Tag Archive | Mirrors

Monir Farmanfarmaian: Infinite Possibility, Mirror Works and Drawings at the Guggenheim

Installation View
Room Full of Mirrors…All Photos By Gail

If you are planning a trip to the Guggenheim Museum to see the On Kawara Exhibit – which is pretty sweet – you may be disappointed to discover that the Art Nazis are out in full force, forbidding photography in the Rotunda. And, frankly, that sucks, because if I can’t take pictures, it’s like I wasn’t even there.

Fortunately for those of us to like to capture and share the memory of seeing of great art, the Guggenheim is also currently hosting the very fantastic Infinite Possibility: Mirror Works and Drawings -1974-2014 featuring the work of Persian artist Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, whose artistic practice weds the geometric patterns and cut-glass mosaic techniques of her Iranian heritage with the rhythms of modern Western geometric abstraction.

Monir with Sculpture
Monir in her Tehran Studio (1975) Working on Heptagon Star

This is the first U.S. museum exhibition of mirror works and drawings by Farmanfarmaian (b. Qazvin, Iran, 1922) and it was also my first introduction to her work, which is just amazing. To provide some background on this accomplished artist, Monir spent formative years (1945 to 1957) working in New York, during which she met artists Milton Avery, Willem de Kooning, Joan Mitchell, Louise Nevelson, Barnett Newman, and, later, Andy Warhol, among others. She returned to Iran in 1957.

Color Sketch

Sketches

Color Sketch

There, she further developed her artistic sensibility through encounters with traditional craftsmanship, indigenous art forms such as Turkoman jewelry and clothing, coffee house paintings (a popular form of Iranian narrative paintings), and the technique of reverse-glass painting, resulting in a period of artistic discovery that culminated in commissions in Iran and exhibitions in Europe and the United States.

Green Mirror Detail

Mirror Detail (Above) and Study (Below)

Mirror Sketch

The Islamic Revolution in 1979 marked the beginning of Monir’s 26-year exile in New York, during which she focused on drawing, collage, commissions, and carpet and textile design. In 2004, when she finally returned to Iran, she reestablished her studio there and resumed working with some of the same craftsmen she had collaborated with in the 1970s.

Two Sketches

Orange Faceted Mirror

Triangular Wall Mirror

Square Wall Mirror

The exhibit includes plaster and mirror reliefs, large-scale mirror sculptures the artist refers to as “geometric families,” and works on paper, revealing the central role drawing has played in Monir’s practice and focusing on a sculptural and graphic oeuvre developed over more than 40 years (many examples of which have not been displayed publicly since the 1970s).

Monir and Sculptures
Monir with her Mirror Ball Sculptures, Seen Below

Mirror Balls

This body of work is characterized by a merging of visual and spatial experience, coupled with the aesthetic traditions of Islamic architecture and decoration. Her use of geometry as form allows for, in the artist’s words, “infinite possibility.”

7 Sided Mirror
Mirror Cube Sculpture

Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian: Infinite Possibility. Mirror Works and Drawings 1974–2014 will be on Exhibit Through June 3rd, 2015 at the Guggenheim Museum, Located at 1071 Fifth Avenue (at 89th Street) in New York City.

Mirror Sculpure Cluster

Modern Art Monday Presents: Mirror Stratum By Robert Smithson

Robert Smithson Mirror Stratum
All Photos By Gail

Mirror Stratum (1966) by Robert Smithson (1938 – 1973) is made up of Stacked Mirrors on a Formica-Covered Base and makes for such a lovely, pyramid-shaped reflective thing to try to get decent photos of. The reflection you see slightly in the above photos is a fragment of the phrase, “Wall Pitted By a Single Rifle Shot,” which is a caption (itself a work of art by Lawrence Weiner) written high across the wall closest to the sculpture.

Robert Smithson Mirror Stratum

On July 20, 1973, Smithson died in a plane crash, while surveying sites for his work Amarillo Ramp in the vicinity of Amarillo, Texas. He was 35 years old. Despite his early death, and relatively few surviving major works, Smithson has a following amongst many contemporary artists.

Mirror Stratum By Robert Smithson is part of the permanent collection at The Museum Of Modern Art in NYC.

Robert Smithson Mirror Stratum

Magnan Metz Gallery Presents Amelia Biewald’s Big Brass / Light Opera

Cold Night
Mirror: All of This and Nothing IV, Bonfire: Cold Night (All Photos By Gail. Click on Any Image to Enlarge for Detail)

In the Chelsea Gallery District, there is a huge advantage to having a street level, store front space, in that it attracts a lot of passers-by for whom the featured exhibit may not necessarily be on their radar. This past Saturday was not the first time that we have been drawn into the Magnan Metz Gallery based on a casual glance into the window. The tableau pictured above is what we saw as we walked west on 26th Street, the pull of which could not be resisted. Because, Bonfire in the Gallery.

In Big Brass/Light Opera, artist Amelia Biewald transforms the gallery space into an 18th century European parlor room, recreating the period’s lush opulence and sophistication.

Heavy Weather with Le Petit Mort
Heavy Weather, with Le Petit Mort Background, Right

However, the glamorous presentation is askew as the encapsulated scene has the tell-tale signs of a rogue stag run amok, a chaos ensuing as a result of a sparring within the space.

Heavy Weather

Amidst the knocked over furniture, wigs, and fans the now expired stag, Heavy Weather is suspended upside down having been brought to the ground by the weight of his own antlers, its presence within the room signifying a complete arrest of time.

Heavy Weather with Seduced and Abandoned
Heavy Weather with Seduced and Abandoned, Far Right

Heavy Weather Close Up
Heavy Weather, Detail

Heavy Weather Close Up

Inspired by the visual intricacies found in historical masterpieces such as Diego Velázquez’s Las Meninas (1656), Biewald uses similar visual cues that allude to an outside viewer within the narrative forming a discord between perspectives.

Mirror: All of This and Nothing III
All of This and Nothing III

Generating further tension are five vintage picture frames inlaid with mirrors and decorated with the heads of deer (Series Title: All of This and Nothing). Looking into the mirrors, the heads form a curious push and pull through the reciprocity of gazes. The scene is further stratified as the viewer establishes a context within the composition whilst moving about the mirrored space, becoming both the viewer and subject. Within these notions of perception the complete narrative exists in a plane somewhere in-between the multiple perspectives.

Mirror: All of This and Nothing IV
All of This and Nothing IV

Mirror: All of This and Nothing V
All of This and Nothing V

Big Brass / Light Opera is an amazing exhibit that I very highly recommend you try and see before it close in just over a week.

Amelia Biewald’s Big Brass/Light Opera will be on Exhibit through November 22nd at Magnan Metz Gallery, Located at 521 West 26th Street, in the Chelsea Gallery District.

Amelia Biewald Signage

Le Petit Mort
Le Petit Mort