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Archive for the Beaux Arts category

Ernest Biéler at Kunstmuseum Bern

by Suzanne on July 24th, 2011


Les Feuilles mortes (detail) by Ernest Biéler, oil on canvas, 149.7 x 481.5 cm, 1899, courtesy Kunstmuseum Bern - click to enlarge

A beautiful and very comprehensive retrospective at Kunstmuseum Bern is currently honouring one of the great - and often forgotten - Swiss symbolist and Art Nouveau painters: The enigmatic and empathetic Ernest Biéler.

In the very centre of Dreamt Reality (Geträumte Wirklichkeit / Réalité rêvée) stand the two gorgeously esoteric Biéler works that the Kunstmuseum Bern owns (the rest of the works coming mostly from private collectors): Les Feuilles mortes (1899, top and below) and Les Sources (1900, middle and bottom).


Les Feuilles mortes by Ernest Biéler, oil on canvas, 149.7 x 481.5 cm, 1899, courtesy Kunstmuseum Bern - click to enlarge (FUCKING DO IT!)

Born in 1863 - and therefore a contemporary of famed Swiss Nabis artist Félix Vallotton - Biéler grew up in Lausanne and later studied art in Paris. Shortly before the turn of the century, he returned to Switzerland, impoverished but vastly experienced, first working from his studio in Geneva, then helping the great Ferdinand Hodler with his frescos for the Landesausstellung and finally - getting ever more artistic inspiration from the stunning Savièse region - he decided to settle in the Valais region.


Les Sources (detail) by Ernest Biéler, oil on canvas, 172 x 486 cm, 1900, courtesy Kunstmuseum Bern - click to enlarge

He wasn't the only artist enamored with the Savièse and together with Raphaël Ritz and Edouard Vallet founded the Ecole of Savièse.

Dreamt Reality opened earlier this month and will remain on show until mid-November. Details below.


Les Sources by Ernest Biéler, oil on canvas, 172 x 486 cm, 1900, courtesy Kunstmuseum Bern - click to enlarge (FUCKING DO IT!)

On show: Jul 8 - Nov 13, 2011

Address: Kunstmuseum Bern, Hodlerstrasse 8-12, 3000 Bern 7, Switzerland , tel: +41 31 328 09 44, email: info@kunstmuseumbern.ch | Map

Opening hours: Wed - Sun: 10 AM - 5 PM, Tue: 10 AM - 9 PM

Admission: CHF 18

Press release | Exhibition guide

Catalogue: Ernest Biéler. Geträumte Wirklichkeit / Réalité rêvée. Hrsg. Kunstmuseum Bern / Matthias Frehner, Ethel Mathier & Fondation Pierre Gianadda (in German / French)

WurzelForum discussion

Madeline von Foerster and Benjamin A. Vierling at Roq la Rue, Seattle

by Suzanne on July 7th, 2011


The Tale of the Golden Toad by Madeline Von Foerster, oil and egg tempera on panel, 24" x 36" - click to enlarge

Madeline and Benjamin informed me about their upcoming twin exhibition which opens tomorrow evening at the glorious Roq la Rue in Seattle.

It's great to see a show with two artists who go absolutely perfectly together and manage to enhance each other's oeuvres magically.

For many moons, Madeline has shown an uncanny anachronistic skill to amalgamate Renaissance style with Wunderkammer fauna and flora and add a certain doll-like feel to her protagonists who always seem to contain a grain of Olimpia despite the lively shimmer and sumptuous richness of the pearls and silk.

And even though homines universales like Ole Worm, Albertus Seba and Ernst Haeckel would undoubtedly be collectors of her work if they were contemporaries, nothing ever looks dated. In The Tale of the Golden Toad, the details in the lace are just as fresh and youthful as the organic details under the glass dome.

There is something slightly unnerving about The Tale of the Golden Toad though - it's the moment you realise that the protagonist has actually become part of the Wunderkammer and - starting from her hands and just like Daphne, just like Francesca Woodman - seems to be turning into a display herself.

