Brutalism – A Visit to the Barbican Estate

The 500 words task for Assignment 5 reads as follows:

A 500-word analysis of a maximum of four works in any media other than painting or sculpture which demonstrate the influence of the political, social and economic changes that have taken place since 1945.  (course notes)

Does Architecture count as a media? The WHA has included it all along so I’m assuming yes. Also, the second visit task is as follows:

Look at some twentieth-century buildings If you live in a big city you’ll be spoilt for choice but most towns will have something of interest. Go for something different from your earlier visits. This could be a tube station, a block of flats or a shopping mall. Don’t just think about the way it looks or the materials and building methods used. Try to imagine how easy it might be to maintain and clean, how efficient it might be in terms of its use of energy, how secure it might feel for someone on their own at night, etc. Make notes in your learning log. (course notes)

I thought I’d try and combine the two but depending on time constraints this might not develop enough to cover the visit task, I primarily visited this area to discover for myself what the big deal with Brutalist architecture was so that I could develop my 500 words from more than just reading research.

Brutalism

As a post war evolution of Modernism, the lofty, utopian ideals of Brutalist architecture have been lost to the mists of time and what we are left with today are big, blocky public buildings (whose exterior concrete facades have not aged well), with various social problems such as graffiti and antisocial behaviour. Some people subscribe to the ‘so ugly it is beautiful’ school of thought and many existing Brutalist buildings, such as the Barbican Complex, are now Grade II listed. The style was popular in the postwar era many people needed rehousing after the blitz, the economy was in tatters so new developments needed to be cheap, with easily sourced building materials such as concrete. The name is actually a wry English twist on Le Corbusier’s French term béton brut (raw concrete) popularised by British architectural critic Reyner Banham.

Barbican Estate Visit

The Barbican Estate is huge. Its infamous amongst visitors to the barbican arts centre as being impossible to navigate, a fact to which I can attest having got lost trying to find my way out once I’d finished with my visit!

 

I loved this fantastic short film about the barbican from 1969:

References:

Brutalism.online. (2017). Introduction to Brutalism. [online] Brutalism.online. Available at: http://brutalism.online/brutalism [Accessed 2 Aug. 2017].

City Of London. (2017) Barbican Estate history At: https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/services/barbican-estate/Pages/barbican-history-architecture.aspx
(Accessed on 15 Aug 17)
 

Clement, A. (2011) Brutalism: Post-war British Architecture. The Crowood Press

Financial Times (2013). Brutalist architecture: a concept made concrete. [online] Available at: https://amp.ft.com/content/4dcac1fe-be25-11e2-9b27-00144feab7de [Accessed 2 Aug. 2017].

Hyett, P. (1999) ‘Trellick Tower – a giant among high rises ‘In: The Architects’ Journal 1999, May 6, p.20. [online] At: https://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/home/from-the-archive-trellick-tower-by-ern-goldfinger/5208036.article
(Accessed on 15 Aug 17)
 

Painting Review: Georges Braque – Clarinet and Bottle of Rum on a Mantelpiece 1911

Following on from my Cubism Research, and in preparation for assignment 5 annotations I have decided to research Georges Braque’s Clarinet and Bottle of Rum on a Mantelpiece 1911. The obvious choice of Cubist painting to annotate would be a Picasso which is precisely why I choose one by Braque. Picasso is the household name of Cubism but it seems from my research that they participated fairly evenly in the collaboration, even at times so closely as to be indistinguishable. This was the period known as ‘Analytical Cubism’. Additionally, I could go and see this one in person which always helps me!

I tried to keep in mind Terry Smith’s four ways of looking as per assignment 3 feedback. I went to the Tate Modern to see it (apolgies for the wonky picture, there was a rope around an adjacent exhibit so I couldnt start square on to get the photo).

Georges Braque –
Clarinet and Bottle of Rum on a Mantelpiece (Clarinette et bouteille de rhum sur une cheminée),
1911, Oil paint on canvas, Support: 810 x 600 mm
frame: 935 x 723 x 74 mm, Tate, Photo by Suzy Walker-Toye

Again, I’ve tried again to apply the techniques I learned in reading about the OU study diamond to this painting review. The grid format wasn’t that great for the blog so I’ve split into more of a questions and answers format.

Effects & techniques:

  1. What initially catches your eye? Where do you go next? And after that? The section in the middle triangle with the bottle, the clarinet & scrolls of paper (?), then the writing Valse, then the glass.
  2. Where do you end up? Do your eyes stray away from the work altogether? Your eyes rove around the painting from plane to plane trying to make sense of what you’re looking at from one recognisable bit to the next to try and piece together what is there.
  3. Is there anything that you didn’t notice at first but saw later in your reading? I looked at it all but I still don’t understand many elements.
  4. Did your eyes keep coming back to a particular part of the art work? The little round bit under the clarinet because I know it should be recognise it but I’m still not sure what it is.
  5. Is there anything that you didn’t look at or thought wasn’t important? no.

Colour:

  1. Has a wide or narrow palette of colours been used? A very narrow colour palate typical of Analytical Cubism has been used to concentrate the viewer on the forms.
  2. Have contrasting colours been placed next to each other? Not really
  3. Are there more warm colours than cool colours or vice versa? slightly warm colours
  4. Would you describe the colours as being bright or dull? Are there more bright colours than dull colours (or vice versa)? The colours are muted and earthy to concentrate on the forms
  5. In what way is dark and light colour used? dark and light colour is used to separate the planes

I. How wide is the range of colour values featuring in the art work? Very wide from light to black

II. Are contrasting colour values present in the art work? Use of contrasting colour values pick out the various planes of the work. The light is not coming from any clear direction.

III. Are contrasting colour values used to model three-dimensional forms? Contrasting colour values are in places used to model three-dimensional forms, for example the clarinet mouthpiece and holes, which in this part of the painting is lit from above.

IV. In what way are the colour values distributed throughout the art work? In contrast to tradition paintins where the distribution of the colour values helps pull your eye around the composition, light here is used almost randomly to separate the various planes and sections.

Medium:

  1. Does the medium impose any limitations on the way the artist works, or allow any particular effects? The oil paint has been applied in various ways across the surface of the painting. Thinly in places, for example at the edges where you can see the the texture of the canvas. The black lines and white space opaque smooth:
    [Detail 1] Georges Braque – Clarinet and Bottle of Rum on a Mantelpiece,
    1911, Tate, Photo by Suzy Walker-Toye
    and some parts are rather more thickly applied it little dabbing brushstrokes for texture:
    [Detail 2] Georges Braque – Clarinet and Bottle of Rum on a Mantelpiece,
    1911, Tate, Photo by Suzy Walker-Toye
  2. Is the medium used unconventionally or is the medium itself unconventional and, if so, does this contribute to the expressive effect of the art work? It doesn’t seem very conventional, but nothing about Cubism is!
  3. Does the medium used suggest a particular mood? the planes sort of shimmer above the canvas. its an odd effect.
  4. Does the medium used prompt the spectator to read the work in a particular way? yes, the different paint textures mean you associate different sections with different elements

Composition:

Representation of depth Technique: Effect:
(a) overlapping Y The scene feels 3 dimentional because of the many overlapping layers, but they dont overlap in a traditional sense. Its a bit confusing what object is what.
(b) diminishing scale N As far as I can tell there is no diminishing scale.
(c) atmospheric perspective N The space behind is a limited space of the mantelpiece so even if this was painted traditionally this would not have atmospheric perspective.
(d) vertical placement Y Yes, you can read the canvas from the bottom up to the bottle at the top.
(e) linear perspective N

Y

One of the tenants of Cubism is the abolishment of single point perspective to explore forms ‘plastically’

Looking at this a bit longer I’ve changed my mind here, there is linear perspective on one or two of the view points which are not immediately obvious.

(f) modelling Y there is a slight modelling on some aspects for example the curl of something in detail 1 picture above.

I found it hard to see just by looking and making a sketch helped me here:

The different view points overlay so its a bit confusing so here I’ve tried to break down what i see i my head as separate views. I started with the bottle, on which the scheme seems to rest on. it has serveral view on it. the most obvious being the frontal view, where you can also see the glass and the nail. I’ve left the clarinet out of this picture because i dont think it was placed behind the bottle on the mantelpiece.

Here is one view that i think sets out the main pieces in their places on the mantelpiece. I see the clarinet, the rum, a glass, a scroll of paper (probably sheet music given the words written on it) it looks to me like he has pages under the objects which jut out and overlap the edge of the mantelpiece.

Perspective view from the edge of the mantelpiece

Its possible that this view in blue below is the same scene from the other end of the mantelpiece.

this is my suspected bits of mantelpiece views, from all different directions including underneith to see the corbel.

 

 

 

here i thought these were scrolls of music sheet

Use of lines:

Directional lines (horizontal, vertical, and diagonal): There are plenty of diagonal lines radiating out and upwards from the bottom like a fan and a slight overall pyramidal feeling to the composition. The main elements are in an internal triangle section. Internally to that there are bisecting vertical planes and pieces (eg the Clarinet is horizontal and the bottle is vertical) and various little triangles made of overlapping planes of various textures and detail

Contour lines – can also be used to outline forms; such contour lines can be described in terms of their thickness and sharpness. There are thick contour lines all around the painting but many are for the contours of the plane not actual for an object as such.

Meaning – initial thoughts from the observed ‘evidence’/ Context & Meaning:

I’ve blocked these two together because without understanding the concepts Cubism it’s really hard to read the painting and understand any of its ‘evidence’ or even what you’re looking at.

