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BROKEN BEAUTY

The Art of Urban Destruction

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Andrew Burton/Getty

Turns out taking Instagram-worthy photos of old, broken buildings is an ancient art, the likes of which is being celebrated at the Tate Britain’s new show ‘Ruin Lust.’

If you talk to people in Detroit, you’ll find they are fed up with “ruin porn” and sick of the disaster tourists who stalk their neighborhoods looking for crumbling images of a once-thriving city.

It’s unlikely to improve their mood, but academics claim they can trace those prying eyes back through hundreds of years of art, photography and literature. Renaissance painters captured the fall of Rome, etchings from the 1700s focused on decaying buildings and artists throughout the 20th century returned over and over again to the same motifs and styles.

Brian Dillon, author of the book Ruins, said the modern images of old Olympic parks, disused hotels and deserted tower blocks were often almost identical to their classical forebears, with new juxtaposed next to old or nature intruding into a man-made structure. “Not a week goes by that MailOnline doesn’t show us photographs of abandoned houses, abandoned cities and so on”, he said. “One of the interesting things is how those images, even if they are made by total amateurs, very often draw on artistic history. The Gothicism, or the picturesque or a sense of melancholia, all of that is there.”

Even if they don’t know it, amateur and professional photographers like the French duo Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre have been apeing the style of artists like William Gilpin, who painted Welsh ruins in the 1790s, or JMW Turner whose watercolors captured both contemporary and classical ruins. These works are among the generations of destruction art collected in Tate Britain’s latest thought-provoking show, “Ruin Lust.”

WAR ART

The Artist Who Went to War

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Postmasters Gallery, New York. © Steve Mumford

After spending a decade traveling to Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, the artist Steve Mumford produced graphic evocations of conflict and the consequences of war.

In 2001, while the artist Steve Mumford was working on a painting based on the Vietnam War, the United States was preparing to invade Iraq. As an artist interested in war and travel, Mumford wanted to capture the historical events.

Having passed the deadline to be embedded as a journalist, Mumford was forced to make other arrangements. Loaded with his own ammunition of drawing supplies and film, he accompanied two French journalists and flew into Kuwait in April 2003. From there, the group crossed the border into Iraq and entered a war-torn country.

“I figured since I had never been in a war zone,” Mumford told The Daily Beast, “that I would just see how it went, see what my comfort level was and see if I could even draw in that situation.” It turns out he could. The Frist Center for Visual Arts in Nashville, Tennessee, is highlighting a selection of watercolors and sketches from his decade long journey in there newest exhibition Steve Mumford’s War Journals, 2003-2013.

Mumford, 53, hails from Boston where he attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts for his Bachelors before moving to New York City to pursue a Masters in Fine Art from the School of Visual Arts. “When I went to graduate school, I was still experimenting with being an abstract expressionist,” he said. “It took me several years to shake that and realize that I wanted to tell stories with my paintings.” 

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One Planet. 22,416 Google Images

Search for any word in the dictionary and what is the first Google Image that comes up? Two designers have done just that and put the results in a new art book. They speak to Sarah Moroz about the images that define us.

What if the pandemonium of the internet was turned into something more indexical and even tangible?

Two 23-year-old designers, Felix Heyes and Ben West, conceived of and executed just that premise with Google, Volume 1. Repurposing the Oxford English Pocket Dictionary and its 21,110 entries, their directory provides a visual equivalence by way of subbing in the first outcome for each word from what they pulled from Google Images. 

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Behind the sleek marbled cover by Jemma Lewis lay 22,416 Google findings: each page consists of three clean columns of uncaptioned images. The words wrung through the search engine yield a vast spectrum of results: some conjure on-point and easily identifiable depictions, while many are baffling or even veer into counterintuitive territory. Thumb to any given page, and the array is stunning and absurdist. A sampling: Garfield, a horse, and a notebook; a bottle of Tide, assorted halved citrus fruits, and a poster of the film Detachment featuring Adrien Brody; a pinwheel, a pipe, slender red chili peppers, Pippin from Lord of the Rings, a cartoon pirate; a treadmill, the insignia for The Department of the Treasury; a salad, a playsuit, a Playboy cover, and a Playbill from The Producers; a blue rubber glove, a globe, a poster for Glory starring Denzel Washington, Matthew Broderick, and Morgan Freeman, a bald guy wearing a lab coat, glossy lips, and what appears to be a xylophone; The Cure, a No Entry sign, and a green eyeball; a poster for affirmative action, a wheelbarrow full of money, William Shatner smoking a cigar on the cover of Aficionado Magazine… The tome is 1,328 pages. Page one includes an image of an aardvark and an abacus; and the last page includes an image with three slices of white toast and a half cat/half human face.

