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A Quick Trip through Life with Pierre Lefebvre @ Delire Gallery Brussels

A Quick Trip through Life with Pierre Lefebvre

New Paintings at Delire Gallery Brussels – January 31 – March 1, 2014

carrousel-s

This large canvas of a carousel in the front window, beckons all who pass by, to enter the Delire Gallery in the Ixelles art district of Brussels. Inside the small, bright space are six more from Pierre Lefebvre’s series of seven new paintings.

Unless you have a French heart, (or perhaps a Russian one,) it might be slightly difficult at first, to find cohesion between the images presented in this exhibition. The vibrant swirling carousel is accompanied by four medium canvasses, each depicting a solitary pigeon on cobblestones, one of a large, gray section from an anonymous cemetery, and a small, lovely and colorfully detailed painting, which appeared to my American eyes to show a fancy fan-pull.

But after a short guide from gallery owner Sébastien Delire, the brilliance of this ensemble becomes blindingly clear.

Transported back to our childhood, we see the carousel spinning round and round with blurring speed. Each vehicle is a path of destiny.

The gallery’s accompanying pamphlet (which I did not read until later,) states it perfectly:

“On which ship did you escape reality? Which animal took you on a travel?
A rocket, an elephant, a tank, a carriage, the police motorcycle, the horse?” 

What did you dream of? Which path did you choose in life?

Next comes the large room. Each of the four walls carries a single canvas, (two shown here) framed alone by the vast whiteness. Four depictions of a pigeon, walking around on cobblestones, seemingly aimless.

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Aren’t we all like this pigeon? Slightly confused by our surroundings, just trying to make it through life, get some food, avoid harm, not quite sure what’s coming next.

The viewer must turn in a circle to see each painting in this room.

Do you still feel like you are on the carousel?

In Lefebvre’s previous exhibition. I noted that he had a knack for capturing obscure little snapshots of life, small vignettes depicting scenes that most others wouldn’t think twice about. And these pigeons are like that as well. As we all walk, drive, ride our way through life, how often do you stop to notice the pigeons? They’re always there, going about their business. Trying to make due, same as you. It’s always the children who have a free enough spirit to get excited about pigeons on the street. Well… children and those photographers with the heart of a child. In every square you can see children running toward the pigeons, scattering them like a cloud of magic dust, and also a photographer, crouched inconspicuously, trying to capture them in motion.

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Lefebvre, with his child’s heart and snapshot-like paintings, has captured them here and presents them for you to consider, in a manner you’re much more comfortable with. Art on a wall.

Do you feel more grown-up now?

Good, because now we move on to the next room.

The final room is much more cramped and poorly lit. The exact opposite of the previous room. Here there are two paintings on opposing walls. One is a very large, drab canvas that looms from high on the wall. It depicts a section of graves in a cemetery. Yes, death comes for us all. I will not try to represent this imposing painting with measly pixels. Go see it for yourself. Even being there I felt I had to step out of the room, backing up to try and take it all in. But you can’t really accomplish that task. You’re forced to be in the room with it. It invades your personal space. You must confront it, or turn away.

And in turning away, Lefebvre, with a wink, gives you a little chance at a way out.

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This small painting I thought was showing a fancy fan-pull, is actually a traditional feature of some European carousels. This small ball and tassel, similar to the Brass Ring on some American carousels, is dangled barely within reach of the riders.

If you are lucky enough to grab the right one. You get to ride again!

Can you reach it? Do you get a Free Life? Re-start? Do-over? Reincarnation?

What will you dream of this time?

New Paintings by Pierre Lefebvre

on show at Delire Gallery Brussels – January 31 – March 1, 2014

http://www.deliregallery.com/

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ALL IMAGES IN THIS POST ©PIERRE LEFEBVRE

Written by Lance Aram Rothstein 2/7/2014


World-class Warhol Exhibit at Beaux-Arts Mons (BAM) in Belgium.

This is the last weekend to catch the world-class Warhol Exhibit!

Andy Warhol: Life, Death and Beauty

– through January 19, 2014 at Beaux-Arts Mons (BAM) in Wallonia Belgium.

