Posts Tagged ‘William Wordsworth

19
Oct
19

Exhibition: ‘Once. Again. Photographs in Series’ at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center, Los Angeles

Exhibition dates: 9th July – 10th November 2019

Curator: Mazie Harris

 

 

Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864-1946) 'Georgia O'Keeffe: A Portrait' 1918

 

Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864-1946)
Georgia O’Keeffe: A Portrait
1918
Gelatin silver print
Image: 11.4 × 8.6 cm (4 1/2 × 3 3/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

 

 

Some fabulous photographs in series in this posting, which document transformations in landscapes or intimate portraits of people at different times in their lives… and some challenging ones as well. My favourite photographs in series are not represented: Duane Michals narrative fairytales; Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills; and Nicholas Nixon’s The Brown Sisters.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thanks 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.

 

Photographers often record change through images in series, registering transformations in the world around them. Artists featured in the exhibition photographed faces and places over minutes, months, or years. Historical and contemporary photographs prompt reflection on the ways the passage of time impacts how we see people and spaces.

 

 

Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864-1946) 'Georgia O'Keeffe: A Portrait' 1923

 

Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864-1946)
Georgia O’Keeffe: A Portrait
1923
Gelatin silver print
Image: 8.9 × 11.7 cm (3 1/2 × 4 5/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

 

Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864-1946) 'Georgia O'Keeffe: A Portrait' 1933

 

Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864-1946)
Georgia O’Keeffe: A Portrait
1933
Gelatin silver print
Image: 8.9 × 11.4 cm (3 1/2 × 4 1/2 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

 

 

Artists have long used cameras to record change, documenting transformations in landscapes or intimate portraits of people at different times in their lives. Once. Again. Photographs in Series, on view July 9-November 10, 2019 at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center, features historical and contemporary artists who have revisited people and places to make extended photographic series, prompting reflection on the impact of the passage of time – on photographers as well as their subjects.

The exhibition, drawn primarily from the collection of the Getty Museum, takes its cue from artist Gordon Parks’ trips to Brazil over several decades to document the life of Flávio da Silva. Parks’ photographs are on view in Gordon Parks: The Flávio Story, installed in the adjacent galleries of the Center for Photographs.

Photographing friends and family is a familiar pastime for many, and the exhibition includes the work of several artists who made masterful portraits of loved ones over the course of many years. Alfred Stieglitz photographed artist Georgia O’Keeffe frequently during their tumultuous 30 year relationship, and the photographs on view expose shifts in their rapport as well as changes in Stieglitz’s photographic style over time. Series by Harry Callahan of his wife Eleanor, Paul Strand of his wife, artist Rebecca Salsbury, and Julia Margaret Cameron of her niece Julia Jackson similarly offer fascinating reflections on the changes in relationships over time.

The exhibition also includes compelling contemporary portraits, including photojournalist Seamus Murphy’s record of the physical and emotional toll inflicted upon a family living in Afghanistan under rule of the Taliban, and Donna Ferrato’s documentation of a woman who fled an abusive relationship. Both series register the struggles as well as triumphs.

A number of artists in the exhibition document seasonal and man-made changes in the landscape. In a 1953 series by William A. Garnett, aerial photography is used to capture a walnut grove before and after the trees were felled to make way for a housing development. The startling perspective of Garnett’s images came to play an important role in the burgeoning environmental movement. Richard Misrach used his move to a new home in the hills above Berkeley, California, as an opportunity to take hundreds of photographs of the astonishing range of colours and atmospheric conditions surrounding the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset each evening. Several of his richly saturated sunset images are featured in the exhibition. Works by Roni Horn, Jem Southam, and Josef Sudek also trace changes in the natural world, to both political and poetic effect.

Transformations in the built environment also reveal the profound effects of the passage of time. LaToya Ruby Frazier documented the painful process of clearing the rooms of her family home in a series of self-portraits in which she cloaked herself in the familiar belongings of her loved ones. In order to spotlight socioeconomic changes in American neighbourhoods, Camilo José Vergara photographed the dramatic transformation of a single Harlem storefront over 40 years, as it changed hands, changed facades, and split into two establishments. Other artists in the exhibition, including John Divola and William Christenberry, chronicle the disintegration of architecture over time, creating evocative meditations on deterioration.

“‘Once again’ is a phrase repeated in a poem by William Wordsworth,” says Mazie Harris, assistant curator of photographs at the Getty Museum and curator of the exhibition. “He was fascinated by the powerful feeling that arises when revisiting a familiar place. He’s experiencing his surroundings in real time and yet is constantly aware of his memories of being there before. The photographers in this exhibition conjure that same sensation. They offer us the opportunity to see people and places afresh, even as we track the powerful changes wrought by time.”

Once. Again. Photographs in Series, is on view July 9-November 10, 2019 at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center. The exhibition is curated by Mazie Harris, assistant curator of photographs at the Getty Museum.

Press release from the J. Paul Getty Museum website [Online] Cited 11/08/2019

 

Josef Sudek (Czech, 1896-1976) 'The Window of My Studio' 1940-54

 

Josef Sudek (Czech, 1896-1976)
The Window of My Studio
1940-54
Gelatin silver print
Image: 22.1 × 14.1 cm (8 11/16 × 5 9/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© I&G Fárová Heirs

 

Josef Sudek (Czech, 1896-1976) 'The Window of My Studio' 1940-54

 

Josef Sudek (Czech, 1896-1976)
The Window of My Studio
1940-54
Gelatin silver print
Image: 17.1 × 10.3 cm (6 3/4 × 4 1/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© I&G Fárová Heirs

 

Josef Sudek (Czech, 1896-1976) 'The Window of My Studio' 1940-54

 

Josef Sudek (Czech, 1896-1976)
The Window of My Studio
1940-54
Gelatin silver print
Image: 23.5 × 16.5 cm (9 1/4 × 6 1/2 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© I&G Fárová Heirs

 

William A. Garnett (American, 1916-2006) 'Walnut Grove Standing' March 21, 1953

 

William A. Garnett (American, 1916-2006)
Walnut Grove Standing
March 21, 1953
Gelatin silver print
Image: 34.3 × 26.7 cm (13 1/2 × 10 1/2 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Estate of William A. Garnett

 

William A. Garnett (American, 1916-2006) 'Walnut Grove Bulldozed' March 21, 1953

 

William A. Garnett (American, 1916-2006)
Walnut Grove Bulldozed
March 21, 1953
Gelatin silver print
Image: 26.5 × 34.3 cm (10 7/16 × 13 1/2 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Estate of William A. Garnett

 

William A. Garnett (American, 1916-2006) 'Walnut Grove Uprooted by Bulldozers' March 22, 1953

 

