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The Guardian

Feb 10 2017
Kiki Smith’s Sky: a layer cake of art history, myth, identity and nature

This 2012 work, created on a computerised Jacquard loom, shows how the artist has moved from the physical to the celestial

Kiki Smith’s huge, new-agey tapestry is a typically personal layer cake of art history, myth, female identity and nature. The split between the underworld, earth and heavens recalls the cosmology of the Celts, Native and Central Americans. Its floating nude might be a sprite, a spirit or a goddess.

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The Guardian

Feb 10 2017
Joan Eardley: the forgotten artist who captured Scotland's life and soul

Children from Glasgow’s slums, bleak seascapes, village fishermen at work … the vibrant visions of Joan Eardley are finding a new following

Joan Eardley, who died aged only 42 in 1963, is barely known in England. In 2007 the National Galleries of Scotland mounted a full retrospective, which attracted a new Scottish audience to her art. Currently, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art offers a more focused exhibition, concentrating on her passion for two places: Townhead, a poor part of Glasgow; and Catterline, a small fishing village a hundred miles north of Glasgow, on the Kincardineshire coast. Yet there are no known plans for this show to travel to any other part of Britain, even though Eardley, acclaimed as an artist of world-class importance, had an English father and was born in Sussex.

She moved to Scotland almost by happenstance. In 1929, when she was just seven, her father, who had been gassed during the first world war and had experienced failure as a dairy farmer, killed himself. Her mother decided to take Joan and her younger sister back to her family home at Blackheath, London, to live with their grandmother and aunt. But late in 1939, mother, grandmother and the two girls moved to Bearsden, a well-to-do suburb north-west of Glasgow, thereby escaping a London threatened with German bombing raids. Having spent a brief period at Goldsmiths College of Art, Joan began her studies at Glasgow School of Art in January 1940. This same year, while almost crippled with shyness, she began frequenting the studio of the Polish artist Josef Herman, then living in Glasgow, whose cursory style of drawing may have freed up her own. She also began exploring the east of the city, sensing that its vitality lay in this direction.

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The Art Newspaper

Feb 10 2017
Three to see: London
Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin's Fantasy (1925) is on show in Revolution: Russian Art 1917–32 at the Royal Academy of Arts (© 2016, State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg)
 
Works by Russia's most famous artists, from Malevich and Rodchenko to Kandinsky and Chagall are often ripped from context in museum shows, but in Revolution: Russian Art 191732 at the Royal Academy of Arts the shadow of an idealistic but ultimately brutal and inhumane revolution looms large. And it gives the exhibition, which opens tomorrow (11 February- 17 April), a sense of the tumultuous and dangerous climate in which these masterpieces were made. Propaganda posters and films punctuate the art throughout the rooms, but none as fiercely as the final video installation: a silent slideshow of photographs of intellectuals, teachers, actors and writers who perished at the hands of the communist regime.

Vanessa Bell is stepping out of the shadows of her sisterVirginia Woolfand of the male-dominated Bloomsbury group at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. The circle of English artists and writers has been remembered as all Roger Fry, Duncan Grant, Lytton Strachey, Maynard Keynes and the rest of them, with Virginia Woolf as the intellectual linchpin, says Ian Dejardin, the museums director and co-curator of Vanessa Bell: 1879-1961 (until 4 June 2017). But actually, Vanessa Bell was at the centre of it all. The exhibition, which opened this week, is the first major survey dedicated to the Modernist artist and includes around 100 of her paintings as well as ceramics, textiles and photographs. It aims to show how Bell broke away from her repressive Victorian upbringing to develop a lifestyle that itself became a work of art, Dejardin says.

David Hockney may be Britains most popular living artistTate Britain ticket sales for David Hockney(until 29 May) have gone through the roofbut, as this lucidly curated survey is at pains to point out, right from the start he has also been relentlessly experimental in his attempt to represent reality in two dimensions. And at the same time, he has been dedicated to challenging and interrogating conventions of art making. Hockneys move from the gritty prudishness of austerity Britain, to sunny and sexy Los Angeles is amply represented here too, in an outpouring of the brilliantly hedonistic painted swimming pools, sprinklers and boys-on-beds or in showers that have become his trademark.
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The Art Newspaper

Feb 10 2017
Nathan Coley sets fire to (a tiny) Tate Modern for London show
Nathan Coley, Tate Modern on Fire (detail, 2017) (Image: © Nathan Coley 2017. Courtesy Parafin, London. Photo: Peter Mallet)
I sat in shock, with tears in my eyes, at the sight of the flames ripping through the roof, and thick black smoke engulfing that so familiar building. How could this be happening? The text that accompanies the Glaswegian artist Nathan Coleys new exhibition, which opens at Parafin gallery in London today (until 18 March) could easily have evoked the shock of seeing Mackintoshs Glasgow School of Art, where Coley studied, ablaze in 2015. But in fact its a fictional response to a fire at another much loved but more recently built artistic venue: Tate Modern, of which Coley has created a scale model, with flames and black smoke billowing from its Switch House.

Its not the first time an artist has imagined and pictured a fire at a major building: Coleys work is a nod in the direction of Ed Ruschas painting The Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Fire (1965-68). And while Coleys work is characteristically ambiguous, loaded with many meanings, it also has a troubling prescience: a press release speaks of living in a time when cultural institutions are deemed viable targets by terrorist groups such as IS. Within a couple of weeks of its issue, a man had attacked a patrolling soldier outside the Louvre. The image of a prominent public building on fire carries a host of troubling associations, the press release continued. Coleyno stranger to analysing terrorism, having created work based on the trials of the bombers of the Pan Am aeroplane that came down in Lockerbie Scotland in 1988couldnt have predicted just how troubling, and how much more resonant, his work would become.
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The Guardian

Feb 10 2017
Wolfgang Tillmans and Volcanoes: this week’s best UK exhibitions

From one of art’s greatest contemporary photographers to the rich cultural history of famous eruptions

A period that shook the world is marked by this centenary show about the Russian Revolution’s impact on art. While the bourgeois art collecting that had brought Matisse’s Dance to Russia was killed by the Bolsheviks, the first 15 years of communism saw public commissions aplenty as modern art became utopian agitprop. Here is some of the greatest art of the 20th century made under some of the most difficult conditions.
At Royal Academy of Arts, W1, from Saturday 11 February to Monday 17 April

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The Guardian

Feb 09 2017
That's so random: Jan Cieslikiewicz's search for order – in pictures

Polish photographer Jan Cieslikiewicz went from maths at Harvard to a Wall Street trading job – and then left it behind to embrace uncertainty

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artforum.com

Feb 09 2017
SLANT: On the Ground: Athens
Cathryn Drake on the ground in Athens
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The New York Times

Feb 09 2017
Art and Museums in NYC This Week
Our guide to new art shows, and some that will be closing soon.
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artforum.com

Feb 09 2017
FILM: What’s in a Name?
Amy Taubin on Travis Wilkerson’s Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun?
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The New York Times

Feb 09 2017
What to See in New York Art Galleries This Week
Matt Keegan’s video installation on family dynamics, Brian O’Doherty’s take on Minimalism and Conceptualism, an exhibit on the human image and more.
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The New York Times

Feb 09 2017
The Artist Vija Celmins Conjures Sea and Sky With a Brush
After a hiatus of almost seven years since her last exhibition, Ms. Celmins returns with a new body of work, at Matthew Marks.
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The New York Times

Feb 09 2017
Show Us Your Wall: Love a Piece of Art? Grab It While You Can
Norman Braman, an auto dealer and former owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, says if you don’t move on a piece of art, “somebody else is going to move more quickly.”
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The Art Newspaper

Feb 09 2017
Black Panthers meet pink spray paint in New York
Sadie Barnette with her installation My Father’s FBI File: Part II (2016). The artist has added pink spraypaint and rhinestones to pages from the file
A revolutionary chapter in US history is revealed in Do Not Destroy (until 18 February) at New Yorks Baxter Street Gallery. The artist Sadie Barnette used a 500-page FBI surveillance file on her father, Rodney Barnette, a founder of the Black Panther Partys Compton, California, chapter in 1968, for the new work in her solo show. The installation My Fathers FBI File: Part II (2016) shows pages that the artist has altered with pink spray paint, rhinestones and the redacted names of ten informants, stamping on the front: Historical Value/Do Not Destroy. Another work pairs two blown-up 1960s Polaroid pictures of the artists father: one showing the newly drafted 21-year-old in an army uniform and medals, the other depicting him in the Panthers uniform of leather jacket and black beret. Rodney Barnette says it is kind of liberating for me to finally see the thorough and intense monitoring and spying and attempts to disrupt the black liberation movement.
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The Art Newspaper

Feb 09 2017
Beautifully and thoughtfully presented: on the Nicolas Poussin catalogue raisonné

Nicolas Poussin: les Tableaux du Louvre is an initial instalment of the long-awaited catalogue raisonn of the paintings of Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665) by Pierre Rosenberg. A towering figure in the study of French Old Masters since the 1970s, Rosenberg was the director of the Muse du Louvre between 1994 and 2001, and before that, for many years the chief curator of the Louvres department of painting.