Warhol: Life, Death & Beauty poster outside Beaux-Arts Mons ~ photo by Rothstein

Warhol: Life, Death & Beauty poster outside Beaux-Arts Mons ~ photo by Rothstein

Don’t miss your chance to see more than 100 original Warhol artworks in this inaugural exhibition for the reopening of Beaux-Arts Mons. There’s no bigger art-star than Andy Warhol and this show provides a nice variety of his groundbreaking works, some rarely seen outside the USA and some from Belgian private collections.  The security for this exhibition is a bit outrageous however. At some times there are more security personnel in a gallery than patrons. I realize that each piece could be worth millions, but having black-clad officers scurrying everywhere, with loud walkie-talkies squawking every few minutes, does not make for the most enjoyable atmosphere.

Yet this show is indeed enjoyable despite the distractions. Produced by The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, and curated by Gianni Mercurio, the galleries in this show are broken up into 12 different sections.

Entrance to BAM.

Entrance to BAM.

After entering the museum and paying the very reasonable 9.00€ admission, the first room you enter focuses on the artist’s Self Portraits. Warhol was obsessed with his image and was most successful at branding himself like a product. Four small (facsimile) strips of photo-booth pictures begin the show. These little black & white images helped set the tone for Warhol’s work throughout his life. Along with the Polaroid pictures he was so fond of, (which are suspiciously absent from this exhibition,) these little, instant photos became a jumping off point for him and the stark style is visible in most of his portraits and self portraits.

© warhol.org

Warhol  Self-Portrait, 1963-1964 photobooth photograph 7 7/8 x 1 5/8 in. (20 x 4.1 cm.) – The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; Founding Collection,  © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

Many of the pieces in this exhibition are very typical of Warhol, the kind of work that made him so famous. But there are also some unique gems in the show that really stand out from the others. One such piece in the self-portraits section is a large canvas from 1978 which combines three different “poses” of Warhol’s face, like a triple-exposure photo. Along with wide strokes of easter-egg-type colors, this painting really feels as though it embodies the soul of Andy Warhol.

Andy Warhol –  Self-Portrait, 1978 acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen 40 x 40 in. (101.6 x 101.6 cm.) The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; Founding Collection © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

There are several other interesting self-portraits in this section including three smaller works from 1978. In two of the canvasses, Andy is posing with a skull, and in the third he is being choked by hands that come from outside the frame. These also hark back to the photo-booth-style pictures.

The majority of unexpected work lies in the Religion section of the show. Warhol’s work was highly influenced by his Catholic upbringing, especially his very early and very late works.  There are several very beautiful yet simple early images of Madonna and Child such as this undated drawing with gold paint and collage elements depicting the Visitation of the Three Kings.

Madonna and Child – n.d.
© The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

Another highlight in this room is a small colored drawing of Santa as if he were on a playing card.

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And just two years before he died, Warhol embarked on an ambitious group of silkscreen print/collages of The Last Supper. The juxtaposition of torn shapes and colors against the faded black and white background print make this work stand out as a new artistic avenue for the artist.

Last Supper
1986, acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas, 78 x 306.2 “
© The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA

The Death and Violence section of the exhibition includes some works from the infamous “Death and Disaster” series where Warhol used graphic images appropriated from newspapers. Also a very early drawing from 1954 titled “Dead Stop.

Andy Warhol – “Dead Stop”, ca. 1954 ink and wash on Strathmore paper
(49.5 x 58.4 cm.) The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; Founding Collection
© The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

This room is dominated by a massive silver canvas of revolvers, possible the largest piece in the show.

Andy Warhol, Gun, 1981-1982 – Acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen, 177,6 x 228,6 cm
© The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / SABAM Belgium 2013 Ville de Mons

While this room also has images of suicide, skulls, knives and the electric chair, ironically, it also holds some of the most beautiful works in the entire exhibition. There are ten different examples of Warhol’s famous Flower silkscreens with fluorescent paint, and also an original painting that inspired them from 1964-65. But one of the most surprising and delicate pieces in the show is an early butterfly illustration from a private collection. An ink and watercolor on paper from 1956. Unfortunately, due to the museum’s No Photography policy, I am unable to show you this image since, unlike the other images in this review, I was unable to find an example of it anywhere online.

So we’ll have to settle for a similar set of works.