In Harrison & Woods Art in theory 1900-2000 anthology there were quite a few articles which helped me understand this painting (and Cubism in general).

 

mostly I put my research straight into the annotations, the other painting review here and the main research notes page here.

References:

Berger, J. (2001) Selected Essays. New York: Vintage

Clark, K. (1960) Looking at Pictures. Holt Rinehart and Winston, New York

Cooper, D. (1972) Braque: The Great Years. The Art Institute of Chicago
Harrison, C. & Wood, P. (2003). Art in theory 1900-2000: an anthology of changing ideas. (New ed). Blackwell Publishers.

Honour, H & Fleming, J. (2009) A World History of Art. (7th Ed), London, Laurence King Publishing

 

Painting Review: Georges Braque – Yellow Seacoast

Following on from my Assignment 5 prep looking at a Cubist painting by Georges Braque, here I’m going to look at a Fauvist painting also by Braque – Yellow Seacoast also known as Boats on the Beach, L’Estaque. Braque came Fauvism late and left early but for a time was fully engaged. I picked this Fauve painting for annotation over the more obvious choices of Matisse or Derain because I thought it would be more interesting to compare two paintings of the same artist from the two (opposing) avant-garde styles of that period. I specifically picked this one because it seemed like this was when Braque was at his most Fauvist, you can tell that by the time he painted The Large Trees, L’Estaque, that he’s starting to waver.

I tried to keep in mind Terry Smith’s four ways of looking as per assignment 3 feedback. Unfortunately, unlike the Cubist painting, I could not actually visit this one in person so I has to analyse an online reproduction. They vary so much too, here are just two of the ‘versions’ of reproductions I could see online. I have choose to use the one from the official website where the painting resides (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) as (hopefully) this should be the most faithful.

Boats on the Beach
Georges Braque (France, 1882-1963)
France, 1906
Paintings
Oil on canvas
19 1/2 x 27 1/2 in. (49.53 x 69.85 cm) Frame: 27 × 31 × 4 in. (68.58 × 78.74 × 10.16 cm)
Gift of Anatole Litvak (53.55.1)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
© 2015 Georges Braque / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Again, I’ve tried again to apply the techniques I learned in reading about the OU study diamond to this painting review. The grid format wasn’t that great for the blog so I’ve split into more of a questions and answers format, but I keep the comparison grid that my tutor liked on the previous assignment feedback.

Effects & techniques:

  1. What initially catches your eye? Where do you go next? And after that? The boat in the foreground, then the boats behind in the middle ground, then the sky.
  2. Where do you end up? Do your eyes stray away from the work altogether? My eyes strayed out of the picture at the sky and then back in on the reflection on the water and the boats on the right.
  3. Is there anything that you didn’t notice at first but saw later in your reading? The little town in the background looks like it has a smoking chimney stack in it.
  4. Did your eyes keep coming back to a particular part of the art work? That boat at the front
  5. Is there anything that you didn’t look at or thought wasn’t important? no.

Colour:

    1. Has a wide or narrow palette of colours been used? A very wide colour palate which is not all realistic but conveys an atmosphere of joy.
    2. Have contrasting colours been placed next to each other? Yes, seemingly everywhere
    3. Are there more warm colours than cool colours or vice versa? It’s mostly balanced but perhaps a bit on the warm side or that could be an optical illusion of the colours.
    4. Would you describe the colours as being bright or dull? Are there more bright colours than dull colours (or vice versa)? All the colours are bright.
    5. In what way is dark and light colour used? The only dark colours really are blues, greens and purples. The purples form the shadows and the colour of the distant hills, the blue is in the water is quite dark, and in the dark blue contours and there are some darker greens as shadowy bits in the boats and in the background.

I. How wide is the range of colour values featuring in the art work? Not as wide as it first looks, there’s no blacks or whites

II. Are contrasting colour values present in the art work? Use of contrasting colour values pick out areas of interest, the boats on the water, the lands edge and the boats masts against the dramatic sky

III. Are contrasting colour values used to model three-dimensional forms? Contrasting colour values are also used to model three-dimensional forms and boundaries such as where the water meets the land

IV. In what way are the colour values distributed throughout the art work? The distribution of the colour values helps pull your eye around the composition and model shadows without using dark and light tints.

Medium:

  1. Does the medium impose any limitations on the way the artist works, or allow any particular effects? Like the Cubist work, the paint has been applied smoothly in some places and in little dabbing strokes in others. Unlike the Cubist work, here the brush strokes are much looser. Its difficult to tell from the small online reproduction anything about the texture or thickness of the application.
  2. Is the medium used unconventionally or is the medium itself unconventional and, if so, does this contribute to the expressive effect of the art work? It’s not really the medium that is used unconventionally but the colours.
  3. Does the medium used suggest a particular mood? The mood is a joyous reflection of nature
  4. Does the medium used prompt the spectator to read the work in a particular way? not especially

need this large gap because the table runs into the side of the blog

 

Composition:

Representation of depth Technique: Clarinet & Bottle of Rum Effect: Clarinet & Bottle of Rum Technique: Yellow Seacoast Effect: Yellow Seacoast
(a) overlapping Y The scene feels 3 dimentional because of the many overlapping layers, but they dont overlap in a traditional sense. Its a bit confusing what object is what. Y The boat in the foreground overlaps the water, the masts of the background boats are  overlapping the town on the horizon and the pontoon
(b) diminishing scale N As far as I can tell there is no diminishing scale Y  The painting has tradition one point perspective with large close boats in the foreground and smaller boats in the background
(c) atmospheric perspective N The space behind is a limited space of the mantelpiece so even if this was painted traditionally this would not have atmospheric perspective Maybe Its hard to tell if the colour purplish in the background hills is to represent atmospheric perpective of just because he wanted them purple
(d) vertical placement Y Yes, you can read the canvas from the bottom up to the bottle at the top Y  The boats in the background are above the ones in the forground
(e) linear perspective Y there is linear perspective on one or two of the view points which are not immediately obvious Y  You can tell by the boat in the forground and the one just behind it, there might as well be drawn on  guide lines
(f) modelling Y there is a slight modelling on some aspects for example the curl of something in detail 1 picture above Y Yes but very slight. There is slight modelling on the boats using colours

Use of lines:

Directional lines (horizontal, vertical, and diagonal):  There are implied diagonal lines as you look up the beach from the stern of the boat in the foreground. From there your eye zigzags across the painting along the towns horizontal line, up the slope of the hills to be carried across by the texture in the sky. Several points in this visual zigzag are broken by ship masts pointing into the sky or from the edge of the sky, down the masts into their reflections on the water and across the other colourful water reflection lines.

Contour lines – can also be used to outline forms; such contour lines can be described in terms of their thickness and sharpness.  True to Fauvist style many of the main objects (such as the boats and waters edge) are outlined in thick contour lines. This has the effect of breaking the colours reactions to each other by circling in dark blue. Other elements are not outlined, allowing the colours to react against each other, for example in the purple of the hills and the red of the sky.

Meaning – initial thoughts from the observed ‘evidence’

It looks like he’s expeimenting with colour theory. Many places that I’ve read that the fauves and the expressionists were similar but I don’t think so at all. Superficially maybe, they both use lots of bright direct colours in their work, not necessarily naturalistic either. They also use similar subject matter. But the expressionists seem to be full of anger, doom and gloom. Their colours are used to spit in your eye. The colours in this painting are clearly coming from a different place.

Context & Meaning:

much of my Fauve background reading notes I’ve left in this blog post

https://westernarthistorybysuzy.wordpress.com/2017/07/19/cubism-and-fauvism-research-summary/

The name of The Fauves is from the French Les Fauves, wild beasts, this was a derogatory term coined from the first Exhibition where these bright colourful canvases were hung all together in one room with a Henri Rousseau and more traditional sculpture for maximum contrast. Colour was freed from descriptive representation and used to represent emotions. Braque came to Fauvism late and left early to move towards a more geometric look before fully developing Cubism with Picasso.

Fauvism’s hallmark was amplifying colours and making them richer than they are in real life. A pale red leaf might become a fiery red colour in a Fauvist painting, whilst a splash of watery yellow sunset on the sea would become a strong, bold yellow. (Georgesbraque.net, 2017)

André Derain, Landscape of the Midi, oil on canvas, 1906, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

The choppy dabbing brushstrokes are reminiscent of Van Gogh, or some contemporary work by André Derain but the space on the picture plain is less flat than Derain’s work (eg Landscape of the Midi, 1906)

 

 

 

‘The principles of Fauvism may be listed briefly as follows: construction of space with colour, purity and simplification of technique, economy of means’. (Ferrier, 1995)

Braque had plenty of opportunities to paint boats and their masts up on the sky when he lived in Antwerp in 1906 with Friesz eg Le Mat – Le Port d’Anvers, 1906. As with those paintings, here he paints across the water, with no figures and a sense of separateness from the local town although the bright Mediterranean light would have been a much intense than the grey atmosphere of Antwerp.

The composition follows the Impressionists basis for framing the landscape in a 1:2 sky/land ratio, and weighted in the lower left corner. Due to social and economic changes in French tourist towns between the visits from the Impressionists and the Fauves, the Fauves were more likely to make their landscapes nonspecific and idealistic.

Braque painted the same scene over and again until he’d worked out the nuances of the water, wood and rock. Eg Paysage a L’Estaque  (landscape at L’Estaque), 1906 and Le Port de L’Estaque (the port of L’Estaque) 1906, Fridart Foundation. They evoke a more daytime feeling that this one which seems like it might be painted at sunrise or sunset when you see the three together you can see more of the colours are representational after all. Painting L’Estaque was a rite of passage for the Normans, allowing them into the fauve circles.

