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Mexican Masters, Cate Blanchett Hit Art Gallery NSW in 2016
Mexican Masters, Cate Blanchett Hit Art Gallery NSW in 2016An exhibition celebrating the work of Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and a video installation by German artist Julian Rosefeldt featuring Australian actress Cate Blanchett are two of the many highlights of the Art Gallery of New South Wales’s just-announced 2016 program, which also includes Australia’s first ever exhibition on the Tang dynasty (618 – 907), “Tang: art from the Silk Road capital,” and a major exhibition celebrating the Aboriginal culture of south-east Australia. Until the Gallery announces its 2016-17 Sydney International Art Series exhibition, which will be presented in collaboration with a leading London institution, the drawcard of the 2016 program is “Frida and Diego” (25 June – 9 October 2016) which features 40 artworks from the collection of Jacques and Natasha Gelman presented alongside photographs of the couple taken by Edward Weston, Nikolas Muray and Frida’s father, Guillermo. One of the most highly-anticipated events of 2016 is the presentation of renowned German artist Julian Rosefeldt’s dramatic new video installation “Manifesto” (28 May – 13 November 2016). Commissioned in partnership with ACMI in Melbourne, the work stars Australian actress Cate Blanchett who will inhabit a variety of unexpected personas to perform excerpts from some of art history’s significant manifestos, giving “new life to some of the most famous and provocative writings by artists of the modern era” “I have used the title Manifesto as a clear statement that the focus in this work is above all on texts, whether by visual artists, filmmakers, writers, performers or architects – and on the poetry of these texts. It's my intention to pull the curiosity of the viewer back to the text and the spoken word. Manifesto is a homage to the beauty of artists’ manifestos – a manifesto of manifestos,” Rosefeldt explained in a statement from ACMI. The Gallery also announced first display of Yoshitoshi Tsukioka’s entire “One hundred aspects of the moon” (20 August – January 2017); an exhibition exploring the importance of Asian calligraphy as art and in art (27 August – April 2017); the Dobell Australian Drawing Biennial 2016 (30 July – 11 December 2016); a showcase of works from the central Arnhem Land island community of Milingimbi (12 November 2016 – February 2017), and an exhibition of Tracey Moffatt’s “Laudanum” series (28 May – 4 September 2016). Director of the Art Gallery of NSW Michael Brand said, “Celebrating Australian and international perspectives, our 2016 program offers an inspiring art experience that builds upon what has been a most positive year for the Gallery. We are very pleased to report an increase in visitation numbers with Gallery attendance of over 1.3 million in the past 12 months, up 13% from 2014-15 financial year, and over 140,000 visitors to the 2015 Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes.” Published: October 18, 2015 Read full article here

Rebecca Ward at Ronchini Gallery London
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Ken Kagami Performance at Frieze Art Fair London 2015
At Frieze Art Fair London, Japanese artist Ken Kagami performs a free one-on-one intimate portrait session for all interested exhibition ... Read full article here

L’exposition « Photographies de Louise Bourgeois, 1995-2006 »
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Week in Review: October 18, 2015
Welcome to Week in Review, our Sunday round-up of the last seven days of activity here at Contemporary Art Daily. Please subscribe to our RSS feed, follow us on Twitter, follow us on Tumblr, and become a fan on Facebook. We would like to extend special gratitude to our annual sponsors, NADA and Sotheby’s Institute of Art. NADA is […]Contemporary Art Daily is produced by Contemporary Art Group, a not-for-profit organization. We rely on our audience to help fund the publication of exhibitions that show up in this RSS feed. Please consider supporting us by making a donation today. Read full article here

“Tina” at Spike
Artists: Croco Chanel, Mitchell Syrop, Mikołaj Małek, Nobutaka Aozaki, Manfred Erjautz, Juliette Blightman, Bonny Poon, Sarah Staton, Margaret Honda, Stano Filko, Nils Bech Venue: Spike, Berlin Exhibition Title: There is no alternative Organised by: Rita Vitorelli and Christian Kobald with Tenzing Barshee Date: September 17 – October 25, 2015 Click here to view slideshow Full gallery of videos, images, press release and link available after the jump. Videos: Nils Bech, Pick […]Contemporary Art Daily is produced by Contemporary Art Group, a not-for-profit organization. We rely on our audience to help fund the publication of exhibitions that show up in this RSS feed. Please consider supporting us by making a donation today. Read full article here

The Rebel and the Robot: Wendell Castle Is Still America's Furniture Maverick
The Rebel and the Robot: Wendell Castle Is Still America's Furniture MaverickWendell Castle is restless. That’s the first thing you realize
 when you enter his sprawling cedar-shingle studio compound—a former wheat- and soybean- processing plant he purchased 
