Posts Tagged ‘Whitechapel Gallery’

Art | Events Around the Eclipse of Capitalism

Friday, March 20th, 2015

OX, Untitled, 2013
Besançon 2013, Festival Bien Urbain Besançon

OX, Untitled, 2013
Besançon 2013, Festival Bien Urbain Besançon

Acrylic on petrol station

OX Public Posters
Edited by Andreas Ulrich
International Neighborhood Verlag

Text in German + English + French
308 pp, landscape, hardback
Available now


Rirkrit Tiravanija.
Berlin Billboards
On view at the following sites:
Messedamm 22, Berlin-Charlottenburg,
Prinzenstrasse 81, Berlin-Kreuzberg,
Wilhelmstrasse 111, Berlin-Tiergarten,
Leipziger Strasse 54, Berlin-Mitte,
Berlin | Germany

Until 18 April 2015


Art for All.
Multiples, graphics,
and political campaigns
from the Staeck Collection
Akademie der Künste
Berlin | Germany
Until 7 June 2015


Poetry of the Metropolis.
The Affichistes
Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
Frankfurt | Germany

Until 25 May 2015


Peter Liversidge:
Notes on Protesting
Whitechapel Gallery
London | UK

Until 14 June 2014

OX, Untitled, 2004, Paris

OX, Untitled, 2009, Champagne-sur-Seine

OX, Untitled, 2008, Paris

OX, Untitled, 2005, Bagnolet

OX (French, b 1963) finds a lot of graffiti tantamount to visual pollution, ‘plain ugly… badly placed, or just boring.’ He calls himself a painter, but says self-deprecatingly, ‘I am well aware that there is a difference between me and the master painters.

OX doesn’t like to talk much about his work. Nor does he title any of it. He prefers to let it speak for itself. ‘It isn’t interesting to watch me paint, either… I produce, I do colouring… watching me paint is very [tiring].’

OX’s medium is, for the most part, collage, albeit using paper he has first painted in his studio. A former member of the Paris-based 1980s art school guerilla collagist group Les Fréres Ripoulin, he and his associates were never certain whether gluing their work on to advertising billboards around Paris was illegal, but got an adrenalin rush from the idea that it might be. They even risked scribbling contact telephone numbers on their finished pieces and, never bothered by the police, were rung up by journalists and invited to exhibit at Paris’s recently-opened Agnes B gallery. However, after an unsuccessful New York show the group disintegrated in 1994.

OX used much of the next 10 years for quiet reflection. The work he began producing in 2004 – based around his cutting away all of the photographs on magazine pages but preserving the remaining fragments – was ‘like the opposite of pop art… Instead of using the most visible symbols of the visual commercial realm, I used only the outlines, the backgrounds, the most visually weak elements.’ For source material, he collected pictures from the discarded magazines he found in rubbish bins. These days he searches the internet for images to add to his archive, and increasingly uses Google Street View to find locations. Either the billboard itself gives rise to the idea, or its location.

OX, Untitled, 2009, Paris

OX, Untitled, 2013, Dammerie-les-lys

OX likes to take his time. After deciding on a site, he will observe it often for long periods and in different weather conditions, waiting sometimes several months, or even years, before choosing a billboard on which to execute the idea he has formulated. He likes the temporary nature of his ’signs’, which he documents by photographing them, and claims he is not attached to the originals that can be gone within a few days. However, he might return at a later date to revise a ’sign’, if it’s still there.

OX is prolific. Except for a few earlier examples, the photographs shown in the new book OX Public Posters, published by International Neighborhood Verlag and distributed by Gestalten, are selected from the three hundred or so paintings he has placed on public billboards around the world from 2004 to 2014. Those shown, together with many other images of his work can be found on OX’s Blog.

+ Rirkrit Tiravanija. Berlin Billboards
Inspired by economic theorist Jeremy Rifkin’s book, The Zero Marginal Cost Society: the Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism, Open Source: Art at the Eclipse of Capitalism is a series of connected events occurring at the Max Hetzler galleries in Berlin and Paris, plus a theatre performance at the New Theater in Berlin, as well as a lecture by Jeremy Rifkin at Palais de Tokyo in Paris, which will be followed by an interview with Rifkin by Hans Ulrich Obrist, to appear both online and in a forthcoming book based on the exhibition. The object of the series is to consider artworks made since 1990 to the present which reflect economic transition. Exhibitor Rirkrit Tiravanija (b Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1961) is a contemporary artist living between New York, Berlin, and Chiang Mai. In his video Ghost Reader, 2013, Tiravanija uses the manga character Annlee – who appears on the artist’s Berlin billboards – to explore the complex issues of copyright, identity, status and emotion in our rapidly changing society.

