Friday, August 5, 2016

James Castle, a small show at Mia, Minneapolis — was Castle, an isolated, self-taught artist, influenced by Frans Kline’s “Chair” (1950) or Robert Rauschenberg ?

James Castle (American, 1899-1977)
Untitled (Chair), undated
The following information is taken from the museum display labels:

Light brown corrugated cardboard faced with tan paper; cut, folded, wrapped, and adhered; sewn and tied with white cotton string, blue cotton string, sisal twine; red-brown wash, red-brown wax crayon, soot, wood. Private collection, Minneapolis.
For this large-scale construction, Castle combined pictorial and sculptural elements to create a highly distinctive interpretation of a common wooden chair. At nearly two feet tall, the work is larger than most of his constructions, approaching the actual size of a child’s chair. It functions on two distinct planes—emblematic and descriptive—mimicking the form and physical attributes of its model. Is this chair, or is this an image of chair? It’s actually both, a hybrid that challenges our preconceived notion of “chairness.”

[About] James Castle
The Experience of Every Day

James Charles Castle was a self-taught American artist who lived his entire life in southwest Idaho. Born profoundly deaf in 1899. Castle grew grew up on a modest farmstead operated by his parents and seven siblings. The family farm would become a lifelong sanctuary for Castle, who remained at home with his parents until their death. and then with other relatives until his own death in 1977. Despite his family’s unwavering love and support. Castle was socially isolated, due to is inability to communicate conventionally. As a child. he attended a school for the deaf and blind, but never learned to read. write. speak sign. or lip-read. He never married or had children of his own.

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Thursday, August 4, 2016

Collection of the Minneapolis Institute of Art: Twentieth Century Modern Design

Pictured L-R (following information taken from the museum display labels) Photograph by © versluis 2016:

Marcel Lajos Breuer, American (born Hungary), 1902-1981
“Wassily” armchair, model B3 c. 1926
Chrome-plated steel, canvas
Standard Möbel, Manufacturer, Berlin, 1927-1928

This armchair helped change the course of the furniture industry in the early 1900s. Marcel Lajos Breuer used tubular steel and canvas in the design, instead of wood and other conventional materials. Breuer was reportedly inspired by the lightness of his bicycle frame, made of strong tubular steel, and wanted to use the material in his furniture design. The chair is nicknamed “Wassily” because of painter Wassily Kandinsky’s appreciation of the chair.

Eero Saarinen, Designer, American (born Finland) 1910-1961
Studio Loja Saarinen, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Maker
American, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

Loja Saarinen, Maker, Finnish 1879-1968
Wall hanging, c. 1934
linen, silk; discontinuous supplementary weft patterning

This object can be seen as the product of an extremely talented family. The angular leaping fish and muted colors are hallmarks of the American Art Deco style, and are attributed to Eero Saarinen. The piece was created in the studio of his mother, Loja at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, a leader in the development of modernism in the United States. Cranbrook was itself a family affair, guided by Loja and her husband, architect Eliel Saarinen. In the late 1930s, Loja and Eliel's daughter Pipsan and her husband, J. Robert F. Swanson, placed the hanging in the Charles J. Koebel residence in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. Swanson designed the house and Pipsan designed the interiors. 

Marcel Lajos Breuer, American (born Hungary), 1902-1981
Nest of table (model B9-9c), 1926-30s, 1926-30
Gebrüder Thonet, Manufacturer, Frankenberg, Germany, est. 1849
Chromium-plated steel, ebonized wood

Smaller tables are concealed within larger ones in this nest of tables, and can be pulled out at a moment’s notice. The tables are primarily made of tubular steel, a highly innovative material at the time and easier to bend than wood. Originally intended as stools, these tables were a favorite design of Breuer’s simple, functional, space-saving, and inexpensive.

Attributed to Fritz August Breuhaus de Groot, German, 1883-1960
Table lamp, c. 1928
Chromium-plated metal, glass
Metallwaren Fabrik (a.k.a. WMF)
Manufacturer: Württembergische

Breuhaus de Groot designed interiors for large modes of transportation, such as trains, ocean liners, and, most famously, the doomed Hindenburg airship that met its fiery demise on May 6, 1937. This lamp would have fit perfectly in the compact travel spaces he typically designed.

Alvar Aalto, Finnish 1898-1976
“Paimio” chair, c 1932
Laminated birch, bent plywood

Alvar Aalto, an architect and designer, is perhaps best known today for has furniture. He designed this relaxing armchair for the Paimio Tuberculosis Sanatorium in southwest Finland One of h1s earliest designs, it uses laminated birch, an uncommon material for furniture at the t1me. The chair was extremely strong, comfortable, and attractive, and could be inexpensively and easily manufactured. It is still produced by Artek, the company founded by Aalto and three partners.

