VK

visits on art, design, architecture and literature

Ruth Duckworth; monumental sculptures & murals & dramatic poetry in ceramics

“I think of life as a unity. This unity includes mountains, mice, rocks, trees, and women and men. It is all one lump of clay. ”   Ruth Duckworth (1919-2009)

 

….maybe the world’s foremost and influential ceramic sculptors? Yes, indeed..

One  of the galleries that leads a journey discovering significant women in Art history is Salon 94 /New York and presently affirms some of Ruth Duckworth’s brilliant pieces.

Ruth Duckworth,’Untitled’, 2003, porcelain (5 3/4 x 5 1/2 x 3 1/2 in.-14.6 x 14 x 8.9 cm) Courtesy Thea Burger and Salon 94/New York

 

Ruth Duckworth (1919-2009)  was born Ruth Windmüller in Hamburg, Germany. She began drawing at a young age and left Germany for England in the mid-1930s, fleeing the Nazi regime. She attended the Liverpool College of Art from 1936 to 1940, studying painting and drawing. She studied at the Liverpool School of Art, the Hammersmith School of Art and the prestigious Central School of Arts and Crafts in London, where she later taught.

Throughout the 1940s, she took various jobs as a puppeteer, tombstone carver, working in a munitions factory and spent some time working in Lucie Rie’s  ceramic studio. At the time, ceramics in England were still quite traditional in style and functional in form, and her organic, hand-shaped, surrealist works were misunderstood by audiences at-large, but celebrated by fellow artists and ceramicists.

Ruth Duckworth ‘Untitled’, 2002 Bronze, 19 x 8 x 9 inches (48.3 x 20.3 x 22.9 cm) Courtesy Thea Burger and Salon 94/New York

 

Duckworth’s early sculptural work was representational but she turned to abstraction and organic forms that were influenced by both prehistoric and modern imagery, as well as nature and human relationships.  Inspired by a museum exhibition she saw of Indian pottery, she continued her studies at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London from 1956 to 1958, turning more seriously to porcelain ceramics. …She started out by carving stone but moved quickly to clay.

She approached the medium as a sculptor rather than with the traditional methods of a potter and was influenced by such modernist sculptors as Henry Moore and Isamu Noguchi, as well as primitive work and ancient carvings. (LA Times staff, sept 26, 2009)
Ruth Duckworth,’Untitled’,1989,Porcelain, 6 1/2 x 7 3/8 x 2 1/8 inches (16.5×18.7×5.4cm)  Courtesy Thea Burger and Salon 94 New York

 

Ruth Duckworth  characterized porcelain ceramic as ‘a very temperamental material’.

I’m constantly fighting it. It wants to lie down, you want it to stand up. I have to make it do what it doesn’t want to do. But there’s no other material that so effectively communicates both fragility and strength.” Ruth Duckworth

When the gallery sent me some visuals I could not stop thinking about some of the Cycladic Art and while deepening into my tiny research I am certain now that Ruth had deeply studied both the Grotta-Pelos (Early Cycladic I)  culture (c. 3200?-2700 BC) and the Keros-Syros (Early Cycladic II) culture (c. 2700-2400/2300 BC)

(images:source, The MET/Dept of Roman and Greek Art)

marble head from the figure of a woman, Early Cycladic II, 2700-2500 B.C. H.915/15 in (25.3 cm), Gift of Christos G. Bastis, 1964, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

 

Ruth Duckworth, (source of images: Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Sedalia, MO, exhibition photo, “Modernist Sculptor” (July 30-October 23, 2005)

Ruth Duckworth, ‘Untitled’, 1986 (image source; auction house)

Ruth Duckworth, ‘Untitled, 1990, porcelain,Courtesy Thea Burger and Salon 94/New York

Duckworth’s work helped shape a new way of thinking about ceramics in the second half of the 20th century and created a place for clay as a sculptural medium at a time when it was not widely accepted.

In one body of work she sets smooth and open shapes against sharp taut lines, deriving a dramatic poetry from a confrontation of flux and substance. In another, she creates massive undulating vessels with rough textures and earthy tones whose delicate sensuality belies their size and strength. (exhibition writer ) 

“Her stoneware murals, notably “Earth, Water and Sky” (1967-68) and “Clouds Over Lake Michigan” (1976), incorporated topographical swirls and abstractly rendered cloud patterns. Her small works, by contrast, were often delicate and abstract, with surrealist overtones. The influences were varied. The stylized modernism of Henry Moore, Constantin Brancusi and Isamu Noguchi competed for attention with Egyptian, Mexican and Cycladic art.”(William Grimes, NY Times, Oct 24th, 2009, ‘Ruth Duckworth, Sculptor & Muralist, dies at 90 )

During her twenty-three-year tenure teaching at University of Chicago), she joined the faculty of the University of Chicago in 1964),Duckworth brought some excellent public art to the university and the city, most celebrated, the mural ‘Earth, Water and Sky’.  In the 1970s, she received a commission for “Clouds Over Lake Michigan,” a mural that was displayed first in a bank and later in the lobby of the Chicago Board of Trade building. It is a sweeping piece of relief that incorporates meteorological and geological themes.

Ruth Duckworth, Earth, Water, Sky, Geophysical Sciences Building at the University of Chicago, 1967–68…a ceramic mural featuring abstracted weather patterns, rock formations, and topographical views, lines the entryway to the Henry Hinds Laboratory for Geophysical Sciences.

For Earth, Water, and Sky, completed in 1968, Duckworth abstractly depicted aspects of the earth’s natural topography and environment, using clay glazed in earth tones, modeling “fins,” and carving concentric circles to represent the elevation rings of Mt. Fujiyama. (source:The Minneapolis Institute of Arts)

Alice Westphal, Duckworth’s dealer at the time, describes the mural as an “archaeological fantasy of Chicago as a site of an ancient civilization” centering around the dualities of life: “order and chaos, similarity and difference, the organic and the fabricated…creation and regeneration.”

 

That was really a breakthrough piece for her. She really found her voice and form in that piece,” said Michael Dunbar, her friend and a sculptor who is an art in architecture coordinator for the state of Illinois. (LA Times, October 26, 2009)

Upon retiring from the university in 1977, moved her studio space to a former pickle plant in Lakeview, Chicago. She lived on the second floor of the space which she renovated in the early 1980s.  A large opening in the floor allowed her to look down from her home to see her murals in progress and envision how they would look on a wall.

Clouds Over Lake Michigan‘ ‘(1976) at the Chicago Board Options Exchange Building, and large bronze works at various college campuses.  Duckworth here has invented a territory where rhythmic, unfurling nature collides with human history. The mural embodies the dualities in life: order and chaos, similarity and difference, the organic and the fabricated – the oppositional elements necessary to uphold balance and sustain harmony.

