Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Michael Raedecker-Gem Museum The Hague

Michael Raedecker – one of the most successful artists of his generation – presents a broad overview of his latest work at the GEM this summer. His complex, multi-layered paintings, which daringly combine the “high-status” medium of paint with the homelier medium of embroidery, are based on traditional genres like the still life and flower painting. Raedecker has shot to fame since 1999, winning international prizes and seeing his work included in renowned collections like Saatchi and Tate Modern.

Michael Raedecker began his artistic training by studying fashion at the Rietveld Academy. He then attended the Rijksacademie and received his MFA from the prestigious Goldsmith’s College in London. He gradually developed a highly distinctive style, raising eyebrows by his unusual combination of paint and thread. His disturbing pictures are characterised by the complete absence of any human presence and are inspired by the “good life” depicted in the American TV shows of his childhood. They are usually based on a photographic image, which Raedecker reduces to its essence. As he works on it, he reduces the lines and gradually leaves more and more to the viewer’s imagination.

For Raedecker, there is nothing self-evident about working in paint. Time and again he asks himself how, as an artist today, he can add anything to the history of painting or of art in general. His relationship with the contemporary world is also a major issue; how does he relate to society and what rationale is there being an artist in today’s world? The latter question became particularly pressing after 11 September 2001, when he was overwhelmed by a feeling of powerlessness. He felt out of place and decadent in the safety of his studio.

His pictures have gradually become more restrained and his palette subtler. therapy (2005), a still life showing the remains of a breakfast on a table, is typical of a phase in which Raedecker has gone in search of the essence of painting. Like his seventeenth-century predecessors, his aim is to impress the viewer with his virtuosity. In his latest work, his paintings are increasingly transparent, making the creative process still more immediately apparent.

Raedecker regards his flower paintings as the height of decadence. Like the still lifes of the Golden Age, they remind the viewer of beauty and transience, of seduction and death. However, the prissiness of flower arrangements and bits of embroidery is offset by confrontational, suggestive titles like pornography (2005) and penetration (2005), which give the paintings an entirely different frame of reference. The ambiguity applies to the handling of the paint as well as the content of the pictures; from a distance, the representation of flowers is clearly visible but closer up it disintegrates into abstract components exhibiting subtle differences of colour and texture.


The Studio Museum in Harlem is proud to present the first solo U.S. museum exhibition of the work of London-based artist Hurvin Anderson. Born in 1965 in Birmingham, United Kingdom to parents of Jamaican descent, Anderson engages the formal traditions of landscape painting and abstraction. Through his paintings, he explores his own relationship to the Caribbean through depictions of complex, personal spaces and memory.

Continuing Anderson’s fascination with and exploration of places imbued with social history, meaning and memory, Hurvin Anderson: Peter’s Series 2007-2009 presents seven paintings and nine works on paper. These works re-imagine spaces created by Caribbean immigrants during the 1950s and 1960s. At that time, barbershops and other places for personal services often were opened in people’s homes and functioned as sites for both social gatherings and economic enterprise. These shop owners and their customers were among a significant wave of immigrants to the United Kingdom from the Caribbean Commonwealth countries after World War II. The barbershop was not only a place to get a haircut, but also a social space in which to meet and talk with one’s friends and neighbors.
For Anderson, the barbershop functions as a personal space loaded with imagery, and also houses intertwined political, economic and social histories. “Peter’s Series” takes as its subject one of the last-known of these spaces—a small attic that was converted into a barbershop where the artist’s father went for haircuts. Finding the space both complex and ambiguous, Anderson explored the technical exercise of recreating it many times. At first intrigued by the physical features of the attic, Anderson focused on the architecture of the room in early paintings, providing multiple perspectives of the space, like a series of portraits. Working from photographs, memory and imagination, Anderson painted and repainted the space, and even repainted a painting of it, continually reducing the interior architecture to its basic colors and simple geometric forms. In later paintings, he centralizes an anonymous figure in the barber’s chair, further negotiating between functional space and shared experience, while also providing a voyeuristic glimpse of a private moment.

Anderson studied at the Wimbledon College of Art and the Royal College of Art in the United Kingdom. His first solo gallery show was in 2003 and in 2006 he was the artist in residence at Dulwich Picture Gallery in London. Earlier this year, Anderson had his first solo museum show at the Tate Britain.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Dash Snow, East Village Artistic Rebel, Dies at 27

Published: July 15, 2009

Dash Snow, who rebelled against his privileged and art-loving family to become a promising young New York artist in his own right, died Monday night at a hotel in the East Village. He was 27 and lived in Manhattan.

His death, at Lafayette House, on East Fourth Street, was confirmed by his grandmother, the art collector and philanthropist Christophe de Menil. The cause was a drug overdose, she said.

