11 January 2014 § Leave a comment
A weekend in Paris allowed me the opportunity to visit this breathtaking exhibition at the Centre Pompidou, as well as enjoy some excellent art, interesting sights and fine food counterposed by rude service, lousy cappuchinos and overpriced coffee and bread (or petit dejeuner as the French imaginatively call it).
There shouldn’t be a better place than Paris for an exhibition on Surrealism, the movement being founded here in 1924 having developed out the more international influences of Dada. The Pompidou Centre have proved that this is indeed the case, with this mightily impressive exhibition bringing together a remarkable collection of almost every conceivable iconic object or sculpture connected to the movement.
Alongside the roll call of iconic pieces like Hans Bellmer’s Poupee, Marcel Duchamp’s Bottlerack, Salvador Dali’s Lobster Telephone, Alberto Giacometti’s Suspended Ball are photographs from the likes of Man Ray, collections of works gathered plus a selection of more recent surrealist-influenced works by the likes of Mark Dion, Paul McCarthy, Ed Ruscha and Cindy Sherman exhibited under the title ‘Echoes of the Surrealist Object’.
The exhibition starts with ‘Ready-mades and Mannequins’, a section led by two great influences of the movement – Giorgio de Chirico and Marcel Duchamp who respectively brought the mannequin and object to the fore.
Subsequent rooms focus on ‘Objects with a Symbolic Function, Alberto Giacometti, Hans Bellmer’s Doll (an extraordinarily powerful object in real-life, and also larger than one imagines), five rooms each dedicated to iconic exhibitions from the famous ‘Exposition Internationale de Surrealisme’ in 1933 to ‘Eros’ in 1959/60.
Each room is well curated and nicely laid out with admirable logic, careful thought and atmospheric lighting.
This opportunity to view so many of Surrealisms iconic objects together plus the insight in to the movement that can be gained from the experience well worth a trip to Paris on its own. Just take your own breakfast.
Le Surrealisme et l’Objet runs until the 3 March 2014 at the Pompidou Centre, Paris.
18 December 2013 § Leave a comment
Following on from the Griffin Art Prize 2013 Exhibition – which is now on the road around the South of England for a few months (see post) – the Griffin Gallery are transferring Saatchi’s Showdown from the virtual online world in to reality.
The winner of the prize has been announced as Miguel Laino for his simple but expressive small oil painting shown here, winning over a very high quality – and truly international – final ten. The remaining finalists were: Chris Stevens, Casper Verborg (illustrated middle left), Stephane Villafane, Kristina Alisauskaite (middle right), Sergey Dyomin, Fiona Maclean, Minas Halaj, Maurice Sapiro, Daniel Gonzalez Coves (bottom).
Painted Faces is one phase of a continuing Saatchi Online competition that provides artists from anywhere in the world a showcase for their work. Chantal Joffe was the judge for this event. Previous judges have been equally big names of the contemporary art world and Barnaby Furnas, Ged Quinn, Wangechi Mutu and Dexter Dalwood have for example run their eyes over entries.
For the first time the works of the 10 Showdown finalists are being shown at the Griffin Gallery, from 5- 20 December with the winner and runner-up receiving art materials to the value of £1000 and £500 respectively – not bad I’d say.
The competition is being run in partnership with Winsor & Newton and is on at the West London Griffin Gallery until 20th December 2013. This is an excellent small show which is a short stroll from Westfield shopping centre – why not take a break from the Christmas shopping and drop in for an artistic break – or a more arty gift? All works are on sale and modestly priced.
For more details about the competition please go to www.saatchionline.com/showdown
- The Griffin Art Prize 2013 winners – Luke George & Elizabeth Rose (akickupthearts.wordpress.com)
- Saatchi Online, The World’s Leading Online Art Gallery, Appoints Veteran Business Executive Sean Moriarty As CEO (virtual-strategy.com)
16 December 2013 § Leave a comment
I always enjoy a trip to the Design Museum. Located on the riverside alleyways and old wharves of Bermondsey it’s a great place to visit whilst taking advantage of a Thames path stroll past (or via) the Tate, Globe Theatre and even Fashion Museum. The Museum itself is also quiet and pleasant with a nice little cafe with river views. Stop off at the shop for some gifts (another gift idea here) or cards – Christmas or otherwise and it is a perfect half day out.
This exhibition takes you into the world of fashion designer Paul Smith, celebrating his career to date and charting the rise of a true British name that has become one of the world’s leading brands.
