Posts Tagged ‘photography and sculpture

21
Jul
16

Exhibition: ‘Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium’ at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Exhibition dates: 15th March – 31st July 2016

 

The Perfect Moment, The Perfect Medium and … Mapplethorpe, that seminal exhibition for Australia that I saw at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in Sydney in 1995.

The technical brilliance, ravishing platinum prints (even though he never printed them himself), formalism, beauty, sensuality and, dare I say it, morality – of his work … fair bowled me over. His was an eye with a innate sensibility – “a quick sense of the right and wrong, in all human actions. And other objects considered in every view of morality and taste.”

I have never forgotten that exhibition, yet until recently there was hardly a sentence online about Mapplethorpe at the MCA. Now, thankfully, there are a some installation photographs and a few lines of text. The exhibition and the lack of information about it was one of the driving forces behind the setting up of this website.

Museums spend inordinate amounts of money putting on these exhibitions and after they are finished and the art work packed up, the catalogue shelved in a bookcase, that’s it. I wanted this website to be a form of cultural memory, where I could record the exhibition objects, installation photos and my thoughts about them so that they could live online.

I had great fun sequencing these images from the Getty (part of a double exhibition with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) second posting to follow): self-portraits in chronological order; portraits of the body as flesh and stone spliced by sculptural grapes; Lily and Lisa Lyon’s leg; the cross-over between tulips and white curtain; the sinuousness of Poppy and fabric of Lisa Lyon’s gown; Hermes/Moody/Sherman; and the blindness of all three men – the perfect Ken Moody, the darker (in both psychological and bodily sense) Ajitto, and the roughest, Jim, Sausalito.

I doubt that Mapplethorpe would have ever have sequenced them thus, but I hope it gives insight and a different perspective into his work.

Marcus

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

 

 

“I don’t understand the way my pictures are. It’s all about the relationship I have with the subject that’s unique to me. Taking a picture and sexuality are parallels. They’re both unknowns. And that’s what excites me most.”

.
Robert Mapplethorpe

 

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'Self-portrait of Robert Mapplethorpe with trip cable in hand' 1974

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Self-portrait of Robert Mapplethorpe with trip cable in hand
1974
Gelatin silver print
Sheet (each): 9.3 x 11.6 cm (3 11/16 x 4 9/16 in.)
Gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'Self-Portrait' 1975

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Self-Portrait
1975
Gelatin silver print
35.4 x 35.7 cm (13 15/16 x 14 1/16 in.)
Jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, with funds provided by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the David Geffen Foundation
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'Self-Portrait' 1980

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Self-Portrait
1980
Gelatin silver print
35.6 x 35.6 cm (14 x 14 in.)
Jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; partial gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation; partial purchase with funds provided by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the David Geffen Foundation
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'Self-Portrait' 1985

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Self-Portrait
1985
Gelatin silver print
38.7 x 38.6 cm (15 1/4 x 15 3/16 in.)
Jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, with funds provided by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the David Geffen Foundation
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'Self-Portrait' 1988

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Self-Portrait
1988
Platinum print
58.7 x 48.3 cm (23 1/8 x 19 in.)
Jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; partial gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation; partial purchase with funds provided by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the David Geffen Foundation
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'Sam Wagstaff' 1977

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Sam Wagstaff
1977
Gelatin silver print
35.2 x 35.3 cm (13 7/8 x 13 7/8 in.)
Promised Gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'Andy Warhol' 1983

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Andy Warhol
1983
Gelatin silver print
39.1 x 38.5 cm (15 3/8 x 15 3/16 in.)
Promised Gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'Wrestler' 1988

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Wrestler
1988
Gelatin silver print
49 x 49 cm (19 5/16 x 19 5/16 in.)
Jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; partial gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation; partial purchase with funds provided by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the David Geffen Foundation
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'Derrick Cross' 1983

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Derrick Cross
1983
Gelatin silver print
48.5 x 38.2 cm (19 1/8 x 15 1/16 in.)
Promised Gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'Grapes' 1985

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Grapes
1985
Gelatin silver print
38.5 x 38 cm (15 3/16 x 14 15/16 in.)
Jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, with funds provided by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the David Geffen Foundation
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'Lydia Cheng' 1987

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Lydia Cheng
1987
Gelatin silver print
59 x 49.1 cm (23 1/4 x 19 5/16 in.)
Promised Gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'Melody (Shoe)' 1987

