Posts Tagged ‘Yves Klein


Exhibition: ‘L’envol’ (‘Flight’) at La maison rouge, Paris

Exhibition dates: 16th June – 28th October 2018


Georges Méliès (1861-1938) 'Le voyage dans la lune. Le clair de terre - (10e tableau)' 1902


Georges Méliès (French, 1861-1938)
Le voyage dans la lune. Le clair de terre – (10e tableau)
A Trip to the Moon
Courtesy Collection La Cinémathèque française



Another fantastic, esoteric exhibition that will resonant with a lot of human beings. The curators of L’envol (Flight) “have imagined an exhibition that examines mankind’s dream of flying – though without any reference to those who have actually made this dream come true.”

Man has long wanted to fly even though even though men are not birds. But we can, each in our own way, imagine what it is like to fly; we can dream about flying; we can meditate on flying; we can partake in shamanic rituals where our spirit becomes a bird (Carlos Castaneda); we can fly during orgasmic sex as we are taken out of our own body (la petite mort); we can loose ourselves ecstatically during a dance party when we commune with the cosmic beyond; or we can make films such as Alan Parker’s outstanding film Birdy where the protagonist “imagines himself flying like a bird around his room, throughout the house and outside in the neighbourhood.”

Many and varied are the ways human beings examine the melancholy and fantastical desire to fly.

In my own contemporary work, I investigate the moral and ethical reasons why a human being would want to fly the very latest piece of technology, a fighter plane, only to kill, bomb and maim. The reason to fly such war machines, to be as one with the latest technology, the speed, the thrill of flying – to fight for freedom, democracy, to bomb, to kill; and the moral and ethical choices that human beings make, to undertake one action over another.

Again, the melancholy and the fantastical, perhaps flight as a means of escape from the realities of the everyday, much as a child I often imagined being a bird and flying away, never to come back. So this exhibition has special resonance with me. What an incredible collection of ideas, feelings, dreams and fantastical creations these magnificent inventors have released into the universe, in order to defy a literal and promote a metaphysical gravity (love).

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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



“Love is metaphysical gravity”

Buckminster Fuller



Henry Darger (American, 1892-1973) 'Young Rebonna Dorthereans Blengins - Catherine Isles, Female, One Whip-Lash-Tail' 1920-30


Henry Darger (American, 1892-1973)
Young Rebonna Dorthereans Blengins – Catherine Isles, Female, One Whip-Lash-Tail
Pencil and watercolour on paper
© Kiyoko Lerner, Adagp, 2018
Courtesy Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris


Henry Darger (American, 1892-1973) 'Human headed Blengins of Calverine Island Catherine Isles' 1920-30


Henry Darger (American, 1892-1973)
Human headed Blengins of Calverine Island Catherine Isles
Pencil and watercolour on paper



Henry Joseph Darger Jr. (c. April 12, 1892-April 13, 1973) was a reclusive American writer and artist who worked as a hospital custodian in Chicago, Illinois. He has become famous for his posthumously discovered 15,145-page, single-spaced fantasy manuscript called The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What Is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion, along with several hundred drawings and watercolour paintings illustrating the story.

The visual subject matter of his work ranges from idyllic scenes in Edwardian interiors and tranquil flowered landscapes populated by children and fantastic creatures, to scenes of horrific terror and carnage depicting young children being tortured and massacred. Much of his artwork is mixed media with collage elements. Darger’s artwork has become one of the most celebrated examples of outsider art. …

In the Realms of the Unreal is a 15,145-page work bound in fifteen immense, densely typed volumes (with three of them consisting of several hundred illustrations, scroll-like watercolour paintings on paper derived from magazines and colouring books) created over six decades. Darger illustrated his stories using a technique of traced images cut from magazines and catalogues, arranged in large panoramic landscapes and painted in watercolours, some as large as 30 feet wide and painted on both sides. He wrote himself into the narrative as the children’s protector.

The largest part of the book, The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion, follows the adventures of the daughters of Robert Vivian, seven princesses of the Christian nation of Abbieannia who assist a daring rebellion against the child slavery imposed by John Manley and the Glandelinians. Children take up arms in their own defense and are often slain in battle or viciously tortured by the Glandelinian overlords. The elaborate mythology includes the setting of a large planet, around which Earth orbits as a moon (where most people are Christian and mostly Catholic), and a species called the “Blengigomeneans” (or Blengins for short), gigantic winged beings with curved horns who occasionally take human or part-human form, even disguising themselves as children. They are usually benevolent, but some Blengins are extremely suspicious of all humans, due to Glandelinian atrocities.

Text from the Wikipedia website


Charles August Albert Dellschau. 'Untitled' 1921


Charles August Albert Dellschau (American, 1830-1923)
Courtesy Collection abcd / Bruno Decharme



Charles August Albert Dellschau (4 June 1830 Brandenburg, Prussia-20 April 1923 Houston, Texas) was one of America’s earliest known visionary artists, who created drawings, collages and watercolours of airplanes and airships and bound them in 12 known large scrapbooks that were discovered decades after his death. …

After his death, Dellschau’s home remained in the hands of his descendants. His notebooks of paintings and drawings, as well as his diaries were left virtually untouched for half a century until the late 1960s. Following a fire, the house was cleared and at least 12 of the notebooks were placed on the sidewalk to be discarded. Fred Washington, a local antiques and used furniture dealer, spotted the books, and for $100 bought them from the trash collector. The books sat undisturbed in Washington’s store under a pile of discarded carpet for over a year. In 1968, Mary Jane Victor, an art student at the University of St. Thomas in Houston stumbled upon the notebooks, and persuaded Washington to lend some of them to the university for a display on the story of flight. She also brought them to the attention of art patron and collector Dominique de Menil. Mrs. de Menil purchased four of the notebooks for $1,500. Of the remaining books, seven were purchased Peter (Pete) G. Navarro, a Houston commercial artist and UFO researcher. After studying them, Navarro sold four of the notebooks to the Witte Museum in San Antonio, and the San Antonio Museum of Art. One notebook ultimately ended in the private abcd (art brut connaissance & diffusion) collection in Paris belonging to Bruno Decharme, a French filmmaker and art collector. The rest of the notebooks ended up in private hands. Some were dismantled and single pages were sold. In 2016, a double sided page dated 1919, sold for $22,500 at Christie’s.

Dellschau’s earliest known work is a diary dated 1899, and the last is an 80-page book dated 1921-1922, giving his career as an artist a 21-year span. His work was in large part a record of the activities of the “Sonora Aero Club,” of which he was a purported member. Dellschau’s writings describe the club as a secret group of flight enthusiasts who met in Sonora, California in the mid-19th century. According to Dellschau, one of the club members discovered a formula for an anti-gravity fuel called “NB Gas.” The club mission was to design and build the first navigable aircraft using the NB Gas for lift and propulsion. Dellschau called these flying machines Aeros. Dellschau never claimed to be a pilot or a designer of any of the airships; he identifies himself only as a draftsman for the Sonora Aero Club. His collages incorporate newspaper clippings (called “press blooms”) of then-current news articles about aeronautical advances and disasters.

Despite exhaustive research, including searches of census records, voting rosters, and death records, nothing has been found to substantiate the existence of this group except for a few gravestones in the Columbia Cemetery where several of the surnames are found. It is speculated that, like the voluminous “Realms of the Unreal” notebooks by outsider artist Henry Darger (1882-1973), the Sonora Aero Club is a fiction by Dellschau.

Text from the Wikipedia website



L’envol is the final exhibition at La maison rouge, which will close its doors for the last time on October 28, 2018. Antoine de Galbert has invited Barbara Safarova, Aline Vidal and Bruno Decharme as co-curators. Together, these specialists in art brut and contemporary art have imagined an exhibition that examines mankind’s dream of flying – though without any reference to those who have actually made this dream come true. As always at La maison rouge, the curators have considered the subject matter independently of “categories” to bring together works of art brut, modern, contemporary, ethnographic and folk art. A walk through the various themes reveals a succession of some 200 works, including installations, films, documents, paintings, drawings and sculptures.