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© The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

Imagine an intricate butterfly such as this one on the left, only filled with smaller butterflies similar to the ones on the right. You wouldn’t realize it from this crude example, but this piece alone is worth the trip to see this show.  The work is also signed simply “Warhol” in very lovely lettering. I really wish I could show it to you, but perhaps this will be the thing that brings you to the exhibition…

The next room is reserved for Andy’s Icons where we find examples of his most recognizable work. There are six different examples of the famous, multicolored Marilyn Monroe silkscreens from 1967, but a more intriguing piece is actually a much darker “Marilyn” from 1978.

Andy Warhol, Marilyn (4), ca. 1978 silkscreen and acrylic on fabric 91,4 x 71,1 cm
© The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / SABAM Belgium 2013 Ville de Mons

Despite its darkness, this piece really sparkles and draws you closer to investigate the usage of black on black. It’s an overused phrase, but its brilliance really IS in its simplicity.

There are also more of the usual suspects in this room including Dollar Signs, A whole grid of blue Jackies, neon outlined portrayals of Lenin, and the obligatory Mao.  Though there’s also a much nicer, larger, acrylic and ink painting of Mao from 1973 with swirling mixtures of green white and ochre.

It’s also here that you’ll find the “poster child” for this exhibition.

Andy Warhol “Red Jackie” 1964 acrylic and ink on canvas
©SABAM Belgium 2013 Ville de Mons

The Red Jackie can be seen on posters all over Belgium and there have even been a few of these flyers for the show adorning the exterior windows of the Belgian Prime Minister’s house, (I pass by his home on a regular basis.)

From Icons we move on to Portraits, which in Warhol’s case isn’t much different. He spent his life making people into icons, not least of all himself. There are many of his signature-style portraits in this room. Warhol used a Polaroid “Big Shot” camera to make little pictures of his subjects and used these as a basis for his large paintings and silkscreens.  This later influenced the cover designs of the Interview Magazine he started in 1969 to follow his obsession with the cult of celebrity .

The faces of the famous fill this room, including those of actresses Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli, designers Mario Borsato and Yves Saint Laurent, artists Roy and Dorothy Lichtenstein and Joseph Beuys, etc… But several pieces do stand out in this crowd. There’s a small black on pink silkscreen of painter Robert Rauschenberg which is simple yet somehow captivating.

Rauschenberg by Warhol, 1967.

And this striking image of Armani from 1981.

Andy Warhol “Armani” 1981  (101.8 x 101.8cm)

This may not look like much on your screen, but this large acrylic painting is the only piece in the show in a protective case. That’s because it’s sprinkled with “diamond dust.”  There’s debate about whether it is indeed real diamond dust on this painting because, after trying it, Warhol later switched to using ground glass in his paint because it was more sparkly.

At the end of the Portrait room there is a small room with seating to view an excerpt from the film “What’s Happening?” by Antonello Branca. This 1967 black and white movie includes interviews with Warhol and other artists such as Lichtenstein and Rauschenberg. You can view a trailer for it here: What’s Happening?

Continuing upstairs to the second level of the exhibition, the designated themes get a bit more convoluted. There’s a small corner titled Consuming Pleasures, which features some of his more commercial work.  There are graphic designs for Halston and the “Committee 2000” as well as two of his famous Soup Can silkscreen prints, though these are later works from 1968 which were actually commissioned by the Campbell’s Soup corporation.

Also in this room are several interesting pieces from Warhol’s series “Details of Renaissance Paintings.”

One of these screenprint on watercolor works, based on the famous Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci, almost covers an entire wall.  – There is also a lovely Warhol-ized representation of Venus.

Andy Warhol – Details of Renaissance Paintings
(Sandro Botticelli, Birth of Venus, 1482), 1984
acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen (121.9 x 182.9 cm.)
The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; Founding Collection,
© The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

This piece really combines the ideas of iconic image and iconic style.

On the other side of this room is a section called Altered Image which presents six large photographs of Andy Warhol by photographer Christopher Makos. You can see some of these photographs in this short video though there is an ad preceding it.

Just off this section is a room filled with “Silver Clouds,” an installation from the Warhol Museum Series. Originally made by Warhol for the Leo Castelli Gallery in 1966, this BAM version may be somewhat exciting for children, but it falls a bit short of instilling the Warhol glam experience. There are at least 18 shiny, foil, pillow-shaped helium balloons whirling about the otherwise empty room, but there are also black tape-covered wires leading around the floor to eight various ordinary, modern fans, and the obligatory emergency exit signage, along with the ubiquitous security guard at the entrance. Being immersed in billowing silver clouds sounds like a good idea, but the clumsy implementation here is a bit distracting.