Mr. Snow was known to be a heroin addict, but Ms. de Menil said he had been in rehab in March and had been off drugs until very recently.

Mr. Snow was a rebel as young as 13, when his parents — Taya Thurman, a daughter of Ms. de Menil’s, and Christopher Snow, a musician — sent him to a reformatory-like school in Georgia. He stayed there two years. After his release, he returned to New York and began living on his own. With no more than a ninth-grade education, he was largely self taught. His art would eventually include photography, drawing, collage, installation, zines, film and video. But he began, in his teens, as a graffiti artist known by the tag “Sace.”

Handsome, heavily tattooed, with waist-length blond hair and a full beard, he soon became something of a downtown legend. He began taking Polaroids of the sex- and drug-fueled young bohemian circles in which he moved, recording his life and times in a style similar to that of his close friend Ryan McGinley and older artists like Nan Goldin and Larry Clark. Several of these images were included in the 2006 Whitney Biennial.

Mr. Snow had his first solo show in 2005, at Rivington Arms, a gallery on the Lower East Side. (His work is now represented by Peres Projects of Los Angeles and Berlin.) By then, Mr. Snow had become close with a group of artists that included Nate Lowman, Adam McEwen and Dan Colen, all of whom were experimenting with appropriation, or found-image, art in various mediums.

He began using newspapers in different ways, drawing in colored pencil, for example, on historic images, like a photograph of the shooting of President John F. Kennedy. He made large collages out of headlines and strange, delicate, sexually suggestive ones that evoked the medium’s Dada origins. He had also started making short Super 8 films and converting them to video.

Sexuality, violence and life’s fragility were frequent themes in Mr. Snow’s work, but there was also an air of exuberant misbehavior. A 2007 article in New York magazine, “Warhol’s Children,” highlighted Mr. Snow’s art, antics and underground stature, bringing his notoriety to a wider audience. It mentioned that he and his friends liked to turn hotel rooms into “hamster nests” by littering them with torn-up telephone books.

That summer, Mr. Snow and Mr. Colen went public with this practice. In their installation “Nest,” they filled Deitch Projects, a SoHo gallery, with several feet of shredded phonebooks and invited visitors to hang out, party and add graffiti to the walls. Many cooperated.

Mr. Snow was born in Manhattan in 1981 to a family whose cultural contributions included the Menil Collection in Houston and the Dia Center for the Arts in Manhattan and Beacon, N.Y. When he was 18, he married Agathe Aparru, now the artist Agathe Snow. The marriage ended in divorce.

In addition to his grandmother and his parents, Mr. Snow is survived by a grandfather, Robert Thurman; his sister, Caroline Snow; his brother, Maxwell Snow; his companion, Jade Berreau, and their daughter, Secret, all of Manhattan.