Georges Braque – Paysage a L’Estaque (landscape at L’Estaque), autumn 1906, Oil on Canvas, 49.9x 61cm, Private collection
Georges Braque – Le Port de L’Estaque (the port of L’Estaque) autumn 1906, Oil on Canvas,, 50×61 cm, Fridart Foundation

Dufy, Braque & Friesz all came from Le Havre, in Normandy. Dubbed The Fauves Havrais, they have a slightly different take than the more Southern Fauves.  Friesz & Dufy had been taught by the same local art teacher, Charles Lhuillier of Ecole des Beaux-Arts and Braque his successor. At different times they all received a grant to go to Paris. Also at different times they all entered the studio of Leon Bonnat at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Braque initially studied art at night school and had an apprenticeship with House painter Laberthe. He did military service 1901-2, then off to Academie Humbert, Paris. All three artist spent some time together in the studio of Bonnat in 1903, having an impressionistic style in muted colours.

The Fauve landscape book has a fascinating timeline featuring all the fauves, I picked out the Braque bits:

Start of 1904  – Braque studying in Paris and living at 48 rue d’Orsel.

Summer 1904  – he holidays in Brittany and Normandy. Spends time in Le Pouldu near pont-aven where Gauguin painted.

Summer 1905  – he stays with sculptor Manolo (Manuel Martinez Hugue) & the critic Maurice Raynal in Honfleur and Le Havre. According to note 52 (G. Habasque, Les Soirees de Paris, 1954, p37), (Freeman, J, 1990) he acquired a Gabon mask from a sailor.

1906 June – September – Braque and Friesz stay in Antwerp painting the harbour.

Mid-september to Oct 1906 – He’s back in Paris after staying with friesz in nearby Durtal at painter Alexis Axilette’s home.

October – Nov 1906 Fourth Salon d’Automne exhibition features many Fauve works (not braque yet thou)

October 1906 Cezanne died

October – February 1906/7 – Braque stays in L’Estaque at the Hotel Maurin. Starts painting in Fauve style.

Nov – Dec 1906 – Derain back in L’Estaque and writing to Vlaminck notes that Braque, Friesz, Girieud are there and most of the artists from the Salon des Independants are in the region. Matisse spends 8 days there on his was to Collioure.

1907 Mar – april – Matisse is on the hanging committee of the 23rd Salon des independents. Braque exhibits & sells six paintings including those made at L’Estaque. 5 bought by Uhde and 1 by Kahnweiler. Vauxcelles describes the fauve movement as dangerous (Freeman, J, 1990) p101

1907 spring – After possibly travelling to Le Havre to prepare for the Cercle de l’Art Moderne exhibition that is open in early June, Braque and Friesz go to the south of France. Derain convinces Picasso to visit the ethnographic museum at the Palais de Trocadero. (Freeman, J, 1990) p101

1907 April – Braque meets Kahnweiler, who’d already met Picasso.

1907 may-early September – Braque and friesz in La Ciotat

1907 early june – Braque exhibits two in 2nd exhibition of the Cercle de l’Art Moderne along with other fauves.

1907 summer – Kahnweiler buying many paintings from the fauves including braque.

1907 July – Braque & Friesz stay at the Hotel Cendrillion, Cassis, and the visit Derain (note 190: 9/7/1907 postcard from Friesz to Druet)

1907 July/Aug – Braque & Friesz at La Ciotat and Matisse visits on his way to Italy.

1907 late August – Braque in l’Estaque, sends his Salon submission recommendations to Kahnweiler

1907 September – Braque and Friesz return to Paris. Braque sees Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon with Apollinaire (notes 199, 200: Museum of Modern art, Picasso and Braque, pp 346-47) (Freeman, J, 1990)

1907 Autumn – Matisse exchanges paintings with Picasso. ‘Mercure de france publishes Cezanne’s correspondence with Bernard, which serves as the clearest statement published to date of cezanne’s ideas about composition and form’ (Freeman, J, 1990) p106

1907 Nov – ‘Braque goes to l’Estaque, following the Cezanne retrospective at the Salon d’Automne’ (note 206:  Museum of Modern art, Picasso and Braque, pp 347), (Freeman, J, 1990) p106

1907 Oct – 5th Salon d’Automne. Braque only one painting. Matisse and Marquetry fauves on the jury.

1907 Nov-Dec – Matisse and Derain maybe see Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.

1907 Dec – Braque begins to pain Nu (completed in June 1908)

1908 February – Braque and Picasso make drawings of deaf female model, (Freeman, J, 1990) p109

1908 March – May – 24th Salon des Independants. Braque shows 5. ‘In his review Apollinaire says that Braque’s work is the most original effort of the Salon’ p110 ( note 218: Guillaume Apollinaire, ‘Les Salon des Independants’ Les Revue des lettres et des arts, May 1, 1908) (Freeman, J, 1990)

1908 April – may – Braque shows 5 in Salon de la Toison d’Or, Moscow

1908 April – Burgess and Inez Haynes Irwin visit Braque’s Parisian studio (note 222: Museum of Modern art, Picasso and Braque, pp 350) (Freeman, J, 1990)

1908 after May 2nd – Braque goes to help organise Cercle de l’Art Moderne in Le Havre

1908 Mid may – Braque stays for a 3rd visit in L’Estaque, this time at Hotel Maurin.

1908 June – Braque shows 2 in Cercle de l’Art Moderne exhibition

1908 summer – Braque joined in l’Estaque by Dufy. He possibly visited Derain in Martigues

1908 September – Matisse sees Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon according to Gertrude Stein (note 237: Museum of Modern art, Picasso and Braque, pp 354-441) (Freeman, J, 1990)

1908 October – Nov – 6th Salon d’Automne. Matisse has his own section which gets positive reviews from the critics (note 239: Louis Vauxcelles, ‘Les Salon d’Automne’, Gil Blas, Sept 30,1908), (Freeman, J, 1990). Matisse and Marquet on the jury. 6 pictures by braque rejected, Marquet saved one. Braque removed himself entirely to show later that November at Kahnweilers gallery. It was his first one man show. 27 works 1906-8 with catalogue text by Apollinaire. Vauxcelles repeats Matisse cube observations in his review.

1908 Nov – Picasso hosts a banquet for Rousseau. Apollinaire, Braque, Friesz, Marie Laurencin Andre Salmon Gertrude Stein + others also attended.

1908 Late Nov – Braque in Le Havre

1908/9 Dec/jan – Braque shows six in group exhibition Gallerie Notre-Dame-Des-Champs.

1908 December – Matisse published notes of a painter

See the final annotation here.

References:

Cooper, D. (1972) Braque: The Great Years. The Art Institute of Chicago

Freeman, J. [et al.]. (1990) The Fauve Landscape. Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Ferrier, J. (1995). The Fauves. Paris: Terrail.

Georgesbraque.net. (2017). Yellow Seacoast by Georges Braque. [online] Available at: http://www.georgesbraque.net/yellow-seacoast/ [Accessed 27 Jul. 2017].

Harrison, C. & Wood, P. (2003). Art in theory 1900-2000: an anthology of changing ideas. (New ed). Blackwell Publishers.

Honour, H & Fleming, J. (2009) A World History of Art. (7th Ed), London, Laurence King Publishing

The Museum of Modern Art. (2017). Georges Braque. The Large Trees. L’Estaque 1906-07 | MoMA. [online] Available at: https://www.moma.org/collection/works/78668 [Accessed 27 Jul. 2017].

Cubism and Fauvism Research Summary

Gobelins L’École de L’Image, clip from “Au Lapin Agile” (2016)

Cubism is such a vastly written about subject there comes a time when I need to stop reading and start writing before I run out of time again. In previous assignment feedbacks, my tutor has suggested I break out the WHA reading notes into additional and separate blog posts about the main themes of each chapter, so while I was reading I was also compiling longer format notes for that with regards to Cubism & Fauvism especially since it forms one of the annotation tasks in upcoming Assignment 5. Since then I’ve also been reading about it in other books and websites to try and understand it. Here I’ll try and summarise some of that so that I can get it out of my head before my more focused annotation task. I loved the clip above from animation department of Paris’s Gobelins L’École de L’Image from their animated short featuring a fictitious bar brawl between Fauvists & Cubists, specifically Matisse & Picasso in Cubist and Fauvist-inspired hues and forms. see on youtube here.

Key players:

  • Matisse lead the short-lived Fauvism movement before developing it into his own mature personal style. Derain/Vlaminck/Braque and others.
  • Picasso and Braque developed Cubism together but there was a whole bunch of other Cubists who, with the help of Poet/Critic Apollinaire helped make it fashionable.
  • Everyone loved Cezanne in their own way.
Picasso (Extended Notes from WHA)

Picasso was a child prodigy. By 1900 he’d already mastered academic paintings. Blue & rose period 1903 – 1906 full of wistful poetry (P782 WHA)

In the early 20th century there was a culture of Primitivism, ‘myth of the primitive’, engendered by Gauguin (see section four) and works from Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). Especially ‘interpretation of dreams ‘, published in 1900, which involved theories of the subconscious, including sexual urge & understanding instinctual side of human nature with emphasis on emotion and sensations being more important than rational thought. This had a profound effect on artists & intellectual thought of the time in fact, it transformed 20th century attitudes & values. Add to that a French colonial scandal in 1904 that rocked the newspapers, bringing Africa into focus & sparking anti colonial public outrage. French officers were hunting black people for amusement like lions, and set with gunpowder like human firecrackers, and generally being degraded and murdered.