In the beginning there was Dedalus, that inspired inventor who dreamed of escaping into the skies, taking his son Icarus with him. Harnessed to wings made from feathers and wax, they rose into the heavens, intoxicated with their flight, borne aloft into the atmosphere. We all know what happened next. Icarus ventured too near the sun, his wings melted and he hurtled into the sea to die. From legend to reality, the sky has always been a dangerous playground for mankind. This is no small undertaking by the 130 artists in Lenvol, as they endeavour to challenge the laws of gravity, break free of Earth’s magnetic field, launch themselves into the unknown or experience the gaseous envelope of the atmosphere between two periods of turbulence. Some are hedonists, others are activists, intent on saving mankind as the world heads for destruction, whether by building flying shelters or constructing utopias. The sky offers ample territory for experiment, shared between the extravagant artists who are convinced of their ability to overcome gravity and the gods that live there, and the conceptualists designing utopias – more poet than scientist.


Defying gravity

The dream of flying may be as old as mankind – and the sky may have lost some of its mystery thanks to progress in aviation – but men are not birds, all the same. Clothing oneself in feathers is not enough. We are earthly creatures, and the body alone will always struggle to leave the ground. We can never achieve this freedom nor expand the scope of our action without the will to surpass ourselves.

Devoid of wings, dancers soar upwards, defying the laws of gravity with no fear of falling or exhaustion (Loie Fuller, Nijinsky, Cuningham, etc.) Rodchenko, a photographer for the Russian propaganda machine, uses daring, low-angle shots to make his athletes appear to take off in flight, idealising the body to further the needs of the revolution whose heroes were held aloft.

Lucien Pelen seeks anti-matter as he attempts to merge his body with the atmosphere. Arms outstretched, he launches himself into the air and, for a split second, achieves the ecstasy of flight before coming brutally back down to earth. Such is this fragile balance at the boundaries of possibility.

When Gustav Messmer attached springs to his shoes so he could bounce rather than walk, or fitted a bicycle with enormous bat-like wings, did he realise how precarious these inventions were? To hell with scepticism! Surely it takes some degree of madness to invent your own freedom?

Or engage in excesses like Rebecca Horn who, in search of new ways to experience the space around her, shrouds her ailing body in feather fans then seeks the limits of its extension, stretching these articulated wings as far as they will go before the mechanism gives way.


To infinity and beyond

The weight of the world gives artists cause to wander in the shadow of earthly paradises. Fréderic Pardo, a psychedelic star, uses tempera, an ancient technique, to produce spaced-out paintings while high on LSD. He floats alongside magic carpets (Urs Lüthi), ridden by souls from an Arabian Nights dream. We discover a limitless space filled with superheroes, Batman and witches straddling broomsticks; a world teeming with chimera and fairies.

The sky seethes with mystery. Shamans, accustomed to travelling between worlds, converse with spirits and collect information while improbable creatures, part angel, part human, bump and bowl along (Henry Darger’s Blengins side by side with Moebius’s Arzach, Friedrich Schröder-Sonnenstern’s hybrids and Kiki Smith’s bird-women).


Engineering the impossible

Tatlin’s sculpture, more fine art than flying machine, seeks to rediscover an age-old, mythical experience. Letatlin is a melding of art, technique and utopia; an attempt at a personal dream. The year is 1929 and the Great Depression has spared no-one. Heads are hot with the desire to escape, minds filled with fantasies of infinity. “We must learn to fly through the air just as we learned to swim in the water or ride a bicycle,” Tatlin declared.

Some forty years later, Belgian artist Panamarenko appears to have taken him at his word. Obsessed with the freedom of flight, he makes sophisticated yet poetic constructions, bristling with bellows and motors. However crazy or technically unfeasible they may be, the artist never tires of convincing us they will lift him off the ground.

These are beautiful machines, created by the engineers of the impossible and of no purpose whatsoever – except for the dreams they inspire. Snuggling into Fabio Mauri’s Luna inspires a feeling of weightlessness with the senses immersed in a light, fluffy environment. Stationed on the deck of his Spacecraft, inspired as much by the Mercury project as Henry David Thoreau’s cabin in the woods, Stéphane Thidet combines musical arrangements with conversations between astronauts in an electroacoustic performance.

They shut themselves away in their own worlds, all the better to escape to another place, experience the extraordinary and relive childhood fantasies, but with adult toys. Roman Signer, for example, plays with explosives and sets off conflagrations that are both fascinating and illusory. After all, what is the point of smashing everyday objects to smithereens? Of starting up a helicopter in an inflatable pool when it will probably destroy everything around? What is the point of risking danger, other than to try and become one with the inventor of the world and reproduce the forces of nature.


Indoor aviators

Some of these dream merchants are inspired by an intercelestial mission. They are the off-the-wall artists, incomprehensible to the rational world, imbued with a different logic and convinced that flight can be achieved with contraptions made from bits and bobs. Theirs is a world free from explosions or falls, bolstered by belief and the quest for the absolute. Hans-Jörg Georgi, for one, is driven by the need to save humanity from inevitable destruction. His studio is crammed with the aeroplanes he painstakingly builds, day after day, from cardboard boxes stuck together with glue.

Karl Hans Janke is another master of the art of spaceship building, having produced an astonishing 4,500 drawings describing hundreds of technical innovations. Charles Dellschau is further testament to this obsessive dream of flying. He was a member of the Sonora Aero Club, a secret group of mid-nineteenth-century flight enthusiasts whose self-appointed mission was to build the world’s first navigable aircraft.

These are crazy escapades, guided only by the imagination and ultimately less dangerous, and just as exhilarating, as those undertaken by reality’s utopians. Adolf Wölfli chose to rise above it all, deliriously determined to embrace Creation, Space and Eternity. His associations of opposite perspectives produce apparently real and contradictory visions that are dizzying to behold.

Aviation’s spectacular progress has in no way diminished the dreams of these magnificent inventors. Two irreconcilable worlds continue to share the skies. And why shouldn’t artists seek inspiration from other suns? Despite his fall, Icarus is a hero for all eternity.

Excerpt from the exhibition catalogue, introduction by Aline Vidal.



Fabio Mauri (Italian, 1926-2009)


Anonymous photographer. 'Untitled' c. 1940


Anonymous photographer
c. 1940
Black and white photograph
Courtesy Collection abcd / Bruno Decharme


Alexandre Rodchenko (1891-1956) 'A leap' 1934


Alexandre Rodchenko (Russian, 1891-1956)
A leap
Black and white photograph
Courtesy Collection Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow / Moscow House of Photography Museum



Photographs made from above or below or at odd angles are all around us today – in magazine and television ads, for example – but for Rodchenko and his contemporaries they were a fresh discovery. To Rodchenko they represented freedom and modernity because they invited people to see and think about familiar things in new ways.

Text from the MoMA website


Photography was important to Rodchenko in the 1920s in his attempt to find new media more appropriate to his goal of serving the revolution. He first viewed it as a source of preexisting imagery, using it in montages of pictures and text, but later he began to take pictures himself and evolved an aesthetic of unconventional angles, abruptly cropped compositions, and stark contrasts of light and shadow. His work in both photomontage and photography ultimately made an important contribution to European photography in the 1920s.

Text from The Art Story website


Eikoh Hosoe (Japan, b. 1933) 'Kamaitachi 17' 1965


Eikoh Hosoe (Japan, b. 1933)
Kamaitachi 17
Black and white photograph
© Eikoh Hosoe. Courtesy galerie Jean-Kenta Gauthier, Paris



Eikoh Hosoe’s groundbreaking Kamaitachi was originally released in 1969 as a limited-edition photobook of 1,000 copies. A collaboration with Tatsumi Hijikata, the founder of ankoku butoh dance, it documents their visit to a farming village in northern Japan and an improvisational performance made with local villagers, inspired by the legend of kamaitachi, a weasel-like demon who haunts rice fields and slashes people with a sickle. Hosoe photographed Hijikata’s spontaneous interactions with the landscape and the people they encountered. A seductive combination of performance and photography, the two artists enact an personal and symbolic investigation of Japanese society during a time of massive upheaval.