in the late 1960s—in Scottsville, New York, just a short drive from Rochester. The multilevel, 15,000-square-foot space (one-third of which was added over the years to accommodate Castle’s metastatic operation) is a hub of artistic activity. Everywhere you look there are employees drilling, sanding, computer modeling, or carving his latest—and increasingly massive—art-furniture pieces with big-boy toys, ranging from utterly manual carpenter clamps to a 5,000-pound ABB robot named Mr. Chips. Evidence of Castle’s creative output, six decades’ worth of archives (from his pioneering foray into stack-lamination carving to his early mold-form fiberglass experiments and radical Italian and Deco-inspired ’80s heyday to his new digital breakthroughs) is sprawled about various storage areas and showrooms. And if he needs a break from it all, there’s an on-site sculpture garden, an elevated paddle tennis court, and a small fleet of classic cars, which, depending on the day, might include a 1985 slant-nose Porsche 911 Turbo, a 1949 Mg TC, or his gem, a 1970 robin’s-egg-blue Jaguar E-Type convertible that would make even James Bond drool. After a short blitz through this fun house, Castle asks if I want to grab lunch. It’s a balmy July afternoon, so we hop in the Jag, cruise over to Main Street, and slide into one of the cream-colored Naugahyde booths at the Scottsville Diner. This wood-paneled, Everywhere, U.S.A., greasy spoon is a study in suburban Americana—where everyone in the joint knows Castle’s name—so it is probably a little jarring to the locals when the godfather of American studio furniture is moved to tears over cheeseburgers and sodas within five minutes of our arrival. This last scene was not part of my plan—typically, you serve up the softballs first and then work around to the potential tearjerker—but there was no damming the flood of emotion after I asked the 82-year-old éminence grise the most perfunctory of studio-visit questions: What made you want to be an artist? “That’s hard for me to talk about,” says Castle, choking up, his inflamed eye sockets rivaling the lipstick-red rims of his signature Anne & Valentin eyeglasses. His emotion, of course, is understandable: Finding your way from the conservative climes of Blue Rapids, Kansas, to the highest echelons of the blue-chip art world (by crafting fine art furniture, no less) seems all but impossible—then or now. In fact, as a child, the closest Castle ever got to creating sculpture or furniture was crafting soapbox-derby cars, tree houses, and model airplanes with the tools lying around his father’s workshop. A vocational agriculture teacher, the elder Castle educated local farmers
 on machinery repair and the logistics of crop rotation, as well as basic carpentry and blacksmithing, allowing young Wendell to tag along from time to time. “He was a jack-of-all-trades, and not very good at any of them, but I was always around people who were making or fixing things,” Castle recalls. While it was assumed that he and his siblings would matriculate at a college, art was never considered a possible career choice. “My parents were adamant about my not being an artist, so I convinced them that industrial design was not art, it was industry, which of course was not true,” says Castle. “My grade school, junior high, and high school had no 
art classes, so I never had anyone look at my artwork or say I had talent. I did draw, but no one valued it. Whenever I finished drawings, they’d be in the wastebasket by the next day. It never even occurred to me I would ever be interested in art.” However, in his sophomore year at the Methodist-leaning Baker University in eastern Kansas—a school he did not care to attend—Castle got the opportunity to take an elective. “I selected art for no particular reason, but I was really good 
at it right off. I could draw people, landscapes, and the teacher took me aside and said, ‘You’ve got to get out of this school.’ I went to the University of Kansas within a month,” he says, a second round of tears welling between his salt-colored mane and goatee. “He basically saved my life.” Though it’s not a story he often tells, it’s illustrative of his core beliefs in the mysteries of the cosmos and its unlikely Venn-diagram intersections with artistic practice. “My life is random, but I’ve been in the right place at the right time a few times,” observes Castle, who paid for his schooling—after defying his parents’ wishes—by enlisting in the army. “I was on a train 
to New Jersey to get on a troop ship bound for Korea, but I had gotten very sick in basic training. I had pneumonia, and the train was nearly there, but they put me in the hospital. I was reassigned to Germany, which was a pretty lucky break, because I met a guy who was the battalion artist. I wasn’t aware the battalion even had an artist, but it turned out his tour of duty was almost over, so I applied for his job and he gave it to me. I made signs for an officers’ party or stuff like Keep the Mess Hall Clean and did some illustration for the battalion newspaper. It was a good deal, because when you had an actual job in
 the army, you didn’t have to pull guard duty.” While the winds 
of fate may have placed Castle in opportune situations—and 
out of harm’s way—his indefatigable work ethic and willingness to take risks are the true engines of his storied career. “I think what the public sees now is the output of someone who has 10 ideas a day multiplied by 365 days a year. He never stops,” says Marc Benda, whose New York gallery, Friedman Benda, has represented Castle over the past decade, a period that some would argue has been the most prolific of the artist’s life. In the past year alone, Castle opened his fifth, and perhaps most ambitious, solo exhibition at the gallery in the spring— preceded by a solo at Carpenters Workshop gallery in Paris 
last fall—while his work has been all but ubiquitous at art
and design fairs from London to San Francisco. Meanwhile, he just published his catalogue raisonné with the Artist Book Foundation; his daughter, Alison Castle, an editor at Taschen, is working on a documentary about her famous father; and this month marks the opening of the first museum exhibition to focus on his digitally crafted, robot-carved chairs, lamps, and tables, “Wendell Castle Remastered,” at New York’s Museum of Arts and Design (MAD). Of course, nobody—not even Benda—expected such epic late-career energy when he first met Castle in 2002. “At that time, Wendell was considered a towering figure of the 1960s and ’70s, an enormously important person, but people felt he was fading into the sunset,” says Benda. “In the first conversation I had with him, I asked him what he wanted to do, and he told me that he drew every day and had new ideas every day, and all he wanted was to realize those things. Everything else was secondary. I realized very quickly he didn’t just have ideas