Ruth Duckworth in her studio, Chicago (image source:American Craft Council )

Her work is featured at such institutions as the Art Institute of Chicago; Boston Museum of Fine Arts; Windsor Castle, England; Stuttgart Museum, Germany; National Museum of Modern Art, Japan; Museum Boymans-Van Beuningen, The Netherlands, Philadelphia Museum of Art; The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; National Museum of Scotland; Kestner Museum, Germany; Schleswig Holsteinisches Landesmuseum, Germany; Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe, Germany; City Museum, Bassano Del Grappo, Italy; Buckingham County Museum, England; Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Utah; American Craft Museum , New York; Los Angeles County Art Museum, California; Evanston Public Library, Illinois; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. (source:The Venica Project)

Ruth Duckworth, Untitled (Archival Inventory), 2002, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the James Renwick Alliance in honor of Kenneth R. Trapp, gift of an anonymous donor

She was a great original, pioneering her own path within ceramics, brilliantly exploring the idea of the figure, the vessel and the more abstract form,” said Emmanuel Cooper, a British ceramist and an editor of Ceramic Review. (NY Times, Oct 24th, 2009) 

 

 

 

Ruth Duckworth house in Chicago, ( a former pickle factory at earlier times a dowdy part of Lake View (along the Metra tracks on Ravenswood Avenue)

 

Nature remained her inspiration, and many of her ideas took root in a courtyard garden. Duckworth passed away in 2009 in her adopted home of Chicago.`

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Helen Frankenthaler’s ‘Scarlatti’ & ‘the gods may pursue their amours’

 “There are no rules. That is how art is born, how breakthroughs happen. Go against the rules or ignore the rules. That is what invention is about.”

                                                                                           Helen Frankenthaler

exhibition installation photos ©Joe Kramm, Jason Mandella, courtesy of Yares Art Gallery, New York & Santa Fe

 

Yesterday, a sunny friday afternoon I walked down on 5th avenue (745 5th) visiting Yares gallery to gaze for third time ( last day of exhibition yesterday) an extraordinary unfolding of miraculous paintings by Helen Frankenthaler (paintings are ranging from 1957 to 1990). An unforgettable experience as the bright afternoon spring New York light vaporing generously in the gallery. This morning I am reading the remarkable foreword by Dr Alexander Nemerov in beautifully published book by Yares gallery while I am  listening to allegro and andante sonatas Scarlatti on piano played by Vladimir Horowitz, my memory is vivid and alive of the magnificent “Scarlatti” painting (1987) (224×288.9 cm, private collection) as Helen Frankenthaler had heard on a recording (Vladimir Horowitz at the piano two weeks earlier when she completed this painting. (see footnote *2)

 

Prof. Alexander Nemerov on his introduction “The Gods May Pursue Their Amours’ on the beautiful book that has been published for this exhibition, edition 750 (footnote*1) writes…

photos ©Nefeli Brandhorst, New York, May 19, 2019

 

The blue of Helen Frankenthaler ‘ Scarlatti is the blue of the sky. A bright transparent blue, as of cerulean and ozone, it evokes the brilliant summer day in 1987 on which Frankenthaler completed it –a day that reminded her of the sparkling music of the 17th century Neapolitan composer Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757), which she had heard on a recording ( 2 weeks earlier. (footnote*2)

(Scarlatti,1987, acrylic on canvas, 222 x 288.9 cm, photo ©Jason Mandella

The blue of ‘Scarlatti’ sky is the blue of the composer’s Italian contemporary, Giovanni Batista Tiepolo  (1696-1770), a prolific painter of the Rococo whose art Frankenthaler admired.  Fresh out of Bennington College in the early 1950s, she saw Tiepolo paintings in the Old Master gallery of her former roommate’s father, Saemy Rosenberg: ‘really fine examples” of the painters’ work Throughout her life, Frankenthaler loved Old Master paintings, and would sometimes directly base her pictures on them..

Prof. Alexander Nemerov continues,

Before Tiepolo and other Old Masters, Frankenthaler’s measure of adoration was analytical but finally speechless. With her nephew, the artist Clifford Ross, she would go to the Metropolitan in the 1970s and 1980s, and gaze at the paintings of Tiepolo ‘s Venetian predecessors __Titian, Veronese, and Tintoretto. They would talk about what made the paintings great but they never veered into recondite art-history lessons. Then _ the best part_ they would fall into an appreciative silence, a stupefied delight, punctuated now and then by one Frankenthaler’s terms of highest praise : the paintings were “knock outs,” “they were terrific.”

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo ‘Apollo Pursuing Daphne’,ca.1755/1760 (68.5 x 87 cm).Collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. Samuel H.Kress Collection (detail)

 

“…Before Tiepolo’s ‘Apollo Pursuing Daphne (ca.1755/1760) a painting that came into the National Gallery’s collection in 1952, just as her career was starting. Frankenthaler might have stopped and stared whenever she was in Washington. She might have admired Apollo’s bursting energy, his radiant halo, the circle of it rhyming with the black mouth of the urn She might have loved the laurel branches that grow from Daphne’s hands, not to mention the weird and even perverse correspondence of Daphne and the cray-bearded river god slumped on the urn, their paired bodies looking a bit like the same figure shown from the front and the back. To die for was the contract of cloaks, the sweep of Apollo’s gold garment contrasting with he river god’s soggy red one. But she might have loved most that blue sky, with its soft white clouds, which imparts a lightness as of helium, to even the grievous emotions of deities. Those skies are richly different from the other azures Frankenthaler had at her command, the ocean blue of ‘Pavillion’ of 1971, for instance, with it Sgt. Pepper palette and exuberance, as of ta scarf blowing in a slipstream. Scarlatti, by contrast, is a dream of Tiepolo, of his sparkling scenes, his brilliant summer days. 

exhibition installation photos ©Joe Kramm, Jason Mandella, courtesy of Yares Art Gallery, New York & Santa Fe (Scarlatti,1987, acrylic on canvas, 222 x 288.9 cm – seen at right of image)

 

 But the blue of Scarlatti show no empyrean romp of gods. The blue is the blue of a room. The creamy architectonic lines in the lower part of the paintings make a floor or a tabletop. The lines extending from the midpoint of the left and right edges of the canvas suggest the meeting point of a wall and floor. The pure blue rectangle at upper right might be a window. Even the largest Frankenthaler paintings “project a specifically human space, responsive to emotion, tangibly perceived.” in the works of her close friend, the writer, Sonya Rudikoff. Her paintings present “a space of human scale, imaginatively, sensuously, visually.” (Alexander Nemerov, ‘The Gods may pursue their Amours’)” 

 

1969: Abstract and expressionist artist Helen Frankenthaler tips the contents of a can of paint onto a canvas on the floor. She is the inventor of a technique whereby unprimed and absorbent canvas is soaked with paint giving a translucent effect. In black and white book (Photo by Ernst Haas/Ernst Haas/Getty Images)

Artwork by Helen Frankenthaler © 2019 Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc./ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

 

photos ©Nefeli Brandhorst, New York, May 19, 2019

 

The ancient Greek legend of the water nymph Daphne, who was changed by her father, a river god, into a laurel tree to escape the unwanted love of Apollo, symbolized during the Renaissance the belief that selfish love is doomed to fail. The ability to portray not only the atmospheric quality of light, but a wide range of character and emotions, ranks Tiepolo among the most inventive and technically proficient artists in history.

