10434 - 20170305 - Rediscovered Rembrandt masterpiece displayed in London for the first time - London - 08.11.2016-05.03.2017

Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn, Girl at a Window, 1645, oil on canvas, DPG163. By Permission of the Trustees of Dulwich Picture Gallery, London.
Am I Rembrandt? (8 Nov – 5 March 2017), the final display in Dulwich Picture Gallery’s Making Discoveries series brings the Dutch Master’s flamboyant Self-Portrait, Wearing a Feathered Bonnet, 1635, (on loan from Buckland Abbey, National Trust) to London for the first time. The display also delves deeper into the Gallery's own works by the painter with Girl at a Window, 1645, shown for the first time with its surviving preparatory study.
The status of the self-portrait as an authentic work by Rembrandt has been questioned in the past, but following extensive technical analysis and investigative work by the National Trust and leading Rembrandt specialists, it was firmly attributed to the Master in 2014. The self-portrait inspires a wider display, exploring how curators and conservators worked together to authenticate the painting. It also examines the authorship of other works by Rembrandt, acquired by the Gallery's founders in the late 18th century.

Dulwich’s paintings Jacob de Gheyn III, 1632, and Girl at a Window are undisputed works by Rembrandt that are often used as a standard by which to judge unsigned paintings from the same periods. Conversely, A Young Man, perhaps the Artist’s Son Titus, 1663, was previously doubted as a genuine Rembrandt due to its degraded condition, whilst Jacob’s Dream, 1710-15, was once a much admired Rembrandt until the restoration process revealed the signature of Rembrandt’s last pupil, Aert de Gelder. Seen together these works and accompanying analysis offer a special insight into the often challenging practise of attributing Old Master works, drawing upon a curator’s knowledge of the artist’s style; surviving documentation relating to the work’s history; and analytical investigations that reveal the artist’s materials and techniques.

Girl at a Window, one of the Gallery’s most celebrated works by Rembrandt, is being displayed next to the only known preparatory study for the work, on loan from The Courtauld Institute of Art (Count Antoine Seilern Bequest). This is the first time both painting and study have been displayed together, revealing how Rembrandt transformed a quick graphite sketch, made from life, into the finished painting. Seen together, the works offer a unique insight into the artist's creative process.

Am I Rembrandt? is the final of four displays in the Making Discoveries: Dutch and Flemish Masterpieces series, which has thus far explored works by Van Dyck, Rubens and Dou in Dulwich’s collection. Bringing together recent historical and scientific research, the series has revealed intriguing discoveries, shedding new light on these familiar works. This research has been achieved through the recently published catalogue of the Dutch and Flemish paintings collection at Dulwich Picture Gallery, which was launched on 10 October 2016. It is the first comprehensive catalogue covering this part of the collection and includes over 220 paintings, detailing their provenance and historical significance. It is available to buy online and from the Gallery shop.

The Making Discoveries series is curated by Dulwich Picture Gallery’s Arturo and Holly Melosi Chief Curator Dr Xavier Bray with support from Assistant Curator, Helen Hillyard


10433 - 20170212 - Kunsthalle Basel presents exhibition of paintings by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye - Basel - 18.11.2016-12.02.2017


Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Installationsansicht A Passion To A Principle, Kunsthalle Basel, 2016, Blick auf (v.l.n.r.) Pressure From A Didact, Witching Hour, Militant Pressures (alle 2016). Foto: Philipp Hänger / Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Installation view A Passion To A Principle, Kunsthalle Basel, 2016, view on (f.l.t.r.) Pressure From A Didact, Witching Hour, Militant Pressures (all 2016). Photo: Philipp Hänger.
The exhibition is filled with figures that gaze directly, almost defiantly, at you. Others stand with arms akimbo, averting their eyes, or look pensive as they lounge in the soft embrace of a couch or hammock. Still others hold extravagant birds (an owl in one, a peacock in another) as if the acts were as usual as holding the daily news- paper, or they tense their arms and legs with the poise of a well-trained dancer. They are all beautiful without being model-like, serious without seeming stern, and well dressed without appearing to have tried too hard. There are rarely any identifiers of an exact time or place in which they stand or lie or lean or sit. There is no context for them, you could say, except their very selves. And in those selves there is nonchalance, refinement, calm intelligence. Also intensity, human depth, and a justness (someone wearing those threads would lie back and gaze at you just like that) that makes them seem familiar. And what you suspect you don’t already “know” about them, you try to conjure up. You almost cannot look at Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s paintings and not wonder about the people pictured in them—what they do, whom they love, how they think, what they desire. And yet the show is not an exhibition of portraits per se.
A Passion To A Principle contains nothing but figurative images, yet none portray an actual person, either historical or contemporary. And this is important. In Yiadom-Boakye’s hands, color is structural and brushwork comes in vivid rushes—a reflection on painting as a medium drives her work, but fiction is its other propelling force. She builds her cast of figures from the haze of memory and a collage of sources, borrowing a sweater from a shop window and a pose from a nudist magazine. And through paint she writes her characters, as a novelist might. The quality of that “writing” keeps them from appearing as stereotypes or one-dimensional fantasies. Thus it is perhaps not surprising that in addition to being a painter, the artist—born in London and of Ghanaian descent—is also a poet and a writer, even if her favored mode for materializing her depictions is art history’s most traditional of mediums.

Yiadom-Boakye studied painting at that bastion of the medium, the Royal Academy of Arts in London. But her real education came in museums, where Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, Walter Sickert, and others were her teachers. She learned any num- ber of techniques from them, she says, including lessons about the layering of color and economy of means (why use four brushstrokes when one will do?). It was with them, too, that she learned to find her own style, indebted to the past but operating wholly on her own.

Her paintings are in equal measures dark and luminous, painted with palpable brushstrokes that give her figures vivid presence, even when they stand in inky darkness, and even when the painter has left areas deliberately unresolved. There is something unabashedly classical about them, borrowing from traditional portrait compositions (the three-quarter bust, the head shot, the grouping of figures), but she also deliberately deploys modernist cropping (the tips of a dancer’s fingers in Tell The Air, the edge of a foot in A Focus For The Cavalry).

Here and there patches of bare canvas show through, and Yiadom-Boakye’s mark- making is sometimes so loose, so will- fully imperfect, that her paintings act as an apt pendant to the utter humanity of her (nevertheless unreal) figures—for what is human if not the fact of being flawed? Her titles, full of casual but enigmatic poetry (Daydreaming Of Devils, Sermons For Heathens, To Hell For Leather On A Hound) suggest as much: they allude to temptation, damnation, defiance. Even when they point in another direction, as in A Culmination or Militant Pressures, they still act as a layer, like an underpainting of deep vermillion that seeps through everything on top of it and subtly but inevitably imbues the whole with a mood or tone.

Yiadom-Boakye originally considered becoming an optician. But science was a problem, she admits, so she became instead another kind of observer of visual perception. And although her figures sit in a no-man’s-land of place and time, few figurative painters diagnose their present as percussively as she does. A Passion To A Principle, Yiadom-Boakye’s first institutional solo exhibition in Switzerland, comprised of all newly painted works, uses one of art history’s oldest and most venerated genres to make portraits in another sense, ones in which the true subject is both the medium of painting as such, and our own selves—right here and right now—as beings in the world.

This happens—paradoxically, powerfully— through her particular deployment of fiction. Speaking about the writing of James Baldwin, a critic once asked, “How do people come to know themselves? One way is by reading fiction. The profound act of empathy de- manded by a novel, forcing the reader to suspend disbelief and embody a stranger’s skin, prompts reflection and self-questioning.” This is what Yiadom-Boakye asks of us.

