Posts tagged with "art":
English artist Anthony McCall is bringing his ghostly, “solid-light” installations back to New York City in December, with a new solo show at the Sean Kelly Gallery in East Midtown, his sixth in the space. From December 14 through January 26, 2019, visitors can catch two new works from McCall, and his 2003 piece Doubling Back, which was first shown at the 2004 Whitney Biennial. A number of McCall’s black-and-white photographs will also be on display. While McCall’s show at Brooklyn's Pioneer Works in February was able to take advantage of the space’s cavernous ceilings and present vertical light pieces, horizontal installations are the focus of the Sean Kelly show, Split Second. Despite the format change, McCall’s hallmark exploration of volumetric forms using a volume-less medium, light, will be fully on display. Split Second and Split Second (Mirror) will be making their world debut at their namesake show. In Split Second, a flat blade and elliptical cone will be projected on the gallery’s back wall and slowly combine and form intersecting planes that rotate around each other. In Split Second (Mirror), McCall will split a projected “cone” with a wall-sized mirror, “cutting” the shape with a plane of light reflected back at the source. Doubling Back was McCall’s first return to the form after a 20-year hiatus. Each of McCall’s solid-light installations are actually very slowly moving films—up to a half hour or longer—and Doubling Back is no exception. Two sinuous waves, one moving horizontally and the other vertically, overlap and form pockets of light and shadow, integrating the architecture of the gallery itself into the piece. A selection of photos from McCall’s solid-light installations from the 1970s and 2000s will also be on display, capturing still images, or slices of time, from past work. That sort of snapshot is a bit ironic considering McCall’s description of his work as intentionally slowed down, creating an ever-changing relationship between the viewer and the piece. For best results, patrons will have to experience McCall’s “sculptures” for themselves. Sean Kelly Gallery is located at 475 10th Avenue in Manhattan and is open from 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Tuesday through Saturday.
In Veszprém, a historic medieval town in western Hungary, 12 designers have coated walls of an aging school to illustrate the significance of architectural ornamentation and what it means for and to young architects today. The Elementary School of Music (formerly the Industrial School) was designed by Hungarian architect Lajos Schoditsch, a building which sits across the street from the Petőfi Theater, designed by another Hungarian, István Medgyaszay. Both buildings are integral to the city's architectural history and represent the changing use of motif and ornament in Hungarian architecture. Both are also scheduled to be renovated, with the now-vacant Elementary School of Music due to become an office building serving the theater. Seizing the moment before the renovation, the Hungarian practice Paradigma Ariadné, led by Dávid Smiló, Attila Róbert Csóka, and Szabolcs Molnár, saw the chance for architectural intervention. Working with Heléna Csóka, the curators of the 12 Walls project invited designers from across Europe to come up with wall installations that riffed on the history of ornament embedded in the former school. The result is a series of painted walls vying for visual attention in a cacophony of color and ornamentation. Each wall has its own agenda, courtesy of the 12 designers. The walls serve as standalone works but end up interacting with adjacent and nearby painted walls to create a dazzling landscape inside the vacant building. The designers and collectives commissioned include: Architecture Uncomfortable Workshop, Enorme Studio, False Mirror Office, Gyulai Levente, Adam Nathaniel Furman, Andrew Kovacs, MNPL Workshop, Giacomo Pala, Space Popular, TREES, Very Good Office, and Paradigma Ariadné itself. "Many emerging architects and studios are struggling to settle with the repeatedly omitted, yet constantly resurfacing ornament," the curators said in a statement. "Presenting different approaches by young collectives, the works at the exhibition examine the current roles and boundaries of the ornament, by appropriating the late Industrial School’s empty, undecorated walls." The majority of the walls are awash with bright colors. Austrian-based architect and researcher, Giacomo Pala's wall, titled, Frank Variation, riffs on the work of Austrian architect, Josef Frank. According to Pala, he was one of the first modern architects to deal with ornament, and Pala's work abstracts the late architect's approach to city planning, interior schemes, and watercolor architectural paintings. British designer Adam Nathaniel Furman's wall, Diadema, bursts with even more color. In a kaleidoscopic arrangement, brightly colored triangles and ellipses splay out across the wall creating an almost 3-D illusion. "Ornament is not a language. Ornament doesn’t speak," he said in a short text describing his work. "Ornament is the flush in the cheek, the color of life in the eye…it is the vigor of the fleshly moment captured in time for anyone and everyone who enters a space. Diadema is a taste of this, a crowning moment of chromatic delight in miniature." Space Popular, formed by Lara Lesmes and Fredrik Hellberg and based in London, has created one of the few walls to use text. At first glance, Tilt Lines looks like it was made with CAD sketching tools, but the piece was crafted by hand instead of digital tools to depict what Space Popular describe as an "endless mass." "Working with the line in 3-D space highlights the fact the we tend to identify spaces with enclosures," the firm added. "This notion is challenged when we are given a brush that draws in mid-air and we desperately try to fill in surfaces, consequently making everything look like gingerbread houses." Only one installation refrains from using color and that comes from MNPL Workshop from Odessa, Ukraine. The monochrome pattern has a hidden message, however. "By eliminating unnecessary decorative elements for modern society, modernism created a perfect environment for filling with elements of marketing and advertisement," said MNPL in a statement. One such element is a corporate logo and numerous logos have been embedded into the black and white ornamentation by MNPL.
