Archive for September, 2013

29
Sep
13

Review: ‘Tangent’ by Michael Corridore at Edmund Pearce Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 11th September – 5th October 2013

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This is a patchy exhibition by Michael Corridore at Edmund Pearce Gallery.

The four small images from the initial foray into digital collage (the top four photographs below, all 2001) are the most striking and effective works in the exhibition. Lucid in their Duchampian layering and movement, these beautiful photographs most clearly express the conceptual ideas behind the collages. The four pieces literally stopped me in my tracks when I saw them in the gallery space. The colours are bold, the overlapping and movement refined and the effect on this viewer was profound, so intense was the visualisation of the work.

The new photographs possess a different order of being. Subtle and requiring greater contemplation there were only five images that impinged on my consciousness in the rest of the exhibition (the first five photographs after the press release below, all 2013). Even the best of them seem more an exercise in the formal qualities of digital collage rather than the élan vital of the earlier work. While Corridore re-interprets “what we see from differing perspectives and synthesize[s] those components of our observations and memory information into a two-dimensional image,” what he produces are images that are not that memorable. Interesting exercises, perhaps, in the topography of being, but not that memorable or emotive as images.

The rest of the new photographs simply did not work for me. Either there was not enough for this viewer to hang his hat on (visually speaking) or the image was so subtle and occluded behind the glass of the frame that the viewer gets no feeling, no presence from the image at all. (Of course, this is the perennial difficulty of framing dark or subtle work in a gallery environment, the ability of the viewer to actually see the work if glass or perspex is placed in front of it. Either you pin the work to the wall, or frame it without glass, or mount on aluminium but all but the latter precludes the easy sale to customers who want an artwork ready to purchase off the gallery wall). Tangentially speaking, it is as if the train of thought of the artist has wandered as he seeks other pathways to creation, pathways that fail to interestingly develop the initial topic of conversation.

It is all very well to go off at a tangent (defined as a line, curve, or surface meeting another line, curve, or surface at a common point and sharing a common tangent line or tangent plane at that point; a sudden digression or change of course), but the meeting point between artist’s intentions and the viewer’s reception have to at some point possess some common ground of interest and understanding. As it stands, I will always, always remember Corridore’s initial ‘fictional realities’ for their intensity and beauty but the later work will seep from my mind as easily as thought placed it there.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

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

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Michael Corridore. 'Form Collage 0004' 2001

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Michael Corridore
Form Collage 0004
2001
Archival pigment print
20 x 26.5 cm
© Michael Corridore

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Michael Corridore. 'Form Collage 0015' 2001

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Michael Corridore
Form Collage 0015
2001
Archival pigment print
26.5 x 20 cm
© Michael Corridore

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Michael Corridore. 'Form Collage 0001' 2001

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Michael Corridore
Form Collage 0001
2001
Archival pigment print
26.5 x 20 cm
© Michael Corridore

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Michael Corridore. 'Form Collage 0003' 2001

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Michael Corridore
Form Collage 0003
2001
Archival pigment print
26.5 x 20 cm
© Michael Corridore

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Although a departure from the Angry Black Snake series and ongoing landscape work, Tangents reflects Michael’s deep artistic practise and an ability to experiment confidently with different techniques and styles. Such strong technique reflects this photographer’s mastery of his craft.

Michael Corridore’s primary interest in his fine-art and commercial photography has been in inventing new narratives. Whether it is spectators shrouded in the smoke of burning rubber, his unique portraits of the famous and not so famous, capturing empty urban everyday spaces, or external landscapes that are at times exceptionally beautiful or beautifully strange and mysterious, you cannot help but be drawn in by Corridore’s ‘fictional realities’.

In this new series, Tangents, Corridore uses references to Cubism and art history, redefining such ideas in a modern photographic context. This project was commenced in 2000 and now in 2013 it has been fully realised by the artist due to advances in digital capture technology. Vibrant and subtle colour can now be fully preserved in the collage process.

“In this series of collages, I have returned to a series that I had started in 2000. The original series resulted in about a dozen or so photographs. My first attempts at collage were through printing negatives onto black and white Lithographic film and layering multiple sheets of those films onto a light box and photographing the assembled sheets as collages.

From there I decided to experiment with digital capture of the original components and assemble the layers in photoshop so that I could preserve colour, which was lost in the lithographic printing process. This was my first foray into working with digital capture technology.

In the past year I began to explore this collage process again photographing various forms working with life models, mannequins and various household objects which offered me the opportunity to explore both malleable and solid forms and shapes that could be layered together in the assembled collages.

This exploration in collage stems from my interest in the Cubists approach to re-interpreting what we see from differing perspectives and synthesize those components of our observations and memory information into a two-dimensional image.”

Michael Corridore artist statement 2013

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Michael Corridore. 'Form 3784' 2013

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Michael Corridore
Form 3784
2013
Archival pigment print
100 x 67 cm
© Michael Corridore

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Michael Corridore. 'Form 3781' 2013

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Michael Corridore
Form 3781
2013
Archival pigment print
100 x 67 cm
© Michael Corridore

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Michael Corridore. 'Form 4107' 2013

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Michael Corridore
Form 4107
2013
Archival pigment print
100 x 67 cm
© Michael Corridore

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Michael Corridore. 'Form 4102' 2013

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Michael Corridore
Form 4102
2013
Archival pigment print
100 x 67 cm
© Michael Corridore

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Michael Corridore. 'Form 0137' 2013

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Michael Corridore
Form 0137
2013
Archival pigment print
100 x 67 cm
© Michael Corridore

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Michael Corridore. 'Form 3783' 2013

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Michael Corridore
Form 3783
2013
Archival pigment print
100 x 67 cm
© Michael Corridore

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Edmund Pearce Gallery
Level 2, Nicholas Building
37 Swanston Street (corner Flinders Lane)
Melbourne Victoria 3000

Opening hours:
Wed – Sat 11 am – 5 pm

Edmund Pearce Gallery website

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26
Sep
13

Exhibition: ‘Un/Natural Color’ at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA

Exhibition dates: 7th July – 29th September 2013

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

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Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Un/Natural Color' at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Un/Natural Color' at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Un/Natural Color' at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art

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Installation photographs of the exhibition Un/Natural Color at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art

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“This exhibition looks at the powerful relationship between color and memory by considering photographs and the ways in which their unique color palettes evoke specific moments of the historical past. From the pastel hues of 19th-century hand-painted portraits, to the vibrant colors of late-1930s Kodachrome transparencies, and the faded, shifted tones of snapshots from the 1970s, different kinds of color reproduction are closely associated with the time periods that they most frequently represent. Each experiment in color photography was originally meant to convey a sense of the natural hues of the world, but as our expectations for realistic representation have evolved, these earlier technologies for representing color have also taken on new meaning. Today, the distinctive colors found in many vintage photographs speak as loudly to contemporary viewers about the period in which they were made as the content that they render visible. The exhibition suggests that the aesthetics of color are closely related to the evolution of photographic technology over the past 100 years, and encourages visitors to rethink the significance of color in contemporary photography through the lens of its multi-colored past. This exhibition was organized by Kim Beil, an art historian who teaches at the University of California, Santa Cruz.”

Text from the Santa Barbara Museum of Art website

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Jack Delano. 'Barker at the Grounds of the Vermont State Fair, Rutland' 1941, printed 1983

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Jack Delano
Barker at the Grounds of the Vermont State Fair, Rutland
1941, printed 1983
Dye transfer print
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Gift of the Bruce Berman and Nancy Goliger Berman Collection

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Jack Delano. 'At the Vermont State Fair, Rutland' 1941, printed 1985

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Jack Delano
At the Vermont State Fair, Rutland
1941, printed 1985
Dye transfer print
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Gift of the Bruce Berman and Nancy Goliger Berman Collection

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William Eggleston. 'Farm truck, Memphis, Tennessee' 1972

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William Eggleston
Farm truck, Memphis, Tennessee
1972

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2006.73.1-WEB

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Leroy Grannis
Greg Noll Surf Team at Duke Kahanamoku Invitational, Sunset Beach
1966, printed 2005
C-print, ed. 1/9
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Museum purchase with funds provided by Janet and Michael G. Wilson

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“Un/Natural Color, an exhibition of color photography from the Santa Barbara Museum of Art’s (SBMA) permanent collection, illustrates the history of color photography since the 19th century and examines how the shifted or faded colors of old photographs can evoke moments in the historical past. Responding to the widespread use of nostalgic filters in popular photography and social media apps, such as Instagram and Twitter, this presentation enables visitors to see first-hand the historical processes that inspired the aesthetics of these digital manipulations. Despite their reputation for preserving memories and stopping time, photographs themselves are susceptible to material changes over time. These changes are often most visible in the radical color shifts seen in old photographs, from the characteristic pink hue of snapshots from the 1950s to the yellowed borders and cool cast of prints from the 1970s. These changes also serve to complicate any simple belief in the ability of photography to faithfully represent the natural colors of the world.

While the exhibition includes a number of experimental early processes, including the chromolithographically-derived Photochrom process as well as an early Autochrome, the bulk of the imagery is drawn from the decades following the pivotal invention of Kodachrome, the first color slide film, which was made commercially available in 1936. Because this film, as well as Kodacolor negative film (1942), was sent back to Eastman-Kodak for processing, photographers’ control over their imagery was greatly reduced, leading many art photographers to resist the transition to color until decades later.

Un/Natural Color includes rarely-seen color work by two notable documentary photographers of the Depression era, Jack Delano and Marion Post Wolcott. Both worked for the Farm Security Administration (a government program associated with the New Deal) and made limited use of color film while on assignment documenting the effects of the Great Depression on rural American. Very few (if any) of these images were reproduced in the popular press, however, owing to the difficulty and cost of reproducing color photographs, and to color photography’s overwhelming association with commercial advertising at this time (as in Elmar Ludwig and Edmund Nagel’s image of the popular resort chain, Butlin’s).

The art establishment at large expressed little interest in color photography until the mid-1970s, following the inclusion of color work in two groundbreaking exhibitions: Stephen Shore’s vernacular landscapes in New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape at the George Eastman House in Rochester, NY (1975) and the solo exhibition of William Eggleston’s color photography at the Museum of Modern Art, NY (1976). Both of these important photographers are represented in Un/Natural Color, as well as work by photographers exploring similar uses of color to record everyday American scenes, including Jeff Brouws, Jim Dow, and Joel Meyerowitz.

Prior to the 1970s, some tentative forays into color photography were made by art photographers primarily known for their work in black-and-white (notably Harry Callahan), but color was more often derided for its populist associations and was typically allied with either snapshot photography or advertising and Hollywood. The negative connotation that color photography had acquired over the years in the art world was critical to its adoption by photographers like Shore and Eggleston, who used it to challenge conventional expectations for photographic art and to force viewers to look with new eyes at the familiar world around them.

An image such as Greg Noll Surf Team at Duke Kahanamoku Invitational, Sunset Beach by Leroy Grannis highlights the powerful ability of color photography to summon a unique historical moment. It is not just the classic haircut and short surf trunks sported by the surf legend, Greg Noll, that situates this photograph in the 1960s. Color photography at this time typically recorded color in a highly saturated, though fairly uniform manner, leaving some aspects of this photograph looking flat, rather than mimicking the subtle modulation of tone that is more commonly associated with the perception of depth by human vision.

The characteristic manner by which different color processes represent the colors of the world, as well as the changes that such color photographs suffer over time, are powerful indicators of the photograph’s history. When we look at color photographs, all of these markers are brought to bear on our interpretation of their subjects, leading us to question: what is natural color anyway?”

Press release from the Santa Barbara Museum of Art website

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Roman Freulich. 'Gloria Swanson' Nd

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Roman Freulich
Gloria Swanson
Nd
Dye transfer print
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Gift of Judith Caditz, Allan M. Caditz, Ellen Joan Abramson and Norman Abramson

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1986.22.22-WEB

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William Edwin Gledhill
Amanda Duff
1935
Dye transfer print
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Gift of Keith Gledhill

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Elmar Ludwig and Edmond Nagele. 'The Indoor-Heated Pool, Butlin’s Mosney' Nd

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Elmar Ludwig and Edmond Nagele
The Indoor-Heated Pool, Butlin’s Mosney
Nd

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William Henry Jackson. 'Colorado Railway Mountain View' 1898

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William Henry Jackson
Colorado Railway Mountain View
1898
Photochrom
Santa Barbra Museum of Art, Museum purchase

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2010.6.3-Jackson-WEB

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William Henry Jackson
Colorado Grand Canyon of the Arkansas
1898
Photochrom
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Museum purchase

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Saul Leiter. 'Snow' 1960

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Saul Leiter
Snow
1960

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Santa Barbara Museum of Art
1130 State Street, Santa Barbara, CA

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday 11 am – 5 pm
Thursday Evenings 5 – 8 pm

Santa Barbara Museum of Art website

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24
Sep
13

Exhibition: ‘In Focus: Ed Ruscha’ at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center, Los Angeles

Exhibition dates: 9th April – 29th September 2013

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“Yes, there’s a certain power to a photograph. The camera has a way of disorienting a person, if it wants to and, for me, when it disorients, it’s got real value.”

“My pictures are not that interesting, nor the subject matter. They are simply a collection of “facts;” my book is more like a collection of “Ready-mades.””

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Ed Ruscha

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Cultural curiosities. A language of the street.

