tag archives: art exhibit

do candida höfer’s photographs make you want to travel?  they make me want to explore europe, even though i just got back from london, where candida höfer: a return to italy is showing at ben brown fine arts from 12 february-12 april 2013.

you may recognize candida höfer’s photographs from one of your favorite american lifestyle or shelter magazines, such as town and country, elle decor, or veranda. 

candida höfer photograph | cosima von bulow pavoncelli’s living room | sagoponak, NY | interior design by markham roberts

photo credit francesco lagnese | town and country magazine | november 2010

candida höfer photograph | frederic fekkai’s living room | new york, NY | interior design by robert couturier

photo credit william abranowicz | elle decor | october 2010

candida höfer photograph | jill stuart’s living room | new york, NY | design by anabelle selldorf

photo credit simon upton | elle decor | october 2009

candida höfer photograph | entry of a carnegie hill townhouse | new york, NY  | interior design by timothy whealon

photo credit max kim-bee | veranda | october 2010

höfer’s photographs are interior portraits of public buildings.

‘i wanted to capture how people behave in public buildings,

so I started taking photographs of theatres, palaces, opera houses, libraries…

after some time, it became apparent to me that what people do in these spaces

–and what these spaces do to them

–is clearer when no one is present…’ 

-candida höfer

höfer’s photographs of uninhabited interiors have become her hallmark.

in an interview with the guardian, she described teatro scientifico bibiena mantova I as her ‘best shot’ in the london exhibition.

candida höfer | teatro scientifico bibiena mantova I | 2010 | lightjet print | edition of 6

photo courtesy of ben brown fine arts

‘i like this shot because it has an intriguing ambiguity of scale:

the theatre appears large yet somehow small;

and it is perfectly formed of grand individual structures.

this is not a shot about emotion.

it’s about colour, lines, light distribution

–and inner balance.’

-candida höfer

höfer doesn’t alter or digitally enhance her photographs.  instead, she uses existing light sources and long exposures to capture the details.

candida höfer | teatro scientifico bibiena mantova III | 2010 | lightjet print | edition of 6

photo courtesy of ben brown fine arts

she often shoots her interior portraits from a one point perspective.  this composition, which is another one of her hallmarks, creates continuity within and between each portrait series.  in addition to the compositional continuity, each series also has an institutional or a geographical theme.  the london exhibition is a grand tour of northern italian architecture:

mantova

candida höfer | palazzo ducale mantova III | 2011 | c print | edition of 6

photo courtesy of ben brown fine arts

candida höfer | palazzo ducale mantova I | 2011 | lightjet print | edition of 6

photo courtesy of ben brown fine arts

candida höfer | palazzo ducale mantova IV | 2011 | lightjet print | edition of 6

photo courtesy of ben brown fine arts

candida höfer | palazzo ducale mantova V | 2011 | lightjet print | edition of 6

photo courtesy of ben brown fine arts

candida höfer | biblioteca teresiana mantova I | 2010 | lightjet print | edition of 6

photo courtesy of ben brown fine arts

candida höfer | museo civico di palazzo te mantova IV | 2010 | lightjet print | edition of 6

photo courtesy of ben brown fine arts

vicenza

candida höfer | teatro olimpico vicenza I | 2010 | lightjet print | edition of 6

photo courtesy of ben brown fine arts

candida höfer | teatro olimpico vicenza II | 2010 | lightjet print | edition of 6

photo courtesy of ben brown fine arts

candida höfer | teatro olimpico vicenza III | 2010 | lightjet print | edition of 6

photo courtesy of ben brown fine arts

sabbioneta

candida höfer | teatro all’antica sabbioneta I | 2010 | lightjet print | edition of 6

photo courtesy of ben brown fine arts

candida höfer | galleria degli antichi sabbioneta I | 2010 | lightjet print | edition of 6

photo courtesy of ben brown fine arts
carpi

candida höfer | teatro comunale di carpi III | 2011 | lightjet print | edition of 6

photo courtesy of ben brown fine arts

candida höfer | teatro comunale di carpi I | 2011 | lightjet print | edition of 6

photo courtesy of ben brown fine arts
venezia

candida höfer | teatro la fenice di venezia V | 2011 | c print | edition of 6

photo courtesy of ben brown fine arts

candida höfer | teatro la fenice di venezia III | 2011 | c print | edition of 6

photo courtesy of ben brown fine arts

wouldn’t you love to take a grand tour of northern italy?  especially, the palladian villas of the veneto?