And what better moment to be so prompted? Her paintings make clear: our museums and our histories of art, like power structures of all sorts, are full of representations of and by white people. Depictions of black people by black artists are astoundingly few. Hers, then, is a social portraiture, picturing a whole segment of the population—a reality— that remains still so little accounted for in either art history or politics. Yiadom-Boakye’s insertions of (fictive) black figures into the canon, into discourse, into our exhibition spaces, are quietly subversive, not combatively arguing for anything, but simply rendering black lives visible—literally giving them matter and thus showing that they matter— always with quiet grace. She could have presented them otherwise, the burden of their history weighing on their shoulders. But, as she has explained, “They are recognizably human, but they are not real. They do not share our anxieties or woes. Nor do they need to be celebratory. In the painting is where they exist, and that makes them omnipotent. Painting gives them power.”

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye was born 1977 in London; she lives and works in London.


10432 - 20170122 - Exhibition of works by Francis Alÿs at Vienna's Secession - Vienna - 18.11.2016-22.01.2017


Francis Alÿs, Le temps du sommeil, (, 111 paintings, oil, encaustic, crayon, collage on wood, ca. 11,5 x 15,5 cm. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich.

Francis Alÿs is known for his discreet performative solo actions as well as for coordinating large-scale collective allegorical events. Many of these performances—both ones in which the artist features as a protagonist and the mass actions in which Alÿs himself stays on the sidelines—are now revered as classics of the genre. In Re-enactments (Mexico City, 2000), Alÿs ambled through the city holding a loaded gun until a policeman stopped him; he then persuaded the officer to repeat the entire action and record it on video—hence the title Re-enactments. The process of negotiation and interaction (with the policeman) is characteristic of the artist’s approach, whose site-specific projects broach specific local and political situations through dialogue with people rather than by addressing them directly. When Faith Moves Mountains, implemented in Lima, Peru, in 2002, was a project of almost biblical proportions: five hundred volunteers moved a 550-yard-long sand dune by 4 inches. The piece reflected the mood of futility in a country ruled by a dictatorship and became a symbolic gesture of hope. 
Le temps du sommeil (The Time of Sleep, 1996–), the centerpiece of the exhibition of the same title, exemplifies the subtlety and inscrutable quality of his oeuvre at large. The small pictures on wood panels measuring ca. 4.3 by 5.9 inches depict miniature scenes and often look like snapshots of simple gestures and activities that, upon closer inspection, appear to be fairly absurd.

Le temps du sommeil is a series of 111 such paintings the artist created over the past two decades but regards as incomplete. Rather than add new pictures to the ensemble, Alÿs reworks, alters, augments the existing panels, sometimes even overpainting them completely. Some have gone untouched for years, while others are subject to frequent revision. Around one quarter of the series has been repainted since it was last presented; no fewer than sixteen pictures were altered in 2016 alone, as date stamps indicate. The various stages in the work’s ongoing transformation—it may be said to evolve alongside the artist himself—survive only in photographic documentation, illustrating the constancy of Alÿs’s art and the foundation on which it rests, but also his changing interests and priorities.

The pictures are demanding in every respect: with their small formats, they disclose nothing to the fleeting glance—they demand sustained attention. Visitors who take the time to wander down the long array of pictures gradually become familiar with a singular pictorial universe: most of the compositions originated in the notebooks of the artists, whose painterly oeuvre has grown in parallel with his actions and major collaborative projects since the beginning of his career. Its defining feature are recurrent or similar figures that appear time and again, like the characters in a novel. Certain conspicuous protagonists clad in suits and known from other painting series as “the Liar,” “the Prophet,” “the Clown,” and the like were first sketched in Le temps du sommeil and then elaborated elsewhere, or conversely migrated from other creations into the series. Mirroring and inversion are frequent stylistic devices in Alÿs’s work, both in his writings and in his pictures. Le temps du sommeil thus blends the functions of an archive, a creative repertoire, and a medium for brainstorming.

Another salient aspect of his art is the interweaving of word and image, often through the titles of the works. The visitor should not be misled by the fact that the pictures in the series are presented alongside conceptual writings and ideas for interventions and works. The texts are not intended as annotations to the images; they enter into a dialogue with them, shining a light, always tinged with humor, on the complex interrelationship between visual and verbal communication.

The films Paradox of Praxis 1 (Sometimes Making Something Leads to Nothing) (1997) and Paradox of Praxis 5, Ciudad Juárez, México (Sometimes we dream as we live and we live as we dream) (2013), which trace an arc from his early oeuvre to his most recent video work, are on view in the Graphic Cabinet.



10431 - 20170122 - Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2016 at the Institute of Contemporary Arts - London - 23.11.2016-22.01.2017


Janina Lange, Shooting Clouds, 2014. HD video, 5:12 minutes.
Showcasing new and recent fine art graduates, New Contemporaries returns to the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London from November 23, 2016–January 22, 2017.
The panel of guest selectors comprising Anya Gallaccio, Alan Kane and Haroon Mirza have chosen 46 artists who now join an illustrious roster of New Contemporaries alumni that includes Tacita Dean, Mona Hatoum, Damien Hirst, Mike Nelson and Laure Prouvost amongst many others.

Selected artists for Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2016 are: Victoria Adam, Katja Angeli, Diana Anghel, Saelia Aparicio Torinos, James Berrington, Jack Bodimeade, Anna Bunting-Branch, Leah Carless, Michael Cox, David Donald, Jemma Egan, Kate Fahey, Jamie Fitzpatrick, Harry Fletcher, Mary Furniss, Roxman Gatt, Christopher D.A. Gray, Jamie Green, Thomas Greig, Byzantia Harlow, Sebastian Jefford, Seungjo Jeong, Alfie Kungu, Janina Lange, Lana Locke, Georgia Lucas-Going, Sophie Mackfall, Karolina Magnusson-Murray/Leon Platt, Richie Moment, Zarina Muhammad, Richard Nicholson, Mooni Perry, Lisa Porter, Alicia Reyes McNamara, George Ridgway, Rodrigo Red Sandoval, Zsofia Schweger, Leonor Serrano Rivas, Ruth Spencer Jolly, Oriele Steiner, Margreta Stolen, Reece Straw, Maryam Tafakory, Tenant of Culture and Jack West.

This year’s Bloomberg New Contemporaries brings together artists working across a range of media with traditional techniques and materials used alongside digital applications and processes. Themes including the mass-produced, socio-economics, gender equality and cultural identity feature, with the resulting exhibition being both a social commentary and an indication of this emerging generations’ preoccupations.

Of this year’s Bloomberg New Contemporaries, Kirsty Ogg, Director, said “New Contemporaries acknowledges that it is increasingly difficult for emerging artists to continue to operate in the UK. Through our annual exhibition and partner initiatives, our objective is to support emerging practitioners, with the intention to make artists' practices sustainable in the long-term. This year’s exhibition at the ICA demonstrates the continuing strength of work coming from British art schools, and the importance of critical platforms from which emerging work can be seen and discussed.”

Gregor Muir, outgoing ICA Executive Director, commented, "We’re thrilled to be welcoming back Bloomberg New Contemporaries. For 70 years, the ICA has been at the forefront of cutting edge arts and culture offering a living space for artists to experiment with ideas. Supporting emerging artists sits at the very core of our ethos and we’re proud to give talented creatives a platform to exhibit their work. Each year, the varied works explore different themes of inquiry and this year's selection deals with key contemporary issues such as identity, materiality, technology and urban living.”


10430 - 20170305 - UK's first museum solo exhibition in more than 20 years of the French artist Yves Klein opens in Liverpool - 20.10.2016-05.03.2017

Yves Klein, (1928-1962), Untitled Pink Sponge-relief, (RE 44) c.1960. Dry pigment and synthetic resin, pebbles, natural sponges on panel. © Yves Klein, ADAGP, Paris / DACS, London, 2016. Carré d’Art-Musée d’art contemporain de Nîmes. Photo David Huguenin.

Tate Liverpool presents the UK’s first museum solo exhibition in more than 20 years of the French artist Yves Klein (1928-1962). One of the most influential figures of the post-war era, Klein’s career was marked by extraordinary creativity and a bold attitude to art and life that was pivotal to later movements from pop to performance art and beyond. Presenting around 40 major works the exhibition throws fresh light on his artistic practice.

