Abstract Expressionism

Royal Academy opens its doors to an Abstract Expressionism exhibition. It is on until 2nd of January so you have plenty of time to enjoy it. It has all big names of abstract expressionism movement from 20th century such as Pollock, Still, Rothko, Newman, De Kooning and others. Many artworks left US for the first time from museums and private collections.

When you go in you can randomly move from one room to the next, there is no certain order you should follow. Some rooms display different artist and some rooms are dedicated to one artist only.

 

Arshile Gorky 

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Minimum of conciseness, it is like watching someone else’s dream and travelling through their subconscious. Abstract paintings allow viewer to develop his own version of the paintings and everyone sees different things.

 

 

 

 

Jackson Pollock

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Male and Female

Jackson Pollock was a key figure in American Abstract Expressionism, Pollock’s Technique was a revolution in art world. Roll the canvas on the floor, dripping pain from the height straight from the can and let the gravity do its job. He put ladder above the paining and worked from height.

My personal discovery during this visit was Male and Female artwork, one of the early Pollocks works. Amazing colours and shapes interacting on the canvas.

I love how sculptures and paintings interact, the resemblance of shapes, how splashes on oil paintings repeat sculptures’ lines.

However, when you have so many similar artworks it is a bit unimaginative and repetitive. So from curatorial point of view it might be better to display less works but a greater variety.

 

Clyfford Still 

Still was working mainly with pallet knife. When you walk into the room you are stomped by the size of the canvases. Monumental works. It’s about nothing and everything at the same time.

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Marc Chagall

Museum of Marc Chagall is a gem of French Riviera. It is one of the best and intimate museums I have ever been to. This museum is the first museum that was dedicated to a living artist, it was opened in 1973 at the bottom of the Cimiez hill in Nice. This museums is unique because artist was curating it himself. So he could display everything exactly how he wanted and he fully realised his artistic potential.

The museum building was executed by Marc’s friend – Andre Malraux and was designed as a house. This is why the museum is rather small yet you can spend hours there. It is full of natural light which compliments the paintings. Marc Chagall was a music lover so he commissioned the auditorium which was build very quickly upon request. This hall has great acoustic and every year it opens to the public so they can enjoy musical concerts. Chagall decorated this auditorium with stained glass wall specially designed for the space.

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Marc Chagall lived across two centuries for almost 100 years, he was born in Liozna, Russian Empire  (present day Belarus) in 1887 and died in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France in 1985. Chagall was a multicultural artist: he was born Russian, died French and almost became American somewhen on the middle of his life. Chagall was born in a Jewish family and attended in a Jewish elementary school. At the age of 19 he enrolled into all-Jewish art school where he started his formal art education. After several months he moved to St Petersburg to study at Imperial Society for the Protection of Fine Arts.

Even though Realism was widely popular at that time Chagall developed his own dreamy-like style using bright colours and fairy-tail like shapes. Marc Chagall evolved into a multimedia artist, largely known for his oil paintings. He understood colour like no one else and it is absolute pleasure to look at his artworks. Apart from paintings he was widely successful in making stained glass windows. Although the technique is completely different, the colours of the glass are as bright and vivid as in his paintings. His stained glass windows can be seen across the globe, in the UK, in Germany, in Switzerland, in France, even in UN building.

His artworks are so special because they combine magnificent painting manner with touching subject matter. His art reflected his thoughts and sufferings. As a Jew he experiences persecution firsthand and it reflected on his paintings. They are extremely moving and personal. You can almost cry by looking at them.. I saw people crying in the museum standing in front of the paintings.

This museum experience was very intimate and personal. Each painting is a story and you stand there in front of it and unravel it layer by layer. His artworks are brilliant on so many levels – emotionally, visually and compositionally.

The heart of the museum is a room with only five paintings displayed in panoramic manner and they were placed by Chagall himself. The paintings are from the “The Song of Songs” series. It is an interpretation of book from the Hebrew Bible that celebrates love and sexual desire between a man and a woman. In this series Chagall illustrates the three motifs of the Song of Songs: the musical, sacred and sensual. The choice of red-pink pallet represents deep sweet love but also blood highlighting the violence in Biblical story. There is a bench where you can seat and spend some time tête–à–tête with these paintings. In this room no one talks, it is awfully quiet, everyone is absorbed by the artworks.

This is an incredible museum, full of intimacy and personality. Chagall’s art is full of colours and worry at the same time. It somehow appeals to everyone and viewers relate to it. If you are traveling in Nice do not miss it!

