31 Aug 2011

A re-interpretation of Rodin and the figure, Rodin Museum, Paris

I love the Rodin Museum, but I must admit, I have'nt been for years..However, this is the last few days of a very interesting exhibition of works by a variety of artists entitled 'Work in Progress, Rodin and the Ambassadors' this exhibition is until 4th September.

Jean Arp, Marcel Duchamp, Joan Miro, Jean Fautrier, Lucio Fontana, Jean Dubuffet, Alberto Giacometti, Willem De Kooning, Joseph Beuys, Marcel Broodthaers, Eduardo Paolozzi, Anthony Caro, Cy Twombly, Eric Cameron, Richard Serra, Bruce Nauman, Haim Steinbach, Sophie Ristelhueber, Ugo Rondinone, Douglas Gordon, Urs Fischer...

Auguste Rodin, 'Etude de robe de chambre pour Balzac'
© Musée Rodin. Photo: Christian Baraja
'Works in Progress, Rodin and the Ambassadors' examines the way in which Rodin’s work is perceived and strives to show not only how his sculpture developed but also how it was and continues to be reinterpreted. The exhibition compares 100 or so works by Rodin (1840-1917) with about 30 post-1945, modern and contemporary works.'

Joseph Beuys, 'Infiltration homogène pour piano à queue; La Peau'
© Adagp, Paris 2011. Photo: CNAC/MNAM Dist.RMN
'This re-appraisal of Rodin’s work also owes something to art, eg. the production of several artists from the postwar period to the present day. Their preoccupations, not only with material and modelling but also with highlighting fragments or combining different components, have had repercussions on the manner in which Rodin is considered and contemporary art is viewed. From Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) to Urs Fischer (born 1973), each of these artists has become an “ambassador” for a certain way of looking at the world, at art, at present and past works.'...

27 Aug 2011

Mondrian I I Nicholson: In Parrellel, Courtauld Gallery, London

Ben Nicholson, June, 1937

An exciting exhibition at the Courtauld Gallery, London, shall be taking place early next year (from February to May 2012), exploring the relationship between two enigmatic modernist abstract painters of the early 20th Century...

'The story of the creative relationship between the artists Piet Mondrian and Ben Nicholson is largely untold. Yet during the 1930s they were leading forces of avant-garde art in Europe.

This exhibition will be the first to offer a comprehensive account of the parallel artistic paths charted by Mondrian and Nicholson during this remarkable decade. It will bring together an extraordinary group of paintings and reliefs to show how each artist was driven by a profound belief in the potential of abstract art to attain the highest aesthetic and spiritual power.' 

I'll keep you posted of developments...

22 Aug 2011

Exhibition of early abstractions by Kandinsky at Guggenheim Museum, New York

Wassily Kandinsky, ‘Painting with White Border’, May 1913 and ‘Sketch I’ for ‘Painting with White Border' (Moscow) Guggenheim Museum’s conservation lab © 2011 Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

I am not a huge fan of Kandinsky, but I understand his significance as an artist and what he brought to early modernist thinking. This exhibition at the Guggenheim, New York, from 21st October until 15th January 2012 reunites the key early works Kandinsky painted. This particular painting above, entitled 'Painting with White Boarder', was completed nearly 100 years ago. Inspired by a trip the artist took to Moscow at the end of 1912. When he returned to Munich, hanging out with artists who would form 'Der Blaue Reiter' group and where he had been living intermittently since 1896, Kandinsky searched for a way to visually record the “extremely powerful impressions” of his native Russia that lingered in his memory. Over a period of five months, he explored various motifs and compositions in study after study, moving freely between pencil, pen and ink, watercolor, and oil. After he produced at least sixteen studies, Kandinsky finally arrived at the pictorial solution to the painting: the white border.

From the Guggenheim: 'This exhibition, co-organized with the Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., will reunite for the first time the Guggenheim’s final version of the painting from May 1913 with twelve related drawings and watercolors and one major oil sketch and will feature the results of an extensive conservation study of the Guggenheim and Phillips paintings. This study revealed a previously unknown painting beneath the surface of the Phillips’s 'Sketch I' for 'Painting with White Border' (Moscow). A rare glimpse into Kandinsky’s creative process, this presentation reveals the gradual and deliberate way the artist sought to translate his ideas into a bold new language of abstraction.

Tracing Kandinsky’s working method through a roughly chronological display of twelve drawings and watercolors and one major oil sketch related to 'Painting with White Border'. According to a May 1913 essay Kandinsky wrote about the picture, later published in an album entitled Kandinsky 1901–1913 (1913), the artist executed the first oil sketch (owned by the Phillips Collection) “immediately upon my return from Moscow in December 1912.” The orientation of his preliminary studies evolved from a vertical to a horizontal format, and he used pencil, pen and ink, and watercolor throughout the many iterations.

Kandinsky explored key motifs reminiscent of his native Russia, including 'the troika' (a three-horse sled) and 'Saint George'. Ultimately the artist executed more studies than he had for any of his previous paintings before resolving the composition with a soft, undulating white border that he compared to a white wave. In his seminal 1911 treatise ('On the Spiritual in Art: And Painting in Particular'), Kandinsky wrote that the color white expresses a “harmony of silence. . .pregnant with possibilities.”

The conservation study supports interpretations of Kandinsky’s working method. For example, the direct application of the brush to canvas of 'Sketch I' implies a more spontaneous technique as compared to the more methodical treatment of the final work, 'Painting with White Border', in which Kandinsky used a graphite pencil to lay out compositional elements before painting. Studies of microscopic samples of paint from both works show that Kandinsky created his own palette out of combinations of as many as ten different pigments per hue.

The conservation team also discovered a previously unknown painting beneath the surface of 'Sketch I' for 'Painting with White Border' (Moscow). The underpainting, a representational landscape with figures, has been attributed to the German artist Gabriele Münter, Kandinsky’s companion from 1903 to 1916, based on its similarity to Münter’s gouache, Garden Concert on view in this exhibition, and a canvas on the same subject in a private collection. While there are few known instances of Kandinsky painting over an existing canvas and no other known instance of him painting over a work by Münter, limited study has been done of Kandinsky’s canvases to date. Future research and conservation analysis may better clarify the attribution of the underpainting.'