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- 04/10/14--13:12: _Slideshow: John Boc...
- 04/10/14--14:48: _Bronx
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- 04/11/14--09:07: _New York
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- 04/11/14--09:25: _Slideshow: Art Colo...
- 04/11/14--09:48: _Truth, 24 Frames Pe...
- 04/11/14--10:49: _Q&A: Richard Serra ...
- 04/11/14--11:13: _Slideshow: Collecto...
- 04/11/14--13:03: _Tiffany's 2014 Blue...
- 04/11/14--13:04: _Tiffany's Celebrate...
- 04/11/14--13:42: _VIDEO: "Richard Ser...
- 04/12/14--04:59: _Review: Mira Schend...
- 04/13/14--04:59: _Collector Profile: ...
- 04/13/14--22:28: _Atelier Swarovski '...
- 04/14/14--04:11: _Seeing Red at Salon...
- 04/14/14--07:11: _Brits Search for Ne...
- 04/14/14--07:47: _“Mad Men”: An Obses...
- 04/14/14--08:50: _Slideshow: See Phot...
- 04/14/14--11:23: _Slideshow: Marilyn ...
- 04/10/14--14:48: Bronx
- 04/11/14--07:18: Slideshow: Q&A With Italian Designer Francesco Faccin
- 04/11/14--09:07: New York
- 04/11/14--09:10: Q&A: Designer Francesco Faccin at Salone del Mobile
- 04/11/14--09:25: Slideshow: Art Cologne 2014
- 04/11/14--09:48: Truth, 24 Frames Per Second: "Art of the Real" at FSLC
- 04/11/14--10:49: Q&A: Richard Serra on His Monumental Qatari Desert Sculpture
- 04/11/14--11:13: Slideshow: Collector Profile - Glenn Pushelberg and George Yabu
- 04/11/14--13:03: Tiffany's 2014 Blue Book Collection
- 04/11/14--13:42: VIDEO: "Richard Serra Week" in Qatar Features Desert Sculpture
- 04/12/14--04:59: Review: Mira Schendel at Hauser and Wirth
- 04/13/14--22:28: Atelier Swarovski 'Jeweled Garden" Collection
- 04/14/14--04:11: Seeing Red at Salone del Mobile
- 04/14/14--07:47: “Mad Men”: An Obsessive’s Guide to Cultural References
- 04/14/14--08:50: Slideshow: See Photos from the Dallas Art Fair 2014
The flagship cultural institution of the Bronx, founded in 1971, The Bronx Museum of the Arts focuses on 20th-century and contemporary art, while serving the culturally diverse populations of the Bronx and the greater New York metropolitan area. The museum's home on the Grand Concourse is a distinctive contemporary landmark designed by the internationally-renowned firm Arquitectonica.
The Bronx Museum of the Arts maintains a permanent collection of 20th and 21st-century works by artists of African, Asian, and Latin American ancestry. Additionally, the Museum collects works by artists for whom the Bronx has been critical to their artistic practice and development. The Museum's educational offerings spring from these central programs with outreach to children and families as well as adult audiences.
Dynamically liaising with a distinguished client base of elite private collectors, decision-making art consultants, corporate art consultants, curators, architects, interior designers and decorators, as well as prestigious business, government, diplomatic and social VIPs, AMSTERDAM WHITNEY Gallery pre-eminently affords the acquisitor the extraordinary opportunity to acquire the most carefully curated, Contemporary Masters in the global art market. Known as "The Most Beautiful Gallery in Chelsea,” AMSTERDAM WHITNEY Gallery is strategically located in the "Heart of Chelsea" the unrivaled, influential global epicenter of the art world. Home to over 200 leading galleries and the Chelsea Museum of Art, Chelsea is the ultimate undisputed international art destination for the informed acquisitor, decision based consultant and accomplished artist. The cachet of Chelsea attracts prominent art visitors worldwide. In quest of the "creme de la creme" of global contemporary artists, AMSTERDAM WHITNEY Gallery's criteria is to highlight and showcase in a curated museum-caliber ambiance, Contemporary Masters and interpret significant art movements, reflecting diverse trends and mediums including Painting, Sculpture, Photography, Collage, Drawing & Watercolor. Featuring contemporary Representational Figurative art to Abstract work, modern Surrealism to today's Neo Post Impressionism, Portraits to Abstract Expressionism, AMSTERDAM WHITNEY Gallery is the acknowledged definitive global art resource for the informed collector, cognoscenti and professional art consultant. Its museum-curated, influential monthly exhibitions afford the private collector and demanding art professional a stimulating museum forum environment to view outstanding art and acquire the most exciting, innovative talent of the present day art world.
Born in Milan in 1977, Francesco Faccin is considered one of the most promising Italian designers of his generation. His work follows a rigorous set of values that make him an outsider — his aim is to change the world of design and to find a new, perfect balance between ethics, beauty, and sustainability. ARTINFO Italy met with Faccin in Milan during Salone del Mobile, where he’s presenting several projects.
At this year’s Salone del Mobile you brought back the invention of fire. You have presented the Re-fire project, a kit to light up a bonfire with your own hands, at Spazio Rossanda Orlandi. Can you tell us how this project was developed? Do you think that it’s necessary to go back to a sort of “primitiveness” in design?
I was invited at the Stockholm fair in February with a commission for an object that would trigger reflections about the concepts of need and quality. I thought about it a lot and I went back in time to eventually find something really necessary to mankind — I went back to prehistory to find the first project man designed and built to save his life. I would like to bring back a little bit of this absolute and urgent necessity in each new project. I think it’s very important to look forward with great optimism and trust in science and technology, but with awareness and sensitivity to our fragile human nature. A primitive man knew he would have died without fire.