Alberta-born, New York–based artist Elaine Cameron-Weir has made a name for herself with her sculptures in all variety of scale, shape, and material. Most recently, she was commissioned by Storm King Art Center as part of their now annual Outlooks series, which invites an emerging or mid-career artist to devise a temporary site-specific installation for the art park. AN sat down with Cameron-Weir to talk about her new sculpture, the problem of design, and, naturally, the apocalypse. Architect's Newspaper: Can you remind me of the title of your installation at Storm King; it's quite a title. Elaine Cameron-Weir: It’s A toothless grin. A STAR EXPANSION! GLOBE OF DEATH A graveyard orbit. “A toothless grin” is kind of like a play on a colloquial saying, something about missing teeth and death—with connotations of something unsettling, like decay. And then “A STAR EXPANSION!” comes from this fastener company that the people who started Storm King had, the Star Expansion Industries Corporation. I thought that was a beautiful name. The “GLOBE OF DEATH” is what this spherical cage is called that stunt motorcyclists ride around in during shows. And then ‘A graveyard orbit’ is a phrase for the orbit of a satellite that extends beyond its useful orbit; when the satellite is no longer to be used, they send it into a graveyard orbit. It just keeps circling the earth as space junk. AN: The shelter is a found piece; is the globe also found? ECW: No, the globe was fabricated specifically for the piece, but it's based on objects that already exist. So it’s about the same dimensions as the globes of death that are generally the ones that travel to county fairs and other venues. AN: What was it like working in that sort of scale, at a scale that's not intended to be experienced in a room but in a landscape? ECW: The absence of surrounding architecture for art is really strange. I didn't expect it to be so…it wasn't difficult, and I wouldn't say it was easy. It was just there was the removal of the constraints of a room. There's such a specific way that people behave in an art space. I've done projects where it's been in an environment that's not specific to looking at art, like abandoned buildings, but you're still dealing with something that's around you. And the scale is really different. Something huge does not necessarily look huge outside. And you have to think about the weather and transparency; if the piece itself is partially transparent and if you look at it from a certain angle, it disappears into the trees behind it, whereas in a clean white space, nothing disappears in the same way. It was interesting and I'm really glad I got the chance to do that. Because those things are so obvious after the fact, but until you do something like that, you don’t think about it the same way. AN: You don’t realize that you were designing objects for a room the whole time. ECW: Or you do realize it, but then that relationship is removed and you realize that you were operating in a system that’s actually largely invisible to you until you don't have it, even though you were addressing it. AN: Part of what you engage with is not just the space in its physicality but also the history of that physical site. Could you give a bit of background of this? ECW: Con Ed was trying to build a power plant in Storm King Mountain from the early 1960s to 1980, which would’ve totally altered it. There were all these protests and it went to court and eventually, the environmentalists won. It’s not super related to the piece in the end, but I was researching some materials about it: the court documents, reading the transcripts of the people testifying against the project. Basically, they're just giving these apocalyptic scenarios of what would happen if the power plant were built. It totally reads like science fiction, a hyperbolic vision of the future. I found that really important because I write a lot surrounding my work. It's kind of like sketching; a way to keep track of ideas. The fact that these documents alluded so much to the future that it became science fiction, that's kind of what connected this mountain to the project. AN: There’s an element of fictionalization in the piece, as well, in that you’ve totally detached these objects from their original context. You’re imagining these possible reuses. But it also is a bit apocalyptic. For example, there’s, of course, a repurposed bomb shelter. How do you get things from the military? ECW: I bought it from some guy in the Midwest on the internet. I didn't really ask how he got it. But a lot of times people, like resellers, will buy stuff like this at auction in lots. And they'll resell it to people like me or to people that are making doomsday preparations. Generally, in fictionalized versions of the future, people just get their hands on this kind of equipment somehow because the government’s been destroyed or something and it’s anarchy. There’s a feeling of that kind of future projection in the work for sure. AN: It's a bit of a harsh object in some ways. It's not, like, a pretty thing. I don't want to harp on the apocalyptic, but are you interested in violence? It is, after all, literally a military object. ECW: I am a nonviolent person when it comes to confrontation. But I think