Archive for August, 2009

31
Aug
09

Exhibition: ‘Ron Arad: No Discipline’ at The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), New York

Exhibition dates: 2nd August – 19th October 2009

 

One of my favourite designers!

Featuring all the works in the exhibition (under Works) and photographs and video of the installation for the works Cages sans Frontieres (2009) (under The Show), there is a really amazing interactive website for this exhibition. There is also an interesting video of Ron Arad talking about his work: Behind the Scenes: Ron Arad: No Discipline.

Marcus

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Many thankx to the Museum of Modern Art for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951) 'The Rover Chair' 1981

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
The Rover Chair
1981
Tubular steel, leather, and cast-iron Kee Klamp joints
30 3/4 x 27 3/16 x 36 1/4″ (78 x 69 x 92 cm); weight 57.3 lbs (26 kg)
Edition by One Off, London
Private collection, London
Photo by Erik and Petra Hesmerg and courtesy of Private Collection, Maastricht, and the Museum of Modern Art

 

 

“I picked up this Rover seat and I made myself a frame and this piece sucked me into this world of design.” “If someone had told me a week before that I was going to be a furniture designer, I would think they were crazy.”  ~  Ron Arad

 

Ron Arad. 'Concrete Stereo' 1983

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
Concrete Stereo
1983
Photo courtesy of Ron Arad Associates and the Museum of Modern Art

 

Ron Arad. 'Sketch for Well Tempered Chair' 1986

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
Sketch for Well Tempered Chair
1986
Photo courtesy of Vitra Design Museum and the Museum of Modern Art

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951) 'Well Tempered Chair Prototype' 1986

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
Well Tempered Chair Prototype
1986
Photo courtesy of Vitra Design Museum and the Museum of Modern Art

 

Ron Arad. 'Big Easy' 1988

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
Big Easy chair
1988

 

Ron Arad. 'Big Easy. Volume 2' 1988

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
Big Easy. Volume 2
1988
Polished stainless steel
42 1/8 x 50 1/2 x 36 1/4″ (107 x 128.3 x 92.1 cm); weight 44 lbs (20 kg)
Edition by One Off, London
Collection of Michael G. Jesselson, New York
Image: Ron Arad Associates, London

 

 

The Museum of Modern Art presents Ron Arad: No Discipline, the first major U.S. retrospective of Arad’s work, from August 2 to October 19, 2009. Among the most influential designers of our time, Arad (British, b. Israel 1951) stands out for his adventurous approach to form, structure, technology, and materials in work that spans the disciplines of industrial design, sculpture, architecture, and mixed-medium installation. Arad’s relentless experimentation with materials of all kinds – from steel, aluminum, and bronze to thermoplastics, crystals, fiberoptics, and LEDs – and his radical reinterpretation of some of the most established archetypes in furniture – from armchairs and rocking chairs to desk lamps and chandeliers – have put him at the forefront of contemporary design.

The exhibition features approximately 140 works, including design objects and architectural models, and 60 videos. Most of the objects featured in the exhibition are displayed in a monumental Corten-and-stainless-steel structure specially designed by the artist called Cage sans Frontières (Cage without Borders). The structure measures 126.5 feet (38.5 meters) long, spanning the entire length of the Museum’s International Council gallery, and over 16 feet (5 meters) tall. The exhibition is organised by Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator, and Patricia Juncosa Vecchierini, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art.

Ms. Antonelli states: “Arad is well known for his iconoclastic disregard for disciplines – and, at least apparently, for discipline. He has defined much of the current panorama of design, inspiring a generation of practitioners who disregard established modes of practice in favour of mutant design careers that are flexible enough to encompass the range of contemporary design applications, from interactions and interfaces to furniture and shoes.”

Arad’s accomplishments over the past three decades have stirred up the design world by repeatedly updating the concept of the architect/designer/artist and repositioning design side by side with art, both in discourse and in the market – all while keeping one foot firmly in industrial production and large-scale distribution. Idiosyncratic and surprising, Arad’s designs communicate the joy of invention, pleasure, humour, and pride in the display of their technical and constructive skills.

This exhibition celebrates Arad’s spirit by combining industrial design, studio pieces, and architecture. It features Arad’s most celebrated historical pieces, including the Rover Chair (1981) (see above), the Concrete Stereo (1983) (see above), and the Bookworm bookshelves (1993) (see below), along with more recent products such as the PizzaKobra lamp (2008) (see below) and the latest reincarnation of his Volumes series (1998), the armchair duo titled Even the Odd Balls? (2009) (see below).

Cage sans Frontières was specially designed by Arad, developed with Michael Castellana from Ron Arad Associates, and manufactured and installed by Marzorati Ronchetti, Italy, under the direction of Roberto Travaglia. The structure is in the shape of a twisted loop and consists of 240 square cut-outs lined with stainless steel that act as shelves for the objects in the exhibition. The dramatic installation relies on the scale of the structure and on the reflectivity of the inner walls of the cut-outs which creates a ricocheting effect. One side of the structure is continually covered with grey gauze fabric that acts as a translucent, elastic membrane. The fabric was donated by the textile company Maharam and was cut and stitched by the jeans manufacturer Notify, which is also a sponsor of the exhibition. The structure was commissioned and lent to the exhibition by Singapore FreePort Pte Ltd, an arts storage facility.

Monitors installed in the structure and on the walls feature animations of the design and production process of some of the objects on view; animated renderings of architectural projects represented in the exhibition by models; and a video showing time-lapse footage of the construction of Cage sans Frontières. Other objects – including the Bookworm and This Mortal Coil bookshelves (both 1993) and the Shadow of Time clock (1986) – are installed along the perimeter of the gallery. Two of Arad’s sofas, Do-Lo-Res (2008) (see below) and Misfits (1993) (see below), are installed outside the exhibition entrance, and visitors are invited to sit on them.

Ever since he founded his studio, together with long-time business partner Caroline Thorman, in 1981 (first called One Off, and then reestablished in 1989 as Ron Arad Associates), Arad has produced an outstanding array of innovative objects, from limited editions to unlimited series, from carbon fibre armchairs to polyurethane bottle racks. A designer and an architect, trained at the Bezalel Academy of Art in Jerusalem and at London’s Architectural Association School of Architecture, he has also designed memorable spaces – some plastic and tactile, others digital and ethereal – such as the lobby of the Tel Aviv Opera House (1994-98), Yohji Yamamoto’s showroom in Tokyo (2003), and the Holon Design Museum, Israel (nearing completion), all of which will be represented in the exhibition with models and videos. In his influential role as Head of the Design Products Masters’ Degree course at the Royal College of Art in London from 1997 until this year, he has nurtured several innovative designers, including Julia Lohmann, Paul Cocksedge, and Martino Gamper.

The 1981 Rover Chairs (see above), which launched Arad’s design career even though at the time he was not seeking any particular professional label, are emblematic of his early readymade creations. The chairs are made of discarded leather seats from the Rover V8 2L, a British car, anchored in tubular-steel frames using Kee Klamps, an inexpensive scaffolding system. Arad stopped making them once he realised that the overwhelming demand for the chairs was transforming his atelier into a dedicated Rover Chair manufacturer. The Italian company Moroso is about to produce an industrial version of the chair under the name Moreover.

The Concrete Stereo (1983) (see above) is another milestone in Arad’s work with readymades. It is very simply a hi-fi system – with turntable, amplifier, and speakers – cast in concrete. The concrete was then partially chipped away, exposing the steel armature, the electronic components, and the pebbles in the cement.

Objects in the exhibition are grouped as families whose common thread is the exploration, sometimes over years, of a form, a material, a technique, or a structural idea. An example is the investigation of elasticity and surprise that began with the Well Tempered Chair (1986) (see above) – a chair made of four sprung sheets of steel held together by wing nuts that come together to suggest the archetypical shape of an armchair. Another example is the Volumes series (1988), which comprises, among others, his renowned Big Easy (1988) (see above) and its various iterations, among them the Soft Big Easy (1990) (see above) and the painted-fibreglass New Orleans (1999) (see above).

Not Made by Hand, Not Made in China, another important family and a milestone in Arad’s career and in the history of design, is a series of limited-edition objects – vases, sculptures, lamps, and bowls – that Arad presented in 2000 at the annual Milan Furniture Fair. All the objects in the series were made using 3-D printing, which at that time was almost exclusively used to create one-off models for objects that would later be produced in series using traditional manufacturing processes. Treating rapid prototypes as final products rather than templates, Arad turned the new process into an advanced production method, a path that was subsequently followed by several designers.

A more recent family is the Bodyguards (2008) (see below), in which the same initial shape in blown aluminium is differently intersected by imaginary planes and cut to reveal ever-changing personalities, from a rocking chair to a stern bodyguard-like sculpture.

To give life to his ideas, Arad relies on the latitude provided by computers as much as on his own exquisite drafting skills, and he uses both the most advanced automated manufacturing techniques and the simple welding apparatuses in his collaborators’ metal workshops. Often, his work is a combination of high and low technologies, such as his Lolita chandelier (2004) (see below) for Swarovski. Made with 2,100 crystals and 1,050 white LEDs, the Lolita takes the shape of a flat ribbon wound into a corkscrew shape. The ribbon contains 31 processors that enable the display of text messages sent to the Lolita’s mobile phone number. For this exhibition, visitors can send texts to (917) 774-6264. The messages appear at the top of the chandelier and slowly wind down the ribbon’s curves, creating the impression that the chandelier is spinning ever so slightly.”

