Modern and contemporary art museum opens in Turkey in June

Kengo Kuma's Stacked Timber Museum in Turkey Opens in June,© Kengo Kuma and Associates

© Kengo Kuma and Associates

The Odunpazari Modern Museum (OMM) by Kengo Kuma and Associates will open in June 2019, situated in Eskişehir, a university town in the northwest of Turkey. The OMM will feature an internationally significant collection of modern and contemporary art, showcased within a scheme designed by the architect behind the recently-completed V&A Dundee, according to Arch Daily.

The 4,500-square-meter scheme is defined by a distinctive stacked timber design, drawing inspiration from Odunpazari’s traditional Ottoman wooden cantilevered houses that are synonymous with the district, and pays homage to the town’s history as a thriving wood market. Along with several other city museums in the surrounding area, OMM will create a museum square and public meeting place in the town.

Split over three levels, the scheme entices visitors on a journey through a variety of exhibition spaces, with large spaces on the ground level echoing the rhythm and scale of the urban context, and smaller rooms on the upper floors housing smaller-scale works. At the center, a skylit atrium allows natural light to permeate the building.

© Kengo Kuma and Associates
© Kengo Kuma and Associates
© Kengo Kuma and Associates
© Kengo Kuma and Associates

At the heart of this project was a desire to create a link between people and art. We wanted the building to carry the history and memory of the town, to resonate both on a human scale and with the unique streetscape of Odunpazari, which passing through is a special experience in itself. We very much look forward to seeing the public enjoy and interact with the building.
-Yuki Ikeguchi (Partner) / Kengo Kuma (Founder), Kengo Kuma and Associates

© Kengo Kuma and Associates
© Kengo Kuma and Associates

News via: Kengo Kuma and Associates

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Royal Academy combines Bill Viola’s video with Michelangelo’s drawings

The Royal Academy in London has mounted an exhibition with the very serious title of “LIFE DEATH REBIRTH,” putting video installations by the American artist Bill Viola (b.1951) together with some drawings by the Renaissance master Michelangelo (1475–1564).

Museum curators have increasingly been foisting such juxtapositions on us, because it is their job to worry about how we should respond to art and right now it feels as if the Old Masters are losing their appeal. Their religious and mythological themes no longer seem so “relevant,” because the will, and the incentives, to understand them are gone. So this new curatorial strategy, which we might call the “Old Master Remix,” is contrived to bring in different crowds at once: a bit of fashionable Contemporary Art will help to cause a stir, while conferring relevance again on the old by showing how it happens to resemble the new.

Equally, the most illustrious works of the past can help to confer a certain historical credibility on the contemporary artworks displayed alongside them—the association alone is enough to suggest that these new works will stand the test of time, with the approval of illustrious institutions such as the Royal Academy. And that is mostly the exercise here: “LIFE DEATH REBIRTH” is primarily a Bill Viola show, with a bit of Michelangelo fairy dust sprinkled on top, as reported in Quillette.

 

Perhaps such grand opportunities come Viola’s way because he makes curators’ jobs easier: they are grateful that they do not have to forge tenuous links between old and new, because the references are already built into the work. All that is left for them to do is imply that Viola is the Old Master of this new medium, video; and it is a good deal, as it saves him the trouble of making such a bold claim for himself.

The same deal was struck again in 2017, when Viola was even given a show at the Palazzo Strozzi, in Florence, Michelangelo’s hometown—the very birthplace of the Renaissance. According to the promotional material, Viola has a “special relationship” with that city too, because it is “where his career in video art began when he was technical director of art/tapes/22, a video production and documentation centre, from 1974 to 1976.” The exhibition was audaciously titled: “Electronic Renaissance.” And it is impossible not to wonder whether this time, maybe, Viola felt some slight embarrassment when he saw that slogan emblazoned on posters around the old cobblestone streets.

To their credit, the curators of the Royal Academy’s exhibition do seem to have been embarrassed by the conceit of “LIFE DEATH REBIRTH.” In the first room, they are at pains to remind us in the wall text:

Many artists through the ages have engaged with the spiritual, but rarely with the purity and intensity shared by Bill Viola and Michelangelo. It is this commonality, rather than a suggestion that Viola is a ‘modern Michelangelo,’ that the exhibition illuminates.