Clocks and Watches at British Museum

вBritish Museum is one of the most famous visitors attractions in London, it is estimated that each year it opens its doors to 6.7 million people. It is hard to describe how significant and enormous the museums collection is: it covers history of human civilisation, art and culture from the start to the present. The earliest artefact in the museum is a chopping stone with origins from Tanzania which is estimated to be 1.8 – 2 million years old. British museum collection calculates more than 8 million pieces. It is the most comprehensive and multicultural collection in the world. British museum houses part variety of artefacts, sculptures, icons, chronicles, manuscripts, coins,  armoury and many more.

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In November of 2008 a new display was opened – Clocks and Watches. It is sponsored by Sir Harry and Lady Djanogly. Spreading over two rooms 38 and 39 the exhibition explores history of clock making. You can find these galleries on top of the main stairs.

The earliest piece is from 16th century  – Scottish Wall clock. It is one of the few rare pieces that have survived.

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In the middle of the first room there is a giant mechanism explaining how the clock works.

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You can see how technology develops overtime and by the end of 16th century clocks looked similar to what we are used to. In 1620 clocks became even more advanced, on this amazing “Masterpiece Clock” made in Germany by Thomas Starck, not only the time was displayed on the dial but also weekdays. There is also an indicator in dragon shape showing when eclipses are most likely to occur. There are moving dark and light shutters measuring length of day and nigh throughout the year. Unfortunately only the dial has survived but there is a picture of a similar clock from the same period.

Second room is bigger that the first and covers more time periods. The first piece you see in the centre is Automaton in the form of a ship dated around 1585. It was also produced in Germany by another famous clock maker Hans Schottheim.

There are many standing pieces, wall clocks, clocks for fireplaces. The display ends with a retrospective of pocket watches.

It you want to take a break from antique sculptures in British Museum and you want to have a look at something different you should definitely go and check out this clock collection. So many beautiful detailed pieces, I only wish that there were more explanation on how clocks and watches were invented. Otherwise it is a great display with many short video presentations.

Summer Exhibition in RA

I barely made it to Summer Exhibition in Royal Academy of Arts. It is an annual exhibition since 1769 and this year is was on since June 13th until August 21st. I visited it only yesterday a day before its closure. The exhibition features around a thousand works of contemporary artist, some of them are graduates of Royal Academy, selected by the commute from over 12,000 works. It is a multi media exhibition: you can find photographs, sketches, sculptures, oils, acrylics, watercolours, installations.. Everyone can find something to his taste.

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I am not a true fan of contemporary art but I loved the exhibition! It is the essence of a current state of art. Almost all the artworks are for sale and you can find artworks of both emerging and established artists there. Prices vary from hundreds to hundred thousands pounds. Some works are also available in editions and they are less expensive than the originals. As I visited the exhibition towards the end it is difficult for me to say how fast the artworks were sold out. When I visited I was prepared to go home with a new piece of art but all the artworks I liked were sold already.. So next year I will not make the same mistake and will try to be one of the first visitors! However, visiting in the last few days also has its advantages – tickets are half prices, as well as catalogues. So if you are not planning art shopping it is more budget friendly to wait until the last day.

Now my thoughts about art, it is an art blog after all. I will repeat myself – I loved it! So many different techniques, and subject matters. Some artworks were serious and deep, some ironic and witty. It is amazing how many everyday things were turned into art – aluminium hangers were covered into a dear sculpture, metal bottle caps, toilet seat and even a bread slice!

Even thought there were many artworks that I admired, some of them were still way too “contemporary” for my taste. I did not like the room with a lot of nudity and vulgar content. From my point of view some artworks were tasteless and too primitive.

I would like to mention some works individually.

I liked a 3D wall sculpture by Cathy de Monchaux “Migration”. It is a large artwork – 70 cm high and two meters long and is made of copper wires and bandages. Ii is an extremely detailed artwork showing migrating horses in the woods. It is very deep and it “consumes” the viewer due to its depth and large scale. The price for this artwork is £35,000.

Jimmy Cauty presented a large (183cm high) installation “The Aftermath Dislocation Principle Part 3: The Bridge”. It is a shipping container with installation inside. On each sides there are many holes on different nights through which you can see the installation. I was stuck to this artwork for quite some time as I wanted to look through every hole. Each hole gives you different angle and different elements of the crash. The figures inside are very detailed and the setting seems very real. For those who are interested you can read more about this work on the artist’s website, this work is a part of a bigger artwork which shows the whole city. Here is the video of how the container was placed inside the Academy.

Anselm Kiefer, Bose Blumen, Mixed media, 280×570. (Not for sale)

This was a very powerful installation, a tiny bit creepy, but powerful. Large scale installation with 10,00 panels with changing document-style portraits by Turkish artist Kutlug Ataman.

Thousands of screws were used to create this artwork. And it looks amazing close up! It is created by David Mach and is called “Dark Matter”. Dimensions are 224 x 117 x 92 cm and price is £82,000.

