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Archive for September 2011

Postmodernism exhibition at the V&A Museum

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Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 – 1990

David Franchi – 26th September 2011

Is Postmodernism finished? The V&A Museum exhibition “Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 – 1990” shed lights on some aspects of one of the most controversial cultural experience, at the V&A Museum, London, ongoing until 15th January 2012.

The V&AMuseum exhibition is particular and for those born in the 1960s will bring back melancholic youth memories. Postmodernism, in fact, began as a fairly elitist movement, that later influenced many cultural fields, including religion, literary criticism, sociology, linguistics, architecture, history, anthropology, visual arts, and music. “Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 – 1990” brings together over 250 objects across all genres of art and design, revisiting a time when style was not just a ‘look’ but became an attitude.

Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 – 1990” is the first in-depth survey of art, design and architecture examining the movement. It shows how postmodernism evolved from a provocative architectural movement in the early 1970s and rapidly went on to influence all areas of popular culture. In the 1970s it had its birth, while during the 1980s became a mass phenomenon mainly through fashion and music. Therefore the V&A Museum exhibition will be much appreciated by those aged in their forties. Or maybe not, as it states that we – including who writes- got old enough to be exhibited in a museum. Flattering, but a bit depressing at the same time, isn’t it?

However, defining Postmodernism is quite hard. It is a movement in contemporary culture characterised by the problem of objective truth and global narrative or meta-narrative. It is the art and design movement that follows Modernism but at the same time both of them went on in parallel for a while. Postmodernism believes that apparent realities are only social constructs, as they are subject to change inherent to time and place. It underlines the role of language, power relations, and motivations. Postmodernism challenges the severe categorising such as male versus female, straight versus gay, and white versus black.

For postmodernists style was everything whilst modernists considered style to be a simple incident to their ideas. “Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 – 1990” explores the radical ideas that challenged the orthodoxies of Modernism; overthrowing purity and simplicity in favour of exuberant colours, bold patterns, artificial looking surfaces, historical quotation, parody and wit, and above all, a newfound freedom in design.

Key Postmodernism aspects are identified in the three large chronological sections of “Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 – 1990”. The first gallery focuses on architecture considered the cradle discipline for postmodernism. The mixing of different cultural references created a new critical language, addressed to challenge the insufficiencies of Modernism together with the late capitalism. Architects, such as Aldo Rossi, Hans Hollein, Charles Moore and James Stirling, found a new way of combining elements of the past with the ones of the present. Charles Jencks was one of the founders and proclaimed its death. Designers, including Ron Arad, Vivienne Westwood and Rei Kawakubo, assembled cultural fragments applying the technique of ‘bricolage’ across many different disciplines. Italy was a key centre for critical practices where designers like Ettore Sottsass and Alessandro Mendini began to seek alternatives by challenging social norms, market imperatives and assumptions of taste. Italian critic Bruno Zevi indicated popular Las Vegas style as a new referent for Postmodernism and architect Robert Venturi, with his partner Denise Scott Brown, embraced this point of view. The 1980 Venice Architecture Biennale – titled ‘Strada Novissima’ – was a landmark of new ideas but it was much criticised by philosopher Jurgen Habermas.

The second part of the V&A Museum exhibition is focused on the proliferation of postmodernism through design, art,music, fashion, performance, and club culture during the 1980s. In this section of the exhibition seems to be in a mid-‘80s club. It is, in fact, focused on the club culture of the 1980s that came after the discos on the 1970s. This section displays audio-visual installations and objects including fashion photography by Guy Bourdin and Helmut Newton, stage collections worn by Annie Lennox and Devo, turntables used by hip-hop pioneer Grandmaster Flash, and dance costumes related to the choreography of Karole Armitage, Kazuo Ohno, and Michael Clark. Performers such as Grace Jones, Leigh Bowery and Klaus Nomi played with genre and gender, creating hybrid, subversive stage personas. There is a niche dedicated to “Blade Runner” considered a cult movie for Postmodernism. Like the music, objects and architecture of the time, these celebrities were themselves constructed from ‘samples’. The first design group to embrace postmodernism was Studio Alchymia (1978) in Milan. While in 1981 the launch of the group Memphis in Milan again, under the leader Ettore Sottsass, was recognised as a disturbance in the designer world but immediately hailed as introducing a new international style. The artist and singer Laurie Anderson created her Postmodernism style inNew York.