Yet despite such pleading, we cannot help but compare when the works are displayed together; and the balance is even tipped in Viola’s favor because his works dwarf Michelangelo’s in scale. Also, video is so much more immediate, as a medium, than mere drawing.

Viola himself is quoted on the wall: “I happen to use video because…video (or television) is clearly the most relevant visual art form in contemporary life.”

He is quite right about that, as the brutally confrontational hang in the next room proves. All along one long wall is projected Viola’s “Nantes Triptych” (1992). The left video “panel” shows a woman giving birth while the right video “panel” simultaneously shows a death (actually that of the artist’s own mother). In the center there is a figure suspended under water, perhaps to represent the insubstantiality of the conscious phase in the cycle—the short process of living.

No events are more compelling to witness than birth and death, so we cannot look away. It becomes just as interesting to follow the reactions of the people in the room to the video, as they imaginatively chart their own positions in the cycle of life: during my visit, younger women were most noticeably horrified by the birth sequence—they squirmed, recoiled, even gasped and covered their eyes as the baby was at last pulled from the womb.

When the video ended, a few of the spectators turned to look at the opposite wall, to try to engage with a couple of small drawings by Michelangelo showing the “Madonna and Child.” But then, with a sudden popping sound, the video loop started again and the spectators all spun back towards the screens in perfect unison, without a second’s delay for a thought. Screens have a hold over us, automatically commanding our attention; and a drawing cannot hope to compete—at least, not for the moment.

As we proceed through the exhibition, it becomes clear that the immediacy of an image on a screen is also its limitation. Across from a row of some of Michelangelo’s most exquisitely finished drawings—including a number of the so-called “presentation” drawings which were made as personal gifts for the artist’s beloved student, Tommaso de’ Cavalieri (1509–87)—is a 19-minute-long video diptych by Viola showing a nude elderly man on one panel and nude elderly woman on the other, both of them slowly moving flashlights over their bodies to show us the wrinkling of their skin. The effect really is quite painterly, in a Baroque style, reminiscent of Caravaggio (1571–1610); but the similarity to painting is superficial because we do not forget that the performers are real people who belong to the real world—to our world—and not to the abstracted world of art.

Once you turn to Michelangelo’s drawings, the difference is obvious: the artist’s imaginative understanding extends into every single mark. And because all these marks are the expressive products of a singular intelligence, the effect is perfectly coherent. Therein lies beauty. A particularly ravishing drawing shows three of the Labours of Hercules, including his struggle with the many-headed hydra. We see the hero writhing as the monster, with its neck-like tentacles, bites at his muscular body from every angle; but there is no sense of panic, as Hercules turns his head to face his deadly challenger. Michelangelo has barely sketched in the Hydra, so our focus stays on the hero. We begin to see the monster as an apparition—as Hercules’s own nightmare—to which he is now awakening. And Michelangelo’s drawing of the subject affects us like a dream of our own. With such masterly drawing, aesthetic coherence and intellectual coherence are one and the same thing—we feel it, just as the artist conceived it. Nothing is arbitrary; all is created and expressed with control, by design—the Italian word for drawing is disegno.

Wall text tells us: “Bill Viola has consistently used video as an expressive tool for depicting inner states, rather than as a documentary device.”

It is true, at least, that he has tried to make video into a more imaginative medium, equivalent to drawing and painting. But the futility of his efforts is made painfully obvious when we look back at Michelangelo. And it does not even matter how his talent measures up. The basic reason is that photography is always, by its very nature, a “documentary device.” As an “expressive tool,” it is relatively blunt.

All the critics—and the visitors to the show, too—seem to find the “Nantes Triptych” so much more appealing than Viola’s other works. That is simply because the “Nantes Triptych” shows—or documents—a real birth and a real death. All the other videos are staged with actors, but without drama or narrative conflict, in the hope that special effects and fancy lighting will make them look like artistic expressions.

Most of Viola’s work is a sham—and it is, inadvertently, a disparagement of old drawing and painting too. Remember that there is also that central panel to the “Nantes Triptych,” with one of Viola’s suspended bodies—one of his videos attempting to be a painting—and no one ever bothers to watch it. Michelangelo draws us into an imaginative world of endless depth; Viola may give us deep pools of water, but he cannot dissolve the screen—he cannot make us go imaginatively beyond it—so the result is ultimately shallow.

