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Category: – cities

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.

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.

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……..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.
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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

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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)

 

 

 

 

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

 

New York_Andrew Ferentinos ‘The desk of an architect:objects of desire’

“Recognizing the need is the primary condition for design.” Charles Eames

 

A beautiful warm fall afternoon in New York City, I walked to Andrew Ferentinos‘ studio. The sun was bright and some beautiful object was calling for attention on his desk.  I thought yes, indeed, this is an object created at the desk of the architect to elevate maybe the experience of everyday life, the need to reach for simple but yet important moments that transcend a normal day experience;  without any technical device, or charged the phone. It was indeed there, the “Untitled, Box No, 1”

Andrew Ferentinos, Untitled, Box No. 1, 2016, aluminum, brass, cork, photo©Andrew Ferentinos

The box is constructed from two solid blocks of aluminum measuring 18″ x 4.75″x 3.5″. Voids within the interior provide storage for business cards or small items. The cork lining provides soft contact when closing. Two brass rods are pinned to the underside and raise the box slightly off the table.

Andrew Ferentinos, Untitled, Box No. 1, 2016, aluminum, brass, cork, photo©Andrew Ferentinos

 

Andrew Ferentinos, “Untitled, Box No. 1″, 2016, aluminum, brass, cork,5.5″ x 4.25” x 18″(available in mirror polish or sandblasted with clear anodize), photo©Andrew Ferentinos

 

“I am interested in part-to-whole relationships and the repetition of units in series. The concept of the box is to function as a brick. A brick can stand alone or be one of many bricks in a larger assembly. The form of the box is a result of its potential to construct something larger than itself.  This is achieved by the coupling of flutes and rods that fit together, establishing not only a firm joint and locking mechanism but also a sliding mechanism.  Boxes stacked in series function as the stacked sliding drawers of a cabinet.  Like a brick, there is no prescribed way of joining them together. It is up to the builder to make an arrangement.” (Andrew Ferentinos)

Andrew Ferentinos, 11″ x 17″ graphite on paper, sketches for the ‘unitled Box no.1’

Andrew Ferentinos, 11″ x 17″ graphite on paper. sketches for the ‘untitled box no.1’

Farnsworth House, in Plano, Ilinois,  designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, completed 1951,now a modernist icon, was once a controversial home, photo©Arcaid images/Alamy

Villa Savoye, a modernist villa on the outskirts of Paris, designed by Corbusier & Pierre Jeanneret (1928-1931)
Corbusier cited the 1912 book of the Austrian architect Adolf Loos “Ornament and crime”, and quoted Loos’s dictum, “The more a people are cultivated, the more decor disappears.”….He declared that in the future the decorative arts industry would produce only “objects which are perfectly useful, convenient, and have a true luxury which pleases our spirit by their elegance and the purity of their execution and the efficiency of their services.

 

Le Corbusier, Exterior of the Unité d’ Habitation, in Marseille (1947–1952)

The modular design of the apartments inserted into the building the Unité d’ Habitation, in Marseille (1947–1952)

Andrew Ferentinos has created another ‘object of desire’ the ‘Barcelona Column’  

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Andrew Ferentinos, ‘Barcelona Column’, a photo of the prototype,2016  ©Andrew Ferentinos

Barcelona Column is an exact replica of Mies van der Rohe’s legendary Barcelona Pavilion column, yet made of polished yellow brass and slightly scaled down to become an object rather than a building component.

Andrew Ferentinos, ‘Barcelona Column’, a photo of the prototype,2016  ©Andrew Ferentinos

The  Barcelona Pavilion, part of the 1929 International Exposition in Barcelona, Spain,  designed by Mies van der Rohe, was the display of architecture’s modern movement to the world.  Originally named the German Pavilion, the pavilion was the face of Germany after WWI, emulating the nation’s progressively modern culture that was still rooted in its classical history. Its elegant and sleek design combined with rich natural material presented by Mies’ Barcelona Pavilion as a bridge into his future career, as well as architectural modernism.

