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visits on art, design, architecture and literature

Category: – diverse

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

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

                                                                                           Helen Frankenthaler

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

Prof. Alexander Nemerov continues,

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Footnotes

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

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

*3 Prof. Alexander Nemerov

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

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

Amsterdam_Tess van Zalinge “Shades of White”

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

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

photo ©Wadim Petunin

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

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

Design: Tess van Zalinge, Photo©Peter Stigter

 

photo ©Tomek Dersu Aaron, model Suez

 

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

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

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

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

 

  photo© Tomek Dersu Aaron

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

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

photo ©Tomek Dersu Aaron

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

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

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

photo©Marieke Bosma, courtesy of Centraal Museum Utrecht

photo© Marieke Bosma,courtesy of Centraal Museum Utrecht

photo © Tomek Dersu Aaron, model Fien Kloos

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

 

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

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

……

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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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)

 

 

 

 

“Stories and Reflections” Axel Vervoordt and Michael James Gardner

 

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

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

 

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

Cy Twombly and a Change of Heart 

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

 

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

 

Stones and Silence 

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

 

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

 

The Story of the Parquet

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

New York_ Francesca DiMattio_ ‘Boucherouite’stitching histories & traditions with porcelain and stoneware & color

Francesca diMattio, “Boucherouite”, Venus II, 2018 (detail), glaze on porcelain and stoneware, resin, enamel, acrylic paint, steel, courtesy salon 94, New York  & artist

 

Upon my return from Europe, from Maremma/Toscana mid-March,  I left a beautiful and lovely springtime landscape.  New York has not smiled to spring; one of those rainy and cold days, I walked one of those mornings into a very special garden at 243 Bowery (salon 94), Francesca DiMattio’s ‘Boucherouite”.

DiMattio returns to the aesthetics of craft for inspiration, metamorphosing traditional techniques and imagery into mad-cap mise en scenes. Boucherouite, the exhibition title, refers to the rag rugs traditionally made from torn and reused clothing by Berber women in North Africa.  In a nod to their improvisational and idiosyncratic style, DiMattio shreds and weaves together images from many centuries and cultures, turning them into a new hybrid form. (Boucherouite exhibition, salon 94, NY, gallery press release)

The Boucherouite rug  is a magical colorful work of art, made by the  Berbers in Morocco, Boucherouite or Boucherwit, from Moroccan Arabic ‘bu Sherwin’ ( a piece torn from pre-used vintage clothing scrap )

 

What is the contract of a copy?  How does a reproduction shift meaning?  Monet’s waterlilies are at once associated with a Kleenex box and to MoMA. I love how a reproduction can reroute the value system, pointing out an image’s inherent instability.  That’s in part why I was drawn to porcelain.  Its development can be mapped through the copying from one culture to another- a history of hybrids: a Dutch version of an Asian scene, the white glazed clay cup faking porcelain, etc. I am most attracted to such dueling combinations. (Francesca DiMattio, February 2018)

Francesca DiMattio, “Boucherouite”, 2018 at Salon 94, Bowery, New York,  exhibition view

Francesca DiMattio, “Boucherouite”,2018 at Salon 94, Bowery, New York, exhibition view

 

Francesca DiMattio, “Boucherouite” ‘Venus II’, 2018, glaze on porcelain and stoneware, resin, enamel, acrylic paint and steel,96x60x38 inches, 2438×152.4×96.5 cm), courtesy of salon 94, NY  & artist

 

Francesca DiMattio, “Boucherouite”,’Venus I’, 2018, glaze on porcelain and stoneware, resin, enamel, acrylic paint and steel, 105 x 44 x 33 inches (266.7 x 111.8 x 83.9 cm), courtesy of salon 94, NY  & artist