William A. Garnett (American, 1916-2006)
Walnut Grove Uprooted by Bulldozers
March 22, 1953
Gelatin silver print
Image (trimmed to mount): 34.1 × 26.5 cm (13 7/16 × 10 7/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Estate of William A. Garnett

 

Milton Rogovin (American, 1909-2011) 'Michael and Pam' 1973

 

Milton Rogovin (American, 1909-2011)
Michael and Pam
1973
Gelatin silver print
Image: 17.9 × 17.4 cm (7 1/16 × 6 7/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Milton Rogovin

 

Milton Rogovin (American, 1909-2011) 'Michael and Pam' 1973

 

Milton Rogovin (American, 1909-2011)
Michael and Pam
1973
Gelatin silver print
Image: 17.9 × 17.4 cm (7 1/16 × 6 7/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Milton Rogovin

 

Milton Rogovin (American, 1909-2011) 'Michael and Pam' 1973

 

Milton Rogovin (American, 1909-2011)
Michael and Pam
1973
Gelatin silver print
Image: 17.9 × 17.4 cm (7 1/16 × 6 7/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Milton Rogovin

 

Milton Rogovin (American, 1909-2011) 'Yvonne and Daughter Sonya' 1974

 

Milton Rogovin (American, 1909-2011)
Yvonne and Daughter Sonya
1974
Gelatin silver print
Image: 18 × 17.3 cm (7 1/16 × 6 13/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Milton Rogovin

 

Milton Rogovin (American, 1909-2011) 'Yvonne and Daughter Sonya' 1974

 

Milton Rogovin (American, 1909-2011)
Yvonne and Daughter Sonya
1974
Gelatin silver print
Image: 17.2 × 17.2 cm (6 3/4 × 6 3/4 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Milton Rogovin

 

Milton Rogovin (American, 1909-2011) 'Yvonne and Daughter Sonya' 1974

 

Milton Rogovin (American, 1909-2011)
Yvonne and Daughter Sonya
1974
Gelatin silver print
Image: 18.1 × 16.8 cm (7 1/8 × 6 5/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Milton Rogovin

 

John Divola (American, born 1949) 'Zuma' 1977

 

John Divola (American, born 1949)
Zuma
1977
Chromogenic print
Image: 24.7 × 30.4 cm (9 3/4 × 11 15/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Gift of the Wilson Centre for Photography
© John Divola

 

John Divola (American, born 1949) 'Zuma' 1977

 

John Divola (American, born 1949)
Zuma
1977
Chromogenic print
Image: 24.8 × 30.6 cm (9 3/4 × 12 1/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Gift of the Wilson Centre for Photography
© John Divola

 

John Divola (American, born 1949) 'Zuma' 1977

 

John Divola (American, born 1949)
Zuma
1977
Chromogenic print
Image: 24.7 × 30.5 cm (9 3/4 × 12 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Gift of the Wilson Centre for Photography
© John Divola

 

John Divola (American, born 1949) 'Zuma' 1977

 

John Divola (American, born 1949)
Zuma
1977
Chromogenic print
Image: 24.8 × 30.6 cm (9 3/4 × 12 1/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Gift of the Wilson Centre for Photography
© John Divola

 

Camilo José Vergara (American, born Chile, 1944) '65 East 125th Street, Harlem' December 1977

 

Camilo José Vergara (American, born Chile, 1944)
65 East 125th Street, Harlem
December 1977
Chromogenic print
Image: 38.7 × 58.4 cm (15 1/4 × 23 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Gift of Bruce Berman and Lea Russo
© Camilo José Vergara

 

Camilo José Vergara (American, born Chile, 1944) '65 East 125th Street, Harlem' October 1980

 

Camilo José Vergara (American, born Chile, 1944)
65 East 125th Street, Harlem
October 1980
Chromogenic print
Image: 37.8 × 58.5 cm (14 7/8 × 23 1/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Gift of Bruce Berman and Lea Russo
© Camilo José Vergara

 

Camilo José Vergara (American, born Chile, 1944) '65 East 125th Street, Harlem' October 1981

 

Camilo José Vergara (American, born Chile, 1944)
65 East 125th Street, Harlem
October 1981
Chromogenic print
Image: 38.7 × 58.4 cm (15 1/4 × 23 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Gift of Bruce Berman and Lea Russo
© Camilo José Vergara

 

Seamus Murphy (Irish, born 1959) 'Kabul: November 1994' 1994, print 2015

 

Seamus Murphy (Irish, born 1959)
Kabul: November 1994
1994, print 2015
Gelatin silver print
Image: 22.6 × 34.2 cm (8 7/8 × 13 7/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Gift of David Knaus
© Seamus Murphy

 

Seamus Murphy (Irish, born 1959) 'Ba Deli Family, Kabul: November 1996' 1996, print 2015

 

Seamus Murphy (Irish, born 1959)
Ba Deli Family, Kabul: November 1996
1996, print 2015
Gelatin silver print
Image: 22.4 × 34.5 cm (8 13/16 × 13 9/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Gift of David Knaus
© Seamus Murphy

 

Seamus Murphy (Irish, born 1959) 'Gulbahar, Kapisa Province: June 2003' 2003, print 2015

 

Seamus Murphy (Irish, born 1959)
Gulbahar, Kapisa Province: June 2003
2003, print 2015
Gelatin silver print
Image: 34.6 × 22.6 cm (13 5/8 × 8 7/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Gift of David Knaus
© Seamus Murphy

 

Seamus Murphy (Irish, born 1959) 'Gulbahar, Kapisa Province: May 2009' 2009, print 2015

 

Seamus Murphy (Irish, born 1959)
Gulbahar, Kapisa Province: May 2009
2009, print 2015
Gelatin silver print
Image: 22.5 × 34.4 cm (8 7/8 × 13 9/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Gift of David Knaus
© Seamus Murphy

 

Seamus Murphy (Irish, born 1959) 'Kabul: July 2010' 2010, print 2015

 

Seamus Murphy (Irish, born 1959)
Kabul: July 2010
2010, print 2015
Gelatin silver print
Image: 22.6 × 34.7 cm (8 7/8 × 13 11/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Gift of David Knaus
© Seamus Murphy

 

Seamus Murphy (Irish, born 1959) 'Kabul: July 2010' 2010, print 2015

 

Seamus Murphy (Irish, born 1959)
Kabul: July 2010
2010, print 2015
Gelatin silver print
Image: 22.6 × 34.7 cm (8 7/8 × 13 11/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Gift of David Knaus
© Seamus Murphy

 

Richard Misrach (American, born 1949) '10.29.97, 4:35 PM' 1997, print 1999

 

Richard Misrach (American, born 1949)
10.29.97, 4:35 PM
1997, print 1999
Chromogenic print
Image: 45.8 × 59 cm (18 1/16 × 23 1/4 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Gift of Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser
© Richard Misrach, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, Pace/ MacGill Gallery, New York and Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Los Angeles