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Many thankx to the J. Paul Getty Museum for allowing me to publish some of the photographs in the posting. The rest I sourced from the internet (and spent hours cleaning) to make a better posting about the exhibition. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Ed Ruscha (American, born 1937) 'Contact sheet for Pacific Coast Highway' 1974

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Ed Ruscha (American, born 1937)
Contact sheet for Pacific Coast Highway
1974
Inkjet print
32.8 x 48.2 cm (12 15/16 x 19 in.)
The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles
© Edward Ruscha

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Ed Ruscha (American, born 1937) 'Camera-ready Maquette for Every Building on the Sunset Strip' 1966

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Ed Ruscha (American, born 1937)
Camera-ready Maquette for Every Building on the Sunset Strip
1966
Gelatin silver print on board
63.5 x 92.1 cm (24 15/16 x 36 1/4 in.)
The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles
© Edward Ruscha

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Ed Ruscha (American, born 1937) 'Beeline, Holbrook, Arizona' 1962

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Ed Ruscha (American, born 1937)
Beeline, Holbrook, Arizona
1962
Gelatin silver print
11.7 x 12.1 cm
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Ed Ruscha

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Ed Ruscha (American, born 1937) 'Shell, Daggett, California' 1962

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Ed Ruscha (American, born 1937)
Shell, Daggett, California
1962
Gelatin silver print
11.9 x 12 cm
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Ed Ruscha

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Ed Ruscha (American, born 1937) 'Standard, Figueroa Street, Los Angeles' 1962

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Ed Ruscha (American, born 1937)
Standard, Figueroa Street, Los Angeles
1962
Gelatin silver print
12.4 x 14.6 cm
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Ed Ruscha

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Ed Ruscha (American, born 1937) 'Standard, Amarillo, Texas' 1962

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Ed Ruscha (American, born 1937)
Standard, Amarillo, Texas
1962
Gelatin silver print
11.8 x 12.1 cm
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Ed Ruscha

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“In Focus: Ed Ruscha, on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum, at the Getty Center, April 9 – September 29, 2013, offers a concentrated look at Ruscha’s deep engagement with Los Angeles’s vernacular architecture and the urban landscape. The exhibition is part of Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in Los Angeles, and opens simultaneously with Overdrive: L.A. Constructs the Future, 1940-1990, another exhibition presented at the Getty Museum as part of this regional initiative. The Overdrive exhibition also contains images by Ruscha.

One of the most influential American artists working today, Ed Ruscha moved to Los Angeles in 1956 and continues to live and work in the city, incorporating local architecture, streets, and even the city’s attitude into paintings, prints, drawings, and photographs that are known for their graphic directness. Beginning in the 1960s, he began publishing photobooks and using photographs to document thoroughfares in the Los Angeles area.

“Throughout his career, photography has played an important role in Ruscha’s exploration of the vernacular architecture, urban landscape, and car culture of Los Angeles,” commented Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “By bringing together photographs from our collection and archival materials from the Getty Research Institute, we have been able to present a much richer understanding of Ruscha’s work and process.”

Highlighting an important joint acquisition of the artist’s work by the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Getty Research Institute in 2011, this exhibition features a selection of vintage prints related to Twentysix Gasoline Stations (1963) and Some Los Angeles Apartments (1965), the original camera-ready maquettes for Every Building on the Sunset Strip (1966), and contact sheets from this documentation of the Pacific Coast Highway (1974). The exhibition is co-­curated by Virginia Heckert, curator in the Department of Photographs at the Getty Museum, and John Tain, assistant curator in Collection Development at the Getty Research Institute.

“Gas stations and apartment buildings are among the quintessentially Southern Californian motifs that feature in Ruscha’s work,” says Heckert. “The Getty Museum’s acquisition of photographs made in conjunction with his photo books of the early 1960s gives us the opportunity to share his enthusiasm for the logos, signage, and language that enliven even the most banal architecture.”

Adds Tain, “What’s exciting about the photography that came out of Ruscha’s documentation of the Sunset Strip is that it really altered the sense of what was possible with street photography, which had always been from the viewpoint of the pedestrian. Today we have the Google Maps roving fleet of camera cars, but Ruscha was doing this kind of photography more than forty years ago.”

The exhibition gives visitors the opportunity to appreciate Ruscha’s photographs not as halftone reproductions in modest, mass-produced books, but as prints of the period. One of the best known images included in the exhibition is Standard, Amarillo, Texas (1962), which Ruscha used as the basis for his iconic oil painting Standard Station, Amarillo, Texas (1963). Other unpublished images from the iconic series of gasoline stations will be on view as well. Also included are the original camera-ready maquettes and press pulls for Every Building on the Sunset Strip, Ruscha’s fourth and arguably best-known photobook. Due to light sensitive annotations, each panel will be on view for eight weeks. The complete set of three maquettes will be on view during the first week of the exhibition only, April 9-14.

On display for the first time is a selection of contact sheets of the Pacific Coast Highway, representing a small sample of this monumental undertaking. Ruscha’s documentation captures the dramatically different landscapes of both the view west toward the Pacific Ocean and the view east toward the cliffs. The Pacific Coast Highway is just one of several streets that Ruscha has photographed over the past four and a half decades, beginning in 1965 with Sunset Boulevard. These contact sheets are part of Ruscha’s Streets of Los Angeles archive, including thousands of photographic negatives, proof sheets, contact prints, and related documents and ephemera, which was acquired by the Getty Research Institute in 2011. Nearly sixty photographs were acquired by the Getty Museum at the same time, making the Getty a preeminent resource for understanding the role of photography in Ruscha’s practice.

In Focus: Ed Ruscha is co-organized by the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Getty Research Institute, and features 50 works from both collections.”

Press release from the J. Paul Getty Museum website

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Ed Ruscha (American, born 1937) '708 S. Barrington Ave. [The Dolphin]' 1965

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Ed Ruscha (American, born 1937)
708 S. Barrington Ave. [The Dolphin]
1965
Gelatin silver print
11.8 x 11.9 cm
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Ed Ruscha

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Ed Ruscha (American, born 1937) '1018 S. Atlantic Blvd.,' 1965

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Ed Ruscha (American, born 1937)
1018 S. Atlantic Blvd.,
1965
Gelatin silver print
10.8 x 11.1 cm
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Ed Ruscha

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Ed Ruscha (American, born 1937) '1323 Bronson' 1965

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Ed Ruscha (American, born 1937)
1323 Bronson
1965
Gelatin silver print
11.8 x 12 cm
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Ed Ruscha

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Ed Ruscha (American, born 1937) '1555 Artesia Blvd.,' 1965

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Ed Ruscha (American, born 1937)
1555 Artesia Blvd.,
1965
Gelatin silver print
11.1 x 11.4 cm
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Ed Ruscha

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Ed Ruscha (American, born 1937) '4489 Murietta Ave.,' 1965

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Ed Ruscha (American, born 1937)
4489 Murietta Ave.,
1965
Gelatin silver print
11.4 x 11.4 cm
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Ed Ruscha

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Ed Ruscha (American, born 1937) '5947 Carlton Way' 1965

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Ed Ruscha (American, born 1937)
5947 Carlton Way
1965
Gelatin silver print
11.9 x 12 cm
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Ed Ruscha

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Ed Ruscha (American, born 1937) '6565 Fountain Ave.,' 1965

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Ed Ruscha (American, born 1937)
6565 Fountain Ave.,
1965
Gelatin silver print
11.8 x 11.8 cm
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Ed Ruscha

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Ed Ruscha (American, born 1937) '10433 Wilshire Blvd.,' 1965

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Ed Ruscha (American, born 1937)
10433 Wilshire Blvd.,
1965
Gelatin silver print
11.7 x 11.8 cm
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Ed Ruscha

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Ed Ruscha (American, born 1937) '818 Doheny Dr.,' 1965

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Ed Ruscha (American, born 1937)
818 Doheny Dr.,
1965
Gelatin silver print
11.6 x 11.7 cm
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Ed Ruscha

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Ed Ruscha (American, born 1937) '3919 N. Rosemead Blvd.,' 1965

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Ed Ruscha (American, born 1937)
3919 N. Rosemead Blvd.,
1965
Gelatin silver print
12 x 12 cm
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Ed Ruscha

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The J. Paul Getty Museum
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, California 90049

Opening hours:
Tues – Friday 10 am – 5.30 pm
Saturday 10 am – 9 pm
Sunday 10 am – 9 pm
Monday closed

The J. Paul Getty Museum website

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22
Sep
13

Review: ‘Carol Jerrems: photographic artist’ at the Monash Gallery of Art, Wheelers Hill, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 6th July – 30th September 2013

A National Gallery of Australia exhibition

*PLEASE NOTE THIS POSTING CONTAINS ART PHOTOGRAPHS OF FEMALE NUDITY – IF YOU DO NOT LIKE PLEASE DO NOT LOOK, FAIR WARNING HAS BEEN GIVEN*

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The one and only…

This is a fascinating National Gallery of Australia exhibition about the work of Australian photographer Carol Jerrems at Monash Gallery of Art, Wheelers Hill – in part both memorable, intimate, informative, beautiful, uplifting and disappointing. Let me explain what I mean.

The first section of the exhibition is devoted to Jerrems student work, notably her experiments with overlapping bodies, depth of field, movement and the layering of space and time that can be seen in her vibrant photoboooks and concertina books (see installation photographs below), accompanied by her own poems. This early work, which I had never seen, provides a wonderful insight into how the later images came to be: the shooting down hallways into the light, the pairing and tripling of bodies one behind the other, and how she constructed narrative in her later set piece photographs. This is the informative part of the exhibition.

As the exhibition moves on to the main body of Jerrems work there, in all their glory, are the famous images: Evonne Goolagong, Melbourne (1973), Flying dog (1973), Vale Street (1975), Mark and Flappers (1975), Mark Lean: rape game (1975), Mozart Street (1975), Butterfly behind glass [Red Symons from Skyhooks] (1975), Lyn (1976), Lyn and the Buick (1976), Dusan and Esben, Cronulla (1977), the self portraits and the lads with their car down by the river bank. These are memorable, intimate images, at the top of tree in terms of their importance as some of the greatest images taken by any Australian photographer of all time. They are right up there with the very best and there is no denying this. But what else is there? Take away the top dozen images of any photographer and look at the next twenty images. Now, what do you see? In Jerrems case, the results (as evidenced by this exhibition) are a little disappointing. Of course, this is not unusual with any artist.

In her low key, diaristic documentary style, Jerrems focuses on life before her lens. She finds joy, intimacy, love, danger, transgression and rape; she portrays women and gay liberation, youth on the streets, sharpies and the indigenous population. As Christopher Allen notes, sexuality and its darker side was never far from the surface in Jerrems work and there was a “mix of defiance, erotic assertiveness and vulnerability of that time… [an] intimate closeness to the subject and the direct and unmodified transcription of the world before her.”1 Her intelligent imaging of everyday subject matter “produced a body of photographs that symbolized the hopes and aspirations of the counter-culture in Australia in the 1970s,” but this investigation did not produce particularly memorable photographs. Outside the top group of images I am struggling to remember her other images.

But what we must remember is that this Australia was another time and place. Art photography books had only just arrived in Melbourne in 1970 and Jerrems was one of the first women to point her camera at other women (producing the book A Book About Australian Women in 1974) and people of the revolution. These are socially important documents in terms of Australian (photographic) history. I believe that she said to herself – I know who I am, but I want to know what other people are like – and she transcribed how she was thinking about the world to the people around her through her photographs. Building on the legacy of artists like Henri Cartier-Bresson, André Kertész and Robert Frank, her photographs are like an after-image of some other place, some other Australia that is only forty years ago but now seems eons away in time and space.

What we take for granted, in terms of sexual liberation, freedom of action and speech, she had to fight for. She had to fight for photographic, conceptual and technical knowledge to arm herself as an intelligent women (for that is what she was), so that she could image/imagine the world. She had to fight damn hard for these things – and then she upped the ante and pushed even harder, even further. These are dangerous photos, for women and gay men were vulnerable and threatened, marginalised and they were a target. Even in the act of photographing, her going into these places (brothels for example), she would have been a target. Does this make for memorable photographs?  Not necessarily, and you can see this in the unevenness of the results of her investigation. But socially these are very important images.

The pity is that she died so young for what this exhibition brought home to me was that here was an artist still defining, refining her subject matter. She never had to time to develop a mature style, a mature narrative as an artist (1975-1976 seems to be the high point as far as this exhibition goes). This is the great regret about the work of Carol Jerrems. Yes, there is some mediocre work in this exhibition, stuff that really doesn’t work at all (such as the brothel photographs), experimental work, individual and collective images that really don’t impinge on your consciousness. But there are also the miraculous photographs (and for a young photographer she had a lot of those), the ones that stay with you forever. The right up there, knock you out of the ball park photographs and those you cannot simply take away from the world. They live on in the world forever.

Does Jerrems deserve to be promoted as a legend, a ‘premier’ of Australian photography as some people are doing? Probably not on the evidence of this exhibition but my god, those top dozen or so images are something truly special to behold. Their ‘presence’ alone – their physicality in the world, their impact on you as you stand before them – guarantees that Jerrems will forever remain in the very top echelons of Australian photographers of all time not as a legend, but as a women of incredible strength, intelligence, passion, determination and vision.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

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Many thankx to Mark Hislop for his help and 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.