Since the start of your career you were involved with craft and auto-producible design, even before the “makers” phenomenon exploded, and when everybody was still putting all the efforts in “technological” design. Why this choice? What was your professional journey?
When I finished my studies I worked for Enzo Mari for a year and right after that with a luthier for four years, where I used my hands and had time to reflect. Manual work gave me discipline, direction, and a physical approach to projects, never only theoretic.
Has the experience with Enzo Mari contributed to this artisan “radicalness”? You have a lot in common with the Milanese master, including an aversion to computers.
I don’t feel I’m that radical when it comes to craftsmanship. I’m interested in any method or productive process as long as it’s directed to achieve the maximum quality with the least impact and waste of energies. Industries are sometimes more sustainable than certain forms of craftsmanship. I like the computer but I use it mostly to communicate with clients and journalists. The reason of my aversion towards it comes from the fact that you have to be able to use it properly. It’s the same annoying frustration of not speaking a language properly and therefore not being capable of expressing an idea to the person you’re talking to.
You don’t have a very good opinion of design schools either. Tell me about your education and what marked your professional path?
I think school should be a moment of great experimentation to understand which path to follow after the studies. I remember when I was a student and I was about to graduate, the only studio I wanted to work with was Enzo Mari’s. So I wrote him a handwritten letter. Design schools in Italy are often places where students aren’t challenged with ambitious or visionary missions. They don’t even provide specific instruments to be extremely competent in something. Mari always used to always tell me, “You have to aim to be the best at something, even hammering a nail, but you have to be the best nail hammerer in the world.”
Speaking of Enzo Mari, he was talking about you and stated: “I had the chance to verify that kind of determination that matches a certain element of craziness, which is so helpful for a designer.” What does this description mean to you?
I think he was talking about a certain courage to engage things and abandoning a certain middle-class stiffness that often surrounds our world and others. This is changing quite fast and there are very evident signs of fertile contaminations in the design world. Compared to 10 or 15 years ago, a person who wants to be a designer, apart from the obstacles, has the possibility to pick new fields of action, way wider than furniture or interior design.
At the beginning of your career you created a series of assemblages that appear closer to sculpture than design. These objects where included by Beppe Finessi in the current exhibition about Italian design at the Triennale di Milano. Were you surprised by this choice? What do those objects mean to you?
I was honestly very much surprised! I think Beppe Finessi was the only one to know this aspect of my work, which was never published or presented before. I never considered those pieces “artistic,” but more likely as composition studies. For years I collected and accumulated (and I still do) pieces of things found without having a project in mind, in a compulsive way. When I was still a student and I didn’t have an idea of how to create finished projects, these assemblages were useful to develop a sense of material, proportion, color, but I understood all this later. I’m very happy they’re in the exhibition at the Triennale but I’m also a bit embarrassed, because they’re intimate naive objects, from a time when my career was little structured.
The Triennale exhibition talks about Italian design and crisis. How do these elements work together? How do you overcome the crisis?
You overcome it truly only if you want to create a new model of development with no regrets for the unsustainable wealth we’ve lived in for decades. We have to discover a new wealth and build it with ambitious ideas, but this has to do mostly with politics. Design can be an extraordinary vehicle for messages, values, and vision, but it’s definitely not enough by itself.
Design and ethics. How do you see this pair in design today? And in your work?
“Aesthetics is the mother of ethics,” said Brodskij. I’m convinced that quality is the key to “salvation” and we all have to contribute to this improvement — not only designers or architects. I’m interested in anything that is made with care and love for each detail because it represents a form of respect towards the self and towards whoever will use the object.
Design and communication. Do you believe that the idea of the superstar designer is still valid? Your approach seems to suggest the opposite. Are we finally ready for a time of anti-celebrity designers?
Communication is fundamental in every profession and it’s not a negative aspect per se. It’s useful to describe and bring stories and suggestions that can become viral and inspirational for millions of people. But I also think that companies who will keep calling the big names just to have results in terms of media frenzy won’t have great result at medium term. The only thing to invest in is the intelligence of projects.
What is your relationship with design companies? How much should a designer be willing to compromise to deal with them?
I would really love to find a company to work with for the long haul, with a reciprocal exchange. I believe in shared work with an entrepreneur to find solutions and develop projects that, by myself, I wouldn’t even imagine taking on. Unfortunately I feel that many entrepreneurs haven’t understood yet that this is the time for radical choices.
Today you are considered one of the most promising Italian designers, and you were selected for the Compasso d’oro with your “Traverso” table and the “Stratos” chair. What advice would you give to a young designer?
I would suggest to work on quality for anything they want to do and to work with the best master available in that field because there’s no time to lose. Research in depth a topic, a technique, a material. Be obsessive and completely immerse yourself in what you do with no compromises.
Is Italian design still unique?
It still definitely is a reference point but things are changing fast. So there has to be no nostalgia, we have to understand that success is achieved day by day and if we lose that special position it will only be our fault.
The ethnographer and filmmaker Jean Rouch once claimed, in an oft-referenced remark, that “fiction is the only way to penetrate reality.” That idea, complicated as it may sound, has been part of the fabric of documentary cinema since its beginnings, as early as the pioneering films of Robert Flaherty (who himself famously said, “Sometimes you have to lie to tell the truth.”). For Rouch, the camera wasn’t simply a recording device, nor could it be, but instead a tool of provocation. What the camera produced was a “truth of cinema” — as opposed to a “cinema of truth,” theorized by Russian filmmaker Dziga Vertov — that was willfully constructed out of the elements, all the fiction and nonfiction, of daily life, and what he would later refer to as an “ethno-cinema.”