The final section examines the exaggerated possessions culture of the 1980s when money became to be worshipped by artists, designers and authors. From Andy Warhol’s 1981 ‘Dollar Sign’ paintings, to Karl Lagerfeld’s designs for Chanel, consumerism and excess were trademarks of the postmodern almost imposed to the persons and the needs were artificially created to expand expenditures, so that capitalistic economy could run faster and generate huge profits for the big fat cat companies. Postmodernism criticised this situation, according to the well-known “Protect me from what I want”, by Jenny Holzer (1985), printed on one partition wall of this section. Brands were also keen to employ leading designers to apply postmodern style to their products; one example on display is a Mickey Mouse tea set designed by Michael Graves for Disney. As the novelist Martin Amis put it in 1984, “money doesn’t mind if we say it’s evil, it goes from strength to strength.”

By the late 1980s, many had started to declare the death of Postmodernism. However, it is not sure if it is dead as nothing seems to come after it. The exhibition ends encouraging visitors to consider the relevance of the postmodern moment. The last work on display is “Bizarre love triangle”, a video by New Order, an English band famous for their delightful Postmodernism style, recently back on scenes.

“Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 – 1990” is convincing although there still much more to say about this movement. For example, investigating about the very popular dimension of the movement: who reminds Klaus Nomi though he has been one of the beginners? But ask about the more popular icons Duran Duran, Prince or even Human League.

“Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 – 1990” is curated by Glenn Adamson and Jane Pavitt. Sponsors are the Friends of the V&A and Barclays Wealth.


Written by davidfranchi

September 28, 2011 at 10:29 pm

Degas and the Ballet: picturing movement – Royal Academy of Arts

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Degas and the Ballet: picturing movement

“It is an amazing exhibition”

David Franchi – Sunday 19th September 2011

It is an amazing exhibition “Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement” at the Royal Academy of Arts, Piccadilly. It is focused, in fact, on ‘movement’ one of the most famous art topics of the nineteenth- twentieth century approached from the point of view of the famous French artist Degas and his body of work on ballet.
The importance of movement as an art theme is undoubtedly. Futurism or Vorticism, for example, made of it an inspiration. It was one of the basic principles that pushed the technology research to invent, for instance, the camera or the film.
Degas and the ballet: picturing movement” presents a landmark exhibition focusing on the French artist fascination with movements of dance. The Royal Academyexhibition traces the development of Degas ballet imagery throughout his career, from the documentary style of the early 1870s to the opulent expressiveness of his final years. The exhibition includes around 85 paintings, sculptures, pastels, drawings, prints and photographs by Degas, as well as photographs by his contemporaries, and examples of early film.Degas lived in the decades that have seen the birth and first developments of cinema and photography. The Royal Academy exhibition, in fact, presents Degas’s progressive engagement with the figure in movement in the context of parallel advances in photography and early film. Degas was really open to the new technologies and often directly involved with them.

Highlights of the exhibition include such masterpieces as the celebrated sculpture ‘Little Dancer Aged Fourteen’ (1880-81), which is displayed with a group of superb preparatory drawings that together show the artist tracking around his subject like a cinematic eye.
Degas was strictly connected with photographers Etienne-Jules Marey, Eadweard Muybridge and film-makers Lumière brothers. “Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement” investigates this Parisian network and their experiments and works with new technologies and art. Therefore, Degas could be considered a modern, radical artist who intensely faced visual problems and was fully familiar with the technological developments of his time.
Hilaire- Germain- Edgar De Gas, (19th July 1834) was famous for his work in painting, sculpture, printmaking and drawing. He is considered as one of the founders of Impressionism although he rejected the term, and preferred to be called a Realist. A superb draughtsman, he is especially identified with the subject of the dance, and over half of his works depict dancers. He was a master in depicting movement, as do his racecourse subjects and female nudes.
Degas was born in Paris from a moderately wealthy family. He began to paint early in life. He travelled and lived in Italy and in the USA. As the years passed, Degas became isolated, due in part to his belief that a painter could not have a personal life. His argumentative nature was deplored. He never married. Nearly blind restlessly wandered the streets of Paris before dying the 27th September 1917.
Curators are Richard Kendall, Curator at Large, The Clark Art Institute, Williamstown (USA), Jill DeVonyar, independent curator, and Ann Dumas, Exhibition Curator, Royal Academy of Arts. The exhibition is sponsored by BNY Mellon.
Showing until 11th October 2011
At the Royal Academy of Arts, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BD
Published for: www.remotegoat.co.uk
Direct Link: http://www.remotegoat.co.uk/review_view.php?uid=7507

Written by davidfranchi

September 24, 2011 at 12:22 am

Equation a Barry Reigate exhibition at Paradise Row

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Equation – Barry Reigate exhibition at Paradise Row

Barry Reigate‘s second solo show”

David Franchi – Wednesday 14th September 2011

 “Equation” is a new exhibition of Berry Reigate at Paradise Row Gallery, Oxford Street. This emerging artist from London brings together different topics in his body of work. The show is a mix of diverse techniques with works of mixed medium. “Equation” is Barry Reigate‘s second solo show at Paradise Row Gallery.

