10391 - 20170129 - Shadow puppet theatre from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand to open at the British Museum - London - 08.09.2016-29.01.2017


Javanese mythical serpent.
This exhibition draws on the British Museum’s unique Southeast Asian shadow puppet collection. Shadow theatre performances involve the manipulation of two-dimensional, hide puppets between a light source and a white cloth screen by a puppeteer who simultaneously conducts the orchestra. Puppeteers can have 200 or more puppets in their collections. Some of these puppets are generic, while others represent specific characters, and a few are considered to be sacred, such as the clowns and the holy man figure used in the rituals associated with the start of a performance in Thailand and Malaysia. Shows are usually commissioned and performed at life events, such as weddings or funerals, in celebration of the harvest, and in fulfilment of vows, but they have also been commercialised as entertainment in some areas.

This exhibition will include Javanese puppets of the Raffles collection from circa 1800 (the earliest systematic collection of puppets in the world), puppets from Kelantan, Malaysia made by the puppeteers Pak Hamzah and Pak Awang Lah in the mid-twentieth century, Balinese puppets gifted to Queen Elizabeth II, and a set of modern Thai shadow puppets from the 1960s and 70s that display contemporary fashions and aspects of global pop culture. These puppets provide examples of local inspiration. Using comparative displays, the exhibition explores the relationships between these traditions, and also examines the stories, characters, and performance styles found in the region. Shadow theatre’s popularity and spiritual associations in Southeast Asia have resulted in the reuse of shadow puppet imagery in other media, such as sacred manuscripts and protective charms.

The exhibition further demonstrates that shadow puppet theatre is a living art form that still has relevance in contemporary times. Aspects of 20th century life, such as flare trousers, plastic, electricity, and sound amplification, play a part in shadow theatre, indicating its ability to adapt to social change. Mass media has made some puppeteers into local celebrities, and the internet is sometimes used to broadcast performances. The British Museum’s collection is expanding to record these changes. Earlier this year, wayang hip hop puppets representing the sons of the main Javanese clown figures were purchased and are on display in this exhibition for the first time.

Traditional stories performed in shadow theatre include the Ramayana and Mahabharata epics that originated in India but were reinterpreted in Southeast Asia. There is also a specifically Southeast Asian narrative cycle based on the adventures of the legendary Prince Panji. Puppeteers have developed new stories that expand earlier narratives and examine the ups and downs of modern life. New puppets, including bandits, military figures, bureaucrats, airplanes, and mobile phones, are now also features in shadow theatre.


10390 - 20170129 - Fotostiftung Schweiz - exhibition of works by Thomas Kern - Winterthur - 17.09.2016-29.01.2017

Jolibois, Sabala, Jacmel, 2013. Every February, during the most important event of the year, the streets and alleyways of the picturesque coastal town of Jacmel turn into a stage for both spontaneous street theatre and organised parades. Groups or individual performers personify traditional figures whose roots are to be found in mythological, political and historical events and personalities. This Haitian surrealism full of poetic metaphor gains its inspiration from voodoo, ancestor worship, history and not least from current politics.
Since his first trip to Haiti in 1997 Thomas Kern (*1965) has repeatedly returned there to capture the turbulent history of the former Pearl of the Antilles. Reserved and at the same time close to the people, he documents everyday life in one of the world’s poorest countries in a classical black-and-white. His photographs testify to the great individual efforts made and the tiny joys experienced in a country marked by natural catastrophes, political instability and a creeping ecological disaster. Furthermore, they tell of the history of slavery and of the apparent escape into the spiritual world of voodoo.

Thomas Kern, co-founder of the Swiss Photo Agency Lookat Photos, made a name for himself in the 1990s with reportages on the impacts of war and conflict – in Northern Ireland, for example, or in the former Yugoslavia. In 1997 he travelled to Haiti for the first time on a commission from the cultural magazine du, shortly before he moved to San Francisco, where he worked as a freelance photographer for the following eight years. Since that first encounter, the country in the Caribbean has not let go of him, a country whose widespread image is marked, above all, by American media reports on catastrophes there. As Haiti is only about one hour by plane from Miami, political unrest, riots with burning car tyres, or the annual storms are always worth a cover story, although the complex political, economic and social background is often faded out.

Thomas Kern reacts particularly sensitively to the common clichés, aware that he too is just an outsider who can never really do justice to the country’s complexities and contradictions. Above all he does not wish to just foreground Haiti’s scandalous poverty – it is always present in the background, one way or the other. On the contrary, he prefers to lead us into a chaotic scenario full of strange phenomena. And he does this by simple deliberately chosen means – using a Rolleiflex without interchangeable lenses and analogue black-and-white film. In instantaneous takes that often exhibit surreal traits, he renders everyday life perceptible in all its facets. Kern takes his photographs spontaneously, yet always in a square format that suggests stability and peace, even if confusion prevails within the image: different pictorial levels are superimposed, movements are not sharp, figures are cropped or only visible as dark shadows. This precarious balance between standstill and explosive dynamism is a central theme that runs through all his photographs. The photographer does not become involved in the events, he observes them, allowing himself all the while to be guided by his own impressions. Despite this apparent distance, Kern’s photographs draw us directly into the real happenings of everyday life in Haiti, a field of tension between resignation and irrepressible vitality. The Haitian writer Yanick Lahens comments on Thomas Kern’s photographs: “In Haiti you have to accept it all: the shade and the extremely beautiful lights. They continually guide us back again to the shadow and light in ourselves. The creativity keeps us alive; it is our oxygen. We turn the world upside down, like at Carneval. Through mockery, beauty, and grandeur. Some photos say that in their own special way. We open up unexpected brackets and thumb our noses at the misfortune.”

This misfortune extends far back into the 19th century, when Haiti won its independence from the French colonial power, eliminated slavery and thus became the first free state in Latin America. Since then, the country’s history has been accompanied by violent struggles, and the governments and dictators that replaced one another in swift succession have contributed little or nothing towards stabilising the country or advancing it economically. Instead they have used their power shamelessly for their own personal enrichment. To this very day, the political system of the first “black” republic is marked by opportunism, nepotism and corruption.