 

Prof.  Alexander Nemerov concludes with these poetic words …”the brilliant day  is not proof of a higher exultation. The window into which the sunlight flows, like the viewer whose face and body the light will bathe, receives the glowing warmth without any revelation except the desire let loos by sun and sky. This desire is a feeling, sometimes called the feeling of being alive –of being alive on a specific day, in a specific place –a feeling as physical and immediate as Van Gogh might have felt in some olive grove or down some cobblestoned  street beneath the stars. It amounts to an ecstasy: a sense that art might provide a proof, if only one that evaporates even as it manifests, that a sense of abundant life –the sunlight, the blue sky –can permeate our private beings and make us feel less alone.’ (Dr Alexander Nemerov, ‘The Gods may pursue their Armour, Helen Frankenthaler, Yares Art, New York,  2019)

Footnotes

*1.’Helen Frankenthaler/Selected Paintings/edition of 750 (Editorial and Design Productions, SNAP editions, New York, Editorial: Sarah S. King, Annikka Olsen, Nathan Jones, David Ebony and Ted Mooney; Design; Tim Laun and Nathalie Weeding, Printing: Brilliant Graphics, Exton, PA; Exhibition photos: Joe Kramm, Jason Mandella

*2 Oral history interview with Helen Frankenthaler, 1968,Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C

*3 Prof. Alexander Nemerov

A scholar of American art, Nemerov writes about the presence of art, the recollection of the past, and the importance of the humanities in our lives today. Committed to teaching the history of art more broadly as well as topics in American visual culture–the history of American photography, for example–he is a noted writer and speaker on the arts. His most recent books are Silent Dialogues: Diane Arbus and Howard Nemerov (2015), Wartime Kiss: Visions of the Moment in the 1940s (2013) and Acting in the Night: Macbeth and the Places of the Civil War(2010).  In 2011 he published To Make a World: George Ault and 1940s America (2011), the catalogue to the exhibition of the same title he curated at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.  Among his recent essays are pieces on Danny Lyon, William Eggleston, Bill Yates, and Gregory Crewdson.

Nemerov’s new book, Soulmaker: The Times of Lewis Hine,appeared in 2016, published by Princeton University Press.

Amsterdam_Tess van Zalinge “Shades of White”

In  color theory, a shade is a pure color mixed with black (or having a lower lightness) Strictly speaking, a “shade of white” would be a neutral beige.

Nevertheless, in Tess van Zalinge ‘s  fabulous creations, the shades of white take a complete different direction;  ‘The designer label’s aesthetics contemporises the female form, combining modern Dutch silhouettes with traditional elements. The precise cut and fit of her collections take centre stage, an approach lending itself to bespoke tailoring. Influenced by her Dutch roots, Tess van Zalinge references in her work Dutch crafts, costume wear, design and typically Dutch techniques.

photo ©Wadim Petunin

Virgin white organza and frail corsets formed the basis for the enchanting show with folkloristic kraplap. With the title ‘Monday, Wash Day’, the young designer referred to nostalgic traditional Dutch sculptures of green meadows with clotheslines full of flowing white wax.

I met Tess van Zalinge  first time last July afternoon in Munich; Tess  was attenting a special event for a dress creation which would be part of the Alte Pinakothek for limited time ‘Woman in Blue Reading a Letter’ by the Dutch master Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675). Tess and her studio created  a dress for that occasion, as her studies on costume historical design.

Design: Tess van Zalinge, Photo©Peter Stigter

 

photo ©Tomek Dersu Aaron, model Suez

 

Her collection “De Porcelayne Fles” (“the Porcelain Bottle’), collection 2017/2018  was launched  in  collaboration with  Royal Delft.  The collection was a class  between functionality and sensuality, featuring oversized suits and lingerie. Due to the unique collaboration, between Tess and Royal Delft, prints were created honouring Dutch master painters like Johannes Vermeer.

The music of Alexander Desalt echoes beautifully during that collection. Young Tess, a very hard working young fashion designer based in Amsterdam has lots in her mind..

A long admired artist and writer,  Edmund de Waal in his magnificent book “The White Road”, he writes,

“Porcelain is made of two kins of mineral. The first element is ‘petunse’ or what is known as porcelain stone. In the vivid imagery used here in Jindgedezhen it provides the flesh of the porcelain.  It gives translucency and supplies the hardness of the body.  The second element is ‘kaolin’ or porcelain call and it is the bones.  It gives plasticity.  Together ‘petuntse’ and ‘kaolin’ fuse at great heat to create a form of glass that is vitrified: at a molecular level the spaces are filled up with glass, making the vessel non-porous. ” (Edmund de Wall,”The White Road”_ a pilgrimage of sorts, pp29)

 

  photo© Tomek Dersu Aaron

“…It is from ‘kaolin that porcelain draws its strength, just like tendons in the body.  Thus is that a soft earth strength to ‘petuntse’ which is the harder rock. A rich merchant told me that several years ago some Europeans purchased some petuntse, which they took back to their own country in order to make some porcelain, but not having any kaolin, their efforts failed … upon which the Chinese merchant told me laughing, ‘They wanted to have a body in which the flesh would be supported without bones.” (Edmund de Waal, ‘The White Road, pp.29

Tess’ love for crafts, nature and folklore is again central in her newest collection. Inspired by the nostalgic image of white laundry on the clothesline above the vast fields that Dutch nature has to offer. Tess takes you back to Monday Laundry, ‘I have been inspired by this typical Dutch image of peace and quietness and made a translation of it with the focus on traditional costume, craft and experiment’.

photo ©Tomek Dersu Aaron

In some of their creations, the fashion designers, not always referencing as specific building , often incorporate architectural elements, like elongated proportions and strong silhouettes in their fashions; architecture usually plays the influence pattern. Coco Chanel quoted  “Fashion is architecture: is a matter of proportions”

Tess van Zalinge’s studio was created in 2016, a small creative team of 1-5 young designers, usually some interns of fashion design and all the  fabrics are within the borders of Netherlands. Tess does not hold any rules concerning how often she will present collections, first year she held three and a capsule collection, for this year is to do one collection and simultaneously to work /collaborate on interesting projects on the site.

The unique folded apron from the Molensteenkraag was the inspiration for one of the signature looks from Tess Van Zalinge’s Porceleyne Fles’ collection back in 2017. For her partnership with the Centraal Museum in Utrecht, Tess has re-invented the stand-out piece to be exhibited next to the artwork in the museum for the duration of six months commencing in January, 2019.

photo©Marieke Bosma, courtesy of Centraal Museum Utrecht

photo© Marieke Bosma,courtesy of Centraal Museum Utrecht

photo © Tomek Dersu Aaron, model Fien Kloos

You are by the sea at the turn of the tide.. The san is washed clean. You make the first mark in the white sand, that first contact of foot on the crust of the sand, not knowing how deep and how definite your step will be. You hesitate over the white paper like Bellini’s scribe with his brush. Eighty paris from the tail of an otter ends in a breath, a single hair steady in the still air. You are ready to start. The hesitation of a kiss on the nape of the neck like a lover. (Edmund de Waal, The White Road) 

 

From September 5, 2018 to March 31, 2019, the Costume Museum organizes the Contemporary Fashion exhibition.

The Dutch Costume Museum shows the craftsmanship, artistry, and passion that created the Dutch traditional costumes. The collection encompasses a cross-section of local traditional dresses and folk art from each region. Each region has its own garb, with variations from different villages or stages of life, such as marriage and mourning after a death. The museum houses seven rooms, and each room is decorated with motives and colours characteristics for each specific region…..The museum is housed in a 17th-century canal house at Herengracht, around the corner or Leidsestraat in the center of Amsterdam. In 1665, ropemaker Jan Jacobszn van Gelder bought the plot of land on which he built house numbers 427 and 429. The carpenter Cornelis de Roos had a facade with neck gables constructed in 1700, a feature that is still visible today. The interior contains an original Blue Delft toilet, which is still in use.

