Carlo Mollino (1905-1973), was a stunt-pilot, race-car driver, writer, celebrated architect, designer and a playboy bachelor with two apartments, a studio and a villa, all in the northern Italian city of Turin. In this short sketch of biography we can perhaps see elements of the sort of dandified machismo that leads a man to demolish and reconstruct the interior of one’s villa, rename it The Warriors House of Rest, and use it to serve his secret passion for erotic photography.
The book is a collection of these photographs, selected from the roughly 1200 surviving Polaroids, never exhibited during his life, which were found following his death in 1973. The images are best described by adjectives closely associated with the presence of money: rich, sumptuous, lavish. They are all eroticized images of women, but the subject is not sex. It’s clear that more so than the human body, Mollino was attracted to the aesthetic abstraction of beauty as a lifestyle. The photographs have been composed, staged and directed with the desire to conquer nature with artifice. The women in the photographs recede into the crimson carpeting, the blue velvet curtains, wigs, furs, champagne, animal skins, leather, lingerie, the Eero Saarinen chair and the 1960’s haute-couture – the handpicked accoutrements of Mollino’s private paradise. Even nude, Mollino’s subjects retain the mark of his direction through angle and pose. The majority of the shots are taken from the same angle, with the female subject raised on the stage-like platform Mollino, architect of Turin’s opera house the Teatro Regio, had installed in the theatre-like main room of his villa.
As an architect and designer, Mollino spent his life crafting forms to accommodate the human body, but in his photography there is the apparent desire to reverse the order of supremacy and make the human form an element of design. There are strong echoes between the shapes of his human figures and those in his furniture. The smooth curves of a glass tabletop recalls the female torso. A woman lying with her legs curled back so as to nearly touch her back recalls the folds and undulations of the molded wood on his furniture.
Many images feature sumptuous, thick backgrounds of black velvet broken only by a feminine form painted warm, blonde light with a softness unique to the Polaroid. Other images show women amongst blue and white tile floors and icy, white lace, against which their skin tones take on an unhealthily fair, almost spectral quality. A majority of the photographs, however, are shot in front of a foldable, hanging matt made of woven reeds. The matt infuses the photographs with a golden, flax-colored warmth, but is evocative of no place other than the studio. The repetition of the hanging backdrop coupled with the interchangeable, costumed and anonymous models before it quickly works to establish an aura of claustrophobia and uncanny misrecognition which give the seemingly appealing scenes a sinister aura.
Whereas Playboy would print foldouts of inviting, airbrushed women with names and backstories calculated to appeal to the market-audience, Mollino’s work consists of small, unretouched and anonymous pieces of private collection. The repetitive, secretive way Mollino went about creating his collection has more in common with the practice of an outsider artist than that of a pin-up photographer. As the women recede into the collection of the other anonymous models the architect comes forward and it becomes apparent that Mollino’s Polaroids are portraits not of their subjects but of the desires of the photographer. Mollino never married and it’s unclear if his life had a love; what is clear is that he felt passionately about, perhaps loved, things.
In A Rebours, J.K. Huysman’s definitive decadent novel, the wealthy, leisured antihero, Jean Des Essientes, sickened by society, syphilis and humanity at large retreats into his villa where he attempts to ascend to a higher spiritual plateau through the aesthetic refinement of his villa’s interior. His desire, which proves untenable, is to have art replace life. There is much of desire in Mollino’s photography. Photographs remain constant in a way that humans do not, and you can keep them in an envelope. It is easy to trap beauty for a moment on paper, but impossible to sustain such an image throughout a life.
The eros in Mollino’s work assumes a melancholy, poisonous aspect with the understanding of the circumstances of its production: part of an aging bachelor’s desire to perfect the decoration of his house. There is something of satyriasis, or Don Juanism, the male equivalent of nymphomania, in Mollino’s work, as if they were undertaken compulsively, and perhaps without joy, as part of a doomed project to reach an unattainable ideal: the tragic desire to keep thousands of women in an empty house.
Artist’s Book, Limited Edition of 50, each numbered and signed, each set initialed and numbered.
photographs: nathalie hambro
Up and Down in the Art World is a limited-edition artist’s book presenting a compelling visual collection of stairs pertaining to art-world locations I photographed for a project that lasted several years and in different locations worldwide. The photographic style doesn’t adopt a uniform, formal architectural approach, as it is triggered by my personal artistic vision, using randomly different cameras and processes, capturing a particular view and mood for each image. The photos are taken from arts institutions, galleries, auctions houses, artwork exhibitions, patrons and artists studios. Materials for the stairs are diverse and broad such as glass, stone, concrete, wood, steel, aluminium, linoleum, marble, terrazzo, mosaic, cast iron, ceramic, fabric and brick.The title is a metaphor about the art world, and the book points out how often we overlook our surrounding.
Not Vital, The House to View the Sunset, 2005, Former Albion Gallery, Battersea
The liquid glass is blown into various shaped and sized birdcages serving as the moulds for this process. Once the housings for colorful birds, the cages have transcended into objects and containers, where new life has been blown into them. The objects are a result of the interaction of the hot fluid glass with the moulds: the final pieces carrying the marks and history of both their former existences. The project questions the status of confinement versus refuge. A cage can be conceived as imprisonment or a shelter for comfort. The glass works subtly capture this essence of limitation, protection and custody in an imaginative fashion.