Rouch’s shadow hangs over “Art of the Real,” an expansive new series at the Film Society of Lincoln Center that is something of a survey of recent cinema — with a few historical detours — that resolutely abandons the strict boundaries of fiction and nonfiction film. The program contains more than 50 short and feature-length films, many of them from filmmakers whose work is rarely shown in the United States, which makes it difficult to parse.
I’ve seen most of the work here, and for what I’ve not seen it’s safe to say it’s worth checking out. But let’s start at the beginning. Rouch’s “Jaguar” (1954/67) will screen as part of a focus on the Sensory Ethnography Lab, whose work was recently featured in the Whitney Biennial and whose practice is uniquely indebted to the former. In many ways, these works define the contours of nonfiction cinema, where it started and where it is now. The Whitney’s presentation of the Sensory Ethnography Lab’s work left much to be desired, so it’s a thrill that the films — including Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez’s extraordinary “Manakamana” (2013), which opens theatrically in New York (beyond the “Art of the Real” series) on April 18 — will be screened in a theater, bringing out the audio-visual details that are lacking in the clustered Biennial.
Thom Andersen, whose work was included in the 2012 Whitney Biennial, will present a host of films, including the dense “Red Hollywood” (1996), a documentary about Communist screenwriters and filmmakers who worked within the studio system from the 1930s to the 1950s, as well as “Eadweard Muybridge, Zoopraxographer” (1975), an essay-film that reframes the photographer as one of the earliest practitioners of moving images. The latter will be joined by “Olivia’s Place” (1966/74), an early work, as well as the wonderfully named new film “Hey, Asshole!” (2014). Andersen’s films combine historical research and dry wit, working as much as documentaries as sharp criticism of the documentary form.
Raya Martin and Mark Peranson’s “La ultima pelicula” (2013), along with Robert Greene’s “Actress” (2014), the opening and closing night films respectively, both challenge and mock traditional narrative filmmaking practice in equal measure. “La ultima pelicula” stars filmmaker Alex Ross Perry as, well, essentially himself — although a much more egotistical and self-serving version, I imagine — who’s scouting locations for a film about the end of the world, using the last available film stock. Ostensibly a behind-the-scenes portrait of the fictional narrative film, the two forms begin to blend, and the viewer is left to pick through the remains. “Actress” is a much more subtle and less vexing film. What begins as a documentary about the actress Brandy Burre, who had a recurring role on HBO’s “The Wire” before departing acting for motherhood, becomes a portrait of her inner turmoil visualized. Burre decides to get back into acting at the same time as her family life is crumbling around her, and Greene’s camera collapses Burre the subject and Burre the character, incorporating narrative tropes from Hollywood melodrama into the patchwork of the film.
An illicit affair worthy of a steamy romance picture unfolds in Jane Gillooly’s “Suitcase of Love and Shame” (2013), a film that questions what materials are truly necessary to make a “film.” Composed of hours of audio recordings passed back and forth between a married man and his secret lover, Gillooly recreates the ebb and flow of their relationship through an intimate handling of their private correspondence. “Suitcase,” along with other audio-based works such as Ernst Karel’s “Swiss Mountain Transport Systems” (2011), succinctly pose some of the questions that are weaved throughout the “Art of the Real” program: Is a film that highlights the audio instead of the visual still a film? Does the construction of a narrative obscure the truth?
Two political fictions prove that the construction (or reclaiming) of narrative is not only important toward discovering a “truth of cinema,” as Rouch sought, but it is essential — it does not, as some hardline documentary purists believe, obscure the essential truths of the work. Narimane Mari’s “Bloody Beans” (2013) is a fascinating restaging of the Algerian War for Independence through a cast of children, whose “Lord of the Flies”-style existence transforms into a “Battle of Algiers.” But “Bloody Beans” never loses its sense of freeform excitement, and the film moves from one scene to the next as if it’s floating in the waves of the beach where the children play, as if the film was actually made by the children.
“The Silent Majority Speaks” (2010), a polyphonic portrait of Iran’s long struggle against repression, reclaims the use of images within political struggle. The film, making its North American premiere, was initially credited to the Silent Collective, and reconstructs intertwined narratives: street level action and reaction among the Iranian people following the corrupt 2009 presidential elections, mostly filmed with hidden cameras, along with essayistic asides detailing the country’s long history of unrest. Filmmaker Bani Khoshnoudi has recently revealed herself to be the director behind the film, and according to the program notes, she will introduce the film in her first public appearance since the disclosure.
Nicolas Provost’s “Plot Point Trilogy” (2007-12) clandestinely collects imagery as well, but with a much different result. Using footage collected in public places — Times Square, Las Vegas, and Tokyo — Provost then weaves these images into tense and often hilarious narratives that reinforce and mock the codes of traditional narrative cinema. Amie Siegel’s “Black Moon” (2010), screening along with other recent works, uses the conventions of narrative cinema as a loose frame for her hypnotic film about a group of armed female revolutionaries traversing a barren and destroyed landscape. That landscape, however, is not a post-apocalyptic future but the boarded-up and foreclosed housing developments of the present, and the film ingeniously collapses the genre modes and the documentary realism, resulting in something that feels not of an imagined future but of the immediate now.
