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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

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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.

 

 

 

 

New Haven: Tom Burr revives Jean Genet’s ‘May Day Speech’ at Yale/ the Pirelli bldg

Tom BurrThe Railings (May, 1970), 2017 detail, photo@courtesy of the artist and Bortolami, NY

 

“What is still called American dynamism is an endless trembling.”

 Jean Genet’s prophetic declaration, written for a speech he delivered on  May 1, 1970 at Yale University, before an audience of approximately 25,000 (published in Hyperallergic, Tim Keane, Jan 21,2017

Reflecting last days of our ‘contemporary political landscape’, I recall that rainy  Sunday morning, November 5th,  invited by  Stefania Bortolami  for a  journey to New Heaven as of the last day of a ambitious project by artist Tom Burr, part of the expanding out of the box /Bortolami gallery projects “Artist/City”.  Over the past six months, Tom Burr has occupied and activated the first of the Marcel Breuer-designed Armstrong Rubber Company, later and more colloquially known as the “Pirelli Building” for the Pirelli Tire Company.After extensive demolition and remediation to the lobby’s original interiors, local codes required new railings. Burr produced and engraved new stainless steel railings with the complete text of Jean Genet’s “May Day Speech” delivered at Yale on the occasion of the 1970 May Day Rally (shortly after the construction of the building) in support of the Black Panthers, and their recently imprisoned founder, Bobby Seale. Burr named this site-responsive sculptural work The Railings (May 1970). (gallery press)

Tom Burr / New Haven, Phase 1, 2017, installation view, Bortolami, New Haven, photo@courtesy of the artist and Bortolami, New York

In order to open the Pirelli Building to the public, the City of New Haven required the artist and the gallery to cordon off the rough edges of its naked interior with safety railings; this became the most and central piece for Burr as he inscribed with Genet’s speech, in full.  Genet’s words may ring  true today: ‘We whites are living perhaps in a liberal democracy, but the black lives, like it or not, under a paternalistic, authoritarian, imperialistic regime.’

Tom Burr / New Haven, Phase 1, 2017, installation view, Bortolami, New Haven,photo@courtesy of the artist and Bortolami, NY

Genet was legendary for his queer subversion of power and his fetish for domination; his face appears twice in the Pirelli Building’s open-plan ground, printed on aluminum plates. Photographs of young and old Genet (Bae Genet / Grey Genet, all works 2017) rest on either side of a urinal divider, separated – or perhaps conjoined by – decades of sexual deviance.

Tom Burr / New Haven, Phase 1, 2017, installation view, Bortolami, New Haven,photo@courtesy of the artist and Bortolami, NY

 

“Located in the artist’s hometown, the Breuer- designed building constitutes a cipher for the various social and political concerns central to Burr’s work, not to mention the artist’s own autobiography. As he explains, “I was born there a handful of years before the Pirelli Building was built, so it was always in my mind while I was growing up.” Armstrong Rubber commissioned the building in 1968 for its factory and executive offices and it became an iconic emblem as the entrance to the city o Interstate 95, particularly at a time when the city was gaining attention for its urban renewal and restructuring. The building was envisioned and constructed as a symbol of utopian urban strategy but, like many examples of  Brutalism became a representation of the failure of Modernism’s idealistic aspirations.” (Bortolami gallery,NY, press text)

today’s Pirelli /IKEA bldg.(photo@VK),Nov.5, 2017

This Brutalist masterpiece has served as the site of an evolving exhibition that commenced with the first phase, Pre-Existing Conditions, and it concluded with the final phase,  “Always Already Happening”, an ongoing durational performance consisting of simultaneous readings throughout the space …..

Tom Burr during the last day of the Artist/City project, (November 5,2017) orchestrated  a four-hour performance at the ground floor;  a group of “actors” /Yale are students were reading texts by or responding to the legacy of Anni Albers, Jean Genet, and the Black Panthers; the actors  were positioned near “zones of intensity” and each person was  reading  a specific  text during the 4 hour duration.