Guggenheim New York

Rehabilitating Italian Futurism

The Italian Futurists were prepared to overturn the world as they knew it to achieve their ideal world. A new exhibit looks at the intense rise and fall of the art movement.

The whole idea was to take the entire known world—its ideas, its institutions, its buildings—tear them apart, and rebuild another one in its place.

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Fondazione Cassa di risparmio della Provincia di Macerata

“We want to exalt movements of aggression, feverish sleeplessness, the double march, the perilous leap, the slap and the blow with the fist,” declared F.T. Marinetti in “The Futurist Manifesto,” which appeared 105 years ago this month on the front pages of Le Figaro.

There was more—museums and libraries were to be demolished, poetry to be a “violent assault on the forces of the unknown.” Machines and their corollary, speed, were not harbingers of a post-human age but to be exalted as humanity’s finest achievements.

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Life As A Virtual Iranian Prisoner

A new Facebook project and art installation aim to bring attention to Iran’s jailed dissidents by letting users experience life behind bars through social media.

What if you signed onto Facebook, but instead of seeing your profile, your Timeline and News Feed reflect what life would be like as a jailed Iranian political protester?

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Hashem Shabani, a renowned poet, and Hadi Rashedi, a high school teacher, were executed in January. (Unlock Iran)

You’ll be able to experience your social media from behind virtual bars early this March, with the launch of an upcoming multi-platform campaign called Unlock Iran. The project hopes to bring attention to the more than 800 “prisoners of rights” in Iran’s jails, and put Iran’s dismal human-rights record front and center during Tehran’s nuclear negotiations and ahead of next month’s UN Human Rights Council.

Early Tuesday morning, as snow fell on New York City, representatives of Unlock Iran and the photographic Inside Out Project posted 11 portraits of imprisoned Iranian activists—teachers, lawyers, journalists—and two of recently executed activists, including poet Hashem Shabani, prominently on a wall across the street from the United Nations Headquarters.

COPY ART

When Artists Attack—Themselves

In a blatant act of vandalism, along with ruining the work of Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, Miami artist Maximo Caminero soiled his own reputation.

In a bizarre incident of vandalism imitating art at the Perez Art Museum Miami last Sunday, Maximo Caminero, 51, shattered one of the Han dynasty vases on view in Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei’s traveling survey exhibition, According to What? The act mirrored almost exactly Ai’s own work in which he has destroyed similar vessels.

Yet in doing so, Caminero, a South Florida-based painter struggling at the fringes of the art world, effectively ended his career as an artist.

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Reuters

Caminero’s mistake wasn’t destroying the vase. Instead, it was his tail-between-legs apology published in the Miami Herald on Tuesday in which he effectively admitted he was a vandal, not an a artist. “I’d like to apologize for all the inconvenience I caused Mr. Weiwei,” Caminero said. “I have no right to break the piece of someone else.”

gallery

Jerusalem at Dawn

Grab a Pencil!

Hands-On Art at the New Museum

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Courtesy New Museum, New York. Photo: Benoit Pailley

In his most recent exhibit, conceptualist Pawel Althamer breaks down the barrier between artist and viewers and invites onlookers to help create a collective piece of art.

On a recent weekday morning, a clutch of high school students took ink and colored pencils to the walls and floors of the New Museum on New York’s Lower East Side. “They just said it was a big white wall we can paint on,” Esmeralda Marte, 17, told me as she sketched a small-scale abstraction on the museum’s fourth floor. “And that a famous artist was doing it.”

Marte’s efforts were part of a participatory artwork called “Draftsmen’s Congress” and the artist in question was Polish conceptualist Pawel Althamer. Best known among art world insiders, Althamer only this week opened his first American museum show, “Pawel Althamer: The Neighbors,” which occupies three floors of the New Museum until April 13.