Part of the excitement of “Art of the Real” is in the many directions it can take the viewer. These are just a few of the many, and there are still numerous avenues to explore. Each one is exciting and challenging and new. When people still confusingly talk about the culture of cinema being dead, we now have something to point toward to prove their view is limited. Cinema is not dead but to my eyes just being born, and “Art of the Real” creates the template to keep asking questions, the questions that will keep the cinema alive.
In celebration of renowned American sculptor Richard Serra’s first solo exhibition in the Middle East, which opened in Qatar on April 10, the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA), under the patronage of QMA Chairperson Sheikha Al Mayassa Bint Hamad Al Thani, commissioned Serra to produce a site-specific standing-plate work conceived for the dramatic desert landscape of the Brouq Nature Reserve, near Zekreet in western Qatar.
Consisting of four steel plates measured by their relation to the topography, “East-West/West-East” spans more than one kilometer in length through a natural corridor formed by gypsum plateaus. According to the QMA, all four of the level plates, each rising between 14.7 meters and 16.7 meters above the ground, can be seen and explored from either end of the sculpture.
To learn more about “East-West/West-East,” ARTINFO recently spoke with Serra about the new work.
How did the opportunity to install a work in the desert come about?
It came about around November 2010. I was doing a piece here for the Islamic Museum by I. M. Pei — I was building a large vertical structure, and at the time the Qatar Museum Authority asked me if I would think about building a piece into the landscape. And I asked them, “Which landscape?” And they said, “The desert.” I had no real desire to do that, but I said I would take a look, as I had never worked in the desert before. And they gave me an assistant who was a Bedouin, who knew every foot of every desert. We went to three of four deserts, and we finally came to a place called the Brouq Nature Reserve, which is a desert park that is a preserved park. And the main feature of this park is that is has a series of gypsum plateaus, which are about 50 feet high, and it’s as if there was an ancient sea there once, and the sea eroded, so you have two levels — you have the levels of the gypsum plateaus, and the level of the seabed as it is now. I think you could probably compare it to the South West and John Ford country, only much more evaporated, and made of white, chalky plateaus, rather than hard, high plateaus; it’s a plateaued desert, it’s very craggy, it’s not a sandy desert.
What we did was made various trips into the desert and we had to find a location or a site where we thought we could make a place within the undifferentiated space of the desert with its gypsum plateaus. And while I was working on the piece called “7,” during the daytime I would go out into the desert with my wife and John Silverman, a friend of mine, and we would explore different sites. And that took about a year. And we located two sites, and then those were translated into topographical maps; and then actual full-scale, inch to a foot models were made back in New York. I had one where I live in Long Island, North Fork, and one in New York. Then we worked with the models, arrived at some possible conclusion of what we could do, and we came back and chose one site.
What was it about the Zekreet Peninsula location that appealed to you?
The site we chose is a site that has two gypsum plateaus that are separate by about 400 to 500 yards, and it bisects the peninsula of this desert — this desert is like a little peninsula that sits off the southern part of Qatar. The peninsula is not too wide, maybe four to five miles wide and 10 to 15 miles long, and we found a place where we thought we could connect both borders of the peninsula by placing something between these two gypsum plateaus. You have to realize that the sea level of the desert is relatively flat, and the space between the two plateaus is more or less like a saddle in that it has a curvature that goes over, and a curvature that is flattened like a low u-shape — more or less a topographical saddle.
From a great distance you can’t see over the plateaus, if you are two or three miles away, but when you actually walk to the centers, between the two plateaus, an entirely different region of the landscape opens, so there is two landscapes in terms of the terrain that I wanted to adjoin. And I went back and looked at my models and tried out various insertions into the possibility of what could be done. But then I finally arrived at the conclusion that I had to use the elevations of the gypsum plateaus. So what I did is I made four plates that are level to each other and level to the gypsum plateaus. And their placement was derived through a topological map. So in order to align them I had to find the pace where they would be level to each other, and their heights are 16.7 meters and 14.7 meters, which is about 54 feet high and 48 feet high, and they are level to each other, which means the landscape falls in two directions — two meters through the gypsum plateaus, the end plates are higher than the two center plates and all they are all level to each other and level to the gypsum plateaus. And the placement is very irregular because the placement is decided by where they would be aligned and where they would fall on the plan. And it stands at little under a kilometer. We weren’t sure actually until we got the fourth one up that you would be able to see all four from either end.
What do you want people to think and feel when they experience the work?
I don’t want to force a meaning on anyone. I think what happens is people go to the desert and it’s a place where one contemplates one’s own existence to some degree, it’s a very solitary place. It’s a place where one doesn’t really contemplate the past or the future, where one can really be in the presence of what the place allows in terms of internal reflection. And this place makes a space within that place to walk and measure yourself against the rise and fall of the landscape. And what I found is that — we opened it the other day and hundreds of people arrived — and they walk the entire length and back, and for the most part people were very generous in the way that they felt about their experience.
Basically what the piece does is it collects the space, it makes a place within the space, and connects both sides of the peninsula where the water is both on the eastern and western side. The piece is directly on axis with east-west, so I called it “East-West” not only because it is on the axis of east-west, but also because I am a Westerner working in the East, and it kind of multiplies that joining of both propositions.
Some people have questioned the relevance of the sculpture in the middle of the desert and whether it was worth the cost. What is your response?
I think that I am making a cultural contribution to the country. The pieces are of a certain height and thickness where I think they will last; the piece has an implied timelessness, and I think it is seen as that.
