2014年10月31日 星期五

Ethereal Illustrations of Iconic London Brutalist Buildings

Ethereal Illustrations of Iconic London Brutalist Buildings

Illustrator Thomas Danthony pays tribute to three of the city's greatest examples of Brutalism.

London-based artist Thomas Danthony—known for his depictions of cityscapes—illustrated three iconic Brutalist buildings for a series of limited edition prints and a booklet featuring commentary from architect, critic, and blogger Michael Abrahamson. Perfect for viewing on Halloween, Danthony captures the buildings in eerie illustrations, making the structures appear weightless and ghostly.
The prints and booklet, "London Brutalism," go on sale on Nov. 3 at blackdragonpress.co.uk.

National Theatre
The 1976 building by Denys Lasdun houses three auditoriums—one of which recently reopened after renovations. <em xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">Time Out London</em> called the National Theatre "<a href="http://www.timeout.com/london/theatre/seven-wonders-of-london-the-national-theatre" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">one of the seven wonders</a>" of the city.
The 1976 building by Denys Lasdun houses three auditoriums—one of which recently reopened after renovations. Time Out London called the National Theatre "one of the seven wonders" of the city.
Credit: Thomas Danthony/Black Dragon Press

Royal College of Physicians
<p xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">Designed by Denys Lasdun, this building has served as the headquarters for the Royal College of Physicians since 1964.  <a href="https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/museum-and-garden/exhibitions/anatomy-building-denys-lasdun-and-royal-college-physicians">An exhibit</a>, titled "<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/sep/07/anatomy-of-a-building-royal-college-physicians-ordinary-beauty-review">The Anatomy of a Building</a>," on the 50 year-old structure and other works by Lasdun is on display now at the Royal College of Physicians through Feb. 13, 2015.</p>
Designed by Denys Lasdun, this building has served as the headquarters for the Royal College of Physicians since 1964.  An exhibit, titled "The Anatomy of a Building," on the 50 year-old structure and other works by Lasdun is on display now at the Royal College of Physicians through Feb. 13, 2015.
Credit: Thomas Danthony/Black Dragon Press

Trellick Tower
Hungarian architect Erno Goldfinger based his design for this 1972 residential tower on London's Balfron Tower.
Hungarian architect Erno Goldfinger based his design for this 1972 residential tower on London's Balfron Tower.
Credit: Thomas Danthony/Black Dragon Press

Credit: Thomas Danthony/Black Dragon Press

Chris Ofili: Medium and Message, Both Unsettling

Medium and Message, Both Unsettling
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An Ode to Blackness