Text from the Aperture website


Emery Blagdon (1907-1986) 'Untitled' Nd


Emery Blagdon (American, 1907-1986)
Courtesy Collection abcd / Bruno Decharme



From the late 1950s until his death in 1986, Emery Blagdon created a constantly changing installation of paintings and sculptures in a small building on his Nebraska farm. He believed in the power of “earth energies” and in his own ability to channel such forces in a space that, through constant adjusting and aesthetic power, could alleviate pain and illness.

Blagdon used found materials like hay baling wire, magnets, and remnant paints from farm sales, but he also sought out special ingredients like salts and other “earth elements” through a nearby pharmacy. He called the individual pieces his “pretties,” but collectively they comprised The Healing Machine. Blagdon worked on his Healing Machine for more than three decades, tending, tinkering with, and reorganising its components every day and, in his own words, “according to the phases of the moon.” He believed it was a functional machine in which energies were drawn upward from the building’s earthen floor into the space, where they could bounce around and remain dynamic.

Text from the Wikipedia website


Lucien Pelen. 'Chair n°2' (detail) 2005


Lucien Pelen (French, b. 1978)
Chair n°2 (detail)
Black and white photograph
Lucien Pelen / Courtesy Galerie Aline Vidal


Jacques-Henri Lartigue (1894-1986) 'L'envol de Bichonnade' 1905


Jacques-Henri Lartigue (French, 1894-1986)
L’envol de Bichonnade (The flight of Bichonnade or Bichonnade leaping)
Paris 1905
Gelatin silver print


Yves Klein. 'Leap into the Void' 1960


Yves Klein (French, 1928-1962)
Leap into the Void
Black and white argentic print
© Succession Yves Klein c/o Adagp, Paris
© Photo Collaboration Harry Shunk and Janos Kender
© J. Paul Getty Trust. The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles



As in his carefully choreographed paintings in which he used nude female models dipped in blue paint as paintbrushes, Klein’s photomontage paradoxically creates the impression of freedom and abandon through a highly contrived process. In October 1960, Klein hired the photographers Harry Shunk and Jean Kender to make a series of pictures re-creating a jump from a second-floor window that the artist claimed to have executed earlier in the year. This second leap was made from a rooftop in the Paris suburb of Fontenay-aux-Roses. On the street below, a group of the artist’s friends from held a tarpaulin to catch him as he fell. Two negatives – one showing Klein leaping, the other the surrounding scene (without the tarp) – were then printed together to create a seamless “documentary” photograph. To complete the illusion that he was capable of flight, Klein distributed a fake broadsheet at Parisian newsstands commemorating the event. It was in this mass-produced form that the artist’s seminal gesture was communicated to the public and also notably to the Vienna Actionists.

Text from The Metropolitan Museum of Art website


Philippe Thomassin. 'Flight Time 5h34'' 1989-1991


Philippe Thomassin
Flight Time 5h34′
Courtesy collection Antoine de Galbert
Photo: Célia Pernot
© Philippe Thomassin


Rebecca Horn (German, b. 1944) 'The little Mermaid' 1990


Rebecca Horn (German, b. 1944)
The little Mermaid
Courtesy collection Antoine de Galbert
Photo: Célia Pernot
© Rebecca Horn



Rebecca Horn (born 24 March 1944, Michelstadt, Hesse) is a German visual artist, who is best known for her installation art, film directing, and her body modifications such as Einhorn (Unicorn), a body-suit with a very large horn projecting vertically from the headpiece. She directed the films Der Eintänzer (1978), La ferdinanda: Sonate für eine Medici-Villa (1982) and Buster’s Bedroom (1990). Horn presently lives and works in Paris and Berlin.


Panamarenko (Belgian, b. 1940) 'Japanese Flying Pak 3' 2001


Panamarenko (Belgian, 1940-2019)
Japanese Flying Pak 3
Courtesy Galerie Jamar, Anvers
Photo: Wim Van Eesbeek
© Panamarenko



Panamarenko (pseudonym of Henri Van Herwegen, born in Antwerp, 5 February 1940) was a prominent assemblagist in Belgian sculpture. Famous for his work with aeroplanes as theme; none of which are able nor constructed to actually leave the ground.

Panamarenko studied at the academy of Antwerp. Before 1968, his art was inspired by pop-art, but early on he became interested in aeroplanes and human powered flight. This interest is also reflected in his name, which supposedly is an acronym for “Pan American Airlines and Company”.

Starting in 1970, he developed his first models of imaginary vehicles, aeroplanes, balloons or helicopters, in original and surprising appearances. Many of his sculptures are modern variants of the myth of Icarus. The question of whether his creations can actually fly is part of their mystery and appeal.

Text from the Wikipedia website


Ilya and Emilia Kabakov. 'How Can One Change Oneself' 2010


Ilya and Emilia Kabakov (American born Russia, b. 1933 and 1945)
How Can One Change Oneself
Courtesy of the artist et Galleria Continua, San Gimignano/Beijing/Les Moulins/ Habana
© Ilya et Emilia Kabakov



The Kabakovs are amongst the most celebrated artists of their generation, widely known for their large-scale installations and use of fictional personas. Critiquing the conventions of art history and drawing upon the visual culture of the former Soviet Union – from dreary communal apartments to propaganda art and its highly optimistic depictions of Soviet life – their work addresses universal ideas of utopia and fantasy; hope and fear. …

The Kabakovs are best known for their ‘total’ installations, a type of immersive artwork that they pioneered. A ‘total installation’ completely immerses the viewer in a dramatic environment. They transform the gallery spaces they are displayed in, creating a new reality for the viewer to enter and experience. They often explore dark themes like power and control, oppression and destruction. Over their career, the Kabakovs have created almost two hundred total installations.

“Ilya’s world and work are based and built on fantasy and on the history of art. I, on the other hand, very early in life, somehow learned to combine both reality and fantasy and to live in both. My fantasy world is always close to and coexists with reality. Our life is very much based on this combination: I am trying to make reality seem like the realisation of fantasy, or, maybe, a continuation of fantasy, where there is no place for real, everyday situations and problems. Our life consists of our work, dreams and discussions.”

Emilia Kabakov, 2017

Text from the Tate website


Moebius. 'Arzach' 1977


Moebius (Jean Henri Gaston Giraud) (French, 1938-2012)
Heavy Metal Magazine, April 1977, Vol. I, No. 1



The first of Moebius’ Arzach comic series. Arzach made his debut in the first issue of Heavy Metal Magazine April – Vol. 1 No. 1. Arzach is seen flying atop his trusty pterodactyl in a strange world. Spotting a beautiful naked woman through a rounded window, Arzach is determined to win her heart, but what awaits him is utterly unexpected.


Jean Henri Gaston Giraud (French, 8 May 1938 – 10 March 2012) was a French artist, cartoonist, and writer who worked in the Franco-Belgian bandes dessinées (BD) tradition. Giraud garnered worldwide acclaim under the pseudonym Mœbius, as well as Gir outside the English-speaking world, used for the Blueberry series – his most successful creation in the non-English speaking parts of the world – and his Western-themed paintings. Esteemed by Federico Fellini, Stan Lee, and Hayao Miyazaki, among others, he has been described as the most influential bande dessinée artist after Hergé.

His most famous works include the series Blueberry, created with writer Jean-Michel Charlier, featuring one of the first antiheroes in Western comics. As Mœbius, he created a wide range of science-fiction and fantasy comics in a highly imaginative, surreal, almost abstract style. These works include Arzach and the Airtight Garage of Jerry Cornelius. He also collaborated with avant garde filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky for an unproduced adaptation of Dune and the comic book series The Incal.

Mœbius also contributed storyboards and concept designs to numerous science-fiction and fantasy films, such as Alien, Tron, The Fifth Element, and The Abyss. Blueberry was adapted for the screen in 2004 by French director Jan Kounen.

Text from the Wikipedia website


Sethembile Msezane (South Africa, b. 1991) 'Chapungu - The Day Rhodes Fell' 2015


Sethembile Msezane (South African, b. 1991)
Chapungu – The Day Rhodes Fell [University of Cape Town, South Africa]
Coloured photograph
Courtesy private collection
© Sethembile Msezane



Sethembile Msezane was born in 1991 in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. She lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa. Using interdisciplinary practice encompassing performance, photography, film, sculpture and drawing, Msezane creates commanding works heavy with spiritual and political symbolism. The artist explores issues around spirituality, commemoration and African knowledge systems. She processes her dreams as a medium through a lens of the plurality of existence across space and time, asking questions about the remembrance of ancestry. Part of her work has examined the processes of myth-making which are used to construct history, calling attention to the absence of the black female body in both the narratives and physical spaces of historical commemoration.

