U.S.A. - BUFFALO-NY - Sweet Dreams, Baby! Life of Pop, London to Warhol


Roy Lichtenstein (American, 1923–1997). Sweet Dreams, Baby! from the portfolio “Eleven Pop Artists, Vol. III,” 1965. Screen print, from an edition of 200. 37 1/2 x 27 1/2 inches (95.3 x 69.9 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Gift of Tom Wesselmann, 1972. © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. Photograph by Tom Loonan.

From the late 1950s to the late 1960s, a small, yet influential, group of American artists rejected the expressive canvases of Abstract Expressionism in favor of imagery taken from the world around them. Pop artists were influenced by the mass media and other increasingly commercial aspects of American society, and used a wide range of techniques, mediums, and subjects often excluded from the realm of fine art. Often transforming widely familiar photographs, icons, and styles into ironic visual artifacts, Pop art—with an emphasis on literalism, recognizable imagery, and mechanical methods of production—had a tremendous impact on the art world.

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery was at the forefront of these developments, collecting a core group of works by Pop art’s pioneers—Roy Lichtenstein (American, 1923–1997), Claes Oldenburg (American, born Sweden, 1929), James Rosenquist (American, born 1933), Andy Warhol (American, 1928–1987), and Tom Wesselmann (American, 1931–2004). Many of these works were acquired by the Gallery during the height of the movement, between 1962 and 1965, and are now considered icons of the Collection.

Life of Pop is the first comprehensive survey of the Gallery’s expansive holdings by this important group of artists. This exhibition offers an in-depth look at rarely seen works from the Gallery’s Pop art collection, while providing a historical analysis of the movement’s influences, key contributors, techniques, themes, trends, and legacy. Beginning with select works by artists associated with the British Independent Group, a 1950s precursor to Pop art, the exhibition also traces the bridge from Abstract Expressionism to Pop’s explosive, colorful, and witty portrayals of the modern world. Transitional works by the painters Jasper Johns (American, born 1930) and Robert Rauschenberg (American, 1925–2008)—who incorporated elements of everyday life with a more gestural, painterly approach, and included found materials on their canvases—are also featured. Their influence paved the way for Pop art’s reconceptualization of ephemeral objects and recognizable symbols. In total, this exhibition will feature more than fifty works in all media.

This exhibition is organized by Albright-Knox Curator for the Collection Holly E. Hughes.

Albright-Knox Art Gallery  31.05.2013 - 08.09.2013

Website & source : Albright-Knox Art Gallery

Website : City of Buffalo

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U.S.A. - BRATTLEBORO-VERMONT - Liu Bolin: The Invisible Man


As China undergoes widespread, thorough transformations to become a highly developed twenty-first century nation, it is confronted with the perennial question: How much change is too much? While modernization may hold many solutions to critical issues in China, it also introduces new ideas and ways of life that threaten to supplant old traditions and values. Moreover, the environmental damage caused by rapid modernization poses grave short- and long-term risks. Where is the balance between beneficial progress on the one hand, and national identity and culture, tradition, and a sustainable environment on the other? In China there is clearly no consensus on this quandary, and the dialogue between the advantages and disadvantages of modernizing rages.

Contemporary Chinese artists have been challenging the Central Committee’s continual and forceful pushing forward of economic, agricultural, industrial, technological, and architectural developments since the 1980s. They create artworks that reflect on their government’s current policies, weigh its actions, and comment on who wins and who loses in the end.

One such commentator is performance artist and photographer Liu Bolin. In elaborately prepared photographs, he embodies the role of the conflicted citizen in a country torn between tradition and “progress,” communal interests and individual freedom. Camouflaged in a particular setting then photographed by his assistants, Liu employs concealment as a method for addressing activeness/passivity, identity, and appearance.

When I was first introduced to Liu Bolin’s photograph Bulldozer, I did not see the figure hidden in the image. When I finally noticed him, painted so that he hides in plain sight, it unnerved me that he had been looking at me the whole time—that he had seen me before I had seen him. The concealed individual in Liu’s photographs often looks directly at the viewer from the center of the scene. But since he must remain immobile (if he moves, he will be spotted), does the hidden individual have the advantage? Though he can observe without being observed, he is unable to act. As a result, the notions of observer and observed, active and passive become entangled.