“It’s yours. Its mine,” said Althamer, an elfin 46-year-old with searching blue eyes. A child of communism who saw capitalism’s rise in the 1990s, the artist takes pleasure in the work’s collective ownership and the negotiations over space and content that the work engenders. “Our conflict—that’s the game I like. It’s democracy in practice.”

Althamer will be on hand daily for the run of the show, hanging out, drawing, and teaching art workshops.

BUY ME

Where to Buy Affordable Art

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Kamau Ware

In Brooklyn, one gallery is combining art and commerce, with all works under $500. Justin Jones discovers its strange treasures, from psychedelic playing cards to suits inspired by Batman

Enter any Manhattan art gallery and chances are the price tags will be more shocking than the artwork on the walls. But, across the East River, of the many Brooklyn galleries and shops combining commerce and artistic endeavor, one stands out.

Tucked inside the back room of a small boutique, the Warehouse Gallery is making buying art something you can affordably do while buying your groceries. The creation of husband and wife, Kamau and Lesley Ware, the gallery opened late last year after they decided to expand their creative minds from their art-studio in Red Hook. Their most recent exhibition, the tellingly-titled Suit, coincided with New York Fashion Week.

Visitors to the gallery are greeted by the colorful and varied work of seven artists inspired by the word “suit,” including decks of cards (though unlike anything you’ve ever played Poker with), alongside a set of graffiti-sprayed vintage suitcases, and even deconstructed suits inspired by Batman.

Kamau, a photographer from Pittsburgh, has been running gallery spaces for over a decade. It was during his time in Pittsburgh that Kamau and a like-minded group of people began hosting regular art events with live painters. Their success ultimately led him to work as an art consultant for institutions like the Andy Warhol Foundation, advising clients on art purchases.

Masterpiece

The Great Book of Picasso

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Michel Sima/RDA/Getty

On February 15th the definitive, massive, comprehensive catalogue of Picasso’s works will be published—again—thanks to Cahiers d’Art and its new owner. Sarah Moroz on the rebirth of a famous publishing house, gallery, and art journal.

Christian Zervos was a Greek-born critic and collector who became a staple of the Parisian art scene in the first half of the 20th century. In 1926, he launched Cahiers d’Art, a publishing house, gallery, and seminal art journal characterized by its tastemaker contributors, meticulous layout, and incredible art (both classic and modern). The likes of Paul Éluard, Ernest Hemingway, and Samuel Beckett appeared alongside visuals by Georges Braque, Alexander Calder, and Marcel Duchamp. The revue and publishing house ran from 1926-1960 (except for a hiatus during World War II), and at the same time, between 1932-1970, Zervos organized multiple exhibitions per year at his gallery space.

After Zervos’s death in 1970, Cahiers d’Art remained extant if inactive. The sons of Zervos’s secretary maintained the idle flame, trading in books, catalogues, lithographs and prints, notably dispatching Cahiers d’Art archives to the Centre Pompidou, and Picasso’s correspondence to the Picasso Museum.

In 2011, Cahiers d’Art was acquired by Swedish art collector Staffan Ahrenberg. “I wasn’t looking to buy a publishing company,” Ahrenberg clarified during an interview in the minimalist headquarters in Paris’s 6th arrondissement. As he tells it, he happened to pass by Cahiers d’Art on rue du Dragon, and was startled that the dormant publisher was still operational and had a physical address. On a whim, he went in and inquired about whether it was on the market. He left his business card, walked out, and expected not to hear back. But he did hear back, and once a deal was finalized Cahiers d’Art became a revived revue, publishing house, and gallery—a hybrid model of past and present art history. Or as Ahrenberg says with delight, “We have awoken Sleeping Beauty.”

Though he had no publishing background, Ahrenberg hired consultants and asked art-world friends to be on the advisory board. He was hardly an amateur either; his savvy in both the art and business were crucial. He springs from art pedigree: Ahrenberg’s father, Theodor, had one of the largest collections of modern and contemporary art in northern Europe, and was a client of Zervos. Moreover, the senior Ahrenberg had a personal relationship with Picasso and Matisse, collecting them while they were alive in the ‘50s.

