An Opera for Animals was first staged at Para Site in Hong Kong between 23 March and 2 June 2019, with works by over 48 artists and collectives that use opera as a metaphor for modes of contemporary, cross-disciplinary art-making. The exhibition's second iteration takes up a large portion of the Rockbund Art Museum (RAM) in Shanghai (22 June–25...
For three months from 1 June to 1 September 2019, Tai Kwun Contemporary in Hong Kong showcases MURAKAMI vs MURAKAMI, a major survey exhibition of the Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. Curated by Tobias Berger, head of art at Tai Kwun, and Gunnar B Kvaran, director of Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo, the exhibition spans the three floors of Tai Kwun's...
Get Up Stand Up Now: Generations of Black Creative Pioneers at Somerset House in London (12 June–15 September 2019) surveys more than half a century of black creativity in Britain and beyond across the fields of art, film, photography, music, design, fashion, and literature.Curated by Zak Ové, works by approximately 100 intergenerational black...
One of the most radical changes in the art world in the last 20 years is the way in which art fairs have become indispensable to a gallery’s economic well being. A report commissioned by The European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht in 2014 said that a broad section of the world’s galleries made an average 33 per cent of their income through art fairs; that is why as many as 200 large contemporary art fairs (with 150 plus exhibitors) a year currently permeate the major cities of the world.
Lucio Fontana was an influential Argentine-Italian artist and theorist, best known for being the father of Spazialismo (also known as Spatialism). His trademark perforated canvases drew both the ire and admiration of critics in the 1950s and 1960s.
Fontana was born in Argentina in 1899 to an Argentinian mother and an Italian father who was a sculptor by trade. Although he moved to Milan in 1905 for his education, Fontana returned to Argentina in 1921 to work in his father's sculpture studio for several years. Later, Fontana established his own studio. In 1926 he participated in the first exhibition of Nexus, a group of independent young Argentine artists. Fontana then went back to Milan in 1927 to study at the Accademia di Brera for two years. As a result of his studies, he had his first solo exhibition at the Galleria del Milione in 1930.
The 1930s saw Fontana begin to develop an expressive abstract style, producing flat bronze and ceramic sculptures such as Scultura Astratta (1934, painted iron). In this period he became involved with the Parisian group Abstraction-Création and the Milanese, anti-fascist artist group Corrente. He also began to collaborate with architects.
When World War II broke out Fontana moved back to Argentina, where in 1946 he founded the Academia Altamira. Collaborative efforts between the students and teachers of the Academy produced the 'Manifiesto Blanco'—a manifesto calling for art that combined elements of colour, movement, sound, time and space. When he moved back to war-ravaged Milan in 1947 Fontana expanded on these ideas and established Movimento Spaziale (Spatialist Movement). In collaboration with other theorists he created the 'Primo Manifesto dello Spazialismo' (First Manifesto of Spatialism). This was one of five manifestos produced between 1947 and 1952. Spatialism, through a deeply philosophical set of ideas, was primarily concerned with escaping the tyranny of the traditional two-dimensional surface. It wanted to project a work into real space, doing so by marrying art and science through new techniques and materials.
In 1949, Fontana exhibited his first 'Spatial Environment' at the Galleria del Naviglio in Milan, featuring a giant abstract shape suspended in an empty darkened room and illuminated by curved lines of neon. Later shows on this theme were multi-dimensional experiences, featuring sound, abstract sculptural shapes, luminous paint and fluorescent lighting. The 'Spatial Environment' concept not only pioneered the idea of environmental and installation art, but also, through its unconventional materials and methods, was a forerunner of the Arte Povera movement.
More familiar to an international audience are Fontana's series of perforated abstract works that were begun in the late 1940s and share the title 'Concetto Spaziale' (Spatial Concept). He would paint canvases in monochromatic colours, or simply stretch out a material like linen, then stab the material to create buchi (holes). These holes violate the material's flat surface, exposing the space beneath. The buchi were not the product of random stabbing but formed patterns, whether simple circles, as in Concetto spaziale (Teatrino) (1965, waterpaint on canvas and lacquered wood frame) or complex abstract designs as in 18 Concetto Spaziale, (1960, linen).
In the mid-1950s Fontana added paintings with distinctive tagli (cuts)—vertical or diagonal slashes made with a sharp blade on a monochrome surface—to his repertoire. These incisions reveal the black gauze on the back of the canvas, contrasting the monochrome surface to create the impression of an infinite void.
From the mid- to late 1950s, Fontana also violated the two-dimensional surface of the canvas with embedded pieces of coloured glass, scratches and coloured areas mixed with sand. By breaching the surface of the two-dimensional canvas in such ways Fontana blurred the lines between painting, sculpture and expressive gesture. He began introducing breaches and punctures into his ceramics as well, continuing to work in his distinctive surface-disrupting style until his death in 1968.
Though best known for his monumental outdoor sculptures and contributions to 20th-century light and kinetic art, German artist Heinz Mack has experimented with a wide variety of mediums ranging from light-reliefs, paintings, drawings, and photographs, to sculpture made of materials such as stone, light-rotors, and light-stelae.
