Archive for July, 2009

30
Jul
09

Review: ‘Jonh Brack’ retrospective at The National Gallery of Victoria, NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 24th April – 9th August, 2009

.

John Brack. 'The chase' 1959

.

John Brack
‘The chase’
1959

.

John Brack. 'Two Typists' 1955

.

John Brack
‘Two typists’
1955

.

John Brack. 'Collins St, 5p.m.' 1955

.

John Brack
‘Collins St, 5 p.m.’
1955

.

John Brack. 'The Bar' 1954

.

John Brack
‘The bar’
1954

.

John Brack. 'The conference' 1956

.

John Brack
‘The conference’
1956

.

John Brack. 'The block' 1954

.

John Brack
‘The block’
1954

.

John Brack. 'The fish shop' 1955

.

John Brack
‘The fish shop’
1955

.

.

“One either has a subject, or one has not.”

John Brack

.

This is a solid retrospective of the work of the Australian artist John Brack (1920 – 1999) presented by the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. John Brack is, quintessentially, an Australian and more specifically a Melbourne artist. Melbournians have a love hate relationship with his work – loving the earlier paintings that view the working classes of 1950s Melbourne through a nostalgic, humorous, sardonic lens (when originally the popularity of the work in the 1950s/60s was, as Robert Nelson has observed, mistakenly identified with ridicule of the subject matter)1 while finding the later work of massed pencils, postcards, deities and wooden people mystifying, cold and elusive.

Brack saw his paintings of suburbia as honest portrayals of the new milieux. His sparse, graphic style evidenced the emotionally distanced relationships between space and people in the new cityscapes and best suited his cerebral approach to the subject matter. Men become mannequins with skeletal faces that hover menacingly behind the barmaid in ‘The bar’ (1954, above), an amorphous mass of brown-suited humanity. Two women are portrayed in all their high-collared stiffness in the painting ‘Two typists’ (1955, above), their stylized faces, black hat and hair surmounted by hanging, disembodied legs at the top of the painting. These two women then reappear at bottom right in one of Brack’s most famous paintings, ‘Collins St, 5p.m.’ (1955, above) subsumed into the two lines of people wearily trudging home from a day’s work at the office.

Brack’s early paintings are full of stylized metaphor – for example the clinical emptiness of space, the implied threat of hanging ‘instruments’ in ‘The block’ (1954, above) or the decapitated bird-like alienation of the fish head in ‘The fish shop’ (1955, above) – offer comment on the nature of suburban life: ordered, dead, soulless surfaces, facades behind which life seethes. Brack recognizes the slightly macabre beauty of these industrial spaces, their form and purpose, where no one had recognized them before. There are oversized teeth (‘The veil’, 1952), large hands, the fleshy pink of faces (‘The barbers shop’, 1952) and the tribal mask of a face in ‘Man in pub’ (1953) where man becomes fragment. Above all there is a simplicity and eloquence in line and form grounded in a limited palette of ochres, yellows, greys, blacks, whites and browns. These are the colours of the early cave painters and it’s poignant that Brack uses them so effectively to anchor his subject matter both in history, memory and the present of contemporary life, a life we still recognize intimately over fifty years later.

Here is the ‘Human Condition’ writ large (with capitals!), the humility of professions such as butchers, seamstresses, typists and barmaids (with their limited control of the environment) portraying the body of the worker, as in Satre’s ‘Nothingness’,2 living the tedium of suburban life whilst wanting to flee the anguish of this existence into the desirable light of the future toward which man projects himself. This a theme that Brack develops in the later paintings with their stilted, cerebral investigation of existentialism. These paintings offer a more general contribution to a view of the human condition – love and hate, we, us, them, pros and cons – a view originally grounded in the suburbs of Melbourne but elevated to the ethereal, paintings that seem to lack material substance but offer a hyper-refined conceptual aesthetic.

.

Sticks and Stones Will Break My Bones But Pencils Will Never Hurt Me

As early as ‘Knives and forks’ (1958) and ‘The playground’ (1959) we can observe the beginnings of the spaces of his later pencil paintings with their uniting of form, line and plane (think the planes of Cezanne). The later work is literally much colder, the palette now blues instead of the warmer ochres and yellows and this change is very obvious when you walk around the exhibition. There is an emotional distance here – from human contact and the warmth of company. As Ronald Miller observed in 1970 Brack’s work is about the rituals of life, about states of uneasy poise and vulnerability, about realities behind facades but in the later work the paintings become the facades: gone are the ambiguities and vulnerabilities to be replaced by an altogether different ‘order’ of existence.

We see in paintings such as ‘Souvenirs’ (1976), ‘We, Us, Them’ (1983), ‘The pros and cons’ (1985) and ‘Watching the flowers’ (1990-91 – see all below) how the canvas has become a stage set replete with turned up edges, spaces of ritual performance containing generalized metaphors for the nature of human existence, metaphors with universal themes. In his investigation of the universal Brack looses sight of the personal. His towers made of playing cards, his thrusting planes, the military precision of his opposing armies of goose-steeping pencils lack empathy for the thing that he was searching to be attuned with: the nature of existence, the human condition.

As Satre has observed,

“To apprehend myself as seen is, in fact, to apprehend myself as seen in the world and from the standpoint of the world. The look does not carve me out in the universe; it comes to search for me at the heart of my situation and grasps me only in irresolvable relations with instruments. If I am seen as seated, I must be seen as “seated-on-a-chair,” … But suddenly the alienation of myself, which is the act of being-looked-at, involves the alienation of the world which I organize. I am seated on this chair with the result that I do not see it at all, that it is impossible for me to see it …”3

.
This is the point that John Brack reached: through his desire to paint universal themes he was unable to visualize and apprehend himself as seen in the world from the standpoint of the world. It feels (yes feeling!) that he was alienated from the very thing he sought to portray – how the personal and the universal are one and the same.

.

Brack’s ‘failure’ as an artist (if indeed it be called that) is not, as Robert Nelson has suggested, “because he didn’t talk enough or wisely enough to negotiate his way out of a misunderstanding” (that his work was sardonic). On the contrary I believe his ‘success’ as an artist is that he painted exactly what he wanted to paint in the time and place that he wanted to paint it. His later work might strike some as cold and impenetrable but if one looks clearly, with a steady eye, there still beats a heart under that chill exterior, a heart grounded in the life of suburban Melbourne. In the end Brack returns to the beginning, still exploring, still searching.

.
As T.S. Eliot wrote in one of The Four Quartets,4

“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.”

.

Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

.

John Brack. 'The new house' 1953

.

John Brack
‘The new house’
1953

.

John Brack. 'Self-portrait' 1955

.

John Brack
‘Self-portrait’
1955

.

John Brack. 'The unmade road' 1954

.

John Brack
‘The unmade road’
1954

.

John Brack. 'Nude in an armchair' 1957

.

John Brack
‘Nude in an armchair’
1957

.

.

“What I paint most is what interests me most, that is, people; the Human Condition, in particular the effect on appearance of environment and behaviour… A large part of the motive is the desire to understand, and if possible, to illuminate …”

John Reed, New Painting 1952-62, Longmans, Melbourne, 1963, p. 19.

.

Opening 24 April, the National Gallery of Victoria will present a major retrospective of the work of John Brack, the first in more than twenty years. This exhibition will survey John Brack’s complete career, incorporating over 150 works from all of his major series. John Brack will bring together a significant body of the artist’s paintings and works on paper, including pictures that have developed ‘icon status’ and others that have rarely, if ever, been seen publicly since they were first exhibited.

Kirsty Grant, Senior Curator Australian Art, NGV said that more than any other artist of his generation, John Brack was a painter of modern Australian life.

“John Brack painted images which explored the social rituals and realities of everyday life. Long considered the quintessential Melbourne artist, Brack’s images of urban and suburban Melbourne painted during the 1950s drew attention for their novelty of subject and instantly recognisable references. His work is much broader however and in this exhibition we will see the continuity throughout his career of his fundamental interest in people, human nature and the human condition,” said Ms Grant.

Frances Lindsay, NGV Deputy Director said John Brack was widely considered one of Australia’s greatest twentieth century artists.

