2016-08-25

10365 - 20161023 - Exhibition at Design Museum in Ghent examines what the future holds for the bicycle - 25.03.2016-23.10.2016

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Rizoma (IT), ‘77/011 Metropolitan, carbon et aluminium, 2015, ©Rizoma.
 
Over the past decade, the bike has made a dramatic comeback as a means of transport. This revival is a worldwide phenomenon and takes us back to the time when the bike was a key mode of transport in our lives and within the urban network. In an age in which the shortage of fossil fuels, rising pollution and global warming are proving ever-greater challenges, it is only logical that we should give higher priority to the bike.

We could define today’s bikes as a mix of evolutions and new perspectives in terms of concept, design, technology, mobility and community. Once again, the bike is being given a leading role as a powerful tool for both today’s world and the future.

The ‘Bike to the Future’ exhibition examines what the future holds for the bicycle. In this exhibition, talent and inventiveness lead the race, with brilliant ideas and ingenious prototypes playing a central role. By combining design and technology in various different ways, designers are continually reinventing the bike. The result is a photo finish between design, outstanding craftsmanship and industry.

Other aspects of cycling such as mobility, safety and the cycling community are also showcased in the museum.

Cycling has a huge impact on the development of our cities. New types of parking, bridges and bike tunnels are being incorporated into the urban infrastructure, alongside smaller-scale interventions such as rain sensors for bikes at traffic lights.

Cycling communities unite like-minded people, from the world of the cycling club, to those who cycle in their free time or for exercise, to cycling activists who see the bike as an alternative means of transport.

The ‘Bike to the Future’ exhibition
The exhibition features contemporary models such as the ‘M.A.S.S. Snow' electric bike by Philippe Starck and 'Bamboo' by Ross Lovegrove, as well as prototypes and experiments with unusual materials and applications. One such example is a folding bike designed by Gianluca Sada, which when folded is no bigger than an umbrella.

There is also space devoted to bike accessories. The magnetic bike light ‘iFlash One’ designed by the Danish studio Kibisi, the ‘Hövding’ air bag helmets, and the Hammerhead navigation system are all designed to enable us to get the very best out of our aluminium steeds.

There are also Belgian designs on display, including bikes from the brand Eddy Merckx and Jaegher and the laser-cut bicycle by Tobias Knockaert. The accessories on display include those from Curana, a worldwide trendsetter in the field of aluminium mudguards.
 
 
 
 
 
 

2016-08-24

10364 - 20161118 - Exhibition of portraits from the Collection de l'art brut on view in Lausanne - 08.07.2016-18.11.2016

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Yves-Jules Fleuri, Carla, c’est Nicolas leur tendre complicité etc., 2008. Acrylic paint and black felt tip pen on paperboard, cartonné 55,1 x 72,3 cm. Photo Caroline Smyrliadis, Atelier de numérisation – Ville de Lausanne Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne.
 
The very title of this exhibition seems to run counter to the anonymity valued by the creators of Art Brut: men and women little inclined to seek celebrity. These self-taught persons, for the most part unknown to the public, enjoy depicting movie stars, musicians, singers, athletes and political figures in their works. The fame of such people holds a certain fascination for many producers of Art Brut. Today's widespread "people press" is akin to a collective iconography that has become part and parcel of the visual culture of all sectors of society, including the creators of Art Brut. When Jean Dubuffet first declared Art Brut to be "unscathed by society," he was alluding to culture in an academic and official sense. He would later admit that both cultural virginity and total acculturation are inexistent.

The exhibition presents a gallery of portraits all belonging to the museum holdings. It comprises a great number of celebrities such as Gary Cooper, Marilyn Monroe and Sharon Stone; Elvis Presley and Johnny Hallyday; the French cyclist Bernard Hinault and champions in other categories; or even Abraham Lincoln and Aung San Suu Kyi, together with Prince Charles and Camilla! Frequently, these works are images of images: they have been created by copying from photographs or movies. Nevertheless, the works by such creators are unaffected by the cultural codes governing the reproductions to which they resort. Instead, they adapt fragments representing our society on their own terms, integrating them into a world of their own. They suffer no constraints and can even, at times, handle their subjects rather irreverently. Art Brut creators who attend art workshops use magazine and book illustrations only as a starting point for their work. Indeed, often the identity of the glossy page persons they copy is totally unimportant to them. Revisiting or reinventing such persons in their own highly personal style tends to almost demythologize the figures depicted.

The great creativity that shows through Art Brut works affects all those who view them. David Bowie is one among many of the celebrities to have felt the intensity they convey: "Switzerland also enabled me to discover Art Brut, which made a strong impression on me, on my creative activity. I remember bringing along Brian Eno to the Lausanne museum, and spending hours with him admiring the works on display, thinking about the creative process and the boundaries artists are ready to cross in their quest..."

Exhibition curator: Anic Zanzi, Curator at the Collection de l'Art Brut
 
 
 
 
 
 

2016-08-23

10363 - 20160911 - Installation by Dineo Seshee Bopape on view at Palais de Tokyo - Paris - 23.06.2016-11.09.2016

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Dineo Seshee Bopape, is i am sky, 2013. SD video, 17’48”. Courtesy of the artist.
 
For her exhibition at Palais de Tokyo, Dineo Seshee Bopape (born in 1981 in South Africa, lives in Johannesburg) has conceived an installation reflecting on feelings, psychic dissolution and weight of context. The video of the song “Feelings” performed by Nina Simone (1976, live in Montreux Jazz Festival) together with a consideration of Bessie Head’s novel, A question of power (1974), are the starting points of her research. Dineo Seshee Bopape explores with her installation the subjective question of affects by bringing together videos and depictions of pieces focused on the body engulfed by emotion in personal and in socio political contexts.

Dineo Seshee Bopape was born in 1981 in Polokwane. She graduated at De Ateliers in Amsterdam (2007) and completed an MFA at Columbia University, New york (2010). She was the 2008 winner of the MTN New Contemporaries Award and the recipient of Columbia University’s Toby Fund Award (2010). Recent solo shows have taken place in Norway, Amsterdam and Naples in addition to her solo shows at Stevenson, Cape Town and Johannesburg which took place in 2013, 2011 and 2010.

Recent group shows include Ruffnek Constructivists , Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (2014); Chroma, Stevenson , Cape Town (2014); My Joburg , La maison rouge, Paris; Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Germany (2013); The Beautyful Ones , Nola Judin, Berlin (2012); Fiction as Fiction (Or, A Ninth Johannesburg Biennale) , Stevenson, Cape Town (2012); About Menocchio we know many things , Bétonsalon Centre d’art et de recherche, Paris (2012); If A Tree... , Stevenson, Johannesburg (2012); The Next Generation, Pulchri Studio, The Hague, Mine - A selection of films by SA artists , Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre, Dubai (2012). Bopape was included in the Marrakech Biennale (2016) and has been awarded residencies at the Headlands Center for the Arts in San Francisco, the Fountainhead Residency in Miami, the Sober & Lonely Institute in Johannesburg and the Sommerakademie im Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern, Switzerland.

Curator: Rebecca Lamarche-vadel

SAM Art Projects is a nonprofit organization established in 2009 and supported by the patronage of Sandra Hegedus Mulliez. SAM Art Projects’ aim is as much to help, promote and defend the work of contemporary artists from nonwestern countries as it is to support the projects of French artists in foreign countries (non-european or North American). every year, SAM Art Projects awards a prize to a visual artist living in France and presenting a project destined for a foreign country. The SAM Prize laureate is endowed with 20,000 euros and accompanied by an exhibition at Palais de Tokyo, produced and funded by SAM.
 