but groundbreaking ideas that needed to become part of the contemporary-design dialogue.” Castle never set out to conquer the furniture world. In fact, were it not for a snide remark by a professor in a sculpture workshop at the University of Kansas, he might well have spent his days casting bronzes. “The sculpture studio had some power tools, and I was going to make a simple cabinet to keep art supplies in, more or less a box with a door, and the teacher came along and said, ‘You’re wasting your time on furniture? Get back to making sculpture,’” recalls Castle. “I thought, I’m going to get one over on him. I’ll make a piece of furniture and disguise it as sculpture well enough that he’ll believe it.” In short order, Castle crafted the Stool sculpture—and then the Scribe stool—with walnut gunstock offcuts from a local factory. Capping the cuts in old piano key ivory and ebony, respectively, the works were functional as seating for only the slightest of users—“They’re not as comfortable as sitting on a fence,” Castle jokes—but their delicate, bonelike design not only won over his instructor but also won prizes and went on to be exhibited around the world. In fact, the dean of fine arts at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), Harold Brennan, caught a glimpse of the early work at the Craft Museum in New York and sent a letter to Castle’s tiny Manhattan studio in the spring of 1962, urging him to apply for a teaching job. “The program was very Danish at that point, and they had a Dane running it, and Brennan didn’t think they should be doing Danish anymore. He thought a sculptor would be a good idea, even though I wasn’t very well qualified,” says Castle, who got a position at RIT (where he is currently the artist in residence) and moved to Rochester that summer. Though he had planned to return to the city in two years’ time—and his staying led to a divorce from his first wife— he never looked back. “I liked it; I had a great studio, and I didn’t want to leave. And I liked teaching, the enthusiasm of the students and how they think about things is interesting to me.” “For a young person, he was very confident in his vision and what he wanted to do, even if he was going off the normal course of action,” says Alyson Baker, director of the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Connecticut, which explored the early part of Castle’s career three years ago with “Wendell Castle: Wandering Forms—Works from 1959–1979.” That early confidence allowed Castle to identify unlikely (if wandering) concepts, processes, and forms. So did, he argues, his lifelong battle with dyslexia. “It was a huge trouble in school, but
 I realize now that dyslexia is probably beneficial
 for artists. I think you see things differently than they are,” says Castle. “Misinformation is good.” If Castle’s gunstock stools served as his opening salvo for translating misinformation into art—most of which succeeds, ironically, by presenting aesthetically pleasing visual conundrums to the viewer—his early foray into stack-lamination carving laid the battle plans for one of the most unlikely careers in contemporary furniture. Rather than carving from a single piece of hardwood, this craft process calls for stacking, gluing, and clamping boards into layered forms that are then carved into a desired shape. It was cheaper, quicker, and offered more possibilities at a more monumental scale than the classical technique of liberating a form with mallet and chisel from a single block of raw material. While it was unheard-of in a fine art context at the time, it’s now common practice for many star designers, including Julia Krantz, Joaquim Tenreiro, and Jeroen Verhoeven (who uses the process sort of in reverse, famously bonding 741 layers of CNC-cut plywood slices together to make his iconic Cinderella table, one of Castle’s favorite works by a contemporary designer). “Rather wonderfully, the process was inspired by a manual Wendell had as a kid that showed how to make a duck decoy,” explains Glenn Adamson, director of MAD. “You get this stepwise model duck, and then you shave down the corners. He realized he could make any shape he wanted to using that technique.” Spurred by the organic forms of modernist icons like Jean Arp, Henry Moore, and Constantin Brancusi, Castle began shaping idiosyncratic pieces from these stacked-oak boards that questioned the very nature, purpose, and potential of studio furniture. A sensual three-person settee floated like a cloud over a single leg (or perhaps ankle) attached to a puddling base. His Wall table resembled a worm supporting itself between two 90-degree planes. He also carved chests for blankets and stereos that resembled ripened produce falling or rising from a stem, and epic seven-foot-tall mahogany and cherry lamps that mimicked the fruit, or tulips and mushrooms, as well as biomorphic desks and tables whose planar surfaces rose like waves from serpentine blocks of stacked white oak and walnut. After exhibiting work in Milan in the early ’60s, Castle began experimenting with mold-cast, color-infused fiberglass—most memorably in his Molar chair and Fat Albert lamps that put an American spin on the work he’d been seeing in Domus by Ettore Sottsass and Joe Colombo. Though they were marginally successful at the time, they are now comeback hits, thanks to a reproduction deal he inked with R & Company in the late aughts. Regardless of the market, they’ve been iconic since their debut: Designer Karim Rashid found the work so intriguing as a teenager that it later served as the inspiration for his “blobject” concept and Blob chair. “These fluid-like objects, created with new materials, spoke about a soft, ethereal, and technological world,” says Rashid, who especially loved Castle’s Molar chair and Cloud shelf. “I always loved the ’70s works that were in the genre of Eero Aarnio, Luigi Colani, Verner Panton, and Olivier Mourgue. This work appealed to me because I have always had an affinity for organic forms that are an extension of us and nature.” When Rashid was still in diapers, Castle’s work fortuitously caught the eye of maverick dealer Lee Nordness, who curated the seminal traveling exhibition “Objects: USA,” which helped propel craft beyond the mainstream into the realm of fine art. “I was the first craft person he ever exhibited, and he did well with sales,” says Castle, who had a groundbreaking New York solo debut with Nordness in 1968. This early success encouraged Nordness to find other makers and expand the craft contingent