“The NGV has enjoyed a long association with John Brack: he worked as an assistant frame maker at the gallery in 1949, became head of the National Gallery School in 1962, and the NGV was also the first public institution to purchase one of his works. Brack’s iconic works are certainly the highlight for many visitors to the Gallery. We are thrilled to be continuing this special relationship by presenting this important and timely retrospective.”

.

The exhibition will be displayed chronologically, beginning with some rare early student works. Each phase of Brack’s practice will be explored, from his well-known urban scenes of the 1950s to the highly symbolic paintings from the 1970s. Many of Brack’s most familiar paintings are included in the exhibition such as ‘Collins St, 5p.m’, ‘The bar’ and ‘The Old Time’.

Brack produced compelling pictures which captured the essential characteristics of his subjects involved in everyday activities and, in some of his most engaging series, he depicted the characters of the racecourse, children at school and professional ballroom dancers. Throughout his career Brack also painted the nude, still life subjects and portraits, both of family and friends – including artists Fred Williams and John Perceval – as well as commissioned subjects, such as Barry Humphries as his alter-ego Edna Everage. During the 1970s Brack replaced the human figure with an assortment of everyday implements including cutlery, pens and pencils which he used as metaphors for the complexities of human behaviour and relationships.”

Press release from the NGV website

.

John Brack. 'Inside and outside (The shop window)' 1972

.

John Brack
‘Inside and outside (The shop window)’
1972

.

John Brack. 'Latin American Grand Final' 1969

.

John Brack
‘Latin American Grand Final’
1969

.

John Brack. 'Portrait of Fred Williams' 1979–80

.

John Brack
‘Portrait of Fred Williams’
1979–80

.

John Brack. 'The pros and cons' 1985

.

John Brack
‘The pros and cons’
1985

.

John Brack. 'We, Us, Them' 1983

.

John Brack
‘We, Us, Them’
1983

.

John Brack. 'Souvenirs' 1976

.

John Brack
‘Souvenirs’
1976

.

John Brack. 'Watching the flowers' 1990–91

.

John Brack
‘Watching the flowers’
1990–91

.

.

1. Nelson, Robert. The Age Newspaper. Melbourne, Friday 24th April, 2009.

2. “We learn that Nothingness is revealed to us most fully in anguish and that man generally tries to flee this anguish, this Nothingness which he is, by means of “bad faith.” The study of “bad faith” reveals to us that whereas Being-in-itself simply is, man is the being “who is what he is not and who is not what he is.” In other words man continually makes himself. Instead of being, he “has to be”; his present being has meaning only in the light of the future toward which he projects himself. Thus he is not what at any instant we might want to say he is, and he is that towards which he projects himself but which he is not yet.”

Barnes, Hazel. Introduction to Jean-Paul Satre’s Being and Nothingness. London: Methuen, 1966, pp.xvii-xix.

3. Satre, Jean-Paul. Being and Nothingness. (trans. Hazel Barnes). London: Methuen, 1966, p.263.

4. Eliot, T.S. “Little Gidding” from ‘The Four Quartets’ (1942)

.

The Ian Potter Centre:
NGV Australia
Federation Square
Corner of Russell and 
Flinders Streets, Melbourne.

John Brack is open daily 
10am–5pm and until 9pm Thursdays

National Gallery of Victoria website

Bookmark and Share

26
Jul
09

Exhibition: ‘Beuys is Here; Sculpture Object Action Revolution’ at De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea, England

Exhibition dates: 4th July – 27th September, 2009

.

For my friend Fred who so likes Joseph Beuy’s work.
All photographs are of work in the exhibition.

.

Joseph Beuys. 'Untitled (Sun State)' 1974

.

Joseph Beuys
‘Untitled (Sun State)’
1974

.

Joseph Beuys. 'I like America and America likes me' installation 1974

.

Joseph Beuys
‘I like America and America likes me’ installation
1974

.

Joseph Beuys. 'Poster, N070815SE_118_098 - Overcome Party Dictatorship Now' nd

.

Joseph Beuys
‘Poster, N070815SE_118_098 – Overcome Party Dictatorship Now’
nd

.

.

“German artist Joseph Beuys (1921–86) is widely recognised as one of the most influential and extraordinary artists of the twentieth century.
Artist, educator, political and social activist, Beuys’s philosophy  proposed the healing power and social function of art, in which everyone can participate and benefit. The works in this exhibition provide an opportunity to experience this expanded concept of art as he understood it. Collectively, the exhibition presents the ‘constellation of ideas’ central to Beuys’s practice, revealing his ideas on zoology, ecology, homeopathy, economics, politics, social activism, teaching and learning. Beuys incorporated into his work various materials such as felt, fat and metal, selected because of their inherent properties such as insulation, conduction and protection which all have associations with Beuys’s ideas.

The exhibition is largely selected from the ARTIST ROOMS collection and brings together well-known sculptures, drawings, vitrines and a remarkable selection of posters recalling live actions and events. Works include ‘Fat Chair’ (1964–85) and, in Gallery 2, a single major work ‘Scala Napoletana’ (1985) is shown for the first time in the UK. In addition nearly twenty notable multiples are included within the exhibition selected from National Galleries of Scotland. The multiple was a form of communication for Beuys – a means by which he could share and distribute his ideas beyond the confines of the artworld.”

Text from the De La Warr Pavilion website

.

Joseph Beuys. 'Fettstuhl (Fat Chair)' 1964 - 85

.

Joseph Beuys
‘Fettstuhl (Fat Chair)’
1964 – 85

.

Joseph Beuys. 'Entwurf für ein Filzenvironment [Model for a Felt Environment]' 1964

.

Joseph Beuys
‘Entwurf für ein Filzenvironment (Model for a Felt Environment)’
1964

.

The neat rolls of grey felt on painted wood inside this vitrine are intended as a model for an ‘environment’. Felt insulates and absorbs, representing protection but also a sense of constriction, like being suffocated. The same type of felt rolls are seen in the ‘environment’ ‘Plight’ (1958/1985), now in the Pompidou Centre, in which the walls and ceiling are covered with felt to create a stifling atmosphere. Beuys used felt in an infamous ‘action’ performed the same year this model was made. ‘The Chief’ saw the artist being wrapped in a felt blanket, fighting claustrophobia to lie practically still, as if in a coffin, for a nine-hour period.

.

Joseph Beuys. 'Fettecke (Prozess) [Fat Corner (Process)]' 1968

.

Joseph Beuys
‘Fettecke (Prozess) (Fat Corner (Process))’
1968

.

Looking inside the two boxes in this vitrine, we can see that in one, the fat has been neatly shaped into the corner to make a wedge. In the other, the shape of the fat has a disturbing biological look to it, like inner organs which have been unceremoniously dumped in a heap. Beuys used triangles of fat in both his sculptures and ‘actions’. From around 1963, he would use wedges of fat or felt to mark the boundaries of a space when performing an ‘action’.

.

Joseph Beuys. 'Langhaus (Vitrine)' 1953 - 1962

.

Joseph Beuys
‘Langhaus (Vitrine)’
1953 – 1962

.

‘Langhaus’ can be variously translated as ‘nave’ such as one finds in a church, or ‘longhouse’, such as the dwelling house for one or several families found in early north European regions or, still today, in tribal communities in the Amazon region or the South Seas. The block of wood has a small piece of felt attached to the top, suggesting, according to Beuys’s usual iconography, the idea of protection, a connotation strengthened by the length of felt also lying in the vitrine. The walking stick lying alongside the felt is a traditional Beuysian symbol for leadership and protection, much as a shepherd looks after his flock.

.

.

“Beuys is recognised as one of the most influential artists of the late twentieth century. Adopting the roles of political and social activist and educator, his philosophy proposed the healing power and social function of art for all.

From the 1950s onwards, many of his works are made from a distinctive group of materials, in particular felt, fat and copper. These were chosen for their insulating, conductive, protective, transmitting and transforming properties. Animals of all kinds appear in his work, but he was particularly drawn to stags, bees and hares. A childhood interest in the natural sciences remained with him throughout his life, fuelling a desire to explore themes and experiment with the properties of materials.

Beuys produced a vast body of work that includes performance, drawing, print-making, sculpture and installation. His complex, interlocking themes cover science, myth, history, medicine and energy. Beuys’ own image and life story is inextricably linked to his work through his persona of the Shaman, shepherd or stag-leader.