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Melody (Shoe)
1987
Gelatin silver print
48.9 x 49.2 cm (19 1/4 x 19 3/8 in.)
Gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

 

“Since his death in 1989, Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) has become recognized as one of the most significant artists of the late 20th century. He is best known for his perfectly composed photographs that explore gender, race, and sexuality, which became hallmarks of the period and exerted a powerful influence on his contemporaries. The J. Paul Getty Museum will present one half of Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium, a major retrospective exhibition of Mapplethorpe’s work, on view March 15-July 31, 2016 at the Getty Center. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) will host the other half of the exhibition March 20-July 31, 2016. The two exhibitions are drawn from the landmark joint acquisition and gift of art and archival materials made in 2011 by the J. Paul Getty Trust and LACMA from the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation.

“The historic acquisition of Mapplethorpe’s art and archival materials in 2011 has enabled our institutions’ curators and other scholars to study and assess Mapplethorpe’s achievement in greater depth than ever before,” says Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “The rich photographic holdings in the Getty Museum and LACMA, together with the artist’s archive housed at the Getty Research Institute, make Los Angeles an essential destination for anyone with a serious interest in the late 20th-century photography scene in New York. These exhibitions will provide the most comprehensive and intimate survey of Mapplethorpe’s work ever seen.”

The Getty’s exhibition features the full range of Mapplethorpe’s photographs from his portraits, self-portraits, and figure studies to his floral still lifes. It includes some of Mapplethorpe’s best-known images alongside work that has been seldom exhibited. Key themes include Mapplethorpe’s studio practice, the controversy provoked by the inclusion of his sexually explicit pictures in the 1988-90 retrospective exhibition The Perfect Moment, and the legacy he left behind after his death from AIDS-related complications in 1989.

The exhibition begins with a survey of some of Mapplethorpe’s most familiar portraits, including those of his long-time benefactor and lover Samuel J. Wagstaff Jr., poet-musician Patti Smith, and fashion designer Carolina Herrera, among others. It also includes a number of intimate self-portraits, images of artists, and a rarely exhibited series of portraits of the eleven dealers who dominated the downtown New York City art scene during the late 1970s.

Mapplethorpe searched for well-proportioned models and underscored their powerful physical presence through obsessive attention to detail, the precision of their statuesque poses, and sophisticated lighting. This interest becomes evident in examples of the sculptural bodies he enlisted as subjects through the years. In particular, Mapplethorpe was attracted to the color of black skin (he liked to refer to it as “bronze”), and the exhibition includes a number of photographs of African-American models such as Ajitto and Thomas, whom he frequently used to evoke classical themes. Mapplethorpe’s Ken and Lydia and Tyler (1985) suggests the ancient trope of the Three Graces through three models of different racial backgrounds, while select photographs of model Lydia Cheng were further idealized through the application of a shimmering bronze powder on her skin.

One of Mapplethorpe’s frequent subjects was Lisa Lyon, a bodybuilding champion who considered herself a performance artist or sculptor whose body was her medium. After meeting Lyon at a party in 1979, Mapplethorpe and his new model embarked on a six-year collaboration that resulted in 184 editioned portraits. A selection of these images in the exhibition shows her dressed, undressed, and in various guises, ranging from ingénue to dominatrix. In his art Mapplethorpe was a perfectionist who preferred to make photographs in the highly controlled environment of his New York City studio loft. His style was predominately directorial – during a shoot he used short verbal commands and gestures to communicate the poses he wanted his models to strike. Afterwards, he would spend hours reviewing his contact sheets and hired master printer Tom Baril to make finely crafted gelatin silver prints.

“Mapplethorpe was more sophisticated than most people realize,” says Paul Martineau, associate curator of photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum and curator of the exhibition. “He was an artist who understood the value of his own intuition and eye, who taught himself the history of photography, how to network, how to run a studio, and how to keep the public interested in him.”

The exhibition includes a selection of Mapplethorpe’s floral still lifes, which further demonstrate his skill in the studio. In these photographs he imbued orchids, calla lilies, poppies, and irises with an erotic charge through carefully orchestrated compositions and meticulous lighting. The Getty’s installation also features Mapplethorpe’s X Portfolio, which depicts the gay s&m community of which he was not just an observer, but a participant. It comprises 13 photographs of sex acts that Mapplethorpe staged for the camera with particular attention to the harmonious arrangement of forms. The careful selection, sizing, sequencing, and packaging of these prints in a luxurious portfolio case wrapped in black silk help to blur the line between fine art and pornography.