The shallowness of Viola’s work is ensured by his narrow frame of reference. Michelangelo could draw his own visual poetry out of the story of Phaeton, whom we see falling from the sky after his own father, Apollo, sent a thunderbolt to stop his chariot—the Sun—in order to save the Earth. Or he could delight in representing a bacchanal of children, to explore the notion of innocence and its relation to the primitive. Or he could show a group of archers, urged on by the flames of passion, who yet miss their target without the divine guidance of Love.

Michelangelo’s artistic expressions depended on his interpretations of a shared cultural inheritance, which was classical and Christian. His audience knew all the stories and understood their implications; they were treasured as the wisdom of the ancients. Mystery was the way to contemplation. Our times are different; that old frame of reference has been junked, and never replaced, so Viola—and actually any other ambitious artist working today—has little access to such sophisticated ideas. On top of that, he has no intelligible way to represent them.

Viola starts with nothing, and he arrives at nothing. He says that he is searching for “the image that is not an image.” And that, despite using photographic media, he is “not interested in ‘realistic’ rendering.” Then he gets even more muddled:

Sacred art seems very close because of its symbolic nature. I am interested not so much in the image whose source lies in the phenomenal world, but rather the image as artefact, or result, or imprint, or even wholly determined by some inner realisation. It is the image of that inner state and as such must be considered completely accurate and realistic.

The sacred; the symbolic; the inner realization; the real: how do they connect? Does he know, or are these just abstract terms to sprinkle over his art like another special effect? We have to agree on what is sacred, before we find its symbols. To come to such an inner realization—to find some truth—surely we have to believe in something greater than ourselves.

Viola has travelled widely and, is it claimed, he has learnt from Zen Buddhism, Islamic Sufism, and Christian Mysticism. He might imagine that he is producing the sacred art of the New Age, where doctrines can be mixed and matched freely to suit any personal whim (there is something very Californian about his art). But that is probably part of the reason why we soon sense a disturbing lack of conviction. The videos start to appear like so many smug, visual warblings about spirituality as an attitude to strike.

Viola may well have noticed that the most powerful art is religious; but all he does is borrow its stylings, without asking its reasons. To him, the “sacred” seems to mean little more than the iconic—just a certain aesthetic “intensity” which he finds mysterious, but which he calls “mystical.”

Despite Viola’s spiritual aspirations, his videos are clearly products of the Scientistic Age. His approach to art is anthropological, not humanist and not seriously religious. Indeed he wants his images to seem like “artifacts” or “imprints.” One of his weakest video installations, called “The Dreamers” (2013), shows videos of seven people of different ages and races, each on their own screen and, as usual, under water. They hardly move, apart from the odd bubble of air escaping. Posing there in their modern clothes, they look like specimens preserved in formaldehyde, just floating. Waiting to die? Waiting to be venerated as saints? But for what?

If, in 500 years time, people look back at this work—as we are now looking back at Michelangelo—what will it tell them about our culture? They will gain no direct insight into current ideas. But they may see how, at this strange moment in time, it was all right for people to think of, dream of, and believe in, nothing else but themselves. People were important because they existed—that was enough. Viola tends to represents human beings as dying organisms, briefly struggling to keep afloat, by instinct—religion is reduced to an instinct, too—and for no other special reason.

There is far more expression to be found in the Easter Island heads, than there is here. Those giant, blank, stony faces still tell us of an ancient people’s belief in greater forces; and their long stares out to sea demonstrate the people’s desire to know what went on past the horizon. Their sculptors were evidently motivated by a faith in something beyond. Viola’s art, for all its supposed spiritual uplift, has a deadening effect, because its repetitive treatment of mortality includes no concept of “beyond”—and that is the source of all imaginative power, and the real subject of art.

Before Viola’s art becomes too oppressive, it is merely irritating. We do not have to worry so much about its effect through the ages because, whatever the curators wish to imply, it seems unlikely that it will stand the test of time. Viola gives us a figure silhouetted against a wall of fire: if anyone ever dared to paint such a thing, it would be dismissed as irredeemable kitsch by the very same critics who praise it as a piece of video art. Novelty often gets a free pass; yet video art already has its clichés. You walk around these galleries, occasionally shaken by a sudden rumbling bass note; desperate sighs and agonized cries melt into the background, along with amplified splishes and sploshes; and everything has to end in static noise.

