Spreading fear and mayhem in the visual arts.

Archive for January, 2008

Max Klinger, The Pre-Gorey, in Hamburg

by Suzanne on January 17th, 2008

Entführung, plate 9 of the Ein Handschuh ("A Glove") series by Max Klinger, 1881

Final chance for northern Germans to become acquainted with the ghastly & nightmarish symbolist oeuvre of Max Klinger - Edward Gorey's insanely ingenious father figure.

The retrospective entitled Eine Liebe. Max Klinger und die Folgen (A Love. Max Klinger's Impact on Modern Art) at Hamburger Kunsthalle has been extended to end this weekend, so it's not too late for you to plan a short trip to one of my favourite German cities.

In Flagranti, part of the Dramas series by Max Klinger, 1883

Recommended publication: Graphic Works of Max Klinger (Dover Art Collections)

The Idiot Code

by Suzanne on January 17th, 2008

John the Baptist by Leonardo da Vinci, oil on canvas, c. 1513-1516

"The painter who draws merely by practice and by eye, without any reason, is like a mirror which copies every thing placed in front of it without being conscious of their existence."

(From The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, translated by Jean Paul Richter)

Another year, another da Vinci mystery.

This time, it's the Crypto-Biblical People's Mirror Front of Judea led by a certain Mr Hugo Conti - a self-proclaimed "historian" - who think they have found yet another hidden code which da Vinci was obviously so eager to preserve for the movie industry of the 21st century.

By applying mirrors to more or less significant points in some of da Vinci's oeuvres, they believe to see visual messages of great biblical importance in his works.

In John the Baptist, when a mirror is placed over John's pointing hand, Conti can perceive "a half-woman and half-man" beneath the "Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden". Hmm... interesting... all I can see is Ghorrmæh - the cross-eyed four-legged sheep god in deep meditation. But then again, I'm no "historian"...

Da Vinci's John the Baptist - drastically altered improved by Mr Conti & The Mirror Front of Judea. Stunning!

Now... mirrors have been around in most parts of this world for up to 8000 years, yet Mr Conti and the Mirror Front seem to only just have discovered the magic they can do to images: Reflect them at a chosen point to create grotesque Rorschachesque images filled with hidden meaning and dark secrets.

Don't get me wrong, I deeply value and honour da Vinci as an incredibly visionary and gifted homo universalis with an almost anachronistic sense for environmental responsibility and future political and sociological problems. Yes, he was a talented right-to-left mirror writer, and yes, he was definitely inspired by mirrors - as were many other great and inspiring artists like Jan Van Eyck (Arnolfini Portrait), Albrecht Dürer (c.f. his self-portraits), down to M.C. Escher, Mark Mothersbaugh.. you name them! - but let's face it, his genius went far beyond cheap visual tricks, pareidolia and apocryphal cryptography.

So could these "historians" please get back to solving more serious art problems that keep the likes of me awake, like the anamorphic skull in Holbein's Ambassadors or Bosch's visionary early draft of a motorboat?

After all, there are eerie Old Testament secrets in all of us...

© and feat. Suzanne G.

Oh my! It's the Cyclops Face-Eater God who ate Noah's breakfast cereals before the Deluge!

© and feat. Suzanne G.

Eeeeeeeep! It's Nebuchadrezzar the Great!

¹ (Don't miss the sliiiiiiiiiiideshow! There's Darth Vader in there. In beta version!)

Heinrich Zille's "Kinder der Strasse" in Berlin

by Suzanne on January 14th, 2008

Frau auf einem Karussellpferd reitend and Aufbau des Standes der "Rosen aus dem Süden" by Heinrich Zille, both summer 1900

German lithographer, artist and photographer Heinrich Zille would have turned 150 this year. His moving, fresh and surprising drawings and photographs of the lives of the Berlin lower classes are the main focus of a retrospective at Akademie der Künste, Berlin (in cooperation with the Stadtmuseum Berlin).

Kinder der Strasse (Street Children - named after a book of 100 collected drawings that Zille published in 1908) is a stunning and instructive contemporary document transmitted by someone who was filled with curiosity and dared to look behind the curtains of early 20th century society.. into backyards and factory canteens - at a time when photography changed from being an experimental scientific tool to a mass medium obsessed with and blinded by glamour and facade.

Zille understood to capture everyday scenes of the less fortunate without being accusatory and without romanticising the hard times of the working classes. He was more than a social critic with a camera, he was first of all a restless artist who arose from a poor background himself and was deeply fascinated and inspired by the richness of the life of the lower classes and the Berlin Milieu - with all its hardship, sadness but also joys and wisdoms.

So if you happen to be in Berlin (lucky you!), don't miss this exhibition. It's open to the public until March 24, 2008, and there's free entry every first Sunday of the month.

Art Magazine feature [NSFW]

From June 22 - August 31, 2008 at Städtische Galerie Villingen-Schwenningen, Germany.

Esao Andrews, Xiaoqing Ding & Jonathan Viner at Jonathan LeVine

by Suzanne on January 14th, 2008

Until We Felt Blue by Xiaoqing Ding

The Jonathan LeVine Gallery in New York is currently showing yet another inspiring juxtaposition of two artists.

Separate Lives confronts the sickly sweet works of Brooklyn-based Xiaoqing Ding with those of my talented iFriend Esao Andrews.

The two-person show opened last weekend and will be on display through February 9, 2008.

And as if this wouldn't be enough eye candy already, Jonathan Viner shows Target Practice in the main room. Same place, same times. Yay!

A beautiful and dreamlike way to start into the new art year!

