Maybe it's because I need some structure right now in my own life that I turn to The Grid to start the first post in the new year. Somehow the idea of formal, structural work that is built up from line, shape, and color is connecting with me in the first phase of 2015. Order yet with rebellious undertones. The work created by these four artists, Anni Albers, Agnes Martin, Richard Anuszkiewicz, and Sol Lewitt are regular sources of inspiration.
Anni Albers, Open Letter, 1958, Weaving, Cotton
Textile designer, weaver, writer and printmaker, Anni Albers (1899-1994) inspired a reconsideration of fabrics as an art form, both in their functional roles and as wallhangings. (albersfoundation). Her formative influence on so many artists was comparable to her husband Josef but often less considered. In weaving, prints + jewelry her work remains a force.
Black, White, Red, 1926/64; Cotton + Silk
Rug Design for a children's room, 1928. Gouache on Paper. All images courtesy of the Albers Foundation, an outstanding source of information.
Agnes Martin, Wood, 1964, Ink on Paper
Agnes Martin (1912-2004) is one of the first people that comes to mind when I think of the grid. Soulful, subtle, powerful, Martin's work is often referred to as floating, or transcendent for a reason. Her ability to transform lines, grids and fields of color into something wholly other is inspiring as well as are her writings about art and the influence of Eastern philosophies on her work and life. She was raised in Vancouver, lived in NYC for a time but spent most of her life in New Mexico after 1967.
Photo: © 2015 Estate of Agnes Martin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Tremolo, 1962, Gouache on Paper
© 2015 Estate of Agnes Martin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Untitled, from the portfolio, On a Clear Day, 1973, Screen print
Richard Anuszkiewicz, Spectral Squares, 1966, Screen Print
Richard Anuszkiewicz, b. 1930, should be more of a household name. Having studied at the Cleveland Institute of Art (1948-53) and then with Josef Albers at Yale University School of Art from 1953-55, he is one of the leading artists of the Op-Art movement from the 1960s-1970s, his work constantly and continuously challenging formal, structural and color effects. He has had a long, strong, and experimental career that deserves a retrospective soon!
All images courtesy of his fantastic website: richardanuszkiewicz.com
League of Women Voters, 1969, screen print
Monument Valley, 1970, Acrylic on Canvas
Sol Lewitt, Open Geometric Structure 3, 1990, Painted Wood
Sol Lewitt (1928-2007) was a pioneer in the movements of conceptualism and minimalism. His work, both graphic and multidimensional, crossed into printmaking, drawing, painting, sculpture (or structures, as he preferred), and enormous wall drawings and installation. Using line, color and shape, he produced a vast body of work and his his precise calculations and meticulous working process is legendary.
Photo courtesy of Lisson Gallery
Successive Rows of Horizontal Straight Lines from Top to Bottom and Vertical Straight Lines from Left to Right, 1972
© 2015 Estate of Sol Lewitt / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Cubic Modular Wall Structure Block, 1966, Painted Wood.
Photo: © 2015 Sol Lewitt/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Beverly Pepper, Light Silhouette, 1968
Beverly Pepper is an American sculptor whose whose career spans decades. Born in 1922, she has worked in cast iron, bronze, steel, stainless steel and stone. Her sculptures are generally massive and meant for the outdoors but I was drawn by these beautiful, stainless steel tabletop works. She has an incredible ability to capture movement and form in her work. She is also known for site specific projects in many cities around the globe. These projects generally integrate with the landscape around them, creating functional public spaces that make you linger. Stainless Steel. 14 x 8 x 16 inches.
Unknown Data, Exhibition by Sheila Hicks.
*This review is currently on the Fiber Art Now Blog.
In many ways, Sheila Hicks’s work is about raveling and unraveling. In both a material and conceptual sense, she constantly challenges the possibilities of what fiber can be and how it can be perceived. Whether natural cotton or high tech threads, multi-colored or monochrome, her free-standing sculptures, wall-hangings and works on paper transcend categories of art, design, or craft, letting her be at once painter, sculptor, weaver, colorist, and poet.
Unknown Data, is Hick’s first solo show with Frank Elbaz gallery, who will also present a solo show of her work at the upcoming FIAC art fair in Paris from October 23rd-26th. The exhibition presents a selection of new works that are deeply personal to the artist. This might appear on a metaphorical level such as the invisible threads hidden within the sculpture Cordes Sauvages, 2014 or more literally, such as with the series of small sculptural objects, titled Trésors des Nomades, 2014, in which she has hidden a small, personal object from one her many travels in the center of each layered bundle. Each small sculpture in Trésors des Nomades is a perfect example of Hicks’s expertise with color. Though bound by a top layer of cords, underneath patches of color pop out, bright yellows mixed with rust, blue and red, or pink, yellow, and blues.
