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January 28, 2004

Julian Schnabel, Paintings 1978-2003 at the Schirn

Contemporary Art Exhibition > Julian Schnabel
Contemporary Art Exhibition > Deutschland > Frankfurt

 

Julian Schnabel

Paintings 1978 - 2003

 

Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt

29 January - 25 April 2004

 

Since the artist’s first sensational exhibitions shown in New York in the early 1980s, Julian Schnabel’s works have been celebrated enthusiastically as a new culmination of painting, a genre that had been declared dead. Both his ”Plate Paintings” based on porcelain shards and his highly expressive large-format oil paintings have found their way into all important international collections. Julian Schnabel also made a name for himself as a film director and scriptwriter with his first film about his friend and painter-colleague Jean-Michel Basquiat in 1996 and his second film ”Before Night Falls.” The comprehensive retrospective at the Schirn comprising more than 50 monumental works focuses on Julian Schnabel’s oeuvre as a painter, presented in Germany on such a large scale for the first time since 1987.

Max Hollein, Director of the Schirn and curator of the exhibition: ”Today, at a time that sees a widely propagated renaissance of contemporary painting, seems to be exactly the right moment for a reassessment of Julian Schnabel’s position as a painter which is not only outstanding but also exercises a decisive influence on a younger generation of artists. The retrospective offers the unique opportunity to view his work in its original dimension, materiality, and intensity and to explore this significant present-day painter’s many-faceted and impressive oeuvre in direct confrontation.”

The name Julian Schnabel is a synonym for monumental highly evocative paintings. The historical reference points of the artist, who was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1951, are as manifold as the range of his stylistic means, contents, materials and symbols, which manifest themselves in always new workgroups. Schnabel’s works have defied any stylistic categorization from the very beginning of his career. He considers ”style […] the fringe benefit of intention and action completed. In my painting it is only that. It is not about style, not about other styles; style is available, depending on the demands and needs of a particular work. A painting can proceed from one's inspiration and be complete and successful in the sense that the need is materialized, the revelation realized.”

Julian Schnabel began his career as an artist when he received a scholarship from the Whitney Independent Study Program, one of the most influential elite training centers for artists and curators. The scholarship enabled him to return from Texas to New York in 1973 and to get to know many important artists of the New York scene dominated by Performance, Concept and Minimal Art at that time. Apart from these impressions, Schnabel was very interested in European painting, above all in Italian religious fresco painting by Giotto and Fra Angelico, whose ”scale and specific weight” he found especially inspiring during an extensive tour through Europe in 1976.

In the late 1970s, Julian Schnabel developed his first large-format ”Plate Paintings,” in which he opened the pictorial surface by incorporating pieces of broken plates. This provided a dynamic ground, which, according to Schnabel, ”could hold a figuration like a Descent from the Cross or a Pietà without becoming manneristic.” The powerful and expressive figurative representations on these surfaces, some of which dealt with classical themes in the form of a collage, captivated both the public and the art world. The first exhibitions presenting his ”Plate Paintings” and works with wax in New York in 1979 made Schnabel, who had hardly completed his 30th year, a superstar of New Painting. Immediately afterwards, major exhibitions of his works were shown in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Tate Gallery and the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and in other institutions. The success of his approach is unequivocally documented by the surprising renaissance of painting as an original artistic medium. Schnabel on the subject: ”I thought that if painting is dead, then it’s a nice time to start painting. People have been talking about the death of painting for so many years that most of those people are dead now.” The market went into raptures over his achievements, and the established critics immediately split into two camps. While one side celebrated the return of painting and Schnabel as its figurehead, the other side complained about a step back to long antiquated, exhausted artistic forms of expression. Painting has died at least two deaths in the meantime, and its rebirth has been hailed again only the other day.

