Tag Archive | The Met Breuer

Modern Art Monday Presents: Bruce Nauman, Human Nature / Life Death

Human Nature / Life Death
All Photos By Gail

Bruce Nauman’s neon sculpture, Human Nature / Life Death (1983) is a circle of words corresponding to the defining contradictions of human existence — life and death, love and hate, pleasure and pain — are trisected by the words “Animal,” “Human” and “Nature.”

Human Nature / Life Death

Human Nature

Animal Nature

In the aggregate, the words form a colorful, illuminated peace symbol. Human Nature / Life Death is anything but serene or amicable, however, and not only because of its content. As the words flash and darken erratically, Nauman’s neon devolves into a jumble of disjointed signs that break the continuity of the composition and jerk the eye across the wall.

Human Nature / Life Death

Photographed in The Met Breuer in Manhattan.

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Eye On Design: Cabinet De Curiosité By Shiro Kuramata

Cabinet De Curiosite 2
All Photos By Gail

Shiro Kuramata (1934 – 1991) a member of The Memphis Group and among the most innovative designers of the late twentieth century, was fascinated by the visual possibilities of acrylic. The artist stated that his ideal objective was to see objects floating in air. Named for the Wunderkammern owned by Renaissance princes that displayed natural and man-made curiosities, Cabinet De Curiosité (1988) offers the magical impression of suspending its contents in midair. Kuramata explored the phenomenological effects of acrylic — light and lightness, invisibility and reflectivity, weight and weightlessness – and the material has become the poetic signature of his work. Kuramata used the term Neiro, or “sound-color,” to describe the synesthetic effect that acrylic has it both its physical presence and the spectral color-shadows it casts as light passes through it. Its prismatic luminosity changes with light and viewpoint, exploiting the optical effects of the material. Shown here alongside Flower Vase #3 (1989).

Photographed in the Met Breuer in NYC.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Donald Judd, Untitled (1970) Stack Sculpture

Donald Judd Untitled Stack 1970
All Photos By Gail

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.

Donald Judd Untitled Stack 1970 Detail
Untitled Stack Sculpture (1970) Detail

Sottsass and Judd each explored Minimalism and the effect of objects on their environment, but from strikingly different vantage points

Donald Judd Untitled Stack 1970 Detail

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.

Donald Judd Untitled Stack 1970

Photographed in The Met Breuer Museum in NYC.

Eye on Design: Ettore Sottsass, Yellow Furniture

Ettore Sottsass Yellow Furniture
All Photos By Gail

Cross-shaped and studded with golden dots, Ettore Sottsass’ Yellow Furniture reads as an homage to Otto Wagner’s Steinhof Church, which is also cruciform in plan and features golden dots as the leitmotif. Both Yellow Furniture and the Steinhof Church transfer religious concepts into material form, specifically the spiritual association in Christian iconography of gold as a material and symbol of the heavens. Consistent with Christian ideals, Sottsass intended this piece for production by Indian craftsman as a way of addressing the poverty he witnessed during his travels.

Otto Wagner Steinhof Church Plan Drawings
Otto Wagner Steinhof Church Photos and Plan Drawings

Ettore Sottsass Yellow Furniture
Installation View

Photographed in the Met Breuer in NYC. as part of the Exhibit, Ettore Sottsass: Design Radical.

Eye On Design: The Tower Cabinet for Mario Tchou Residence, By Ettore Sottsass

Ettore Sotsass Tower Cabinet
Tower Furniture for the House with the Little Chinese Girl, Mario Tchou Residence, Milan (All Photos By Gail)

Ettore Sottsass (1917 – 2007) designed the interiors of Mario Tchou’s Milan apartment and named the project for Tchou’s daughter, who captured his heart as she attempted to scale the Tower.  The latticework, dowels and cubic proportions suggest the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement, the Wiener Werkstatte, and the Bauhaus.

Ettore Sotsass Tower Cabinet Detail

These interests merge with eastern touches — the Chinese red and black lacquer, gold leaf and pagoda construction — into a hybrid table/desk/shelf/cabinet/chest of drawers, a catch-all for the needs of daily life.

Ettore Sotsass Tower Cabinet Detail

Ettore Sotsass Tower Cabinet
Installation View

Sottsass wrote in the architecture and design magazine Domas, “The fact remains that a piece of furniture could be like architecture. with windows from which to looks outside . . .The piece of furniture can be looked at in many ways, always changing.”

Ettore Sotsass Tower Cabinet

The Tower, in short, is a kind of perception machine for the interior of the home.

Ettore Sotsass Tower Cabinet Installation View

Photographed as part of the exhibit Ettore Sottsass: Design Radical, at the Met Breuer (Through October 8th, 2017 )

Modern Art Monday Presents: Louise Bourgeois Untitled (No. 2)

Untitled (No. 2)
Photo By Gail

Louise Bourgeois‘ two hands engaged in an intimate caress sit incongruously on a roughly chiseled, seemingly unfinished base. In the early 1930s, Bourgeois studied with Charles Despiau, one of Auguste Rodin’s assistants; she may well have learned about Rodin’s marble sculptures of hands from Despiau. Later, in 1967-68, she traveled to Pietrasanta, Italy, where she discovered the same marble quarries from which Michelangelo sourced his material. It was at this point that Bourgeois adopted the medium. As the artist once said of the difficult task of working with marble,” you have to win the shape.” Her fight to conquer the block of marble is left visible here in this work from 1996.

Untitled (No. 2) was Photographed in The Met Breuer (former home of The Whitney Museum), in Manhattan, where it is part of the Museum’s Inaugural Exhibit, Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible.

Modern Art Monday Presents, Andy Warhol, Do It Yourself (Violin)

Do It Yourself (Violin)
Photo By Gail

At least two people seem to have begun work on this paint-by-number still life — one diligent hand that carefully filled in the contours, and one that hastily scribbled outside the lines. Does Andy Warhol playfully imply that the viewer could join in to finish the work? The paint-by-number kits that proliferated in the 1960s held great appeal for Warhol. His intention to downplay artistic genius and instead create popular, reproducible images is reflected in the source: one of the then-popular Venus Paradise color-by-number kits. Using a projector to transfer the outlines onto canvas, he created this and four other “Do It Yourself” paintings. In all but one, he left large sections uncolored.

Do It Yourself (Violin) (1962) was photographed in the Met Breuer as part of the Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible Exhibit. The painting is owned by a private collector.