 
 
 
 
 

2016-08-22

10362 - 20161009 - Gardens of the World: A major special exhibition on view at Museum Rietberg - Zurich - 13.05.2016-09.10.2016

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Laurent de la Hire, Die Arithmetik, 1650.
 Öl auf Leinwand
 © Sammlung Museum de Fundatie, Zwolle und Heino/Wijhe, Niederlanden.
Gardens of the World is the first attempt ever to present a comprehensive survey of the gardens of the Orient and the Occident in a single exhibition. Museum Rietberg in Zurich invites visitors to take a stroll through gardens from Japan to England and from Ancient Egypt right up to the present day. Works of art, photos and videos show how people in different cultures and epochs longed for gardens and how they created them.

Is it actually possible to stage an exhibition on the subject of gardens? Albert Lutz, director of Museum Rietberg, was convinced that it was, even before he came up with the concept for Gardens of the World. Yet simply to show the historical development of the garden under a number of headings would surely have fallen short of the mark. Gardens need to be experienced; after all, they are the only art form that appeals to all the senses. “Museum Rietberg is the ideal place for a garden exhibition because it is located in the middle of the magnificent Rieterpark”, says Lutz.

The thirty stories of gardens told in the museum’s exhibition rooms begin with paradise worlds. This opening section shows how, both in Europe and in Asia, paradise was usually depicted as an enchanted garden. It includes an installation by the German artist Wolfgang Laib, who has strewn pine pollen to create a radiant field of microscopic yellow dust. It symbolises the quintessence of the garden as the beginning of plant life.

This section is followed by a more or less chronological tour: from the gardens of Ancient Egypt to those of Islam, from Japanese and Chinese gardens to European horticulture. Among the more special exhibits is an entire room devoted to the famous insect book by the eighteenth-century Japanese master of woodcuts Kitagawa Utamaro. For Gardens of the World, the two pieces of an Egyptian limestone relief – showing tree goddesses – that are normally housed in two different museums have been reassembled for the first time. The highlight of the Oriental gardens section is a painting on loan from the Louvre that is probably the world’s most beautiful garden painting in Islamic art.

The exhibition also features some of the big names of art, such as Claude Monet, Carl Spitzweg, and Max Liebermann. There are garden paintings from Switzerland, too. Works by Paul Klee show how radically his work and his preoccupation with the garden motif changed over the course of his life. Paintings by the Thurgau artist Adolf Dietrich illustrate how one and the same subject – in this case his neighbour’s garden – can repeatedly inspire new works.

Contemporary works of art that reference historical gardens are a further focal point of the exhibition. They include copies made by Ai Weiwei of the fountain figures from the garden of Beijing’s summer palace, which no longer exists. Photocollages by David Hockney present some unusual views of what is probably Japan’s most famous garden, the Ryoan-ji stone garden in Kyoto. Roman Signer is also represented, with a video from the garden at Wörlitz, Germany’s oldest landscape garden.

Numerous other multimedia installations convey some of the more unusual aspects of gardens. Excerpts from fifteen feature films from the years 1940 to 2011 have been edited together to show a series of garden scenes – of persecution and murder but also of seduction and love. An app created especially for the exhibition turns one of the world’s oldest garden plans, from Ancient Egypt, into a 3D experience.

The show continues outside the exhibition rooms. The so-called changing garden right by the entrance – an urban, vertically structured garden – provides a link to the twenty-first century. There is a connection to the exhibition too, as many of the climbing and flowering plants growing on the frames are also depicted in the artworks on display.

The Rieterpark, the museum’s villa garden, forms the magnificent backdrop to the exhibition. It is one of Switzerland’s most beautiful landscape gardens and has been planted specially for the exhibition with the kind of flowerbeds that would have been fashionable in the nineteenth century. To allow visitors to admire the garden from an unusual perspective, the loggia of the Villa Wesendonck will be open to the public for the first time ever.

The extensive programme of events planned under the auspices of Gardens of the World is also designed to allow visitors to experience gardens in a number of different ways: there will be a market devoted to herbs, a garden festival celebrating life in the great green outdoors and a English-style afternoon tea, bringing a piece of English gardening culture to Zurich. Concerts, talks, garden tours and film evenings will complete the programme.

Why did the museum take the bold step of mounting an exhibition on a subject that is so inherently complex and vibrant? “Because it is a great subject”, says Director Albert Lutz, “one that not only appeals to all the senses but touches everybody in some way.”

 

2016-08-19

10361 - 20160904 - Foam exhibits works by three young photographers who are working at the cutting edge of fashion - Amsterdam - 17.06.2016-04.09.2015

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Berlin (commissioned by the German rock band KADAVAR), 2015 © Elizaveta Porodina / Courtesy of the artist.
 
In contrast to the majority of the fashion world, Carlijn Jacobs (1991, NL) does not aim for perfection, but for unconventionality. She often selects her models by their eccentric appearances and creates an atmosphere around this that is entirely her own, such as her Vivian Atlantis (2016) series, created especially for this exhibition. In winding poses, the model seems to become one with the environment, like an animal in an alien habitat.

Elizaveta Porodina’s (1987, RU) fashion shoots form the realisation of ideas that, as she says herself, “buzz around in her head like a swarm of bees”. The black & white series being exhibited in Foam 3h was created by Elizaveta in May last year for the new ‘Berlin’ album by German rock band KADAVAR. In a bold 60s style, two models feature as groupies obsessively following in the footsteps of their musical idols. The camera doesn’t follow the band, but the girls in their dramatic adoration. Porodina shot this cinematic series at the famous former airport Berlin Tempelhof.

Philippe Vogelenzang (1982, NL) is always searching for something iconic in mankind. Without fuss, he is capable of creating powerful and pure images of every person who stands before his lens, often in a timeless style of black & white photography. In response to Helmut Newton, he decided to produce his own version of the famous ‘Big Nudes’ for this exhibition. Whereas Newton’s women rise above the observer in masculine, intimidating poses, Vogelenzang demonstrates a more approachable, soft and intimate image of a model that would normally be cast for his masculinity.

The work of these three autonomous fashion photographers expresses the visual connections with Helmut Newton’s work in various ways: Carlijn Jacobs shows the importance of the setting around the model, creating an own universe, while in the series by Elizaveta Porodina the cinematic qualities of the image always suggest a bigger picture. Portraying a person in an iconic visual language is characteristic of both Helmut Newton’s and Philippe Vogelenzang’s work. But it is mainly the working method, particularly the unrestrained realisation of personal fantasies and concepts entirely in their own style, that distinguishes these three talents from the current world of fashion photography.

Carlijn Jacobs graduated with distinction from the Lifestyle & Design programme at the Willem de Kooning Academie in Rotterdam in 2014. She has produced work for various magazines, including I-D Magazine, Glamcult, Novembre- and Sleek Magazine.

Autodidact Elizaveta Porodina has proven herself in the world of fashion photography entirely on her own merits. Before she started working for big names such as Louis Vuitton, Vogue and Stern, she worked in a psychiatric institution as a clinical psychologist. She is currently exhibiting her first solo museum exhibition, Dark Iconography, which opened at Kunstmuseum Humboldt-Schloss in Berlin in May 2016. She is represented by the Sonja Heintschel agency in Munich.

After a year of studying Photography at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague and with a background in Art History, Philippe Vogelenzang decided to develop his style individually. He is represented by Jet Root Group and works for international customers, including Vogue, V Magazine, L'Express and GQ. Work by Philippe Vogelenzang has already been presented at Foam in the group exhibition Don’t Stop Now: Fashion Photography Next (2014).
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

2016-08-18

10360 - 20161106 - "VASE: Function Reviewed" at the National Craft Gallery in Kilkenny - 06.08.2016-06.11.2016

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Andrew Wicks, Cobalt Garniture of 7 vases, 2014. Porcelain.
 
