tag archives: art exhibit

when i first walked through joe, the torqued spiral richard serra sculpture in the courtyard of the pulitzer foundation for the arts in st. louis, MO, where i grew up, i immediately envisioned the sculpture as an event venue, with guests walking through the ribbon of steel on their way to a party in the center.

it seems that i am not unique, because people have told richard serra about practicing yoga, or holding weddings inside his sculptures.

richard serra | joe | weathering steel | 2000 | pulitzer foundation for the arts | st. louis, MO

photo credit pulitzer foundation for the arts

serra’s sculptures explore the phenomenological experience of space.  the somatic, emotional, and intellectual feelings that you get when you are walking around, through, or beneath his massive sculptures.

while i was working in new york last week, i was visiting art galleries in chelsea.  so, i also visited the gagosian gallery, which is showing richard serra:  new sculpture from 26 october 2013-15 march 2014.  the exhibition features four monumental sculptures, which represent a new stylistic direction for richard serra.  even though the new sculptures are rectilinear, instead of curvilinear, some of the new pieces have precedents in previous pieces.

‘as sequences unfold, new forms come out of old pieces.’

-richard serra

richard serra | hours of the day | 1990 | bonnefanten museum | maastricht, netherlands

photo credit wikimedia

 richard serra | intervals | weatherproof steel | 24 plates | 2013

richard serra:  new sculpture | gagosian gallery | 555 west 24th street | new york NY | 26 october 2013-15 march 2014

photo credit rob mckeever

 like hours of the day, intervals is an installation of freestanding rectangular steel plates.  serra describes the components of intervals with mathematical precision:

‘there are 24 steel plates.

each plate is 9 inches thick.

the plates are positioned 42 inches apart.

there are 3 elevations-4, 5, and 6 feet high.

and, there are 4 lengths-5, 7, 9, and 11 feet long.’

-richard serra

the structure feels logical as you walk through the space.  yet, walking through the labyrinth is a dynamic experience.  you can enter or exit anywhere.  and, the elevations rise and fall as you weave in and out.

 richard serra | intervals | weatherproof steel | 24 plates | 2013

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

some journalists have compared the 24 steel plates in the installation to the tombstones in a cemetery, a comparison that went viral after charlie rose interviewed richard serra on the 27 december 2013 episode of charlie rose: the week.

serra disagrees with this comparison.  he considers his sculptures as dynamic, instead of static structures.  he thinks that walking through a rectilinear space, like intervals, makes you feel more grounded than walking through a curvilinear space.

intervals is serra’s expression of that experience.

do you dream in technicolor or in black & white?

if you are like artist david hockney, then the answer is both.

david hockney:  a bigger exhibition, is showing at the de young museum in san francisco, CA from 26 october 2013-20 january 2014.

the exhibition is enormous.  it features over 300 works, shown in 18,000 square feet of gallery space, making it the biggest exhibition in the history of the de young museum.  even bigger than david hockney RA:  a bigger picture, where i first saw hockney’s technicolor landscape paintings at the royal academy of arts in london during 2012.  the san francisco show includes many of the paintings from a bigger picture.

david hockney | the arrival of spring in woldgate, east yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven) – 2 january | one of 52 iPad drawings printed on paper | 2011

david hockney RA: a bigger picture | 21 jan-9 apr 2012 | royal academy of arts | london, united kingdom

photo credit the royal academy of arts | (c) david hockney

but, the san francisco show also includes new work, which has never been exhibited or published before.

since a bigger picture, hockney suffered a stroke, lost a studio assistant, and relocated to his los angeles, CA studio.  during his recovery, he began drawing with charcoal on paper.  during this period, hockney revisited many of the locations from the arrival of spring in woldgate, east yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven), a series of 52 iPad drawings.  the arrival of spring in 2013, a series of 25 charcoal drawings, will be showcased in one gallery of the de young museum during the exhibition.

hockney’s charcoal drawings have been described as more detailed, and more defined than his previous work.