After another video screening room for the eponymous film “Life, Death and Beauty” by Christina Clausen, comes the last Warhol room in the exhibition and it is definitely a melange. One wall offers a section titled Vanishing, which features ten large, vibrant silkscreen prints of endangered species animals from 1983.

These include wonderful representations of Lion, Tree Frog, Elephant, Panda, Bald Eagle, Bighorn Sheep, Rhino, Orangutan, and Zebra.

Also in this room are eight different neon and pastel-colored camouflage prints. You can now find similar patterns to these on the tight pants of many a nightclub-hopping lady.

Portfolio of eight screenprints 1987
(each): 38 x 38″ (96.5 x 96.5 cm)
© Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts

But I wonder if Warhol was the first to experiment with changing the typical colors of camouflage? It is quite an absurdist statement when you think about it.

One of the last pieces in this show, and also one of this fanboy’s favorites, is an Apple Macintosh illustration from 1985.

I still remember the first time I saw the Macintosh come out of the box back in 1985. Most people don’t realize that Andy Warhol was one of the first artists to work on the advertising illustrations for this fledgling, world-changing machine.  If interested, you can read this detailed account of The Night Warhol met Steve Jobs, by journalist David Sheff.

Following the final Warhol room is a nice group of works from BAM’s permanent collection. These selections from 1960-1980 meld nicely with the Warhol works. Artists include Pat Andrea, Pol Mara, Peter Saul, Michel Jasmin, and this very Pop piece by Valerio Adami.

Valerio Adami – “Contenitore” oil on canvas 1968

As the exhibition comes to a close there is a room full of screen prints in a makeshift workshop by children and other visitors to the museum. And they have even provided a free “Popmaton” Photo Booth where patrons can have their pictures taken in four Warhol-style colors.

warhol popmaton lance 4

Popmaton photos of/by Lance Aram Rothstein 2014

This was quite fun. All the images are shown on a large video screen outside the photo booth and visitors can download their photos afterward at: http://www.popmaton.com/

So, altogether a very rewarding exhibition. There are some pieces that are rarely exhibited and it’s always exciting to see the old favorites too.   So if you have the chance, POP on over to BAM before it’s too late. (groan)

IF YOU GO:

Andy Warhol: Life Death and Beauty – From October 5, 2013  to January 19, 2014 

Beaux-Arts Mons   BAM, rue Neuve – 7000 Mons   Phone: 0032 (0) 65.40.53.30

http://www.bam.mons.be/

Open Tuesday – Sunday from 10am-6pm

Entry = 9.00€

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High Museum Atlanta hosts treasures from The Louvre & Tuileries Garden.

SEE PARIS ON PEACHTREE STREET!

Review by Labeauratoire US Correspondent Karen Nurenberg Rothstein

This week, I visited The Louvre and Tuileries Garden, an exhibit at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta Georgia, USA. It is showing through January 19, 2014. The Tuileries are on the must-see list of many who visit Paris. It is graced with Art that saturates the soul and bathes you in its beauty.

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The Tuileries started out as a private garden created by Catherine de Medici, as the garden of the Tuileries Palace in 1564. It was opened to the public for the first time in 1667. Later, after the French Revolution it was established as a public park and today it is still one of the focal points of the city.

The High Museum exhibit brings the wonders of The Tuileries to an American audience. It features more than 100 works, some never before seen outside of France.

If you get a chance, come down to Peachtree Street in Atlanta and take a walk through the picturesque, boxed holly trees in the High’s courtyard, and feast your eyes on bronze sculptures by Aristide Maillol, including “Mediterranean” (aka “Latin Thought”) 1923-1927.

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The Beauty in this piece lies in the simplicity of the work. The triangular limbs intertwine freely with one another to form the figure of a woman deep in thought.

Another Maillol bronze in the courtyard, “Venus with Necklace” 1928, is equally impressive. Don’t pass these by. Take the time to stop and enjoy their beauty.

Then, entering the ground floor of the exhibit, there are several more statues that leave you breathless. One example was François Joseph Bosio’s “Hercules Battling Achelous as Serpent” 1824 in Bronze.

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Another is the marble sculpture “Faun” by Antoine Coysevox from 1709.

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This has an adorable satyr on the opposite side.

