Tuesday 30 May 2017


Room, at the Mead Gallery,

University of Warwick Arts Centre.

Installations, sculptures and photographs by women artists who explore ideas about architecture and the domestic environment - historically perceived as a female sphere of activity.

Photography is not allowed in the exhibition, but I did manage to take some photographs before I was informed of this.  The Francesca Woodman photographs I have reproduced from  posts on the artist, which you can find here , here , and here

Sarah Lucas, Chuffing Away to Oblivion, (1996)

Lucas has created a makeshift enclosure for smoking made out of timber, walled with brown paper.

This claustrophobic space is illuminated by a single bare lightbulb and its floor is strewn with discarded cigarette ends. The structure is internally coated with yellowing newspapers which have been glazed with shellac oil to suggest a greasy and nicotine-stained den.

The installation reflects Lucas' long-running fascination with drab social or personal spaces, especially those associated with men and masculinity. Here, the idea of a private male sanctuary is reflected in the salacious - often overtly sexual - contents of the varnish-coated pages gathered from British tabloids. The deliberate flimsiness of the construction might be read as a metaphor for the fragility of constructions of masculinity - the hollowness of bravado - as well as their inescapability. The lock to the enclosure is symbolically located on the outside.

Heidi Bucher, Herrenzimmer, 1977-78

Bucher moulded the interior of her father's study in Winterthur. She first lined the surfaces of the room with fine tulle, and then applied layers of liquid latex in order to coat the surfaces - including the wood panelling, tiled floors and cast iron radiators - with a membranous film. She peeled this away like skin, bearing the imprint of the room's décor and architecture.

The fragmentary panels - resembling expanses of dried parchment or animal hide - hang from the ceiling. The material has yellowed and hardened with age, accentuating the distance between the original room and its insubstantial after-trace.

Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, The Folding House, 2010

This installation was inspired by a visit to the Rietvild Schroeder House in Utrecht, a modernist home built in 1924 by the Dutch architect and pioneer of De Stilj, Gerritt Rietfeld, in collaboration with the owner Truus Schroeder-Schraeder. The Schroeder House uses sliding partitions to break down the division between inside and outside and to create versatile, dynamic spaces.

The Folding House is a free-standing and elevated structure - a bricolage of wooden flats, sections of fabric and recycled windows - which emulates the versatility and formal simplicity of the Rietvild Schroeder House. Two hinged 'doors' on one side of the structure can be opened to reveal its interior; while its assorted walls, windows and empty 'apertures' deconstruct the division between interior and exterior space.

Louise Bourgeois, Cell XVIII, (Portrait), 2000

This is one of a series of works in which Bourgeois depicted figures and other objects in cage-like enclosures. The Cells are typically constructed from salvaged architectural materials such as old doors, windows and wire mesh, combined with found objects and sculptural fragments. In this work, Bourgeois has placed a single sculpted head - an elongated portrait bust - on a small table inside a glass-fronted cage. The structure appears both protective and imprisoning, reflecting the artist's interest in ideas of selfhood and gender.

Francesca Woodman:

I am including three out of the 12 photographs in the exhibition.

The settings of Woodman's images are blanched and ragged - evocatively nondescript settings in which light and space are as powerful as material forms, and where the body is a metamorphic, occasionally invisible subject. A number of the works exemplify her use of slow exposure, allowing her subjects to move - and thereby to blur or disappear.

Sunday 28 May 2017

Andy Warhol at the Museum fur Gegenwart, Berlin

Andy Warhol at the Museum fur Gegenwart (Museum for Contemporary Art), Hamburger Bahnhof.

It was a pleasure seeing some of Warhol's work at the Museum fur Gegenwart as the meaning of his work still mystifies and provokes debate.

Although artists had drawn on popular culture throughout the 20th century, Pop art marked an important new stage in the breakdown between high and low art forms. Warhol's paintings from the early 1960s were important in pioneering these developments.  Furthermore, the diverse activities of his later years were just as influential in expanding the implications of Pop art into other spheres, and further eroding the borders between the worlds of high art and popular culture.

Much debate still surrounds the iconic screenprinted images with which Warhol established his reputation as a Pop artist in the early 1960s. Some view his early work as frank expressions of his sorrow at public events. Others view them as some of the first expressions of 'compassion fatigue' - the way the public loses the ability to sympathise with events from which they feel removed. Still others think of his pictures as screens - placed between us and horrifying events - which attempt to register and process shock.

Friedrich Monument, 1962

Diamond Dust Shoes, 1980

Knives, 1961/1982

Ten-Foot Flowers, 1967

Advertisement, 1960

Double Elvis, 1963

Mao, 1973

a closer look  at the wallpaper

Do It Yourself (Seascape), 1962

Hammer and Sickle

Thursday 25 May 2017

Hamburger Bahnhof/Museum fur Gegenwart, Berlin

Hamburger Bahnhof/Museum fur Gegenwart, (Museum for Contemporary Art), Berlin.
Occupying the former Hamburger Bahnhof, one of the city's first terminal stations, The Museum for Gegenwart is one of the city's major art venues.

Across the road is the new train station, the Hauptbahnhof (Central Station), a five-level glass and steel building, designed by architects Meinhard von Gerkan and Volkin Marg which opened in 2006. It's Europe's largest ever train station handling around 350,000 travellers and 1800 trains per day.

Berliners have christened it the 'glass cathedral'.

We took a wrong turn on our way to the museum and ended up at the back which gave us a chance to see the rear of the great hall

and this sculpture, Baked Master's Basket, by Urs Fischer (1973)

We eventually found the main entrance

Georg Baselitz, Volk Ding Zero, 2009

Robert Indiana, Imperial Love, 1928

Inside, the great hall is magnificent

We had a look at some of the works in their permanent collection:

Robert Rauschenberg, Red China Green House, 1984

Robert Rauschenberg, Stripper, 1962

looking closer

Robert Rauschenberg, Stage Coach, 1986

looking closer

looking closer

Cy Twombly, Thyrsis, 1977

Roy Lichtenstein, Coastal Village, 1987

Roy Lichtenstein, Reflections on 'The Artist's Studio', 1989

Robert Rauschenberg, Mine, 1984

Robert Rauschenberg, Mule Deer, 1977 (the middle panel of this painting is a mirror, so the reflection you can see is me)

a side view (with reflections of the gallery in the middle)

The Frightened Gods of Fortune, 1981

looking closer

Wilhelm Lehmbrueck, Kopf eines Denkers (mit Hand), (Head of a Thinker, with Hand), 1918

We then had lunch

in the museum's café which was blissfully empty.