Art in the Age of Black Power

SOUL OF A NATION: ART IN THE AGE OF BLACK POWER, Tate Modern, until 22nd October 2017

 

Elizabeth Catlett
Black Unity, 1968
Mahogany wood
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, © Catlett Mora Family Trust/DACS, London / VAGA, NY 2017

 

I am grateful to John Kirkwood to visiting and writing about this exhibition:

 

It is quite startling to enter this exhibition and be confronted by copies of the Black Panther newspaper – the printed form of the ideology behind the Black Panther movement of the early sixties which wasn’t always engaged in peaceful or lawful pursuits.

Faith Ringgold (b.1930)
American People Series #20: Die, 1967
Oil on canvas,1828 x 3657 mm
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchase; and gift of the Modern Women’s Fund, © Faith Ringgold

There are images in varying media of many of the personalities involved in the rise of the awareness of Black Power including Aretha Franklin, Muhammad Ali and Toni Morrison.  On the more political side we have of course Martin Luther King and Malcolm X who has a painting dedicated to him by Jack Whitten on public display for the first time.  There is a fragment from The Wall of Respect in Chicago which became a powerful symbol of the Civil Rights movement.

Andy Warhol
Muhammad Ali, 1978
Synthetic polymer and silkscreen inks on canvas, 1016 x 1016 mm
Private collection
© 2017 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York and DACS, London

This is a timely and far-reaching exhibition and a major celebration of a crucial but perhaps overlooked area of American art history when black artists rose to the challenge of increasing their visibility and saying out loud and clear ‘We are here!’

Roy DeCarava
Couple Walking,1979
Photograph, gelatin silver print on paper, 356 x 279 mm
© Courtesy Sherry DeCarava and the DeCarava Archives

http://www.tate.org.uk

FAHRELNISSA ZEID

FAHRELNISSA ZEID, Tate Modern, until 8th October 2017

 

I am grateful to John Kirkwood for visiting and writing about this exhibition:

 

Fahrelnissa Zeid (1901–1991)
Resolved Problems 1948
Oil paint on canvas, 130 x 97 cm
Istanbul Modern Collection/ Eczacibaşi Group Donation, © Raad bin Zeid Collection

 

Fahrelnissa Zeid (1901 – 1991) was born into an elite Ottoman family in Istanbul and witnessed the birth of modern Turkey and as the wife of the Iraqi ambassador in Berlin she saw the rise of Nazi Germany.  Later in Paris and London she was part of the post-war artistic upsurge until the impact of the 1958 events in Iraq changed her life forever.

 

Her life story which sound like the plot of a Douglas Sirk movie includes a family murder, the death of her first child, marriage into royalty and a narrow escape from political assassination.  It is a wonder she had any time to follow her artistic pursuits but thankfully she did and became one of the foremost exponents of abstract painting.

 

Not easy to classify, indeed Fahrelnissa described a 1980 self-portrait as ‘the hand is Persian, the face is Cretan and the eyes Oriental’ and indeed her work is quite a melange of all those differing influences and it is odd that such a vibrant artist has remained practically forgotten – until now!

Fahrelnissa Zeid (1901–1991)
Third Class Passengers 1943
Oil paint on plywood, 130 x 100 cm
Istanbul Modern Collection/ Eczacibaşi Group Donation, © Raad bin Zeid Collection

 

www.tate.org

Two at Tate Modern

I am most grateful to John Kirkwood for visiting and writing about these two exhibitions on my behalf.

 

Wolfgang Tillmans 2017, Tate Modern, Level 3, Boiler House & Tanks Studio, until 11th June 2017

Wolfgang Tillmans
Collum 2011
© Wolfgang Tillmans

Wolfgang Tillmans (1968 – ) is one of the most exciting and innovative artists working today and this exhibition concentrates on his production across different media since 2003.

As well as some startling photography including landscapes, portraiture and still lives there is even a Playback Room where you may sit and enjoy music and another room where you can view the video installation Instrument 2015 which shows Tillmans dancing to a soundtrack made by manipulating the sound of his own footsteps, while in the Tanks Studio his slide projection Book for Architects 2014 is being shown for the first time in the UK.

Wolfgang Tillmans
Iguazu 2010
© Wolfgang Tillmans

A disparate and interesting show but a word of warning – don’t take your maiden aunt to see it!

 

 

Alberto Giacometti, Tate Modern, Eyal Ofer Galleries, until 10th September 2017

Alberto Giacometti
Woman of Venice V
1956
Painted plaster
113.5 x 14.5 x 31.8 cm
Collection Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti, Paris
© Alberto Giacometti Estate, ACS/DACS, 2017


This is the first retrospective of Giacometti (1901 – 1966) for twenty years and takes us on a journey from his early more conventional works to his renowned elongated figures.  In the first room you are confronted by a very large group of conventionally sculpted faces staring at you which gently leads you on to the more recognisable Giacometti style.

It brings together over 250 works and includes plasters and drawings and a large number of these fragile plaster works which rarely travel are being shown for the first time in this exhibition including Giacometti’s celebrated Women of Venice 1956. Created for the Venice Biennale, this group of important works are brought together for the first time since their creation.