Embracing painting, sculpture, performance, theatre, music, film and architecture, Klein pioneered new attitudes that took the European art world by storm before his untimely death at the age of 34 from a heart attack. At the age of 19 the artist symbolically signed the depthless blue sky using his finger, declaring it as his first artwork. This moment underpinned Klein’s interest in the relationship between infinite space and art that foreshadowed his short but startling career as one of the most original artistic thinkers.

Klein’s vision was to express absolute immateriality and infinite space through pure colour. The exhibition examines this through works from across Klein’s major series including paintings deploying his signature dazzling pure-pigment International Klein Blue (IKB), a distinctive ultramarine able to invoke a powerfully depthless sense of space on the surface of the work. Also displayed will be his Anthropometry paintings created by the artist choreographing nude models as living paint brushes to transfer blue pigment onto canvas and his pyrotechnic Fire Paintings, created using a flame thrower. It further presents his sponge sculptures, planetary-reliefs and pure-colour monochrome paintings.

The exhibition brings together major works never before seen in the UK, complemented by photography that reflects the breadth of his artistic vision. These images demonstrate how Klein managed his own image through personal and publicity photographs that present him as an artist, visionary showman and judo master, among many other guises.

Despite dying at an early age Klein created a powerful body of ground-breaking work. The exhibition celebrates his practice and output that prefigured later movements including pop, conceptual, minimal, installation and performance art and influenced later generations of artists while infusing the languages of popular culture and design.

The exhibition is curated by Darren Pih, Exhibitions & Displays Curator.



10429 - 20170114 - Exhibition of Alice in Wonderland presents illustrations, memorabilia and the looking glass - Basingstoke - U.K. - 12.11.2016-14.01.2017

Installation view.
An acclaimed exhibition about Alice in Wonderland opens in Basingstoke this month, and uniquely features a very special object – her real life looking glass coming home to Hampshire.
From Salvador Dali and Tim Burton to Walt Disney, Lewis Carrol’s Adventures of Alice in Wonderland have appealed to successive generations and continue to do so, as this exciting new exhibition reveals.

Opening in the Sainsbury Gallery at Basingstoke’s Willis Museum, which is operated by Hampshire Cultural Trust, on 12 November (until 14 January 2017) Alice in Wonderland follows a chronological path from the first time that Carroll told his story to Alice Liddell and her sisters during a boat trip on the Thames in 1862, through to the different ways in which generations of illustrators, artists, musicians, filmmakers and designers have interpreted the story and its characters in the 150 years since it was first written.

This touring exhibition from the British Library opens with a spiralling Op Art vortex pulling visitors ‘down the rabbit hole’ of Carroll’s imagination and through the diverse visual marvels his stories stimulated. This is the only venue in the south to host the show. – which is appropriate as the ‘Alice’ of the stories was based on 10-year old Hampshire girl Alice Liddell.

Alice in Wonderland draws together an astonishing array of material, from copies of the original manuscript to computer games designed by undergraduates at De Montfort University, via toys, tea caddies, Edwardian films and psychedelic posters. However, uniquely to the Willis show, the undoubted star exhibit is THE Looking Glass itself.

Kindly loaned by the New Forest Centre in Lymington, Alice Liddell’s own mirror - or looking glass - was a cherished possession when she lived at Cuffnells House in Lyndhurst. Carroll, or Charles Ludwidge Dodgson as he was actually called, was a family friend of the Liddell family. A lecturer in mathematics at Oxford, he invented the story to entertain the daughters of his friend and colleague, Henry Liddell, the Dean of Christ Church Oxford. Some of Dodgson’s diaries will form part of the show.

Carroll’s own pen and ink illustrations for the original manuscript were influenced by the work of his friend, the Pre-Raphaelite artist, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and, in turn these clearly informed John Tenniel’s illustrations in the original edition. The Alice in Wonderland exhibition will display the original woodblocks and reveal the manner in which Tenniel’s charming engravings retain a certain froideur of expression, despite the surreal and absurd characters involved; Mad Hatters, Cheshire Cats, Mock Turtles and shisha-smoking Caterpillars.

In 1907, Carroll’s original copyright expired and this opened the creative floodgates for a whole host of new versions and depictions of Alice and the Wonderland characters. Arthur Rackham – famed for his Peter Pan illustrations, created exquisite art nouveau images, while Mabel Lucy Attwell created a softer, more saccharine world of Alice.

By the 1930s, turbulent British and European politics had brought a darker tone to Alice, with Stanley Baldwin and Adolf Hitler depicted as the Griffin and the Dodo. Indeed, Mervyn Peake’s experiences during the war shaped his illustrations of Alice in 1946 (and will be featured in the show), while Ralph Steadman’s Sixties version is a disturbing, somewhat dystopian allegory on consumerism, with the White Rabbit a frazzled commuter.

Other highlights of the exhibition include a high quality facsimile of the first edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland illustrated by John Tenniel and early Alice memorabilia including wooden figurines, tea tins and a postage stamp case.

Janet Owen, Chief Executive of Hampshire Cultural Trust, says “The story of Alice has fascinated successive generations and we are delighted to host this touring British Library exhibition, which is part of national and international celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the publication of this iconic book. We are also delighted she is ‘coming home to Hampshire’ and that we are able to give visitors the unique chance to see the very looking glass that inspired a classic. We hope that visitors to Alice in Wonderland will find new enjoyment and inspiration from the collections on show.”


10428 - 20170112 - Dutch Old Masters from Budapest on view at the Frans Hals Museum - Haarlem - Netherlands - 12.11.2016-12.01.2017


Philips Wouwerman, Riding School, c. 1668. Szépmüveszéti Múzeum, Budapest.
This winter the Frans Hals Museum entertains distinguished visitors from the Szépmüvészeti Múzeum in Budapest. For three months from 12 November 2016 more than eighty works by Netherlandish masters from one of the finest museum collections in the world will be our guests. Unlike leading museums with comparable collections, such as the Louvre and the National Gallery, the Hungarian museum’s collection is an undiscovered gem. The radical renovation of the Szépmüvészeti Múzeum has given the Frans Hals Museum the opportunity to bring exceptional seventeenth-century paintings to Haarlem. The exhibition, showcasing Haarlem artists alongside well-known Dutch and Flemish painters like Hendrick Avercamp, an Lievens and Anthony van Dyck, runs until 12 February 2017. 
This year, to mark the 350th anniversary of Frans Hals’s death, two magnificent portraits are coming from Budapest to be reunited with his paintings in the Frans Hals Museum. Works by a number of Haarlem artists who are not represented in the Frans Hals Museum’s collection, such as Willem Buytewech and Dirck Bleker, will also be on display. Alongside fifty-seven paintings, the exhibition will include some twenty-seven drawings by artists including Rembrandt, Karel van Mander and Frans Post.

The emphasis of the exhibition lies on Haarlem as the centre of innovation in seventeenth-century painting. Painters who spent their entire career working in Haarlem will take centre stage, but artists who were only active in Haarlem for a short time or were born here, are represented as well. Aside from the portraits by Hals, alluring portraits by Johannes Verspronck will be coming from Budapest, and there will be genre works by Jan Steen, Dirck Hals, Jan Miense Molenaer and Richard Brakenburgh. The exhibition will also feature Haarlem landscapes by such artists as Salomon van Ruysdael and Jacob van Ruisdael and magnificent works by Haarlem still life painters like Willem Claesz Heda and Jan Jansz van de Velde. The exhibition draws a number of parallels between the collection from Budapest and that of the Frans Hals Museum; two Haarlem church interiors by Pieter Saenredam, for example, will enter into a dialogue.