You have said that you consider space to be your primary material. How is that reflected in “East-West/West-East”?
What I do is use steel in order to collect space in relationship to how people understand their movement through space. So the piece deals with the nature of duration and time in relation to walking and looking, and people went out there and that’s what they did. I think in the future that is what people will do. I think it’s gotten quite a bit of notification here, people are starting to go out there — it’s not that far from Doha, it’s about an hour and 20 minute drive out there so I think people will explore it and it’s my hope that as people go through this area of the country that they’ll go and have a look.
You have called “East-West/West-East” your most fulfilling piece to date.
“East-West/West-East” is definitely one of the most fulfilling pieces I have done in my life. I have spent a long time coming and going in and out of the desert. Since I have been here for the last three weeks I have only missed one or two days. And during the installation, which lasted five days, I was there the entire time. And what you find there is that every day the light changes, every day the wind changes, every day your relationship to the place changes. It’s not the kind of desert that has soft sand, it’s a really hard, rough, craggly desert — the only place I could compare it to in the United States that would make any sense at all is the South West, but it is not really like that. It is a gypsum plateaued desert with two very distinct sea levels — with these enormous gypsum plateaus.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
NEW YORK — Ten projectors spread out across the Guggenheim Museum last night gave about 250 guests the feeling of being encased in a precious gemstone at Tiffany & Co.’s launch of its 2014 Blue Book collection.
Artists from Glowing Bulbs and John Ensor Parker, in collaboration with multimedia curator Leo Kuelbs, staged a mapping projection installation called “The Diamond Sky,” using light reflections and refractions to create colorful, geometric patterns, approximating jewelry and building facades at different times, that spun across Frank Lloyd Wright’s signature spiraling parapets up toward the night sky visible through the oculus.
Speaking to BLOUIN Artinfo at the event, Kuelbs said: “The idea was to make it appear as if you’re inside a gem. Playing with both light and depth, people should be able to take away a sense of having received a virtual heirloom.”
The starting point of inspiration was of course the collection of sparkling gemstones, said Kuelbs, which includes diamonds and colored gemstones in the most elegantly crafted designs, with key pieces inspired from the Fifth Aveue jeweler’s archives. But then, there was the challenge of the lack of continuous wall space, or projection surface, to consider.
“Once we knew the site was the Guggenheim, we started thinking about where the people were going to be watching the installation from. The challenges were also where the nice surprises arose. We only have these parapet areas so there’s all this negative space in between, but the artists, Glowing Bulbs and John Ensor Parker, are great, they really know what they’re doing.”
Kuelbs has curated a myriad of artistic events involving public art, luxury marketing, video art and multi-city programs in cities such as New York and Berlin, focusing on collaborative projects with an emphasis on conceptual infrastructure. Recent projection mapping shows include two for Dom Perignon, “The Expanding Universe” and “Divine Coalescence”, and “Codex Dynamic,” which was presented across roughly 34,000 sq ft of the Manhattan Bridge in 2012. Last October, the trio staged “Blueprints and Perspectives,” an outdoor exhibition of light, video, sound and performance that was played out on The Wyly Building as part of Aurora the contemporary art exhibition in Dallas, Texas.
“When you do something so large-scale and enveloping, when there’s more going on than you can see, it creates a vulnerability in people that are gathered together in one vulnerable spot looking at something really beautiful. That can be a really powerful feeling for people,” said Kuelbs, who added that the installation for Tiffany’s — comprising a 6-minute main piece and a 20-minute teaser — was so exclusive that it would “only ever be be shown twice, tonight only, and to the 250 people here only.”
The event at the Guggenheim drew such celebrities and supermodels as Katie Holmes, Jessica Biel, Kate Bosworth (pictured below), Hilary Rhoda and Fei Fei Sun.
Doha, QATAR — Richard Serra was feted in Qatar this week with the opening of several exhibitions in venues around the capitol Doha. The renowned American sculptor was on hand as his “East-West/West-East” was unveiled in the desert about 40 miles from Doha.
The work, commissioned by the emir’s sister, Sheikha al-Mayassa bint Hamad al-Thani and the Qatar Museums Authority she heads, consists of four massive steel plates of varying heights of about 50 feet that rise from the desert sands. Serra walked through the permanent installation in the desert with dignitaries and reporters telling them why he selected the location based on the view and landscape.
“When I first came here, Sheikha al-Mayassa asked me… if I want to build a piece in the landscape and I said, what landscape?”, said Serra during his remarks at the unveiling. “And she said the desert. To tell you the truth, I don’t know what the desert was all about here.” Serra says he toured four different deserts with a Bedouin and kept returning to the same spot in the Brouq Nature Reserve, where a peninsula juts out into the waters of the Gulf, “like a finger separating the sea on the East and the sea on the West.”
The unveiling of the sculpture was set to coincide with Serra’s first solo exhibition in the Middle East at the Al Riwaq Doha Exhibition Space and QMA Gallery at Katara, entitled “Passage of Time”. The new large-scale work is comprised of two 220-foot long and 13-foot-high steel curves “that snake through the exhibition space” and around works from the artist’s 50-year career.
Both entitled “Richard Serra”, the two exhibitions are curated by Alfred Pacquement, former director of the National Museum of Modern Art, Centre Pompidou in Paris. The shows run through July 6.