Viola has little in common with the Old Masters, and much in common with Damien Hirst (b.1965). They both rely on the same formula, for their success: grand scale and high production values, to confront us with weighty themes like death, at least in the titles for their work—glitz with gravitas. Hirst called his 1991 installation of a dead shark: “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living.” Viola called his videos of the elderly man and woman shining lights on themselves: “Man Searching for Immortality/Woman Searching for Eternity.”However in Michelangelo’s drawings, the deepest ideas can speak for themselves.

In the last room there is the most beautiful drawing of “The Resurrection” (c.1532–33), and the curators’ explanatory note for it is instructive: 

Although this drawing depicts the Resurrection, there is also a suggestion of the Ascension in Christ’s weightless, effortless rise from the tomb, drawn upwards to the divine light of Heaven. Michelangelo combines the material Resurrection with the spiritual Ascension, both body and soul rescued from death.

The pose of Christ here, it occurs to me, happens to express exactly the transcendence that Viola always seeks. But Michelangelo could only arrive at this pose through an understanding of—or even a belief in—the concept of salvation. And because he could draw like a God.

 

Written by Jacob Willer, a painter, critic and historian of art, living in London.

Emerging artists join The Other Art Fair in London

More than 140 artists have taken over the Truman Brewery in London’s East End for the 34th edition of the Other Art Fair, which offers an opportunity to view works by emerging artists – more than half of them women – from 18 different countries, as it was reported by The Guardian.

Fields by Charlotte Agar

Ager is attracted to the poetry in everyday experience. Drawing is at the centre of her work and provides constant reflection and understanding of the world.

 

 

Pop-up exhibition in London held in celebration of Women’s Month

A pop-up exhibition called ‘The Power of the Femme’ has been held  in London produced by the women of The September Issues magazine in celebration of Women’s Month.

As reported in Creative Boom, the biannual magazine, featuring only women contributors, is a campaign for uninhibited creativity and integrity and represents a commitment to self-exploration, change and growth.

Curated from the magazine’s three issues with a select few additional artists, the show is a collection of these fresh and distinct voices who are authoring their identities, defining their own artistic spaces, and creating meaningful work that reflects the diversity and power of global femininity. The art and photography on view is a radical exploration of activism, fashion, beauty, and the female gaze.

The exhibition has been curated and produced with Unfinished Animals, an innovative company that brings artists and organisations together to create powerful and engaging spaces.

‘Power of the Femme’ is part of the St James’s ‘Show In The Dark’ and is on display from now until Sunday 17 March at 192 Piccadilly, Princes Arcade W1J 9EU.

The September Issues: Pom Klememntieff. Photo: Mary Rozzi
The September Issues: Pom Klememntieff. Photo: Mary Rozzi

The September Issues. Photo: Arianna Lago
The September Issues. Photo: Arianna Lago

The September Issues. Photo: Molly Matalon
The September Issues. Photo: Molly Matalon

The September Issues. Photo: Flora Maclean
The September Issues. Photo: Flora Maclean

The September Issues: Kiersey Clemons. Photo: Nadine Ijewere
The September Issues: Kiersey Clemons. Photo: Nadine Ijewere

The September Issues. Photo: Carlijn Jacobs
The September Issues. Photo: Carlijn Jacobs

The September Issues. Photo: Mary Rozzi
The September Issues. Phtto: Mary Rozzi

The September Issues. Photo: Michelle Du Xuan
The September Issues. Photo: Michelle Du Xuan

The September Issues. Photo: Andrea Gentl
The September Issues. Photo: Andrea Gentl

Dundee artist’s paintings to go under the hammer expected to fetch £15,000

70 self-portraits made between 1900 and 1945 exhibited at a New York’s museum

30 artists’ works are on display in “The Self-Portrait from Schiele to Beckmann” at the Neue Galerie, a museum in New York City dedicated to German and Austrian art and design from the 20th century.