As well as the artists from Haarlem, the Szépmüvészeti Múzeum’s collection covers every facet of paintings from the Low Countries in the Golden Age. The paintings by Dutch and Flemish masters have been selected to shed new light on the Haarlem works. Works by Dutch painters like Adriaen Coorte, Jan Lievens and Gerard Dou and Flemish masters such as Jan Brueghel and Anthony van Dyck will point up the relationship between painting in Haarlem and other towns. All genres are represented: portraits by Nicolaes Maes and Bartholomeus van der Helst, a history painting by Karel Dujardin, a genre work by Pieter de Hooch, a winter landscape by Hendrick Avercamp and a still life by Willem van Aelst.

A selection of seventeenth-century Dutch drawings from Budapest completes the exhibition. Budapest has no paintings by some of the artists who were active in Haarlem, but it does have magnificent drawings, for example by Jan de Bray, Hendrick Goltzius and Karel van Mander. Their drawings will be shown alongside those of Aelbert Cuyp, Paulus van Vianen and Rembrandt.


10426 - 20170219 - Exhibition at Moderna Museet focuses on controversial suites Heroes and New Types by Georg Baselitz - Stockholm - 11.11.2016-19.02.2017


Georg Baselitz, The Great Friends, 1965 © Georg Baselitz 2016.
Georg Baselitz is regarded as one of the most important European artists of the post-war era. The exhibition Georg Baselitz: The Heroes focuses on the controversial suites Heroes and New Types, which Baselitz created in 1965-66, in a burst of creativity. They mark the breakthrough of the artist, who was 27 at the time. These monumental, figurative paintings and drawings show ragged and vulnerable soldiers who turn a sceptical eye on history and failure.
“It pleases me to see these works again. Most of them I haven’t seen for nearly 50 years. They're not bad, actually. But it pains me that we are living in a time when they again feel relevant.” Georg Baselitz

When Georg Baselitz (b. 1938) was branded as being “sociopolitically immature”, expelled from art college in East Berlin, and the police confiscated the works from his first exhibition in the West, he soon won the reputation of being a romantic outsider on the art scene. Neither East German social realism, 1960s slick pop art, nor cold minimalism interested Baselitz. He describes how he grew up in a period where all order had been demolished, and he did not want to create a new one. Baselitz has remained sceptical of all ideologies throughout his life. It is hard to overestimate his impact on the postmodern and neoexpressionist “wild” painting of later generations.

“These works are ambiguous and contradictory. To portray ‘heroes’ and ‘new types’ after the war was a provocation to those who wanted to forget the war and celebrate individualism. But Baselitz’s paintings are also about vulnerability and failure,” says Magnus af Petersens, curator.

The exhibition Georg Baselitz: The Heroes is the first major presentation of Baselitz’s early oeuvre and his controversial breakthrough, featuring some 30 paintings and 20 drawings, most of which have never before been shown in Sweden. Aged 27, Baselitz created the paintings that later became known as Heroes and New Types. These raw and expressive paintings portray broken, vulnerable men in apocalyptic, ravished landscapes. Certain figures recur in Baselitz’s art, like social rejects; in his world, the heroes are tragic failures. The exhibition also features a few of his so-called Fracture Paintings. Here, the motif looks from a distance as though cut up and sewn together, but the fractures are, in fact, painted.

“A fracture is an injury, like a broken bone, it is easy to see these paintings as an expression of how Baselitz saw Europe, and especially the divided Germany, after the war. The Fracture Paintings were followed by the famous paintings that Baselitz painted upside-down,” says Magnus af Petersens.


10425 - 20170219 - First ever survey of British artist Gee Vaucher's work to be mounted in the UK at Firstsite - Colchester - 13.11.2016-19.02.2017

Front cover for Crass, The Feeding of the Five Thousand, 1978. Gouache 260 x 260 mm.
Firstsite presents Gee Vaucher: Introspective, the first ever survey of the renowned British artist’s work to be mounted in the UK.
The exhibition, which brings together more than 200 works, many of which have never been shown in public before, offers a complete overview of her fifty-year career, revealing the multifarious forces that have inspired and shaped her artistic practice.

Vaucher’s work is characterised by its political engagement. Her activism was forged in the 1960s and 1970s, but is rooted in an older tradition of dissent arguably dating to the 14th century, to John Ball and the Peasant’s Revolt. However, she abhors any form of classification, rejecting any ‘isms’ that seek to pigeonhole either her or her art. It is this ardent non-conformism that imbues her art with its power and originality.

The assembled works have been drawn from Vaucher’s archive, and include collages, paintings, videos, sculptures, prints, drawings and photography, each revealing the artist’s unique aesthetic; an amalgam of Surrealism, Pop Art and Dada, blended with the DIY immediacy of punk.

The show is divided chronologically into series. These are comprised of pieces from the 1960s up to her most recent paintings and drawings, as well as photographic and sound works that reflect on the changing cityscape of New York, where Vaucher worked in the late 1970s as a political illustrator for The New York Times and New York Magazine, amongst others.

The exhibition includes the iconic series of artworks Vaucher created for the anarcho-pacifist punk band Crass, of which she was a member from its inception in 1977 until its demise in 1984. The importance of this body of work is undeniable; indeed Jon Savage, the author of the seminal chronicle of punk rock, England’s Dreaming: the Sex Pistols and Punk Rock, has suggested that an entire book could be written about Vaucher’s contribution to the punk aesthetic and how she has inspired the street artists of today.

The works from this period include the cover of the first Crass album, The Feeding of the Five Thousand (1978). A complex painting, it contains a confusing and unsettling sequence of images of violence, poverty, torture, and family bliss, all set in a typical British street of the 1970s. The work could be seen as exaggeration, created to make a crude political point, however Vaucher’s explanation is telling, in that while it is shocking, it was only a reflection of reality: ‘There's nothing actually in the image that wasn’t around. The image of the scarred face for instance was on buses in London at the time. It was a big poster on the back of a bus, about drink driving. Everything in that image you’ve seen somewhere else before.’

The show also includes an installation, The Sound of Stones in the Glasshouse (2006), a walk-in greenhouse with embossed glass names of all the countries where the United States of America has instigated or taken part in war. Surrounding the walls are the names of former U.S. Presidents with quotations relating to conflict. This piece was created collaboratively with fellow artist and typographer Christian Brett.

Introspective also features rare footage of early 1970s performances of EXIT, the avant-garde group led by Penny Rimbaud, the co-founder of Crass and Vaucher’s longstanding creative partner. In two of these three films, members of EXIT can be seen recreating Anthony McCall’s ‘Fire’ series, one of which was performed in Colchester.

While Vaucher has claimed not to create feminist art, a good deal of her work engages with gender-related issues, especially within the family structure. The collage in the newspaper International Anthem No.2 (1979), which Gee created whilst living in New York City, tackles the subject of domestic violence. It shows a female figure in a bedroom gazing blankly either out of a window, at a mirror or at a wall, whilst to her right is a muscled man in a sports vest, a baby dangling precariously from his hands. Meanwhile, a toddler scrambles around an upturned and clearly dead chicken on the bed. It is a baffling and grotesque mise-en-scène, but one which makes no judgement, leaving the viewer to make of it what they will. The trenchant imagery of this work is offset by one of the most compelling series in the exhibition, the Portraits of Children Who Have Seen Too Much Too Soon (2006). The suite of paintings, which have previously been shown at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in New York, are exquisite portraits of war-torn children, be that global war or the more personal nature of domestic abuse. While the subject matter is raw, the paintings could be sensational were it not for the evident tenderness of their composition.

Also included in the exhibition are collage works that take Max Ernst’s surrealist novel, Un Semaine de Bonte (1934) as their inspiration. To further contextualise Gee's reworking of the original Ernst collages, the exhibition’s co-curators, Marie-France Kittler and Stevphen Shukaitis, have arranged loans of books and prints by Ernst from the collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum and Southampton University.