CreditHiroko Masuike/The New York Times
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Chris Ofili makes paintings that will not let us be. For more than two decades, the work of this British artist has dazzled and discomfited, seduced and unsettled, gliding effortlessly between high and low, among cultures, ricocheting off different racial stereotypes and religious beliefs. His paintings mesmerize, whether with their opulent dotted surfaces or bawdy eroticism, their perfumed colors or their riffs on established masterpieces.
One example is “Rodin ... The Thinker,” a black woman in garter belt, bra and bright orange wig. Another is a St. Sebastian in rusted bronze, reinterpreted as a dark-skinned martyr who, instead of arrows, is riddled with nails, conjuring a Congolese power figure. And then there are the eccentric materials, brightly colored map pins, glitter and — most famous — elephant dung. And always, through changes in subject, technique and style, Mr. Ofili never loses touch with his belief in painting as, foremost, a sensual, accessible experience meant to engross the eye before doing much with the mind. Sometimes he challenges the basic act of seeing.  
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“Chris Ofili: Night and Day,” the New Museum’s  intoxicating midcareer survey of Mr. Ofili’s ambitious art, presents six distinct bodies of paintings and drawings across three floors. In a darkened gallery on the museum’s third floor hangs shadowy paintings whose images flicker amid dark metallic purples, blues and reds. This ambiguous perceptual experience is akin to looking at the paintings of Ad Reinhardt, the Abstract Expressionist master of abstract geometries enmeshed in barely differentiated shades of black. But Mr. Ofili’s fleeting motifs reveal themselves to include images, set amid tropical settings, of a hanged figure, soldiers brandishing bayonets, and a black man surrounded by white policemen.
Standing before this last, especially disturbing image, which is titled “Blue Devils,” you understand beyond a doubt that the through line in this beautiful show is blackness: as night, as history, as culture, as skin, as majesty, as terror, as paranoia, as myth. It is present in the show’s opening second-floor gallery, too, but with a playful forthright decorativeness: Here are over 100 small watercolor “Afromuses,” bust-length portraits of imaginary men and women in full face or in profile, that Mr. Ofili began in 1995. At once regal and cartoonish, they suggest an extended family of royal ancestors and a bottomless well of inspiration.
In the next gallery, a dozen paintings from the late 1990s line the wall. They depict raffish black superheroes, blaxploitation film heroines and a brown clown-faced phallus — curvaceous characters with layers of dots, glitter-strewn resin and exotic backdrops — especially the radiating loops behind the goddesslike “She.” All are surrounded by tiny collaged images from black music or pornographic magazines, and garnished with one or more clumps of elephant dung, shellacked and stuck with colorful map pins that form decorative patterns or state the work’s title.
Two additional clumps support each canvas as it leans against the wall like some icon or ex voto, reminding us that painting is a universal, not Western, art form. The only work lacking a central figure in this first group is “Afrodizzia,” a psychedelic masterpiece of jewel-colored streamers that pays homage to black musicians like Little Richard, Michael Jackson and Miles Davis, even while embellishing their images with comically enormous black Afros.
In the early aughts, summarized in an adjoining gallery, Mr. Ofili put a political symbol — the red, black and green of Marcus Garvey’s Pan-African flag — to lavish use. The five paintings here, which represented Britain at the Venice Biennale in 2003, depict figures, tropical plants and flowers. In three of them, mysterious lovers (or entertainers), descendants of the Afromuses, appear in formal evening dress. In two others, female nudes recline before us. It is as if the black maid in Manet’s 19th-century landmark “Olympia” has assumed the place of her white mistress. In each of these exultant paintings, a richly decorated dung ball forms the center of an immense star that seems to bless the scene like the star of Bethlehem.
Outstanding painters inevitably expand the medium to suit their needs and the specifics of their lives, and Mr. Ofili is no exception. Born in Manchester, England, in 1968, to Nigerian parents, he emerged with the group of Young British Artists led by Damien Hirst who heated London’s art scene in the early 1990s. His approach lacked their Conceptual orientation, but this did not stop him from being included in “Sensation,” the exhibition of the advertising magnate Charles Saatchi’s collection of Young British Artists at the Brooklyn Museum in 1999.
The rest is local history: Mr. Ofili’s painting, “The Holy Virgin Mary,” caused noisy outrage. Now displayed in the New Museum show, it depicts a black Madonna, a clump of elephant dung, shellacked and decorated as always in Mr. Ofili’s paintings, replacing her right breast, which is exposed in keeping with Renaissance tradition. She is also surrounded by little putti that on close inspection turn out to be images from pornographic magazines.
Mr. Ofili’s lack of Conceptual credentials differentiates him from American black artists whose art focuses on black identity, among them Glenn Ligon, Lorna Simpson or Kara Walker (although he shares Ms. Walker’s upfront bawdiness). Mr. Ofili has more in common with painters who couch blackness in a fierce visuality, namely Mickalene Thomas, Kerry James Marshall, Robert Colescott and Ellen Gallagher, and with more distant precedents such as the insistent colors and forms of the American painters Bob Thompson, Beauford Delaney and William H. Johnson.
On a larger stage, Mr. Ofili belongs to a multigenerational group of painters, black and white, born primarily during the second half of the 20th century, who have sidestepped several popular wisdoms. They dismissed Minimalism’s premise that art had to be abstract, laughed at the post-Minimalist belief that painting was dead and largely ignored the Pictures Generation assertion that the only good image was a photo-based one. (Among these artists are Carroll Dunham, Nicole Eisenman and Ms. Thomas.) They turned back to Pop Art, the unfinished figurative styles of early Modernism, or non-Western art, among other sources. Mr. Ofili also rejected the early ’90s contention that painting could not be political, making it so by making it fully “out of himself,” to paraphrase Barnett Newman. It is a demanding, if not excruciating process  that most young artists today fail to grasp, much less to undertake.
Organized by Massimiliano Gioni, the New Museum’s artistic director; its curator, Gary Carrion-Murayari; and Margot Norton, an assistant curator, the exhibition proceeds upward from the second floor with each gallery offering a very different experience.  After the decorativeness of the dotted paintings, gears shift radically on the third floor, with the darkened canvases, sometimes collectively called the Blue Paintings, which were the first Mr. Ofili painted after moving to Trinidad in 2005. Here, he places his subjects even more deeply in the tropics, a locale already predicted in the red-black-green Marcus Garvey works, while also discarding the dots, glitter, map pins and dung. It was time to move on.
On the show’s final floor, which culminates in several new paintings, riotous color returns and a final surprise awaits: looming gallery walls painted with a lush jungle in spreading violets and pale pinks. Across this ravishing expanse, nine paintings proceed from 2007 to 2014, indicating an artist growing steadily while inspired by precedents that include Gauguin and the Symbolists, Picasso in his Blue Period, Matisse, Art Nouveau and the Color Field painters and Ovid.
Building on a version of stain painting and mostly depicting couples, these works start out simply with flat blazing color and move toward mosaiclike complexity. In “Ovid-Desire,” a creature in a diaphanous gown swoons in her partner’s arms on a pink-and-black dance floor. In “Frogs in the Shade,” bright trees cast leaf patterns on the skin on the bodies of a nude couple, a reclining male entranced by the woman dancing before him.
These paintings form an impressive demonstration of headlong development, but they suggest an artist still in transition, moving toward a promising future, which is exactly where Mr. Ofili, at 46, should be right now.