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Carol Jerrems. 'A poem' 1970

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Carol Jerrems
A poem
1970
Gelatin silver photographs, letterpress, installed at Monash Gallery of Art
Photograph: Katie Tremschnig

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Carol Jerrems. 'A poem' 1970

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Carol Jerrems
A poem
1970
Gelatin silver photographs, letterpress, installed at Monash Gallery of Art
Photograph: Katie Tremschnig

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Carol Jerrems. 'Jim Fields, a portrait' 1970

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Carol Jerrems
Jim Fields, a portrait
1970
Gelatin silver photographs, letterpress, installed at Monash Gallery of Art
Photograph: Katie Tremschnig

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Carol Jerrems 'The Royal Melbourne Show.....1968, an essay' (L) and 'Movement with Zara' (R) 1968

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Carol Jerrems
The Royal Melbourne Show…..1968, an essay (L) and Movement with Zara (R)
1968
Gelatin silver photographs, letterpress, installed at Monash Gallery of Art
Photograph: Katie Tremschnig

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Living in the seventies

Carol Jerrems’s gritty, poetic and elusive images show people trying to find a new way of life and action in the 1970s. Her images have come to define a decade in Australia’s history. In contrast to an earlier generation of internationally renowned magazine photojournalists such as David Moore, the new generation did not seek commissioned commercial or magazine work and took instead a low key intimate approach with a diaristic personal-documentary style of imagery focussed on themselves and their own, mostly urban, environments. Jerrems put her camera where the counter culture suggested; women’s liberation, social inclusiveness for street youths and Indigenous people in the cities who were campaigning for justice and land rights.

Carol Jerrems was the first contemporary Australian woman photographer to have work acquired by a number of museums including the National Gallery of Australia. The National Gallery holds an extensive archive of Jerrems photographs and film work gifted by the artist’s mother Joy Jerrems in 1983. The current exhibition concentrates on prints signed or formally exhibited, by Carol Jerrems in her lifetime dating from 1968-1978. MGA is the only Victorian venue to host the National Gallery of Australia’s major new exhibition Carol Jerrems: photographic artist. This extraordinary exhibition tells the story of Jerrems’ complex and highly influential practice. Drawn from the National Gallery of Australia’s massive holdings of the artist’s work, Carol Jerrems: photographic artist features more than 100 works, most of which have not been seen in Melbourne since Jerrems lived here during the late ’60s and ’70s.

Jerrems was born in Melbourne in 1949 and studied photography at Prahran Technical College under Paul Cox and Athol Shmith. Although she practised as an artist for only a decade, Jerrems has acquired a celebrated place in the annals of Australian photography. Her reputation is based on her intensely compassionate, formally striking pictures, her intimate connection with the people involved in social movements of the day, and her role in the promotion of ‘art photography’ in this country.

Jerrems was one of several Australian women whose work during the 1970s challenged the dominant ideas of what a photographer was and how they worked. She adopted a collaborative approach to making photographs, often featuring friends and associates, and sought a photographic practice that would bring about social change. Her gritty, poetic and elusive images show people trying to find a new way of life in the 1970s. Her images have come to define Melbourne in a decade of great social and political upheaval.

Carol Jerrems: photographic artist pays tribute to this important period in recent Australian history, showing how Jerrems participated in and helped to define Melbourne’s subculture and style in the 1970s. MGA Director Shaune Lakin said Jerrems’ vision would particularly resonate with Melbourne audiences, especially as her vision was revealed across the full breadth of her work. “Carol Jerrems: photographic artist is a perfect story for MGA to tell, as it is also the story of Melbourne in the 1970s. Jerrems captured Melbourne’s sub-cultures – sharpies, mods, hippies, feminists and gay liberationists – with powerful images that engage the viewer intimately with her subjects.”

As Dr Lakin notes, this is a rare chance to see the works Jerrems intended for exhibition: “Carol Jerrems: photographic artist concentrates on prints signed or formally exhibited by Jerrems in her lifetime, most returning to Melbourne for the first time. In addition to many of the images for which Jerrems is rightly famous, visitors to MGA can see Jerrems’ early work, including her extraordinary concertina books and other photobooks,” Lakin said.”

Press release from the Monash Gallery of Art website

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Carol Jerrems. 'Flying dog' 1973

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Carol Jerrems
Flying dog
1973
Gelatin silver photograph
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Purchased 1976
© Ken Jerrems and the Estate of Lance Jerrems

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Carol Jerrems. 'Mark and Flappers' 1975

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Carol Jerrems
Mark and Flappers
1975
Gelatin silver photograph
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
© Ken Jerrems and the Estate of Lance Jerrems

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Carol Jerrems. 'Vale Street' 1975

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Carol Jerrems
Vale Street
1975
Gelatin silver photograph
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Purchased 1976
© Ken Jerrems and the Estate of Lance Jerrems

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“From the outset, Jerrems was interested in the expressive possibilities of the photographic medium, declaring that she was ‘an artist whose tool of expression is the camera’. She concentrated on photographing people; her subjects included her students, and her friends and acquaintances. Her first photographs were documentary in style, but by the mid-1970s the scenes she photographed were often contrived. She used a non-exploitative approach, based on the consent of her subjects. For Jerrems, photography had a crucial social role: ‘the society is sick and I must help change it’. Her photographs were a means of ‘bringing people together’ and offered affirmative views of certain aspects of contemporary life. With Virginia Fraser, she published A Book About Australian Women (Melbourne, 1974), to which she contributed the photographs…

Although one critic regarded her work as uneven – ‘she took a casual approach’ – Jerrems’s talents as a photographer were widely recognized. With her camera ‘firmly pointed at the heart of things’, she produced a body of photographs that symbolized the hopes and aspirations of the counter-culture in Australia in the 1970s.”

Helen Ennis, Australian Dictionary of Biography Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

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Carol Jerrems. 'Mirror with a memory: motel room' 1977

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Carol Jerrems
Mirror with a memory: motel room
1977
Type C colour photograph
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Gift of Mrs Joy Jerrems 1981
© Ken Jerrems and the Estate of Lance Jerrems

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Carol Jerrems. 'Boys' 1973

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Carol Jerrems
Boys
1973
Gelatin silver photograph
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
© Ken Jerrems and the Estate of Lance Jerrems

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Carol Jerrems. 'Outback Press Melbourne' 1974

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Carol Jerrems
Outback Press Melbourne
1974
left to right: Colin Talbot (writer), Alfred Milgrom (publisher), Morry Schwartz (entrepreneur, publisher, now publisher of The Monthly), Mark Gillespie (singer/songwriter)
Gelatin silver photograph
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Gift of Mrs Joy Jerrems 1981
© Ken Jerrems and the Estate of Lance Jerrems

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Carol Jerrems. 'Carol Jerrems, self-portrait with Esben Storm' c.1975

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Carol Jerrems
Carol Jerrems, self-portrait with Esben Storm
c.1975
Gelatin silver photograph
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Gift of Mrs Joy Jerrems 1981
© Ken Jerrems and the Estate of Lance Jerrems

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Carol Jerrems. 'Dusan and Esben, Cronulla' 1977

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Carol Jerrems
Dusan and Esben, Cronulla
1977
Gelatin silver photograph
20.1 x 30.3 cm image
© Ken Jerrems and the Estate of Lance Jerrems

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Carol Jerrems. 'Butterfly behind glass [Red Symons from Skyhooks]' 1975

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Carol Jerrems
Butterfly behind glass [Red Symons from Skyhooks]
1975
Gelatin silver photograph
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Gift of Mrs Joy Jerrems 1981
© Ken Jerrems and the Estate of Lance Jerrems

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Carol Jerrems. 'Jane Oehr, “Womenvision”, Filmaker's Co-Op' 1973

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Carol Jerrems
Jane Oehr, “Womenvision”, Filmaker’s Co-Op
1973
From A Book about Australian Women (Outback Press, 1974)
Gelatin silver photograph
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Gift of Mrs Joy Jerrems 1981
© Ken Jerrems and the Estate of Lance Jerrems

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Carol Jerrems. 'Performers on stage,' Hair', Metro Theatre Kings Cross, Sydney, January 1970 [Jim Sharman Director cast included Reg Livermore]' 1970

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Carol Jerrems
Performers on stage, ‘Hair’, Metro Theatre Kings Cross, Sydney, January 1970
[Jim Sharman Director cast included Reg Livermore]
1970
Gelatin silver photograph
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Gift of Mrs Joy Jerrems 1981
© Ken Jerrems and the Estate of Lance Jerrems

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Carol Jerrems. 'Peggy Selinski' 1968

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Carol Jerrems
Peggy Selinski
1968
Gelatin silver photograph
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Gift of Mrs Joy Jerrems 1981
© Ken Jerrems and the Estate of Lance Jerrems

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Carol Jerrems. 'Lynn' 1976

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Carol Jerrems
Lynn
1976
Gelatin silver photograph
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
© Ken Jerrems and the Estate of Lance Jerrems

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1. Allen, Christopher. “Between suburbia and radicalism,” in The Australian newspaper, October 20th, 2012.

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Monash Gallery of Art
860 Ferntree Gully Road, Wheelers Hill
Victoria 3150 Australia
T: + 61 3 8544 0500

Opening hours:
Tue – Fri: 10am – 5pm
Sat – Sun: 12pm – 5pm
Mon/public holidays: closed

Monash Gallery of Art website

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20
Sep
13

Exhibition: ‘Density’ by Andrew Follows at Anita Traverso Gallery, Richmond

Exhibition dates: 27th August – 21st September 2013

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Only 2 days to go before the ending of Andrew Follows exhibition Density at ANITA TRAVERSO GALLERY, 7 Albert Street Richmond which I curated.

You have to see these images in person, they are impressively immersive!

Marcus

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PS. Preview all the images in the exhibition and read the catalogue essay at this previous posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Andrew Follows. 'Number 31, Eltham' 2013

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Andrew Follows
Number 31, Eltham
2013
Digital photograph on archival cotton rag
130 cm x 86.5 cm

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Density Logos

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Anita Traverso Gallery
7, Albert Street
Richmond, Vic 3121

Opening hours:
Wed – Sat 11 – 5

Anita Traverso Gallery website

Andrew Follow website

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19
Sep
13

Exhibition: ‘Cindy Sherman – Untitled Horrors’ at the Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo

Exhibition dates: 4th May – 22nd September 2013

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Like a mouthful of cinders.

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

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Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled #92' 1981

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Cindy Sherman
Untitled #92
1981
Chromogenic colour print
61 x 121.9 cm
The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo

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Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled #167' 1985

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Cindy Sherman
Untitled #167
1985
Chromogenic colour print
150 x 225 cm
Astrup Fearnley Collection

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Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled Film Still #32' 1979

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Cindy Sherman
Untitled Film Still #32
1979
Gelatin silver print
69.5 x 87.2 cm
Astrup Fearnley Collection

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Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled #150' 1985

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Cindy Sherman
Untitled #150
1985
Chromogenic colour print
121 x 163.8 cm
Collection of Cynthia and Abe Steinberger

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Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled Film Still #56' 1980

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Cindy Sherman 
Untitled Film Still #56
1980
Gelatin silver print
15.5 x 22.8 cm
Moderna Museet
Donation from The American Friends of the Moderna Museet, Inc., 2010

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“Cindy Sherman (born 1954) is one of the leading and most influential artists of our time. She belongs to a generation of postmodern artists who redefined the photograph and its place in an ever more visually oriented culture. Taking female roles in photographic representations as her starting point, Sherman creates recognizable pictures that mirror the human condition in its many nuances. Sherman’s pictures became key works in a time of turbulence for the very concept of art, and continue to challenge concepts of representation, identity and portrait.

Cindy Sherman’s allegorical pictures reflect our own conception of the world and open up for new interpretations of familiar phenomena. She uses herself as a model and eqally portrays film stars and pin-up girls, as well as abnormal monsters from fantasy worlds. Sherman’s assertive use of masks, wigs and prosthetics has a disturbing effect, which is further reinforced in pictures where the human presence is gradually reduced in favour of posed dolls or traces of waste and decay.

The exhibition Cindy Sherman – Untitled Horrors has been composed to emphasise the disturbing, grotesque and disquieting sides of Sherman’s pictures. These are aspects that are visible in her exploration of well-established photographic genres such as film stills, fashion photography or classic portraits, as well as in series with titles such as Fairy Tales, Disasters, Sex Pictures, Civil War and Horror & Surrealist. This exhibition seeks to highlight these key aspects in her artistry and to examine their relevance through a dedicated selection of works from the beginning of her career in the mid-1970s up to the present day.

In conjunction with the exhibition, a richly illustrated catalogue is being published in cooperation with art publishers Hatje Cantz Verlag. The idea behind the catalogue is to explore and examine the more disquieting sides of Sherman’s art by inviting contributions from authors who have touched on similar themes in their own works. Contributors are well-known artists, dramatists and authors including Lars Norén, Miranda July, Sibylle Berg, Sjón, Sara Stridsberg, Karl Ove Knausgård and Kathy Acker.”