Permanent Crisis
Before Haiti was colonised by Spain and France, the island state was a kind of tropical Garden of Eden, almost 90% of it covered by trees. Today it is only 2% and still declining, because wood, made into charcoal, is and will continue to be one of the country’s most important sources of energy. The progressive clearing of the forests leads to increasing soil erosion, reducing the amount utilisable for agriculture and thus greatly restricting the production of food. Then there are the regular natural catastrophes, such as drought, hurricanes and flooding. In the acute emergency after the earthquake on 12 January 2010, in which more than 300’000 people lost their lives and more than a million were made homeless, the state also proved to be unable to respond appropriately. It left management of the crisis to countless international organisations who inundated the country to provide the urgently needed emergency aid. But despite the additional billions promised for reconstruction, of which a large part never arrived in Haiti or else seeped into the mire of corruption, a food shortage and widespread unemployment still prevail today. Clean drinking water is scarce, environmental pollution is increasing rapidly, and the population – except for a small wealthy minority – is suffering from extreme poverty.

False Hopes
Today the country that was once among the richest territories of the French colonial realm is totally dependent on foreign aid. A dependence from which Haiti has not been able to free itself. The country has preserved a kind of slavish mentality, preferring to hold others responsible for the misery rather than taking things into their own hands. The voodoo religion does not offer a way out of this tragic and paradoxical situation. The cult of gods and spirits brought by slaves from Africa during the colonisation period, and in which rituals of sacrifice and purification play a major role, is still practiced by a large part of the population today, parallel to Catholicism. Voodoo offers people the possibility of escape into a spiritual world that gives them comfort, at least for a certain time, but in which they can also lose themselves. It is above all an escape which helps them to endure the real problems of life or at least repress them for a while.

The exhibition at the Fotostiftung Schweiz brings together more than a hundred, partly large format images taken over the past twenty years or so. They were produced this year as inkjet prints by Christian Spirig, Zurich, and mounted on aluminium and framed by the EMSA company, Villmergen. Also part of the exhibition is a projection of portrait photographs entitled “Rap Creole”, accompanied by a poem by Yanick Lehens (production Thomas Kern, Swissinfo, January 2011), plus a film about Thomas Kern in Haiti from the series “Top Shots” by the SRF television station (production Bernard Weber, 25 mins., 2016).


10389 - 20170122 - Extensive exhibition of French artist Bertrand Lavier's work opens at Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein - Vaduz - 23.09.2016-22.01.2017

Bertrand Lavier, Paulin/Kind, 1992–2015, courtesy of the artist, photo: Claire Dorn © 2016, ProLitteris, Zürich.
Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein is mounting the most extensive exhibition of French artist Bertrand Lavier (* 1949) in the German-speaking world to date. Lavier counts among the most formative figures in the development of French art since the late 1970s and is highly respected internationally. He finds the subject of his work in the dynamic context between high culture and pop culture. His oeuvre is intelligent and original, visually attractive and possessed of subtle wit.

Lavier gained international fame with his paintings on pictures and objects and with his Superpositions, works created by setting objects from the world of commodities on top of each other. Over the years Lavier has begun a number of other groups of works, that he develops in parallel on an ongoing basis. He refers to these projects as “construction sites”, thus emphasising their nature as works in progress. By deploying a wide range of materials and techniques, the aim is to achieve a finely balanced combination of various genres of art: painting with photography, painting with object, sculpture with object, object with photography, object with sculpture, design with sculpture. But he also interweaves fiction and material reality, transformation and image creation, the history of art, design and general culture with intellectual freshness and precision, surprising sensuousness, playful lightness, and a distinct interest in the paradox. The basis is a fundamental interest in the complex relations between image, language and object. Despite frequent references to key works from the history of art, Lavier works in a broader field of visual and intellectual cultural anthropology. “I am inspired by the supermarket and the museum in equal measure.” His work is hence of particular significance for the development of art over the past forty years and highly relevant – particularly for younger artists.

The exhibition at Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein was created in close collaboration with the artist. Arranged in four themed sections, it showcases the main groups of works developed since the late 1970s alongside a number of new works created specifically for this show. A monografic publication will be published during the exhibition run.

The exhibition is a production of Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, curated by Friedemann Malsch.


10388 - 20170129 - Baudelaire's vision of art explored in exhibition at Musée de la Vie romantique - Paris - 20.09.2016-29.01.2017


Alphonse Legros (1837-1911), Ex-Voto, 1860. Musée des beaux-Arts de Dijon. Photo © RMN-Grand Palais / Agence Bulloz.
To mark the 150th anniversary of the poet's death, the Musée de la Vie Romantique is holding an exhibition of Charles Baudelaire's aesthetic curiosities.

Imagine an exhibition that resumes the dialogue between a young poet's texts and the works of art they describe. Visitors will be given an opportunity to step into the pages of Baudelaire's aesthetic writings, landmark works in the history of art criticism. Surrounded by some one hundred paintings, sculptures and prints evoked by Baudelaire, viewers are invited to compare their own way of seeing with the author’s of Les Fleurs du Mal artistic sensibility, and to understand how the definition of modern beauty was forged, a definition he would never abandon.

What does it mean to fall in love with the "virtue of the unexpected", to prefer a painting which is "made" to a painting which is "finished", to recognise the essentially romantic character of colour, without denying the "ideal" nature of line, to insist upon a certain "naivety" in artists that leads to boldness and harsh tones, to expect all works, whether portraits or religious pages, to "breathe love", and ultimately to acknowledge the "heroism of modern life" and the "beauty of the black suit"?

Alongside Baudelaire, this exhibition will explore transformations that came about between Romanticism and Impressionism by presenting leading artists of the time - Delacroix, Ingres, Camille Corot, Rousseau or Chassériau - painters who succeeded in delighting or irritating him. It will explore the notion of modernity, as shaped by the poet, in response to a changing Paris and emerging artistic languages, personified by the younger generation and the figure of Manet.

Finally, the exhibition will demonstrate Baudelaire's unfailing attachment to Romanticism and to Delacroix.


