Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Late Large Forms

...is the subtitle of this small exhibition of Henry Moore large scale sculptures at the (Britannia Street) Gagosian Gallery. All of the works on display were intended to be installed outside, so the Gagosian's refreshingly different approach is to simply show them in white-walled gallery spaces for the first time.

These are my highlights of this very good, but small exhibition...

Seated Woman: Thin Neck (1961), Henry Moore

Two Large Forms (1966) (below) has beautifully weathered surface colours, which along with its huge scale are good reasons why the sculptures in this exhibition should only temporarily be displayed inside. As can be seen via the link (at the bottom of the page) to the show's webpage, this monumental artwork looks so much more at home in a natural landscape.

Large Two Forms (1966), Henry Moore

I saw Reclining Connected Forms (1969) (below) at the Kew Gardens exhibition of Moore's work in 2007, although this is a piece that I feel works almost as well in a gallery space.

Reclining Connected Forms (1969), Henry Moore

Finishing the exhibition are some maquettes for the sculptures in the show, some of which are artworks in their own right, such as the beautiful Maquette for Reclining Connected Forms (1969) (below).

Maquette for Reclining Connected Forms (1969), Henry Moore


Friday, 8 June 2012

Christian Louboutin and Designs of the Year

Possibly with the exception of the 2009 Hussein Chalayan exhibition, this show of Christian Louboutin's 20 year career designing shoes is the most impressively curated of any exhibitions I have seen at the Design Museum. In Christian Louboutin: 20 Years the kitsch, yet glamorous displays outshone most of the footwear on display in my opinion.
My favourite examples of this were...

The outside view of the entrance:

The introductory ('shadow boxing') first room, with the shoe shadow silhouette and shoes hung like boxing gloves:

The Merry-Go-Round, with shoes on 'seats' where the horses would be:

The (fake, plastic leafed) 'hedge room', completed by neo-classical plinths to display the shoes on:

Most of Louboutin's Fetish collection must be conceptual pieces, because they're all completely unwearable, but in my opinion are some of the more interesting shoes on display. My favourite of the less conceptual and more wearable footwear is the Alta Dentelle (fishnet and calfskin) boots from the S/S 2012 collection (below):


The other main exhibition currently at the Design Museum is Designs of the Year 2012, with 39% of the work displayed having been designed in the UK. There's a lot of innovative and interesting design here, but these are my favourites from the museums shortlist:

Shade installation, designed by Simon Heijdens (for the Institute of Chicago) 'brings the outside in!'

The Tip Ton chair, designed by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby (for Vitra, Switzerland)...

...the pair who also designed the Olympic Torch:

The Invisible Cycle Helmet, designed by Hovding, almost looks like a scarf (below left) but it inflates (like a car airbag) to protect the head in the event of an accident (below right):

Moon Rock table designed by Bethan Laura Wood (for Nilutar Gallery, Italy):

This excellent Ready to Wear Collection designed by The Reality Lab in the Issey Miyake studio, Tokyo:

The eye-catching Thixotropes light, designed by Conny Freyer, Sebastien Noel and Eva Rucki at Troika, London (for Selfridges):


British Design and... Ballgowns!

One of the current exhibitions at the Victoria and Albert museum, British Design: Innovation in the Modern Age, explores British design from 1948 (when London last hosted the Olympic Games) to 2012 to obviously coincide with this years sporting juggernaut. The exhibition also includes art, by artists such as Henry Moore and Richard Hamilton.

These are my highlights from this comprehensive survey:

Three Hollow Men (Maquette for Stabile) (1951), Lynn Chadwick

Family Group (1954), Henry Moore

Root (1977), Monica Poole

 Design for a Poster Map of Tolkiens Middle Earth (1971), Pauline Baynes

Here is a Lush Situation (1958), Richard Hamilton

Pictured above is the atmospheric and very 1960's Thermodynamic (October 1960), by Terence Donovan.

Mick Jagger (on the right in the artwork below) leaving court after being charged with a drug offence:

Swingeing London 67(f) (1968-9), Richard Hamilton

Tulle Dress (2011), Hussein Chalayan

Dress from Horn of Plenty Collection A/W 2009-10, Alexander McQueen

 Sleeve for Unknown Pleasures by Joy Division (1979), Peter Saville

One of the very few occasions where I have considered a car design beautiful:

Jaguar E-Type Series 1 (1961), Malcolm Sayer

Styrene (2003) Paul Cocksedge

Another exhibition at the V and A is the Ballgowns: British Glamour since 1950.

I like the interesting design of the top half of this (silk, satin and velvet) ballgown (1991) by
Anouska Hempel:

As is often the case in exhibitions at this museum, I like how this show is curated. The top floor of the exhibition is reached by climbing an elaborate staircase and pictured below is how most of the more contemporary ballgowns are displayed upstairs:

Art as Life

The founder and first director of the Bauhaus was serving in the German army during the First World War when Walter Gropius witnessed the mechanised slaughter that made him dream that machines could instead be used to benefit mankind, and the seeds of the famous art and design school were sown.

The life of the Bauhaus in Germany mirrored that of the Weimar Republic, both in terms of it beginning in 1919 in Weimar and ending in 1933, by which point the Nazi party had completely taken control of political power in the country. In April 1933 their storm troopers raided the third home of the Bauhaus in Berlin, when they arrested students and smashed workshops, causing the closure of the school and then the emigration of these artists and designers from Europe gathered pace.

The influence that the school has had on art, design, architecture and education cannot be overstated. The work of its students, teachers and masters, both during their time at the Bauhaus and in their subsequent careers internationally, has left a lasting legacy that can still be seen today.

The current exhibition at the Barbican, Bauhaus: Art as Life, not only explores their work, but also focuses on the students' activities outside of the classroom. They arguably invented the art student stereotype, decades before the 1950's and 60's, as the people of Weimar complained at the time about their unusual clothes, outlandish hairstyles and late night parties with loud unfamiliar music.

These are some of my highlights of the Barbican show...

The Small Worlds (1922) portfolio of 12 prints by artist and Bauhaus teacher Wassily Kandinsky, 3 of which are pictured below:

Small Worlds 2 (1922), Wassily Kandinsky

Small Worlds 4 (1922), Wassily Kandinsky

Small Worlds 7 (1922), Wassily Kandinsky

An example of artist and Bauhaus teacher Paul Klee's frequently impeccable use of colour and line:

Comedy (1921), Paul Klee

Pictured below is the Club Chair (1925-26) designed by Marcel Breuer. Adler bicycle handlebars had purportedly inspired the Bauhaus designer and architects influential tubular steel furniture designs, such as this one. The huge influence of this furniture can be seen in its continued use today.

Club Chair (1925-26), Marcel Breuer

A more immediate influence may have then been made on the architect and final director of the Bauhaus, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who designed this table below that essentially is made of just four parts including tubular steel.

Table MR 130 (1927), Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

According to the Barbicans wall text, the mood in the painting by Kandinsky below reflected the imminent closure of the Bauhaus:

Development in Brown (1933), Wassily Kandinsky