Julian Schnabel’s fondness for surfaces with an explicit character and objets trouvés established a new, playful materiality in contemporary painting which formed a sharp contrast to the reduction of Minimalism. Schnabel worked with oil, wax, emulsion, plaster, and diverse objects and relied on canvas, wood, Masonite, broken plates, rags, velvet, muslin, truck tarpaulins, and ornamental and figurative prints as his grounds. The artist regards these materials as anything but neutral; he rather exploits their past ”in order to bring a real place and time in the aesthetic reality.” His grounds are signals, fragments of history juxtaposed on the canvas in a nonhierarchic manner and independent of their different quality and provenance; they constitute the sensuous and tactile character of his works to a great extent and endow them with a sculptural character. The joining of disparate strands, figurative and abstracts motifs, the linking of fundamentally antagonistic elements as regards material, form, and contents, as well as the decision for sometimes crude collisions of color provide them with something essentially dissonant and fragmentary. Aside from the various materials, the size of his paintings, which are rarely smaller than 2 x 2 meters and measure up to 5 x 8 meters, contributes substantially to their physical presence. Schnabel’s works never submit to their surroundings but rather seem to take possession of the spaces and to transform them.

Julian Schnabel’s attitude towards his materials and formats is as unbiased as his choice of subjects and motifs is free. He reacts to his immediate environment, the specific atmosphere of places, and to personal experiences. The titles of his pictures and the texts in his works are often like notes in a diary that does not distinguish between everyday occurrences and significant events. This is why an abstract figurative group of pictures titled ”Lola,” for example, which basically relies on a reduction to contrasts of red, white, and black, can bear the name of his daughter, a sensuous blottesque work like ”Ozymandias” may establish an autobiographical reference to the English Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem of the same name, or an earthy shard picture like ”Mud in Mudanza” can adopt the quite ordinary writing to be found on Spanish trucks as its title. As integral parts of his pictures, names of known and unknown persons, torso-like sentence parts spontaneously assembled from words and sequences of letters turn into powerful icons and, thus, into ideal projection surfaces for the viewer’s emotions and recollections. The ”Recognitions” series is a striking example for this. Here, the writing, which, filling the entire surface, stands out from the coarse oilcloth background, becomes the decisive component of the composition which breathes both a motific and an abstract quality.

Besides dedicating himself to painting, Julian Schnabel made two extraordinary films in the 1990s, acting as producer, scriptwriter, and director. He made his début with Basquiat (1996), in which he tells the story of his friend and painter-colleague Jean-Michel Basquiat’s life and death from a very close point-of-view. In sometimes ravishing and touchingly drastic pictures, Before Night Falls, his second film, focuses on the Cuban author Reinaldo Arenas; the film was awarded the Jury’s Prize at the Venice Film Festival in 2000.

Painting has remained Julian Schnabel’s primary form of expression as an artist despite his successes as a filmmaker and his numerous sculptural works. Schnabel’s paintings are still anything but foreseeable; each work group is still different from the one before. His works oscillate between abstraction and figuration, open and limited spaces, grand emphasis and calm composure, between strong and moderate color palettes, richness in detail and magnificent gesture. Schnabel probably is right on the mark when he says: ”I don’t want to have a logo and I have not found a signature that represents me.”

Curator: Max Hollein. Project management: Ingrid Pfeiffer with Carla Orthen.

Stops of the exhibition: After its start at the Schirn, the exhibition Julian Schnabel - Paintings 1978-2003 will be shown at the Museo National Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid (3 June - 13 September 2004) and at the Mostra d’Oltramare in Naples (October 2004 - January 2005).

Catalogue: Julian Schnabel. Paintings 1978–2003. Edited by Max Hollein. With a preface by Max Hollein. Essays by Maria de Corral, Robert Fleck, Max Hollein, Ingrid Pfeiffer, and Kevin Power. German/English, ca. 176 pages with ca. 70 color and 100 black and white illustrations, ISBN 978-3-7757-1386-7, Hatje Cantz Verlag, Ostfildern. 24.90 €.

 

JULIAN SCHNABEL: PAINTINGS 1978–2003
29 January 2004 - 25 April 2004

SCHIRN KUNSTHALLE FRANKFURT
Römerberg
60311 Frankfurt

 

Main sponsors: Lehman Brothers, Verein der Freunde der Schirn Kunsthalle e.V. Additional support:: Georg und Franziska Speyer'sche Hochschulstiftung, Peggy and Karl Dannenbaum.