The exhibition includes 70 self-portraits made between 1900 and 1945, a period described by the curators as “a pinnacle of European self-portraiture, second only to the Renaissance.” It’s bookended by two modernist masters, Egon Schiele and Max Beckmann, who sprang from the two dominant artistic movements in Germany and Austria during the first half of the 20th century. Schiele was a proponent of Expressionism, a movement known for its bold use of colour, exaggerated shapes and emphasis on emotion. Beckmann, who had been traumatised by his experiences of life on the front line during the first world war, was a follower of New Objectivity, a style known for its crisply detailed naturalism and its satirical take on Weimar society.

It is not surprising that German and Austrian artists gravitated towards the self-portrait during this particularly unstable half-century. Many channelled their anxiety and existential dread onto the canvas, depicting themselves with ambiguous expressions or in visible distress.

The museum offers lighter, more glamorous fare one floor down, where its crown jewel, Gustav Klimt’s “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I” (also known as “The Woman in Gold), hangs alongside some of his other sparkling and pastel-coloured paintings. But after spending time with the exhibition’s cast of troubled, introspective, fascinating characters, Klimt’s languid society beauties may seem relatively lacking in substance.

One of the artists whose works are on displya there is Paula Modersohn-Becker, who was the first woman to paint naked self-portraits. One particularly transgressive work, “Self-Portrait on Her Sixth Wedding Anniversary” (1906, below), depicts her pregnant – though she was not at the time. Her protruding belly symbolised the germination of her artistic talent.

“Self-portrait on her sixth wedding anniversary” (1906) © Museen Böttcherstraße, Bremen

 

Egon Schiele, “Self-Portrait in Brown Coat” (1910)

Mad, bad and dangerous to know, Egon Schiele was the Byronic bad boy of the Viennese art world. In 1912 he was arrested for seducing a minor. During a search of his studio, police found some of his racy nudes and charged him with exhibiting pornography. In court, the judge set fire to one of his drawings.

Compared to those of his mentor and friend Gustav Klimt, whose use of bright colours and languorous curves became associated with fin-de-siècle femininity and genteel eroticism, Schiele’s paintings are abrasive and primal. In his imagination, bodies are contorted and twisted, and ribs and legs jut out at unnatural angles. Pubic hair and genitals are meticulously detailed.

Schiele died aged just 28 during the Spanish-flu pandemic of 1918. During his short life, he painted 240 self-portraits. Some were fairly straightforward nude drawings; others expressed his existential anxieties. In one portrait in the exhibition, “Triple Self-Portrait”, Schiele appears in three guises, representing his multilayered personality. Here, in “Self-Portrait in Brown Coat”, Schiele portrays himself in an ascendant pose: with his tall frame and arms at his sides, he looks as if he is rising into heaven. The otherworldly effect is heightened by the white halo around his head. Schiele believed everyone had a spiritual aura, and often added a halo to portraits and self-portraits.

 

Paula Modersohn-Becker, “Self-Portrait with Two Flowers in Her Raised Left Hand” (1907)

Paula Becker started to draw when she was 16. After studying in London and Berlin, she moved to Worpswede, a German village, to join an artists’ colony. There, she befriended the poet Rainier Maria Rilke and Otto Modersohn, an artist who would become her husband.

Modersohn-Becker’s paintings are distinctive for their muted colour palette and their determination to show women as they really are, rather than as idealised representations of feminity. Despite Modersohn-Becker’s obvious talent (Rilke wrote that she painted her surroundings as “nobody else had seen or could paint”) she often felt that her artistic career was inhibited by her sex. Her most decisive break with convention was to separate from her husband for a year so that she could move to Paris and paint. In 1906 she returned, pregnant, to Modersohn in Germany – probably propelled by a need for money and the comforts of home.

This self-portrait was Modersohn-Becker’s last, painted shortly before her death. One hand rests on her swollen belly, while her other hand holds aloft two pink flowers: traditional symbols of fertility.

Käthe Kollwitz, “Frontal Self-Portrait” (c. 1910)

Another woman to break into the male-dominated art world at the turn of the century was Käthe Kollwitz, an artist who specialised in cutting social commentary. Today she is best known for her prints portraying the plight of working-class people and women who lost husbands and sons in the first world war.