the Barcelona Pavillion photo ©Gili Merin (resource, ARCDaily, Feb 2011 )

“..In 1930, the original Barcelona Pavilion was dismantled after the International Exposition was over;  in 1983 a group of Catalan architects began working on rebuilding the pavilion from photographs and what little salvaged drawings that remained.  Today it is open daily and can be seen in the same location as in 1929

….the Barcelona Pavilion resides on a narrow site in a quiet tucked away corner secluded from the bustling city streets of Barcelona.  Raised on a plinth of travertine, the Barcelona Pavilion separates itself from its context create atmospheric and experiential effects that seem to occur in a vacuum that dissolves all consciousness of the surrounding city.”

the Barcelona Pavillion photo ©Gili Merin (resource, ARCDaily, Feb 2011 )

 

‘…..The interior of the pavilion consists of offset wall places that work with the low roof plane to encourage movement, as well as activate Mies’ architectural promenade where framed views would induce movement through the narrow passage that would open into a larger volume….’

Andrew Ferentinos studied architecture and art at The Cooper Union in New York City and at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Andrew Ferentinos received a BArch from Cooper Union and an advanced Masters degree from MIT.  Ferentinos opened his architecture office Ferentinos Architecture in 2012 after working in New York City for such prestigious architects as Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), Raimund Abraham, and Francois de Menil.  Currently, Andrew is working on the re-constructing ambitious revival (private client) of two houses by Peter Eisenman, on West Cornwall, Connecticut, and Hardwick, Vermont.

 

The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes. If you foolishly ignore beauty, you will soon find yourself without it. Your life will be impoverished. But if you invest in beauty, it will remain with you all the days of your life.
                                                                                                 Frank Lloyd Wright

 

Andrew Ferentinos has been one of my contributor writers with a beautiful piece in earlier times for my blog, on Eero Saarinen’s MIT Chapel 

 

…………………Thank you Andrew Ferentinos for your friendship and your contributing story for  my blog  and learning  so much about architecture with you;  photos and sketches permission publication  of your fabulous ‘objects of desire ‘  (New York, May 2018 )

 

Munich “IL TRITTICO”, Giacomo Puccini at Bayerische Staatsoper_ a brilliant performance

IL TRITTICO: Il tabarro / Suor Angelica / Gianni Schicchi

Three operas in one act each: Composer: Giacomo Puccini ; Libretti by Giuseppe Adami and Giovacchino Forzano  (In Italian with German and English surtitles)

 IL TRITTICO (Suor Angelica): Ermonela Jaho (Suor Angelica), Ensemble und Chor der Bayerischen Staatsoper photo©Wilfried Hösl

 

musical direction: Kirill Petrenko  production: Lotte de Beer
Conceptual advice: Peter te Nuyl 
stage: Bernhard Hammer 
Costumes: Jorine van Beek 
light: Alex Brok 
dramaturgy: Malte Krasting 
choirs: Sören Eckhoff 

Last December, few days before Christmas, I had a lovely invitation for “Il Triticco, one of the most underrated opera by Giacomo Puccini, for the Bayerische Staatsoper_Munich,   one of the most triumphant opera houses of our contemporary time.

Three radically different sets being demanded for this 3-act opera and a balanced ‘marriage’ of Ms Lotte de Beer ( production /stage design), the music direction by Kirill Petrenko and the performers, principally Ermonela Jaho on the role of Suor Angelica emanated  to an astonishingly outstanding performance.

Simply stunning, simply gorgeous….And then something very rare happens: De Beer takes the stage, and instead of the usual boos the applause gets even louder. The spinning spaceship has done it to the audience. “(Sueddeutsche Zeitung”)

These three self-contained operas whose stories have nothing to do with each other  act as strange neighbors; First,  ‘Il Tabarro’ (The Cloak), a melodramatic slice of life and marital sleaze, a chill drama on the Seine; then follows the delicate tragedy of Suor Angelica, a religious tale set in a convent, (location:near Siena), featuring an entirely female cast; and the third act comes a devilish comedy of Gianni Schicchi (location; Florence) in which a family of hypocrites are duped out  of their inheritance by a perfect villain.