girl with a pearl earring, the famous johannes vermeer (1632-1675) painting, also known as the dutch mona lisa’, is making a rare appearance at the de young museum in san francisco from 26 january-2 june 2013.

the exhibition, girl with a pearl earring:  dutch paintings from the mauritshuis, features 35 paintings from mauritshuis, the royal picture gallery in the hague, netherlands.  the dutch museum is currently undergoing a two year renovation.

after san francisco, the exhibition travels to the the high museum of art in atlanta from 22 june-29 september 2013, followed by the frick collection in new york from 22 october 2013-12 january 2014.

johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | girl with a pearl earring | oil on canvas | 18.75″ x 15.75″ | c. 1665-1667 | mauritshuis | the hague, netherlands

photo credit mauritshuis

when the exhibition traveled to tokyo and kobe, japan from june 2012-january 2013, about 1.2 million visitors viewed the painting.  art historians are unable to totally explain its popularity.

‘sometimes the questions are more intriguing because they can’t be answered. 

who was she?  what was she thinking?  what was her relationship to vermeer? 

the mystery is part of its popularity.’

-melissa buron, assistant curator, de young museum

art historians unanimously agree upon the attribution of thirty four paintings to vermeer, who is renowned for his mastery of color and light.

vermeer’s color palette differs slightly from the color palette of other 17th century dutch painters.  instead of azurite, which was significantly less expensive, vermeer used natural ultramarine blue paint pigment.  this difference explains the purity, brilliance, and radiance of ‘vermeer blue’.  natural ultramarine blue pigment was made from crushed lapis lazuli, a semi precious stone that was imported to the netherlands from afghanistan via venice.  to prepare the paint, the lapis lazuli stone was crushed into powder.  then, the powder was washed to remove the impurities.  next, the pigment was
suspended in the vehicle by mulling the powder into the oil.  finally, the natural ultramarine blue oil paint was mixed with some lead white to make it more workable.

lapis lazuli stones

photo credit essential vermeer

this difference also explains vermeer’s masterful rendering of light.  unlike other dutch painters from the golden age, vermeer mixed natural ultramarine blue pigment into grey oil paint, which usually only used lead white, bone black, or raw umber as coloring agents.  vermeer was able to capture the luminosity of natural daylight by using tones and shades of the ultramarine blue-grey paint to render highlights and shadows.

johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | the milkmaid | oil on canvas | 17.875″ x 16.125″ | c. 1658-1661 | the rijksmuseum | amsterdam, netherlands

vermeer highlighted the bread and the cloth with small dots that capture the luminosity of natural daylight

photo credits rijksmuseum and essential vermeer

the girl with a pearl earring is actually a tronie (face), instead of a portrait.   tronies are drawings or paintings of the head, face, or bust of an anonymous subject.  they are physiognomies, or studies of the subject’s external appearance, including their facial expression, type, or character.  during the 17th century, the term ‘turkish’ was used to describe exotic or foreign objects or garments.  so, it was not unusual for the subject of a tronie to be painted wearing ‘turkish’ garments, like the cloak and the turban worn by the girl with a pearl earring.

johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | girl with a pearl earring | oil on canvas | 18.75″ x 15.75″ | c. 1665-1667 | mauritshuis | the hague, netherlands

photo credit mauritshuis

vermeer used broad brush strokes, a limited color palette, and the ‘wet-in-wet’ painting technique to simplify the folds of the turban.  he mixed the pigments directly on the canvas, painting the highlights in ultramarine blue mixed with lead white, and the shadows in pure ultramarine blue topped with blue glaze.