10386 - 20170108 - Comprehensive survey of work by Betye Saar at Fondazione Prada - Milan - 15.09.2016-08.01.2017


View of the installation: Betye Saar The Alpha and the Omega , 2013-2016. Photo: Roberto Marossi Courtesy Fondazione Prada.
Fondazione Prada presents the exhibition “Uneasy Dancer”, a comprehensive survey of work by Betye Saar (Los Angeles, 1926). This exhibition, hosted at the Nord Gallery, opens to the public from 15 September 2016 through 8 January 2017. Curated by Elvira Dyangani Ose, “Betye Saar: Uneasy Dancer” is the first exhibition of the American artist in Italy, and brings together over 80 works including installations, assemblages, collages and sculptures produced between 1966 and 2016.

“Uneasy Dancer” is an expression Betye Saar has used to define both herself and her artistic practice. In her own words, “my work moves in a creative spiral with the concepts of passage, crossroads, death and rebirth, along with the underlying elements of race and gender.” This process implies “a stream of consciousness” that explores the ritualized mysticism present in recovering personal stories and iconographies from everyday objects and images. Several key elements lie at the center of her artistic practice: an interest in the metaphysical, the representation of feminine memory, and African-American identity which, in her work, takes on takes on evocative and unusual forms. As Saar has said about her work, “It was really about evolution rather than revolution, about evolving the consciousness in another way and seeing black people as human beings instead of the caricatures or the derogatory images.”

Betye Saar’s earliest artistic memory was stimulated by the Towers of Simon Rodia in Watts, a suburb of Los Angeles she frequented with her Grandmother in the 1930’s. The construction of the Watts Towers, built over a period of 33 years, was decisive in introducing ideas of how found materials embody both the spiritual and technological. After graduating from UCLA with a degree in design, Saar initially worked as a graphic artist before dedicating herself to printmaking, drawing and collage. In the late 1960s, inspired by American Joseph Cornell, Saar’s work in mixed media became increasingly three-dimensional, ultimately taking form as assemblages by the end of the decade.

Through her confident usage of found objects, personal memorabilia and derogatory images that evoke denied or distorted narratives, Saar developed a powerful social critique that challenges racial and sexist stereotypes deeply rooted in American culture. In the 1970s, her assemblages began to grow in scale, ultimately becoming substantial installations and immersive environments that speak to an approach uniting spiritual beliefs and faiths of all kind – from the intimate and the mysterious to the universal - alongside politicized convictions.

Curator Elvira Dyangani Ose notes, “Saar’s works blur boundaries between art and life, between physical and metaphysical. Spirituality in her work, does not only resides in the works with which she addresses her concerns and her knowledge on a myriad of traditions. On the contrary, it is to be found in the artistic exercise of transforming common material in a sort of evocative new imagery, involving the viewer in reminiscent fabulations of the real.”


10385 - 20170108 - Pointillism is now the focus of a high-calibre exhibition at the Albertina in Vienna - 16.09.2016-08.01.2017


Vincent van Gogh, Interior of a Restaurant, 1887. Oil on Canvas. Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo.
When Georges Seurat died unexpectedly in 1891 at the age of 31, his older colleague Camille Pissarro already had an inkling that Seurat’s “invention” was to have consequences for painting “that would be highly significant later on”. And indeed, with just a few pictures, Seurat had founded a style that would play a pioneering role in Modern Art: Pointillism.

This fascinating art movement is now the focus of a high-calibre exhibition at the Albertina, a presentation that completes the story of Modern Art with the significant chapter of Pointillism as its midwife: 100 selected masterpieces by the main representatives of this style, Seurat and Signac, as well as impressive paintings, watercolours, and drawings by modernist masters who were fascinated by this pointed technique—figures such as Van Gogh, Matisse, and Picasso—illustrate Pointillism’s breath-taking radiance and seminal impact.

Seurat, Signac, Van Gogh, organised in cooperation with the Kröller-Müller Museum, tells the success story of Pointillism from its creation in 1886 to its effects on the early 1930s. Beginning with the ground-breaking early works by Georges Seurat, Paul Signac, and Théo van Rysselberghe, this exhibition draws an arc from Paul Signac’s and Henri-Edmond Cross’s transformation of the points into small squares and mosaics all the way to the masterpieces of Vincent Van Gogh, the vibrant colours of the Fauves, the decoratively placed dots in the cubist works of Pablo Picasso, and the abstract works of Piet Mondrian. This comprehensive presentation sheds light on the unique metamorphosis of the pointillist dot and for the first time makes a theme of those achievements of the pointillists that were subsequently harnessed by modernism.

Between Realism and Abstraction
The painters to whom we now refer to as “pointillists” due to their unusual techniques set out in 1886 to challenge the avant-garde tendencies of the impressionists, which had by then become de rigueur. And the subsequent development of painting in Paris towards the end of the 19th century would show just how right Pissarro’s prescient judgment was: the emphasis on surfaces and stylisation as well as the motionlessness and detachment of the depicted figures in the works by Seurat tell of increasing pictorial autonomy and, accordingly, of an abstraction of both content and form. This would soon move between two poles: the picture’s geometrisation and its ornamentalisation by means of arabesques. In reducing their painterly handwriting to the smallest possible artistic statement—the dot—Seurat, Signac, Pissarro, and Rysselberghe not only distanced themselves from the impressionists’ reproduction of fleeting moments, but also used their approach to question the entire centuries-old norm of painting according to nature in the form of brushstrokes. Points in solid colours, which the pointillists placed close together in keeping with the optical principle of colour mixing, generated a hitherto-unknown radiance and a multitude of chromatic impulses. It was thus that the realistic view of the world gave way to depictions of a synthetic reality—and in one fell swoop, the doors were wide open for Modernism.

Following Seurat’s death, it was above all his colleague Signac who develop the pointillist technique further: together with Henry-Edmond Cross, Signac increased luminosity, intensified colour contrasts, and coined the term “Divisionism”. His small, systematically placed points soon developed into lines meant to appear as a mixture of colours when viewed from an appropriate distance. With this more liberal approach, Signac liberated painters from the obligation to use dots, and it was thus that a younger generation—including Henri Matisse and his circle as well as Piet Mondrian— ultimately broke out of Seurat’s rigid system.