Of the show, Firstsite director Sally Shaw says: ‘We are delighted and privileged to be holding the first major retrospective of Gee Vaucher’s work at Firstsite, not least because of her strong connections with Essex. A truly remarkable artist, she has created an astonishing body of work that is at once scabrous, heartfelt, wry and thought-provoking – a perfect match for Firstsite’s ambition to encourage new ways of looking and thinking.’†

A fully illustrated catalogue, Gee Vaucher: Introspective, published by Firstsite, will accompany the exhibition. It includes texts by Marie-France Kittler, Stevphen Shukaitis, Penny Rimbaud, Rebecca Binns, George McKay, Patricia Allmer & John Sears and Yuval Etgar.

† Gee Vaucher: Introspective, 2016


10424 - 20170122 - Twelve monumental works by Thierry De Cordier on view in Brussels - 06.11.2016-22.01.2017


The series Iconotextures consists of twelve works: vast fields of 300 x 150 cm paper where blue ink assembles into a whirlwind.
The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium welcome 12 monumental works by Thierry De Cordier from November 8th onwards. In this first exhibition of the artist since the Venice Biennale in 2013, the visitor can discover a series of new works called “Iconotextures”. These gigantic works on paper show thousands of definitions of God transcribed in blue ink by the artist. This series is the result of five years (2011-2016) of labor and will be on display at the RMFAB until the 22nd of January 2017. 
The series Iconotextures consists of twelve works: vast fields of 300 x 150 cm paper where blue ink assembles into a whirlwind. The artists presents a waterfall of text that links to absurdity definitions of God. Both definitions that claim and deny His existence. Oscillating between irony and the sacred, the words become the spiritual material (texture) of an image that, like an icon, materializes the invisible. Through this calligraphy of his own effusion, Thierry De Cordier reflects the absurdity that is the very idea of defining God. His Word turns to flesh. Blue as night, deep as doubt: the testimony of the inherent fragility of human consciousness.

Thierry De Cordier
Thierry De Cordier (b. 1954, Oudenaarde, Belgium) is a philosopher, visual artist, writer and poet. He currently lives and works in Ostend, Belgium. A large room dedicated to his work was on view in the exhibition The Encyclopedic Palace curated by Massimiliano Gioni at the Venice Biennale in 2013. Solo exhibitions include Landschappen at BOZAR, Brussels (2012), and Drawings at the Centre Pompidou, Paris (2004-2005). He was responsible for the Belgian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 1997. His monumental public work De Kapel van het Niets, in the garden of the SintNorbertus psychiatric hospital in Duffel, Belgium, was inaugurated in 2007.


10423 - 20170115 - Exhibition at Louisiana focuses on Taryn Simon's "An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar" - Humlebaek - 29.10.2016-15.01.2017

Taryn Simon, An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar, 2007. Udendørs motions- og opholdsområde for dødsdømte fanger, “Buret” Mansfield Correctional Institution, Mansfield, Ohio. Archival inkjet, 94,6 x 113 cm.
With the photo series An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar (2007) the American artist Taryn Simon (b. 1975) made her mark as one of her generation’s most important photographers. This autumn the photo series can be experienced at Louisiana, where it is being shown as part of the museum’s exhibition series Louisiana One Work.
About this very series the author Salman Rushdie writes: In a historical period in which many people are making such great efforts to conceal the truth from the mass of the people, an artist like Taryn Simon is an invaluable counter force. Democracy needs visibility, accountability, light ... Somehow, Simon has persuaded a good few denizens of hidden worlds not to scurry for shelter when the light is switched on, as cockroaches and vampires do, but to pose proudly for her invading lens...

An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar portrays American society by uncovering a number of places whose only common feature is that they are normally inaccessible to the general public. The series spans subjects as different as radioactive waste immersed in water, an edition of Playboy magazine in Braille, the cage in which a death-row prisoner can move around outdoors, the living HIV virus, an inbred albino tiger and the storage site for newly-printed dollar bills.

Behind every single photograph lie years of research that has procured access for the artist to these rarely-visited places and culminates in a single photograph with related text. Taryn Simon reveals the USA’s hidden places like a spy, but her whole project is driven by the collector’s fascination with the rare or curious.

Together the photographs offer profoundly fascinating insights into the hidden structures and mechanisms that are concealed beneath the surface in the national culture of the USA and which make up the foundation, mythology and everyday functions of the country. Simon’s pictures paint a fragmented portrait of a nation where science, religion, medicine, entertainment, nature, security and politics link up in surprising ways.

The artist had the idea for the project in the period after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, when the American authorities and media, in their hunt for weapons of mass destruction, were engaged in tracing and uncovering hidden information outside the borders of the USA. In the midst of this information crisis Taryn Simon chose to turn her gaze inward towards the USA itself and to investigate the country’s own inner boundaries and the contrast between the access to knowledge of the select few and the ordinary citizen.

With her portrait of the USA’s hidden infrastructures Taryn has created a work that investigates access to information and knowledge as a fundamentally asymmetrical relationship.

Taryn Simon herself says: “I wonder what the appearance of absolute transparency would be. I can’t imagine what form that woukd take. And if it is even possible. This was an attempt to see the centre with my own eyes. But what you come away with is just the confirmation that you cannot come to the centre and who knows if there is a centre. A photograph is always just another distance from which to see something, as one was far closer than most ...”


10422 - 20170115 - Lawrence Weiner's mental image for the state of society on view at Kunsthaus Bregenz - 12.11.2016-15.01.2017

Lawrence Weiner, WHEREWITHAL | WAS ES BRAUCHT, 2016. Detail view third floor, Kunsthaus Bregenz. Photo: Markus Tretter. Courtesy of Lawrence Weiner © Lawrence Weiner | ARS, New York | Bildrecht, Wien, 2016 and Kunsthaus Bregenz.
The exhibition title WHEREWITHAL in white uppercase letters is outlined in black. It is a work about language and, according to Weiner, a mental image for the state of society, people, and the world today.  
Art has to ask questions, stated Lawrence Weiner during his first visit to Kunsthaus Bregenz. If it contented itself with predetermined answers, it would fall into the traps of complacency and simple illustration. Born in 1942 in New York, Lawrence Weiner is one of the world’s most renowned artists and a cofounder of American conceptual art. In realizing art as an intellectual act, Weiner has from the very beginning worked with language. On the wall it attains a virtually tangible existence. »First there was the word, and with the word one realized that there was something before the word.« (Lawrence Weiner, 1996) Weiner always employs two languages, English and the respective native language, the objects acquiring both optical »dignity« and an interplay between understanding and space.

On the walls of Kunsthaus Bregenz Weiner’s texts become a commentary on the architecture, the space, and sensory experience. His works are only apparently site-specific. They relate to themselves, pursue elliptical odysseys through meaning and create deft plays on society, politics, and the place of art.

Lawrence Weiner is particularly important to Kunsthaus Bregenz because of his spatial thinking. The model for his text works across the building’s four floors is, according to Weiner, a kind of geyser. Geysers provide valves for excessive pressure, and art is a spontaneous escape from apparently hermetic tectonic crusts. He admits to that as being »idealistic«, but this nevertheless remains one of art’s tasks.

KUB Director Thomas D. Trummer on the Exhibition at Kunsthaus Bregenz: Texts have been applied to the polished concrete walls, some occupying the whole surface. They expand to become wall-filling messages that simultaneously convey poetic thoughts, for which the Kunsthaus could not be more appropriate. The interior’s concrete surfaces and skylighting create the impression of a deserted city, providing a worthy complement to the work of Lawrence Weiner, for whom text is a sculpture that merges with its support. The subject matter – what else could it be in Bregenz – is stone, but equally fragility, porosity, and the endangered. These are issues that condense in the title of the exhibition WHEREWITHAL | WAS ES BRAUCHT. Wherewithal here alludes both to what is absolutely necessary and to a world flirting dangerously with its own unraveling 

Lawrence Weiner was born February 10, 1942 in the Bronx, New York City.