Yale art students on 4 hour performance,Nov.5, 2017  photos@VK

 

Yale Art students hired by Tom Burr reciting text (4-hour performance/Nov 5, 2017)photo @VKThe interior space had no heating and the constant rain and greyness of the day o had created a heavy atmosphere within  the dry and gloomy colors inside; while  the actors /students were reading, I found it somehow refreshing to take snippets of the text mirroring the experience of reading The Railing (May 1970)

Tom BurrThe Railings (May, 1970), 2017 Blackened steel, polished steel etched with Jean Genet’s 1970 “May Day Speech”, tempered glass, 23 panels, total length 42 in x 104 ft / 106.5 x 3170 cm, photo@courtesy of the artist and Bortolami, New York

 

Located in the artist’s hometown, the Breuer- designed building constitutes a cipher for the various social and political concerns central to Burr’s work, not to mention the artist’s own autobiography. As he explains, “I was born there a handful of years before the Pirelli Building was built, so it was always in my mind while I was growing up.” Armstrong Rubber commissioned the building in 1968 for its factory and executive o ces and it became an iconic emblem as the entrance to the city o Interstate 95, particularly at a time when the city was gaining attention for its urban renewal and restructuring. The building was envisioned and constructed as a symbol of utopian urban strategy but, like many examples of Brutalism, became a representation of the failure of Modernism’s idealistic aspirations. (gallery press text)

Tom Burr Women Who Work, 2017 powder coated steel guard rails, IKEA desk chairs, direct-to-substrate print on aluminum, book (Women’s Work: Textile Art from the Bauhaus by Sigrid Wortmann Weltge), photo@courtesy of the artist and Bortolami, NY

 

Burr’s sculptural composition entitled Women Who Work consists of a group of IKEA chairs facing away from a printed aluminum panel featuring a textile design by Joseph Albers. Burr positioned a book called “Women’s Work: Textile Art from the Bauhaus” is open on one of the empty chairs, suggesting maybe an absent audience.

Tom Burr ‘Brutalist Bathroom’, 2017 Powder coated steel guard rails, bathroom doors from Marcel Breuer’s Armstrong Rubber Co building, direct-to-substrate print on aluminum, photo@courtesy of the artist and Bortolami, New York

 

Next to two bathroom doors, one labeled “Gentlemen” and the other without any label, Burr positioned a portrait of J. Edgar Hoover brandishing a gun.  At that time Hoover presiding  FBI Director in 1970 he ordered his agents to disrupt and discredit radical groups, like the Black Panthers who were on trial in New Haven at the time.

Best known as the home of Yale, one of the most elite universities in the US,  New Haven is a surprisingly blue-collar port town. Tom Burr was born in New Haven in 1963, under the mayoralty of Dick Lee, a prodigious builder and an enthusiast of modernism. In 1968, Lee convinced the Armstrong Rubber Company to hire Marcel Breuer to design their corporate headquarters: an imposing seven-story concrete tower atop a long base, like a head on a recumbent body. Armstrong was bought by Pirelli, a tire manufacturer, who later sold the building to IKEA; after demolishing its base, though, the Swedish megastore decided to set up shop next door, leaving the stripped Breuer behemoth abandoned for over 15 years. (text from gallery press)

Tom Burr Body/ Building (blue), 2017 Used blue work shirts, metal clothing rack, wooden pedestal, photo@courtesy of the artist and Bortolami, New York

 

“Genet’s highly stylized, sexually explicit works in memoir, fiction and playwriting transformed each of those genres, scandalizing readers and audiences and turning him into one of the most exasperating and profound moralists of the twentieth century. Late in his career, facing a decade-long writer’s block, his writing was reborn, first by engaging with the visual art and later, through writing about aspiring revolutionary groups who were fighting power from the margins. Little wonder, then, that by the late 1960s he was drawn to the trembling that was shaking the United States.” (Tim Keane, Hyperallergic, January 21, 2017)

Jean Genet, “May Day Speech” (1970) (© City Lights Books)

The speech, read in its English translation by a founding Black Panther member, Elbert “Big Man” Howard, consists of a rousing appeal on behalf of Bobby Seale, who was then on trial in New Haven for murder (the charges were eventually dropped). Genet’s oratorical strategy, a full-scale assault on the toxic apathy of white liberals, remains prophetic.