And this artwork gave me a head ache… It was very disturbing walking pass this “squashed” head. John Humphreys sculpture “David Noble Tractus”, £47,500.

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It looks like curator has a personal grudge against Clara Sancho-Arroyo as her artwork “Habanero” was placed in the least visible place.. You have to step way back to be able to see it. It is oil on canvas and priced at £2,100.

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Some walls were a little overwhelming and it was challenging to concentrate on artworks individual because there were just so many of them! But I know that the space is limited so this density is unavoidable. All in all I enjoyed the exhibition.. My apologies that my post is published when the exhibition is over. But it is an annual thing, so bare it in mind!

Museum of Miniatures & Cinema

Many friends recommended me to visit Museum of Miniatures & Cinema in Lyon, France, whenever I have a chance. Finally, my road trip took me through Lyon and we spend half a day there and visited Cinema Museum. And I have to say – this museum is fantastic!

First thing I want to say is that museum was dog friendly, I was travelling with my small pom and they let us keep him during our visit. The museum is 4 floors with open stairs, like a balcony. There are a lot of benches where you can rest and even have a cigaret. Where on earth you can smoke in the museum? This is how chill and relaxed atmosphere there is…

Now about the museum itself. Museum features over 300 original film props and artefacts,  as well as real size decoration setting from movie Perfumer, countless number of miniature sets and individual objects.

There were some rooms with “Not suitable for Children” sign, containing itinerary from horror movies and sci-fi. I did not take any pictures of that section but believe me it is a lot of disturbing contents! Dead bodies, dead animals, cut open body parts, armoury.. There are some objects from famous movies like Momie, Hannibal lector, The Ring, etc. Not a pleasant view, but it’s nice to check out the accessories and tools for making horror movies. 

There were some screens with videos of make up in the making. It is very unraveling and takes a bit of magic out of the movie. Each room has OST from movies in that room. Music creates a perfect mood, it is very delicate at the background. Altogether it creates great experience! Some videos are shown about making of costumes both realistic and fantastic. It is also shown how fat costumes are made and worn on set. 

Miniatures impressed me greatly! There are individual objects and whole miniature rooms. How much effort and skill were invested in their creation. I could have spent hours only in that section.

So I repeat my friends’ advise: if you have a chance – do not miss it!

Georgia O’Keeffe, Tate

The exhibition of Georgia O’Keeffe, famous American female artist of the 20th century, is held in Tate Modern in London until 30 October. Georgia is famous for painting flowers, Mexican landscapes and skulls.

Personally, I found it very calm and soothing, walking through rooms with Georgia’s paintings, mostly because of the pallets she used. Sky blues, baby pinks, light green – pastel colours that work very good for the eye. Using these colours for flower paintings is the obvious choice, what surprised me was that she used the same colour for skulls.

Georgia painted a lot of flowers in a details so people can really see it. On the walls there were some quotes from the artist herself and she said –

Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.

From curatorial point of view there is nothing special about settings, there is a logical order of 11 rooms dedicated to different periods or themes. Apart from paintings there are sketchbooks with watercolours, showing the preliminary paintings.

The Wallace Collection

On the very heart of London there is a beautiful museum – The Wallace Collection – that is hidden in Manchester Square just steps away from Oxford Street. It was closed for renovation for some time and this year it has been reopened. The museum is open every day from 10 am to 5 pm and the admission is free. So even if you have 15 minutes to spare in the area you can go ahead and spend it there.

“The Wallace Collection is a national museum which displays the wonderful works of art collected in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by the first four Marquesses of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace, the son of the 4th Marquess. It was bequeathed to the British nation by Sir Richard’s widow, Lady Wallace, in 1897.” – quoted from the website.

The rooms are just breathtaking, so many different colours! Almost every room is decorated differently with variety of wall papers – greens, blues, greys. Golden and blue rooms are especially beautiful!

The collection is marvellous and many types of arts are presented from furniture and decorative art to paintings and sculptures. Some rooms combine furniture, such as clocks, arm chairs, cabinets, with paintings. However some rooms are more specialised displaying only porcelain or armoury.

In fact, there is a whole wing dedicated to armoury of different types and from different times. Great amount of details and variety of metals.   

Another thing that caught my eye was a special setting to the works of art that are particularly sensitive to the light. It was very thoughtful to create a leather cover that can be lifted, it protects the artwork and helps to preserve them.

Manus x Machina

For this year The Costume Institute’s theme is Manus and Machina – hand vs technology. How has the fashion world changed in the age of technology? What is the difference between hand crafted fashion items and machine-made?

Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York presents the Manus x Machina: Fashion in the age of technology exhibition until 14th of August. There are more than 170 beautiful gowns that address the difference between hand crafted materials and machine made. There are some incredible evening gowns created by Chanel, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and other famous designers. There is also a wedding dress by Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel with a 20-foot train. The presentation is also fantastic: details of  embroidery projected onto the domed ceiling.

