Category: Museums

Material Matters: Hot Mesh

Untitled Mesh A-Z by Eva LeWitt
Untitled Mesh A-Z by Eva LeWitt Aldrich Museum of Art in Ridgefield, Connecticut

What’s with Mesh? It’s been popular with our artists for sometime. But now we are seeing it in other contexts, too. At the Aldrich Museum of Art in Ridgefield, Connecticut, Eva LeWitt introduced a new material for her exhibition — coated mesh, most commonly used for filters, window screens, and even protective clothing, LeWitt investigates its lightweight and light responsive crosshatched woven surface (through April 5th). Spanning three of the four walls, LeWitt has suspended from the ceiling nine cumulative layers, color fields of tensile mesh, forming interlacing moiré effects that swell and pulsate. 


LeWitt favors materials that she can handle and maneuver alone in the studio: plastics, latex, fabrics, and vinyl—substances offered in an array of readymade colors and a variability of light absorbencies– to generate sculptures and installations that harmonize color, matter, and space, Employing strategies of accretion and repetition, she customizes her work to comply and adjust to the surroundings of a particular setting.


Then there is Katsuhiro Yamaguchi, in the collection at Tate modern, who work in a variety of materials. https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/yamaguchi-mesh-sculpture-t14164  In the 1960s Yamaguchi, incorporated various materials such as acrylic resin, light, wire-mesh, upholstery and wax, expanding his means of expression to include the environment of the ceiling and the walls.

Ruth Asawa's sculptures
Ruth Asawa’s sculptures displayed at the David Zwirner gallery in NYC

Ruth Asawa’s work in mesh is the subject of new-found appreciation https://www.latimes.com/home/la-lh-los-angeles-modern-auctions-realizes-record-auction-20140225-story.html. “Asawa began to crochet wire-mesh structures in 1948. The symmetrical structures themselves were intellectually rigorous, requiring discipline and technical precision. The resulting constructs were ethereal, fanciful, and vital.” The essence of Asawa’s art in wire has to do with transparency and interpenetration, with overlapping, shadow, and darkening” something looping wire mesh can evidence effectively.

Untitled I 2018, Jin Sook-So
59jss Untitled I, Jin Sook-So
steel mesh, folded, burnt and painted with gold, silver and acrylic
15.75″ x 15.75″ x 5.5″, 2018

Among our artists for Jin-Sook So, mesh is a like a zelig — an ordinary person who can change themselves to imitate anyone they are near. It can replicate the look of silk organza but when painted it looks like canvas. When electroplated and sculpted into forms it emits a burnished glow.

Detail of En Face, Agneta Hobin
9ah En Face, Agneta Hobin, mica and steel, 70” x 48”, 2007

Agneta Hobin is best known forr impressive works in which yellow mica has been woven into metal warp; the technique and materials are the artist’s unique choises which she has been developing for over ten years.

Untitled monofilament by Kay Sekimachi

Untitled
Kay Sekimachi
monofilament
57” x 14” x 14”, circa mid-70’s
Matrix II by Chang Yeonsoon
13cy Matrix II-201022
Chang Yeonsoon
indigo dyed abaca fiber
51.75” x 10 x 12.75”, 2010

In the 70s, Kay Sekimachi used a 21-harness loom, to create sheets of mesh-like nylon monofilament. She combined these to create ethereal, hanging quadruple tubular woven forms that explore ideas of space, transparency, and movement. Only 22 of these remarkable sculptures were made.

Chang Yeonsoon uses polyester mesh as a “frame” for layers of natural abaca fiber with striking results.. Yeon soon who is a leading contemporary textile artist in Korea was selected as finalists of the LOEWE Craft Prize 2018.

And, on a large scale, check out this building of mesh filled with cork https://www.dezeen.com/2020/

01/10/gharfa-pavilion-edoardo-tresoldi-studio-studio-studio-saudi-arabia/. It’s the product of Edoardo Tresoldi who has combined sound, projections, landscaping and fabric with his signature wire-mesh sculptures for Gharfa, a large site-specific pavilion in Riyadh.

Embrace the mesh!


Art Out and About: US

by Ryan Urcia and Kristina Ratliffe 

Our 2020 “Art in the Barn” exhibition series is not until next Spring but there are plenty of exciting exhibitions featuring some of our favorite browngrotta arts’ artists to check out this Winter season. Below is a round up of 10 must-see shows in the US:

John McQueen, Untitled #192, 1989, burdock burrs and applewood
Ed Rossbach, Croissants, ca. 1987, cartons, block print, and staples
CREDIT
The Henry Luce Foundation and the Windgate Charitable Foundation generously support the reinstallation of the Renwick’s permanent collection.
John McQueen, Untitled #192, 1989, burdock burrs and applewood
Ed Rossbach, Croissants, ca. 1987, cartons, block print, and staples
CREDIT
The Henry Luce Foundation and the Windgate Charitable Foundation generously support the reinstallation of the Renwick’s permanent collection.