He has had solo exhibitions at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (2013), Museu d’Art Contemporani in Barcelona (2013), Haus der Kunst in Munich (2007), Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo in Mexico City (2004), Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg (2000), Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1994), and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. (1990). He was a participant in documenta 5, 6, 7, and 13 (1972, 1977, 1982, 2012) in Kassel and the 36th, 41st, 50th, and 55th Venice Biennale (1972, 1984, 2003, 2013).

He is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship (1994), the Wolfgang-Hahn-Preis from the Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst at Museum Ludwig in Cologne (1995), the Roswitha Haftmann-Preis from the eponymous Zürich-based foundation (2015), and a honorary doctorate from the City University of New York (2013).

Weiner divides his time between his studio in New York City and his boat in Amsterdam. 


10421 - 20170305 - The work of British sculptor Richard Deacon on view at the Langen Foundation - Neuss - 04.09.2016-05.03.2017

Other Assembly, 2008. Glazed ceramic, 160 x 220 x 190 cm. Photo: Werner J. Hannappel.

The Langen Foundation is presenting the work of British sculptor Richard Deacon, one of the leading representatives of contemporary sculpture. The oeuvre of this Turner Prize recipient (1987), which spans more than four decades, is distinguished by dynamic abstract forms and an astounding variety of materials. The exhibition On The Other Side, developed in cooperation with the Kunstmuseum Winterthur, offers a comprehensive overview of Deacon’s artwork from the last decade. With around 45 sculptures made of wood, metal, and ceramics, the exhibition highlights Deacon’s multifaceted language of form and the experimental treatment of materials so characteristic of the artist’s work.

Since the 1980s, Richard Deacon has been utilising a wide variety of materials in making his sculptures, such as wood, stainless steel, clay, paper, and diverse kinds of plastic. Still today he always takes the respective qualities of a given material into account when arriving at his forms by exploring the possibilities – and limitations – presented by the material. For example, in the sculpture Orinoco (2007) he used steam to help bend wood in such a way that the rigid material appears flexible and flowing, or in his series of works called Assemblies (2008) he has built complex constructions out of ceramics. Deacon’s Infinities (2008) – reliefs of polished stainless steel – are composed of organically shaped elements, while his most recent ceramic sculptures, the Flats (2014), place emphasis on painterly glazing.

Deacon’s sculptures arise through the work process itself, leading to results that correlate with his exhibition title On The Other Side, thus eluding the predictable and the conventional. As such, the artist – who likes to call himself the “fabricator” – employs both artisan and industrial techniques, while also consulting with specialists for wood, metal, and ceramics. “I like working with other people,” says Deacon about his working method, which is distinguished by close, long-term cooperative relationships and an interest in dialogue and collaborative work. Considering the strong meaning that questions of collaboration currently hold in art discourse, Richards Deacon’s work makes a significant contribution in this respect as well.

Richard Deacon (b. 1949 in Bangor, Wales) lives and works in London. From 1969 to 1977 he studied at Saint Martin’s School of Art and the Royal College of Art in London. Important solo exhibitions include: Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Winterthur (2015); Tate Britain, London (2014); Sprengel Museum, Hannover (2011); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2008); PS1, New York (2001); MACCSI, Caracas (1996); Museum Haus Lange and Haus Esters, Krefeld (1991); Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (1989); MoCA, Los Angeles (1988); and Tate Gallery, London (1985). Deacon exhibited at the Skulptur Projekte Münster in 1987 and 1997 and at documenta 9 in 1992; he represented Wales at the Venice Biennale in 2007. From 2009 to 2016 Deacon was a professor at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf.

A German/English catalogue published by Richter Verlag will accompany the exhibition, featuring texts by Dieter Schwarz and Jon Wood and an interview with Richard Deacon by Christiane Maria Schneider



10420 - 20170226 - Exhibition explores "Edgar Degas and Auguste Rodin: The Race of the Giants towards the Modern" - Wuppertal - 25.10.2016-26.02.2017


Auguste Rodin, Tanzstudie I um 1911, 1965. (Gussdatum). Bronze, Sandguss, 15,3 x 24 x 8,3 cm. Musée Rodin, Paris.
They knew and respected each other. They envied and admired each other. Their works embodied gracefulness and movement, body, space and time. They were fascinated by horses, women, and photography. They were outsiders and rebels – and they were geniuses. In a race to the Modern Edgar Degas and Auguste Rodin abandoned rules and norms and forged groundbreaking paths. At first they were mocked, but in the end they were venerated. They passed away in the same year (1917) within a couple of months of one another. The Modern would be unthinkable without them.

Never before have the works of Degas and Rodin been juxtaposed so comprehensively, in such confrontation with one another, and discussed so extensively as here. After Renoir, Monet, Sisley, and Pissarro the Von der Heydt-Museum Wuppertal now presents – for the first time – these two giants of Impressionism in a race towards a new art.

Edgar Degas and August Rodin came from different backgrounds: Degas (b. 1834) was from an aristocratic family; Rodin’s beginnings were more humble. At first glance there may not seem to be many commonalities between the two, other than the fact that they both died highly respected and esteemed in the same year. These giants seem to stand side by side, monolithic and unrelated to each other. Nonetheless, they encountered each other in the Parisian art scene of the late 19th century, engaged with each other, and each compared his works with those of the other. The exhibition at the Von der Heydt-Museum seeks out structural comparability, the congruities in the work of both greats, and what animated both of them and made them into the eminent protagonists of modernism.

Degas was primarily a painter and graphic artist and his sculptures were produced largely “on the side,” whereas Rodin worked first and foremost as a sculptor, and his experiments in painting, his drawings and wonderful watercolors are mostly perceived as peripheral to his rich artistic oeuvre. The inevitable result of this is a certain asymmetry in the exhibition – and yet one is struck by certain similarities and ideational continuity.

Both artists were afflicted with eye conditions, which led them both to similar ways of working. Both occupied themselves intensively with the theme of movement, and since it could not be permanently “suspended,” they drew on visual memory. Degas commented: “It is good to copy that which one has seen, but better still, to draw that which has been seen from memory.” And Rodin studied under Henri Lecoq de Boisbaudran according to the method “drawing from memory.” As a result, their models no longer needed to stand still and could move freely about the studio; what counted were their natural movements, which both artists attempted to capture. In this way they created impressionistic sculpture to complement the painting of light.


10419 - 20170305 - Largest exhibition of Paul Nash's work for a generation opens at Tate Britain - London - 30.10.2016-05.03.2017


Paul Nash (1889–1946), Moon Aviary, c.1937. Cedarwood, ivory, stone and bone. Courtesy Ernest, Brown & Phillips Ltd. © Tate Photography
This autumn Tate Britain presents Paul Nash, the largest exhibition of the artist’s work for a generation. Paul Nash is one of the most distinctive and important British artists of the 20th century. Renowned as a war artist in both the First and Second World Wars, the exhibition further reveals Nash’s work from his earliest drawings through to his final visionary landscapes. Nash was fascinated with Britain’s ancient past and spent time in southern England exploring the downs and coastal areas. The exhibition looks at how these landscapes influenced his work and provided a stage for his engagements with international modern art movements such as surrealism.

The most evocative landscape painter of his generation, the exhibition covers all the significant developments of Nash’s career, opening with his early Symbolist watercolours exploring the mystic life-force of trees, and the powerful shattered landscapes of the First World War. Nash became an Official War Artist in 1917, expressing the waste of life through the violation of nature. He created some of the most iconic images of the First World War such as We Are Making a New World 1918.

On his return, Nash’s landscape paintings focused on places of particular significance to him including Dymchurch where a series of works such as The Shore 1923 reflected on his war experience and evoked the bleak beauty of the Kent coast. In the 1930s Nash drew on surrealist ideas to interpret the British landscape in a way that made connections between modernism and tradition. He explored the idea of a life force in inanimate objects from monoliths and trees to stones and bones. These ideas were realised through the juxtaposition of found objects with landscape to create mysterious encounters, in paintings such as Event on the Downs 1934 and Equivalents for the Megaliths 1935.