The show takes up the first floor of the Museum and begins with a recreation of Smith’s notoriously crowded office space, packed to the gills with an eclectic collection of nick-nacks, photographs, models, CDs, boxes, books (piled perilously high) and even a bicycle.
The wide central aisle is lined floor to ceiling with wildly varied artworks from his own collection whilst other rooms recreate his first shop space (minuscule!), the first collection promotion (in a hotel room), a room of mirrors (not sure why that was there?), a selection of his design influences and products, a film and a long space with a selection of his fashion creations.
With Smith’s varied output his primary focus in men’s fashion is lost in this exhibition which looks rather more broadly at his life and influences. It is nevertheless an enjoyable, charming and interesting, if lightweight, exhibition.
Hello, My Name is Paul Smith runs until 9 March 2014. Details at www.designmuseum.org
Opens daily 10am – 5.45pm. Open on all bank and national holidays, except 25 and 26 December.
- Paul Smith design showcase is ‘absolutely not a retrospective’ (theguardian.com)
- Hello , My name is Paul Smith (disobeyingthebrief.wordpress.com)
- Review: Hello, My Name Is Paul Smith – A must-see for anyone interested in design and creativity (metro.co.uk)
8 December 2013 § Leave a comment
Is it me or have I been noticing more and more artistsic partnerships lately? The likes of Gilbert & George and Jean Claude & Christo have been around for a while, but more recently it seems that artists working together has become more accepted, with well known pairings like Allora & Calzadilla, Elmgreen & Dragset, Noble & Webster, The Chapman Brothers and Doyle & Mallinson. On top of these more recently emerging or paired up are Nerhol, kennardphillips, Keeler & Tornero, Swales & Sinclair and so on. There is even the notable pretend pairing – Bob & Roberta Smith – that is actually a single artist Patrick Brill.
Then there are Luke George & Elizabeth Rose who met at City & Guilds London, and who have recently come to prominence as winners of the Griffin Art Prize (see recent feature) – a newly established prize for recent graduates that is rapidly becoming one of the most important of the London art world.
As deserved winners they are keen to investigate the possibilities of materials – in their case primarily paint and canvas. They manage to draw a remarkable range of texture and depth from such traditional and well-used materials and their medium to large sized canvases are a joy to examine at any scale.
Channelling the unpredicatable ‘avenir’ of Derrida (“There is a future which is predictable, programmed, scheduled, foreseeable. But there is a future, l’avenir (to come) which refers to someone who comes whose arrival is totally unexpected.”) they look to shared intuition and “happy accident” to takes the artwork in a entirely new direction.
They are “excited by the notion of our paintings eventually making themselves; by responding directly to the surfaces and working in such a way that our actions are dictated entirely by the process rather than our own aesthetic needs as individuals.”
Their work is excellent, inventive and attractive – and if it takes two to tango – then why not?
- The Griffin Art Prize 2013 winners – Luke George & Elizabeth Rose (akickupthearts.wordpress.com)
- The Griffin Art Prize 2013 Exhibition (akickupthearts.wordpress.com)
- Artist Bob and Roberta Smith and filmmaker Tim Newton on their inspiring relationship (theguardian.com)
- Exciting Contemporary Art Arrives in the Cotswolds (akickupthearts.wordpress.com)
- Elizabeth Price wins £60,000 Contemporary Art Society Annual Award (akickupthearts.wordpress.com)
7 December 2013 § Leave a comment
The rotating exhibitions at the recent re-incarnation of the Arts Club are always rather hit or miss. I find the work often very austere or bland – the sort of work that would fit nicely in to one of those multi-million pound lofts overlooking the Thames favoured by Fund managers and Russian bankers – that’s to say the typical new Arts Club member.
Ian Tweedy is a surprising choice. Not shown by any London galleries, he has little notable exhibiting history and doesn’t even have his own web site. His name seems to be getting noticed though having recently been selected by two very notable curators: Francesco Bonami at Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin and Daniel Birnbaum La Triennale di Torino.
Born at an American air base in Germany, he began his career as a street artist in Germany subsequently studying at Milan and moving his graffiti art techniques indoors, using personal items, historical objects, and documents of the past as the canvas for his bold graphic interventions. A deep concern with history is pervasive throughout Tweedy’s work, much of which is informed by his life of moving from place to place: “I always felt I lived on foreign territory. I was forced to adapt continually to different cultures, and this lack of roots led me towards the challenge of recreating a personal history.”