Vierling's artistic approach is just as epic if a bit more mythologically inclined. With intricately painted ornamental wooden frames containing grotesque scenes and tiny insects, he manages to create a multi-dimensional trompe-l'œil that's quite breathtaking.

Details below.


Medusa by Benjamin A. Vierling, egg tempera & oil on panel, 22" x 22", 2011 - click to enlarge

Opening reception: Friday, July 8, 6 - 9 PM, both artists will be in attendance

On show: Jul 8 - Aug 6, 2011

Address: Roq La Rue, 2312 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98121, USA, tel: (206) 374-8977 | Map

Opening hours: Wed - Sat: 1 - 6 PM

Press release

WurzelForum discussion

Three Quick Thoughts About the Organisation of Things

by Suzanne on June 29th, 2011

- I -

Courtauld Gallery, London

I was supposed to go see a Toulouse-Lautrec & Jane Avril exhibition (apart from some St Vitus Dance pictures from the Salpêtrière, it wasn't worth it) but ended up staring at the gorgeous ceilings and floors of the Courtauld. Magnificent and esoteric.

- II -

Japanese Divers

The amazingly talented and ever inspiring Amrei Hofstätter of Verticospuppets posted this on my Facebook wall the other day. Watch it - it's like Leni Riefenstahl only wetter and portrays human robotics at its finest.

- III -

Miners' Hymns

A few months ago, Sir Substrom was kind enough to share Jóhann Jóhannson/Bill Morrison's The Cause of Labour is the Hope of the World with me which visualises everything summarised by the term "epic" and I'm glad to say that the commentary-less documentary it serves as a trailer to, The Miners' Hymns, is now available on DVD from the BFI.

Take that, neofolk!

Closing reminder: Egon Schiele's "Women" at Richard Nagy, London

by Suzanne on June 29th, 2011


By Egon Schiele, photograph by Wurzeltod - click to enlarge

Just a very brief heads-up for London Schiele lovers:

The fantastic Women show at Richard Nagy which for the first time reunites some of the most amazing oeuvres by Schiele that are normally hidden away in private collections is only on for another day.

Yes, as always, I have ranted about the exhibition being very poorly lit, very poorly framed, hung and documented, but in the end, it's about the works, isn't it, and just like Bellmer's ingenious drawings, Schieles need to be seen face-to-face to be understood as his line work follows its own inherent logic, fragility, narrative, psychopathology and, maybe together with Alberto Giacometti's portraits, his drawings are some of the most sculptural works ever created in two dimensions.

Don't miss this. Details below. Oh, and here's a slideshow with some pictures I took when I visited the show last Friday:

(Sincere apologies for the blurred pictures, the lighting of the show as very poor but at least you get to see a few glimpses of the paper structures and textures as well.)


On show: May 19 - Jun 30, 2011

Address: Richard Nagy, 22 Old Bond Street, 2nd Floor, London, W1S 4PY, United Kingdom, tel: +44 207 262 6400, email: info@richardnagy.com

Gallery hours: Tue - Sat: 12 - 5 PM

Images | Press release


In memoriam Sibylle Ruppert, 1942 - 2011

by Suzanne on June 13th, 2011


La Décadence by Sibylle Ruppert, courtesy of HR Giger Museum - click to enlarge

As if it hasn't been a particularly sad month for the arts & humanities losing so many great thinkers and creators already, with Leonora Carrington, Jack Kevorkian and Jeffrey Catherine Jones leaving us, I just read about the passing of Sibylle Ruppert over on John Coulthart's Feuilleton and MonsterBrains.

I first came across Sibylle's work at HR Giger's castle/museum in Gruyères, Switzerland, and I was absolutely astonished by how her oeuvre brought together both a Bellmeresque laciness, a glossy surreal fetishism and the most steroid-induced masculinity I had ever seen outside of He-Man at that point. I was confused that I had never heard of her before because her absolutely otherworldly talent was so stricking, it just made no sense it hadn't been further discovered and exploited yet.