Vincent Van Gogh: An Individual Path
An important intermediary in this development was Vincent van Gogh, an outsider and brief adherent of Pointillism who set off in new directions. Van Gogh at first took up Seurat’s ideas with enthusiasm: his pallet became brighter and more luminous, and an abundant flurry of dots found entry into his landscapes. But the systematically dotted style never played a truly central role in Van Gogh’s output. The artist soon adopted a freer form of expression that better matched his nature: “It is working with points and similar elements that I hold to be the real discoveries; but we must already be at pains to ensure that this technique, just like any other, does not itself become a general dogma.” He said this in 1888, at which point he began countering the cool and rational pointillist style with his own individual expression and emotion.

Matisse, Mondrian, and Picasso
Something similar can be seen in the reception of Divisionism in the oeuvre of Henri Matisse. The founding Fauve had turned to this technique in two steps: 1897 saw him experiment with comma-like, impressionist micro-structures that are not dissimilar to Pissarro’s mode of painting, and in 1898 he intensified colours and contrasts, which subsequently led to a valid implementation of the divisionist method in term of both chromatic division and the use of dots.

Soon, Van Gogh, Matisse, and the Fauves moved Piet Mondrian, as well, to turn away from Pointillism. Under the influence of the luminist Jan Toorop, Mondrian used his paintings to deal above all with light effects, relying on motifs and an expressive power that had already become established in the works of Van Gogh and the anarchic art of the Fauves.

In the works of Pablo Picasso, as well, Pointillism and its pioneering ideas did not go unnoticed. At altogether three junctures in his career—1901, 1914, and 1917—the Spanish artist dealt playfully with the output of Seurat and integrated points into his own work. The first time he did so, Picasso was motivated by his desire to conform to the times; later on, though, he used loosely arranged points to develop the decorative surfaces of so-called “Rococo Cubism”. His final take on the technique was the masterpiece Return from the Baptism, which amounted to a precise and entirely consummate quotation.


10384 - 20170108 - Retrospective of the Cuban painter Wifredo Lam at Tate Modern - London - 14.09.2016-08.01.2017


Wifredo Lam, Umbral (Seuil), 1950. Photo: Georges Meguerditchian/Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI/Dist. RMN-GP ©Adagp, Paris.
Tate Modern presents a retrospective of the Cuban modernist painter, Wifredo Lam (1902–1982), the first museum exhibition in London since 1952. Including over 200 paintings, drawings, photographs and prints, the exhibition traces his six decade career from the 1920s to the 1970s, confirming his place at the centre of a cosmopolitan modernism. His work defined new ways of painting for a post-colonial world and was greeted with both consternation and acclaim during his lifetime. As a Latin American artist of Chinese, Spanish and African heritage, Lam lies between East and West, combining traditional practices, surrealist ideas and complete originality. In an increasingly connected world, Lam’s work brings a historical perspective to contemporary issues.

Wifredo Lam travelled extensively, living on both sides of the Atlantic during periods of great political change. The exhibition begins with works produced during Lam’s early years as an artist in Spain following his training in Havana and Madrid. From classically inspired studies such as Self-Portrait 1926, Lam moved towards works engaging with the European avant-garde movements such as surrealism, evident in works such as Composition I 1930. Following the tragic death of his wife and son from tuberculosis, Lam enlisted into the Republican cause during the Spanish Civil War. Forced to leave in 1938, Lam departed for Paris wherehe met Pablo Picasso and continued to experiment with avant-garde techniques, particularly inspired by ancient Greek and African art such as in Figure 1939 and Young Woman on a Light Green Background 1938. Forced to flee again to Marseille following Paris’s occupation in 1940, Lam joined André Breton and other surrealists, participating in collaborative artistic projects such as Collective Drawing 1940, designs for a surrealist pack of Tarot cards, and his own sketch series Carnets de Marseille 1941.

The exhibition reappraises Lam’s major works within the cultural and political context after he returned to Cuba in 1941. After 18 years abroad and two forced exiles, Lam was disappointed to find corruption, racism and poverty in his homeland and responded by seeking out ‘Cubanness’, influenced by his friendships with contemporary thinkers and academics. He created works that combined animal, plant and human forms, using symbols borrowed from Cuban Occultism and Afro-Cuban beliefs, exemplified by The Eternal Present (An Homage to Alejandro García Caturla) 1944, The Wedding 1947, and The Threshold 1950.

In 1952, Lam left Cuba once more for Europe where he exhibited frequently alongside the CoBrA artists. He was particularly close to Asger Jorn, who introduced Lam to Albissola, a town on the Italian coast where he would create works until the end of his life. During the 1960s, he worked beside Lucio Fontana and the Situationists, experimenting with new materials such as terracotta. Lam created almost 300 ceramics in 1975 alone, using symbols derived from his painting and drawing. During this final period, he made prints to illustrate many works by poets and writers, such as René Char, Gherasim Luca and Jean-Dominique Rey.

The EY Exhibition: Wifredo Lam is curated by Matthew Gale, Head of Displays, Tate Modern and Catherine David, General Curator, Centre Pompidou / Musée national d’art moderne, Pariswith Katy Wan, Assistant Curator, Tate Modern. The exhibition is organised by the Centre Pompidou, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris, in collaboration with the Tate Modern and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid.


10382 - 20170129 - Maggi Hambling: Touch: works on paper at the British Museum - London - 08.09.2016-29.01.2017

Seated female nude, 1963. Etching. 24.5 x 32.54 cm, Maggi Hambling © The Trustees of the British Museum.
Maggi Hambling is one of Britain’s foremost contemporary figurative artists, working across all media, in painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture and installation. However, drawing is at the heart of her practice and is of fundamental importance to her. The exhibition takes its title ‘Touch’ from this concept of a deep connection with the subject being drawn, as Hambling says: ‘I believe the subject chooses the artist, not vice versa, and that subject must then be in charge during the act of drawing in order for the truth to be found. Eye and hand attempt to discover and produce those precise marks which will recreate what the heart feels. The challenge is to touch the subject, with all the desire of a lover.’

Born in Suffolk in 1945, Hambling studied with the artists Arthur Lett-Haines and Cedric Morris from the age of fifteen and later at Ipswich Art School, Camberwell and the Slade. Although she is perhaps best known for her controversial public sculpture: Oscar Wilde (1998, facing Charing Cross Station, London) and Scallop, (2003, Aldeburgh Beach, Suffolk), Hambling’s powerful drawings and monotypes are less familiar to the public.