‘i’m very proud of them, actually, very proud. i think it’s one of my great works, this, the 25 drawings.’

-david hockney

david hockney | woldgate, 6-7 february | from the arrival of spring in 2013 (twenty thirteen) | charcoal on paper | 2013

david hockney: a bigger exhibition | 26 oct 2013-20 jan 2014 | de young museum | san francisco, CA

photo credit richard schmidt | (c) 2013 david hockney

during his recovery, hockney also began drawing charcoal portraits of colleagues, friends, and family members.  hockney prefers drawing people that he knows.

‘if you know them well, you’ve got different memories of them…we all see with memory, don’t we?’

-david hockney

his most recent portraits are painted with acrylic paint in swimming pool colors.  since hockney has not worked in acrylic paint for over 20 years, to him, it seems like a new medium.  in addition to approximately 40 recent charcoal drawings, the de young exhibition also features 14 recent acrylic portraits.

david hockney in his los angeles, CA studio with works from his upcoming exhibition at the de young museum in san francisco, CA

photo credit financial times

during 2012-2013, david hockney RA:  a bigger picture attracted over 600,000 visitors in london.  and, a combined total of 1.2 million visitors at the royal academy in london, the guggenheim museum in bilbao, spain, and the museum ludwig in cologne, germany.

could the san francisco show be a bigger exhibition?

click here or here or here to read more about david hockney’s recent work.

click here to read my previous post about david hockney RA:  a bigger picture.

richard diebenkorn may be best known for his ocean park paintings and drawings…

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | ocean park #140 | oil on canvas | 1985

the last large scale painting in the ocean park cycle

deibenkorn created the ocean park cycle in santa monica, CA from 1967-1988

photo credit art in the studio

or, for his cityscapes…

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | cityscape, landscape 1 | oil on canvas | 1963

san francisco museum of modern art (sfmoma) | san francisco, CA

photo credit famsf | (c) 2013 the richard diebenkorn foundation

along with joan mitchell and helen frankenthaler, richard diebenkorn is one of my favorite post-war american artists.

 so, of course we attended the preview of richard diebenkorn:  the berkeley years-1953-1966, an exhibition of over 130 works that opened at the de young museum in san francisco, CA on 22 june 2013.  my husband, bob, and i enjoyed the exhibition so much that we are going back to see it again before it closes on 29 september 2013.

diebenkorn’s work is often grouped into periods according to where he lived because his location often inspired his work.  diebenkorn lived in berkeley, CA from 1953 until 1966, when he moved to santa monica, CA.  although diebenkorn’s berkeley period paintings and drawings established him as an abstract artist, his berkeley period actually included two phases:  an abstract phase from 1953-1956, followed by a representational phase from 1955-1967.

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | berkeley #3 | oil on canvas | 1953

fine art museums of san francisco (famsf) | san francisco, CA

photo credit famsf | (c) 2013 the richard diebenkorn foundation

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | berkeley #5 | oil on canvas | 1953

private collection

photo credit christie’s

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | berkeley #7 | oil on canvas | 1953

mildred lane kemper art museum | washington university | st louis, MO

photo credit kemper art museum

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | berkeley #8 | oil on canvas | 1954

north carolina museum of art (ncma) | raleigh, NC

photo credit ncma

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | berkeley #12 | oil on canvas | 1954

the phillips collection | washington, DC

photo credit the phillips collection

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | berkeley #15 | oil on canvas | 1954

new mexico museum of art | santa fe, NM

photo credit new mexico museum of art

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | berkeley #19 | oil on canvas | 1954

university of arizona museum of art (uama) | tuscon, AZ

photo credit uama

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | berkeley #22 | oil on canvas | 1954

hirshorn museum and sculpture garden | smithsonian institution | washington, DC

photo credit hirshorn museum and sculpture garden

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | berkeley #33 | oil on canvas | 1954

private collection

photo credit wikipaintings

‘what i was really up to in painting, 

what i enjoyed exclusively, was altering-

changing what was before me-

by way of subtracting 

or juxtaposition 

or superimposition

of different ideas.’

