Derek Boshier Rethink/Re-entry Flowers Gallery London

19 November 2015 § Leave a comment

Pop art is very much alive and kicking. The World Goes Pop is currently at the Tate following on the heels of Post Pop: East Meets West at the Saatchi Gallery, the BBC ran a recent series BBC Four Goes PopAllen Jones was at the Royal Academy and Richard Hamilton had a solo show at the Tate last year. That is not even to mention continuing interest in other artists like David Hockney on the edges of the movement.

Derek Boshier Rething/Re-wind at Flowers Gallery London

Maybe it is because we are bored of the self referential world of post-modernism or perhaps there is a recognition of the present day relevance of the movement as we fight off an ever increasing barrage of media imagery. It could well be that Pop Art turns out to be modern art’s most influential movement, parodying all this mass media imagery whilst creating a startlingly prescient take on the world of today: the age of consumerism.

Derek Boshier Rething/Re-wind at Flowers Gallery London

Within this apparent surge of interest the work of Derek Boshier has found a new lease of life. Recently featured on BBC4’s ‘What do artists do all day’ (a series that also featured Sir Peter Blake) he now has a solo show at Flowers Gallery which also coincides with the release of an excellent Thames & Hudson monograph (reviewed here).

Derek Boshier Rething/Re-wind at Flowers Gallery London

The Rethink/ Re-entry exhibition features a fascinating range of rarely seen pieces, much from Boshier’s own collection whilst surveying the shifting emphasis of his art in the late sixties and early seventies. It re-examines his work of the period via the extraordinary variety of his practice – assemblages, collages, drawings, films, graphics and prints alongside more recent films and collages.

Derek Boshier Rething/Re-wind at Flowers Gallery London

In thé ground floor gallery we see the sharp political edge of his work in works like The Stun (1979), a spoof tabloid front page bringing together the Queen and Irish Violence with an incisive wit. Meanwhile in Hi Consumers Don’t Forget Nothing Lasts Forever (1978) Boshier takes a wry shot at consumer culture.

Derek Boshier Rething/Re-wind at Flowers Gallery London

Three perspex vitrines take a more conceptual angle and have a distinctly affinity with John Baldessari works of that time. King George V Avenue Cardiff from 1971 for example features a series of red circles and black columns lined in perspective along a found image of a broad street.

Derek Boshier_Rethink_Re-Entry at Flowers Gallery.

Boshier’s provocative and experimental approach was reflected within the gathering punk movement and also appreciated by David Bowie who commissioned him to work on LP sleeves, as well as stage set design. Featuring both on walls and vitrines are original drawings from Boshier’s collaborations with The Clash on graphics for the CLASH 2nd Songbook, and with Bowie for the 1979 album Lodger. He happily told Boshier ‘do what you like’ for the interior of the gatefold sleeve; Boshier obliged with a collage on mortality that Bowie loved.

Derek Boshier Rething/Re-wind at Flowers Gallery London

His versatility continues with a neat Joseph Cornell style box from 1976, State of Mind, that makes a statement both on consumerism and politics combining a toiletry bottle and newspaper cutting featuring strikers.

Derek Boshier, State of Mind, 1976, Mixed media construction in box frame (c) Derek Boshier, Courtesy of Flowers Gallery

Downstairs three series of photographed images are a different take on Hockney’s photo collages and Ed Ruscha’s Every Building on the Sunset Strip. From his 1978 Routes series a sequential strip of images introduce time as an element as the camera’s lens takes a ‘stroll’ at three different locations.

Boshier Install Rethink/Re-wind Flowers Gallery

In yet another media, film, Boshier’s 1973 Change is also showing, along with three more from 2014. In Change Boshier spliced sequences of still images from an installation at his Whitechapel Gallery retrospective of the same year. It remained unopened for 38 years, until its recent rediscovery provoked his desire to create new films using contemporary digital technologies.

Derek Boshier Rething/Re-wind at Flowers Gallery London

Last but not least are four collaged works from 2014, each edged with his trademark broad black lines.

Derek Boshier Rethink/Re-wind at Flowers Gallery

They look effortless and Boshier reminds us that his talent for drawing, eye for design as well as his desire to make works politically relevant are all still as strong as ever. He remains an important figure not only in the story of Pop Art but also in the contemporary art world.

Rethink/ Re-entry is at Flowers Gallery until 7 November 2015

For more information visit www.flowersgallery.com

Images courtesy of the artist, Flowers Gallery and CELLOPHANELAND*

Dennis Hopper – The Lost Album at the Royal Academy

21 July 2014 § Leave a comment

As well as being a famed actor and director, Dennis Hopper was a prodigious snapper. For a period he took his beloved Nikon 28mm wherever he went, working so obsessively that his friends, the artists Wallace Berman and Edward Kienholz actually referred to him as ‘the tourist’.