The British Museum was the first national institution to collect extensively Hambling’s works on paper. In 1985 the Museum acquired the drawing of her former teacher Cedric Morris on his deathbed. Hambling’s first series of monotypes, sensuous studies of the nude, were purchased soon after and the Museum has continued to collect her work. This exhibition will examine Hambling’s drawings and prints, many of which have never been exhibited before, from early student drawings and etchings, to portraits of artist and critic John Berger, actor Stephen Fry, and curator Norman Rosenthal.

Hambling has spent time over the years in the British Museum Study Room examining the work of Michelangelo, Rembrandt and Van Gogh. As she says, ‘It is an exhilarating sensation to actually handle a Van Gogh drawing because drawing is the most intimate thing an artist does’. The show will mark a major donation by the artist of around fifteen of her works. 2016 is the bicentenary of Francis Towne’s 1816 bequest, which established the tradition of artists donating their works to the British Museum. Maggi Hambling’s gift will be the latest manifestation of that tradition.
‘Touch’ will consist of forty works, around a quarter from British Museum’s own collection, with loans from private collections, the National Portrait Gallery and Tate. The remaining works will be from Hambling’s personal collection,

The exhibition will begin with a life size and striking charcoal portrait of the writer, artist and Soho dandy Sebastian Horsley, who Hambling has described as ‘an exotic wild animal’. He is drawn wearing nothing but a silk scarf and introduces one of the major themes of the show, the human form. The exhibition will continue with a display of some of Hambling’s earliest work from the 1960s and 1970s, including the powerful ink drawing of Rosie, the stuffed Indian rhinoceros in Ipswich Museum, which she considers ‘her first portrait’. Executed when the artist was seventeen, this work already shows the commanding skill that would progress and evolve throughout her celebrated portraits and paintings of the sea. The exhibition will conclude with recent work made in 2015, from a new series entitled Edge which, in this instance, addresses global warming.


10381 - 20170115 - Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen to stage a spectacular tribute to Fra Bartolommeo - Rotterdam - 15.10.2016-15.01.2017


Fra Bartolommeo, Noli me tangere, circa 1505-1506. Canvas (originally pannel), 58 x 48 cm. Paris, Musée du Louvre, Departement des Peintures.

In 2017 it will be the 500 years since the Italian painter Fra Bartolommeo died at the age of forty-four. He was famed for his drawings and paintings, characterised by monumental figures, bright colours and a tranquil lyricism. From 15 October 2016, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is staging a spectacular tribute to this great artist with the exhibition Fra Bartolommeo – The Divine Renaissance.

Fra Bartolommeo (1473-1517) was one of the leading artists of the Italian High Renaissance. A Dominican friar, he trained in the workshop of the Florentine painter Cosimo Rosselli and was a highly skilled perfectionist. His use of perspective and geometry was carefully considered and he made numerous preparatory sketches for the depiction of the voluminous drapery of his figures’ clothing. The results are extremely imposing, harmonious paintings that exude a rarefied piety.

Religion played an important role in Fra Bartolommeo’s work. Under the influence of the puritan Dominican preacher Fra Girolamo Savonarola (1452-1498), who organised bonfires of songbooks, musical instruments, images of naked bodies and other ‘vanities’, Fra Bartolommeo destroyed his nude study drawings in 1498. Fra Bartolommeo’s famous posthumous portrait of Savonarola became the icon of the Dominican order.

Light, atmosphere and colour
Fra Bartolommeo entered the Dominican order in 1500 and briefly stopped painting. From 1504 he headed the painting studio in the convent of San Marco. In the years 1504-05 Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and the young Raphael – the three other great masters of the High Renaissance ­– were active in Florence and became acquainted with each other’s work. In 1508 Fra Bartolommeo took a short trip to Venice, where his exposure to the Venetian masters increased his appreciation of light, atmosphere and colour. Between 1509 and 1517 Fra Bartolommeo was at the height of his fame, creating a furore with ambitious altarpieces, two of which are four metres high. The museum has succeeded in bringing several of them to Rotterdam and several of them have never even left Tuscany.

From drawing to painting
Fra Bartolommeo – The Divine Renaissance shows how Fra Bartolommeo planned his paintings in great detail with preparatory drawings. No other 16th-century artist’s working process can be reconstructed in such detail: there are no fewer than sixty surviving preparatory drawings for his famous fresco The Last Judgement (1499-1501), half of which are featured in the exhibition. The exhibition brings together 11 paintings, ranging from small, early works to large, late works, each accompanied by their preparatory drawings. 120 of these drawings come from the collection of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and twenty have been loaned by prestigious foreign museums.

Gabburri Albums
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen has the world’s largest collection of drawings by Fra Bartolommeo. In 1729, the Florentine collector Francesco Maria Niccolò Gabburri (16761742) assembled five hundred drawings on four hundred sheets into two magnificent albums. The albums changed hands several times following Gabburri’s death. In 1940 they were given to the museum by harbour baron D.G. van Beuningen as part of the former Koenigs Collection.

Print Room
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen houses approximately 15,000 drawings and 65,000 prints. The collection is considered to be one of the finest in the world and features masterpieces including Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, Bruegel, Rubens, Rembrandt and Goya, and modern and contemporary artists such as Paul Cézanne, Salvador Dalí, René Magritte, Yayoi Kusama and Paul Noble.



10380 - 20170129 - David Claerbout opens exhibition at De Pont - Tilburg - 03.09.2016-29.01.2017


Olympia Stadion (impression of rain), 2015. Gewassen inkt en potlood op papier.
Seven years ago David Claerbout (Kortrijk, 1969) exhibited at De Pont for the first time. The Shape of Time, comprising ten video installations, left an indelible mark. A magical twilight world of old black-and-white photographs, brought to life in a subtle manner, and decelerated film sequences showing a woman serving coffee on the veranda of an eighteenth-century French stately home and then waving farewell to the viewer as the sun sets. The visible passing of time evokes a sense of wonder and estrangement. With Claerbout’s new exhibition, FUTURE, the museum’s new wing will be inaugurated.