Postmodernism has readily begged, borrowed or stolen from previous styles mixing high and low culture and here Tweedy uses this – slightly stale – tactic to create his work. Post Red Scare Raid referes to the American post-war anti-communist ’Red Scare’ period. Whilst obsessed with works by Mantegna Tweedy encountered a photograph from the period featuring forced deportations and found links between them ‘challenging grand notions of History Painting‘ – apparently.
His works here are scenes after a supposed raid – figures are missing and only artefacts and fragments remain. Working skilfully in oil and acrylic, on paper and canvas, flags, banners and clothing are suggested in almost abstract shapes on indistinct backgrounds. Dimensions vary considerably as does appeal with smaller oils on found canvas constrained by srtange pine frames less interesting than the striking larger works. Rather Arts Club ‘hit and miss’ again, but Tweedy is undoubtedly a talent to watch for the future (see also recent post here on Gabriella Boyd).
N. Dash is also showing.
NB: individual images of works are not of pieces currently on show as no photos are allowed (!).
5 December 2013 § Leave a comment
Its just not the done thing in the art world for an artist to have made their name elsewhere. God help an author, actor, musician or businessman with a talent in art – the art establishment will do its worst to avoid taking them seriously. Artists are required to be devoted to their trade and where any notion of their work being something other than a full-time activity damns them to the sidelines of history.
It is also dangerous for known artists to flirt with fame elsewhere. Yoko Ono has been frequently ridiculed despite her position as one of the most significant artists of her era – her sin of course was to cavort with a Beatle whilst making as much music as art. Grayson Perry‘s work is now less valid to many following over-publicity of his cross dressing and chat shows appearances. There are many more of course.
Those who first found fame outside the art world will find it even tougher. Bob Dylan and Ronnie Wood are trying their damnedest but are not accepted in the art world, their mediocre work doesn’t help. A new name to consider is James Franco. This from Franco’s Wiki entry: ‘an American actor, director, screenwriter, producer, teacher and author.’ They have obviously forgotten to add artist, since he has this year been shown at no less than Pace London.
His exhibition was entitled Psycho Nacirema (American backwards), featuring multi-media installations and presented by the Scottish artist Douglas Gordon. It presents a mise-en-scène of director Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 thriller Psycho, remodelling the infamous Bates Motel intertwined with the 1920’s Arbuckle scandal.
Gordon, an artist of considerable experience and a reputation, has openly acted as a curator and teacher for Franco reworking one of Gordon’s most well-known works – 24 Hour Psycho (1993). Franco states “Film is the medium that employs all art forms, but it is contained within the screen. We take this multi- form idea and pull it through the screen, so that the different forms are once again fully dimensional and a new nexus of interaction and significance is created. In this show, we go back to the original locations and images of Psycho and alter them so that once again the viewer’s relationship with the material changes. One becomes an actor when interacting with this work. Film becomes raw material and is sculpted into new work.”
This was an interesting multi-media collaboration, nicely summarised by Franco’s statement above, however, the suspicion for now remains that Gordon’s contribution was the greater. One suspects that he fleshed out Franco’s bare bones in to an interesting and surprisingly good exhibition. I shall look forward to the next and wait to see if more of Franco’s hand is visible!
James Franco Artist or actor? Undecided!
Psycho Nacirema was at Pace London between 6 June & 27 July 2013
See video at NOWNESS blog here
- James Franco and Seth Rogen Bound 3 Parody (celebnmusic247.com)
- James Franco & Seth Rogen Mock Kanye (kluc.cbslocal.com)
- James Franco and Chris O’Dowd to star in ‘Of Mice & Men’ on Broadway (buzzhub.wordpress.com)
25 November 2013 § 2 Comments
When is a blog not a blog? Perhaps when it is an ‘online magazine‘ or ‘digital review’? So where do you start with any sort of ‘Blog’ review list? Who do you exclude? Should ‘true’ blogs just be individual or non-profit making? Perhaps not linked to larger organisations like the TATE gallery for example, where they act as promotional tools. It’s all a bigger issue than I was willing to address here, so my sole limitation was that the blog/mag/review should feature contemporary art at least regularly.
I try to take a look around and see what my ‘competitors’ are up to in the blogosphere but find it hard to track down many good art blogs. Google ‘Top Art Blogs’, limited to the UK and the last 12 months, and you will find no collective listings. Zero.