2014年10月30日 星期四

How One Designer Made a $39,000 Chandelier Inspired by Galileo

How One Designer Made a $39,000 Chandelier Inspired by Galileo
Master glassblower Alison Berger’s Counterweight Chandelier relies on an intricate system of crystal pulleys and counterbalances all made by hand in her studio
Oct. 24, 2014 3:36 p.m. ET
Joshua White
Luke White for The Wall Street Journal
WHO: Alison Berger, a designer and master glassblower with an extensive line of handmade furnishings that evoke early 20th-century industrialism. She learned glassblowing at the age of 16 after stumbling upon a workshop in her native Dallas. After an apprenticeship with Dale Chihuly and a stint in Frank Gehry’s office practicing architecture, she opened Alison Berger Glassworks in Los Angeles, in 1994.
WHAT: The Counterweight Chandelier, part of Ms. Berger’s 2014 collection of lighting for chic Chicago-based retailer Holly Hunt. The custom-made, sculptural assembly uses pulleys to suspend an intricate system of handblown crystal light pendants balanced by crystal-and-bronze weights. Pull on the weights to raise or lower the pendants and adjust the height at which the light shines.
HOW: To make the crystal pendant shades, Ms. Berger begins by melting a powder—her own secret silica-based recipe—inside a 2,500-degree furnace over the course of a day or two. Then she dips a 5-foot steel pipe in the molten glass and carefully blows air through the pipe until a glass glob inflates. While she and her assistants spin and reheat the vessel so it stays malleable, they shape it into a perfect cylinder using paddles, tongs-like tools called jacks, and their hands, pressing on the hot surface with newspapers. Once it hardens, she grinds and polishes the glass but leaves minor imperfections such as air bubbles and markings. “When glass is too perfect it can look like plastic,” she said. The weights and wheels used on the pulleys, meanwhile, are solid-cast crystal. Once she has all the glass components ready, she strings them up on the pulleys, inserting little bronze discs (each hand-milled in advance) into the glass weights until the balance is just right.
WHY: “I’ve long been fascinated with the bronze instruments that 16th-century scientists made to calculate the ephemeral,” said Ms. Berger. The chandelier takes inspiration, in part, from Galileo’s pendulum studies that she came across at the Museo Galileo in Florence, Italy, decades ago.
WHERE: The designs are conceived in the loft of a 1920s Spanish-style building in West Hollywood. But to produce the delicate glass pieces, Ms. Berger, with the help of a small team, uses a 3,000-square-foot facility in downtown L.A. “My studio is like a lab, where we’re constantly experimenting with prototypes,” she said. Counterweight Chandelier, from $39,000, hollyhunt.com