Press release from the Astrup Fearnley Museet website

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Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled #402' 2000

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Cindy Sherman
Untitled #402
2000
Chromogenic colour print
88 x 60 cm
Astrup Fearnley Samlingen / Collection

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Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled #132' 1984

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Cindy Sherman
Untitled #132
1984
Chromogenic colour print
176.3 x 119.2 cm
Kunsthaus Zürich

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Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled #199-A' 1989

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Cindy Sherman
Untitled #199-A
1989
Chromogenic colour print
63.3 x 45.7 cm
Astrup Fearnley Collection

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Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled #152' 1985

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Cindy Sherman
Untitled #152
1985
Chromogenic colour print
184.2 x 125.4 cm
Astrup Fearnley Samlingen/ Collection

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Cindy Sherman. 'Untitled #470' 2008

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Cindy Sherman
Untitled #470
2008
Chromogenic colour print
216.5 x 147.5 cm
Acquired with founding from The American Friends of the Moderna Museet Inc.,

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Astrup Fearnley Museet
Strandpromenaden 2
0252 Oslo
T: +47 22 93 60 60

Opening hours:
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday 12-17
Thursday 12-19
Saturday, Sunday 11-17
Mondays closed

Astrup Fearnley Museet website

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17
Sep
13

Exhibition: ‘Lifelike’ at The Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, Texas

Exhibition dates: 23rd June – 22nd September 2013

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Life (like).

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“For the French theorist Jean Baudrillard, this consciousness of construction finds its most powerful expression in the concept of hyperreality. To appreciate Baudrillard’s view, recall the treatment of literary deconstruction… Deconstruction therorists propose that words gain their meaning through their reference to other words; literary works gain their significance by the way they are related to other writings. Thus language does not derive its character from reality, but from other language. Now consider the media – newspapers, television, the movies, radio. For Baudrillard, media portrayals of the world are not driven by the way the world “is,” but by the steadily emerging histories of portrayal itself. As these histories unfold, each new lamination is influenced by the preceding, accounts are layered upon accounts, and reality is transformed into hyperreality. For example, Baudrillard asks, what is the reality of the “Holocaust”? One cannot deny that certain events took place, but as time goes on these events become subject to myriad re-presentations. Diaries become subject to redefinition by television and movies; biographies influence the writing of historical novels; narrated history is transformed into plays, and each “telling” lays the experiental groundwork for subsequent retellings. Realities accumulate, accentuate, interpenetrate, and ultimately create the world of hyperreality – itself in continuous evolution into the future. We feel we possess an intimate acquaintance of the events in themselves; they are sharply etched in our consciousness. For Baudrillard, however, this consciousness moves increasingly toward hyperreality.

And thus the culture opens to the possibility of selves as artifacts of hyperreality. As political events, health and illness, and world history slip from the realm of the concrete into the domain of representation, so a commitment to obdurate selves becomes increasingly difficult to maintain. What, after all, is the reality of our motives, intentions, thoughts, attitudes, and the like? …

As we find, the current texts of the self are built upon those of preceding eras, and they in turn upon more distant forms of discourse. In the end we have no way of “getting down to the self as it is.” And thus we edge toward the more unsettling question: On what grounds can we assume that beneath the layers of accumulated understandings there is, in fact, an obdurate “self” to be located? The object of understanding has been absorbed into the world of representations.”

Gergen, Kenneth. The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life. New York: Harper Collins, 1991, pp.121-122.

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Many thankx to The Blanton Museum of Art for allowing me to publish the artwork in this posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the art.

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Daniel Douke. 'Ace' 1979

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Daniel Douke
Ace
1979
Acrylic on masonite
8 x 8 x 12 1/4 in.
Courtesy Minnesota Museum of American Art, Saint Paul

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Evan Penny. '(Old) No One – in Particular #6, Series 2' 2005

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Evan Penny
(Old) No One – in Particular #6, Series 2
2005
Silicone, pigment, hair, aluminium
40 x 32 x 7 1/2 in.
© Evan Penny
Courtesy Sperone Westwater, New York

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Vija Celmins. 'Eraser' 1967

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Vija Celmins
Eraser
1967
Acrylic on balsa wood
6 5/8 x 20 x 3 1/8 in.
Collection Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA
Gift of Avco Financial Services, Newport Beach

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Maurizio Cattelan. 'Untitled' 2001

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Maurizio Cattelan
Untitled
2001
Stainless steel, composition wood, electric motor, electric light, electric bell, computer
23 1/2 x 33 5/8 x 18 5/8 in.
Courtesy the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York

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Keith Edmier. 'Bremen Towne' 2008

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Keith Edmier
Bremen Towne
2008
Installation dimensions variable
Courtesy of the artist and Friedrich Petzel Gallery

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Bremen Towne was an idea I’d been thinking about prior to [my 2008] show at Bard College. It had been floating in my head for a number of years based on the sales brochure of my parents’ home I had obtained around 1999 off of eBay. It was just one of these things I had around… I didn’t really have the idea of constructing this house back then… As it turned out, the interior dimensions of my parents’ home from the original blueprints fit directly into one of the galleries at the museum. At that point I started considering it more as an art object, or as a sculpture more than an installation… The main visual references were family photographs, mostly taken during critical events or holidays or birthday parties. My process involved going through the photo album – everything. They were all pictures of people posing, so I started looking at the spaces [in the background]… I ended up buying the whole decade of both Sears and JCPenney catalogues up until that time, the early ’70s. Through that I was able to identify some products based on visual descriptions or in the family photographs… I initially went to a place that has all kinds of wallpapers and floorings from other periods, used a lot for movies and things like that. I heard they had thousands of wallpapers. It turned out I couldn’t find the exact wallpaper that was in the house. I guess at that point I started thinking it was more interesting for me to remake it, and to remake it more or less new. I wanted to represent the time element, the moment before the day of the family moving into the new house. It wasn’t supposed to look lived in.

I think I was initially interested in doing that to have some kind of separation from taking a real object that was loaded with personal history or some sentimental thing. It was a way of moving from a subjective to an objective position… [I was interested] in just thinking about the whole interior of the house itself as a cast, or this negative space. I thought about how the house is essentially the space that shapes us, that shapes oneself… I think that my reason to make it, or to make almost anything, went beyond just the visual aspects of it, or the idea of re-creating an illusion of the thing. I’ve always been more interested in a certain level of representation or pictorial literalness… I like words or descriptions like “actual” or “actual scale.” I like the idea of “what is real?” (Text from the Walker Art Center website)

Keith Edmier

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“The exhibition Lifelike, on view at the Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin June 23 to September 22, 2013, invites a close examination of artworks based on commonplace objects and situations, which are startlingly realistic, but often made of unusual materials in unexpected sizes.

Organized by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, this international, multigenerational group exhibition features 75 works from the 1960s to the present by leading figures in contemporary art, such as Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter, James Casebere, Vija Celmins, Keith Edmier, Robert Gober, Ron Mueck, Mungo Thomson, and Ai Weiwei, and illuminates artists’ enduring fascination with realism.

Avoiding the flashiness embraced by 1960s Pop Artists and the slick urban scenes introduced at that time by the Photorealists, the contemporary artists in Lifelike investigate often overlooked items and moments as subject matter: a paper bag, an eraser, an apple core, a waiting roo, an afternoon nap. Favouring a handmade, labour intensive practice rather than technological enhancements, the works in the exhibition – including painting, sculpture, photography, drawing and video – transform the seemingly ordinary into something beguiling, loaded with narrative and metaphor.

The exhibition explores the many ways artists have pursued realism through a range of media. Some artists featured, such as Vija Celmins, Chuck Close, and Peter Rostovsky, paint from photographs, creating works that exhibit an astonishing degree of likeness and detail. Others work in sculpture often fashioning objects from materials that belie the pedestrian nature of the subject – Ai Weiwei’s jar of hundreds of sunflower seeds, hand painted on to cast porcelain, or Tom Friedman’s bee, made out of clay, plastic, and paint. In photography, artists including James Casebere and Isaac Layman play with the hyperreal, through fabricated scenes or clever layering of images. In video, artists including Thomas Demand and Jeon Joonho create moving images that at first seem familiar, but deceive us through sly use of animation.

Conspicuously absent in most of the works in Lifelike is a reliance on technological intervention. Instead, in seemingly inverse proportion to the ease of producing goods for the marketplace, many artists are slowing and complicating their own working methods, remaking banal things into objects of fixation and desire: Catherine Murphy’s details of textured fabric on the seat of a chair, or Ron Mueck’s strikingly “real” sculpture – down to the last hair and pore – of human subjects. Frequently these artists work from photographs, but just as often, their inspiration is the observed world, and the notion that a tangible, perhaps ephemeral object or moment can somehow be brought back to life – reinterpreted through the artist’s hand as re-made readymades.

To address the nuances of this subject, the exhibition presents several key conceptual sections:

Common Objects gathers a group of late 1960s and early 1970s works that borrowed strategies from Pop, but rejected that movement’s brand-name emphasis in favor of conceptual, more process-oriented approaches to subject matter.

Another section presents the notion of  The Uncanny, which features work by a generation of artists in the 1980s and 1990s who inflected realism with a psychologically-laden, surreal sensibility, such as Robert Gober’s child-sized chair and flower-covered box of tissues, resting mysteriously atop a floor drain; or Charles Ray’s disarming photograph of himself as a mannequin.

A third section entitled Realism into Abstraction presents a range of works by artists such as Peter Rostovsky, Catherine Murphy and Tauba Auerbach, in which lushly painted surfaces such as velvet curtains, the seat of a chair, and other ordinary items are cropped in such a way that they resemble abstract paintings, their original sources difficult to discern.

Handmade Sleight of Hand, the fourth section, presents work by artists who make objects that are indistinguishable from their real-life counterparts, but made with the traditional techniques of painting, sculpture, or drawing. Highlights include Jud Nelson’s trash bag carved from Carrara marble and Susan Collis’s checkered plastic shopping bag painstakingly rendered in ballpoint pen on paper.

A fifth section, Special Effects: The Real as Spectacle, presents artists making work that engages an instant response – be it astonishment, fear, confusion, or delight – through their surprising size or unusual installation.”

Press release from The Blanton Museum of Art website

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Peter Rostovsky. 'Curtain' 2010

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Peter Rostovsky
Curtain
2010
Oil on linen
72 x 48 in.
Courtesy of the artist

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What does it mean in Warholian fashion to “want to be a machine,” to long for a kind of inhumanity that has to be constantly performed and repeated? Is this not a radical disavowal of an all too human vulnerability? Can we not read in the mechanical appeals of photorealism a kind of excessive sentimentality, a naïve expressionism that uses the camera and the photograph as a shield against trauma?

And likewise in expressionism’s hyperbolic restatement of its humanity, is there not a silent concession to its opposite, a founding anxiety about inauthenticity, a mortal dread regarding the total triumph of simulation and technology?

However, it is important to stress that these are unfulfilled desires. No photorealist painting completely fools the viewer into the fact that it is machine-made; it entertains the fantasy, much like electronic music. And each autonomous artwork is only a temporary escape, a utopian space, “an orchid in the land of technology,” to borrow a phrase that Walter Benjamin applied to the illusion of reality in film.

What these two positions in fact represent are two negative theologies that stand as sentinels, forever pointing to and away from a traumatically unresolved subject position – a position of the never sufficiently technological, and the never completely human. They are both Romantic positions and should be read as such: as positions of longing and disavowal, not of identity.

Why would this be important to emphasize? Because it answers the familiar question asked to every painter painting photographs. It’s not about the ends, it’s about the means. It’s about the performance of painting that re-states the position, not the photolike product that it yields. In other words, it’s about trying and failing to be a machine. Therein resides the futility and poetic nature of the practice. The failure marks the fragility and evanescence of the subject negatively, knowing that the alternative is to misname, to misrepresent, to conjure the opposite. This poetic is more latent, and seldom acknowledged in art that aspires toward indifference and inhumanity, but I hope that I have shown that every tin man has a heart, just like every photorealist hides an abstract painter.  (Text from the Walker Art Center website)

Peter Rostovsky

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Matt Johnson. 'American Spirit' 2010

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Matt Johnson
American Spirit
2010
Paper, plastic, foam, paint, and magnets
1 x 3 1/2 x 2 1/4 in.
Edition of 3
Courtesy of the artist and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles
Photo credit: Joshua White
© Matt Johnson

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Ron Mueck. 'Untitled (Seated Woman)' 1999

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Ron Mueck
Untitled (Seated Woman)
1999
Silicone, acrylic, polyurethane foam and fabric
25 1/4 x 17 x 16 1/2 in.
Collection of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

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Alex Hay. 'Paper Bag' 1968

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Alex Hay
Paper Bag
1968
Fiberglass, epoxy, paint, and paper
59 1/4 x 29 x 18 in.
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
© Alex Hay
Courtesy of the artist and Peter Freeman, Inc., New York Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson

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Jonathan Seliger. 'Heartland' 2010

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Jonathan Seliger
Heartland
2010
Enamel on bronze
103 x 29 x 29 in.
Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, NY

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Yoshihiro Suda. 'Weeds' 2008

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Yoshihiro Suda
Weeds
2008
Painted on wood
Size varied according to site
© Yoshihiro Suda
Courtesy of Gallery Koyanagi, Tokyo

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The Blanton Museum of Art

The museum is located at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Congress Avenue and is open Tuesday though Friday from 10 AM – 5 PM, Saturday from 11 AM – 5 PM, and Sunday from 1 – 5 PM. Thursdays are free admission days and every third Thursday the museum is open until 9 PM.