that most people are interested in violence. And by interested, it doesn't mean you’re… AN: Going to go on a killing spree or anything. ECW: Yeah. It just means you are perhaps terrified by it or you are curious about it, you've been a victim of it, you've inflicted it. And I don’t think it’s all a bad thing; there are people who are very much devoted to the application of the potential of violence in measured instances. I’m thinking of things like BDSM, or even skydiving. It's a force of human life, for better or for worse. And I think that what I'm interested in more is the latency of that and the potential. The piece for me is more about potential energy, and I think that there could be a certain amount of violence inherent in potential energy because it's something that is yet to happen. But I don't think that my stance with the piece would be that it’s a warning about aggression or that it's aggressive. I think the violent feeling comes in part from it being human-sized. AN: Which is actually what I was about to ask you about, the relation to the body and personal scale. ECW: One way to make something, at least how I’m working right now, is to make it body-sized or relatable in scale, and things that are designed to protect the body also carry a suggestion of violence because they're preventing harm. If you suggest protection, you suggest violence. And that has to do with the fact that we're physical animals and we have a body that's susceptible to all sorts of things. AN: You just used the word “designed.” You recently spoke on the issue of design and its separation from art proper in Art Forum, saying about the work that “It’s almost like designing. That’s a dirty word, maybe. But my work is related to design.” Of course, you went on to say “Personally, I don’t think design is a dirty word. It really just means making something work.” How do design and architecture intersect with your practice, or diverge from it? ECW: Some people still don't love when art and design sit next to each other. It could be seen as disparaging just to say, "Oh, that piece of art looks like design.” I meant it was a dirty word if you look at it from this narrow-minded perspective of thinking that design means shiny plastic objects in a store and maybe an Eames chair. Basically, believing that the need for function kind of upsets the “purity” of our art, which I disagree with. I think that when something has a function or requires a function a lot of interesting things can happen. But it's not that you need parameters to do something interesting. Earlier we were talking about not having architecture around me to respond to at Storm King. That absence of architecture didn’t make way for some kind of purity, it was just replaced with another set of parameters involved with working outside. With design, things also change. I'm not an architect and I'm not a designer, but I could imagine that making something with a function you would be solving so many different problems all the time. I find that there still could be so much potential for freedom in that. Outlooks: Elaine Cameron-Weir Storm King Art Center 1 Museum Road, New Windsor, New York Through November 25
For centuries, art collecting and art brokering were comfortably ensconced in the exclusive domain of the super-rich. Now, things could be changing. A start-up called Masterworks is trying to build a stock exchange for high-value art. This summer, Masterworks acquired Claude Monet’s Coup de Vent at an auction for $6.3 million and plans to launch a public offering with individual shares valued at $20. Unfortunately, your fractional ownership won’t allow you to take the painting home and hang it over your mantelpiece, but it will allow you to participate in a highly lucrative and historically-tested investment vehicle that has never been previously available to the masses. According to Masterworks’ website, masterpiece paintings have outpaced growth in the leading U.S. stock exchange index by nearly 300 percent in the last 20 years. Current sales of expensive art are limited by liquidity and transaction protocol. There simply aren’t that many people willing to fork out a hundred million dollars for a Picasso on any given day. By creating an affordable entry point, Masterworks also hopes to help art reach a wider audience while giving the general public more agency in selecting and determining the true value of cultural artifacts. Masterworks art transactions will be recorded through an artificial intelligence (AI) platform that creates transparency and immutability. Ownership can be clearly tracked using smart contracts and digital currencies, allowing for instant transfers across geographic borders without the involvement of banks and auction houses that traditionally charge high fees. New AI-based art platforms like KODAKone, for example, allow artists to register their artwork digitally before entering the art market, providing security to all present and future stakeholders. Ironically, your digital kitten art may one day be more easily authenticated than Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvador Mundi, which recently sold at auction for $450 million. Plus, telling your friends down at the pub that you own a Picasso could be, well…priceless.