While FUTURE may seem to be a fitting title on such a festive occasion, its meaning proves to be rather ambiguous on further consideration. One of the most recent video works in the exhibition, Olympia (The real time disintegration into ruins of the Berlin Olympic stadium over the course of a thousand years), shows the deterioration of the structure in which the 1936 Olympics were held, a building fraught with historical significance. The work alludes to a bleak period, when Hitler was in power and was developing megalomaniacal architectural projects with his chief architect Albert Speer. When envisaging their plans, the two men already gave consideration to the ‘ruin value’ that a building would have a thousand years later. The remains of the Third Reich were then to be at least as impressive as Rome’s Colosseum is today. Because of this Speer became known as the ‘ruin builder’, a somewhat dubious nickname for an architect. With the aid of digital game technology, Claerbout shows us the course of this process in ‘real time’, in any case for the next twenty-five years. Just how this art project will continue after that depends on technological developments and on whether anyone is prepared to assume responsibility for it at that point. The idea does appeal to the imagination in a powerful way: what will the stadium look like in a half-collapsed state, overgrown by weeds and bushes? The decay occurs so slowly, however, that a museum visitor cannot possibly observe this. From this point of view, even a human lifetime would be too short. So what does FUTURE actually mean?

Since his exhibition in 2009, Claerbout has made a radical change in his approach. Having studied 3D animation, he no longer works with actors and film sequences. Now everything takes place in the studio, where he and his nine assistants digitally develop each image step by step. This is how they create a reality which does not actually exist: a virtual world in which every detail must be exactly right – otherwise the video images would instantly lose their credibility. When a photograph is taken, the decisions with regard to the location, the season and the time of day are predetermined. But with a digital image the artist himself always needs to play God.

For Olympia the entire architecture of the interior and exterior, the columns, the corridors and the stands – the ‘hardware’ – has been replaced with software. Claerbout: ‘Software, ironically, is the current carrier of ideological time. We perfectly know it needs constant updating, but it does incorporate infinity. That is why Olympia is a realtime computer program.’

Those who visit the exhibition, however, will hardly notice these technological innovations. Claerbout’s mastery of the medium remains. We discern the same phenomena such as light, shade and wind which gently, without sound, cause the surface of water, trees and architecture to move. The transformations occur in slow motion: ‘I sculpt in duration,’ he says. ‘The definition of duration is different from that of time: duration is not an independent state like time, but an in-between state.’ For the work KING (after Alfred Wertheimer’s 1956 picture of a young man named Elvis Presley), 2015-2016, a scan of an Elvis Presley look-alike was produced in Claerbout’s Antwerp studio. This scan was then ‘covered’ with the skin of the real Elvis, taken from photographs that the artist found on the Internet. Basically the same procedure was used with Oil Workers (from the Shell Company of Nigeria) Returning Home from Work, Caught in Torrential Rain from 2013. Scans of all the figures were made and then covered. Everything about them is artificial; some don’t even have eyes and look like zombies.

Both works, KING and Oil Workers, play without a soundtrack and have no beginning or end. Initially they seem to represent totally different worlds. An old black-and-white photograph of a young Elvis at home with his family: the future King of Rock ’n Roll appears at the left, almost inconspicuously, in dark bathing trunks, shirtless and holding a Pepsi Cola in his right hand. The color photograph of the Nigerian Shell workers has been taken more recently. Beneath a bridge they seek shelter from a tropical downpour with their scooters. The successive images lead the eye of the viewer across the wet, oily-looking surface of the road to, and then around, the waiting figures. With Elvis something similar occurs. As viewers we’re looking at a kind of parallel twilight world, a bygone age between past and future, between actual and imaginary perception. Elvis isn’t quite world-famous yet, and the men’s waiting will go on endlessly.

For the first time in Europe, Claerbout is showing his video installations in combination with the drawings that accompany and support his works’ creative process of many months, sometimes even years. In addition to video works, De Pont also owns a beautiful series of drawings by him. He has a gift for this and is able to set down his ideas on paper quickly. Drawing enables him to get a grip on the complicated process of developing a work, which involves numerous assistants. This function of drawing is basically no different from the sketch or preparatory study that a traditional painter uses to record his ideas. For 3D animation it is necessary to have, along with an understanding of modern computer technology, a command of traditional fields such as drawing, painting, sculpture and cinematography. The result being, to Claerbout’s own astonishment, a ‘conservative’ type of painterly realism.

But in view of his elaborate and sometimes vehement writing that appears in the margins, the drawings are also an outlet for him. The recently published drawing catalogue elicited Claerbout’s remark that it was about time for him to reveal his methods and secret formulas. (David Claerbout Drawings and Studies, 2016, Sean Kelly Gallery, New York)

Scarcely any action takes place in the video installations, and no exciting stories are told. The carefully chosen suggestive images and the slow rhythm are what keep the viewer spellbound. Most of the works are projected onto large transparent screens placed against the walls of the new space. ‘Black boxes’ are now gone, and only a few works, such as Radio Piece (Hong Kong) from 2015, have sound. The viewer determines his or her own route, and pace, through the exhibition.


10379 - 20170108 - The Great Animal Orchestra opens at the Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain - Paris - 02.07.2016-08.01.2017


Cai Guo-Qiang, White Tone (detail), 2016 Gunpowder on paper Collection of the artist. © Cai Guo-Qiang.
From July 2, 2016 to January 8, 2017, the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain presents The Great Animal Orchestra, inspired by the work of American musician and bioacoustician, Bernie Krause. The exhibition brings together the work of artists from all over the world and invites the public to enjoy an aesthetic meditation, both aural and visual, on the animal kingdom, which is increasingly under threat in today’s modern world.

For almost 50 years, Bernie Krause has collected almost 5,000 hours of sound recordings of natural habitats, both terrestrial and marine, inhabited by almost 15,000 animal species. His research offers a wonderful immersion into the sound universe of animals, otherwise known as biophony. Before developing a passion for animal recordings, far removed from the world of humans, Bernie Krause worked as a musician and acoustician in the 1960s and 1970s, collaborating with artists like The Doors and Van Morrison. He also contributed to the creation of soundtracks to well-known films like Rosemary’s Baby by Roman Polanski and Apocalypse Now by Francis Ford Coppola.