Press release from the MoMA website

 

Ron Arad. 'Soft Big Easy' 1990

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
Soft Big Easy chair
1990
Injected flame-retardant polyurethane foam, steel, polypropylene, and wool
39 3/8 x 48 7/16 x 31 1/2″ (100 x 123 x 80 cm)
Manufactured by Moroso SpA, Italy
Courtesy Moroso SpA, Udine, Italy
Image: CNAC/MNAM/Dist. Réunion des Musées Nationaux/Art Resource, NY. Photo Jean-Claude Planchet

 

Ron Arad. 'Large Bookworm' 1993, Tempered sprung steel and patinated steel

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
Large Bookworm
1993
Tempered sprung steel and patinated steel
Bracket height variable, 7 7/8-11 13/16″ (20-30 cm); total length 49′ 2 9/16″ (15 m); depth 13″ (33 cm)
Edition by One Off/Ron Arad Associates, London
Private collection
Image: Ron Arad Associates, London

 

Ron Arad. 'Misfits' 1993

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
Misfits
1993
Injected flame-retardant polyurethane foam, steel, polypropylene, and wool
Six modules: each h. variable, base 39 3/8 x 39 3/8″ (100 x 100 cm)
Manufactured by Moroso SpA, Italy, 2007
Courtesy Moroso SpA, Udine, Italy
Image: Ron Arad Associates, London

 

 

Misfits is a seating system Arad developed, at Patrizia Moroso’s request, to launch Waterlily, a new water-blown foam made by ICI Polyurethane. From large cubes of foam he carved out modular – or, rather, mock-modular – sections, intending them to be graciously ill-fitting with each other (hence the name). The modules can stand on their own or be combined in various ways, but however they are lined up they are meant to look deliberately mismatched, without continuity from section to section. Some sections have backs and some do not, and the irregular solids and voids created quite a challenge for Moroso, who had to figure out how to cover them all with fabric. The recent reedition of Misfits is made with slightly larger blocks from a different polyurethane foam, which is injected into a mould rather than cut.

 

Ron Arad. 'D-Sofa' Prototype 1994

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
D-Sofa Prototype
1994
Patinated, painted, oxidized stainless steel and mild steel
38 3/16″ x 7′ 1 13/16″ x 35 7/16″ (97 x 218 x 90 cm)
Prototype by One Off, London
Pizzuti Collection
Image: Private collection, USA. Photo Erik and Petra Hesmerg

 

Ron Arad. 'Uncut' 1997

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
Uncut chair
1997
Vacuum-formed aluminum sheet and polished stainless steel
32 5/8 x 38 5/8 x 35″ (83 x 98 x 89 cm)
Edition by Ron Arad Studio, Italy
Centre Pompidou, Paris, Musée national d’art moderne/Centre de création industrielle

 

Ron Arad. 'FPE (Fantastic, Plastic, Elastic)' 1997

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
FPE (Fantastic, Plastic, Elastic)
1997
Extruded aluminum profiles and injection-molded polypropylene plastic sheet
31.25 x 17 x 22″ (79.4 x 43.2 x 55.9 cm)
Manufactured by Kartell, Italy
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the manufacturer
Image: Ron Arad Associates, London

 

 

FPE (Fantastic, Plastic, Elastic) is an inexpensive stacking chair made from lightweight plastic and aluminium. The design, originally conceived in plywood (as the Cross Your T’s Chair), was part of a commission from Mercedes-Benz for a transportable exhibition stand that would be taken to motor shows in Europe. The chair was not suited to small-scale production, and was therefore tweaked and perfected for mass manufacture. Its final form is exceptional in the simplicity of its construction: a plastic seat is inserted into channels in double-barrelled extruded aluminium profiles, which, when the chair frame is bent, hold the plastic in place. With no need for glue, screws, or bolts, this method allows the simplest combination of frame and plane to create a sinuous, practical, resilient form – proving Arad’s ability to embrace industrial production and make the best of its possibilities. The FPE can be stacked in groups of eight, comes in three colours (opaline, blue, and red, although it was originally available in yellow), and can be used both indoors and out.

 

Ron Arad. 'New Orleans' 1999

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
New Orleans chair
1999

 

Ron Arad. 'Lolita Chandelier' 2004

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
Lolita Chandelier
2004
Crystals and light-emitting diodes (LEDs)
59″ (150 cm) height x 43 1/4″ (110 cm) top-plate diam.; weight 352.7 lbs (160 kg)
Edition by Swarovski, Austria
Courtesy of Galerie Arums, Paris
Send a text message to Lolita: (917) 774-6264
Image: Ron Arad Associates, London

 

 

When Nadja Swarovski set out to build a new division for her family’s company, Swarovski Crystal, she invited Arad to reinvent the chandelier as a juxtaposition of traditional form with modern technology. The new collection of chandeliers, called Crystal Palace, launched in 2002, and Arad’s Lolita was ready in 2004. Made with 2,100 crystals and 1,050 white LEDs, Lolita takes the shape of a flat ribbon wound into a corkscrew shape. The ribbon contains thirty-one processors that enable the display of SMS text messages sent to Lolita’s mobile phone number; these messages appear at the top of the chandelier and wind down the ribbon’s curves, slowly enough to give bystanders time to read, creating the impression that the chandelier is spinning ever so slightly. The name is the result of grace under pressure: on the phone with Swarovski and pressed for a name, Arad thought of another work in progress, his LED riddled Lo-Rez-Dolores-Tabula-Rasa, and from there went to “Lolita” – the nickname of Vladimir Nabokov’s Dolores Haze. The name stuck, creating not only a saucy entry in many a design buff’s phone book but a further literary association as well: as a journalist pointed out to Arad, Nabokov’s novel begins, “Lolita, light of my life…”

 

Ron Arad. 'Oh Void 2' armchair 2004

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
Oh Void 2 armchair
2004

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951) 'Oh Void 2 armchair' 2006

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
Oh Void 2 armchair
2006
Acrylic
30 1/4 x 43 x 23 5/8″ (76.8 x 109.2 x 60 cm)
Edition by The Gallery Mourmans, the Netherlands
Collection of Michael G. Jesselson, New York

 

Ron Arad. 'Table Paved With Good Intentions No. 48' 2005

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
Table Paved With Good Intentions No. 48
2005
Mirror-polished, laser-cut stainless steel
55″ x 8′ 2″ x 15″ (139.7 x 238.8 x 38.1 cm); weight 176.4 lbs (80 kg)
Edition by Ron Arad for The Gallery Mourmans, the Netherlands
Collection Jérôme and Emmanuelle de Noirmont, Paris
Image: Emmanuelle and Jérôme de Noirmont. Photo: Mathieu Ferrier

 

 

Arad’s installation for Design Miami in 2005 consisted of sixty-nine tables made of mirror-polished stainless steel and covering an entire gallery, folding at the corners and climbing up the walls like handsome quicksilver parasites from outer space. Arad had experimented with reflective tables eleven years earlier, in an installation for one of the Fondation Cartier’s famous Soirées Nomades, in which designers were invited to provide a stage for music and other types of performances in Jean Nouvel’s building for the Paris-based foundation. There, Arad displayed forty tables that covered the ground floor, reflecting the surrounding trees and enhancing the glass architecture’s openness toward the city surrounding it.

 

MT Rocker Chair, 2005

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
MT Rocker Chair
2005
Polished bronze rods
29 x 33 1/2 x 40″ (73.7 x 85.1 x 101.6 cm)
Edition by Ron Arad Associates, London
Private collection, USA
Image: Ron Arad Associates, London

 

 

Arad’s work often begins as a studio piece that is later adapted for industrial production, but in some cases the direction is reversed, as was the case with the MT (or “empty”) series. Intrigued by the untapped potential of rotation-moulding, one of the humblest methods of manufacturing plastic products, Arad came up with beautiful, complex concave/convex forms, highlighted by contrasting colours, for an armchair, rocker, and couch. The MT collection is manufactured by Driade, but Arad subsequently translated the rocking piece into versions made of polished stainless steel or bronze, using an exquisite technique involving the patient application, by hand, of metal rods onto a basic structure.

 

Ron Arad. 'Southern Hemisphere' 2007

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
Southern Hemisphere
2007
Patinated aluminium
Photo by Erik and Petra Hesmerg and courtesy of Private Collection, Maastricht, and the Museum of Modern Art

 

Ron Arad. 'Do-Lo-Res' 2008

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
Do-Lo-Res
2008
Polyurethane foam, polyester fibres, and wood
Dimensions variable: 10 13/16 x 8 1/4 x 8 1/4 x 32 1
1/16″ (27.5 x 21 x 21 x 83 cm) Manufactured by Moroso SpA, Italy
Courtesy Moroso SpA, Udine, Italy
Image: Moroso

 

 

Do-Lo-Rez is a seating unit made of rectangular block elements, each one constructed from polyurethane foam, denser at the bottom and softer at the top. The name echoes the Lo-Rez-Dolores-Tabula-Rasa project, and both designs are different manifestations of Arad’s interest in digital pixilation and low resolution. Here the foam “pixels” of different heights are attached to a platform with steel pins and can be rearranged to create different sofa forms.

 

Ron Arad. 'PizzaKobra' lamp 2008

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
PizzaKobra lamp
2008
Chromed steel, aluminium, and light-emitting diodes (LEDs)
Extended: 28 7/8″ (73.3 cm) height x 10 1/4″ (26 cm) diam.; collapsed: 3/4″ (1.9 cm) height x 10 1/4″ (26 cm) diam.
Manufactured by iGuzzini illuminazione SpA, Italy, 2008
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the manufacturer

 

 

This lamp, which transforms itself from a coil as flat as a pizza to a sinuous, rising metal cobra with a single glowing red eye (its on/off switch), is as surprising as it is playful, as much like a twisty Tangle Toy as a very efficient and flexible light source. With its tubular aluminium sections – except for the base, which is heavier steel, for balance – and six LEDs that can be oriented in any direction, the PizzaKobra can be adjusted to suit any lighting requirements.

 

Ron Arad. 'Bodyguard' 2008

 

Ron Arad (British-Israeli, b. 1951)
Bodyguard chair
2008
Polished and partially coloured superplastic aluminium
49 x 36 x 70 1/2″ (124.5 x 91.4 x 179.1 cm)
Edition by The Gallery Mourmans, the Netherlands
Private collection, Palm Beach, Florida

 

 

The Bodyguards, a recent result of Arad’s experiments with blown aluminium, are all derived from the same bulbous shape, intersected and carved in various ways. Although Arad had sworn off designing rocking chairs, it seemed a natural application for this new technology, allowing him to create these large, polished pieces, which, in addition to rocking back and forth, also swivel in a way Arad describes as “omnidirectional.” With the Bodyguards, as with much of his furniture, Arad explores the expressive qualities of the material, pursuing a way to transcend its physical limitations. He has described the pieces as monsters – huge and labor intensive, some resembling a human torso and revealing colourful insides when cut. (Arad was teased about the number of security guards present at a show in Dolce & Gabbana’s Metropol space in Milan, in 2006 – hence the name.)