 

Richard Misrach (American, born 1949) '2.21.98, 4:45 PM' 1998, print 2016

 

Richard Misrach (American, born 1949)
2.21.98, 4:45 PM
1998, print 2016
Chromogenic prin
Image: 152.4 × 188 cm (60 × 74 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Gift of Sharyn and Bruce Charnas
© Richard Misrach, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Los Angeles

 

Richard Misrach (American, born 1949) '2.16.98, 5:20 PM' 1998, print 1999

 

Richard Misrach (American, born 1949)
2.16.98, 5:20 PM
1998, print 1999
Chromogenic print
Image: 46.2 × 58.9 cm (18 3/16 × 23 3/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Gift of Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser
© Richard Misrach, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, Pace/ MacGill Gallery, New York and Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Los Angeles

 

Richard Misrach (American, born 1949) '10.31.98, 5:22 PM' 1998, print 1999

 

Richard Misrach (American, born 1949)
10.31.98, 5:22 PM
1998, print 1999
Chromogenic print
Image: 46.3 × 58.9 cm (18 1/4 × 23 3/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Gift of Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser
© Richard Misrach, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, Pace/ MacGill Gallery, New York and Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Los Angeles

 

LaToya Ruby Frazier (American, born 1982) Four photographs 2010

 

LaToya Ruby Frazier (American, born 1982)
Clockwise from top left: Wrapped in Gramps’ Blanket, 2010; In Grandma Ruby’s Velour Bottoms, 2010; Covered in Gramps’ Blanket, 2010; In Gramps’ Pajamas, 2010
Gelatin silver prints
Image (each): 43.5 × 58.4 cm (17 1/8 × 23 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Purchased with funds provided by the Photographs Council
© LaToya Ruby Frazier

 

Jem Southam (British, born 1950) 'December 1996'

 

Jem Southam (British, born 1950)
December 1996
1996
Chromogenic print
68.6 × 85.7 cm (27 × 33 3/4 in.)
Gift of The Michael G. and C. Jane Wilson 2007 Trust
© Jem Southam

 

Jem Southam (British, born 1950) 'March 1998'

 

Jem Southam (British, born 1950)
March 1998
1998
Chromogenic print
68.6 × 85.7 cm (27 × 33 3/4 in.)
Gift of The Michael G. and C. Jane Wilson 2007 Trust
© Jem Southam

 

Jem Southam (British, born 1950) 'January 2000'

 

Jem Southam (British, born 1950)
January 2000
2000
Chromogenic print
68.6 × 85.7 cm (27 × 33 3/4 in.)
Gift of The Michael G. and C. Jane Wilson 2007 Trust
© Jem Southam

 

Donna Ferrato (American, born 1949) 'Sarah Augusta' 2012

 

Donna Ferrato (American, born 1949)
Sarah Augusta
2012
Pigment print
28.6 × 50.8 cm (11 1/4 × 20 in.)
Gift of The Kevin & Delia Willsey Collection
© Donna Ferrato

 

'Donna Ferrato (American, born 1949) Sarah Augusta Learning Self Defense' 2013

 

Donna Ferrato (American, born 1949)
Sarah Augusta Learning Self Defense
2013
Pigment print
33.9 × 50.9 cm (13 3/8 × 20 1/16 in.)
Gift of The Kevin & Delia Willsey Collection
© Donna Ferrato

 

Donna Ferrato (American, born 1949) 'Sarah after a Court Hearing' 2014

 

Donna Ferrato (American, born 1949)
Sarah after a Court Hearing
2014
Pigment print
33.9 × 50.8 cm (13 3/8 × 20 in.)
Gift of The Kevin & Delia Willsey Collection
© Donna Ferrato

 

Donna Ferrato (American, born 1949) 'Sarah and a member of B.A.C.A. discussing a strategy to protect the boys' 2014

 

Donna Ferrato (American, born 1949)
Sarah and a member of B.A.C.A. discussing a strategy to protect the boys
2014
Pigment print
33.9 × 50.8 cm (13 3/8 × 20 in.)
Gift of The Kevin & Delia Willsey Collection
© Donna Ferrato

 

Donna Ferrato (American, born 1949) 'Sarah' 2013

 

Donna Ferrato (American, born 1949)
Sarah
2013
Pigment print
50.8 cm x 33.9 (20 in. x 13 3/8)
Gift of The Kevin & Delia Willsey Collection
© Donna Ferrato

 

 

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 – 5.30 pm
Monday closed

The J. Paul Getty Museum website

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29
Mar
09

Review: ‘reENLIGHTENMENT’ exhibition by Peter James Smith at Gallery 101, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 18th March – 4th April 2009

 

Peter James Smith. 'reENLIGHTENMENT' installation view 2009

Peter James Smith. 'reENLIGHTENMENT' installation view 2009

 

Peter James Smith
reENLIGHTENMENT installation views
2009

 

 

“Every passion borders on the chaotic, but the collector’s passion borders on the chaos of memories. More than that: the chance, the fate, that suffuse the past before my eyes are conspicuously present in the accustomed confusion of these books. For what else is this collection but a disorder to which habit has accommodated itself to such an extent that it can appear as order?”1

“Thus the claim is that texts themselves can actually be intrinsically ‘genuine’, but that authenticity is a ‘social construct’. In other words, a certain kind of authenticity is created through the interaction of the users, situations and the texts.”2

 

 

Peter James Smith links the culture of science and of human experience, bringing together mathematics and the power of nature in realist imagery that is balanced by strong mark making and text. Redolent still life and landscape images juxtapose with astronomical, poetic and historical observations in the painted images. Handwritten citations, notes, jottings, diagrams and erasures float on the loosely painted surfaces of stretched linen, paper collage and found pieces which bring a Beuysian sense of the charismatic object. A sunset, a violin, a book of verse, an installation of old bells or delicate Jasperware porcelain provide a resonant foil for the artist and viewer – and create a space for the imagination, for mathematical wonder and contemplation.

“Beyond painting, in the current work there is a sense of history allowing us to privilege its objects, their collecting and their housing on walls, in vitrines, on shelves and on plinths. Like any true collector I am keen to bring them to an audience, to show them in a revelatory way. If they are inflected by hand markings it is to personalise the revelation. There are no plastic imitations: the Jasperware vases are authentic collected Wedgwood; the small Greek Pelike is indeed a c 300 BC vase; the Roman glass is a c 300 AD; the collected Wollemi pine needles are indeed from this prehistoric plant. These and other antiquities have a long museological tradition. The narratives of Wedgwood blue and white Jasperware designs are of Greek antiquity – the firing of the white clay over a cobalt blue base (in around) 1772 was a triumph of chemistry over alchemy. With these objects, it is not a postmodernist kitsch that is revealed, but rather the resuscitated fabric of authenticity. I am re-enlightened by their tactile physical presence that has a timeless beauty. To render such things as a painted image is to engage in a different act, with different rules referring to different histories.” ~ Peter James Smith, 2009. Notes from the exhibition catalogue.