The exhibition directly addresses Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment, a retrospective exhibition that opened in 1988 at the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia before beginning an eight-venue tour. After the exhibition caught the attention of conservative politicians, it was canceled at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., two weeks before its scheduled opening. When it was later shown at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, director Dennis Barrie was arrested and charged with pandering obscenity – a charge of which he was acquitted. The exhibition also traveled to the Washington Project for the Arts (WPA), where it had record-breaking attendance. The Getty exhibition documents the media uproar surrounding The Perfect Moment through items that include a 1989 cover of ArtForum International featuring a protest that took place outside the Corcoran, exhibition catalogues that include images that were considered “obscene,” by some and Mapplethorpe’s photograph of an American flag.

“When planning this exhibition, I wanted the focus to be on Mapplethorpe’s work and not on the sensationalism that accompanied The Perfect Moment. I’ve included it in a small way because that exhibition not only represents a highpoint in Mapplethorpe’s career, but the controversy it engendered puts his sex pictures in a historical context,” says Paul Martineau. “I’m afraid that the first thing that comes to people’s minds when they think of Mapplethorpe is that controversy. There is so much more to discover about Mapplethorpe and his work than that. He continues to have an enormous impact on the photographic scene.”

The exhibition also emphasizes the care that Mapplethorpe took to craft his legacy. After being diagnosed with AIDS in 1986, Mapplethorpe continued to work more ardently than ever. In 1988 he established the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to steward his own work into the future, provide support for photography at the institutional level, and help fund AIDS research. A 1988 self-portrait on view shows Mapplethorpe’s face revealing signs of illness, his hand gripping a skull-topped cane, a symbol of his impending death. The simple composition and brutal honesty combine to make this photograph one of his most visually and psychologically powerful images.

The two complementary presentations at the Getty and LACMA highlight different aspects of the artist’s complex personality. LACMA’s exhibition underscores the artist’s relationship to New York’s underground, as well as his experimentation with a variety of media. Following its Los Angeles debut, the exhibition will go on an international tour, traveling to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal, Canada (8/29/16-1/22/17), the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia (10/28/17-2/4/18), and another international venue. The Getty and LACMA will be the exhibition’s sole U.S. venues, and the exhibitions will be combined and toured as one for the international locations. The LACMA exhibition is curated by Britt Salvesen, Department Head and Curator, Wallis Annenberg Photography Department and the Department of Prints and Drawings at LACMA.

Two books will be published in conjunction with the Mapplethorpe exhibition: Robert Mapplethorpe: The Photographs by Paul Martineau and Britt Salvesen with an essay by Eugenia Parry and an introduction by Weston Naef, and Robert Mapplethorpe: The Archive by Frances Terpak and Michelle Brunnick, with essays by Patti Smith and Jonathan Weinberg.”

Press release from the J. Paul Getty Museum

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'Orchid' 1987

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Orchid
1987
Gelatin silver print
49.1 x 49.2 cm (19 5/16 x 19 3/8 in.)
Gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'Calla Lily' 1988

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Calla Lily
1988
Gelatin silver print
49 x 49 cm (19 5/16 x 19 5/16 in.)
Jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; partial gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation; partial purchase with funds provided by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the David Geffen Foundation
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'Lisa Lyon' 1981

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Lisa Lyon
1981
Gelatin silver print
45.1 x 35 cm (17 3/4 x 13 3/4 in.)
Promised Gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'Tulips' 1988

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Tulips
1988
Gelatin silver print
49.1 x 49 cm (19 5/16 x 19 5/16 in.)
Gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'Phillip Prioleau' 1982

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Phillip Prioleau
1982
Gelatin silver print
38.8 x 38.8 cm (15 1/4 x 15 1/4 in.)
Promised Gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'Tulips' 1978

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Tulips
1978
Gelatin silver print
35.4 x 35.4 cm (13 15/16 x 13 15/16 in.)
Jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, with funds provided by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the David Geffen Foundation
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'Flower Arrangement' 1986

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Flower Arrangement
1986
Gelatin silver print
49 x 49 cm (19 5/16 x 19 5/16 in.)
Promised Gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'Flower With Knife' 1985