The Paris salon work at the time was very refined, eg Monet’s waterlilies. In a direct rejection of this was Picasso. He was influenced by Cezanne, he commented that ‘around 1906 cezanne’s influence flooded everything ‘ (p771,WHA), Matisse & Iberian (pre-Roman Spanish) sculpture. He started his revolutionary work Les Demoiselles d’Avignon ,1907, a nearly flat painting of a complex of invented forms, (p771, WHA). This was a revolutionary break with Western illusionistic art.  He abandoned the traditional single viewpoint & proportions & reordered human form into geometrical lozenges & triangles. New intellectual treatment of space/ form /unexpressed emotions /states of mind. Rejected coherences of representational art. It was named after a brothel in his home town, it was originally to have a sailor and a student with a skull but they were soon dropped.

Pablo Picasso
Les Demoiselles d’Avignon
Paris, June-July 1907
Oil on canvas
243.9 x 233.7 cm
Acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest
© 2017 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Fauvre painters introduced Picasso to African art, whose influence can be seen in the right hand two figures. He said (reflecting in the 1930s), that African sculpture & masks were a creative revelation & a source of liberating energy (p771, WHA). He reflected on his first visit to a ethnographical museum in great detail almost 30 years later so it must have made a massive impact on him, despite playing it close to the vest at the time (didn’t want to be seen as too much the anarchist). He deemed African art to depend on knowing rather than seeing.

Picasso recognised the genius of self-taught Henri Rousseau (1844-1910), a naive artist, having some of Rousseau’s enormous canvases of imagined, mysterious & menacing exotic jungle landscapes in his studio. He also had many African, Iberian and Oceanic sculptures.

Notes from Cubism: a history and analysis 1907-1924 by John Golding:
Cubism Vs Fauvism

The formation of Cubism was in sharp contrast to that of Fauvism. Where the Fauves drew from a wide variety of sources, the development of Cubism, except for the joint influences of Cezanne and tribal sculpture, was remarkably self- contained. And whereas the Fauves borrowed restlessly from the art of their predecessors, the Cubists reverted to fundamental principles; they began, so to speak, from the bottom upwards. Feeling that traditional painting was exhausted, they took each of the elements that comprise the vocabulary of painting – form, space, colour, and technique – and substituted for the traditional use of every one of them a new interpretation of their own. In short Cubism was a completely new pictorial language, a completely new way of looking at the outside world, a clearly-defined aesthetic. As such it has shaped the course of almost all twentieth-century painting. (Golding, J, 1988).

The other important style of the early 1900’s in Paris was Fauvism, which came first and was essentially lead by Matisse. Contemporary critics  (Apollinaire for example) routinely compared the two, seeing a direct connection between them in that they are both moves towards abstraction, they both encourage artists to ‘to take greater liberties with visual appearances‘ (Golding, J, 1988), (in which Fauvism foreshadowed Cubism). Cubism and Fauvism approach the move towards abstraction entirely differently however. Cubism was expression through line and form, and Fauvism was expression through colour (sounds like the age old colour vs line argument popping up again in a new format).

For while Fauve painting at its most typical sprang from a free, spontaneous and often highly subjective response to the external world, and for this reason seemed occasionally to be far removed from conventional appearances, the Cubists, on the other hand, were led to still greater abstraction by the fact that their vision was conceptual and intellectual rather than physical and sensory. (Golding, J, 1988).

Interestingly, Braque was a Fauve before moving on to develop Cubism with Picasso.

Both, the Fauves (especially Matisse) and the Cubists admired Cezanne, and tribal art but they put these influences to different uses.

Between 1904 and 1906, the works of Matisse, Derain and Vlaminck all resembled each other to a certain extent and had clearly-defined characteristics in common – it was a synthesis of elements drawn from the art of the past fifty years: Impressionism, Divisionism, the decorative rhythms of Gauguin and the expressionism of Van Gogh, all contributed equally to its appearance. And since Fauvism evolved no really consistent technique of its own and was not governed by any very clearly-defined aesthetic, it was not a style that could have anything more than a very fleeting existence. It could well be interpreted as a sort of final paroxysm of post-Impressionist painting. (Golding, J, 1988)

Henri Matisse, Bonheur de Vivre (Joy of Life), 1905-06, oil on canvas, 176.5 x 240.7 cm (The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia)

The Bonheur de Viure, while it is generally considered to be one of the key-works of Fauvism, and while it incontestably represents a summary of Matisse’s work of the previous years, shows him in fact taking the decisive step towards the formation of his own, individual, mature style. Apart from a few isolated sketches of Derain’s done under the direct influence of the painting, there are really no Fauve works quite like it. The refined, undulating outlines, the subtle blending of colour, the whole feeling of carefully calculated formal precision and intellectual control, even the arcadian symbolism, all these factors are at variance with the immediacy, the sporadic, broken or violent contours and the deliberately loose, occasionally even dislocated appearance of Fauve paintings done by Vlaminck and Derain at Chatou and in London, the Collioure landscapes of Derain and Matisse, and Matisse’s portraits of his wife painted in 1905 – the sort of painting that originally earned the movement its name. (Golding, J, 1988)

Picasso & Braque

todo finish writing up notes from Golding 1988.

Notes from Art in theory 1900-2000, an anthology

The most useful reference book I found though was Art in theory 1900-2000, an anthology of changing ideas edited by Charles Harrison & Paul Wood. The assignment calls for several aspects that various chapters in this book will provide interesting research for. First up the annotations, Cubism (made between 1908-1914) & a Fauve artist. However, it poses a problem of secondary sources. The book is an anthology made so that all the hard to find texts are in one place for students, which allows me to read texts I would not otherwise have done but often it references a translation of an original French or German text, so actually I’m getting it third hand and translated. I see the point of trying to get some of the translated texts as primary souses. However in the interest of making the assignment deadline I’ll list them as secondary sources for now. There was lots of interesting background reading but the two I most found practically useful in understanding my chosen Cubist painting were

BraqueThoughts on Painting‘ Harrison & Wood, 2003, p214/5 (which I’d already read in the WHA too) and Daniel Henry Kahnweiler The Rise of Cubism, Harrison and Wood, 2003) p211/2.

Daniel Henry Kahnweiler (1884-1976) The Rise of Cubism. This article first appeared in Zurich in 1916 after he’d had his collection taken and had retired to Switzerland. The translation presented in the book is from Robert Motherwell (Ed.) Documents of Modern Art, New York, 1949,p1,6-8,9-14. I found interesting Braques limiting of background spaces. Interesting explanation of the scheme of a Cubist painting and how the scene is built… see below. Kahnweiler was the leading contemporary art dealer for Cubism, and friends with Picasso & Braque. This allowed them not to worry about public exhibitions. Braque & Picasso started to paint in a new fashion completely independently in 1907, they got together in late 1907. Started with landscapes and still life’s boiled down to simple shapes and their position in space. 1908 saw them tackle more complex still life’s and more detailed representations of nudes. Braque introduced musical instruments. Also fruit bowls, bottles and glasses. In 1910 Braque painted a naturistic nail with shadow (trompe-l’oeil nail) trying to incorporate this real element into the unity of the painting was difficult so they started to limit the background space in their paintings. Cezanne had frequently used this trick of limiting the space. Then Braque introduced writing, another real element. Picasso had discovered open form, meaning they could do away with the illusionistic skin of objects as described by chiaroscuro.

with the representation of solid objects this could be effected by a process of representation that has a certain resemblance to geometrical drawing. This is a matter of course since the aim of both is to render the three-dimensional object on a two-dimensional plane. In addition, the painter no longer has to limit himself to depicting the object as it would appear from one given viewpoint, but wherever necessary for fuller comprehension, can show it from several sides, and from above and below.’ Daniel Henry Kahnweiler (Harrison and Wood, 2003)

 To represent an object in space:

  • start from a clearly-defined background.
  • Working towards the front, indicating each form’s position with a scheme.
  • To avoid it being a mangle of planes and geometrical shapes introduce some ‘real details’.

The viewer then mentally combines the memory of those real details with the shapes and positions to ‘see’ the scene in their head.

in other words, there exist in the painting the scheme of forms and small real details as stimuli integrated into the unity of the work of art ;there exists, as well, but only in the mind of the spectator, the finished product of assimilation, the human head for instance. There is no possibility of a conflict here, and yet the object once ‘recognised’ in the painting is now ‘seen’ with a perspicacity of which no illusionistic art is capable’ Daniel Henry Kahnweiler (Harrison and Wood, 2003).

After reading that I went back to Braque’s own ‘Thoughts on Painting’. These were jotted down in the margins of his drawings and collected & published in Pierre Reverdy’s Journal Nord-Sud, Paris, December 1917. The translation presented in the book is from Edward Fry, op. cit., pp. 147-8. Interestingly, Breton attacks these in p462/3

Selected quotes I found the most interesting/pertenant to my understanding of Clarinet and Bottle of Rum on a Mantelpiece 1911:

  • The subject is not the object; it is the new unity, the lyricism which stems entirely from the means employed.
  • The aim is not to reconstitute an anecdotal fact but to constitute a pictorial fact.
  • To be pure imitation, painting must make an abstraction of appearances
  • The senses deform, the mind forms. Work to perfect the mind. There is no certainty except in what the mind conceives
  • Trompe-l’oeil is due to an anecdotal accident that makes its effect through the simplicity of the facts.