On Dash

On meeting Dash for the first time, you don’t get the impression that he is from our time. Dash, born in 1981, does not seem like a man of the year 2007. With his long hair, his hippie sunglasses and his clothes, his preference for the music of the late 1960s and the whole psychedelic sound, Dash seems someone who was catapulted from the 1960s into our time. And that is of course no coincidence, but rather a conscious revenge against an idiotic time. Or, to be more precise, against two idiotic decades. Dash Snow is a child of the eighties, and they were, despite all the Miami Vice like pastel craziness, at their core a dark and melancholy decade. It was the decade of Reagonomics and Thatcherism, the decade of the insane arms race, people had no social utopias anymore, but instead they were afraid: afraid of losing their work, afraid of the new Batemans who would mercilessly rationalise them away, afraid of nuclear war and forest dieback, and then, in the mid-eighties, the fear of AIDS came on top of it all. Work, love, life: everything was under existential threat. That was the time into which Dash was born; the year he turned twenty was 2001, which was the beginning of a new era of fear and hysteria – the so-called millennium years will be remembered as a decade characterised by the war against terror, fear of Islamism, and a general sense of exhaustion. In the cities, architecture summoned up the good old days; new forms hardly developed. It is clear that you ask yourself in such a time where and how to go on, what to take as your own starting point and it is not surprising – and indeed rather likable – that Dash Snow simply decided to leave his own time temporarily to delve, like an archaeologist, into the depths of the 1960s and 1920s to explore how an era works that believes in experimentation, in the future, and in itself. Dash frequently works with old, yellowed paper that he tears from old books or finds somewhere. On this paper, he glues collages of words and images – and the results look as if the beat poets had collaborated with Max Ernst. Wild physical desires encounter phrases from the press, cut-out word fragments run like worried policemen of meaning across naked bodies. Of course that’s not always original, but it is necessary. By turning himself into Kerouac and Max Ernst, by assuming their role and their aesthetics, he seeks the mechanics of an optimistic awakening, the wild, buoyant, highly energetic anarchy that characterised the eras of Ernst and Kerouac and that is so sadly missing today. Perhaps we get closest to Dash’s method by using the rich German term Verdichtung. Verdichten means on the one hand to condense, to shorten, clarify; on the other hand it means to kidnap objects from the everyday world of prose into the realm of poetry – and poetry is, according to the original Greek meaning of the word poeisis, nothing other than the ‘art of bringing forth’. What is here being brought forth and clarified in Dash’s poetical collages? Dash condenses words and images of our time, the newspaper headlines, the pictures of naked women and of the great criminals into Dadaist formulas which suddenly, almost violently, sum up all the promises and crimes of our day. The word collages are also Verdichtung: they disassemble the headlines into single components and squeeze them together into nonsense messages, – thus bringing hidden truths and desires to light. They are pictures that counter the large political ideologies, the Iraq War, the West’s promises of happiness, wealth, sex, and power, with images of an individual Gegenglueck that cannot be grasped with the images and collective promises of salvation made by politics and advertising. This counter-happiness can also be found in the finesse of the materials – when he glues a word onto a piece of wood, thus underlaying and charging themeaning of the abstract term through the direct sensuousness of the grained material. There are many melancholy gestures in Dash’s works, yellowed paper, a black-and-white aesthetic, as well as vanitas motifs, skulls, death symbols. But Dash does not surrender to this melancholy, he does not celebrate it, he counters it with emanations of a wild vibrancy and of absolute happiness in the here and now: images of kissing nudes, traces of sperm, pictures of wild excess, and this antidote is also an outcry against the time that allowed itself to be completely lulled and now lies exhausted on the ground. How could the energy and verve of Dada, surrealism, and the beat generation, how could the optimistic energy of the twenties and sixties be translated into our time? That is the question that comes to mind when encountering Dash’s work, be it his collages or the Polaroids he made of himself and his friends, an atlas of the great odyssey to adulthood. And the fact that Dash, the archaeologist of happiness and hero of the immediate moment does not always answer these questions doesn’t matter all that much. He's only 26; he still has time to find answers.

Anna T. Berger, Summer 2007

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Daniel Richter- CFA Berlin "Oh La La"

The Ten Commandments Towards A Healthy Art Career

This was sent to me in an anonymous e-mail:

1. Thou shalt not spend more time at art openings than in one's studio.

2. Thou shalt not produce artwork beyond one's financial means.

3. Thou shalt not make art that is too intelligent without emotion.

4. Thou shalt not make art that is too emotional without intelligence.

5. Thou shalt not act pretentious, especially when most successful
artists do not.

6. Thou shalt not judge another artist by his or her gallerist.

7. Thou shalt not judge another's artwork by his or her CV.

8. Thou shalt not expect others to show your art.

9. Thou shalt not expect others to sell or buy your art.

10. Thou shalt not expect to be paid if others sell or buy your art.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Berend Strik - Thixotropy

13 Jun 2009 - 18 Jul 2009

Berend Strik appropriates images, ranging from photographs he has made himself or found in family albums to
pages torn from magazines. He adds delicate pieces of material and embroidery to the existing image as part of
his search for meaning. While the original images are characterised by a certain lack, an indefinite quality, the
photographs that have been elaborated in this way are perfected. A context is created and the fruits of the
imagination are made tangible.
Among the images that Strik has used for his solo exhibition Thixotropy in Galerie Fons Welters are photographs
he took during a journey to East Jerusalem and the West Bank of the river Jordan, where he visited a number of
Palestinian and Jewish settlements. The resulting works display everyday images with a subtle subtext of
Palestinian House, for instance, shows a close-up of a house. Several elements attract our attention. Pieces of
tulle, in light but vivid colours, cover the branches of the tree in front of the terrace. They look like sheets hung
out to dry.
Tools, a few stray garden chairs, and plastic crates are strewn about at random. Yet the house behind that
spontaneous collection appears to have a clearly defined structure. Although this is a ‘Palestinian House’, its core
structure is based on Israeli examples. Starting from this central design, it has gradually been altered in response
to requirements and new additions to the family, taking on a new, spontaneous form. There is an additional
storey, for instance, and a flight of steps that has been installed outside the house to save space. But the use of
material and embroidery fuse the structural and non-structural elements of the building. Architecture provides
subtle intimations of a situation in which contrasts abound.
The time-consuming and labour-intensive images of Berend Strik call for attentive reading. The original
photograph evokes certain associations, which the additions build on. An intermediate space arises between the
support and the elaborations, in which the photograph’s initial meaning is opened up and given a more specific
content with extra layers of material and embroidery. This manipulates the formal side of the image. In the
intervening space, there is room for associations and memories. Strik’s works constitute a meditation on what a
specific image signifies and could signify.