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Flower With Knife
1985
Platinum print
49.2 x 49.5 cm (19 3/8 x 19 1/2 in.)
Jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, with funds provided by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the David Geffen Foundation
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'Poppy' 1988

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Poppy
1988
Gelatin silver print
49.1 x 49.2 cm (19 5/16 x 19 3/8 in.)
Promised Gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'Lisa Lyon' 1982

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Lisa Lyon
1982
Gelatin silver print
38.4 x 38.4 cm (15 1/8 x 15 1/8 in.)
Promised Gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'Lisa Lyon' 1982

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Lisa Lyon
1982
Gelatin silver print
40 x 38.5 cm (15 3/4 x 15 3/16 in.)
Promised Gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'Calla Lily' 1986

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Calla Lily
1986
Gelatin silver print
48.6 x 48.6 cm (19 1/8 x 19 1/8 in.)
Promised Gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

 

Text

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'Thomas' 1987

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Thomas
1987
Gelatin silver print
48.8 x 48.8 cm (19 3/16 x 19 3/16 in.)
Jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, with funds provided by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the David Geffen Foundation
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'Ken and Lydia and Tyler' 1985

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Ken and Lydia and Tyler
1985
Gelatin silver print
38.4 x 38.2 cm (15 1/8 x 15 1/16 in.)
Jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, with funds provided by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the David Geffen Foundation
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'Ken Moody and Robert Sherman' 1984

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Ken Moody and Robert Sherman
1984
Platinum print
49.4 x 50.2 cm (19 7/16 x 19 3/4 in.)
Jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, with funds provided by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the David Geffen Foundation
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'Hermes' 1988

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Hermes
1988
Gelatin silver print
49 x 49 cm (19 5/16 x 19 5/16 in.)
Jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; partial gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation; partial purchase with funds provided by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the David Geffen Foundation
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'Ken Moody' 1983

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Ken Moody
1983
Gelatin silver print
38.5 x 38.7 cm (15 3/16 x 15 1/4 in.)
Jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, with funds provided by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the David Geffen Foundation
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'Ajitto' 1981

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Ajitto
1981
Gelatin silver print
45.4 x 35.5 cm (17 7/8 x 14 in.)
Jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, with funds provided by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the David Geffen Foundation
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'Jim, Sausalito' 1977

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Jim, Sausalito
1977
from The X Portfolio
Selenium toned gelatin silver print mounted on black board
19.5 x 19.5 cm (7 11/16 x 7 11/16 in.)
Jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; partial gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation; partial purchase with funds provided by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the David Geffen Foundation
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989) 'Patrice, N.Y.C.' 1977

 

Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989)
Patrice, N.Y.C.
1977
from The X Portfolio
Selenium toned gelatin silver print mounted on black board
19.5 x 19.5 cm (7 11/16 x 7 11/16 in.)
Jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; partial gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation; partial purchase with funds provided by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the David Geffen Foundation
Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

 

 

 

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

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

The J. Paul Getty Museum website

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28
Jan
10

Exhibition: ‘László Moholy-Nagy 
Retrospective’ at Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt

Exhibition dates: 8th October 2009 – 7th February 2010

 

All images are featured in the exhibition. Many thankx to the Schirn Kunsthalle for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

Marcus

 

 

László Moholy-Nagy (Hungarian, 1895-1946) 'LIS' 1922

 

László Moholy-Nagy (Hungarian, 1895-1946)
LIS
1922
Oil on canvas
131 x 100 cm
Courtesy Kunsthaus Zürich
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2009

 

László Moholy-Nagy. 'K XVII' 1923

 

László Moholy-Nagy (Hungarian, 1895-1946)
K XVII
1923
Oil on canvas
95 x 75 cm
Courtesy Kunsthalle Bielefeld
Photo: Axel Struwe, Fotodesign BFF, Bielefeld
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2009

 

László Moholy-Nagy (Hungarian, 1895-1946) 'COMPOSITION A XXI' 1925

 

László Moholy-Nagy (Hungarian, 1895-1946)
COMPOSITION A XXI
1925
Oil on canvas
96 x 77 cm
Courtesy LWL-Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Münster
Photo: LWL-Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Münster/Rudolf Wakonigg
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2009

 

László Moholy-Nagy. 'Bauhaus Balconies' 1926

 

