Man Ray, Picabia et la revue Littérature (1922-1924)

July 23rd, 2014

The exhibition Man Ray, Picabia et la revue Littérature (1922-1924) – Centre Pompidou, Paris, until September 8 – sheds light on a crucial period in the history of modern art, between the end of the Dadaist movement and the advent of Surrealism, and is based on the twenty-six covers designed by Francis Picabia for the review Littérature in the early Twenties. Until very recently, only their printed version was known. In 2008, Francis Picabia’s original drawings, fifteen of which has never been exhibited, were revealed. This exhibition also highlights the contribution of Man Ray. The American photographer had moved to Paris in 1921, and Littérature was where he first disclosed images that have become icons of photographic modernity, like Le Violon d’Ingres and Marcel Duchamp’s L’Élevage de poussière. The inside pages of Littérature also contained works by Picasso, Max Ernst and Robert Desnos.
In 1922, André Breton remained the only one in charge of the review, after the departure of Louis Aragon and then Philippe Soupault, with whom he had founded it in 1919. To mark the review’s change of direction, Breton decided to replace the cover image created by Man Ray with drawings – different each time – by Francis Picabia, to whom he gave carte blanche for each issue. Their highly linear graphic style was Picabia’s ironic response to the vogue of the “return to Ingres” advocated by the former Cubists, whom he regularly mocked. Picabia also drew on religious imagery, erotic iconography, and the iconography of games of chance. These ink drawings also reveal Picabia as an animal artist, as horses, baboons, tigers, dogs and deer, probably inspired by books for laymen, rub shoulders with various figures from the world of the circus or the musical. Several drawings seem to be of the authors of the review itself, to which Picabia made a regular literary contribution. The artist made play with pronounced contrasts of black and white, reminiscent of his “Ripolin” paintings of the same period, like the Dresseur d’animaux, now in the Centre Pompidou, which has similar iconography.

Posted in Art, Exhibitions

Seth Price – Ok, Just Send Me the Bill

July 23rd, 2014

In its piece called Digital Video Effect: “Spills”, Seth Price borrowed some home video footage shot by Joan Jonas around 1971, featuring Richard Serra, Robert Smithson, Nancy Holt and Jonas herself, talking with dealer Joe Hellman.
Price subjected the archival material to an invented digital video effect that made the footage appear to alternately spill across the black video screen and then itself be entirely obscured by oozing blackness. Displayed on a new TV/DVD player still in its own cardboard packaging, the work was like an object you could trip over, or look down on. It is a piece about the archive and the artwork, about concealment and visibility, as well as the liquidity of both digital culture and historical material.

Peep-Hole Sheet is a quarterly of writings by artists. Each issue is dedicated solely to one artist, who is invited to contribute with an unpublished text whose content is completely free in terms both of subject and format. The texts are published in their original language, with accompanying translations in English. Peep-Hole Sheet is meant for those who believe artists are catalysts for ideas all around us, and who want to read their words without any filter. Over time it aspires to build up an anthology of writings that might open new perspectives for interpreting and understanding our times.

Peep-Hole Sheet Issue #21, Ok, Just Send Me the Bill, by Seth Price, is a “fictionalized adaptation” taken from the audio of Price’s work. It was written in the same year, and laid it out so as to resemble an old book, with stills from the video as illustrations. Price altered the conversation, framing it within a kind of minimalist American style of fiction writing, together with oddball excurses and ‘glitches.’ Published here in its original format, the piece is a reflection on artworks and market and the passing of time that creates a temporal short-circuit, very much speaking to our moment, and questioning the role of the artist at play.

Posted in Art, Periodicals

HAIRY WHO & THE CHICAGO IMAGISTS

July 11th, 2014


© MoMA Library

In the mid 1960s, the city of Chicago was an incubator for an iconoclastic group of young artists. Collectively known as the Imagists, they showed in successive waves of exhibitions with monikers that might have been psychedelic rock bands of the era – Hairy Who, Nonplussed Some, False Image, Marriage Chicago Style. Kissing cousins to the contemporaneous international phenomenon of Pop Art, Chicago Imagism took its own weird, wondrous, in-your-face tack. Variously pugnacious, puerile, scatological, graphic, comical, and absurd, it celebrated a very different version of ‘popular’ from the detached cool of New York, London and Los Angeles.
Hairy Who & The Chicago Imagists is the first film to tell their wild, woolly, utterly irreverent story. Screening July 13, 2014, 8pm, at 356 Mission in Los Angeles.