The catalogue builds on Rosenbergs seminal works from 1994 marking the painters 500th anniversary: the catalogue raisonn of the drawings (written with Louis-Antoine Prat) and the catalogue of the landmark Grand Palais exhibition. In the intervening years, Rosenberg organised the 2008 exhibition Poussin and Nature: Arcadian Visions (Bilbao and New York), devoted to the artists reinvention of the Classical landscape. He distils all of this deep thinking about Poussin into the present volume, rendering it a definitive work on the master. Quite simply, no one knows his art better.

Rosenberg here presents 40 of the museums works by Poussin, an extraordinary survey, studded with masterpieces and far surpassing the holdings of any other institution. He devotes one chapter to the development of this remarkable ensemble. While the first Poussin in the collection was a royal commission (The Institution of the Eucharist, 1640), the majority were acquired during the reign of Louis XIV (1643-1715) through intermediaries. The king allegedly secured the Duc de Richelieus 13 canvases following a wager on a tennis match.

Many works came from the collections of Poussins two foremost French patrons, correspondents and friends, Paul Frart de Chantelou and Jean Pointel. Nonetheless, major worksmost notably the second set of the Seven Sacramentsmanaged to elude the royal collection. The 18th century was a dry spell, despite the superb collection amassed by the Duc dOrlans, the kings nephew and regent to Louis XV, which was ultimately dispersed to England. One senses Rosenbergs regret that the Louvres Poussin collection is merely the largest, rather than fully comprehensive.

The 1994 exhibition and catalogue coincided with and spawned an outpouring of new Poussin scholarship, which continued for the next decade, including the discovery of new works (two of them in the Louvre). A new catalogue has long been needed to evaluate this bounty succinctly in the context of a systematic, chronological review of the painters output. This catalogue has an excellent critical apparatusbeyond a full provenance, each entry features an extensive, more or less complete, list of references to works that address the particular painting, keyed to an exhaustive bibliography. Rosenberg affirms that many studies, especially those more historically grounded, enrich our understanding of Poussin, though he is sceptical of the accumulation of recondite interpretations, often with vying claims, attached to some of the best-known works.  

In the valedictory Four Seasons, for instance, Poussin distils a lifetime of pictorial sagacity in constructing imposing seasonal landscapes to stage a series of Old Testament narratives. Interpretations have ranged from tracing an analogical subtext of Christian judgment, death and salvation to discerning a Neo-Stoic order of natural cycles detached from providence.

Rosenberg writes: Such analyses neglect, too much so to our eyes, the essential, extraordinary beauty of these landscapes, their harmonious equilibrium, the observed details so judicious that they hardly detract from the vision of the whole, their freshness of invention, their colours suited to each of the seasons, the tender greens of Spring, the blonde wheat of Summer, the lavender blues of Autumn, the glacial greys of interminable rain in the Deluge. As such, like Denis Mahon before him, Rosenberg is defending Poussins supreme merit as a painter, as a visual composer of tales, against his reputation as a peintre-philosophe, embodied in Anthony Blunts monolithic portrait of Poussin as the rational, Stoic scholar-artist.

The more recent scholarship of Elizabeth Cropper and Charles Dempsey shows with greater nuance how Poussin engaged productively with the antiquarian learning and literary culture of his time, in terms of shared intellectual values, rather than the strict determination of cultural context on artistic form. Given Poussins commitment to pictorial narrative, it is hardly surprising that his paintings have served as case studies of semiotic theory, paralleling 17th-century theories of the sign.

Nowhere is this more true than in The Israelites Gathering the Manna in the Desert. Here, Poussin attempted to stage the complete plot of famine, miracle and salvation within the unified space of the pictorial field. Aware of his radical experiment, the artist instructed the patron, Read the story and the picture. Scanning the picture from left to right, like a text, one registers the significance of each figure group, reconfiguring the climactic sweep of the narrative. Rosenberg wonders: Have not the multiplication of figures (like the multiplication of interpretations), the too numerous biblical and visual references, the rigorous, ambitious discipline, to which Poussin had willingly submitted himself, stifled somewhat this inspiration, this inventiveness that one so frequently admires in the artist?

For Rosenberg, then, such emphasis on the pictorial structure of narration can get in the way of responding to the visual refinement of the artists worka unique beauty that emerges through calibration instead of visceral allure, and requires sustained looking. Rosenberg has a point, and no one has a more profound understanding of Poussin's unique painterly sensibility, as the vivid pictorial analyses throughout the volume testify. But are such aims necessarily mutually exclusive? To some degree, might Poussins beauty reside in the elegance of his visual eloquenceand even how his evocative pictures might accommodate more esoteric exegesis when a certain plausibility is demonstrated?

The publisher has admirably assisted Rosenberg in making the case for the dlectation of Poussins painted oeuvrein terms of visual production, the catalogue could hardly be more compendious, or lavish. Each entry features a full-page illustration, several large and telling details, images of related drawings, early engravings and Gobelins tapestries, and comparative material. For a 400-page volume of such splendour, coupled with the authoritative and insightful text, the list price of 39 is a steal. This preview makes one eagerly anticipate the full catalogue raisonn, wherein the entirety of Poussin's work will be so beautifully and thoughtfully presented.


Jonathan Unglaub is the associate professor of fine arts at Brandeis University. A primary area of his research has been the art and literary culture of Nicolas Poussin. He is the author of Poussin and the Poetics of Painting: Pictorial Narrative and the Legacy of Tasso (2006) and Poussins Sacrament of Ordination: History, Faith and the Sacred Landscape (2013). His current research is focused on Italian Renaissance and Baroque art


Nicolas Poussin: les Tableaux du Louvre

Pierre Rosenberg


Somogy Editions dArt, 400pp, 39 (hb)
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The Art Newspaper

Feb 09 2017
Influential then, forgotten since, remembered again: on Nino Costa

Ironically, for a man who threw in his lot with his English artist friends and sold almost exclusively to English patrons, Nino (Giovanni) Costa (1826-1903) is little known and woefully under-represented in English public collections. There are two paintings in the Ashmolean and two in the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath. Obviously he is appreciated by the circle of admirers and collectors of Etruscan landscape painting, the name adopted in 1883 by Costa and the group of English artists who were drawn to Costas particular vision, and they have not been without exhibitions and scholarly attention. Costa wanted to make his mark in his native country, but he sold only one work in Italy, finding his patrons among the English Aesthetes. He exhibited in London intermittently, at the Royal Academy, the Grosvenor Gallery, the New Gallery and the Fine Art Society, the last, in 1882, a successful monographic show that established his popularity in this country. His biography, published in 1904 and begun during his lifetime and with his co-operation, was by a young Englishwoman, Olivia Rossetti Agresti, niece of Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

Costa was born in Rome in 1826. When he was 21 and a passionate patriot, he joined the Young Italy movement, fighting for liberty and the unification of Italy in the 1848 campaign. The Risorgimento had many English supporters and his political stance may have been a factor in his sympathetic reception here. He was to interrupt his artistic career twice more in 1859 and 1870, fighting for the cause. It was after the 1859 campaign that he prudently spent a period living in Florence, a revelation to him of artistic riches. The complex events leading to the unification of Italy in 1870 and Costas own participation are outlined in the first chapter, an essential prelude to understanding Costas place in modern Italian art and in a broader international context.