Bernie Krause is unique. He contemplates the natural world as a poet, he listens to animal vocalizations as a musician, and through his recordings he studies these from the perspective of a scientist. Bernie Krause has become a master in the art of revealing the beauty, diversity and complexity of the languages of wild animals, increasingly reduced to silence by the din of human activity. He implores us to listen to these voices from the living, non-human world before they are definitively shrouded in silence.

The exhibition presents both an aural and a visual dimension. In the transparent, light-filled spaces of the Fondation Cartier, Mexican architects Gabriela Carrillo and Mauricio Rocha have chosen to direct the great orchestra of our images of the animal world. Exploring the multiple visual perspectives that this “glass house” offers, they have created a scenography in terracotta brick that surrounds the garden and the interior spaces of the building designed by Jean Nouvel. This architectural arrangement metaphorically reproduces that of a symphonic orchestra.

The exhibition presents a drawing of 18 meters in length specifically created for the exhibition by Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang. This work displays wild animals of different species gathered around a watering hole in a moment of peace and extreme vulnerability. Cai Guo-Qiang executed this drawing using gunpowder, a material he uses with an unrivalled expertise and dexterity. On large sheets of paper, an outline was first of all drawn using black gunpowder before being set alight. The traces of burn marks and smoke compose the sought-after motif: a landscape populated by animals.

With the image created by Cai Guo-Qiang, evocative of the cave paintings from prehistoric times, the exhibition associates the striking yet rather strange photographs of Japanese artist Manabu Miyazaki. These are taken using a kind of robotic “camera trap,” and done so with great ingenuity and unparalleled sensitivity. Exhibited for the first time outside of Japan, these images allow the viewer to see wild animals sharing the same environment and pathways as their human counterparts. Manabu Miyazaki’s photographs also reveal the mysterious dreamlike beauty of the flight of birds through the forest. The artist describes his approach in the following words: “My camera traps are like trees observing the animals. The watchful eye of the tree becomes my camera.”

The Great Animal Orchestra also gives carte blanche to a more playful, eccentric and colorful approach, wherein the imagination of the artists may be said to echo some of the most fascinating aesthetic creations of nature. Brazilian artist Adriana Varejão creates a ceramic wall, painted with Amazonian birds, which connects the garden to the building and exhibition spaces. Iconic and ostentatious, the paintings of Beninese artist Cyprien Tokoudagba and the animal-musicians created by Congolese painters Pierre Bodo, JP Mika and Moke enter into a dialogue with the extravagant New Guinea birds of paradise filmed by researchers from Cornell Lab of Ornithology (Ithaca, United States). This stunning “aviary video” of multicolored images is under the solemn and contemplative surveillance of the dioramas of animals photographed in black and white by Japanese artist, Hiroshi Sugimoto.

In the second part of the exhibition, the incredible aesthetics of the living, hidden, non-human world is revealed through advanced technologies such as cutting-edge microphones and digital microscopes.

The English collective United Visual Artists (UVA) provides a visual translation of Bernie Krause’s soundscapes. A remarkable three-dimensional electronic installation, especially commissioned for the exhibition, transposes data from Krause’s recordings into light particles, thereby highlighting the beauty of the sound environments presented, as well as the complexity of their animal vocalizations.

Bernie Krause’s research has shown that the sounds of the animal world, often perceived as a confused jumble of background noise, are actually as carefully orchestrated as the most complex musical score. Each species has its own acoustic signature within the unique soundscape of its ecosystem. Bernie Krause describes this phenomenon of the “acoustic niche” as follows: “Each resident species acquires its own preferred sonic bandwidth—to blend or contrast—much in the way that violins, woodwinds, trumpets and percussion instruments stake out acoustic territory in an orchestral arrangement.”

We tend to forget that animals have given us the gift of music. Bernie Krause reminds us of this fact and encourages us to become aware of animal vocalizations through his spectrograms that illustrate the various soundscape recordings. This graphical representation of biophony offers us a chance to better understand and appreciate the acoustic language of the living world which we are in the process of destroying, and which only indigenous peoples are still capable of interpreting.

The immersive installation by the UVA collective not only showcases the extraordinary wealth of Bernie Krause’s recordings and spectrograms but offers both a unique aesthetic experience and a source of precise knowledge. It presents seven different soundscapes, recorded in Canada, the US, Brazil, the Central African Republic, Zimbabwe, and in the depths of the oceans. A film directed by Raymond Depardon and Claudine Nougaret in which Bernie Krause describes his work is included as part of this installation.

In another room, visitors are invited to explore one of the most overlooked dimensions of the animal kingdom: the infinitesimal beauty of the ocean with the installation Plankton, A Drifting World at the Origin of Life. Made from photographs by Christian Sardet, a director of research at the CNRS and one of the initiators of the Tara Oceans Project, this installation is based upon a device invented by videographer and artist Shiro Takatani, and accompanied by music written by Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto. Invisible to the human eye, the micro-organisms that form plankton are found in all oceans. They represent the majority of the marine biomass on the planet and are the source of life on earth.

In the garden of the Fondation Cartier, an installation created by Agnès Varda, Le Tombeau de Zgougou (Collection Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain) is the recreation of a temple that is dedicated to the spirit of all pets, in memory of the artist’s beloved and much lamented cat, Zgougou.


10376 - 20170103 - Liam Gillick's first exhibition in Portugal on view at Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art - Porto - 28.01.2016-03.01.2017


Liam Gillick, Factories in the Snow.
This first exhibition in Portugal of influential New York-based British artist Liam Gillick (1964, Aylesbury, UK) results from a series of site visits to the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art made since 2013. The subsequent exhibition takes the form of a year-long presentation that reflects Gillick’s long-standing engagement with questions of process, participation, collectivity and decision-making, and of which his varied approach to language and the language of space are an expression.

Campaign has been conceived as a series of changing sculptural interventions in the large, central gallery of the museum along with other spaces over the course of the year. Gillick presents a progressive overlaying of spatial and performative situations that elaborate previously realized and unrealized sculptural projects dating from the late 1990s to the present. Including sound, sculptural and text-based works that have existed as early prototypes or sketches but never produced on the architectural scale for which they were initially intended, Gillick’s choreography of spaces, objects and ideas poetically addresses themes of time, as history and duration, and the visual and spatial codes of the social.

