Jeff Koones, Metallic Venus, 2010-2012. Mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating and live flowering plants
Jeff Koons is reaching back into art history with his new series
“Antiquity,” exploring the goddess of love in huge glossy metallic sculptures such as the turquoise Metallic Venus.
The Painter and Sculptor was showing at two venues in Germany’s banking capital (20 June-23September 2012). Sculptures towering over ancient figures in Frankfurt’s Liebieghaus museum, where Koons’s work was interspersed among sculptures from antiquity to the 19th century.
Jeff Koons plays with ideas of taste, pleasure, celebrity, and commerce.
“I believe in advertisement and media completely,” he says. “My art and my personal life are based in it.” Working with seductive commercial materials (such as the high chromium stainless steel of his “Balloon Dog” sculptures or his vinyl “Inflatables”), shifts of scale, and an elaborate studio system involving many technicians, Koons turns banal objects into high art icons. His paintings and sculptures borrow widely from art-historical techniques and styles; although often seen as ironic or tongue-in-cheek, Koons insists his practice is earnest and optimistic. “I’ve always loved Surrealism and Dada and Pop, so I just follow my interests and focus on them,” he says. “When you do that, things become very metaphysical.” The “Banality” series that brought him fame in the 1980s included pseudo-Baroque sculptures of subjects like Michael Jackson with his pet ape, while his monumental topiaries, like the floral Puppy (1992), reference 17th-century French garden design.
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Samuel Aranda, Yemen 15 October 2011
The international jury of the 55th annual World Press Photo Contest has selected a picture by Samuel Aranda from Spain as the World Press Photo of the Year 2011. The picture shows a woman holding her wounded son in her arms, inside a mosque used as a field hospital by demonstrators against the rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, during clashes in Sanaa, Yemen on 15 October 2011. Samuel Aranda was working in Yemen on assignment for The New York Times
Comments on the winning photo by the jury;
Koyo Kouoh: ‘It is a photo that speaks for the entire region. It stands for Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, for all that happened in the Arab Spring. But it shows a private, intimate side of what went on. And it shows the role that women played, not only as care-givers, but as active people in the movement.’
Nina Berman: ‘In the Western media, we seldom see veiled women in this way, at such an intimate moment. It is as if all of the events of the Arab Spring resulted in this single moment, in moments like this.’
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Liam Gillick, German Pavilion at Venice Art Biennale, 2009
Born in England in 1964, Liam Gillick emphasizes his roots in postwar Europe and his consequent distrust of authority as major influences in his curatorial techniques and artistic practices. Currently working in London and New York, “engaged with the processes of the everyday,” he rejects the use of the term “contemporary art” citing it as historical and redundant.
Working in a variety of different mediums including large-scale installations, inkjet prints, and music, as well as curatorial projects and theoretical writings, Gillick’s work transcends disciplinary categories. In 2009, he was selected to represent Germany in the Venice Biennale, and he was nominated for the prestigious Turner Prize in 2002. Gillick has been the subject of numerous exhibitions, including a retrospective at the Hessel Museum of Art at Bard College in 2012, as well as solo shows at institutions including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago (2009), Rotterdam’s Witte de With (2008), Kunsthalle Zurich (2008), the Palais de Tokyo in Paris (2005), and the Museum of Modern Art (2003). He has also contributed to magazines and journals such as Frieze, Artforum, and October.
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Shahryar Nashat, Dowscaled Upscaled 1
A stout cavalier straddles a parade horse, his head bowed slightly to survey his troops in promenade. In the fresco he created for Florence Cathedral, Paolo Uccello painted Sir John Hawkwood and his horse in one-point perspective, on the same level with the viewer, but depicted the cenotaph on which the mercenary and his horse stand in three-point perspective, viewed from below. The multiple vanishing points upset the hierarchy between the subject and the object, disorienting the viewer and the viewed: the equestrian statue is indeed monumentalized on the impressive cenotaph, but Uccello’s perspectival play pulls the viewer up alongside the cavalier.
When a regime falls, the monuments to its figureheads are broken off at the ankles and toppled from their pedestals. Suddenly, all points of reference are lost. The displaced desperately seek a new ruler who can assure them a defined place in the world. Who is the subject and who is the object in this exchange? In Nashat’s video Modern Body Comedy (2006), two men act out these questions in a choreographed performance in which a pair of shoes and socks, a false moustache and a broken chair are the props for their power games. When one man kneels to lace the other’s shoes, his gesture seems obsequious; yet it could also be an expression of dominance, as he has, in effect, immobilized his partner. The film ends with the two actors on the floor in a confused embrace, somewhere between tickling and wrestling.
Like Uccello’s fresco, Nashat’s work sends tremors through the ground between the subject and the object. Human existence, Nashat seems to say, is a constant struggle for dominance, played out not just between the self and the other, but also schizophrenically between the self and itself. Nashat’s work dismisses the dominant/subordinate dichotomy, demonstrating that such concepts are illusions conjured to reorder the muddled superimposition of roles, identities and meanings we encounter in daily life.
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Lernert & Sander, Trampling, From the Series, Elektrotechnique, 2011
Dutch designers Lernert & Sander create pieces that reflect on the remarkable, often messy endeavor of art-making. In their surreal, Pantone world, the creative process is always beautifully exposed.
Though not yet a household name, the Dutch duo have amassed a considerable body of work – including TV commercials, short films, print pieces, and art installations – that’s darkly humorous and eminently engaging. We first got hooked on their witty films series
“How To Explain…” and “The Procrastinators.” In the former, Lernert & Sander film conceptual artists as they (painstakingly) attempt to explain their work to their parents. In the latter, a series of artists confess their struggles with procrastination. Further digging led us to “Chocolate Bunny” and their first “Revenge” film, which elegantly stages and then documents the destruction of a single, innocent egg.
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