of his Madison Avenue operation with the likes of Lenore Tawney, Dale Chihuly, and Peter Voulkos. “It was a lot of freedom because I had made fairly outrageous pieces. They look conservative today, but they were big, bigger than a lot of furniture at the time. In a sense, I never focused my career in terms of making things sellable. I’ve almost done the opposite.” When Castle finally settled into a rhythm with his stack-lamination process, he essentially blew up his practice (one of many about-faces in his career) in the mid 1970s. At the time, he was teaching a still-life drawing class at SUNY Brockport. “One day I took my sport coat off and threw it over the back
of a chair and said, ‘Here’s what we’re going to draw,’” recalls Castle. “I drew it, too, several times, and I noticed that in my drawings, I didn’t try to implicate the fabric’s texture. I just drew the coat and the chair so the chair had the same texture as the coat, and it made me think they could be the same thing. Being a person who worked with wood, I thought, Wouldn’t it be cool to carve that chair and coat out of one thing.” Merging classical furniture forms (coatracks, desk chairs, a demilune table) with still-life objects (keys, coats, hats, gloves) in one solid carved piece, Castle resurrected the Italian Renaissance motif of the woodworking still life by composing elements with an attention to detail reserved for a Dutch
 Old Master painting or a set design. While these meticulously carved trompe l’oeil sculptures failed to sell during a 1978 exhibition at Carl Solway gallery in New York, they quickly sold out in a subsequent show with Alexander Milliken, and are now highly coveted on the secondary market. “I understand it now better than I did at the time,” says Castle of the impulse for this foray into realism. “At the time, I wanted my work to be accepted, appreciated, displayed, sold on an equal level with sculpture. Then I said, ‘What’s the opposite of this?’ ” Castle created some of his most conceptual and technical work in this vein—notably Table with Tablecloth, 1978, and Ghost Clock, 1985, two shrouded forms that feel like the sculptural forebears of David Hammons’s tarp paintings—in the late ’70s and early ’80s, but by then he was already pivoting again to 
a more decorative, Memphis group–inspired style of highly ornamental (borderline cartoonish) work. Though it was market- driven to a large extent, there are undoubtedly many iconic pieces from this colorful period, including a suite of painted and veneered pieces (chairs, a piano, and a desk), inspired sets of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, his beloved Star cabinets, numerous rare wood clocks, and his infamous Pope’s chair, conceived after Milliken suggested that Castle make a chair for John Paul II’s 1987 tour of the United States. “Milliken seemed to think there should be this special chair made for the pope and asked me to do a drawing. The pope saw a drawing, and he hated it and said, ‘I’m not sitting in that,’ ” recalls Castle, with a laugh, as he shows me the disarticulated and extremely dusty chair in his attic, which sort of resembles the Design Star version of the Island of Misfit Toys. “But I
 went ahead and made the chair anyway. I’ve torn it apart since, but I’ve been thinking I might redo it in some way.” While Benda was thrilled to hear about this idea, Castle doesn’t
really acknowledge the period as a success, and it was roundly avoided by both the Aldrich and MAD for their exhibitions. “I think that certain phases of my work were failures, even though there were some good pieces,” Castle admits. “In
the ’80s, when I was doing the so-called fine furniture with the Art Deco influence, I was encouraged by Milliken, and he loved that kind of work and it did sell; it was challenging because of the type of craftsmanship, but in 
hindsight I shouldn’t have been doing that at all. It’s
 not always necessarily good to be facile.” Another regret for Castle during this period was leaving Milliken to work with the collector-turned-dealer Peter Joseph. “Peter commissioned me to do quite a lot of work, then we became more friendly, and then he became upset that Milliken was taking 50 percent of all this work. He thought he was overpaying, and then he came to me and asked if I’d do 100 percent of my work for him,” recalls Castle. At the time, Joseph was opening his own gallery and furnishing a 10,000-square-foot Park Avenue penthouse and a large Southampton estate. “Between furnishing his two homes and the gallery, he said, ‘I’ll buy everything you make.’ That was unfortunate because I liked Alexander Milliken a lot, and he was really pissed that I would do that, but I couldn’t say no because it was almost double the money. But in hindsight it was a good move only financially.” In fact, it even proved financially troubling after Joseph died of cancer in 1998. The dealer had been arbitrarily inflating Castle’s prices, creating what the artist calls a “false economy” by prearranging to buy the biggest and most expensive piece in any given show—at a greatly reduced price from the retail figure—for himself. “When it all collapsed, it did in almost everyone who showed with him,” says Castle, who had been ramping up his studio apparatus, hiring more and more assistants to meet the demand for the hundreds of pieces (including a now famous library) that Joseph commissioned. The bottom really dropped out after Joseph’s widow, who wasn’t a fan of Castle’s work, dumped nearly all of it on the market at once. “I was competing against myself,” he says. Castle remained in a fallow period for years after, until Benda and his partner, Barry Friedman, came into the picture. “Artists have to be selfish to the point where they are able to create and put out into the world whatever they need to put out, and in Wendell’s case it was 
