Salon 94

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Roberta Smith Reviews “More Material” in the New York Times

At Salon 94 Bowery, “More Material,” an exuberant, illuminating array of art, photography, jewelry, fashion, ceramics and whatnot, has been orchestrated by the lawyer turned fashion designer Duro Olowu. (He organized a smaller exhibition at the gallery in 2012.) With over 70 people represented, it shows how they erode the traditional boundaries between artistic disciplines simply by doing what they want with what is at hand. Crossover efforts by three painters include James Brown’s sea-shell-and-glass necklaces, Amy Bessone’s torso-shaped ceramic vases and Josh Blackwell’s wall pieces, which consist of embroidery on irregular mats made of layered plastic bags.

Freedom and the pervasiveness of creativity are Mr. Olowu’s big themes, as is the naturalness of mixing: whether it is the contrasting prints of the garments he designs, the variety of things in his London shop and his own collection, or installations like this. Here, he juxtaposes his own gorgeous, often ethereal evening capes with 25 examples from his collection of short tops called bubas, which are made of Ashoke textiles for Yoruban women of high status, and one of Nick Cave’s flamboyantly bejeweled soundsuits, which only the hardiest performer can wear.

Among the photographs are the work of a talented newcomer Sandy Kim, who records strange New York moments in saturated color; the Polaroid portrait studies by the painter Barkley L. Hendricks, and images by lesser-known African studio photographers like Dossa Z. Cosme and Mama Casset. Other unfamiliar names include Sylvie Franquet, who creates needlepoint homages to art and literature and also makes small malformed masks in glazed ceramic; Sarah de Teliga, who paints Cubist abstractions on crushed metal cans; and Cyrus Kabiru, whose handmade metal eyewear is best taken as strange, insectlike sculpture. There are wonderful ceramic vessels by Adam Silverman, Gareth Mason, Tommaso Corvi-Mora, Magdalene Odundo, Summer Wheat and Matthias Merkel Hess. His casts of a West African water kettle amount to very large (and heavy) teapots that might have been glazed by Marimekko.

Mr. Olowu has an omnivorous but exacting eye. Looking at his shows is both humbling and instructive, especially where color is concerned. It’s too bad he can’t be cloned. The curatorial profession sorely needs wide-open sensibilities like his.

To read the article click here.

Check Out “SITElines: Unsettled Landscapes” at Site Santa Fe Featuring Liz Cohen

A new biennial exhibition series that explores contemporary art from Nunavut to Tierra del Fuego  

July 20, 2014 – January 11, 2015 

SITElines: New Perspectives on Art of the Americas is a six­-year commitment to a series of linked exhibitions with a focus on contemporary art and cultural production of the Americas. The exhibitions will take place in 2014, 2016, and 2018 and will be organized by a different team of curators, from locations throughout the Western Hemisphere. Through SITElines, SITE will establish a new programming hub called SITEcenter to generate connectivity between and during the exhibitions.

“With Unsettled Landscapes, we build connections from Santa Fe to the rest of the Americas, we explore untold stories and perspectives, and we link between our past and our present,” said Irene Hofmann, Phillips Director and Chief Curator of SITE Santa Fe. “First Native American land, then a Spanish Kingdom, a Mexican Province, and an American Territory, all before statehood, New Mexico is a rich microcosm of the Americas. We are proud of the selection of artists participating in Unsettled Landscapes. These artists represent multiple generations and regions throughout the Western Hemisphere. Our show includes important new and existing works, 13 new commissions and several off­site installations. In addition, we have also included key works of art from previous decades that further expand the ideas of the show. Our aim was to curate a dynamic exhibition that shows how themes of landscape, territory and trade weave throughout the work of artists from every corner of the Americas.”

SITElines signifies a radical rethinking of SITE Santa Fe’s signature biennial exhibition, originally established in 1995. It represents a collaborative structure for planning its biennials, a vision for continuity between biennials, a commitment to community and place, and a dedication to new and under­recognized perspectives. This new multi­dimensional approach—together with a strong geographic focus—redefines SITE’s role at the forefront of biennial exhibition making and proposes new curatorial frameworks for biennials globally.

Unsettled Landscapes will look at the urgencies, political conditions and historical narratives that inform the work of contemporary artists across the Americas – from Nunavut to Tierra del Fuego. Through three themes – landscape, territory, and trade – this exhibition expresses the interconnections among representations of the land, movement across the land, and economies and resources derived from the land. 