Kollwitz’s use of black and white distinguished her from other more colourful Expressionists. In this charcoal sketch, half of Kollwitz’s face is shrouded in darkness, while the other half appraises the viewer with a weary stare. It hints at the ultimate unknowability of other people – no matter how accurately an artist may render their appearance in a self-portrait, their precise emotions remain impenetrable.

Max Beckmann, “Self-Portrait in front of Red Curtain” (1923)

Set amid carnivals, circuses and cabarets, Max Beckmann’s portraits and self-portraits demonstrate his deep unease with the decadent atmosphere of the Weimar Republic. He combined an unsentimental approach to reality with an acidic sense of humour and an appreciation for the uncanny. This is a typically unsettling painting. Judging by the red curtain, embellished furnishings and fine clothes, Beckmann seems to be at some kind of glamorous event, yet his grimacing face indicates that he’s not pleased to be there.

 

Felix Nussbaum, “Self-Portrait with Jewish Identity Card” (c. 1943)

Felix Nussbaum, a German-Jewish artist, fled Berlin for Brussels after Hitler came to power in 1933. When Germany invaded Belgium in 1940, Nussbaum was arrested and sent to a camp in France. He managed to get permission to go back to Germany, and on his way there escaped to Brussels, where he went into hiding with his partner, Felka. They would remain in hiding until July 1944 when they were found by the Nazis. Nussbaum was murdered a week after arriving at Auschwitz in August 1944. He was 39.

“Self-Portrait with Jewish Identity Card”, painted a year before his death, captures Nussbaum’s increasing sense of claustrophobia and dread. He looks as though he’s trapped in a corner, between tall, concrete walls, and his expression is startled and scared. Stitched onto his coat is a yellow star, the infamous badge that Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe had to wear. In his hand, held aloft as though to show a Gestapo officer, is an identity card, rendered as clearly as a photograph. We can easily read his name, and his designation as a “Juif-Jood” (French and Flemish for Jew), but the town of his birth, Osnabrück, is blurred out, and his nationality is listed as “sans” (without, or none). The Nuremberg Laws of 1935 stripped Jews of their German citizenship.

The Self-Portrait from Schiele to Beckmann Neue Galerie until June 24th 2019

Author: Kylie Warner

Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Atlanticus exhibited in Saudi Arabia

A visitor looks at a page of Leonardo da Vinci's 'Codex Atlanticus' during an exhibition in Rome, to mark 500 years since the artist died. AFP

A visitor looks at a page of Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Codex Atlanticus’ during an exhibition in Rome, to mark 500 years since the artist died. AFP

Pages from the inventor’s largest and most notable notebook are being exhibited in Dammam. For the first time in the region, art lovers and history buffs have the opportunity to see six sheets from Leonardo da Vinci’s famed Codex Atlanticus, now displayed in Saudi Arabia, The National reported.

The Italian polymath’s 12-volume, 1,119-page, bound set of drawings and writings is on loan from the Biblioteca Ambrosiana of Milan, with the support of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and the Pontifical Council for Culture.

The Codex Atlanticus is an extraordinary collection of illustrations and writings prepared by Leonardo, which demonstrates the depth and richness of his work.

The notebook covers a wide variety of subjects and interests, from mathematics to music, urban planning to botany, and flight to weaponry.

The selected sheets are on show at the King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture in Dammam, as part of an exhibition called Through Time and Space, which focuses on the theme of energy.

The papers depict Leonardo’s exploration and study of instruments and tools related to fire and water; opposing elements each as essential to life as the other.

The exhibition, which opens to the public tomorrow and will run until April 14, also marks the 500th anniversary of the great inventor and artist’s death.

The exhibition takes visitors through a 1,400-year journey that begins with the wisdom of the Arabian Golden Age, through Leonardo’s era, and up until present day.

It has been curated by Marcello Smarrelli of Italy. At the entrance of the Great Hall, there is a 30-screen, 20-metre-long video projection that depicts a theoretical path characterising the Golden Age.

Renowned French architect Philippe Rahm has also contributed to the exhibition, inviting visitors to enter a mysterious universe he has created with two suspended spheres, both five metres in diameter, depicting the Sun and the Moon.

It is meant to conjure the atmosphere of a planetarium, and visitors can test their strength, feel the heat and cold and hear the sounds that emanate from these structures, which were created in Dubai.