Ever since the Grecian Urn, the vase has a tradition as a container of narrative and vehicle for storytelling. This new exhibition looks at how contemporary artists are still addressing issues of the personal and the political within and on their work. Curated by Brian Kennedy, VASE: Function Reviewed is at the National Craft Gallery in Kilkenny from 6th August to 6th November 2016 and forms part of the programme for Kilkenny Arts Festival 2016.

Ceramics play a huge part in all our daily lives. We wash from a ceramic sink, drink our morning tea or coffee from a ceramic mug, eat from a ceramic dish and when we want to cheer up a room we put flowers in a ceramic vase. Many contemporary artists take these daily objects and rituals and investigate them through their work. This exhibition focuses on the vase, an object we all have in our lives, and looks at it through the eyes of the artist.

VASE: Function Reviewed debates issues of functionality in ceramics through a series of works by Irish and international artists. The exhibition showcases a range of objects, from the consciously matching to the gloriously mismatched, the proudly ‘functional’ to the emphatically ‘dysfunctional’, the ‘useful’ and the ‘useless’. It offers a lively and stimulating debate on form versus function within contemporary ceramics and encourages an animated debate on hierarchies within contemporary ceramics, making us look anew at the objects that surround us.

Featuring 29 artists from Europe, Africa and Asia, VASE : Function Reviewed places work by Irish artists such as Sara Flynn, Alison Kay and Derek Wilson within a broader international context. The exhibition also includes work by Kate Malone, one of the judges from The Great British Throw Down TV series, Babs Haenen, one of the best regarded Dutch ceramists and Hwang Kap Sun, an emerging Korean maker with recent shows in Paris and Geneva. Visitors can also enjoy the work of Carol McNicoll, Alison Britton and Janice Tchalenko - 3 of the 5 women that are credited with changing the direction of studio ceramics in the 1970s. Details of all featured artists can be viewed at www.nationalcraftgallery.ie/vase. Presenting a wide range of approaches from the functional to the more sculptural/abstract, this exhibition provides an insight into the issues and concerns addressed by contemporary artists through clay.

“I have always loved the word VASE, its double pronunciation, and with it, its reference to place and class. Within the world of craft and design, this same small word is even more charged and divisive. It’s seldom found within contemporary ceramics, where the less functional word ‘vessel’ is almost always used. I wanted to curate an exhibition that would embrace the functional, examine its history and explor e its boundaries.” ---brian Kennedy, Curator
 
 
 
 
 
 

2016-08-17

10359 - 20161008 - Survey of intimate drawings and a selection of later paintings by Alice Neel on view at Talbot Rice Gallery - Edinburgh - 29.07.2016-08.10.2016

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Alice Neel, The Subject and Me. Talbot Rice Gallery. Image: Chris Park © Talbot Rice Gallery.
 
The University of Edinburgh’s Talbot Rice Gallery presents The Subject and Me, the first solo exhibition of Alice Neel in Scotland. Free-spirited, Alice Neel (1900-1984) was outspoken and unconventional, living on the peripheries of New York society and the art world and striving to resolve the tragedies, hardships and conflicts of life through her painting. This exhibition features a survey of intimate drawings and a selection of later paintings: candid observations of sexuality, family, childhood, pain and poverty.

Gallery 1 features a series of paintings produced by Neel in later life. Comprising characteristic portraits, with a sense of psychological and social depth, these works demonstrate Neel’s intimate and direct method of painting from life, of which she stated, “I know all the theory of everything but when I paint I don't think of anything except the subject and me.”

Gallery 2 presents drawings and watercolours spanning over 50 years of Neel’s career. Produced both from life and from memory, these works offer raw, often disturbing visions of the world. Depicting scenes of destructive relationships, images of her children and a self-portrait as a skull, the drawings illustrate how Neel used her work to make some sense of the darkest chapters of her life and the lives of those around her.

Exploration of Neel’s biography continues in the upper Gallery with an illustrated timeline, a feature-length documentary by her grandson Andrew Neel and a remarkable portrait of the artist by Robert Mapplethorpe. Taken only weeks before her death from cancer, the stark black and white photograph depicts Neel with closed eyes and open-mouth, a haunting and prescient signifier of her death.

It's a privilege, you know, to paint and it takes up a lot of time and it means there's a lot of things you don't do. But still, with me, painting was more than a profession, it was also an obsession. I had to paint. Alice Neel
 
 
 
 
 
 

2016-08-16

10358 - 20160911 - Kunsthistorisches Museum presents an important exhibition on "the art of celebration" - Vienna - 08.03.2016-11.09.2016

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Francisco de Goya (1746 – 1828), Blind Man’s Buff (La Gallina Ciega), 1788. Canvas, 269 x 350 cm © Photographic Archive, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid.
 
In 2016 the Kunsthistorisches Museum is celebrating a jubilee: 125 years ago, on October 17, 1891, Emperor Franz Joseph formally opened the new main museum on Vienna’s Ringstrasse. To celebrate this anniversary in style the museum is showing an important exhibition on “the art of celebration” showcasing precious artworks from all the collections of the Kunsthistorisches Museum. International loans like Francisco de Goya’s “La gallina ciega” from the Prado in Madrid or the magnificent “Yashmak” designed by Shaun Leane for one of Alexander McQueen’s fashion shows from the Victoria & Albert Museum in London enrich this magnificent show which presents 125 groups of objects in three galleries.

The show focuses on celebrations and their history, and looks at different aspects of European festivities from the Renaissance to the French Revolution - at court (especially that of the Habsburgs) in towns and cities, and in the country. Court banquets and their opulent dishes, dancing and music form the centre of the show (Gallery VIII). The adjacent galleries look at sumptuous outdoor parties organized to celebrate coronations, weddings or birthdays but also during Carnival, popular festivals or on market days (Gallery IX), and at courtly tournaments (Gallery I).

Festivities always represent a state of exception during which every-day laws are temporarily suspended – through role-playing games and disguises that flout historical, cultural and gender differences. But what can the museum display of these ephemeral, long gone festivities? By turning the question on its head organizers arrived at a preliminary answer: the museum can display what remains of the day – show-pieces, props and pictorial records of these events.

For millennia something was presented or displayed during many of these celebrations, be they ecclesiastical or secular. Court festivities offered the host the opportunity to display precious show-pieces removed for this purpose from his treasury or Kunstkammer. The large two-handled rock crystal vase is such a show-piece; in 1764 it was removed from the Imperial Treasury in Vienna and transported to Frankfurt for the coronation of Joseph II. After the event these prestigious artefacts were returned to their respective depositories, only to reappear again at the next important festivity. Not a show-piece sensu stricto but nonetheless an important prop is the seventeen-metres-long tablecloth presented here to the public for the first time; Emperor Charles V commissioned it in 1527 for the banquets of the Order of the Golden Fleece. Another extraordinary prop for princely drinking parties is the 16th century “trick chair” that shackled guests until they had downed the content of a “welcome-glass”.

Fantastic parade armour worn at Renaissance tournaments documents exceptional creativity and imagination, and these artefacts are among the most fascinating props used as elegant disguises by the elite. Courtly festivities demanded both opulence and splendour but also extravagance – including technical extravagance. A particularly sophisticated construction that documents the innovative potential and the creative energies employed to plan and produce surprising show-effects is the mechanical breast-piece comprising springs and levers that Emperor Maximilian I commissioned for courtly tournaments. A direct hit on the shield of one’s opponent activated the mechanism, catapulting the pieces of the disintegrating shield high into the air. Hosts worked hard to surprise and enchant their guests, and the creative achievements of the court artists especially employed to plan and organize these festivities reflected back on their patrons.