Flucht by Sibylle Ruppert, 1971, courtesy of Marco Witzig - click to enlarge

But maybe that's precisely what made her such an outstanding (artist's) artist - that she worked in relative obscurity and with obscurity - yet leading such a colourful and accomplished life as a ballerina, touring the world as a chorus girl, teaching art in mental institutions and drug rehabilitation centres - all the while being absolutely possessed by the daemon of art (... and the Marquis de Sade).

From her fascinating biography on HR's website:

"After the war they were taken in by an aristocratic family [who] owned a castle, and Sibylle spent her early childhood years as if in a dream world. Her father was a graphic designer and young Sibylle spent hours upon hours near his desk watching as he drew. One day she seized his hand and promised him that she would paint nice colourful pictures just like him. Her first drawing surprised everyone, it was a brutal illustration of a fist striking the middle of a face – she was 6 years old."

I am so very grateful I got to see your work face to face, Sibylle. Thank you for leaving your visions, your nightmares, your subconscious behind for us to inspect. You will be sorely missed.

You can find a gallery of her work here as well as on Feuilleton and MonsterBrains.


Kamm by Sibylle Ruppert, 1977, courtesy of Marco Witzig - click to enlarge

Atsushi Suwa at Gallery Naruyama, Tokyo

by Suzanne on June 9th, 2011


Stereotype 08 by Atsushi Suwa, oil on canvas, 2008 - click to enlarge

Atsushi Suwa 's solo show To Live or to Die, We Share the Same Fate will be opening tonight at Tokyo's Gallery Naruyama.

A technically absolutely brilliant artist who makes it seem totally effortless to cram a trompe-l'oeil with the entire mirror perspective of Jan van Eyck's Arnolfini Portrait into a small camera lens (below), he has shown time and again that he cannot simply be reduced to realism - despite his obvious and vast talent for it.


By Atsushi Suwa - click to enlarge

His intimate collaboration with the famous and awe-inspiring butoh dancer Kazuo Ohno or his documentary Father series show a very deep emotional involvement with the subject, a desire to dissect traumata and fears, to look mercilessly at the fabric and tissue of life. And death.

I'm not entirely sure what will be presented at the exhibition, but I'm pretty certain it's near impossible for Atsushi Suwa to disappoint. Details below.


By Atsushi Suwa


On show: Jun 9 - Jul 9, 2011

Address: Gallery Naruyama, #205 Matsuoka Kudan Bldg. 2-2-8 Kudan Minami, Chiyoda-Ku, Tokyo 102-0074 Japan, tel: +81 (0)3 3264-4871, email: info@gallery-naruyama.com | Map

Gallery hours: Daily: 1 - 7 PM, except Wed & Sun

Press release

Artist's website


Neo Rauch at Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden, Germany

by Suzanne on June 7th, 2011


Interview by Neo Rauch, oil on canvas, 2006, Museum Frieder Burda, Photo: Uwe Walter © VG Bild-Kunst - click to enlarge

Baden-Baden's Museum Frieder Burda is currently presenting the oeuvre of New Leipzig School's Neo Rauch on the epic scale it deserves with some 36 works from the past two decades on show.

Amongst them, two of my favourites: Interview from 2006 (above) and Die Fuge from 2007 (below).

Interview reminds me a lot of indoor/outdoor scenes from Veiko Õunpuu's brilliant The Temptation of St. Tony (particularly the pitch-black night outside the posh modernist house surrounded by no other light pollution, indeed no other signs of civilisation).

Have the guests had too much to drink, are they hypnotised, the subjects of a ritual, just having their pulses felt or are they dead? Whatever happened, it's an unnerving scene and the fact that the pose on the left is somewhat reminiscent of a pietà doesn't really make things any easier. It seems that Rauch, in an almost anti-Gregory Crewdson manner, uses bolder colours and more obvious intra-pictorial light sources the more obscure and enigmatic the narrative is and one thing is for certain: I would really like that sculpture in the background with the pink eels/penes on it. À propos, this is by far not the only Rauch that shows slightly objectophile tendencies.