During the opening of the exhibition a new catalogue on Berend Strik's work will be presented: Thixotropy:
Transfixed, Stitched Photographs. Published by Valiz with Galerie Fons Welters; Stephan Simoens
Contemporary Fine Art, supported by Fonds BKVB

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Artwork to Display, or to Enjoy With Eggs

Published: July 3, 2009

The cured-meat item in question is, as you might expect, not an ordinary one. For the 53rd Venice Biennale, which got under way last month and concludes in November, 500 of this particular kind of fat-studded salami were chosen to be more than just cold cuts by the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, known for provocatively funny work involving taxidermied animals and comical sculptures. They were elevated to the status of works of art — ready-mades in pig casing — in conjunction with a highly theatrical installation for the Nordic and Danish pavilions created by the artistic team of Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset.

The pavilion was transformed meticulously by the two artists into what looks like two well-appointed homes of wealthy collectors: one owned by a family that has put its just-so house and all its expensive artworks up for sale, the other owned by a novelist neighbor — apparently, judging from bits of evidence, a gay party boy — who is nowhere to be seen until you walk out the back of the house and see a body, presumably his, floating face-down in the pool.

Called “The Collectors,” the installation became one of the more popular attractions during the Biennale’s opening days, presenting itself as a dark, funny post-mortem on the suffocating world of the international art-collecting class in an economy (once) run amok.

In that spirit, actors posing as well-dressed agents for the fictional Vigilante real estate company handed out goodie bags to people who took a “buyer’s tour” of the family’s house. And unbeknownst to most of those who walked away with the bags, they contained much more than a tchotchke or a catalog. Maybe as a way of implicating the visitors as collectors themselves, the bags contained limited editions of small works by prominent artists like Terence Koh, Hernan Bas, Jonathan Monk — and Mr. Cattelan.

And so began the unlikely questions at the intersection of art and salami.

More than a decade ago the library of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass., began to concentrate on collecting rare artists’ books and other, less conventional booklike works produced by artists around the world since the 1960s, and it has since built substantial holdings.

In 2007 the institute decided it would be a good idea to begin gathering such materials at the Biennale; the Clark’s librarian, Susan Roeper, and her colleagues knew that these materials often turn out to be important and are very difficult to obtain from galleries or publishers after Biennales end.

“The only way to get it, really, is to be there,” Ms. Roeper said.

So in 2007 and again this year, the Clark asked Thomas Heneage, a veteran London art-book dealer, to be there in its stead, making his way through the Biennale as its personal catalog and art-book gatherer.

When Mr. Heneage (whose wife, Carol Vogel, is a reporter at The New York Times) returned to his hotel room after a visit to the Nordic Pavilion, he said, he casually upended his goodie bag.

“And suddenly there rolled out onto my hotel room floor this salami,” he said. “And I was a bit thrown because I hadn’t been expecting to see a salami. And I picked it up and said, ‘Well, it looks pretty good, and I think I’ll eat it later.’ So I put it into the hotel minibar fridge.”

But after reading the materials in the bag and examining all the other tiny art objects, he realized he was in possession of a bona fide art salami, with potential historic value — especially because, he surmised, most people who came across their salamis would either eat them or throw them away.

He quickly e-mailed the Clark with one of the strangest bibliographical communiqu├ęs he had ever sent. “It’s not every day you get to ask a museum library if they would like a salami,” he said.

Ms. Roeper said her initial reaction was one of giddiness, “like, how cool is that?”

“And then it became a practical one of, ‘Well, how are we going to get this thing here?’ ” she said. “You can’t mail it. You can’t fly with it, or it might get seized.” The museum has yet to work out the particulars fully with customs officials, but she said: “I think we’ll be able to get good guidance on this from other institutions. I’m not worried — we’ll get the salami.” (For now, it is filed in Mr. Heneage’s bookshop refrigerator.)

Asked how the salami would be stored in the library, Ms. Roeper said she hoped her conservation experts “could refer me to a good housing solution,” but added that she did not expect to be able to preserve it for decades, like a book. “Sometimes you just have to accept loss as the natural state of these materials,” she added.

Mr. Cattelan, reached this week by phone in New York and told about the predicament, laughed uproariously and said that as far as he was concerned, somebody should have dined on the salami long ago. Asked why he decided to make an “edition” of store-bought salami, he said simply: “Always, when I am reading an art catalog and it’s not a very good catalog, I wish I had a sandwich to eat. I wanted to do something nice for people.”

He added that if the Clark were unable to import the salami, he would happily go to Little Italy to buy a replacement.

“I will customize the catalog for them, yes,” he said. “It doesn’t matter which salami, really — only that it is a salami that is very, very delicious.”