As in her painting, in her ceramic work, DiMattio follows the principles of stitching together pieces of fragments of histories and traditions to create multivalent forms and images that connect diverse sculptural and decorative languages around ideas of value, function, gender, and class.  References to decorative wares such as Anatolian Iznik, Chinese Ming Dynasty porcelain, and Dutch Delftware abound alongside allusions to the output of the German factories Meissen and Augarten, the French Du Paquier and Sèvres, and the English Derby, Minton, and Wedgwood. (Claudia Schmuckli “Digital Becoming”, published in DiMattio book, Blaffer Art Museum, University of Houston)

Francesca DiMattio,”Boucherouite” ‘Venus I’, (detail )  2018, glaze on porcelain and stoneware, resin, enamel, acrylic paint and steel, 105 x 44 x 33 inches (266.7 x 111.8 x 83.9 cm), courtesy of salon 94 & artist

Roberta Smith writes at the New York Times (April 2015) on  DiMattio ‘s  ‘Domestic Sculpture’ at Salon 94 “Combining porcelain and stoneware, these bravura bricolages owe something to the ceramics of Nicole Cherubini and Arlene Shechet, while merging the improvisation energy of Peter Voulkos with the neo-Expressionist swagger of Julian Schnabel’s broken-crockery paintings. But they mainly reflect Ms. DiMattio’s voracious reconsiderations of the history of ceramics, seemingly deforming, shattering and piecing (or jamming) together appropriated vessels in contrasting styles, glazes and decorative patterns.”

Cindi Strauss finds a challenging similarity of Ms. DiMattio’s work in “Pattern Recognition”* with Katsuyo Aoki‘s

..perhaps one of the most intriguing comparisons to DiMattio’s ceramic sculpture comes in the work of Katsuyo Aoki (see figure below), a Japanese ceramist who has emerged in the past few years as an exponent of a ‘neo-ornamentalist’ style in Japan. Like DiMattio, Aoki favors the baroque and rococo styles of eighteenth-century Western European porcelain, examples of which she has seen only in books. Through her absorption, dilution, and translation of the ‘pieces’ form and ornament, she questions historical porcelain as a symbol of wealth and power. Aoki’s concern is with how these symbols of beauty from the West have filtrated and affected Japanese culture. ….DiMattio’s concern differs, lying in porcelain’s association with the feminine and the easy dismissal of the medium by society. (*Francesca DiMattio, published book by Blaffert Art Museum, University of Houston)

Katsuyo Aoki, view of the solo exhibition, May 2005, INAX gallery2, Tokyo, 2006

Francesca DiMattio working on her studio finalizing her sculptures for “Boucherouite. photo@Mathew Novak, published at New York Times (permission by Salon 94)

 

While walking  around the exhibition large space of Salon 94, at Bowery,  I could not stop thinking the similarity of the intensity of the work with Niki de Saint Phalle ‘s  just a few days before I was at the Tarot Garden by Niki de Saint Phalle in Maremma, a fourteen-acre sculpture park build atop Etruscan ruins, close by the picturesque village of Capalbio,  which happens to be close to my summer home. (see here “Beautiful Monsters” at New Yorker, April 18, 2016, by Ariel Levy)

Niki de Saint Phalle among her Nanas at the Galerie Alexandre Iolas, Paris, Autumn 1965. Photo: © André Morain, Copyright © 2007-2018 Niki Charitable Art Foundation

Niki de Saint Phalle in her studio at Soisy, surrounded by Le Mangeur d’Enfants, La Mariée sous l’Arbre, and Le Cheval et la Mariée. Photo: © Monique Jacot Copyright © 2007-2018 Niki Charitable Art Foundation

To Saint Phalle, the Tarot Garden was to be an Eden of art and magic. To the local gentry, the garden was an act of vandalism. But there was little they could do besides carp about the “madwoman and her monsters,” because Saint Phalle was under the protection of Italian nobility. (Ariel Levy, “Beautiful Monsters” at New Yorker, April 18, 2016)

Francesca DiMattio, “Boucherouite”,2018 at Salon 94, Bowery, exhibition view, courtesy of salon 94 & artist

On Q & A at Interview Magazine, by Emily McDermott, “Francesca DiMattio’s Unstable Stability, November 5, 2015, Ms. DiMattio says,

….I don’t think I took a sculpture class the whole time I was at Cooper. The sculptures really developed out of the paintings, out of the thinking I had already developed. I definitely had to figure out how to make stuff, and I still do. When I was at school nobody could teach me ceramics. I was lucky enough to have that in my family. 