Text from the Tyburn Gallery website


“The Rhodes Must Fall protests had been going on for a month, kickstarted by an activist smearing his statue with excrement. During a lecture, students were asked whether they were for or against. Most said “for”, that it was a painful reminder of our colonial past, but one student – with a piece of paper that said “#procolonialism” on her chest – called protesters neanderthals, and said, “If you’re against the statue you’re against enlightenment and education, and you shouldn’t be at university.”

I knew it was only a matter of time before the statue fell, but at 11am on 9 April my supervisor said: “It’s coming down today.” I’d prepared my costume for the occasion and rushed to get ready. A friend helped me transport my plinth and wings. I arrived just before 2pm and was up on the plinth by quarter past. It was a little nerve-racking to be so high up because I was wearing high heels.

I looked at people’s phones and sunglasses, trying to see the reflection of the statue coming down. I saw the shadow move and thought, “This is the moment.” That’s when I lifted my wings.

I was up there for four hours. I would hold up my wings for about two minutes, take a 10-minute break and then put them up again. My legs hurt, but I didn’t realise how sore my arms were until I came down – they were shaking. My feet were blue, I was sunburnt; I had heat stroke and blurry vision from looking directly into the sun. I went home, had a shower and went straight to sleep. I felt like we were beginning to question this idealistic “rainbow nation”.”

I first saw the picture the next day on Facebook. When someone told me it was all over the global news, I was surprised.”

Sethembile Msezane. “Sethembile Msezane performs at the fall of the Cecil Rhodes statue, 9 April 2015,” on The Guardian website, Sat 16 May 2015


Agnès Geoffray (French, b. 1973) 'Suspendue' 2016


Agnès Geoffray (French, b. 1973)
Black and white photograph
Courtesy of the artist
© Agnès Geoffray



Largely inspired by The Defaming Portrait and by the hung man’s figure, the series Les Suspendus uses assemblage and montage to rephrase a new reality, which combines two images in a series of several diptychs. Agnès Geoffray interrogates the fictional power of imagery through her own staging and through assembled images. She accomplishes this by presenting multiple associations to the idea of suspension as a frozen moment between falling and ascension, collapsing and rising. Geoffray creates a gap and confusion between preexisting images and her own, which makes the resulting image appear as if it is part of an archive. Geoffray multiplies the references, axes of meaning of the text and genres of her work through still life, archive and stage settings to create a space, which plays with the unlimited possibilities of interpretation. The images convey the relic of the gestures and the violence connected to them, like a memory or a future memory of disorders and disasters.


Urs Lüthi (Swiss, born 1947) 'Selfportrait (flying carpet)' 1976


Urs Lüthi (Swiss, born 1947)
Selfportrait (flying carpet)
Black and white photograph
Courtesy private collection
© Urs Lüthi, Pro Litteris


Urs Lüthi (born 1947, Kriens) is a Swiss conceptual artist who attended the School of Applied Arts in Zurich. Noted for using his body and alter ego as the subject of his artworks, he has worked in photography, sculpture, performance, silk-screen, video and painting.


Fabio Mauri (Italian, 1926-2009) 'Macchina per fissare acquerelli [Machine for fixing watercolours]' 2007


Fabio Mauri (Italian, 1926-2009)
Macchina per fissare acquerelli [Machine for fixing watercolours]
Courtesy succession de Fabio Mauri et Hauser & Wirth, Zürich
© Fabio Mauri, Adagp, 2018
Photo: Sandro Mele



Several important themes can be found in Mauri’s work, all shaped into his works of art: the Screen, the Prototypes, the Projections, the Photography as Painting, the substantial Identity of Expressive Structures, the lasting relationship between Thought and World and between Thought as World. Mauri’s work, as complex as an history essay, becomes his autobiography, compact and uniform in its development and multifaceted in the attention to the contemporary world: an analysis where the fate of the individual and history co-exist.


François Burland (Swiss, b. 1958) 'Fusée Soviet Union' 2013


François Burland (Swiss, b. 1958)
Fusée Soviet Union
Photo: Romain Mader et Nadja Kilchhofer
© François Borland, Atomik Magic Circus



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Exhibition: ‘Art and Alchemy. The Mystery of Transformation’ at the Stiftung Museum Kunstpalast (SMKP), Düsseldorf, Germany

Exhibition dates: 5th April – 10th August 2014


Theodor Galle nach Jan van der Straet (Stradanus). 'Destillierlabor' (from the series "Nova reperta") c. 1589 - c. 1593


Theodor Galle nach Jan van der Straet (Stradanus) (Belgium, 1523-1605)
c. 1589 – c. 1593
From the series Nova reperta
Stiftung Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf
Photo: Horst Kolberg, Neuss



Since I have 7 alchemy symbols tattooed on my right bicep in a vertical line to represent the 7 chakras, I thought this was a suitable exhibition for a posting. I love anything alchemical, magical, spiritual – in art and in life. I have just had a couple of snowflakes tattooed on my forearms, one blue / green and the red / orange for an ice / fire combination. Each snowflake is unique and ephemeral, here and gone in the blink of an eye, just like we are. That is their, and our, magic.

The photographer Minor White said it is not just the images that matter, but the space between them that causes an ice / fire frisson. When looking at an exhibition I note how images play off of each other – in pairs, sequences and across the gallery space. It is a relatively simple thing for a photographer to take one good image, more difficult to put a pair of images together that actually says something, but when you get to a sequence of images (as in MW) or a body of work, this is were a lot of artists wane. The intertextual narrative, one woven from the imagination of the artist, does not resolve itself into a satisfying, stimulating whole. How many exhibitions do I see that have some good images but do not access the magic of the music.

Further, we must also remember that in Psychology and Alchemy, Volume 12 in The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, alchemy is central to Jung’s hypothesis of the collective unconscious. “Jung reminds us of the dual nature of alchemy, comprising both the chemical process and a parallel mystical component. He also discusses the seemingly deliberate mystification of the alchemists. Finally, in using the alchemical process to provide insights into individuation, Jung emphasises the importance of alchemy in relating to us the transcendent nature of the psyche.” (Wikipedia)

Jung sees alchemy as an early form of psychoanalysis. The melting of base metal in a crucible and its reforming into gold can be seen as a form of individuation – the dissolution of the ego and its integration into the whole self. Basically the recasting or reforming of identity into a new Self. As the instructive text on Wikipedia notes,

“For the alchemist trying to understand matter and develop base metals into their purest form, gold, substances are grouped as being alike based on their perceived value. Jung documents as these alchemists collectively come to understand that they themselves must embody the change they hope to effect within their materials: for instance, if they hope to achieve the philosopher’s stone that can redeem ‘base’ or ‘vulgar’ metals, then the alchemist too must become a redeemer figure. It became apparent to the alchemists that they were trying to redeem nature as Christ had redeemed man, hence the identification of the Lapis Philosophorum with Christ the Redeemer. The Opus (work) of alchemy, viewed through this interpretation, becomes a symbolic account of the fundamental process the human psyche undergoes as it re-orients its value system and creates meaning out of chaos. The opus beginning with the nigredo (blackening, akin to depression or nihilistic loss of value) in order to descend back into the manipulable prima materia and proceeding through a process of spiritual purification that must unite seemingly irreconcilable opposites (the coniunctio) to achieve new levels of consciousness.”

Much of my early black and white work was based on an understanding of the magical nature of the (art)work. This is a fascinating area of enquiry for all artists because this is what they do – they see the world differently, reform it through their art and present it as a pathway for the future.

Dr Marcus Bunyan


PS The catalogue to this exhibition is excellent with lots of interesting essays.