Updated Post

January 15, 2004

Jonathan Meese: Kepi blanc, Nackt at the Schirn in Frankfurt

Contemporary Art Exhibition > Jonathan Meese
Contemporary Art Exhibition > Deutschland > Frankfurt

 

Jonathan Meese

Képi blanc, Nackt

 

Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt

16 January - 12 April 2004

 

With its exhibition Jonathan Meese: Képi blanc, Nackt the Schirn museum continues its series of solo presentations dedicated to contemporary artists, which began with the installation ”Double Garage” by Thomas Hirschhorn. Jonathan Meese’s sequence of rooms is an already existing work, too. For the presentation at the Schirn, the artist has extended this work from the Falckenberg private collection in Hamburg, which is usually accessible to a rather limited public only, and given it a new name.

”Képi blanc, Nackt” is just short for the exhibition title which reads as follows: ”Dr. No's Diamantplantage, des Phantommonch's Prarieerzhall, nahe den wässrigen Goldfeldern des Dr. Sau, dabei die Dschungelhaut über die Zahnspange des erntefrischen Geilmadchens 'Saint Just' (Der Planetenkiller Dr. Frau)". The title already leads us right into the center of Meese’s universe. Various figures and their world views clash in a flood of pictures, neologisms, texts, and objects of all kinds: Stanley Kubrick meets Richard Wagner, Stalin encounters Zardoz; Heidegger, Klaus Kinski, Hitler, Marquis de Sade, Mishima, Balthus, Romy Schneider, Dr. No, virgins, and busty girls are just some of the figures populating Meese’s pseudo-psychotic universe of art. In the fadeovers blending myth, art, and politics, boundaries between different concepts blur. Squeezing in between all people and things, Meese, deliberately crossing the line, creates a specific cosmos that is fuelled by both the past and present of his personal sphere and world history.

Born the son of German-Welsh parents in Tokyo in 1970, Jonathan Meese has attracted the international art world’s attention with his room-filling installations and performances since 1998. The installation ”Képi blanc, Nackt” in the Schirn consists of a permanently developing sequence of rooms. The entrance area is a small space which, breathing an almost sacral atmosphere, reminds us of an Egyptian burial chamber. Penetrating the meditative darkness, we detect a dramatically lightened pedestal in its center which holds a portrait bust without any features. The inscription scratched into it in huge letters reveals who the portrayed person is. It is Balthus, the controversial French painter, who, with his scandalized erotic representations of young girls, was both reviled and celebrated. The following room resembling a salon, ”La Chambre secrète de Balthys par Jonathan Meese (2001),” clearly refers to the admired fellow artist. Contrary to the other spaces, this neat and tidy ”chamber” conveys a cosy upper-middle-class atmosphere. It is dominated by paintings most of which are self-portraits by Meese. Here, the artist explores the classical medium of painting as he has done for some years now: painting seems to be completely out of place in his work, as he has become known as someone who, relying on cheap and transitory materials, collects waste products of pop culture and the throwaway society.

This approach manifests itself in the extremely condensed sleeping-room ”Casino Royal (Goldenes Skelett), 2000.” In the center of this overloaded space, we come upon several beds. It is exactly the room meant for the private and intimate where Meese discloses the manic, traumatic, neurotic. In the next space, visitors are confronted with ”Staatsatanismus I–IV,” presented under the title ”Die Ordensburg ‘Mishimoend’ (Toecutters Mütze), 2000” in due order and serialization. The aspect of regularity finds expression in a long row of old washbasins. The flanking lockers are attributed to different persons outlining the mixture of Pop, personal mythology, and historical non-persons characteristic for Jonathan Meese’s world: Fritz Lang, Mussolini, Nero, Hitler, Nietzsche, Alex DeLarge, Caligula, a.o. A Legionnaire’s silhouette painted on the wall and the written reference to his attribute, the cap, the képi blanc, form a projection surface for dangers, fights, and things foreign. The installation named after this detail is rounded off by ”Der Vaterraum Daddy, 2000,” in which the artist examines the archive of the collector Harald Falckenberg’s father on behalf of the son – an archive comprising books, magazines, photographs, and souvenirs – and thus encourages reflections of the father figure as such.

Catalog: ”Jonathan Meese: Képi blanc, Nackt.” Edited by Max Hollein, Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt. With a preface by Max Hollein and texts by Jonathan Meese and Martina Weinhart and an interview between Max Hollein and Jonathan Meese. German/English, ca. 70 pages, ISBN 078-3-937577-14-9, Revolver Verlag, Archiv für aktuelle Kunst, Frankfurt am Main, 14.90 €.

