Museum shows we loved in Europe - Ending soon

Sun, 06 May 2012 20:35:57 by eurart

Better later than never - if you haven't already visited these fascinating exhibitions, don't miss your chance to pay a visit, as some of them are ending soon. Here is why we liked them.

VIENNA

Claes Oldenburg: The Sixties @ MUMOK (on view through May 28, 2012)

Credited as one of the most important artists since the 1950s, Swedish-born Claes Oldenburg (1929) is perhaps best known in the popular eye for his iconic exploration of the American Pop art in the realm of three-dimensional objects. Intended as a commentary on the consumer society of the capitalist era, seasoned with a touch of humor, everyday objects become immortalized through the effervescent glaze of Pop art. Oldenburg’s touch elevates these objects, often regarded as a commodity, divulged, used, then discarded, to symbols of cultural ideals, aspirations, and fantasies.  

MUMOK presents a truly comprehensive and impressive show of Oldenburg’s artistic investigation dating back to the late 1950’s. On view are early works such as The Street, The Store, and The Home work complexes, comprising emblematic objects characteristics of the respective venues, such as the Giant Ice Cream Cone and Floor Cake of 1962, the iconic cheeseburgers and fries, the giant plugs, mixer, and soft fan; Ray Gun, the invisible energy that is capable of assuming any form and penetrating any object, evocative of American fantasy and future comics; films and photographs documenting outdoor projects; the ingenious Geometric Mouse, presented in various scales (installed for the first time in scale A at the MoMA’s sculpture garden in 1969). The Mouse Museum (realized in 1977 for Documenta 5 in Kassel) is presented both in the form of a model and as a human scaleconstruction. A complex of black corrugated aluminum, undulating to create a shape of Mickey Mouse’s head, the Museum showcases Claes Oldenburg’s personal collection of miniatures (ranging from self-made sculptures through kitsch commercial items and knick-knacks to other found objects) in its illuminated vitrines lining the walls of the dark interior. 

Andrea Fraser: Projection @ MUMOK (on view through June 3, 2012)

Also at MUMOK, it’s worth taking the time to sit through American artist Andrea Fraser’s video work. Bouncing off of opposite walls in response to one another, the fifty-minute two channel video installation titled Projection presents transcribed video recordings of intense psychoanalytic consultations, which address questions of social, economic, and institutional structures, and by virtue of its positioning, launches an enquiry related to the artist-artwork-viewer relationships. Caught in between success and idealism, the spectator is exposed to a whole set of inner conflicts on display. A highly original, enjoyable presentation to both senses and intellect.

LONDON

Yayoi Kusama @ TATE Modern (on view through June 5, 2012)

An absolutely wondrous journey through the Japanese artist’s oeuvre, well known for its metamorphic reinventions. Living in a psychiatric institution since 1977 at her own will, Kusama’s intriguing world of creation is infused with a sense of obsession, self-reflection, and a desire to escape, interpreted through patterns of repetitions and trajectories into infinity explored across various media. Watch the artist talk about her life in Tate's video.

EINDHOVEN

Yael Bartana: …and Europe will be stunned @ Van Abbemuseum (on view through August 26, 2012)

Israeli-Dutch artist Yale Bartana’s acclaimed film trilogy, which has stirred a number of controversies since its presentation in 2011 at the Polish pavilion at the Venice Biennale, is now on view at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven. Love it or hate it, Bartana’s complex “propaganda” to unite the ones in need of belonging somewhere is certainly a masterful play on the senses, blurring boundaries between real and imaginary, dystopic and utopistic, compromising and revolutionary, making it a powerful work of art that should set in motion much of rethinking of contemporary conceptions regarding the co-existence of different cultures. The dream of Bartana’s multinational community, although centered around a quasi-fictitious movement called the Jewish Renaissance Movement in Poland (JRMiP), that calls for the return of 3.3 million Jews to Poland, is open not only to Jews but to anyone who is in need of belonging somewhere, potentially of a better, more peaceful future. As Bartana has said in an interview:

“This is a very specific study case but it touches upon more universal issues that reflect on social changes and migration in Europe and Middle East, and the possibilities or impossibilities of living with others, and the extreme nationalism and racism that is everywhere and currently increasing. It's important for me strategically to deal with something very concrete, with the history and the current situation between Israel and Poland or Jews and Poland, but the project can also speak for other nations.”

The video trilogy consists of three works: Mary Koszmary/Nightmare (2007), in which Sierakowski, a young leader in Warsaw calls out for for the return of the Jews to Poland in an almost empty stadium. In the second film, Mur i wieża/ Wall and Tower (2009), members of the JRMiP build a kibbutz on the grounds of the former ghetto in Warsaw, which appears to be welcoming yet its watchtower and barb wire fences recall death camps. The final movie, Zamach/Assassination (2011), sees the funeral ceremony of Sierakowski, who has been assassinated. Adding to the ambiguity, in this part, young members of the movement are adorned with armbands bearing the emblem of JRMiP, uniting the image of an eagle and a star of David. 

Throughout the professionally filmed movies, an air of ambiguity, a mix of imaginary and real permeates the psychologically charged storyline, which stems from different positions, ranging from socialist ideologies related to Zionism, anti-Semitism in Europe, as well as past and present settlement programs of Israel. This very conflict arising from divergent viewpoints, which questions old utopias and failed ideologies, is in turn the starting point for Bartana’s resolution. 