the opposite—he wasn’t selfish enough for a long time,” says Benda. In order to resurrect his practice in the wake of the go-go ’80s and ’90s, Castle posed a simple question to himself: What if I had no employees and had to do everything myself again? “The answer was pretty clear, I would do exactly what I did when that was true in 1962,” he says. “Partly because of my age, I’m not going to be experimenting with too many radically different directions, so I need to focus on what is the best.” Long before Castle enlisted Mr. Chips, the robot, to do his carving, he presented a seminal work—the Triad chair—to Benda, which was pivotal according to the dealer. “He showed me a lot of drawings, and I was thrilled to be in dialogue with him, but I wasn’t yet on the wagon in the 
way I was with Ettore Sottsass, whose last show was dedicated to Mondrian. Ettore said he had wanted to do an homage to Mondrian his whole professional life. Wendell was doing an homage to himself,” says Benda. “This Triad chair combined all the virtues of his practice, and it was composed of these volumes that were undeniably him,
 but it didn’t look like a knockoff of 1965 or 1975; there was something when you looked at it, you knew it was a piece made in 2006. You could trace our professional relationship back to that chair. He started thinking forward again instead of back, harnessing all the things he’d learned before.” Tacked up on the walls of the various workshops, offices, and showrooms of the Scottsville studio—including Castle’s personal studio, where he still breaks out a file from time to time—you’ll find numerous poster prints of “My 10 Adopted Rules of Thumb.” More gestural than gospel, the notion for the rules originated with a phrase Castle heard during a 1990 artist talk that ventured into Zen Buddhism. He later tweaked the aphorism, which is now known as Rule 10: “If you hit the bull’s-eye every time, the target is too near.” These rules now seem to offer spiritual guidance for his current approach—especially Rule 5: “The dog that stays on the porch will find no bones”—and he’s even planning to add two more when he narrows down the most illuminating koans from a list of 50 he’s been amassing for years. “He’s a risk taker and he gets bored easily. He always wants 
a new challenge,” says Adamson, noting that Castle’s willingness to continually move the bull’s-eye certainly played a part in 
the artist’s decision to buy Mr. Chips four years ago, which in turn prompted MAD to give him a show. “I thought that was
so amazing, that at his age he would be expanding his tool kit 
in this radical way, engaging with these automated digital manufacturing techniques and using a robot as his primary carving tool after all this time; it seemed absolutely astounding to us. The basic idea of the show is: What happens when a maker’s skill goes digital? There’s also the comparison of his early breakthrough work with this new breakthrough—50 years apart.” Citing Paul McCarthy’s massive walnut bookends as facsimiles, Castle argues the robot has allowed him to explore depth, volume, and interiority to degrees that simply aren’t possible by hand. While Mr. Chips doesn’t increase Castle’s output—programming can actually take longer than hand-carving—it does help with crafting editions made in mirrored unique multiples. It also increases precision immensely. For the most recent Friedman Benda show, “gathering Momentum,”
the artist explored (and exploited) his love of ellipsoids, which dates back to early fascination with auto design and illustration, by using phallic, football-like bullets to suspend sensual flower-evoking seating elements that are undeniably sexual in form and title (Above, Beyond, Within; Temptation). He also took a page from William Burroughs with his new Misfit chairs, which are essentially parts cut from two or three separate chairs that are then reassembled to make a new collaged piece. “I wouldn’t even think of making stuff like this in the ’70s because it would have been ridiculous to make a chair that weighs 800 pounds because nobody could move it,” he says. “But I don’t worry 
about that now because anybody who is going to buy this piece isn’t going to move it anyway.” In other words, rooms are now designed around Castle’s furniture, not the reverse. “It’s a different language from five years ago,” the artist says. His 2010 series of darkly titled rocking chairs—inspired by the tilted-wheel motion captured in Jacques-Henri Lartigue’s iconic 1914 photograph of a Bugatti race car—radically defied perception, and seemingly gravity, but even they aren’t fast enough to keep up with his latest forms. “To push the work further, I wanted to work large and bring in these other potential problems, like things having to be disassembled, because you couldn’t get them through the door. The solutions have opened up real possibilities,” says Castle. “We haven’t even scratched the surface of what we can do.” For MAD, he’ll do his best to push the envelope. He’s constructing a massive lamp that “eliminates the ceiling, kind of this monument to the technology he’s working with now,” says Adamson. There will also be a massive one-seat chair attached to a peanut-shaped chest of drawers, which is currently being assembled in one of the smaller finishing workshops, as well as an epic 16-foot-long dining table called Suspended Belief, only in a plaster-model form at the moment, that floats off a cluster of treelike, eight-foot-tall ellipsoids. He was even thinking of making a 30- to 40-piece total environment—an extension of his two-story 2013 installation, A New Environment, which was based on Environment for Contemplation, the foam-padded, Flokati-lined reflection chamber he made in 1969—but he realized that, no matter how perfectly he selected the wood (he works primarily in ash these days), he would be able to assemble it only once.