There are three different sorts of artworks in this exhibition. Firstly, canvas with a silver background with the repeated theme of a wolf taken from an advertisement where it was with the three pigs. The images are painted criticisms to the contemporary situation in which people are struggling because of the credit crunch: “The pigs are the people and the wolf is playing the role of Power/ the Other. In other times that might have meant anything with teeth/weapons, hiding in the forest, for us, now, that means, obviously, Capital” Barry Reigate explains.

A second group of works consist in geometric coloured images on paper. Those are taken from a SAT exam book and emptied from their original meaning. Barry Reigate says: “… aesthetically they seems to nod to Minimalism whilst the use of geometric forms was vaguely reminiscent of the various tactics of conceptual artists like Carl Andre and Sol LeWitt and fitted into the Modernist tendency to fetishize form.”

Thirdly, there are some sculpture in form of installation made of construction materials such as concrete and plywood. “Here the connection between the forms and the structure is played out in the materials and medium” Barry Reigate says. And in fact these geometrical forms are winking both to conventional architecture as long as recent riots events in the UK.

This tri – partition is contained in the catalogue book you can find at the Paradise Row Gallery. There is no doubt the show gives the impression to be organised in three sections although mixed together.

However, the catalogue seems to be unaware of the amount of sketches and drawings present throughout the exhibition. Sketches are made for the installations. Drawings are mingling with the rest of the artworks. But instead, this is the most interesting part of the exhibition, where Barry Reigate puts down is amazing ability to draw, together with themes, ideas and
colours. Although in the drawings – as well as in the paper works – some symmetries are lost these are fascinating works giving good ideas about the creative process of the artist. Also they are most spontaneous and less reasoned works releasing the real potential of Reigate whilst the final production shows a reduced naturalness and therefore loses genuineness.

Barry Reigate is born in London (1971), where he lives and work. He had few solos exhibitions and some group exhibitions also in prestigious museums in UK as well as in Australia, Holland, Russia and Belgium.

Showing until 08 October 2011

Venue: Paradise Row Gallery, 74 Newman Street, London, W1T 3DB

Published for: www.remotegoat.co.uk

Direct link: http://www.remotegoat.co.uk/review_view.php?uid=7483

Written by davidfranchi

September 19, 2011 at 12:04 am

Dali’s Lionette at the Salvador & Amanda

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Dali’s Lionette

Dalì at Salvador & Amanda

by David Franchi, Saturday 10 September 2011

The show “Dalí’s Lionette” presents an unusual point of view about Salvador Dalì and the unsolved menage-à-trois he had with his wife Gala and his young muse Amanda Lear. The story is well -known: Amanda Lear met Dalì in Paris and became his muse in an unconventional relationship, described as ‘spiritual marriage’, with Gala’s approval.The show location is the ‘Salvador & Amanda’ Restaurant, in Covent Garden. The performance is a mix of surrealistic theatre and entertainment, slightly Dada and with a hint of avant-garde. Short cabaret sketches, songs, live painting, dances and physical involvement of the clients are the actions in “Dalí’s Lionette”.

There are four actors involving customers in actions plus a fifth who paints a mannequin at the entrance of the restaurant. Their characters are a tall, skinny and bewildered Dalì in red circus jacket, a crowned and dramatic Gala and a sexy Amanda in leotard both singing, while a leopard girl dances speechless representing the Imagination. The crew is quite good at managing the space of the Spanish restaurant that has not a proper stage. There is the need to organise better the use of the areas where the action is made. However, this should arrive with repeats as a theatre show is always a work on progress.

The Amanda, Salvador and Gala menage-à-trois was scandalous. Gala was also not new at this. Born in Russia, she married the French poet Paul Eluard founder of the Surrealism. She was an inspiration for many artists including Éluard, Louis Aragon, Max Ernst and Andre Breton. Gala, Éluard and Ernst spent three years in a menage -à- trois from 1924-27.