Art and architecture often share a blurry boundary, borrowing from one another as artists explore the built world, and architects experiment with abstraction. In the upcoming months, there are a number of must-see shows across the country for those interested in art with an architectural attitude. Rachel Whiteread Turner-prize winning Rachel Whiteread has long been one of the most prominent contemporary figures of architectural art. The artist, famous for her 1993 House where she made a concrete cast of the entirety of a Victorian home, is receiving her first comprehensive survey, which has been jointly organized by the National Gallery of Art and the Tate Britain. The exhibition comprises over 100 objects from her 30-plus year career, including documents, drawings, and large-scale sculpture. It also features a number of original works on view for the very first time. After a stint at the Tate and the 21er Haus-Museum of Contemporary Art, Vienna, Austria, the retrospective is on view this fall at the National Gallery of Art before it moves on to the Saint Louis Art Museum. Rachel Whiteread National Gallery of Art 6th & Constitution Ave NW, Washington, D.C. September 16, 2018–January 13, 2019 Michael LeVell / CONDO New York As part of CONDO New York, where galleries across New York City collaborate with other global galleries, White Columns partnered with First Street Gallery in Claremont, California, to present a solo show of Michael LeVell. LeVell, who was one of the eight founding members of the artist-run First Street Gallery, which was created by and for artists “living and working with mental, developmental, and physical disabilities,” creates acrylic paintings and miniature ceramic sculptures of domestic spaces and furniture, relying especially on the homes and furnishings featured in the pages of Architectural Digest, a magazine which he has collected exhaustively for years. Michael LeVell / CONDO New York White Columns 91 Horatio St., New York, New York Through September 15 Buckminster Fuller: Inventions and Models The inimitable R. Buckminster Fuller, famous for his geodesic domes among many other inventions, is getting an exhibition that’s a first-of-its-kind for Los Angeles, the city he last called home. Centered largely around the limited-edition print Inventions portfolio, R. Buckminster Fuller: Inventions and Models will feature an array of prints, objects, and structural models produced in the last years of his life that highlight the radical thoughts of one of the 20th century’s most iconic architectural thinkers. Buckminster Fuller: Inventions and Models Edward Cella Art + Architecture 2754 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, California Through November 3 The Mile-Long Opera, a biography of 7 o’clock This October, New York’s High Line will come to life as singers from across the city perform while visitors move down a mile-long stretch of the elevated park. The opera was organized by High Line architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro along with David Lang, who is the opera’s composer, and features a libretto by classicist and poet Anne Carson and an essay from Claudia Rankine. While free tickets are already sold out for all five nights, hopeful attendees can still join a waiting list. The Mile-Long Opera, a biography of 7 o’clock The High Line, New York, New York October 3–7 Landon Metz: Asymmetrical Symmetry Landon Metz likes to get a sense of the space his work is going to occupy before he creates it. In Landon Metz: Asymmetrical Symmetry, Metz’s paintings of abstract forms presented in an array of diptychs, triptychs, and series, are all made-to-measure in sizes and proportions responding to the particularities of the architecture of Sean Kelly gallery. Most strikingly, this approach results in three ribbons of paintings, bending at 90 degrees, that fold from the wall to the ceiling, managing to make two-dimensional work that flows in and fills the intimidatingly immense space of the gallery. Landon Metz: Asymmetrical Symmetry Sean Kelly 475 Tenth Ave., New York, New York Through October 20
In the southeast of England, a derelict building appears to be falling apart in the most unusual way: It's getting unzipped. This piece of architectural trickery is the work of British sculptor Alex Chinneck who this month unveiled his latest installation, Open to the Public. Comprising an oversized double zip, Open to the Public looks as if it is peeling away the walls of a 1960s office building in Ashford, Kent. Running 26 feet along the walls of the building, the zip reveals a dilapidated and abandoned interior. The building is due to be demolished, something that gave Chinneck "huge creative freedom and a license for ambition." Although the project took two months, the artwork appeared in zippy fashion, going up overnight. How the piece is made is not entirely clear. The Architect's Newspaper asked Chinneck what the work was made from, however, the artist was coy about his methods. "How the work is created is part of the magic, and I prefer not to spoil the illusion. All I will say is that we started by casting the facade of the building," he said. The surreal artwork is typical of Chinneck who has bemused passers-by in London and Kent before. In the past five years, he has slid the brick facade off a three-story property in Margate, constructed a full-size melting house from 7,500 wax bricks on London Bridge, 'floated' a stone building above London's Covent Garden plaza, and inverted an electricity pylon to stand on its tip. Chinneck said that he had wanted to "unzip a building for some time." He went on:
It had to be the right one, with the right set of circumstances. It’s often the case that the idea is there, in sketch form in my mind, waiting to be fully realized. It can take years for those ideas to find a home, and there are hundreds more still waiting. In this case, the site was originally a tannery and wool processing factory so there is a historical association with textiles. I like the fact that the building is so archetypal. I had school lessons in a building just like it and that sense of familiarity is one of the things that I like to subvert. I think we’ve all got a relationship with a building like this, somewhere in our past, so that imbues the work with personal meaning. Its position, right by the road, close to the post office, the council offices, the probation center and the leisure center means that people of all ages and from all walks of life will see it.