Photography became an important part of Nash’s working practice in the 1930s, combined with natural objects in assemblages such as Only Egg 1936-7. This way of working was similar to that of Eileen Agar with whom Nash worked closely during this period and the two artists’ work is being shown together in the exhibition. In the late 1930s Nash’s landscape paintings increasingly explored the boundary between dream and reality such as Landscape from a Dream 1936-8. At the end of his life the Wittenham Clumps in Oxfordshire stimulated a series of visionary landscapes inspired by the seasonal cycles of the equinox and the phases of the moon including Landscape of the Vernal Equinox 1943.

The exhibition is the first to examine Nash’s position at the centre of developments in British modernism and his dialogues with international artists as one of the leading figures in British surrealism. It shows his contributions to major exhibitions of the 1930s, such as the International Surrealist Exhibition of 1936 and the Unit One exhibition which toured across the UK in 1934-5. Nash was a founder member of this British modernist group of painters, sculptors and architects which included John Armstrong, Barbara Hepworth, Tristram Hillier, Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore and Edward Wadsworth. The exhibition shows works by Nash alongside those of fellow Unit One members, exploring the debates about abstraction and surrealism in which Nash participated during this period. The exhibition examines how Nash’s work was both an imaginative response to the natural world and at the centre of developments in modern art in Britain.

Paul Nash is curated by Emma Chambers, Curator, Modern British Art and Inga Fraser, Assistant Curator, Modern British Art. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue and a special publication on Paul Nash’s photography from Tate Publishing.



10418 - 20170129 - First major exhibition of James Ensor's work to be held in the UK in 20 years at the Royal Academy of Arts - London - 29.10.2016-29.01.2017


James Ensor, The Intrigue, 1890. Oil on canvas, 90 x 149 cm. Antwerp, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten. Photo KMSKA © www.lukasweb.be - Art in Flanders vzw. Photography: Hugo Maertens / © DACS 2016.
The Royal Academy of Arts is presenting the first major exhibition of James Ensor’s (1860-1949) work to be held in the UK in twenty years. One of Belgium’s most prominent modernist artists, Ensor was widely considered to be an important precursor of Expressionism. Intrigue: James Ensor by Luc Tuymans brings together some 70 paintings, drawings and prints by the artist, the vast majority of which have been drawn from major Belgian collections. The exhibition has been curated by the renowned contemporary painter and one of Belgium’s foremost artists, Luc Tuymans, who brings a fresh perspective to the selection and presentation of Ensor’s work.

A highly skilled draughtsman and painter, Ensor had a deep appreciation of the poetic possibilities of light and a lifelong devotion to the inherent creativity of the mind. His eclectic visual language drew upon a wealth of subjects from the traditional to the fantastic, producing an extraordinary body of work that spanned poetic evocations of the Belgian countryside and coastline, to disturbing visions of imagined worlds. Ensor’s works have continued to baffle, intrigue and defy categorisation in equal measure, providing one of the most singular and distinctive bodies of work to be produced at the turn of the twentieth century.

Born in 1860 to an English father and a Belgian mother, Ensor was raised in the coastal town of Ostend, where his family ran a curio shop which he described as “an inextricable jumble of assorted objects constantly being knocked over by a number of cats, deafening parrots, and a monkey…”. It was this somewhat eccentric environment, as well as Ostend’s annual carnival and the archaeological excavations at the time, from which Ensor drew much of his later imagery such as masks, theatrical costumes and skulls. Referred to as “the painter of masks” by poet Émile Verhaeren in 1908, Ensor wrote: “The mask means to me: freshness of colour, extravagant decorations, wild generous gestures, strident expressions, exquisite turbulence.”

As a student at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, Ensor was an outsider who rebelled against traditional teachings and was drawn towards the avant-garde salons of artists and intellectuals at the time, an environment in which he flourished. Heartened by these encounters, Ensor returned to Ostend in 1880 where he remained for the rest of his life. In 1883 he co-founded the progressive artist group Les Vingt, yet even this once stridently avant-garde group proved too safe for Ensor who became increasingly isolated from the external world and remained committed, throughout a long and belatedly successful career, to his individual style.

Intrigue: James Ensor by Luc Tuymans includes a selection of significant paintings, drawings and prints by the artist which span the breadth of his entire career, some of which have never been exhibited in the UK. The exhibition features three of Ensor’s most important works: The Intrigue, 1890 (Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp), which depicts a newly-wed couple encircled by sinister masked figures, The Skate, 1892 (Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Brussels), a powerful, enigmatic still life and Self-portrait with Flowered Hat, 1883 (Mu.Zee, Ostend), a humorous reference to Peter Paul Rubens’ Portrait of Susanna Lunden (National Gallery, London) of 1622.

Ensor’s works are accompanied by a selection of Gilles de Binche carnival masks, two works on paper by Belgian Symbolist painter Léon Spilliaert and Guillaume Bijl’s 2002 black and white film James Ensor in Ostend. The exhibition also includes Gilles de Binche, 2004, by Luc Tuymans, whose ongoing concern with light in his practice is similar to that of Ensor. Tuymans’ curation of the exhibition engages with the sense of mystery, anonymity and mischievousness associated with masks.


10417 - 20170122 - Major exhibition of works by Alberto Giacometti and Bruce Nauman in Frankfurt - 22.10.2016-22.01.2017


GIACOMETTI-NAUMAN, exhibition view © Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, 2016, Photo: Norbert Miguletz
The Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt is presenting a major exhibition of works by Alberto Giacometti and Bruce Nauman from October 28, 2016 until January 22, 2017. The show brings together two artists from different generations with totally different backgrounds. Giacometti (1901–1966) is regarded as one of the most important classical modern European sculptors. Nauman (*1941) and his multifaceted oeuvre represent the radical upheavals in contemporary art since 1960 and a concept of sculpture liberated from traditional concepts. Featuring some 70 works in all, this is the first exhibition ever devoted to both, Giacometti and Nauman. Sculptures and paintings by the Swiss artist engage in a fascinating dialogue with videos, sculptures, drawings, photographs, and spatial installations by the US multimedia artist. Giacometti is represented by works from nearly all of his important creative phases, Nauman primarily by his early oeuvre from the 1960s and early 1970s, which followed immediately on the heels of Giacometti’s works. Although the two artists never met and never referred explicitly to each other, they have a great deal in common. Both revolutionized the concepts and traditions of sculpture from the perspective of their respective times—Giacometti during the first half of the twentieth century, and Nauman from the 1960s to the present. Both are regarded as individualists who worked consistently from a position of selfimposed isolation and loneliness that has left an indelible imprint on their uncompromising art. Both represent utterly radical artistic standpoints, and both have created works of shocking immediacy that pose lasting challenges for viewers. Giacometti and Nauman have ventured with their oeuvres into uncharted regions of art and perception. Their search for artistic truth is a quest, the outcome of which is often manifested in the creative process itself rather than in finished works. The two artists have elevated failure, the absurd, the fragmentary, and the unheroic to the status of essential elements of their art. The art of both Giacometti and Nauman revolves around the human being. Giacometti was concerned consistently and almost exclusively with the human figure in his sculptures and paintings, and he developed an original human image of his own with his unmistakable style of figuration, especially during the years after 1945. Bruce Nauman’s work during the 1960s and 1970s was focused above all on the human body (primarily his own), which he took as the point of departure for an investigation into fundamental questions about human nature and the conditions governing human existence. The exhibition enhances our grasp of the oeuvres of two outstanding representatives of the art of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Giacometti becomes recognizable as a pioneer who paved the way for important developments in art after the 1960s and regains certain aspects of his original radical artistic position, whereas Nauman’s outstanding importance as a sculptor is made clear and historically comprehensible in a different way. The exhibition at the Schirn presents works from leading museums and collections in the United States and Europe, including the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., the Tate in London, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti in Paris, the Fondation Marguerite et Aimé Maeght in Saint-Paul de Vence, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, the Fondation Beyeler in Basel/Riehen, the Lehmbruck Museum in Duisburg, the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, and the Hamburger Kunsthalle.