This group of works covers forty years of Beuys’s career. Included are nature-based drawings of the 1950s, images and scores recording 1960s ‘actions’ and later installations, in addition to sculptures and vitrines. The collection brings together drawings with sculpture from the 1960s like the iconic ‘Fat Chair’, and images relating to Actions and installations like ‘Coyote’ and ‘Show Your Wound’. It culminates with the sculpture ‘Scala Napoletana’ which was made only a few months before the artist’s death, and relates to the theme of communication with the beyond.”

Text from the National Galleries of Scotland website

.

Joseph Beuys with 'Rose for Direct Democracy' 1973

.

Joseph Beuys with ‘Rose for Direct Democracy’
1973

.

Joseph Beuys. 'Pregnant Woman with Swan' 1959

.

Joseph Beuys
‘Schwangere und Schwan (Pregnant Woman with Swan)’
1959

.

The tiny swan in this painting looks as if it is swimming serenely inside the woman, replacing the foetus inside her pregnant body. The drawing combines male and female elements, with the phallic nature of the swan’s neck. Beuys had been fascinated with swans since childhood. A sculpture of a large golden swan sat on top of the tower of Schwanenburg castle (Swan Castle) in his home town of Cleves, and was visible from his bedroom window while he was growing up. With his interest in language, the artist would also have delighted in the similarity between the German words for pregnant woman (Schwangere) and swan (Schwan).

.

Joseph Beuys. 'Felt Suit' 1970

.

Joseph Beuys
‘Felt Suit’
1970

.

Beuys began producing works in multiples in the 1960s, partly as a way to combat the elitism of the art world. This is probably his most famous multiple. It has its origins in the performance ‘Action the Dead Mouse/Isolation Unit’ of 1970, where Beuys wore a felt suit with lengthened arms and legs, like the one seen here. He described the suit as an extension of the sculptures he made with felt, where the material’s insulating properties were integral to the meaning of the work. Beuys intended this concept of warmth to extend beyond the material to encompass what he described as ‘spiritual warmth or the beginning of an evolution’.

.

Joseph Beuys. 'Stark beleuchteter Hirschstuhl (Brightly-Lit Stag Chair)' 1957-1971

.

Joseph Beuys
‘Stark beleuchteter Hirschstuhl (Brightly-Lit Stag Chair)’
1957-1971

.

Although Beuys began this collage in 1957, it was not finished until 1971. The chair is similar to the subject of the artist’s 1972 sculpture ‘Backrest for a fine-limbed person (Hare-type) of the 20th Century A.D’. This is a cast iron impression of a child’s plaster corset, made as a multiple. However, the striding feet of the chair in this collage give it a human aspect, making it seem almost confident and self-possessed. The curved back of the chair is echoed in the lightbulb shape at the top of the image. The stag, in Beuys’s bestiary, guided the soul in its journey to the afterlife.

.

Joseph Beuys. 'Passage der Zukunftplanetoiden (Hearts of the Revolutionaries: Passage of the Planets of the Future)' 1955

.

Joseph Beuys
‘Passage der Zukunftplanetoiden (Hearts of the Revolutionaries: Passage of the Planets of the Future)’
1955

.

The choice of red for this painting would seem like an obvious one, reflecting both the heart and the virtues of honour and courage of the revolutionary in the title of the piece. Red also represents socialism, a belief of Beuys which became central to his later work. However, the colour red is used sparingly and symbolically in the artist’s work, and here it makes a bold statement on life, vitality and the future. The inclusion of the round shape to represent a planet brings an astronomical element into the work.

.

Joseph Beuys. 'Scala Napoletana' 1985

.

Joseph Beuys
‘Scala Napoletana’
1985

.

Much of the work Beuys made in his last few years includes objects or themes which suggest death. This sculpture was originally inspired by a ladder the artist found while recovering from illness on the island of Capri in Autumn 1985, which he hung with two stones. When he visited Amalfi at Christmas in the same year, he purchased a ladder (‘Scala Libera’) from a landlord which he used to make this sculpture. Held in suspension, it appears as if the pair of lead weights are preventing this heavy wooden ladder from soaring into the air. This is one of the last sculptures Beuys made. He died in January 1986.

.

Jospeph Beuys. 'Sled' 1969

.

Jospeph Beuys
‘Sled’
1969

.

The materials used in the making of this work relate to Beuys’s experience of being rescued by nomadic Tartars when his plane was shot down during the Second World War. Fat was rubbed into his body and he was wrapped in felt to keep him warm. The sled looks as if it has been prepared for an expedition or in response to an emergency, with a survival kit strapped to it. The flashlight represents the sense of orientation, the felt is protective, and the fat is for food.

.

Joseph Beuys. 'Ohne Titel (Untitled)' 1970

.

Joseph Beuys
‘Ohne Titel (Untitled)’
1970

.

Wearing his unmistakeable felt trilby hat, with his fishing vest poking through a luxuriant fur-lined jacket, this large image (over two metres square) shows Beuys at his most iconic. The clothes he wears here were part of his artist’s ‘uniform’, chosen for comfort and practicality (the multi-pocketed vest was particularly useful) but also as a way to create his image. Fittingly, he is depicted with one of his most distinctive sculptures. In the foreground is ‘The Pack’ (1969), a group of twenty-four sledges. Each one has its own survival kit including fat for sustenance, felt for warmth and a torch for navigation, making the artist’s signature materials part of this image too.

.

.

Text under images from the National Galleries of Scotland website

.

De La Warr Pavilion
Bexhill-on-Sea,
East Sussex, TN40 1DP

Opening hours: 10am to 5pm, seven days a week

De La Warr Pavilion website

Bookmark and Share

24
Jul
09

Exhibition: ‘Focus on Color: The Photography of Jeannette Klute’ at the Bruce Museum, Greenwich, Conneticut

Exhibition dates: 21st June – 27th September, 2009

.

Many thankx to the Bruce Museum and Mike Horyczun (Director of Public Relations) for allowing me to publish the wonderful photographs below.

.

Jeannette Klute. 'Christmas Fern' nd

.

Jeannette Klute (b. 1918)
‘Christmas Fern’
Dye transfer photograph, 12 ½ x 9 ½ in.
Bruce Museum collection,Gift of George Thomsen

.

Jeannette Klute. 'Jack in the Pulpit' nd

.

Jeannette Klute (b. 1918)
‘Jack in the Pulpit’ (Arisaema triphyllum)
Dye transfer photograph, 20 ¼ x 16 ¼ in.
Bruce Museum collection, Gift of George and Alexandra Stephanopoulos

.

Jeannette Klute. 'Green Grasses' nd

.

Jeannette Klute (b. 1918)
‘Green Grasses – blue’
Dye transfer photograph, 20 ¼ x 16 ¼ in.
Bruce Museum collection, Gift of Richard and Elena Pollack

.

.

“The exhibition features 24 color photographs by Jeannette Klute (b.1918) drawn from more than fifty of her prints held in the Bruce Museum’s permanent collection. Ranging from landscapes to intimate “woodland portraits” of orchids, ferns, and trees, Jeannette Klute’s photographs of New England are vibrant compositions produced through the labor intensive dye transfer process.

Trained at the Rochester Institute of Technology through the Works Progress Administration during the Depression, Jeanette Klute worked extensively on perfecting the dye transfer process, a laborious photographic technique that allowed for rich colors in exceptionally permanent prints. Klute tested and refined this process at the Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, NY, beginning her career as photographic illustrator to physicist Ralph M. Evans and ascending to research photographer in charge of the Visual Research Studio of the Color Control Division.

Klute’s photography merged environmental consciousness with cutting edge technology. Using only natural light and leaving a minimal impact on the environment, she spent many years investigating color and demonstrating the capabilities of dye transfer by photographing nature. Her work resulted in some of the finest examples of color printing and all of its capabilities.

“My purpose has been to somehow express the feeling one experiences being out of doors,” Ms. Klute wrote for her Woodland Portraits exhibition. “I am concerned with the delight to the senses as much as with the intellectual. The woods are mystical and enchanting to me as well as spiritual.”

Jeanette Klute’s work was featured in Edward Steichen’s 1950 exhibition All Color Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, and her large one-woman shows were circulated internationally by the Smithsonian Institution and Kodak International. She was also invited to submit work for the San Francisco Museum of Art’s landmark exhibition Women of Photography: An Historical Survey in 1975.”