Enlightenment, Romanticism, reason, authenticity, revelation.

 

I am a collector like Peter James Smith. I display my collection of early 20th century English vases. I have a collection of 300 ties that span from the 1930s to the 1970s. I have eight rare 1940s suits, those suits that Humphrey Bogart used to wear with the wide wide lapels that nearly reach the seam of the sleeve.

Rare, fragile, beautiful, genuine.

In this exhibition Smith appeals not to the genuineness of the objects but to the authenticity of the objects he displays: “There are no plastic imitations … With these objects, it is not a postmodernist kitsch that is revealed, but rather the resuscitated fabric of authenticity.” He wants to show these objects in a revelatory way, for us to once more appreciate their authenticity. To make order out of disorder. But then Smith wants to personalise this revelation and overlays the objects with texts that re-order the taxonomy through a reinscription that is both a de-territorialization and re-territorialization of meaning, a loss of original meaning and the production of new meanings. This is the faint silver flicker of re-enlightenment the artist seeks. It is above all authentication as individual spectacle, as social construct.

“Authenticity is an issue for us today because of a widespread sense that there is something inauthentic in the way we experience the modern world.”3

In some of the works this process is effective and in other works it falls flat on it’s proverbial, intertextual backside. The process works well in the less cerebral works. The use of black paint in Paradise Lost IV (below) is particularly effective as the re-inscription of paint invades and threatens the motifs of the classical figures with the text and cross reinforcing the idea of a lost paradise. Cathedral (2009, below) is also a stunning installation of different bells hung at various heights within a locked cabinet, complicit in their silence as they would not be inside a cathedral. For me this was probably the best piece in the show for its simplicity of thought, eloquence of execution and understanding of how the installation re-enlightens the viewers socially constructed authenticity in a revelatory way. No double marking is needed – a zen balance is proposed and achieved in the quietness of the viewers mind.

Other pieces are less successful. Amphora in grey teracotta Han Dynasty c 100BC (2008), the amphora inscribed with text sitting on a painted black video recorder is particularly unengaging and unappealing – there is no revelatory experience to be had here. The Greek Pileke (see below) inscribed with lines from John Keats Ode on a Grecian Urn seems an appropriate intervention but sometimes in this exhibition one just longs to appreciate the sanctity of the object, it’s presence, in silence without the personalising of the revelation by the hand of the artist. To see the object clearly for what it is.

The large installation reELIGHTENMENT (2009 below, and installation photo at top) falls into darkness. The use of the doors as metaphor is clumsy, book covers have been more successfully used by other artists and the black paint is heavy and oppressive. More interesting are some of the paintings, for example The slow dance of an astronomical twighlight (2009, below) where the poem of William Wordsworth

… a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns

illuminates the poetry of the painting, adding an insightful double meaning to the universal revelation. A vibration of spirit is present both in the landscape and the markings upon the landscape. Unfortunately all too often in this exhibition access to the sublime is denied. Appeals to neo-authenticity fall on deaf ears. The motifs of this exhibition are universal, archetypal but the elements that go to make up this exhibition are too many and lack focus. Sometimes in art less in more and this exhibition is a classic example of this fact. There are some interesting elements but overall the whole is not the sum of its parts.

As John Donne observed

“All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated … No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”4

Our authentic place in the world, our spiritual space, our re-enlightenment needed to be better defined, more lucidly enunciated in this exhibition NOT IN CAPITAL LETTERS but in the quietness of our hearts.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

  1. Benjamin, Walter. “Unpacking my Library: A Talk about Book Collecting,” in Illuminations. English translation. London: Fontana, 1982, pp. 59-60
  2. Lee, W. “Authenticity revisited: text authenticity and learner authenticity,” in ELT Journal, 49(4). 1995, pp.323-328 cited in Shomoossi, Nematullah and Ketabi, Saeed. “A Critical Look at the Concept of Authenticity,” in Electronic Journal of Foreign Language Teaching, 2007, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 149-155 [Online] cited on 29th March, 2009 at http://e-flt.nus.edu.sg/v4n12007/shomoossi.pdf
  3. McClure, Christoper. The Concept of Authenticity in Charles Taylor and Martin Heidegger. [Online] cited on March 29th, 2009 (no longer available online)
  4. Donne, John. Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, Meditation XVII: Nunc Lento Sonitu Dicunt, Morieris. 1624.

 

Variously

Wedgwood Jasperware, Roman glass, Greek Pileke, books, doors, texts, paintings, bells, video, video machine, wooden boxes, black paint, crosses, albatross, Wollemi Pine needles, Paradise Lost, astronomy, linen, stars, photography, Chinese porcelain, collage, mathematical equations, mirrors, Amphora from the Han Dynasty, a violin, a sunset, a book of verse, notes, shelves, jottings, citations.

Notes to myself

  • Golden ratio
  • The archive
  • Topographical markings, inscriptions and decodings
  • The ‘nature’ of authenticity
  • The ‘voice’ of revelation
  • Re-possession of clarity and logic
  • Re-production of mystery, tenderness and love
  • Reverence for the object itself
  • Referentiality between image and text
  • The colour black: transcendent, the depths of the night sky but also the closing in of darkness at the end of days
  • Never one truth but many truths
  • Less is more

Many thankx to Gallery 101 for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

the-slow-dance

 

Peter James Smith
The slow dance of an astronomical twighlight
2009

 

Peter James Smith. 'Paradise Lost IV' 2008

 

Peter James Smith
Paradise Lost IV
2008

 

Peter James Smith. 'Ode on a Grecian Urn' 2008

 

Peter James Smith
Ode on a Grecian Urn
2008

 

Peter James Smith. 'Cathedral' 2009

 

Peter James Smith
Cathedral
2009

 

Peter James Smith. 'reENLIGHTENMENT' 2009

 

Peter James Smith
reENLIGHTENMENT
2009

 

 

Gallery 101

This gallery is now closed.

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04
Feb
09

Review: ‘Rosalie Gascoigne’ at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 9th December 2008 – 15th March 2009

 

Rosalie Gascoigne. 'Forty acre block' 1977

 

Rosalie Gascoigne (1917-1999)
Forty acre block
1977
Painted wood and metal, collage

 

 

This exhibition is a relatively small, muscular yet poetic evocation of the life and work of one of my favourite Australian artists, Rosalie Gascoigne. Perhaps I have an affinity with this artist that goes beyond words: being English I have grown to love the Australian landscape but to see the way Gascoigne visions it is a truly moving experience. I have also admired artists that can successfully combine images and sculptural elements visually in their work, language and memory impinging on consciousness (hence my infatuation with the work of Joseph Cornell).