Take off the restrictions and you will get a few from 2009/10. At least half are no longer operating or haven’t posted for at least six months. When I checked one of these ‘Top Ten’ lists it included blogs like Amelia’s Magazine. God bless Amelia – and her blog is probably very good at what it does – but I decided that if that’s a top ‘Art (and Design) Blog’ then it was time for a new top ten. So here goes…
The contemporary art blog of all blogs. Neatly designed, an ever changing up to date compilation of the best from 100 other blogs!
Not so much a blog, more an online version of the newspaper. But high quality content as you would expect!
International (although US based) including plenty of UK shows. An impressive selection of reviews of contemporary art exhibitions updated daily. I like the ‘random exhibition’ button – this time I got IAIN BAXTER&, Adam Chodzko at Raven Row.
Another blog with significant backing, being tied to the important art & design publication of the same name.
The only place for street art info. Great design, layout and well written. Categories include for example Street Art, Graffitt & Banksy!
As you would expect of the leading UK art magazine publisher and top art fair organiser their blog is clear an interesting. Wouldn’t you think they could manage more than a couple of posts a week though with all their resources?
Not much use unless you’re in Liverpool perhaps, but well designed, informative, wide ranging and well written.
Written by Mark Sheerin, this is the one of the only two blogs in the list written by an individual (the other is CELLOPHANELAND). I tried hard to find more but few have any longevity and/or quality. Varied content but includes many of his own interviews with top, mostly UK, artists like Jeremy Deller, Gavin Turk and Martin Creed.
Is it a blog or is it a magazine? This is really an ‘online’ magazine. It also runs masterclasses with notable photographers, has developed a wide and international following. Includes essays, reviews and interviews.
Julie Eagleton’s wide ranging arts, lifestyle and culture blog always has something interesting – even if art is not one of the main topics. Expect anything from interviews (section currently being updated) from the likes of Francis Ford Coppola to the latest exhibition at the V&A.
10= THE FLANEUR
Tenth equal with C-LAND just because they both are broad-ranging sites covering art, culture and more. What’s more the Art section here doesn’t always feature contemporary art. Nice blog though!
Agree/disagree? Know any more worthy of inclusion at the top of the pile? Then please let me know.
21 November 2013 § Leave a comment
Arriving in Venice for the biennale as a newcomer you will no doubt immediately pick up a copy the official biennale ‘map’. You will open it up. And open it again. And again. Flapping in the Mediterranean breeze you will now have the equivalent of about 8 sides of A4 covered with maps and lists of venues and events.
All very intimidating. How, what, where? There will be a temptation to try and rush around, seeing as much as possible. It all looks too much – and then there is Venice to be enjoyed along the way as well. The good news is that its not nearly as complex as it looks and a few simple rules will help you make the most of even a short stay.
1. Avoid the Peak Season. Unless you want to attend opening events try to travel away from peak summer season. Venice is always busy but the biennale will be much quieter September to November and flights and hotels may be cheaper. Don’t forget when you are planning that the biennale closes Mondays.
2. Fly to Venice. Obvious no? Well not really, the likes of Easyjet and Ryanair actually fly to Treviso an hour or so up the road. Instead fly direct to Venice airport. I go BA from Gatwick.
3. Take the Ferry. Also seems obvious, but from Venice airport you could save some money and go by bus to the edge of town, then take a Vaporetto to your hotel. Dont bother. Spend a small amount more and take the Alilaguna ferry from the airport direct to San Marco or Rialto (amongst other destinations). Its quicker and you get a wonderful cruise across the lagoon for free. For convenience buy a return trip and an unlimited pass on the Vaporetti (for the duration of your stay) in the airport terminal.
4. Book a convenient hotel. Check out the stops for the various airport ferries and book a hotel within a short stroll. All bags need to be carried down the passageways so, unless you get a private boat to your hotel with its own landing stage, travel light! Between the Rialto and San Marco they tend to be pokey and expensive so avoid this area but there is plenty more in districts like San Polo or Castello which are still very convenient. Avoid the Lido unless you have more time and want a beach.
5. Do the official biennale first. It comprises two main areas. The Giardini (gardens) has the major national pavilions in wooded gardens plus the main curated pavilion and is probably the best for the first day. You will need at least a half day for a good look plus a tea/lunch break. Arsenale, the second main area, is best left for the next day unless you want to go cross-eyed looking at art.
6. Satellite National Pavilions. Dont even think of doing them all! Ask for recommendations, read reviews and search the internet and cut down the list to the best half dozen. The alternative is walking up six flights of stairs in annoyingly remote locations just to find some dismal government sponsored propaganda.