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


Marcus new tattoos February 2014


Marcus new tattoos February 2014


Pieter Brueghel the Younger (after Pieter Brueghel the Elder). 'The Alchemist' c. 1600


Pieter Brueghel the Younger (Belgium, 1564-1636)
after Pieter Brueghel the Elder
The Alchemist
c. 1600
Oil on wood
68.8 x 96cm
Private collection


David Teniers d.J. 'Alchemist in his Workshop' c. 1650


David Teniers d.J. (Flemish, 1610-1690)
Alchemist in his Workshop
c. 1650
Courtesy of Roy Eddleman, Chemical Heritage Foundation Collections
Photo: Will Brown


Adriaen van Ostade. 'The Alchemist' 1661


Adriaen van Ostade (Dutch, 1610-1685)
The Alchemist
The National Gallery, London, Bought 1871
© The National Gallery, London, 2013


Hendrick Goltzius. 'Allegory of the Arts' 1611


Hendrick Goltzius (Dutch, born Germany 1558-1617)
Allegory of the Arts
Oil on canvas
181 x 256.6cm
Kunstmuseum Basel
© Kunstmuseum Basel
Photo: Martin P. Bühler


Johan Moreelse. 'The Alchemist' 1630


Johan Moreelse (Dutch, 1603-1634)
The Alchemist
Oil on canvas
90.5 x 107.5cm
Robilant + Voena, London und Mailand


Giovanni Antonio Grecolini. 'The Education of Cupid by Venus and Vulcan' 1719


Giovanni Antonio Grecolini (Italian, 1675-1725)
The Education of Cupid by Venus and Vulcan
Oil on canvas
48.9 × 64cm
Museum Kunstpalast
Photo: Horst Kolberg


Neo Rauch. 'Goldgrube' [Goldmine] 2007


Neo Rauch (German, b. 1960)
Goldgrube [Goldmine]
Oil on canvas
80 x 160cm
Private collection
© Courtesy Galerie EIGEN + ART Leipzig/Berlin / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014
Photo: Uwe Walter, Berlin



For the first time in Germany, an exhibition spanning all epochs and genres will be introducing the exciting link between art and alchemy in past and present times. 250 works from antiquity to the present, encompassing Baroque art, Surrealism, through to contemporary art from collections and museums in the USA, Great Britain, France, Mexico and Israel reveal the fascination which alchemy exerted for many visual artists. Artists featured in the exhibition, such as Joseph Beuys, Jan Brueghel the Elder, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Max Ernst, Hendrick Goltzius, Rebecca Horn, Anish Kapoor, Yves Klein, Sigmar Polke, Rembrandt van Rijn, Peter Paul Rubens and David Teniers the Younger invite visitors to explore the mystery of transformation.

Alchemy was invariably practised in secret, but was by no means a rare occurrence until well into the 18th century: Eminent personalities, including Paracelsus, Isaac Newton and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, were alchemists, too. It was not until the Age of the Enlightenment that alchemy was ousted and became intermingled with occultism, sorcery and superstition. In connection with 19th and early 20th-century psychoanalysis alchemy was brought to new life.

The exhibition is divided into two major periods: pre-Enlightenment art, in particular works from the 16th and 17th centuries and the art of the 20th and 21st centuries.

In the pre-Enlightenment era both artists and alchemists laid claim to the ability to not only imitate nature but to even perfect it. This ambition is illustrated in the exhibition by casts from nature made by Bernard Palissy and Wenzel Jamnitzer. Their lizards and other creatures are extraordinarily life-like and yet have been immortalised in precious metal or ceramic as if petrified. The circumstance that artists and alchemists were ultimately rivals is exemplified by the Dutch artist Adriaen van Ostade with his painting depicting an alchemist in his laboratory, having failed to produce gold.

By contrast, the exhibition also includes works by artists presenting alchemy in a favourable light, such as portraits by Rubens and David Teniers the Younger, allegorical paintings by Jan Brueghel the Elder and Hendrick Goltzius, as well as three copies of the “Splendor Solis”, the most richly illuminated manuscript in the history of alchemy. Furthermore, an original manuscript by physicist Isaac Newton, contributed by the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia, will be presented here for the first time in Europe.

The modern section of the show begins with Surrealism. Max Ernst, for instance, repeatedly took up the theme of the “Chymical Wedding” in his work. A particular highlight is the painting “The Creation of the Birds”, a key work by the Surrealist artist Remedios Varo. The Androgyne is an important theme, for instance, in the exhibits by Rebecca Horn. Joseph Beuys will be represented by a number of sculptures, drawings and collages, as well as a film and photo documentation of his action at the 1982 documenta. Moreover, the exhibition includes works by Anish Kapoor displaying his characteristic use of intensely coloured pigments. Further exhibits include selected works by representatives of contemporary art, such as Anselm Kiefer, Yves Klein, Alicja Kwade, Sigmar Polke, Neo Rauch and Gerda Steiner and Jörg Lenzlinger.

The exhibition was conceived by Museum Kunstpalast in cooperation with the research group “Art and Knowledge in Pre-Modern Europe” at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, as well as a group of experts at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia, which also provided many pieces on loan. A Wunderkammer of curious and exotic treasures from flora and fauna is offered for visitors to explore. In an extensive accompanying programme the subject of art and alchemy will be expanded upon by means of lectures, talks and guided tours.

Press release from the SMKP website


Jörg Breu the Elder (attributed) 'Splendor Solis' (Splendor of the Sun) 1531/32


Jörg Breu the Elder (German, 1475-1537) (attributed)
Splendor Solis (Splendor of the Sun)
Manuscript; parchment, miniatures in opaque color; calfskin cover
33.1 × 22.8cm
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Kupferstichkabinett
© bpk – Bildagentur für Kunst, Kultur und Geschichte / Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Kupferstichkabinett
Photo: Jörg P. Anders


Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn. 'Sogenannter Faust' [Allegedly Faust] c. 1651‑1653


Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (Dutch, 1606-1669)
Sogenannter Faust [Allegedly Faust]
c. 1651‑1653
21.1 × 16.2cm
Stiftung Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf, Sammlung der Kunstakademie (NRW)
Photo: Horst Kolberg, Neuss


Francois-Marius Granet. 'The Alchemist' 1st half of the 19th century


Francois-Marius Granet (French, 1775-1849)
The Alchemist
1st half of the 19th century
Oil on canvas
61 x 48.3cm
Gift of Roy Eddleman Chemical Heritage Foundation Collections, Philadelphia
Photo: Will Brown


Max Ernst. 'Men Shall Know Nothing of This' 1923


Max Ernst (German, 1891-1976)
Men Shall Know Nothing of This
Oil on canvas
80.3 x 63.8cm
Tate, London
Photo: © Tate, London 2013, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014


Victor Brauner. 'Le Surréaliste' (“The Surrealist”) 1947


Victor Brauner (Romanian, 1903-1966)
Le Surréaliste (“The Surrealist”)
Oil on canvas
60 x 45cm
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice (Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, NY)
© Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice (Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, NY) / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014


Rebecca Horn. 'Zen of Ara' 2011


Rebecca Horn (German, b. 1944)
Zen of Ara
Springs, motor, brass, electrical
D: 73cm
Private collection Rebecca Horn
Photo: Karin Weyrich
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014


Yves Klein. 'Relief éponge bleu (RE 18)' (blue sponge relief [re 18]) 1960


Yves Klein (French, 1928-1962)
Relief éponge bleu (RE 18) (blue sponge relief [re 18])
Wood, sponges, pigment dissolved in acetone
230 × 154cm
Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf, Modern Art
© Stiftung Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf / ARTOTHEK / Photo: Horst Kolberg, Neuss / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014


Richard Meitner. 'Reductio ad Absurdum' 1977


Richard Meitner (Dutch born America, b. 1949)
Reductio ad Absurdum
Glass and gold
25 x 80cm
Photo: Ron Zijlstra
© Richard Meitner


John Isaacs. 'Thinking about it' 2002


John Isaacs (British, b. 1968)
Thinking about it
Wax, wire, plaster of paris
15 1/2 x 12 x 13 inches (30 x 30 x 50cm)
Olbricht collection, Germany



Stiftung Museum KunstPalast
Ehrenhof 4-5, 40479
Düsseldorf, Germany
+49 211 56642100

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday 11am – 6pm
Thursday 11am – 9pm
Closed on Monday