Text from the Bruce Museum website

.

Jeannette Klute. 'Maple Tree' nd

.

Jeannette Klute (b. 1918)
‘Maple Tree – red leaves’
Dye transfer photograph, 20 ¼ x 16 ¼ in.
Bruce Museum collection, Gift of LeGrand Belnap

.

Jeannette Klute. 'Frosted Tree' nd

.

Jeannette Klute (b. 1918)
‘Frosted Tree’
Dye transfer photograph, 20 ¼ x 16 ¼ in.
Bruce Museum collection, Gift of Richard and Elena Pollack

.

Jeannette Klute. 'Yellow Lady's Slipper' nd

.

Jeannette Klute (b. 1918)
‘Yellow Lady’s Slipper’
Dye transfer photograph, 20 ¼ x 16 ¼ in.
Bruce Museum collection, Gift of LeGrand Belnap

.

Jeannette Klute. 'Grape Leaves' nd

.

Jeannette Klute (b. 1918)
‘Grape Leaves’
Dye transfer photograph, 20 ¼ x 16 ¼ in.
Bruce Museum collection, Gift of George Stephanopoulos
George and Alexandra Stephanopoulos

.

.

Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT 06830

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Saturday 10 am – 5 pm
Sunday 1 pm – 5 pm
Last admission 4:30pm
Closed Monday and major holidays

Bruce Museum website

Bookmark and Share

20
Jul
09

Review: ‘Tacita Dean’ at Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA), Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 6th June – 2nd August, 2009

.

Photographs from the exhibition are in the chronological order that they appear.

.

Tacita Dean. 'Grobsteingrab (floating)' 2009

.

Tacita Dean
‘Grobsteingrab (floating)’
2009

.

Tacita Deam. 'T & I' (Tristan & Isolde) 2006

.

Tacita Dean
‘T & I’ (Tristan & Isolde)
2006

.

Tacita Dean. 'Banewl' 1999

.

Tacita Dean
‘Totality’
16mm colour film
2000

.

.

“The subjects are connected to the medium I use. It’s all about light and time and phenomena to some extent, like a rainbow or a gust of wind or even an eclipse or a green ray, things like that. And this is the language of light. It’s not the language of binary pixels.”

Tacita Dean1

.

“The value of her [Dean’s] work, writes Winterson, is one of the virtues of art itself: it is an intervention into the rush of everyday life, holding up time and space for contemplation.”

Jeanette Winterson2

.

old 16mm projector

.

16mm film projector used by Tacita Dean to project ‘Merce Cunningham Performs ‘Stillness’

.

Tacita Dean. ‘Merce Cunningham Performs ‘Stillness’ (in three movements) to John Cage’s composition 4’33” with Trevor Carlson, New York City, 28 April 2007 (six performances; six films)’ 2007

.

Tacita Dean. ‘Merce Cunningham Performs ‘Stillness’ (in three movements) to John Cage’s composition 4’33” with Trevor Carlson, New York City, 28 April 2007 (six performances; six films)’ 2007

.

Tacita Dean. ‘Merce Cunningham Performs ‘Stillness’ (in three movements) to John Cage’s composition 4’33” with Trevor Carlson, New York City, 28 April 2007 (six performances; six films)’ 2007

.

Tacita Dean. ‘Merce Cunningham Performs ‘Stillness’ (in three movements) to John Cage’s composition 4’33” with Trevor Carlson, New York City, 28 April 2007 (six performances; six films)’ 2007

.

Tacita Dean
‘Merce Cunningham Performs ‘Stillness’ (in three movements) to John Cage’s composition 4’33” with Trevor Carlson, New York City, 28 April 2007 (six performances; six films)’
2007

.

.

This is a dense, ‘thick’ exhibition by Tacita Dean at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA), Melbourne that rewards repeat viewing. The theatricality of each work and the theatricality of the journey through ACCA’s dimmed galleries (an excellent installation of the work!) makes for an engrossing exhibition as Dean explores the minutiae of memory and the significance of insignificant events: a contemplation on the space, time and materiality of the everyday.

The exhibition starts with 3 very large floating rocks (‘Grobsteingrab (floating)’, ‘Hunengrab (floating)’ and ‘Riesenbelt (floating)’ all 2009) printed on multiple pieces of photographic paper, the surrounds of the rocks painted out with matt black blackboard paint (see image at top of this posting). The rocks look like mountain massif and are printed at different levels to each other; they move up and down, earthed in the sense that the viewer feels their heavy weight but also buoyant in their surface shininess, seeming to float into the void. The textuality of the rocks is incredible, the suspension of the rocks fragmented by the fact that they are printed on multiple pieces of photographic paper, the edges of the paper curling up to dislocate the unity of form.

Opposite is the large multi-panelled ‘T + I (Tristan + Isolde)’, a tour de force of Romantic landscape meets mythological journey (see image second from top). Sunshine searing through cloud lights the 25 Turneresque black and white gravure panels that feature an inlet, fjord and ravine. Semi-legible words dot the landscape, reflecting on the legendary story: ‘undergrowth’, ‘dispute’, ‘brightening up’, ‘BLIND FOLLY’ and ‘the union involved in a manifestation(?)’ for example. Each panel is beautifully rendered and a joy to behold – my friend and I stood transfixed, examining each panel in minute detail, trying to work out the significance and relation between the writing and image. As with most of the work in the exhibition the piece engages the viewer in a dialogue between reality, story and memory, between light, space, time and phenomena.

After the small rear projected film ‘Totality’ (2000) that shows the extraordinary event of a total eclipse of the sun by the moon for a period of two minutes and six seconds the viewer takes a short darkened passage to experience the major installation in the exhibition ‘Merce Cunningham Performs ‘Stillness’ (in three movements) to John Cage’s composition 4’33” with Trevor Carlson, New York City, 28 April 2007 (six performances; six films)’ 2007 (see images above).
The first thing you see is one image projected onto a small suspended screen, the rest of the installation blocked by a short gallery wall to the right. The dancer Merce Cunningham sits in studious calm and observes us. This in itself is magical but as we round the corner other screens of different sizes and heights come into view, all portraying Cunningham’s dance studio and him sitting in it from different angles, heights and distances (including close-ups of Cunningham himself). In the six screen projection the performances of Cunningham are sometimes in synch, sometimes not. The director Trevor Carlson, holding a stop watch, times the 3 movements of Cage’s musical piece 4’33” and directs Cunningham to change position at the end of every movement; his hands move, he crosses his legs and the performance continues.
The work is projected into the sculptural space using old 16mm film projectors and their sound mixes with the studied silence of the Cage work and white noise. The mirrors in the studio make spaces of infinite recess, showing us the director with the stop watch, the windows, the floor, the markings of the dancers hands on the mirrror’s surface adding another echo of past presences. As a viewer their seems to be an ‘openness’ around as you are pulled into a spatial and sound vortex, a phenomena that transcends normal spatio-temporal dimensionality. As people pass through the installation their shadows fall on the screens and become part of the work adding to the multi-layered feeling of the work. This is sensational stuff – you feel that you transcend reality itself as you observe and become immersed within this amazing work – almost as though space and time had split apart at the seams and you are left hanging, suspended in mid-air.

.

Tacita Dean. 'Darmstädter Werkblock [Still]' 2007

.

Tacita Dean
‘Darmstädter Werkblock [Still]’
16mm colour film, optical sound
18 minutes, continuous loop
2007

.

Tacita Dean. 'Michael Hamburger' 2007

.

Tacita Dean
‘Michael Hamburger [Still]’
16mm colour anamorphic, optical sound
28 minutes
2007

.

.

The next two films are my favourite pieces in the exhibition. ‘Darmstädter Werkblock’ (2007) shows us the significance of insignificant markings – edges and intersections, textures, blends and bleeds, the minutiae of existence in the markings on the fabric of an internal wall (see photograph above). Here is light, wood panelling, texture and again the sound of the whirring of the film projector. Usually I am not a fan of this kind of work having seen enough ‘Dead Pan’ photography and photography of empty yet supposedly important spaces in my life, but here Dean’s film makes the experience come alive and actually mean something. Her work transcends the subject matter – and matter is at the point where these interstitial spaces have been marked by the abstract signs of human existence that constantly surround us.