In 1929 Eluard and Gala visited Dalì. Immediately an affair with Gala developed, even though Dalì was said to be a virgin, because of his phobia of female genitalia. Dalì was about ten years younger than Gala. In the same year they went to live together. Gala was a muse and an agent for Dalì. She had a strong sex drive and had numerous extramarital affairs, confident Dalì who was a candaulism practitioner.

In 1965 Lear met Dalì in Paris, he was some forty years older than her. She became a muse and a pupil for the couple, accompanying them on trips. Amanda spent every summer with Dalì over a period of fifteen years. She posed for some of Dalí’s most famous works.

Although she remained Dalí’s protegee and mistress for many years, Amanda had numerous affairs. In 1979 Amanda married French bisexual aristocrat Alain-Philippe Malagnac who, in fact, was the former lover turned adopted son of diplomat and controversial gay novelist Roger Peyrefitte. The wedding was celebrated just three weeks after the couple first met and lasted for twenty-one years until Malagnac passed in 2000.

Dalì and Gala strongly disapproved the relationship with Malagnac and they began drifting apart with Lear. They still sporadically kept in touch, especially after Gala died in 1982, until Dalì death.

Director and producer is Saima Duhare for Palladini Productions. Writers are Nick Fearne and Jame Long. Actors: Lyndal Marwick, Tessa Maxwell, Jason Wilkinson and Alice Havillyn.

Event Venues: Salvador & Amanda, 8 Great Newport Street, London, WC2H 7JA
Published for www.remotegoat.co.uk
Direct link: http://www.remotegoat.co.uk/review_view.php?uid=7467

Written by davidfranchi

September 13, 2011 at 11:09 pm

“Stop” by Archiv Peter Piller at Brancolini Grimaldi

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Stop by Archiv Peter Piller

Peter Piller at Brancolini Grimaldi

David Franchi – Friday 9th September 2011

“Stop” by Archiv Peter Piller is an interesting exhibition at the Brancolini Grimaldi gallery, Mayfair. The German artist Peter Piller spent 10 years of his life working in an advertisement agency called Carat, in Hamburg, cataloguing regional newspapers. As picture editor he managed literally thousands of images published by German regional newspapers.The idea of using images taken from newspapers – scanned and then elaborated for printing in large dimension – is unusual and therefore intriguing. Peter Piller do not use captions giving a new life to these pictures that were aggregated following a thematic order e.g. accidents, people receiving flower gift for their birthday and police searching.
The Brancolini Grimaldiexhibition also displays one of his most celebrated project ‘Von Erde schöner’ (More Beautiful from Above) of aerial images – not recycled – depicting homes in the German countryside and sorted out in a group. These were given to Piller by a company that was hoping to sell the prints back to the homeowners. The business was a failure, so Piller subsequently archived and categorised the images into unusual selections such as homes that were built next to graveyards, homes with swimming pools, homes with tents erected in the garden and homes with red bed linen hanging from windows.The ‘Background Colours’ series was photographed by Peter Piller himself and it represents small colourful views of particulars from strip clubs just after having being used.

This particular combination of recycled images and barely new photographs is captivating and in the meantime confusing, as the firsts obviously have not good definition when the seconds are high-quality prints. It should be maybe worth to clearly distinguish the two productions enhancing the approach at the work of the German artist.

However, the Brancolini Grimaldi exhibition reveals another fine artist with great ideas. Piller has shaped from these plain images a typology of German suburbia that for a short moment appeared on the pages of local newspapers to immediately dissolve. When viewing these different disparate groups of images you become aware of the important role photography plays in defining social beliefs and customs.

Also the concept of recycling images to bring them to a new life is very descriptive of our contemporary society and in particular of the German one which is so keen to environmental and naturalistic culture.

Peter Piller is born in 1968, in Fritzlar near Kassel (Germany). He lived in Fritzlar, Kassel, Idar-Oberstein and Würzburg. He studied Geography, German Studies and Art Education and he graduated at the renowned Academy of Visual Art of Hamburg. Peter Piller build is photo archive Archiv Peter Piller that currently contains roughly 12.000. In 2005 Piller was appointed Visiting Professor at Academy of Visual Art in Hamburg. Since 2006 is Professor at the Academy of Visual Art in Leipzig. He lives and works in Hamburg and has been awarded and exhibited many times.

Venue: Brancolini Grimaldi Gallery, 43-44 Albemarle Street, London, W1S 4JJ
Showing until: 1st October 2011
Published for: www.remotegoat.co.uk
Direct link: http://www.remotegoat.co.uk/review_view.php?uid=7464

Written by davidfranchi

September 9, 2011 at 11:17 pm