Monday, 23 December 2013

The Kiss in Milan

Nope, not a rock band. Rodin is in town and without much exaggeration this is one of the most gorgeous exhibitions I have been this year and my most favorite in Milan of 2013 that is about to end. 

The curator Aline Magnien was very lucky getting Sala Della Cariatidi which un-finishness made this exhibition so special and magical. Rich decay of the walls incrustrated with antique patina mirrors, pillars surmounted with broken sculptures which shapes only vaguely reminded their original look of topless ladies, and  extensive floral decoration of the ceiling enchant me every time I am in the room. But usually the room always remains a stronger art of itself than the exhibited items. With Rodin sculptures' exhibition, however, the interior was a whole entity. This unity together with how the items were exhibited gave a feeling of sneaking in the sculptor's workshop. Over 60 of the pieces from Rodin Museum in Paris were placed on metal carcasses and untreated wood planks. Curtains from white gauzy fabric was a great alternative to habitual walls or other exhibition fixtures keeping the room open, light and airy allowing a visitor an opportunity to glimpse over the whole exhibition and be simply astonished by its beauty. Selection of Debussy's music pieces, especially my favorite Moon Light, was a good choice to immerse the visitors into romantic mood of Auguste Rodin's world. 

The Kiss in marble, one of four sculptures created in Rodin's studio (the others are in Copenhagen's Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Pennsylvania's Rodin Museum and London's Tate gallery), was in the center of the room visible from almost all the point of the room. Also known as Francesca Da Rimini or Paolo and Francesca, this sculpture is inspired by Dante Alighieri's Inferno (Circle 2, Canto 5) and originally was planned to be a central piece of The Gates of Hell commissioned for a museum of art in Paris. The sculpture was very popular and few hundreds copies in bronze and marble of different sizes have been produced, also after Rodin's death, however, according to the law of 1978, only first twelve copies are considered original. 

NB: If you want to learn more about this piece, keep on reading the post.

The Kiss aka. Faith of Love As Deep as Graves aka. Paolo and Francesca, ca. 1882
 Danaid aka. The Source, 1889
  Last Vision aka. The Morning Star aka. The Wreck, 1902
  Aurora (bust of Camille Claudel), 1895-1897
The Convalescent aka. Silence aka. Melancholy (bust of Camille Claudel), between 1907-1914

When walking along the aisles with sculptures, I had unexorcized feeling of Rodin being inspired by Michelangelo's Pietà Rondanini, the most difficult to complete and thus remained unfinished work of the master which currently is the jewel of Milan's Castello Sforzesco collection. 

Michelangelo Buonarotti's Pieta Rondanini that he worked on for 14 years. Reworked many times, this sculpture, 
depending from the angle perspective may seem like Jesus holding Mary vs. Mary cradling Jesus.  

I have seen most of the works in Paris and while still was impressed by each work and overall enjoyed my museum visit, I was not feeling so light and so impressed like I did when visiting the temporary exhibition in Milan. In my opinion, this is the finest example of involving every single element to participate and to tell a story, yet none of them (maybe with the only exception of The Kiss due to its position in the room that highlighted its importance in Rodin's career and art history) were not overgrowing the rest of the ensemble

The Kiss from all possible angles


The bonus for scrolling all the way down are the two videos on Rodin. The first is BBC's Private Life of a Masterpiece - The Kiss while this link is the masterpieces on its own - visual artist Quayola's Matters inspired by Rodin's sculpture Le Penseur/The Thinker (click here).

Friday, 20 December 2013

Once more on Andy Warhol

Few documentaries on Andy Warhol I've dug in on YouTube after visiting the exhibition at Palazzo Reale.  

While knowing very basic things such as his famous soup cans or Hollywood celebrities silk prints and the fact that he was coming from an advertising background, these documentaries opened up much more than a deeply superficial artist craving for fame as Warhol once seemed to me. Once in a conversation about art I have said that the most important is to be unique and brought Andy Warhol as an example. While he was not drawing images nonexistent before, he was still the first turning those flatly painted daily objects like soup cans into iconic art objects. Something that did not require much skills, but a lot of creativity. Since he was the first to dare, he gets all the credits and fame, all the rest now who make exact same thing are just copycats. When saying that I was a bit irritated by the fact that there is such a big buzz around him. Now, my skepticism has changed to a better understanding the reasons and motivation of his art and why he has become so famous. 

 Andy Warhol - BBC documentary from Modern Masters series with Alastair Sooke

Andy Warhol - The Complete Picture

Andy Warhol Documentary

Andy Warhol Documentary by Chestershire Films

For the moment, only Part 1 is available as the video is quite new

Peter Jansen's, a Danish fashion designer, interview The Other Side of Andy Warhol

Below are Part 1 and Part 2 of the famous four-hour 2006 documentary by Ric Burns called Andy Andy Warhol: A Documentary Film - a "cinematic argument that Warhol was the greatest artist of the second half of the 20th Century". I have gone through the first part only and to tell the truth I am more inclined to agree with the author now than before watching that documentary: a convergence of a skeptical non-fan to someone appreciating Andy Warhol. 