Washington, D.C.
Connections: Contemporary Craft
at the Renwick Gallery
On view – indefinitely
Connections is the Renwick Gallery’s dynamic ongoing permanent collection presentation, featuring more than 80 objects celebrating craft as a discipline and an approach to living differently in the modern world. The exhibition explores the underlying current of craft as a balancing, humanistic force in the face of an evermore efficiency-driven, virtual world. The installation highlights the evolution of the craft field as it transitions into a new phase at the hands of contemporary artists, showcasing the activist values, optimism, and uninhibited approach of today’s young artists, which in some way echoes the communal spirit and ideology of the pioneers of the American Studio Craft Movement in their heyday. Includes artist Lia Cook, Toshiko Takaezu, Ed Rossbach, John McQueen, Peter Voulkos.
Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum 

Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street NW, Washington, DC. (212)(202) 633-7970 https://americanart.si.edu

Bamian by Sheila Hicks
Bamian Sheila Hicks (American (lives and works in Paris), born in 1934) 1968 Wool and acrylic yarns, wrapped * Charles Potter Kling Fund and partial gift of Sheila Hicks © Sheila Hicks * Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Boston, Massachusetts
Women Take the Floor 
On view through May 3, 2020
An exhibition of more than 200 works that challenge the dominant history of 20th-century American art by focusing on the overlooked and underrepresented work and stories of women artists – advocating for diversity, inclusion, and gender equity in museums, the art world, and beyond. Includes Lenore Tawney, Sheila Hicks, Olga Amaral, Kay Sekimachi, Toshiko Takaezu
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Avenue of the Arts
465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115
Phone: (617) 267-9300 mfa.org

Katherine Westphal A Fantasy Meeting of Santa Claus with Big Julie and Tyrone at McDonalds
From Off the Wall: Katherine Westphal A Fantasy Meeting of Santa Claus with Big Julie and Tyrone at McDonalds, 1978. Resist-dyed cotton. San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles, San Jose, CA.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Off the Wall: American Art to Wear
On view through May 17, 2020  Delight in the astonishing inventiveness and techniques of a generation of mixed-media artists who pioneered a new art form designed around the body. Coming of age during the dramatic cultural shifts of the 1960s and 70s, the artists in this distinctively American movement explored non-traditional materials and methods to create adventurous, deeply imaginative works. Includes Norma Minkowitz and Katherine Westphal 
Philadelphia Museum of Art 
2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19130
Phone: (215) 763-8100
https://philamuseum.org

White Pinwheel by Ethel Stein
Ethel Stein,White Pinwheel, 1990 cotton, satin damask weave; woven on a loom with a drawloom attachment fabricated by the artist 87.6 x 83.8 x 2.2 cm (34 1/2 x 33 x 7/8 in.)

Chicago, Illinois
Weaving beyond the Bauhaus
On view through Feb 17, 2020
Presented on the centenary of this foundational organization, Weaving beyond the Bauhaus traces the diffusion of Bauhaus artists, or Bauhäusler, such as Anni Albers and Marli Ehrman, and their reciprocal relationships with fellow artists and students across America. Through their ties to arts education institutions, including Black Mountain College, the Institute of Design, the Illinois Institute of Technology, and Yale University, these artists shared their knowledge and experiences with contemporary and successive generations of artists, including Sheila Hicks, Else Regensteiner, Ethel Stein, Lenore Tawney, and Claire Zeisler, shaping the landscape of American art in the process.
Art Institute Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60603-6404
(312) 443-3600
https://www.artic.edu

In Poetry and Silence Lenore Tawney installation
In Poetry and Silence: The Work and Studio of Lenore Tawney Installation view at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, 2019
Courtesy of John Michael Kohler Arts Center


Sheboygan, Wisconsin
Lenore Tawney: Mirror of the Universe
On view through March 7, 2020
This series of four exhibitions explores Lenore Tawney’s (1907–2007) life and impact, offering a personal and historical view into her entire body of work. Read more about the Tawney exhibits in our earlier blog here: http://arttextstyle.com/2019/12/18/lenore-tawney-gets-her-due/  
John Michael Kohler Arts Center (JMKAC)
608 New York Avenue, Sheboygan, WI 53081
Phone: 920.458.6144
jmkac.org

Toshiko Takaezu portrait, 1998 by Tom Grotta
Toshiko Takaezu portrait, 1998 by Tom Grotta, courtesy of browngrotta arts

Racine, Wisconsin
It’s Like Poetry: Building a Toshiko Takaezu Archive at RAM 
On view through July 26, 2020
RAM’s archive now numbers over 30 works, including Toshiko Takaezu’s (1922-2011) most expansive grouping, the installation comprised of 14 “human-sized” forms, the Star Series. Significantly, the museum’s holdings span the range of Takaezu’s working career—with a double-spouted pot from the 1950s being the earliest and the Star Series (1999-2000) being the latest. 
Open Storage: RAM Showcases Ceramic, Fiber, and Regional Archives 
On view through August 30, 2020
Arranged as a series of artist solo showcases, Open Storage also highlights the earliest kinds of work given to RAM—textiles and works on paper. While ceramic works and art jewelry currently number as the two largest types of contemporary craft represented, examples of textiles, prints, drawings, and works on paper were among the very first gifts of artwork to the museum in the 1940s. This exhibition features the work of 12 artists—Sandra Byers, Gibson Byrd, John N. Colt, Theodore Czebotar, Lillian Elliott, Joseph Friebert, Ed Rossbach, Kay Sekimachi, Jean Stamsta, Merle Temkin, Murray Weiss, and Beatrice Wood—through multiple examples of their work. 
Racine Art Museum
441 Main Street, Racine, WI 53403
Phone: (262) 638-8300
https://www.ramart.org