Stiftung Museum Kunstpalast website


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

Exhibition dates: 26th June – 22nd September 2013


Piero Manzoni (1933-1963) 'Achrome' 1958


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



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


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


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


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


Piero Manzoni (1933-1963) 'Achrome' 1958


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


Piero Manzoni (1933-1963) 'Achrome' 1962


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


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


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


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


Ennio Vicario (Italian, b. 1935)
Manzoni in his studio in Via Fiori Oscuri


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


Ennio Vicario (Italian, b. 1935)
Manzoni in his studio in Via Fiori Oscuri



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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Exhibition view of Piero Manzoni. When Bodies became Art

Exhibition view of Piero Manzoni. When Bodies became Art

Exhibition view of Piero Manzoni. When Bodies became Art

Exhibition view of Piero Manzoni. When Bodies became Art

Exhibition view of Piero Manzoni. When Bodies became Art

Exhibition view of Piero Manzoni. When Bodies became Art

Exhibition view of Piero Manzoni. When Bodies became Art


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



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

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

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

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

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

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

Press release from the Städel Museum website


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



Städel Museum
Schaumainkai 63
60596 Frankfurt

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Wednesday, Friday – Sunday 10.00am – 6.00pm
Thursday 10.00am – 9.00pm
Closed Mondays

Städel Museum website


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Exhibition: ‘Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop’ at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Exhibition dates at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: 11th October 2012 – 27th January 2013


Unidentified American artist. 'Two-Headed Man' c. 1855


Unidentified American artist
Two-Headed Man
c. 1855
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc.



What a fascinating subject. Having completed multiple exposure work under the black and white enlarger I can attest to how difficult it was to get a print correctly exposed. I was using multiple negatives, moving the piece of photographic paper and printing in grids. Trying to get the alignment right was quite a task but the outcomes were very satisfying. Of course today these skills have mainly been lost to be replaced by other technological skills within the blancmange that is Photoshop. Somehow it’s not the same. My admiration for an artist like Jerry Uelsmann will always remain undimmed for the undiluted joy, beauty and skill of their analogue imagery.

I will post different photographs in this exhibition from the National Gallery of Art hang when I receive them!


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


George Washington Wilson. 'Aberdeen Portraits No. 1' 1857


George Washington Wilson (Scottish, 1823-1893)
Aberdeen Portraits No. 1
Albumen silver print from glass negative
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Fund, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2011


Henry Peach Robinson. 'Fading Away' 1858


Henry Peach Robinson (English, 1830-1901)
Fading Away
Albumen silver print from glass negatives
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the National Media Museum, Bradford, United Kingdom


Unidentified artist. 'Man Juggling His Own Head' c. 1880


Unidentified artist
Man Juggling His Own Head
c. 1880
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Collection of Christophe Goeury


Maurice Guibert. 'Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec as Artist and Model' c. 1900


Maurice Guibert (French, 1856-1913)
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec as Artist and Model
c. 1900
Gelatin silver print
Philadelphia Museum of Art


F. Holland Day. 'The Vision (Orpheus Scene)' 1907


F. Holland Day (American, 1864-1933)
The Vision (Orpheus Scene)
Platinum print
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the National Media Museum, Bradford, United Kingdom


Unidentified American artist. 'Man on Rooftop with Eleven Men in Formation on His Shoulders' c. 1930


Unidentified American artist
Man on Rooftop with Eleven Men in Formation on His Shoulders
c. 1930
Gelatin silver print
Collection of George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film, Rochester


Unidentified American artist. 'Dirigible Docked on Empire State Building, New York' 1930


Unidentified American artist
Dirigible Docked on Empire State Building, New York
Gelatin silver print
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Twentieth-Century Photography Fund, 2011



While digital photography and image-editing software have brought about an increased awareness of the degree to which camera images can be manipulated, the practice of doctoring photographs has existed since the medium was invented. Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop at The Metropolitan Museum of Art is the first major exhibition devoted to the history of manipulated photography before the digital age. Featuring some 200 visually captivating photographs created between the 1840s and 1990s in the service of art, politics, news, entertainment, and commerce, the exhibition offers a provocative new perspective on the history of photography as it traces the medium’s complex and changing relationship to visual truth. 

The exhibition is made possible by Adobe Systems Incorporated. 

The photographs in the exhibition were altered using a variety of techniques, including multiple exposure (taking two or more pictures on a single negative), combination printing (producing a single print from elements of two or more 
negatives), photomontage, overpainting, and retouching on the negative or print. 

In every case, the meaning and content of the camera image was significantly transformed in the process of manipulation.

Faking It is divided into seven sections, each focusing on a different set of motivations for manipulating the camera image. “Picture Perfect” explores 19th-century photographers’ efforts to compensate for the new medium’s technical limitations – specifically, its inability to depict the world the way it looks to the naked eye. To augment photography’s monochrome palette, pigments were applied to portraits to make them more vivid and lifelike. Landscape photographers faced a different obstacle: the uneven sensitivity of early emulsions often resulted in blotchy, overexposed skies. To overcome this, many photographers, such as Gustave Le Gray and Carleton E. Watkins, created spectacular landscapes by printing two negatives on a single sheet of paper – one exposed for the land, the other for the sky. This section also explores the challenges involved in the creation of large group portraits, which were often cobbled together from dozens of photographs of individuals. 

For early art photographers, the ultimate creativity lay not in the act of taking a photograph but in the subsequent transformation of the camera image into a hand-crafted picture.

“Artifice in the Name of Art” begins in the 1850s with elaborate combination prints of narrative and allegorical subjects by Oscar Gustave Rejlander and Henry Peach Robinson. It continues with the revival of Pictorialism at the dawn of the twentieth century in the work of artist-photographers such as Edward Steichen, Anne W. Brigman, and F. Holland Day. 

“Politics and Persuasion” presents photographs that were manipulated for explicitly political or ideological ends. It begins with Ernest Eugene Appert’s faked photographs of the 1871 Paris Commune massacres, and continues with images used to foster patriotism, advance racial ideologies, and support or protest totalitarian regimes. Sequences of photographs published in Stalin-era Soviet Russia from which purged Party officials were erased demonstrate the chilling ease with which the historical record could be falsified. Also featured are composite portraits of criminals by Francis Galton and original paste-ups of John Heartfield’s anti-Nazi photomontages of the 1930s.

“Novelties and Amusements” brings together a broad variety of amateur and commercial photographs intended to astonish, amuse, and entertain. Here, we find popular images of figures holding their own severed heads or appearing doubled or tripled. Also included in this light-hearted section are ghostly images by the spirit photographer William Mumler, “tall-tale” postcards produced in Midwestern farming communities in the 1910s, trick photographs by amateurs, and Weegee’s experimental distortions of the 1940s. 

”Pictures in Print” reveals the ways in which newspapers, magazines, and advertisers have altered, improved, and sometimes fabricated images in their entirety to depict events that never occurred – such as the docking of a zeppelin on the tip of the Empire State Building. Highlights include Erwin Blumenfeld’s famous “Doe Eye” Vogue cover from 1950 and Richard Avedon’s multiple portrait of Audrey Hepburn from 1967.

“Mind’s Eye” features works from the 1920s through 1940s by such artists as Herbert Bayer, Maurice Tabard, Dora Maar, Clarence John Laughlin, and Grete Stern, who have used photography to evoke subjective states of mind, conjuring dreamlike scenarios and surreal imaginary worlds. 

The final section, “Protoshop,” presents photographs from the second half of the 20th century by Yves Klein, John Baldessari, Duane Michals, Jerry Uelsmann, and other artists who have adapted earlier techniques of image manipulation – such as spirit photography or news photo retouching – to create works that self-consciously and often humorously question photography’s presumed objectivity.