 

Installation Photographs of the Exhibition

Installation view of 'Ron Arad: No Discipline' exhibition featuring 'Cage sans Frontières (Cage without Borders)' with 'Even the Odd Balls?' chairs (2009) and 'Lolita Chandelier' (2004)

 

Installation view of Ron Arad: No Discipline exhibition featuring Cage sans Frontières (Cage without Borders) with Even the Odd Balls? chairs (2009) and Lolita Chandelier (2004)
Photo courtesy of Ron Arad Associates and the Museum of Modern Art

 

Installation view of 'Ron Arad: No Discipline' exhibition, featuring 'Cage sans Frontières (Cage without Borders)'

 

Installation view of Ron Arad: No Discipline exhibition, featuring Cage sans Frontières (Cage without Borders)
Photo courtesy of Ron Arad Associates and the Museum of Modern Art

 

Installation view of 'Ron Arad: No Discipline' exhibition, featuring 'Cage sans Frontières (Cage without Borders)'

 

Installation view of Ron Arad: No Discipline exhibition, featuring Cage sans Frontières (Cage without Borders)
Photo courtesy of Ron Arad Associates and the Museum of Modern Art

 

Installation view of 'Ron Arad: No Discipline' exhibition, featuring 'Cage sans Frontières (Cage without Borders)' with two 'Rolling Volume' chairs (1989 and 1991), left, and two 'Bodyguard' chairs (2007)

 

Installation view of Ron Arad: No Discipline exhibition, featuring Cage sans Frontières (Cage without Borders) with two Rolling Volume chairs (1989 and 1991), left, and two Bodyguard chairs (2007)

 

Installation view of 'Ron Arad: No Discipline' exhibition, featuring 'Cage sans Frontières (Cage without Borders)' with in the foreground, 'Oh Void 2' armchairs

 

Installation view of Ron Arad: No Discipline exhibition, featuring Cage sans Frontières (Cage without Borders) with in the foreground, Oh Void 2 armchairs

 

 

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11, West Fifty-Third Street, New York

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Friday 10.30 am – 8 pm
Saturday 10.30 am – 5.30 pm
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28
Aug
09

Opening: ‘Long Distance Vision: Three Australian Photographers’ at The Ian Potter Centre, NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 28th August 2009 – 21st February 2010

Opening: Thursday 27th August 2009
Artists: Christine Godden, Max Pam and Matthew Sleeth

 

A small but social opening of the latest photography exhibition at NGV Australia. Wonderful to see Edwin Nicholls and Sophie Gannon from Sophie Gannon Gallery, Richmond in attendance along with Dr Isobel Crombie, Senior Curator of Photography at the NGV and Susan van Wyk, curator of this exhibition and Curator of Photography at the NGV. Also in attendance were the NGV Director, Gerard Vaughan and Frances Lindsay, Deputy Director of the NGV. The exhibition was opened by Associate Professor Christopher Stewart from RMIT University.

Marcus

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Many thankx to Alison Murray and Sue Coffey for allowing me to take photographs of the opening, and for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Opening night crowd for 'Long Distance Vision' at NGV Australia, Melbourne

 

Opening night crowd for Long Distance Vision at NGV Australia, Melbourne with Senior Curator of Photography, Dr Isobel Crombie, at left of photograph.

 

Opening night crowd for 'Long Distance Vision' at NGV Australia, Melbourne

Opening night crowd for 'Long Distance Vision' at NGV Australia, Melbourne

Opening night crowd for 'Long Distance Vision' at NGV Australia, Melbourne

 

Opening night crowd for Long Distance Vision at NGV Australia, Melbourne

 

 

“Long Distance Vision will include over 60 photographs from the NGV Collection exploring the concept of the ‘tourist gaze’ and its relationship with the three artists.

Susan van Wyk, Curator Photography, NGV said the exhibition provides a fascinating insight into the unusual perspective brought by the three photographers to their varied world travel destinations.

“There’s a sense in the works in the exhibition that the photographers are not from the places they choose to photograph, and that each is a visitor delighting in the scenes they encounter.

What is notable about the photographs in Long Distance Vision is that rather than focussing on the well known scenes that each artist encountered, they have turned their attention to the ‘little things’, the details of the everyday,” said Ms van Wyk.

From the nineteenth century, photography has been a means by which people could discover the world, initially through personal collection and albums, and later via postcards, magazines, books and the internet.

Dr Gerard Vaughan, Director, NGV said that both contemporary photographers and tourists use the camera as a means to explore and capture the world.

“Through their photographs, the three artists featured in Long Distance Vision show us highly individual ways of seeing the world. This exhibition will surprise and delight visitors as our attention is drawn to not only what is different but what remains the same as we travel the world,” said Dr Vaughan.

Long Distance Vision: Three Australian Photographers is on display at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Federation Square from 28 August 2009 to 21 February 2010. The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia is open every day 10am-5pm. Entry to this exhibition is free.”

Press release from the NGV

 

Opening of 'Long Distance Vision' at NGV Australia, Melbourne

Opening of 'Long Distance Vision' at NGV Australia, Melbourne

 

Opening night crowd for Long Distance Vision at NGV Australia, Melbourne looking at the work of Max Pam from his Tibet series (see the four images below)

 

Max Pam (Australian, b. 1949) 'Tibetan man' 1977

 

Max Pam (Australian, b. 1949)
Tibetan man
1977
Gelatin silver photograph
20.1 × 20.1 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1979
© Max Pam

 

Max Pam (Australian, b. 1949) 'Feet, Thiksè, Ladakh' 1977

 

Max Pam (Australian, b. 1949)
Feet, Thiksè, Ladakh
1977
Gelatin silver photograph
20.1 × 20.1 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1979
© Max Pam

 

Max Pam (Australian, b. 1949) 'Rinzing lama and his drinking friend, Meru Ladakh' 1977

 

Max Pam (Australian, b. 1949)
Rinzing lama and his drinking friend, Meru Ladakh
1977
Gelatin silver photograph
20.1 × 20.1 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1979
© Max Pam

 

Max Pam (Australian, b. 1949) 'Man on Tibetan pony, Leh Ladakh' 1977

 

Max Pam (Australian, b. 1949)
Man on Tibetan pony, Leh Ladakh
1977
Gelatin silver photograph
20.1 × 20.1 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1979
© Max Pam

 

Edwin Nicholls and Sophie Gannon at the opening of 'Long Distance Vision' at NGV Australia, Melbourne

 

Sophie Gannon and Edwin Nicholls at the opening of Long Distance Vision at NGV Australia, Melbourne

 

Dr Isobel Crombie, Senior Curator of Photography at the NGV (left) with Susan can Wyk, Curator of Photography at the NGV and curator of the exhibition (right) at the opening of 'Long Distance Vision'

 

Dr Isobel Crombie, Senior Curator of Photography at the NGV (left) with Susan van Wyk, Curator of Photography at the NGV and curator of the exhibition (right) at the opening of Long Distance Vision

 

work-opening-c

Opening of 'Long Distance Vision' at NGV Australia, Melbourne.

 

Opening night crowd for Long Distance Vision at NGV Australia, Melbourne looking at the work of Max Pam from his Tibet series (see two images below)

 

Max Pam (Australian, b. 1949) 'Sisters' 1977

 

Max Pam (Australian, b. 1949)
Sisters
1977
Gelatin silver photograph
20.1 × 20.1 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1979
© Max Pam

 

Max Pam (Australian, b. 1949) 'Tibetan nomads' 1977

 

Max Pam (Australian, b. 1949)
Tibetan nomads
1977
Gelatin silver photograph
20.1 × 20.1 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1979
© Max Pam

 

 

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

Opening hours:
Every day 10 am – 5 pm

National Gallery of Victoria website

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26
Aug
09

Review: ‘Symmetrical Spirit Guides and Fractal Alchemy’ by Carl Scrase at John Buckley Gallery, Richmond, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 19th August – 5th September 2009

 

Carl Scrase 'Fractal Alchemy' installation view 2009

 

Carl Scrase (Australian, b. 1983)
Fractal Alchemy installation view
2009

 

 

This is a slight exhibition of collages and constructions by Carl Scrase at John Buckley Gallery, Melbourne. Ironically, given the nature of the catalogue essay by Tai Snaith (see below) that waxes lyrical about the mystery and magic of symmetry, synchronicity and spirit, this exhibition lacks the depth of purpose needed to address spiritual elements that are the very basis of human existence.

The biomorphic forms that go to make up the work Fractal Alchemy (2009) fair better in this regard, the various size bull dog clips offering nonrepresentational patterns that resemble living organisms and genetic structures in shape and appearance. At their best these elemental shapes start to transcend form and function to become something else: an instinctive and intuitive connection to the inherent fold in the universe, like the embedded pattern, the DNA template in a blank piece of paper before the folding of the origami model. Unfortunately the wonder of this piece is short-lived. Unlike the ever magical repetition of fractal geometry with its inherent iteration of forms that constantly a/maze, here the shapes are not stretched far enough, the exposition not grounded in broken or fractured forms that invite alchemical awareness in the viewer.

The collages are less successful in this mystery project. Made from cut-up images from magazines these symmetrical constructions lack spiritual presence. Like the aspired to symmetrical beauty of a human face it is, paradoxically, the irregularities of the human face that are their most attractive feature – our individuality. In the photographic stereoscopes of Victorian landscapes it is the difference between the left and right image that adds three-dimensional depth in the eye of the viewer, that transports them to other places, other worlds. In the collages of  Picasso it is the irregularities that also transport the viewer into a hypertextural, hypertextual world of wonder. Scrase’s collages on the other hand, are flat, rigidly symmetrical life-less things that belie their stated aim – to be kaleidoscopic spirit guides in search of a pattern for inner peace. Although some of their forms are attractive their is no wonder, no my-story to be gleaned here.

Overall the work lacks the gravitas and sense of fun in and through the act of creation that the concepts require: to see things clearly and to ground this visualisation in objects that transcend ‘now’ and extend spirit into the eternal. These constructions do not stand as ‘equivalents’ for other states of consciousness, of being-in-the-world, nor do they offer a re-velatio where they open up ‘poetic spaces’ in which the alienation and opposition of inside and outside, of objectivity and subjectivity are seen to be disconnected. The Japanese ‘ma’, the interval which gives substance to the whole, is missing.

To express deep inner emotions and connection to spirit requires utmost focus on their expression-in-the-world, a releasement from ego and a layering of materials and form that transport the object and viewer into an’other’ plane of existence. Unfortunately this work falls short of this state of no-desire.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

.
Many thankx to John Buckley Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting.