According to the artist, Open to the Public will remain 'open' until the end of August, "at least."
The mundane moments of Williamsburg trespass on Leigh Ruple’s canvases. The Brooklyn-based artist’s works are inspired by her daily life, featuring stylized, temperamental depictions of objects and figures abstracted within an array colors and forms. Her studio is located in East Williamsburg, allowing her to observe the architecture and people within the thriving neighborhood, and the geometries and patterns of the district’s local architecture have become motifs of her paintings. Her work also explores the city’s nightscape, with changing highlights and shadows. In a painting titled Nightstand, the Manhattan skyline is backlit by moonlight, while an assortment of prosaic objects including kitchen gloves, a pair of scissors, and a trimmed plant occupies the foreground, hinting at the inner life of an unseen subject. In Red Door, a bare-chested man sitting on an inverted tin bucket paints a fence door from blue to red; the red light shining from behind the fence illuminates parts of the man’s torso. The placid scene is dramatized with contrasting tones, hues, and lighting effects. Ruple is an expert in conveying moods through colors and composition. In Healthful, the ordinary scene of shopping for apples is exaggerated with backlit lighting and a heightened exaggeration of a mainly red-and-blue palette. The face of the shopper is tinted with magenta, the same shade as the apples in the basket. Ruple continues to draw references from New York’s cityscape and frequently captures the sidewalks, lampposts, animals, and plants with her paintbrush. In many paintings, a main figure takes center stage, often with blank and indifferent expressions; a reference to the solitude and loneliness of living in a bustling city like New York. Leigh Ruple’s most recent exhibition was at the Morgan Lehman Gallery.
Legendary English light artist Anthony McCall has brought his ethereal explorations of time, form and cinema to Brooklyn, with a new show at the Pioneer Works cultural center in Redhook through March 11. Solid Light Works uses the venue’s 30-foot-tall ceilings to project monumental light “drawings” through a pitch-black, smoky room, creating explorable sculptures that have form but lack physicality. McCall’s work have always been presented as experiences rather than pieces, with his light sculptures contracting and expanding over time and constantly changing the relationship between the viewer and the art. Solid Light Works continues that tradition here, with four vertical and two horizontal installations that were selectively chosen from the artist’s bank of over 250 potential pieces. Speaking at a Pioneer Works panel discussion on February 27, McCall discussed how the works in the show, while not site-specific, were all “site sensitive”; after the sculptures were chosen, curator Gabriel Florenz worked with McCall to build out a unique exhibition space complete with controlled sightlines and room for the lengthy horizontal projections. Somewhere between a line drawing, sculpture, and structure, McCall has described the inhabitable portions of his works as “islands of serenity,” where viewers are sandwiched between seemingly tangible walls of light and treated to an experience that feels holy. Drawing on the language of film, all of McCall’s work relies on wipes, a film technique where one image quickly slides over another, to shift the structure of the piece over much longer spans of time. McCall explained that while short performances might draw crowds, the same experience stretched out into an all-day event attracted singular patrons interested in interacting with the work. Much has changed since McCall staged his first light sculpture, Line Describing a Cone. In his landmark 1973 film, the artist uses a projector to “draw” a circle with a projector in a smoke-filled room, creating a three-dimensional cone in the process. Gone is the cigarette smoke used as a transmission medium in the first showing. Moreover, moving to digital projection from film has enabled McCall to realize the towering sculptures at Pioneer Works; film projectors were simply too heavy to hang vertically. Technology has also changed the audience, and visitors might find that the delicate pieces have been drowned out by ambient smartphone light. Pioneer Works will be showing Solid Light Works through March 11, but will keep the installation (and the building) open for 48 straight hours from March 10 through 11. More information about the show can be found here.