Genet blames the prevalence of racism on his Yale audience. “It is very clear that white radicals owe it to themselves,” he declares, “to behave in ways that would tend to erase their privileges.” Closing on a provocative note, he further goads the audience by comparing universities to “comfortable aquariums […] where people raise goldfish capable of nothing more than blowing bubbles.” Reread in light of the response to controversial police killings of African Americans in Charlotte, Ferguson, and elsewhere, Genet’s words bluntly spell out the diplomatically stated ideas coursing through the Black Lives Matter movement. (Harriet Staff, ‘A Look at Jean Genet’s 1970 May Day Speech,published at Poetry Foundation, January 23, 2017)

Angela Davis and Jean Genet  (Berkeley,70s,published at Blogcitylights, on Mumia Abu-Jamal’s article)

‘……The Frenchman’s name was Jean Genet, but I had no idea what that meant. David gave me a slender book, entitled The Blacks, with the name Jean Genet listed as its playwright. I turned to the back cover to learn more. It described the play, The Blacks, as an example of what was called ‘The Theatre of the Absurd’ (Mumia Abu-Jamal, Blogcitylights, September 9, 2016)

I want to thank  Tom Burr and Stefania Bortolami, an amazing visionary gallerist, who gave me  the chance to travel thru time, challenge and question myself where we are now as viewers, as spectators, as life critics, as young in heart revolutionary students, as mothers, being concerned of our times and the political fearful environment.  My early student days in Berkeley was after Genet and Angela Davis ‘s teaching days while their speeches were ‘rocking’ the strong temples of the University.  Indeed, their echo was still there; it also spread thru the Pirelli building that morning thru Burr’s selection of performance texts by the students and his fabulous rail installation/art piece.

 “The essence of theatre is the need to create not merely signs,” Genet writes, “but complete and compact images masking a reality that may consist in absence of being.”

Tom Burr with young visitors, Maya Fuchs Bortolami and Nefeli Brandhorst, Nov 5th, 2017, photo@VK

 

So much of my specificity as an author, as an artist, has to do with being a queer subject. …I became interested in throwing these things into the foreground, not letting them exist in an anonymous vessel. I’m interested in this project being a culmination of these facets, these problems/masquerades/privileges/disappointments, of both this particular building and my own body. All of these conditions that operate both metaphorically and actually, manifest in the presence of the building and in the hopes and dreams and expectations and all the disappointments and abandonments as well. … (Tom Burr, as told to Julian Elias Bronner, Artforum,500 Words, Feb 3, 2017.online)

rendering made “The Railings” 23 panels, total length: 42 in x 104ft (106.5 x 3170cm), 2017  @courtesy Bortolami gallery, New York
“I don’t have a preservationist approach to my project,” says the artist. “I like the building, so I don’t want to see it taken down. But I’m not here to save it. I’m interested in the fact that it’s amputated.” (Tom Burr to Mark Byrnes at CityLab, Oct.5, 2017

 

 

Munich; the elegant “Claire Obscure” at Galerie Andreas Binder

“Claire Obscure”, 5th of February till 16th of April 2016 at Galerie Andreas Binder 
with Philipp Lachenmann, Matthias Meyer, Yigal Ozeri, Stefan Hunstein, Jan Davidoff, Anna Krammig, Rolf Walz, Dieter Rehm, Julio Rondo, Anna Navasardian, Gerhard Richter, and Sigmar Polke. (curated by Veronika Binder)
finissage reception :  Thursday, April 7th
binder_020Installation View, CLAIRE OBSCURE @ Galerie Andreas Binder 2016
Yigal Ozeri
Photo: Kilian Blees

Coming back from small vacation in Toscana, was refreshing to see again this beautiful and elegant exhibition at the Andreas Binder gallery yesterday afternoon.  The gallery bathed in natural brightness and  the elegant and careful arrangement of the works captivated me for few moments;  the recently retouched small rooms in  melancholic grey colour supplemented to a serene engaging dialogue between the works.

binder_022 2Installation View,CLAIRE OBSCURE @ Galerie Andreas Binder 2016
Yigal Ozeri, Gerhard Richter
Photo: Kilian Blees

 Based on the French translation of the style concept Chiaroscuro, the exhibition ‘Claire Obscure’ is devoted to contemporary artworks, which are especially marked by their play with a brightness darkness contrast.  Interpreting the concept as a since the Renaissance prevalent aesthetic technique to dramatize and vitalize the scene by bathing the motif in light against a dark background does, however, not exhaust the possible readings of Claire Obscure. (galerie press)

AM_Yigal_Ozeri_wT_Olya@ Galerie Andreas Binder 2016

…..Interestingly, photography became a reference point for contemporary painting with respect to ways of how to confront a possible reality……

binder_002Installation View, CLAIRE OBSCURE @ Galerie Andreas Binder 2016
Matthias Meyer, Gerhard Richter, Philipp Lachenmann
Photo: Kilian Blees