Bartana’s trilogy is evocative of propaganda films by presenting an ironic turnaround of the brain-washing strategies that extremist movements traditionally rely on. In the final room of the exhibition, visitors can pick up a copy of the JRMiP manifesto in the form of a large red poster, available in English, Dutch, Hebrew, and Polish. Displayed around the poster piles are the demonstration boards used in the videos, to further ignite sentiments. The dimly lit red space also features a desk with a computer, where visitors are encouraged to sign up for the movement on a website and are free to take away additional flyers as well. The films, together with the room installation comprise all elements of a successful propaganda machine: flyers, posters, manifesto, visual symbolism, speeches, internet, and films that exert an effect on one’s mind and emotions at the same time. 

Whilst transmitting a convincing collage of fabricated realities and real memories through all perceptual channels of a (pseudo-)campaign, the stories remain fictive, yet by way of generalization become very true and real. Almost to the point that the fictional movement begins to feel real (and inviting?). 

John Baldessari: Video works 1970-1977 @ Van Abbemuseum (on view through October 7, 2012)

An early exponent of video art, American artist John Baldessari’s (1931) 23 works on view from the Van Abbe Collection bear references to the film industry and popular media. The works investigate the relationship between word and image, often resulting in a deliberate contradiction (I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art,1971), separating objects from their traditional meanings (Folding Hat, 1970-71), and creating conceptually disjointed narratives (Art Disaster, 1971). 

THE HAGUE

Alexander Calder – The Great Discovery @ Gemeentemuseum (on view through May 28, 2012)

This major retrospective of Alexander Calder’s works, the largest in fact that The Netherlands has seen since 1969, offers a stunning overview of the artist’s creative period characterized by an exploration of abstraction, gesture and immateriality, upon the influence of Piet Mondriaan, whom Calder met in 1930 in Paris. Calder was greatly impressed by Mondriaan’s use of space and aimed to translate it into his own working method, as he said: “It was this visit to Mondriaan’s studio […] that made me abstract.” In addition to his most iconic mobiles, combining equilibrium and movement, suspending elements of varying shapes and colors, on view are rarely seen wire figures, jewelry pieces, as well as a complete reconstruction of Mondriaan’s studio in Rue du Départ, the venue of the two artists’ first encounter with one another. The exhibition is an absolute must-see!

Matthew Day Jackson: In search of... @ GEM (on view through May 6, 2012)

Although Matthew Day Jackson’s (1974) very first solo show in Europe is alas, already closed, we still wanted to share a glimpse of it here. Including works from 2007 to present day, the exhibition intended to merge past and present, through which the artist articulated a thorough commentary about the American Dream and its failures, aspects of the manufactured American history and its myths. Remarkable works on view comprised Day Jackson’s Life and Time magazine covers, reweaving the meaning of their stories through an interchange of manipulated imagery;  The Lower 48, (2006) a series of 48 photographs exploring the faces of the American landscape through 48 states, capturing portraits of “Mother Nature’s Land Soldiers;” and the Tomb (2010), inspired by Antoine Le Moiturier’s 15th-century Tomb of Philippe Pot, in the Louvre’s collection: the hooded monks are replaced by austronauts, while Pot’s effigy has been turned into a skeletal figure encased in a glass box, which corresponds to Day Jackson’s body measurements. 

Blog/news

WE WENT TO SEE: Autonomy Exchange Archive @Galerie West in The Hague

Thu, 22 May 2014 14:44:42 by eurart

Just as Marcel Duchamp’s limited edition compilation set of 94 collotype reproductions, The Green Box of 1934, containing notes and sketches explaining details of his masterpiece The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass) of 1915-1923, such types of archival or “leftover” materials, collections, reproductions, or anthologies are often the products of obsessive documentation of the artistic process that form an integral part of the works themselves. 

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We went to see: From the Guggenheim Collection to the Cobra Museum: International Abstraction 1949-1960

Mon, 19 May 2014 10:50:52 by eurart

Following World War II, as modern art and societies were undergoing radical transformations, artistic experiments around the world were largely characterized by a search for freedom of expression and spontaneity. New materials and techniques were developed and introduced and a return to abstraction was imminent on most artists' agenda. 

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We Went to See: Brancusi, Rosso, Man Ray - Framing Sculpture

Thu, 01 May 2014 11:30:39 by eurart

In "Brancusi, Rosso, Man Ray - Framing Sculpture," Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam (on view through 25 May 2014) presents the works of three markedly different artists from an original perspective. The presentation introduces the visitor to the intimate worlds of three creators who although came from different countries - Romania, Italy and the U.S. - and represented different generations both literally and artistically, had something very powerful in common in terms of their artistic sensibility, approach and working method. As it is well known, all three played an instrumental role in the development of modern sculpture (the Italian Medardo Rosso (1858-1928) was the first alongside Rodin to introduce Impressionism to sculpture, the Romanian-born Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957) is regarded as the founder of modern sculpture with his highly abstracted forms, and  the American Man Ray (1890-1976) was an important contributor to the conceptual underpinnings of Dada and Surrealism) but as the show highlights, the convergence of their significance presents an even more complex picture than that.

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WE WENT TO SEE: Eric Fischl - Friends, Lovers and other Constellations @Albertina Vienna

Fri, 28 Mar 2014 16:34:49 by eurart

Uniquely embracing the psychologically and sexually-charged content of American figurative painter Eric Fischl's (b. 1948) works, the beautiful Albertina Museum in Vienna currently showcases the artist's first major solo exhibition in nearly 30 years and the first retrospective of his works on paper, interspersed with some impressive sculptural work in Eric Fischl - Friends, Lovers and other Constellations, on view through 18 May 2014.

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