 

Carl Scrase. 'Fractal Alchemy' 2009

 

Carl Scrase (Australian, b. 1983)
Fractal Alchemy installation view
2009

 

Carl Scrase. 'Fractal Alchemy' (detail) 2009

 

Carl Scrase (Australian, b. 1983)
Fractal Alchemy (detail)
2009

 

Carl Scrase. 'Fractal Alchemy' (detail) 2009

 

Carl Scrase (Australian, b. 1983)
Fractal Alchemy (detail)
2009

 

Carl Scrase. 'Fractal Alchemy' (detail) 2009

 

Carl Scrase (Australian, b. 1983)
Fractal Alchemy (detail)
2009

 

Carl Scrase. 'Fractal Alchemy' (detail) 2009

 

Carl Scrase (Australian, b. 1983)
Fractal Alchemy (detail)
2009

 

Carl Scrase. 'Fractal Alchemy' (detail) 2009

 

Carl Scrase (Australian, b. 1983)
Fractal Alchemy (detail)
2009

 

 

“Carl Scrase is a perfect example of an artist marking the turn of a tide. At this distinct ebb of the ravenous, rampant seas of consumption and production we’ve been surfing for the past couple of hundred years and with the onset of the new flow, towards the riptide of Mayan prophesies of fast approaching 2012, Carl is on it, or should I say in it. And he’s splashing around.

This new generation of creative humans (to which Carl belongs) are not really concerned with how much money, time or status something is worth, or what kind of flashy object the human next to them owns. They seem to be more interested in what kind of wisdom can be procured, how many friends can be found and how a thing can be recycled or was born from something else. It is all about a search for the spirit, the feeling. Moreover, what it means. We are getting sick of the bland smog of consumerism, the stench of blatant big business and seem to be looking for escape pointers, for enlightenment, for answers and for CHANGE.

Carl’s work suggests his role as an artist is almost akin to a kind of medium slash alchemist – a self-proclaimed, new-age, anonymous shaman of sorts. Big boots to fill indeed, but don’t worry, its not like Carl is about to declare himself a Secret Chief and start welcoming in the new Golden Dawn or reading your tarot at openings. Nor is he concerned with the alchemical properties and behaviour of inorganic compounds or scientific explanations or measurements of the planets. His interest lies in noticing the sparkling mist of questions surrounding these things. The mystery and magic of how these marvels, such as symmetry and synchronicity occur in nature and how we can possibly learn from them and experience them in our day-to-day lives.

A true spiritualist in an atheist age, Carl uses his work as a kind of cipher for sorting his beliefs via a material creative process. His collages begin with found images from magazines, chosen relatively arbitrarily. His sculptures begin in a similar fashion with found objects, usually of the mundane or mass produced variety. It may be that they are all parts of images of human faces or just a complete add for a pair of Crocs or a hundred boxes of bull dog clips. Starting with the colour and then cutting the shape, or with the objects and then finding their natural function- almost as if listening to an instinctive, visual Ouija board somewhere in his subconscious. Carl then arranges the pieces through play. Similar to the way that you need to relax your eyes to receive the effects of a Magic Eye picture (remember them?), Carl relaxes his mind in order to let his collages find their final composition. This allows a kind of subconscious code to come forward, thus acting as both a reflection of his thoughts but also a kind of guide or suggestion for other’s thoughts, and perhaps something deeper that we don’t understand just yet.

I remember as a child I found an empty plastic tubular casing of a biro pen whilst walking along the beach one day. It had been washed and scratched by the ocean and gave the pale blue, semi-translucent plastic a soft almost sparkly effect. I picked it up and instinctively looked through the tiny tunnel at the sun. The way the sunlight refracted through the plastic before reaching my retina made me think of a magical kaleidoscope and I immediately classified it as having ‘special powers’, granting it prime position in my pocket for months. It became a type of personal talisman or spirit guide.

Traditionally, in animist belief systems (such as Shinto and certain parts of Hinduism) sprits need either an object or a medium (ie, thunder, lightening, wind, animals, plants, etc) to be experienced or seen by humans. They need something else to exist in order to communicate with us. Carl’s images and objects seem to suggest or demonstrate this kind of medium as well as subtly questioning the message. In the same way that a child finds wonder in the changing symmetry of a Kaleidoscope before they even understand the science of the mirror involved, there is a wonder in these images and objects as soon as we encounter them. A wonder in creation, in ritual, in synchronicity and light. A wonder in life.

For Carl, the practice of Alchemy (and in this instance one might just as comfortably read Alchemy as Art) is ‘not the search for some magic potion’ but rather the ‘awareness that all life is eternal and the inner peace that comes from that realisation’. Just as we recognise similar patterns within nature, like the spiral formation of a shell or the layering of petals on a flower or the direction of the hair growing on a man’s scalp, we can notice these patterns on a spiritual and philosophical plane also. It doesn’t take a genius to recognise a similar search for meaning and self-realisation being revisited amongst some of the most interesting artists of our time, but let’s just hope that the search continues to prove that the process of making art itself is both the question and the answer.”

Tai Snaith
 2009

Text from the John Buckley website [Online] Cited 20/08/2009 no longer available online

 

Carl Scrase (Australian, b. 1983) 'Spiritguide 090501' 2009

 

Carl Scrase (Australian, b. 1983)
Spiritguide 090501
2009

 

Carl Scrase (Australian, b. 1983) 'Spiritguide 090624' 2009

 

Carl Scrase (Australian, b. 1983)
Spiritguide 090624
2009

 

Carl Scrase. 'Spiritguide 090504' 2009

 

Carl Scrase (Australian, b. 1983)
Spiritguide 090504
2009

 

Carl Scrase. 'Spiritguide 090509' 2009

 

Carl Scrase (Australian, b. 1983)
Spiritguide 090509
2009

 

Carl Scrase. 'Spiritguide 090520' 2009

 

Carl Scrase (Australian, b. 1983)
Spiritguide 090520
2009

 

Carl Scrase. 'Spiritguide 090601' 2009

 

Carl Scrase (Australian, b. 1983)
Spiritguide 090601
2009

 

Carl Scrase. 'Spiritguide 090617' 2009

 

Carl Scrase (Australian, b. 1983)
Spiritguide 090617
2009

 

 

John Buckley Gallery

This gallery is now closed.

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24
Aug
09

Exhibition: ‘Pierre et Gilles. Retrospective’ at the C/O Berlin Gallery, Berlin

Exhibition dates: 25th July – 4th October 2009

 

Many thankx to the C/O Berlin Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Pierre et Gilles. 'Mercury' 2001

 

Pierre et Gilles (French, Pierre Commoy b. 1950 and Gilles Blanchard, b. 1953)
Mercury
2001

 

 

“It’s hard to think of contemporary culture without the influence of Pierre et Gilles, from advertising to fashion photography, music video, and film. This is truly global art.”

Jeff Koons

 

The cosmos of the worldwide renowned French artist duo is a vivid, colourful world poised between baroque sumptuousness and earthly limbo. Pierre et Gilles create unique hand-painted photographic portraits of film icons, sailors and princes, saints and sinners, of mythological figures and unknowns alike. Pierre et Gilles pursue their own, stunningly unique vision of an enchanted world spanning fairytale paradises and abyssal depths, quoting from popular visual languages and history of art. Again and again, they re-envision their personal dream of reality anew in consummate aesthetic perfection.

Pierre et Gilles are among the most influential artists of our time. In their complex, multilayered images, they quote from art history, transgress traditional moral codes, and experiment adeptly with social clichés. Their painterly photographic masterpieces exert an intense visual power that leaves the viewer spellbound.

Over the last thirty years, Pierre et Gilles have created photographic portraits of numerous celebrities including Marc Almond, Mirelle Mathieu, Catherine Deneuve, Serge Gainsbourg, Iggy Pop, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Nina Hagen, Madonna, and Paloma Picasso. They work almost exclusively in an opulently furnished studio, where their subjects are costumed lavishly and placed before three-dimensional backgrounds. Pierre photographs the model, and Gilles retouches and hand-colours the print. The reproducible portrait is rendered unique through painting, which highlights each detail with carefully selected materials and accessories.

As only venue in Germany, C/O Berlin presents the exhibition as the first of Pierre et Gilles in fifteen years. The show comprised a total of 80 unique large-format works – from their early photographies of the 1970s to the brand new pictures that were never shown in public before.”

Text from the C/O Berlin website [Online] Cited 20/08/2009 no longer available online

 

Pierre et Gilles. 'St. Sebastian' 1987

 

Pierre et Gilles (French, Pierre Commoy b. 1950 and Gilles Blanchard, b. 1953)
St. Sebastian
1987

 

Pierre et Gilles. 'Neptune' 1988

 

Pierre et Gilles (French, Pierre Commoy b. 1950 and Gilles Blanchard, b. 1953)
Neptune
1988

 

Pierre et Gilles. 'Saint Rose De Lima' 1989

 

Pierre et Gilles (French, Pierre Commoy b. 1950 and Gilles Blanchard, b. 1953)
Saint Rose De Lima
1989

 

Pierre et Gilles. 'Le Petit Communiste Christophe' 1990

 

Pierre et Gilles (French, Pierre Commoy b. 1950 and Gilles Blanchard, b. 1953)
Le Petit Communiste Christophe (The Little Communist Christophe)
1990

 

Pierre et Gilles. 'Legend' (Madonna) 1990

 

Pierre et Gilles (French, Pierre Commoy b. 1950 and Gilles Blanchard, b. 1953)
Legend (Madonna)
1990

 

Pierre et Gilles. 'La Madone au coeur blessé' 1991

 

Pierre et Gilles (French, Pierre Commoy b. 1950 and Gilles Blanchard, b. 1953)
La Madone au coeur blessé (Madonna with a wounded heart)
1991

 

Pierre et Gilles. 'St. Sebastian of the Sea' 1994

 

Pierre et Gilles (French, Pierre Commoy b. 1950 and Gilles Blanchard, b. 1953)
St. Sebastian of the Sea
1994

 

Pierre et Gilles. 'The Martyrdom of St Sebastian' 1996

 

Pierre et Gilles (French, Pierre Commoy b. 1950 and Gilles Blanchard, b. 1953)
The Martyrdom of St Sebastian
1996

 

Pierre et Gilles. 'Extase' (Arielle Dombasle) 2002

 

Pierre et Gilles (French, Pierre Commoy b. 1950 and Gilles Blanchard, b. 1953)
Extase (Arielle Dombasle)
2002

 

Pierre et Gilles. 'Le Grand Amour' (Marilyn Manson and Dita von Teese) 2004

 

