May 142024
 

A large heart hangs in netting below the skeleton of a mysterious creature in one of Joy Curtis’s sculptures for Night Hike and Ocean Grandma at Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery.  As you walk around the sculptures you are invited to invent the story behind them. Titles like Ocean Grandma, Sympathetic/ Parasympathetic, and Future Organs, and Night Hike (Epiphytes) provide clues.

Throughout the run of the exhibition, performers activated several of the smaller wearable sculptures. These performances are currently on view on the  gallery’s website and Instagram.

From the press release-

Joy Curtis’s new show of immersive textile sculptures takes on a folkloric quality, addressing ideas of evolution, environmental history, continuity, and change. Curtis sculpts with fabrics dyed to align with multiple historical traditions. These soft materials are quilted and sewn onto wire armatures, assembled to imply animal and plant forms, yet veering into abstraction.

Roots, vertebrae, leaves, and organs drape from figurative or animaloid fabric structures, creating canopies with an ambiguous narrative. Curtis hand-dyes her cloth using techniques inspired by Nigerian (Yoruba) Adire and Japanese Shibori processes, employing natural hues such as amber, ochre, iron, and indigo. Some pieces incorporate synthetic elements, such as reflective discs sewn into the works, causing visual sparks or glimmers amidst the more subdued textiles. The mixture of materials creates rich textures, as well as both reflective and absorbent variations in the light.

Some sculptures are large and hang dramatically from the ceiling, allowing the viewer to walk underneath and between them. A series of smaller works hang on the walls, actively wearable as garments. When dressed on individuals, these sculptures transform the wearer into an extension of Curtis’s formal style.

May 262023
 

Tina Turner- A Fool in Love

Music icon Tina Turner sadly passed away on Wednesday. Luckily for the world she left behind a lot of incredible music. Her live performances were always energetic and full of life as well, as seen in the clip above and many others.

Rest in Peace.

Jul 222022
 

Typewriter Eraser, Scale X, 1999, part of The ARIA Fine Art collection in Las Vegas

Artist Claes Oldenburg passed away this week at the age of 93. He was most famous for his large scale sculptures of everyday objects, many of which were produced with his wife Coosje van Bruggen, who passed away in 2009.

While primarily working in sculpture, early in his career in the 1960s he also created “happenings”- theatrical art related performances and collaborations with other artists in his circle. In 1985 he returned to performance and along with van Bruggen, architect Frank Gehry, and writer Germano Celant presented Il Corso del Coltello (The Course of the Knife) in Venice, Italy. In 2021, Pace Gallery in NYC, as part of the two gallery exhibition Claus & Coosje, showed work from this performance, pictured below.

From Pace’s website about the performance-

This ambitious event involved the creation and embarkation of a sea-worthy sculpture in the shape of a giant Swiss army knife. With oars protruding from its red-enameled hull as if from a Viking longship, the image of Oldenburg and van Bruggen’s Knife Ship sailing the Grand Canal has become iconic, while the massive kinetic sculpture was later shown in the rotunda of the Guggenheim Museum in New York, at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and finally at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

 

With so much of Oldenburg’s work, the examination of the ordinary object engages the viewer with what they might previously taken for granted and gives them a chance to look again with new eyes. There is also something lighthearted and fun, as well as investigative, about his body of work.

(image via Whitney Museum’s website)

The Whitney Museum has a video showing the process of assembling his soft sculpture Giant BLT (Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwich) 1963, which involves putting the sandwich together piece by piece.

For more on Oldenburg, MoMA has a tribute that includes the words of people who knew him as well as his own. His 1961 artist statement is wonderful and worth reading in its entirety, here is the opening section-

I AM FOR

I am for an art that is political-erotical-mystical, that does something other than sit on its ass in a museum.
I am for an art that grows up not knowing it is art at all, an art given the chance of having a starting point of zero.
I am for an art that embroils itself with the everyday crap and still comes out on top.
I am for an art that imitates the human, that is comic, if necessary, or violent, or whatever is necessary.
I am for all art that takes its form from the lines of life itself, that twists and extends and accumulates and spits and drips, and is heavy and coarse and blunt and sweet and stupid as life itself.