As we enter the exhibition early constructions – wooden boxes – are presented dating from 1975-1984. These have a rough hewn, rustic charm to them, made as they are of weathered thick planks of wood. Less refined than the boxes of Joseph Cornell (see below) they nevertheless draw on the Australian vernacular in their use of objects. As with the Cornell boxes there is a strong element of childhood fun and games in these constructions. Dolly boxes (1976, below) for example contains innumerable plastic dollies of different sizes held inside wooden boxes; Black bird box (1976) is like a shooting gallery at a fun fair; other boxes feature birds and sea shells trapped in plastic bottles, printed images of moths, test tubes, candlesticks, metal teapots and children’s bicycle seats. Cloister (1977) below echoes the work of Joseph Cornell in it’s use of classical Renaissance imagery but with a rustic Australian charm. Unlike Cornell’s boxes which are enclosed dreamscapes that do not live in the world, Cascoigne’s boxes are made her own by being open and receptive to the landscape from which they merge, by being open to the world.

Forty acre block (1977, above) is a play on the great Aussie dream of owning your own 1/4 acre block. Inside the crate like tableaux we find cardboard parrots perched menacingly on rusted cylindrical metal tubes, two cardboard cut out cows with their white faces turned towards the viewer and at the rear of the box a sun-bleached picture of an orchard and three cows with human heads: a surreal vision of the Aussie landscape. Continuing the playfulness Parrot morning (1976, below) extends the theme, the bicycle wheel almost having elements of Duchamp’s readymades but given an Australian twist with the perching parrots.

Moving forward we find one of my favourite works, Feathered chairs (1978, below), a most beautiful evocation of technology and nature. Two red rusted 1950’s office chairs sit low on the floor, their seats, back and sides replaced by four rows of dark Commorant feathers held in place by wooden slats clamped together. Simple yet eloquent these surreal chairs have a poetic rhythm of place and space, speaking of the abandonment of  technology and it’s re-habitation by a trapped but beautiful nature. Other work becomes simpler, more focused around this time (and especially from 1984 onwards) as though the artist was finding her singular voice, was confident of the ‘less is more’ rhythms of the music she was creating. The essence appears: of the land, artefacts and spaces. In Swell (1984) for example two convex forms of corrugated iron (one horizontal, one vertical) play off of each other, forming an opposing flow of energies like the swelling of the sea. Nothing else is needed.

In Step through (1980, below) fragments of floral linoleum floor are mounted on wooden blocks at differing heights allowing the viewer to visually wander across the space of the installation as their mind wanders to memories of the floors of Australian kitchens of the 1950’s – either seen in childhood or in photographs – their is a recognition from all ages, in all Australians. This theme is further developed in the gridded Inland sea (1986, below) patches of corrugated iron float above the ground like gently moving waves. Beautiful in it’s simplicity the colours, shapes and spaces evocatively reflect the undulating rise and fall of the landscape from which the iron has been rescued, the breath of air on the wind rippling the water.

The use of regularised block and grids start to appear in wall mounted vistas: of loopholes, of lovers, the metropolis and the fall, of beach houses and far views, of grasslands and medusas. Promised land (1986) offers a vision resplendent of a far away country – the promised land abstracted to Tarax, Dales, Cottee’s, Blue Bow home deliveries of a Sparkling Fruity Flavour! box ends, the 32 Fl. Oz weight weighing the vision of the Australian landscape in the balance.

The most effective work uses the yellow colour of Schweppes boxes. In Monaro (1989), one of my favourite works in the exhibition, the painted blocks of yellow wood with unreadable fragmented words on them become, from a distance, like the wafting waving dried grasses of the Monaro landscape around Gascoigne’s home. Liquid music of air and place.

“I like the gold of the Schweppes boxes. I think that gold is one of the classical colours. I don’t care if it has got Schweppes written all over it, people seem to think I care. I don’t care! I just like the black and yellow. When I started I had lots of off-cuts, little pieces too good to throw away. So I started joining them up in a sort of way, walking around them, adding a few more. I soon had a 6 x 4 foot panel. In the end I realised that I needed to have four panels to say what I wanted to say. As it grew so did I. I kept thinking of the Monaro grasslands, and I thought of David Campbell saying ‘the Monaro rolls on to the sea’.” 

Graeme Sullivan, Seeing Australia – Views of artists and art writers, Piper Press, Annandale, New South Wales, 1994, p. 19.

 

Summer swarm (1995) features small yellow blocks of wood an assemblage of yellow bees; Grassfest (1999, below) like a stand of yellow grass under the Australian sun; Metropolis (1999, below) collaged and patched road signs are worked together overlaying spaces and language. In Plenty (1986) yellow wood bricks mounted in panels are held in place with rusted metal nails. if you move close to the work the effect is immersive – every inflection of colour, grain of the wood, knot, nail hole, rub, scuff, daub of paint becomes evident. Every block is same but different, an almost transcendental experience.

In this work there is a refining of the essence of her vision of the world, a paring back of all extraneous elements but conversely an expansion in the energy of the work. A mature artist at the peak of their power.

In the ‘white’ work Star chart (1995) and Milky way (1995), heaven and earth reflect each other, the grids and patterns linked in a cosmic dance. But mostly air (1994-1995) the large installation that closes the exhibition confirms this dance, containing as it does white blocks of wood (invisible air) with a row of weathered wooden posts propped up against the gallery wall and animal spirits made of wooden blocks: faces with wings and ears, gasping for breath, white animals on a white background hovering between here and there, between heaven and earth.

This is a wonderful exhibition. Gascoigne rightly commands a place in the pantheon of Australian stars. She has left us with a legacy of music that evokes the rhythms, the air, the spaces and colours of our country. As she herself said,

“Look at what we have: Space, skies. You can never have too much of nothing.”

Nothing more, nothing less.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

 

 

Rosalie Gascoigne (1917-1999) 'Study: dolly boxes A&B' 1976

 

Rosalie Gascoigne (1917-1999)
Study: dolly boxes A&B
1976
Wood, plastic
© Rosalie Gascoigne Estate

 

Rosalie Gascoigne. 'Cloister' 1977

 

Rosalie Gascoigne (1917-1999)
Cloister
1977
Painted wood and collage
61.1 × 34.8 × 15.5 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of James Mollison, AO, 1999
© Rosalie Gascoigne Estate

 

Joseph Cornell. 'Medici Princess' 1948

 

Joseph Cornell
Medici Princess
1948
Mixed media

 

 

Rosalie Gascoigne is one of Australia’s most acclaimed and respected visual artists. Her distinctive style is characterised by her recognition of beauty in the most humble of objects such as soft drink crates, linoleum, retro-reflective road signs, dried grasses and feathers. Collecting and arranging these items, often rescued from rubbish dumps, and scarred and faded by the ravages of weather, is an integral part of her practice. Like a magician she transforms these discarded materials into sculptures, wall pieces and assemblages, which create evocative visual poetry, capturing the essence of things or an experience rather than conveying a literal representation.