He had to leave Rome temporarily in 1849, but was eventually able to return and set up his studio in the Via Margutta. He frequented the Caff Greco, favoured haunt of artists and writers, among them Frederic Leighton, George Heming Mason and William Blake Richmond in the early 1850s. Edgar Barclay and Walter Crane were influenced by him in the 1870s. He went to Paris, where he met Corot, an important influence, and he spent time in England painting the muted green English countryside, a great contrast to his light-filled Italian scenes. He was sought out by George Howard (later Earl of Carlisle), an aspiring painter, who was to become his most important patron, in Rome in 1865, and who later visited him at Naworth Castle in Cumbria. The formation of this circle was to result in a fruitful period in which Costa produced a number of important works, including his self-proclaimed masterpiece, Women loading wood on boats at Porto dAnzio (1852). In spite of his best efforts, Costa did not really master the English language.

To Costas advantage, many of these new friends were influential in the London art world. Untangling the intricacies of art movements in Italy in the 19th century, not to mention the often obscure byways of French landscape painting beyond the Barbizon and Fontainebleau schools, is no mean feat and it is dealt with here in considerableand usefuldetail.

Living up to the promise of the subtitle, following chapters tackle Costas relationship to French and German landscape painting, the lure of Italy for British painters, and Costas impact on Italian landscape painting, particularly in relation to the Macchiaioli (with whom he should not be confused), pointing out similarities and differences. Costa is rightly admired for his rigorous approach to al fresco landscape; his attempts at a Leightonesque or French Salon manner cannot be said to be successful and, on the whole, did not attract his English patrons. Costas modern admirers have little to say about them.

That this is the most detailed examination of Costas career and painting techniques to date is one point, but placing him in the under-researched context of landscape painting across Italy, Britain, France, Switzerland and Germany (the Spanish and Americans in Rome play a more minor role, in the case of the Americans, perhaps a bit of an oversight), tosses up an almost overwhelming plethora of unfamiliar names for further consideration. The question of whether they compare directly with the man Costa or with his landscape innovations is maybe not relevant when the total picture of a genre is convincing.


Charlotte Gere is a writer, exhibition curator and 19th-century decorative arts specialist, with many publications on jewellery, design and historic interiors, most recently Artistic Circles: Design and Decoration in the Aesthetic Movement (2010) and Jewellery in the Age of Queen Victoria, a Mirror to the World (2010, with Judy Rudoe), winner of the 2011 William M.B. Berger Prize for British Art History


Nino Costa (1826-1903): Transnational Exchange in European Landscape Painting

Arnika Schmidt


Silvana Editoriale/Studi della Bibliotheca Hertziana, No. 10, 256pp, 70 (hb)
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The Art Newspaper

Feb 09 2017
Root of an unfocus: how Merce Cunningham developed common time into an artistic strategy
Merce Cunningham Dance Company performing Event for the Garden    Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, Minneapolis, 12 September 1998. (Photo: Walker Art Center Archives)
Merce Cunningham: Common Time, an exhibition opening this month at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis (8 February-30 July) and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago (11 February-30 April), looks at the seminal choreographer's 70-year career and his collaborations with John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg and Bruce Nauman, among many others. In this edited excerpt from introduction to the exhibition catalogue, the show's lead curator, Fionn Meade, explains the genesis of Cunningham's idea of "common time."


With characteristic intention and clarity, Merce Cunningham dated his first mature piece of choreography to Root of an Unfocus (1944), the centerpiece of a series of six dances that made up his first solo concert. The performance took place in New York City in 1944, five years after he moved from Seattle to dance in the Martha Graham Company and two years into his partnership with composer John Cage. All six dances were prepared in collaboration with musical compositions by Cage, who presented additional works of his own that April evening. For this do-it-yourself affair, Cunningham made his own costumes, Cage designed the program flyers, and both footed the bill to rent the theater. More importantly, this self-acknowledged debut registers on a level beyond being brash and self-starting: it demonstrates just how early the duos radical approach to collaboration gained momentum. Unencumbered by expectations of accompaniment, their alliance was driven rather by a principle of simultaneity and independence for dance and music within a shared register. For Cunningham, this moment was the beginning of a career that operated out of a root of an unfocus that was based in collaborative work and would stretch over six decades of restive creation. Cunningham later told an interviewer that Root of an Unfocus was made when I was still concerned with expression. It was about fear. Even so, the dance marked a crucial turning point for both Cunningham and Cage, as it pivoted around the notion that time, rather than melody or narrative, should constitute the underlying relationship between dance and music. Having agreed on a durational structure where sound and movement would align only at the transitions between the dances three sections, Cunningham and Cage were free to create independently of one another, with their shared aesthetic only fully revealed in the performance itself. The radically deconstructed space and time that began with this work was subsequently inscribed as existing in between dance and music. As Cunningham told it to author Calvin Tomkins as early as 1962, the ripple effect implicit in this first works title quickly became concentric and widening:


The main thing about itand the thing everybody missedwas that its structure was based on time, in the same sense that a radio show is. It was divided into time units, and the dance and music would come together at the beginning and the end of each unit, but in between they would be independent of each other. This was the beginning of the idea that music and dance could be dissociated, and from this point on the dissociation in our work just got wider and wider.


This dissociative experiment would be developed into a praxis that would not only endure but also thrive over nearly six decades of shared work and hundreds of collaborations across disciplines. The root of an un- swiftly became a network, circulating what Cunningham would later describe as a shared history that reflects to me a change or enlargement of the underlying principle that music and dance could be separate entities independent and interdependent, sharing a common time.

Indeed, common time as made operative by Cage and Cunningham is an inter- register in which things are taken apart in order to be reassembled. Borrowing promiscuously in order to discover unforeseen configurations, Cunningham and Cage did not create a pure vocabulary but rather an alongside sensibility that was, as Cunningham put it, independent yet interdependent. They pursued this inter- approach by maintaining autonomy within shared duration, a trajectory that early on crossed from modern into contemporary aesthetics. The Merce Cunningham Dance Company (MCDC), founded in 1953 at Black Mountain College, was the catalytic engine, an unparalleled and unique nexus of collaborative practice oscillating within the frame of choreography that continues to reverberate today.

With common time as the core ethos of their work, Cunningham and Cage overturned a succession of conventions during their first decade together, in the process opening up the fertile and nervy ground from which MCDC emerged. With a propulsive imperative that demanded what Cunningham called a continuing flexibility in the relation of the arts, their collaboration shape-shifted the landscape of modern art as no other had ever done, creating a nearly cellular approach to composition methods. It was understood from the outset that MCDC could expand but also contract, serving as an inter- platform and fluctuating organism for unprecedented levels of interdisciplinary experimentation. Through its many iterations, the company and its network of collaborators maintained an attitude of openness to change (and changes). Exits and entrances abound. Working within and through common time demands acceleration, deeply focused technique, and a highly adaptive use of version and variation that Cunningham described as ongoing: We are involved in a process of work and activity, not in a series of finished objects.

Autonomy in collaboration, independence and interdependence: this was not business as usual. Their success derived in no small part from an early mutual acknowledgment of the different skills each brought to their collaborations. Not surprisingly, their experiments began in a studio. In 1938, Cunningham was a second year student at the Cornish School (now the Cornish College of the Arts) in Seattle, and Cage was the new dance accompanist and composer, just arrived from Carmel, California, with his then wife, Xenia. Cage was already beginning to explore the simultaneous composition of both dance and music, and it was immediately apparent to both Cunningham and Bonnie Bird, who ran Cornishs dance department, that Cage was radical and risk-taking. As Bird recalled, John was marvelously stimulating. The creative work of the students took on a whole new dimension. I remember his using the floor like a great blackboard, on which he drew; he got the students to recognize time in terms of divisions of time and space, and made visual analogies for them. Cunningham, too, recalled a wholly immersive how to attitude in the classes that Cage taught for Bird when she was traveling. [It was] a revelationsuddenly there was something very precise and very strict to work with. He simply made us make things. You had to think about it, not just have some feeling about what you were going to do next, but think about it, and that was an extraordinary experience.

In Cage's work, time was privileged over progression and duration became the central frame of experimentation. In 1941, for example, Cage collaborated with fellow composer Lou Harrison on a work entitled Double Music, for which each wrote a part independently and combined them without alteration into the final composition. This simultaneity of independent work extends to the durational method further developed with MCDC, as Cage and Cunningham adopted an approach to collective production inspired by a wide range of sources, from the Bauhaus to their own early studio and concert experiments at Cornish.


