Kathryn Andrews explores issues relating to performance, presentation and material. Juxtaposing the legacies of pop art and minimalism, Andrews’ works direct a viewer to consider the way subjectivity is constructed in contemporary culture. In the process, Andrews’ works manage to subvert the very art historical categories they reference. Using fabricated forms alongside readymade objects sourced from the likes of prop shops, memorabilia stores or party supply outlets Andrews’ pieces become a powerful contrast between high art and pseudo-kitsch—shiny, serious mirrored surfaces reflect colorful, strange yet common objects. In the reflection the viewer sees himself, thus becoming part of the narrative and generation of information and understanding.
Entertaining similar interests in her two-person exhibition with fellow Los Angeles artist, Alex Israel, at Gagosian in Rome, Andrews and Israel present works that explore a dialogue about specifically the readymade. The show is up through March 14 and you can see images here.
Chuck Close is best known as a photorealist painter, but he is also interested in photography. Close achieved amazing results as a hyperrealist portrait painter working from gridded photographs. Suffering from a condition known as Prosopagnosia, also known as face blindness, Close is unable to recognize faces. Because of this condition Close was drawn to painting and photographing portraits. A seizure left him partially paralyzed in 1988 and after that he continued to paint, but had to adopt new techniques.
Recently Close created a series of portraits for Vanity Fair. Close decided to use poloroids so that his subjects could immediately see the image. After every shot he and his subject viewed the photograph so they could decide what to change for the next one. “No hair, no make-up, no wardrobe, comb your own hair,” were the guidelines Close gave his subjects. He didn’t want to produce “glamour shots,” and it was important that his subjects played an active role in the process, and moreover, that they trusted him. Seeking to show the “humanity” in each of his celebrity subjects Close wasn’t concerned about flattery or status, but rather with accuracy. The results are a series of distinguished and honest portraits. Check out the Hollywood issue of Vanity Fair.
Cape Farewell founder David Buckland involves artists to help bring attention to the usually scientific conversation about global warming. Hoping to appeal to the public on a more emotional level regarding the topic U-n-f-o-l-d, a travelling exhibition, presents the work of twenty-five artists who participated in Cape Farewell expeditions from 2007-2009. Capturing and creating images responding to what they saw and felt while venturing to places like the High Arctic and the Andes, the artists created innovative, independent and collective responses to explore the physical, emotional and political dimensions of our changing environment. Working side by side with scientists on the expeditions artists, writers and musicians, such as Rachel Whiteread, Ian McEwan, Gretel Ehrlich, Vicky Long and Heather Ackroyd sought to find ways to discuss the topic of global warming from an artistically minded point of view.
As Buckland says of the subject: “Climate change is a reality. Caused by us all, it is a cultural, social and economic problem and must move beyond scientific debate. Cape Farewell is committed to the notion that artists can engage the public in this issue, through creative insight and vision. The Arctic is an extraordinary place to visit. It is a place in which to be inspired, a place which urges us to face up to what it is we stand to lose.” -David Buckland, 2007 (from capefarewell.com)
Watch the video here, and read more bout the project here.
Photographer Christopher Payne captures what goes on at One Steinway Place, the factory where people transform raw, messy materials into Steinway pianos, some of the finest musical instruments in the world. The level of craftsmanship is impressive and Payne’s photographs portray the quality of work while exuding a deep level of respect. As Payne said of the project, “the opportunity to look deep inside it [the factory] revealed to me one of the supreme and most discerning accomplishments of the human hand and imagination.”
Marc Potter creates his “Rainy Day Instruments” by incorporating parts from retired musical instruments with vintage and antique objects. Each piece is an unusual, unique new instrument with a distinct sound.
Jean-Pierre Gauthier considers himself an artist, inventor and musician. Each of these traits goes into his kinetic sculptures and installations. Using a variety of materials, electronics and other repurposed odds and ends, Gauthier transforms everyday objects into sculptures that move, make noise and seem to have a life of their own.
French artist JR, previously covered by Beautiful Decay, has recently created a series of posters and floor-bound installations for the New York City Ballet’s Art Series. The NYCB Art Series commissions contemporary artists to create original works of art inspired by the ballet’s unique energy, spectacular dancers, and one-of-a-kind repertory of ballets. Having worked with artists such as Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Julian Schnabel in the past the tradition has a high standard and is a special example of collaboration between dance and contemporary art.