Gascoigne like Picasso realised later in life that one is not made an artist, one is born an artist. Some of her fondest memories as a child are of collecting shells on summer holidays at the beach, and the yellow china her grandmother owned. At the age of ten she won first prize for her entry in a table decoration competition that included yellow flowers, an unusual Indian brass vase and Indian brass bowls.

Her journey to becoming a professional artist was highly unconventional. She received no formal art education, openly declared that she could neither draw nor paint and was not officially recognised as part of the Australian art scene until she held her first critically acclaimed exhibition at the age of fifty-seven.

Gascoigne was born in New Zealand in 1917. She studied for a Bachelor of Arts degree, specialising in English and Latin, at the University of Auckland. During this time she got to know her future husband Ben Gascoigne. In 1943, following a short teaching career, she moved to Australia to marry Ben. They lived as part of a small isolated scientific community around Mt Stromlo Observatory outside Canberra, where Ben had taken up a position. The transition from the gentle, green landscape of her home to the hard, unforgiving, dry slopes of Mount Stromlo, bounded by seemingly endless space, was initially a tough and lonely experience. She didn’t fit into the mould of the happy domesticated wife expected of this era. The lack of stimulating conversation with the other wives on the establishment made her feel particularly alone. She befriended nature instead and as she brought up three children in these alien conditions she remembers:

I’d push the children’s prams around that lonely mountain until I knew the shape of every stone and tree, the texture of every patch of dirt and grass, the colour of every leaf and weed. I’d gaze down at the valley below, a vastness of dry blond grass and grubby sheep and the sky used to hang, from there to there. ~ Janet Hawley ‘A late developer’, Sydney Morning Herald, Good Weekend, 15 November 1997, p. 40.

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She acclimatised to this new terrain and began to gather unusual natural forms. She displayed these found objects in her home, much to the bemusement of the conventional local community. Gascoigne began creating distinctive flower arrangements in the 1950s and won prizes for them in horticultural shows. When the family moved from Mount Stromlo to the Canberra suburb of Deakin in 1960, she studied ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging, under Norman Sparnon, a master of the Sogetsu School. Gascoigne appreciated the strict discipline of this form of arranging, which imposed a sense of order on her collected found objects. The emphasis on line, form and sculptural properties was to become a key part of her later practice.

When Gascoigne’s three children had grown up, she had increasing freedom to pursue her growing interest in art. She visited art galleries more often, looked at art books and met people in the art world who were to shape her future career, including James Mollison, who became the inaugural director of the Australian National Gallery (now National Gallery of Australia). Her discussions with those in the arts community taught her much about looking and thinking about art, and confirmed her sense of identity as an artist.

In the mid-1960s she began making assemblages of rusted iron, which were followed, from 1973, by assemblages in boxes. These miniature surreal and often humorous worlds, such as The colonel’s lady, 1976, employed rich patterning and repetition through the arrangement of man-made objects, including advertising symbols used on the packaging of products.

The eclectic mix of objects and surfaces in these early works gave way to her later wall-based works that were elegant compositions limited to one or two materials, and subtly evoke culture, nature, language and the landscape, particularly the country around Canberra, which she came to love. Scrub country, 1982, and Monaro, 1989, epitomise these works. They are made from soft-drink crates – weathered by the sun, rain, wind and time – dismantled, sawn into strips and reassembled.

Gascoigne reached meteoric heights in her career which spanned over two decades until her death in 1999 at the age of eighty-two. She was given a major survey show at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in 1978, only four years after her first solo exhibition at Macquarie Galleries, Canberra. In 1982 she represented Australia with artist Peter Booth at the Venice Biennale. Her work is included in major public, corporate and private collections.

Text from the NGV Rosalie Gascoigne Education Kit

 

Rosalie Gascoigne. 'Parrot morning' 1976

 

Rosalie Gascoigne (1917-1999)
Parrot morning
1976
Painted metal, wood and paper
71.9 × 66.6 × 59.7 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Michell Endowment, 1976 Transferred to the Permanent Collection, 1996
© Rosalie Gascoigne Estate

 

Rosalie Gascoigne. 'Feathered chairs' 1978

 

Rosalie Gascoigne (1917-1999)
Feathered chairs
1978

 

 

Despite their unusual appearance, this set of feathered chairs is not a departure from Rosalie Gascoigne’s usual practice. This work does not record, despite the reference to furniture in the title, a move to decorative arts – this feathered pair were never intended to function as seating – they are sculptures, conceived to fascinate the eye rather than conform to anyone’s behind.

Gascoigne collected the feathers for the chairs on the shores of Lake George, located about 35 kilometres from Canberra, on the road to Sydney.

‘And then I came to this place’, she recalled in 1982, ‘where there were all these… black birds, you know, cormorants. And a shattering of black beautiful glossy [feathers] as if the birds had just undressed. … They’re beautiful feathers. They’re like the underside of mushrooms. You know… the quill.’

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The feathers were assembled in racks similar to those used in Gasgoigne’s Feathered Fence 1979 (NGA Collection, Canberra) which used swan feathers also found at Lake George. Racks of feathers were displayed on two reddish metal chairs that she had found at the dump. Gascoigne aimed to create poetic, rather than literal interpretations of her work, aiming for a succinct ‘plastic metaphor’, where a melding of disparate objects and textures might produce unexpected allusions and tangential meanings. Nonetheless, the claw foot of the chair suggests the foot of a bird and the splayed feathers conjure up the pose of a cormorant with its spread wings drying off in the sun. Or did the sun-basking bird with its arm rest wings suggest a throne? Gascoigne was not an artist to routinely create figurative works and it’s just as likely that in this work she sought a tension between the earthbound weight of the metal and the airy, windborne feathers. She had a longtime fascination with birds and the Feathered Chairs suggest an evocation of flight and freedom; a joyous ability to see and read the story of our ancient land. Elated by exploration and discovery, Gascoigne willingly shares her delight with the armchair traveller.