Installation view of Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019 (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, November 22, 2019–January 2021). Alan Shields, J + K, 1972. Photograph by Ryan Urcia


New York, New York
Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019
On view through January 2021
The exhibition foregrounds how visual artists have explored the materials, methods, and strategies of craft over the past seven decades. This exhibition provides new perspectives on subjects that have been central to artists, including abstraction, popular culture, feminist and queer aesthetics, and recent explorations of identity and relationships to place. Together, the works demonstrate that craft-informed techniques of making carry their own kind of knowledge, one that is crucial to a more complete understanding of the history and potential of art. Drawn primarily from the Whitney’s collection, the exhibition will include over eighty works by more than sixty artists, including Ruth Asawa, Eva Hesse, Mike Kelley, Liza Lou, Ree Morton, Howardena Pindell, Robert Rauschenberg, Elaine Reichek, and Lenore Tawney, as well as featuring new acquisitions by Shan Goshorn, Kahlil Robert Irving, Simone Leigh, Jordan Nassar, and Erin Jane Nelson. More on this exhibition in our previous post: http://arttextstyle.com/dispatches-making-knowing-craft-in-art-1950-2019-at-the-whitney/
Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Gansevoort Street New York, NY 10014
Phone: (212) 570-3600
https://whitney.org

Installation view of Taking a Thread for a Walk, The Museum of Modern Art, New York 
2019 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Denis Doorly

New York, New York
Taking a Thread for a Walk
On view through April 19, 2020
True to its title, this exhibition takes a thread for a walk among ancient textile traditions, early-20th-century design reform movements, and industrial materials and production methods. Featuring adventurous combinations of natural and synthetic fibers and spatially dynamic pieces that mark the emergence of more a sculptural approach to textile art beginning in the 1960s, this show highlights the fluid expressivity of the medium. More about this exhibition in our earlier blog: Dispatches: Textiles Take Center Stage at the New MoMA, New York, NY
Museum of Modern Art, New York 
11 West 53 Street, New York, NY 10019
Phone: (212) 708-9400
https://www.moma.org

Lia Cook in front of Through the Curtain and Up from the Sea (1985) at MOCA in LA
Through the Curtain and Up from the Sea (1985) at MOCA in LA

Los Angeles, California
With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972–1985
On view through May 3, 2020 Featuring approximately fifty artists from across the United States, the exhibition examines the Pattern and Decoration movement’s defiant embrace of forms traditionally coded as feminine, domestic, ornamental, or craft-based and thought to be categorically inferior to fine art. This is the first full-scale scholarly survey of this groundbreaking American art movement, encompassing works in painting, sculpture, collage, ceramics, installation art, and performance documentation. Includes artist Lia Cook
Museum of Contemporary Art
Grand Avenue
250 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: (213) 626-6222
https://www.moca.org 

Please check with each art institution for directions and hours.          


Most Influential Art Movements of the Decade

Last month, Artsy identified the most seven most influential art movements of the decade in The Art Movements of the 2010s (Dec 18, 2019) by Charlotte Jansen https://www.artsy.net/series/decade-art/artsy-editorial-art-movements-2010s. Two of those identified by Jansen — the reconsideration of women artists, which the Artsy called “an art history overhaul” and the art world’s embrace of craft — are two we at browngrotta arts have also watched with more than passing interest for the past 10 years.

Ethel Stein Master Weaver at the Chicago Art Institute 2015. Photo by Tom Grotta
Ethel Stein Master Weaver at the Chicago Art Institute 2015. Photo by Tom Grotta

The article points to the Guerrilla Girls survey in 2016, which found an unsurprising, yet overwhelming, bias towards Western male artists, which curators and galleries have since been working to address in exhibitions such as Women of Abstract Expressionism. We would add several exhibitions to that list, including Woman Take the Floor, currently at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts; Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft and Design, Midcentury and Today at the Museum of Arts in Design in 2015, Ethel Stein’s one-person exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2015 and Lenore Tawney’s current four-part retrospective at the John Michael Kohler Art Center in Wisconsin. The article also mentions overlooked women artists already in their 70s, 80s and 90s who have gained representation with blue-chip galleries, specifically, Rose Wylie joined David Zwirner 2017; Luchita Hurtado joined Hauser & Wirth in 2018;  Howardena Pindell joined Victoria Miro in 2019. Carmen Herrera, now 104, started working with Lisson in 2009 and opened a retrospective at the Whitney in 2016. We would add Françoise Grossen who joined Blum & Poe in 2015.

The “return of craft” has brought greater attention to women artists, too. Jansen notes it has placed greater focus on forgotten legends such as Anni Albers, and living talents like Sheila Hicks. In November, Jansen points out, the Whitney mounted Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019, on view through next January. Enthusiasm for ceramics has grown, too, she writes, as audiences continue to gravitate towards works by California Clay.

Even Thread Has a Speech by Lenore Tawney
Even Thread Has a Speech by Lenore Tawney is in the Whitney Exhibition Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019. Photo by Tom Grotta

Movement artists Ken Price, Peter Voulkos and Ron Nagle as well as the late Betty Woodman. We’d also point to interest in ceramist Toshiko Takaezu, whose work was included in both Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft and Design, Midcentury and Today and Women Take the Floor.

