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.

Read More......

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

Read More......

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.

Read More......

Donald Drumm: designer and sculptor and master craftsman

Donald Drumm (American, b.1935), designer and sculptor
The 10 story concrete mural at Bowling Green State University’s Jerome Library building. Concrete, carved/chiseled relief panels with paint for contrast, c.1966. Drumm was artist-in-residence at BGSU in the mid-1960s. In 1996 the mural was refurbished to it’s original state.

The scale of this work is fantastically impressive and the syncopation of the visual elements are delightful.

Drumm is based in Akron, Ohio. He was born in Warren, Ohio and received art degrees from Kent State University.

Read More......

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Walker Art Center “Ordinary Pictures” Exhibition: Amanda Ross-Ho

Amanda Ross-Ho (American, b. 1975)
OMEGA 2012
aluminum, steel, wood, high-density foam, extruded rubber,
enamel paint, cast urethane, glass
Courtesy the artist; Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago; and Mitchell-lnnes & Nash, New York

Color Calibration Card (Artifact from THE CHARACTER AND SHAPE OF ILLUMINATED THINGS) 2013
exterior MDF, aluminum, UV print on Sintra, latex paint
Courtesy the artist; Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago; Mitchell-lnnes & Nash, New York; and The Approach, London

The following is from the Walker Art Center label:

Amanda Ross-Ho’s sculptural works often begin by identifying the potential of cast-off objects and personal ephemera, combining them with the residue of past projects. For example, OMEGA-a giant replica of a darkroom photo enlarger-applies the magnifying function of the device to itself. At the same time, this particular enlarger carries a personal history: it is a painstaking re-fabrication of an actual object given to a young Ross-Ho by her photographer-parents.

Similarly, for a recent outdoor installation at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Ross-Ho produced a giant replica of a color-calibration card, a professional photographer's tool for color correction and exposure settings. In both works on view here, the re-creation of these photographic apparatuses as massive sculptures calls attention to the fundamental tools of traditional image-making and production

Read More......

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Lyonel Feininger’s “Barfüsserkirche II”: a quintessential and beautiful example of crystalline Cubism

Lyonel Feininger (American, 1871-1956)
Barfüsserkirche II (Church of the [Franciscans] Minorites II) 1926
oil on canvas
Collection of the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
Gift of the T. B. Walker Foundation, Gilbert M. Walker Fund
Acquired in 1943
Photograph by versluis 2016

The following is from the Walker Art Center label:

In 1943, the Walker Art Center launched an ambitious exhibition plan with the dual goals of highlighting contemporary American art while also promoting its purchase within the museum and the local community. The first project to embody this new mission was 92 Artists, a survey of national trends in landscape, portraiture, figuration, and abstraction. Its curator, T. B. Walker’s grandson Hudson Walker, framed the exhibition in terms that reflected the patriotic pride of the World War II era and recognized New York as the “creative artistic capital of the world” that supplanted Europe. Among the artists Walker chose to carry the nationalist flag is one that strikes an odd note: Lyonel Feininger. His painting Barfüsserkirche II (Church of the Minorites II), with its German title and European Cubist-Expressionist style, along with the artist’s surname, might have given viewers the impression that he was not American, but German.

In a sense, Feininger was both. He was born in New York City but moved to Berlin in 1887, at age 16, to study art. He remained in Germany for 50 years, becoming a celebrated avant-garde painter who was associated with Expressionism and on the faculty of the Bauhaus. He returned to the United States in 1936 because the Nazis declared his work “degenerate.” Once at home, he encountered intense anti-German sentiment that made life difficult for his family and threatened his livelihood. He began emphasizing his roots and seized every opportunity to be seen as an American artist.

Church of the Minorites II was among the dozen works purchased from 92 Artists for the Walker's collection. Today, it is considered a superb and important example of Feininger’s mature style and reflects the Walker’s embrace of artists and histories that do not fit monolithic definitions or categories.

Read More......

Monday, June 6, 2016

Walker Art Center “Ordinary Pictures” Exhibition: The Sturtevant Wall Installation—the notions about authorship

Sturtevant (American, 1924-2014)
[wall installation piece, center portion pictured] photograph by versluis 2016.