I am for an artist who vanishes, turning up in a white cap painting signs or hallways.

The Guardian’s obituary is also worth a read for more information on the artist’s history.

Dec 042020
 

Currently at Petzel in NYC is Derek Fordjour’s solo exhibition, SELF MUST DIE, which incorporates painting, sculpture and Fly Away, a performance collaboration between Fordjour and award-winning puppeteer Nick Lehane.

From the press release-

The show, Fordjour’s first with the gallery, is an offering of creative labor in response to our current moment, a deeply personal and collective state of anxiety around death and hyper-visible racial violence. It examines the nature of martyrdom, vulnerabilities inherent to living in a Black body, performance of competency, and the liminal space existing between autonomy and control.

In SELF MUST DIE, Fordjour interrogates the inevitability of actual death, made more urgent by the realities of a global pandemic, and points to the aspirational death of the artist’s ego brought into focus by a burgeoning career. It is both cultural manifesto and personal declaration. The show is comprised of three parts: VESTIBULE, a site-specific sculptural installation; Fly Away, a live puppetry art performance; and a suite of new paintings.

VESTIBULE offers a collection of sculptural objects imbued with biblical allegory and the spirit of James Cone’s Black Theology of Liberation. It refashions the gallery as a secular yet sacred space of memorial. Among its features, the small entry compels visitors to undergo a destabilizing bodily shift that elicits an intimate and reorienting experience. A directional light from above slowly combs the entire room, invoking both searchlight and spotlight, ideas central to the recent death of Breonna Taylor. Constructed of bituminous coal and wrought iron, Taylor Memorial hangs from above.

Fly Away, a collaboration between Fordjour and award-winning puppeteer Nick Lehane, is performed by a stellar cast, with an original score composed by John Aylward and performed live by oboist Hassan Anderson. The puppet is a Fordjour-designed, hand-sculpted figure crafted by Robert Maldonado. The protagonist’s narrative arc rises and falls along a journey of personal discovery. Larger themes that course through Fordjour’s body of work become resonant.

Spanning two galleries are several new paintings, executed in Fordjour’s signature collage technique, representing the latest developments in his studio practice. The first is a suite of paintings based on Black funerary tradition. The second gallery presents a broad range of subjects including several at monumental scale.

This exhibition closes 12/19/20.

Jan 172020
 

Closing on 1/18/20 at Gladstone Gallery in Chelsea is Ugo Rondinone’s thanx 4 nothing, a multi-channel video installation that pays tribute to the artist’s late husband, the poet and performance artist, John Giorno.

From the press release-

Rondinone reconstructs the gallery into a black box theater, creating an immersive environment through the use of black-and-white film, minimalist score, and the rhythmic intonations of Giorno’s own voice. This exhibition is a prismatic paean to the poet, raconteur, muse, cultural icon, and New York fixture.

Curator Ralph Rugoff said of the work on the occasion of its installation at Hayward Gallery in 2016:

“In elegantly spectacular fashion, Ugo Rondinone’s 20-screen video installation, “thanx 4 nothing “(2015), presents the American poet John Giorno reciting – though ‘performing’ might be a better word – the titular poem. Written on his seventieth birthday in 2006, and framed as an extended and wide-ranging expression of gratitude to ‘everyone for everything,’ Giorno’s poetic monologue looks back over his life with frank insight and humour, reflecting on loves and losses, friends and enemies, sex and drugs, depression and spiritual acceptance. As presented by Rondinone, whose work inventively interlaces the rhythms of his images with those of the poet’s speech, it is also a dizzying meditation on duality.”

It’s a great poem and a wonderful visual. Surrounded by the poet himself on all four walls of the gallery, you are completely immersed in his reading.

If you are curious about the poem itself, below is a video of Giorno reading it for his 75th Birthday Tour at the Words Aloud 8 Spoken Word Festival at the Durham Art Gallery in Durham, Canada, in 2011.