To visit the website, click here.

Opening Tonight: “The Thing Itself” featuring Laurie Simmons at Yancey Richardson Gallery

​Yancey Richardson is pleased to present The Thing Itself, a summer group show examining the use of the medium of photography as subject matter in the photo-based practice of a number of contemporary artists. From those looking at the tools and materials of photography – cameras, paper, and scanners, for example – to family snapshots or images in the media, the unifying theme of included works is self-reflexivity. As Marshall McLuhan would say: “The medium is the message.”

The exhibition will feature a group of artists represented by Yancey Richardson, as well as other contemporary photo-based practitioners, including: Mary Ellen Bartley, Anne Collier, Sara Cwyner, Roe Ethridge, Bryan Graf, Bill Jacobson, Kenneth Josephson, Laura Letinsky, Matt Lipps, Vik Muniz, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Alyson Shotz, Laurie Simmons, Wolfgang Tillmans, Bertien van Manen, and Christopher Williams.

The nature of the photographic medium continues to change through various technological advances and an ever-increasing movement towards digitization and democratization. There remains almost no materiality to the medium as film, darkrooms, and paper recede into obsolescence. In response, many artists have undergone a renewed evaluation of and investigation into what makes something a photograph, taking on as their subject the tools and materials of the medium, positioned as part critique of and part artifact from the rapidly disappearing analog world. These investigations often reveal the artistʼs increased awareness of the physicality of photographic prints in an image-soaked digital world.

Photographs by Wolfgang Tillmans, Bryan Graf, Vik Muniz and Alyson Shotz dwell on the materiality of photographic paper itself while Christopher Williams and Laurie Simmons consider the hardware of cameras and Mary Ellen Bartley creates abstractions from her old 4 x 5 transparency sleeves. Sara Cwynar scans illustrations from an out of date darkroom manual, creating a distorted mash-up of analog and digital. In Special Treatment, (above), Matt Lipps utilizes images from the 1970s multivolume Time Life series Library of Photography to create a diorama-like assemblage of images. In the work of both Lipps and Laura Letinsky, who cuts out existing images from her own work, from other artists, and from popular media, to create quasi-collage still-life compositions, we see a flattening of hierarchies between fine art, media image, and amateur photography. Like smartphone cameras today, the advent of the Polaroid camera made it possible not only for everyone to be a photographer but to see the image immediately. Kenneth Josephsonʼs 1965 portrait, Matthew, (right), celebrates this new technology. In the image, Josephsonʼs son holds a Polaroid image of himself upside down in front of his face as though holding a camera.

Similarly, other works in the exhibition use formal elements to draw attention to the conditions of their own making. Both Bertien van Manen and Paul Mpagi Sepuya establish the value of prints as both tangible objects and vessels of image and meaning. In van Manenʼs series Give Me Your Image, the artist photographed treasured family photos in the homes of European immigrants, highlighting the waning practice of taking, developing and displaying family snapshots. Elsewhere, Sepuya underscores the very objecthood of his photographic prints highlighting the relationship and difference between image and object. 

Currently on view: Karl Fritsch’s “Yodel” at Gallery Funaki, Melbourne, Australia

Gallery Funaki presents a new body of work from Karl Fritsch, whose lovingly iconoclastic take on jewellery history has accorded him cult hero status in the world of contemporary jewellery and beyond. His rings,both precious and anti-precious, beautiful and proudly anti-beautiful, bear the weight and scars of centuries of embedded cultural belief about jewellery’s manifestation of status. Using precious materials as well as rough hewn aluminium, stones and glass, Fritsch’s work has the look of something buried for a thousand years while remaining utterly contemporary.

Selected works are also shown from a recent collaboration between Fritsch and Auckland based photographer Gavin Hipkins. ‘Der Tiefenglanz’, which roughly translates as “deep gloss”, reveals the playful exchange of ideas between two remarkable artists working at the height of their careers.

Parts of this collaboration are currently on show at the Museum of Art and Design in New York as part of the ‘Multiple Exposures: Jewelry and Photography’ exhibition.

Karl Fritsch trained in Germany and now lives in Wellington, NZ. His work is held in leading international museums and public collections including Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Pinakothek of Modern Art, Munich; Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Museum Turnov/Czech Republic; Museum of Decorative Arts, Montréal/Canada; Royal College of Art, London; Auckland Museum, Auckland; and The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington.

To read the press release, click here.

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