The exhibition ends with a book, Meteorological Constructions by Rahm, and a video interview with the architect, as he highlights a research method first invented by Leonardo.

“The element that links art to science is the action of looking, the sense of sight,” Smarrelli says. “Leonardo and Rahm both start from the observation of reality to understand phenomena.

“Both used to write, through drawings and written texts, studies and reflections, keeping notebooks that are configured as real artist books.

“In the same way Leonardo da Vinci must find new techniques and means to give shape to his theories, such as the conception of machines for flight or atmospherical painting, for which he invents the nuanced, the chiaroscuro, that was not used before, even Rahm must create new technical tools for his new conception of architecture.”

Source: The National

Brueghel masterpiece theft unconcerning after switching it with fake

Copy of Crucifixion, by Pieter Brueghel the Younger

This copy of Crucifixion, by Pieter Brueghel the Younger, is housed in Budapest

Police in Italy are unconcerned about the daring theft of a Flemish master’s painting – because they had replaced it with a fake a month ago, according to BBC News.

The painting by Pieter Brueghel the Younger, worth millions, apparently vanished from a church on Wednesday.

Thieves used a hammer to smash open its display case and made off in a car.

Hours later, Italian police revealed they had heard rumours of the planned heist – and installed cameras to catch the thieves in the act.

The painting of the crucifixion had also been replaced with a copy, and the original kept safe and sound, they said.

It all happened in the town of Castelnuovo Magra in Liguria, where the painting of the crucifixion is kept in a side alcove of the Santa Maria Maddalena church.

The surveillance footage of the raid is now being carefully studied and investigators are chasing down those responsible.

Earlier, before the switch was revealed, Mayor Daniele Montebello told Italy’s Ansa news agency that the painting was “a work of inestimable value, a hard blow for our community”.

On Wednesday night, he revealed he had been in on the ruse, explaining that “today for investigative reasons we could not reveal anything”.

He also thanked members of the church for holding their peace – “because some faithful had noticed that the one on display was not the original, but did not reveal the secret”.

Pieter Brueghel the Younger was the son of another Flemish artist – Pieter Bruegel the Elder – and is famous for both his own paintings and the copies he made of his father’s work.

The Crucifixion is a well-known piece of which several copies exist, with small differences between them – including one in the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest, Hungary.

All are believed to be variations on an original by Bruegel the Elder – but no original by his hand is known to survive.

Source: BBC news

New exhibition showcases artists’ responses to ‘lost words’

Herring, by Trev Clarke

A couple of years back the Oxford University Press began to delete a whole series of words from its Oxford Children’s Junior Dictionary to make way for new, “seemingly more relevant and familiar words.”

In 2017 Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris published the book The Lost Words – A Spell Book, which celebrated those apparently not-as-useful-as-before words, which rather poignantly seem for the most part rooted in the natural world. Among them are words such as ‘acorn’, ‘conker’, ‘adder’, ‘Kingfisher’, ‘lark’, ‘fern’ and ‘willow’, Creative Boom reported.

Now, a new exhibition entitled The Lost Words – Forget Me Not has been inspired by the book, showcasing artists’ responses through the form of lettering. A number of the UK’s leading lettering artists were asked to choose a ‘recently-lost’ word to carve, in another callback to a process that’s entirely rooted in tradition.

The pieces will be accompanied by the Oxford English Dictionary entries for each of the chosen words, as well as the evidence of their first use. “We are living in an age of loss. Decline, disappearance and extinction are all underway in the natural world at alarming rates,” says MacFarlane.

“This loss is happening on our doorsteps here in Britain; in our fields, woods and cities, where species from skylarks to starlings are slipping away from the landscape and from our lives. The work in this exhibition stands as a stay against this slippage.

“What could be stronger than stone as a means of inscribing and remembering? Each work names and honours an everyday plant or creature. I am dazzled by the craft of the makers whose work is present here; by the combination of artistic vision and manual skill on display…Here is an artistic diversity that recognises nature’s diversity, and seeks to preserve it.”

One of the artists, Anna Louise Parker, chose to illustrate the word heron, “as a heron often comes to our local park pond,” she explains. “It is a privilege to see it, such a strange looking bird, it seems of a distant land or even a past world. It reminds me of the vast and beautiful natural world that is out there, not so far away, but often overlooked in the city parks as children are perhaps more interested in sport and play areas.”