Press release from The Metropolitan Museum of Art website


Maurice Tabard. 'Room with Eye' 1930


Maurice Tabard (French, 1897-1984)
Room with Eye
Gelatin silver print
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1962


Wanda Wulz. 'Io + gatto (Cat + I)' 1932


Wanda Wulz (Italian, 1903-1984)
Io + gatto (Cat + I)
Gelatin silver print
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987
Alinari / Art Resource © Wanda Wulz


John Paul Pennebaker. 'Sealed Power Piston Rings' 1933


John Paul Pennebaker (American, 1903-1953)
Sealed Power Piston Rings
Gelatin silver print
1934 Art and Industry Exhibition Photograph Collection, Baker Library Historical Collections, Harvard Business School, Boston, Mass.
© John Paul Pennebaker


George Platt Lynes. 'The Sleepwalker' 1935


George Platt Lynes (American, 1907-1955)
The Sleepwalker
Gelatin silver print with applied media
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987
© The Estate of George Platt Lynes


Barbara Morgan. 'Hearst over the People' 1939


Barbara Morgan (American, 1900-1992)
Hearst over the People
Collage of gelatin silver prints with applied media
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc.


Grete Stern. 'Dream No. 1: Electrical Appliances for the Home' 1948


Grete Stern (Argentinian born Germany, 1904-1999)
Dream No. 1: Electrical Appliances for the Home
Gelatin silver print
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Twentieth-Century Photography Fund, 2012
Courtesy of Galería Jorge Mara – La Ruche, Buenos Aires


Erwin Blumenfeld. '"Doe Eye" Vogue cover' 1950


Erwin Blumenfeld (American born Germany, 1897-1969)
“Doe Eye” Vogue cover


Yves Klein (French, 1928-1962) Photographed by Harry Shunk (German, 1924-2006) and János (Jean) Kender (Hungarian, 1937-2009) 'Leap into the Void' 1960


Yves Klein (French, 1928-1962)
Photographed by Harry Shunk (German, 1924-2006) and János (Jean) Kender (Hungarian, 1937-2009)
Leap into the Void
Gelatin silver print
Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1992
© Yves Klein / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Photograph Shunk-Kender © Roy Lichtenstein Foundation


Weegee (Arthur Fellig). 'American, 1899-1968 Draft Johnson for President' c. 1968


Weegee (Arthur Fellig) (American, 1899-1968)
Draft Johnson for President
c. 1968
Gelatin silver print
International Center of Photography, Bequest of Wilma Wilcox, 1993
Copyright Weegee/International Center of Photography/Getty Images.


Weegee (Arthur Fellig) American, 1899-1968 'Judy Garland' 1960


Weegee (Arthur Fellig) (American, 1899-1968)
Judy Garland
Silver gelatin photograph
Copyright Weegee/International Center of Photography/Getty Images


William Mortensen (American, 1897-1965) 'Obsession' c. 1930


William Mortensen  (American, 1897-1965)
c. 1930
Gelatin silver print
18.4 x 14.5cm
The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1975


Richard Avedon (American 1923-2004) 'Audrey Hepburn, New York, January 1967' 1967


Richard Avedon (American, 1923-2004)
Audrey Hepburn, New York, January 1967
Collage of gelatin silver prints, with applied media, mylar overlay with applied media


Jerry N. Uelsmann. 'Untitled' 1969


Jerry N. Uelsmann (American, 1934-2022)
Gelatin silver print
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Twentieth-Century Photography Fund, 2011
© Jerry N. Uelsmann


Martha Rosler. 'Red Stripe Kitchen', from the series "House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home" 1967-72


Martha Rosler (American, b. 1943)
Red Stripe Kitchen
1967-1972, printed early 1990s
From the series “House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home”
Chromogenic print
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Anonymous Gift, 2002
© Martha Rosler



The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street
New York, New York 10028-0198
Phone: 212-535-7710

Opening hours:
Sunday – Tuesday 10am – 5pm
Closed Wednesdays

The Metropolitan Museum of Art website

National Gallery of Art
National Mall between 3rd and 7th Streets
Constitution Avenue NW, Washington

Opening hours:
Daily 10.00am – 5.00pm

National Gallery of Art website


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Exhibition: ‘Yves Klein: With the Void, Full Powers’ at Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.

Exhibition dates: 20th May – 12th September 2010


Yves Klein. 'Hiroshima' c. 1961


Yves Klein (French, 1928-1962)
c. 1961
Dry pigment and synthetic resin on paper mounted on canvas
© The Estate of Yves Klein c/o ADAGP, Paris



Space [    ] the final frontier … where silence is golden !

Many thankx to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. See all the Hirshhorn Flicker photosets of Yves Klein.



“I am the painter of space. I am not an abstract painter but, on the contrary, a figurative artist, and a realist. Let us be honest, to paint space, I must be in position. I must be in space.”

Yves Klein



Yves Klein. 'Untitled Yellow and Pink Monochrome' 1955


Yves Klein (French, 1928-1962)
Untitled Yellow and Pink Monochrome
Dry pigment and binder on canvas
22 x 13 1/2 inch
© The Estate of Yves Klein c/o ADAGP, Paris


Yves Klein. 'La Vent du voyage' (The Wind of the Journey) c. 1961


Yves Klein (French, 1928-1962)
La Vent du voyage (The Wind of the Journey)
c. 1961
Dry pigment and synthetic resin on canvas
37 x 29 1/2 inch
© The Estate of Yves Klein c/o ADAGP, Paris


Yves Klein. 'Le Saut dans le Vide' (Leap into the Void) 1960


Yves Klein (French, 1928-1962)
Le Saut dans le Vide (Leap into the Void)
Gelatin silver print


Yves Klein. 'Untitled Green Monochrome' c. 1954


Yves Klein (French, 1928-1962)
Untitled Green Monochrome
c. 1954
Pure pigment and binder on paper
© The Estate of Yves Klein c/o ADAGP, Paris


Yves Klein. 'Architecture de l'air' (Air Architecture) 1961


Yves Klein (French, 1928-1962)
Architecture de l’air (Air Architecture)
Dry pigment and synthetic resin on paper mounted on canvas
103 x 84 inch
© The Estate of Yves Klein c/o ADAGP, Paris



One of the 20th century’s most influential artists, Yves Klein (French, b. Nice, 1928; d. Paris, 1962), took the European art scene by storm in a prolific but brief career that lasted only from 1954 to 1962. Yves Klein: With the Void, Full Powers, on view at the Hirshhorn May 20 through Sept. 12, is the first major retrospective of the artist’s work in the United States since 1982. Co-curated by the Hirshhorn’s deputy director and chief curator Kerry Brougher and Dia Art Foundation director, former chief curator and deputy director at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the exhibition is co-organised by the Hirshhorn and the Walker and developed in full collaboration with the Yves Klein Archives in Paris.

Presenting approximately 200 works, Yves Klein: With the Void, Full Powers explores the full range of the artist’s body of work and offers an essential overview and examination of a career that marked a key transition in 20th-century art. His work embodied an understanding of art beyond a western conception of modernity, beyond the object and beyond traditional notions of what art can be.

“Klein’s short but intense career is a pivotal moment in contemporary art history,” said Brougher. “His work questioned what art and even society could be in the future, and it provided new pathways leading to pop art, minimalism, conceptual art, installation and performance.”

The exhibition features examples from all of Klein’s major series, from his iconic blue monochromes and Anthropometries to sponge reliefs, Fire Paintings, “air architecture” projects, Cosmogonies and planetary reliefs as well as many works that have rarely been on view. The installation provides insight into the artist’s process and conceptual endeavours through an array of ephemera, including sketches, photographs, letters and writings. Several films, including performances and documentaries, further demonstrate Klein’s creative practice.

“I would like that when people leave the exhibition they leap into a void, leaving behind traditional notions of art and representation, but even more importantly, questioning the notion of materiality and materialism in art as well as in their lives,” said Vergne. “Ultimately, Klein’s lesson is about a different way of being together.”

Numerous objects are on loan directly from the Yves Klein Archives, with additional loans from the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou in Paris, Kunstmuseen Krefeld in Krefeld, Germany, The Menil Collection in Houston, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and a host of international private collections, including a rare loan from the Monastery of Saint Rita in Cascia, Italy.

Klein was an innovator and visionary whose goal was no less than to radically reinvent what art could be in the postwar world. Through a diverse practice, which included painting, sculpture, performance, photography, music, architecture and writing as well as plans for projects in theatre, dance and cinema, he shifted the focus of art from the material to “immaterial sensibility”; he levitated art above the weariness induced by the Second World War, resurrecting its avant-garde tendencies, injecting a new sense of spirituality and opening doors for much that followed in the 1960s and beyond.