Primarily self-portraiture, Liu’s works raise the additional question of what it means that the hidden figure’s gaze is the artist’s own. Is the artist posing as a martyr, a teacher, merely one of us, or someone else altogether? Is he judging us (the viewers), the authorities, both, neither? Furthermore, where does this discussion lead when the hidden figure is read as a symbol of the ordinary Chinese citizen, silent and hidden among billions of compatriots in a country with questionable policies? For that matter, what do Liu’s photographs say about the position and responsibilities of any citizen of any country?

By embedding the individual within the setting, Liu challenges notions of identity. Fixed in position, the individual is a distinct part of the space he inhabits. Is he, then, a product or producer of his surroundings and, by extension, his country? The implications of the photographs that are clearly set in China are further complicated by the swiftly changing identity of the nation itself. Do (or should) Chinese citizens identify with the old, traditional China—which, as Liu’s Demolition photographs indicate, is being turned to rubble—or the new China—which is gaining strength every time a new building, such as the one in Bird’s Nest, is erected? As the values, traditions, and even physical landscape of China and its people change, one must ask: What is China, and what does it mean to be Chinese today?

Liu Bolin’s focus on appearance (or disappearance, as it may be) suggests questions of external and internal, body and mind. Liu asserts that human beings have unthinkingly become prisoners of culture and tradition—an idea perhaps reflected in Great Wall. This “mental enthrallment is more terrible than physical disappearance,” he declares. Yet I wonder if mental enthrallment is linked to the physical disappearance. Could the external camouflage Liu depicts reflect an internal camouflage—a willingness to unthinkingly accept the world as it is, to unquestioningly adopt societal values, to comply with the rules of the governing body? Many of Liu’s photographs, including Bird’s Nest and Panda, reflect the widespread embrace of national symbols by the ordinary Chinese citizen. Is this cooperation to be condemned for undermining the power and identity of the individual, or is it to be accepted as a means through which a nation can unite and progress?
Liu’s photographs based in urban and commercial settings seem to show unity through consumerism and signature buildings. By contrast, his photographs in rural settings suggest that conformity, a prized traditional value in Chinese culture, is problematic. Animals may use camouflage to survive, but, Liu says, “In human society, it is not enough to hide in order to make oneself safe.” The difference, Liu and his photographs suggest, is that humans are self-destructive: “We are just killing ourselves with our own hands.”

Nowhere is this message clearer than in Ancient Watercourse, The Yellow River, and Coal Pile, all of which refer to the extensive environmental destruction in China that is caused directly by humans. For example, water is of critical concern across the globe, but China is particularly suffering from overuse and drought in the northeast and flooding in the south. And with surging industrial development and booming population, demands for water continue to increase. In 2002 the Chinese government began building a system of pipelines and dams to transport water from the south central to the northeast (Beijing) region. This South-North Water Transfer Project has already forced millions of Chinese to relocate—an outcome consistent with China’s history of detrimental water projects, such as the Three Gorges Dam. Completed in 2012 after decades of planning and over 17 years of construction that displaced around 1.3 million people, the dam destroyed thousands of villages and flooded about 1,300 archaeological and cultural sites by raising the water level of the Yangtze River. Floods, thought to be caused in part by climate change, have displaced millions more. Furthermore—resulting mainly from pesticides, industrial chemicals, and human waste—much of the water accessible to citizens is unsanitary, producing critical health consequences.

The barren landscapes and prostrate, dirty, semi-submerged human figures combined with implied or vague references to industrialism in Liu’s rural photographs draw my attention not only to the extreme problems in his country, but also to my part in the destruction of the environment across the globe. His images remind me that we are part of the environment; as it is destroyed, so are we defiled—physically and, perhaps, morally and/or spiritually.

Liu’s works not only address issues that China currently faces, but also have global implications. The questions provoked by the series Hiding in the City, photographed in China, are also present in his more recent series Hiding in New York, and can be asked with respect to any individual in any community. The sometimes conflicting needs of the community and of the individual—namely, the necessity for rules to maintain group order versus individual freedom—must be balanced in every communal setting.