The Blanton Museum of Art website

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14
Sep
13

Exhibition: ‘Piero Manzoni. When Bodies Became Art’ at Städel Museum, Frankfurt

Exhibition dates: 26th June – 22nd September 2013

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A slight switch in gears for the next two postings. Conceptual, sculptural, minimal, monochromatic, corporeal, haptically varied surfaces that are absolutely fascinating…

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

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Piero Manzoni (1933-1963) 'Achrome' 1958

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Piero Manzoni (1933-1963)
Achrome
1958
Kaolin on canvas
50 x 69.5 cm
Fondazione Piero Manzoni, Milan, in collaboration with Gagosian Gallery
© Fondazione Piero Manzoni, Milano, by VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013

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Piero Manzoni (1933-1963) 'Achrome' 1957-1963

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Piero Manzoni (1933-1963)
Achrome
1957-1963
Kaolin on canvas
80 x 100 cm
Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
© Fondazione Piero Manzoni, Milano, by VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013

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Piero Manzoni (1933-1963) 'Achrome' 1958

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Piero Manzoni (1933-1963)
Achrome
1958
Kaolin on canvas
160 x 130 cm
© Fondazione Piero Manzoni, Milano, by VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013
Courtesy FaMa Gallery, Verona

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Piero Manzoni (1933-1963) 'Achrome' 1962

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Piero Manzoni (1933-1963)
Achrome
1962
Pebbles and kaolin on canvas
70 x 50 cm
Fondazione Piero Manzoni, Milan, in collaboration with Gagosian Gallery
© Fondazione Piero Manzoni, Milano, by VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013

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Piero Manzoni (1933-1963) 'Alfabeto' (Alphabet) 1959

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Piero Manzoni (1933-1963)
Alfabeto (Alphabet)
1959
Printed paper and pencil on cardboard
70 x 50 cm
Neues Museum Weimar
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013

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Ennio Vicario. 'Manzoni in his studio in Via Fiori Oscuri' 1958

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Ennio Vicario
Manzoni in his studio in Via Fiori Oscuri
1958

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Ennio Vicario. 'Manzoni in his studio in Via Fiori Oscuri' 1958

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Ennio Vicario
Manzoni in his studio in Via Fiori Oscuri
1958

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“Despite his short career, Piero Manzoni (1933‒1963), who died an early death at the age of twenty-nine, is regarded as one of the most momentous representatives of Italian art after 1945. Manzoni would have celebrated his eightieth birthday on July 13, 2013. The Städel will pay tribute to this key figure of the European post-war avant-garde with a comprehensive survey to mark the occasion exactly fifty years after the artist’s death. Piero Manzoni. When Bodies Became Art will be the first Manzoni retrospective ever to be staged in the German-speaking world. The exhibition, on display from June 26 to September 22, 2013, will highlight the radical character of the artist’s multifaceted position: Manzoni not only submitted Duchamp’s concept of the ready-made to a far-reaching revision, but also thought central discourses of Modernism like monochromy through to the end and opened painting into the fields of the everyday world and commodity aesthetics. With works like Merda d’artista – (allegedly) 30 grams of artist’s shit in a strictly limited edition – or Socle du monde (Base of the World, 1961) – a pedestal elevating the world to an artwork – Manzoni created two icons within the more recent history of art. More than one hundred works from all phases of Manzoni’s productive career will offer complex insights into a still persuasive and influential oeuvre between Art Informel and the emergence of a new concept of art, Modernism and neo-avant-garde, art and the everyday world. Manzoni’s still unbroken influence on contemporary art production will be illustrated in the exhibition by works of the artists Erwin Wurm (*1954), Leni Hoffmann (*1962), and Bernard Bazile (*1952), which – offering an essayistic introduction to the show ‒explore central dimensions of Manzoni’s oeuvre regarding their relevance to the present.

“Though Piero Manzoni had a pivotal position in the cross-European ZERO network and, as a breathtaking innovator of the concept of art, strikes us hardly less avant­garde today, he is far less known than many of his ZERO colleagues in these parts. Fifty years after his sudden death, we want to change this situation with the first presentation of Manzoni’s work in a museum outside Italy for more than two decades,” says Max Hollein, Director of the Städel Museum.

“The exhibition is not only aimed at shedding light on the wide variety of Manzoni’s work produced within only a few years, but also at examining his enormous impact on the paradigm change in the art of the 1960s. Manzoni actually paved the way for today’s art, exercising an influence on Body Art and Performance Art, as well as on Conceptual Art and Land Art,” explains Dr. Martin Engler, Head of the Städel’s Contemporary Art Collection and curator of the show.

Piero Manzoni was born the son of Valeria Meroni and Egisto Manzoni, Count of Chiosca and Poggiolo, in Soncino, Lombardy, on July 13, 1933. He began to study law in 1951 and philosophy in 1955, when he also presented his first solo exhibition in Soncino. This was about the time he got to know artists of the CoBrA group, of the “Spatialist” movement around Lucio Fontana, and finally the “Arte Nucleare” group he joined in 1957. It was in Rotterdam where he presented his first solo show abroad in 1958. One year after, Manzoni founded the Azimut Gallery in Milan together with Enrico Castellani. The dato Gallery was the first to exhibit his work in Frankfurt in 1961. At the age of twenty-nine, Piero Manzoni died from a heart attack in his studio in Milan.

Piero Manzoni. When Bodies Became Art opens on the ground floor of the Städel’s Exhibition Building with early works by the artist, which oscillate between informal grounds and strongly abstracted figurativeness. Mirroring the agent provocateur and avant-gardist’s mediating role within the international ZERO network, his early oeuvre is displayed next to selected works by such contemporaries as Lucio Fontana, Alberto Burri, or Yves Klein, as well as by ZERO artists like Günther Uecker or Heinz Mack. Thus, the presentation conveys an idea of both Manzoni’s intricate network of relationships and the interaction and exchange with his closely affiliated colleagues in Düsseldorf, Amsterdam, Frankfurt am Main, Paris, or Copenhagen right from the beginning.

In the adjoining, completely open exhibition space, forty-three works of Manzoni’s central Achromes series provide the basis of the presentation ‒or rather interlock the artist’s different strands of production: a band running along all four outside walls unfolds a seamless chronology of this epochal group of works, which spans the entire exhibition. Between 1957 and his death in 1963, Manzoni produced about six-hundred of these paintings without color, whose different forms of appearance made them a background of reference for his whole oeuvre. Thanks to the open exhibition architecture the Achromes enclose the artist’s performative, body-related workgroups presented in the center of the hall with the help of a freestanding architectural display.

Manzoni did without any direct artistic gesture when creating his “colorless” works. His “white” painting, defined by the absence of color ‒ white or “achrome” meaning in the color of the material for him ‒ takes a special position in the context of the international ZERO movement and its turn toward monochromy: Manzoni saw his Achromes as paintings in spite of their ultimate reduction on the one hand, yet extended them by everyday elements like rolls or Styrofoam by body and space on the other. Employing materials such as plaster of Paris, kaolin, or synthetic fibers, he relied on means with sculptural qualities which initiated a transition process from the picture into a third, corporeal dimension. The velvety, satiny, shining and haptically varied surfaces show the conceptual severity that characterizes the description of this aesthetic concept to be a lie.

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Exhibition views of Piero Manzoni. When Bodies became Art

Exhibition views of Piero Manzoni. When Bodies became Art

Exhibition views of Piero Manzoni. When Bodies became Art

Exhibition views of Piero Manzoni. When Bodies became Art

Exhibition views of Piero Manzoni. When Bodies became Art

Exhibition views of Piero Manzoni. When Bodies became Art

Exhibition views of Piero Manzoni. When Bodies became Art

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Exhibition views of Piero Manzoni. When Bodies became Art
Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, 2013
Photo: Alex Kraus
© Fondazione Piero Manzoni, Milano, by VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013

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After his reduction of color, Manzoni also radically reduced its counterpart, the line, to the core of its essence. Starting in 1959, Manzoni produced more than one hundred and thirty conceptual works he categorized as Linee (Lines). This group confronts us with the idea of the isolated line as a reduced artistic gesture: the uniform horizontal lines drawn on long strips of paper were rolled up in cardboard tubes and thus hidden from the eye. The works are presented in their tubes positioned upright like figurines. The highlight of this series is definitely the line Manzoni drew at a newpaper’s printers in Herning, Denmark, in 1960: it was more than seven kilometers long and stored in a zinc cylinder.

Manzoni’s endeavors as an artist centered on the issue of the body, an issue consistently derived from the corporeality of his Achromes and Linee. From the late 1950s on, he also dedicated himself to two further series: Corpi d’aria (Bodies of Air) and Fiato d’artista (Artist’s Breath) ‒ works vacillating between object and biology, between body and concept. The exhibited balloons, formerly filled with their owners’ or Manzoni’s breath, related to a body discourse that anticipated the 1970s and was also reflected in other works by the artist like in the performance Consumazione dell’arte (Consumption of Art, 1960), in which he marked hard-boiled eggs with his thumbprint and offered them to the audience to eat. The thumbprint is to be read as Manzoni’s most reduced physical trace which becomes a sign of his identity as individual, body, and artist.

The provocative impact of Manzoni’s probably best known group of works, Merda d’artista (Artist’s Shit, 1961), is still unbroken even five decades after the artist’s death: thirty grams of artist’s shit in strictly limited compact cans, which were allegedly sold on the art market for the price of gold. This series may be understood as a logical continuation of Manzoni’s earlier art consumption performances: the artist’s body becomes the biological medium for the production of art, and Duchamp’s ready-made finds itself grounded in human biology. The exhibition comprises eleven cans of this series combining high and low, the spiritual and the abstract with the concrete and the physical and thus radically extends the traditional concept of art.

The resulting discourse of the body finds its culmination in the artist’s Sculture viventi (Living Sculptures, 1961) displayed in the show. Declaring bodies to be art by means of a pedestal, these works by Manzoni appropriate man as a living work of art: whoever steps onto the pedestal is elevated to a living sculpture and object of art for the time being. Going beyond the concept of the ready-made, Manzoni made the body the material of his art. His approach involved the viewer and opened the door for the Actionist Art of the 1960s and 1970s. The work Socle du monde (Base of the World, 1961), which is also among the Städel’s exhibits, focuses on the whole world at once: a plinth presumably placed upside down elevates the world, including man, to a work of art in an all-embracing manner.

The presentation of three contemporary positions ‒ Erwin Wurm (*1954), Leni Hoffmann (*1962), and Bernard Bazile (*1952) ‒ provides an essayistic introduction to the show in the foyer of the Exhibition Building, a foreword exploring central dimensions of Manzoni’s oeuvre regarding their relevance to the present. The Austrian artist Erwin Wurm will present the visitor as a living sculpture in one of his One Minute Sculptures he conceived especially for the show at the Städel. Leni Hoffmann’s re-edition of the longest line from Manzoni’s series Linee follows up the present reception of the artist’s work by realizing a well-nigh endless line on the rotary press of a daily newspaper. The French artist Bernhard Bazile will show two of his works. In his film project Die Besitzer (The Owners) he interviews forty-nine collectors whose holdings comprise a sample of Manzoni’s Merda d’artista and, talking about the motives for their acquisition, reflect on the artist’s oeuvre far beyond the actual subject of the conversation. The show also comprises the Merda d’artista sample Bazile opened in 1989 and since then presents as his own work under the title Boîte ouverte de Piero Manzoni.

The exhibition Piero Manzoni. When Bodies Became Art highlights the achievements of an artist who, in a radically innovative way, succeeded in condensing issues of late Modernism into a differentiated oeuvre that would prove to be a landmark for contemporary art. Today, Manzoni’s works mark a key position that has given birth to a conceptual discourse of the body and become the yardstick for a new, extended understanding of art which still clearly informs today’s debates.”

Press release from the Städel Museum website

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Piero Manzoni (1933-1963) 'Paradoxus Smith' 1957

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Piero Manzoni (1933-1963)
Paradoxus Smith
1957
Oil on board
100 x 130 cm
The Sander Collection
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013

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Piero Manzoni (1933-1963) 'Milano et-mitologiaa' (Milan and mythology) 1956

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Piero Manzoni (1933-1963)
Milano et-mitologiaa (Milan and mythology)
1956
Oil on board
95 x 130 cm
Private Collection Milan
© Fondazione Piero Manzoni, Milano, by VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013

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Piero Manzoni (1933-1963) 'Socle du monde' (Base of the world) 1961

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Piero Manzoni (1933-1963)
Socle du monde (Base of the world)
1961
Iron, bronze
82 x 100 x 100cm
HEART – Herning Museum of Contemporary Art
© Fondazione Piero Manzoni, Milano, by VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013

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Piero Manzoni (1933-1963) 'Base magica - Scultura vivente' (Magic Base - Living sculpture) 1961

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Piero Manzoni (1933-1963)
Base magica – Scultura vivente (Magic Base – Living sculpture)
1961
Wood, metal, felt
79.5 x 79.5 x 60 cm
Fondazione Piero Manzoni, Milan, in collaboration with Gagosian Gallery
© Fondazione Piero Manzoni, Milano, by VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013

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Piero Manzoni (1933-1963) 'Fiato d'artista' (Artist's breath) 1960

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Piero Manzoni (1933-1963)
Fiato d’artista (Artist’s breath)
1960
Rubber balloon, string, lead seal, brass, wood
18 x 18 cm
Fondazione Piero Manzoni, Milan, in collaboration with Gagosian Gallery
© Fondazione Piero Manzoni, Milano, by VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013

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Piero Manzoni (1933-1963) 'Merda d'artista N.° 038' (Artist's shit N.° 038) 1961

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Piero Manzoni (1933-1963)
Merda d’artista N.° 038 (Artist’s shit N.° 038)
1961
Artist’s shit, printed paper, tin can
Private collection
© Fondazione Piero Manzoni, Milano, by VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013

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Piero Manzoni (1933-1963) 'Linea m 3,54' (Line 3.54 m) 1959

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Piero Manzoni (1933-1963)
Linea m 3,54 (Line 3.54 m)
1959
23 x 6 cm
Ink on paper, cardboard container
Consolandi Collection
© Fondazione Piero Manzoni, Milano, by VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013

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Städel Museum
Schaumainkai 63
60596 Frankfurt

Opening hours:
Tuesday, Friday – Sunday 10.00 am – 6.00 pm.
Wednesday and Thursday 10.00 am – 9.00 pm

Städel Museum website

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12
Sep
13

Exhibition: ‘French Twist: Masterworks of Photography from Atget to Man Ray’ at the Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, DE

Exhibition dates: 29th June – 15th September 2013

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C’est Magnifique!