Cunninghams retrospective assessment of Root of an Unfocus, which he acknowledged still worked with expressive behavior, benefits from a comparison with two solos created ten years later that, taken together, show the expanding nature of common time over these pivotal early years. The differences between them reveal the crucial role chance operations (Cage and Cunningham shared the use of this term) played at this time in expanding and focusing the evolution of Cunninghams movement vocabulary. In Untitled Solo (1953), Cunningham first used the ritual of the coin toss to determine, through chance, the outline for a sequence of isolated movements that could be combined with unexpected results. [Using chance means] I also began to see that there were all kinds of things that we thought we couldnt do, and it was obviously not true. If you try it, a lot of the time you can do it, and even if you cant, it shows you something you didnt know before. Untitled Solo follows Cages first use of chance in composing Sixteen Dances (1950 1951), the sound accompaniment for Cunninghams Sixteen Dances for Soloist and Company of Three, a breakthrough that Cage saw as moving him outside of inclination, or predetermined creation. As he put it, I reached the conclusion I could compose according to moves on these charts instead of according to my own taste. By applying chance operations to the core of their respective compositional practices, Cage and Cunningham moved beyond taste and toward unexpected amplitude, folding time in on itself in the process. For Cage, this move was directly related to his increased use of electronics and the micro- exploration of sound within their collaborations. For his part, Cunningham experimented first on himself, and then on the body of a company. The space between nerve and expanded gesture opened up.

In Changeling (1957), the embodied motif of chance concatenation moving against memory and familiarity is taken even further than in Untitled Solo. Ten minutes in length, Cunninghams performance expresses the dynamic of a changeling, a being masquerading as human but with otherworldly presence. The demanding choreography, in which possible movements for head, torso, arms, and legs were determined separately, exemplifies his striking ability as a performer. Broken into isolated phrases only to be remixed via a series of coin tosses, the movements contort in a push-and-pull tension when fit together.

Changeling is one of Cunninghams most enigmatic early solo dances. Capturing an essential dissolution at the heart of acutely observed gesture, it was concerned with what he called the possibility of containment and explosion being instantaneous. In just a single sequence, Changeling encapsulated the unique compression central to the elaboration of his choreography as a recombinatory aesthetic. (Indeed, Cunningham would often share with friends that he was convinced he himself was a changeling.) Recently discovered film footage of the dance, shot during a 1958 European tour by the company, displays Cunninghams virtuosic technical skill and daring decentralization of the body, a mix that would characterize his style as a solo performer and choreographer from then on. Now free to combine ordinary movement drawn from everyday observation and social behavior with modern and classical dance technique, Cunninghams choreography embraced a new hybridity and acceleration through a field of wide-ranging quotation fueled by chance operations.

During three formative summers at Black Mountain College in 1948, 1952, and 1953, Cage and Cunningham were exposed to an impressive array of artists, composers, designers, architects, and writers and experienced a flurry of approaches to radical pedagogy. Embracing an evolving praxis, Cunningham began to offer regular classes in dance technique in New York in 1951, while Cage taught musical composition at the New School of Research for four years beginning in 1956. Through their distinctive how to experimental pedagogies, Cage and Cunningham played an increasingly pivotal role in the burgeoning downtown New York art scene, directly influencing the most risk-taking and influential art movements of the era, from Fluxus and the Judson Dance Theater to Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), as well as a remarkable group of the next generation of innovators, including George Brecht and Trisha Brown. But nowhere was this ever-widening influence more profound than within the company itself.

The Merce Cunningham Dance Company was formed by Cunningham after an exhilarating summer at Black Mountain College in 1953. He had brought to that session a group of young dancers who had been studying with him off and on in New York; among them was Carolyn Brown, who would be his principal dancer for more than fifteen years. The founding of the company happened a year on from the previous summer session at Black Mountain, during which Cages Theater Piece No. 1, or Theater Event #1, as Cunningham referred to it, had taken place. Cunningham described this now infamous and influential piece rather nonchalantly: The audience was seated in the middle unable to see everything that was happening. There was a dog that chased me around the arena. Nothing was intended to be other than it was, a complexity of events the spectator could deal with as each chose. Reflecting as it does an increasingly important expectation of the spectator to unfocus their attention to the work and learn to follow simultaneity itself, the pedagogical stakes were heightened, plentiful, and in motion at the time the company was formed.

Indeed, many of Cages students at the New School recalled that they received and rejected his teaching in equal measure, which was exactly the responsive quality that he looked to instill through his teaching. Cages radical acceptance of incident and duration, along with a multilayered use of chance, cultivated what he described as response ability in the active listener. To cultivate response ability is not to court followers to a method but to spur new levels of acceptance and residual impact, something that both Cage and Cunningham lived by in their pedagogical approaches. Cunninghams students and company dancers alike worked through and off of the demands of his approach. As Yvonne Rainer wrote in a third-person passage recounting her experience working and studying with Cunningham, this could be both exhilarating and limiting: You must love the daily work, he would say. She loved him for saying that, for that was one prospect that thrilled her about dancingthe daily involvement that filled up the body and the mind with an exhaustion and completion that left little room for anything else. Beside that exhaustion, opinion paled. And beside that sense of completion, ambition had to be especially tenacious. But while absorbing the spirit of his genius she fought its letter.

Even as any historic consideration of the use of everyday observed gesture or task-based movement (as Judson collaborators would describe it) has to begin with Merce Cunninghams experiments, it was clear to Cunningham himself that the terrain of common time within choreographic inquiry required demanding and expansive training with inter- forms. As he reflected on the period, he contrasted his own trajectory with that of the Judson Dance Theater: It all struck me as very limited. The instant they attempted something outside that, it didnt work because they didnt have the training. I was always interested in all kinds of movement. They said no to this and no to that, and my idea was to say yesnot to be fixed but to be flexible and open. His own path, by contrast, had been a polymorphous and constantly shifting path of acceleration and increased amplitude.

Cunninghams permissive yet rigorous style was not lost on the younger collaborators who joined MCDC, including the companys first art director, Robert Rauschenberg. Minutiae (1954), Rauschenbergs first collaboration with Cunningham, initiated a fertile decade of work together that would continue through MCDCs 1964 world tour. Rauschenbergs dcor for Minutiae, which is considered his first Combine, premiered in the dance weeks ahead of his exhibition at the Charles Egan Gallery in New York City, a solo show that featured a group of so-called Red Paintings and important early Combines such as Charlene (1954). In his invitation to Rauschenberg to participate in the company by making something for the dance area of what was then an unfinished piece of choreography, Cunningham gave the younger painter scant direction, noting only that it might be something with passages, and that we could move through it, around it, and with it if he so liked. Years later, when further describing the highly independent collaborative work of Minutiae to Calvin Tomkins, Cunningham remembered the collaboration with charming matter-of-factness:

Bob had made a very beautiful object that hung from the ceiling, with ribbons trailing from it. I knew right away it wouldnt do because it couldnt be installed in the sorts of places we performed in then college auditoriums where there were no flies to hang anything from. Bob understood at once. Hes always been completely practical in his work with us. He said hed do something else, and what he did the second time was really wonderful. It was a freestanding construction in two sections, so the dancers could go in between them, and there was a lot of collage. I loved it because you couldnt say just what it was. One critic, after the first performance of the piece, complained for this reason. She said she didnt know whether it was supposed to be a bathhouse at the beach or a fortune-tellers booth, or what. That was just what I liked about it.