Posted in Art

GRAPHIC #30 PUBLISHERS

July 11th, 2014

Issue #30 of GRAPHIC, Publishers, features interviews with ten publishing companies, along with information about their books, which delves into the possibilities the book medium holds in the contemporary context. The ten companies introduced aren’t necessarily the leaders of their field. But each has its own identity, its own unique way of reflecting the field’s diversity.
With this issue, a number of possibilities for discussion. First, there is the overall context of the today’s art publishing market. Their community can’t be equated with the mainstream of art publishing, but they do at least have a pioneering role in art and design practice that cannot be ignored. That’s what allows the transdisciplinary bearings they forge to serve as a benchmark for understanding the contemporary art and design scene. Second, there’s the question of just what new possibilities can be found in the book medium at a time when the media technology environment surrounding it is undergoing profound changes. These companies are real-life examples showing new attitudes and patterns of practice in the area of art publishing. Their publication lists point to the direction in which art publishing is going in the e-book age. Finally, there’s the potential for publishing as a model for expanding on legacies from the past. What is the link between these companies’ activities today and the artist-led book production movement of the 1960s? Why do some publishers still view this kind of publishing as a viable model?

Posted in Art, Books, Graphic Design

CATHÉDRALES by Laurence Aëgerter

July 6th, 2014

The starting point of Laurence Aëgerter’s facsimile Cathédrales, is the 1949 catalogue Cathedrals and churches of France, published by the Ministry of Public Works, Transport and Tourism. The artist placed the book by the window in her studio and allowed the incidence of natural light to impact a reproduction of the façade of the Saint-Étienne cathedral in Bourges. She photographed the book every minute during two hours, obtaining 120 photographs of light variations upon this unique image. The play of shadow and light of the Gothic architecture in the orignal photograph, is superimposed by a new shadow that slowly glide on the cathedral and, imperceptibly but irreparably, swallows it up. Aëgerter’s photographs contain thus three stratified layers of times : the 12th century, 1949 and 2012. Cathédrales presents a photographic sequence and as we turn the pages, we are aware of the temporal dimension of this visual exploration, a metaphor of transcience.

Posted in Art, Books, Photography

The Sandbox: At Play with the Photobook

July 2nd, 2014

The photobook is a thriving medium for encountering a group of images, and the preferred presentation of many photographers. This form of publishing responds to the basic structure of photographic production, and is growing despite digital distribution of images.
The Sandbox: At Play with the Photobook, an installation by Melissa Catanese and Ed Panar, both artists and owners of Spaces Corners, transforms the museum into a playful hybrid space for encounters with the photobook: part reading room, part bookshop, part library, part event space. Encounter a rotating selection of photobooks and intimate events emphasizing contemporary trends that give the medium its character.
On view at Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, until July 28, 2014.

Ray Johnson Designs

July 1st, 2014

Ray Johnson (1927-1995) was a seminal Pop Art figure in the 1950s, an early conceptualist, and a pioneer of mail art. His preferred medium was collage, that quintessentially twentieth-century art form that reflects the increased (as the century wore on) collision of disparate visual and verbal information that bombards modern man. Integrating texts and images drawn from a multiplicity of sources — from mass media to telephone conversations — Johnson’s innovativeness spread beyond the confines of the purely visual.

The art of Ray Johnson was rooted in his constant practice of correspondence. He dispersed a copious amount of collages and other printed matter through the mail to friends and colleagues. The Museum of Modern Art Library received materials in the mail from Ray Johnson from the 1950s until his death in 1995.
The exhibition Ray Johnson Designs – July 2 to September 29, 2014, MoMA, New York – focuses on Johnson’s early printed materials, especially his promotional flyers for his work as a graphic designer and illustrator. These flyers were some of the first materials that the MoMA Library received from Johnson and they prefigure the graphic motifs and word play that remained central to his later art work. Publications that included Johnson’s design work from this period, including book jacket designs for publishers such as New Directions, The Jargon Society, and City Lights, are also featured.