……

all photos credited by the photographers and courtesy of Tess van Zalinge Studio, Amsterdam, Netherlands. 

 

 

 

Azhar: from the desk of the architect ‘dark blue crystals harvested’

In my new section at VK publication,  “Photography Exemplar”  a platform in which  I invite artists that work on the media of photography or architecture to share their experience working on a project, an idea, that it might  develop to a larger narrative or simply stay at the moment.  My second guest is Azhar (Azhar Architecture, London & Berlin ) with his project ‘Space’. Azhar is a multidisciplinary architect. Born in Lahore, trained in London, and shares his time between London and Berlin. All images and text below are courtesy of Azhar.(note from editor VK)

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This series of modified images, are about reverting these drawings into “Blueprints”, the original status of their creation, they return to be not descriptive but prescriptive.
SPACE SERIES _ The space race has created such incredible technological advancement and fundamental analysis on human support systems. It strikes me that we still have a lot to learn from that extensive research, not just stylistically but in multivalent ways.  These are for me an optimistic series, to be  extra-terrestrial was the combination of vision and technical challenge.
As an architect, I am often introduced as somebody who creates buildings, which is only partially true. I see myself as someone who devises “instructions”, the process of which is drawings, whether it is a concept sketch, or an intricate 3D model. These plans, sections, elevations, 3D models are the instructions for others to use, contribute, interrogate and build the ‘plan’.
I started experimenting with ink drawings as a child, the technical pens of Rotring and Faber Castell, working with a series of proportional pen thicknesses, in fractions of millimetres, 0.1mm, 0.13mm, 0.25mm, 0.35mm 0.5mm etc. I was enthralled by this proportional thicknesses and this absolute precision.

“Apollo Command Module” used for the Apollo program between 1969 and 1975

“Apollo Lunar Module” which was flown to and landed on the Moon. Ten lunar modules were launched into space, of these six successfully landed humans on the Moon between 1969 and 1972.

“Skylab” launched and operated by NASA and occupied for about 24 weeks between May 1973 and February 1974. Skylab included a workshop, a solar observatory and other systems for crew survival and scientific experiments. Three missions delivered three astronaut crews in the Apollo Command and service module.

“Space Shuttle”, taken from a 1969 plan for a reusable spacecraft, tge first orbital flights occurred in 1982. In addition to the prototype, five complete Shuttle systems were built and used on a total of 135 missions from 1981 to 2011.

 

“Spacelab” was a reusable laboratory used on certain spaceflights flown by the Space Shuttle. The laboratory comprised multiple components, including a pressurised module, an unpressurised carrier and other related hardware housed in the Shuttle’s cargo bay.

“Columbus” is a science laboratory module that is part of the ISS International Space Station and is the largest single contribution to the ISS made by the ESA European Space Agency. It was launched aboard Space Shuttle Atlantic on February 7th, 2008. It was designed for ten years of operation.
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THE ALCHEMY OF INK
The colour of blueprints, are a “Blue-Black”, I have an instinctive love for the colour. It is my favourite ink in my pens, I draw predominantly with ink-pens, I like the fact that ink is unforgiving, one can only with great difficulty correct an ink gesture on paper.
Blue Black ink is in a way in my blood, my maternal grandfather was an ink maker, amongst other roles. His factory made writing ink in Lahore, where I am born, and from my youngest memories of seeing dark blue crystals being harvested, ready to be made into precious formulas to be sent out in little bottles to scribe, create and record the world, for good or for bad. Ink is a magical, a crucial invention for the evolution of civilisation, and is still wondrous to me, it is an alchemy.
INK MASTERS
As a boy, I fell in love with the Victorian Aubrey Beardsely, the brilliant young illustrator, the gestures and commitment that he drew, often erotic, his drawings were produced with an absolute commitment to ink, his medium. It was the age of Orientalism, I learnt that Beardsley had fell in love with the great master Hokusai and sought out a large format monograph of the masters work at a local library, I fell into the world of this book, and I have never left.
                                                                            Azhar, Berlin, February 12, 2019

New York:Alberto Giacometti ‘Intimate Immensity’ and ‘Poetics of Space’ at Luxembourg & Dayan

….Far from the immensities of sea and land, merely through memory, we can recapture, by means of meditation, the resonances of this contemplation by grandeur. But is this really memory? Isn’t imagination alone able to enlarge indefinitely the images of immensity? In point of fact, daydreaming, from the very first second, is an entirely constituted state. We do not see it start, and yet it always starts the same way, that is, it flees the object nearby and right away  is is far off, elsewhere, in the space of ‘elsewhere’...  (Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space, 1958, pp 183-184)

 

‘Intimate Immensity’ is installed in collaboration  with contemporary Swiss sculptor Urs Fischer

Homme qui marche: (7.1 x 3.8 x 2.6 cm) )cast no.5/6, bronze, (cast in 1969), Alberto Giacometti “Intimate Immensity Sculptures 1935-45) , courtesy Lyxembourg Dayan gallery, NY

 

….when Ottilia died in 1937 (his sister after giving birth to her son Silvio,..”at times I have tried to work on Ottilias’s head but when I perceive resemblance I feel so much pain and regret that I have to stop.” Gradually reducing the scale of his work further and further … this was to become a characteristic of Giacometti’s new sculptural work created ‘de memoire’ (from memory) following his decision to abandon studies ‘d’après model’ (based on a model). (Casimiro Di Crescenzo “Alberto Giacometti: towards a New Figurative Art, 1935-45) ( Luxembourg &Dayan publications,2018)

……“wanting to create from memory what I had seen myself, the sculptures gradually became smaller and smaller, bearing resemblance only when they were small… Often they became so very small that with one touch from my knife they vanished into dust.” (Alberto Giacometti writes  to  Pierre Matisse, his art dealer in New York,1948)

Alberto Giacometti “Intimate Immensity Sculptures 1935-45, courtesy Lyxembourg Dayan gallery, NY

 

The exhibition “Intimate Immensity: Alberto Giacometti Sculptures, 1935-1945” at Luxembourg & Dayan  is exclusively dedicated to the artist’s cycle of very small human figures created in France and Switzerland during the Second World War….the exhibition is installed in collaboration with the contemporary Swiss sculptor ups Fischer , who shares Giacometti’s passionate commitment to redefining the human form as conduit for and conveyor of psychological experience (gallery text) ..The works are no more than three inches tall and as thin as nails are elegantly placed in large vitrines and dramatise the scale of the tiny sculptures in Manhattan’s second narrowest townhouse, foregrounds Giacometti’s insights concerning scale.