Alberto Giacometti
Woman with her Throat Cut
1932
Bronze (cast 1949)
22 x 75 x 58 cm
National Galleries of Scotland
© Alberto Giacometti Estate, ACS/DACS, 2017

This exhibition reasserts Giacometti’s place alongside the likes of Matisse, Picasso and Degas as one of the great painter-sculptors of the 20th century and the exhibition is a great celebration of a unique vision.

 

 

 

http://www.tate.org.uk

Rauschenberg

Robert Rauschenberg, Tate Modern, The Eyal Ofer Galleries, until 2nd April 2017

Robert Rauschenberg Untitled (double Rauschenberg) ca. 1950 Robert Rauschenberg and Susan Weil Monoprint: exposed blueprint paper 209.6 x 92.1 cm Private collection

Robert Rauschenberg
Untitled (double Rauschenberg)
ca. 1950
Robert Rauschenberg and Susan Weil
Monoprint: exposed blueprint paper
209.6 x 92.1 cm
Private collection

This important show on Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008), organised in collaboration with The Museum of Modern Art in New York, is comprehensive and reveals his ability to challenge and change boundaries whether in painting, sculpture, photography, print-making, technology or stage design and performance.  One easily understands why he was the first American artist to win the Golden Lion for painting at the 1963 Venice Biennale.

Monogram 1955-59 Combine: oil, paper, fabric, printed reproductions, metal, wood, rubber shoe-heel, and tennis ball on two conjoined canvases with oil on taxidermied Angora goat with brass plaque and rubber tire on wood platform mounted on four casters 106.7 x 135.2 x 163.8 cm Moderna Museet, Stockholm. Purchase with contribution from Moderna Museets Vänner/The Friends of Moderna Museet © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, New York

Monogram
1955-59
Combine: oil, paper, fabric, printed reproductions, metal, wood, rubber shoe-heel, and tennis ball on two conjoined canvases with oil on taxidermied Angora goat with brass plaque and rubber tire on wood platform mounted on four casters
106.7 x 135.2 x 163.8 cm
Moderna Museet, Stockholm. Purchase with contribution from Moderna Museets Vänner/The Friends of Moderna Museet
© Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, New York

As the images here show this is really an exhibition that has to be experienced in order to fully understand Rauschenberg’s huge talent and drive to create with its continuing theme of performance and dance running throughout.

Robert Rauschenberg Retroactive II 1964 Oil and silk-screen ink print on canvas 213.4 x 152.4 cm Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Partial gift of Stefan T. Edlis and H. Gael Neeson © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, New York. Photo: Nathan Keay © MCA Chicago

Robert Rauschenberg
Retroactive II
1964
Oil and silk-screen ink print on canvas
213.4 x 152.4 cm
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Partial gift of Stefan T. Edlis and H. Gael Neeson
© Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, New York.
Photo: Nathan Keay © MCA Chicago

 

Robert Rauschenberg Bed 1955 Combine painting: oil, pencil, toothpaste, and red fingernail polish on pillow, quilt (previously owned by the artist Dorothea Rockburne), and bedsheet mounted on wood supports 191.1 x 80 x 20.3 cm The Museum of Modern Art, New York Gift of Leo Castelli in honour of Aldred H. Barr, Jr. © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, New York Image: The Museum of Modern Art, New York/Scala, F

Robert Rauschenberg
Bed
1955
Combine painting: oil, pencil, toothpaste, and red fingernail polish on pillow, quilt (previously owned by the artist Dorothea Rockburne), and bedsheet mounted on wood supports
191.1 x 80 x 20.3 cm
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Gift of Leo Castelli in honour of Aldred H. Barr, Jr.
© Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, New York
Image: The Museum of Modern Art, New York/Scala, F

 

 

www.tate.org

Modernist Photography from the Sir Elton John Collection

The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography from the Sir Elton John Collection, Tate Modern, until 7th May 2017

Man Ray 1890-1976 Glass Tears (Les Larmes) 1932 Photograph, gelatin silver print on paper 229 x 298 mm Collection Elton John© Man Ray Trust/ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2016

Man Ray 1890-1976
Glass Tears (Les Larmes) 1932
Photograph, gelatin silver print on paper 229 x 298 mm
Collection Elton John© Man Ray Trust/ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2016

Held in the Switch House building the wonderful new extension to Tate Modern this is a world-class exhibition featuring iconic images from the 1920s to the 50s.  It is the first such show of Modernist photography in the UK.

Arranged thematically it features still life, social commentary, portraiture and looks at the experimental techniques that helped change the approach to photography from copying other art forms to its own highly unique path. André Breton, Pablo Picasso, Dora Maar, Henri Matisse, Man Ray, Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans and André Kertész are among the greats whose work you will encounter and no doubt linger over.