If one looks more closely at the title of the piece, 2006 was a time when Rauch's works started to fetch enormous prices at auctions and he was interviewed by every art magazine in this solar system so one could suspect it to be a criticism on the draining nature his sudden stardom, the omnipresence of journalists had on his life as an artist with the two lifeless men representing the two sides of Rauch, the artist (right) and the "public person Rauch" (left).


Die Fuge by Neo Rauch, oil on canvas, 2007, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Photo: Uwe Walter © VG Bild-Kunst - click to enlarge

In Die Fuge, adolescents are floating in an anti-gravitational state while firefighters seem overpowered by a huge crevasse that opened in the earth from which a somewhat symbiotic person with a trunk for a lower body and a chain emerges. A figure sits forlorn and apathetic in a plastic chair his legs rather Goethesque looking. Again, Rauch deliberately adds breaks, indeed huge sinkholes to the visual narrative and linear logic and lets the semiconscious and the archaic reign at will.

To be perfectly honest with you, I think absorbing 36 Rauchs would give me a bit of a brain tumour, but you have until mid-September to see the show so do take your time.

In related news, I agree that it's a great shame Rauch isn't teaching anymore, but I think it's pretty clear that this man needs to paint.

Details below.


On show: May 28 - Sep 18, 2011

Address: Museum Frieder Burda, Lichtentaler Allee 8b, D-76530 Baden-Baden, Germany, tel: +49 (0)7221 / 3 98 98-0 | Map

Admission: 10 €

Gallery hours: Tue - Sun: 10 AM - 6 PM

Press release


Markus Schinwald for the Austrians at the Venice Biennale

by Suzanne on June 5th, 2011


By Markus Schinwald - click to enlarge

I must admit that before I saw the vision of hell that is Michael Stipe, Courtney Love and S4lem united at a Venice "art" event for the super-rich, super-bored and super-tasteless, my hopes for this 54th edition of the Venice Biennale were actually pretty high and this post looked very different when I started writing it and heck, I was even considering lifting my biennale boycott for the occasion.


Thérèse by Markus Schinwald, oil on canvas, 2007

Ah well, I still admire some of the bold choices this year's curator Bice Curiger (of Parkett and Kunsthaus Zürich fame) made and let's be fair, there are many great young artists exhibiting and for the first time, the Biennale actually feels almost... familiar.

What made me really happy is seeing that Markus Schinwald - lover of scoliosis and admirer of the Milwaukee Brace - is representing Austria in Venice.


Beatrice by Markus Schinwald, oil on canvas, 2007 - click to enlarge

Yes, you could argue that he's recently been doing very similar things at Yvon Lambert and has been showing the works on exhibit all over the place, most notably at the Migrosmuseum in Zürich, but still, BUT STILL, he has a great talent for the haunting (particularly in his film oeuvre), the uncomfortable, the uncanny, the unheimlich.

Here's an introduction to his Venice exhibition:


On show: Jun 4 - Nov 27, 2011

Address: The Venice Biennale, Austrian Pavilion, Giardini, 30124 Venezia, Italy, tel: +39-41.2728397

Austria's Biennale website


Nicola Samori at Galerie Christian Ehrentraut
, Berlin

by Suzanne on May 24th, 2011


La Storia by Nicola Samori, oil on copper (?), 2009 - click to enlarge

Nicola Samori is one of those artists I have been meaning to post about for a long time now - ever since I discovered his stunning oeuvre via the lovely and ever informative Samantha Levin.

His work struck an immediate chord with me as it exemplifies a certain poetic and narrative deconstructive (in the truest meaning of the word) trend that I've witnessed with a bunch of other young artists.

Most remarkably of course the great Titus Kaphar, in a more aggressive manner Valerie Hegarty, and even - in a more satirical and playful sense - Seb Patane and Ruth Claxton. The list could beyond doubt go on, but my brain is very leaky.


