Monday, 10 June 2013

The Art of the Steal - fantastic docu-film : the legislative battle for the World renowned Barnes collection of art and Barnes broken wish....

I always love to hear about scientists with deep passions for art, rather than dismissing it as useless, pretentious or a waste of money, which granted at times it can be but great art is a saver and ignitive dancer of souls, a visual and emotional recorder of history and context. Anyone with integrity knows this (wink). Someone who displayed intelligence and integrity, which is always the best combo and had a lucid eye for great art was Dr. Albert C. Barnes. A truly inspiring individual who invented Argyrol - an antiseptic used to treat venereal disease in newborns was a highly respected and accomplished man in his own field. He used the success of his discovery in 1922 to create the Barnes Foundation - an art school and education resource. He was fiercely adamant that his Foundation that was bought and developed by him was to be used solely for education and as an aid to the underprivileged. A man who could think outside of the box way ahead of others in times of racial hatred he developed some vital connections with all races and believed in helping those blighted by ignorance as much as possible. After his death, the Foundation was left wide open to his enemies and profiteers and it's the fight between them and the Friends of the Barnes that fills the body of this film. A will left after his death with educationally resourceful and empathetic wishes for the collection leads us on a contested corrupted journey within all layers of the power cake. What is the fate of this estimated  $25 billion worth collection that concentrates so thickly and powerfully some of the most famous and renowned knockout works of art by Renoir, Cezanne, Matisse, Van Gogh, Rousseau, Matisse, Degas, Courbet plus many others. How will long-term enemies in Philadelphia and the context of the time affect things? Some say it's the biggest art scandal since the Second World War looting and forgery horrors. A must must watch for any art lover and as Barnes would have wished an 'education' on the power of profit in politics and charity.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

How does the canvas 'hang' - Part 8 - Urban Canvas

Urban CanvasStreet Art
It’s interesting how you can see, of course following an evolutionary trajectory, how art’s done a whole three hundred and sixty degree turn from the frescoe era when considering Street Art. Cave painting of Lascaux and Cantabria is essentially a form of underground street art but they just express different visuals, techniques and subject matter in relation to context. Artists such as Banksy use allegory within an urban canvas to convey messages related to socio-political/economical concerns, animal and human rights, anti-war, anti-commercialism and capitalism. Other urban artists such as Shephard Fairy have begun to use typography to create propaganda style artwork. Robert Montgomery’s Echoes of Voices, (2011) substitutes’ billboard advertising with giant text social messages. Such social messages critic the impact of the boards usual secular advertising use, referencing a past ‘canvas’ context to recreate a regenerated more powerful message. French urban artist and photographer JR creates supersize photo-posters pasted into the streets, framing them with spray paint. Interesting how regeneration of the ‘canvas frame’ takes place here to renew or re-style previous non-framed urban art. He produced posters on the wall separating Palestine and Israel of Israelis and Palestinians who work the same jobs, asked to put on a commitment face/pose. The result was people couldn’t tell who was who really, aiming to fuse divisions and aid peace.

How does the canvas 'hang'? Part 7 - Alternative material experimentation & concept canvas

Concept of the canvas holds but substituted with alternative material experimentation...

There are others who have taken the notion of the canvas but negated the use of actual canvas material. George Stubbs in Mother and Child, (1774), experimented with paintings on metal tondos covered in enamel. Frank Stella’s Six Mile Bottom, (1960), regenerated the traditional rectangular shape and used aluminium metallic paint on unprimed cotton duck to create a striped illusionist composition with a boundless open, central circular hole. Klara Linden’s Untitled (Poster Paintings), (2010) are wall pieces that reference the white canvas in rectangular shape and wall positioning but shift perceptual dialogue as they consist of giant layers of painted paper tiered upon each other replacing the composition of the canvas with  what looks like the inside of an unwritten book. The message however revolves around advertising in Berlin, the thick 4-5 inch wide pieces consisting of advertising posters stuck together but then the top layer is white painted paper, wiping the rest invalid. One of the works is hinged on one side and opens to reveal a dark rectangular hole or space behind, again referencing Fontana and Kapoor works.

18 Tatiana Severri Fernandez,
 Kaesten, (2006),
 Mixed Media 80 x 360 x 12 cm

17 Tatiana Severri Fernandez,
 Elemente de Toxikologie, (2008), 
350 x 350 x 350 cm, metal, 
glass fiber, fruit nuts
Tatiana Echeverri Fernandez takes the rectangular shape and abstract composition of ‘a’ canvas, it’s usual positioning against a gallery wall and flat surface but changes the material to mesh. In other works she opens it up into a three dimensional structural piece inserting things into the space once the front piece of ‘canvas’ is removed, sometimes using wire meshes across the front to expose character within the piece. They could be seen to reference the geometric compositions of Nicholson and the Suprematists but obviously from a more urban, electro-sculptural angle. Like Fontana inserted computer connectors into the canvas to activate a cyber personality, these works insert loose wires, mirrors and urban structures to recreate and play with a new urban art language. Injecting a new urban heartbeat

19 Tatiana Severri Fernandez,
 Elemente de Toxikologie,(detail) (2008)   
350 x 350 x 350 cm, 
metal, glass fiber, fruit nuts
and persona into the ‘transparent’ boxed, three dimensional space. In Elemente der Toxicologie
, (2008) Tatiana attaches mesh ‘canvases’ to a minimalist, almost hexagonal skeleton on hinges, allowing them a dynamic interaction within  space. Such a piece really attacks the previous fixed boundaries and context of what we know. The title ‘Element Toxicology’ dissolves a social, environmental value into the piece, toxicology a science associated with studying the detrimental effects of chemicals on living organisms. The skeleton shape suddenly starts to reflect a kind of feign earth structure open to the dynamic meshes covered in abstract ‘stains’, which as a viewer we can enter, it being an accessible yet hypothetically dangerous space.

 Andrea Büttner’s (winner of the MaxMara Art Prize for Women) "fabric sculptures" were formed by stretching park warden, refuse collector and policemen's uniforms over a canvas frame, part of her Whitechapel exhibition, The Poverty of Riches, (2011). She explores the role of fabric in Italian religious art together with contemporary non-sectarian approaches to art. David Cooley also wraps canvases in contemporary patterned materials, tapestry like. He creates ‘sculptural’ patterns on top of the material with bright precisionally made and placed dabs of paint used uniquely.

John Latham explores scientific issues in relation to memory and time via his Time Base Roller, (1972). Here three sections of canvas are put back on a roller which is activated by a three way wall mounted switch which rolls it out and back. The roller is split into written sections along it’s horizontal with the least event one extreme and long-term/universe the other extreme, all other understanding of knowledge and time sits and is discovered between this. Vertically hanging down from this are three separate roles of canvas which role out and back up again.  The thinner middle canvas with black and white vertical stripes represents immediate time; the others to the sides are white but divided into columns in which his son stencilled real and mumbled words representative of a whole event; life or universe. These have text on them which is only seen in small sections at the top of the roller as the canvas text faces the wall when rolled out. Different mix-ups of letters form different meanings as the canvas rolls. It illustrates how our perception of our world is heavily related mainly to the black and white immediate time strip, representing our lived experience. He experiments with creating a new artistic cosmological expression of time-space- knowledge interaction and trace.

17, 18 & 19 Source: Tatiana Severri Fernandez.

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