“You could make it in fiberglass, but I planned to put a chair inside, so there would have to be a lot more happening in that chair; it should be air-conditioned, maybe there’s a TV, some stereo equipment,” says Castle, his mind running wild, as Mr. Chips makes some precision cuts on a chair while
 his daughter, Alison, films in the background. Going forward, he hopes to work more in glass (he’s currently crafting a series of weighty martini glasses for Corning, which mimic his ellipsoidal chairs) and perhaps do another massive room install, but with his 83rd birthday around the corner, there is no time for anyone else’s vision but his. “These days I’m thinking this way: I want the things that I make to have a life of great length. Whoever buys whatever I’m making now, they’ll get divorced, move, die, and the things will go somewhere else, so I really want to entertain ideas that have the chance for many lives,” he says, noting that while he wishes this glut of attention could have come a couple of decades ago, he’s perhaps better equipped now to appreciate the adoration. In fact, when he’s home on the weekends, he claims he’ll put on jazz records and dance by himself—when nobody else is looking. “I love what I’m doing so much. It’s so exciting, so much fun,” he says. “There was always some hesitancy about going too far in the past, but now there isn’t. I have all this wonderful freedom.” A version of this article appears in the October 2015 issue of Modern Painters. Published: October 18, 2015 Read full article here

Inside the Fairmont Pacific Rim, Vancouver
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Two London Retrospectives Chart Frank Auerbach's Career in Paint
Two London Retrospectives Chart Frank Auerbach's Career in PaintThere are “certain painters,” Frank Auerbach mused to me a few years ago, “who painted in a not very distinguished way, then at the point of turning toward abstraction, painted some distinguished pictures.” Kandinsky, Auerbach went on, was a “prime example” of what he meant. But when Kandinsky “crossed over” completely into abstraction, “the paintings became rather mediocre again.” So, the young Auerbach thought, “the thing to do is to cross that border again and again and again.” He’s been doing so now for more than 60 years. This month a retrospective exhibition of his work opens at Tate Britain in London as well as at Marlborough 
Fine Art. It will present the work of an artist who, in certain ways, has been astonishingly consistent in what he has done and how he has done it. Auerbach, for example, moved into his current
studio in March 1954, and has drawn and painted there virtually every day since. Famously, he hardly ever travels and
is even reluctant to leave the corner of London north of Regent’s Park, where
he has been established for six decades. His subjects, too, are almost unchanging. They consist of landscapes, generally within walking distance
of that studio, and a handful of people. Catherine Lampert, the author of an outstanding new book—Frank Auerbach: Speaking and Painting (Thames & Hudson)—began sitting for him regularly in May 1978. She still is, for one evening each week, all these years later. The other human subjects of his pictures—friends, family, and lovers—have been equally long serving. Before his last retrospective, 14 years ago—the opening was on the evening of September 11, 2001—Auerbach reflected ruefully to me about the unremitting pattern of his life: “I couldn’t face the idea of being an employee in a job, but the freedom and the excitement of the activity [of art] have forced me into a far more rigid, seven-day-a-week routine than I would have been in if I had
gone into something more sensible.” Yet along with this restriction, there is great variety and suspense. Each picture, for Auerbach, is a struggle lasting months and years that he often doubts he will win. “It seems to me that one of the differences between interesting and uninteresting painters is that interesting painters start anew every time they paint a picture, and
I try to do that.” The corollary of this policy is that it never gets any easier. Each work seems “totally impossible,” but he battles on “until some miracle occurs” (though
he often fears that it never will again). The reason it is so hard is that Auerbach is trying for something extremely elusive. His remark about Kandinsky’s “crossing the border” hints at what this is. So, too, does a comment quoted by Lampert. To her, Auerbach cited a phrase by Robert Frost about his own verse: “I want the poem to be like ice on a stove—riding on its own melting.” A great painting, Auerbach continued, is like that: “a shape riding on its own melting into light and space; it never stops moving backwards and forwards.” In other words, he is attempting to capture something that is always sliding off in one direction into abstraction, in the other into a figurative image that is predigested, tired, and derivative. Or, as he once put it to me, there are “certain configurations on canvas that feel organic and alive and quivering, and others that seem inert.” When it’s said like that, one begins to see why Auerbach’s pictures are hard to do. They are also difficult to comprehend. The subjects are not recondite: a naked body on a bed, a human face, a London street, or—in a series of works from the 1950s—the building sites of the capital. But the image is sometimes far from easy to discover, lost as it may initially seem in an immense thickness of paint (in his earlier works) or a flurry of angular brushstrokes. Lucian Freud, the owner of a magnificent array of Auerbach’s works and a lifelong friend of the painter, once confided to me that he had initially found it hard to read Auerbach’s later pictures. After a while he had got it. I myself found that the paintings by Auerbach hung throughout Freud’s house—holding their own with others by Corot, Constable, and Francis Bacon—acquired almost hypnotic verisimilitude with familiarity. At first, you might see only a gnarled tangle of pigment. Eventually, however, they produced an overpowering sense not of the surfaces and textures of things, but of their physical presence. This is one of the responses Auerbach is after. “If