Interactive Art

The Temple Made of Memories

Most works of art convey a specific message from the artist. But at David Best’s new temple in Sonoma County, visitors help build the piece out of their own memories of love and loss.

What do we have, in the end, when a love has gone? When a person has left for good? All that was everything between two people—a romance, a friendship, or simply day-to-day life—disappears. Only our memories never leave. But what if we want them to?

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Debra A. Klein

These are the thoughts that might flood visitors to David Best’s Temple of Remembrance in a meadow on the grounds of Paradise Ridge Winery. Like a vaguely Asian-themed birdcage, the deceptively ingenious rusted lattice memorial to love and loss is part shrine, part interactive do-it-yourself art project, as light visually as it is heavy emotionally.

It’s a place to remember the people you’re carrying in your mind or your heart. You can scrawl something on a flat pebble and bury it in a bird-bath bowl, or send a message to them on a piece of cloth set aflutter in the wine country wind. And, in doing so, you release your own feelings, too.

Retrospective

The True Henri Cartier-Bresson

Over the years, the famed photographer's work has been the subject of many shows. But a new retrospective in Paris takes a more complete look at the full range of his career.

It has been a decade since Henri Cartier-Bresson died at the age of 95. While the French icon and founding member of photography powerhouse Magnum Photos has had his share of exhibitions and shows, a new retrospective at Paris’s Centre Pompidou gives the most complete picture of the diversity of his wide-ranging career. Most importantly, it willfully dispels the “decisive moment,” a notion (that has now become a platitude) that Cartier-Bresson has been inextricably associated with throughout his career that concerns a photographer’s perceptiveness in being able to capture the perfect set of visual elements within a single frame.

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Martine Franck, Paris, France, 1967 (Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos, courtesy Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson)

Whereas previous Cartier-Bresson exhibitions have tried to show the unity of the photographer’s vision, the Centre Pompidou argues that his career should be understood through the evolution and range of his work, rather than as a cohesive whole. Diverging from previous monographs, the show doesn’t feature images re-printed specifically for the exhibition. That decision would have forced photos in standardized formats to create a stylistic coherence. Instead, it uses the original prints deemed more revealing of the formal diversity of his work and the epoch in which they were produced. In a similar move, recognizably iconic images are often placed adjacent to lesser-known ones. Organized chronologically—and then thematically within those groupings—the circuit is structured around Cartier-Bresson’s early days (1926-1935), his rising political commitment (1936-1946), and the creation of Magnum and its aftermath (1947-1970s).

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Derrière la gare Saint-Lazare, Paris, France, 1932 (Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos, Courtesy Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson)

Jason White’s journey from L.A. art gallery to FBI custody, as told through rabid text messages and explosive emails, illustrates the downward spiral of a disturbed and desperate man.

Jason White was a convicted felon from North Dakota who managed to infiltrate the Los Angeles Art world, until he snapped. On Wednesday, FBI special agents arrested the 43-year-old for allegedly stalking, threatening and attempting to extort art world professionals in a series of schemes that stretched from California to the United Kingdom. He was expected to make his first court appearance in Los Angeles Wednesday afternoon, facing federal cyberstalking charges.

White’s journey from an L.A. art gallery to FBI custody, as told through text messages and emails documented by the criminal complaint against him, illustrates the downward spiral of a disturbed and desperate man.

The criminal complaint, unsealed for the public on Wednesday, states that White began his multi-pronged harassment campaign against a former employer, colleagues, clients, artists and their children on approximately September 23, 2013. But the story really started months before that, in April 2013, when, according to the complaint, White was hired as a salesman or independent contractor by a fine art gallery in Los Angeles. The gallery’s owner who, in the complaint is referred to as R.B., but will be called “Ray” for the purpose of this story, told Elizabeth Rivas, the FBI special agent charged with investigating the claims against White, that he hired White under the impression that he was a successful and experienced salesman, with many loyal clients that he would bring with him when relocating from North Dakota to L.A. Ray says that White requested all of his paychecks be made out to the Fargo Gallery in North Dakota, which he claimed to own and run. (A Google search for ‘the Fargo Gallery North Dakota” yields no evidence that a gallery by that name exists).

