China’s culture of copying is well-documented, but the recent sale of Berlin-based art dealer and collector Torsten Bröhan’s large collection of 19th- and 20th- century design objects to the city of Hangzhou, China raised eyebrows. The “Bauhaus Collection” deal was allegedly made for tens of millions of dollars and contains over 7,000 pieces of design from the modernist period. Scholars have questioned the use of Bauhaus, but argue that the Chinese understand Bauhaus as the whole of modernism, not just the products of the seminal school. The curious case is compounded by a lawsuit that charges that Bröhan never gave business consultant Stephan Balzer his 10 percent cut of the purchase price.
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Based in Los Angeles, designer Bryony Roberts' installation, Primo Piano, covers a distinctive stone floor at the American Academy in Rome with a colorful pattern of decals. The work builds upon the pre-existing two-tone square pattern on the hall's floor. Roberts caters her design adaptations to this context, offering, in her words, a "modest, neo-Renaissance pattern of travertine circles and diamonds inlaid into peperino stone." Surrounding stone motifs, laid around the floors perimeter compliment the the medieval Baroque Cosmatesque flooring that is enriched by the geometric flooring. A clever use of color and "curvilinear forms" helps give the impression of depth too. Roberts has overlaid varying circles and diamonds and squares (all in different and alternating colors) to break the monotony of the existing pattern. At first glance, from an angle, the resulting pattern appears random. This is amplified by the fact that Roberts stuck to a rigid color palette comprising black, pearl grey, and purple. When viewed from above, one can clearly see a sense of rhythm within the artwork. In plan view, this is much more obvious and an even more explicit symmetry can be found when removing certain colors/form overlays. "As the Cosmatesque floors were designed to guide church processions, so this project both responds to and disrupts patterns of movement in the space, producing impromptu choreography as people entering the academy step and dance around the shapes on the floor," Roberts said in a statement. The installation is currently on view at the 2016 Cinque Mostre Exhibition.
Memorializing the quiet town of Gibellina that was destroyed by a 6.1 magnitude earthquake in 1968, Alberto Burri's Grande Cretto has finally been completed after some 30 years of planning. Occupying over 86,000 square feet, the concrete piece of land art is now open to the public and coincides with the artist's 100th birthday. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcQhDWGoR00 New Gibellina, built to house the displaced residents of the old town is now situated 12 miles away from its predecessor. In the wake of the disastrous event, Alberto Burri decided he would concentrate his attention on what was left of Gibellina when artists and architects were asked to contribute to the foundation of New Gibellina. In doing so, Burri, unlike his counterparts, chose to cover the area with slabs of white concrete, over five feet tall, punctuated only by his signature cracks (roughly nine feet wide) that follow the original street plan. The stark emptiness of the installation echoes the horrors of the earthquake. Burri started his work in 1985 though construction halted after just four years, stopping short at 64,000 square feet of his proposed 86,000. Thanks to the Fondazione Burri, the work has now been fully realized which has prompted a series of celebratory events in New Gibellina notably an installation called AUDIOGHOST 68 that features the band Massive Attack, Robert Del Naja, and Italian artist Giancarlo Neri. For the installation, hundreds of portable radios were dotted across the surface of the concrete and lights from the audience contributed to create the effect of a thousand fireflies dancing in the night through the cities veins—a poignant reminder of what once was. A video of the installation can be seen above. In addition to this, Burri's works have seen a remarkable resurgence of late. A new exhibition, Alberto Burri: The Trauma of Painting, is now open at the Guggenheim New York (closing on January 6), meanwhile another New York gallery, Luxembourg & Dayan is currently exhibiting Alberto Burri: Grafica. The artist's works at auction have also been subject to a recent rise as the graph from Artnet illustrates.
A local Philadelphia artist has been commissioned to re-interpret a Baroque painting of the Virgin Mary, commonly known as "Mary The Untier Of Knots." The piece that was originally painted by Georg Melchior Schmidtner in the 1700s is apparently among Pope Francis' favorite works of art. The Pope is heading into Philly on September 26 before the Festival of Families celebration. His tour will start at Eakins Oval, and then head down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, around City Hall and then travel back up the Benjamin Franklin Parkway before ending at the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. "People have expressed a desire for inclusivity of all so that none are marginalized," artist Meg Saligman told NPR in an interview. "And it's also issues of homelessness and hunger, struggle, issues of race and immigration." Saligman's process involved asking people to write about a personal struggle on a white plastic ribbon when she visited churches, congregations, homeless shelters, public spaces, even using the internet. The work will sit outside the Basilica of Saints Peter & Paul in downtown Philadelphia, where Pope Francis will deliver mass later this month. "The idea is to have every inch of the dome covered with these messages to get people to share their experiences," said Saligman. The Bishop of Rome appears to be a fan of alternative artistic representations of religious works. Earlier this year he took a hermeneutic approach to a communist crucifix, taking the gift from Bolivia with him back home.