Pierre et Gilles (French, Pierre Commoy b. 1950 and Gilles Blanchard, b. 1953)
Le Grand Amour (Marilyn Manson and Dita von Teese)
2004

 

 

C/O Berlin
Postfuhramt
Oranienburger Straße 35/36
10117 Berlin

Opening hours:
Daily 11 am – 8 pm

C/O Berlin website

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21
Aug
09

Opening: ‘Little Treasures’ and ‘Clay Cameras’ at Helen Gory Galerie, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 20th August – 5th September 2009

Little Treasures Toby Richardson, Will Nolan, CJ Taylor and Steve Wilson

Clay Cameras Alan Constable

 

 

Alan Constable. 'Not titled (ALE SLR)' 2008

 

Alan Constable (Australian,
Not titled (ALE SLR)
2008

 

 

A small crowd was in attendance for the opening of two new exhibitions at Helen Gory Galerie (due to two auctions, one at Sotheby’s and the other at Deutscher-Menzies). Despite this the crowd was appreciative of the beautifully printed and well presented work. In the main exhibition Little Treasures four photographers show various bodies of work. Toby Richardson’s stained pillows (Portrait of the artist) from the years 1986-2003 were effective in their muted tones and ‘thickened’ spatio-temporal identity. CJ Taylor’s winged detritus from the taxidermist were haunting in their mutilated beauty. Steve Wilson’s sometimes legless flies were startling in their precision, attitude/altitude and, as someone noted, they looked like jet fighters! Finally my favourite of this quartet were the recyco-pop iridescent bottle tops of Will Nolan – “these objects remain enigmatic, resonating with a sense of mystery, hidden thoughts and unknown histories.” (Lauren Tomczak, catalogue text).

Some good work then in this take on found, then lost and found again treasure trove, work that retrieves and sustains traces of life, history and memory in the arcana of discarded and dissected objects.

The hit of the night for me was the work of Alan Constable, his “objects that see”. I found his clay cameras intoxicating – I wanted to own one (always a good sign). I loved the exaggerated form and colours, the playfulness of the creativity on display. Being a photographer I went around trying to work out the different makes of these scratched and highly glazed cameras without looking at the exhibition handout. For a very reasonable price you could own one of these seductive (is that the right word, I think it is) viewfinders and they were selling like hot cakes!

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

.
Many thankx to Helen Gory Galerie for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Little Treasures

“Wings, pillows, flies and bottle tops are blown up vastly in stunning large scale prints that take the viewer through the looking glass into another universe, their brilliant colour and rich detail revealing unexpected beauty and delight in these forgotten things. Unmanipulated and finely printed, these images are the product of each artist’s technical mastery and inquisitive eye finding beauty in the cast off and delight in the ignored.” (Jemima Kemp, 2009)

 

Installation view of 'Little Treasures' showing the work of Toby Richardson 'Portrait of the Artist' series at Helen Gory Galerie, Melbourne

 

Installation view of Little Treasures showing Toby Richardson’s Portrait of the Artist series (2009, left)

 

Opening night crowd at 'Little Treasures'

Installation view of 'Little Treasures' showing the work of CJ Taylor (left) and Will Nolan 'Bottle Top' series (2009, right) series at Helen Gory Galerie, Melbourne

 

Installation view of Little Treasures showing the work of CJ Taylor (2009, left) and Will Nolan’s Bottle Top series (2009, right)

 

Installation view of 'Little Treasures' showing the work of CJ Taylor (2009)

 

Installation view of Little Treasures showing the work of CJ Taylor (2009)

 

CJ Taylor. 'Blue, turquoise yellow green' 2009

 

CJ Taylor
Blue, turquoise yellow green
2009
Acrylic glass pigment print
110 x 79 cm

 

CJ Taylor. 'Blue, Blue, Grey' 2009

 

CJ Taylor
Blue, Blue, Grey
2009
Acrylic glass pigment print
110 x 79 cm

 

f

 

Installation view of Little Treasures showing Will Nolan’s Bottle Top series (2009)

 

Will Nolan. 'Bottle top #10' 2009

 

Will Nolan
Bottle top #10
2009

 

Will Nolan. 'Bottle top #1' 2009

 

Will Nolan
Bottle top #1
2009

 

Installation view of 'Little Treasures' showing the work of Steve Wilson 'Fly' series (2009) at Helen Gory Galerie, Melbourne

 

Installation view of Little Treasures showing Steve Wilson’s Fly series (2009)

 

 

Clay Cameras

“From the box brownie to disposables, VHS to SLR, these works explore Alan Constable’s fascination with cameras. Unlike the streamlined design of the originals, Constable’s cameras appear soft, organic and malleable.”

 

Alan Constable. 'Not titled (pearlescent gold/black Leica)' 2008

 

Alan Constable
Not titled (pearlescent gold/black Leica)
2008

 

Installation view of 'Clay Cameras' at Helen Gory Galerie, Melbourne

 

Installation view of Clay Cameras by Alan Constable

 

Alan Constable. 'Not titled (Hasselblad)' 2008

 

Alan Constable
Not titled (Hasselblad)
2008

 

Alan Constable. 'Not titled (Digital with zoom lens)' 2009

 

Alan Constable
Not titled (Digital with zoom lens)
2009

 

 

Helen Gory Galerie

This gallery is now closed.

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19
Aug
09

Exhibition: ‘Intersections Intersected: The Photography of David Goldblatt’ at the New Museum, New York

Exhibition dates: 15th July – 11th October 2009

 

One of the greats.

Marcus

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Many thankx to the New Museum for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

David Goldblatt (South African, 1930-2018) 'Family at Lunch, Wheatlands Plots, Randfontein, September 1962' 1962

 

David Goldblatt (South African, 1930-2018)
Family at Lunch, Wheatlands Plots, Randfontein, September 1962
1962
Gelatin silver print

 

David Goldblatt. 'A new shack under construction, Lenasia Extension 9, Gauteng' 1990

 

David Goldblatt (South African, 1930-2018)
A new shack under construction, Lenasia Extension 9, Gauteng
1990
Gelatin silver print

 

David Goldblatt (South African, 1930-2018) 'Monuments celebrating the Republic of South Africa (left and JG Strijdom, former prime minister (right), with the headquarters of Volkskas Bank, Pretoria. 25 April 1982' 1982

 

David Goldblatt (South African, 1930-2018)
Monuments celebrating the Republic of South Africa (left and JG Strijdom, former prime minister (right), with the headquarters of Volkskas Bank, Pretoria. 25 April 1982
1982
Black and while photograph on matte paper
Courtesy the artist and Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg

 

David Goldblatt. 'Man with an injured arm. Hillbrow, Johannesburg, June, 1972' 1972

 

David Goldblatt (South African, 1930-2018)
Man with an injured arm. Hillbrow, Johannesburg, June, 1972
1972
Black and while photograph on matte paper
Courtesy the artist and Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg

 

David Goldblatt (South African, 1930-2018) 'Mofolo South, Soweto, September 1972' 1972

 

David Goldblatt (South African, 1930-2018)
Mofolo South, Soweto, September 1972
1972
Gelatin silver print

 

 

Over the last fifty years, David Goldblatt has documented the complexities and contradictions of South African society. His photographs capture the social and moral value systems that governed the tumultuous history of his country’s segregationist policies and continue to influence its changing political landscape. Goldblatt began photographing professionally in the early 1960s, focusing on the effects of the National Party’s legislation of apartheid. The son of Jewish Lithuanian parents who fled to South Africa to escape religious persecution, Goldblatt was forced into a peculiar situation, being at once a white man in a racially segregated society and a member of a religious minority with a sense of otherness. He used the camera to capture the true face of apartheid as his way of coping with horrifying realities and making his voice heard. Goldblatt did not try to capture iconic images, nor did he use the camera as a tool to entice revolution through propaganda. Instead, he reveals a much more complex portrait, including the intricacies and banalities of daily life in all aspects of society. Whether showing the plight of black communities, the culture of the Afrikaner nationalists, the comfort of white suburbanites, or the architectural landscape, Goldblatt’s photographs are an intimate portrayal of a culture plagued by injustice.

In Goldblatt’s images we can see a universal sense of people’s aspirations, making do with their abnormal situation in as normal a way as possible. People go about their daily lives, trying to preserve a sense of decency amid terrible hardship. Goldblatt points out a connection between people (including himself) and the environment, and how the environment reflects the ideologies that built it. His photographs convey a sense of vulnerability as well as dignity. Goldblatt is very much a part of the culture that he is analysing. Unlike the tradition of many documentary photographers who capture the “decisive moment,” Goldblatt’s interest lies in the routine existence of a particular time in history.

Goldblatt continues to explore the consciousness of South African society today. He looks at the condition of race relations after the end of apartheid while also tackling other contemporary issues, such as the influence of the AIDS epidemic and the excesses of consumption. For his “Intersections Intersected” series, Goldblatt looks at the relationship between the past and present by pairing his older black-and-white images with his more recent colour work. Here we may notice photography’s unique association with time: how things were, how things are, and also that the effects of apartheid run deep. It will take much more time to heal the wounds of a society that was divided for so long. Yet, there is a possibility for hope, recognition of how much has changed politically in the time between the two images, and a potential optimism for the future. Goldblatt’s work is a dynamic and multilayered view of life in South Africa, and he continues to reveal that society’s progress and incongruities.”