In the first show of postwar Brazilian artist Mira Schendel at Hauser and Wirth since the gallery took on her estate in October 2013, private dealer Olivier Renaud-Clément brings together a wide-ranging group of more than 35 works that span some two decades (the exhibition runs through April 26 in New York). The earliest are from the mid-1960s, when Schendel first began making her best-known “Monotipias,” a translucent series of rice paper pieces that often feature a scattered letter motif. The latest include the artist’s final series of works in tempera and gesso on wood made one year before her death in 1988.
Without a unifying principal, this isn’t exactly a cohesive presentation, but it is an opportunity to see the career highlights of a notoriously prolific artist. One such standout is Ondas parades de probabilidade, an installation composed of thousands of nylon threads hanging from the ceiling to the floor. Schendel first created the piece for the controversial 1969 São Paulo Biennial that many artists boycotted in protest of Brazil’s military dictatorship. In a wall text that Schendel paired with the piece is a passage from the Old Testament’s 1 Kings 19 that tells the tale of God abandoning Elijah as a clever metaphor for the political upheaval of the time. A departure from her mostly monochrome palette, a suite of colorful ink-and-pastel drawings from the 1960s reveals a playfulness in the way she records shapes and colors. Hauser & Wirth’s addition of Schendel — one of the most influential Brazilian modernists and a long overlooked figure in the United States — is a welcome addition to the New York galleryscape.
A version of this article appears in the Summer 2014 issue of Modern Painters magazine.
It was a first for the interior design team Yabu Pushelberg: letting the client choose the art. Of course, the client was Ian Schrager, and the site was his recently unveiled Edition hotel in London, so they were confident the task was in good hands. “We let him direct the art for the whole project,” says George Yabu, one half of the creative duo. “That was a different approach.” Yabu mostly trusts his own eye—or that of his partner in life and work, Glenn Pushelberg—to make those all-important aesthetic decisions, but Schrager didn’t let them down, delivering selections by Donald Judd, Hendrik Kerstens, and Chul Hyun Ahn. The designers themselves are avid collectors whose passion for art over their 30-year career has made them patrons of sorts, in the name of boastworthy clients like the Samsung family, luxury retailer Lane Crawford, Carolina Herrera, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and Donald Trump, to name a few.
Their pulsating business, which began as a small operation in Toronto, now includes studios in New York’s SoHo district and Guangzhou, China, as well. Last year the partners logged enough miles to traverse the globe four times, with 12 trips to Asia. The pair must possess superhuman strength—and not simply because they’ve somehow developed an immunity to jet lag. They currently have more projects in the works than can be counted on two sets of hands, including hotels in Rio de Janeiro, Bangkok, Singapore, Rome, and a private compound in Beijing.
In addition to masterminding the interiors from structure to aesthetics, for nearly all their undertakings Yabu and Pushelberg have devised art collections. The duo’s personal taste for contemporary Asian artists such as Zhang Enli, the Gao Brothers, and Shao Fan, as well as evocative photographers Thomas Ruff, Michael McCann, and Robert Mapplethorpe, has found its way from the walls of the designers’ homes to those of their commissioned spaces. “It makes a hotel so much better if it is the real stuff,” says Pushelberg.
Yabu adds, “It can be so commercial, which is why we started inventing stories.” Indeed, that is the trusty secret of many a designer: creating a narrative about “someone who lives there,” in Pushelberg’s words, whether working on a hotel, store, restaurant, or residence.
So do they use the same character to form their approach in Toronto, Manhattan, Miami, and Amagansett? No. “We’re real,” states Yabu. Their collecting does revolve around a core group of their favorite creators, who pop up again and again in each locale: Gio Ponti, Alvar Aalto, Piero Fornasetti, Vladimir Kagan, Jean-Michel Frank—all of whom are by now de rigueur among the culturati, but Yabu and Pushelberg had the foresight to snap them up for enviably low prices in the early 1980s.
“We were in Naples at the Royal Hotel, which was designed by Ponti,” recalls Pushelberg. “We bought our pieces when they were just dumping that stuff out.” All of their homes, from the bones to the surface accents, pivot around objects the duo find just from poking around and discovering.
The couple’s Toronto abode in the Bennington Heights section is a distillation of that sensibility. There, iconic design prototypes meet intimate trinkets in a 1940s cottage that sits on a ravine with a bubbling brook. “Someone once said, ‘You have a Fornasetti niche house,’” Yabu says with a laugh, “except we don’t have a niche house.”
Pushelberg elaborates. “We prefer to have smaller places, and have a few, rather than a grand place, which doesn’t feel right.” Toronto could be called the primary residence of these native Canadians, although they make weekly trips to New York to their Richard Meier–designed Perry Street loft (whose foyer is marked by the couple’s perhaps most notable acquisition: a reflective onyx Anish Kapoor disk, Circular Lacquer Dish (Black 2), from 2004, and the works inside their Canadian base contain the essence of their collecting prowess and designing hand. W.H.S. 10, 2010, a massive Thomas Ruff C-print of a fuzzy building vista, greets those who cross the Toronto threshold—a marigold door with marine-blue trim—to their three-story brick home. Shoes must come off, but a perch to lean on comes in the form of an unknown designer’s Brazilian rosewood chair.
When they bought the house 15 years ago, the designers replaced the back exterior wall with floor-to-ceiling glass on each of the three floors. “One of our specialties is transformation,” Yabu notes. “I like climbing insurmountable hills.”
“But building upon what’s there is so fun too!” Pushelberg interjects.