The Met Gala this year presented different gowns created by high fashion designers celebrating Manus vs Machina theme. There were some cutting-edge technologies used to create the dresses and develop the theme. Men vs Machine is a big topic for debate not only in fashion but in all other industries. During Industrial Revolution millions of people were replaced my machines and lost their jobs, however the production process became more efficient. Now back to fashion..

Here are some gowns that I found remarkable, I picked three dresses that I think unraveled this theme the most.

The first dress is created by Calvin Klein for beautiful Emma Watson, this dress is a “score” for technology. It is made purely from recycled plastic bottles.

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The best hand-made dress was created by Burberry for Blake Lively. It was a beautiful pink dress with hand crafted red flowers. This dress is too elegant and delicate to be manufactured on a machine, so this is a win for hands.

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The next dress ticket both boxes: it was hand sewed but could not be created without technology. This “cinderella” gown for Claire Danes. The dress was literally glowing in the dark due to organza and fiber optics.

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New Tate’s Modern Switch House

Today was unofficial new wing opening at Tate Modern – Switch House. Everyone in the neighbourhood was invited to be the first visitors, which is a really nice touch, since we were experiencing the construction firsthand.

New building is in a shape of conus and 10 floors high. Only 4 floors are exhibition spaces, other floors are for entertainment – shop, restaurant, members room and events hall. Connections to the old building are on the first and forth floors.

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There is a viewing level on the top floor with 360-view on London. The views are amazing, you can see London’s beautiful skyline. There is a printed guide available describing every significant building you can see from the viewing terrace.

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The building itself is executed in cutting edge industrial style. Some people said that the design “captured the essence of the building”, however, for my taste it is a bit over the edge. It look like a space before renovation, there were some leakages, some lamps were not working, sign “restaurant” was missing three letters. Brick structure was a bit disturbing in some places, especially in the cafe when you have tables right across from it.

Art-wise… A lot of video installations, large scale artworks, many interactive artworks where you can go inside or walk over it. I am not the one to judge, so I’d rather not comment on the art itself. However, there was one installation that was particularly disturbing – Tropicália, Penetrables PN 2 ‘Purity is a myth’ and PN 3 ‘Imagetical’ by Hélio Oiticica. The installation is a cage with two large African parrots inside. I think that is completely inappropriate to trap wild birds in a small room with one window for three months (parrots are changed every three months). 

Overall impression from todays visit is that building still needs a lot of work. Right now it is a bit sloppy and unfinished.. It is still not THE opening, so maybe some things like lighting will be changed and signs repaired. A great three days celebration is about to begin with a lot of special events and plenty of fun! So you should join and see for yourself, the admission is free.

 

Undressed

Undressed: a brief history of underwear is an exhibition in V&A museum from 16 April 2016 until Sunday 12 March 2017, so you have plenty of time to check it out! The exhibition is positioned over two floors at Fashion Temporary Exhibition Space. The exhibition is sponsored by Agent Provocateur and Revlon and is only free for members.

Over 200 pieces of both men and women underwear starting from 18th century until present day. Underwear represents cleanness, comfort and modesty, closest thing to our body. It is personal and therefore erotic.

Through exhibition you can see how purpose and outlook of the underwear transformed over time. Long time ago the underwear was used purely to keep the body clean and over 200 years it became an erotic part of the outfit and an element of sexual play.

Women underwear is designed to highlight and exaggerate parts of the body. Corsets are designed to make the waist slimmer and bras are made for support.

On the X-ray you can see how rib cage is tighten to fit in the corset. Nowadays corsets are not the part of everyday wear and considered to be an erotic thing rather than part of the outfit. However in 1890s it was a regular underwear and the average waists were under 48 centimetres (comparing to 71 cm in 21st century).

Bust supporter – the very first model of bra – was patented in 1863. Bras shaped women’s bodies according to fashion of the time. There were periods when breasts were suppressed – in relation to the image of aristocracy, other times bigger breasts were more preferable so push up was integrated in bras. There is always the connection between underwear and fashion, underwear shapes women silhouette.

What’s the purpose of garter? Apart from throwing it on your wedding day.. In the 19th century garters were used to support stockings. Nowadays stockings have a silicon band and stick to the body and garters are no longer needed. So they stay in the culture purely as tradition and decoration.

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Lingerie is a definition of who we are, our character. Model, fabrics, colour all have different moods and perceptions. Cotton is comfortable, silk is sexy, lace is  erotic. Female readers will know – when you put on beautiful lingerie even if no one sees it, you feel more confident.

Exhibition consists mostly from mannequins with different types of underwear, however, there is also a video interview with key designers of lingerie brands such as FiFi, La Perla and Agent Provocateur.