In ‘Michael Hamburger’ (2007) Dean reaches the empito-me of these personal narratives that inhabit everyday life. Film of an orchard with wind rustling through the trees, clouds drifting across the sky, rotting apples on the branches, fallen fruit on the ground and a clearing with a man looking up at the trees is accompanied by the industrial sounds of clicks and pops like that of an old radio (see photograph above). The swirling sound of the wind surrounds you in the darkened gallery space much as the panoramic screen of the projection seems to enfold you. The scene swaps to an interior of a house and shows the man, has face mainly in shadow, the film focusing on the different type of apples in front of him or on the aged wrinkles of his hands holding the apples. He talks intelligently and knowingly about the different types of apples and their rarity and qualities. This is Michael Hamburger (now dead which adds poignancy to the film) – poet, critic, memoirist and academic notable for his translations of the work of W. G. Sebald, one of Tacita Dean’s main influences (and also an author that I love dearly).
One can see echoes of Sebald’s work in that of Tacita Dean  – the personal narratives accompanied by mythical and historical stories and pictures. The tactility of Hamburger’s voice and hands, his caressing of the apples with the summary justice of the tossing away of rotten apples to stop them ruining the rest of the crop is arresting and holds you transfixed. Old varieties and old hands mixed with the old technology of film make for a nostalgic combination. As John Matthews of ArtKritique has so insightfully observed in his review of this work Dean implicitly understands how objects can be elegies for fleeting lives.

After this work one should have a break – go to the front of the gallery and have a coffee and relax because this is an exhausting show!

.

The rest of the exhibition tends to tail off slightly, with less engaging but still interesting works.

In ‘Die Regimentstochter’ (2005) (the name of a Donizetti opera) Dean uses a pile of 36 found and mutilated old opera and theatre programs from the 1930s and 1940s such as Staats Theatre, Berlin, Der Tanz and Deutsche Openhaus. These programs have had portions of their front covers roughly but clinically cut to reveal the inner pages beneath (see image below) and Dean uses them to comment on the politicisation of culture in Berlin’s mid-20th century history. The top of a powdered wigged head or the face of Beethoven has been revealed when the title of the work has been neatly removed along with something else:

“Each programme gives a tantalising glimpse of a title or a face through a small window cut into the embossed cover; we recognise Beethoven, Rossini, the face of a singer perhaps. When and by whom this incision in the cover was made, very neatly one might add, even more why these disfigured programmes were kept remains a mystery. A swift search in an archive would easily show what has been removed; most likely an embossed swastika, for these performances all happened during the Third Reich. Why they were removed is left to our imaginations; perhaps an avid theatre-goer livid at the co-option of culture by the regime, perhaps someone afraid they might be misinterpreted as fascist memorabilia, while wishing to retain the memories these performances triggered.”3

High up on a wall opposite these programs is the film ‘Palast’ (2004) in which Dean reflects Berlin’s divided history in the jaded façade of the once iconic Palast, the government building of the former German Democratic Republic.4 Shards of light hit glass and reflections are fractured in their gridded panes (see images below). A bird is seen flying, viewed through the window and we see the stains on that window but in this film things feel a bit forced. Unlike the earlier ‘Darmstädter Werkblock’ there is little magic here.

Again the minutiae of existence is examined in the final two films ‘Noir et Blanc’ (2006), made on the last 5 rolls of Dean’s black and white double-sided 16mm film stock and ‘Kodak’ (2006), both made at the Kodak factory in Chalon-sur-Saône before it closed it’s film production facilities (see images below). With the demise of the medium that she feels closest to Dean sought permission to film at the factory itself and both films examine that medium by turning it on itself.

“Dean became acutely aware of the threat to her chosen medium when she was unable to obtain standard 16mm black-and-white film for her camera. Upon discovering that the Kodak factory in Chalon-sur-Saône, France, was closing its film production facility, Dean obtained permission to document the manufacture of film at the factory, where cameras have never before been invited. The resulting rear-screen projection ‘Noir et Blanc’, filmed on the final five rolls Dean acquired, turns the medium on itself. The 44-minute-long work ‘Kodak’ constitutes a contemplative elegy for the approaching demise of a medium specific to Dean’s own practice. Kodak’s narrative follows the making of celluloid as it runs through several miles of machinery and explores the abandoned corners of the factory. On the day of filming, the factory also ran a test through the system with brown paper, providing a rare opportunity to see the facilities fully illuminated, without the darkness needed to prevent exposure, and underscoring the luster of the celluloid as the dull brown strips contrast with the luminous, transparent polyester.”5

As writer Tony Lloyd has commented, “The film “Kodak” documenting the manufacturing of film was as solemn and reverent as a Catholic mass and equally as dull and inexplicable.”6 I wouldn’t go that far but by the end of the exhibition the nostalgia for old technologies, the brown paper programs and the film strip as relic were starting to wear a bit thin, like the sprockets of an old film camera failing to take up the film.

.

At her best Tacita Dean is a fantastic artist whose work examines the measure of things, the vibrations of spirit in the FLUX of experience. Her work has a trance-like quality that is heavy with nostalgia and memory and reflects the machine-ations of contemporary life. In her languorous (thankyou Tony Lloyd for that word, so appropriate I had to use it!) and dense work Dean teases out the significance of insignificant actions/events and imparts meaning and life to them. This is no small achievement!

As an exhibition this is an intense and moving experience. Go, take your time and enjoy!

Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

.

Tacita Dean. 'Die Regimentstochter' 2005

.

Tacita Dean
‘Die Regimentstochter’
2005

.

Tacita Dean. 'Palast' 2004

.

Tacita Dean. 'Palast' 2004

.

Tacita Dean. Two stills from the film ‘Palast’
2004

.

.

“A major survey of work by the internationally acclaimed British artist Tacita Dean will open at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) on June 6th, 2009.

In a great coup for Melbourne, fourteen recent projects by this celebrated contemporary artist will come together in what is the largest survey of Dean’s work to ever be shown outside of Europe.

Tacita Dean is one of Britain’s most accomplished and celebrated contemporary artists. She won the New York Guggenheim’s Hugo Boss award in 2007, was a Turner Prize nominee in 1998, and has had numerous solo exhibitions in Europe – at the Schaulager in Basel, DIA Beacon in New York, the de Pont Museum in the Netherlands, the Tate Britain, UK, the Musee d’art Moderne in Paris, France and the Villa Oppenheim in Berlin, to mention just a few.

Dean was also recently given the highly prestigious title of Royal Academician, awarded sparingly to alumni’s of the revered London art school who have achieved greatness in their work.

Tacita Dean was born in Canterbury in 1965, and moved to Berlin in 2000 after being awarded a DAAD residency. Early works focused on the sea – most famously she explored the tragic maritime misadventures of amateur English sailor Donald Crowhurst. Since moving to Berlin she has devoted her attention to the architecture and cultural history of Germany, a recurring theme also being the salvaging, saving and collecting of things lost. Many of her works rest on the icons of modernism, heroic failures and forgotten utopian ideals.

Dean is best known for her work with 16mm film, although she also works with photography, print and drawing. The qualities of filmmaking itself play a central role in her works – which hauntingly capture the passing of time, space and the mysteries of the natural world.

Her work occupies a place between fact and fiction. As British author Jeanette Winterson says, “Her genius, with her slow, steady, held frames, is to allow the viewer to dream; to enter without hurry, without expectation, and to accept, as we do in a dream, a different experience of time, and a different relationship to everyday objects.”

Included in this exhibition is Dean’s revered film installation, ‘Merce Cunningham Performs STILLNESS (in three movements) to John Cage’s composition 4’33” with Trevor Carlson, New York City, 28 April 2007, which was recently presented at the DIA Beacon in New York, and the 2007 work Michael Hamburger. Two new wall-based works especially created for this exclusive ACCA exhibition will also feature.

Dean is also known for creating ‘asides’ – totally absorbing texts on the subjects explored in her work. She will contribute texts on all the projects included in the exhibition for a catalogue which will be published to coincide with this unique ACCA survey.

The exhibition has been curated by ACCA’s Artistic Director, Juliana Engberg and follows an early 2002 exhibition of Dean’s work curated by Engberg for the Melbourne International Arts Festival.