Braque ‘Thoughts on Painting’ (Harrison and Wood, 2003)



Critic & Poet Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918), was chief cheerleader for Cubism, close friend with Picasso & highly influential in Parisian avant-garde circles in the first two decades of the 20th century.
His essay The Cubists appeared as part of his review of the Salon d’Automne in 1911, published in L’Intransigeant, 10 Oct 1911. The translated version in Harrison & Wood 2003 is taken from Leroy C, Breunig (ed.), Apollinaire on Art, London, 1972, p183. Distinguishing between the formal & monumental quantities of Cubist & Impressionist-Fauvist work this plugs directly into my annotation comparison.
He explains that cubism is a school of painters who ‘want to transform their art by returning to first principles with regard to line and inspiration he points out that many of them were previously from the Fauvist school who returned to first principles with regard to colour and composition’ (Harrison & Wood, 2003) p186

He explains that the term Cubism comes from Picasso’s showing some paintings in 1908 with simply drawn houses which face the illusion of cubes to the public, he doesn’t mention it may have come from a derisive term applied to some of Braque’s early work.

He explains away the shock of seeing paintings with shadows & contrast in after getting so used to ‘the brilliant but practically formless daubs of the Impressionists’. ‘The monumental appearance of compositions that go beyond the frivolities of contemporary art’. ‘Cubism is the most noble undertaking in French art today.’.(Harrison & Wood, 2003) P186

His next two paper also include some interesting parts on defining different aspects of Cubism and the ‘plastic’ arts. 

Author/Contemporary Critic Jacques Riviere (1886-1925) wrote extended critical discussion ‘Present Tendencies in Painting’, published in Revue d’Europe et d’Amerique, in March 1912. The translated extract in the book is taken from Fry, op. cit., pp. 75-80.

He explains that the Cubists are on the right track but haven’t quite got there yet. ‘They are precursors – clumsy, like all precursors – of a new art which is henceforth inevitable’.(Harrison & Wood, 2003) P190

He goes on to help them ‘by supplying them with the deep reasons for what they are doing’. P190

Essentially he explains that they are trying to depict ‘objects as they really areie not how one might see them. So they have to do away with illusionistic devices such as foreshortening, perspective & lighting. Light & shadow play across and object as we move around it but the light on an object is just an instance, so to perceive the object as its plastic reality we must blend many perceptions of it. Equally, perspective is an object only from one point of view and is subject to the same issues.

He outlines the mistakes he feels the Cubists have made, that instead of showing enough faves of an object to suggest volume they show all its faces, they fill the empty space in the picture with walls and fortifications. And when they dismissed lighting & perspective they subordinate nothing in the picture

 ‘They thus condemn themselves never again to select anything from reality; and since there can be no subordination without selection, the elements in their pictures relapse into anarchy and form a mad cacophony which makes us laugh… ‘  (Harrison and Wood, 2003) p193.


Interesting pointd/quotes/notes:

From the introduction section of The idea of the modern world :

In the decade before the first World War, cubism, expressionism and futurism mark different facets of a European avant-garde’s reception of the modern into an established artistic tradition whose example was predominantly French.   (Harrison and Wood, 2003) P127

It remains a central paradox of the new art that it sought its authenticity in a remote Nature, but that this repeated incantation to Nature was made under urban circumstances.  (Harrison and Wood, 2003) P127.

With cubism the situation is different. Particularly in its ‘analytic’ phase, cubism is a hermetic art. The still live and the single portrait figure – characteristic Cubist subject matter – give few clues to the storm of modernity blowing outside the studio… By a strange inversion, it seems as if the modern picture, rather than depicting the machines and buildings which made up the modern world, had internalized its modernity. (Harrison and Wood, 2003) P130.

 

Interesting terms re cubism : (Harrison and Wood, 2003) p130

  • New pictorial language
  • The opacity through which the world is represented
  • Technical innovation… Imbuing the form of the art with modernity.
  • Autonomous decoration of a surface
  • Penetration below surface appearance to the constants of ‘true’ reality
  • Continued referentially
  • Etc

Notes on Modernism :

Tension between two ways of conceiving art theory, the Realist view (Barnes below) and the view in which the artist is unquestionable author and the theorist attempts to follow on and document after the practice. Theoretical criticism based on understanding historical process & understanding historical process which is formed by critical experience of Art.

Clement Greenberg’s name is virtually synonymous with Modernist criticism.

Artist don’t always do what they say they’ve done.

‘representations are always built out of pre-existing cultural resources, and hence have always to be explained as developments within an ongoing cultural tradition’ Barnes, Interests and the growth of knowledge,  p19. (Harrison and Wood, 2003)

Notes on Fauvism:

Fauvism. (see Barr text p381-3).

Fauvism is a tradition of emotion & intuition in contrast to the intellectual of Cubism. Curvilinear rather than rectilinear. biomorphic or organic rather than geometrical. Decorative rather than structural. Spontaneous & mystical.

P69 Matisse, ‘Notes of  a Painter’

Originally published as Notes d’un peintre in La Grande Revue, Paris, 25 December 1908. The translation in the book is from J. D. Flam, Matisse on Art, London and New York, 1973. Pp32-40.

Many of the points he made I found more easily applied to Cubism than his own art which us strange.

He explains that he sacrifices some of the decorative charm of his paintings to plough past fleeting sensation such as the Impressionists are drawn to depict. Like the Cubists later, he is looking to express a more full interpretation of a scene or object. ‘underlying this succession of moments which constitutes the superficial existence of beings and things, which is continually modifying and transforming them, one can search for a truer, more essential character, which the artist will seize so that he may give to reality a more lasting interpretation’. (Harrison and Wood, 2003) P71.

I wonder if it is to this point that Picasso refer when he said ‘in my opinion to search means nothing in painting. To find, is the thing.’ (Harrison and Wood, 2003) p215 ‘Picasso Speaks’ an interview in 1923 where he remains sceptical of attempts to intellectualise Cubism. ‘We all know that Art is not truth. Art is the lie that makes us realise truth at least the truth that is given us to understand…. If he [an artist] only shows in his work that he has searched and re-searched, for the way to put over lies he would never accomplish anything. ‘ (Harrison and Wood, 2003) p215/6

Back to Matisse, he says some things which can be applied easily to Cubism, for example when talking of sculpture in Luxembourg, ‘and yet movement thus understood corresponds to nothing in nature: when we capture it by surprise in a snapshot, the resulting image reminds us of nothing that we have seen. Movement seized while it is going on is meaningful to us only if we do not isolate the present sensation either from that which precedes it or that which follows it.’ (Harrison and Wood, 2003) p71/2

This reminded me of nude descending a staircase, which I’d seen in WHA.

What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity  devoid of troubling or depressing subject-matter. Matisse, (Harrison and Wood, 2003) P73.

In his article, he refutes some criticism from M. Peladan in the way the Fauves dress like ordinary people and that they don’t follow the ‘rules’ of painting. He lays out his opinion on the lack of universal rules and his opinion of Raphael, Titian, Manet and Renoir. He thinks artists should be of their time and not slavishly copy the greats.

Notes from – The fauves: the reign of colour By Jean – Louis Ferrier

As offspring of Newton and Cheverell, the fauves explored the spectrum ;for them, the colours were not only mere stimuli on the retina but could also express feelings. (Ferrier, 1995) P9

The first exhibition of Fauvism, and where they got their name was in the 1905 Salon d’Automne, they were all in room VII, 2 by Charles Camoin, 5 by Andre Derain, 4 by Henri Matisse, 5 by Henri Manguin, 5 by Albert Marquet and others by Maurice Vlaminck, Van Dongen, Frieze, Puy and Valtat. A mixture of subjects, nudes, landscapes, still life, and portraits. Additionally a huge jungle picture by Henri Rousseau. Added for contrast in the middle of all that colour they put a traditional marble bust and bronze Statue by Albert Marque.

Critic Louis Vauxcelles said of the spectacle “C’est Donatello chez les fauves” (it’s Donatello amid the wild beasts) and the name stuck. Everyone in the room was hated by the public and ridiculed by the critics. Only Andre Gide recognised it was ‘a by-product of theories’. The same public was only just coming to accept the ‘palette scrapings’ of Impressionism. This new art was an evolution too far for them.

The Fauvist movement was a natural progression of the two movements that succeeded impressionism, Neo-Impressionism & Syntheism (ie the works of Seurat, Van Gogh and Gauguin). Theories of Chevreul that inspired the former, colours placed next to each other appear more vivid on the viewer’s retina. Eg red/green, blue/orange and yellow/violet. These colour combinations can be seen throughout annotation 2. And the large areas of flat colour of the latter.

Vlaminck and Derain for example, aware of their similarities, used colour as “sticks of dynamite“‘ (Ferrier, 1995) P20

By 1908, the public was coming around to the fauves and with a slightly younger generation of critics, people were starting to understand it a little. Matisse and Marquet were even on the jury, which caused a new scandal when they rejected Braque’s new work. ‘Matisse, when asked by Vauxcelles which paintings had been refused, answered “Braque sent canvases covered with little cubes.“‘ (Ferrier, 1995) p23 Braque exhibited them in Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler’s little gallery instead. ‘The avant-garde had changed sides and cubism was born’. (Ferrier, 1995) P23

Braque biography

Born in Argenteuil, France in 1882, died in Paris 1963. He started as a house painter, taking courses at the Academie Humbert. He rented a studio in Antwerp with Friesz in 1906 doing Fauvism. 1908-1914 he was invented Cubism with Picasso. He went into the army for WWI, and got injured and discharged in 1917 with temporary blindness which meant he couldn’t paint again for a while. From 1943 he started making massive canvases and sculpture.