Installation View of Toshiko Takaezu; Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft and Design, Midcentury and Today and Women Take the Floor at the MFA Boston
Installation View of Toshiko Takaezu; Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft and Design, Midcentury and Today and Women Take the Floor at the MFA Boston. Photo by Peter Russo

“Craft techniques are some of the oldest media in human history,” Jansen concludes, “but this decade has proved there is still boundless inspiration to be found in them.”


Dispatches: Textiles Take Center Stage at the New MoMA, New York, NY

by Ryan Urcia and Kristina Ratliff

To much fanfare, New York City’s beloved Museum of Modern Art reopened on Oct 21, 2019 after undergoing major renovations over the summer to expand to more than 40,000 square feet of gallery spaces. 

Magdalena Abakanowicz Installation view of Taking a Thread for a Walk, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Magdalena Abakanowicz Installation view of Taking a Thread for a Walk, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
2019 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Denis Doorly

The museum’s Department of Architecture and Design organized the inaugural exhibitions reexamining the role of both disciplines as “integral to the interdisciplinary conversation with the visual arts” — an approach we have ascribed to at browngrotta arts for over 30 years.

Of particular interest to arttexstyle is the textile exhibition titled Taking a Thread for a Walk, which is a whimsical play on Paul Klee’s pedagogical lesson that “a drawing is simply a line going for a walk.” This exhibition is on view at The Philip Johnson Galleries on the museum’s third floor through April 19, 2020.   

Taking a Thread for a Walk, according to MoMA’s official press release, “looks at how successive generations developed new material and constructive languages from the 1890s through the 1970s, highlighting the flexibility of textiles, a medium that continues to defy easy categorization. The installation ‘takes a thread for a walk’ among ancient textile traditions, early 20th-century design reform movements, adventurous combinations of natural and new synthetic fibers in industrial production, through to the emergence of a more sculptural approach to textile art in the 1960s and 70s. Textiles and the adjacent practices of architecture, painting, drawing and sculpture have long had a close affinity, especially in the 20th century, when there was a concerted move to emphasize the underlying unity of all art forms and to connect modern art with industry and daily life. Woven artifacts appeared at the forefront of ongoing debates around abstraction, the total work of art, and the fusion of art with technology, challenging the widespread marginalization of textiles as ‘women’s work.'” Many of the pioneers in this narrative have been women, chief among them Anni Albers, Gunta Stölzl, Florence Knoll and Sheila Hicks. Also featured are  recent acquisitions by Monika Correa (India), Aurèlia Muñoz (Catalonia), and the French-Swiss architect Le Corbusier, making clear the medium’s global relevance.

Upon entering the exhibition, we were greeted by a large scale sisal sculpture Yellow Abakan 1967–1968 by Magdalena Abakanowicz whose monumental works were often misperceived as a “feminine’ craft.” For more than half a century, Magdalena Abakanowicz produced critically acclaimed, poetic sculptures about the fraught and fragile condition of being human, shaped by her experiences growing up during WWII and living through the Soviet domination of Poland. According to MoMA, “Abakanowicz and many artists of the Eastern Bloc were drawn to craft and textile traditions as expressive mediums less regulated by Soviet censorship. Yellow Abakan‘s form is determined by the drape of the textile, which is coarsely woven from sisal, an industrial plant fiber used to make rope. The scarred seams and anatomical appendages lend the work a figural quality, something Abakanowicz continues to explore in large-scale sculptures cast in hardened fiber. Yellow Abakan was among works by several Polish weavers included in

Wall Hangings, a 1969 MoMA exhibition showcasing the work of international contemporary fiber artists. Abakanowicz’ work was first exhibited in the US by gallerists Anne and Jacques Baruch of Chicago. The Baruch’s work with fiber artists from Eastern Europe is the subject of browngrotta arts’ catalog, Advocates for Art: Polish and Czech Fiber Artists from the Anne and Jacques Baruch Collection.

Directly across and in stark contrast in size is a beautiful raffia basket by Ed Rossbach Raffia Lace Basket, 1973. Rossbach was a relentless experimenter and according to MoMA “his career began in with ceramics and weaving in the 1940s, but evolved over the next decade into basket making. He is best known for his innovative and playful baskets made from nontraditional materials such as plastic and newspaper.” Rossbach was also featured in our recent exhibition Artists from The Grotta Collection which is now extended online on Artsy. 

linen sculpture by Sheila Hicks titled Cartridges and Zapata 1962–1965
Installation view of Taking a Thread for a Walk, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
2019 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Denis Doorly

Another highlight of the exhibition is a linen sculpture by Sheila Hicks titled Cartridges and Zapata 1962–1965. Hicks is one of the several modern craft and dimensional art artists who are part of The Grotta Collection. Hicks’ work is featured in browngrotta arts’ catalog, Sheila Hicks: Joined by seven artists from Japan, which documents an exhibition Hicks curated at bga in the 90s, one of several bga exhibitions in which Hicks’ work has been included.

Installation view of “Taking a Thread for a Walk”, The Museum of Modern Art, New York 
2019
Installation view of “Taking a Thread for a Walk”, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
2019 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Denis Doorly

Also of interest is a curious framed coptic rounded tapestry from the 6th-8th century titled Christ enthroned by an unknown designer. There is a loom on the left by Anni Albers labeled Structo ArtCraft 750 loom c. 1952 and to the right is a sculpture by Aurèlia Muñoz and Antoni Gaudi’s Study of a catenary arch for the Gaudí crypt at Colonia Güell, 1996. And directly above is a 3-panel digital video projection titled Warping Threading Weaving Drawing, 2014 by Simon Barker and Ismni Samanidou.