“Tacita’s works continue to enthral and inspire me. Not only has she rescued relics from history and restored them with a visual dignity and affection in her wonderful film projects, but increasingly she rescues the traditional art forms of drawing, print making, painting, photography and film from a digital abyss,” says Juliana Engberg. “Her works have a truth and quiddity about them, but also a playful artifice and technical tactic to bring out the tactile and material in all she deals with. Tacita is a sublime story-teller, a narrator of odysseys and attempts. She is a true artist sojourner.

In this selection of works made since 2004 we grasp the breadth of her practice and her pursuit of the time-honoured landscape, portrait and abstract genres,” she says.”

Text from the press release from the ACCA website

.

Tacita Dean. 'Noir et Blanc [Still]' 2006

.

Tacita Dean
‘Noir et Blanc [Still]’
16mm black-and-white Kodak film
2006

.

Tacita Dean. 'Kodak' 2006

.

Tacita Dean
‘Kodak’
16mm colour and b/w film optical sound
44 minutes loop system
2006

.

.

Australia Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA)

111 Sturt Street
Southbank 
Victoria 3006
Australia
03 9697 9999

Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Friday 10am – 5pm
Weekends & Public Holidays 11am – 6pm
Monday by appointment 
Open all public holidays except Christmas Day and Good Friday

ACCA website

Tacita Dean website

.

1. Dean, Tacita quoted in Bunbury, Stephen.“Still Lives,” in The Age. Melbourne: Fairfax Publishing, A2 section, Saturday June 6th, 2009. p.20.

2. Winterson, Jeanette, quoted in Bunbury, Stephen.“Still Lives,” in The Age. Melbourne: Fairfax Publishing, A2 section, Saturday June 6th, 2009. p.20.

3. Anonymous. Product synopsis from ‘Tacita Dean Die Regimentstochter’ [Paperback] on the Amazon website [Online] Cited 19/07/2009.

4. Anonymous. Description of ‘Tacita Dean: ‘Palast” on the Tate St. Ives website [Online] Cited 19/07/2009.

5. Anonymous. ‘The Hugo Boss Prize: Tacita Dean’ on the Guggenheim Museum website [Online] Cited 19/07/2009.

6. Lloyd, Tony. ‘Opnion: Tacita Dean at ACCA’ on ArtInfo.com.au [Online] Cited 19/07/2009.

Bookmark and Share

18
Jul
09

Exhibition: ‘Robert Capa’ at Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest

Exhibition dates: 3rd July – 11th October, 2009

.

Robert Capa. 'Barcelona or its vicinity, August 1936. Loyalist militiamen.' 1936

.

Robert Capa
‘Barcelona or its vicinity, August 1936. Loyalist militiamen.’
1936

.

Robert Capa. 'American soldiers landing on Omaha Beach, D-Day, Normandy, France, June 6, 1944' 1944

.

Robert Capa
‘American soldiers landing on Omaha Beach, D-Day, Normandy, France, June 6, 1944’
1944

.

.

“One of the greatest photographers of the 20th century, Robert Capa was born in Budapest, on October 22, 1913, as Endre Ernő Friedmann. He started to work as a photographer in the 1930s, first as a correspondent of Dephot, a Berlin-based agency. In 1933 he moved to Paris, where he befriended André Kertész, Henri Cartier-Bresson and David Seymour (Chim), and met with the great love of his life, Gerda Taro, also a photographer. He changed his name to Robert Capa in 1935, and his pictures of the 1936-1937 Spanish civil war were already published under this nom de plume. He immigrated to the US in 1939. Between 1941 and 1945, he worked on the European scenes of the war for Life magazine. He was one of the founders of the Magnum Photos agency. He died in May 1954, when he stepped on a landmine in Vietnam.

In 2008, a government grant enabled the Hungarian National Museum to buy 985 of Robert Capa’s photos from the collection of the International Center of Photography, New York. 48 of these are original prints by Robert Capa, and 937 form the so-called Robert Capa Master Selection III. Founded in 1974, the International Center of Photography holds about seventy thousand negatives made by the Hungarian born Robert Capa, considered the greatest war photographer of all time. In 1995, Cornell Capa (Robert’s brother, who died last year) and Richard Whelan (Robert Capa’s friend and biographer) selected 937 of these negatives to represent the oeuvre. Of these, three identical, limited-edition series were made, each excellent 40×50 cm print marked with Robert Capa’s dry seal. No further prints will be made. One of the series stayed in New York, the second was bought by the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum, Japan, and the third by the Hungarian National Museum. Not only does the series offer a comprehensive overview of the oeuvre, it also enables exhibition-goers to have a visual experience of important events in the history of the 20th century through high-quality material. The 937 pictures were made on four continents, in 23 countries. 461 were made before the Second World War, of which images of the Spanish civil war are the most important. 276 of these photos he made on the fronts of the World War – the poignant pictures of the D-Day landing in Normandy were later to inspire film director Steven Spielberg. 154 photos from after the world war illustrate more struggle and suffering during the establishment of the state of Israel and the Indochina War. 46 images bear testimony to the talent of Capa the portrait photographer, with pictures of Gary Cooper, Ingrid Bergman, Alfred Hitchcock, John Steinbeck, Pablo Picasso and others. ICP made a gift of large prints of 20 negatives considered especially important in the series, and five portraits of Robert Capa. In all, the national collection was enriched with 1010 photographs.

Robert Capa was a war photographer, with all the important traits of an excellent correspondent: he owned the right amount of persistence, aggressiveness to get to the scenes, resourcefulness and communication skills to match the capacities of a great artist: a high degree of sensitivity, the talent to recognize and choose subjects, and composition skills. Bravely, though not fearlessly, he was there in all of the large wars of the middle of the 20th century, and he struggled with the eternal dilemma of journalists and photographers, whether he is a hyena when his participation stops at recording the events, and does not extend to helping those who flee or are wounded. His vocation, to which his dedication was always complete, was thus a source of moral conflict for him, while also compelled him to show what he considered really important. To show things in a way no one else could because no one else was close enough. “If your pictures are not good enough, you weren’t close enough,” he said. He was close when the militiaman died, he was there in the bloodbath of the landing in Normandy, and he was of course close enough to the Indochina War when he stepped on that fatal mine. He lived an intensive, passionate life, taking risks, even gambling; a life that promised childlessness, social solitude, homelessness and a preordained mode of death. This was probably the only way to live through and show all that surrounded him.

A selection from the new acquisition, about 30 pictures, will be on view in the Hungarian National Museum, between March 6 and 15, 2009. The first large exhibition of this exceptional material opens in Ludwig Museum on July 2, and can be seen until October 11. A travelling selection is also planned, to be shown in ten Hungarian cities.”

Press release from the Ludwig Museum website

.

Robert Capa. 'Near Zhengzhou, June-July 1938' 1938

.

Robert Capa
‘Near Zhengzhou, June-July 1938’
1938

.

Near Zhengzhou, June-July 1938. As the Japanese advanced on Zhengzhou – the crossroads of the two major railway lines of northern and eastern China, and the gateway to the Hankow region – Chiang Kai-shek ordered the dikes of the Yellow River blown up. The flood, which halted the Japanese only temporarily, inundated eleven cities and four thousand villages, destroyed the crops of four provinces, and rendered two million people homeless. In this photograph Chinese soldiers are being ferried across the river.

.

Robert Capa. Near-Barcelona,-October-193

.

Robert Capa
‘Near Barcelona, October 1938’
1938

.

Near Barcelona, October 1938. Farewell ceremony for the International Brigades. As an overture of friendship toward Hitler (who naturally wanted General Franco’s fascists to win the civil war), Stalin forced the Spanish Loyalist government to disband this Communist-supported force. This move was a terrible blow both to the Loyalist cause and to the men of the International Brigades.

.

Robert Capa. 'Chartres, August 18, 1944' 1944

.

Robert Capa
‘Chartres, August 18, 1944’
1944

.

Chartres, August 18, 1944. Just after the Allies had liberated the town, a Frenchwoman who had had a baby by a German soldier was punished by having her head shaved. Here she is seen being marched home. Her mother (barely visible over the right shoulder of the man at right carrying cloth sack) was similarly punished.

.

.

The precocious Budapest teenager who would eventually become known to the world as Robert Capa did not aspire to be a photographer. He wanted to be a writer – a reporter and a novelist.”

Richard Whelan

.

