Saturday, November 22, 2008


Untitled (Petit Palais), 1992
Felix Gonzalez-Torres, American (born Cuba)
Lightbulbs, electrical wire, porcelain sockets
Length: 62 feet (1889.8 cm)
Gift of the Peter Norton Family Foundation

November 21, 2008 - November 2009

Presentation Highlights Work By A Range Of
International Artists At The Close Of The 20th Century

Arguably the last decade of the twentieth century started in 1989, with the fall of the Berlin Wall, and ended twelve years later, with the horrific attacks of September 2001. That extended decade witnessed some of the most profound and lasting transformation in society since the postwar period. This presentation of works from the Museum’s collection exemplifies the vast range of artistic practices during this time of profound transition, bringing together a diverse group of artists working in a variety of media. Ranging from the meditative to the exuberant and from the elegiac to the surreal, the works in this new instance of the “Notations” series convey the anxieties and expectations associated with the turbulence of the recent past and invite reflection on the resonances between art and history-in-the-making.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Whitney Museum of American Art, NY
November 7, 2008 - January 25, 2009

William Eggleston, "Untitled", 1975. Dye transfer print, 16 x 20 in. (40.6 x 50.8 cm). Cheim & Read, New York © Eggleston Artistic Trust

Critics reacted with derision when William Eggleston’s photographs first appeared at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1976. It wasn’t just the use of colour that turned them off – though until then art photography was generally confined to black and white. They simply despised Eggleston’s seeming nonchalance, his willingness to turn just about anything, from a mucky green-tiled shower stall to the grey-blue insides of an empty oven, into art. “A mess,” one detractor sneered; another dismissed his work as “erratic and ramshackle”.
It’s hard in hindsight to understand what led these writers so far astray. Looking at Eggleston’s photos in the gorgeous, captivating new Whitney retrospective, there’s just no disputing their aesthetic authority or their eerie power. Eggleston’s approach may appear random, but every photo subscribes to a meticulous logic. Even so, compositional rigour is only part of what will glue these pictures to your memory and haunt you long after you’ve left the museum. The shower, the oven, the ketchup bottles and the pinball machines all capture the inadvertent, even perverse, poetry of the specific and the mundane. At the dark heart of Eggleston’s enterprise lies a mixture of tenderness and contempt for the time and place he inherited and consummately claimed as his own: the American South in the latter half of the 20th century.
Eggleston is a child of that South, though he rejects the label of “Southern artist”. Born in 1939 in Sumner, Mississippi, he has spent most of his adult life in Memphis, Tennessee, and all of his best pictures were taken in and around his native ground. He is an American aristocrat and dandy whose privileged childhood unfurled on his grandfather’s plantation in the Mississippi Delta and at the family home in nearby Sumner, a small town whose landmark is the courthouse where the infamous Emmett Till murder trial took place in 1955. (Till was a 14-year-old black boy who was lynched for allegedly whistling at a white woman; his killers, who later confessed, were acquitted.)
Though that blatant miscarriage of justice helped ignite the civil rights movement, it’s hard to find any trace of racial or political turmoil in Eggleston’s oeuvre. Which isn’t to say his art is apathetic. Many of the pictures evince wistfulness, loathing and even love. But those emotions percolate through the distinctive colours and textures of his part of the world. He wasn’t interested in social change, but in the loners, eccentrics and humdrum souls who turned strange and surreal through his viewfinder.
That was the one lesson he internalised from his hero Henri Cartier-Bresson, who himself had been an early admirer of surrealism, and whose best pictures involve odd and disorienting juxtapositions. Eggleston taught himself to make “a perfect fake Cartier-Bresson”, but understood that straight imitation would lead only to a creative dead end. “After a while I had to face the fact that what I had to do was go out into foreign landscapes,” he said later. And how did this native Mississippian define foreign? “What was new back then was shopping centres – and I took pictures of them.”
His first success was a grocery boy pushing shopping carts, caught in the glow of the dying day. The dull labourer, bathed in elegiac light, metamorphoses into a youthful Adonis with flawless skin and radiant blond hair.
Much has been made of Eggleston’s injection of colour into art photography, but it’s only in combination with his brilliant use of light that his palette reaches maximal potency. Take, for instance, a shot of a kitchen sink that Eggleston turns into a white symphony worthy of Whistler. The late afternoon sun, angling in from the left, casts a celestial radiance upon an over-full dish rack and an old orange juice carton, enveloping the rest of the room in shades of eggshell, ivory and pale gold. The artist uncovers – or does he bestow? – the beatitude of the banal. He sees heaven in a porcelain basin, eternity in an hour.
Eggleston’s ability to alchemise blunt fact into reticent lyricism recalls Walker Evans, whose lonely frame houses, village churches, and sign-laden storefronts masked his classical artistry. Evans read the kitchens and corners of sharecroppers’ homes as cubist exercises; Eggleston turns diners, bars, yards and storefronts into arrangements of colour that evoke the more baroque compositions of the Abstract Expressionists. Certain colours keep reappearing, such as the silvery artichoke green we see in a set of vinyl coffee shop settees, a row of abandoned storefronts, and the walls of curtains of a Sumner home. He often accents that glaucous hue with the pale pink or red of a woman’s shirt or a gaudy lampshade.
By Ariella Budick
Published: November 13 2008