‘…vermeer painted everything with a cool, silvery palette and layered translucent oil glazes, dissolving all material reality with a pearl-like luminosity.’

-art historian robert baldwin

detail | turban

photo credit essential vermeer

vermeer only used three brush strokes to paint the teardrop shaped pearl earring.  a dark shadow suggests the shape of the pearl.  an opaque highlight on the front captures the luminosity and the luster.  and, a translucent highlight on the bottom captures the soft inner glow.

the painting was last restored in 1994.  during the restoration, art conservators removed a second opaque highlight from the bottom of the pearl after discovering that it was a flake of paint that adhered to the pearl during an earlier restoration.  the bottom of the pearl softly reflects the girl’s white undergarment once again.

detail | pearl earring

photo credit essential vermeer

eleven of the thirty four paintings attributed to vermeer, including the girl with a pearl earring, feature women with pearls.  so, in addition to blue, vermeer paintings are synonymous with pearls.

‘…vermeer’s beautiful women, ornamented with pearls, took on the familiar, pearl-like beauty of contemporary love lyrics where outer loveliness dissolved into an inner radiance.’

-art historian robert baldwin

johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | a maid asleep | oil on canvas | 34.5″ x 30.125″ | c. 1656-1657 | metropolitan museum of art | new york, NY

detail | pearl earrings

photo credits metropolitan museum of art and essential vermeer

johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | woman holding a balance | oil on canvas | 16.75″ x 15″ | c. 1662-1665 | national gallery of art | washington, DC

detail | two strands of pearls

photo credits national gallery of art and national gallery of art

johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | woman with a lute | oil on canvas | 20.25″ x 18″ | c. 1662-1664 | metropolitan museum of art | new york, NY

detail | pearl earring and necklace

photo credits metropolitan museum of art

johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | woman with a pearl necklace | oil on canvas | 21.625″ x 17.75″ | c. 1664 | staatliche museen zu berlin | berlin, germany

detail | pearl earring and necklace

photo credits essential vermeer and essential vermeer

johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | a lady writing | oil on canvas | 17.75″ x 15.75″ | c. 1665-1666 | national gallery of art | washington, DC

detail | pearl earrings

photo credits national gallery of art and essential vermeer

johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | the concert | oil on canvas | 28.5″ x 25.5″ | c. 1664-1667 | stolen from the isabella garner museum | boston, MA

detail | pearl earring and necklace

photo credits essential vermeer and essential vermeer

johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | study of a young woman | oil on canvas | 17.5″ x 15.75″ | c. 1665-1667 | metropolitan museum of art | new york, NY

detail | pearl earring

photo credits metropolitan museum of art

johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | mistress and maid | oil on canvas | 35.5″ x 31″ | c. 1666-1667 | the frick collection | new york, NY

detail | strand of pearls, pearl earring and necklace

photo credits the frick collection and the frick collection

johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | the guitar player | oil on canvas | 20.25″ x 18.25″ | c. 1670-1672 | kenwood house | hampstead, london, united kingdom

detail | pearl necklace

photo credits essential vermeer

johannes vermeer (1632-1675) | a young woman standing at a virginal | oil on canvas | 20.375″ x 17.25″ | c. 1670-1673 | national gallery | london, united kingdom

detail | pearl necklace

photo credits national gallery and essential vermeer

who is your favorite ‘girl with a pearl’?

girl with a pearl earring:  dutch paintings from the mauritshuis

de young museum | fine arts museums of san francisco

26 january-2 june 2013

photo credit famsf

i love chinese ceramics, so the opportunity to learn how to throw porcelain (yes, porcelain) pots from one of my favorite potters was an irresistible opportunity.