Fionne Meade is the lead curator of Merce Cunningham: Common Time



Merce Cunningham: Common Time, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 8 February-30 July Merce Cunningham: Common Time, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, 11 February-30 April
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The Art Newspaper

Feb 09 2017
Swann's star lots
Space nerds and photography buffs alike will be tempted by the 14 February auction, Icons and Images: Photographs and Photobooks at Swann Auction Galleries in New York, which offers 325 lots from the 19th and 20th centuries, many by boldfaced names like Margaret Bourke-White, Lewis Hine and Imogen Cunningham. The sale features a number of images related to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), including a collection of 22 large-format prints from NASA's archives (est. $15,000-$25,000), and six archival binders with around 280 photographs documenting Apollo Missions ten through 17 (est. $7,000-$6,000). For those who gravitate towards subjects on Earth, other lots include 50 collotypes from the photographic motion series Animal Locomotion (1887) by the English photographer Eadweard Muybridge (est. $30,000-$45,000), 32 photographs of the 1936 summer Olympics in Berlin, shot by the filmmaker and Nazi propagandist Leni Reifenstahl (est. $25,000-$35,000) and an 1887 portrait of the American poet Walt Whitman attributed to the artist Thomas Eakins (est. $4,000-$6,000). An auction preview is now on view to the public (through 14 February, midday).
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The Art Newspaper

Feb 09 2017
It’s good golly, Miss Molly, as ex-fashionista Molly Parkin reveals her rediscovered mojo for art
The incomparable Molly Parkin was in fine and filthy-mouthed form as she celebrated what was astonishingly her 85th birthday at the Stash Gallery this week. The gallery in Londons Whitechapel area is showing an exhibition of her accomplished and multifarious paintings spanning nearly six decades (until 11 March).

Parkin is best known as an icon of the Swinging Sixties, a legendary fashion editor for Nova magazine and the Sunday Times, who swung higher and harder than most, and went on to become a famously raunchy novelist, journalist and TV celebrity. Yet painting has always been her most enduring love. I came to hate the fucking fashion business, but I needed to pay the bills, admits the woman who won Fashion Editor of the Year in 1971.

Growing up in the Welsh valleys, she was always top in art and in 1949 won a scholarship to study art at Goldsmiths, University of London, followed by a stint at Brighton School of Art. It was only after her first marriage to the art dealer Michael Parkin ended that she hung up her paintbrushes and launched herself into the world of fashion, sex and celebrity. The muse left meI didn't paint a thing for 25 years.

In 1987 she picked them up again, following a Damascene moment when, lying in the gutter after a particularly mammoth bender, she heard the voice of her dead grandmother. She said, Bach, thats your last drink. She hasn't, she says, touched a drink or cigarette since. Shes also celibate, having had a final encounter with an Australian surfer in Las Vegas. He was 23, I was 73it was the best I ever had.

Now, happily ensconced in a small flat on the Kings Road, Chelsea, painted in brilliant pinks, reds and oranges, the sober and productive Ms P paints and writes poetry every day between 4am and 7ammy most creative time.

Her infinitely various works are currently lining the walls of the Stash Gallery. They range from large, dark, gloweringly impasto oils of her native Welsh coast painted in the early 1960s, to vibrant watercolours, gouaches and acrylics charting subsequent roamings in India, Scotland and the South Pole. Theres also an abundance of small vivacious paintings and drawings made as recently as last week. That 25-year hiatus notwithstanding, those works ALL confirm that artist now needs to be writ large at the top of the rich and various Parkin CV.

And while they may no longer be in her life, Mollys lovers remain omnipresent in her art. Among them is a fondly remembered drawing of a naked clinch with US blues singer Bo Diddley and another of that now notorious Las Vegas lay. Good golly, Ms Molly, indeed!
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Feb 09 2017
Artists go large on Los Angeles’s billboards
Spread by Natalie Krick, part of The Billboard Creative’s December exhibition. Skyler Greene/Courtesy The Billboard Creative
In most American cities, public art still tends to take root in parks or more-or-less green spaces. But in Los Angeles, it is thriving on the side of the road. Over the past decade, in what could be considered an expansion of Los Angeless great muralist tradition, a growing number of public art projects have taken the form of billboardsfrom flashy electronic ones on Sunset Strip to old-fashioned vinyl signage on more humble streets.

In December, the non-profit The Billboard Creative planted traffic-stopping images across the city by 46 artists, including Paul McCarthy and Alex Prager, as well as little-known artists discovered through a blind submission process. And LAX Art, which used regular billboards near its original Culver City space early on, has just finished a year-long series showing video art by Jillian Mayer, Cole Sternberg, and Martine Syms, among others, on digital billboards in West Hollywood. This month, the London-based public art collaborative Art Below has organised its first billboard event, featuring works by 28 established and emerging UK- and US-based artists on dynamic billboards in LA's Grand Union Station, California's biggest railway station (13-28 February).

Its a wonderful medium, says Shamim Momin, the co-founder of Land (Los Angeles Nomadic Division), who co-organised with the artist Zoe Crosher the Manifest Destiny Billboard Project from 2013 to 2015, spanning ten cities along Interstate 10 from Florida to California. Its an extraordinary way to have millions of people see a project, even if they are not consciously wanting to see it. Its an insertion of the visual into everyday experience.

Mona Kuhn, the photographer who organised The Billboard Creative shows for the past two years, says the format is a natural for the city, going back to the 1960s when artists such as Ed Ruscha were painting billboards on canvas. We live in a car culture; our largest audience is not sitting still but commuting, she says. Some of our locations have 200,000 cars passing weekly.

Other US cities have experimented with the format. Last year, Vik Munizs image of the youngest ever African-American boy on death rowpart of the Expo Chicagos public art programmegenerated much interest and also suspicions of racism, exposing how a passing image without context can be misinterpreted.

But in Los Angeles, billboards are a matter of courseand commerce. As Kuhn explains, the city has so many commercial billboards that The Billboard Creative was able to rent surplus sites at a heavy discount from companies Out Front and Clear Channel in December, their slowest month for attracting advertisers. She adds that plans to take the project to San Francisco or Detroit have not panned out yet, partly because there are fewer billboards available.

The city of West Hollywood requires owners of digital billboards on Sunset Boulevard to devote 13 minutes every hour to video art. The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles will be curating the West Hollywood Belltower, a three-sided billboard to be built by Orange Barrel Media, and designed by Tom Wiscombe for Sunset Strip.

The fact that billboards often come from the commercial sector also helps the organisers of public art in Los Angeles navigate one of their biggest challenges: the area is really a patchwork of different municipalities, from the beach towns of Malibu and Santa Monica to Culver City, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood inland, each with its own mayor, cultural affairs office and zoning codes. Compared with other big US cities, it is bureaucratically more challenging here. You just have more legwork to doevery project is ground-up, Momin says.

That is on top of the fact that the city of Los Angeles proper is so spread out. When its cultural affairs department underwrote, with the help of Bloomberg Philanthropies, a $2.5m biennial called Current: LA, the concept was to commission artists to create work in each of the 15 city council districts. The resulting show last summer was so spread out that few visitors managed to see all of them within the one-month time frame. It did not help that several projects were delayed, prompting Christopher Knight, the art critic of the Los Angeles Times, to call the biennial a bit of a shambles.

Still, museums and smaller non-profits alike have been trying to make the most of the citys legendary sprawl and odd conglomeration of neighbourhoods. Momin says the variety can be a boon: More centralised cities like Chicago and New York often have stronger civic ideas of themselves that guide the way we look at projects. Here we can find the right place for just about anything.
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Feb 09 2017
Curators resist pressure to hold sculpture show in Münster more often
Thomas Schütte’s Kirschensäule (Cherry Column) work for the 1987 edition of SPM. Photo: LWL/Hubertus
The years Skulptur Projekte Mnster (SPM), the once-a-decade sculpture festival in the German region of North Rhine-Westphalia, will partner with a second city for the first time in its 40-year history. However, a proposal by the city of Mnster to increase the frequency of the event to every five years has been quietly shelved.

Kasper Knig, Britta Peters and Marianne Wagner, the curators of the fifth edition of the event, which runs from 10 June to 1 October, have been looking at ways to refresh the format. Peters says that after four editions in a city of only 300,000 the team felt that we needed to open a few windows and let in some fresh air. There was a fear that in an era of globalisation, always sticking to the same small city was perhaps anachronistic. This years edition will include sculptures, a museum exhibition and a writer-in-residence programme in the industrial city of Marl, about 60km away.

There have been discussions within the city of Mnster about holding the event every five years, probably to coincide with Documenta in Kassel, but Knig, who co-organised the first edition in 1977 and has overseen every edition since, is unconvinced. Peters says that while it is still unclear what exactly will happen after 2017, there is growing understanding, including in the city, that [a five-year event] would destroy the exhibition. Ten years is a good gap, it means artists have changed, the times have changed and new ideas have had a chance to emerge.