..the visitor of the exhibition ‘Claire Obscure’ sees himself/herself confronted with works that appear in their superficial, decorative aesthetic immediately accessible. Despite a commonly dark coloring and a romantic and mysterious charm the works still allow to be understood and felt in a from postmodern art discourses and from an autonomous aesthetic removed manner.

binder_009Installation View,CLAIRE OBSCURE @ Galerie Andreas Binder 2016
Julio Rondo, Dieter Rehm, Jan Davidoff
Photo: Kilian Blees

see here an older post on Stefan Hunstein and his book “IM EIS”presented at Kammerspiele Theater 

 Chiaroscuro (English pronunciation: /kiˌɑːrəˈskjʊəroʊ/; Italian: [ˌkjaroˈskuːro]; Italian for light-dark) in art is the use of strong contrasts between light and dark, usually bold contrasts affecting a whole composition. It is also a technical term used by artists and art historians for the use of contrasts of light to achieve a sense of volume in modelling three-dimensional objects and figures.[1] Similar effects in cinema and photography also are called chiaroscuro. (see Wiki)

 

New York; Catherine Opie ‘Portraits & Landscapes’ and ‘700 Nimes Road’ at Lehmann Maupin

Catherine Opie : ‘700 Nimes Road’  January 14 – February 20, 2016 , at 201 Chrystie Street & ‘Portraits and Landscapes’ January 14 – March 5, 2016 at 536 W 22nd Street

Few days in my beloved New York City,  and a  long time admirer of Catherine Opie ‘s  work since the beginning of her career, early 90s, I enjoyed her double -venue exhibition, on view  at Lehman Maupin galleries which encompasses abstract landscapes, formal portraits, and the “700 Nimes Road” featuring  the artist’s portfolio of 50 photographs documenting the interiors and belongings of the late Elizabeth Taylor.

50 20x24 prints

CATHERINE OPIE, The Quest for Japanese Beef from the 700 Nimes Road Portfolio, 2010-11, pigment print, 24 x 20 in, 60.9 x 50.8 cm. © Catherine Opie. Courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong.

The artist Catherine Opie on conversation with  Juliet Helmke how she relates the  two different ‘bodies of work’ in the galleries, she says,
    “I think of them as two different ways of looking at portraiture. The Chrystie Street space is showing the Elizabeth Taylor portfolio, “700 Nimes Road,” the address of Taylor’s home, in which the series was shot. The Chelsea location has the abstract landscapes taken in national parks, along with new portraits of my friends emerging from this very black background. They have a very strong compositional relationship to history painting, such as Da Vinci’s, shown with the abstract landscapes that act as moments of memory. I feel like this is a body of work where I’m departing from my history of documentary photography, because the portraits in particular are about a very internal space, even though they’re images of real people. They have more to do with the subconscious, and desire, and the question of what a portrait does for us in the age of social media. Can we be held? I’m interested in this question of being held by an image now, in a society in which they are constantly passing in front of us. We flip through our screens. Making these portraits, I was using an idea of history painting, so to speak, to remind people about desire, and to will them to look longer.” (Blouin Artinfo, Modern Painters, “Catherine Opie on her Diverse Body of work, jan 10, 2016) 

50 20x24 prints

CATHERINE OPIE, The Shoe Closet from the 700 Nimes Road Portfolio, 2010-11, pigment print, 24 x 20 in, 60.9 x 50.8 cm. © Catherine Opie. Courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong.

50 20x24 prints

CATHERINE OPIE, Bedside Table from the 700 Nimes Road Portfolio, 2010-11, pigment print, 24 x 20 in, 60.9 x 50.8 cm. © Catherine Opie. Courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong.

