Sunday, March 12, 2017

Abstract Experiments: Latin American Art on Paper after 1950—Art Institute of Chicago

Hélio Oiticica. GFR 022, 1955. Collection of Donna and Howard Stone.
All images courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago

The following is from the AIC gallery didactics:
“The Neoconcrete movement emerged in Rio de Janeiro as a reaction to the perceived rigidity of the Brazilian Concrete art movement as it was practiced in São Paulo. The Neoconcretists, among them Lygia Clark, Lygia Pape, and Hélio Oiticica rejected the commodification of the art object and embraced a poetic, participatory and multi-sensory experience. In their two-dimensional work the artists of the Neoconcrete movement replaced the strict geometry of concrete art with softened more organic forms. Moving into the three-dimensional realm, they turned spectators into participants in order to challenge to traditional relationship of the viewer to the work of art.” 

Hélio Oiticica. Metaesquema, 1958–59. Collection of Diane and Bruce Halle. In 1959 the two-dimensional geometric forms of Oiticica’s early paintings on cardboard began to transition into his Bilateral and Spatial Reliefs, which were suspended from the ceiling.

Manuel Espinoza. Celestial Theme, from 21 Estampadores de Colombia, Mexico y Venuzuela, 1972. Gift of the Container Corporation of America. This piece exemplifies the genre of Venezuelan kineticism.

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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Hélio Oiticica: a retrospective exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago—

Hélio Oiticica, (Brazilian, 1937–1980)
NC1 Small Nucleus (foreground), (NC1 Núcleo pequeno 1)
Oil on wood, mirror
photograph by versluis 2017

Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium is on display at the AIC, Regenstein Hall, through May 7, 2017. In the late 1950s, Oiticica’s painterly and suspended constructions that are pulled from the gallery wall to interact/engage with the space of the viewer. The gallery label for the piece pictured above states:

Like the Bilaterals and Spatial Reliefs, Oiticica’s Nuclei are made up of forms suspended from the ceiling. Clustered together, so that viewers have to walk around to pieces to fully experience them—they represent an early exploration of architectural space for the artist. Oiticica’s aspiration to integrate the viewer into the work itself is made literal here through he reflection provided by the mirror. Oiticica’s goal was to give color an independent physical presence apart form the form on which it appeared.

From the collection of César and Claudio Oiticica, Rio de Janeiro

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Friday, March 10, 2017

Lygia Clark: “Bicho—monumento a todas as situações”—the inherent creatureliness of all things

Lygia Clark (Brazilian, 1920-1988)
Bicho—Monument to All Situations (Bicho—monumento a todas as situações), 1960
65.4 x 53.5 x 40.6 cm (25 3/4 x 21 x 16 in.)
From the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago
photographs by versluis 2017

The following information is from the AIC label:

Clark began producing bichos, Portuguese for “critters,” in 1959. The articulated aluminum sculptures are small enough to be held. Clark designed each piece to be manipulated by the viewer. The artist understood the bichos as living creatures able to move and occupy space. The variability inherent in the works in this series creates a unique experience by stimulating both physical and visual sensations, activating the object and the viewer in the process. Through their titles and shapes, certain of the bichos suggest a wider, even utopian context (as well as content), and this work bears a strongly architectural sensibility appearing in a number of its configurations like a dynamic skyscraper or winged creature.

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Silke Otto-Knapp: painting the illusion of space, but draws you back to the flatness of the canvas

Silke Otto-Knapp
Stage (after Kurt Schwitters), 2017
Watercolor on canvas
Five free standing panels, 68 x 47 inches each
Front and back photographs by versluis 2017

The Graham Foundation (Chicago) is currently showing Spaces without drama or surface is an illusion, but so is depth, which examines, as the curators state: “... the recent proliferation of collage in architectural representation in relationship to scenography and theatrical set design.”

The exhibition curated by Wonne Ickx and Ruth Estévez: LIGA, Space for Architecture, “Spaces without drama or surface is an illusion, but so is depth”. The exhibition runs to  July 01, 2017.

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John Massey, graphic designer (b. 1931): Carton de Venezuela, 1964 Calendar Posters— On display at the Art Institute of Chicago

John Massey Carton de Venezuela
photographs by versluis 2017
The following text is taken form the Art Institute of Chicago gallery didactics:

One of Chicago’s great design stories emerged from the Container Corporation of America (CCA) in the middle of the 20th century. The CCA’s founder, Walter Paepcke, was an influential patron of the arts and was integral in bringing the New Bauhaus, later folded into the Illinois Institute of Technology, to the city. At CCA he enlisted exceptionally talented graphic designers such as the Austrian Herbert Bayer and the Chicagoan John Massey, whose work for CCA is featured here.

Massey began working at CCA in 1957, and upon his appointment as head of design in 1964 he formed a research arm, the Center for Advanced Research in Design(CARD). The work of CARD extended beyond the traditional work of CCA to projects such as the Chicago Civic Poster campaign. Supported fully by Paepcke, this unusual arrangement enabled great creativity and innovation within a corporate structure. The portfolio of Massey’s work recently acquired by the Art Institute of Chicago demonstrates the designer’s ingenuity across a range of projects.

John Massey (American, born 1931)
John Massey designed this set of posters for the CCA’s subsidiary Carton de Venezuela. The set was intended as a calendar for clients, with each poster representing a different month of the year. The strong, clean lines and bold colors reflect one of Massey’s primary influences, the Swiss school of design. Each poster advertises a line of paper products sold by the company. The poster Febrero, for example, is_an abstracted view of the ends of paper set up 1in an S curve. Throughout the series, Massey favored design over corporate promotion, including only a small logo for Carton de Venezuela in the bottom left corner. These posters represent an overall approach to design by Massey and illustrate the important body of work he deve1oped while the director of CARD.

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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Press Release: David Versluis (click image for larger view)

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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Dordt College Art Collection was recently featured in SEEN Journal

The Dordt College Art Collection was recently featured in SEEN Journal, the large format, color magazine published by CIVA (Christians in the Visual Arts). The theme of the issue is “Collect” and focuses on Christian individuals and institutions that collect works of art. In one article, “Bringing Out Treasures Old and New,” the first page of text overlays a full-page photo of Professor David Versluis’s 18 foot high sculpture, “Enlaced: A Burning Bush, Psalm 19.” The article, written by John Kohan, a former associate editor and correspondent for Time magazine who now curates church art exhibitions, briefly highlights the Dordt College Art Collection and the fact that nearly all of the art in its permanent collection is on display for students, campus community, and visitors to see daily.

In 2014, Kohan came to Dordt’s campus to talk about the Sadao Watanabe Collection show he had curated and that was on display in Dordt’s gallery.

“He was impressed with our collection,” says Versluis, who is the campus art curator. When Kohan was later asked to write a piece focusing on institutional art collections for this issue of SEEN, he contacted Versluis for an interview and for photos of some of Dordt’s major works. Versluis sent them. He was pleased and surprised to see the “Enlaced” photo featured prominently. He is also pleased that others are able to see a bit of the collection that he has helped build and care for and that includes a range of significant art works by respected Christian artists.

For more about the Dordt College art collection here’s a link.

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