 Giacomo Puccini has summarized under the art historical term “triptych” – Il tabarro, Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi  three one-act operas,  scenes of reality. Puccini ventures to narrate the world as a whole in a grand opera as in a great novel.  Puccini sets three historical highlights, bundled by a music that understands the human impulses of relentless coldness to glowing passion.

Ms. de Beer doesn’t think operas should abandon the audiences they already have in favor of new audiences, but “I think they should get a second brand, like a younger version run by young artists who get a chance to try and communicate with their contemporaries.(NY Times, 2014, Breaking the Rules of Opera for a New Generation)

Il trittico (Sour Angelica): Michaela Schuster (Die Fürstin), Ermonela Jaho (Suor Angelica) photo ©Wilfried Hösl

Around 1904, Puccini first began planning a set of one-act operas, largely because of the success of  Cavalleria Rusticana.  Originally, he planned to write each opera to reflect one of the parts of Dante’s Divine Comedy However, he eventually based only Gianni Schicchi on Dante’s epic poem; the link in the final work is that each opera deals with the concealment of a death. 

Il trittico (Sour Angelica): Ermonela Jaho (Suor Angelica) photo©Wilfried Hösl

“Il Trittico is not only a showcase of some of Puccini’s best writing, but it can also be a showcase for a director who is unable to resist the temptation to try to link them at least thematically, since there is little common convergence of tone, period or character between the three short works. Lotte de Beer connects the three pieces in only the most abstract of ways for the new production in Munich. Each of the one-act operas remains in the period of its original setting, and plays out closely to the libretto, but each take place within the wide opening of what looks like a large tunnel. The concept behind this is something to do with time, connecting the past with the future, but it’s not something that makes a great impression or present the works in any new or revelatory way.” (Opera Journal, Puccini, Il Trittico, Munich 2017) 

Il trittico (Sour Angelica): Ermonela Jaho (Suor Angelica) photo©Wilfried Hösl

After the extensive music dramas of Richard Wagner and Giuseppe Verdi, the music world occupied itself with the question of what can follow those form-perfect opera dramas with leitmotif technique and a duration of many hours of performance; an increase no longer seemed possible. In Italy, therefore, people around the year 1880 recollected the short form of one-act play, which was not completely unknown. As early as the 16th century, it was customary to insert smaller and stand-alone “mini-comedies” as intermedia between the acts of tragedies, in order to make the evening evenings more varied. Over time, the comic intermezzi between soprano and bass buffo developed out of these, while in France they created variety through ballet inserts between the tragedy files. (Amelie Langermantel, Il Trittico-Die Kunst Des Einakters, 12.20.2017)

 IL TRITTICO (Il tabarro): Eva-Maria Westbroek (Giorgetta), Wolfgang Koch (Michele), Yonghoon Lee (Luigi); photo©Wilfried Hösl

 IL TRITTICO (Il tabarro): Eva-Maria Westbroek (Giorgetta), Wolfgang Koch (Michele), Yonghoon Lee (Luigi); photo©Wilfried Hösl

The idea of the one-acter Puccini did not seem to have let go since then. At the turn of the century, he focused more intensively on the idea of three co-ordinated short operas dedicated to various episodes of the Divine Comedy Dante, each depicting the areas of Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso (Hell, Purification Mountain and Paradise). Both the unsatisfactory libretto search for three matching stories, and in crucial instance Puccini’s publisher Giulio Ricordi spoke against the implementation of this fabric idea. However, Puccini thus laid the foundation for his Trittico, which should unite as well as the Divine Comedy in three initially independent parts under a theme. Over the years, the composer tried repeatedly  to implement the idea of the three separate acts and thought, for example, in 1907 to set to music by Maxim Gorki. Again publisher Ricordi expressed his concerns that those topics would not be suitable for an opera and would never sell to the public.