Installation view of “Taking a Thread for a Walk”, The Museum of Modern Art, New York 
2019
Installation view of “Taking a Thread for a Walk”, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
2019 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Denis Poorly

Another section of the exhibition featured a collection of woven textiles and in the foreground we were delighted to see a mesmerizing wall hanging by Jack Lenor Larsen, Interplay Casement Fabric, 1960, made of rovanna saran microfilamant. An international textile designer, author and collector, Larsen has long played an influential role in textile arts and has been an important mentor and supporter of browngrotta arts. “I think of interior fabrics as something to be in, not just to sit on or look at. Objects are out: the surround is in, and how we feel and relate to space is everything,” Larsen is quoted from 1978 on the MoMA art label. Behind these collections of soft fabrics is Halyard armchair, 1950 by Danish furniture designer Hans Wegner who was commissioned by Lou and Sandy Grotta to design several pieces for their home, The Grotta House. Anni Albers’ popularity is well represented in the exhibition, too, with 18 works ranging from 1926 to 1983 including screenprints, design drawings and tapestry. 

Sheila Hicks Pillar of Inquiry/Supple Column
Installation view of Taking a Thread for a Walk, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
2019 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Denis Doorly

Wait, there’s more! On the sixth floor of the museum is another exhibition Surrounds: 11 Installations, showcasing for the first time 11 watershed installations by living artists from the past two decades, all drawn from the Museum’s permanent collection. The exhibition includes Hicks’ monumental Pillar of Inquiry/Supple Column (2013–14) that “playfully and subversively challenges notions of architecture as permanent, solid, and tectonic.”

Be sure to go and see this abundance for yourself. Taking a Thread for a Walk is on view through April 19, 2020. The MoMA is located at 11 West 53 Street, New York. Open daily from 10am to 5:30pm. For more information, visit MoMA.org


Dispatches: Italy

Carter looks at the reverse sides of Raphael’s portraits of Agnolo Doni and his wife, Maddalena Strozzi, at Room 41 Uffizi Galery in Florence

We visited Italy earlier this month. It was an orgy of art and wine and fine food. Much of what we saw was traditional and magical — Fra Angelico, DaVinci, Bernini, Michelangelo.

Reviewing work for the 1980s in Milan, Triennale di Milano Design Museum, Carter, Carol and Rhonda
Reviewing work for the 1980s in Milan, Triennale di Milano Design Museum

We made time for the contemporary, too — in Milan, the Triennale di Milano Design Museum was a highlight (https://www.triennale.org/en/). We walked down memory lane — cutting edge lighting, furniture and objects from the 60s, 70s, 80s and later.

Wendy Wahl, Period Dress

Venice, of course, meant the Venice Biennale and its satellite exhibitions. First Stop, PersonalStructures at the Palazzo Bembo, and exhibition “in the context of the Venice Biennale,” mounted by the European Culture Center (https://ecc-italy.eu/exhibitions/2019art). Peering into a warren of small rooms, we found Wendy Wahl’s Period Dress.

American Pavilion, Martin Puryear
Martin Puryear’s Swallowed Sun (Monstrance and Volute) 

Then Tom and Carter visited the Biennale central site; admirably illustrating this year’s theme – May You Live in Interesting Times (https://www.labiennale.org/en/art/2019). Tom and Carter headed straight to the American Pavilion, featuring Martin Puryear. We are big fans – loved his solo show at MoMA in 2008. He’s a maker of big baskets in a some ways. Works of fiber were on display in several pavilions.

Work from Finland’s Pavilion
Carter in the Venezuelan Pavilion Venice Biennale

Carter and Tom liked what they saw at the Venezuelan and Finnish pavilions in particular.

Alexandra Bircken, Angie, Venice Biennale
Alexandra Bircken, Angie

They were taken by German artist Alexandra Bircken’s work in the Arsenale and Korean artist Suki Seokyeong Kang’s experiments with space.

Work by Suki Seokyeong Kang
Work by Suki Seokyeong Kang

Our only disappointment — Federica Luzzi was not in Italy when we visited, but in Japan where she is participating in a solo show at the LADS Gallery, as part of a an international exchange through the City of Osaka.


Dispatches: Philadelphia

Philadelphia skyline from the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum

There are no end to art and historical treasures in Philadelphia and Rhonda had a chance to meet up with some good friends and take in a few last week. The Philadelphia Art Museum is a wonder and its annex, the Perelman Building, houses two intriguing exhibits: Souls Grown Deep: Artists of the African American South and The Art of Collage and Assemblage through September 2nd. Souls Grown Deep combines and extraordinary collection of textile art, sculpture, and painting acquired from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation.

Roman Stripes Variation Quilt, 1970, Loretta Pettway(born 1942)

With remarkable inventiveness, generations of quilters from Gee’s Bend, Alabama have created arresting compositions of color and form from worn-out clothes and other repurposed fabrics. Provocative mixed-media paintings and found-object sculptures by Thornton Dial, Lonnie Holley and others are displayed amongst the quilts, whose subjects and materials echo with the painful history of the American South and the conditions of life for many who live there. The collage exhibition includes works by Joseph Cornell, a personal favorite, and other less-expected names including Romare Bearden, Bettye Saar and Pablo Picasso.