-richard diebenkorn

diebenkorn composed berkeley #23 in 1954, and then reworked it in 1955.

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | berkeley #23 | oil on canvas | 1955

san francisco museum of modern art (sfmoma) | san francisco, CA

photo credit sfmoma | (c) richard diebenkorn foundation

in 1957, articles in ARTnews* and LIFE magazines expanded diebenkorn’s national reputation as an abstract artist.

‘look of the west inspires new art’ | LIFE magazine | november 4, 1957 | page 67

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | berkeley #44 | oil on canvas | 1955

private collection

photo credits google books and famsf | (c) 2013 the richard diebenkorn foundation
but, by then, his work was shifting from abstraction to representation.  diebenkorn described chabot valley, painted in 1955, as his first representational landscape painting.

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | chabot valley | oil on canvas | 1955

collection of christopher diebenkorn

photo credit wikipaintings

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | coffee | oil on canvas | 1959

san francisco museum of modern art (sfmoma) | san francisco, CA

photo credit sfmoma | (c) richard diebenkorn foundation

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | bottles | oil on canvas | 1960

norton simon museum | pasadena, CA

photo credit norton simon museum | (c) 2008 estate of richard diebenkorn

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | interior with doorway | oil on canvas | 1962

pennsylvania academy of the fine arts (pafa) | philadelphia, PA

photo credit pafa

interior with view of buildings combines the four major themes of diebenkorn’s berkeley period representational work:  landscapes, figures, still life, and interiors.

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | interior with view of buildings | oil on canvas | 1962

cincinnati art museum | cincinnati, OH

photo credit cincinnati art museum
in 1964, the US state department invited diebenkorn to visit the soviet union on a cultural exchange grant.  while visiting the soviet union, he saw the extraordinary matisse collections at the pushkin state museum of fine arts in moscow and the state hermitage museum in leningrad, which were then inaccessible to most of the world.  even though this was not the artist’s first exposure to the work of henri matisse,** this experience influenced his late berkeley period drawings and paintings, which incorporated matisse-like decorative patterns, saturated colors, flat picture planes, and geometric compositions.

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | recollections of a visit to leningrad | oil on canvas | 1965

private collection

diebenkorn also saw the henri matisse. retrospective 1966. exhibition at the university of california, los angeles (ucla) art gallery.

henri matisse (1869-1954) | zulma | gouache and cut and pasted paper | 1950

statens museum for kunst (smk) | copenhagen, denmark

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | untitled (yellow collage) | gouache and cut and pasted paper | 1966

collection of gretchen and richard grant

photo credits smk | (c) succession h. matisse/billedkunst copydan 2012 and famsf | (c) 2013 the richard diebenkorn foundation

does diebenkorn’s late berkeley period work seem like a transition from representation to abstraction?

richard diebenkorn (1922-1993) | ocean park #19 | oil on canvas | 1968

san francisco museum of modern art (sfmoma) | san francisco, CA

photo credit sfmoma | (c) richard diebenkorn foundation

notes to myself on beginning a painting:

1. attempt what is not certain. certainty may or may not come later. it may then be a valuable delusion.

2. the pretty, initial position, which falls short of completeness, is not to be valued-except as a stimulus for further moves.

3. do search. but in order to find other than what is searched for.

4. use and respond to the initial fresh qualities, but consider them absolutely expendable.

5. don’t ‘discover’ a subject-of any kind.

6. somehow don’t be bored-but if you must, use it in action. use its destructive potential.

7. mistakes can’t be erased, but they move you from your present position.

8. keep thinking about polyanna.

9. tolerate chaos.

10. be careful only in a perverse way. 

-richard diebenkorn

click here to read my previous post about richard diebenkorn.

*’diebenkorn paints a picture’, ARTnews, volume 56 number 3, may 1957, pages 44-47, 54-55.