Alberto Giacometti “Intimate Immensity Sculptures 1935-45) , courtesy Lyxembourg Dayan gallery, NY

 Alberto Giacometti “Intimate Immensity Sculptures 1935-45) , courtesy Lyxembourg Dayan gallery, NY  (first floor)

Bachelard wrote in a chapter entitled “House and Universe.” “A house that has been experienced is not an inert box. Inhabited space transcends geometrical space.'” In  lyrical chapters on the “topography of our intimate being”—of nests, drawers, shells, corners, miniatures, forests, and above all the house, with its vertical polarity of cellar and attic—he undertook a systematic study, or “topoanalysis,” of the “space we love.” (Joan Ockman “Poetics of Space” by Gaston Bachelard at Harvard Design Magazine, no.6)

Alberto Giacometti “Intimate Immensity Sculptures 1935-45) , courtesy Lyxembourg Dayan gallery, NY, second floor

 

The sculpture I wanted to make… was meant to capture precisely the vision I had of her in the moment that I saw her for the first time in the street, from a certain distance. I wanted to give her the grandeur that she had at that distance.” He added, “I saw an immense blackness over her, the row of houses; so, in order to give that impression, I had to make an immense pedestal so that the ensemble will match the vision.” (Alberto Giacometti, later in life, explains  to Pierre Dumayet,(1963) how the gradual diminution of his sculptures in this period finally found its true purpose in a portrait of his model and intimate friend Isabel Rawsthorne)

Tête d’Isabel II, 1937-38 (cast in 1962) Bronze (29 x 22 x 24 cm)
Alberto Giacometti “Intimate Immensity Sculptures 1935-45) , courtesy Lyxembourg Dayan gallery, NY

Diego, c.1937 (cast in 1965) Bronze (20 x 12 x 16 cm)

Alberto Giacometti “Intimate Immensity Sculptures 1935-45) , courtesy Lyxembourg Dayan gallery, NY

 

If we could analyse impressions and images of immensity, or what immensity contributes to an image, we should soon enter into a region of the purest sort of phenomenology – a phenomenology without phenomena; or, stated less paradoxically, one that, in order to know the productive flow of images, need not wait to the phenomena of the imagination to take form and become stabilised in completed images. (Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space, 1958, pp 183-184)

Tête d’homme sur double socle, c.1946 Plaster (11 x 4.5 x 4.3 cm)
Alberto Giacometti “Intimate Immensity Sculptures 1935-45) , courtesy Lyxembourg Dayan gallery, NY

 

La Poétique de l’Espace (1958) was first published in English in 1964, two years after Bachelard’s death, then in paperback in 1969, and reissued in 1994. An allusive little book, its author was a highly-respected philosopher who late in his career had turned from science to poetry.  Nothing about his intellectual journey had been orthodox, particularly as measured against the rigid norms of French academic life and advancement.  He was from a provincial background in Champagne, a post-office employee, who rose largely through intellectual tenacity to hold a chair in philosophy at the Sorbonne.(Gillian Darley, writer in architecture and landscape, in Aeon)

On the subject of the home as a workplace, art critic Kirsty Bell  in her book “The Artist’s house” (published by Sternberg Press, 2013) suggests that for the artist, the freelancer, and the homemaker as well, “there isn’t a true division of when our work day ends and our evening of relaxation begins.” She explains, “that’s because we’re all constantly available and communicating.  That’s very new and radical!”

and important to mention here Aristotle, a towering figure on ancient Greek Philosophy …

Aristotle rejects the definition of space as the void. Empty space is an impossibility. Hence, too, he disagrees with the view of Plato and the Pythagoreans that the elements are composed of geometrical figures. Space is defined as the limit of the surrounding body towards what is surrounded. Time is defined as the measure of motion in regard to what is earlier and later. It thus depends for its existence upon motion. If there where no change in the universe, there would be no time. Since it is the measuring or counting of motion, it also depends for its existence on a counting mind. If there were no mind to count, there could be no time. As to the infinite divisibility of space and time, and the paradoxes proposed by Zeno,  Aristotle argues that space and time are potentially divisible ad infinitum, but are not actually so divided.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

……..Thank you Luxembourg & Dayan for this opportunity to cover this amazing exhibition and permission to the visuals and thank you Stephanie Adamowicz (gallery director) for your lovely walk thru and all information and gift  / publication ; is a marvellous book  (VK note)

‘Archipelago of Fournoi Korseon, islands’ project by Christina Dimitriadis

Walter Benjamin, compared ‘memory . . . the medium of past experience . .  to ‘the ground (which) is the medium in which dead cities lie interred.’

 

In my new section at VK publication,  “Photography Exemplar”  a platform in which  I invite artists that work on the media of photography to share their experience working on a project, an idea, that it might  develop to a larger narrative or simply stay at the moment.  My first guest is  Christina Dimitriadis (lives &  works in Berlin) whose work  I admire for a long time, (Christina submitted 37 photos on my desk /september 2018  the photos are presented here unfiltered, exactly the way were delivered to me;  it is a journey of her  days residing at the remote Fournoi Korseon  islands, far east of the cycladic aegean sea; the “Island Hoping”was evolved to an exhibition presently on view at the Athens Municipality Arts Center, in Athens, Nov 10, 2018 -3 Feb 2019) (curated by Dennys Zacharopoulos. artistic director ); thank you Christina for sharing your journey with us. (note from editor VK) 

“Middle of May 2018, I take a photographic journey to the archipelago of Fournoi Korseon, islands I ́ve never been before. While I photograph for my new project “Island Hoping” with my professional cameras, I use the camera of my i phone to document my everyday life, my surroundings. The wild beauty of the Archipelago becomes my muse. Like an enchanted landscape transforms me into something I forgot how to be“. Christina Dimitriadis, artist

….see in detail all text /the journey after the images.

 

A digital diary of my journey to the Archipelago of Fournoi Korseon.
————————————————————————
The basic function of Instagram is the practice of photο-sharing. Photo-sharing as a regular or daily practice, a mise – en – scéne of one self, a formation and not only a presentation. While phone calls are decreasing and text messages are becoming shorter, photo-sharing becomes the new language of communication in the digital technology.
Posting photos and videos on Instagram is like a virtual dialog with the followers. A desire to communicate, to see and be seen.
Known or unknown followers, colleagues, collaborators, friends or not, some forgotten, some beloved, some wishing to meet to love.
Counting the number of hearts underneath each posts. Searching for names.
So ephemeral the life of a post, no longer than a few hours, a day the most, even if they can be saved to the timeline of the app.
The platform, the sleek design, the sophisticate filters the square format, become my new vocabulary. A vocabulary different than my actual life, but also different from my artistic practice.
A third dimension of myself, constructed with different tools.
I use this dimension as my notebook. Notebooks which were usually kept private become public.
Middle of May 2018, I take photographic journey to the archipelago of Fournoi Korseon, islands I ́ve never been before.
While I photograph for my new project Island Hoping with my professional cameras, I use the camera of my i phone to document my everyday life, my surroundings.
The wild beauty of the Archipelago becomes my muse. Like an enchanted landscape transforms me to something I forgot how to be…                                                             Christina Dimitriadis, September 2018

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

See published Christina Dimitriadis’s  ‘Island Hoping’ on Art Agenda by Kimberly Bradley, Feb 1, 2019

Fournoi Korseon  (Φούρνοι Κορσέων) is a complex of archipelago  of small Greek islands that lie between Ilaria, Samos, and Patmos, North Aegean region. The two largest islands of the complex, the main isle of Fournoi 31 square kilometres (12 square miles) and the isle of Thyemaina  10 square kilometres (3.9 square miles), are inhabited, as is Agios Minas island 2.3 square kilometres (0.9 square miles) to the east

 

Hope Atherton’s magical and mysterious “Ash Birds” in Sant’ Andrea de Scaphis

“Ash Birds” 2018, 24k gold plated bronze,June 27 – Sep 15, 2018,Hope Atherton,Sant’Andrea de Scaphis, Rome, courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York / Rome

 

My long driving trip from Maremma/Toscana to reach Rome this past July determined to visit some masterpieces at the museums and  Hope Atherton’s exhibition at the deconsecrated church in Travestere, the Oratory of Sant’ Andres de Scaphis on Via dei Vascellari  (presently a Gavin Brown gallery) was more than rewarding. When I reached the door at the church that afternoon in Rome was 40 Celcius; the coolness and darkness of the interior lowered the body heat.