+ Art for All. Multiples, graphics, and political campaigns
Beginning in the 1960s, when artists sought independence from existing institutions, and wanted to create affordable art for as wide an audience as possible, the Art for All movement, which is still active today and has included international figures, such as Joseph Beuys, Christo, Sigmar Polke and Rosemarie Trockel, began producing multiples – original works of art reproduced in large quantities that circumvented the rules of traditional art, making it accessible to everyone. Art for All: Multiples, graphics, and political campaigns exhibition at the Akademie der Künste presents graphics, objects and art books from the Staeck Collection, by numerous artists working in a diverse variety of styles and aesthetic approaches, and offers insights into a non-conformist creative generation. During a period of profound social upheaval, these artists put their trust in the critical, enlightening and utopian powers of art, while permanently contributing to the shape of its formal language.

+ Poetry of the Metropolis. The Affichistes
Pioneers of new realism, early pop artists, street art trailblazers – on their rambles through postwar Paris, the artists who would become known as the Affichistes collected fragments of the weathered and tattered posters, they came across that were often peeling and several layers deep, carried them back to their studios and created original artworks from them, in doing so elevating this ubiquitous aspect of everyday urban life to the status of a fine art. Poetry of the Metropolis: The Affichistes, is an extensive exhibition at Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, which shines a light on the special role of the subversive and poetic Affichistes within the avant-garde of the 1950s and1960s.

+ Peter Liversidge: Notes on Protesting
Inspired by demonstration and protest, British artist Peter Liversidge (b1973) worked closely with sixty London schoolchildren, to produce a performance staged at the Whitechapel Gallery, on May Day (01 May 2014). Creating songs, choreography, banners and placards, they expressed their views on everything from ‘No More Homework’ to ‘Less trucks and cars. More chocolate bars!’ Peter Liversidge: Notes on Protesting at the Whitechapel Gallery includes a film of the performance, alongside documentation of the workshops and rehearsals.

All images from OX Public Posters / Affichage Libre / Public Posters
All images courtesy Gestalten
All images © OX and Wildsmile Studios, Dresden

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The Blog is about art, architecture, books, design and gardens, 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 whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier

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mouth2mouth | Mark Thomson

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

mouth2mouth | exclusive interview
mark thomson | book designer extraordinaire

Mark Thomson is based in London and is responsible for the design of the catalogue for the Mel Bochner: If the Colour Changes exhibition, currently showing at the Whitechapel Gallery. Trained in fine art at Chelsea School of Art, for a period in the 90s Mark was art director of Taschen, based in Cologne, Germany, where he produced, among many other books, the definitive tome Starck (1996). Back in the UK, he began working on books directly with artists. More recently he has produced artist monographs, exhibition catalogues and text-based books with publishers Ridinghouse, as well as with the British Council and British Museum. Among other projects, Mark is currently involved in producing a monograph on the British artist and 2003 Turner Prize nominee Anya Gallaccio. Thomson, an authority on typography, occasionally writes on design-related subjects.

In a 2005 issue of Eye magazine, referring to an exhibition of Swiss books at the Design Museum, Thomson said: ‘An inescapable fact about exhibiting books is that the essential ingredient of a book – its engagement with time – is impossible to show. Sculpture you can walk around, a painting can be seen from left and right.’ The real experience of a book, he tells us, has more in common with music or architecture. Significantly, in the same article he talks about the exhibition and its catalogue, designed by Laurent Benner and Jonathan Hares, as being co-dependent and that, in this instance, ‘the catalogue itself is the star.’

When did you study at Chelsea?
1980 to 1985, studying fine art. Anthony Hill was my main tutor there. He’d corresponded with Marcel Duchamp and was a central figure in postwar British and European constructivism. He had an anarchic alter ego called Redo (as in play-doh). These things made him extremely interesting to me. His 1983 mid-career retrospective at the Hayward is still one of the best exhibitions I’ve ever seen: work that was totally uncompromising, industrial, practically colourless and apparently devoid of angst or expression of any kind. I loved it, and still do.

Why the crossover from fine art to design?
After Chelsea I started writing about art, mostly reviewing exhibitions and interviewing artists I was interested in, such as Hans Haacke and Dan Graham. I did a bit of lecturing, usually on these subjects. Meanwhile the work I was making had something to do with structure and language; it was really no step at all from that to design. I started doing flyers for concerts, and gradually realised that design held a deeper mystery for me. It was not clear at all how design worked – the language was far more subtle than the idea of problem-solving that was being put about. Typography in particular became my obsession, as well as the overall language of design. The first exhibition catalogue and print material I did was for New Contemporaries in 1993. For the first time I felt that all my interests came together in a meaningful way.

How did the Taschen job come about?
At about the same time I had been working on a book about chairs for Taschen, and went to Cologne to show them what I had done. While there I worked on another book with them for a day or two, returning a couple of weeks later to do some more. Then it snowballed – we got on well and after a few months I was given the job of art director. I had my studio in London and the studio in Cologne. I went between the two for a few years.