Fragile sculptures made of molten sugar functioned as ephemeral table décor at banquets, and they, too, illustrate the sophistication of such costly festive creations. Contemporary Tuscan artisans have produced a number of sugar statuettes especially for this exhibition, an attempt to recreate the splendour of these centrepieces known as trionfi di tavola. But festive infrastructure also required invisible props like the 17th– century rocket-pole that bears witness to the magnificence of ephemeral baroque fireworks displays.

In addition to opulent treasures and curious extravagances the exhibition includes depictions of real and imaginary festivities: from coronations to Bruegel’s boisterous peasant celebrations to the fanciful fêtes galantes of Watteau and his followers – dreamy scenes set in Arcadian parklands in which fashionable ladies and gentlemen give themselves up to dance, games and gallant conversation.

Public festivals offered a counter-draft to the strictly regulated hierarchical court festivities - especially during Carnival, a looking-glass world when the existing social order was temporarily turned upside down through exuberant partying, the donning of disguises and role reversal - one way of defusing the tensions that accumulate in every hierarchic society.

A number of musical examples document that various elements of public festivals have enriched and inspired court celebrations. A perfect example of this rich interdependency is the painting depicting “blind man’s buff” by the Spanish court painter Francisco de Goya, who recorded public festivals and their entertainments in many of his compositions. Occasionally elements of a public festival are even turned into a court ceremony, and are thus constrained and controlled. One example is the Cuccagna Napoletana, which evolved out of carnival processions in Naples. The rising number of increasingly serious accidents during celebrations originally organized by the craftsmen’s guild led the ruler to assume control. Royal troops guarded a land-ofCockayne-like structure set up in front of the royal palace until the king standing on a balcony gave the sign that gave it up for plunder, and it was stormed by the populace.

The artefacts assembled for this exhibition bear witness to the exceptional splendour and opulence of some of these festivities but they also hint at their rigid as well as fragile order. They also show that the history of celebrations includes some that never actually happened. The exhibition offers insights into the history of celebrations – mainly, but not exclusively, during the early Modern Era. The aim is to show that throughout history festivities were always also displays, and although the installation is “festive” it aims also to remind visitors of what separates us from earlier festivities: it is, of course, obvious that modern museum visitors differ greatly from the protagonists and spectators of historical feasts – but how does a modern audience see itself? The exhibition poses this question in the form of a magnificent baroque mirror - it is, in a way, a precursor of our modern selfies, and functioned in much the same way. But perhaps it can also turn into an instrument of (humorous) self reflection, for which there is more than enough cause 125 years after the formal opening of the magnificent museum building on the Ringstrasse.

The exhibition was curated by Gudrun Swoboda, curator for Baroque Painting in the Picture Gallery of the Kunsthistorisches Museum. Most of the artefacts on show come from the rich holdings of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, and some of them have never, or only very rarely, been on display. In addition, the show includes loans from a number of national and international museums such as the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Museo del Prado in Madrid, the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg, the Historisches Museum Frankfurt, the MAK – Austrian Museum for Applied Arts / Contemporary Art, the Albertina, the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, the Hofmobiliendepot and the Musikverein in Vienna, and the Tiroler Landesmuseum. The exhibition is organized in collaboration with the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, who have also lent a number of important works.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

2016-08-15

10357 - 20161009 - Belles de Jour: Female artists, female models... on view at Musée Sainte-Croix - Poiiers - 18.06.2016-09.10.2016

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Installation view at Musée Sainte Croix. © Daniel Proux Ville de Poitiers.
 
Following the exhibition recently presented at the Palais Lumière in Evian, the Musée Sainte-Croix welcomes twelve major works from the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes concerning the female figure, showing both women as artists and as models.

Women are very much present in the collections of the Musée Sainte-Croix in Poitiers. From the engraved female figures on the tablets from the La Marche caves, to the peacemaking women on the Romanesque capital of the dispute, alongside the Roman tomb of the women of Naintré, the archaeological collections can easily be explored through a female presence.

The theme becomes more explicit in the painting and sculpture collections, especially from the Second Empire onwards. Whether they are themselves artists (Camille Claudel, Romaine Brooks, Sarah Lipska, Valentine Hugo, Chana Orloff, Kay Sage, Odette Pauvert), or models (Misia Sert, Colette, the Marchesa Casati, Ida Rubinstein, Nathalie Paley), these iconic figures invite the visitor to discover both famous personalities and anonymous muses, all of them witnesses to changing eras and attitudes, in times of urbanisation, industrialisation and modernity.

Inserted into the permanent collections, specially rehung for the occasion, these guests painted by Suzanne Valadon, Félix Vallotton, Kees Van Dongen, Tamara de Lempicka or Sigmar Polke, are accompanied by complementary loans (Musée d’Orsay, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen and private collections) evocative of famous figures such as Misia Sert, Colette, Lucie Delarue-Mardrus and Anna de Noailles.

The paintings allow visitors to rediscover the fine art collection under a new angle, echoing in a complementary or unexpected way the works of Camille Claudel, Romaine Brooks, Sarah Lipska, Valentine Hugo, Chana Orloff, Kay Sage, Odette Pauvert, as well as Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard and Aristide Maillol. From motherhood to the world of fashion, from the courtesan to the muse, from the model to the artist, women are seen as a symbol of truth, fantasy and freedom.

A catalogue and an international symposium (septembre 23-24th 2016) will allow a deeper investigation into this very current field of art history.

This exhibition in the Musée Sainte-Croix of Poitiers was produced in cooperation with the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes and the Palais Lumière of Evian. The Musée Sainte-Croix pursues its exchange and partnership policies with national and regional museums, allowing the public to welcome regularly a “new museum guest” (artist or institution), and to encourage the discovery of works related to its own collection.
 
 
 
 
 
 

2016-08-12

10356 - 20161109 - Major retrospective brings together some thirty works by Glenn Brown - Arles - 11.07.2016-11.09.2016

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Glenn Brown, The Hokey Cokey, 2016. Peinture à l’huile et acrylique sur bronze, vitrine, 88 x 66 x 66 cm. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. Photo: Mike Bruce.
 
Among contemporary British artists, Glenn Brown is one of the most unusual and most unique. After completing his MA in 1992 at London’s distinguished Goldsmiths College, he struck out against the prevailing artistic current. At this epoch painting – and figurative painting even more so – was viewed as the poor relation among the media available to modern art. While his contemporaries were asking themselves the question “Why bother painting?”, Glenn Brown chose to make the brushmarks of earlier masters, such as Vincent van Gogh, the subject of his paintings.

This summer the Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles pays tribute to Glenn Brown with a major retrospective bringing together some thirty works. This event marks an important milestone, not only because it has been 16 years since the last retrospective of the artist’s oeuvre was held in France in 2000, but also because the exhibition unites all three media in which Glenn Brown is today active: painting, sculpture and drawing.

Since 2013 Glenn Brown has pursued drawing as an autonomous means of artistic expression, in graphic works whose surfaces are covered with an ensemble of marks and sinuous lines that interweave and reply to each other. His drawings also maintain a thematic and visceral relationship with his paintings and sculptures. These latter deploy brush strokes that have been liberated from the flat surface of his paintings and which now constitute condensed agglomerates in a medley of hues laid down on top of a base of bronze. The three new sculptures created by the artist for the exhibition Suffer Well may be read as 3D translations of the brushmarks of Frank Auerbach and of the misleading and dated colours of reproductions of works by Vincent van Gogh. One such reproduction, showing Field with Irises near Arles (of which the original painted by Van Gogh in 1888 can be seen in our other exhibition), provided the palette of Glenn Brown’s 2016 sculpture The Flowers of Arles. This profusion of tactile matter dialogues with the artist’s canvases which, although entirely smooth, likewise give the impression of an interplay of textures and feverish visual masses.