7. Plan your visits. Although Venice is small it can take longer than you think to get around, especially when Vaporetti (ferries) are involved. It is also very easy to get lost and a 5 minute detour can quickly become half an hour. Map your stops and try and fit in the satellite pavilions en route to the larger attractions.
8. Its not just the biennale! Major (and minor) galleries take advantage of the biennale to have their own shows, not on the official guide. Again be very careful which ones you put on your schedule and check how long they run. Many only ‘pop up’ for a few weeks.
9. And More. The Venice institutions also put on extra shows. Amongst many don’t miss: Punta della Dogana & Palazzo Grassi (both owned by Christies’ Francois Pinault) with their contemporary exhibitions; The Guggenheim – Peggy’s extraordinary Modernist collection; The Fortuny Palace – a wonderfully diverse collection with a curated show blended in amongst it, all in an extraordinary dream-like location; Gallerie dell’Accademia – pre 19th century masterworks; Ca Rezzonico – museum of 18th century Venice that usually hosts a top contemporary exhibition.
10. Add a touch of luxury. Time visits to avoid meals at the Giardini and Arsenale – try local spots nearby. Later escape the crowds and drop in to the smart hotels for some luxurious relaxation time. The Hotel Gritti Palace has a perfect canal-side terrace whilst the roof terrace of the Danieli has breathtaking views. Of course they’re expensive, but you don’t have go wild.
There’s lots more of course – but I’ll let you have fun finding out the rest yourselves!
- The Venice Biennale 2013 – The Encyclopaedic Palace (akickupthearts.wordpress.com)
- Featuring: Venice Biennale (eyegawker.wordpress.com)
- The Encyclopedic Palace – Venice Biennale 2013 (lareviewofbooks.org)
- Biennale/Venice (nicholasjonespd.wordpress.com)
- Venice, architecture and the beautiful biennale (paulsmith.co.uk)
- City Scene: Venice (bryanmarshall13.wordpress.com)
20 November 2013 § 2 Comments
‘Exciting’ and ‘contemporary art‘ are not words that you would usually associate with the word ‘Cotswolds‘ – Land Rovers, Labradors and Leaders of the Conservative party perhaps come to mind more readily. Other than a mere handful of galleries in Oxford and Bristol the whole region has a desperate dearth of places where one can reasonably claim to be able to enjoy the type of contemporary art which one could genuinely define as being ‘innovative’ or ‘fresh’.
Fortunately this has now changed. The new owners of an historic grade II listed Victorian gothic mansion (apologies for the mouthful, but that’s exactly what it is) have opened a new contemporary art space, High House Gallery. For the last 18 months they have been bringing all that is innovative and interesting from the London art scene out in to the (contemporary) artistic wilderness that is ‘Poshtershire’.
Located in Clanfield, close to the border between Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire the indoor space has a rotating exhibition programme whilst the formal gardens have hosted garden displays of contemporary works – do not think stone and bronze, instead how about concrete, glass, steel and whalebone (!).
Exhibitions so far have mostly tented towards the pick of recent graduates from top London art colleges such as Chelsea, St Martins, Goldsmiths and RCA. Lindsey Bull, Gabriella Boyd, Tom Howse and are excellent examples of HHG artists that should go far.
Furthermore the gallery not only consults on all aspects of contemporary art but holds a stock of top international artists. Quality pieces are currently available to buy from the likes of George Shaw, John Stezaker, Ryan McGinley and Mariah Robertson.
The big news for the start of next year is that the opening exhibition of the 2014 season features a touring version of the highly regarded Griffin Art Prize. Fitting well with the gallery ethos it is limited to recent (5 year limit) graduates. The shortlist for the prize is currently on show at the Griffin Gallery in West London. For those who have not been able to see the show there its excursion out to the Cotswolds is well worth catching.
Visit the High House website to register for news of new exhibitions and events by email, Facebook or Twitter.
Griffin Art Prize 2013 touring show is at High House Gallery 16 January – 16 February 2014.
- Elizabeth Price wins £60,000 Contemporary Art Society Annual Award (akickupthearts.wordpress.com)
- Virgilio Ferreira – Uncanny Places at High House Gallery (akickupthearts.wordpress.com)
- Griffin Art Prize 2013 Touring Venues Announced (akickupthearts.wordpress.com)
- Contemporary art in London (paulsmith.co.uk)