J.V. by Nicola Samori, oil on copper (?), 2009 - click to enlarge

Nicola Samori's works, however, are a lot darker and more nihilistic than any of his above contemporaries' and that's precisely why I find them particularly mesmerising.

He's currently exhibiting new works in the 13 group show at Christian Ehrentraut in Berlin.

Please note that the works featured here are from 2009 so you probably won't get to see the exact ones.

Details below.


J.V. by Nicola Samori, oil on panel, 2009 - click to enlarge


On show: May 13 - July 9, 2011

Address: Galerie Christian Ehrentraut
, Friedrichstraße 123, 10117 Berlin (U-Bhf Oranienburger Tor), Germany, tel: +49 (0)30 4403 8385, email: mail@christianehrentraut.com | Map

Gallery hours: Tue - Sat: 11 AM - 6 PM

Preview works | Press release

Artist's website


Grafikdesign im Jugendstil at Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg

by Suzanne on May 21st, 2011


Den Reinen ist Alles rein, den.... from Jugend 1896, Band 1 (Nr. 1-26), page 289 - click to enlarge

Okay, so I'll freely admit that I took the announcement of a special Jugendstil exhibition at MKG Hamburg as an excuse to obsessively plunder the online archives of Munich/Leipzig's weekly fin-de-siècle Jugend magazine that the University Library Heidelberg kindly put online for... err... 4 hours?


Die Kugelläuferin by Fidus from Jugend 1896, Band 1 (Nr. 1-26), page 297 - click to enlarge

You may have seen some of the more symbolist pieces - mainly works by Hugo Reinhold Karl Johann Höppener a.k.a. Fidus - pop up on various Tumblrs around the end of last year fueled by an article on John Coulthart's feuilleton, if I'm not mistaken.


Scene im Hades from Jugend 1896, Band 2 (Nr. 27-52), page 815 - click to enlarge

At any rate, if you have some time on your hands to check out the archives, it is indeed very interesting to witness how styles changed from 1896 to around 1905 - in the case of Jugend magazine, you'll notice a shift from the frivolous to the restrictive, from the decorative to the minimalist, from the experimental to the organised, the ornamental to the photographic. It's a very curious and somewhat melancholy thing how layout changes and ever more invasive ads rang in modernity in the microcosmos of an arts and crafts magazine.


Der Wolken[...] by Fidus from Jugend 1896, Band 1 (Nr. 1-26), page 60/61 - click to enlarge

If you pay very close attention, you may even find some rather dark pieces by Käthe Kollwitz as well as a multitude of ever more ridiculous and subliminal Odol ads (i, ii, iii, iv, v, vi - the list could frankly go on forever, but HELL, I never even liked Odol).


Am Grossen Gitter by Fidus from Jugend 1905, Band 1 (Nr. 1-26), page 309 - click to enlarge

Back to the exhibition though: It opened yesterday at Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe (MKG) in Hamburg and will remain on display until the end of August. Its title Grafikdesign im Jugendstil. Der Aufbruch des Bildes in den Alltag promises a very transdisciplinary approach to the osmotic Jugendstil, the "explodierenden Bilderwelt" as the MKG puts it and although I haven't received the official preview images yet, I am confident that with 350 artworks from the turn of the century, this is an exhibition of high educational and aesthetic value.

I can still remember my first visit to the MKG and their collection of Jugendstil furniture, jewellery and art is already breathtaking. Add to that hundreds of graphic works that have influenced neo-symbolist artists of today to an astounding degree, then I really wouldn't miss it.

All details below.


Das neue Strahlen from Jugend 1896, Band 1 (Nr. 1-26), page 81 - click to enlarge


On show: May 20 - Aug 28, 2011

Address: Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Steintorplatz, D-20099, Hamburg, Germany | Map

Gallery hours: Tue - Sun: 11 AM - 6 PM, Thu: 11 AM - 9 PM

Admission: €8

Press release

Jugend Magazine website

Jugend Magazine scans online