 

JONATHAN MEESE: KÉPI BLANC, NACKT
16 January - 12 April 2004

SCHIRN KUNSTHALLE FRANKFURT
Römerberg
60311 Frankfurt

Other curent exhibition at the Schirn museum

Julian Schnabel, Paintings 1978 - 2003 (29 January - 25 April 2004)

January 8, 2004

Samsung SGH-e715 Camera Phone

Samsung Launches Picture Perfect SGH-e715 Camera Phone
  
Samsung Telecommunications America today introduced the SGH-e715, an integrated camera phone designed with style-conscious young adults in mind. With its fashion-forward looks, multi-shot imaging features and advanced messaging capabilities, the e715 is the latest SAMSUNG offering through T-Mobile that brings cutting-edge camera phones to consumers.

Appealing to the hip, self-assured crowd, the e715 scores points for both its sleek, chic design and its advanced features. Available with a striking titanium blue exterior, the e715 features an external screen that displays the time in digital or analog form. Adding to the sophistication of the e715 is its internal antenna, allowing the handset to fit in any small pocket or clutch purse.

With converged camera phones currently considered the “IT” gadgets, the e715’s multi-shot feature, built-in photo light and digital zoom take this technology to a new level of fun. The multi-shot feature allows users to simulate a photo shoot and capture up to 15 action shots in sequence of a friend’s signature dance moves.

The e715 also gives users the versatility to capture close-up shots with the built-in zoom or choose varying picture resolutions: quality, super fine, fine, normal and economy.

The phone’s photo light capabilities and brightness adjustment feature provide additional flexibility to capture memorable moments.

“The e715 continues the successful collaboration between SAMSUNG and T-Mobile and fuses SAMSUNG’s award-winning design capabilities and T-Mobile’s superb voice and data network,” said Peter Skarzynski, senior vice president of wireless terminals, SAMSUNG. “We’re certain consumers will appreciate the phone’s stylish good looks and enjoy its advanced camera and messaging features.”

While consumers can enjoy images accompanied by a text message via the e715’s multi-media messaging services (MMS), the phone’s enhanced messaging service (EMS) allows users to capture and share the full effect by sending sound, animation and images.

The e715 is overloaded with features that allow users to personalize their handset and organize their lives. With Java capabilities, organizer functions, a 65,000-color TFT main screen for viewing colorful wallpapers and embedded games and a variety of 40-tone polyphonic ringers, the e715 is the ideal entertainment and communication tool to express any personality.

Weighing in at 2.9 ounces, the e715 packs a punch with advanced phone and camera features, allowing users to “capture the look” while on-the-go