Extract from Michael Desmond. “Rosalie Gascoigne,” on the Menzies website [Online] Cited 19/12/2018

 

Rosalie Gascoigne (1917-1999) 'The tea party' 1980

 

Rosalie Gascoigne (1917-1999)
The tea party
1980
Painted wood, celluloid, plastic, enamelled metal, feathers
82.0 x 35.0 x 190.0 cm
Gascoigne Family Collection, Canberra
© Rosalie Gascoigne Estate

 

 

After first exhibiting her work at the age of 57, Rosalie Gascoigne rapidly established a reputation as one of Australia’s foremost contemporary artists. Following her first exhibition in 1974, Gascoigne subsequently developed an impressive exhibition history that included her being honoured, in 1982, as the first female artist to represent Australia at the Venice Biennale.

This major exhibition of Rosalie Gascoigne’s work ranges from the boxlike assemblages of her early career through to large scale installations and her creation of master works constructed from Schweppes soft drink crates and retro-reflective road signs. The exhibition investigates the artist’s ability to draw creative inspiration from the discarded; her intrinsic response to her chosen materials, and her unique ability to evocatively convey the essence of nature and the transitory and captivating effects of light, air and space.

Rosalie Gascoigne is the first major retrospective exhibition of Gascoigne’s work to be seen in Melbourne and is accompanied by a comprehensive exhibition catalogue.

Text from the NGV website

 

Rosalie Gascoigne. 'Step through' 1980

 

Rosalie Gascoigne (1917-1999)
Step through
1980
Linoleum and wood
28.0 h x 93.0 w x 370.0 d cm
© Rosalie Gascoigne Estate

 

 

Extract from A Formal Focus – Art Elements and Principles

In Inland sea, 1986 (below), sixteen large sheets of corrugated tin hover above the floor in a loose grid arrangement. The grid format unifies the separate parts of the composition, and also enhances the expressive power of different visual elements through repetition. The shapes and lines repeated across the buckling sheets of tin create a powerful sense of the gentle movement of wind or water.

The strong visual rhythms and movement evident in Gascoigne’s compositions are often achieved through the repetition of different visual elements. Step through, 1980 (above), is made from fifteen separate parts, each made from a torn piece of brightly coloured, floral patterned linoleum mounted on a block of wood. The blocks sit at different angles creating different levels within the installation. The spaces between the different parts create a meandering path for the viewer to explore, highlighting the importance of movement through and across space in Gascoigne’s work.

“I was thinking about the unkempt empty blocks in built up city areas … usually covered in rank grasses and flowering weeds … rubble, old tins and bottles. One steps through them gingerly and, with possible snakes in mind, lifts one’s knees high.” ~ Vici MacDonald, Rosalie Gascoigne, Regaro Pty Ltd, Sydney, 1998, p. 48


Colour assumed a vital presence in Gascoigne’s work. In an overview of her work, as in the exhibition Rosalie Gascoigne (2008), the importance of particular colours is revealed in swathes and groupings of yellow, red, orange and white artworks, culminating in the grey, brown and ochre hues of the Earth series (1999), which were the artist’s last works. Individually, each work reveals something of the beauty of colour and its ability to suggest meaning; from sun-baked, muted yellows that remind us of vistas of dry grass, to soft pale greys and whites that murmur quietly of the open air and cloud.

Gascoigne was often drawn to particular materials because of the beauty of their colour and texture, and the associations or moods these suggested. The visual qualities and associations found in the textures of humble and/or discarded materials are clearly revealed in Gascoigne’s work – from the flaky layers of faded paint on weathered tin or wood that speak of both rural life and work, and the forces and seasons of nature, to the staccato flash of retro-reflective road signs that remind us of driving through the landscape.

Text from the NGV Rosalie Gascoigne Education Kit

 

Rosalie Gascoigne. 'Inland sea' 1986

 

Rosalie Gascoigne (1917-1999)
Inland sea
1986
Weathered painted corrugated iron, wire
39.1 × 325.0 × 355.5 cm (variable)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1993
© Rosalie Gascoigne Estate

 

 

Extract from Poetry and Words

Rosalie Gascoigne’s work is often referred to as visual poetry. Her training in literature and fascination for words infuse her work. She had a particular love of poetry. This included the modern Australian poets such as Peter Porter and David Campbell, who also evoked in his writing the landscape around Canberra. Just as a poet distils the essence of their subject with carefully chosen evocative words and phrases, so Gascoigne captures the spirit of a place, or the core of an idea with sensitive arrangements of visual elements. Instead of literary allusions, Gascoigne creates visual metaphors with materials such as corrugated iron in Inland sea, 1986, which evokes movement of air, while slivers of discarded, weathered timber in Monaro, 1989 suggest dried grassland. Repetition, ordering, fragmenting and editing out unnecessary materials are also part of her practice which echo the creation of poetry.

Gascoigne admired the English Romantic poets of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and often quoted William Wordsworth’s idea that: ‘Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity.’ She believed passionately that her work was intricately woven with glimpses of her past feelings and experiences. …

Other works studded with random words are more elusive and hark back to the poetry of Andre Bréton and the Surrealists, who scattered and re-arranged words cut from a newspaper.

Gascoigne frequently described her works as ‘stammering concrete poetry’ (Gregory O’Brien, 2004, p. 42), a reference to a style of poetry originating in the 1950s where the visual arrangement of words or letters suggests something about the subject of the poem. In All that jazz, 1989, for example, the artist has conjured up the pulsating chopped up rhythms of jazz with wooden strips of dazzling colour highlighted by splinters of black lettering. In contrast, the broken and fractured nature of the yellow and black road signs in Skylight, 1993, interspersed with ill-fitting patches of well-worn linoleum, sets up a tension that hints at both the tragedy of drought and the beauty of the Australian light in summer.

The evocative titles of Gascoigne’s works, which are selected after their completion and only after much contemplation, are chosen to be allusive and poetic rather than descriptive. They reveal an entry point but allow the viewer to experience their own intuitive response to the work.

Text from the NGV Rosalie Gascoigne Education Kit

 

Rosalie Gascoigne’s art comes from, is inspired by, and in turn reflects the spare countryside of the southern tablelands and the Monaro district, a unique natural environment that lies relatively close to Canberra, the artist’s home of more than fifty years. Gascoigne’s transformation and re-investment in her work of battered and weathered materials sourced in the landscape surrounding Canberra also highlights the importance of collecting to her oeuvre, as different materials appear in works from across the decades …

Gascoigne’s knowledge and love of language and of Romantic poetry is evident in many of her works as she aspired to make art that achieved ‘allusive and illusive’ qualities that she experienced in this form. Through the artist’s skill in making poetry of the commonplace and her intrinsic response to both her chosen materials and the particularities of the Australian landscape, we are able to witness her unique ability to evocatively capture and convey the essence of nature and the transitory and captivating effects of light, air and space.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Rosalie Gascoigne (1917-1999) 'Scrub country' 1982

 