It is thus that Glenn Brown’s art reveals the subjective force of his translations of reproductions of works by earlier masters, his atomization of painting, and the inexhaustible inventiveness of his practice, which appropriates the styles and colours of drawings and classical paintings. Emanating from his works – whether drawings or paintings – is a plural, blurred and fluid reality, whose visual ambiguity evokes that peculiar to our own digital epoch.

The exhibition borrows its title Suffer Well from a song by the group Depeche Mode, as well as from one of the paintings on show, whose motif is constructed from the famous Head of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette (1885/86) by Van Gogh. Glenn Brown’s practice is fuelled by this same interweaving of “dissonant” references, ranging from the Baroque to German realism, from new wave music to the genre of horror – and passing, of course, via the works of Van Gogh, which the artist examines with the keen eye of a goldsmith.

Born in 1966 in Hexham (Northumberland), in the northeast of England, Glenn Brown lives and works chiefly in London. In 1989 he took part in the touring exhibition New Contemporaries, dedicated to emerging young artists working in Britain. Three years later, he completed his MA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College in London.

Since the start of his career, Glenn Brown has interrogated the originality of the artwork and affirmed his intention to “paint paint”. He is influenced by the practices of Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter, who used photography and the printed image to evolve a new kind of painting in an epoch that seemed to have pronounced the medium dead. Thus Glenn Brown looks at photographs and other reproductions of paintings and drawings, and proceeds to subject them to a unique transformation.

His entire art is based on innovative methods of appropriating and reconfiguring works belonging essentially to the past. In his first solo show in France, for example, held in 2000 at the Centre d’art contemporain at the Domaine de Kerguéhennec in Bignan, the artist presented paintings imprinted with multiple references to the works of Salvador Dalí, the Neo-Expressionist portraits of the British artist Frank Auerbach, and illustrations issuing from the universe of science fiction. There as here, Glenn Brown showed sculptures conceptually related to his works in two dimensions. But while these latter exude the deceptive air of being textured, they are in reality characterized by absolute flatness, each stroke of paint being executed with an extremely fine brush of the type commonly employed in the sphere of vehicle bodywork repair.

Thanks to his perfect mastery of the trompe-l’œil technique, Glenn Brown succeeds in infusing his pictures with the illusion of depth. His use of a slightly garish palette, combined with a proliferation of marks and lines of all kinds, confers upon his works an expressive, reinvented classicism, a subjective mannerism, which continues right up to the present.

Glenn Brown’s work has been the subject of numerous exhibitions with evocative titles both in Britain and abroad, signalling his role in the renewal of contemporary painting: a painting that looks at the history of western art in order to “digest” and “transform” its given styles, and subsequently to produce a psychological content and an idiosyncratic universe.

Curator of the exhibition: Bice Curiger
 
 
 
 
 
 

2016-08-11

10355 - 20161023 - First solo show in an Italian museum for the Pakistani-American artist Shahzia Sikander on view at Maxxi - Rome - 22.06.2016-23.10.2016

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Shahzia Sikander, Parallax Installed at Guggenheim Bilbao.

Shahzia Sikander (Lahore, Pakistan, 1969, living in New York, USA) observes the present through the lens of the imagination, symbols, literature and history of diverse cultural traditions. A rich, complex oeuvre housed for the first time in an Italian museum with the exhibition Shahzia Sikander: Ecstasy as Sublime, Heart as Vector curated by Hou Hanru and Anne Palopoli on view at MAXXI until 23 October 2016.

“Shahzia Sikander’s work is an outburst of energy, imagination, and creativity. – says Hou Hanru curator of the exhibition and Artistic Director of MAXXI - Her art is an expression of the exiled – voluntarily and propelled by curiosity about what happened in the past at home, and, more importantly, what will happen next, anywhere in the world”.

As Giovanna Melandri President of MAXXI Foundation, says: “ Shahzia Sikander is an artist who transcends and interpenetrates cultural traditions, who can stake a claim to her roots because she knows how to speak to the world”.

In the exhibition the artist created a layout specifically for the museum with over 30 works in various media and idioms, from drawing to miniatures referring to the Indo-Persian tradition and from video to digital animation. Included are works born from critical thinking and inquiry of historical, literary and political positions that delineate the inherent complexity of universal themes ranging from the pre-colonial to the post-colonial, geopolitical changes, migration, cultural quarantine and the birth of nations and religion and ultimately human identity. Sikander’s diverse practice investigates the blurred boundaries between fiction and nonfiction, storytelling and history-writing calling into question issues around redaction, perception of authority and independence.

Shahzia Sikander: Ecstasy as Sublime, Heart as Vector shows the artist’s work from 2000’s to the present day with exhibition design facilitating an immersive experience of the range of format and mediums.

The work which opens the show is Parallax (2013) a 3-channel video animation 20 metres in length, created for the Sharjah Biennial (United Arab Emirates) and adapted to the curvature and inclination of the spaces in MAXXI’s Gallery 5. A ground breaking and cinematic work inspired by the artist’s trip to the United Arab Emirates with original score composed by Du Yun, in collaboration with poets from Sharjah, Parallax deals with the history of maritime trade in the Strait of Hormuz, particularly the fraught history of imperial control. Parallax exemplifies Sikander’s signature technique of animating freehand sketches to disrupt scale and destabilize the medium by interweaving both ‘organic’ and ‘artificial’ drawing. The process of making the animation is not a linear but rather a dynamic procedure that takes place over an extended period of time that is ongoing with the artist’s practice. Not only do the drawings shape the animation, but also the animations inform the drawing practice.

With Parallax, the spectator is transported to a sweeping landscape of deserts, abstract cavernous spaces, refineries, water courses, topographic maps and particle systems constructed from the hair of the gopis, the female followers of Krishna, the Hindu deity, a traditionally devotional subject of the Hindu court paintings.
By isolating the hair from its associated female form, Sikander emphasizes the transformative potential in certain formal elements and her process of dislocation cultivates new meanings for trenchant symbols and motifs.

The gopi hair silhouette has been a recurring visual trope in Sikander’s work first appearing in SpiNN (2003) and recently in Gopi-Contagion screened in October of 2015 on the enormous digital billboards in Times Square, New York, in which the hair particles move like flocks or reproduce the behaviour of cellular organisms. Both these works are exhibited in a room created at the centre of Gallery 5, functioning as a wunderkammer along with the video animations Nemesis (2003) where the fantastical comes together and falls apart repeatedly and Pursuit Curve (2004) where the ‘turban’, often perceived as a sign of race, religion, ethnicity, culture, or gender converts itself into butterflies or insects while simultaneously pointing to a graphic mark that is set in motion. Visual vocabulary conforms to set rules located within the miniature painting tradition but the interpretation is in flux.

The Last Post (2010) which tackles the issue of opium trafficking and colonial legacy of trade through the story of an officer of the East India Company and Gold Oasis (2015) in which the stylized and restrained language juxtaposed to the music of Nas and Damian Marley becomes a vehicle for reflection on last year's Ebola epidemic.
Alongside these works, the same room also houses numerous ink drawings and prints No Parking Anytime (2001) and Portrait of the Artist (2016) composed of four drawings by the artist and a text written by the Pulitzer Prize winner Ayad Akhtar. The series was inspired by the historic Miraj miniatures representing the mystical and visionary night journey (Miraj) of the prophet Mohammed used in this work as a metaphor for the realm of imagination and the presence of the sacred in the individual.