Joseph Gergel, Curatorial Fellow

Text from the New Museum website [Online] Cited 15/08/2009 no longer available online

 

David Goldblatt. 'Wreath at the Berg-en-Dal Monument' 1983

 

David Goldblatt (South African, 1930-2018)
Wreath at the Berg-en-Dal Monument which commemorates the courage – and the sarcophagus which holds the bones – of 60 men of the South African Republic Police, who died here 27 August 1900 in a critical battle of the Anglo-Boer War. Dalmanutha, Mpumalanga. December 1983.
1983
Courtesy the artist and Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg

 

David Goldblatt. 'The swimming bath rules at the rec, Cape Blue Asbestos Mine, Koegas, Northern Cape' 2002

 

David Goldblatt (South African, 1930-2018)
The swimming bath rules at the rec, Cape Blue Asbestos Mine, Koegas, Northern Cape
2002

 

David Goldblatt. 'The mill, Pomfret Asbestos Mine, Pomfret, North-West Province, 20 December 2002' 2002

 

David Goldblatt (South African, 1930-2018)
The mill, Pomfret Asbestos Mine, Pomfret, North-West Province, 20 December 2002
2002

 

David Goldblatt. 'Johannesburg from the Southwest' 2003

 

David Goldblatt (South African, 1930-2018)
Johannesburg from the Southwest
2003

 

David Goldblatt. 'Incomplete houses, part of a stalled municipal development of 1000 houses. Lady Grey, Eastern Cape, 5 August 2006' 2006

 

David Goldblatt (South African, 1930-2018)
Incomplete houses, part of a stalled municipal development of 1000 houses. Lady Grey, Eastern Cape, 5 August 2006
2006

 

 

New Museum
235 Bowery
New York, NY 10002
212.219.1222

Opening hours:
Tuesday and Wednesday 11 am – 6 pm
Thursday 11 am – 9 pm
Friday – Sunday 11 am – 6 pm

New Museum website

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16
Aug
09

Review: ‘Cineraria’ by Julia deVille at Sophie Gannon Gallery, Richmond, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 28th July  – 22nd August 2009

 

Julia deVille (New Zealand, b. 1982) 'Ruby Heart Starling' 2008

 

Julia deVille (New Zealand, b. 1982)
Ruby Heart Starling
2008
Starling, sterling silver, black rhodium & gold plate, rubies, antique frame
30 x 35 x 18 cm

 

 

This is an itsy-bitsy show by Julia deVille at Sophie Gannon Gallery in Richmond, Melbourne. Offering a menagerie of macabre stuffed animals and conceptual ideas the exhibition fails to coalesce into a satisfying vision. It features many ideas that are not fully investigated and incorporated into the corporeal body of the work.

We have, variously, The Funerary Urn/Cinerarium, The Ossuary, Skeletons, Black, Victorian Funerary Customs, Feathers, Taxidermy, Time, Eggs and Religion. We also have stuffed animals, cigar boxes, lace and silver, pelts and columns, jet necklaces and Victorian glass domes, glass eyes and ruby hearts to name but a few. The viewer is overwhelmed by ideas and materials.

When individual pieces excel the work is magical: the delicate and disturbing Stillborn Angel (2009, below) curled in a foetal position with appended sparrows wings is a knockout. The large suspended raven of Night’s Plutonian Shore (2009, above) effectively evinces the feeling of the shores of the underworld that the title, taken from an Edgar Allan Poe poem, reflects on.

Other pieces only half succeed. Piglet (2009, below) is a nice idea with its lace snout and beaded wings sitting on a bed of feathers awaiting judgement but somehow the elements don’t click into place. Further work are just one shot ideas that really lead nowhere. For example Cat Rug (2008, below) features black crystals in the mouth of a taxidermied cat that lies splayed on a plinth on the gallery floor. And, so … Silver Rook (2008, below) is a rook whose bones have been cast in silver, with another ruby heart, suspended in mid-air in the gallery space. Again an interesting idea that really doesn’t translate into any dialogue that is substantial or interesting.

Another problem with the work is the technical proficiency of some of the pieces. The cast silver front legs and ribs of The Anatomy of a Rabbit (2008, below) are of poor quality and detract from what should have been the delicacy of the skeletal bones of the work. The bronze lion cartouche on the egg shaped Lion Urn (2009) fails to fit the curved shape of the egg – it is just attached at the top most point and sits proud of the egg shape beneath. Surely someone with an eye for detail and a sense of context, perfection and pride in the work they make would know that the cartouche should have been made to fit the shape underneath.

Despite its fashionable position hovering between craft, jewellery and installation this is ‘art’ in need of a good reappraisal. My suggestion would be to take one idea, only one, and investigate it fully in a range of work that is thematically linked and beautifully made. Instead of multiplying the ideas and materials that are used, simplify the conceptual theme and at the same time layer the work so it has more complexity, so that it reveals itself over time. You only have to look at the work of Mari Funaki in the previous post or the simple but conceptually complex photographs of Matthias Koch in the German photography review to understand that LESS IS MORE!

There are positive signs here and I look forward to seeing the development of the artist over the next few years.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

.
Many thankx to Sophie Gannon Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

Julia deVille (New Zealand, b. 1982) 'Night's Plutonian Shore' 2009

 

Julia deVille (New Zealand, b. 1982)
Night’s Plutonian Shore
2009
Tasmanian Forest Raven, black garnets, cotton, sterling silver, amethyst

 

Julia deVille (New Zealand, b. 1982) 'L'enfant (Infant Funerary Urn)' 2009

 

Julia deVille (New Zealand, b. 1982)
L’enfant (Infant Funerary Urn)
2009
Ostrich egg, sterling silver, ostrich plumes and black garnet
35 x 12 x 12 cm

 

Julia de Ville 'Cineraria' installation view at Sophie Gannon Gallery, Melbourne

Julia de Ville 'Cineraria' installation view at Sophie Gannon Gallery, Melbourne

 

Julia deVille Cineraria installation views at Sophie Gannon Gallery, Melbourne

 

Julia de Ville. 'Piglet' 2009

 

Julia deVille (New Zealand, b. 1982)
Piglet
2009
Piglet, antique lace, pins and feathers
25 x 23 x 13 cm

 

Julia de Ville. 'Cat Rug' 2008

 

Julia deVille (New Zealand, b. 1982)
Cat Rug
2008
Cat, glitter and fibreglass
100 x 60 x 8 cm

 

Julia de Ville. 'Sympathy' 2008

 

Julia deVille (New Zealand, b. 1982)
Sympathy
2008

 

Julia de Ville. 'Silver Rook' 2008

 

Julia deVille (New Zealand, b. 1982)
Silver Rook
2008
Sterling silver, rubies
30 x 25 x 35 cm

 

 

Cinerarium

n. pl. Cineraria
A place for keeping the ashes of a cremated body.

Cineraria
n. any of several horticultural varieties of a composite plant, Senecio hybridus, of the Canary Islands, having clusters of flowers with
white, blue, purple, red, or variegated rays.

Origin: 1590-1600; < NL, fem. of cinerarius ashen, equiv. to L ciner- (s. of cinis ashes) + -rius -ary; so named from ash-coloured down on leaves.

CINERARIA is a study of the ritual and sentiment behind funerary customs from various cultures and eras.

 

Notes on inspirations

The Funerary Urn/Cinerarium: Funerary Urns have been used since the times of the ancient Greeks and are still used today. After death, the body is cremated and the ashes are collected in the urn.

The Ossuary: An ossuary is a chest, building, well, or site made to serve as the final resting place of human skeletal remains. They are frequently used where burial space is scarce. A body is first buried in a temporary grave, then after some years the skeletal remains are removed and placed in an ossuary. The greatly reduced space taken up by an ossuary means that it is possible to store the remains of many more people in a single tomb than if the original coffins were left as is. This was a common practice in post plague Europe in the 14th-16th Centuries.

Skeletons: Human skeletons and sometimes non-human animal skeletons and skulls are often used as blunt images of death. The skull and crossbones (Death’s Head) motif has been used among Europeans as a symbol of piracy, poison and most commonly, human mortality.

Black: In the West, the colour used for death and mourning is black. Black is associated with the underworld and evil. Kali, the Hindu god of destruction, is depicted as black.

Victorian Funerary Customs:

  • A wreath of laurel, yew or boxwood tied with crape or black ribbons would be hung on the front door to alert passers by that a death had occurred
  • The use of flowers and candles helped to mask unpleasant odours in the room before embalming became common
  • White was a popular colour for the funeral of a child. White gloves, ostrich plumes and a white coffin were the standard

Feathers: In Egyptian culture a recently deceased persons soul had to be as light as a feather to pass the judgment of Ma’at. Ma’at (Maet, Mayet) is the Egyptian goddess of truth, justice and the underworld. She is often portrayed as wearing a feather, a symbol of truth, on her head. She passed judgment over the souls of the dead in the Judgment Hall of Osiris. She also weighted up the soul against a feather. The “Law of Ma’at” was the basis of civil laws in ancient Egypt. If it failed, the soul was sent into the underworld. Ma’at’s symbol, an ostrich feather, stands for order and truth.

Taxidermy: Taxidermy to me is a modern form of preservation, a way for life to continue on after death, in a symbolic visual form.

The Raven: In many cultures for thousands of years, the Raven has been seen symbol of death. This is largely due to the Raven feeding on carrion. Edgar Allan Poe has used this symbolism in his poem, “The Raven”.

Time: Less blunt symbols of death frequently allude to the passage of time and the fragility of life. Clocks, hourglasses, sundials, and other timepieces call to mind that time is passing. Similarly, a candle both marks the passage of time, and bears witness that it will eventually burn itself out. These sorts of symbols were often incorporated into vanitas paintings, a variety of early still life.

Eggs: The egg has been a symbol of the start of new life for over 2,500 years, dating back to the ancient Persians. I have chosen egg shapes and even one Ostrich egg to represent the cycle of life, the beginning and the end.

Religion: Religion has played a large part in many funerary customs and beliefs. I am particularly interested in the Memento Mori period of the 16th-18th centuries. In a Calvinistic Europe, when the plague was a not too distant memory, a constant preoccupation with death became a fashionable devotional trend.

Julia deVille

 

Julia de Ville. 'Stillborn Angel' 2009

 

Julia deVille (New Zealand, b. 1982)
Stillborn Angel
2009
Stillborn puppy, sparrow wings and sterling silver
13 x 10 x 5 cm

 

Julia de Ville. 'The Anatomy of a Rabbit' 2008

 

Julia deVille (New Zealand, b. 1982)
The Anatomy of a Rabbit
2008
Rabbit, sterling silver, rubies, glitter and mahogany
30 x 30 x 30 cm

 

Julia de Ville 'Cineraria' installation views at Sophie Gannon Gallery, Melbourne

 

Julia deVille Cineraria installation view at Sophie Gannon Gallery, Melbourne

 

 

Sophie Gannon Gallery
2, Albert Street, Richmond, Melbourne

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Saturday 11 – 5pm

Sophie Gannon Gallery website

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14
Aug
09

Notes from a Conversation with Mari Funaki. Exhibition: ‘Mari Funaki, Works 1992-2009’ at Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth

Exhibition dates: 27th June – 18th October 2009

 

Mari Funaki. 'Bracelet 1' from ‘Space between’ heat-coloured mild steel 2005-06

 

Mari Funaki (Australian, 1950-2010)
Bracelet 1 from Space between
2005-06
Heat-coloured mild steel

 

Mari Funaki. 'Bracelet 2' from ‘Space between’ heat-coloured mild steel 2005-06

 

Mari Funaki (Australian, 1950-2010)
Bracelet 2 from Space between
2005-06
Heat-coloured mild steel

 

 

Mari Funaki is one of Australia’s leading jewellers. This exhibition celebrates her considerable achievements between 1992 and the present day. Her first major show in a state gallery, it includes nearly fifty works and will be the first time Perth audiences have seen her work in such depth. Many of these are new works produced especially for this show.