Part 1

Part 2

Click here for Andy Warhol in fashion

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Andy I Did Not Know Of

Only few days ago I was watching Brant's interview on youtube where he narrated the story of how he started collecting Warhol. What was my surprise to discover that his renown collection is now on show at Milan's Palazzo Reale. Yet, I left the exhibition slightly unimpressed, but maybe because I was expecting it to be as vibrant and fun as Pollock and Irascibles which is also on view at Palazzo Reale. Both events are curated by the same group as a part of Autunno Americano project. 

My friend's saying "never expect anything, so you can be always genuinely surprised" despite being said about men, can be applied to literally anything. Yes, this saying sums up my feelings. 

Things I did not like much

It was DULL: an exhibition about a guy whose name is a synonym for pop-art was not designed as a pop-art story at all.  

The entrance was promising and reminded me of silk printing technique that Warhol brought to art from advertising, with black and white images in which one could trace the artist's portrait and silhouette. Psychedelic music as a background was completing the picture. But all fun was introduced and remained in the entrance hall, unfortunately. I hoped to see some pop-art superficiality (in a good way) also in exhibition design to get some good vibes as I have been sick for ages and wanted something to offset my physical weakness (the reason why I chose Warhol over Rodin or Brain science exhibition), but instead I discovered mouse-grey walls with same color signs, few of which were torn from their fixture and neglectfully moved/twisted. 

Maybe the organizers did not want to follow the steps of a one-room April 2013 Startdust exhibition comprised of Bank of America Merrill Lynch collection and curated by Laura Calvi in 900 Museum that despite being tiny was funky and fun. I enjoyed reading the signage in acid pink or green colors and having those "booms" and "bams" call-outs (which are more related to Roy Lichtenstein, but still...). I was not expecting exact replica of Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart's 1974 wallpaper background on the picture below, yet they could have done so much fun out of this exhibition, but instead it was like any other art show.

Maybe it was request of Brant Foundation or Palazzo Reale or maybe Arthemisia Group has had a busy period simultaneously organizing three (as far as I know) exhibitions at Palazzo Reale and did not want to deal with all craziness of making a crazy pop-art show or maybe got relaxed as both of its previous shows, the Pollock's and the one on Modigliani was a grand success. 

The power of iPhone: the photo captured a pretty nice exhibition

I still enjoyed the show, in particular, the information on the audioguide, with short music pieces I suppose from Velvet Underground which was interlinked with Warhol. As a visitor I learned a lot from the narration, but it was too long for the amount of works present as in each room almost all the items had audio comments. Pop-art is a quick art: it was created fast and is viewed fast, so while I had satisfied my visual curiosity for all paintings in a room, the narration was still on some historical facts of the first painting. If you struggle with this kind of dissonance, follow my technique: compare various prints for the amount of ink that affected sharpness of an image, and whether there were any different dots in one missing in another print (also since I have recently made my first prints in a workshop by Paul Coldwell - if I were with someone I could have bragged about that, but I was alone and fully consumed by the audio). For some reason I felt weird, only in a bit I understood why: even those who came in groups almost did not communicate with each other because of the power of an audio guide separation - something simultaneously bad and good I would say. Another funny observation: since everyone followed the number sequence for the guide's narration, we were moving in a small group from one painting to another as a small cluster of sardines in ocean's current. This was funny to notice as the space was big but everyone was gathered in one corner closing the view to each other and listening to the same story, maybe with few seconds delay  

Unlike Pollock's, this exhibition did not have any interactivity and the only video in a hidden room was in Italian (same drawback is at Pollock's), without subtitles and even though the interviewer was telling interesting facts, if volume was turned down and few images of Warhol's works were not shown it would not drive my attention as I would not even know what is it about. I don't ask an art critique to be like Hollywood actor Alan Cumming in Tate's Unlock Art short when narrating about Pop Art, but making it a bit more dynamic and, of course, with subtitles, could have made the video room interesting to a group of international youngsters who entered the room and left immediately.  

This is Tate's Unlock Art short that I by chance saw this morning, which then mysteriously disappeared from Tate's Youtube channel and website

While I liked the curves and bright colors of the benches, I was not very eager to sit on them as they looked uncomfortable and unstable. Their curve was uneven, so in the biggest room despite placed in the middle they were not giving me freedom to choose which way to seat and which paintings to observe while seated. I had many versions why these futuristic pieces of furniture ended up in Warhol's show, but I felt that their appearance was not fully associated with flamboyant pop art. But I don't know Warhol that well and maybe these were copies from his famous Studio 54. 

The last, but not least, the hashtag #WARHOL is generic and cannot be "l'hashtag ufficiale della mostra" ("official hashtag of the exhibition"). Maybe it was also done on purpose to get people's opinion about the show lost in the twitter flow of global Warhol's fans. 

Things I did not know...

...or rather the art by Warhol I did not know. 