**in 1952, diebenkorn saw the matisse retrospective, organized by alfred barr for the museum of modern art in new york, NY, at the municipal art gallery in los angeles, CA.

ruth asawa: objects & apparitions, a solo exhibition at christie’s in new york from 6-31 may 2013, features 34 sculptures and 14 works on paper by the san francisco artist, who is best known for her modernist wire sculptures.

ruth asawa:  objects & apparitions

solo exhibition of 48 works of art | on loan or available for private sale
christie’s | new york | 6-31 may 2013

photo credit christie’s

ruth asawa studied color, design, drawing, and painting with josef albers from 1946-1949 at black mountain college, a progressive liberal arts school in north carolina.  albers taught the fundamental courses at the bauhaus before emigrating from germany to the united states in 1933.  so, asawa’s experimentation with the interrelationship between material, process, form, and light, could be directly and indirectly attributed to bauhaus design principles and modernist aesthetics.

josef albers | homage to the square (A) | 1950

ruth asawa | untitled | hanging sculpture | looped wire | circa 1950’s

photo credits (c) 2013 the josef and anni albers foundation/artist’s rights society (ARS) | new york and (c) the imogen cunningham trust, 2013

asawa originally wanted to become a painter.  at black mountain college, her paintings assimilated the aesthetic principles that albers taught in his color, design, drawing, and painting classes.  her black mountain paintings also interpreted the motifs that albers taught in his design class.

don’t the dancer motifs in asawa’s abstract paintings anticipate her ‘form within a form’ wire sculptures?

ruth asawa | dancers | oil on paper | 1946-1947

ruth asawa | untitled | hanging sculpture | oxidized copper looped wire | 1996

photo credits christie’s and christie’s

in his design class, albers used the meander pattern, which could be mirrored, reversed, enlarged, condensed, or connected, to teach mathematical relationships and foreshortening.

don’t the textures of asawa’s looped wire sculptures recall these meander pattern studies?

imogen cunningham (1883-1976) | ruth asawa holding a ‘form within a form’ sculpture | photograph | 1952

ruth asawa | meander curved lines | ink on paper | 1948

photo credits (c) the imogen cunningham trust, 2013 and christie’s

like his classes at the bauhaus, albers’ classes at black mountain college also emphasized the experience of exploration. asawa began experimenting with wire as a sculptural material after spending the summer of 1947 as a volunteer art teacher in toluca, mexico, where she learned how to crochet wire baskets from the villagers, who used the baskets in the farmer’s market.  according to albers, every material has inherent qualities that can be accentuated through combination,
juxtaposition, or manipulation.  to asawa, drawing became sculpture through the crocheting process.  a two dimensional line could be manipulated into a three dimensional form.

‘its like drawing in space!’

-ruth asawa

ruth asawa | untitled | basket | brass looped wire | 1955

photo credit christie’s

she found both the linear and transparent qualities of the looped wire sculpture appealing.

‘[transparencey] it was albers’ word…

…my sculpture is like that.  

you can see through it.  

the piece does not hide anything.  

you can show inside and outside, 

and inside and outside are connected. 

everything is connected, continuous.’

-ruth asawa

the interior and exterior of asawa’s tied wire sculpture is also connected.  asawa began making tied wire sculpture in 1962, after friends brought back a desert plant from their vacation in death valley, CA for her to draw.  instead, she began experimenting with wire, which she bundled, divided, subdivided, and tied into trunks, branches, and roots.  the diameter of the core determined the number of divisions.

ruth asawa | desert flower | lithograph in colors | 1965

ruth asawa | untitled | hanging sculpture | oxidized copper tied wire | 1962

photo credits christie’s and christie’s

if you live in san francisco, you may have visited the installation of ruth asawa’s tied wire and looped wire sculpture in the lobby of the hamon tower at the de young museum in golden gate park.  asawa donated 15 sculptures to the de young museum, and designed the installation along with the museum director and the curator.  she envisioned a juxtaposed installation, similar to the installation of sculptures in her home and studio.