i first met british potter edmund de waal during a tour of his london studio while i was studying chinese art history at the british museum.   he describes himself as a maker and a writer.  but, i think that he is also a modern song dynasty ceramicist.  so, when he taught a ceramics course in conjunction with his porcelain room exhibition at the geffrye museum in london, i signed right up!  the hands on experience was unforgettable, even though the pots that i threw didn’t look like this:

ru ware incense burner

ash grey stoneware with blue grey glaze | henan province, china | northern song dynasty | late 11th-early 12th c

sir percival david collection | british museum | london, united kingdom

photo credit britishmuseum

or, like this:

edmund de waal | porcelain room | 2001

650 thrown porcelain vessels in celadon glazes

first exhibited at the geffrye museum, london united kingdom

photo credits edmund de waal

de waal used shelves, trenches, and ledges of pots to define the structure of the porcelain room.  after the exhibition, he began concentrating on creating installations instead of individual vessels.  doesn’t the red I-beam shelf that holds signs and wonders, an installation in the dome of the ceramics galleries at the victoria and albert museum (v&a) in london, seem like a structural element?


edmund de waal | signs and wonders | 2009

425 porcelain vessels in white, celadon, and grey glazes contained in a red aluminium shelf

installation in the dome of the ceramics galleries at the victoria and albert museum | london, united kingdom

photo credits edmund de waal

in america, edmund de waal may be best known as the author of the award winning and bestselling book, the hare with amber eyes…

edmund de waal | the hare with amber eyes | 2010

photo credit books.google.com

…the biography of a collection of 264 netsuke, and the biography of his family.

hare netsuke

ivory with eyes inlaid in amber buffalo horn | signed masatoshi | osaka, japan | circa 1880

photo credit edmund de waal

after writing the hare with amber eyes, de waal began enclosing his installations in vitrines, like the the vitrine that enclosed his family’s netsuke collection.  for the contemporary at waddeston exhibition that he curated in 2012, he thought of waddesdon manor, the rothschild’s 19th century country house in buckinghamshire, as a vitrine that enclosed his installations along with the waddesdon collection of fine and decorative arts.

edmund de waal | something else, somewhere other | 2012

84 porcelain vessels and bowls in white and celadon glazes contained in two freestanding vitrines

exhibited in the tower drawing room | waddesdon manor | buckinghamshire, united kingdom

photo credit edmund de waal

his current exhibition, edmund de waal:  a thousand hours, at the alan christea gallery in london from 6 october-10 november 2012, uses vitrines of vessels to define space.  de waal perceives the gallery as a vitrine that encloses two cabinets, filled with a collection of 1000 ceramic vessels.  the cabinets not only define space, but also hold time.

‘my new exhibition, a thousand hours, has at its heart a meditation on time, both the time it takes to make something, and the time it takes to see something.’

-edmund de waal

edmund de waal | a thousand hours | 2012

1000 thrown porcelain vessels, some glazed in celadon and white, some unglazed, within a pair of aluminium vitrines with transparent and translucent acrylic

exhibited at alan christea gallery | london, united kingdom

photo credits edmund de waal

how do you display your collections?

contained?

edmund de waal | remembering x, i think of y | 2012

48 unglazed porcelain vessels contained in two glass vitrines

exhibited in the archives | waddesdon manor | buckinghamshire, united kingdom

photo credit edmund de waal

or, freestanding?

edmund de waal | a sounding line | 2007

52 porcelain vessels in 5 celadon glazes and 14 thrown porcelain vessels in 5 white glazes

installation in the chose chapel corridor | chatsworth house | north derbyshire, united kingdom

photo credit edmund de waal

if you live in london, you might read time out magazine for the restaurant and theater reviews, or the schedule of events.  so, when my husband, bob, and i arrived in london recently, i borrowed a copy of time out from clive, the concierge at the capital hotel, to make sure that we weren’t missing any interesting events.

joan mitchell is one of my favorite artists.  and, i would absolutely love to own one of her pastel drawings.