The interplay between outside and inside, and the creation of layers, are signatures of Yabu and Pushelberg’s aesthetic— just look at the One Madison penthouse condos that recently opened in New York, or at the Waldorf Astoria in Beijing, where, in the light-filled wood-walled lobby, they installed two Shao Fan sculptures, one of a traditional Chinese chair and the other of teacups. Fan is one of the artists they collect; his canvas Two Pines hangs in the living room of their Perry Street apartment. The couple see no barrier to using the same artists in their work and in their homes. “It is an extension of ourselves. We support more artists, and we sponsor them,” says Pushelberg of their decision to feature in their projects some of their favorite artistic discoveries, many of whom come to their attention through their travels. Among these are Zhang Enli, a few of whose paintings they own, including the oil-on-canvas Portrait II, acquired in 2006 from H Gallery in Bangkok, and Hiroshi Senju, a favorite from their many trips to Japan.
The collectors have an impressive array of pieces by contemporary Japanese stars, most of which are in their Toronto cottage. In the master bedroom, above a classic Alvar Aalto No. 37 armchair covered in zebra skin, are contrasting Yoshitomo Nara acrylics on canvas, the cream-hued Pee and midnight-blue Pee—Dead of Night, both of which depict Nara’s distinctive, childlike figures relieving themselves.
The two men have known each other since their days as design students at Ryerson University. Pushelberg hails from a tiny town in Ontario, and Yabu was born in Toronto to Japanese immigrants from Kyushu. (His sisters, who were born in Canadian World War II internment camps, now work for the firm.) “George has a fondness for Japanese people, with good reason!” says Pushelberg with a laugh, enumerating some of the traditional ink paintings hanging in Amagansett and in one of their offices. In the couple’s dining room and party salon shines a glorious Yayoi Kusama painting, My Heart, fresh from the artist’s most recent exhibition in December 2013 at David Zwirner’s Chelsea gallery. At the gallery dinner for the show, Kusama and Yabu shared a moment, replete with hugs and hand-clutching—“She’s a rock star in her wheelchair,” he offers—and it was that personal connection that convinced Yabu that the painting needed to be theirs.
But it’s not just Yabu whose emotions have been stirred by an artist on Zwirner’s roster. Pushelberg is currently salivating over a small marble statue by Yutaka Sone, which he saw while working in London during the Japanese sculptor’s show in January. “I’m debating buying one of his pieces,” says Pushelberg with a slightly pained expression. Is there trouble with Zwirner? “No! With George!” he says.
“Fortunately, we have similar tastes,” confides Yabu. In fact, he says, “We were inspired by David Mirvish,” the Canadian collector (and their first client) who converted Toronto’s Royal Alexander Theater into the city’s gallery hub for emerging American artists in the 1970s. Mirvish, he recalls, would buy so much art that “he had crates of stuff he didn’t know what to do with, but knew exactly what he had.” Although Mirvish preferred the American Color Field painters, it was the Canadians that Yabu and Pushelberg snapped up with abandon. Today, much of their bounty from that era hangs in their house, including the quietly powerful black-and-white photographic portraits by Ron Baxter Smith that pepper the staircase leading to the couple’s bedroom.
The art, however, isn’t the only entity they live with. “We have 13 ghosts,” says Pushelberg matter-of-factly. Although the couple have invited shamans and psychics into their bedroom, so far only their own devices have brought them a modicum of solace. That is why, taped to a cluster of vintage Ponti mirrors mounted above their Antonio Citterio Charles bed are bunches of sage—one of the few flourishes to depart from their formalist design training. “It’s our home and it doesn’t serve any other purpose,” says Pushelberg.
A version of this article appears in the April 2014 issue of Art+Auction magazine.
MILAN — Although the dusty pink accent piece — side tables, dining chairs, serving trays, and more — against pale blues and soft greys ruled Paris in January during its semi-annual trade show Maison & Objet, this season has clearly left the pastels behind. In Milan this week, during the city’s epic Salone del Mobile, color schemes took on a decidedly bolder tone; throughout the booths of the mammoth Rho fairgrounds, shades of red were everywhere.
“Red is ever the color that symbolizes design,” said designer Giulio Cappellini, “even if now it is proposed in a softer tone and less bright than in the past.” (To be fair, his eponymous, avant-garde design brand has for decades loudly announced its presence with its own red logo, so perhaps he imagines that the modern day iterations pale in comparison.)
While it’s worth noting that red was also the color of the exhibition center’s carpets, trending prominently here was a contrast with specific shades of blue and green. At times the pairing was more vibrant, as with the bright red throw pillows and attached powder-coated metal tables of Patricia Urquiola’s cheerful cerulean new “Tender” sofa for Moroso, and at other times more austere, as with the burgundy samples of Poltrona’s new soft-washed leather in its booth of dark teal and dark woods.
“In this time, people prefer warm and soft environments with touch of color, and surely red is the color that better fits,” Cappellini said, whether it’s with, “natural stones and light and dark woods, or with beige and ecru nuances of fabrics.”
After an arduous trek through the many exhibition halls of Salone del Mobile, ARTINFO presents a look at the sheer versatility of this season’s “It” color.
Click on the slideshow to see the new red launches at Salone del Mobile.