www.samsung.com

January 7, 2004

Le Renault de Robert Doisneau

De 1934 à 1939, au tout début de sa carrière, Robert Doisneau fut salarié chez Renault au sein du service photographique de l’entreprise. De cette période d’apprentissage, une prodigieuse collection a vu le jour. Tantôt photographe baladeur, se déplaçant d’atelier en atelier pour témoigner de la vie de l’entreprise, tantôt chargé de couvrir les concours d’élégance ou de réaliser des prises de vue publicitaires, Robert Doisneau a laissé un fonds d’une grande richesse et d’une grande variété où son inspiration humaniste et sincère transparaît à chaque image.
Après des études de graveur lithographe, Robert Doisneau se découvre vite une passion pour l’image photographique. En 1931, il devient l’assistant dusculpteur et peintre André Vigneau qui lui révèle une nouvelle perception del’image, dans l’esprit du Bauhaus. En 1932, la revue Excelsior publie son premier reportage personnel sur le marché aux puces de Saint-Ouen.
En 1934, à son retour du service militaire, il entre au service photo de Renault. Alors que la crise économique sévit et qu’il vient de se marier, cet emploi est une chance pour le jeune photographe : très vite, cette chance va aussi devenir une source d'inspiration majeure. Ce service, qui s’organise progressivement, comporte trois photographes « baladeurs » qui ont pour principale mission de témoigner de la vie de l’entreprise.
Ainsi, Doisneau se perfectionne en photographie avec un lourd appareil 18 x 24. Il prend de nombreuses vues à l’intérieur de l’usine (chaînes de montages, machines imposantes, presses et fonderies…) en jouant avec les lumières et les perspectives pour produire des photographies très structurées. Progressivement, il apprend à surmonter sa timidité et se découvre des affinités avec les ouvriers pour lesquels il éprouvera toute sa vie une tendresse respectueuse. Le plus bel hommage qu'il leur rend est une formidable série de portraits qui préfigurent déjà son œuvre d'après-guerre.
L’autre partie de son travail consiste à fournir des photographies de prestige et des photographies publicitaires pour les brochures et les journaux. Chez Renault, toutes les photos sont alors exécutées avec les seules ressources de l’usine, pas question d’employer des modèles professionnels. Cette contrainte nécessite de développer l’art de la mise en scène, en témoigne par exemple le « Déjeuner sur l’herbe ». Outre les photos publicitaires, Doisneau est régulièrement chargé de "couvrir" les concours d’élégance, où luxe et insouciance sont à l'honneur. Les photographies issues de ces reportages valorisent les splendides voitures, Reinastella ou Vivastella, qui font la renommée de Renault dans les années 1930.
Au début de 1939, le marché de la photo d’illustration se développe et les journaux lui accordent une place croissante. Doisneau pense de plus en plus à prendre son indépendance. Ce qu'il fait finalement en juillet de la même année, après avoir quitté Renault. C'est le début d'une carrière qui en fera un des photographes les plus connus au monde. Prix Kodak en 1949, Prix Niepce en 1956 et Grand Prix de la Photographie en 1983, il est invité à participer à d’importantes expositions internationales.
En 1951, Doisneau retourne chez Renault pour prendre quelques photographies destinées à illustrer un ouvrage collectif sur l’usine d’automobiles nationalisée intitulé l’Automobile de France. En 1954 et 1956, il réalisera également quelques reportages publicitaires pour la Frégate et la Dauphine. Robert Doisneau est décédé en 1994.
Du 17 janvier au 21 mars 2004, L’Atelier Renault (53, avenue des Champs Elysées, 75008 Paris), propose au grand public une occasion unique de découvrir une facette méconnue de l’œuvre de Robert Doisneau à travers l’exposition « Le Renault de Doisneau ».

Expo Olivier Masmonteil Lightscape Galerie Suzanne Tarasieve

 

Exposition

Olivier MASMONTEIL
LIGHTSCAPE
Séries de peinture-paysage

Galerie Suzanne Tarasieve, Paris


La Galerie Suzanne Tarasieve présente la première exposition personnelle du peintre Olivier Masmonteil, artiste français de 30 ans, originaire du Limousin, diplômé de l’Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux en 1999. 

LIGHSCAPE : 5 séries de 5 toiles.

Du paysage 
En travaillant par séries, Olivier Masmonteil dresse un répertoire de paysages d’une campagne douce et accueillante mais désertée. « Charmants paysages » avec bosquets, chemins de clairières, bois avec sources d’eau. Il puise dans la tradition de l’observation de la nature : pures vues topographiques sans figures. Variation du cadrage : vues, arrivées, lignes d’horizon, chutes d’eau, points de source. Avec des références japonisantes, aux atmosphères zen et raffinées, où tous les éléments de la nature sont inextricablement liés, et ici dans ses toiles, superposées à un univers bucolique ou champêtre, Olivier Masmonteil peint une innocence perdue, celle du paysage originel.

De l'image
Inventaire du « pittoresque » pour re-définir les sources du paysage classique. Paysages intemporels de chasse et de pêche traités en « images d’Epinal ».  Acuité visuelle, valeur du souvenir, cartes postales vintage, expérience personnelle de la nature : vers un certain regard suranné du romantisme.  Toutes ces prises directes semblent réinventer voire réévaluer l’imagerie du paysage que l’on retrouve sur d’autres modes iconographiques dans la nouvelle génération allemande de l’Academy of Leipzig (Peter Busch, Jörg Lozek, Tilo Baumgärtel…) ou anglaise.

Du pictural
Références à un certain classicisme : écoles italienne, hollandaise (Jacop van Ruysdael), française (XVIIe, Courbet). Paysages de cartes postales au format de peinture d’histoire (série de toiles quasi monumentales) ou au format de peinture de portraits (série des tondos). La bichromie révèle la maîtrise graphique quand les interventions « sauvages » colorées rappellent la pure matérialité du geste pictural.