Ray says that it became pretty clear not long after he started that White had neither the experience nor the connections he claimed, never selling enough work by the gallery’s main artist (we’ll call him “Fred,”) to make a commission that exceeded his base salary. White’s financial problems seemed to be taking a toll on his work, and he was constantly getting in arguments with his boss (another victim, referred to in the complaint by the initials “A.S.” Let’s call him “Alex”). On August 15, 2013, Alex says that he and White got into an argument at the office. Later that night, White emailed Ray to notify him that his relationship with Alex was making him unhappy at work and that he was going to look for a new job. He packed up all of his belongings when he went home that evening and a few days later set out on the cyber crusade that would eventually place him at the center of an FBI investigation.

Exhibition

Fashion’s Art Moment

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The Daily Beast

The two mediums are increasingly coming together, sharing stages, intertwining collections—and collaborating to find a commercial connection with their clientele.

It seems oddly serendipitous that in the same season when some of the world’s most agenda-setting fashion designers have aligned themselves more closely than ever with the world of art, London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts and avant-garde showroom Dover Street Market are hooking up to celebrate their (until now) little-known shared heritage.

Beginning Monday, the retailer’s unique selection—from Céline and Chalayan to Givenchy, Alaïa, and, of course, Comme des Garçons (the Japanese design house that owns the space)—will be surrounded by an installation showing rarely seen archival material that evokes the years 1950 to 1967, when the ICA was based in that very six-story Georgian in exclusive Mayfair. What was once a hub where Pop Art and Op Art came into being is now occupied by a mecca for lovers of the most cutting-edge fashion.

The exhibition coincides not only with the publication of Institute of Contemporary Arts: 1946-1968, a new book about the venue’s years on Dover Street, but also with a period when the worlds of art and fashion are becoming more intertwined than ever.

Consider last October’s Chanel Spring/Summer show at the Grand Palais in Paris. Karl Lagerfeld transformed the venue into a glossy art gallery, filled with 75 different Chanel-themed works, including a robotic sculpture with a giant bottle of No. 5 perfume as its torso and a mounted oversize and overturned 2.55 bag, its chain falling into a pile on the floor. The collection itself was a riot of multicolored art references; there was a paint-chart print taken from a Royal Talens sample board and a bag shaped like an artists’ portfolio case.

‘Stardust’

A Keen Eye for Fine Faces

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Kate Moss by David Bailey, 2013. (David Bailey)

David Bailey is best known for his ultra glam photos of the fashionable and famous. But a new exhibit pairs these works with anonymous portraits of locals taken during his travels.

Some of his philanthropic efforts are a little more light-hearted. As part of his Democracy project, Bailey offered to photograph visitors to his studio buck-naked from 2001 to 2005—an invitation, incidentally, none ever refused. One by one, he asked his subjects to strip and stand in front of an evenly lit, white background, a mere six feet from his lens; once photographed, every image was printed on the same paper, free from edits, and identically framed. The point? To enforce democracy. Bailey banished variation other than that embodied in the sitters themselves. Six of the resulting life-size nudes hang in the Gallery, and, like the images of nameless subjects from his travels, they highlight the personalities of the sitters who arrange their bodies in certain ways. Model Bernd Kho stands legs-spread, fingers pinching nipples, clearly well within his comfort zone, a smile playing across his lips. Tattoo- and piercing-covered, “Prince Albert” is even easier to read. As Bailey said, “you could hire him for parties!” Who doesn’t love a good exhibitionist?

“Just a little bit of pixie dust”—that’s all Peter Pan needed to fly to Neverland. For Londoners lucky enough to find their way to the National Portrait Gallery, the magical substance guaranteed to provide a lift is Bailey’s Stardust, the ultra glamorous photographs by David Bailey.

On display until June 1, Bailey’s Stardust is a large-scale exhibition involving over 300 portraits, the majority of them newly printed for the occasion. A British fashion photographer who transcends the genre, 75-year-old Bailey selected the images himself, making curatorial choices that illuminate his career spanning half a century.

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From the series Nagaland by David Bailey, 2012. (David Bailey)

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