See also research put straight into the Assignment annotations and the assoicated painting reviews here and here.

References:

Ferrier, J. (1995). The Fauves. Paris: Terrail.

Golding, J. (1988) Cubism :a history and analysis 1907-1924. Harvard University press

Harrison, C & Wood, P (Ed.). (2003) Art in theory 1900-2000, an anthology of changing ideas. Blackwell publishing

Honour, H & Fleming, J. (2009) A World History of Art. (7th Ed), London, Laurence King Publishing

 

Exhibition: Hokusai beyond the Great Wave

I really enjoyed the Hokusai exhibition at the British Museam on friday. In recent research I learnt that many Western artists (especially Van Gogh) were influenced by Japanese art so I thought I’d go a long to see what the fuss was about. I didn’t realise that the Japanese were equally influenced the other way too from pigments used to different perspective.

For conservation reasons there was a rotation of about half the artworks halfway through the exhibition run because some works can only be displayed for a limited period of time due to their light sensitivity.

Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849) is widely regarded as one of Japan’s most famous and influential artists, this was a 30 year retrospective. He started off as a wood block print cutter but mostly he made print ready drawings and other people cut and printed them for him, he had close working relationships with his publishers.

His most famous picture is the Great Wave, reproduced on pretty much everything by now. The original Great wave was printed 8000 times, using four seasoned cherry wood blocks carved on both sides.

Under the wave off Kanagawa (The Great Wave) from Thirty-six views of Mt Fuji. Colour woodblock, 1831. Acquired with Art Fund support. On display 25 May – 13 August.

Some notes I made as I went around:

  • He used many different names throughout his career, sometimes passing them on to pupils.
  • Red stamp is painters seal, different for each new name.
  • His daughter helped him in old age complete his work. He thought he be a true artist at 100 but only live to 90. She tried to pass off her work as his because it brought in more household income.
  • He designed hair comb and illustrated books with woodblock prints.
  • 36 views of mt fuji
  • He didn’t cut the wood himself except in his teens
  • Loved his ghost stories. His sketchbooks of ducks and frogs and insects. The last room his dragon
  • Experiment with European paper & perspective and shading & Imported Prussian blue pigment.

 

Weeping cherry and bullfinch. Colour woodblock, c. 1834. On display 7 July – 13 August.
Umezawa Manor in Sagami Province from Thirty-six Views of Mt Fuji. Colour woodblock, 1831. On display 7 July – 13 August.
Clear day with a southern breeze (Red Fuji) from Thirty-Six Views of Mt Fuji. Colour woodblock, 1831. On display 25 May – 13 August.
Amida waterfall, deep beyond the Kiso highway. Colour woodblock, 1833. The Tōyō Bunko, Tokyo. On display 7 July – 13 August.
Eagle and cherry. Hanging scroll, ink and colour on silk, 1843. Ujiie Ukiyo-e Collection, Kamakura. On display 7 July – 13 August.
Snowy morning, Koishikawa from Thirty-six views of Mt Fuji. Colour woodblock, 1832. On display 7 July – 13 August.

References
British Museam. (2017) Hokusai: beyond the Great Wave At: http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/exhibitions/hokusai.aspx
(Accessed on 17 Jul 17)

British Museam Blog. (2017) Hokusai: old master At: http://blog.britishmuseum.org/hokusai-old-master/
(Accessed on 17 Jul 17)
 

Exercise: Research twentieth-century still life

Still life took on renewed vitality in the twentieth century. Look at the work of Matisse and the Expressionists, for example. Research how the Cubists also explored new ways of painting objects by treating them as faceted volumes or fragmenting their appearance and reconstructing them from several different points of view. With the exception of some Synthetic Cubist works, early twentieth-century artists still portrayed objects in ways that suggested their individual histories. For example, Picasso’s mixed media sculpture, A Glass of Absinthe, included an actual spoon, which feels as if it had been taken straight from the table of a Parisian café. By the 1960s, however, Pop artists were beginning to portray soup cans and cleaning products in their pristine packaging as anonymous cyphers of modern life.
Make notes in your learning log about the artist’s choice of subject. If you can, find out what the artist had to say about their choice. Does this sort of image qualify as ‘still life’? If not, why not? What, if any, are the criteria for still life? (course notes, p146)

The tate defines Still life as ‘essentially, the subject matter of a still life painting or sculpture is anything that does not move or is dead’ (Tate Glossary, 2017).

Matisse here chooses quite traditional items for his still life, some pots and a bowl of fruit, all on an extrodinary blue table cloth, which he’s used in other paintings as a less central element. The point I think was not the items so much as the treatment of the panting, ie the bold colours and handling, trying to claw out from under the weight of Impressionism going on at the time choosing a simple set of traditional items and treating it differently creates a different focus to the art.

Henri Matisse
Still life with Blue Tablecloth 1909
Oil on canvas. 88.5 x 116 cm
France. 1909
© The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

Similarly with the Cubists, focus was not really on the objects and dipicting them traditionally but on new ways to treat and old, easy at hand subject. Picasso & Braque started making relief constructions in 1912, which extended traditional still life painting into three-dimensional space in his Analytical cubism phase. They invented collage. Use of pre-printed oil cloth such as the Chair Caning pattern and rope in this image below introduced commercially made parts as raw materials into fine art work rocking the art market and forcing the discussion over the importance of craft skills for artists. Here his still life comprises of a top down view onto a glass table with a smoking pipe, newspaper, glass, knife cutting an orange or lemon with the reflections of the glass table and looking thought to the chair caning of the chair below. The Cubist treatment does away with traditional use of colour, lighting and perspective to really bring a ‘modern’ feel to this traditional subject matter.

Pablo Picasso, Still Life with Chair Caning, 1912, oil on oil-cloth over canvas edged with rope, 29 x 37 cm (Musée Picasso)
Still Life 1914 Pablo Picasso 1881-1973 Purchased 1969 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T01136

Still life, 1914 appears to depict a small sideboard, with a knife, a beer glass, two slices of sausage and a slice of cheese or pâté. This is paintings of the time, the subject is less important than emphasising the painting as an object in itself. He incorporated found objects (thanks Duchamp), here including real upholstery fringe representing a table edging.

Later in the century, Andy Warhol was clearly not just depicting this Hammer and Sickle for their own sake as handy things to have in a still life, dispite the title, they are clearly alluding to the the symbols of the industrial worker and the peasant used as the emblem of the former Soviet Union and of international communism, turned on its head.

Andy Warhol – Still Life, 1976, Acrylic and silkscreen on canvas, 182.9 x 218.4 cm, Gift of Richard and Peggy Danziger, 1986, Met Museum, © 2010 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Later, artists like Patrick Caulfield are back to using simple neutral items for formal experiments.

Coloured Still Life 1967 Patrick Caulfield 1936-2005 Presented by Rose and Chris Prater through the Institute of Contemporary Prints 1975 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/P04077

References:

Golding, J. (1988) Cubism :a history and analysis 1907-1924. Harvard University press

Harrison, C & Wood, P (Ed.). (2003) Art in theory 1900-2000, an anthology of changing ideas. Blackwell publishing

Honour, H & Fleming, J. (2009) A World History of Art. (7th Ed), London, Laurence King Publishing

Khan Academy. (2017) Picasso, Still Life with Chair Caning At: https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/art-1010/early-abstraction/cubism/a/picasso-still-life-with-chair-caning
(Accessed on 12 July 17)

Tate. (2017) Pablo Picasso – Still Life 1914 At: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/picasso-still-life-t01136
(Accessed on 12 July 17)

Tate Glossary. (2017) Still Life At: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/s/still-life
(Accessed on 12 July 17)

Visit: Sculpture in the City 2017

Sculpture in the City map 2017

SPOILER ALERT: this post contains pictures of the work so if you want to save your first impressions then dont read any further!

A giant green and yellow sculpture appeared outside my station (18). Then I saw Lava blobs (16) outside the walkie talkie building. I wondered to myself if I was hallucinating from reading too much WHA on the train, but no, it’s Sculpture in the city time again! Here is the map of all 18 locations around the square mile where the sculptures have been placed. Initially I thought I wouldn’t get to all of them but it was addictive, and like Pokemon I just had to see them all. I tried the smartify app on a couple, dont waste your time, it doesnt seem to work (on android anyway).

1. ‘Ajar’ | Gavin Turk | 2011

Gavin Turk – Ajar, 2011, Painted bronze 229 x 103 x 66 cm, Photo by Suzy Walker-Toye

As a reference to the painting ‘La Victoire’ by Rene Magritte, ‘Ajar’ is a surreal gateway: a spiritual journey through the imagination, an interactive sculpture that children will enjoy as much as adults. It is a key to the imagination: unlocking ideas of the infinite as mused on by Aldous Huxley quoting Blake, “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.”

It simultaneously references both Duchamp’s work ’11 Rue Larrey’, a corner door that is always open and shut and a Bugs Bunny sketch, where a door in a frame freely stands on a cliff in a landscape. ‘Ajar’ is placed without walls and is permanently half open encouraging the choice to go around, or go through. (City Of London, 2017)

Rene Magritte – La victoire (The victory),1939, Oil on Canvas, 53.5 x 72.5 cm © Rene Magritte
Marcel Duchamp – Door 11 rue Larrey, Paris 1927, Wooden door made by a carpenter following Duchamp’s specifications (220 x 62.7 cm.).