DiMattios’ answer to Anne Thompson’s question “..is there any modernist critique or engagement in your use of ceramics”  … FD: I choose to work with ceramics for feminist reasons rather than as a modernist critique. I was interested in ceramics for its connection to craft because I think a lot about the structures of craft in general. The up and down of sewing, the stark juxtapositions of colors and patterns in guilts, and how knitting and crocheting can turn the disparate material into something altogether new. (*Francesca DiMattio, published book by Blaffert Art Museum, University of Houston)

lovely Francesca DiMattio with Ana-Nefeli, photo©VenetiaKapernekas

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.

 

 

New York: Karin Waisman’s new piece “Stem 3” silence speaks

“Space is not merely given, it too  is produced; by analogy, we can evoke the space created by a musical chord, its wave-like expansion producing a tapestry of sound.”
                                                         (Olivier Berggruen on Karen Waisman’s work)

 

A short ride with the subway from Manhattan to Queens last week,  before the temperatures dropped dramatically in New York City on my way to visit my dear friend’s studio, Karin Waisman to see her new piece,  “Stem 3#”  a jewelry piece.  While reading a great book, Pascal Mercier ‘ s ‘Night Train to Lisboa” I was traveling through time since I met Karin and arrived early a sunny afternoon at Karin’s lovely small studio; our conversation unfolded slowly with green tea revealing the essential nature of her work.

Karin Waisman  studied architecture as an undergraduate in her native Buenos Aires and later earned an MFA in sculpture from Cornell.  She lives in New York with her family and goes uninterrupted to her studio every day. She is an accomplished artist with many exhibitions and site- specific installations to her credit.   Despite being trained as an architect, she prefers to work on her art full time.  A great writer, my dear friend, Olivier Berggruen, notes on  Karin’s work:

El Dorado, 2008-2014. Installation view;photo ©Karin Waisman

Karin Waisman creates haunting, ethereal works in which ornamentation acts as a founding principle.  Formal elements alternate between refined vegetal motifs and a proliferation of geometric patterns. These unfold effortlessly across a flat surface that is primarily dynamic rather than static. The expansion of geometric forms occurs in a spontaneous, organic fashion that undermines the Pythagorean ideal on which they seem to be based.

        Karin Waisman  Stem #3, 2017    Carved in wax and cast in  gold 1”D x 7/8”W x1-1/8”H; photo ©Karin Waisman

 

Karin Waisman, El Dorado, installation view, 2008-14. Wall 2, dimension variable;photo ©Karin Waisman

 

….the interlacing of lines is the foundation of the structure of the arabesque and its geometric complexity (much cultivated in late Antiquity) reveals repeated patterns, thus allowing the beholder to imagine the design extending beyond its actual limits. It also introduces the idea of infinite connection of correspondence. In one-way or another, everything is deduced and linked together.  The arabesque was not just exclusive to Islamic art. Rococo ornament, for example, introduced a fluid and whimsical style that has applied to a variety of media, from boiseries and mirrors to porcelain and silver. 

Karin Waisman’ work refers to 17th Century needlepoint, the craft involving lace making by embracing potentially infinite growth forms, ornamentation generated through a painstaking process.  (Olivier Berggruen essay  ‘Efflorescence & Evanescence’ at the book/ cataloge ‘Karin Waisman – The Garden of Eden’, New York, 2004)

( boiserie: finely-sculptured wood paneling or wainscoating, particularly  in 18th-century French architecture, source; Collins dictionary)

Karin Waisman, Evanescence I, 1998-1999. Pencil on velum, 68″h x 96″w;photo ©Karin Waisman

 