Mack's artistic career began with his studies in the mid-1950s at Düsseldorf's Kunstakademie. In 1956, he earned a degree in philosophy from the University of Cologne. After graduation and along with fellow German artist Otto Piene, Mack co-founded the significant post-war avantgarde group ZERO in Düsseldorf. The group rejected the popular expressive, abstract painting of the time, and instead used light and motion to explore new modes of perception. The group attracted artists Günther Uecker, Yves Klein, and Lucio Fontana, amongst others. In a 2014 interview with Ocula Magazine, Mack said of the artists involved with the ZERO movement, 'Each one of us worked alone, experimenting with colour and light, or, in my case, the concentration of space in its relation to the sculpture and vice versa. All this went along with recognitions, perceptions, ideas and some intellectual effort.'
Though the ZERO group disbanded in the mid-1960s, that short period was critical for the development of Mack's practice. Experimentations with unconventional materials, light and kinetics saw the birth of his kinetic 'Steles'. Light played a central role in sculptures such as Stele with 9 Lenses (1964), which used glass lenses. Artworks from the early 'Stele' group also included motors to generate movement and variations of light and shadow.
Alongside these sculptures, Mack's abstract paintings were informed by his interest in light and darkness. The monochromatic and graphic play with black-and-white resin lines on cloth in Vibration (1957–58) exemplifies his penchant for Minimalism. Later, Mack turned to painting with pure, bright colours in a style that he called 'Chromatic Constellations'. Exemplary of this, the acrylic-on-canvas painting Empire Couleur (Chromatic Constellation) (2014) comprises stripes in a spectrum of colours and fragments that blend softly into one another at their edges. In such works, Mack creates different intervals, patterns, and sequences of colour that seem to float on constantly changing surfaces.
Mack has exhibited internationally since 1959 and his works are held in over 120 international public collections. In his early career, he participated in the historic II. documenta (1959) and documenta III (1964), as well as representing the Federal Republic of Germany at the Venice Biennale of 1970. Throughout his career, his multi-faceted artwork has been presented in almost 300 solo exhibitions, while a number of books as well as two films have been made about his practice.
Vik Muniz is best known for his works made from everyday materials such as string, garbage, chocolate syrup and dirt. He engages in the referential potential of these surprising mediums by assembling works that incorporate their subject matter into their materials. In doing so, Muniz adds new dimensions to established notions of representation.
Muniz began his career in sculpture with playful works such as Clown Skull (1987), from his 'Relics' series, which depicts the realistic-looking skull of a clown, bulbous bone nose included. Eventually, however, he found photographic documentation of his sculptural work to be more compelling than the artworks themselves and gradually came to focus on photography as the exclusive final medium for all his pieces. His 1989 series 'The Best of LIFE' was inspired by photographs from the coffee table publication The Best of LIFE, a book he had owned but lost while moving house. Muniz drew the legendary images in the book memory—among them The Man on the Moon and Kiss at Times Square (both 1989)—then photographed the drawings and presented the photos as final works. In another series, titled 'Pictures of Clouds' (2001), the artist photographed a skywriter's clouds as they gradually disintegrated and disappeared.
Unlike fading clouds formations which are in danger of disappearing from memory, masterpieces such as Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa and photographs of Marilyn Monroe and Marlon Brando are deeply embedded in popular consciousness. However, Muniz's depictions of these images rework the iconography in non-traditional mediums that match the content of the image itself. For example, his 2004 portrait of Marilyn Monroe, titled Marilyn Monroe (Pictures of Diamonds), is made of diamonds—a reference to her famous song 'Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend'. In his 'Pictures of Dust' series (2001), Muniz replicates the works of various famous mid-century American artists—such as Donald Judd's Untitled (1965) and Richard Serra's Prop (1968)—in dust collected from the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Discussing the piece in his Joseph M Cohen Family Collection biography, Muniz said: 'Dust is pieces of hair and skin. I think people scratch their heads a lot in museums; that gets mixed with the residue from the artworks themselves. That's the ultimate bond between the museum visitor and the artwork'.
In the past decade, Muniz has extended his visual repertoire from contemporary culture to more personal encounters. In his series 'Pictures of Garbage' (2008), he photographed garbage pickers he met at an open-air dumpsite just outside Rio de Janeiro called Jardim Gramacho. However, he retains his interest in iconography by staging the pickers as the subjects of classical portraits, such as the French revolutionary leader Jean-Paul Marat from Jacques-Louis David's Death of Marat. Details of the images were accented with the garbage the models had scavenged. In the accompanying documentary film Waste Land (2010), directed by Lucy Walker, Muniz states that he aimed to 'change the lives of people with the same materials they deal with every day'. Indeed, due the critical acclaim and success of the documentary, the artist and the filmmakers have donated more than $300,000 to the pickers' community in Jardim Gramacho.
Muniz splits his time between Brooklyn and Rio de Janeiro.
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