Saturday 5 July 2014

The Stedelijk Museum: Art after 1950 - part 1


The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, home to one of the world's most important modern art collections in the world, is a real delight to visit.

Donald Judd, Untitled, 1968

Known as the founder of minimalism, Donald Judd abandoned painting in the 1960s and started working in three dimensions. He was reticent about interpreting his work's meaning and focused instead on the viewer's experience of it.

Pae White, Hollywood Crinkle, 2010 (tapestry: cotton and woven polyester)
A combination of digital technology and time-consuming manual work, this monumental tapestry, like a lot of White's other work, suggests other materials, in this case, crinkled aluminium foil in a variety of metallic colours, reminiscent of Colour Field painting and Op Art.


looking closer

Sarah Morris

Morris expresses her fascination for modernist urban architecture in hard-edge paintings. The brightly coloured geometric planes painted in gloss paint appear to reference the gleaming façade of a shopping mall.


Gunter Forg

Niele Toroni, Intervention, Imprints of Paintbrush no. 50, Repeated at Intervals of 30 cm, 1987 (acrylic on canvas)

Hans Haacke, Condensation Cube, 1963, 1067, 2010 (Perspex, water)

The Condensation Cube reacts to changes in temperature, light and air flow. The work challenges the ideal form of the cube - a hallmark of minimal art - by connecting it to its surrounding physical environment and context. It also challenges the autonomy of an artwork and draws attention of the capacity of the object to change in relation to the constraints and conditions of its context.

Yayoi Kusama, Aggregation: One Thousand Boats Show, 1963, (mixed media)
Kusama's first spatial installation, the work consists of a rowboat embellished with countless, white phallic protuberances set amid a scene wallpapered with innumerable images of the same boat. In the bottom of the craft stand two high-heeled shoes. You can see more of Kusama's work here


looking closer

Rene Daniels, Untitled, 1987, (oil on canvas)

Pablo Picasso, Nude in front of a Garden, 1956
In a partly Cubist style, Picasso painted the rounded forms of the sitter from multiple viewpoints. Belly, breasts, buttocks and facial features are both shown from the front and in profile. It's as though the artist wanted to paint his subject from all sides at once. This is his expression of love for Jacqueline Roque.


Edward Kiehnholz, The Beanery, 1965

A three-dimensional collage you can enter, a recreation of the original Barney's Beanery, a bar and restaurant in Hollywood and a famous hangout for artists.

Every customer - with the exception of the bartender - has a clock for a face. 'The entire work symbolises the switch from real time... to the surrealist time inside the bar where people waste time, lose time, escape time, ignore time', said Kienholz.

The atmosphere is claustrophobic: from the sound which is real, recorded by the artist in the bar, to the newspaper headline in the vending machine - 'Children Kill Children in Vietnam Riots'.



Andy Warhol, Bellevue II, 1963 (acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas)
This is from the Death and Disaster Series and is derived from a police photograph. Shown from above, figures cluster around the pale shape of a body slumped on the sidewalk. Bellevue refers to the name of the psychiatric hospital in Manhattan from where the victim leapt to his death. The image is silkscreened repeatedly onto the canvas, sometimes edge to edge, sometimes overlapping. This repetition lends to the work a filmic quality while at the same time dulling the tragic quality of the subject matter.

Guillermo Kuitca, Strawberry Fields Forever, 1968 (acrylic on canvas)

The figures wear striped clothing suggesting prison garb: could these figures be singing the Beatles song while facing execution? The symbolism of the painting refers not only to the Holocaust but also to Argentina's recent history when political dissidents simply 'disappeared' without trace. Despite such gloom the scene hints at the absurd.

Guillermo Kuitca, The Sweet Sea, 1986, (acrylic on canvas)

Monika Sosnowska, Untitled, 2012, (steel, lacquer)
Alluding to a market that opened in the early days of capitalism in Poland and then closed in 2008, Sosnowska has turned one of the market stalls into a seemingly abstract sculpture. In her practice, Sosnowska distorts objects, pushing them to the verge of collapse, twisting them and altering their scale, thus challenging sensory perceptions and physical relationships with space, creating disorienting effects. In so doing, Sosnowska explores 'the poetry and the politics' of a place and shows that space is subject to change.


looking closer from a different perspective

Sol Lewitt, Wall Drawing #1084, 2003

Andy Warhol, Flowers, 1964-65, (acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas)

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