The main task was to introduce a more international design language – although the company sold books all over the world it was still quite German-looking. I gave the typography a new direction: Scala Sans had just been released and it was readable as well as fresh, it was both new and somehow traditional, and it was perfect for the coated papers that art books are mostly printed on. Scala and Quadraat became the baseline typefaces for the company.

You’re currently based in London but do you still do work for overseas clients?
When I stopped working with Taschen I wanted to focus on working with artists and working internationally – over the last few years I’ve worked in something like 20 languages. My clients are all over – we Skype a lot.

Could you explain something about some of the other things you’ve worked on?
The work has fallen into natural categories: monographs, exhibition catalogues, writings and other text-based books. I have made monographs on artists like Simon Patterson and Chris Burden, and catalogues for recent exhibitions by John Stezaker and Josiah McElheny at the Whitechapel, on German Romantic prints and drawings at the British Museum, Nick Danziger and Yuri Gagarin for the British Council (where I also designed the exhibition, with Nick Coombe Architecture).

I work a lot with Ridinghouse, who are doing some great publishing on and around art. Recently we’ve done a series of collected writings of Michael Bracewell, Georg Baselitz and Fred Wilson, as well as a book called Unconcealed – a brilliant, incredibly detailed study of the artist, dealer and museum network around conceptual art in Europe between 1967 and 1977. The most recent catalogue is for Mel Bochner at the Whitechapel Gallery (and in 2013 at Haus der Kunst, Munich, and Fundação de Serralves, Porto, Portugal).

Was it very different working with an artist’s work that is often strongly typographical, as opposed to say figurative or purely abstract? How did it affect your approach?
I am only trying to find a form through which the work can speak. In my view the designer’s role here is to place the work in space, as well as it can be done, and then to get out of the picture. This applies to every aspect of the design – the editorial structure, the structure of the page, the typography and the production. The moment of interaction between eye, paper and ink is the critical one where the work can be found or lost completely. I still believe that having some kind of understanding of the work makes all the difference to the final outcome. Mel Bochner’s father was a signwriter, so his understanding of typography and lettering is very grounded.

The exhibition title, If the Colour Changes, doesn’t appear on the cover of the catalogue: what was the thinking behind this?
Only that the catalogue is almost a monograph. There is much less out there on Mel Bochner than I thought, and the scope of the exhibition is basically the scope of his career, even if a guiding theme of the show is apparently colour. This particular catalogue includes five critical texts as well as a selection of Mel Bochner’s own texts, a very detailed biography and bibliography, and of course all the works from the exhibition. That’s a lot of content.

Images from the catalogue
Mel Bochner: If the Colour Changes

Published in 2012 on the occasion of the exhibition of the same title by Whitechapel Gallery and Ridinghouse in association with Haus der Kunst, Munich, and Fundação de Serralves, Porto; edited by Achim Borchardt-Hume and Doro Globus, with texts by Achim Borchardt-Hume, Briony Fer, João Fernandes, Mark Godfrey and Ulrich Wilmes

Front cover, showing:
Blah, Blah, Blah, 2011 (Detail)
Oil on velvet (ten panels)

Double page spread, showing:
Actual Size (Hand and Face), 1968/2002
Two gelatin silver prints

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Auction | Modern & Post-War British Art

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Modern & Post-War British Art

Sotheby’s, London. Evening Sale, 15th November, 2011

Exhausted. Broke. Britain, after Hitler’s war was a barren and desolate landscape. But while the rest of Europe rapidly recovered, rebuilding both their shattered cities and economies, Britain lagged behind, its population having to endure food rationing – that had begun in 1940 – until 1954. The country’s economy never really got going again until the latter half of the 1980s. It might be surprising and seem ironic then that a group of paintings, drawings and sculpture representative of the prodigious output by British artists from the post-war years, together with others from the 21-year inter-war period – itself dogged by unemployment and poverty, and hit hard by the 1929 Wall Street Crash – are expected to reach a combined total of £7.2 – 10.8 m ($11.9 – 17.3m) in this forthcoming auction at Sotheby’s, London.

Born in 1878 – well before WWI during which he was a war artist – master-draughtsman, Augustus John’s, David at the Table portrays the somewhat idealised image of a haggard though handsome, wild-eyed young man in work clothes sat slumped at a plain table on which one senses there is no food and might not have been for some time. Generally considered to be the most famous British artist of his day, John himself was never short of money or commissions, however he cultivated a bohemian image inspired by his admiration for the lifestyle of gypsies. Perhaps the bluntness of Laurence Stephen Lowry’s painting, The Cripples (Political Argument) executed shortly after WWII comes closer to reality. Along with other Lowry’s it is also included in the sale.