The exhibition concludes in front of the great glass wall of Gallery 5 with The Six Singing Spheres, a new series of drawings in ink and gold leaf created for the exhibition and a site-specific installation realised with multiple translucent drawings overlapped into a sculptural composite.

By disrupting entrenched ideas and formats and by considering different epistemologies, perceptual schemes and systems of representation, Shahzia Sikander creates worlds composed of evocative and disorienting images that remain open to diverse reflections and interpretations.

“My art is built with a lexicon of information, which grows and expands, is reused, edited, discarded and new ideas added. To move forward is to re think and to be able to detach to explore something new. Identity is not a given but a fluid process that unfolds over time. The pursuit of truth is a fleeting premise when held hostage to authenticity. I see identity as a pursuit curve, a chase where both real and fabricated are entangled.” (Shahzia Sikander)


 
 
 
 

2016-08-10

10354 - 20161016 - Museum of Architectural Drawing exhibits drawings from Japanese animation films - Berlin - 23.07.2016-16.10.2016

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Concept design for Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004) Pencil on paper, 176 × 250 mm. Illustrator: Takashi Watabe © 2004 Shirow Masamune / KODANSHA · IG, ITNDDTD.

The new temporary exhibition at the Museum of Architectural Drawing in Berlin shows original drawings from renowned Japanese animation films.

Since the films Akira (1988) and Ghost in the Shell (1995), Japanese anime has secured its place in international pop culture, attracting a growing public in Germany.

The show focuses on a selection of superb renderings of urban architecture made for the screen. In drawings for the films Patlabor (1989), Ghost in the Shell (1995) and Ghost in the Shell 2 - Innocence (2004), the megalopolis skyline is seen to be crushing in on what remains of traditional wooden housing. Industrial sites with endless labyrinths of cables and piping and utopian science-fiction constructions form backdrops for the dynamic film plots.

The exhibition presents works by Hiromasa Ogura (art director), Mamoru Oshii (director), Atsushi Takeuchi (layout) and Takashi Watabe (layout).

These artists belong to a generation of illustrators who drew animation films almost only by hand. Although today computer graphics are additionally used across all areas of production, paper, pencil and brush remain their essential tools. Thanks to their artistic craftsmanship, the works are finished with an intricate attention to detail and high quality drafting.

The exhibited works demonstrate the four stages in the creative process of developing a background image: setting, image board, layout and background. The initial setting is a sketch of the scene, generally in pencil, defining the architecture, landscape and functionality of moving elements. Secondly, the art director defines the colour palette in an image board for the scene. Thirdly, the layout is a preliminary drawing with precise specifications of the position of objects and figures as well as reference to camera position and movement. Finally, based on the layout, the coloured background illustration is completed. The settings, image boards and layouts are shown here in a separate room. The background plates are arranged so that their relation to the other stages of development can easily be discerned.

It is often difficult to gain permission to publicly display such works as the artists are mostly employed, giving up their rights to the production studios. Furthermore, the drawings are part of studio daily life in which everything is channelled towards the final result – the finished film – and thus are not greatly valued. Thanks to the artists’ own archives, these fantastic drawings have been preserved. Alongside the presentation of the fascinating drawn landscapes, the visitor gains a glimpse into the creative process of anime films.

Curators: Stefan Riekeles (Les Jardins des Pilotes) Nadejda Bartels (Tchoban Foundation)  


 
 
 
 

2016-08-09

10353 - 20161008 - First solo exhibition in Europe of New-York based artist Jess Johnson on view at Talbot Rice Gallery - Edinburgh - 29.07.2016-08.10.2016

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Jess Johnson, We Dream Of Networks, 2016. Pen, fibre tipped markers and gouache on paper, 76 x 56 cm.

The University of Edinburgh’s Talbot Rice Gallery is presenting Eclectrc Panoptic, the first solo exhibition in Europe of New-York based artist Jess Johnson. Part of TRG3, Talbot Rice’s programme of projects showcasing the work of emerging artists, Johnson transforms Gallery 3 with tessellating patterns, a suite of drawings and virtual reality to create an immersive installation, inviting the viewer to enter her surreal and speculative worlds.

Jess Johnson creates highly detailed drawings of alternative realms that reveal her fascination with the intersections between language, popular culture, technology and science fiction. She builds complex worlds that combine densely layered patterns, bizarre figures and evocative texts within imagined architectural spaces. The specific genesis of Eclectrc Panoptic is the psychomagic group rituals conceived by the visionary filmmaker and comic book writer Alejandro Jodorowsky; and the technological themes of Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel Dune.

Embedded within this environment is the virtual reality animation Ixian Gate 2015. Created in collaboration with artist Simon Ward, it turns Johnson’s drawings into an immersive three-dimensional world, enabling the viewer to have the simulated experience of entering their hypnotic realms. Through an Oculus Rift headset, as the visual elements begin to mirror those in the drawings, the distinction between the virtual and the real melts away leaving the viewer to contemplate the uncertainty between reality and perception, or simply submit and succumb to the not-knowing.

My reality is different to your reality. We’re taught to think of reality as a fixed and absolute thing; like concrete or bedrock. I think of it as flowing lava, moving under the surface of time. Reality can be different speeds and densities. It can be multidimensional. It can be harnessed and brought into existence by words and symbols. The human brain can conceive of something that did not exist before and then go out and make it. You can make something out of nothing and alter the universe around you. By anyone’s definition that’s magic. Jess Johnson.

Jess Johnson was born in Tauranga, New Zealand in 1979. In 2016 she relocated permanently to New York after ten years of living and working in Melbourne, Australia.

Johnson’s work has been exhibited throughout Australia, New Zealand and Internationally where she has participated in solo and group exhibitions at; Jack Hanley Gallery, New York; Art Basel, Hong Kong; National Gallery of Victoria, Australia; Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia; and Christchurch Art Gallery, New Zealand.

Johnson is represented by Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney, Australia; and Ivan Anthony, Auckland, New Zealand.

 
 
 
 
 

2016-08-08

10352 - 20160928 - Exhibition of sixty original prints offers insights into the early years of photography - Vienna - 07.06.2016-28.09.2016

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Frank Mason Good (1839–1928), The Pyramid of Khafre and the Great Sphinx
Giza, 1869. Albumen print from glass negative; Vintage print, signed in the negative, 15.9 x 21 cm © Courtesy Galerie Johannes Faber, Vienna.
 
This exhibition organised by the Kunsthistorisches Museum’s Egyptian and Near Eastern Collection presents around sixty original prints that offer insights into the early years of photography, 1849−1875.

The exhibition “From Alexandria to Abu Simbel” presents masterpieces from a time when the art of photography was still in its infancy. Travelling photographers frequently visited Egypt as well as the Holy Land, Syria and Lebanon. In Egypt they travelled on boats up the Nile as far south as Abu Simbel and even beyond to Nubia and the Sudan. Most of them were artists who were attracted to this new medium and they published their works and showed them at various exhibitions.

Today their journeys may not strike us as spectacular, and the resulting photographic oeuvre may seem somewhat marginal, but when we remember the conditions under which these pioneers travelled and the limited technical means at their disposal the results are truly impressive.

The photographs on show here were taken between 1849 and 1875; they were developed from either paper or glass negatives. Among the photographers represented by original prints are Maxime Du Camp (France, 1822−1894), Louis de Clercq (France, 1836−1901), John Beasley Greene (USA, 1832−1856) and Francis Frith (England, 1822−1898) whose works are also in the collections of, for example, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York or the Getty Centre in Los Angeles.