Warhol Flowers 1966
synthetic polymer screen print on canvas
Collection Bill Arning. Houston

Warhol Flowers 1971
synthetic polymer screen print on canvas
Collection Klaus Ottmann and Leslie Tonkonow,
New York

Beuys La rivoluzione siamo noi
(We Are the Revolution) 1988
screen print on paper; ed. 50/60
Photo: Arpad Dobriban
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
T. B. Walker Acquisition Fund, 2011

Serpentine Owl Wallpaper 2013
digitally printed vinyl wallpaper
Estate Sturtevant, Paris
Courtesy Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris-Salzburg

The following is from the Walker Art Center label:

Beginning in 1964, Sturtevant (born Elaine Sturtevant)began to “repeat” the artwork of others in an attempt to expose the function of the artwork as commodity and question established notions of authorship. Creating from memory artworks by Jasper Johns. Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, and others, she issued a striking critique of the art system's faith in originality.

Serpentine Owl Wallpaper is a wall covering that repeats an image the artist found on a stock photo website. It serves as the backdrop for two examples of her Warhol Flowers paintings, a series she initiated in 1964. At that time, Sturtevant borrowed Andy Warhol’s generic screen-printed image-one he originally sourced from the pages of Modern Photography magazine-performing a two-fold act of appropriation.

For her version of Joseph Beuys’s 1972 print La rivoluzione siamo noi (We are the Revolution), Sturtevant cast herself in Beuys’s role, donning his trademark vest and hat. Here she suggests that originality is best understood as a function of artistic persona and not as a quality of an artwork itself. When compared to their models, Sturtevant’s works offer up a number of subtle differences that allow them to be simultaneously familiar and singular.

Read More......

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Walker Art Center “Ordinary Pictures” Exhibition: Steven Baldi’s “Branded Light” photographs

Steven Baldi (American, b. 1983)
Branded Light (Canon) 2014 (second piece in the series)
gelatin silver print; ed. 2/3 + 2 AP
Courtesy the artist and Thomas Duncan Gallery, Los Angeles
photoraph by versluis 2016
From the Walker Art Center exhibition: Ordinary Pictures is on view until October 9, 2016.

The following is taken from the label that accompanies this piece:

Steven Baldi’s series of Branded Light photographs reveal the familiar yet distorted logos of camera manufacturers and imaging corporations such as Fuji, Kodak, Canon, and Sony. Though his fractured compositions may suggest digital manipulation, the artist creates his pictures entirely in-camera. Abstract as they may seem, the images nevertheless trigger our recognition of these ever-present global brands.

Baldi’s works often address the materials and systems that support both art and imaging. This series in particular draws attention to ways that corporate conglomerates exert invisible control over the images we make and consume. Baldi reminds us of the branded character of the medium's most fundamental aspects: the materials-film and a camera-required to produce an image.

Read More......

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Taliesin West: Garden Room Folding Divider (Eugene Masselink— “…There was no conflict between his faith and his work.”)

The Garden Room folding divider with Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Taliesin West Planview Motif.” The folding divider has the look and feel of a piece designed and painted by Wright’s executive secretary, Eugene Masselink. Olgivanna Lloyd Wright dedicated her book The Roots of Life (published in 1963) to the memory of Eugene Masselink (1911-1962, originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan with Dutch Calvinist roots). She wrote an affectionate epitaph honoring Masselink: “…There was no conflict between his faith and his work.”
Taliesin West, The Garden Room, Scottsdale, Arizona. May 2016.
A harrow disk golden bowl sits on a side table and flanked by Taliesin origami chairs. The folding divider stands in the corner.

Read More......

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The James J. Versluis, a 90-foot icebreaking tug owned by Chicago’s Water Department

The James J. Versluis, a 90-foot icebreaking tug owned by Chicago’s Water Department, can move through 18 inches of ice. (Photo by ©John Fecile). Caption (italics) and photograph courtesy of WBEZ.

To my knowledge there’s no relation, however it’s uncanny that my great-grand father’s name was James (Jacobus in Dutch).

Census records indicate that James J. Versluis was a civil engineer for the City of Chicago in the first half of the 20th century and was responsible for the City of Chicago water works construction. The city water vessel named in his honor in the 1950s is still in service.

The Art Institute of Chicago records indicate that Mrs. James J. Versluis was a contributor in the 1920s.

Read More......