Dennis Hopper The Lost Album, Royal Academy
During this period from 1961 to 1967 Hopper took over 18,000 photographs and in the process documented an era. This recording however was not in the form of a casual observer. Hopper had of course already appeared in rebel Without a Cause (1955) and Giant (1956) – two of the eras seminal films that introduced fifties youth culture to a wary American public – and was an integral part of the Hollywood scene mingling, and friends with, the like of Peter and Jane Fonda, Bill Cosby, David Hemmings and Paul Newman.
Dennis Hopper The Lost Album, Royal Academy
Artistic throughout his life he created paintings, assemblages as well as photographs and participated in a number of group exhibitions in the sixties. He was intimately associated with the Los Angeles art world and photographed key figures like Larry Bell, Billy Al Bengston, Allan Kaprow and Ed Ruscha.
Dennis Hopper The Lost Album, Royal Academy
His home was considered as something of a salon for artists, actors, writers and musicians – his eclectic possessions including artworks by Warhol, Lichtenstein, Ruscha and others – Andy Warhol himself once commenting that “Everyone in Hollywood I wanted to meet was there”.
Dennis Hopper The Lost Album, Royal Academy
His connections with important galleries like Ferus meant led to commissioned work for the like of Vogue, Harpers Bazaar and Artforum. Not only did he witness part of the Pop Art movement but also witnessed the flowering of the beat culture movement. Friendly with Allen  Ginsberg and Michael McClure he attended readings and hippie festivals taking photographs of the like of LSD king Timothy Leary.
Dennis Hopper The Lost Album, Royal Academy
Music was an essential part of the culture of the period and once again Hopper was there snapping Jefferson Airplane, The Byrds, James Brown and many more. The Hells Angels were frequently part of these festivals and further to his own deep interest in bikes (witness Easy Rider of course) he took many photographs of them too.
Dennis Hopper The Lost Album, Royal Academy
He did not either miss other social movements such as black power and civil rights, witnessing and recording many events, marches and the then inevitable police clashes.
Dennis Hopper The Lost Album, Royal Academy
An exhibition that superficially might therefore appear to be the casual photographs of a Hollywood icon is so, so much more.  We in effect have an insiders and participants view of one of the most important periods of American history witnessing and recording most of the important cultural and artistic events of the era.
Dennis Hopper The Lost Album, Royal Academy
Hopper’s images are by and large quite ordinary. If one takes many thousand images of such iconic events and personalities there are sure to be some great pieces – his Double Standard is reminiscent of the great works of Lee Friedlander for example – but the value here doesn’t lie in Hoppers moderate photographic talents but the astonishing breadth and depth of the images. Never mind the quality, feel the width.
Dennis Hopper – The Lost Album is at the Royal Academy, Burlington Gardens, London until 19 October 2014

 

Richard Hamilton at Tate Modern

29 March 2014 § Leave a comment

It is not often that an exhibition impresses as much as this one. The new Richard Hamilton retrospective at Tate Modern, London, is one that could genuinely make the art world reassess just how important and influential a figure was, not only amongst British artists but within 20th century art history in general. The title of Hal Foster’s excellent new book: The First Pop Age: Painting and Subjectivity in the Art of Hamilton, Lichtenstein, Warhol, Richter and Ruscha shows that even this hugely important critic puts Hamilton in the same league as the greatest artists of the late 20th Century and this exhibition reinforces that view.

Richard Hamilton Tate Modern

Hamiltons greatest legacy is of course as the widely acknowledged founder of Pop Art. His collage Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing? is considered the first work of the genre and the groundbreaking exhibition in which it featured – This is Tomorrow at the Whitechapel Gallery – Pop Art’s first exhibition. The movement over the pond followed on later led by the likes of Lichtenstein, Oldenburg and Warhol and was only getting under full steam by the early sixties.

Richard Hamilton Tate Modern

In a note to Alison and Peter Smithson he jotted the following, worth repeating in full as a brilliant example of a memorable, off the cuff, manifesto for a movement: Pop Art is: Popular (designed for a mass audience), Transient (short-term solution), Expendable (easily forgotten), Low Cost, Mass-Produced, Young (aimed at youth), Witty, Sexy, Gimmicky, Glamorous, Big Business.

Richard Hamilton Tate Modern

 

If Hamilton has, up to now, perhaps been less recognised than he should it may be because the British Pop Art scene was quickly submerged by the bigger, brasher and bolder works from the States, his time in history just a brief interlude before being overwhelmed – perhaps by mass production and big business?

Richard Hamilton Tate Modern

The chronological hang at the Tate however allows groups of his early, and later, works to be shown together and lets us better assess Hamilton as an artist. We are first taken though rooms of pieces, often heavily influenced by Marcel Duchamp, who he admired to the point of taking two years out to oversee reproduction of the Brides Stripped Bare… (Large Glass), shown in this show and other works from the 1960 Duchamp retrospective at the Tate.

Richard Hamilton Tate Modern

It moves on past his impressive and telling multiple Marilyn portraits on to a eclectic series of works that often incorporate and pastiche the world of advertising, such as Slip it to Me – a giant American Badge and a number of works where Richard replaces the Ricard of French Pastis fame.

Richard Hamilton Tate Modern

Blink and you miss the tiny Just What is it… before a series of the famous Swingeing London images featuring a handcuffed Mick Jagger – Hamilton often worked in series repeating and varying works as part of his practice.

Richard Hamilton Tate Modern

Later works, often revisiting earlier themes, are hit and miss but it is notable that right in to his eighties he produced dynamic and impressive works that still had the ability to find a target – often political – his Venice Biennale Northern Irish triptych The Citizen/The Subject/The State being particularly noteworthy.

Richard Hamilton Tate Modern

Make sure you visit and perhaps go after 17 April to catch Henri Matisse: The Cut-outs at the same time!

Richard Hamilton is on at the Tate Modern until 26 May 2014

Richard Hamilton Tate Modern

 

 

Le Surrealisme et l’Objet – Centre Pompidou, Paris

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).

Marcel Duchamp

Marcel Duchamp

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.

Hans Bellmer - Poupee

Hans Bellmer – Poupee

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’.

Salvador Dali - Lobster telephone

Salvador Dali – Lobster telephone

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.

Alberto Giacometti - Suspended Ball

Alberto Giacometti – Suspended Ball

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.

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Joan Miro

Joan Miro

Each room is well curated and nicely laid out with admirable logic, careful thought and atmospheric lighting.

photo 1 copy 3

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.

Meret Oppenheim

Meret Oppenheim

Le Surrealisme et l’Objet runs until the 3 March 2014 at the Pompidou Centre, Paris.

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