Dr. Philipp Demandt, Director of the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, on the presentation: “At first glance, this juxtaposition by all means seems rather bold—considering the different contexts from which Alberto Giacometti and Bruce Nauman come. Based on the works themselves, however, this encounter evolves into an unexpected and fascinating dialogue: Giacometti regains his original radicalism, and Nauman can be rediscovered as an outstanding sculptor. The exhibition at the Schirn is most of all a gain for visitors, because it opens up a completely fresh perspective on the thoroughly researched and frequently exhibited oeuvres of two outstanding exponents of modern and contemporary art.”

“Although sculpture plays a leading role in the oeuvres of both Giacometti and Nauman, the two artists have little in common in terms of media, materials, or ‘style.’ More closely related are the strategies they employ in the use of artistic resources, their tendency to reduce representation to the point of disappearance, and their constant striving to approach emptiness and nothingness— as well as the questions they raise within the context of their investigations into the relationship between the figure and surrounding space or of the body and its parts,” explains exhibition curator Esther Schlicht.

The thematically structured tour through the exhibition at the Schirn begins with the theme of Emptiness. Giacometti’s mysterious bronze figure, L’objet invisible (Mains tenant le vide) (1934/35), which holds an empty space in its hands, marks the artist’s break with Surrealism and points to his impending artistic “rebirth,” his renewed interest in nature studies, and his commitment to a phenomenological analysis of reality. Nauman’s installation entitled Lighted Center Piece (1967/68) can also be read as an “allegory of emptiness.” Four halogen spotlights mounted on an aluminum square cast light on an empty spot in the middle of the piece. Emptiness and absence and the question of the relationship between the visible and the invisible are constantly recurring leitmotifs in Nauman’s oeuvre, from his early years to the present.

This focus on the phenomenon of emptiness goes hand in hand with an interest in the relationship between figure and space. This theme is represented in the exhibition by Nauman’s Studio Films of the 1960s, for example, in which he combines ordinary movements and actions in performative acts in his empty studio. Nauman repeatedly explores a supposedly unknown space with his body in search of his own physical boundaries. These much-discussed film and video works appear as a radical complement to Giacometti’s sculptural achievements in terms of motion, spatial orientation, and the fundamental investigation of the figure and its preconditions he undertook beginning in the 1940s. That is represented, for example, by the new concept of motion as an explorative measurement of space, as illustrated in the sculptures Homme qui marche (1960) and Groupe de trois hommes I (1943/1949). Towards the end of the 1960s, Nauman began to expand the scope of his work with figure and space to include the viewer, or rather the viewer’s body. That is exemplified by his narrow, towering Corridors—most of which are oppressively narrow, accessible three-dimensional structures in which viewers’ customary perceptions of themselves and their surroundings are threateningly suspended. Giacometti’s slim male and female figures seem tailor-made for these corridors. The Schirn is presenting Nauman’s Corridor with Mirror and White Lights (1971), in which viewers can imagine themselves as ultra-thin Giacometti sculptures—even though they are denied access to the corridor.

The writer Samuel Beckett (1906–1989) is introduced as the missing link between Giacometti and Nauman in the section devoted to the Theater of the Absurd. Beckett was a close friend of Giacometti’s and a kindred spirit; and Beckett’s writings were an important source of inspiration for Nauman. In the exhibition, the Giacometti-Beckett-Nauman triangle is examined by way of example with reference to Quad I & II, the television dramas written by Samuel Beckett in 1981. Four masked figure are held captive in a precise choreography of constantly repeated dance steps on a theatrically illuminated square field. The scene evokes associations with Nauman’s Studio Films, but also with his Slow Angle Walk (Beckett Walk) (1968), with which he refers explicitly to the Irish author. Links between Beckett’s films and the multi-figure sculptures Giacometti realized beginning in the late 1940s are also identifiable. The purposeful wanderings of the figures in Beckett’s Quad I & II, their vain attempts to reach the center elevate failure to the status of an artistic principle—an attitude from which Nauman and Giacometti harvested much of their own potential as artists.

In the section devoted to Objects of Desire, the Schirn presents works from Giacometti’s Surrealist phase during the early 1930s. Two of these enigmatic objects are juxtaposed with Nauman’s Device for a Left Armpit (1967) and the “object study” on film entitled Bouncing Balls (1969)—both works that correspond closely to the Surrealist concept of the fragment. Giacometti’s Surrealist works also reflect an approach to the use of language that is similar to Nauman’s. In his titles, in particular, the Swiss sculptor made use of narrative techniques that would later play an important role in Nauman’s art. Nauman attributed his love of word play and ambiguous titles with multiple allusions directly to these early avant-garde artists

The oeuvres of both Giacometti and Nauman exhibit a strong tendency toward incompleteness and an emphasis on process. The Painting and Process section of the exhibition is devoted to this theme. Giacometti’s works from the postwar years have the look of sculptural “snapshots” of scenes from an ongoing process in which the traces of the creative activity are visible. Yet in his paintings in particular—figures in the studio and portraits—the progress of their creation, the never-ending process of painting and revising, is always evident, as in Tête de Diego (1961). Nauman affirmed his belief in the unfinished in his art on multiple occasions. Many of his works from the 1960s reveal their own process of creation. In the video entitled Flesh to White to Black to Flesh (1968), for example, he applied alternating layers of paint to his face and torso and presented himself as a painting, a model, and a constantly revised image.

Giacometti investigated pairs of opposites such as fullness and emptiness, closeness and distance, inside and outside in their sculptures, in which they are reversed and redefined. The human being is the Measure of Things for both artists. Giacometti’s miniature sculptures from the late 1930s and 1940s are evidence of his uncompromising abandonment of established concepts of sculpture, from the analogy between size and importance, the assumption of a found, supposedly “real” space, or the dimension of life-size as a fixed reference. Nauman’s early works also reflect his interest in size and scale as they apply to the human figure. He also questions the conventions of figurative sculpture, albeit in a very different way, as his very first neon work, the self-portrait entitled Neon Templates of the Left Half of My Body Taken at Ten-Inch Intervals (1966), demonstrates in striking fashion. Such categories as body and sculpture, presence and absence, fullness and emptiness are negated in this work. Although he refers to the traditional theory of proportions, his self-portrait shows no trace of volume, solidity, or object character. Nauman’s interest in measuring the body and in the body as an instrument used to measure space is clear evidence of the extent to which the human scale represents the point of departure for his art.

The last section of the exhibition is devoted to the theme of Body and Fragment and features works by Nauman in juxtaposition with Giacometti’s famous body fragments and last busts. For both artists, the attempt to deal with the fragmented body in art amounts to an investigation into the question of life and death. The body fragments Giacometti first produced in 1947—a solitary head frozen in death, a nose, a hand, and later a leg—visibly take up the thread of his earlier Surrealist works, in which both the principle of fragmentation and the motifs of violence and shock are firmly rooted. The fragment is omnipresent in Nauman’s oeuvre as well—as a motif and a formal element of style in films, photographs, drawings, sculpture, and installations. He also depicts the human body as a showplace of violence and pain in such works as the video entitled Thighing (Blue) (1967), in which he abuses his own thigh with both hands in a close-up view accompanied by groans, and Poke in the Eye/Nose/Ear 3/8/94 Edit (1994), in which he—inspired by earlier experiments—mercilessly pokes his extended index finger into his eye, nose, and ear, suggesting the violent destruction of the senses. In the late 1980s, Nauman began making wax casts from living models, thereby recalling the technique of producing casts and imprints of body parts he had employed in the 1960s. The men’s heads made of tinted, often vividly colored wax suspended on thin wires became a central motif in numerous sculptures and installations. A major highlight within the context of this work group, the Schirn is presenting the ensemble entitled Ten Heads Circle/In and Out of 1990, in which ten “severed” heads are hung in pairs in an empty room, and juxtaposes it with several of the last busts realized by Giacometti shortly before his death.