In addition, questions of one’s responsibility to the environment and to one’s nation are of utmost concern to people across the globe, as both the limits of the environment and tensions with ruling bodies become more prevalent throughout the world. Thus, when I look at a Liu Bolin photograph, I see his camouflaged figure as a representation of myself and of every other citizen in the world, and I wonder if his photographs ultimately bring us together as observers of a universal transformation and identity crisis. Perhaps our only identity is that of global citizen; perhaps globalization has made national boundaries no longer important; perhaps we are all more alike than we realize, and perhaps that is not a bad thing.

Elissa Watters, Curatorial Intern
Dartmouth College, Class of 2015

Brattleboro Museum & Art Center   16.03.2013 - 23.06.2013

Website & source : Brattleboro Museum & Art Center

Website : Brattleboro

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U.S.A. - BOSTON-MASSACHUSETTS - New Blue and White


 Harumi Nakashima, Work 0808 (detail), 2008. Glazed stoneware. Collection of Samuel and Gabrielle Lurie, New York. Photograph by Geoff Spear. Reproduced with permission.

"Blue and white" means, at its simplest, cobalt pigment applied to white clay. Over the course of a millennium, blue-and-white porcelain has become one of the most recognized types of ceramic production worldwide. With roots in the Islamic world and Asia, and strong presence in Europe and the Americas, various cultures adapted blue-and-white, from the Willow pattern to isznik. Taking inspiration from global blue-and-white traditions, today’s artists continue the story, creating works that speak to contemporary ideas. They tackle diverse issues, ranging from the public (the political landscape, cross-cultural interchange), to the personal (family, memory, the act of collecting), to the aesthetic (abstraction, pattern, the role of decoration). “New Blue and White” explores the ways in which contemporary makers, working in ceramics as well as other media ranging from fiber to furniture to glass, have explored this rich body of material culture. An international selection of artists and designers is featured in the exhibition, and recent acquisitions of work by the ceramic sculptor Chris Antemann and fashion designers Rodarte are drawn from the MFA’s own collection.

Museum of fine Arts Boston     20.02.2013 - 14.07.2013

Website : Museum of fine Arts Boston

Website : City of Boston

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U.S.A. - BERKELEY-CALIFORNIA - Nicole Eisenman / MATRIX 248


Nicole Eisenman: Beer Garden with Ulrike and Celeste, 2009; oil on canvas; 65 x 82 in.; Hall Collection. Photo courtesy Leo Koenig, Inc., New York.

York–based artist Nicole Eisenman (b. 1965), who became prominent in the 1990s and has been steadfastly expanding dialogues surrounding painting and drawing ever since. Having come of age in the East Village in the 1980s, Eisenman’s work reflects myriad sources both art historical and popular, culling from what writer and critic Lynne Tillman has referred to as a “vast image bank” that ranges from eighties punk ephemera to canonical works from the history of art. Parisian cafe settings found in late nineteenth-century paintings by Manet and Degas become open-air beer gardens one might find in present-day Berlin or Brooklyn, with the smartphones on the tables locating the scene in time. Intermixing styles associated with American Regionalism and the Italian Renaissance with German Expressionism, Eisenman brings history to bear in her canvases and drawings, yet twists the imagery to infuse these familiar forms with her own incisive social commentary and aesthetic voice.

Gender and suggestions of romantic liaisons remain open questions in most of Eisenman’s compositions. The articulated muscular (female) figure has predominated in her oeuvre. She filters the heroic style of Michelangelo through her feminist and lesbian subject matter, yet in recent years her work has become more abstract and less overtly narrative, encompassing psychological ambiguity and looser painterly forms. Decidedly contemporary, her dark, moody genre scenes remain moored in universal themes of everyday life: politics, romance, the economy, social gatherings, and isolation. This exhibition focuses on a selection of paintings and prints that the artist has made over the last several years that coalesce around the theme of economic and social hardship.

In conjunction with MATRIX 248, BAM/PFA presents Ballet of Heads, a thematic group exhibition drawn from the collection that explores the polymorphous nature of the figure in art history. The selection includes important Eisenman influences such as George Grosz and William Hogarth.

Nicole Eisenman / MATRIX 248 is organized by Apsara DiQuinzio, curator of modern and contemporary art and Phyllis C. Wattis MATRIX Curator. The MATRIX Program is made possible by a generous endowment gift from Phyllis C. Wattis and the continued support of the BAM/PFA

BAM/PFA     03.05.02013 - 14.07.2013

Website & Source : BAM/PFA

Website : Visit Berkeley

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