Self-identified as “the painter of space,” Klein sought to achieve immaterial sensibility through pure colour, primarily an ultramarine blue of his own invention – International Klein Blue. This exhibition begins by examining Klein’s early explorations of colour with works in pastels, watercolours and more than 15 coloured monochromes created during the mid-to-late 1950s. Several significant blue monochromes, dating from as early as 1955 up through 1961, are on view. Klein further pushed boundaries in his engagement with colour and form by using pure pigment in tandem with unconventional materials, such as natural sponges. The sponge, which Klein incorporated into his practice in the late 1950s, became a metaphor, as its porous surface completely absorbed his signature colour, giving a material presence to the immaterial.

Among Klein’s best-known works are the Anthropometries, begun in 1958. Under the artist’s direction, nude female models were smeared with International Klein Blue paint and used as “living brushes” to make body prints on prepared sheets of paper. Klein wanted to record the body’s physical energy, and the resulting images represent the model’s temporary physical presence. More than an expression of the inner psyche of the artist, these paintings offer one method of giving visual presence to a cosmic, spiritual body, which neither photography nor film can fully capture. Seven works from this series are on view, including People Begin to Fly (1961) from The Menil Collection and Untitled Anthropometry (1960) from the Hirshhorn’s collection, which features the bodies of Klein and his future wife Rotraut Uecker.

In the late 1950s, but most notably in 1961, Klein began to use fire, which he considered “the universal principle of expression,” as part of his creative process. His Fire Paintings, such as Untitled Fire Painting (1961), in which fire either replaced or was combined with paint, embody concepts of process, transformation, creation, destruction, dissolution and elemental cosmology that were so essential throughout his career. The final galleries of the exhibition include examples from Klein’s “air architecture” projects, including drawings, plans and models for architectural spaces, such as fountains and walls, constructed out of natural elements like air, water and fire – elements that were not traditionally associated with architecture.

Klein created what he considered his first artwork when he signed the blue sky above Nice in 1947, making his first attempt to capture the immaterial. In his celebrated 1958 exhibition Specialization of Sensibility in the Raw Material State of Stabilized Pictorial Sensibility, better known as The Void, at Galerie Iris Clert in Paris, Klein went further by emptying the gallery of all artworks and painting the walls white. Among those who attended the renowned exhibition was Albert Camus, who reacted with a notable entry into the visitors’ album: “with the void, full powers.” In his famous Leap into the Void (1960) image by Harry Shunk and Janos Kender, which was published Nov. 27, 1960, in the faux newspaper Dimanche, which he created for the second Avant-Garde Art Festival, Klein is actually depicted leaping into space himself; the accompanying text asserts: “… to paint space, I must be in position. I must be in space.”

Defying the common understanding and definitions of art – from his experiments with architecture made of air to his leap into the void – Klein aimed to rethink the world in spiritual and aesthetic terms. His philosophy was revolutionary and demonstrated his acute grasp of the contemporary moment, from the horror of the Second World War to the promise of space travel. This presentation of his full oeuvre is essential to discern the shift from modern to contemporary practice and to reveal the extent of the artist’s influence.

Press release from the Hirshhorn website [Online] Cited 04/09/2010 no longer available online


Yves Klein. 'Lune II' (Moon II), 1961


Yves Klein (French, 1928-1962)
Lune II (Moon II)
Pure pigment and undetermined binder on plaster
© The Estate of Yves Klein c/o ADAGP, Paris


Yves Klein. 'Untitled Blue Monochrome' 1959


Yves Klein (French, 1928-1962)
Untitled Blue Monochrome
© The Estate of Yves Klein c/o ADAGP, Paris


Yves Klein. 'Untitled Gold Monochrome' 1962


Yves Klein (French, 1928-1962)
Untitled Gold Monochrome
Gold leaf on wood
© Yves Klein, ADAGP, Paris / SAVA


Yves Klein. 'La Rêve du Feu' (The Dream of Fire) c. 1961


Yves Klein (French, 1928-1962)
La Rêve du Feu (The Dream of Fire)
c. 1961
Yves Klein, ADAGP, Paris / DACS


Harry Shunk and János Kender, photograph of Yves Klein, The Dream of Fire, c. 1961. Artistic action by Yves Klein.


Yves Klein. 'Le Silence est d'or' (Silence is Golden) 1960


Yves Klein (French, 1928-1962)
Le Silence est d’or (Silence is Golden)
Gold leaf on wood
© Yves Klein, ADAGP, Paris / SAVA



Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
The Hirshhorn is located on the National Mall at the corner of 7th Street and Independence Avenue SW, Washington, D.C.

Opening hours:
Open daily except December 25
10am – 5.30pm

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden website


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Review: ‘Bowerhouse Blues’ exhibition by Mary Newsome, Gallery 101, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 3rd February – 21st February 2009


Mary Newsome. 'Bowerhouse Blues' installation photograph with 'The Bowerhouse' centre


Mary Newsome (Australian, b. 1936)
Bowerhouse Blues installation photograph with The Bowerhouse centre



This is a slight bouffant of an exhibition by Mary Newsome at Gallery 101, Collins St., Melbourne.

“The exhibition consists of separate collections to do with blue, centring on the Bowerhouse with its beckoning light. The ideas came from several different directions.” And what directions they are.

Firstly, the idea of the lonely male bowerbird at the Museum of Victoria, given blue biros as solace after killing his last mate. Secondly, Oscar Wilde trying to live with his blue china toying with Yves Klein and his uber-dimensionality, the invisible blue becoming visible. Then we have finger painting as a child upgraded to paste painting “which is finger painting under a more adult name”; and more – poetry, yes! by famous poets, sandwiched with shells and cans and bits of glass and plastic and pottery and pegs all offered up to the god of the azure.

Artefacts litter the floor around the edge of the gallery, media wash across the walls. A silkscreen here and a painting of blue and white china there, watercolours of a view out of a blue curtained Cornish cottage, a blue seascape, the “royal-ness” of a blue tampons collage, three-dimensional objects, acrylics, crayon, pencil, oils and stencils. The Bowerhouse itself, like a blue ‘red light’ house with flashing blue light inside and heart on top. And so it goes.

There are some interesting small single-pigment blue acrylics that have geometric and anamorphic shapes painted upon them with stencilled names of the colour along the spine of the canvases. There are also a couple of competent oils and silkscreens of tea sets in a dresser with cups hanging from hooks.

The works date from 1980 to the present day – and “without fully realising it” the artist has looked through her work over the past 30 years and come across lots and lots of blue. Any artist worth their salt knows their oevure indelibly from front to back. It seems inconceivable to me that this epiphany has occurred without the artist not fully understanding the importance of the colour blue to their art practice before now.

Recently I have been reading a book called Distraction (Damon Young. Distraction: A Philosopher’s Guide to Being Free. Melbourne: Melbourne University Publishing, 2008). The book surmises that distraction is often a matter of what one values in the world. The book demonstrates that the opposite of a life of distraction is one of grateful appreciation, based on patient, sensitive, and thoughtful attention to the world. In this exhibition we have a perfect example of distraction: the noise of the collective work has subsumed its individual charms. The work seems forced into a conceptualisation not of it’s making. Everything seems laboured to the point where all the fun has been squeezed from it and, in the end, it just left me feeling the blues.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

Photographs by Tim Gresham
Images courtesy of Gallery 101


Mary Newsome. 'Blue Colours' 2008


Mary Newsome (Australian, b. 1936)
Blue Colours


Mary Newsome. 'Bowerhouse Blues' installation photograph 2009


Mary Newsome (Australian, b. 1936)
Bowerhouse Blues
Installation photograph


Mary Newsome. 'Bathroom Sink' 1992


Mary Newsome (Australian, b. 1936)
Bathroom Sink


Mary Newsome. 'What Bliss There is in Blueness' 2009


Mary Newsome (Australian, b. 1936)
What Bliss There is in Blueness
Extract from Laughter in the Dark, 1989 by Vladimir Nabokov


Mary Newsome. 'Royal Tampons' collage


Mary Newsome (Australian, b. 1936)
Royal Tampons



Gallery 101

This gallery is no longer open.


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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, an art and cultural memory archive, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Doctor 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.

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