The Lost Words – forget me not runs from 15 March – 26 May 2019 at The Lettering Arts Centre, Snape Maltings, Suffolk.

The Lost Words title stone, Mark Brooks
The Lost Words title stone, Mark Brooks

Fiona Flack, Fern
Fiona Flack, Fern

Wren, by Robyn Golden-Hann, detail
Wren, by Robyn Golden-Hann, detail

Chestnut, by Rachel Gundry
Chestnut, by Rachel Gundry

Minnow, by Stuart Buckle
Minnow, by Stuart Buckle

Acorn, by Eric Marland
Acorn, by Eric Marland

Weasel, by Mark Noad & Michelle DeBruin
Weasel, by Mark Noad & Michelle DeBruin

Conker, by Gillian Forbes
Conker, by Gillian Forbes

Raven, by Andrew Whittle
Raven, by Andrew Whittle

Hazel, by Emi Gordon
Hazel, by Emi Gordon

Adder, by Geoff Aldred
Adder, by Geoff Aldred

Ivy, by Pippa Westoby
Ivy, by Pippa Westoby

Magpie, by Louise Tiplady
Magpie, by Louise Tiplady

 

Kara Walker is to be Tate Modern’s next commission for its Turbine Hall.

Work of African American artist has explored race, gender, sexuality and violence

Kara Walker’s work has included drawings, prints, projections and large-scale sculptural installations.
 Kara Walker’s work has included drawings, prints, projections and large-scale sculptural installations. Photograph: Ari Marcopoulos

An African American artist known for her racially charged art addressing slavery and its legacy, is to be Tate Modern’s next commission for its Turbine Hall.

Kara Walker is probably best known for her use of black cut-paper silhouetted figures to depict scenes of horror. She shot to fame in 1994, when using them to create a room-size mural featuring rape and dismemberment of African American women and children by cheerful white men, and lynched black men dangling from tree branches.

Two years later, Walker became one of the youngest ever recipients of a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant, aged 27.

The choice of the artist to create the prestigious Hyundai commission comes at a time when far-right populism is on the rise. In the US, the election of Donald Trump and a series of police shootings of young black men have prompted fears that civil rights gains are being reversed.

Frances Morris, the Tate Modern director, said: “Kara Walker fearlessly tackles some of the most complex issues we face today. Her work addresses history and identity with a powerful directness, but also with great understanding, nuance and wit. Seeing her respond to the industrial scale of the Turbine Hall – and the wider context of London and British history – is a hugely exciting proposition.”

The details of her creation for the Tate Modern have not been revealed but, since she first came to prominence in the mid-1990s, Walker has been making waves for her candid explorations of race, gender, sexuality and violence.

Her work, including drawings, prints, murals, shadow puppets, projections and large-scale sculptural installation, has often provoked controversy. Walker, whose work has referenced the Confederate states of America, has said in the past that galleries in the south have refused to show her work. She has also faced opposition from older African American artists such as Betye Saar, who campaigned to get Walker’s work banned from public galleries, arguing it played into white stereotypes of black people.

Walker has said her art “makes people queasy. And I like that queasy feeling.”

Her first large-scale public commission opened in the derelict Domino sugar refinery in Brooklyn in 2014, addressing the history of sugar production and its inextricable link with slavery. Over 10 metres high and 23 metres long, A Subtlety was a monumental sculpture of a sphinx-like figure, covered in sugar and surrounded by smaller figures made of toffee, brown sugar and molasses.

She has since designed and directed a production of Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma for the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015.

Most recently, she created The Katastwóf Karavan 2017, a musical installation as part of the Prospect.4 triennial in New Orleans. A calliope (steam-powered organ) set inside a steel wagon and encircled by silhouetted figures played songs of African American resistance.

Previous memorable Turbine Hall commissions have included Olafur Eliasson’s Weather Project installation, inviting people to lie down and bask in dazzling fake sunlight, Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower Seeds, and Carsten Höller’s hair-raising slides.

Walker’s work for the Turbine Hall will be open to the public from Wednesday 2 October 2019 to Sunday 5 April 2020.

Source: The Guardian