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

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Ilse Bing (1899-1998) 'Cancan Dancers' Moulin Rouge 1931

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Ilse Bing (1899-1998)
Cancan Dancers

Moulin Rouge 1931
Gelatin silver print
6 1/4 × 9 in. (15.9 × 22.9 cm)
Collection of Michael Mattis and Judith Hochberg
© Estate of Ilse Bing. Courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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7_bing_eiffel_tower-WEB

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Ilse Bing (1899-1998)
Champ-de-Mars from the Eiffel Tower
1931
7 1/2 x 11 inches
Collection of Michael Mattis and Judith Hochberg
© Estate of Ilse Bing, Courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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Ilse Bing (1899-1998) 'Boarding House for Young Women, Tours' 1935

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Ilse Bing (1899-1998)
Boarding House for Young Women, Tours
1935
Gelatin silver print
11 1/8 × 7 1/2 in. (28.3 × 19.1 cm)
Collection of Michael Mattis and Judith Hochberg
© Estate of Ilse Bing. Courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

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Brassaï (1899-1984) 'Lovers, Bal Musette des Quatre Saisons, rue de Lappe' c. 1932

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Brassaï (1899-1984)
Lovers, Bal Musette des Quatre Saisons, rue de Lappe
c. 1932
9 3/8 x 7 inches
Collection of Michael Mattis and Judith Hochberg
© The Brassaï Estate-RMN

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“In the early 20th century, between the two world wars, Paris saw a fervor of change. From 1910 to 1940, the city became a creative epicenter for artistic exploration, attracting international avant-garde artists – including photographers experimenting with Surrealism, Modernism, and the new reportage. French Twist: Masterworks of Photography from Atget to Man Ray, on view at the Delaware Art Museum from June 29, 2013 through September 15, 2013, features 100 vintage prints from this golden age of French photography and explores the variety and inventiveness of native and immigrant photographers working in France in the early 20th century.

This exhibition presents a number of themes that capture the flavor and nightlife of Paris at this exciting moment. “Life of the Streets,” “Diversions,” and “Paris by Night” are just some of the topics that these masterful photographs explore. Visitors will experience Eugène Atget’s lyrical views of Paris streets and gardens, Man Ray’s surrealist experiments, and Henri Cartier-Bresson’s pioneering photojournalism, as well as works by Ilse Bing, Brassaï, Jacques-Henri Lartigue, André Kertész, and Dora Maar. Many of these artists settled in France for life, while others, fleeing the Nazis, brought their Paris‐trained sensibilities and influences to America.

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Eugène Atget 

The exhibition opens with one of the most significant figures in the history of photography, Eugène Atget, whose work influenced a range of artists from Surrealists to documentary photographers. This selection encompasses pictures of city streets, architectural details, and the gardens at Versailles and includes one of his most famous photographs, Boulevard de Strasbourg, Corsets (1912).

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La vie de la rue (Life of the Street) 

This section includes images of the streets and buildings of Paris – of the bustling Champ-de-Mars and the deserted Avenue du Maine – and features a large selection of photographs by Ilse Bing. In her modernist views of urban architecture, Bing provides a modern take on the old city through unexpected angles and dramatic cropping.

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Divertissement (Diversions) 

Divertissement focuses on the myriad amusements available in the City of Lights. Lartigue provides an insider’s view of upper-class life in the Belle Epoque, while Bing and Brassaï chronicle the attractions of the dance hall, the theater, and the street.

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Henri Cartier-Bresson 

The master of the “decisive moment” and one of the most significant photojournalists of the 20th century, Henri Cartier-Bresson is featured along with 17 famous photographs from his travels around the world. This section includes his stellar images of the Spanish Second Republic and his iconic view of the coronation of George VI in London.

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Les basses classes (The Lower Classes) 

Between the wars, photographers from Ilse Bing to Andre Kertész to Brassaï chronicled lives of poor Parisians, often bringing a Modernist sensibility, rather than a reformer’s eye, to scenes of urban poverty.

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Paris de nuit (Paris by Night) 

In 1933 Brassaï released his photo book Paris by Night, which chronicled the city’s streets and amusements after dark. The book became an immediate success and Brassaï became famous as the foremost photographer of the city’s bars and brothels, performers, and prostitutes.

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L’art pour l’art (Art for Art’s Sake) 

This section focuses on the technical experimentation and virtuoso technique of photographers including Pierre Dubreuil, Edward Steichen, and Pal Funk Angelo. It features examples of unusual techniques like cliché-verre, solarization, and oil printing.

Cliché verre is a combination of art and photography. In brief, it is a method of either etching, painting or drawing on a transparent surface, such as glass, thin paper or film and printing the resulting image on a light sensitive paper in a photographic darkroom. It is a process first practiced by a number of French painters during the early 19th century. The French landscape painter Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot was the best known of these. Some contemporary artists have developed techniques for achieving a variety of line, tone, texture and color by experimenting with film, frosted Mylar, paint and inks and a wide assortment of tools for painting, etching, scratching, rubbing and daubing.

Cliché verre is French. Cliché is a printing term: a printing plate cast from movable type; while verre means glass. (Text from Wikipedia)

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Andre Kertész, Dora Maar, Man Ray 

These three important photographers – all immigrants to Paris between the Wars and all involved in Surrealist movement – are featured in individual sections that highlight their most famous works. Kertész is represented by his photographs of the painter Piet Mondrian’s studio. Maar’s Surrealist street photographs capture her dark humor, and a full complement of Man Ray’s experimental and psychologically charged images summarize his photographic interests.

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La figure (Portraits and Nudes) 

La Figure showcases experimental approaches to the classic subject of the female nude, including a cameraless photograph and a solarization by Man Ray and a distortion created with fun-house-type mirrors by Kertész.

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Ilse Bing (1899-1998), nicknamed the “Queen of the Leica” after her camera of choice, moved to Paris in 1930 and immersed herself in its cultural milieu, interacting with painters like Pavel Tchelitchev and fashionistas Elsa Schiaparelli and Carmel Snow. The decade she spent in France is considered the high point of her artistic career.

Dora Maar (1907-1997) created startlingly imaginative Surrealist photographs under the tutelage of Man Ray. However, she is best known as Picasso’s lover, muse, and “Weeping Woman” from 1936 to 1943. Her photographs documenting Picasso’s creation of Guernica hang alongside the painting in the Reina Sofía museum in Madrid.

JacquesHenri Lartigue (1894-1986), considered by many to be a child prodigy, received his first camera as a gift when he was six years old and immediately set to work documenting the activities of his energetic family and circle of friends. Lartigue’s light‐hearted snapshots capture the essence of France’s Belle Époque, the halcyon period before World War I when it seemed that modernity would bring nothing but progress and delight.

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3_atget_corsets-WEB

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Eugène Atget (1857-1957)
Boulevard de Strasbourg Corsets
1912
Printing-out paper
8 3/4 x 7 inches
Collection of Michael Mattis and Judith Hochberg

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Eugène Atget (1857-1927) 'Rue Egynard' 1901

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Eugène Atget (1857-1927)
Rue Egynard
1901
Albumen print
8 1/4 × 7 in. (21 × 17.8 cm)
Collection of Michael Mattis and Judith Hochberg

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Man Ray (1890-1976) 'Solarized nude' 1930

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Man Ray (1890-1976)
Solarized nude
1930
11 5/8 x 8 7/8 inches
Collection of Michael Mattis and Judith Hochberg
© 2013 Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY / ADAGP, Paris

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Edward Steichen (1879-1973) 'Three Pears and an Apple, Voulangis, France' 1921

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Edward Steichen (1879-1973)
Three Pears and an Apple, Voulangis, France
1921
Gelatin silver print
14 x 11 inches
Collection of Michael Mattis and Judith Hochberg

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Man Ray (1890-1976) 'Kiki de Montparnasse' 1923

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Man Ray (1890-1976)
Kiki de Montparnasse
1923
11 x 8 3/4 inches
Collection of Michael Mattis and Judith Hochberg
© 2013 Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY / ADAGP, Paris

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2_brassai_russian_billiards-WEB

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Brassaï (1899-1984)
Fille de Montmartre playing Russian billiards, Blvd Rochechouart
1932-33
11 1/4 x 8 1/4 inches
Collection of Michael Mattis and Judith Hochberg
© The Brassaï Estate-RMN

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Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE 19806

Opening hours:
Wednesday – Saturday 10.00 am – 4.00 pm
Sunday noon – 4.00 pm

Delaware Art Museum website

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10
Sep
13

Exhibition: ‘Sensuous Steel: Art Deco Automobiles’ at The Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TN

Exhibition dates: 14th June – 15th September 2013

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OMG, OMG, OMG a bumper posting of car porn!

Some of these are just ravishing (my favourite is the Hispano-Suiza H6B Dubonnet “Xenia” Coupe, 1938) and the elegant, eloquent photography (including some wonderfully framed detail shots), highlights the sensuousness of these objects of desire. Also, notice the almost negligible rear view windows in most of the cars…

What happened to this kind of style detail in today’s cars?

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Many thankx to The Frist Center for the Visual Arts for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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'Bugatti Type 46 Semi-profile Coupe' 1930

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Bugatti Type 46 Semi-profile Coupe
1930
Collection of Merle and Peter Mullin
Photograph © 2013 Peter Harholdt

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Ettore Bugatti lived on a baronial estate in Alsace-Lorraine in eastern France. His father Carlo created elegant, Art Deco style furniture. His younger brother Rembrandt was an accomplished sculptor of animals. Although he was trained as an apprentice engineer, Ettore possessed the dreamy soul of an artist. From 1911 to 1939, he built hand-crafted automobiles of sporting competence, which, thanks to the styling talents of Ettore’s young son Jean, were also hauntingly beautiful.

Working with factory designer Joseph Walter, Jean Bugatti initially designed an Art Deco Superprofile coupe with rakish, valance-free fenders, a steeply canted windscreen, a roof with a perfect radius, and dramatic sweep panels. This has been called by Paul Kestler, author of Bugatti: Evolution of Style, “one of the landmarks in coachbuilding history, made at the moment when classic lines were yielding to something more aerodynamic.” Only a few Superprofile coupes were built. One original survives in the Louwman Collection, Netherlands.

Inspired by the earlier Superprofile design, Walter and Bugatti’s Semi-profile coupes like the one in this exhibition had a more practical and equally attractive notchback rear treatment and twin exposed spare wheels. The chassis of this Bugatti Type 46 was made in 1929 and bodied in 1934 in Czechoslovakia by coachbuilder Oldřich Ulik. Originally a two-door sedan, it was re-bodied by Barry Price, with period-perfect coachwork in the exact style of Jean Bugatti’s Semi-profile coupe. The interior is elephant hide leather. In Bugatti circles, a magnificent re-creation like this one is welcomed, when it is done so beautifully.

valance-free fenders: this type of motor vehicle wheel covering did not make use of the then popular valance, a piece of metal added to the side of the fender that prevented splashing along the body

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'Jordan Model Z Speedway Ace Roadster' 1930

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Jordan Model Z Speedway Ace Roadster
1930
Collection of Edmund J. Stecker Family Trust
Photograph © 2013 Peter Harholdt

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'Cord L-29 Cabriolet' 1929

'Cord L-29 Cabriolet' 1929

'Cord L-29 Cabriolet' 1929

'Cord L-29 Cabriolet' 1929

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Cord L-29 Cabriolet
1929
Collection of Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum
Photograph © 2013 Peter Harholdt

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Errett Lobban Cord rose to national prominence after rescuing the Auburn Automobile Company of Auburn, Indiana, in 1928. Seeing an opportunity for a uniquely engineered luxury automotive brand, Cord encouraged Fred and August Duesenberg to build what he envisioned as America’s finest motorcar.

Noted racecar constructor Harry A. Miller and his associates were retained by Cord to engineer a radical front-drive chassis. The innovative and luxurious L-29 Cord, unfortunately introduced just as the New York Stock Market crashed, combined its engine, transaxle, and clutch into one co-located assembly, eliminating a conventional driveshaft. This permitted a 10-inch lower chassis and necessitated a lengthy hood that appeared even longer because the designer, Al Leamy, surrounded the radiator with an integrated sheet-metal assembly, finished to match the car’s color.