De la lumière
Importance de la bichromie - noir & blanc, bleu & blanc, sépia & ivoire –  avec re-colorisation partielle pour catalyser les sources lumineuses d’un souvenir réanimé par des phénomènes météorologiques : pluie, rosée, soleil d’été… Déclinaison photographique des paysages en séries d’instantanés de l’aube au crépuscule. Masmonteil prend plaisir à lier le suranné à la légèreté immatérielle de la lumière. Contre-jours, « floutage », reflets, LIGHTSCAPE est une déclinaison de « tableau-flashes » d’une simplicité oubliée de la nature.


Olivier MASMONTEIL
LIGHTSCAPE
Séries de peinture-paysage

10 janvier > 28 février 2004

Galerie Suzanne Tarasieve
171, rue du Chevaleret
75013 Paris

January 3, 2004

Diane Arbus, Grey Art Gallery, New York University, NYC

Diane Arbus: Family Albums
Grey Art Gallery, New York University, NYC

January 13 - March 27, 2004

Family Albums sheds new light on the working process of the extraordinarily influential American photographer Diane Arbus (1923–1971).  On view at New York University’s Grey Art Gallery from January 13 to March 27, 2004, Diane Arbus: Family Albums features over 50 black-and-white photographs along with 57 contact sheets by the artist, a large number of which have never before been publicly exhibited. The first museum exhibition to be devoted to her work since her posthumous retrospective in 1972, Diane Arbus: Family Albums reveals Arbus’s fascination with the complex and often contradictory notions of “family” that surfaced during the turbulent 1960s.

An important collection of previously unknown contact sheets and prints produced by the artist in 1969, just a year and a half before her death, serve as the impetus for, and nucleus of, Family Albums.  Commissioned by Gay and Konrad Matthaei―who was then an actor in the long-running soap opera As the World Turns and owner of the prosperous Alvin Theater―to shoot portraits, Arbus spent two days photographing family members at their elegant Upper East Side townhouse during a holiday gathering. The resulting 322 images, 200 of which are represented in the 28 contact sheets Arbus gave to the Matthaeis, provide valuable insights into the artist’s photographic strategies. They reveal a family accustomed to the spotlight of celebrity, but also vulnerable to Arbus’s inquisitive eye. “This show and scholarly publication, along with the substantial retrospective being organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art,” states Lynn Gumpert, director of the Grey Art Gallery, “will contribute significantly to further dialogue about one of the most intriguing artists of the twentieth century.”

Born into the wealthy Nemerov family, Diane Arbus grew up and spent her professional life in Manhattan. She started out as a fashion photographer with her then husband, Alan Arbus, working for magazines like Vogue and Glamour in the 1950s. Once on her own, she shot portraits for Esquire, the upscale men’s magazine. Between 1955 and 1957, she studied with Lisette Model and began to develop a penetrating documentary vision, producing pictures very different from her commercial work. By the 1960s, she had gained a substantial reputation as a photographer of New York’s many subcultures. In 1967, she was one of three photographers invited to participate in the Museum of Modern Art’s influential exhibition “New Documents.”  After her suicide in 1971, her MoMA retrospective attracted easily as many viewers as Edward Steichen’s famous Family of Man exhibition in 1955, confirming Arbus’s stature in the history of photography.

Diane Arbus often spoke of her desire to publish a “family album” of her own, a “Noah’s ark” of humanity. “We will never know what Arbus would have put in her ‘Family Album.’ But this close study of her work gives a sense of how powerful the concept of family and of the album was for her,” observes John Pultz, the exhibition’s co-curator. Her 1971 portraits of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson published in Esquire, for example, subtly reveal inherent tensions in supposedly “normal” family life. Similarly, the portrait of Jayne Mansfield shows the platinum-blond actress clasping the shoulders of her brunette, adolescent daughter. Both stare directly into the camera lens, as do so many of Arbus’s subjects. As co-curator Anthony Lee observes, “The families most interesting to her, and thus most worth including in her album, were those marked by an incomplete merging of public and private identities.”  “I think all families are creepy in a way,” Arbus wrote to Peter Crookston, a friend and editor of London’s Sunday Times Magazine. Arbus’s “family,” as envisioned in the exhibition, consists of people held together by all sorts of bonds, some traditional and others alternative, but all deserving of special attention. Perhaps the most difficult, yet key, photographs for Arbus’s planned album were images of families held together by marriage, blood, and law. Often dismissed as anachronistic by the 1960s counterculture and alternative collectives, traditional families fell under intense scrutiny during this time of cultural and political upheaval. “It is particularly appropriate that this important exhibition comes to the Grey Art Gallery, which is situated in the heart of Greenwich Village,” notes Gumpert. “Arbus spent much of her adult life living in the Village and often frequented Washington Square Park, the epicenter for artists, writers, and others who adopted a bohemian lifestyle. For a number of years, she used a studio at 71 Washington Place, across the park.”