 

Juliet Helmke: How did the “700 Nimes Road” series come about?Catherine Opie: It happened that Elizabeth Taylor and I shared the same business manager. I had just finished the inauguration portfolio of the 2008 election of Obama. After that, I wanted to work with a subject as iconic as Elizabeth Taylor, but to make a quieter, humbler, more humanistic portrait of her by looking at her through her home and her belongings. It was six months of very carefully figuring out how to do it, and in the middle of it, in March of 2011, sadly, she passed away. It changed the meaning. All of a sudden I became the last person there, the person bearing witness to her home. I tried not to let that dictate it entirely, but it certainly was present in finishing the body of work. (published at Modern Painters, January 10, 2016) 

CO_LMG_2016_Inst_Chrystie_Street_02_hrCATHERINE OPIE 700 Nimes Road Installation view, Lehmann Maupin, 201 Chrystie Street, New York January 14 – February 20, 2016 © Catherine Opie. Courtesy Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong                                     Photo: Elisabeth Bernstein

…Opie’s photographs present Taylor’s domestic sphere as a minutely observed landscape of  fragments, surfaces and textures. The photogra­pher spent six months  in the house, including entire days spent srudying how the  light moved through particular rooms. Again and again, Opie would zoom in rightly on an object  or group of objects (pantsuits hanging in a closer, knickknacks gathered on a tabletop, a diamond tiara on a furniture cushion) as though to isolate particular things without intrusion from the many other things just beyond the frame. Because the images remain so resolutely focused, they rarely offer a sense of the overall logic of a room, much less the layout of the house. (Star Turn, Richard Meyer, Artforum, January 2014)

about her “Portraits and Landscapes”,  Catherine Opie says to Juliet Helmke,

…..I worry about losing how our imagination can lead us to other ways of answering questions in life, because in terms of fulling curiosity, everything is answered by the click of anger. The works at Lehmann Maupin’s Chelsea space are so much about this, especially the abstract landscapes. They’re saying, imagine the place you might be. I’m putting you somewhere literal, in an actual national park, but that you can’t recognize and so you’re slightly displaced—in a way that a portrait won’t displace you.  The portraits just ask you to keep staring. But then the landscapes ask you to keep staring as well, because they harken back to the idea of American genre painting, without the clarity of American genre painting. You imagine a moment of Bierstadt, but at the same time, you’re not looking at Bierstadt because the detail’s not there. You’re left only with the atmosphere.”   (Blouin Modern Painters, Q&A with Juliet Helmke, January 2016)

Final print files

CATHERINE OPIE Cecilia, 2013 pigment print 33 x 25 inches (print)  88.9 x 68.6 x 4.1 cm Edition of 5 (c) Catherine Opie. Courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong.

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CATHERINE OPIE Untitled #13, 2015 pigment print 77 x 51.25 inches 195.6 x 130.2 cm Edition of 5  (c) Catherine Opie. Courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong.

Final print files

CATHERINE OPIE Hilton, 2013 pigment print 33 x 25 inches (print) 88.9 x 68.6 x 4.1 cmEdition of 5 (c) Catherine Opie. Courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong.

 

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CATHERINE OPIE: Portraits and Landscapes Installation view, Lehmann Maupin, 536 West 22nd Street, New York January 14 – February 20, 2016 © Catherine Opie. Courtesy Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong  Photo: Elisabeth Bernstein

“….I love editorial photography. I like thinking about the platform and how images are put out in the world. I don’t talk a lot when I’m photographing, even in making portraits. I’m posing people and really watching them; looking for more of an internal space that probably mirrors my internal space too. It’s de nitely a portrait of the person, but I think, as with every portrait, there’s an element of self-portrait to it. I don’t want that to be confused, for example, in the football players series, with wanting to be a high school football player; I don’t. It’s more about bearing witness to each other. There’s a moment: I’m looking at you, you’re looking at me. We’re here for this one little, teeny moment together. It’s just such a wonderful short dance. You’ll never see them again, yet you carry them with you your entire life because you’ve had this exchange. I really love that. That goes back to humanism. We’re all in this together. Let’s all be human together, whether our political views or aspirations in life are different. We get to have this shared moment.” (Catherine Opie in conversation with Juliet Helmke of Modern Painters, January 2016) 

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Opie would take about three thousand pictures of the house and grounds, from which she would ultimately select the sequence a group of fifty for a limited-edition portfolio. (In additions a selection of 129 pictures, including all fifty  from the portfolio, appears in the  book “”700 Nimes Road” Published by Prestel Verlag (2015) with contributions by Hilton Als,Ingrid Sischy, Tim Mendelson.

Thank you Lehman Maupin gallery for gifting me a copy of  this fabulous publication.

“Inside the World of Elizabeth Taylor”; Artist Catherine Opie on photographing the late actress and activist’s home for a new book, ‘700 Nimes Road’ at Harper’s Bazaar (sept 2015)

In 2016,  the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles is showing work from Opie’s new portrait series inspired by Old Masters paintings (Portraits, 30 January-22 May 2016)  and the Museum of Contemporary Art’s branch at the Pacific Design Center is showing the “700 Nimes Road” 23 January-8 May 2016).