Sheila Hicks makes work that is highly sensory, often with the intention that it be touched or walked through, and this once again challenges the status of what art in a museum or gallery context can be. Atterrissage, 2014 begs to be brushed up against and even sat upon if we dare. Long twisted, colorful cords tumble from above, landing on the floor in a puff of colorful, fiber clouds. The title is a French word referring to the landing of an airplane and there is a strong sense of movement in this piece that visually anchors the exhibition space, drawing our eye up and across the room.
Hicks continues to challenge herself and her materials. With Tanné Cousu, 2014, she breaks away from her use of cords and threads, using pieces of dyed blue fabric that have been treated giving them a leathery texture. The pieces were then arranged into a large, geometric wall composition sewn at the seams with red stitching. Or in Drawing IV, 2014 in which tufts of indigo blue threads that suggest gestural brush strokes or calligraphy, have been pressed against a light ivory background and framed. To use the title of a current exhibition at the Drawing Center in New York, these pieces are literally thread lines, an act of drawing with threads.
Several of the works in the exhibition exude a spiritual, if not a shaman-like presence, such as with La Sentinella, 2013, a sculpture that feels nearly animated, as if it’s about to give a little shake and shimmy or Cordes Sauvages, 2014 that seems out of a pre-Columbian myth, while still being a completely contemporary piece of art.
There is a powerful sense of connection within Sheila Hicks’s body of work. A certain color, a piece of yarn or textile, a memory or a souvenir from a trip all feed into the relationships between the small, spontaneous gestures, or the large-scale architectural installations. For many, Sheila Hicks is herself a mythic being. A force of inspiration and creativity and as Unknown Data coincides with her 80th birthday it seems all the more important to mark her singular career as artist, designer, and visionary.
Weaving + Chairs
This online presentation, the second in our ongoing series about specific materials, form, function, color and so forth, explores the dynamic of warp and weft when applied to the humble chair, often transforming it into something sculptural and simply not quite functional. The crossing and pull of threads, whether silk, rope, cotton, polyester or natural linen adds another dimension to these chairs; a pop of color, a sense of transparency or fragility, reflections about the environment and material, shadow and light.
Alvi Silk Chair
The Alvi Silk Chair by Swedish designer Asa Karner of Alvi Design. Karner is interested in creating an environmentally friendly range of furniture by incorporating colorful silk threads crossed with the oak frame. It’s a beautiful balance between transparency and mass. Light and shadow add another dimension to this piece as well.
Teotitlan Chair #1 by Tanya Aguiniga
Tanya Aguiña is a Los Angeles based artist + designer. Her Teotitlan Chairs (1 & 2) were inspired by Oaxacan weaving traditions she discovered in the town of Teotitlan in Mexico. I love the black + white contrast, and the ghost-like impression of the white threads against the black frame.
Teotitlan Chair #2 by Tanya Aguiniga
1960s American Studio Rope Chair, Unknown Designer
Wanting to include some vintage pieces in the group, I came across this fantastic chair in a google search on vintage chairs that incorporated hand weaving techniques. It has the weighty feel of a loom and almost looks like some sort of weaving device. I had to include it. I’d love to know who the designer was….
Thread Wrapping Bench by Anton Alvarez
Anton Alvarez is a Swedish-Chilean designer who currently lives in Stockholm. The obsessive wrapping technique that Alvarez created for his thesis project at the Royal College of Arts creates and builds furniture and objects through binding the components with hundreds of meters of threads and glue. This short video shows the process and is worth a visit. Photo by Paul Plews and courtesy of Anton Alvarez.
Thread Wrapping Chair
Photo by Paul Plews + courtesy of Anton Alvarez.
Craft on Design Chair by Rami Tareef
Israeli designer, Rami Tareef started COD, or Craft Oriented Design, as a way to explore the relationship between craft + design and between the handmade and mass-produced. Tareef wanted to see how the two fields might work together, to test the limits and engage new possibilities.
Craft on Design Chair by Rami Tareef
1950s String Chair by American designer, Allan Gould
I had a hard time finding information about Allan Gould (1908-1988), but he was also a painter and did several murals under the New Deal Act as well as being an interior designer and furniture maker. He lived and worked in New York. This chair was produced in natural rope as well.