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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Mika Negishi Laidlaw: 2015 McKnight Fellowship Recipient, Northern Clay Center, Minneapolis

Mika Negishi Laidlaw, Winter’s Hope, 2016, slipcast porcelain, 27 x 16 x 13".
photograph by ©versluis 2016

“…From early on much of her work has involved irregular curving forms suggestive of the body.…” [Negishi Laidlaw then stacks these forms upon one another to support on object]—“an abstract body”.… She associates these with the protective comfort of her grandmother and describes the emotive feeling as “unconditional love”. Her forms imply human relationships and comfort—‘home’ in the largest sense. (1)
  1. Koplos, Janet. “Mika Negishi Laidlaw: Home.” Six McKnight Artists. Ed. Elizibeth Colemen. Minneapolis: Northern Clay Center, 2016. 6-7. Print.  

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Rebecca Hutchinson: “Florilegium” Show / Northern Clay Center, Minneapolis

Tranquil Burst, an installation by Rebecca Hutchinson.
porcelain, paperclay, handmade paper, adhesive, adobe, willow, 2016.
Northern Clay Center—Contemporary clay work and ceramic sculpture gallery in Minneapolis. Photograph by © versluis 2016

The following information is from the exhibition label:

In nature there are d1verse states of existence that I continue to study the structure of nature. the resulting state of nature after interact1on with other forces of nature. the resilience of nature. and the complexity and awe 1n the engineering of nature All of these states of nature are rooted and formed by the motivation and need to survive, and they provide countless influences for diverse construction and conceptual possibilities for art making. More specifically. they provide endless opportunities for metaphor, as they speak to the depth and complexity of living with the hopes of revealing the human condition in visual and sculptural form, utiliZing traditional and non-traditional ceramic materials and processes.

My work focuses on the respect for process and the endless influences found in nature. Formally and structurally, my interest is in the details—quality of craft, connections. and structure -and conceptually. 1n an understanding of all physical parts to the whole. I build clay and fibrous sculptural works made from indigenous materials. such as recycled 100% natural fiber clothing or harvested garden materials beaten down to pulp and formed Into handmade sheets. and industrial cast-off surplus materials. like cotton thread from the bedding industry, shredded 100 dollar bills taken out of circulation, or sisal from the burlap bag industry.

Clay is either site-dug or purchased and mixed with pulp to create a slurry of paperclay. I hand model, slip trail, and dip surplus industrial materials or handmade paper forms and pour paperclay slip between papers, and cut and construct. Each paperclay form is built to be fired or remain non-fired A sticky mixture of paperclay mixed with glue binds the handmade paper and the paperclay florets to each other and to a simply constructed, wooden frame. Installation construction is influenced conceptually by specific growth patterns. but does not replicate nature. Like an animal that uses the vernacular from place. I, too, upcycle humble materials and remake them into what I hope to be exquisite sculptural forms. …

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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Oskar Kokoschka: Cowles's Portrait at the Des Moines Art Center

Oskar Kokoschka (Austrian, 1886-1980)
Portrait of Mr. and Mrs. John Cowles 1949
Oil on canvas
Des Moines Art Center Permanent Collection; Gift of John and Elizabeth Bates Cowles.

Rudolf Arnheim, author, art and film theorist, and perceptual psychologist, once mentioned that his favorite artist was Oskar Kokoschka.

John Cowles Sr. was the co-owner of the Cowles Media Company, whose assets included the Minneapolis Star, the Minneapolis Tribune, the Des Moines Register,Look magazine, and a half-interest in Harper's Magazine. Also, Drake University’s Cowles Library is a namesake.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Isamu Noguchi: “Mountain Landscape (Bench)” 1981 — three views

Isamu Noguchi (American, 1904-1988)
Mountain Landscape (Bench), 1981
Collection of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri 

The following is from the museum label:

Mountain Landscape (Bench) reveals Noguchi’s outstanding ability to combine refined carving and roughly chiseled surfaces within one work. The massive, horizontal bench was carved from a single p1ece of stone and rests on two stone feet. The flat-topped form on the sculpture’s upper surface suggests a great mesa or mound rising from a primal landscape. These forms relate to Noguchi’s lifelong study of ancient pyramids and burial mounds, which he explored on his world travels. Like a distinctive rock that has been carefully placed in a traditional Japanese garden, Mountain Landscape (Bench) also served as an aid to meditation. At Noguchi’s studio in Mure, Japan, he and others rested on the bench and observed other sculptures.

Gift of the Hall Family Foundation F99-33/70

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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Rick Valicenti and David Versluis attending the AIGA Design Educator's Conference at BGSU, Ohio

Rick Valicenti and David Versluis at the AIGA Design Educator's Conference: “Nuts+Bolts” at Bowling Green State University, Ohio. June 15-16, 2016.

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