The interior of this  building is small (dating as far back as the 9th century) consists of a single room, already lofted after the deconsecration and covered with a single-sloped wooden beam ceiling… the sacred furnishings are the wooden choir supported by two Tuscan columns and the altarpiece of the altar – without a table – in stucco painted in faux marble. Right in this sacred interior the artist, Hope Atherton had positioned her treasures. 

June 27 – Sep 15, 2018, Hope Atherton, Sant’Andrea de Scaphis, Rome, courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York / Rome

 

June 27 – Sep 15, 2018, Hope Atherton, Sant’Andrea de Scaphis, Rome, courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York / Rome

 

While viewing these amazing sculptures  in the dark interior of the church in Travestere,  I am searching  for the story, the narrative;  there is a complexity and yet there is an artistic gesture built in those luminous creatures ; there is a tremendous fragility just to imagine those pieces floating in the darkness; there is no gallery press release accompanied  (which I find it appropriate) so upon my return in New York, I sought to meet Hope and possible meeting at her studio.

courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York / Rome

 

Hope’s aim is to make art “as mysterious and magical”

“Ash Birds” 2018, 24k gold plated bronze, Jun 27 – Sep 15, 2018,Hope Atherton,Sant’Andrea de Scaphis, Rome, courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York / Rome

 

Hope Atherton’s  studio,photo: VK, october 2018

 

A stormy rainy morning while back in New York,  I visited  Hope Atherton at her studio in Harlem.  A magical and well orchestrated interior, numerous and eclectic finds from flea markets, souvenirs from travel, art objects,  molds for new works displayed and waiting  to be finalized,  sketches, oriental rugs, old armchairs with exotic textile fabrics, fur covers,  choreographed and stretched out in the long red brick wall studio leading to a small inside patio/garden while  a 19 century Chinese wedding bed takes a central role of a ‘theatrical set play’.

Hope Atherton’ s studio,New York. photo: VK.,Oct.2018

 

Hope Atherton’s  studio,NY, photo:VK,,Oct 2018

 

The gold -plated bronze birds are  ‘chimney swifts’ that her father has found in their farm home chimney.  How the story develops…” bird identified by silhouette, the smudge-gray Chimney Swift nimbly maneuvers over rooftops, fields, and rivers to catch insects. Its tiny body, curving wings, and stiff, shallow wingbeats give it a flight style as distinctive as its fluid, chattering call. This enigmatic little bird spends almost its entire life airborne. When it lands, it can’t perch—it clings to vertical walls inside chimneys or in hollow trees’.

Hope has captured the fragility and vulnerability of “chimney swifts” in a glorious way;  the ash birds are admired in their own stagnated stage and yet at that moment they are capturing life in their golden/bronze ‘robes’.  Hope creates smooth, beautiful illusions of those forgotten birds, and designates them into new life.

 

Hilma af Klint, watercolor on paper, 1917 (at the current exhibition at Guggenheim museum/New York)

Hope Atherton’s studio,her molds, New York,  photo: VK., Oct. 2018

 

Hope Atherton’s  studio,New York, photo:VK.,Oct2018

 

Hope Atherton’s  studio,New York, photo:VK., October 2018

much of her work seems more likely to have been discovered – fossilized in rock or buried in mud and leaves -than fabricated”. (Holly Brubach, at Family Matters article on W magazine, published oct.2018)

Jun 27 – Sep 15, 2018,Hope Atherton,Sant’Andrea de Scaphis, Rome, courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York / Rome

 

Hope Atherton loves artifacts of other eras and civilizations; she is not interested to adore the old things in a way of nostalgia but.. in her own words, ” it has to do with the fact that old things have undergone ‘more transformations. It’s about a sense of the larger, more expansive arc of time and our place in it, rather than dismissing the past in favor of the new. Not to say that I’ am not fascinated by what is oncoming, but my sense of the future is informed by what is already been.” (W magazine, Family Matters, October 2018, to Holly Brubach)

Hope Atherton was raised on a farm in Virginia, where she frequently returns with her five old lovely daughter.   Hope’s love and respect to nature and animals is indeed present in every place or work piece she is about to start.

Hope Atherton at her studio,New York, photo:VK., October 2018

 

Hope is a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. Her first solo exhibition was in the “White Room” at White Columns, New York in 2001; Hope Atherton made a notable appearance and impression in the art community and salons in New York and London few years ago as Vanity Fair writes,

” New York City artist and fashion wild child Hope Atherton is known for her avant-garde layered looks, bold accessories, and multicolored hair. This 2010 international best-dressed list nominee isn’t scared to take risks, often pairing ethnic-inspired prints with leather pants and gobs of jewelry. She doesn’s overthink what she is wearing, and her style can easily be described as when bohemian and rock star collide “

That stormy rainy  morning that I visited Hope at her New York studio  she was dressed simple and comfortable in jeans and warm cashmere brown sweater and she calmly talked to me about her work; she had her own jewlery which was illuminating in this magical environment.  Her fascination with the natural world, global traditions and her aim to honor timeless craft techniques and to learn more for her own production art pieces are endless.

September 2002,  Hope Atherton had an exhibition “Shrine” at Sperone Westwater, New York,  she was quoted :

“Is it inherent in the human psyche to want to believe in superstition, ritual, and myth?” (Hope Atherton)

 

 

 

 

“Stories and Reflections” Axel Vervoordt and Michael James Gardner

 

Last spring during a beautiful dinner given by Fergus McCaffrey gallery, New York, as of the historic exhibition Gutai (1953-1959)  I met the writer Michael  James Gardner.  Our evening conversation was on his new publication, a memoir co-written with Axel Vervoordt,  “Stories and Reflections”, published by Flammarion (p hardback, 312 pages).  Axel Vervoordt, Belgian designer and famous curator whose taste and knowledge for rare and beautiful antiques, in modern art, furnishings, and pottery is astonishing.  Michael James Gardner is an American writer and Axel’s son in law.   I was delighted when I received the following afternoon my own copy signed by both authors.

To make this book. we began with a list that Axel made that included one hundred moments from his fascinating life. During a period of time that lasted many weeks, we met as often as we could, Axel started to tell me his stories and I learned many things that I never knew.  In the months that followed, as I listened to the recordings of the time we spent together, it became clear that many of the one hundred moments were connected…One thing leads to another. One story contains many…(Acknowledgements, Stories, and Reflections)

 

Needless to say that ‘Stories and Reflections”  was my companion through the summer during quiet hot afternoons in the Mediterranean and busy travel time as  the stories  unveiled and weaved in an extraordinary way, from discovering Japanese Gutai art, the decades-long series of exhibitions at Palazzo Fortuny in Venice; the  wonderful insights gained from artists, such as Cy Twombly, Anish Capoor..   By permission from Michael James Gardner, I chose three stories and photos to share here.