As I walked up to this one I got a lovely sense of wonder that you sometimes get with Surrealist work. That’s what I like about the sculpture in the city website – no pictures, so you still get that first impression of the work in person. Without even reading the blurb on the plaque I knew this must reference Magritte but I love that he also mentioned bugs bunny in the list of inspirations. It’s interesting that Duchamp did one similar, since this is not a readymade, just made to look like one from bronze, tradition sculptural material. Having said that, Duchamp’s one wasn’t a real ready-made either if he had a carpenter specially make it to specifications rather than nabbing a mass produced door. Subverting the subversive.

 

2. ‘The Black Horse’ | Mark Wallinger | 2015

Mark Wallinger – The Black Horse, 2015, Bronze, resin, stainless steel 196 x 273 x 67 cm. Photo by Suzy Walker-Toye

The sculpture was made with the help of advanced technology, scanning a racehorse, part owned by the artist, named Rivera Red.

The horse is a subject with deep emotional and historical meaning. As the artist notes, ‘people still have an atavistic love of horses.’ Though bent to our will the thoroughbred represents unfathomable instincts.

The thoroughbred could perhaps stand as an exemplar of this country’s identity and our relationship with the natural world. It was first developed at the beginning of the 18th century in England, when native mares were crossbred with imported Arabian stallions. Every racehorse in the world is descended from these animals. (City Of London, 2017)

This was one of the handful of the sculptures which had a homeless person taken up residence nearby. In this case, I thought the big issuer seller and his dog were an interesting subversion of the context of the work. Owning/keeping a thoroughbred is the province of the very rich, situated in the centre of the financial district, side by side is a man who is penniless keeping a dog for protection while he lives on the streets. It reminded me a little of the recent saga of the Bull in New York and the subversion of that work by Fearless Girl, then the resubversion of that by Pissing Pug.

3. ‘Work No. 2814’ | Martin Creed | 2017

Martin Creed – Work No. 2814, 2017, Plastic bags, Dimensions Variable. Photo by Suzy Walker-Toye

Merging art and life, Martin Creed uses ordinary materials and everyday situations to create multimedia works that have confounded and delighted viewers and critics for nearly 30 years.

In Work No. 2814 a tree ‘blossoms’ with plastic bags caught amongst the branches. This accentuates what some might see as a common ‘everyday’ occurrence, until it becomes something more absurd, yet humorous and strangely beautiful at the same time.

Creed approaches art making with humour, anxiety, and experimentation, and with the sensibility of a musician and composer, underpinning everything he does with his open ambiguity about what art is. (City Of London, 2017)

To be honest, I dont think one person noticed this while I was standing watching, until I raised my phone to take a picture. I think if he wanted to make it more absured than the everyday he would need lots more bags here!

4. ‘Never has there been such urgency, or The eloquent and the Gaga’ | Ryan Gander | 2014

(Detail) Ryan Gander – Never has there been such urgency, or The Eloquent and the Gaga – (Alchemy Box # 45), 2014, Conical parachute, polythene barrels, nylon webbing, aluminium fixings, items from the artist’s collection, stainless steel etched plaque, Dimensions Variable. Photo by Suzy Walker-Toye
Ryan Gander – Never has there been such urgency, or The Eloquent and the Gaga – (Alchemy Box # 45), 2014, Conical parachute, polythene barrels, nylon webbing, aluminium fixings, items from the artist’s collection, stainless steel etched plaque, Dimensions Variable. Photo by Suzy Walker-Toye

An air-dropped aid parcel suspended from a tree by it’s parachute.

The parcel contains items relating to the subject of the ‘disparity between research based practices and production based practices; the polarity between the conceptual significance of the object as carrier; and the gulf between learning to speak with great articulation and eloquence and the incoherency of stuttering and stammering a chain of unrelated words at great volume’.

The contents of the aid parcel are listed on an etched, metal plaque placed nearby. (City Of London, 2017)

(Detail – plaque) Ryan Gander – Never has there been such urgency, or The Eloquent and the Gaga – (Alchemy Box # 45), 2014, Conical parachute, polythene barrels, nylon webbing, aluminium fixings, items from the artist’s collection, stainless steel etched plaque, Dimensions Variable. Photo by Suzy Walker-Toye

This one is just damn strange. The metal plate lists all the contents and says things like “An A1 sized offset print of an image of the fictional artist Aston Ernest standing on Sizewell beach, Suffolk, UK, dressed in a fisherman’s yellow waterproof Oilskin, whilst engaged in his performative artwork entitled Speak Easy, 1989, in which the artist attempts to hook the horizon, where the sea meets the sky, with a wooden walking stick, whilst shouting the poem ‘Speak Easy’ at the sea.” and “Two flesh coloured European size 38 ladies thongs and two pairs of ladies flesh coloured mesh briefs, also European sized 38, purchased by an assistant of the artist from the retailer Topshop.

I had to go back to the one after walking past it on two occassions and not seeing it, mainly because Paul McCarthy’s sculpture (below) is just past the tree that this in so that is the first thing that catches your eye in this clearing.

5. ‘Apple Tree Boy Apple Tree Girl’ | Paul McCarthy | 2010

Paul McCarthy – Apple Tree Boy Apple Tree Girl, 2010, Aluminium, (Boy) 525 x 208.3 x 189.2 cm, (Girl) 546.1 x 290.8 x 213.4 cm. Photo by Suzy Walker-Toye

Paul McCarthy’s ‘Apple Tree Boy Apple Tree Girl’ (2010) belongs to the artist’s Hummel series, executed on a monumental scale. The kitsch mid-century German figurines depict rosy-cheeked children in idyllic repose. In McCarthy’s world, this Aryan naïveté becomes a target for parody, and ultimately, defilement and disfigurement. The figures deformed innocence suggests the conditioning of children, from Hitler youths to contemporary, TV-addled teen consumers. The miniature Adam and Eve find themselves reborn as 18 foot Überkinder; they remain only a suggestion of their former selves, sweetly deformed to the point of abstraction. The implicit naïveté of the Hummel motif is materially deconstructed, portraying a sophisticated fall from grace for these darling figures, in simultaneously literal and metaphorical terms. (City Of London, 2017)

This one was creepy. The texture was very interesting though.

6. Black Shed Expanded’ | Nathaniel Rackowe | 2014/2016

Nathaniel Rackowe – Black Shed Expanded, 2014/2016, Timber shed, fluorescent lights and fittings, bitumen, paint, steel, 240 x 220 x 220 cm. Edition 2 of 2 (2016 edition). Photo by Suzy Walker-Toye

Nathaniel Rackowe’s large-scale urban shed structure is installed, seemingly mid-explosion, upside-down, its contours wrenched apart, exposing its illuminated interior. The wooden shed, painted with black bitumen, emanates an eerie acid-yellow glow from the white strip-lighting inside it reflecting off the painted walls of its interior. The structure appears to be exploding, split apart by the force of the light within. Rackowe says, ‘I thought it interesting to take the humble shed and elevate it so it can rise up and challenge architecture, deconstructing it to the point where you are forced to re-read it.’ Referring to garden sheds throughout the suburbs of London, the work has an equally universal impact in its depiction of such a familiar, domestic structure. (City Of London, 2017)

I loved this! It taps into the cultish standing recently of the humble shed. I wonder if he is a follower of shed porn or fifty sheds of grey of twitter?

7. ‘4 Colours at 3 Metres High Situated Work’ | Daniel Buren | 2011

Daniel Buren – 4 Colours at 3 metres high situated work, Clear acrylic sheets, coloured self-adhesive filters, wood, screws, white and black paint, 2011,300 x 300 x 300 cm. Photo by Suzy Walker-Toye

4 Colours at 3 metres high situated work is a variation on the theme of the pergola or ‘attrape soleil’, which Daniel Buren has explored in several public works, which play with outdoor light, the movement of the sun, architecture and coloured shadows. All of Buren’s interventions are created ‘in situ’, appropriating and colouring the spaces in which they are presented. They are critical tools addressing questions of how we look and perceive, and the way space can be used, appropriated, and revealed in its social and physical nature. In his work life finds its way into art, while autonomous art is able to reconnect with life. (City Of London, 2017)

(looking up through) Daniel Buren – 4 Colours at 3 metres high situated work, Clear acrylic sheets, coloured self-adhesive filters, wood, screws, white and black paint, 2011,300 x 300 x 300 cm. Photo by Suzy Walker-Toye

I think I visited this one at the wrong time of the day. I saw a picture on the internet where the colours were reflected onto the pavement, so presumably they move around the structure with the sun. Probably mid-day would be best. When I went after work the sun was so low it was behind all the buildings but I could still go into it and look up through the colours which was fun.

8. ‘Reminiscence’ | Fernando Casasempere | 2017

front, side, back view of :
Fernando Casasempere – Reminiscence, 2017, Porcelain, 135 x 135 x 115 cm. Photo by Suzy Walker-Toye

Fernando Casasempere (born 1958) is a sculptor working with ceramics, the traditional material of pottery, and his work explores ideas relating to landscape and the environment. Conceptually his use of earth/clay and his concern with nature and ecological issues connects him to artists associated with the Land or Earth Art movement, but Casasempere works out of a very different cultural tradition, being profoundly inspired by the Pre-Columbian art and architecture of Latin America. Reminiscence (2017) evokes not only geology but the remains of a once-grand ruined structure or even a construction site. Placed in the heart of the City of London it is a powerful statement about the relationship between nature and culture. (City Of London, 2017)

The texture of this was lovely but it didnt look like porcelain. One of the few of them I was compelled to touch.