Since the NYC Mayor’s Office released its first cultural plan, CreateNYC, in July, many have taken stock of the work that must be done to build equitable access to cultural institutions and increase staff diversity. Recently the New York Times released new data on several of NYC’s major cultural institutions that illuminates a striking disparity between institutions with and without a focus on racial parity among its employees and board members. The data show that while some institutions do employ staff members representative of their communities, boards and senior leadership are largely white. In the case of Studio Museum in Harlem both the staff and the leadership reflect the broader racial diversity of NYC. All cultural institutions currently receiving city funds must submit diversity plans within the first year of CreateNYC in order to continue receiving public support. While achieving more representative leadership is a high priority within the first year, accountability measures have also been set to ensure that cultural institutions are increasing access for those with disabilities and abiding by the city’s aggressive sustainability goals. These two provisions in particular will have an effect on the way private institutions that accept public money will develop their capital investments strategies and set the stage (so to speak) for progressive architectural environments. While CreateNYC has been in the works for months, cultural landmarks and institutions are receiving renewed attention as central figures in a national debate over identity following the traumatic events in Charlottesville, Virginia. Earlier this month Mayor De Blasio called for a 90-day review of New York City’s “symbols of hate,” commissioning a panel that will develop methods for altering or potentially removing public objects that espouse hate or intolerance of any kind. Now, the city is considering placing explanatory plaques next to controversial monuments that will contextualize the racist actions of the people they depict for a contemporary audience.
Just as some statues to slavery are being torn down, a statue championing a worthy cause is going up in New York City. Due to open September 11, a temple dedicated to Oscar Wilde will be unveiled inside The Church of the Village on West 13th Street. Designed by New York and Dublin–based artists David McDermott and Peter McGough, the temple will contain a statue of the esteemed author. Inside the temple, visitors will be immersed in the Victorian era as McDermott & McGough set the scene of the exact moment Oscar Wilde visited America for a year in 1882. To accomplish this, bespoke wall coverings made from fabric have been installed along with furnishings and architectural and decorative details of the time. In a press release, the artistic duo described the temple as a "time experiment" and dedicate it to honoring those who fought for equal rights for gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender peoples. “For more than twenty years, we have wanted to create The Stations of Oscar Wilde to Reading Gaol, echoing the Catholic Church’s iconography and the ritual purpose of the Stations of the Cross,” added McGough. (Reading Gaol was the English prison where Wilde served two years hard labor for "homosexual offences" in 1895.)
At the center of the temple is a central altar and a four-foot, three-inch statue of Oscar Wilde. Below reads "C.33," Wilde's assigned prison number. On either of the statue will be eight paintings that narrate Wilde's arrest and incarceration. Another altar will also be on display, this one being dedicated to people suffering with and who have died from AIDS. McDermott & McGough’s 1987 painting Advent Infinite Divine Spirit will lie adjacent the altar, joined by a votive candle stand and a book for visitors to leave messages.
Other paintings from McDermott & McGough on show include portraits of Alan Turing, Harvey Milk, Marsha P. Johnson, Brandon Teena, Xulhax Mannan, and Sakia Gunn, all deceased and all who suffered and struggled for recognition of their identity. The Oscar Wilde Temple, as it is officially known, aligns with McDermott & McGough: I’ve Seen The Future and I’m Not Going, a retrospective of the two artitsts on show at the Dallas Contemporary from October 1. The Church of the Village can be found at 201 West 13th Street, on 7th Avenue and the exhibition runs through December 2 this year.
Anish Kapoor has everyone grumbling these days. The knighted artist is known for his intellectual preoccupation with blood, female anatomy, nothingness, and obtuse-yet-high-drama installations—like his 2017 piece Descension in Brooklyn, an infinitely spinning whirlpool. Descension explores, Kapoor said, “negative space,” a concept which is arguably the crux of his work. His pieces can, on one hand, appear benign and purely decorative, like Blood Mirror (a concave bowl of arresting, reflective red) while some are severe in their violent ugliness, like Internal Object in Three Parts (a series of three meat-textured reliefs that, some would argue, are disarming in their vulgarity). Much of that vulgarity comes from his dogged pursuit of extreme materiality: he strokes his whimsy by making art that is desperately large in scope and overwhelming in its concentration of color. His work also often inevitably segues into his favorite topic: The Void.