The exhibition will focus on rings, containers and bracelets. These forms have been the core of her practice, the foundation of her intricate material experimentations. Her sheer intensity of focus has seen her hone these forms into objects of extreme power and beauty. Funaki’s is no simple beauty, however. It is sharp, complicated. There is always a sense of danger in her work, as the spindly legs of her insect-like containers support unlikely, unwieldy torsos, and as her rings and bracelets cultivate miniature monoliths that play with scale and weight in fascinating ways.

This exhibition will frame these unique objects in such a way as to acknowledge Funaki’s ability to work with space and matter to form entrancing works that adorn the imagination in the same they adorn the body.

Text from the Art Gallery of Western Australia website [Online] Cited 10/08/2009 no longer available online

 

Mari Funaki. 'Bracelet 3' from ‘Space between’ heat-coloured mild steel 2005-06

 

Mari Funaki (Australian, 1950-2010)
Bracelet 3 from Space between
2005-06
Heat-coloured mild steel

 

Mari Funaki. 'Bracelet 4' from ‘Space between’ heat-coloured mild steel 2005-06

 

Mari Funaki (Australian, 1950-2010)
Bracelet 4 from Space between
2005-06
Heat-coloured mild steel

 

 

Notes from a Conversation with Mari Funaki, July 2006

Mari Funaki’s initial response comes from the environment – the response is part random, part constructed idea.

Funaki likes the ‘animated’ response from the viewer – allowing them to make their own associations with the work and their own meaning. The making of the work doesn’t emerge out of nothing but through the development of ideas over a long period of time.

Mari starts with a flat drawing – this approach comes from an Eastern perspective in the history of art making i.e. screens, woodcuts and scrolls. Initially when starting with the idea Mari is mentally thinking in two dimensions – then drawing out onto paper in two dimensions the ideas.

When actually making the work Mari then starts working and thinking in three dimensions – starting with a base piece of metal and working physically and intuitively around the object, to form a construction that evidences her feelings about what she wants to create. She likes the aesthetic beauty but uneasy aspect of a dead insect for example (like the Louise Bourgeois Maman spider outside the Guggenheim in Bilbao).

Now collaborating with architect Nonda Kotsalidis, Mari is working to produce her sculptural objects on a larger scale, up to 6 metres high. She needs the objects to have an emotional and physical impact on the viewer – both beautiful and threatening at one and the same time. How will her objects translate to a larger scale? Very well I think.

Funaki likes the physical distortion of space – and she likes telling a story to the viewer. She is working on a building where the facade is really strongly geometric and then she is embedding an emotion into the front of the building – constructing a narrative – constructing an emotional response with the viewer and establishing a relationship with the building. Here she is working from photographs of the space, her own recognition and remembrance of that space. She is having to work physically in 3D from the beginning for the first time, but still uses drawings to sketch out her ideas.

Several of Funaki’s pieces in the Cecily and Colin Rigg Contemporary Design Award (2006) at the NGV Federation Square were inspired by the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher. Their photographs of factories and gasworks, specifically the facades of such buildings (see image below), were the jumping off point for the development of the objects (the bracelets). Funaki takes the front of these buildings, a 3D structure ‘in reality’ but pictorially imaged on a 2D plane, and then twists and distorts their structure back into a 3D environment. The facades move up and around, as though a body is twisting around its own axis, pirouetting around an invisible central spine.

Each piece is created and then the next one is created in relation to the previous, or to each other. Each individual piece has its own character and relation to each other. They are never variations of the same piece with small differences – each is a separate but fully (in)formed entity.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

 

Bernd and Hilla Becher. 'Water Towers' 1980

 

Bernd and Hiller Becher (German, 1931-2007 and 1934-2015)
Water Towers
1980
Gelatin silver prints

 

 

“Black. Sharp, shifting contours. Familiar and alien. Confident, expressive and agile, it is easy to take the existence of these works for granted – and it is hard enough to trace in one’s mind the physical evolution back through heat colouring, sandblasting, soldering, assembling and cutting, to unremarkable, thin sheets of mild steel – let alone comprehend their conception and resolution.

They inhabit space in a way that is difficult to describe – the edge between each object and the space that encloses it is shockingly sudden.

How can something human-made be so insanely artificial and natural at the same time? It must be no accident that I described them as articulate – ambiguous and wide ranging in the breadth of associations and allusions, they can tell you everything and nothing at the same time.”

Sally Marsland, 2006

Text from the Gallery Funaki website [Online] Cited 10/08/2009 no longer available online

 

Mari Funaki. 'Bracelet 5' from ‘Space between’ heat-coloured mild steel 2005-06

 

Mari Funaki (Australian, 1950-2010)
Bracelet 5 from Space between
2005-06
Heat-coloured mild steel

 

Mari Funaki. 'Bracelet 6' from ‘Space between’ heat-coloured mild steel 2005-06

 

Mari Funaki (Australian, 1950-2010)
Bracelet 6 from Space between
2005-06
Heat-coloured mild steel

 

 

Art Gallery of Western Australia
Perth Cultural Centre
Perth WA 6000

Opening hours:
Wednesday – Monday 10am – 5pm
Closed Tuesdays.

Art Gallery of Western Australia website

Gallery Funaki website

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11
Aug
09

Exhibition: ‘Hunted and Gathered: Photographs’ from the Private Collection of Robert Flynn Johnson at Modernism, San Franciso

Exhibition dates: July 9th – August 29th 2009

 

Many thankx to Modernism for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Anonymous. 'The Dancer, Ted Shawn, Boston Dance Theater' 1929

 

Anonymous photographer
The Dancer, Ted Shawn, Boston Dance Theater
1929
Vintage gelatin silver print
9 5/8 x 7 1/4″

 

Gérard Decaux. 'Abbe Lane' Rome, c. 1955

 

Gérard Decaux
Abbe Lane
Rome, c. 1955
Vintage gelatin silver print
10 1/4 x 8 1/2″

 

Clarence Sinclair Bull (American, 1896-1979) 'Greta Garbo' c. 1935

 

Clarence Sinclair Bull (American, 1896-1979)
Greta Garbo
c. 1935
Gelatin silver print, printed later
14 x 11″

 

 

Clarence Sinclair Bull was born in Sun River, Montana in 1896. His career began when Samuel Goldwyn hired him in the 1920 to photograph publicity stills of the MGM stars. He is most famous for his photographs of Greta Garbo taken during the years of 1926-1941. Bull’s first portrait of Garbo was a costume study for the Flesh and the Devil, in September 1926.

Bull was able to study with the great Western painter, Charles Marion Russell. He also served as an assistant cameraman in 1918. Bull was skilled in the areas of lighting, retouching, and printing. He was most commonly credited as “C.S. Bull.” Bull died on June 8, 1979 in Los Angeles, California, aged 83.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Laure Albin Guillot (French, 1879-1962) 'La Flamme (Woman's Head)' c. 1935

 

Laure Albin Guillot (French, 1879-1962)
La Flamme (Woman’s Head)
c. 1935
Vintage gelatin silver print
6 3/8 x 4 3/8″

 

Anonymous photographer. 'Acrobats' c. 1920

 

Anonymous photographer
Acrobats
c. 1920
Vintage gelatin silver print
8 5/8 x 5 5/8″

 

Pierre Nobel. 'Still Life' c.1935

 

Pierre Nobel
Still Life
c. 1935
Vintage gelatin silver print mounted on paper
9 1/4 x 6 3/4″

 

Charles Jones. 'Plum, Laxton Early Red' c.1910

 

Charles Jones (English, 1866-1959)
Plum, Laxton Early Red
c. 1910
Vintage gelatin silver print from a glass plate negative
6 x 4 1/4″

 

 

Modernism presents a wonderful and intriguing selection of photographs from the private collection of Robert Flynn Johnson. Robert Flynn Johnson is emeritus faculty in the Printmaking department. He is the curator in charge of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, a position he has held since 1975.

This exhibition coincides with the publication of his second book on vernacular photography, The Face in the Lens: Anonymous Photographs (University of California Press).

“When I am asked what it takes to become an accomplished collector, it is not the qualities of knowledge, judgment or that elusive term “taste” that comes to mind. Instead, it is the ability to be curious that is the crucial element in the makeup of a true collector – the ability to ask questions, to learn, and to get answers regarding works of art that catch your eye and move your emotions,” Robert Flynn Johnson said.

He added, “For more than thirty-five years I have followed my curiosity in passionately seeking out photographs that have stirred my imagination. Some of them have been by great artistic masters of the medium, while others have been anonymous photographic orphans that have nothing going for them but the image itself. Both types of photographs are included in this exhibition.”

“I have made a varied, and some may say eccentric, selection of images. From a heart-stopping snapshot of acrobats posed in a three-man handstand perched on the ledge of the 108th floor of the Empire State building, to a tender portrait of Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio that captures the instant before their lips meet in their first kiss as a married couple, They these pictures are a true reflection of my collecting philosophy that is attracted to profound, beautiful, humorous, and absurd aspects of life and art.”

“Nevertheless, I hope they these works convey some of the visual surprise and delight to you that I felt when I first saw each and every one of them.”

Oscar Wilde once said that the only person that liked all art equally was an auctioneer! I do not expect viewers to appreciate all the photographs in this exhibition, but through my visual curiosity in collecting them over time, I did, and that is why they are here together today.