The lowslung Cord’s bodylines were exquisite. Features include an Art Deco styled transaxle cover, an elegant streamlined grille that evoked the styling of Harry Miller’s racing cars, sweeping clamshell fenders, sleek body side reveals which accentuated the car’s length, and a low roofline. These are embellished by myriad Art Deco styled details ranging from accented fender trim, tapered headlamp shapes, etched door-handle detailing and tiny, but exquisite instrument panel dials.

The L-29 Cord’s art moderne styling and engineering prowess attracted buyers of taste and style who were not afraid to try something different. Owners included the era’s most prominent and controversial architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, who bought a new L-29 Convertible Phaeton in 1929 and drove it for many years. This stunning cabriolet, was purchased in the 1950s by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Wright’s legal caretaker until his death in 1959. Wright had many of his cars painted in a bright hue called Taliesin orange. The finish of this Cord is a close approximation.

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'Henderson KJ Streamline' 1930

'Henderson KJ Streamline' 1930

'Henderson KJ Streamline' 1930

'Henderson KJ Streamline' 1930

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Henderson KJ Streamline
1930
Collection of Frank Westfall
Photograph © 2013 Peter Harholdt

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With its 1,200-cc, 40-brake horsepower, in-line four-cylinder engine, the 1930 Henderson Model KJ Streamline could exceed 100 mph. In an era when streamlining was used sparingly in motorcycle design, American Orley Ray Courtney’s enclosed bodywork was virtually unknown on production two-wheelers (except for a few racing machines), making the KJ an unusual and beautiful example of Art Deco design.

Courtney believed that the motorcycle industry failed to provide weather protection and luxury for its riders. His radically streamlined KJ body shell was unlike anything ever done on two wheels. The sleek vehicle had a curved, vertical-bar grille, reminiscent of the Chrysler Airflow, and the rear resembled an Auburn boat-tail speedster. The panels were hand-formed of steel with a power hammer.

Stunningly beautiful but impractical and hard to ride, the Streamline’s complex curved body was heavy and was difficult to make. In 1941, Courtney filed for a patent for a second motorcycle design with fully enclosed fenders. Perhaps he was influenced by the fact that the Indian Motocycle Company had introduced its partially skirted fenders in 1940, and that motorcyclists were becoming more accepting of this trend.*

* In 1923, Indian Motorcycle Company became Indian Motocycle Company and retained that name until the company closed in 1953.

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'Model 40 Special Speedster'™ 1934

'Model 40 Special Speedster'™ 1934

'Model 40 Special Speedster'™ 1934

'Model 40 Special Speedster'™ 1934

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Model 40 Special Speedster
1934
Owned and restored by Edsel & Eleanor Ford House, Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan
Photograph © 2013 Peter Harholdt

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Edsel B. Ford, President of Ford Motor Company of Dearborn, Michigan, asked his styling chief, Eugene T. “Bob” Gregorie, to build a “continental” roadster that could have limited production potential. Gregorie sketched alternatives and then built a 1/25th scale model that he tested in a small wind tunnel. Because of its 1934 Ford (also known as Model 40) origins, the roadster became known as the Model 40 Special Speedster.

Assisted by Ford Aircraft personnel, Gregorie’s team fabricated a taper-tailed aluminum body, mounted over a custom welded tubular structural framework. This car resembles the 1935 Miller-Ford Indianapolis 500 two-man racecars, but it was designed and built prior to their construction. This car’s long, low proportions were unlike anything Ford Motor Company had ever built. The Speedster weighs about 2,100 pounds. Its engine is now a 100-brake horsepower Mercury flathead V-8.

This Model 40 was one of Edsel Ford’s personal vehicles. After his death in 1943, the Speedster passed through several owners. Bill Warner, founder of Florida’s Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, read an article that mentioned that the Model 40 Special Speedster was owned by a fellow Floridian. Warner tracked the Speedster down, bought it, and later sold it to Texas mega-collector John O’Quinn. After O’Quinn died in 2009, Edsel Ford II arranged for the speedster’s purchase. In August 2010, this car was restored by RM Restorations, Blenheim, Ontario, Canada.

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Sensuous Steel: Art Deco Automobiles is an exhibition of Art Deco automobiles from some of the most renowned car collections in the United States. Inspired by the Frist Center’s historic Art Deco building, this exhibition features spectacular automobiles and motorcycles from the 1930s and ’40s that exemplify the classic elegance, luxurious materials, and iconography of motion that characterizes vehicles influenced by the Art Deco style.

Fascination with automobiles transcends age, gender, and environment.  While today automotive manufacturers often strive for economy and efficiency, there was a time when elegance reigned.  Influenced by the Art Deco movement that began in Paris in the early 1920s and propelled to prominence with the success of the International Exposition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in 1925, automakers embraced the sleek new streamlined forms and aircraft-inspired materials, creating memorable automobiles that still thrill all who see them. The exhibition features 18 automobiles and two motorcycles from some of the most important collectors and collections in the United States.

While today automotive manufacturers often strive for economy and efficiency, there was a time when elegance reigned.  Like the Frist Center’s historic building, the automobiles included in Sensuous Steeldisplay the classic grace and modern luxury of Art Deco design. An eclectic, machine-inspired decorative style that thrived between the two World Wars, Art Deco combined craft motifs with industrial materials and lavish embellishments. The movement began in Paris in the early 1920s and was propelled to prominence in with the success of the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in 1925. Automakers embraced the sleek iconography of motion and aircraft-inspired materials connotative of Art Deco, creating memorable automobiles that still thrill all who see them.

“Sensuous Steel is the first major museum auto exhibition devoted entirely to Art Deco automobiles, and there could be no more fitting a venue than the Frist Center’s landmark historic Art Deco building, which was completed in 1934,” notes Frist Center Executive Director Dr. Susan H. Edwards. “Art Deco styling influenced everything from architecture to sleek passenger trains and luxury liners, furniture, appliances, jewelry, objets d’art, signage, fashionable clothing and, of course, automobiles. The works in this exhibition convey the breadth, diversity, and stunning artistry of cars designed in the Art Deco style.”

“Rapidly changing and ever-evolving, the automobile became the perfect metal canvas upon which industrial designers expressed the vital spirit of the interwar period,” explains Guest Curator Ken Gross. “To give the illusion of dramatic movement and forward thrust, cars of the 1930s and ’40s merged gentle curves with angular edges. These automobiles were made from the finest materials and sported beautifully crafted ornamentation, geometric grillwork, and the elegant miniature statuary of hood ornaments. The classic cars of the Art Deco age remain today as among the most visually exciting, iconic and refined designs of the twentieth century.”

Press release from The Frist Center for the Visual Arts website

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'Voisin Type C27 Aérosport Coupe' 1934

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Voisin Type C27 Aérosport Coupe
1934
Collection of Merle and Peter Mullin
Photograph © 2013 Peter Harholdt

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Pioneer French aeronautical expert Gabriel Voisin was an eccentric visionary whose aircraft greatly benefited his country during World War I. He later became an automobile manufacturer, achieving, in the words of designer Robert Cumberford, “sometimes… amazing results.”

Voisin’s chief designer, André “Noël-Noël” Telmont, who was trained as an architect, based the style of this Type C27 Aérosport after the earlier Voisin Aérodyne’s radical new look. Telmont was inspired by aviation and architecture, whereas other French coachbuilders such as Joseph Figoni turned to the female form and imitated its soft curves. Gabriel Voisin unveiled the Aérosport at the 1935 Madrid Auto Salon. With the Aérosport, Telmont presented wonderfully balanced Art Deco coachwork that featured new, modern, and aerodynamic themes. The Aérosport’s profile outlined the cross-section of an imaginary wing. The semi-circular roof line traced the contours of a cockpit, and the larger surfaces simulated a fuselage.

A lack of funds meant the factory was unable to fully develop this model. Telmont sold the car to Moïse Kisling, a leading European artist. After a front-end crash, the coupe was kept in a disassembled state at the Saliot garage near Paris for years. With the information provided by period photos of the Type C27, this renovated body was built in France to match the original in every detail. The car has its original chassis, a correct Voisin engine and transmission parts, and accessories from one of the two original Type C27s.

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'Packard Twelve Model 1106 Sport Coupe by LeBaron' 1934

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Packard Twelve Model 1106 Sport Coupe by LeBaron
1934
Collection of Robert and Sandra Bahre
Photograph © 2013 Peter Harholdt

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1934-Pierce-Arrow-Silver-Arrow_Academy-of-Art-University_WEB

1934-Pierce-Arrow-Silver-Arrow-Sedan_Academy-of-Art-University_3-quarter-front-WEB

1934-Pierce-Arrow-Silver-Arrow-Sedan_Academy-of-Art-University_front-detail-WEB

'Pierce-Arrow Silver Arrow Sedan' 1933

1934-Pierce-Arrow-Silver-Arrow-Sedan_Academy-of-Art-University_hood-ornament-WEB

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Pierce-Arrow Silver Arrow Sedan
1933
Collection of Academy of Art University Automobile Museum, San Francisco
Photograph © 2013 Peter Harholdt

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With its dignified advertising, elegant styling, and respectable dealers, Buffalo, New York-based Pierce-Arrow rivaled Packard for prestige. The staunchly conservative Pierce-Arrow clung to six-cylinders long after Packard and Cadillac introduced V-8s. Facing tough competition, sales slumped and Pierce merged with Studebaker in 1926.

In 1932, Phillip O. Wright designed a streamlined fastback coupe on the Pierce-Arrow V-12 chassis. He moved to Studebaker headquarters in South Bend, Indiana, where his rakish design evolved into a sporty sedan with a low roofline, envelope front and skirted rear fenders, and faired-in headlamp nacelles. With its 175-brake horsepower V-12, a Silver Arrow could top 115 mph. In a sea of boxy sedans, the sleek Pierce-Arrow show car was the height of modernity. Five hand-built Silver Arrows toured 1933 auto shows, where they caused a sensation. At the Chicago Century of Progress, the Silver Arrow upstaged Cadillac’s Aero-Dynamic coupe, Duesenberg’s “Twenty Grand,” and Packard’s “Car of the Dome,” with its audacious, aircraft-like shape.

Priced at a then-expensive $10,000, the Silver Arrow was one of thirty-eight different 1933 Pierce-Arrow models. Sales slipped to just 2,152 units in total. After succumbing in mid-1938, Pierce-Arrow is best remembered for its magnificent Silver Arrow. This is one of three survivors.

faired-in headlamp nacelles: a fairing, primarily found on aircraft, is a streamlined structure used to create a more aerodynamic outline; a nacelle refers to any streamlined housing or enclosure; in this instance, the forward facing headlamps are enclosed within a housing and placed with a fairing that does not extend beyond the curvilinear profile of the overall design

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'Chrysler Imperial Model C-2 Airflow Coupe' 1935

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Chrysler Imperial Model C-2 Airflow Coupe
1935
Collection of John and Lynn Heimerl, Suffolk, VA
Photograph © 2013 Peter Harholdt

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'Cord 810 "Armchair" Beverly Sedan' 1936

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Cord 810 “Armchair” Beverly Sedan
1936
Collection of Richard and Debbie Fass
Photograph © 2013 Peter Harholdt

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'Delahaye 135M Figoni & Falaschi Competition Coupe' 1936

'Delahaye 135M Figoni & Falaschi Competition Coupe' 1936

'Delahaye 135M Figoni & Falaschi Competition Coupe' 1936

'Delahaye 135M Figoni & Falaschi Competition Coupe' 1936

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Delahaye 135M Figoni & Falaschi Competition Coupe
1936
Collection of Jim Patterson/The Patterson Collection
Photograph © 2013 Peter Harholdt

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This stunning Delahaye was one of French coachbuilders Joseph Figoni and Ovidio Falaschi’s first aerodynamic coupe designs. With its dramatic enclosed fenders and hand-crafted aluminum body, it was built on one of the fifty short chassis designed by the Delahaye Company for sporty two-seater models. It was equipped with a four-speed competition-style manual transmission, appropriate to a sporty coupe intended for rally competition. The dashboard included a Jaeger rally clock, and the trunk had only enough room to carry a spare tire. The engine was a highly reliable 4-liter Delahaye six with three downdraft Solex carburetors.

The coupe’s striking design emphasized flowing lines with teardrop-shaped chrome accents on the hood and the front and rear fenders. The door handles and headlights were flush with the body. The dashboard was made of rich, golden wood, a Figoni & Falaschi signature. A sliding metal sunroof and a windshield that opened outward at the bottom afforded ventilation.

A French racing driver named Albert Perrot commissioned this coupe. The Comtesse de la Saint Amour de Chanaz displayed it at a concours d’elegance in Cannes. It was successfully hidden from the Germans during World War II. After the war, it reportedly belonged to actress Dolores del Rio, a well-known owner of exotic cars who lived in Mexico City and Los Angeles.

After several more owners, Don Williams, of the Blackhawk Collection, purchased the coupe in the late 1990s. Some time earlier, the Delahaye’s original engine had broken down; it was replaced with a postwar model, and the old engine was retained. In 2004, the Delahaye became the property of Mr. James Patterson, who re-installed the original engine and had the car beautifully restored.