Sir Elton John summed it up saying: ‘Collecting photography over the last 25 years has opened my eyes – it’s one of the most important and progressive art forms of the 20th century. I want everyone to go away thinking about the artists behind these images and marvel at how they experimented and changed the way we see things forever. They were going where no other photographer had gone before. I consider them true adventurers and what they did was extraordinary. Many people may not even realise I have this collection. But art should be seen. That’s why I’m so happy that Tate Modern is sharing these iconic works with the public. These photographs have given me so much pleasure for a long time and I hope visitors will experience as much joy in seeing the works as I have had in finding them.’

 

I rather think you will do just that!

The new Tate Modern Switch House Photo copyright Iwan Baan

The new Tate Modern
Switch House
Photo copyright Iwan Baan

www.tate.org

Celebrating the Image – Three London Exhibitions

Avedon Warhol, Gagosian, 6-24 Britannia Street, London WC1, until 23rd April 2016

My camera and I, together we have the power to confer or to take away.

—Richard Avedon

Richard Avedon Audrey Hepburn, actress, New York, January 20, 1967 Photograph by Richard Avedon © The Richard Avedon Foundation

Richard Avedon
Audrey Hepburn, actress, New York, January 20, 1967
Photograph by Richard Avedon
© The Richard Avedon Foundation

 

This is a major exhibition which celebrates two outstanding post-war talents whose common link was portraiture which they often repeated or serialized. Avedon, of course through photography and Warhol through his screen prints. It is a delightful experience and well worth a visit.

Andy Warhol Miriam Davidson , 1965 Spray paint and silkscreen ink on canvas 80 1/4 x 80 1/2 inches 203.8 x 204.5cm Private Collection © 2015 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Andy Warhol
Miriam Davidson , 1965
Spray paint and
silkscreen ink on canvas
80 1/4 x 80 1/2 inches
203.8 x 204.5cm
Private Collection © 2015 The Andy Warhol
Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights
Society (ARS), New York.

They always say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.

—Andy Warhol

http://www.gagosian.com

 

 

Vogue 100: A Century of Style, National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place, London WC2, until 22nd May 2016

The Beatles, by Peter Laurie, 1964 Condé Nast Archive London

The Beatles, by Peter Laurie, 1964 Condé Nast Archive London

The British version of Vogue was started a hundred years ago during the First World War as it was no longer possible to ship Vogue from America. It was an instant hit and continues to this very day to be at the forefront of fashion design and photography as the many images in this exhibition celebrate.

 

http://www.npg.org.uk

 

 

Performing for the Camera, Tate Modern, The Eyal Ofer Galleries, Level 3, Bankside, London SE1, until 12thJune 2016

Claude Cahun, 1894 - 1954 Self Portrait 1927 Image courtesy of the Wilson Centre for Photography

Claude Cahun, 1894 – 1954
Self Portrait
1927
Image courtesy of the Wilson Centre for Photography

Some five hundred images, ranging from the beginning of photography to our “selfie” age of today illustrate how the relationship between photography and performance has developed. Sometimes it becomes serious art while at other times is more humorous and relaxed. It is a history that has strong resonance as any of us could be a “performer” caught in a camera lens.

Erwin Wurm, b.1954 One Minute Sculpture, 1997 c-print Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong

Erwin Wurm, b.1954
One Minute Sculpture, 1997
c-print
Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong

http://www.tate.org.uk

 

Malevich

Malevich, Tate Modern, Level 3, The Eyal Ofer Galleries, until 26 October 2014

It is nearly a quarter of a century since the last major retrospective of the work of Kazimir Malevich (1879-1935). We are taken on an artistic journey which transverses a turbulent period in Russian history from the days of the last Tsar to those of Stalin.

Kazimir Malevich (1878 - 1935) An Englishman in Moscow 1914 Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

Kazimir Malevich (1878 – 1935)
An Englishman in Moscow 1914
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

It is a comprehensive exhibition which leads us from his early paintings to his growing interest in abstract shapes and his creation of Suprematism, which is best summed up by the Black Square, a painting that is widely regarded as one of the great masterpieces of twentieth century art.

Kazimir Malevich (1878 - 1935) Black Square 1929 © State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

Kazimir Malevich (1878 – 1935)
Black Square 1929
© State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

We see his interest in architecture and theatre and his gradual move away from painting to teach and write and by the late 1920s his return to figurative painting. It is a tale of changes in social order, the rises and pitfalls of changes in regimes all of which are reflected in his art.

Kazimir Malevich (1878 - 1935) Dynamic Suprematism, 1915 or 1916 © Tate

Kazimir Malevich (1878 – 1935)
Dynamic Suprematism, 1915 or 1916
© Tate

Have things changed that much today?

 

Kazimir Malevich (1878 - 1935) The Scyther (Mower) 1912 Nizhnii Novgorod State Art Museum (Russia)

Kazimir Malevich (1878 – 1935)
The Scyther (Mower) 1912
Nizhnii Novgorod State Art Museum (Russia)

Kazimir Malevich (1878 - 1935) Suprematist Painting (with Black Trapezium and Red Square) 1915 Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

Kazimir Malevich (1878 – 1935)
Suprematist Painting (with Black Trapezium and Red Square) 1915
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

tate.org.uk,