Capa’s evolution into a press photographer and war reporter (all the while entertaining the idea of filmmaking) was fundamentally determined by history, as well as by factors like the accelerated technical developments in photography, the changes in the printed picture press in the 1920s as a result of the influence of motion pictures, as well as the increasingly refined techniques and strategies of photographers.

Capa distinguished himself among the ranks of war reporters who thought – with the visual appearance of magazine pages already in mind – in series of images that rolled like film footage, and who had the courage and the ability to “get in close” and show aspects of war and fighting on the front lines in a form that had hitherto been impossible, partly due to technological limitations and partly because of the restrictions of censorship.

Capa worked for a number of US and European agencies; his photo reports appeared in the columns of such publications as Vu, Regards, Ce Soir, Life, Picture Post, Collier’s and Illustrated. At the same time, in addition to his work as a photo correspondent, being one of the founders of the Magnum photo agency (1947), educating and supporting young photographers were of primary importance to him.

Following his death in 1954, his brother Cornell Capa, in addition to his own work as press photographer, strove to preserve and introduce to the world the oeuvre of his brother and his colleagues. As a first step, he expanded the International Fund for Concerned Photography, which he had co-founded with others in 1956. Then, in 1974, he established the International Center of Photography (ICP) – one of the world’s most prominent institutions of photography, simultaneously a museum, a school and an archive – with himself as director.

Between 1990 and 1992, Cornell Capa and Richard Whelan looked through Capa’s more than seventy thousand photos and chose 937 of them, the most outstanding photos of his oeuvre from 1932 to 1954, to represent the cornerstones of his life’s work and his career as a press photographer.

In 1995, from the 937 negatives that had been selected, three identical, excellent quality series were produced using traditional photographic technique. These consisted of 40×50 cm enlargements and marked with Robert Capa’s embossed seal. It was determined that no additional series could be made after this time. Of the three series, one remained in New York, the second one found a home in the Fuji Art Museum of Tokyo, and the third set was purchased by the Hungarian Ministry of Culture and added to the Historical Photo Collection of the Hungarian National Museum.

Besides the 937 photographs that constitute what is known as the “Definitive Collection”, the Hungarian National Museum also acquired 48 original Robert Capa vintage copies dating back to the same time. The backbone of the exhibition consists of selected groups of photographs. The more than 200 images lead viewers through the key stages of Robert Capa’s career as war correspondent through highlighted themes of his oeuvre, in chronological order.

The exhibition starts off with Budapest – presenting family photos, portraits and other documents – and moves on to the first serious commission in Berlin (the series on the speech given by the exiled Lev Trotsky in 1932, in Copenhagen) and the difficulties of the Paris years. Then we arrive to the most definitive stage in the oeuvre, the three-year period (1936–1939) spent photographing the Spanish Civil War and the Second Sino-Japanese War, during which Endre Friedmann / André Friedmann became Robert Capa, one of the most famous war press photographers in the world. Next we see the seats of world war operations: photos capturing the North African, Southern Italian and Sicilian fronts as well as the Normandy Landing on June 6, 1944. The “D-Day” series, which also served as inspiration to film director Steven Spielberg, is followed by images documenting the denigration of the French women who collaborated with the Germans and the liberation of Paris. The sequence of wartime photographs ends with images of the Ardennes Offensive and the advances of the Allied Forces. Capa’s post-world war work is represented by his reports on the establishment of the State of Israel and the associated conflicts, the immigrants and the refugees, as well as the material from his journey to the Soviet Union with John Steinbeck in 1947 and the photos of his 1948 – 1949 trip around Eastern Europe, which also include some Budapest shots. The chronological sequence ends with Capa’s photographs of Indochina and the photos taken on May 25, 1954, immediately preceding his death.

A separate section is devoted to the photographic documents of his social life, which became inextricably intertwined with his work as press photographer. His portraits which were taken in parallel with his war reports capture people that were important to him – colleagues, friends and lovers – as well as many prominent figures of the era, including Pablo Picasso, Ingrid Bergman, John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway.”

Text from the ArtDaily.org website

.

Robert Capa. 'September 5, 1936. The death of a Loyalist militaman.' 1936

.

Robert Capa
‘September 5, 1936. The death of a Loyalist militaman.’
1936

.

Robert Capa. 'Near Troina, Sicily, August 4-5, 1943. Reconnaissance mission.' 1943

.

Robert Capa
‘Near Troina, Sicily, August 4-5, 1943. Reconnaissance mission.’
1943

.

Robert Capa. 'Omaha Beach, near Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy coast, June 6, 1944. The first wave of American troops landing on D-Day.' 1944

.

Robert Capa
‘Omaha Beach, near Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy coast, June 6, 1944. The first wave of American troops landing on D-Day.’
1944

.

.

Thankyou to the Ludwig Museum press office for allowing me to use these photographs to illustrate the post.

Another exhibition about Robert Capa, ‘This is War! Robert Capa at Work’ is on show at Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya from 7th July – 27th September, 2009

.

Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art

Palace of Arts
Komor Marcell u. 1, Budapest, H-1095
Phone: +36 1 555 3444 Fax: +36 1 555 3458

Opening hours: 
Tuesday-Sunday: 10 am – 8 pm
Closed on Mondays

Ludwig Museum of Art website

Bookmark and Share

16
Jul
09

Review: Guo Jian paintings at Arc One Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 30th June – 25th July, 2009

.

Guo Jian. 'No.c' 2009

.

Guo Jian
‘No.c’
2009

.

Guo Jian. 'No.d' 2009

.

Guo Jian
‘No.d’
2009

.

.

This exhibition of eight new paintings and one older work by Chinese artist Guo Jian presented at Arc One Gallery in Melbourne is, with the exception of one outstanding painting, a disappointment. The new work addresses, variously, themes of consumerism, stardom, sex appeal, the military and Chinese culture. Using old photographs as reference and inserting the body and face of the artist into the canvases, Jian examines the paradoxes that exist between Western/American and Chinese culture to limited effect.

Using a restricted colour palette in each painting Jian’s ‘mis en scene’ places American soldiers and babes wearing bikinis of distorted American flags with the artist as lone Chinese soldier – his face pulled into focus while the other figures almost become cut-outs with the overlay of a “blur filter” softening their features. In another set piece ‘Untitled 3’ (2009) a seductive woman with flaming red hair and half open jacket holds a bottle of Chloe perfume in her hand while behind Chinese female military dancers brandish swords and red flags. In ‘No.g’ (2009) two soldiers with guns propped behind them read contrasting books – one the ‘Little Red Book’ and the other ‘A Big Naughty Girly Magazine’. Marilyn and Madonna feature heavily, pastiches in a built environment – all pink and fleshy with a silver heart (perhaps it should have been a Purple Heart).

The iconography in these staged ‘tableaux vivants’ is a one shot idea repeated in all eight paintings. The themes seem hackneyed, their language a bricolage of ironic archetypes that don’t have anything new to say about the subject matter but repeat things we know already: vis a vis that Chinese society is struggling to cope with the burden of becoming a consumer culture. On reflection, the new paintings have not impinged on my consciousness – always a sign whether the work really has made a connection. However, the single work from 2003 is a different beast.

‘The Training’ from the series ‘The Day Before I Went Away’ (2003) is a hypnotic, mesmerising and powerful work, lurid even, with it’s hyper-real colours and maniacal faces, eyes rolling in the back of heads, barring of teeth, the hand over the mouth, the upraised hand, the glistening white of the blade – oh the lust for blood!

This painting is so evocative it shames the new work by comparison – you think about this work, you remember it!

Here is the passion and insightfulness of the artist. Danger and terror grab you and shake you and force you to think about the human condition. This is what I want art to do in whatever way it can – subtly, quietly, psychologically, forcefully. Great art challenges us to look, feel and think. Unfortunately the new work, while clever on a superficial level, fails to deliver.

Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog.

.

Guo Jian. 'No.f' 2009

.

Guo Jian
‘No.f’
2009

.

Guo Jian. 'Untitled 3' 2009

.

Guo Jian
‘Untitled 3’
2009

.

Guo Jian. 'No.g' 2009

.

Guo Jian
‘No.g’
2009

.

.

“Born in China in 1963, Jian was raised in a controlled political environment. He served over three years in the Peoples Liberation Army and beared witness to the horrific Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, where he assisted carrying the wounded to the hospital.