Factories in the Snow, comprising piano, sound and artificial snow, and conceived by Gillick for ‘Postman’s Time’, curated by Philippe Parreno and Hans Ulrich Obrist for the first Manchester International Festival in 2007, serves as an overture to the exhibition. This is followed by the presentation in the same space of a 1:1 scaled version of AC/DC Joy Division House, a reflection of Gillick’s first public commission for a social centre for teenagers in Milan. Both piano and speculative architecture merge into transparent framework for text and sound while a large-scale sculptural translation of Guy Debord’s A Game of War occupies the Museum’s glass-walled sculpture gallery over the summer. In the autumn, the exhibition culminates in a series of interventions into the Museum’s architectural framework using the language of the discussion platform.

Within the architectural and programming context of Serralves, Gillick’s exhibition as intervention will contribute to the Museum’s aim of articulating new models for exhibition making that respond to the distinctive practices of artists in their sculptural, discursive and temporal dimensions.

A book documenting the project over the course of the year will include texts by Liam Gillick and others.

‘Campaign’ is organized by the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto and curated by Suzanne Cotter, Director, assisted by exhibition curator Filipa Loureiro.

Liam Gillick lives and works in New York. He studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Recent one-person exhibitions include ‘All-Imitate Act’, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2015); ‘From 199C to 199D’, Magasin – Centre national d’art contemporain, Grenoble, France (2014); ‘From 199A to 199B: Liam Gillick’, Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College, New York (2012); ‘A Game of War Structure’, IMMA – Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2011). Recent group exhibitions include ‘Adventures of the black square: Abstract art and society 1915–2015’, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2015); ‘Une Histoire: Art, Architecture, Design des anées 1980 à nos jours’, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2014); ‘The Decade 1984–1999’, Centre Pompidou Metz, Metz, France (2014); ‘9 artists’, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, USA (2013); ‘One foot in the real world’, IMMA – Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2013); ‘Reading List: Artist’s Selections from the MoMA Library Collection, New York (2013). Gillick participated in the 2015 Istanbul Biennial and Moscow Biennial of Contemporary Art. In 2009, he represented Germany in the Venice Biennial. The artist was awarded the Paul Cassirer Kunstpreis, Berlin in 1998, was nominated for the Turner Prize, Tate, London in 2002 and the Vincent Award at the Stedelijk Museum in 2009. He is the author of a number of books including a volume of his selected critical writing. High profile public works include the British Government Home Office (Interior Ministry) building in London and the Lufthansa Headquarters in Frankfurt. Throughout this time Gillick has extended his practice into experimental venues and collaborative projects with artists including Philippe Parreno, Lawrence Weiner and Louise Lawler.


10371 - 20170108 - Exhibiton of ground-breaking prints from British Museum in Liverpool - 24.06.2016-08.01.2017


Still Life under the Lamp © Succession Picasso / DACS, London 2016.
Picasso Linocuts from the British Museum goes on display at the Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight from 24 June 2016 to 8 January 2017

The Still Life under the Lamp and the Jacqueline Reading series from the British Museum collection (acquired with the support of the Art Fund) are displayed for the first time outside the Museum in this wonderfully bold and colourful exhibition.

The exhibition, which also features prints from the Nude Woman at the Spring set, reveals the progressive stages of linocutting that Picasso developed in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Picasso Linocuts from the British Museum highlights a particularly prodigious period in the artist’s life. Picasso had made prints throughout his long career – more than 2,500 principally in etching, lithography and linocut. His earliest linocut is from 1939, but his major period of working in this medium was from the mid-1950s to the early 1960s.

Producing linocut posters for local ceramic exhibitions and bullfighting events in Vallauris with the talented local printer Hidalgo Arnéra, Picasso began to experiment with new ways of producing colour linocuts which rejected the established method of cutting a separate block of linoleum for each colour. Instead Picasso, impatient to see the results, progressively cut and printed from a single block that required him to foresee the final result, as once he had gouged away the linoleum surface he could not go back. This reductive technique also meant it was impossible to reproduce the previously created image afterwards.

Picasso’s astonishing technical innovation and creativity is divulged over the three sets:

Still Life under the Lamp comprisesnine colour prints, each showing a subsequent stage in the linocut's progression. At each stage the viewer sees an image that would appear finished but Picasso goes further, pursuing it to its final form. Each print is vivid in the retro colours of the 1960s: citron yellow, acid green and bright red. The proofs are extraordinarily rare, and the complete set is unique.

The second set is four progressive proofs for a monochrome subject, Jacqueline Reading, (1962). The sitter is Picasso’s second wife Jacqueline Roque with whom he lived in the last years of his life. She is posed reading, one hand held to her face and eyes cast down. For this print Picasso used two blocks. In the first block he scratched the surface with a stiff comb to create the tones of Jacqueline’s head and bust. A second block was cut with deeper gouges to leave just her outline. The print from the second block was superimposed over the first to achieve the final image.

The Nude Woman at the Spring (1962) series consists of four prints inspired by a figure from Manet’s nineteenth-century masterpiece Déjeuner sur l’herbe (Lunch on the Grass). Built in layers of brown and black and white the sinuous figure leans over a waterfall. The figure continued to appear in his later sculptural objects.

Xanthe Brooke, Curator of European Fine Art said: “Picasso Linocuts from the British Museum reveals how, even towards the end of his career, when he was in his eighties, Picasso was an exceptionally innovative artist.

“Displaying the series of prints in the progressive stages is a superb opportunity to appreciate the complexity of working in this manner and the genius of Picasso’s creativity.”

Picasso Linocuts from the British Museum is the next event in an exciting year for the Lady Lever Art Gallery, which recently opened its newly refurbished South End galleries, following a £2.8m major development project, part funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Sandra Penketh, Director of Art Galleries said: “We are delighted to continue the celebrations for this important year at the Lady Lever Art Gallery with an exhibition of work by Picasso, arguably the most influential European artist of the 20th Century.

“Lord Lever’s vision, that art should be an inspiration to all, endures almost 100 years later, with this fascinating exploration of an important body of work for this iconic artist.”