NAPOLEON’S EGYPTIAN CAMPAIGN, EGYPTOLOGY AND PHOTOGRAPHY
From the beginning photography and Egypt were inextricably linked. In 1839 the French physicist and politician François Arago presented the new invention of Louis Daguerre and Joseph Nicéphore Niépce to the public. Daguerre was instrumental in developing detailed photography on a polished silver-plated copperplate, which was known as daguerreotype. In July 1839 Arago had given a speech in the National Assembly on the importance of this invention. When he finished an overwhelming majority of Deputies (237 against 3) voted for the French State to acquire the patent. On August 19, 1839 the invention was announced and presented to the world as a free gift of the French State.

In his speech of July 1839 Arago repeatedly referred to Egypt, especially Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign (1789−1801). In addition to around 35.000 soldiers this expedition comprised numerous scientists and scholars collectively known as the savants. The enterprise was both a military campaign and a scientific expedition and resulted in a systematic study of Egypt’s ancient civilisation and the modern country’s geology, geography and culture. This was the birth of Egyptology – the scientific study of the millennia-old Ancient Egyptian civilisation. The expedition also included numerous draughtsmen who depicted Egypt’s countryside and artworks. The results were published in the multivolume Description de L’Égypte. Arago believed that a single man using one of Daguerre’s apparatuses could complete singlehandedly the work that had required “a legion of draughtsmen”, with the verisimilitude of daguerreotypes far surpassing that of drawings.

By this time the collection of the texts and images to which the Egyptian Expedition had given rise had been published for several years. However, soon after the invention and presentation of photography in 1839 the first artists set off for Egypt. They soon realized, however, that the method developed concurrently by William Fox Talbot was much more suited to their needs than daguerreotype. Unlike daguerreotype, Talbot’s process created a negative that could be used to print multiple positive copies. His invention formed the basis for photography until the development of digital photography.
 
 
 
 
 
 

2016-08-05

10351 - 20160829 - "Dorothy Bohm: Sixties London" on view at Jewish Museum London - 28.04.2016-29.08.2016

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Church Street market, Marylebone.
 
Explore the streets of 1960s London through the eyes of eminent photographer Dorothy Bohm.

Pictures on display reflect the diversity of life in London in the 1960s, focusing on its inhabitants from all walks of life, from schoolchildren to fashion-conscious young adults to market traders.

Born in East Prussia in 1924, Dorothy Bohm moved to Lithuania in 1932 with her family to escape the threat of Nazism. Eventually Bohm was sent by her parents to safety in Britain in 1939, armed with a Leica camera handed to her by her father at the very last moment. London has been her home since the 1950s.

Dorothy Bohm has worked as a photographer all around the world, capturing ordinary lives from Europe to the Americas to the Far East. She was closely involved in the founding of the Photographers’ Gallery in London in 1971 and was its Associate Director for fifteen years. Bohm was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society in 2009.

Related events include curator talks from Joanne Rosenthal on the first Wednesday of every month.

Abigail Morris, Director of the Jewish Museum London said: “Dorothy has had the most remarkable career, spanning seven decades. Her images of 1960s London show a living city, and reveal her special interest in people. We are delighted to celebrate her work, and her contribution to British photography, with this exhibition.”
 
 
 
 
 
 

2016-08-04

10350 - 20161030 - Berlin's Gemäldegalerie exhibits paintings from the Golden Age of Spanish art - Berlin - 01.07.2016-30.10.2016

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El Siglo de Oro. Die Ära Velázquez. Installation view. © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie / Achim Kleuker.
 
The Siglo de Oro – the Golden Age of Spanish art – remains one of the most important chapters in European cultural history. Prominent painters of the era such as Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Diego Velázquez and Francisco de Zurbaran belong to the ranks of the greatest masters of art history just as much as do the sculptors Gregorio Fernández, Pedro de Mena and Juan Martínez Montañés.

This summer, for the first time, 17th-century painting and sculpture in all its fascinating variety can be comprehensively explored outside of Spain: From 1 July 2016, the Gemäldegalerie, which itself holds one of the most important collections of Spanish painting in Germany, will be dedicated to the Golden Age with a large-scale exhibition featuring over 130 masterpieces from 64 international lenders, including the Museo del Prado in Madrid, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Louvre in Paris and the Museo Nacional de Escultura in Valladolid.

Paradoxically, the Siglo de Oro evolved during a time marked by profound crisis: epidemics, famines and armed conflicts were causing upheaval throughout Europe. At the beginning of the 17th century, Spain was still the most powerful country in the Western hemisphere, ruling a territory that spanned five continents. However, King Philip IV, who ascended the throne of the Spanish Empire in 1621, struggled to combat continuous decline and an increasing loss of territorial and political hegemony. Against the sombre background of societal reality, art became the most important political medium for simulating would-be stability and power.

El Siglo de Oro. The Age of Velázquez shows the artistic opulence of the era between 1550 and 1680, taking into account the political and geographical conditions of the time. Employing the most important art centres in Spain as examples, the exhibition depicts, in chronological order, the general development of Baroque painting and sculpture during the reigns of Philip III, Philip IV and Charles II. Thus, visitors are taken through different artistic regions, of which the most important cities are Madrid, Valladolid, Toledo, Valencia and Seville. Special attention is paid to concrete topics such as portrait painting and still life as well as the close relationship between painting and sculpture, which is given particular expression in the form of masterful polychrome wood sculptures. One room of the exhibition is devoted exclusively to the art of Spanish drawing, with singular Baroque drawings from the Kupferstichkabinett of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin which will be on view for the first time.

Under Philip III (1578–1621, king from 1598), surprising diversity and strong foreign influences shaped the Spanish arts. Originally from Greece, Domenikos Theotokópoulos (the highly original artist otherwise known as El Greco) worked in the city of Toledo. In his work he combined Italian and Spanish pictorial traditions with those of his homeland, developing his own distinctive style that influenced many of his contemporaries. The artist Juan Sánchez Cotán also lived in Toledo. Together with the Madrilenian Juan van der Hamen y León, he played a significant role in the development of a typical Spanish still-life genre, the bodegón.

The port city of Seville, rich and cosmopolitan at the time, was Andalusia’s artistic heart. Religious works destined for America were also created here. The most important representative of the Sevillian school of sculpture is Juan Martínez Montañés, whose sculptures are characterised by profound realism and lifelike renderings.

The second section of the exhibition focuses on the artistic peak of the Baroque period’s great masters, contextualised by political and religious elites of their day. Philip IV (1605–65, king from 1621) was a great lover of the arts. Together with his favourite, the Count-Duke of Olivares, he fashioned art in the midst of economic and social crises into his primary instrument of political propaganda. The enormous number of artistic initiatives he sponsored for this purpose ultimately established Madrid, the seat of the court, as Spain’s most important artistic centre.

The capital attracted many artists, including the Sevillian Diego Velázquez, who at the age of 24 took a court position and was soon appointed court painter—the highest royal office obtainable by an artist. As a painter, Velázquez distinguished himself in the field of portraiture in particular. His position meant that he was responsible for the creation of official portraits of the monarch and his family. The empathy and interest in the psychology of his subjects that is so keenly palpable in these works also influenced his numerous other portraits of personalities of the court and its surroundings.