Enter Vantablack: the blackest synthetic material on Earth. It absorbs almost all the light and radiation that hits its surface (99.96 percent of it) and was originally developed by British researchers in 2014 for aerospace, engineering, and optics. Vantablack, which is a substance made of “vertically aligned carbon nanotube arrays” (hence, “Vanta”), is “grown in a forest” of carbon nanotubes and is hydrophobic—absorbing no water. It makes everything around it look cartoonish against its unsettling lack of dimension. When sprayed on, it causes an optical illusion that flattens features and forms to render objects into a two-dimensional void. It’s so black that Surrey NanoSystems (the company that manufactures Vantablack) notes on its website that “it is often described as the closest thing to a black hole we’ll ever see.” If there is any living artist with the clout, savvy, and the Nietzschean impulse to monopolize the closest incarnation of a black hole, it's to no one’s surprise (and to many people’s chagrin) that the person would be Kapoor. He bought an exclusive license to use the material—making it impossible for other artists to access and experiment with it. Immediately, painter Christian Furr told the Daily Mail, “I’ve never heard of an artist monopolizing a material. This black is like dynamite in the art world…. It isn't right that it belongs to one man.” But it is not, as Wired notes, the first time an artist claimed rights on a color (artist Yves Klein famously patented his own hue of blue), nor did Kapoor actually create anything himself. Technically speaking, Kapoor did not monopolize the color black. Vantablack is not a paint or a color. It’s a material. It’s commercially unavailable. It’s engineered. It’s untouchable; the surface fades away when those microscopic nanotubes are disturbed. And it can only be applied by professionals. Surrey NanoSystems chose Kapoor as their highest-value bidder “because we didn’t have the bandwidth to work with more than one—we’re an engineering company—we decided Anish would be perfect,” Ben Jensen, the CTO at Surrey NanoSystems, told Wired. “His life’s work had revolved around light reflection and voids.”
All this caused a visceral irritation in the art world, at least on social media, and something else was afoot. Amid the high tempers over the ethics of access arrived Stuart Semple, a British artist nearly half Kapoor’s age who had a real problem with this whole situation. Semple, who creates and sells pigments on his website, showed up with his little bottle of fluorescent pink—or as he labeled it, The Pinkest Pink. Semple called Kapoor a “rotter” in a YouTube video because he refused to “share the black” and thus inspired social media warfare with its seminal tool: the hashtag #Sharetheblack became a trending topic. So did Stuart Semple’s website, which disparagingly addresses Kapoor’s monopoly and also states a legal caveat about The Pinkest Pink’s purchase:
Purchasers of PINK will be required to make a legal declaration during the online checkout process though, confirming that: “you are not Anish Kapoor, you are in no way affiliated to Anish Kapoor, you are not purchasing this item on behalf of Anish Kapoor or an associate of Anish Kapoor. To the best of your knowledge, information and belief this paint will not make its way into that hands of Anish Kapoor. If you order some I hope you love it. And please if you get a chance tell @anishkapoor_art to #ShareTheBlackSemple bagged both empathy and sales. If Twitter and Instagram commentaries were any indication of the general feeling of discontent, they also mobilized a marketing campaign for Semple, who sold not only oodles of color but perhaps a philosophy—or maybe a protest against monopoly.
It would make sense that an artist with the fame, street cred, and agency of Kapoor would be the first to get his hands on Vantablack. And it’s little surprise that Kapoor got his hands (or, more precisely, his middle finger) on something else, despite the ban against him: Semple’s Pinkest Pink. He proceeded to post an image on Instagram with his middle finger dipped in the powder with a caption “up yours #pink,” sparking outrage. It probably doesn’t help that, aside from his Instagram post, Kapoor has remained mum on the topic. When asked for comment, his representatives responded with scientific information on Vantablack—deftly stating that “Vantablack is not a paint, it’s a material.” (Fair. Point noted.) On Semple and Kapoor’s Instagram accounts, users provide support and drama, respectively. Comments on Semple’s Instagram read generally like this:
- Thatmelaniethorn: "A true artist is the one that shares its knowledge and creations with others. You are awesome @stuartsemple"
- Nikolajbyrdman: "I read the article on you. This is beautiful and you are my #pettygoals."