Yoko Ono on Art, New York and John Lennon

The artist discusses creativity, criticism and going to Japan with John Lennon

YOKO ONO HAS her mother to thank for armoring her against what the world threw her way when she dared to marry a Beatle.
As a child in Japan during World War II, the artist and musician was evacuated to the countryside, where her parents would visit her. Ms. Ono believes her mother sensed that her daughter “was going to go through some strange things. I remember her saying, ‘Yoko, you’re a very good writer, why don’t you write about this experience and think about whatever you encounter as material for your book?’ ”
For the past 60-plus years, Ms. Ono has followed that advice, channeling her experiences and encounters into conceptual art—first with the avant-garde Fluxus movement in New York, then with her own much-misunderstood “instruction” paintings, often bearing a single word, which invited the viewer to interpret and take figurative ownership of the artworks. Later, with John Lennon, she attracted notoriety—and animosity—when they staged their “Bed-in for Peace” protests in 1969.
That large body of work has now been compiled in a lavish, limited-edition book, “Infinite Universe at Dawn” (£325; genesis-publications.com ). Its contents—abstract and conceptual art, poetry, text works, photography—not only remind us how pioneering and fearless Ms. Ono has been in her life, but also represent a defiant riposte to those who insist that her career amounts to little more than a few slogans and a fortuitous marriage. But the warmth of her welcome at the English seaside two months ago, when she dotted the streets, shop windows and public buildings of Folkestone with text works and installations during the town’s triennial (until Nov. 2;folkestonetriennial.org.uk ), confirm that such doubters are now very much in the minority.
We recently caught up with Ms. Ono, who has gone through some very “strange things” indeed—and used all of them as material for her artwork. Her mother would be proud.
From left, Yoko Ono’s ‘Imagine Peace Tower,' 2007; Ms. Ono at Folkestone Triennial; her new limited-edition book, 'Infinite Universe at Dawn'; with John Lennon in 1969.ENLARGE
From left, Yoko Ono’s ‘Imagine Peace Tower,' 2007; Ms. Ono at Folkestone Triennial; her new limited-edition book, 'Infinite Universe at Dawn'; with John Lennon in 1969. YOKO ONO; FOLKESTONE TRIENNIAL; GENESIS PUBLICATIONS; GETTY
Artists should adhere to what we are, instead of being sidetracked by other desires. We’re supposed to have that independence. But many artists today are, you know, going with this gallery, with that museum, and thinking too much about monetary success, which means they can’t be free. A life of not being challenged and only hearing what you want to hear is being dead.
I do sometimes think, “Am I always going to be in New York?” In a way, it’s destiny, in that even if I try to find somewhere else to move, I just can’t. But, of course, it’s not destiny—it’s my mind that is blocking that.
When John and I were about to go to Japan to see my parents for the first time, he said, “I bet they live in a hole or something.” And I thought, “Just you wait.” Isn’t that funny?
Everybody is creative. These days, I think that’s truer than ever. There were very few activists in our day, when we were doing “Bed-in” and things like that, but now probably 90% of the people in the world are activists.
The main criticism I got for the instruction paintings was about how arrogant I was, telling people what to do. Can you imagine? Instead of saying, “Thank you.” It typified the image they were giving me: this arrogant woman. Or they just thought, “Oh, she’s one of those kooks.”
A life of not being challenged and only hearing what you want to hear is being dead
I never think of things as being a long time ago. Everything is getting more one-dimensional now. The other day, I was just pulling a chair over to the wall so that I could clear a space, and I thought, “I did this when I was 2½.” Experience repeats itself. There is that belief that just before you die, you go through everything you’ve done in your life. Now, I really believe it. I remember very interesting details about the smallest things. You turn a corner and think, “I turned a corner in exactly this way in Italy that time.” It just all comes back.
I always thought that I was dealing in the future—creating the future and the unknown, which is far more interesting and exciting.
When I titled one of my works “Surrender to Peace” and sent it to the New York Times many years ago, the criticism I got was that it wasn’t grammatical, that you can’t surrender to something abstract. And that was them being annoyed about the fact that I was being political. But it just showed their thinking, you know, “She’s an Asian. We’ll intimidate her.”
John was so intelligent, so quick. I didn’t have to explain, and we didn’t have to talk about what had happened. We just immediately knew that we understood each other.
Folkestone reminded me of the first time I went to Iceland. I was really upset that the world seemed to be only into centralization, globalization…. I thought that the way to go was to localize things, to give energy to all these communities and make a difference that way. So I went there thinking, “This is great. This is a place that is never talked about. I’m going to go there and revive them.” And, in fact, they gave me far more than I was giving them.
Women have come a long way. We should be proud of that. We jumped and hopped and came to this point instead of just walking.
— Edited from an interview with Dan Cairns