Photos from the opening reception

The Art of Alex CF

by Suzanne on January 12th, 2008

Over New Year, Alex and I decided that it's time he gets a proper website to present his beautiful works.

So here it is:

I hope you like the blog design. Oh, and don't forget to buy a set of his gorgeous What Alice Saw print series. There are only a few sets left! Alex also accepts commissions for custom artworks, in case you didn't know.

If you're not familiar with his oeuvre yet (shame on you!), please enjoy these samples (click on thumbnails to enlarge):

All artworks © Alex CF

Walter Martin and Paloma Munoz at P P O W

by Suzanne on January 12th, 2008

A Winter Walk by Walter Martin and Paloma Muñoz, 2006

It's snowing here and old Mount Pilatus looks as magnificent and proud as a wise king in a majestic ermine coat.

If you are less fortunate and have to endure the bitter cold without any snow, the P·P·O·W Gallery has the perfect exhibition for you: Walter Martin and Paloma Muñoz's Islands show.

Addressed to all those who spent the vast majority of their childhood creating shoe-box dioramae out of cotton wool, broken mirror glass, tissue paper, dead insects, tin soldiers and immersed themselves into these peacefully silent yet vivid microcosms.

Shame my toy dinos always squashed the entire fauna and flora of my dioramae when they entered the box. Oh well..

Happy 100th Birthday...

by Suzanne on January 9th, 2008

... to one of the most inspiring women of the 20th century:

Simone de Beauvoir, 1952 by Elliott Erwitt

"On ne naît pas femme : on le devient."

(Excerpt from "Le Deuxième Sex" by Simone de Beauvoir)

All the best, Simone... wherever you are.

We'll soon meet again in my bookshelf.

ARTE celebrates de Beauvoir's birthday with special broadcasts (in French/German) tomorrow and on Friday. Yay!

Also closing today...

by Suzanne on January 6th, 2008

The Embrace (Detail) and Bodyguard (for the Golden Helmeted Honeyeater), 2004-2005 by Patricia Piccinini

... Patricia Piccinini's Hug show at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle WA.

Off you go!

This Blog Hasn't Achieved Anything Noteworthy in 2007 and Doesn't Have Any Fucking Plans for 2008

by Suzanne on January 5th, 2008

Angel by Marc Quinn - P.S.: Any anti-abortion comments will be deleted immediately due to my maaaad totalitarian censorship powers as this is quite plainly a sculpture of a skeletal child, not a statement against abortion.

Marc Quinn - who once gained somewhat dubious fame as a YBA with a self-portrait bust made out of his own frozen blood is showing his works to the Canadian art crowd until tomorrow evening.

The YBAs may not be terribly young anymore, and about as British as a Tiki goddess, but they still seem to hit the headlines with more or less artistic endeavours and are obviously still shocking enough to be exported to the Commonwealth for solo exhibitions. Fair enough.

I wish I could tell you more about which works are being featured in this retrospective, however, the DHC/ART gallery has some of the worst and inaccessible flash navigation known to iMankind. Camino, Firefox & Safari all failed at getting beyond the 3rd image of Quinn's online portfolio. Oh well.. I guess you have to find out for yourself whether the show is worth seeing.

At least trusty old e-flux was kind enough to unveil that Angel (c.f. image above) is one of the installation pieces on show. And personally, I think that you cannot possibly see enough larger than life-sized skeletons in a lifetime. So there.

On a side note, Angel also graces the cover of a relatively new publication I bought entitled Eretica - The Transcendent and the Profane in Contemporary Art - which is presently in the gifted hands of Alex.

The sole reason why this book deserves a mention on this blog is of course its eclectically and intelligently selected illustrations and the
very surprising fact that the author could write an entire essay on post-modern art blah blah without using the words "hybrid" and "aura" (at least not until page 12 where I passed out) which per se is quite an achievement for any modern art historian. Also, the 18276 mentions of "post-human" or "post-humanism" can probably be explained by the fact that there are 237 different words that mean "post-human" in the original Italian version of the book. Oh well.. it's still a nice addition to ones bookshelf, I suppose.


i) I've never had such lazy UK holidays before. However, I finally got around to visit the Wellcome Collection - which was a lot smaller than I expected but nevertheless quite entertaining. The Seeing is Believing exhibition at the Photographers' Gallery was a bit of a disappointment and didn't really bring any further insight. À propos disappointments: The post-smoking-ban CroBar made my brother and I really depressed. So depressed that we sadly missed the chance to meet up with Corran & Mike. The ICA still has one of the finest art book shops and Brighton has improved its attractiveness by 520% over the past ten years which is probably due to the fact that Alex lives there now.

ii) Wikipedia sentence that made me happy today:

"His other empirical investigations included providing convincing evidence that lemmings were rodents and not, as some thought, spontaneously generated by the air [...]"

(Wiki entry on Ole Worm)

iii) No, I have no idea what's wrong with my website and why it keeps vanishing these days. I contacted my host the other day and they said that they discovered a glitch which they fixed but it still seems rather unstable to me. Hmmm...

I guess I should finally upgrade to the newest version of WP. Any last words of warning are highly welcome as upgrades tend to scare the hell out of me.

Last Chance To See "The Incurable Disorder"

by Suzanne on January 5th, 2008

Deer House by Elizabeth McGrath

Readers from Culver City looking for an unforgettable way to spend this Saturday evening should attend the finissage of Elizabeth McGrath's sweetly morbid The Incurable Disorder show at Billy Shire Fine Arts (5790 Washington Blvd).

Liz is an untamable art sorceress.