What the SPM can do in Marl depends on fundraising. The team is close to raising the 7.5m needed, but Peters says the environment has been tough, with many calls on public and private foundations to fund large projects at the Venice Biennale, which opens in May, and then Documenta a month later.

The plans for Marl are still be developed but the German artist Thomas Schtte has offered to create a sibling to his Kirschensule (Cherry Column), installed for the 1987 edition of SPM, which is now a permanent fixture. At the time he had suggested creating a related column featuring three chunks of melonthis may now be realised in Marl. There are also hopes that the Italian artist Lara Favaretto will produce the next in her series of Momentary Monuments in both cities.

More details of the SPMwhich has the theme Out of Body, Out of Time, Out of Placeare due to be announced this month.

So far highlights include an underwater bridge across the harbour that can be crossed by visitorsgiving the appearance they are walking on waterby the Turkish artist Ayse Erkmen. The German artist Andreas Bunte is creating a digital work that will exist on visitors mobile phones, an evolution of project he created in Bielefeld in 2009, while Romanian artist Alexandra Pirici is placing dancers in the Hall of Peace where the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia ended the Thirty Years War.


Peters hopes that this diversity will continue to demonstrate that, even after 40 years, SPM is still pushing at the boundaries of the definition of sculpture.




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Feb 09 2017
Kiev exhibition that questioned the results of Maidan revolution vandalised
The gallery walls were spray-painted with graffiti saying Mouthpiece of Moscow and Glory to Ukraine (Photo: Dmitry Larin)
Over a dozen masked assailants raided an exhibition at Kievs Visual Culture Research Center on Tuesday, 7 February, and vandalised an exhibition that questioned the achievements of Ukraines 2014 Maidan revolution.

In the exhibition Lost Opportunity the artist Davyd Chychkan examines how Maidan is a lost opportunity for the Ukrainian society to accomplish a social revolution, which would mean not only to defend dignity, but rather finally gain dignified living conditions, according to the centres website. Chychkan has both warned Europeans about glorifying pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine and Ukrainians about the dangers of the far-right gaining the upper hand.

Dramatic security camera footage shows the attackers beating a gallery guard, throwing brochures and tearing posters. Photos posted after the attack show graffiti spray-painted on the wall, including Mouthpiece of Moscow and Glory to Ukraine.

The art space supported the revolution but had been targeted by right-wing activists in the past. It posted on its Facebook page that it was receiving new threats before the attack.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch reported on 9 February that Grey Violet, a Russian LGBT activist and performance artist, has been missing since 31 January after arriving in eastern Ukraines separatist Donetsk Peoples Republic, where fighting has recently resumed.

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The New York Times

Feb 09 2017
Elegant, Modern Furniture — for Kids
Studiokinder, a new line by Lora Appleton of the Kinder Modern gallery, features children’s furniture that looks equally elegant in adult spaces.
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artforum.com

Feb 09 2017
500 WORDS: Francis Alÿs
Francis Alÿs on his embedment with the Kurdish Army in Mosul
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The Art Newspaper

Feb 09 2017
Becoming Mies: Jeff Bridges to portray the Modernist architect
Jeff Bridges (courtesy Thomas Attila Lewis)

Rumours are rife that the top-notch actor Jeff Bridges will step into the shoes of Mies van der Rohe, playing the famous Modernist architect in a forthcoming film focused on one of his most popular buildings, Farnsworth House in Plano, Illinois. Maggie Gyllenhaal will play Edith Farnsworth, the high-profile nephrologist behind the distinctive glass, concrete and steel house. Farnsworth commissioned Der Rohe in 1945; the house, which is owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, was completed in 1951.The film will reportedly depict the peaks and troughs of their relationship. "It would certainly generate more public interest in the Farnsworth House, and that's a good thing," Maurice Parrish, the houses executive director, told the Chicago Tribune. 
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The Guardian

Feb 09 2017
London garden bridge case weaker now than in 2014, says Treasury official

Letter to public accounts committee chair appears to signal ebbing of government support for controversial Thames project

The economic case for London’s proposed garden bridge is weaker than it was in 2014 when £60m of public money was committed to it, the Treasury has said.

Related: Boris Johnson’s dire legacy for London

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The Art Newspaper

Feb 09 2017
Renaissance-influenced artist Joe Ramirez projects 'animated paintings' onto gold
Joe Ramirez, Somnium, Video still (2016) (Image: © Joe Ramirez)
The American artist Joe Ramirez has been working for 12 years in obscurity in his Berlin workshop. Now, his Gold Projections are entering the spotlight with an exhibition at the Gemldegalerie, backed by Wim Wenders and timed to coincide with the Berlin Film Festival.

The technique Ramirez has developedand patentedinvolves applying gold leaf to a slightly convex disc made of wood. His silent filmsslow, dreamlike, poetic scenes filled with allusions to art of the Renaissance and Spanish Baroqueare projected on to the disc.  

Wenders, who has followed Ramirezs work for many years, said at a press conference to present the Gold Projections that he found it not just improbable but almost impossible that an artist should find a new way to unite so many fields of art, a new way of seeing and thinking.

Ramirez worked as a sculptor and fresco painter in Chicago and London. During the restoration of the Sistine Chapel, he had the opportunity to see Michelangelos ceiling paintings roll past him like a film from close up in a hoistan experience he says left a lasting impression.

He says he washed up on the shore in Berlin after hearing that it was possible to rent spaces cheaply. Ramirez founded a workshop and financed his project by renting parts of his studio. In addition to Wenders, he has backing from the photographer and producer Jim Rakete and the art collector Dsir Feuerle. He is now starting to sell his work as well as cooperating with a number of museums.

The gold disc is hand-gilded, forming a background of brushstrokes that create the illusion of film as animated painting. Instead of the glare of a traditional screen, it glows softly, sometimes lending the images a patina. The projections at times transform the disc into a three-dimensional sphere, and at times into a tunnel disappearing into the distance. 

Ramirez says he now works with a large crew in a collaborative, quiet process. The hardest aspect for his team, he says, is to step away from the methodology of cinema and step into painting.

The Gold Projections are showing in the Gemldegalerie until 19 February and will appear in a major exhibition called Alchemy: the Great Art opening on 6 April, a cooperation between the Berlin state museums and the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles.

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The New York Times

Feb 09 2017
The Look of ’70s SoHo — Captured in One Apartment
In ardently preserving one of the neighborhood’s original lofts, a couple has created a living memory of a vanished era.
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The Guardian

Feb 09 2017
Ignore the art market – there is only one Bruegel that matters

Pieter Bruegel the Elder is the only genius in his family – so why is the UK being flooded with the inferior work of his offspring?

Why does the British art world persist in pretending there is more than one great artist called Bruegel, or indeed Brueghel? The Holburne Museum’s new exhibition claims to be “the UK’s first exhibition devoted to the Bruegel dynasty,” but this Flemish family get all too much attention, from high-profile sales to campaigns to “save” their art.

Related: Brueghel's rediscovered wedding dancers to go on show in Bath

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The Art Newspaper

Feb 09 2017
Henry Moore modelling Burberry? Luxury fashion brand teams-up with sculptor’s foundation for show
Models are photographed for the latest Burberry campaign in the grounds of the Henry Moore Studio & Gardens, with Moore’s sculpture Sheep Piece (1971–72) in the background (Photo: courtesy of Burberry/Josh Olins)
In a surprise move, the Henry Moore Foundation has teamed up with the luxury brand Burberry for a show at Makers House in Soho, London (21-27 February). The exhibition will include more than 40 works by Henry Moore, including Torso with Point (1967), shown alongside Burberrys new fashion collection for men and women, which is inspired by the creative process of the late sculptor.

Under the new arrangement, the latest Burberry publicity campaign was shot on location at the Henry Moore Studio & Gardens in Hertfordshire, central England. A spokeswoman says that through the partnership, the Henry Moore Foundation is able to show Moores continued relevance and the influence of his work upon contemporary creativity. By partnering with a brand like Burberry, the Foundation can reach new audiences for Moores sculpture, she adds.

Meanwhile, the Henry Moore Foundation has been given an overhaul for its 40th anniversary, with a new visitor and archive centre due to launch in April. The 7m redevelopment of the Henry Moore Studio & Gardens has been overseen by London-based Hugh Broughton Architects.