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The second floor reveals the history of the Tuileries Palace and Garden. In addition to more sculptures, there are artifacts from the time of Catherine de Medici, including this “Mold for the bust of a Cloaked Woman” from the Workshop Of Bernard Palissy. ca. 1550-1570.

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Also included are items from the time of King Louis XIV, who expanded the garden, such as this wonderful tapestry “Procession of Louis XIV in front of the Tuileries Castle: October, The sign of The Scorption”  produced in the Gobelins Royal Manufactory (after a design by French painter Charles Le Brun.) This was one of 12 tapestries made to depict the French Royal House and the months of the year.

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This one represents October.  The zodiac sign is featured at top center and there are signs of autumn throughout. King Louis XIV is in the background with his procession, weaving through the Tuileries Garden away from the grand Palace.

There are several rooms to see on this floor, one of them provides comfortable seating to enjoy a contemporary video projected on three screens. This gives you the sensation of walking in the garden and passing people as they enjoy a lovely day in Paris. Do sit and take it in.

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Entering the third floor you see a large wooden model of the Louvre and the Tuileries Garden, in the background pictured on a partitioning wall is a scene filled with all the pageantry of a bygone era.

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Many artists were inspired by this great garden and its Tuileries Palace. My favorite painting is one by Pierre Tetar van Elven, a Dutch artist from 1828-1908.

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It is titled “Nighttime Party in the Tuileries, 10 June 1867, on the Occasion of Foreign Sovereigns to the World’s Fair ” 1867 (above), oil on canvas.  It really takes you into the lavish lifestyle.

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Several fabulous engravings and etchings are displayed. Especially interesting was this watercolor and etching on on laid paper (above) by an unknown artist from 1784. It documented the first manned flight in a hydrogen-filled balloon, which was launched from the Tuileries in December of 1783 by professor Jacques Charles with Nicolas-Louis Robert as co-pilot. They ascended to a height of about 1,800 feet and landed 2 hours and 5 minutes later.

Photography buffs will love the last room. It is filled with historic photos of the gardens by some of the great photographers of the world, including 13 prints by Eugène Atget, and others by Louis Vert, Andre Kertesz, Jaroslav Poncar and Henri Cartier-Bresson.

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“View from above the Tuileries Garden’s Parterre” 1975 by Henri Cartier-Bresson

"Merchant Selling "Coco" and toys in the Tuileries Garden" by Louis Vert circa 1900-1906, printed after 1930.

“Merchant Selling “Coco” and toys in the Tuileries Garden” by Louis Vert
circa 1900-1906, printed after 1930.

This is a once in a life time chance to experience the wonders and the beauty of The Louvre and Tuileries Garden right in your own backyard, Don’t miss it.

For more info visit http://www.high.org

The exhibition runs through January 19 in Atlanta and then will travel to the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio (Feb. 13-May 11) and the Portland Art Museum in Oregon (June 14- Sept. 28).

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All text and images by Karen Nurenberg Rothstein, a contributing writer for Labeauratore.


La Biennale Saturday Highlights

We started out day two at La Biennale di Venezia by heading back to Arsenale to try and catch some of the things we missed on Friday evening.

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There was no shortage of intriguing stuff we’d missed the first time through.

 

At first, these magnificently detailed old tree drawings, by Belgian artist Patrick Van Caeckenbergh, look like classic black & white photographs.20130818-094803.jpg

The section curated by American photographer Cindy Sherman focused naturally on body image.
This lifelike nude sculpture by Denver artist John DeAndrea is actually a painted bronze.

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Sherman also selected a group of early 20th century studio portraits by Belgian photographer Norbert Ghosoland.

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After the Cindy Sherman section we encountered a video installation by American Ryan Trecartin. It seems to be investigating effects from today’s outlandish video culture of Vimeo and Reality TV.

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We didn’t have enough time to see everything, but we did, of course, make it to the gift shop/café before heading to the next venue.

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After a sit and sip, we wandered through the alleyways of Castello to find the much talked about installation by Ai Weiwei, which included 6 metal chambers resting in an old church like so many tombs. Each large box had two small windows for visitors to look through.

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It’s what inside that matters, but you’ll have to wait for my detailed report to see the reveal! (or I guess if you’re impatient you could Google it huh?)

The next event we covered was the historic Manet exhibition held at the Doges Palace in St. Mark’s Square.