@all images generously supported by  Lehman Maupin gallery press office

Munich;discussion at Haus der Kunst “Intolerable: Giving Offence and the Limits of Free Expression”

Haus der kunst organized on Thursday night, Feb 13th an evening panel with three leading thinkers to engage in a discussion that tried to  illuminate  critical questions.  Panelists were  Matthias Lilienthal (director of the Munich Kammerspiele from September 2015), Hito Steyerl  (filmmaker and author (born in 1966 in Munich) lives and works in Berlin) and Joachim Bernauer  (director of the Goethe-Institut’s department of culture); the moderator is Okwui Enwezor, director Haus der Kunst.

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“The recent killings of journalists and police guards in the Paris offices of the satirical French magazine “Charlie Hebdo” have brought to public debate fresh appraisals of the relationship between intolerance, free expression, censorship, and the right to offend sensibilities, be they cultural or religious, political, or ideological. But there is not always an easy distinction of where to draw the limit of free speech and who has the right to impose a limit on expression, regardless of how offensive such expression may be deemed.

At the same time, questions posed by the killings in Paris can be analyzed from the view of the current conflicted state of global, multicultural societies. This issue becomes urgent, particularly when giving offence converges with intolerance under the guise of free expression. But is there a point when offensive images, expressions, and representations become intolerable? Is intolerance of certain types of expression the same as censorship of thought? Can there ever be a limitless sphere of free expression in today’s increasingly plural, multicultural, transnational, and global societies? These questions are all the more pertinent within the realm of artistic and cultural practice, particularly as they meet at the point where institutions must provide an open and unrestricted space for challenging ideas and concepts.” (haus der kunst, press release) 

more at Haus der kunst details 

Munich; Villa Stuck, opening of “Common Grounds”

12 February-17 May 2015 ; a very interesting exhibition opened Wednesday night at  Villa Stuck, “Common Grounds” curated by Verena Hein 

artists: Susan Hefuna, Sophia Al Maria, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige,Bouchra Khalili, Nasser Al Salem, Ahmed Mater,Dor Guez, DAAR ‒ Decolonising Architecture Art Residency (established in in Palestine in 2007 by Sandi Hilal, Alessandro Petti, and Eyal Weizmann),Babak Golkar, Parastou Forouhar, Abbas Akhavan.

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“The rising cities of the Gulf region and arenas of conflict in the Middle East are captivating subjects of media coverage. Both in terms of their content and through their manipulative aesthetic, the often extreme images from these areas shape our western view of the region. Twelve artists counter this flood of images with more diverse artistic practices that reflect on social conditions. Some of these artists ‒ Ahmed Mater, Hazem Harb, and Nasser Al Salem ‒ are for the first time introduced to the German and Munich public…..   The exhibition title refers to the concept of “grounding” in communication theory, which posits that communication partners share common knowledge, which allows for dialog to be successful.” (Villa Stuck Press release)

more here

following the opening exhibition an Artist Panel followed  with Chris Dercon, Director, Tate Modern, London and the following artists:
Abbas Akhavan, Parastou Forouhar, Babak Golkar, Susan Hefuna, and Ahmed Mater, with an introduction by Maya El Khalil, director of Athr Gallery, Jeddah

full  program

Munich; at Haus der Kunst: Mark Leckey:”As If “and David Adjaye: “Form, Heft, Material”

HdK Preview opening  for  Mark Leckey: “As If “and David Adjaye: “Form, Heft, Material”

30.01 – 31.05.15  Mark Leckey: As If 

“….The exhibition’s layout at Haus der Kunst is structured according to four chapters: The show opens with autobiographical works – from “Are You Waiting” (1996), a precursor to “Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore”, to “MyAlbum: A Rough-Demo Video,” (2014-15) a filmed autobiography, which is premiered as a demo version. Mark Says Leckey: “‘MyAlbum’ is a record of all the events in my life during the twentieth century that I feel were significant. It is a memoir from 1954 until 1999.” In the central space, all five of the artist’s “Sound Systems” (2001–12) are presented for the first time as an ensemble…” (HdK exhibition release)

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more events for the exhibition here 