László Moholy-Nagy (Hungarian, 1895-1946)
Bauhaus Balconies
1926
Silver gelatin photograph
49.5 x 39.3 cm
Courtesy Collection of George Eastman House

 

Exhibition view, Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt 2009

 

László Moholy-Nagy Retrospective exhibition view, Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt 2009 showing at right Bauhaus Balconies (1926) and second right K XVII (1923)
Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
© Photograph: Norbert Miguletz
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2009

 

László Moholy-Nagy. 'A 19' 1927

 

László Moholy-Nagy (Hungarian, 1895-1946)
A 19
1927
Oil on canvas
80 x 96 cm
Courtesy Hattula Moholy-Nagy
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2009

 

László Moholy-Nagy Retrospective exhibition view

 

László Moholy-Nagy Retrospective exhibition view, Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt 2009 showing at centre, A 19 (1927)
Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
© Photograph: Norbert Miguletz
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2009

 

 

 

The Hungarian artist László Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946) became known in Germany through his seminal work as a teacher at the Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar and Dessau (1923-1928). His pioneering theories on art as a testing ground for new forms of expression and their application to all spheres of modern life are still of influence today. Presenting about 170 works – paintings, photographs and photograms, sculptures and films, as well as stage set designs and typographical projects – the retrospective encompasses all phases of his oeuvre. On the occasion of the ninetieth anniversary of the foundation of the Bauhaus, it offers a survey of the enormous range of Moholy-Nagy’s creative output to the public for the first time since the last major exhibition of his work in Kassel in 1991. Never having been built before 2009, the artist’s spatial design Raum der Gegenwart (Room of Today), which brings together many of his theories, will be realised in the context of the exhibition.

No other teacher at the Bauhaus in Weimar and Dessau, nor nearly any other artist of the 1920s in Germany, an epoch rich in utopian designs, developed such a wide range of ideas and activities as László Moholy-Nagy, who was born in Bácsborsód in Southern Hungary in 1895. His oeuvre bears evidence to the fact that he considered painting and film, photography and sculpture, stage set design, drawing, and the photogram to be of equal importance. He continually fell back upon these means of expression, using them alternately, varying them, and taking them up again as parts of a universal concept whose pivot was the alert, curious, and unrestrained experimental mind of the “multimedia” artist himself. Long before people began to talk about “media design” and professional “marketing,” Moholy-Nagy worked in these fields, too – as a guiding intellectual force in terms of new technical, design and educational instruments. “All design areas of life are closely interlinked,” he wrote about 1925 and was, despite his motto insisting on “the unity of art and technology,” no uncritical admirer of the machine age, but rather a humanist who was open-minded about technology. His basic attitude as an artist, which exemplifies the idealistic and utopian thinking of an entire era, may be summed up as aimed at improving the quality of life, avoiding specialisation, and employing science and technology for the enrichment and heightening of human experience.

After having graduated from high school, Moholy-Nagy began to study law in Budapest in 1913, but was drafted in 1915. During the war, he made his first drawings on forces mail cards and began dedicating himself exclusively to art after having been discharged from the army in 1918. Moholy-Nagy moved to Vienna in 1919 and to Berlin the following year, kept in close contact with Kurt Schwitters, Raul Hausmann, Theo van Doesburg, and El Lissitzky, and immersed himself in Merzkunst, De Stijl, and Constructivism. He achieved successes as an artist with his solo presentation in the Berlin gallery “Der Sturm” (1922), for example. In spring 1923, he was offered the post of a Bauhaus master in Weimar by Walter Gropius. Taking responsibility for the preliminary course and the metal workshop, he decisively informed the Constructivist and social reorientation of the Bauhaus. Interlinking art, life, and technology and underscoring the visual and the material aspects in design were key issues of his work and resulted in a modern, technology-oriented language of forms. His didactic approaches as a Bauhaus teacher still present themselves as up-to-date as his work as an artist. For him, education had to be primarily aimed at bringing up people to become artistically political and creative beings: “Every healthy person has a deep capacity for bringing to development the creative energies found in his/her nature … and can give form to his/her emotions in any material (which is not synonymous with ‘art’),” he wrote in 1929.