While not really a part of the Biennale, this unique show brought together many of the artist’s masterpieces and juxtaposed them with works by influential Italian old masters. Most notably, Manet’s Olympia 1863 (which has never before left France) is hung side by side with Titian’s Venus of Urbino from 1538. Seeing this pairing in person is likely a once in a lifetime experience.
Unfortunately the curators chose to ban photography of the exhibition. But a dozing docent gave me the chance to snap this gem.

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This important exhibit, which includes works lent by the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and the Uffizi in Florence among many others, has been extended until September 1st, 2013. Do catch it if you can! If not, see my detailed review coming next week.

We finished the day at the closing party for The Museum of Everything, back near Giardini. Live music and video presentations were accompanied by refreshing drinks and snacks. And a vibrant collection of artists, art appreciators, and party crashers was on hand for The Finissage of Everything!

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But tomorrow is another day, and The Guggenheim Venice is calling our name as we sleep…

 

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ALL IMAGES AND TEXT COPYRIGHT 2013 BY LANCE ARAM ROTHSTEIN FOR LABEAURATOIRE.
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La Biennale Friday Highlights

Just a few quick highlights from our first day at the 55th Art Biennale in Venice.
We woke up late as usual, not good when trying to cram in as much art as possible. I’ll include many, many more examples and other artists in my comprehensive review later next week.
But for now, here’s a glimpse of what we encountered
Our first stop was at The Museum of Everything where we had nice coffee & cakes before seeing the magnificent paintings of Italian “Outsider” artist Carlo Zinelli in their back garden:
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Then we moved quickly over to the Giardini where we hit the pavilions of Spain, Belgium & Holland before entering the main exhibition hall.

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Lara Almarcegui at the Spanish Pavilion. (above)
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J.M. Coetzee curates Berlinde De Bruyckere at the Belgian Pavilion. (above)
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And Mark Manders presents a
Room with Broken Sentence in the Dutch Pavilion. (above)
“Outsider Artists” or Art Brut, was a major component of The Encyclopedic Palace (this year’s theme.) there were many intriguing works in Giardini’s main exhibition hall.
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Above, Jack Whitten’s large abstract painting hangs behind 387 model houses presented by Oliver Croy and Oliver Elser.

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And the re-imagined tarot cards of Aleister Crowley and Frieda Harris (above) are very striking.

I’ve so much more to show and discuss from this part of the exhibition so keep an eye out for my comprehensive review next week.

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Popping into the Finnish Pavilion gave us a look into the wooden mind of Antti Laitinen. (above)

At the U.S. Pavilion, Sarah Sze has transformed the entire building into her “Triple Point,” a conglomeration including thousands of objects, both natural, commercial, and faux that stagger the mind. (below)

20130817-024305.jpgAs the Giardini was about to close, we dashed into the Venezuelan pavilion (below) and were really excited to see that they had chosen to highlight “Urban Art” from their fine tradition of graffiti artists.
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After being herded out the gates of Giardini, I headed over to Arsenale, which was open till 9pm, to get a head start on tomorrows coverage.
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Marino Auriti’s model plan for his Encyclopedic Palace of the World greets you as you enter the main exhibition hall at the Arsenale.

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Nearby are photography exhibits by several different photographers. One of the most interesting ones is a series of mind boggling, early aerial shots by Swiss photographer and balloonist Eduard Spelterini, like this image above, showing the city of Cairo in 1904!

One of the next things that astounds the brain is an entire room filled with 207 pages of illustrations by notorious American comic book artist R. Crumb. The Book of Genesis!
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and then this happened!
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The Japanese artist Shinichi Sawada, who suffers from severe autism, creates these intricate clay sculptures that seem to have appeared from another dimension. (above) An entire menagerie is on display here.

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One room not to be missed is filled with Venitians. (above) Polish artist Pawel Althamer cast the faces and hands of dozens of actual local Venetians in plaster and then used grey plastic to represent their bodies in his sculptural installation called, you guessed it, “Venitians.”

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One of my favorite discoveries of the day was a wall of large scale collages (above) by German artist Albert Oehlen. He uses the familiar language of mass media and advertising to create an interesting assembly of juxtaposed imagery.

And just after viewing these works, the bells began to sound and I was instructed, in several languages, to head for the exit.

So that’s a cursory glance at some of the great work from Friday’s wanderings. As I stated before, I’ve got so much more to show and discuss, so keep an eye out for my more comprehensive reviews next week, which will include many individual reports on some of the other exhibits and more in-depth info on the ones covered here.