you are in bed with somebody,” he once explained to me, “you are aware of their substance in some way in terms of weight. I actually think that is the difference between good paintings and less good ones, in whatever idiom.” The extraordinary aspect of Auerbach’s career, apart from its consistency and dedication, is how early he found himself. He began, through a terrible tragedy as a teenager, more or less adrift in postwar London. Born in Berlin in 1931, he last saw his parents when they said goodbye to him on the dockside at Hamburg in 1939. He sailed to England and was educated at Bunce Court, a progressive boarding school that sheltered a number of refugee Jewish children. His parents were murdered in Auschwitz in 1943. At 16, on leaving school, Auerbach found himself effectively alone—and very quickly found his identity as a major painter. “I was born old,” he has said, “and I wanted to make a great, dignified, perverse image, a formal image.” His breakthrough was in the summer of 1952, when he was just 21. It came in two pictures. One was a seated nude done from Stella West, his lover for a number of years; the other, a building site near her house. In the former, because Auerbach was painting not an art-school model but a person he knew intimately, he had—as he told the late Robert Hughes—“a much greater sense of what specifically she was like, so that the question of getting a likeness was like walking a tightrope.” He had “a far more poignant sense of it slipping away, of it being hard to get.” Auerbach began the painting “relatively timidly.” Then, “I suddenly found in myself enough courage to repaint the whole thing from top to bottom, irrationally and instinctively, and I found I’d got a picture of her.” This was the template—in its slow gestation, then resolution in a crisis—for all his later works. It is tempting to connect Auerbach’s endless search for stability, his drive to capture the flux of life before it slips away, with the brutal trauma of his childhood. Tempting, but perhaps superficial. As an artist Auerbach is an individual, but he belonged—however loosely—to a group. His elders among postwar figurative painters included Bacon and Alberto Giacometti, both of whom he knew; Freud and Leon Kossoff were numbered among his close friends. For long periods Auerbach himself seemed out of fashion and out of step. Now, increasingly, it is becoming clear that, like Freud and Bacon, he is one of the truly great painters of this age. A version of this article appears in the October 2015 issue of Modern Painters. Published: October 18, 2015 Read full article here

Messy Networks: Tactical Visibility in Ann Hirsch's "horny lil feminist"
Messy Networks: Tactical Visibility in Ann Hirsch's "horny lil feminist"Early this past June, the Finnish artist Jaakko Pallasvuo announced, in an essay for the German quarterly Spike titled “The Nausea
 of Uploading,” his indefinite departure from
 the culture of online sharing. He positions himself in the piece as equal parts artist professionally 
tied to the digital, and young person having come of age with and on the Internet; recalling the more “pure” conditions under which he became involved in forums and social media networks, he says, “I was in the process of making a self. It gave me life.” His idealistic relationship to such platforms continued to develop as his career as an artist coincided with the rise of Jogging-era post-Internet aesthetics. “In 2011,” Pallasvuo writes, “I felt true online.” Now, with post-Internet bookended as a market phenomenon and a sense that his career had become quantifiable in re-posts and likes, Pallasvuo is seeking something else: “I want to make things that are unseen, by design,” he writes. “I want to insist on being a boring and generally insignificant operator.... ‘Deleting your Twitter account’ is the new ‘having a buzzworthy Twitter account.’ I want to whisper, and to lurk.” Around the same time, Ann Hirsch—a peer of Pallasvuo’s, born two years earlier, in 1985—released a series of 30 short screen-grab videos, made between December 2014 and May 2015, in “It Is I, Ann Hirsch: horny lil feminist,” an online exhibition appearing on the New Museum’s website. The artist’s work in performance and video has previously examined the expression of female sexuality in a mediated or networked context: performing as a contestant on the VH1 dating show Frank the Entertainer in a Basement Affair and a camgirl on her YouTube channel Scandalishious, or revisiting pre-teen chat-room encounters in the script Playground. Here, our protagonist is Ann herself, the titular horny lil feminist, introduced in a Photo Booth video with a floral bedspread pulled up to her chin and a pinhead effect rendering her bespectacled eyes enormous. Ann is very funny, and often appears as a sort of character. In one video she adopts a hint of a Southern drawl as she explains her addiction to tweezing in My Strange Addiction; she takes on the calm tone of a lifestyle vlogger in dental hygiene haul and vaginal hygiene haul; in another, <3genesleeves<3 *valentines special*, she assumes the look of a love-stricken choir nerd as she sits under the aforementioned bedspread and gravely sings a rendition of “Greensleeves,” dedicated to her soon-to-be husband. Humorous as her presentation may be, we also see a lot of the artist—her vagina, more than once (and in one instance in close-up wearing a pair of glasses), but also other weirdly intimate views, like a montage of awkward teen photos in The Body Complex Part 2, or email exchanges with her mother, and a private wedding-themed Pinterest board in My Little Skinny Jewish Wedding. The videos oscillate between performance and habitual self-surveillance or, at their most self-aware, a winking hybrid of the two. Their very DIY format, the screen-grab video, is key in fostering this strange intimacy. Hirsch captures herself facing the screen—watching and performing for herself as much as for an eventual audience. We also often see her navigate on her desktop, moving between browser tabs and applications, a process that, compared to a traditional montage effect, can feel clunky and even tiresome. But this technique is important in representing the relationship between a woman and her screen as something that ostensibly mediates her intra- and interpersonal connections. The sarcastic tone of these videos presupposes an understanding of visibility itself as synonymous with inevitable violence and vulnerability—one that goes a few shades deeper than Pallasvuo’s concerns. Ayesha Siddiqi, editor in chief of The New Inquiry, spoke to such concerns in remarks given at the Superscript conference at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in May. “Visibility in a surveillance state is not power,” she noted, “and all the historical vulnerabilities that have existed for marginalized voices are simply migrating onto digital spaces. And all the exciting and vital work that people are doing to make their lives a little easier to bypass or lifehack all of the deficiency in their workplaces or classrooms or day-to-day experiences by connecting or communicating with each other exists in an ecosystem that’s primed for their continued exploitation, that remains in many ways hostile to them.” 