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'Stout Scarab' 1936

'Stout Scarab' 1936

'Stout Scarab' 1936

'Stout Scarab' 1936

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Stout Scarab
1936
Collection of Larry Smith
Photograph © 2013 Peter Harholdt

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American aeronautical designer William Bushnell Stout modeled this sturdy Ford Tri-Motor after his own 3-AT aircraft. The futuristic Scarab (named for the Egyptian symbol based on a beetle) has a smooth and startling shape, with a tubular frame covered with aluminum panels surrounding a rear-mounted Ford flathead V-8. The Scarab’s passenger compartment is positioned within the car’s wheelbase. Access to the interior is through a central door on the right side, and there is a narrow front door on the left for the driver. This unusual configuration anticipated the first minivan.

The “turtle-shell” styling celebrated the Art Deco influence, beginning with decorative “moustaches” below the split windshield. It continues to be evident in the headlamps covered with thin grilles, and culminates in fan-shaped vertical fluting, framing the elegant cooling grilles. The Scarab’s design was even more radically different than other cars of the era like the ill-fated Chrysler Airflow. At $5,000, it was very expensive, and the Depression-wracked buying public did not recognize its many advantages.

Stout’s investors, like William K. Wrigley, the chewing gum magnate, and Willard Dow of Dow Chemical, purchased Scarabs, as did tire company owner Harvey Firestone and Robert Stranahan of Champion Spark Plug. At least six cars were built; some sources say nine. Scarab number five was shipped to France for the editor of Le Temps, a Paris newspaper. In the early 1950s, this Scarab was offered for sale on a Parisian used car lot and returned to America.

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'Delahaye 135MS Roadster' 1937

'Delahaye 135MS Roadster' 1937

'Delahaye 135MS Roadster' 1937

'Delahaye 135MS Roadster' 1937

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Delahaye 135MS Roadster
1937
Courtesy of The Revs Institute for Automotive Research @ the Collier Collection
Photograph © 2013 Peter Harholdt

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Parisian coachbuilders Joseph Figoni and Ovidio Falaschi produced this very special Delahaye 135MS Roadster for the 1937 Paris Auto Salon. Instead of conventional pontoon fenders that protruded from the car’s body, Figoni incorporated them into the body, heightening the impression of a singular, flowing form. Using Art Deco ornamentation, he punctuated the car’s hood with scalloped chrome trim that accentuated the curves of the fenders. Its all-aluminum body is built on a short 2.70-meter competition chassis. The dark red leather interior and matching carpets were provided by Hermès, a French company begun in the eighteenth century and known for its fine carriage building.

This low, sleek car appears to be moving when it is standing still. The avant-garde design caused a sensation at the Paris Auto Salon, and its completion provided Figoni & Falaschi with the opportunity to file four new patents: for the aerodynamic design that stabilized the front fenders; for the disappearing front windshield; for the special lightweight competition tubular seats; and for the disappearing convertible top. The original design also featured a central light mounted in the front grille. The door handles were mounted flush to the body surface, augmenting the roadster’s modern, clean look. In early 1938, this roadster returned to the Figoni & Falaschi shop, where the central headlight was removed, and front and rear bumpers were installed to protect the car from daily driving hazards.

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'Hispano-Suiza H6B Dubonnet “Xenia” Coupe' 1938

'Hispano-Suiza H6B Dubonnet “Xenia” Coupe' 1938

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Hispano-Suiza H6B Dubonnet “Xenia” Coupe
1938
Collection of Peter Mullin Automotive Museum Foundation
Top photo: Photograph © 2013 Peter Harholdt
Overhead photo: Anonymous from the internet

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André Dubonnet was France’s aperitif baron as well as an amateur racing driver and inventor. Dubonnet worked with engineer Antoine-Marie Chedru to develop and patent an independent front-suspension system in 1927 that was used by General Motors and Alfa Romeo. Following the 1932 Paris Auto Salon, Dubonnet acquired a French built Hispano-Suiza chassis, which he used to create a rolling showcase for his ideas. This car was designed by Jean Andreau, known for avant-garde streamlined aircraft and automotive creations, and hand-built in the coachbuilding shop of Jacques Saoutchik.

The body resembled an airplane fuselage. Curved glass was used, including a panoramic windscreen (not seen again until General Motors cars of the 1950s), and Plexiglas side windows that opened upward in gullwing fashion. The side doors, suspended on large hinges, opened rearward in “suicide” fashion. A tapered fastback was crowned with a triangular rear window. The car featured Dubonnet’s hyperflex independent front suspension system.

The original Hispano-Suiza chassis sat high off the ground, and the “Xenia” – named for Dubonnet’s deceased wife, Xenia Johnson – was built atop the frame, so while its overall appearance is sleek and elegant, it is a comparatively tall and heavy car. Dramatically different from its contemporaries, the “Xenia” appears far more modern than almost any other 1930s-era automotive design.

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'Talbot-Lago T-150C-SS Teardrop Coupe' 1938

'Talbot-Lago T-150C-SS Teardrop Coupe' 1938

'Talbot-Lago T-150C-SS Teardrop Coupe' 1938

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Talbot-Lago T-150C-SS Teardrop Coupe
1938
Collection of J. Willard Marriott, Jr.
Photograph © 2013 Peter Harholdt

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The sporting Talbot-Lago T-150-C chassis inspired the design of many open roadsters and closed cars, most notably a series of curvaceous custom coupes. Sensational in their heyday, the French-produced Talbot-Lagos remain highly valued today. Streamlined, sleek, and light enough to race competitively, they were called Goutte d’Eau (drop of water), and, in English, they quickly became known as the Teardrop Talbots. Famed Parisian coachbuilders Joseph Figoni and Ovidio Falaschi patented the car’s distinctive aerodynamic shape.

Figoni & Falaschi built twelve “New York-style” Talbot-Lago coupes between 1937 and 1939, so-called because the first was introduced at the 1937 New York Auto Show at the Grand Central Palace. Five more cars, built in a notchback Teardrop style, were named “Jeancart” after a wealthy French patron. It took Figoni & Falaschi craftsmen 2,100 hours to complete a body. No two Teardrop coupes were exactly alike.

Talbot’s president, Antony Lago, offered a top-of-the-line SS (Super Sport) version with independent front suspension. The competition engine, a 4-liter six cylinder topped with a hemi head, could be fitted with three carburetors for 170-brake horsepower. Some cars were equipped with an innovative Wilson pre-selector gearbox, with a fingertip actuated lever that permitted instant shifts without the driver having to take his hand off the steering wheel. In 1938, a racing model T-150C-SS Coupe finished third at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

This car was the first “New York-style” Teardrop coupe. Its first owner was Freddie McEvoy, an Australian member of the 1936 British Olympic bobsled team. A prominent player on the Hollywood scene, McEvoy’s ready access to celebrities made him an ideal concessionaire for luxurious automobiles.

hemi head: an internal combustion engine that is designed with hemispherically shaped chambers that optimized combustion and permitted larger valves for more efficiency

pre-selector gearbox: a type of manual gearbox or transmission that allows a driver to use levers to “pre-select” the next gear to be used, and with a separate foot pedal control, engage the gear in one single operation

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'Tatra T97' 1938

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Tatra T97
1938
Collection of Lane Motor Museum
Photograph © 2013 Peter Harholdt

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One of the most advanced designs of the pre-World War II era came from Czechoslovakia. Czech-based Koprivnicka vozovka evolved into Nesseldorfer Waggonfabrik and was renamed Tatra in 1927 after the country’s prominent mountain range. Tatra vehicles became known for innovative engineering and high quality. The engineer largely responsible was Hans Ledwinka, who had worked under automotive and aircraft pioneer Edmund Rumpler. Ledwinka was an early proponent of air-cooled engines, a rigid backbone chassis, and independent suspension.

The Tatra was a perfect platform for the new emphasis on streamlining being pioneered by aircraft and Zeppelin designer Paul Jaray. A short front end flowed to a curved roofline that gracefully sloped into a long fastback tail. When integrated fenders and a full undertray were added, wind resistance was dramatically reduced. A prominent rear dorsal fin ensured high-speed stability.

Tatra was arguably the first production car to take advantage of effective streamlining. The T97 used a horizontally opposed, rear-mounted, four cylinder engine with a rigid backbone chassis, four-wheel independent suspension and hydraulic drum brakes. Four were built in 1937, followed by 237 in 1938, and 269 in 1939. Top speed was 80.78 mph, which was truly remarkable for a 40-hp car at the time.

According to automobile designer Raffi Minasian, “The Tatra T97 was one of the most interesting and well-developed engineering and design intersections of the Deco period.” It may have lacked the usual flamboyance of the traditional French coachbuilders of the period, but it manifested the expression of Art Deco design as a merger of science and industry where form was dictated by function.

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'Bugatti Type 57C by Vanvooren' 1939

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Bugatti Type 57C by Vanvooren
1939
Collection of Margie and Robert E. Petersen, Courtesy of the Petersen Automotive Museum, Los Angeles
Photograph © 2013 Peter Harholdt

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The Great Depression was slow to impact France, due to that country’s high tariffs and restricted trade, but by the early 1930s, sales of luxury automobiles dwindled. Ettore Bugatti and his brilliant son Jean understood that a special model was imperative to help their company survive. The resulting new Type 57’s styling was at once contemporary and affordable, with custom coachwork available for the very wealthy.

For racing, a normally-aspirated, 3.3-liter straight 8-powered Type 57, on an ultra-low “S” chassis, was fitted with streamlined open coachwork. The factory successes included averaging 135.45 mph for one hour, 123.8 mph for 2,000 miles, and 124.6 mph for 4,000 kilometers. An avid horseman, “Le Patron,” as Bugatti was known, was convinced automobile competition improved the breed, as it did with thoroughbred racing.

The greatest coachbuilders of France: Gangloff, Saoutchik, Letourneur & Marchand, and Vanvooren, as well as Britain’s Corsica, and Graber of Switzerland, all built custom coachwork on the Type 57 chassis. This special Type 57C was the property of Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, Prince of Persia and future Shah of Iran.

When Pahlavi married Egypt’s Princess Fawzia, many nations sent extravagant wedding presents. A gift from France, this cabriolet’s drophead coachwork – a study in sweeping lines and fluid Art Deco ornamentation – was constructed by coachbuilder Vanvooren of Paris, in the style of Figoni & Falaschi. The windscreen can be lowered into the cowl for an even racier appearance.

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'Delage D8-120S Saoutchik Cabriolet' 1939

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Delage D8-120S Saoutchik Cabriolet
1939
Collection of John W. Rich, Jr.
Photograph © 2013 Peter Harholdt

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La Belle Voiture Francaise: The Beautiful French Car. Coined by the French public to describe the automobiles created by Louis Delage, these words became the slogan for one of France’s oldest and most renowned automobile companies. Coachbuilders favored the Delage chassis to showcase their designs, winning numerous concours d’legance.

The Delage D8-120S, a new model for 1938, offered a lowered chassis, (“S” stood for Surbaisse) and the 3.5-liter straight 8’s output was increased. The bare chassis could be purchased for 105,000 French francs. The custom coachwork is estimated to have cost an additional 45,000 French francs, making the D8-120S one of France’s most expensive luxury cars. This car was commissioned for the 1939 Paris Auto Salon by the French government, which was promoting French cars in Europe and the United States. Jacques Saoutchik, one of France’s premier coachbuilders, created its coachwork, which includes patented sliding parallel doors that opened outward with a pantograph mechanism, then slid rearward, permitting easy access.

The completed cabriolet was hidden away by the workshop prior to the German invasion of France. After World War II, the D8-120S was used by the Provisional Government of the French Republic for official duties. It was sold in 1949 and the buyer installed faired-in headlights and a postwar Delage grille. The D8-120S passed through several more owners before it was restored to its original condition, with the exception of its modern faired-in headlights.

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'Indian Chief' 1940

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Indian Chief
1940
Collection of Gary Sanford
Photograph © 2013 Peter Harholdt

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'Chrysler Thunderbolt' 1941

'Chrysler Thunderbolt' 1941

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Chrysler Thunderbolt
1941
Collection of Chrysler Group, LLC
Photograph © 2013 Peter Harholdt

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Detroit-based carmaker Chrysler touted the Thunderbolt and its companion, the Newport Phaeton, as cars of the future. With its aerodynamic body shell, hidden headlights, enclosed wheels, and a retractable one-piece metal hardtop, the sensational Thunderbolt conveyed the message that tomorrow’s Chryslers would leave more prosaic rivals in the dust.

Following the design of Chief Designer Ralph Roberts, both the Thunderbolt and the Phaeton models were built by LeBaron, an American coachbuilding company. Associate designer Alex Tremulis suggested these cars be promoted as “new milestones in Airflow design,” hinting that without the 1934 Airflows, Chrysler styling might not have evolved so far. The Thunderbolt’s full-width hood, which flowed uninterrupted from the base of the windshield to the slender front bumper, and its broad decklid, were made of steel, as was the folding top, a feature designed and patented by Roberts not previously seen on an American car. Fluted, anodized aluminum lower body side trim ran continuously from front to rear. Removable fender skirts covered the wheels, which were inset in front, so they could turn.

Priced at $8,250, eight Thunderbolts were planned, but only five were built, of which four survive. World War II’s interruption meant that while a few features found their way onto production Chryslers, these unique cars were not replicated when hostilities ceased.

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Frist Center for the Visual Arts
919 Broadway, Nashville, Tennessee, 37203

Opening hours:
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday: 10.00 am – 5.30 pm
Thursday and Friday: 10.00 am – 9.00 pm
Saturday: 10.00 am – 5.30 pm
Sunday: 1.00 – 5.30 pm

Frist Center for the Visual Arts 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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