Ciao for now! See you tomorrow.

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ALL IMAGES AND TEXT COPYRIGHT 2013 BY LANCE ARAM ROTHSTEIN FOR LABEAURATOIRE.
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Pierre Lefebvre at Delire Gallery in Brussels

If you’re in the neighborhood, (possibly for the Mapplethorpe show at Xavier Hufkens) don’t miss this delightful small exhibit of paintings by Pierre Lefebvre at Delire Gallery in Brussels, running through 3, August 2013.

Lefebvre is showing some very unique paintings which really draw the eye of passers-by. They are like little windows onto a world which he has chosen to present to his audience. Only the window is one of frosted glass, and the scene isn’t a majestic landscape or remarkable event. Instead Lefebvre has chosen to present little vignettes in the every-day life of towns and cities.

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The back of a dusty billboard, a bird’s-eye view of a warehouse, a rat’s-eye view of a rubbish skip, these are the kinds of things you can vaguely recognize through the window Lefebvre has given you to look through. And you’re thankful. He makes you stop and smell the roses.

And sometimes those roses are just crumpled Belgian flags, laying in puddles on the ground after a visit from the King.

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Or the broken sign and missing poster from a Turkish advertising frame, somehow transformed into a portal of sorts, through which you might wish to pass into a peaceful, more pleasant world.

This isn’t the kind of work you see every day, so don’t miss your chance to catch this unique little exhibit.

 Pierre Lefebvre at Delire Gallery in Brussels, running through 3, August 2013.

ADDRESS
Rue de Praetere 47D
1050 Brussels, Belgium

GALLERY HOURS
Wednesday to Saturday, 1 to 6 pm

CONTACT
office(at)deliregallery.com

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Intimate Mapplethorpe show at Xavier Hufkens in Brussels thru July 27

Don’t miss the unique opportunity to see some of Robert Mapplethorpe’s exquisite early work at the Xavier Hufkens gallery in Brussels, running through July 27, 2013.

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Mapplethorpe’s 1975 self portrait (at right) is among many treasures on display at Xavier Hufkens.

Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-89) was an absolute master of black and white photography. He is world-renowned for his classical portraits of the famous and beautiful, and for his stark presentation of the New York gay leather scene.  Many have touted the technical mastery of his large prints made from his medium format Hasselblad camera, but few people know about the small, intimate Polaroid pictures that marked his induction into photography in 1970. Those one-of-a-kind, instant photos, some of which have never before been exhibited, make this show a must see event for any connoisseur. Of course, keep in mind there are graphically sexual and controversial images in this exhibit, so those who are easily (or even not so easily) offended should  take this into consideration.

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“Robert Mapplethorpe Au Début (works from 1970-79)”
The front window at Xavier Hufkens Gallery

The show is titled “Robert Mapplethorpe Au Début (works from 1970-79)” and features 95 pieces. In addition to the 29 Polaroids and the numerous, traditional, silver gelatin prints, there are three early multi-media / collage works which offer a rare insight to the graphic process that preceded Mapplethorpe’s photography.

Robert Mapplethorpe - Untitled multimedia collage. Early 1970s On exhibit at Xavier Hufkens

Robert Mapplethorpe – Untitled multimedia collage. Early 1970s
On exhibit at Xavier Hufkens

This untitled collage (above) from the early 70s includes two Polaroid pictures with geometrical collage elements. Interestingly, the blue/gray background element appears to be photographic paper exposed with a grid of dots using the “photogram” or “rayograph” method pioneered by Man Ray and others.

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Viewing Mapplethorpe’s Polaroids at Xavier Hufkens
Photo by Lance Aram Rothstein

The relatively small Polaroid pictures necessarily draw the viewer close and this adds to their inherent intimacy. Mapplethorpe used the instant camera to capture friends and lovers, and these images have a certain spontaneous spirit that seems to be lacking a bit in the later, well-known studio pieces.

Untitled (Randy), 1975 B&W Polaroid by Robert Mapplethorpe

Polaroid enthusiasts will notice that some of these “B&W” pictures clearly benefit from the warmer tones offered by some of the early pack-films. And they will also be pleased to see that even legends like Mapplethorpe had to deal with the unpredictability of instant film technology.