— British Search for New Banksy Mural: Hours after a mural resembling the handiwork of international street artist Banksy appeared on the side of a house in Cheltenham near the GCHQ, the artist posted a picture of a different work — his newest official mural — on his website with no description, leaving fans guessing at the location (though some clues in the photo suggest it’s in the UK). The unconfirmed Cheltenham mural depicts three agents toting audio recording devices, positioned next to a phone booth — an obvious response to surveillance by the NSA and GCHQ. The mystery mural features two people embracing and peering over each other’s shoulders at cellphones. [Telegraph, Guardian]
— Hitler Auction Cancelled: After French Jewish groups and French Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti called for the cancellation of an auction of objects once owned by Adolf Hitler and Nazi air force chief Hermann Goering, the Vermot de Pas house has decided to stop the sale. Goering’s passport, a monogrammed mat bearing Hitler’s initials, and a chest owned by Hitler were to be included in the sale. French group CRIF called the sale “a form of moral indecency” and disrespectful to “the victims of Nazi barbarism.” [AFP, AFP]
— Critic Attacks Tate Head: British art critic Waldemar Januszczak has publicly called for Tate Britain head Penelope Curtis to be ousted. Januszczak does not hold back in his scathing denunciation of the museum’s director on his blog. “I first noticed what an appalling exhibition-maker she was when she co-curated the Modern British Sculpture show at the Royal Academy in 2011,” Januszczak wrote. “It was, quite simply, one of the worst exhibitions I have ever seen. Subsequent shows at Tate Britain have continued the trend.” [Waldemar]
— Oregon Museum Tax Break: The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon is the unlikely temporary home for many newly acquired artworks by collectors, like Francis Bacon’s “Three Studies of Lucian Freud,” because it provides a hefty tax break for loaning work to the institution. [NYT]
— Art World Buys in Yonkers: David Hammons bought a warehouse in Yonkers, New York, where he intends to open an art gallery, joining artist and architect Maya Lin, who recently purchased real estate in the city. Mayor Mike Spano said, “Now others in the art world want to join the transformation taking place in Yonkers,” hinting that Yonkers is poised to be the Williamsburg of Westchester. [Lohud]
— “Flip Art” Becomes a Movement: The New York Times dubs the skyrocketing prices generated by young artists like Oscar Murillo and Lucien Smith, whose work is known as “Flip Art” (privately bought and quickly sold off), as “just about the nearest thing in today’s fragmented global art scene that approximates to a coherent movement.” [NYT]
— President Obama has nominated William Adams as chairman for the National Endowment for the Humanities. [NYT]
— Mexico Tax Administration Service allows artists to pay their taxes in artwork. [The Atlantic]
— The American Academy in Rome has given this year’s Rome Prizes in the visual arts category to Corin Hewitt, Dave McKenzie, Cynthia Madansky, and Abinadi Meza. [AiA]
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Like most fans of “Mad Men,” we tend to be obsessive about the show — no detail is too small to analyze. Series creator Matthew Weiner feeds into this obsession by loading every episode with a long list of reference points — from literature, television shows, music, and more. Each week, we’ll provide a quick and handy guide to the previous episode’s cultural references, from the obvious to the elusive. This week, we’re jumping right into 1969. It’s two months after the previous season ended, and we have more references to Sharon Tate (bring back the conspiracies from last year!), a few rock songs with double meanings, and the return of a reference to a famous tragic-romantic play.
“I’m a Man” — Spencer Davis Group
Don’s introduction in the season premiere, floating through the Los Angeles International Airport, is set to this brash song from the group’s 1967 album of the same name. It’s the type of chest-puffing introduction that mirrors not just what we imagine Don is feeling, but what every man feels. The world is changing, but patriarchal attitudes still exist — especially among the stilted old men of the advertising world.
This is what Don calls Megan’s new home in California, a secluded spot in the Hollywood Hills where you can hear the wolves howling from the canyon. Remember last year when everyone seemed to be linking Megan with Sharon Tate? Based on a later scene where Don watches Richard Nixon’s first inaugural address on television, that would place the show in January 1969, a month before Tate was murdered by the Manson family not far away in Benedict Canyon. Also, the only film Tate made with her husband, Roman Polanski, as well as one of the last films she made period, was “The Fearless Vampire Killers” in 1967.
After Don purchases a large television for Megan without asking her (it can hardly fit in her small home), the couple wakes up to the opening of “Lost Horizon,” Frank Capra’s 1937 film about a group of people whose hijacked plane crashes in the Himalayan Mountains, where they find paradise and discover their arrival might not be so random. When Don awakes, the camera specifically focuses on the opening of the film, which paraphrases a section from the Gospel of Matthew.
“Cyrano de Bergerac”
This is actually the second reference to Edmond Rostand’s play on “Mad Men” (in season three, the now-deceased Lane Pryce referred to a client needing the firm to be their “Cyrano de Bergerac”). Here, the reference is even more direct. Freddy Rumsen references the play, about a gifted man who, marked by self-doubt, convinces another man to seduce the woman he loves for him. As we learn at the end of the episode, this mirrors Don’s use of Freddy as a front to get his ideas into the agency without them knowing (he’s been suspended with pay due to his downward spiral last season), but if you’re familiar with the play you know this does not end well.
“You Keep Me Hangin’ On” — Vanilla Fudge
The rock group’s cover of a Holland–Dozier–Holland song, originally recorded by The Supremes in 1966 (another girl group reference: earlier in the episode, Lou Avery, the square replacement for Don Draper, calls the copywriters Gladys Knight & The Pips), plays over the end of the episode. We see Don out on his balcony, in the cold, shivering. A bottle is near him but he doesn’t drink. Is he going through withdrawal? What is keeping him hanging on, really? It certainly doesn’t seem to be Megan, based on his — possibly a dream — redeye conversation with the mysterious woman. Maybe the work is what is keeping him hanging on? If Don’s scheme involving Freddy Rumsen as his decoy is discovered, will he keep on hanging on or will he finally just let go?