François Arnal (1924 – 2012) was a multidisciplinary French artist who was primarily known as a painter and sculptor. In 1968 he set up Atelier A (Workshop A) to publicize the works of furniture designers. I recently popped into art furniture gallery Demisch Denant on West 12th Street and was thrilled to find that they had two of Arnal’s most iconic peices on display! Let’s take a closer look.
Alvin Loving (1935 – 2005) once described geometric shape as “a sort of mundane form that could be very, very dull unless a great deal was done with it.” For him, however, geometry ultimately became an arena in which to develop a dramatic color sensibility. Juxtaposing neon-bright pigments, in Septehedron 34 (1970) he created the illusion that the painting’s forms recede or advance relative to one another. At the same time, his use of geometric forms emphasized the flat surface of the canvas, from which a tension emerges between real and imagined space. Also notable for its visible brush stocks, Loving’s shaped canvas takes up the challenge of making all seven sides of a heptahedron visible at once.
In 1969, Alvin Loving became the first African American artist to have a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum.
Photographed as Part of the Exhibit Spilling Over: Painting Color in the 1960s, On View Through August 31st, 2019 at the Whitney Museum in NYC.
A hybrid of Pop and Minimalist aesthetics, this stacked sculpture, Mylar and Plexiglass Construction (1970) relates to Andy Warhol’s Mylar Silver Clouds from 1966 and extends his interest in seriality, color and the readymade into three-dimensional space.
Mylar Rolls, Detail
Comprised of six rolls of colored mylar on cardboard tubes, mounted in a Plexiglass case, the work offers a rare glimpse into a mode of artistic production that, for whatever reason, Warhol chose not to pursue further.
Photographed as Part Of the Exhibit, Andy Warhol: From A to B And Back Again, at The Whitney Museum in NYC Through March 31, 2019.
Sculptor Duane Hanson (1925 – 1996) often identified the figures in his artworks by their occupation or social roles, rather than their names. His photorealistic sculptural portraits — cast from life, painted and dressed in clothes corresponding to their roles — are thus transformed into ethnographic types. Their positions subtly critique their social realities as well as the context of their display. Hanson’s typically lower-and-middle class characters are empathetically portrayed in private or mundane moments, and their appearance is at once startlingly present, yet distinctly at odds in a gallery setting, where they are encountered almost voyeuristically, thus amplifying their isolation.
Photographed as Part of the Exhibit Like Life: Sculpture, Color and The Body, at The Met Breuer, NYC.
In 1970, Life magazine invited Rudi Gernreich (1922 – 1985) to envision what people would wear a decade in the future. He extended his prediction to the year 2000, illustrating men and women in matching ensembles with heads either shaved or wigged. Unlike other contemporaneous unisex styles, Gernreich’s designs did not use menswear as a baseline for women’s garments. “Women will wear pants and men will wear skits interchangeably,” he predicted. “The aesthetics of fashion are going to involve the body itself. We will train the body to grown beautifully rather than cover it to produce beauty.”
Gernreich brought his concept to life for the U.S. Pavillion’s Art and Technology Program at Expo ’70, a memorable World’s Fair in Osaka, Japan. He eliminated stylistic markers of gender on his models. “Our notion of masculine and feminine are being challenged as never before.” he asserted. “The basic masculine – feminine appeal is in people, not in clothes.” These sentiments are echoed today, as fashion continues to shift its understanding of gender as fluid.
Photographed as Part of the Exhibit, Items: Is Fashion Modern, on View Through January 28th, 2018 at The Museum of Modern Art in NYC.
Donald Judd (1928 – 1994) created his first vertical Stack Sculpture in 1965. Coincidentally, this was just one year before furniture designer Ettore Sottsass designed his Superebox cabinet series. At the time, Sottsass claimed to have been inspired from the radical materials and construction of Parisian fashion, but he late wrote about Judd and even named a table in homage to him.
Sottsass and Judd each explored Minimalism and the effect of objects on their environment, but from strikingly different vantage points
Judd’s sculptures use the language and materials of serial production and functionalist design, while Sottsass created functional objects with the aspiration of minimalist sculpture.
Photographed in The Met Breuer Museum in NYC.
A cacophonous summary of the grand aspirations and unrest of the late 196os, Robert Rauschenberg’s Signs (1970) was originally commissioned as a cover for Time Magazine. When the collage was rejected by the publication, Rauschenberg turned it into a print “conceived to remind us of the love, terror, and violence of the last 10 years. Danger lies in forgetting.” United States soldiers in Vietnam, peace protestors and the anonymous victim of an urban riot are combined with the images of five public figures, three of them recently murdered: President John F. Kennedy, presidential candidate Senator Robert F. Kennedy, and the civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. They are joined by Buzz Aldrin, the second person to walk on the moon, and the singer Janis Joplin, who died from a drug overdose a few months after Signs was made.
Photographed as part of the exhibit Robert Rauschenberg: Among Friends, at the Museum of Modern Art Through September 17th, 2017.