“Detroit is not having a renaissance,” philanthropist Gary Wasserman proclaimed in the Bushwick, Brooklyn studio space of painter Markus Linnenbruck, “It is an entirely new expression of urbanism.” With the sun pouring in through large, iron-frame windows, he introduced the concept for his new Detroit arts venue. Cities, he says, are “the 21st century frontier,” not the West or Space. “Detroit is not the only city to fail, but it is the biggest,” he said, noting that the city was once over 2 million people, but is now down to 600,000 or so. This has left massive amounts of transportation infrastructure, cultural infrastructure, and housing redundant and abandoned. In this landscape, the city needs more places to sustain urban activity. Wasserman wants to create “a destination providing something of interest that becomes another thread in the urban fabric,” he explained. Wasserman Projects will be located in an old 5,000 square-foot fire station in Detroit’s Eastern Market district and will open on September 25th during the Detroit Design Festival. The new arts hub is expected to spur artistic interaction and development. The space will grow to 9,000 square-feet in the coming months, and will eventually include a kunsthalle, chamber concert hall, a gallery, an artist’s residency, a studio space, and a permanent installation of The Cosmopolitan Chicken Project, which is the work of Belgian artist Koen Vanmechlen. He breeds national symbolic chickens as a metaphor for human diversity. The opening exhibition will be a collection of paintings by Linnenbruck, shown in a pavilion designed by Miami architect Nick Gelpi. The pavilion is a large wooden structure that splits open to reveal a glossy, colorful interior painted by Linnenbruck. The two halves become an acoustic space for performance.
Former president and artistic director of Creative Time, Anne Pasternak, has been appointed the director of the Brooklyn Museum, replacing outgoing director Arnold L. Lehman, who has served the museum since 1997. Pasternak, who built Creative Time into one of the world’s leading art organizations, will continue Lehman’s publicly-engaged mission going forward, bringing her own take on public art and programming and the “other ways that artists want to contribute to public ideas,” as she put it in a 2013 interview with Paper Magazine. Pasternak joined Creative Time as their only employee in 1994, when the fledgling organization had a budget of $375,000. She saw the budget increase to over $3 million, and, over the course of 21 years, she shed light on many rising artists, including Iranian video artist Shirin Neshat and Brazilian artist and photographer Vik Muniz. Much of her latest work has been engaged with ideas about cities such as urban development, gentrification, and placemaking. She has taken positions and organized events that tackle big ideas, taking public art beyond the realm of the spectacular and into a more engaged, civic-minded discourse about the issues in the world today. This has included everything from the Tribute in Light at Ground Zero by John Bennett, Gustavo Bonevardi, Julian LaVerdiere, Paul Marantz, Paul Myoda, and Richard Nash Gould, in memory of 9/11, to the annual Creative Time Summit, which has become the standard for art conferences, and the largest art and social justice gathering in the world.
Should you be looking for yet another reason to add Milan to your architectural travel itinerary, the Prada Foundation is scheduled to open its many doors to the public on May 9. Designed by Rem Koolhaas/OMA, the campus—part new construction, part rehabbed structures—will include 120,000 square feet of exhibition space, a theater, a children's area, a restaurant, and library. "It is surprising that despite the enormous expansion of art media, the number of typologies for the display of art remains limited," commented Koolhaas on his website. "It seems that art's apotheosis is unfolding in an increasingly limited repertoire of spatial conditions: The gallery (white, abstract, and neutral), the industrial space (attractive because of its predictable conditions which are meant to remain neutral when juxtaposed with any artwork), the contemporary art museum (a barely disguised version of the department store), and the purgatory of the art fair." The Prada Foundation is located in a former distillery at Largo Isarco, an industrial complex dating from 1910 that comprises seven existing buildings, including a warehouse, laboratories, and brewing silos surrounded by a large courtyard. OMA inserted three new structures into the site: a museum for temporary exhibitions, a transformable cinema building, and a ten-story gallery tower. Opening exhibits will draw on the holdings of the Prada Collection (which is heavy on 20th century and contemporary art) and works on loan from museums around the world. Projects commissioned for the occasion are also on the program; Robert Gober and Thomas Demand have created site-specific installations that engage the old and new architectures, and Roman Polanski has produced a documentary film that explores his cinematographic inspirations. [via NY Times.]
