Following an influential career at The Bauhaus school in Wiemer, Germany (1919 – 33) Josef Albers fled the Nazi regime and emigrated to the United States, where he taught at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, and then at Yale in Connecticut. Beginning in 1949 and continuing over the next twenty-five years, he created his celebrated Homage to the Square series, which is composed of more than a thousand works including paintings, drawings, prints, and tapestries. These works are based on a template of geometric abstraction, a mathematically determined format of several squares overlapping or nesting within one another. These works represent Alber’s experiments with theories of color and spatial relationships, which were informed by his studies of Mexican pyramids and pre-Colombian architectonic principles. Homage to the Square: On Near Sky was painted in 1963.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
This Mona Lisa (1963) is one of the earliest works for which Andy Warhol employed silk-screening, the printing process that he adopted in 1962 to quickly and easily make multiple copies of preexisting images. Here, he revels in the rat of duplication. By replicating a reproduction of Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting Mona Lisa four times in two different ways, the artist reduces a masterwork epitomizing traditional notions of artistic genius and authorship to a pale shadow of its former self. Warhol’s Mona Lisa was donated to The Met by his friend Henry Geldzahler, the Museum’s founding curator of contemporary art. One year before Geldzahler made his gift, Warhol released he film Henry Geldzahler, which consists solely of ninety-seven minutes of footage of the curator smoking a cigar.Photographed in The Met in NYC.
This Untitled Abstract Painting (circa 1963 or 64) is one of the last paintings made by Eva Hesse before she switched to sculpture. Its deconstructed symbols, figures, and shapes evoke natural forms and bodies without ever being directly identifiable. Delicate brushwork, soft colors and a light, witty touch lend this work a feminine quality that she intended as a rebuke to the masculinity of Minimalist Art. Hess was reading Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex at this time, and the text led her to question her own fragmented status as artist, woman and wife. Her work, though not overtly political, explores these issues in poetic, expressive abstractions.
Allan D’Arcangelo’s portrait of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and her young daughter Caroline adopts the bold style of modern advertising, epitomized by the broad areas of bright, unmodulated color. The image trades on the Kennedy’s brand status and visual legibility: its sitters are recognizable merely by virtue of their signature hairstyles and clothing, as well as Jackie’s string of pearls. Made just months before President Kennedy’s assassination1963,Madonna and Child’s take on an age-old religious theme is at once optimistic and disquieting. With their bright halos and featureless faces, Jackie and Caroline appear as contemporary icons and saviors even as they are reduced to mute images for public consumption.
June 1st is the Birthday of ex-Smiths drummer Mike Joyce (1963), Alan Wilder (formerly) of Depeche Mode (1959) and Barry Adamson, composer and former bassist for Magazine (born 1958). Although we don’t hear much from Joyce or Wilder these days, Barry Adamson is still making some crazy music and composing soundtracks for mind-tweaking films such as David Lynch’sLost Highway. The soundtrack of Lost Highway is worth owning on the strength of Adamson’s atmospheric soundscapes alone. Happy Birthday, Guys!