Protecting Myself the Best I can (Weapons by the Door), 1994, by Lonnie Holley (American, born 1950), 2017-229-24.
Lonnie Holley/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio/Art Resource (AR), New York

We found artfulness of another kind at the National Constitution Center’s new permanent exhibition, Civil War and Reconstruction: The Battle for Freedom and Equality. Some interesting textiles are on display, including a fragment of the flag that Abraham Lincoln raised at Independence Hall, 1861 (From the Collection of the Civil War Museum of Philadelphia on loan from Gettysburg Foundation) and an embroidered potholder that reads, “Any Holder but a Slaveholder.” We also appreciated the Anti-Slavery Alphabet from 1847.

Cardbird II, 1971, Robert Rauschenberg

The exhibition has an ambitious premise, to illustrate how the nation transformed the Constitution after the war to more fully embrace the Declaration of Independence’s promise of liberty and equality. The 3,000- square-foot exhibit brings to life the stories of Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman and other figures central to the conflict over slavery. It features the stories of lesser-known individuals, too, in order to shed light on the American experience under slavery, the battle for freedom during the Civil War and the fight for equality during Reconstruction, which many call the nation’s “Second Founding.” Highlighted are the three constitutional amendments added between 1865 and 1870, which ended slavery, required states to respect individual rights, promised equal protection to all people, and expanded the right to vote to African-American men. The exhibition covers, as the Wall Street Journal terms it: “the racially egalitarian society that was briefly wrestled into being after the abolition of slavery, before the ravages of Jim Crow and the hard-fought triumphs of the civil-rights movement.”

Potholder, National Constitution Center, Philadelphia

The artfulness is evident in the matter-of-fact way the signage and artifacts give equal time to the efforts made to reach equality and those determined to subvert each of those amendments — including displays about Ku Klux Klan, complete with original robes, which were not white but maroon and heavily ornamented. Also edifying and persuasive is the neutrally presented, but inescapable, evidence that the goals of these amendments are yet to be achieved. An example, noted by one reviewer, is the 13th Amendment. “The interactive displays…show the debates, the drafts, and the redrafting of those amendments and help to explain how the final draft [of the 13th] actually allowed forced labor ‘as a punishment for crime’ … It does not take long to make the connection between the 13th Amendment and the shockingly profitable system of prison labor and prison farms which still exists today.” (Margaret Darby, Exhibit Review: Civil War and Reconstruction Phillylifeandculture.com, May 9, 2019).

Anti-Slavery Alphabet, National Constitution Center, Philadelphia



Dispatches: San Francisco

Carter Grotta, of our browngrotta arts team, traveled to San Francisco last month. We asked him to snapshots of interesting art. Here are some of the highlights!

First the de Young. There, Carter visited the Saxe Collection at the de Young Museum, where he saw an Untitled work of bark and stone by Dorothy Gill Barnes and ceramics by Toshiko Takaezu and Paul Soldner.

Ruth Asawa installation at the deYoung Museum

A great collection of works by Ruth Asawa, San Francisco’s most well-known fiber artist, is also on display at the de Young Museum along with a unique abstract quilt, A Bend in the River, by Joe Cunningham.

A Bend in the River by Joe Cunningham
A Bend in the River by Joe Cunningham
SFMOCA digital installation

Next SFMOCA. Carter was quite taken by this remarkable digital installation, part of snap+share: transmitting photographs from mail art to social networks, a unique take on transmitting photographs from mail art to social networks. This work illustrates what it means to engage with the technological advancements of the 21st century to create digital conversations in photographs.

Magdalena Abakanowicz Four on a Bench
Magdalena Abakanowicz Four on a Bench

Also housed at the SFMOMA, the sculptures of Magdalena Abankanowicz, like Four on a Bench, are representative of the oppressive historic conditions of her native country, Poland.

Jannis Kounellis Untitled piece of steel
Jannis Kounellis, Untitled

Also at SFMOMA, was this interesting Untitled piece of steel, crucible, tar and rope, by Italian-born artist, Jannis Kounellis, in The Doris and Donald Fisher Collection.

Tanabe Chikuunsai IV bamboo sculpture
Tanabe Chikuunsai IV

Also worth a trip, the Asian Art Museum which features an exciting installation by Tanabe Chikuunsai IV — a 4th generation bamboo artist, that seems to have grown organically within the gallery space.

Federal Court House building in San Francisco
Federal Court House Building

What Carter couldn’t see — or photograph at least — was That Word, a larger-than-life sculpture of twigs by Gyöngy Laky which is on loan to the federal courts where photography is strictly prohibited.
You can see That Word, though, even if you can’t take a photograph. Just one of a series of interesting stops in a city that is great for art tourism!


Art Out and About — Exhibitions in the US and Abroad

Detail of Imprint by Caroline Bartlett. Photo by Yeshen Venema & The National Centre for Craft & Design

ABROAD

Ctrl/Shift – Sleaford, United Kingdom
Across the pond, Ctrl/Shift: New Directions in Textile Art is currently on show at the National Centre for Craft & Design. Ctrl/Shift, which features work by browngrotta arts artist Caroline Bartlett, presents a wide variety of pieces which present how artists transform their pieces through their creative processes. Focusing on shifts, changes and adaptability, the exhibition highlights the impact of innovative contemporary themes, ideas and technologies on textile art.  Click HERE for more information.

