Terry Frost Estate

William Scott
Permutation Brown
Adapted from a 1977 Scott painting
1.4 x 2.3m
Produced in association with the Royal Academy of Arts and the William Scott Foundation
©Estate of William Scott 2013 supporting Alzheimer’s

Josef Albers
Homage to the Square, 1951
1.65 x 1.65m
Produced in association with the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation
©2013 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/ VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn and ARS, New York

All of those illustrated are in editions of 150

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Art | Alex Katz: Immediate, Present

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Alex Katz
Timothy Taylor Gallery
London, UK
5th September – 5th October, 2012

American painter Alex Katz, admires David Hockney’s public graciousness and sense of self. Qualities that Katz in an interview with Martin Clark, artistic director of Tate St Ives for Tate Etc. magazine, the text reproduced in the Timothy Taylor Gallery’s elegantly-designed catalogue, reveals himself to possess by the bucketload. (See the Tate Shots live interview here)

What struck me in September 2010, when I first saw his work – yes, I know: how could I not have been aware of it before, when 2012 marks his 85th birthday, his paintings are in at least 98 public collections throughout the world, he has had countless solo exhibitions, globally, and been included in an endless series of mixed shows – stumbling across his National Portrait Gallery show, was its supreme stylishness. After all, here was an artists who had painted a huge close-up portrait of Anna Wintour – incidentally, the first portrait she has ever consented to sit for – without her, up until about then, omnipresent dark sunglasses. Although Katz admits to being interested in style and fashion I felt a sense of this portrait having being produced by a painter obsessed with neither: someone who knows all about style but is not of the style cogniscenti. During the interview, Katz tells Clark that to him ‘the surface is the whole thing’, however, as I’ve learned, there is nothing superficial about the processes he goes through and the history of the development of his approach to his paintings and subjects that could, in any way, be interpreted as shallow.

In my ignorance of who Katz was, my first impressions had been that here was someone who had seen Hockney, whose work at various stages has a similar, primitive feel about it – and had applied techniques possibly borrowed from illustration for his own purposes. I thought he might be British and perhaps one of the generation of the illustrator/artists who emerged, post-Hockney, from London’s Royal College of Art that included figurative draughtsnman Adrian George, brilliant colourist Glynn Boyd Hart (1948-2003) and maybe even Paul Leith. Instantly drawn to Katz’s work, I couldn’t have been more mistaken about its provenance.

In fact, Katz, whose parents were of Russian origin, and who grew up in Queen’s, emerged in 1950 from art school where he had produced detailed drawings of classical sculpture and painted from life, into a hysterical New York where the new heroes of abstract expression, Jackson Pollock and Barnet Newman, were throwing everything up in the air and riding a wave of popularity. Enjoying the parties and the jazz, Katz nevertheless had no inclination to err from the figurative direction he was set on that earned him an early popularity with the pop artists, who were just starting to appear. Instead Katz, who had nevertheless begun exploring the properties of flatness in representational painting turned to Mark Rothko and Yves Klein for inspiration and through the consequent reduction processes he applied to his own work, discovered a profound depth comparable to Pollock’s seemingly endless, multi-layered distance.

Alex Katz: Give Me Tomorrow is running until 23rd September at Tate St Ives, before transferring to Turner Contemporary in Margate in October, and shows a cross section of work spanning the artist’s six-decade career. Katz’s most recent, large-scale intimate portraits of family, friends and still lifes of flowers purchased from street vendors near his New York studio, are self-evident of the artist’s mastery of his medium. Seventeen of these have been selected for London’s Timothy Taylor Gallery show. In them can be detected traces of Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keefe and perhaps Andrew Wyeth, but Katz’s influences have often been strongly European: Picasso, Miro, Matisse – some of the same artists Hockney looked and may still look at – as well as earlier painters such as Watteau and Rembrandt, for gesture and composition. The big painting was an American idea, asserts Katz – perhaps unconsciously ignoring Monet’s great Waterliles triptych, measuring 2.1m x 13m (7ft x 42ft) in total, which had so inspired the New York abstract expressionists. Physically demanding for one so advanced in age, Katz’s works, though often huge in proportions – he was at the time of the Tate Etc. interview preparing to produce a 6.1m (20ft) wide, white on white, painting – are all done in a single day, all preparatory drawings and paint mixes having been finalised beforehand. His paintings could never be called impressionist but he likes to capture the immediate present, which this series of UK exhibitions are certainly doing for him.

Alex Katz paintings from top
White Roses 8 (large), 2012
Vivien, 2012
Gavin, 2012
All paintings © Alex Katz/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY, USA.
Courtesy, Timothy Taylor Gallery, London

Alex Katz photographed in 2004 by Vivien Bittencourt
©Vivien Bittencourt

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