- Pine_straw_mtn: "You bought exclusive rights to this paint, and the only thing you did with it is make a hole? The guy who invented this stuff literally has an example of a hole illusion in the tests, and you just copied that? You couldn't think of anything more creative? You are the cancer of the art world."
- mcd: "A real artist would not need a color or lack thereof all to them selfs you are far from a true artist"
- io: "Capitalist scum"
- Awkwardjosie: "You're not a bad artist, but you're a shitty person. Imagine how your fan base and exposure could grow if you have up the rights. Just a thought."
Is the reactionary conversation surrounding this—which many may call petty and some may call productive and ethical—exactly the point? Did Kapoor play his cards this way on purpose as a piece of performance art? Or was that Semple’s idea in using Kapoor’s name and a philosophy of artistic access as “brand” for his product? You’d think the beef would die down after Semple got his big boost, but just last week, the drama once again reignited with Semple’s release of Phaze, a color changing paint that goes from purple to The Pinkest Pink, and Shift, a color-changing rainbow paint. His video posts on Instagram included a link to buy the products, and of course, the hashtag #sharetheblack. One wonders whether those involved in this conversation speak out of moral obligation, or from a place of altruism, or whether this whole thing is really a matter of attacking the Kapoor and his power. By the way, not only has Kapoor ticked off artists, it seems, but also his neighbors. His recent decision to add a floor extension to his London home caused his neighbors to create a petition to “to help try to stop Anish Kapoor [from] blocking our precious light & view, a valuable thing in our crowded city.” The plea continues: “You'd think Anish Kapoor would understand the value of light, colour, and social responsibility.”
You enter a dark room illuminated only by a 10-foot-high rectangular cube comprised of four green-framed video monitors showing a face in close-up from all sides—facing forward, back of head, and both sides featuring the right and left ears (a 5th view could be seen from above, showing the top of the head), all above a mirrored surface where your reflected legs continue the bodyline. An androgynous, blue-eyed Caucasian with very regular features, bowed lips, and dark short hair has gelatinous liquid in a succession of yellow, red, brown, milky clear, and red-turning-to-greenish-yellow with small bits of debris, all simulating bodily fluids, poured onto it from above in a wash. A crinkly digital line clears the frame between each pour. At various points, crickets crawl and eat liquid off the face. Flaky white oats are sprinkled. Worms crawl and tumble down the face. There’s a flour snowstorm. Then the footage goes in reverses and the debris flows up. Throughout, we hear breathing sounds. Expressions of joy, relief, stoicism, placidity are actually emoted from a composite head that digitally combines two models, one male and one female. Currently on view at Mary Boone Gallery and curated by Piper Marshall, Judith Barry's Imagination, Dead Imagine dates from 1991 when it was originally commissioned for the Savage Garden exhibition curated by Dan Cameron at Madrid’s CaixaForum. It was displayed along with other installation art by Mike Kelley, Ann Hamilton, Barbara Bloom, David Ireland, Christian Marclay, Felix Gonzales-Torres, Charles Ray, Meyer Vaisman, and Meg Webster. Imagination, Dead Imagine is also the title of Samuel Beckett’s last and shortest (five pages) novel, in which he describes “an austere room in which a male and female character are seated, experiencing only invariable cycles of light and heat.“ Barry was also influenced by J.G. Ballard’s story The Impossible Room, which includes the following description: “A perfect cube, its walls and ceiling were formed by what seemed to be a series of cinema screens. Projected onto them in close-up was the face of Nurse Nagamatzu, her mouth three feet across.” Trained as an architect, Barry wrestled with “how architecture might be conceived of differently as not primarily the physical manifestation of the building per se, but instead as the translation into built form of our lived social relations. Foregrounding discourse and translation as the primary, not secondary, generators of the built world freed me….” Barry is also interested in the blind spots, what we cannot see outside the frame. The repeated onslaughts of liquid shows the indomitability of the human spirit, with the head wiped clean over and over again. In the era it was created, this could refer to feminism, illustrating women being dumped on (Beatriz Colomina’s “dirty and clean spaces”), the AIDS crisis, or the first Gulf War. Today, it can be read as a metaphor for living in the era of Trump. At the same time, it references horror films like Carrie and Evil Dead, as well as Freud’s excess, repression, and bodily functions. At least the liquids Barry used in production were non-toxic—honey, beets, soup and more, soaked up between videotaping the scenes with sacks of kitty litter. Imagination, Dead Imagine Mary Boone Gallery 541 West 24 Street New York, NY Through July 28, 2017