It’s open season for public art in St. Louis, according to the groups behind Sculpture City St. Louis 2014—an ongoing festival “intended to draw attention to the rich presence sculpture has in the visual landscape of our region.” The programming leads up to and continues after an April conference. Art exhibitions throughout the year aim to continue the conversation. For instance, Art of Its Own Making, a show at the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts that features sculpture, installation, film, and performance works through August 20. St. Louis Sculpture City showcases public art, sculpture, and design throughout the year, before and after its April 10–12 conference “Monument / Anti-Monument,” which will encourage dialogue about art and public life. A full list of the shows and events that make up the ongoing examination of public art is available on the group's website. Non-profit institutions, for-profit enterprises, and government/civic art programs with programming within 100 miles of downtown St. Louis during 2014 can submit their program to Sculpture City St. Louis, which may list them on their website. St. Louis is a fitting place for the topic. From the two-block sculpture park dubbed CityGarden to plans for a revamped park at the base of the Gateway Arch, it’s a busy time for public space in St. Louis.
Roads of Arabia: Archaeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia The Museum of Fine Arts Houston 5601 Main Street Houston, Texas December 19 through March 9, 2014 The Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH) is hosting an eye-opening exhibition this winter that will uncover the rich history of the ancient trade routes of the Arabian Peninsula. Organized by the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, D.C., in association with the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), Roads of Arabia will feature objects recently excavated from more than 10 archaeological sites, and give insight into the culture and economy of this ancient civilization. Recently discovered objects along the trade routes include alabaster bowls and fragile glassware as well as heavy gold earrings and monumental statues. All of the artifacts are testament to the lively exchange between Arabs and their neighbors, including the Egyptians, Syrians, Babylonians, and Greco-Romans.
In Brooklyn, a new temporary public artwork brings the asphalt plane of 4th Avenue to a playful, three-dimensional life. On the avenue’s concrete median between 3rd and 4th streets, the New York City Department of Transportation’s Urban Art Program has chosen work by artist Emily Weiskopf for its latest public art installation. Unparallel Way is a 120-feet-long sculpture comprised of two parallel aluminum strips in the same bright yellow as the double traffic lines guiding vehicles driving on adjacent roads. In a clever distortion of those painted stripes, Weiskopf’s parallel lines sweep from the ground at irregular heights, creating parabolic curves that rarely match. The installation piece is a public art extension of Brooklyn Utopias: In TRANSITion, a current exhibition at Old Stone House (OSH) exploring 19 artists’ visions of New York City public transportation and its relationship to public space. DOT has partnered with OSH for the display of these utopian artistic ideas addressing issues within urban public transit. Unparallel Way underwent an official on-site unveiling ceremony this morning with presentations by associates from OSH and DOT.
Of Walking Museum of Contemporary Photography 660 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago Through December 20 The Museum of Contemporary Photography’s exhibition, Of Walking, explores how the simple act of walking gives rise to countless intricate thoughts. Although walking may be perceived as one of mankind’s most simple acts, it triggers a series of emotions and contemplations. Of Walking shows that it is not just about putting one foot in front of the other, nor is it solely the motion from point A to point B. The curators sought to demonstrate how the process of thinking is made possible by the act of walking. To illustrate this concept, the exhibition goes back to the history of photography by showcasing famous streetwalkers and photographers such as Eugène Atget and Garry Winogrand. It focuses on navigation through space to determine how walking becomes a foundation for the human thought process. As such, it looks at movements in the history of art that have addressed the act of walking, and the works of artists such as Sohei Nishino that have evoked how meanderings through the surrounding built environment provoke numerous feelings for the individual. Finally, the exhibition also features the works of artists who have looked at political and social situations through interactions and walks through various landscapes.
Jennifer Steinkamp: Street Views Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis 3750 Washington Blvd, St. Louis, MO Through December 23 The Contemporary Art Museum of St. Louis has inaugurated Street Views, an exhibition featuring a series of works by digital installation media artist Jennifer Steinkamp. As part of the 10th anniversary of CAM’s building, the museum will be turned inside out, as its exterior will be transformed into a gallery with large-scale video art being projected onto its facade. Through the use of powerful projectors and intricate computer algorithms, Steinkamp will transform the museum’s metallic and concrete structure into a dynamic garden capturing a mesmerizing natural environment. Her utilization of video and new media enables the viewer to explore different ideas about architecture, design, motion, and interpretation. The use of vernacular imagery conveys the power of nature and enables visitors to perceive the building through a different lens, thus providing them with a new synaesthetic experience. This innovative outdoor moving image series strikes a balance between the natural landscape and computer-generated imagery. By transforming CAM’s building into a compelling projection screen, Steinkamp brings digital media into the mainstream of contemporary art.