30.01 – 31.05.15 David Adjaye: Form, Heft, Material

The heterogeneous work of architect David Adjaye (b. 1966) comprises approximately 50 built projects – from luxury shops and museums to libraries and social housing. His most recent commissions include the design of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., as well as the National Museum of Slavery and Freedom in Cape Coast, Ghana. The buildings of the Ghanaian-British architect are often developed in collaboration with artist friends, including the homes he designed for Chris Ofili, Sue Webster and Tim Noble, and Lorna Simpson and James Casebere…” (HdK release)photo 2

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more on lectures and seminars on the exhibition 

Vienna; Velázquez at Kunst Historisches Museum

My wonderful 3 day visit to Vienna with my children by invitation of my wonderful friends Lina and Nikolas included on  Saturday morning to enjoy the amazing show of Velázquez (1599 – 1660) at the Kunst Historishes Museum.

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This major exhibition in collaboration with, among others, the Museo Nacional del Prado Madrid, who holds the largest collection of works by Velázquez and has been the main lender, the National Gallery in London and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

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28 October 2014-15 February 2015

The Kunsthistorisches Museum hosts the first show in a German speaking country of the work of the Spanish artist Diego Velázquez (1599 – 1660). In addition to Velázquez’ charming portraits of the royal children – one of the highlights of the Picture Gallery of the Kunsthistorisches Museum – the show comprises other genres such as kitchen still lifes, religious subjects, mythologies and history paintings, offering a comprehensive survey of the master’s versatility and virtuosity. Among the seminal loans to this exhibition are the “Rokeby Venus”, “Apollo in the Forge of Vulcan” and the “Adoration of the Magi”, all of which have never been shown in Vienna. (museum press release)

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my favorite painting and I took time to listen to my wonderful friend Nikolas that we visited together was ‘The Waterseller‘, as many regard Velazquez’s best work from his early years in Seville.  “… throughout Europe, watersellers were essential in Seville. Nonetheless, they were ranked newar the bottom of the social pyramid. But Velazquez reverses this completely and inbues the old man with dignity, although the higher social status of the boy clutching the full glass is clearly indicated by his fine clothes and light skin….”

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‘The Waterseller’, c.1922 London, Apsley House, The Wellington Collection  

My beautiful stay was highlighted as I stayed at my friends’ house  on the 19th,  in the beautiful historical villa of Heinrich Schnitzler, son of the great writer Arthur Schnitzler.

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and a visit at cafe  Demel

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and of course a Viennese cafe on Sunday morning at Cafe Central with Lina

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Dear  Lina and Nikolas thank you  for the great hospitality to me and my children over the weekend in Vienna.

Munich; finissage of Florine Stettheimer at Lenbachhaus Kunstbau and at Brandhorst Museum “Dark Pop-Extended Version”

A visit last Sunday afternoon at Lenbachhaus Kunstbau -last day the wonderful exhibition of Florine Stettheimer.   I have written in this blog during the opening of the exhibition, on Sept 27th, 2014 

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Her pictures and poems, her designs for studios and stages constitute a modern synthesis of the arts and a chronicle of urban life. Stettheimer painted beauty contests and the revelries of celebrities, skyscrapers, Wall Street, and consumer culture, anticipating many of the interests that would later animate Pop Art. Her oeuvre is a source of inspiration for some of the most fascinating artists working today.

At Brandhorst Museum, “Dark Pop-Extended Version, new installations of artists: Andy Warhol, Bruce Nauman, Robert Gober, Mike Kelley, Cady Noland, Jeff Koons, Louise Lawler et al.

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Achim Hochdoerfer, the new appointed director in 2014 of the Museum has done a wonderful and playful presentation of the collection and the new pieces that have been added. The Mike Kelley rooms are great, the Bruce Nauman in the same room with Polke and the Louise Lawler installation were my highlights.

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Pop Art’s seemingly blissful embrace of the consumer world was haunted from the first by a gloomy undertone. Warhol’s images of glamorous celebrities and glittering fetishes of consumption were interspersed with motifs of violence, sensationalism and metaphors of death. As if an icon, the tondo of Marilyn Monroe was created after her suicide. For its counterpart of the smiling Jackie Kennedy, Warhol used photos that were reproduced endlessly after the president’s assassination. These works seem to mirror back to us the cynicism of our supposedly enlightened pragmatism. (museum press release)

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and in my favorite rooms, the Cy Twombly sculptures

 

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