 IL TRITTICO (Suor Angelica): Ermonela Jaho (Suor Angelica), Ensemble und Chor der Bayerischen Staatsoper photo©Wilfried Hösl

 

Many thanks to Christoph Koch (Head of Press & Editorial Content /STAATSOPER) for his invitation and  support  and patience to finalize this post.

 

 

‘Lightscape’ porcelain quietness creations of Ruth Gurvich

‘Lightscapes ‘: light and delicate as paper, precise as an origami object, and pure  and clean as freshly fallen snow.

all photos, courtesy of Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg

When the days are heavy and stormy, as last days in New York, my luxury refuge memories is my passion for porcelain.  About a year ago, a very misty morning, while living in Munich, having an invitation to visit the Porzellan Manufacturer Nymphenburg, I drove to Nymphenburg Palace, where springtime I visited often the gardens, to experience the creations of Ruth Grulich.

Porcelain has been made for 1,000 years, traded for 1,000 years. And it has been in Europe for 800 of these.  You can trace a few shards earlier.  These broken fragments of Chinese for gleam provocatively alongside the heavy earthenware pitchers they were found with an no one can work out how they got to this Kentish cemetery, the Urbino hillside. There are scattering of porcelain across medieval Europe in inventories of Jean, doc de Berry, a couple of popes, the will of Piero de’Medici with his ulna copper di porcellana, a cup of porcelain. (Edmund de Waal, The White Road, a pilgrimage of sorts,

….Marco Polo reaches ‘a city called Tinju’.

Here, they make bowls of porcelain, large and small, of incompatible beauty. They are made nowhere else except in this city, and from here they are exported all over the world. In the city itself, they are so plentiful and cheap that for a Venetian groat you might buy their bowls of such beauty that nothing lovelier could be imagined.  These dishes are made of a crumbly earth or clay which is dug as though from a mine and stacked in huge mounds and then left for thirty or forty years exposed to wind, rain, and sun. By this time the earth is so refined that dishes made of it are of an azure tint with a very brilliant scene. You must understand that when a man makes a mound of this earth he does so for his children; the time of maturing is so long that he cannot hope to draw any profit from it himself or to put it to use, but the son who succeeds him will repay the fruit. (Edmund de Waal

.

Ruth Gurevich’s models have not created additively; she does a model with paper, she constructs, usually starting with a single sheet of paper.  She cuts, folds, and designs according to a precisely calculated plan.  Like a true architect, Gurvich leaves nothing to chance.  And this is true when it comes to choosing the paper as well; she uses silky soft, absorbent paper made from cotton fibers, like the packing paper used for rolls of film. To fix the models in place, she uses off-the-shelf paper glue.  This creates tensions, kinks, and seams that give the vessel support and structure. (Nymphenburg Manu Factum)

Ruth Gurvich to the question ‘how do you transform paper into porcelain’,  She says: …‘for the production, we had to take a completely fresh approach.  The idea was always to translate the paper character of the models as accurately as possible, even including to the feels of it, but I also wanted to expose the construction process and structure. The cuts and splices, the kinks and curves, even the measurements I had written in pencil on the model, which provides the idea for the decorative painting.’

Ruth Gurvich originally studied architecture before she turned to painting, and this is reflected in her creations. The major theme of her life’s work is the examination of spatiality and dimension, and the passion to captivate space in delicate porcelain vases.

all photos, courtesy of Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg

‘Porcelain had interested me for a long time, so the idea was to translate the feel and character of the paper models, as accurately as possible, to porcelain,’ the Paris-based Argentine, who is known for her three-dimensional work with paper. A beautiful video, (Ruth Gurvich: An artist with scissors and paper): camera by Frank Becker.

Ruth Gurvich was born in Cordoba, Argentina in 1961. Initially, she studied architecture in her homeland, but in 1979 she switched to art, continuing her studies at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1987 to 1991. In her designs, Ruth Gurvich aims to show the shapes and structures of everyday things the way they are. Her ‘lightscape teapot 2011’, manufactured by Nymphenburg Porzellan, is part of the Product and Decorative Arts department at Cooper Hewitt, New York.  Ruth Gurvich lives and works in Paris.

 

 

 

 

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