During the Counter-Reformation, the Church was the most important commissioner of works of art. In Valladolid an independent school of sculpture committed exclusively to religious subjects emerged. Gregorio Fernández was its dominant figure and became the most successful Spanish sculptor of the century. His Cristo Yacente of El Pardo (1627) is an exemplary masterpiece of polychrome carved wooden sculpture and one of the most representative creations of Spanish Baroque sculpture. The artist adorns this life-sized, recumbent statue with additional elements such as ivory teeth and nails fashioned from bull’s horn to achieve a more realistic effect. The carefully executed polychroming is attributed to the painters Diego de la Peña and Jerónimo de Calabria. Deeply dramatic sculptures such as this one express a religiosity that was newly emerging at the time, which can be understood as a reaction against the CounterReformation. They were meant to strengthen the viewer’s religious faith, leaving a lasting impression. Another example of polychrome sculpture, a group comprising life-size figures that portray a cross-carrying Christ and the attendant scene (after 1610), is still used to this day as part of a yearly procession in the streets of Valladolid. Now, for the first time in history, it will be on display in Germany, in the Gemäldegalerie.

Art in Valencia, too, was steeped in a deep sense of religion and spirituality. In part thanks to its distance from Madrid, Valencia, the birthplace of Jusepe de Riberas, evolved into an independent artistic centre with its own presentational style. In Ribera’s Madonna with the Christ Child and Saint Bruno, reality and hallucination are masterfully folded in on one another. Another impressive example from Seville is Francisco de Zurbarán’s St. Francis of Assisi in His Tomb. In Zurbarán’s painting, which is life-sized and painted head-on, the border between natural and supernatural dissolves; the viewer is confronted with a miraculous event.

As the seat of the court, Madrid was one of the largest cities in Europe towards the end of the century, while many other cities in Spain were experiencing an ongoing demographic decline. The heir apparent to Philip IV was Charles II, his son (1661–1700, king from 1665). As a result of Madrid’s centralisation, all artistic activity became focused on the capital and a lively exchange arose between the artists who had settled there. The most significant commissions were fresco cycles for the decoration of buildings and churches.

The artists’ work simultaneously shows the influence of their environment and the upheavals of their time. Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, next to Velázquez the best-known Spanish Baroque painter of his day, developed a new genre of painting, in which he depicted scenes from daily street life. Children Eating a Pie shows two barefoot children in ragged clothes. The cheerful mood and the childlike unselfconsciousness outshines their obvious poverty.

As the century came to a close, so did these artistic golden days; however, they left a significant mark, tangible in the work of generations of artists to come. Concurrent with the turn of the century, the death of the childless king led to the end of the Spanish line of the Habsburg dynasty and the beginning of a new chapter in Spanish history.
 
 
 
 
 
 

2016-08-03

10349 - 20161003 - Exhibition featuring 80 photographs by Berenice Abbott on view at Martin Gropius Bau - Berlin - 01.07.2016-03.10.2016

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Berenice Abbott, James Joyce, 1928. © Berenice Abbott/ Commerce Graphics / Getty Images. Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York.
 
Berenice Abbott (1898-1991) is one of the most important photographers of the 20th century. She spent six decades taking pictures. The Martin-Gropius-Bau is now dedicating an exhibition featuring about 80 pictures. Her famous and iconic pictures from the Changing New York series, early portraits and her pioneering work as a scientific photographer arel being shown.

Born in Springfield, Ohio, Berenice Abbott first studied journalism at the Ohio State University in Columbus before she moved to New York in 1918 to switch to sculpting. She became a Bohemian New Yorker, shared an apartment with author Djuna Barnes and befriended the Dadaists Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray who were about to move to Paris, the capital of modernity.

In 1921, at 22, Abbott also moved to Paris to continue to study sculpting. Without any money, she ran into Man Ray who happened to need an assistant for his portrait studio. Abbott began to work for him and discovered her talent for photography. Her first solo exhibition was at the Paris Gallery "Le Sacre du Printemps" in 1926 and featured portraits of artists and authors of the Parisian avant-garde.

Through Man Ray, she was also able to meet her idol, Eugène Atget, who captured old Paris in photographs. His photographs show the city in its various facets and offer a special view of Paris and its inhabitants around the turn of the last century. Through its scenic richness and independent creative solutions, his photography distinguishes itself from that of his colleagues who never went beyond documenting buildings. His work also displays an awareness of being at the turn of an era towards modernity. Man Ray who, like Atget, lived in the Montparnasse district of Paris, acquired around forty of his pictures of which he published four in "La Révolution surréaliste" in 1926.

Berenice Abbott visited Atget several times and purchased prints from him. After his death in 1927, she acquired roughly 1,500 negatives and 10,000 of the prints left in his studio. She returned to New York in 1929 to find a publisher for a book about her idol. It is thanks to her that Atget's photography exerted such an influence on American photographers such as Walker Evans or Lee Friedlander.

New York, like Paris, was also undergoing a transformation process. Old neighborhoods were disappearing and replaced by a rapidly-growing skyline. Abbott moved from portrait photography to documenting and stayed in New York. She used Atget's Paris pictures as a guide and began documenting the ever-changing city: Ruins and demolished buildings standing as equals beside new skyscrapers, advertisements as signatures of the modern city, but also decay and poverty became themes for her photography. Abbott utilizes the visual vocabulary of modernity. She prefers a simple, yet dynamic style with top and bottom views, excerpts, stark contrasts and dramatic contours. Changing New York is the name of the chronicle she produced between 1935 and 1939 and published as a book in 1939.

In the 1940s, Berenice Abbott returned to scientific photography and served later as a picture editor for Science Illustrated for nearly 20 years. Abbott worked as a photographer until her death in 1991.

The exhibition gives an insight into the œuvre of a great artist.
 
 
 
 
 
 

2016-08-02

10348 - 20161106 - Roman portraits and their Baroque appropriation on view in Dresden - 22.07.2016-06.11.2016

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The collection displays a selection of some 50 classical and Baroque portraits and portrait statues.
 
The Dresden Antiquities Collection is one of the oldest collections amassed in Dresden by the kings and prince electors, and one of the oldest large collections of antiquities presented in a museum outside Italy. The items, on view behind glass in storage depots at the Albertinum, are currently waiting to be presented again in the eastern gallery of the Semperbau at the Zwinger. The sculptures from classical antiquity and the Baroque period have not been presented to the public in a fitting manner since 2002, the year of a major flood on the Elbe, followed by the reconstruction of the Albertinum and its reopening as a museum for modern art.

The collection displays a selection of some 50 classical and Baroque portraits and portrait statues. These portraits – sculptures combining authenticity and idealisation – played a crucial role in defining and communicating political, social and communal identities, sending out various messages to their audience in ancient times. One of the most important art genres of classical antiquity, portraits of children, women, politicians, military commanders and the ruling elite were a ubiquitous element of everyday Roman life. They were erected on public squares, influencing broad swathes of the public as a kind of mass media. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the works, which had often survived only as fragments, were elaborately and splendidly completed with busts made of coloured stone or reworked in the classical style. At the start of the 18th century, they came to Dresden from the Brandenburg Collection built up by Friedrich Wilhelm I (1688–1740) and the Roman Collection assembled by the House of Chigi.

This presentation shines the spotlight on the sculptures which make up the heart of the collection and which stand out in terms of their quality and quantity. Among the items there are some unusual works, such as the statue of the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius (150–160 AD), the portrait of his wife Faustina (around 140 AD) on a magnificent Baroque bust of coloured marble, or the porphyry bust of the emperor known as Caligula (17th century), whose acquisition was of particular value to Augustus the Strong because of its precious material. Loans from the Grünes Gewölbe (Green Vault) include a showpiece by Johann Melchior Dinglinger and Balthasar Permoser: a cameo of a Roman emperor from classical antiquity set in a precious frame. In the 18th century this portrait was seen as that of the first Roman emperor, Augustus. Augustus the Strong saw himself as linked to his namesake by his own fame as a ruler and a patron of the arts.