His Rorschach-inspired ink paintings of the 80s are one of few examples where Warhol did not base his artwork on preexisting images, rather creating them himself. Another example of experimenting with shapes, without actually knowing or controlling the end result are so-called Piss or Oxidation Paintings. The title speaks for itself: he was urinating on canvases also involving his assistants and guest of the studio to contribute. Gross one might think, but believe me or not, this Warhol I like more than the one obsessed with celebrities and money. 

The third discovery was to know that at the end of his abruptly stopped career his last show was inspired by my favorite Milan-based Cenacolo Vinciano or The Last Supper. For that purpose he visited Milan and made many variations of this renown Leonardo Da Vinci's mural painting.   

Yes, I am guilty for this snap... but as I already said in my earlier post, I don't like the idea of forbidding taking photos at an exhibition

...and for these tree discoveries about Andy Warhol I am glad I went to that exhibition. 

So, despite my pretentious old spinster style review, I do recommend to pay a visit, plus, it won't take long: as with all my scrupulosity of listening all comments, reading all signages and viewing 20 min video I spent there a bit more than 1 hour. Just make sure to get to the ticket office an hour before the closure time: apparently, the vending machines stop functioning and cannot issue tickets (at least, this was an explanation for today's Brain exhibition that I did not manage to visit).

What happens when Warhol's show last visitor, aka me, leaves the exhibition hall? A guy in a white wig pretending to be Andy Warhol and a bunch of nicely dressed people walk in the exhibition space - Dom Perignon's corporate event starts

A Ghost Artist

I went back home to be taken care of and pump up my completely ruined immune system, but while combating with all type of “demons” I have decided that nothing could be better than an art therapy. The news about an upcoming workshop Art in Print by omnipresent Yarat! was just in time pennies from heaven.

Since I knew the owner of the Natavan gallery I was granted after-the-deadline access to the workshop, the privilege I decided to exploit since I had all the time in the world and needed to have some joggling.

While at the beginning I was more interested and excited about helping my friend with preparing the space for the exhibition, especially since I have just completed a NODE course on Exhibition Design, on the second day of the workshop I decided to stop by the premise and try to make my own cut asking Paul Coldwell, the British artist who hold that workshop, to add my pieces to the final show only if there will be space.

The process of printmaking turned out to be a lot of fun and despite me being quite dressy (just because I was planning to meet my primary school sweetheart that I have not seen for over 20 years), I was not afraid to get numerous cuts, dip my hands into black and red ink to paint with fingers, ruining my manicure and afterwards rubbing my skin for few minutes to get back my natural skin color.   

I guess I have a bit of a talent to disguise myself as if one googles that event he/she will not only find me at the event photos but also in the list of group show participants, despite being the only one (and this time not because of acquaintance with the gallery owner) selected to share the room with the artist, Paul Coldwell. Because of that some were mistakenly thinking my art was belonging to him so they appeared on TV marked as his. I did not mind, at the end, it's quite an honor to be considered (even though by obscure reporters covering the event) an established professional after less than 3 hours of doing prints! 

The last sentence under no way undermines Paul's research and work on loss and items of attribution, a certain trace, a portrait of a person based on his belongings. The topics covered by Paul Coldwell reminded me of another great project - My Most Important Suitcase by Fritz Roth (click here).

The pieces above were produced simultaneously while being a very dedicated mentor and supervisor of above a dozen students' work

Among the ones shown to us, I liked these two, but I strongly recommend to browse the rest of his website as there is much more: 

Points of Reference, 2011, Substrate: Somerset Velvet 300gms,Edition: 20+3 A/P
Hot Water Bottle, Glass and Compass, 37cmx22cmx6cm

Getting back to my artistic return. This even also remained unnoticed, or better said, unknown to my relatives and friends. So, yes, whenever I have time my arty side rebels and kills a boring consultant. First time it resulted in a series of QR-code inspired acrylic paintings on glass last winter when I was all by myself to manage a client in the middle of nowhere of Russian woods with -25C of cold outside. I had three after the work hobbies: Evening Urgant, a Russian version of Letterman show, drawing those acrylic self-expressions and checking out the snow level outside my terrace. Second time I was in stil-warn Baku, in the heart of the historical Inner City which already made the experience much more fun (especially, the tapping of inky fingers on paper). People at the show asked me what did I do: Paul saw some landscapes, Natavan - flowers, someone else - petroglyphs. Since I had no clue what I was doing (as from the beginning I wanted to carve a tree with carpet ornamentation, but due to lack of time and skills I only cut my fingers), I made a smart face and because everyone was seeing something different as in almost any other abstract piece, I called my papers Rorschach Studies (after Swiss Freudian psychiatrist and psychoanalyst whose 1921 inkblot test is actually proven to be useless) automatically becoming a contemporary artist with own artist statement. 

I guess, I have discovered a new area of interest - printmaking, another hobby that I am afraid remains superficial as long as work over 12 hours a day!

P.S. thanks to my friends, Natavan and Ulviya who made me discover and experience this previously untapped and mistakenly considered boring technique!