The Henry Moore archive will be under one roof, located in a purpose-built development at Elmwood House, formerly a residential property. The new venue includes six climate-controlled rooms, and a project space for the digitising and conservation of materials.

An exhibition, Becoming Henry Moore (14 April-22 October), at the foundations studio and gardens will mark the opening of the new on-site development. The show charts the sculptors artistic development from 1914 to 1930, and includes Moores first commission, a First World War roll of honour for his secondary school in Castleford, west Yorkshire. The exhibition will then tour to the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds (30 November-18 February 2018).
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The Guardian

Feb 09 2017
Dennis Morris's best photograph: a boy with a gun at Michael X's HQ

‘He was only 10 but I was scared. He handled the gun with a sense of purpose’

When I was 14, I used to go to a place in London called the Black House, an organisation run by Michael X, who had been a henchman for a slum landlord. When he came round, if you didn’t pay, you got hurt. But then he switched and tried to become England’s answer to Malcolm X – except he was nothing like him.

He got some funding, though, and some donations from John Lennon and Yoko Ono, to create a community centre for young black kids. It was a very militant organisation, constantly being raided by the police, who thought there were lots of drugs and guns on the premises. It eventually closed because of the pressure. Michael then went to Trinidad and set up a commune. He went crazy and killed two people there, including the daughter of a British MP, and was hanged.

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The Guardian

Feb 08 2017
Unbuilt Los Angeles: the city that might have been – in pictures

From the offshore Santa Monica freeway to a mini Las Vegas with pyramids and the Parthenon, Greg Goldin and Sam Lubell look at the LA that never happened

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The Guardian

Feb 08 2017
A taste of freedom: black America in the 19th century – in pictures

An archive made public by Cornell University goes beyond the cliches of cotton-pickers to show African Americans embracing life after slavery

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The Guardian

Feb 08 2017
Sidney Nolan painting of Ned Kelly to go on sale in Sydney for up to $1.8m

Art dealer Rob Gould is selling Nolan’s 1955 painting, Ned Kelly – Outlaw, along with 15 other works by the renowned artist

A Sidney Nolan painting with an estimated worth of up to $1.8m will go on sale in Sydney in March.

Melbourne-based art dealer Rob Gould is selling Nolan’s 1955 painting, Ned Kelly – Outlaw, along with 15 other works by the renowned Australian artist. Another Nolan painting, First-Class Marksman, broke the record for the most expensive Australian painting, selling at auction for $5.4m in 2010.

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The Art Newspaper

Feb 08 2017
‘Only ideas can change the world’: an interview with the Zero group’s Heinz Mack
Heinz Mack during the shooting of the film Tele-Mack in the Tunisian desert, 1968 (Image: © Edwin Braun)
In the breaks between the slalom and the downhill, those traveling to St Moritz for this years FIS Alpine World Ski Championships (until 19 February) can also make time for some quiet reflection, courtesy of the German artist Heinz Mack. On a footpath by the citys lake, framed by evergreen trees, the nearby mountains and with a clear view to the town, stand nine monumental golden columns, each more than seven metres tall and covered in hundreds of thousands of mosaic tiles.

The installation, titled The Sky Over Nine Columns, has already been shown in Venice, Istanbul and Valencia. These projectspublic and on a grand scaleare among Macks favourite because they largely skirt the institutional space, which he long ago identified as too stifling.

It was an idea to fight against the world of tradition and museums, he says of another large-scale work in a remote location, his Sahara Project of the late 1950s. The landscape should be free, clean, untouchedit should be just nature in a very pure way, he says.

But sometimes, as with his forthcoming exhibition at Sperone Westwater in New York (17 February-25 March), even Mack will work within the limits of a gallery. The show, which includes works from as early as 1958 and as late as 2016, draws a straight line through his career to argue that certain concerns have always been present.

To try to get a long story as short as possible, light is really the main inspirationand shadow, too, Mack says. This was as true in 1957, when he founded Zero magazine with Otto Piene, as it is today. But Mack does not see his work as a simple manipulation of light and dark. The problem for the Zero group, he says, was the intense crisis in our heads and our hearts. We were concerned with how to make a new beginning after we had made the irreversible decision to abandon the old positionwhich included, among other things, Expressionism. German artists were always Expressionistic, Mack says. We wanted to fight that.

Does Mack ever tire of his association with Zero? The group, founded 60 years ago, largely disbanded ten years later, so Mack has spent most of his career outside its immediate orbit. I cannot separate that part of my life out, he says, noting that his ideals remain largely the same today. I still believe in ideas. I believe only ideas can change the worldnot arms, not political power.

Such idealism is what he wants to imbue in his audience. I would like it if people left the show [at Sperone Westwater] with a feeling of happiness and complete freedom, he says. It should be the feeling that life can be very rich in experience if the energy of colours meets you. For Mack, this amounts to a defence of freedom. Picasso, he says, was always fighting the problems of the world. Matisse, on the other handwho famously said his art should soothe the tired businessmanwas not. And in the end, Mack says, Matisse nevertheless gave a serious answer about how to be a human being in the world. Mack hopes his work does the same.


Heinz Mack, Sperone Westwater, New York, 17 February-25 March

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Feb 08 2017
Three to see: New York
Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari’s installation Toiletpaper Paradise (Photo credit: Plamen Petkov)
Tired of being told you cant touch the art? Youll enjoy Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferraris deliciously kitsch installation Toiletpaper Paradise at the Gallery at Cadillac House (until 12 April), presented by the media company Visionaire. The warped domestic setting features the duos bizarre and fun designs, such as rugs with images of playing cards wedged in a womans bare buttocks (available online for purchase) along with vintage furniture and fixtures and walls and floors patterned with popcorn, spaghetti and galaxy designs. Make yourself at home! You can try on vintage roller skates, eat in a 1950s-style kitchen or nap on the Hollywood Regency-style bed, strewn with the duos needlepoint pillows. Visionaires co-founder Cecilia Dean says a Cadillac executive even held a business meeting in the lounge area...!

Design of a more straight-faced, though still interactive, kind is on show at the Jewish Museum in Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design (until 26 March), the first stateside survey of the Modern French designer. The exhibition is cleverly designed by the studio Diller, Scofidio and Renfro, who have placed some of Chareaus furniture in small vignettes behind white paper screens with silhouettes of figures projected onto the paper. Other sections of the show, which mainly focuses on the interwar period, explore Chareaus masterpiece, La Maison de Verre (the Glass House, completed in 1932 in Paris) and his art collection amassed with his wife, Dollie, with whom he fled Nazi-occupied Paris for New York. Works by Mondrian and Modigliani are included.

Visit the Drawing Center to see how a contemporary artist has re-imagined a classic mythological epic with modern technology. Amy Sillman: After Metamorphoses (until 19 March) is a five-minute video played on loop that the artist made during her 2014 residency at the American Academy in Rome. It retells Ovids poem through iPad sketches layered over abstract drawings. Set to music by the Berlin-based film score composer and costume designer Wibke Tiarks, it is a hypnotising, frenetic trip through shifting human, animal and vegetal forms. It will have you dusting off your college copy of the Metamorphoses.
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Feb 08 2017
Review: David Hockney’s coupling and cha-cha light up Tate Britain
Detail from David Hockney's Domestic Scene Los (1963) (© David Hockney)
David Hockney may be Britains most popular living artistTate Britain ticket sales have already gone through the roofbut, as this lucidly curated survey is at pains to point out, right from the start he has also been relentlessly experimental in his attempt to represent reality in two dimensions. And at the same time, he has also been dedicated to challenging and interrogating conventions of art making.

This point is forcibly made in the career-spanning first room that shows Hockney mustering a battery of styles and techniques as he strives to capture the experience of being in the worldand in the process putting us at the centre of his world. One painting, of a naturalistic figure seated behind what looks like a pile of spare parts from a Czanne or a Lger painting, is even called Portrait Surrounded by Artistic Devices (1965).  

There is an abundance of style-switching and perspectival tricks in Play Within a Play (1963), which also hangs in the first room. A highly playful exercise in reality and illusion, we are eyeballed by Hockneys dealer Paul Kasmin, who is seemingly squashed up against a sheet of real Perspex, with his pressed nose and hands conjured up in smudgy paint-prints. Behind Kasmin, hangs a tasselled curtain backdrop that is decorated with a lollypop tree and schematic figures.