The Matthaei family portraits present a complete record—with contact sheets, proof prints, and final prints—of a previously undocumented commission. Also included are other works by Arbus, many of them portraits she took for Esquire, grouped under the categories of “Mothers,” “Fathers,” “Children,” and “Partners.” Viewing Arbus’s work from this particular vantage point provokes us to reconsider images that, due to their strength and power, have achieved almost iconic status. Among the women Arbus photographed in the 1960s were some whose notoriety derived from their status as mothers: Marguerite Oswald, the mother of Lee Harvey Oswald, and Madalyn Murray, the petitioner who successfully challenged compulsory school prayer on behalf of her son. Other photographs interrogated matriarchal demeanor, such as the portrait of Flora Knapp Dickinson, an Honorary Regent of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Still other pictures―of the stripper Blaze Starr, the sexy film star Mae West, the wartime personality Tokyo Rose—explored how women who were not normally associated with motherhood could appear maternal in their own domestic settings. After its showing at the Grey Art Gallery, Diane Arbus: Family Albums tours nationally through late 2005.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue published by Yale University Press with essays by the show’s curators, Anthony W. Lee, associate professor of art history and chair of American studies at Mount Holyoke College, and John Pultz, associate professor in the Kress Foundation Department of Art History and curator of photography at the Spencer Museum of Art.  Diane Arbus: Family Albums is organized by the Spencer Museum of Art, the University of Kansas, and the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, South Hadley, Massachusetts. The Grey Art Gallery presentation is made possible in part by the Abby Weed Grey Trust.

GREY ART GALLERY, NYU
greyartgallery.nyu.edu

January 1, 2004

Len Jenshel and Diane Cook, Aquarium, Photographs at Paul Kopeikin Gallery

 

Dian Cook and Len Jenshel, Aquarium, Aperture, New York

  Aquarium, Photographs by Diane Cooks and Len Jenshel
  © Diane Cooks, Len Jenshel / Aperture, New York

 

The PAUL KOPEIKIN GALLERY presents AQUARIUM, an exhibition by acclaimed photographers LEN JENSHEL and DIANE COOK . This exhibition coincides with the publication of their book Aquarium published by Aperture books. 

For the past quarter century Len Jenshel and Diane Cook have been involved with the appearance and perception of landscape, most notably the juncture between nature and culture. In the interior world of public aquariums their concerns shifted slightly to include the topography of the fantastic and the artificial. Aquatic displays provide the viewer with a window into a mysterious world of wonderment that we do not encounter in our daily lives. There is the fascination of the need for humans to collect and contain, but also the impulse to neatly package nature.

Len Jenshel and Diane Cook are intrigued by boundaries. There is, of course, the literal boundary of plexiglas that separates the pleasures and terrors on the inside of the tank from the security and comfort outside; at least that’s how we see it (a fish out of water may have a different point of view). There is also the metaphoric boundary where the glass is the curtain, the aquarium a theater and the drama is acted on both sides of the proscenium. The third boundary is the most important to the artists; the blurring of the boundaries between the real, the unreal, and the ideal.

As artists Len Jenshel and Diane Cook work intuitively, stay attuned to possibilities and collaborate with chance. In addition, they work with one another. But what sets their collaboration apart is that Jenshel’s vision is color while Cook’s is black and white. This counterpoint produces a unique dialogue; sometimes harmonious, sometimes jarring, and sometimes humorous. It’s a collaboration that accentuates the contrasts between description and abstraction, reality and artifice, truth and fiction.

Signed copies of Len Jenshel and Diane Cook's book, Aquarium, are available.

 

January 10 -  February 8, 2004

Kopeikin Gallery
8810 Melrose Avenue
West Hollywood, CA. 90069

 

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