living room of the asawa-lanier home | san francisco, CA | 1995

photo credit laurence cuneo

she also envisioned an installation that explored the relationship between light, shadow, transparency, and form.  the lighting design of the de young installation creates unexpected transformations that manipulate the form of asawa’s wire sculptures.  spotlights project highlights onto the sculptures, and shadows onto the walls, floor, and ceiling.  the highlights and shadows define, expand, and dematerialize the forms.

ruth asawa sculpture installation | lobby | hamon tower | de young museum | san francisco, CA

photo credit joseph mcdonald

ruth asawa | untitled | hanging sculpture | copper and brass looped wire | 1960-1965 | 2005.90.8

ruth asawa | untitled | hanging sculpture | copper and brass looped wire | 1960-1969 | 2005.90.7

ruth asawa | untitled | hanging sculpture | copper and brass looped wire | 1960-1965 | 2005.90.6

ruth asawa | untitled | hanging sculpture | monel (copper & nickel alloy) looped wire | 1959 | 2005.90.5

photo credits joseph mcdonald and lisa walsh | innerspace

ruth asawa | untitled | hanging sculpture | brass looped wire | 1958 | 2005.90.15

ruth asawa | untitled | hanging sculpture | copper looped wire | 1955-1959 | 2005.90.2

ruth asawa | untitled | hanging sculpture | galvanized steel and copper looped wire | 1955-1959 | 2005.90.3

ruth asawa | untitled | hanging sculpture | iron looped wire | 1950-1955 | 2005.90.1

photo credits joseph mcdonald and lisa walsh | innerspace

ruth asawa | untitled | hanging sculpture | galvanized iron tied wire | 1963 | 2005.90.11

ruth asawa | untitled | hanging sculpture | iron looped wire | 1955-1959 | 2005.90.4

ruth asawa | untitled | wall mounted sculpture | bronze tied wire | 1965-1969 | 1005.90.12

photo credits joseph mcdonald and lisa walsh | innerspace

ruth asawa | untitled | hanging sculpture | galvanized steel tied wire | 1960-1965 | 2005.90.9

ruth asawa | untitled | hanging sculpture | copper looped wire | 1996 | 2005.90.14

photo credits  lisa walsh | innerspace and  joseph mcdonald

how do you define modernist aesthetics?

references:

the controversy is over.

two of the twelve bronze zodiac animal sculptures that once surrounded the fountain in the gardens of the old summer palace (yuanmingyuan), a qing dynasty (1644-1911) imperial retreat near beijing, have been returned to china by french billionaire francois-henri pinault.

the zodiac sculptures were not only the subject of circle of animals/zodiac heads, a public outdoor sculpture exhibition by chinese artist/activist, ai weiwei, but also, the subject of chinese zodiac, a jackie chan action movie.

ai weiwei | circle of animals/zodiac heads

exhibited 2 may-15 july 2011 | pulitzer fountain | new york, NY

photo credit arrested motion

christie’s sold the the two sculptures for 31.4 million euros (US$40 million) during the february 2009 auction of the collection yves saint laurent et pierre berge.  but, the buyer, a chinese national, withheld payment in protest.  so, the two sculptures remained in the collection of pierre berge until they were acquired by the pinault family.

bronze rabbit and rat zodiac animal sculptures | from the fountain at the yuanmingyuan | qianlong period (r. 1736-1795)

collection yves saint laurent et pierre berge | christie’s paris | 23-25 february 2009 | sale 1209 | lots 678 and 677

photo credits les cahiers d’alain truong
the pinault family controls kering, the french luxury brand group formerly known as ppr, which also owns christie’s.

coincidently, christie’s was recently granted a license to become the first independently operated international auction house in china. (the chinese operations of christie’s compititor, sotheby’s, are a joint venture with state-owned beijing gehua cultural development group.)

could this be a convenient coincidence?

click here to read related previous posts, new york times, wall street journal, and financial times articles.