In a mediated context, reveling in one’s identity 
or revealing one’s body is never simply empowering. Still, in Hirsch’s world, withdrawing from the Web’s inherent visibility doesn’t seem to be an option. There are shades of the desire to be seen in a way you are not, as a sexier or more poised feminine self; there are shades of compulsion, sharing behavior (particularly in its sexualized forms) echoing
that addiction to tweezing in which, as she narrates, “what was formerly an extremely painful experience has now become an everyday common experience
of me just reaching in and trying to grab the nose hairs.” There are, too, instances of participation in social media as a form of gendered care work, as succinctly theorized by Laura Portwood-Stacer in her 2014 piece “Care Work and the Stakes of Social Media Refusal,” which outlines how an ethical refusal to participate in social media on the grounds that it represents a form of unpaid labor is made complicated in the case of “social media users whose activity and subjectivity as both users and as people at large is directly linked to the work of care”—specifically, women, in a carryover from domestically rooted gender roles. In a stark and, again, tongue-in-cheek humorous change of tone, we see Ann go from gyrating half-nude with a bag on her head in Butterface to updating her wedding invitations and registry in My Little Skinny Jewish Wedding, the latter an old-school form of women’s work into which—despite her Andrea Dworkin-inflected, radically feminist perspective (which she has expressed formally, in her work and adjacent texts, and informally, via online platforms like Twitter and Instagram)—she seems inextricably tied. And in tweet anxiety, we watch her compose a tweet, a process that devolves into a 603-character inner monologue in which she agonizes over stifling the desire to shit talk: “I want to be a good person. I want to be a good social media user. I want to be better,” she writes. Even amid more riotous or bizarre moments, the backbone of this series is the very sincere undercurrent of a woman figuring out how to be on the Internet—and how, or whether, experimenting with oppositional approaches to this being or becoming can actually create a path to agency. In some sense, control over one’s identity is also at the heart of Pallasvuo’s decision to embrace social media refusal. He laments the ways his artistic identity, in its uploaded form, became overdetermined, that of “more of a columnist than a prophet.” He implies that deciding to be less visible online is a way no longer to “feel insubstantial,” but what really seems at stake is less substance than the ability to self-determine. For Hirsch, agency has little to do with producing a coherent self. The different personas that comprise her are rife with contradiction. In conclusion: the real ann hirsch, she moves quickly through videos of herself in various postures while explaining the project—first, a pulled-together version with pearl earrings and a sort of BBC accent, inviting viewers to feel “inspired to put a little piece of yourself on the Internet. So many of us are so afraid to just share a little piece of ourself”; then, reclining in a tube top, she relaxes into an exaggerated vocal fry, drawing the project back to her: “I mean, this was about getting over my shit.” She goes on to disidentify herself from the “horny” qualifier, to disavow the project’s feminist potential, and to claim that its real purpose is to document her body before it ages, every proclamation cut off right before it begins to feel definitive. Each “real” Ann seems tailored to respond to some wave within the inevitable wash of criticism that follows a project of this nature—selfie feminism, vagina art, whatever you want to call it. What makes this project work, in large part, is a generosity toward the compulsions each performance represents, resulting in a sense of possibility mixed in with their many obvious limits. But despite its aesthetic overlap with more utopian Internet-based works that reach toward carving out female-identified or queer space online, the project’s smart deployment of what could be termed tactical visibility doesn’t hinge on optimism. Hirsch’s exploration of agency has more to do with seeking to express a series of contradictory desires and the culturally produced shame by which they are constantly tempered, making visible less some true or essential self
than a messy network of female wanting that is simultaneously a product of, and an attempt to stake itself in opposition to, structural misogyny. A version of this article appears in the October 2015 issue of Modern Painters. Published: October 18, 2015 Read full article here

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