In spite of his manifold activities and inventions in the sphere of so-called applied art, Moholy-Nagy by no means advocated abolishing free art. Before, during, and long after his years at the Bauhaus, he produced numerous paintings, drawings, collages, woodcuts, and linocuts, as well as photographs and films as autonomous works of art. Like his design solutions, his works in the classical arts, in painting and sculpture, also reveal his aesthetically and conceptually radical approach. His Telephone Pictures, whose execution he controlled by telephone, exemplify this dimension: using a special graph paper and a colour chart, he worked out the composition and colours of the pictures and had them realised according to his telephonic instructions by technical assistants. He also pursued new paths with his famous Light-Space Modulator of 1930, conceiving his gesamtkunstwerk [“total work of art”] composed of colour, light, and movement as an “apparatus for the demonstration of the effects of light and movement.” It was equally new territory he conquered in the fields of photography and film: considering his cameraless photography, his photograms, and his abstract films such as Light Play Black, White, Gray (1930), Moholy-Nagy must still be regarded as one of the most important twentieth-century photographers and key figures for today’s media theories.

Thanks to his experiments with photography and the photogram, László Moholy Nagy was one of the first typographers of the 1920s to recognise the new possibilities offered by the combination of typeface, surface design, and pictorial signs with recent photographic techniques. As a Bauhaus teacher for typography, he designed almost all of the 14 Bauhaus books published between 1925 and 1929 and – besides co-editing them with Walter Gropius – took care of the entire presentation of the books’ contents and the organisation of their production. With its dynamic cycles and bars and concentration on a few, clear colours, their design resembled the Constructivist artists’ paintings and drawings. While Moholy-Nagy’s early typographic works are frequently still characterised by hand-drawn typefaces, he later strove for a “mechanized graphic design” also suited for commercial advertising through their systematisation and standardisation. After he had left the Bauhaus in 1928, he founded his own office in Berlin, where he, among other things, developed advertising solutions for Wilhelm Wagenfeld’s designs for the Jena Glassworks. Faced with the Nazis’ seizure of power, Moholy-Nagy emigrated to the United States via Amsterdam and Great Britain and founded the New Bauhaus in Chicago in 1937 and, after it had been closed, the Chicago School (and later Institute) of Design in 1939, where he continued to champion an integration of art, science, and technology. László Moholy-Nagy died of leukaemia in Chicago on 24 November 1946.

The exhibition at the Schirn also presents the Raum der Gegenwart (Room of Today), which offers a concise summary of Moholy-Nagy’s work. The sketches for this environment, which assembles many of his theories, date back as far as 1930. Not having been built before 2009, the Raum der Gegenwart (Room of Today) is now realised in the Schirn on the occasion of the Bauhaus anniversary 2009.

Press release from the Schirn Kunsthalle website [Online] Cited 20/01/2010

 

 

László Moholy-Nagy (Hungarian, 1895-1946)
Light Play Black, White, Gray
1930

 

 

The sculpture Light-Space Modulator is a key work in the history of kinetic art and even the art of new media and, therefore, one of the most important works of art of its time. Conceived initially by Moholy-Nagy at the beginning of the twenties of the last century and built between 1928 and 1930…

Light-Space Modulator was exhibited in 1930 in a show organised in Paris on the work of the German Werkbund. From the point of view of the object, it forms a complex as well as beautiful set of elements of metal, plastic and glass, many of them mobile by the action of an electric motor, surrounded by a series of coloured lights.

Moholy-Nagy used it to produce light shows that he photographed or filmed, as in the case of the film shown here. Although in black and white, the film manages to capture the kinetic brightness of the sculpture.

 

László Moholy-Nagy Retrospective exhibition view

 

László Moholy-Nagy Retrospective exhibition view showing Room of Today (reconstruction 2009) with at centre, Light-Space Modulator 1930 (replica)
Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
© Photograph: Norbert Miguletz
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2009

 

László Moholy-Nagy. 'Fotogram with Eiffel Tower and Peg Top' c.1928

 

László Moholy-Nagy (Hungarian, 1895-1946)
Fotogram with Eiffel Tower and Peg Top
c. 1928
Silver gelatin photograph
38.7 x 29.9 cm
Courtesy Galerie Berinson, Berlin
Photo: Friedhelm Hoffmann, Berlin
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2009

 

László Moholy-Nagy Retrospective exhibition view

 

László Moholy-Nagy Retrospective exhibition view showing at left, Photogramm No.II (1929)
Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
© Photograph: Norbert Miguletz
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2009