9. ‘Tipping Point’ | Kevin Killen | 2016

Video here :

'Tipping point' by Kevin Killen, 2016. #sculpture #sculptureinthecity

A post shared by Suzy Walker-Toye (@scuba_suzy) on

Kevin Killen – Tipping Point, 2016, Neon, 240 x 120 x 30cm. Photo by Suzy Walker-Toye

In this series of work, my role has been to observe and photo-document, studying the outlines created by city lights. Walking the city photographing and recording, the non-stop nature of the city is documented through endless small events and incidents. Long-exposure photographs capture objects and people as black marks obstructing the lights of the city. I later “translate” these images into three-dimensional neon installations, with the city sounds correlated to match the sequence of the neon as it turns on and off. (City Of London, 2017)

This one was quite easy to spot on the wall nearby the information plaque. It was interesting to watch the neons flashing and imagine what bits of city each was correspoding to. I took a small video of this one.

10. 12. & 13. ‘Support for a Cloud’ | Mhairi Vari | 2017

Mhairi Vari – Support for a Cloud, 2016, Outdoor television aerial, wire coat-hangers, greenhouse/ poly-tunnel repair tape, 150 x 75 x 65 cm. Photos by Suzy Walker-Toye

Support for a Cloud plays across ideas of macro and micro – referencing concepts rooted in the natural sciences from cosmological formation to that of the insect cocoon. The artwork which is hung in three different locations is intended to inhabit the urban environment with its alien, nest-like structures that play on synthetic/organic forms. The visibly complex surface of these cocoon-like structures is generated by loops of agglomerated tape. The surface is alluring, even seductive and gently catches both daylight and artificial light, which animate the work further. These works are like small pieces of architecture inhabiting the manmade environment like nests or protective cocoons. (City Of London, 2017)

I went to the plaque at #10, looked around. Nothing obvious. Then looked up. I still wasnt sure. It’s so cleverly integrated with the archicture it looks ‘natural’ but also alien, kind of like a creepy cocoon. It reminded me of the Alien films, where’s Signory Weaver when you need her? I had to go back to see 12 and 13 since apparently I walked right past them without spotting them. It’s also grown on me with repeated viewing.

11. ‘Dreamy Bathroom’ | Gary Webb | 2014

Gary Webb – Dreamy Bathroom, 2014, Aluminium, bronze, automotive grade paint and lacquer, Dimensions Variable (depends on site location), Approx. 350 x 150 cm. Photo by Suzy Walker-Toye

Gary Webb’s whimsical, texturised tower of joyful abstraction is composed of a number of individually crafted components. The use of bronze, which lends Dreamy Bathroom a sense of sculptural gravitas, is pitched against the colourful, aesthetic playfulness of the shapes. The reflective, brightly coloured surfaces allude to, or parody, the kitsch appropriations of Pop Art, whilst the forms themselves are a nod to the post-industrial rigours of Modernism. Webb’s practice focuses on the formal interplay between contrasting shapes, lines, materials, fabrication techniques and points of art-historical reference. Rendered in a combination of industrial, organic and classical materials, Webb combines traditional craft methodologies with modern technologies, in order to create work that evades categorization, and tends towards the inscrutable. (City Of London, 2017)

14. ‘Falling into virtual reality’ | Recycle Group | 2016

Recycle Group – Falling into Virtual Reality, 2016, Plastic Mesh, 400 x 100 cm. Photo by Suzy Walker-Toye
Recycle Group – Falling into Virtual Reality, 2016, Plastic Mesh, 400 x 100 cm. Photo by Suzy Walker-Toye

Recycle Group reflects on what our time will leave behind for future generations, what artefacts archaeologists will find after we are gone, and whether these artefacts will find their place in the cultural layer. As their name suggests, the duo is concerned about the rising level of material waste as a byproduct of widespread consumerism, creating work through the use of recycled materials. Their works also “recycles ideas”, drawing upon classical Western traditions such as narrative relief carving and Christian iconography to compare contemporary times with other histories – social media with religion, corporate leaders with kings, and online existence with mausoleums. The artists’ latest installation created for Sculpture in the City features a scene of a person falling into the virtual world executed in traditional saint-like image in mesh bas-relief. The mobile gadgets act as an emphasis that technology has on the modern world and questions yet again the idea of virtual archeology. The work draws inspiration by the futurist novel, Simulacron 3 (1964). (City Of London, 2017)

(Detail) Recycle Group – Falling into Virtual Reality, 2016, Plastic Mesh, 400 x 100 cm. Photo by Suzy Walker-Toye

View the introduction video of Falling into virtual reality here:

15. ‘Temple’ | Damien Hirst | 2008

Damien Hirst – Temple, 2008, Lacquered paint on bronze, 657.9 x 327.7 cm. Photo by Suzy Walker.Toye

‘Temple’ is a 21-foot painted bronze sculpture that weighs over three tonnes. Made in 2008, it presents a male torso whose partial exposure reveals the underlying musculature and organs. The artwork illustrates Hirst’s long-standing interest in anatomical models, which were initially featured alongside pharmaceutical packaging and specimen jars in his early ‘Medicine Cabinet’ series. ‘Temple’ succeeds other monumental anatomical models made by Hirst, including ‘Hymn’ (1999-2005), which was inspired by a model belonging to Hirst’s son, Connor. The artist explains: “I loved it that it was [like] a toy […] similar to a medical thing, but much happier, friendlier, more colourful and bright.” Damien Hirst cited in Damien Hirst and Gordon Burn, ‘On the Way to Work’ (Faber and Faber, 2001), 147. (City Of London, 2017)

I wouldn’t have guessed this was bronze, it looks like a giant version of one of those plastic models you see where the pieces come out like a organ puzzle. It’s much more impressive than 16-17, I wondered if they put it in this out of the way space because people would travel further to see work by a familiar name?

16. ‘Untitled x3’ | Bosco Sodi | 2012-15

Bosco Sodi – Untitled x 3, 2015, Ceramic glaze over volcanic rock, 120 x 80 x 100 cm ; 120 x 70 x 72 cm; 105 x 75 x 45 cm, Photo by Suzy Walker.Toye

Sodi’s rocks are, for all intents and purposes, excerpts from the natural world transformed through a highly physical process. Extracting dried volcanic magma from the Ceboruco volcano in Mexico, and selecting each rock for its formal qualities, he glazes the brittle surface before firing the sculpture at extremely high temperatures for three days. Each stone, having been subjected to variable elements, such as atmospheric pressure, humidity and temperature, reacts in unique, sometimes destructive ways. By altering the surface texture and the context in which these rocks exist – in this case the streets of London – he reflects on our perception of value and antiquity. The artist creates an incongruity between the setting and the course, and the exterior and core, of each piece. (City Of London, 2017)

A.K.A. Lava blobs. That’s what he should have called it if he was stuck for a title. Initially I saw these after seeing the plastic-fantastic looking one at #18 (below) and assumed it was from the same artist. I walked passed them both times in a bit of a hurry and must admit to being a bit disparaging about the look of them. When I took the time to read the blub (far enough to the side not to be immediately obvious if you go sailing past) I was amazed to see that they are actually real lava, glazed over.

17. ‘Envelope of Pulsation (For Leo)’ | Peter Randall-Page RA | 2017

Peter Randall-Page RA – Envelope of Pulsation (For Leo), 2017, Dartmoor granite, 160 x 140 x 110 cm. Photo by Suzy Walker-Toye

Peter Randall-Page (RA) was born in the UK in 1954 and studied sculpture at Bath Academy of Art from 1973-77. During the past 30 years he has gained an international reputation through his sculpture, drawings and prints. Shown for the first time in its Fenwick Street location for Sculpture in the City, Randall-Page’s most recent sculpture, Envelope of Pulsation (For Leo) 2017, is carved from a rare block of granite from Blackenstone quarry on Dartmoor. This new sculpture is the latest in a series of works exploring the way in which subtle modulations of the stone’s surface can evoke a sense of internal structure in the imagination of the viewer. ‘Envelope of Pulsation’ is a tantric aphorism describing form. The dedication is for Peter’s late friend, Leo, who owned the quarry.(City Of London, 2017)

Another one where the homeless man is getting more attention that the work, well he was there first! Its also another one which is easy to overlook, when coming from the other direction you see the giant and green and yellow of the one below pulling you eyes first. The texture of the one can really only be appreciated from certain angles, its one you have to work to be interested in.

18. ‘Synapsid’ | Karen Tang | 2014

Karen Tang – Synapsid, 2014, Epoxy, fibreglass, paint, Styrofoam, timber, steel 3.3 x 4.0 x 3.1 m. Photos by Suzy Walker-Toye

 

‘Synapsid’ (2014) is a large, vividly coloured sculpture which seems to morph between abstract, alien and animal forms. With its radioactive hues and blobby segments, ‘Synapsid’ evokes sci-fi invasion scenarios where monsters rampage through the built environment. The sculpture takes its title from the scientific name for proto-mammals which evolved to have skulls distinct from those of reptiles; the structure of ‘Synapsid’ hints at a cranial enclosure and eye-sockets. Viewers are drawn into Synapsid’s apertures and interior spaces, which are designed to be immersive, interactive and playful. (City Of London, 2017)

I have to say, I still dont like this one. I thought it would grow on me, and perhaps it has a little, but its still meh.

References:

City Of London. (2017) About the artworks At: https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/visit-the-city/art-architecture/sculpture-in-the-city/Pages/about-the-artworks.aspx
(Accessed on 30 June 17)