Karin Waisman, Tondo II, 2006. Cast Resin, 84″ diameter; photo ©Karin Waisman  

Karin Waisman -Puzzled, 1998-1999. Cast Aluminum 432″h X 24″w x 2″d. Permanent Collection Plattsburgh Sculpture Park. Myers Fine Arts Building;photo ©Karin Waisman

Karin Waisman -Puzzled, 1998-1999 (detail) Cast Aluminum 432″h X 24″w x 2″d. Permanent Collection Plattsburgh Sculpture Park. Myers Fine Arts Building;photo ©Karin Waisman

    Karin Waisman  Stem #3, 2017    Carved in wax and cast in  gold 1”D x 7/8”W x1-1/8”H;
photo ©Karin Waisman

Stem #3 is part of a new series of pieces that are to be worn on the hand. This new tactile element of the work explores how one perceives weight, temperature and different surfaces on our own body. My previous pieces for public places, explored the relationship of our body moving in front of the work or in an enclosed space, perceiving it as a field of vision. In these sculptures the relationship is changed; we hold, move and transport the piece with our own body. (Karin Waisman, 2017) 

In her work, ‘Evanescence I‘, Olivier Berggruen continues, ‘… The vegetal-inspired motifs that appear in this inner sanctum evoke growth and movement without falling into representation. In other words, the motif that pervades this work is inspired by vegetal forms but nowhere is there a fully formed, self-contained plant to be seen. The principle of vegetal, organic growth is used as a formal and metaphorical device to structure the work. Plants have the infinite potential for growth. Vegetal forms here are an evocation of life, of that very form that appears in movement.’ 

Karin Waisman, Evanescence I, 1998-1999. Pencil on velum, 68″h x 96″w, detail;photo ©Karin Waisman

see Karin Waisman   and more about her work  see here 

  Karin Waisman,  Stem #3, 2017  Carved in wax and cast in recycled silver  1”D x 7/8”W x1-1/8”H;photo ©Karin Waisman

Karin loves to be surrounded by nature; her second studio is two hours away from the city in Eastern Long Island where she escapes to work, a sanctuary, a place to work on her large pieces and preparation sketches on site-specific site-specific work that often incorporates architectural elements.  One of them is at Chihuahua Desert at the foothill of the 18th century silver mining town Real Catorce, the ‘Blue Oasis’, finalized in 2013.

Blue Oasis is a partially buried concrete structure, fifteen feet square and twelve feet high on the inside. We enter by descending a narrow and dark stair, a transitional space that leads to a large tiled cubic room. All the walls, floor, and ceiling are covered with a square encaustic tile that is patterned with concentric circles in blues and greens. A stainless steel tube penetrates some of these circles to the outside, allowing for natural light and ventilation as well as serving as a small oculus that allows the viewer to see the desert landscape beyond. Working within this extreme site, Blue Oasis exists for the viewer to establish a temporary dialog with Nature through the lens of the vibrant blue light that pulsates within. It transforms the landscape from within. On the outside it blends with the desert landscape, half- buried in the land. (Karin Waisman, April 2013)

‘Blue Oasis’, San Luis Potosi, Mexico, 2011. Permanent collection Sculpture Park San Luis Potosi.  Exterior view, reinforce concrete;photo ©Karin Waisman

‘Blue Oasis’, San Luis Potosi, Mexico, 2011. Permanent collection Sculpture Park San Luis Potosi. (Detail tiled main space with wall and ceiling perforations);photo ©Karin Waisman

‘Blue Oasis’, San Luis Potosi, Mexico, 2011. Permanent collection Sculpture Park San Luis Potosi. (Detail wall perforation looking to the desert from inside main space;photo ©Karin Waisman

This optic effect reinforces the idea of movement and transformation. The sound of our own bodies reflects on the tiled walls, floor and ceiling creating a continuous echo. Outside is the desert, harsh and sublime, tamed by this new oasis, a shelter, a second skin. The possibility of perceiving the walls as a limit that separates the inside space from the outside world and as an element that grants that space its symbolic quality is only possible because I, myself, inhabit my body within the limits of my own skin. (Karin Waisman, April 2013) 

 

 

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