Cy Twombly and a Change of Heart 

photo©Jan Liegeois, published in “Stories and Reflections”

 

One of the last times I saw Cy was at TEFAF. He was interested in an ancient artifact, a Mesopotamian duck weight, circa 1500 BCE. Made of marble, such weights were used for measuring commodities traded in local villages.  He wanted to buy it, and I wanted to deliver it to his house in Italy personally. It was always difficult to reach him to make the travel arrangements. He rarely used the phone. His home in Gaeta was in a remote, hillside village on the coast between Roma and Naples. The best way to contact him was to call a local café, which he went to at the same time every day. …..in 2011, the news arrived: he had died in a hospital in Rome. In remembrance of him, I didn’t want anyone else to have the marbled duck. Today, it has a special place in the library of the castle and I think of Cy wherever I see it. (Stories and Reflections,pp. 194)

 

Stones and Silence 

photo©Jan Liegeois, published in  “Stories and Reflections”

 

“I believe stones are created by time and carry the power of the earth. Stones are like silence, slow-living animals-they have a spirit that resonates for thousand and even millions of years. 
…I believe there is a distinctive spirit in different types of stones – my practice is a reminder of that.  It’s a way of giving nobility to an earthy object that looks humble but actually has weight and meaning.”
In our workshop, I have designed floating stone tables using black Belgian slate. The creative process includes simply running my hand over the stone, not to give it the shape that I want, but to respect the shape the stone has already – like its hidden soul – and to use this as a guide in the design. Creating a patina by rubbing our hands over stone objects can be a healing process.  (Stories and Reflections, pp. 202) 

 

The Story of the Parquet

photo©Jan Liegeois, published in “Stories and Reflections”
While renovating the castle in the mid-1980s. I dreamed of creating a study with a beautiful floor. .. Through a referral, I heard there was something special in the north of Paris 
…A few weeks late, the parquet was delivered to the castle. It was much more beautiful than I could have expected. The designs used a mixture of walnut, rosewood, and maple to make intricate and unique shapes inspired by geometry, with expert precision……
…During that time, the craftsmen in our workshop worked hard for man months to recreate each square. On the day that the parquet was removed from the castle, we replaced the entire floor with our version, The process of producing it was the excellent technical training of our craftsmen. I consider their work to be a masterpiece. (Stories and Reflections, pp145) 

 

Author’s note: In the process of creating this book. I relied upon my memory of many different experiences in my life. I recounted the stories to my son-in-law in English, which is not my native language. We consulted family members and others who appear in these stories to read drafts, provide edits, or offer their own accounts of the events as we lived them. We researched facts and details when we could. I have changed the names in some cases or omitted them altogether. I occasionally left out certain details, but only when that didn’t change the purpose or emotional truth of the story and why I wanted to share these memories with you. (Axel Vervoordt)

….. you learn also from the ugliness because you either want to make it better or try to accept it. There is no beauty without ugliness. Art made me look at things differently. It opened my mind. I went on my own to England when I was 14 to buy antiques, and then I sold to my parents’ friends. I went to big, beautiful houses, and they had the most amazing art and furniture with Wellington boots out front. They lived in a casual way with beautiful things. In France and other countries, people had expensive things, but you couldn’t touch them. It was only to show riches, and I never liked that. I like things that are close to you that give you spirit. (Axel Vervoordt ” the design is here’, conversation  with Kanye West, by Chris Gardner, April 13, 2018)

 

“I want to give a different dimension to what I do. I don’t like that word, decorating…Rick Owens speaks with Axel Vervoordt about living in the light and what it takes to make a village.” Interview magazine, July 16, 2014)

Author’s note: The first half of the book tells more of a chronological story of Axel’s life, and the second half he really wanted to add more “reflections” and little lessons that he learned. It is more about mentorship that he received as a child and trying to pay that forward. (Michael James Gardner, May 28th, private note/email to me)

all photos©Jan Liegeois published  by permission directly by the author Michael James Gardner

 

Munich;African Ceramics. Collection of Franz, Duke of Bavaria donation and permanent loan to Die Neue Sammlung

Clive Sithole, Gefäße, 2014 (rechts) und 2015 (links), Südafrika / Zulu,
Sammlung S.K.H. Herzog Franz von Bayern. © Die Neue Sammlung (Foto. A. Laurenzo)

 

A warm July afternoon I attended a lovely event at the Rotunda of the Die Neue Sammlung at the Pinakothek der Moderne, as Franz Duke of Bavaria generously grants a gift from his important African ceramics collection.

“The donation and permanent loan of African ceramics form an important extension to our collection and a major addition to our non-European holdings. We are very grateful for the exceptionally generous gift,” comments Angelika Nollert, Director of Die Neue Sammlung.

The African Ceramics collection closes the unfortunate geographical gap in the holdings with an inventory that is as outstanding in terms of quality as it is in quantity.’

Over 1,300 items of African ceramics from the collection of Franz Duke of Bavaria are going to Die Neue Sammlung.

Gefäß, 2013, Jabu Nala, Südafrika / Zulu Sammlung S.K.H. Herzog Franz von Bayern © Die Neue Sammlung (Foto. A. Laurenzo)

 

Starting in the 1960s, His Royal Highness the Duke of Bavaria has established an important collection of African ceramics. The collection comprises examples from different African regions and focuses in particular on ceramic vessels from the 19th and 20th centuries. The collection is regarded as one of the most important collections of African ceramics worldwide; highly aesthetic objects are formally very diverse and include items of everyday use as well as ritually employed vessels. The range of designs oscillates between the abstract and the figurative.‘ (Die Neue Sammlung official press news)

Voania Muba, Gefäß, Ende 19. Jh. – Anfang 20. Jh., Demokratische Republik Kongo / Woyo Sammlung S.K.H. Herzog Franz von Bayern © Die Neue Sammlung (Foto. A. Laurenzo)

 

Figur, 19. – 20. Jh., Togo / Ewe oder Fon (Mono Fluß?) Sammlung S.K.H. Herzog Franz von Bayern
© Die Neue Sammlung (Foto. A. Laurenzo)

 

Vessel, beginning of 20th century, Democratic Republic of Congo / Teke (Utyo area), Collection of Franz, Duke of Bavaria. © Die Neue Sammlung (Photo: A.Laurenzo)

 

My dear colleague and friend, Ashley Booth Klein, in her beautiful publication, “Obelisk” notes on ‘painting in ceramic art’…

….painting in ceramic art was being treated in two different ways in the 1950s: ceramic artists, including Voulkos, Mason, and Price, were treating painting as the end of multi-step individualized processes—to push of craft into the territory of fine art, while painters like Picasso and Joan Miro were learning craft in order to exploit ceramics as, simply, another medium employed in a broader art practice. All of these artists would continue in the 1960s to pursue and refine their different methodologies and define ceramic art as something exceeding craft to the end of the century.