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Untitled (Nickey Waymouth) B&W Polaroid by Robert Mapplethorpe on display at Xavier Hufkens.

Pardon the poor image (above) shot through reflective glass, but notice the tell-tale Polaroid roller marks which still irk many an instant shooter today.  These anomalies are one of the things that make instant photographs so special and unique. Unlike a heavily lit, heavily worked darkroom print, these little gems were made “in the moment” and were likely shared with the subjects soon after they were shot.

Producing these little, instant, “arranged windows” may have led Mapplethorpe to explore what eventually became his strongest suit: composition. It seems as though he viewed all the elements of this world to be shapes and forms for him to arrange and compose within his own little, four-sided presentation box called the “photograph.”

Untitled, 1974 B&W Polaroid by Robert Mapplethorpe

Many people try to contemplate and judge the content of Mapplethorpe’s photographs, but when one simply studies the composition of the images, he seems to have taken a page out of Mondrian’s book. The world we inhabit is made up of shapes and spaces. Some of those shapes are flower petals, others are faces with expression, and others are dildos and sinks and whips and trees and hands and stove knobs and yes, some of those shapes are erect penises. And some of the spaces are sky, while others are assholes. Shapes and Spaces, all to be thoughtfully arranged, lit and captured with equal importance and reverence, just as were Mondrian’s lines and boxes.

Piet Mondrian Lozenge Composition with Yellow, Black, Blue, Red, and Gray, 1921 © Art institute Chicago

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Robert Mapplethorpe photographs at Xavier Hufkens

Moving on to the square-format of the Hasselblad camera seemed to strengthen his emphasis on composition. These four, square photographs, (above) hung together at the Xavier Hufkens Exhibition, highlight precisely this idea of arranging shapes in a box. You can imagine hearing Mapplethorpe thinking to himself, “Okay, here are the shapes and spaces I’ll be working with today, how shall I light them and place them in my little square box in a way that will be pleasing?” – And therein lay his brilliance. He always found a way that was pleasing, and this allowed pure emotion to shine through. Like the pure emotion a wild animal might feel when looking at a sunset before settling down to sleep.  No baggage!

Of course most humans can’t escape their baggage.  Many people can’t find a way  to get past the content to appreciate the highlights and shadows  of Mapplethorpe’s mastery.

Lily, 1979 by Robert Mapplethorpe

Phillip, 1979 by Robert Mapplethorpe

Take these two photographs (above) for example, on display in the exhibit. Most people can look at the flower and just think, “Oh, that’s nice, what lovely shapes and shadows.” But some people look at the second image and can’t help but wonder “Why this man is wearing toe-shoes, Why is he naked, Is he gay? Is he a transvestite? Why are you showing me this? Are my tax dollars funding this?”  They never allow themselves to even see the shapes and shadows.

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Viewing the Mapplethorpe exhibition at Xavier Hufkens

I guess the real point is, there’s beauty to be found in everything. And Robert Mapplethorpe was one of the rare souls who not only realized that, but was able to capture it and present it to others in hopes of sharing that beauty. Don’t miss this rare chance to appreciate those efforts. Make the trip to the Xavier Hufkens Mapplethorpe Exhibit before it closes on July 27.

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Xavier Hufkens Gallery at 107 Rue St-Georges in Brussels.

Photographer Joel-Peter Witkin said: ” As an artist, (Mapplethorpe) went out into the dark and came back with the best of what he saw in humanity and in himself. He was rare. It’s very hard to render emotions through a camera. Robert was a bright light, throwing light on aspects of mortality that society usually denies. He caught emotion.” Quote from the book “Mapplethorpe: Assault with a Deadly Camera” ©1994 by Jack Fritscher, Ph.D.

Viewing the Mapplethorpe exhibition at Xavier Hufkens

Viewing the Mapplethorpe exhibition at Xavier Hufkens

IF YOU GO:

Xavier Hufkens Gallery at 107 Rue St-Georges in Brussels Belgium

Tel. +32 (0)2 639 67 30
info@xavierhufkens.com
Open Tuesday to Saturday,
11 am to 6 pm

More Info?  http://www.mapplethorpe.org/

ALSO – If you do make the trip to see this exhibit, you should pop just around the corner to see the nice Pierre Lefebvre exhibition at the Delire Gallery running through the 3rd of August, 2013.

ALL WORDS AND IMAGES © BY LANCE ARAM ROTHSTEIN UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

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