El Anatsui: Material Wonder  – London, United Kingdom
El Anatsui’s work is on view at October Gallery in London through the end of April. The exhibition, El Anatsui: Material Wonder, coincides with the largest retrospective of Anatsui’s work,  El Anatsui: Triumphant Scale, at Haus der Kunst, Munich. Throughout his influential career, Anatsui has experimented with a variety of mediums, including cement, ceramics, tropical hardwood corrugated iron, and bottle-top, to name a few. October Gallery’s exhibition includes a variety of metal wall sculptures accompanied by a series of prints made in collaboration with Factum Arte. Want to see these one-of-a-kind pieces? Head over to October Gallery’s website HERE for visiting information.



Rehearsal, El Anatsui, Aluminum and copper wire, 406 x 465 cm, 2015. Photo Jonathan Greet/October Gallery.

A Considered Place – Drumoak, Scotland
A Considered Place, an upcoming exhibition at Drum Castle in Drumoak, Scotland, will share the work of browngrotta arts artists Jo Barker and Sara Brennan, along with Susan Mowatt, Andrea Walsh and Jane Bustin. The exhibition’s location, Drum Castle, is encircled by late 18th rose gardens and trees from all regions of the 18th century British Empire. Make a day of the outing, starting with a stroll through A Considered Place concluded by a relaxing afternoon wandering around the estate’s grounds. Curious about Drum Castle or A Considered Place, click HERE for more information.

Fendre L’air – Paris, France
In Paris, Jiro Yonezawa is among artists featured in Fendre L’air, an elegant exhibition of bamboo basketry at the Musée du Quai Branly Jacques Chirac. Fendre L’air is the first French exhibition to pay homage to the exquisite craft and creativity of Japanese basket makers. Composed of 160 works, the exhibition delves into the art and history of Japanese basketry. Japanese basketry, which we have discussed in length across many blog posts, grew in popularity during the Meiji era as the revival of a certain type of tea ceremony in which bamboo baskets and containers were used for flower arrangments. As creativity has flourished, baskets have become less utilitarian and more decorative. Today, the work of many Japanese basket makers is so impactful, that the artists themselves have become living national treasures. Click HERE or more information on  Fendre L’air.


Certainty / Entropy (Peranakan 2), Aiko Tezuka, h27 x w76 x b71.5 cm, 2014. Loan:
Aiko Tezuka/Galerie Michael Janssen. Photo:
Edward Hendricks

Cultural Threads – Tilburg, Netherlands
If you happen to be in the Netherlands in upcoming months make sure to check out  Cultural Threads at the Textiel Museum in Tilburg. Featuring work by Eylem Aladogan, Célio Braga, Hana Miletić, Otobong Nkanga, Mary Sibande, Fiona Tan, Jennifer Tee, Aiko Tezuka and Vincent Vulsma, the exhibition focuses on textiles as  a tool for socio-political reflection. “We live in a world where boundaries between countries and people are becoming increasingly blurred, power relations are shifting radically and cultures are mixing,” states the Textiel Museum. As a medium, the unique qualities of textiles provide artists with a plethora of ways to communicate and explore identity in a globalizing world.  Find more information on the Cultural Threads HERE.  

Artapestry V – Arad, Romania
Gudrun Pagter’s work in Artapestry V is making its final appearance in Romania at the Arad Art Museum as the traveling international exhibition comes to a close. The exhibition, which has traveled across Europe, stopping in Denmark, Sweden and Lativa, features the work of artists from 12 European countries. Presented by the European Tapestry forum,  Artapestry V aims to raise the profile of tapestry as an art form and conjure artistic interest in the medium. Find more information on the European Tapestry Forum’s website HERE.

UNITED STATES

The Art of Defiance: Radical Materials at the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery in New York. Photo:Michael Rosenfeld Gallery

The Art of Defiance: Radical Materials – New York, NY  
The current Michael Rosenfeld Gallery exhibition, The art of Defiance: Radical Materials, examines how artists such as Barbara Chase-Riboud, Betye Saar, Hannelore Baron, Nancy Grossman have utilized unique, groundbreaking materials in their work. For the exhibition, each artist utilized materials defined by their physicality, “representing a freedom from the constraints of traditional, male-dominated media in art history.” Each artists’ work blurred the traditional boundaries between two and three-dimensional design, which in turn has expanded the traditional categorical defines of art-making. In New York and want to check out the exhibition, visit the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery website HERE.

Casting Shadows, Janice Lessman-Moss, Silk, linen
Digital jacquard, hand woven TC2 loom, painted warp and weft, 2017. Photo: San Luis Obispo Museum of Art

The Empathy of Patience  – San Luis Obispo, CA
Traveling to the West Coast in the next week? Don’t miss out on a chance to see Michael F. Rohde’s solo exhibition, The Empathy of Patience at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art. The exhibition is a superb display of Rohdes’ subliminal texture and masterful interaction of light and color. For Rohdes, “the  medium of handwoven tapestry certainly requires patience for execution…empathy, compassion and concern for others is at the base of many of these weavings.” Click HERE for more information on The Empathy of Patience at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art.