Vessel, 19th – 20th century, Ghana / Ashanti, Collection of Franz, Duke of Bavaria. © Die Neue Sammlung (Photo: A.Laurenzo)

 

‘Ceramic art, at times functional, at times purely decorative or symbolic, in its original capacity was used to tell myths and stories. In Ancient Greece, small figurines symbolized Gods and the human form, while vessels were etched and painted with a range of pictorial narratives from funeral scenes to sea battles, to dances and boxing matches. Ceramic art was essentially a type of visual history, and much of our understanding of the ancient world and the first civilizations has been discerned by the unearthing and analysis of its worn fragments. In my eyes, the medium, throughout centuries of adaptation and reinvention, has remained and will always remain, a vestige of its primary and vital function as an embodiment and conveyor of human life and its essence.’ (Ashley Booth Klein, on Origins andPhilosophy,boothceramics,com)

 

all photos above courtesy & by permission (press office, Die Neue Sammlung, 2018)Thank you Verena Sanladerer for providing me with these special photos.
installation view, Die Neue Sammlung, (rotunda, Pinakothek der Moderne), July 2018,photo©Venetia Kapernekas

 

Hamburg: Elbphilarmonie, June 20th,2018; Robert Schumann & Antonín Dvorák

“The Elbphilharmonie takes inspiration from three structures: the ancient theatre at Delphi, sport stadiums and tents”
                                          Jacques Herzog & Pierre de Meuron, architects

 

Visiting the captivating city of Hamburg, ‘Venezia of the North’ and  thanks to a splendit invitation by Tom R. Shulz (pressesprecher), I had  a blissful evening attending  a concert on June 20th with my daughter Nefeli at the Grand Hall of the Elbphilarmonie, (Robert Schumann and Antonín Dvorák ) with Thomas Hengelbrock  principal conductor of the NDR ElbPhilarmonie Orchestras, and lead violin Ms. Vilder Frang.

History meets modernity at the traditional port Sandtorhafen in the HafenCity in Hamburg.  Approximately up to 25 historical vessels can dock along th380-meter long pontoon area of Hamburg’s first artificially built port basin.  Somewhere here at the edge the ElbPhilarmonie stands spectacularly with its impressive glass facade and the wave-like rooftop rises up from the former Kaispeicher building on the western tip of the HafenCity.   It is been rated as one of the largest and most acoustically advanced concert halls in the world.

Elbphilarmonie, photo ©Sophie Wolter

For the Elbphilharmonie, ( Herzog said in an interview),  “one influence was the Greek amphitheater—carved out of the ground, as much geology as it is architecture.  Another was the canopies used at festivals and outdoor theaters to protect people from the sun.”

Elbphilharmonie Cross-Section (unlabelled) © Herzog & de Meuron

The Theatre at Delphi, designed to stage lyrical and dramatic productions, was cut out of the hillside overlooking the temple of Apollo during the sixth century BC, probably to replace an earlier wooden theatre.

Ancient Theater at  Delphi in Greece

 

On 11 January 2017, Thomas Hengelbrock and the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra have officially opened Hamburg’s newest concert hall, the Elbphilharmonie. That first concert marked the beginning of a new era in the life of the orchestra, which has moved into the Elbphilharmonie as its resident orchestra and finally gained a permanent musical home after seventy years without a base.

NDR ElbPhilarmonie Orchester (Grand Hall); June 20th,2018  conductor: Thomas Hengelbrock,photo© Daniel Dittus

NDR ElbPhilarmonie Orchester; June 20th, 2018; violin: Vilder Frang; conductor: Thomas Hengelbrock, photo© Daniel Dittus

 

The renowned Japanese acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota is responsible for the perfect acoustics in the Elbphilharmonie. His company, Nagata Acoustics, has a long list of satisfied clients, including Suntory Hall in Tokyo and the Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles. Toyota’s goal for the Elbphilharmonie Grand Hall (Grand Saal) was that the hall should assist the natural acoustics of the music but also be sensitive to electronic sound systems so the audience might enjoy rock concerts as well. ‘Designing the hall is something like making or creating an instrument, like a violin.‘ (interview of Yashuhisa Toyota to Aaron Gonsher, April 2017)

The auditorium, the Grand Hall (Grosser Saal) with the  ‘vineyard’ style seating places audience no further than 30 meters from the conductor, breaking down barriers bbetweenmusicians and audience.

Grand Hall at Elbphilarmonie, photo©Michael Zapf

This auditorium—the largest of three concert halls in the Elbphilharmonie—is a product of parametric design, a process by which designers use algorithms to develop an object’s form. Algorithms have helped design bridges, motorcycle parts….in the case of the Elbphilharmonie, Herzog and De Meuron used algorithms to generate a unique shape for each of the 10,000 gypsum fiber acoustic panels that line the auditorium’s walls like the interlocking pieces of a giant, undulating puzzle.(Wired, What happens when Algorithms design a concert hall?)

Grand Hall, white skin at Elbphilarmonie, photo ©Oliver Heissner

The described  “white skin” that covers the surface of the walls and ceilings in the Grand Hall is composed of approximately 10,000 sheets of gypsum fiber panels. With the help of an expansive reflector that is suspended from the middle of the vaulted ceiling, the panels project sound into every corner of the space.’ …The 10,000 panels coalesce into a billowy, off-white skin, punctuated only by 2,150 seats and 1,000 hand-blown glass light bulbs…. beauty was only part of the architects’ intention when they began designing the building more than 13 years ago. “Every panel has a function,” says Benjamin Koren, founder of One to One, the studio that worked with Herzog and De Meuron to design and fabricate the panels.’

NDR ElbPhilarmonie Orchester; June 20th, 2018 violin: Vilder Frang; conductor: Thomas Hengelbrock, photo© Daniel Dittus

 

The Elbphilharmonie is located in the historic Sandtorhafen, which was Hamburg’s old working harbor for centuries. The Kaiserspeicher, Hamburg’s biggest warehouse on the water, was built in 1875. Destroyed in the Second World War, it was then rebuilt and renamed Kaispeicher where cocoa, tobacco, and tea were stored until the 1990s.

der Kaispreicher (2003)l resource;bildarchive_Hamburg
Architects Pierre de Meuron, Jacques Herzog, and Ascan Mergenthaler have been working on the Elbphilharmonie since 2003. Herzog and de Meuron established their office in Basel in 1978 and have since then designed and completed major projects such as the Tate Modern in London, the Alliance Arena in Munich and the National Stadium in Peking for the 2008 Olympic Games

 

Elbphilharmonie Cross-Section (unlabelled) © Herzog & de Meuron

Concertgoers can access the Grand Hall and Recital Hall foyers via stairs and lifts from the Elbphilharmonie Plaza. The Grand Hall foyer clearly defines the character of the Elbphilharmonie architecture with stairs that extend over several floors; 1,000 curved window panels, tailor-made to capture and reflect the color of the sky, the sun’s rays, the water and the city, turn the concert hall into a gigantic crystal.

Grand Hall Foyer, Elbphilarmonie, photo © Iwan Baan

Elpphilarmonie, photo ©Maxim Schulz

Hamburg is called the city of Music. The cost of the ElbPhilarmonie has escalated to 789 million euro. The current music scene in Hamburg is highly diverse; the city is home to three professional orchestras, an opera house, notable soloists and ensembles, jazz, rock and pop musicians, composers, singer-songwriters, electronic experimenters and many renowned educational institutions.

Elbphilarmonie, photo ©Michael Zapf

Roof of Elbphilarmonie, photo ©Michael Zapf

 

Christoph Lieben-Seutter has been the General and Artistic Director of the historic Laeiszhalle and Hamburg’s new concert hall, the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg,since September 2007. His responsibilities include directing the artistic content of both venues with around 100 events of different genres annually. Lieben-Seutter is also a member of the board of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester…

Christoph Lieben-Seutter, photo © Michael Zapf

 

 a winter morning;  photo© Michael Zapf

all photos kindly have been released by the press office of Elbphilarmonie (all photographers accreditation have been noted). Thank you, dear Tom R. Schulz, for the invitation experiencing a magical evening.

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