Sunday, November 09, 2008


31 October 2008

It was announced today at a press conference in Copenhagen, Denmark that Steven Holl Architects has won the international design competition "The LM Project". With a program that connects office towers and civic spaces with a public walkway 65 meters above the harbor, the new design is intended to form an iconic landmark for Copenhagen's waterfront. The competition was organized by CPH City and Port Development and ATP Ejendomme; the CEO's for both companies were among the jury members selecting the winner. The Chairman of the Jury is administrative director of the development company City / Harbor and Copenhagen's former lord mayor Jens Kramer Mikkelsen. Mr. Mikkelsen said "The project combines the esthetical, the functional and the business minded. This winning proposal is architecture in high, high class."
The current lord mayor of Copenhagen, Ritt Bjerregaard, praised the design, saying "With the winning project, we get a great high-rise building, which will bind the city better together and function as a landmark in the harbor."
Steven Holl Architects' design for the dramatic new harbor entrance to the great city of Copenhagen is based on a concept of two towers carrying two bridges at two orientations all connecting back to the unique aspects of the site's history. The Langenlinie site, a berth for ocean ships for decades, is expressed in the Langenlinie tower with geometry taken from the site's shape. A prow-like public deck thrusts out to the sea horizon. This deck is the level of public entry to the bridge elevators and has public amenities such as cafes and galleries. It can be reached by a wide public stair as well as escalators. The Marmormolen tower connects back to the City with a main terrace that thrusts out towards the city horizon shaped by a public auditorium below. It can also be reached by escalators and is adjacent to the public bridge elevator lobby.
Each tower carries its own cable-stay bridge that is a public passageway between the two piers. Due to the site geometry, these bridges meet at an angle, joining like a handshake over the harbor. The soffits below the bridges and under the cantilevers pick up the bright colors of the harbor; container orange on the undersides of the Langenlinie, bright yellow on the undersides of the Marmormolen. At night the uplights washing the colored aluminum reflect like paintings in the water.
Regarding the winning design proposal, the competition Jury cited the following:
'The jury has unanimously decided to nominate Steven Holl Architects' entry as the winner of the competition. The reason being the special importance placed on creating two buildings each adapted to the site, and the overall idea of how to connect these buildings and ensure that they form a whole across the harbor basin. The project involves a sense of place which is essential for a project on this prominent site."
The project utilizes a variety of progressive sustainable solutions to ensure this important international landmark is rooted in Denmark's identity as one of the world leaders in alternative energy. Both towers have high performance glass curtainwalls with a veil of solar screen made of photovoltaics; collecting the sun's energy while shading. They are connected to a seawater heating/cooling system with radiant heating in the floor slabs and radiant cooling in the ceiling. Natural ventilation is provided on every floor with windows opening at the floor level and ceiling level for maximum air circulation. Optimum natural light is provided to all offices due to the reflective light performance of the screens. Wind turbines line the top of the pedestrian bridge roof; providing all electricity for lighting the public spaces. Due to wind power, this inviting harbor front gateway is always glowing.


More than 100 dazzling murals designed by conceptual art pioneer Sol LeWitt have been installed in a three-storey building on the campus of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) in North Adams, where they go on view on 16 November and will remain for at least 25 years. Most of the retrospective, which spans 1968 to 2007, comes from the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut, whose director, Jock Reynolds, conceived the project during conversations with the artist in 2004. LeWitt gave a number of drawings to Yale along with an archive documenting his entire wall-drawing oeuvre. Mr Reynolds proposed mounting a survey at MASS MoCA, a former industrial complex in western Massachusetts, whose director Joseph Thompson offered to renovate a disused building selected by LeWitt, who designed the installation before his death in April 2007. A team of 65 artists and students spent six months executing the wall drawings, which exist only as sheets of instructions until they are realised. The result is a walk-through timeline of LeWitt’s eye- and brain-teasing murals that range from black-and-white linear patterns to brightly coloured, hard-edged geometries. Yale and MASS MoCA have raised more than $10m to fund the project and Yale has endowed a conservator post to oversee the LeWitt archives and works on paper. A companion volume of 100 essays by Chrissie Iles, Lucy Lippard, Robert Storr, Chuck Close, Mel Bochner, Steve Reich, Lucinda Childs and others will be published early next year by Yale University Press, and a three-volume catalogue raisonnĂ© of LeWitt’s 1,254 wall drawings will be released in 2010. Williams College Museum of Art in nearby Williamstown has mounted “The ABCDs of Sol LeWitt”, a selection of the artist’s works from his private collection (14 November-17 May 2009).

Wednesday, November 05, 2008