Bridget Riley, born to middle-class London parents in 1931, would have been eight years old when war broke out in 1939. Raised in the relative safety of the west country, she was educated at Cheltenham Ladies College before coming up to London to study at Goldsmiths then at The Royal College of Art. Her signature, disorientating Op Art painting style matured at the beginning of the 60s with which it and she became synonymous. At a time when the younger generation, anxious to escape the dullness and squalor of the 1950s, living in the shadow of the Cold War and of the possibility of a nuclear holocaust, experimented with hallucinogenic drugs, these paintings were said to inspire audience participation. Becoming disillusioned when her style was exploited for commercial purposes, Riley abandoned it in favour of pursuing ideas concerned with colour, in so doing backing away from the limelight. She was fifty-one when she painted the strikingly linear Praise 1 at the dawn of the 80s.

The same age as Riley, Frank Auerbach, whose gaunt work, Head of Gerda Boehm, among others is also included in the sale, was born of Jewish parentage in Berlin. Sent to England in 1939 to escape Nazism, his mother and father remained behind and perished in concentration camps. Young Frank was evacuated to Shropshire but ended up attending London’s St Martin’s School of Art and going on to the RCA, where he and Bridget Riley were contemporaries.

Painter, William Roberts, started out as a poster designer and studied at the Slade; leaving the school in 1913 he travelled in France and Italy and fought in the trenches during WWI, the sheer horror of the experience, as with many other artists who went to fight, significantly changing the direction of his work. Roberts was one of the signatories to the first issue of BLAST, the short-lived literary magazine of the Vorticist movement in Britain. He developed an interest for representing and interpreting the predominantly working class elements of metropolitan London’s everyday life and events – visits to the cinema, the dancehall but treating them with dignity and humour. Roberts’ painting:s The Boxing Match, produced between 1919-25 and The Barber’s Shop, circa 1946, along with Bath Night, 1929, are all in this sale.In contrast, Barbara Hepworth’s Mincarlo: Three Curves with Strings, created in 1971, only four years before the sculptor’s death and, although small in size – only 16.5 cm high, excluding black, polished stone base – is unashamedly extravagant and luxurious in use of materials.

Hepworth, from Wakefield in Yorkshire was born in 1903 to middle class parents and died in 1975; her adulthood spans much of the scope of this sale. Aged 17, not long after the Great War ended, she went to Leeds School of Art before being accepted at the RCA, soon becoming well-connected to the up-and-coming art cognescenti including sculptors Henry Moore and John Skeaping. Marrying the latter, the couple regularly exhibited together to great acclaim but drifted apart and separated in 1931. Soon after Hepworth met Ben Nicholson whom she was later to marry and to form a long-standing creative relationship with in which together they moved into abstraction. Both artists benefited enormously from forging links to the continental avant gardists – Picasso, Mondrian, Brancusi – and from those artists who fled Europe and came to England prior to WWII – Gabo, Walter Gropius, Moholy-Nagy. When the war began Hepworth and Nicholson relocated to St Ives in Cornwall where they continued to work and succeeded in their efforts to attract international attention. In the 50s, after divorcing Nicholson, Hepworth confirmed her reputation as one of Britain’s major artists producing two sculptures for 1951’s Festival of Britain and retrospective shows in Wakefield and at London’s Whitechapel. Both the 50s and 60s were good to her; Hepworth’s international stature grew. She was awarded the CBE and later, the DBE. She had a further retrospective in 1962 at the Whitechapel, became a trustee of the Tate and had a retrospective exhibition there in 1968. Barbara Hepworth died in St Ives in 1975 – her studio and garden there are now a museum administered by the Tate – after a long battle with cancer. Celebrating her achievement and named in her honour, 2011 saw the opening of the Hepworth Wakefield gallery in her home town.

Sold earlier this year through Christies and significantly surpassing its estimated sale price of £70,000 – £100,000, ($112,980 – $161,400) selling at £145,000 ($236,612), the Mincarlo: Three Curves with Strings, sculpture is of 18 carat gold (Apparently, the best gold you can get for making precious objects, 22 carat is too soft). Deep in the current world recession, apparently far worse than that of the 30s and in post WWII Britain, and as gold prices head towards $5,000 (£3,127) an ounce, curiously in Sotheby’s Modern & Post-war British Art sale the estimated price for this piece exactly matches the earlier Christie’s estimate.

Works from top
Bridget Riley, Praise 1, circa 1981. Estimate £150,000-250,000
Augustus John OM, RA, David at the Table. Estimate £20,000-30,00
Dame Barbara Hepworth, Mincarlo: Three Curves with Strings, 1971.
Estimate £70,000-100,000
Frank Auerbach, Head of Gerda Boehm, 1971. Estimate £180,000-250,000
William Roberts RA, The Barber’s Shop, circa 1946. Estimate, £70,000-100,000

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