String Chair by Allan Gould, c. 1950s
Thinking about Vessels- 1st in the series
Vessel. It’s a suggestive word with several meanings and some ambiguous associations. It’s a physical word, kind of weighty when spoken. The word Vessel, in the context of art + design, suggests antiquities much as contemporary objects. I like the word for this reason, and because it lends a sort of freedom to its definition around these objects. A vessel might be functional or not. It might be a unique piece or made in small production. It might stand proudly on your mantle or be perched outside in the garden. It might be smooth and soft or chunky and rough around the edges. Swirls, chunks, geometry, structure, Mother Nature, lunar landscapes, clay... Each of these artists is working (or have worked) in very different environments, with different motivations and inspirations. Included in this first online presentation, a new project from The Vitrine, are: Hilda Hellström (Swedish, lives London), Rimma Tchilingarian (German), Tracy Wilkinson (English, lives in Los Angeles), Peter Voulkos (American 1924-2002), Shoko Michikawa (Japan), & Ben Medansky (American).
Rock Urn, 2011 by Hilda Hellstrom
Hilda Hellström is a Swedish artist who lives and works in London. She studied Product Design at Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm, and went on to get her Masters in Design Products from the Royal College of Art in 2012. That same year she began her series of Sedimentation vessels and urns using Jesmonite, a non-toxic, acrylic-based plaster. Inspired by many things including rock sedimentation and geological phenomena, the patterns on these sculptural vessels are startling and impossible to define.
Kon'nichiwa, Rock Urn, 2014
The vessels suggest a range of imagery from Middle Eastern patterning and antiquities, lunar landscapes, and postmodern color schemes. They feel new and old, serious and ironic at the same time.
Peter Voulkos, Yakiimo, 1995
I couldn't help but include American legend, Peter Voulkos, in this group. Such an inspiration for so many artists and his brute, earthy, passionate and 'ugly-beautiful' aesthetic seems as current today as ever. Copyright 1995-2007 Voulkos & Co. Photo: Hiromu Narita.
Peter Voulkos, Kings Chamber, 1992
These two pieces are from a series called "Stacks." Made using stoneware and fired in a wood oven. "Kings Chamber" measures 34 x 26". Copyright: 1995-2007, Voulkos & Co. Photo: schoppleinstudio.com
Island Basket, 2014 by Tracy Wilkinson
Tracy Wilkinson is a ceramic artist and basket weaver who lives in Los Angeles. She recently began a series of sculptural ceramic pieces that combine elements of basket weaving using natural fibers. The objects feel as though they are in flight, light and airy, with the contrast of the earth-toned glazing that keeps them grounded. Inspired by the Southern California landscape, sailing, and Native American basket weaving, the results are unique, very abstract forms that capture a sense of movement and rhythm.
Savannah Sail Pot, 2014
Gradient Vase by Rimma Tchilingarian
The Gradient Vase by Berlin based artist, Rimma Tchilingarian. Rimma studied Industrial and Communications Design at the University of Applied Sciences at Potsdam. She is interested in experimenting with the unique qualities of porcelain and exploring new possibilities in the medium. Her work is a balance between traditional craftsmanship + contemporary design.
The Dot Vase is a unique, porcelain vase by Rimma Tchilingarian. It is kilned at 1350° Celsius. The dots are hand painted. Colors are white, blue + gold. Size: 23 cm x 17 cm.
Shozo Michikawa was born on the island of Hokkaido in Japan, in 1953. He now lives in Seto, Aichi Prefecture, a center for ceramic production since ancient times. His work is very inspired by the landscape in which he lives and works, including Mt. Usu volcanic near where he grew up. He says, "the energy of Nature is truly immense. No matter how much our sciences and civilization might evolve and multiply the power of human beings, it is inconsequential in the face of Nature"s typhoons, earthquakes, tsunamis and erupting volcanos." (Source: Puls Ceramics).
Shozo Michikawa, Triangle Pot
Shozo Michikawa's work was a discovery. I was immediately drawn to the movement and chunky forms and the contrast between the white and dark glazing and surfaces.
Ben Medansky, Vessel // Kepler
Born in Arizona, Ben Medansky now lives and works in Los Angeles. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and worked with several artists including Peter Shire, Kelly Lamb, and the Haas Brothers before going out on his own and starting Ben Medansky Ceramics in 2012. As he says on his website, "his ceramic practice is simple: a few pounds of clay, an extruder, a wheel, basic tools, trusted apprentice, experiments in glaze and a vision for each individual objects." His work includes one of a kind objects, vessels, and functional objects, each made by hand. There is a strong influence of geometry and architecture in the forms, and the southern california and desert landscapes in the glazes.
Ben Medansky, Laika//Vessel
Buff stoneware clay body. Matte Black/White Glaze. Extruded Attached Fins. One of a kind. 6" x 9". I love this cross between vintage and contemporary in his work. And such unusual forms.