Text from Artdaily.org website

 

Anonymous photogapher (Czechoslovakia). 'Train' c.1930

 

Anonymous photographer (Czechoslovakia)
Train
c. 1930
Vintage gelatin silver print
9 1/4 x 11 5/8″

 

Anonymous photographer (United Kingdom). 'Train' c. 1930

 

Anonymous photographer (United Kingdom)
Train
c. 1930
Vintage gelatin silver print
9 1/2 x 11 1/2″

 

Sasha. 'Archer Leaping Through the Air' c.1930

 

Sasha
Archer Leaping Through the Air
c. 1930
Vintage gelatin silver print
7 3/8 x 9 3/8″

 

Leopold Hugo. 'Craters of the Moon, Idaho' 1920

 

Leopold Hugo (American, born Poland 1866-1933)
Craters of the Moon, Idaho
1920
Tinted vintage gelatin silver print
7 3/8 x 9 3/8″

 

Anonymous. 'Acrobat Piroska at the Latin Quarter (Published in Life Magazine)' c.1945

 

Anonymous photographer
Acrobat Piroska at the Latin Quarter (Published in ‘Life Magazine’)
c. 1945
Vintage gelatin silver print
9 5/8 x 9″

 

 

Modernism
685 Market St., Suite 290
San Francisco, CA 94105

Opening Hours:
Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 5:30pm

Modernism website

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09
Aug
09

Review: ‘presentation/representation: photography from Germany’ at the Monash Gallery of Art, Wheelers Hill, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 3rd July – 30th August 2009

Curator: Thomas Weski

Artists: Laurenz Berges, Albrecht Fuchs, Karin Geiger, Claus Goedicke, Uschi Huber, Matthias Koch, Wiebke Loeper, Nicola Meitzner, Peter Piller, Heidi Specker.

An exhibition of the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen e. V. (ifa/Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations), Stuttgart, Germany and presented in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut Australien.

 

 

Matthias Koch. 'Submarine Laboe near Kiel, built 1944' 2006

 

Matthias Koch (German)
Submarine Laboe near Kiel, built 1944
2006
© Matthias Koch

 

 

I was looking forward to this exhibition and so on a cold and very windy winter’s day I ventured out on the drive to the Monash Gallery of Art in Wheelers Hill expecting to be challenged by a new generation of German photographers. I was to be sorely disappointed. This show, with the exception of excellent work by Andreas Koch and good work by Laurenz Berges, epitomises all that I find woeful about contemporary photography.

There is a lack of life and vigour to the work, no sense of enjoyment in taking photographs of the world. The narratives are shallow and vacuous inducing a deep somnambulism in the viewer that is compounded by the silent, deeply carpeted gallery making the experience one of entering a mausoleum (this is a great space that needs to be a contemporary space!). How many times have I seen photographs of empty spaces that supposedly impart some deep inner meaning? See how a great artist like Tacita Dean achieves the same end to startling effect with her film Darmstädter Werkblock (2007). How many times do I need to see ‘dead pan’ portrait photographs that are again supposed to impart rich psychological meaning? I have seen too many already.

Conceptually the work is barren. Technically the proficiency of some of the work is almost non-existent. If this standard of work was put up for assessment in a university course it would fail miserably. For example in Nicola Meitzner’s work Forward Motion (2006), vertical portraits (of the same person in different poses) and streetscapes of Tokyo are poor quality prints mounted in unattractive silver aluminium frames. They are forgettable. If an artist were to study the work of, say, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, then one might gain some insight into how to photograph the city and the people that live in it in a way that elicits a response from the viewer to the photo-poetry that is placed before them.

Uschi Huber’s photographs of boarded up shop fronts, while a nice conceptual idea, are again lacking in technical proficiency and are nothing we haven’t seen many times before while Peter Piller’s ten print-media type pigment prints of girls at a shooting range with rifles do not bare comment on both a conceptual and technical level. Similarly, Wiebke Loeper’s colour photographs of the city of Wismar – houses, roads, water, oat fields, people peering into shop windows – sent to friends living in Melbourne to show them the desolation and rebuilding of the city are seriously year 12 work.

The two redeeming artists are Laurenz Berges and Andreas Koch.

Berges four large type C colour photographs of an empty house and the surrounds as seen through a window are intimately detailed visions of human absence from the built environment: the huts, piles of wood chips, barren trees, the feathers on the floor of one print, the cigarette butts on the floor of another, the marks on the wall in blue and red add to a sense of abandonment and alienation from the environment – traces of human experience, identity and memory etched into the photographic medium.

As the text on the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (IFA) website observes,

“Laurenz Berges is a chronicler of absence. His minimalist photographs point to the earlier use of spaces, only fragments of which are shown, whose inhabitants have put them to other, new uses. Berges depicts the traces of this change in austere images that, due to their reduction, tell their stories indirectly and almost involuntarily. These are stories about the existential significance certain spaces have for our identity, and also about their transitoriness and their loss.”1

.
The star of the show was the work of Matthias Koch. His five large aqua-mounted type C prints from the series Sites of German History (2006) are both technically and conceptually superb, full of delicious ironies and humour. Using an aerial aesthetic (apparently by climbing the ladder of a fire engine that he owns) Koch looks down on the landscape and through his images formulates new ways of seeing national symbols (even though many of them are not in Germany). His re-presentation of spatial inter-relations and objects embedded in their rural and urban surroundings are both simple yet layered and complex.

Unfortunately I have only two photographs (above and below) to show you of his work. None other was available but the images gives you an idea of his raison d’être. The specimen of U-995, built in Kiel in 1944, is presented as a trapped and mounted animal, preserved for our delectation and inspection with gangways and stairs to view the innards. Little hobby craft lie on a beach behind while people paddle in the shallows, a ship barely seen in the distance out at sea. The fact that this U-boat was once used to destroy such a ship, the irony of the proposition, is not lost on the viewer.

Other images in the series include a photograph of the derelict runway of the Heinkel factory as seen from above, the overgrown concrete slabs cracked and lifting, the edges filled with grass, the distant view dissolving into mist and nothingness. The photograph Harbour, Allied landing near Normandy, 1944 (2006, below) shows an American jeep and half-track of the period on the beach of the Allied landing in Normandy, tyre tracks swirling in the sand while in the distance the concrete block remains of the Mulberry harbour used in 1944 still litter the coastline. How many men, both German and American, died on this beach all those years ago? In another tour de force Atlantic Defence Wall near Cherbourg. Bunker construction built 1940 (2006) concrete bunkers dot the landscape with the beach and sea beyond as people sunbathe on the grass amongst the ruined bunkers, probably oblivious to the context of their surroundings. Koch is a master of the re-presentation of the context of memory, history and place.

Overall this exhibition is a great disappointment. I find it hard to believe that the exhibition has been curated by the same man who curated the recent Andreas Gursky exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria. The choice of work and the presentation of technically poor prints is not up to standard. I also find it difficult to reconcile some of the reviews I have read of this exhibition with the actual work itself. Thank goodness for the photographs of Matthias Koch for he alone made the journey into outer Melbourne a worthwhile journey into the memory of the soul.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

.
Many thankx to Monash Gallery of Art for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

  1. Anonymous. “Presentation/representation: Laurenz Berges,” on the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (IFA) website [Online] Cited 08/08/2009 no longer available online

 

 

Matthias Koch. 'Harbour, Allied landing near Normandy, 1944' 2006

 

Matthias Koch (German)
Harbour, Allied landing near Normandy, 1944
2006
© Matthias Koch

 

Laurenz Berges. 'Garzweiler' [surface mine] 2003

 

Laurenz Berges (German, b. 1966)
Garzweiler [surface mine]
2003
C print
130 x 171 cm. (51.2 x 67.3 in.)
© Courtesy Galerie Wilma Tolksdorf, Frankfurt/Berlin

 

 

This international touring exhibition was developed by the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa) in Germany and is presented in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut Australien.

MGA is hosting the important international exhibition ‘presentation/representation: photography from Germany’, which brings to Melbourne the work of ten of Germany’s best contemporary photographers.

presentation/representation is curated by Thomas Weski (curator of Andreas Gursky recently seen at the National Gallery of Victoria), and covers the work of the generation of German photographers that has followed the now-legendary Kunstakademie Düsseldorf generation of Gursky, Thomas Ruff, Thomas Struth and Candida Höfer. For the artists in presentation/representation, including Matthias Koch, Laurenz Berges and Heidi Specker, photography is a medium that has its own language and characteristics, and their work collectively explores the limits of the medium.

Shaune Lakin, Director of the MGA states MGA is thrilled to present ‘presentation/representation’ and to bring to the people of Melbourne such an important survey of contemporary German photography. As well as providing a comprehensive survey of German practice, the exhibition will complement the experience of those who saw Weski’s wonderful Gursky exhibition at NGV. We are also delighted to host participating artist Matthias Koch.”

Koch will be presenting a series of public programs including an artist talk, student tutorial and a field trip exploring the industrial suburban sites close to the gallery. “With his critical interest in landscape, architecture and history, Koch will provide some wonderful insights into our local landscape for participants in these programs,” notes Dr Lakin.

MGA’s Education and public programs coordinator Stephanie Richter says: “This is a great opportunity for students and Melbourne audiences to meet one of Germany’s most celebrated contemporary photographers and to participate in the busy schedule of talks, tutorials and field trips with Matthias.”

Press release from Monash Gallery of Art website [Online] Cited 05/08/2019 no longer available online

 

Heidi Specker (German, b. 1962) 'D'Elsi - Elsi' 12007

 

Heidi Specker (German, b. 1962)
D’Elsi – Elsi 1
2007
Digital Fine Art Print
Courtesy Fiedler Contemporary, Köln
Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, Germany, 2007

 

Claus Goedicke (German, b. 1966) 'Trip to the Moon' 2006

 

Claus Goedicke (German, b. 1966)
Trip to the Moon
2006
Pigment print on wallpaper
© Claus Goedicke

 

Nicola Meitzner (German) 'Forward motion' 2006

 

Nicola Meitzner (German)
Forward motion
2006
From the tableau Forward motion
Pigment print
© Nicola Meitzner

 

Wiebke Loeper. 'To the sisters of Carl Möglin' 2005

 

Wiebke Loeper (German, b. 1972)
To the sisters of Carl Möglin
2005
From the series To the sisters of Carl Möglin
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, Germany, 2007

 

Uschi Huber. 'Fronten' 2006

 

Uschi Huber (German)
Fronten
2006
From the series Fronten 2006
© Uschi Huber

 

Albrecht Fuchs (German, b. 1964) 'Daniel Richter, Berlin' 2004

 

Albrecht Fuchs (German, b. 1964)
Daniel Richter, Berlin
2004
C print
© Courtesy Frehking Wiesehöfer, Köln

 

 

Monash Gallery of Art
860 Ferntree Gully Road
Wheelers Hill, Victoria 3150

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Friday: 10am – 5pm
Saturday – Sunday: 12pm – 5pm
Monday and Public Holidays: closed

Monash Gallery of Art website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Dogs, chickens, cattle’ 1994-95

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