 

László Moholy-Nagy. 'Photogramm No.11' Enlargement before 1929

 

László Moholy-Nagy (Hungarian, 1895-1946)
Photogramm No.II
1929
Silver gelatin photograph
95.5 x 68.5 cm
Courtesy Galerie Berinson, Berlin
Photo: Friedhelm Hoffmann, Berlin

 

László Moholy-Nagy. 'Marseille, Port View' 1929

 

László Moholy-Nagy (Hungarian, 1895-1946)
Marseille, Port View
1929
Silver gelatin photograph
48.7 x 37.9 cm
Courtesy Collection of George Eastman House

 

László Moholy-Nagy (Hungarian, 1895-1946) 'SPACE CH 4' 1938

 

László Moholy-Nagy (Hungarian, 1895-1946)
SPACE CH 4
1938
Oil on canvas
68.5 x 89 cm
Courtesy Hattula Moholy-Nagy
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2009

 

László Moholy-Nagy. 'CH BEATA I' 1939

 

László Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946)
CH BEATA I
1939
Oil on canvas
119 x 120 cm
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection
Photograph by David Heald
© The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York

 

László Moholy-Nagy (Hungarian, 1895-1946) 'CH XIV' 1939

 

László Moholy-Nagy (Hungarian, 1895-1946)
CH XIV
1939
Oil on canvas
118 x 119.5 cm
Courtesy of Museu Colecção Berardo
Photo: Museu Colecção Berardo/Paulo Raimundo
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2009

 

László Moholy-Nagy (Hungarian, 1895-1946) 'CH SPACE 6' 1941

 

László Moholy-Nagy (Hungarian, 1895-1946)
CH SPACE 6
1941
Oil on canvas
119 x 119 cm
Courtesy Hattula Moholy-Nagy
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2009

 

László Moholy-Nagy (Hungarian, 1895-1946) 'Dual forms with Chromium Rods' 1946

 

László Moholy-Nagy (Hungarian, 1895-1946)
Dual forms with Chromium Rods
1946
Plexiglas and chrome-plated brass rods
93 x 121 x 56 cm
Exhibition View, Schirn Kunsthalle 2009
© Photograph: Norbert Miguletz
Courtesy The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York

 

László Moholy-Nagy. 'Untitled' 1936-46

 

László Moholy-Nagy (Hungarian, 1895-1946)
Untitled
1936-46
Fujicolor Crystal Archive print
27.9 x 35.6 cm
Courtesy Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York
© Hattula Moholy-Nagy for the Estate of László Moholy-Nagy
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2009

 

László Moholy-Nagy. 'Untitled' 1937-46

 

László Moholy-Nagy (Hungarian, 1895-1946)
Untitled
1937-46
Fujicolor Crystal Archive print
27.9 x 35.6 cm
Courtesy Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York
© Hattula Moholy-Nagy for the Estate of László Moholy-Nagy
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2009

 

László Moholy-Nagy. 'Untitled' 1939

 

László Moholy-Nagy (Hungarian, 1895-1946)
Untitled
1939
Fujicolor Crystal Archive print
27.9 x 35.6 cm
Courtesy Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York
© Hattula Moholy-Nagy for the Estate of László Moholy-Nagy
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2009

 

László Moholy-Nagy (Hungarian, 1895-1946) 'Untitled/Night-Time Traffic (Pink and Red Traffic Stream with White Sparks)' 1937-1946

 

László Moholy-Nagy (Hungarian, 1895-1946)
Untitled/Night-Time Traffic (Pink and Red Traffic Stream with White Sparks)
1937-1946
Fujicolor Crystal Archive print
27.9 x 35.6 cm
Courtesy Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York
© Hattula Moholy-Nagy for the Estate of László Moholy-Nagy
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2009

 

László Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946) 'Photograph (Self-Portrait with Hand)' 1925/29, printed 1940/49

 

László Moholy-Nagy (Hungarian, 1895-1946)
Self-portrait
c. 1926
Courtesy Hattula Moholy-Nagy
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2009

 

 

Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
Römerberg
D-60311 Frankfurt
Phone: +49.69.29 98 82-0

Opening hours:
Tuesday, Friday – Sunday 10 am – 7 pm
Wednesday – Thursday 10 am – 10 pm

Schirn Kunsthalle 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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