International TECHstyle Art Biennial IV – San Jose, CA
Three hours north of The Empathy of Patience at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art is the International TECHstyle Art Biennial IV at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. Focusing on artists who merge fiber media with new information and communication technologies, the exhibition sheds a light on browngrotta arts’ artist Lia Cook’s exploratory pieces. Considering its’ close proximity to Silicon Valley, the International TECHstyle Art Biennial IV introduces artists exploring the intersection of fiber and technology to the international community. More information on the exhibition can be found HERE


Sue Lawty Visits Anni Albers at the Tate Modern

‘Our tactile experiences are elemental’  

I was eleven when On Weaving was first published. I was making dens in the woods and wondering what I’d be when I grew up. 

Anni Albers at the Tate Modern. (Lawty’s favorite piece in the exhibition.) Photo by Sue Lawty.

 Years later Anni Albers’ seminal book was to become pivotal in the development of my teaching and thinking. I actually bought it in 1983 from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, $8.95, black and white, paperback. Yet it wasn’t the images that first grabbed me, but the four pages of chapter eight: Tactile Sensibility. The phrase “tactile sensibility” was new to me, and even if in my fingertips I knew there was such a thing, I’d never heard it named before and given a serious discourse. 

11sl LEAD V Sue Lawty, lead warp and weft, hand woven & beaten, 24″ x 18″ x 1.5″, 61cm x 48cm x 4cm, 2009

Of course, many important influences shape us as we carve our creative journey, not least Beyond Craft: The Art Fabric, Mildred Constantine and Jack Lenor Larsen’s groundbreaking publication and the first art book I ever bought. However, it was Anni Albers’ rigorous unpicking of the intrinsic relationship between the structure of weaving and the fibers chosen that fired a key part of my working ethos; as she put it  “…the inner structure together with its effects on the outside …the engineering task of building up a fabric …developing the vocabulary of tactile language.” read her words over and over and used them in teaching alongside practical workshops informed by her open, questioning approach. I still do.

Anni Albers at the Tate Modern. Photo by Sue Lawty

Visiting the fabulous Anni Albers exhibition at Tate Modern in late 2018, I was struck by how rhythm, repetition, a monochromatic/ limited color palette and the austerity of working with the least number of elements, are all essential elements in both our creative outputs. 

Sue Lawty
December 31, 2018


Art Acquisitions: Part 2

A few weeks ago we published the first installment of our Art Acquisition series. Just as the first one did, the second installment reviews pieces browngrotta arts artists have had acquired by major institutions over the last year.

Studium Faktur, Magdalena Abakanowicz, sisal, 54" x 43" x 9", 1964. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Studium Faktur,
Magdalena Abakanowicz, sisal, 54″ x 43″ x 9″, 1964. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Norma MinkowitzMuseum of Texas Tech University and Boston Museum of Fine Arts , Massachusetts

Norma Minkowitz has had several pieces go to major institutions in the last year. Minkowitz’  piece Journey was acquired by the Museum of Texas Tech University, which is located in Lubbock, Texas. Minkowitz’ piece The Gamble,  which was part of the Daphne Farago Collection, has moved to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

Magdalena Abakanowicz – Boston Museum of Fine Arts and Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota

Magdalena AbakanowiczStudium Faktur was acquired, through browngrotta arts, by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Studium Faktur, which was one of Abakanowicz’ earlier works (made in the 1960s), was originally part of weaver Mariette Rousseau-Vermette’s collection. Additionally, Abakanowicz’ piece Montana del Fuego was acquired, also through browngrotta arts, by the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Montana del Fuego is a strong example of how Abakanowicz was able to fuse weaving and sculpture to create a spectacular three-dimensional wall hanging. The work was part of the Anne and Jacques Baruch Foundation Collection.

Simone Pheulpin at The Design Museum in London. Photo: Maison Parisienne

Simone Pheulpin at The Design Museum in London. Photo: Maison Parisienne

 

 

Maria Laszkiewicz – Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minnesota

Maria Laszkiewicz’s Mask, also a part of the Baruch collection, was acquired, through browngrotta arts, by the Minneapolis Institute of Art.  Laszkiewicz, born in 1898, encouraged a generation of textile artists (such as Abaknaowicz), and was an innovator in the tapestry field.

Simone Pheulpin – V&A, London and Chicago Art Institute, Illinois 

Morphus vii, Gizella K Warburton. Photo: Chris Large

Morphus vii, Gizella K Warburton. Photo: Chris Large

The Victoria & Albert Museum in London recently acquired a piece from Simone Pheulpin’s Eclipse series. One of the textile sculptor’s works was also acquired by the Chicago Art Institute.

Jiro Yonezawa – Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac, Paris

The most recent acquisition is a piece by Jiro Yonezawa by the Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac, Paris, France. The museum has commissioned a piece for an exhibition of Japanese bamboo art that opens in November of this year (November 27 – April 9).

Gizella K Warburton – Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England

The Fitzwilliam Museum acquired Gizella Warburton’s piece Morphus vii. The wrapped and sculpted vessel forms in Warburton’s ‘Morphus’ series are “quietly resonant of internal and external skins, of scarred and fissured surfaces, of abrasions, bindings and sutures.”

Jennifer Falck LinssenTexas Tech University in Lubbock Texas

The Museum of Texas Tech University has also acquired a wall sculpture by Jennifer Falck Linssen. The sculpture, titled Acumen, was acquired for a new building underway at the university.