Jian’s personal atlas of history continues to feed his visual commentary. His voice is both satirical and erotic, challenging and confronting. He plays with irony and foreplay to exploit and raise potent questions surrounding propaganda and manipulation.

“As I have grown older, I have realized that all of the education I have received is rarely practical in real life. Reality and education are conflicting. The way in which you inherently view the world is influenced by education which is the perspectives of others. Our surrounding environment defines our perception of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, ‘enemy’ and ‘friend’, ‘them’ and ‘us’. But, if you dare to open your eyes and liberate your mind, you will find that the world is not exactly the way you have been told. Put your feet into someone else’s shoes to think about the world and your own life differently. For me, if the surroundings change, are combined, are old or new, it doesn’t matter. My life is defined relative to my self-experience and the things I have heard or seen. From this perspective, I have discovered the freedom to reopen my eyes to a new world and to new possibilities.”

Guo Jian

Text from the press release on the Arc One Gallery website

.

Guo Jian. 'The Training' from the series 'Te Day Before I Went Away' 2003

.

Guo Jian
‘The Training’ from the series ‘The Day Before I Went Away’
2003

.

.

Arc One Gallery
45 Flindes Lane
Melbourne, Victoria 3000

Opening hours: Tuesday – Saturday 11 – 5pm

Arc One Gallery website

Bookmark and Share

14
Jul
09

Exhibition: ‘Gay Icons’ at the National Portrait Gallery, London

Exhibition dates: 2nd July – 18th October, 2009

.

“How I wish this selection had been available to me when I was young and trying to make sense of my reactions to the world. How inspirational to have had portraits of the great and the good staring out at me telling me that I was not by any measure on my own.”

Sandi Toksvig

.

Jill Furmanovsky. 'K.D. Lang, Le Meridien Hotel, London' 1992

.

Jill Furmanovsky
‘K.D. Lang, Le Meridien Hotel, London’
© Jill Furmanovsky
1992

.

.

“The first portrait exhibition to celebrate the contribution of gay people and gay icons to history and culture. 60 photographs selected by Waheed Alli, Alan Hollinghurst, Elton John, Jackie Kay, Billie Jean King, Ian McKellen, Chris Smith, Ben Summerskill, Sandi Toksvig and Sarah Waters.

An important photography exhibition, ‘Gay Icons’, at the National Portrait Gallery (2 July–18 October 2009) will celebrate the contribution of gay people – and the significance of the gay icon – to history and culture. Ten selectors have worked with the Gallery to make their own personal choices of six individuals, their ‘icons’. Not only does this exhibition include many well-known icons, who may or may not be gay themselves, it also reveals some surprises and will encourage a wide audience to think about familiar faces in new ways.

The ‘Gay Icons’ shown in the exhibition will include those people, living or dead, whatever their sexual orientation or interests, who the ten individual selectors regard as inspirational, or as a personal icon. Gay Icons brings together portraits of those people who are regarded as especially significant to each of the selectors, alongside those of the selectors themselves, all prominent gay figures in contemporary culture and society.

Coinciding with the fortieth anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York, this exhibition focuses on portraits of both historical and modern figures. The choices provide a fascinating range of inspiring figures – some very famous, some heroic, others relatively unknown. Each icon is presented with information about their personal, and sometimes public, significance, some of it relating to the sitter but much of it linked to the selectors who have been prepared to share their experiences and feelings in their own exhibition texts.

.

GisËle Freund, 'Virginia Woolf' 1939

.

GisËle Freund
‘Virginia Woolf’
© GisËle Freund
1939

.

Paul Morrissey. 'Joe Dallesandro' 1968

.

Paul Morrissey
‘Joe Dallesandro’
© Paul Morrissey, 1968
1968

.

.

Themes running through the exhibition include inspiration and how the ‘icons’ have inspired each selector in an extremely personal sense to realise their full potential, human rights, stemming from the specific consideration of sexuality, and how this might lead us to consider parallels between the struggles of different minority groups, re-discovery, or rescuing the reputations of figures who might otherwise have been forgotten or, worse, actively disregarded and surprise at some of the perhaps unexpected choices.

The project was developed from an initial proposal made by Bernard Horrocks, Copyright Officer, at the Gallery. The concept quickly evolved to include invitations to ten gay people – each distinguished in different fields – to act as selectors. They were chosen in consultation with their Chair, Sandi Toksvig.

Each selector could freely choose six ‘icons’, although the Gallery decided to limit the choices to photographic portraits, and therefore to subjects who had lived, more or less, within the last 150 years. This also seemed appropriate because within this same period homosexuality was gradually accepted and made legitimate in Britain.

The selectors are Lord Waheed Alli, Alan Hollinghurst, Sir Elton John, Jackie Kay, Billie Jean King, Sir Ian McKellen, Lord Chris Smith, Ben Summerskill, Sandi Toksvig and Sarah Waters.

Sitters include artists Francis Bacon and David Hockney, civil rights campaigner Harvey Milk, writers Quentin Crisp, Joe Orton, Dame Daphne Du Maurier, Patricia Highsmith and Walt Whitman, composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky, musicians k.d. lang, Will Young and Village People, entertainers Ellen DeGeneres, Kenneth Williams and Lily Savage, and Nelson Mandela and Diana, Princess of Wales. Their fascinating stories will be illustrated by sixty photographic portraits including works by Andy Warhol, Linda McCartney, Snowdon, Polly Borland, Fergus Greer, Terry O’Neill and Cecil Beaton.

Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, says: “Gay Icons is an exhibition in which inspiring stories – both private and public – are shared. These are stories of brave lives and significant achievements, told through iconic photographic images chosen by selectors who are themselves icons.”

Text from the National Portrait Gallery website

.

Lewis Morley. 'Joe Orton' 1965

.

Lewis Morley
‘Joe Orton’
© Lewis Morley Archive/National Portrait Gallery, London
1965

.

Fergus Greer. 'Quentin Crisp' 1989

.

Fergus Greer
‘Quentin Crisp’
© Fergus Greer
1989

.

.

“Gay Icons explores gay social and cultural history through the unique personal insights of ten high profile gay figures, who have selected their historical and modern icons.

The chosen icons, who may or may not be gay themselves, have all been important to each selector, having influenced their gay sensibilities or contributed to making them who they are today. They include artists Francis Bacon and David Hockney; writers Daphne du Maurier and Quentin Crisp; composers Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Benjamin Britten; musicians k.d. lang, the Village People and Will Young; entertainers Ellen DeGeneres, Lily Savage and Kenneth Williams; sports stars Martina Navratilova and Ian Roberts and political activists Harvey Milk and Angela Mason.

Their fascinating and inspirational stories will be illustrated by over sixty photographic portraits including works by Andy Warhol, Snowdon and Cecil Beaton together with specially commissioned portraits of the selectors by Mary McCartney. McCartney. All are set in a striking exhibition design conceived by renowned theatre designer, Robert Jones …

This exhibition brings together ten selectors, chaired by Sandi Toksvig, each of whom is a prominent gay figure in contemporary culture and society. Each selector was asked to name six people, who may or may not be gay, whom they personally regard as inspirational, or an icon for them.

Their choices provide a fascinating range of figures – some heroic, some very famous, others less well known. In the exhibition the selectors write about their choices and share their own convictions, experiences and feelings. The display also features specially commissioned portraits of the selectors by Mary McCartney.”

Text from the National Portrait Gallery website

.

Bertram Park. 'Ronald Firbank' (detail) 1917

.

Bertram Park
‘Ronald Firbank’ (detail)
1917

.

Unknown Photographer. 'Winifred Atwell' (detail) c. 1950s. Courtesy of Getty Images.

.

Unknown Photographer
‘Winifred Atwell’ (detail)
c. 1950s

.

Elliott and Fry. 'Alan Turing' 1951 © National Portrait Gallery, London

.

Elliott and Fry
‘Alan Turing’
© National Portrait Gallery, London
1951

.

.

National Portrait Gallery
St Martin’s Place
London WC2H 0HE

Opening hours: Daily 10am – 6pm.
Open until 9pm
Thursday and Friday.

National Portrait Gallery website

Bookmark and Share




Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Études’ 1994

Join 2,263 other followers

Follow Art_Blart on Twitter
Art Blart on Pinterest

Lastest tweets

Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

July 2009
M T W T F S S
« Jun   Aug »
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Archives

Categories