Sunday, 29 October 2017

Review of Anni Albers: Touching Vision at Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

Anni Albers: Touching Vision
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
6 October 2017 – 14 January 2018

In 1949, Anni Albers (1899-1994) was the first fibre artist to have a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, followed by an extensive tour across the US. This event was key in elevating fibre art to the canon of classical artistic disciplines. Now, nearly 70 years later, Guggenheim Bilbao, together with the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, is putting on a retrospective of nearly six decades of the artist-designer’s work, starting with her early Bauhaus preparatory drawings, and moving through her hand-woven works and tapestries, to her later graphic prints.

Read this review here

Monday, 23 October 2017

Interview with Alex Katz

Interview with Alex Katz

Born in Brooklyn in 1927 to Russian parents, Alex Katz entered the prestigious Cooper Union Art School in Manhattan in 1946, where he was taught to paint from drawings, and exposed largely to modern art. Throughout the period of abstract expressionism, Katz remained a staunch figurative painter, spending his summers in Maine, where he made landscapes en plein air. In the early 60s, influenced by film, television and advertising, he began painting large-scale works, with dramatically cropped faces. His work is often described as “very American”, but Katz seemingly has no agenda. His motivation is to capture what he sees before him, be it landscape, cityscape, or portrait, and, unlike many artists, he doesn’t hanker after timelessness or immortality, recognising, rather, that time keeps moving and reality doesn’t exist beyond what he terms the “immediate presence”.

For Katz's latest exhibition in London, gallerist Timothy Taylor has chosen to bring out some very early pencil and ink drawings made by the artist on the New York subway during his student days and to show these alongside recent landscape paintings and sculptures. 

Read the interview here

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Essay for Victoria Rance: The Night Horse and the Holy Baboon. Sculptures, drawings, photographs and animations 2007-2017

Essay for Victoria Rance: The Night Horse and the Holy Baboon

Victoria Rance: The Night Horse and the Holy Baboon
Sculptures, drawings, photographs and animations 2007-2017
Cello Factory, London
23-30 October 2017

A cast of black-and-white characters cavort across the screen: Rat Man, Long-Eared Bat Person and Loki, a mysterious shape-shifter and epitome of the Trickster. It is Fasnacht – a night of wearing masks and releasing one’s innermost repressed psychological realities. In Carl Jung’s theory of archetypes, the Trickster is an anti-intellect figure, entertaining and mischievous, yet bearing a deeper wisdom about the world. Fasnacht invites the Trickster to come out and play, and, in Victoria Rance’s short film, come out and play he does.

Much of Rance’s work deals with archetypes and the wearing of masks, exploring what Jung describes as the compromise between what one likes to be and how one likes to appear – the persona as it stands in contrast to the personality. Her cast of recurring characters, besides Loki and his friends, includes Medusa, Perseus, Nuit (the goddess of the sky), and, most recently, the Night Horse and the Holy Baboon. Her Sculptures to Wear include caterpillars, a worm, and wasp spiders – a striking variety of arachnid that disguises itself as a more harmful species to evade a common predator.

Full essay and catalogue available here


Victoria Rance
The Night Horse and the Holy Baboon 
wood, steel, felt, wool, palm, plaster, polyester
H 354cm

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Review of Portrait of the Artist: Käthe Kollwitz at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham

Portrait of the Artist: Käthe Kollwitz
Ikon Gallery, Birmingham
13 September – 26 November 2017

“I was determined to be an artist from the outset, even though I had the disadvantage of being a girl.”

Her gender was not Käthe Kollwitz’s only disadvantage, as a graphic artist (at a time when this was the least prized – and least well paid for – of the visual arts), living in the "bohemian" workers’ district of Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin, and surviving two world wars. This aside, she enjoyed, from the outset, the support of her family, husband, and friends. Thanks to this, her determination, and, in no small measure, her talent, Kollwitz (1867-1945) met with great success. Today, she has four museums dedicated solely to her work and, in her native Germany, there are 40 schools that bear her name. In 1920, she became the first woman to be elected to the Prussian Academy of Arts, an honour that brought with it a full professorship, albeit that she rejected the title owing to her communist leaning for egalitarianism. Her work was shown in New York in 1922, she was the subject of many books and articles, and the first big monograph on her work was published as early as 1923. Despite her prints being widely reproduced in China and Russia, she is sadly little known in the UK, where only three of her drawings – and not all that many of her prints – are held in public collections. This enlightening and carefully selected exhibition has been put together in collaboration with the British Museum – comprising 36 works from its collection, plus four loans – by Frances Carey, the former deputy keeper of prints and drawings. Marking the 150th anniversary of Kollwitz’s birth, it will tour to the Young Gallery, Salisbury; the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea; the Ferens Art Gallery, Hull; and end up "home" at the British Museum in 2019.

Read the full review here

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Review of Klimt and Antiquity: Erotic Encounters at the Lower Belvedere, Vienna

Klimt and Antiquity: Erotic Encounters
Lower Belvedere, Vienna
23 June – 8 October 2017

In 1898, Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) designed the poster for the first exhibition held by the newly founded Vienna secession, of which he was a founding member and president. The depiction of the Greek hero Theseus wrestling the Minotaur symbolised the intention of the young avant-garde movement to break with the past and rebel against the out-dated structures of the Künstlerhaus. On the right-hand-side, standing watch is the figure of Pallas Athena, the goddess of wisdom, craft, and war in ancient Greek mythology. Turned thus into a sphinx-like demon, an image that was repeated on the catalogue for this first exhibition, as well as on bookplates for the movement, the goddess emerged as the patron saint and symbol of the Vienna secession. Klimt’s use of symbolism embodied one of its key ideals.

Read the full review here