joan mitchell (1925-1992) | pastel | pastel on paper | 1991

cheim & read | new york. NY

photo credit cheim & read

so, i was excited to discover that hauser & wirth gallery was presenting joan mitchell the last paintings from 3 february-28 april 2012.  mitchell’s late abstract expressionist paintings use intense gestures and intense colors that express her intense feelings for the countryside near her home in vetheuil, france.

joan mitchell (1925-1992) | river | oil on canvas | 1989

joan mitchell the last paintings | 3 feb-28 apr 2012 | hauser & wirth | london, united kingdom

photo credit hauser & wirth

joan mitchell (1925-1992) | sunflowers | oil on canvas | 1990-1991

joan mitchell the last paintings | 3 feb-28 apr 2012 | hauser & wirth | london, united kingdom

photo credit hauser & wirth

joan mitchell (1925-1992) | trees | oil on canvas | 1990-1991

joan mitchell the last paintings | 3 feb-28 apr 2012 | hauser & wirth | london, united kingdom

photo credit hauser & wirth

her last paintings are pure abstractions that use color, line, compositon, scale, and form spontaneously and freely.

joan mitchell (1925-1992) | untitled | oil on canvas | 1992

joan mitchell the last paintings | 3 feb-28 apr 2012 | hauser & wirth | london, united kingdom

photo credit hauser & wirth

joan mitchell (1925-1992) | tondo | oil on canvas | 1991

joan mitchell the last paintings | 3 feb-28 apr 2012 | hauser & wirth | london, united kingdom

photo credit hauser & wirth

joan mitchell (1925-1992) | tondo | oil on canvas | 1991

joan mitchell the last paintings | 3 feb-28 apr 2012 | hauser & wirth | london, united kingdom

photo credit hauser & wirth

does the round format of the tondos remind you of damien hirst?

damien hirst | beautiful strummerville spin, the future is unwritten painting | household gloss on canvas | 2012

sold for GBP 445,250 | US$ 699,087

contemporary art evening auction | 15 february 2012 | sotheby’s, bond street | sale l12020 lot 34

photo credit sotheby’s

attending all of the auction previews at christie’s, sotheby’s, or bonham’s is one of the things that my husband, bob, and i both miss about living in london.  our recent visit to london coincided with post war and contemporary art week.  so, of course we couldn’t resist attending the auction previews in the evening, after work and before dinner.

instead of neo-expressionist or figurative painters, such as basquiat or bacon, many of my favorite artists, such as cy twombly, are abstract expressionists.  somehow, the freedom and spontaneity of their work is really appealing.  if i could have bid on anything, it would have been twombly’s calligraphy drawings at christie’s, king street.

cy twombly (1928-2011) | untitled | gouache and wax crayon on card | 1970

sold for GBP 577,250 | US$ 906,283

post war and contemporary art evening auction | 14 feb 2012 | christie’s | london, king street | sale 8052 lot 24

photo credit christie’s

cy twombly (1928-2011) | untitled | gouache and wax crayon on card | 1970

sold for GBP 713,250 | US$ 1,119,803

post war and contemporary art evening auction | 14 feb 2012 | christie’s | london, king street | sale 8052 lot 47

photo credit christie’s

he created them at the same time as his blackboard series, which became famous for blurring the lines between drawing and painting.

cy twombly | untitled | gouache and wax crayon on paper | 1969

cy twombly-works from the sonnabend collection | 7 feb-17 mar 2012 | eykyn-maclean | london, united kingdom

photo credit (c) cy twombly foundation

eykyn-maclean gallery is showing cy twombly-works from the sonnabend collection from 7 february-17 march 2012—one of the many museum quality commercial exhibits that accompany the february impressionst, modern, post war, and contemporary art auctions in london.

if you could, which would you choose?  a cy twombly calligraphy or blackboard drawing?

cy twombly blackboard drawing above the bar in the apartment of aerin lauder zinterhofer | new york, NY

photo credit francois halard