Rosalie Gascoigne (1917-1999)
Scrub country
1982
Weathered painted wood (1-9)
144.0 x 376.0 cm (overall)
Private collection, Brisbane
© Rosalie Gascoigne Estate

 

Rosalie Gascoigne (1917-1999) 'Scrub country' 1982 (detail)

 

Rosalie Gascoigne (1917-1999)
Scrub country (detail)
1982
Weathered painted wood (1-9)
144.0 x 376.0 cm (overall)
Private collection, Brisbane
© Rosalie Gascoigne Estate

 

 

Extract from Landscape – Place, Memory, Experience

The art of Rosalie Gascoigne has a unique place in the rich landscape tradition in Australian art. While painting has been the dominant artform in this tradition, Gascoigne worked in assemblage and installation, using natural and man-made materials collected from the landscape. Unlike many earlier artists, she was not interested in describing the visual reality, picturesque beauty or stories of the Australian landscape. Gascoigne’s artworks capture the essence of the landscape’s topography, space, air, vegetation; and the daily and seasonal natural rhythms of nature, in compositions that are often startling in their refined simplicity. …

In Scrub country, 1982 wooden slats from old soft-drink crates are arranged methodically in rows and columns, but their faded colours, worn surfaces and uneven edges reveal the impact of prolonged use and many hot summers. The medley of faded yellows and greens, and nearly naked wooden surfaces in Scrub country is punctuated by flashes of turquoise blues, evoking the patterns of dappled light and colour often found in the Australian bush.

“I called it Scrub country because to me it had the randomness and relaxed air and the quality of colour which I think is much more typical of the Australia I know than any of those ochres and oranges so often used. I have let air through because we see a lot of filtered light, random pattern and carelessness in the Australian landscape.” ~ Public Programs Department, Art Gallery of New South Wales Education Kit, Material as Landscape – Rosalie Gascoigne Education Kit, 1997

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While a palette of ‘blue and gold’ colours was strongly associated with the paintings of the famous Australian landscape painter Arthur Streeton (1867-1943), Scrub country clearly breaks with the landscape conventions associated with Streeton and his generation. The repetition and ordering of elements in distinct rows and columns creates a strong formal structure and a flattened space that avoids literal landscape references. Sensations and moods more associated with memory and experience of the landscape are emphasised. Gascoigne’s focus on the formal qualities suggests some affinity between her landscape inspired artworks and those of her contemporary, Australian artist Fred Williams (1927-1982), who also broke with convention in representing the landscape.

Text from the NGV Rosalie Gascoigne Education Kit

 

Rosalie Gascoigne. 'Sweet lovers' 1990

 

Rosalie Gascoigne (1917-1999)
Sweet lovers
1990
Reflective synthetic polymer film on plywood
105.0 x 79.5 cm
Collection of Christopher Hodges and Helen Eager, Sydney
Photo: Christian Markel
© Rosalie Gascoigne Estate

 

Rosalie Gascoigne. 'Grassfest' 1999

 

Rosalie Gascoigne (1917-1999)
Grassfest
1999
Weathered painted wood on composition board
106.5 x 101.0 cm
Queensland University of Technology Art Collection, Brisbane
Purchased, 1999
© Rosalie Gascoigne Estate

 

 

Gascoigne worked intuitively with no preliminary drawings or plans. Her ideas, and the processes used to make each artwork, were inspired and determined by the look and feel of particular materials, and the visual and emotional associations they suggested. Depending on the materials used, many hundreds of hours would be spent on the labour intensive work of cutting, tearing, bending, scrubbing, sorting, grouping, arranging until the ‘right’ idea and visual effect crystallised. The process of transforming found materials into artworks was one of making the mood, experience and sensation of landscape visible.

 

Rosalie Gascoigne. 'Metropolis' 1999

 

Rosalie Gascoigne (1917-1999)
Metropolis
1999
© Rosalie Gascoigne Estate

 

 

Quotations

“Your art has to come out of your daily life. I really believe that if anyone is born an artist they’ve only got to look at what’s round their feet and what’s available to them. They don’t have to be clever, they don’t have to go to art school, they don’t have to get the exotic stuff – make it with what’s there. People think art’s like you strike it lucky and you’re famous tomorrow, but it isn’t like that, it’s a search for honesty on your own terms. The journey to self-recognition took me decades.”

Vici MacDonald, Rosalie Gascoigne, Regaro Pty Ltd, Sydney, 1998, p. 9

 

“I look for the eternal truths in nature, the rhythms, cycles, seasons, shapes, regeneration, restorative powers, spirit. I’m showing what I believe to be interesting and beautiful.”

Janet Hawley ‘A late developer’, Sydney Morning Herald, Good Weekend, 15 November 1997, p. 44

 

“I was hopeless at painting and drawing, and had no skills at making craftwork. At school, I envied people who could draw a perfect basket of apples. I regarded myself as totally non-artistic. My big love was, and remains, poetry; I always visualised every line of a poem as I read it.”

Janet Hawley ‘A late developer’, Sydney Morning Herald, Good Weekend, 15 November 1997, p. 42

 

“My concerns are as much with my materials as with the work I make of it. They both have to satisfy me … I look for things that have been somewhere, done something. Second-hand materials aren’t deliberate; they have had sun and wind on them …”

Public Programs Department, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Material as Landscape, Rosalie Gascoigne Education Kit, 1997

 

“Once I’d started on my art journey I was in it with a vengeance. I needed it so badly. At last life was full of possibilities.”

Janet Hawley ‘A late developer’, Sydney Morning Herald, Good Weekend, 15 November 1997, p. 41

 

“I have a real need to express elation at how interesting and beautiful things are and to see them arranged … I work with things I rather like and move them about until they recall the feeling of an actual moment in the landscape; then I’ve won.”

Rosalie Gascoigne interviewed by James Mollison and Steven Heath in Rosalie Gascoigne: Material as landscape (exh. cat), Deborah Edwards (ed.), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1997, p. 7

 

“My pieces can be looked at in many different ways. I try to provide a starting point from which people can let their imagination wander – what they will discover will be a product of their own experience as much as mine. My aim is to be allusive and elusive.”

Bob Weis, Judi Stack & Robert Lindsay, Survey 2 – Rosalie Gascoigne, video, colour, sound, 16 mins 50 secs, produced by the Media Resource Centre for the NGV, 1978

 

Rosalie Gascoigne. 'White city' 1993

 

Rosalie Gascoigne (1917-1999)
White city
1993
© Rosalie Gascoigne Estate

 

Rosalie Gascoigne (1917-1999) 'Star Chart' 1995

 

Rosalie Gascoigne (1917-1999)
Star Chart
1995
Synthetic polymer paint on sawn wood on composition board
© Rosalie Gascoigne Estate

 

 

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Flinders Streets, Melbourne

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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: ‘Mask’ 1994

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