Thanks to Hockneys virtuoso skill in handling colour, form and composition, these multi-layered representational riffs hang together and coalesce into rich and engaging works in their own right. An early encounter with the Tates 1960 Picasso retrospective was a major influence in liberating his proliferation of styles. Hockney even said: I deliberately set out to prove I could do four entirely different sorts of picture like Picasso.  

The exuberant room of works painted whilst studying at the Royal College of Art are daring in both form and content, as Hockney samples and combines incongruous stylesscratchy Francis Bacon, scribbled Alan Davie, Jean Dubuffets art brut and scrawled graffitiwhilst flamboyantly proclaiming his own homosexuality. There is cruising, coupling and dancing the cha-cha. In Cleaning Teeth, Early Evening (10PM) W11 (1962), a cartoonish pair of hideous, sack-like figuresone chained to the bedhave mutual oral sex, their penises replaced by squirting tubes of Colgate toothpaste and a tube of Vaseline peeping from beneath the bed. Particularly brave, given that homosexual acts were not decriminalized in England until 1967.

Hockneys move from the gritty prudishness of austerity Britain, to sunny and sexy Los Angeles is amply represented here in an outpouring of the brilliantly hedonistic painted swimming pools, sprinklers and boys-on-beds or in showers that have become his trademark. Whether in the snaking linear ripples of the pool in Sunbather (1966) or the expressive painterly ejaculation of A Bigger Splash (1967), these good-life paintings also continue to pull between figuration and abstraction.

We then see his style become more naturalistic, but also increasingly restrained, with bodies lightly modelled in clear, uniform light. One of the shows great galleries brings together Hockneys grand, near life-sized double portraits painted in quick-drying acrylic, where the subjects seem almost frozen in their empty, immaculately composed surroundings. But at the same time, all manner of intimate and complicated relationships simmer beneath their apparently dispassionate surfaces. The US collectors Fred and Marcia Weisman are punctuated by, and appear indistinguishable from, their sculptures. While Christopher Isherwood turns and gazes ferociously at Don Bachardy who stares blithely straight ahead, the empty space between their matching armchairs filled by a bowl of suggestively positioned fruit and a lone phallic corncob.
 
Drawing has underpinned all of Hockneys art and one of the highlights of this show is the densely-hung gallery devoted to drawings from the very beginning of his 60-year career, with a particular emphasis on the glory years of the 1960-70s. In the earliest work of the entire exhibition, the 17-year-old Bradford School of Art studentspecs already in placefixes you with a steady gaze as he adjusts his tie. This modest, pencil self-portrait ushers in a glorious parade of works in all styles and modes: another smudged ink boy in cap entitled Fuck (Cunt) (1961) and the coloured pencil drawings of stage sets, boulevards, seated friends and Beirut hotels. There is a vivid, washy-watercolour landscape of mountains and trees in Kweilin, China, painted in 1981 andmy particular favouritea series of delicately intimate yet restrained ink portraits. These range from Peter Langan surrounded by kitchenware in his Odins restaurant, to a decidedly morose Peter Schlesinger (Peter Feeling Not Too Good, 1967) and WH Auden, smoking a cigarette and looking like an Easter Island statue.

It is in his intense and highly personal observation that Hockneys greatest work is to be found. The more he attempts to extend his modus operandi via mechanical means, the more he complicates and ultimately dilutes his formidable powers of expression. This is ominously signalled back in the first room in which the unfortunate addition of the more recent digital print 4 Blue Stools (2014) suggests that his exuberant spatial and stylistic experiments of the 1960-70s, evolved into a dry and uninteresting plotting and pasting-in of photographic figures, furniture and reproductions of past paintings into an evidently artificial space.

Try as it may to laud Hockneys relentless desire to render multiple viewpointsboth psychological and opticalby using the latest in new technology, Tate Britains survey confirms that the resulting works have not been amongst his best. The forays into photography, whether the composite polaroid portraits of the 1980s or the multiple-viewpoint vistas, are interesting and accomplished but nothing more.

This also applies to the quartet of films on multiple video screens that depict a slow progression along the same stretch of country road near his East Yorkshire home during each of the four seasons. The high definition progression through the leafy lane of Woldgate Woods simultaneously in unfurling bud, full leaf, fall and snow, makes for a relaxing and highly pleasurable immersion in the glories of nature. But an infinitely more intense and evocative sense of place, light and atmosphere is given by the 25 charcoal drawings depicting the arrival of spring along a nearby lane, which Hockney made in 2013 before returning to live in the Hollywood Hills.

Despite the last room of the exhibition being vividly, alluringly alight with Hockneys unfolding quick-fire drawings on his iPad, it is the quiet assiduously observed monochrome charcoal studies of texture, reflection and shadow that have stayed with me.  

David Hockney, Tate Britain, London, 9 February-29 May
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The Art Newspaper

Feb 08 2017
UK government plans gallery for its off-duty art
In an unusual venture, some Government Art Collection works were temporarily displayed at the Whitechapel Gallery in 2011-12 (Image: Crown copyright. Photo: Tony Harris. Courtesy of the Government Art Collection and the Whitechapel Gallery)
The UKs Government Art Collection (GAC) plans to set up its own gallery. This will open up a huge collection of 14,000 works, mainly by British artists, which is not easily accessible.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which oversees the GAC, says that the collections offices and stores will be moved to new premises in London which should include a display space that everyone will be able to enjoy. Entry will presumably be free. The location and timing have not yet been announced.

At present, the collection is stored in Queens Yard, just off Tottenham Court Road, in central London. The stores are not environmentally controlled to museum standards, which is another reason for the move.

There is limited access to the collection. Bookable tours are held to show a small number of works hanging on the walls or in racked storage, but there is no proper display space. Individual works are lent to outside exhibitions and in recent years there have been a few shows of highlights in outside venues, such as Londons Whitechapel Gallery in 2011-12.

Of the 14,000 works, around one-third are in store, with most of the remainder hanging in 100 government offices in the UK and 270 offices abroad, where there is very limited public access.  

Over the past decade, there has been mounting pressure for greater public access to the GAC, since it is funded by the taxpayer. In the Liberal Democrats 2010 general election manifesto, the party promised to open up the Government Art Collection for greater public use. Last year, the then Labour shadow secretary for culture, media and sport, Michael Dugher, said that only a privileged few could see the works.

When Penny Johnson took over as the director of the GAC in 1997, she wrote that it is not a public collection, partly because it has no gallery where it can display its wares. That now looks set to change.

This article appeared in the February issue of The Art Newspaper 
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The Art Newspaper

Feb 08 2017
Art Basel owner buys stake in Art Düsseldorf
Art Düsseldorf's new co-owners Walter Gehlen, Marco Fazzone, René Kamm and Andreas Lohaus (Image: © Nils vom Lande)
Art Dsseldorf is the second regional fair to become part of the Swiss-based MCH Group, which owns the Art Basel franchise, it was announced today (9 February). Marco Fazzone, the managing director of design and regional art fairs at MCH, says the aim is to make the Dsseldorf event the leading regional fair in Germanya title traditionally held by Art Cologne. 

MCH has acquired a 25.1% stake in art.fair International, the organiser behind Art Dsseldorf which is launching in the west German city in November having run a contemporary art fair in Cologne for the past 14 years. The current owners, Andreas Lohaus and Walter Gehlen, retain 74.9% of the company although MCH has the option of buying a majority stake in the future.

Fazzone stresses that Art Dsseldorf (16-19 November) will remain autonomous, but will benefit from MCHs experience and network, as well as from synergies with the other regional art fairs, which in the near future are going to form a strong global network. 

MCH already has a majority stake (60.3%) in the India Art Fair, which opened its doors under the new ownership deal last week. According to Fazzone, MCH is also in discussion with SME London (which manages Hong Kongs Art Central, Sydney Contemporary and Art16 in London) and the fair organisers Angus Montgomery.

In a blog post on the MCH website, Lohaus and Gehlen say they intend to turn Art Dsseldorf into a magnet for the entire art scene. The contemporary art fair will host blue-chip and emerging galleries in a bid to bring the experimental and the conventional under one roof.

And what of the move from Cologne to Dsseldorf? The two cities of Cologne and Dsseldorf have moved perceptibly closer to one another in recent years, especially in art, they say. That is a big advantage for all those involved.
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