JR’s installation involved coordinating dancers’ bodies in complicated, intricate arrangements. Interested in the unique qualities of dancers’ bodies juxtaposed with the texture of paper JR sought to explore the “interaction” one experiences when viewing the ballet, or in his case when actually creating his work. Both experiences are ephemeral, not something that can be wholly captured by a singular work of art. Yet JR’s temporary installation does capture beauty, grace, and the sense of a fleeting moment by portraying many dancers arranged in the shape of an eye. Encouraging a viewer to look at both his piece and the performance JR’s installation acts as a reminder to keep our eyes open so as not to miss a thing.
JR will share his Art Series installation during three special performance evenings — January 23, February 7, 13 — when every seat in the house is available for just $29. On these evenings, every audience member will receive a takeaway created specifically for this event. More information about public viewing hours here. (via designboom, hahamag)
With spring around the corner I can’t help but think about flowers, which led me to consider Anna Schuleit’s installation Bloom, 2003, a site-specific installation at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center in Boston. Though now over ten years old I feel the idea that art and beauty can heal is a powerful and ever-relevant concept. The installation consisted of over 28,000 flowers, 5,600 square feet of live sod and recorded sound that played over the old public service announcement system. The flowers and sod filled four floors of the historic building and the basement hallways.
The building, which was slated for demolition, had a long and complicated history, having hosted thousands of patients and employees over the years. Struck by the absence of both life and color after visiting the site, Schuleit conceived of BLOOM, reinvigorating the building with an impressive display of flowers and transforming it into a fantasy world for four days. After the installation Schuleit had the flowers donated to half-way houses and psychiatric hospitals throughout New England. As she said of the installation in her interview with Colossal, “I wanted these flowers to continue onward, after the installation. Bloom was a reflection on the healing symbolism of flowers given to the sick when they are bedridden and confined to hospital settings. As a visiting artist I had observed an astonishing absence of flowers in psychiatric settings. Here, patients receive few, if any, flowers during their stay. Bloom was created to address this absence, in the spirit of offering and transition.”
Check out more of Schuleit’s work at her website and read the full interview with her here. All images copyright Anna Schuleit.
Photographer Steve Rosenfield’s “What I Be Project” is, as he says, “a social experiment turned into, what is now, a global movement about honesty and empowerment. In today’s society, we are often told to look or act a certain way. If we differ from these ‘standards,’ we are often judged, ridiculed, bullied and sometimes even killed over them. I started this project in hopes to open up the lines of communication, and to help everyone accept diversity with an open mind & heart and empower those who feel they suffer for something they may see as a flaw.”
The project asks participants to write their biggest fear or insecurity somewhere on their body, and then allow Rosenfield to photograph the writing as part of a portrait. Often the subjects write an accompanying statement to the portrait, discussing how the fear has affected their life. The courage required to be a part of the project is meant to be cathartic. Including everyone from high school students to better-known individuals, such as Michael Franti, Kathryn Budig, Paula Van Oppen and Trevor Hall, the project is all about how we define ourselves based on the perception of others’ opinions. Drawing attention to notions such as reputation, stereotype, self-identification and insecurity, Rosenfield’s work is encouraging. It helps a viewer consider what the world might be like without the labels we assign and assumptions we make about ourselves, and people we don’t even know. Learn more about it here. (via theguardian)
Andy Warhol’s Silver Clouds is probably one of the best-known balloon installations. Silver Clouds was first created with the help of engineer Billy Klüver and incorporated into other works, such as Merce Cunningham’s 1968 Rainforest. Re-made many times since its first installment, the mercurial piece is a favorite of many.
German choreographer William Forsythe created an amazing installation called Scattered Crowd that consisted of thousands of white balloons. Seeking to reflect the concept of human decision, Forsythe wanted visitors to consider how they chose to maneuver through the piece.
Madrid-based street artist, SpY has been creating urban interventions for over two decades. His “balloon boy” is both humorous and surprising.
First created in 1998 and re-created several times Half the Air in a Given Space by Martin Creed is comprised of thousands of balloons. Always the same color, the installation is mean to be clever, fun and interactive.
South Korean artist Choi Jeong Hwa created an installation called Life/Life, consisting of over 10,000 balloons at Gallery Central in Australia. The beautiful installation was made all the more powerful for its ephemeral nature.