GALA FERNANDEZ (Spanish born, México City based) has her show debut in London with the project OUT OF THE CAGE, which is an experimental glass-blowing project realized with glass-blowers manufacturer NOUVEL Studio in México City.
ADRIANO COSTA – touch me I am geometrically sensitive
Adriano Costa touch me I am geometrically sensitive Sadie Coles 62 Kingly Street, W1B 5TH till September 27 photos: nathalie hambro Brazilian artist Adriano Costa made over a period of two months in London during the lead-up to the exhibition, Costa’s latest works harness everyday objects – mostly gathered in situ – so as to magnify their basic geometrical patterns, textures and colours. While probing the imaginative and aesthetic potential embedded in the stuff of daily life, Costa’s sculptures, paintings and installations also allude implicitly to the wider system in which art is made, validated and sold In line with previous installations, Costa’s found objects – readymade yet reformulated – continue to express their original functions and resonances; earlier assemblages have for example recycled items of clothing from his childhood. He has made a series of wall compositions using cut-out sections of free London newspapers, and these bear witness to the news stories that dominated the headlines over the summer (or indeed those that passed by without note), from the wars in the Middle East to the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in the Ukraine. Reflected in these works, Costa proposes, is a sense of the “crazy and intense summer” that has just passed, with “some works speaking of tragedies, others of funnier things. It’s always important for me to talk about where I’ve been working – perhaps in an attempt to understand.” Assimilating a diverse range of forms and colours – whether of copper or concrete, steel or cloth – Costa also oscillates freely between miniature and monumental scales, suspended and earthbound formats, or flat and volumetric structures. His works harbour precise references to artists he admires – allusions “packaged in plastic” – while also affectionately subverting the models they invoke. A grid of metal tiles, reminiscent of a Carl Andre floor sculpture, has for instance been riddled with circular holes. Elsewhere Costa has deployed coloured polythene bags (rubbish and recycling sacks from different London boroughs) to create geometrical wall pieces akin to Constructivist paintings; while in a series of small-scale paintings, he combines the methods and motifs of embroidery, collage and cartoons.
BLOOD SWEPT LANDS AND SEAS OF RED TOWER OF LONDON photos: nathalie hambro Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London, marking one hundred years since the first full day of Britain’s involvement in the First World War. Created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins, with setting by stage designer Tom Piper, 888,246 ceramic poppies will progressively fill the Tower’s famous moat over the summer. Each poppy represents a British military fatality during the war. The poppies will encircle the iconic landmark, creating not only a spectacular display visible from all around the Tower but also a location for personal reflection. The scale of the installation intends to reflect the magnitude of such an important centenary creating a powerful visual commemoration. BUY A CERAMIC POPPY
Slideshow images from NATHALIE HAMBRO’S TALK – HOW TO ACADEMY’S INAUGURAL ART QUARTERLY
June 18, 2014
6.30 – 8.30
Nathalie Hambro gives her take on the best of small scale exhibitions, bringing to the fore otherwise under the radar exhibitions , po-ups, site-specific installations or happenings in the London art scene, and elsewhere. Most are non-profit enterprises than commercial galleries, with residency programs.
12 Rich Estate
12 Crimscott Street
London SE 5TE
+44 (0) 207 394 5657
till July 19
For her site-specific work in the gallery Aleksandra Mir responds to the exploding energy of the fast-developing London skyline and explores drawing as a collective activity.
Taking over the gallery as a production space, Mir and her team of ten assistants created a live drawing installation, using only ‘Sharpie’, (original permanent marker pens produced since 1964). The work is based on the architecture of London, and includes expansive street scenes depicted from a variety of different angles. Working directly onto a specialist canvas backdrop commonly used in theatre, the resulting mural is 4 metres high and over 24 metres in length.
Drawing Room is the only public, non-profit gallery in UK and Europe dedicated to the investigation and presentation of international contemporary drawing.
St Paul’s Cathedral
Martyrs, (Earth, Air, Fire, Water), video installation
London, EC4M 8AD
The installation is the first moving-image artwork to be installed in a British cathedral or church on a permanent basis. Created by Bill Viola and his wife Kira Perov, Martyrs shows four individuals, across four colour vertical plasma screens, being martyred by the four classical elements.
As the work opens, four individuals are shown in stasis, a pause from their suffering. Gradually there is movement in each scene as an element of nature begins to disturb their stillness. Flames rain down, winds begin to lash, water cascades, and earth flies up. As the elements rage, each martyr’s resolve remains unchanged. In their most violent assault, the elements represent the darkest hour of the martyr’s passage through death into the light.
The work has no sound. It lasts for seven minutes.
Josh Faught: The Mauve Decade
Iwona Blazwick director of the Whitechapel Gallery talk to the artist
This is the second site-specific commission at the home of Launch Pad founder and contemporary art patron, Sarah Elson. San Francisco-based artist Josh Faught will have free rein in part of Elson’s West London family home to create several works in response to the space.
For Launch Pad, Faught’s commission titled “The Mauve Decade” refers to the period known as the “Gay Nineties,” or 1890s London. The title encapsulates aesthetic, political and historical shifts and fashions that were at play during the development of suburban London. During this time, the site of Launch Pad in Holland Park was regarded as a refuge from toxic, unhygienic City of London. Faught is interested in “this space of transition and restlessness that led people to create homes and environments that were boundaries, protective havens, and sites of isolation.” According to Faught, the colour mauve “is an incredibly divisive colour; at once garish and slightly noble.” Derived from aniline purple dyes that were later discovered to be completely toxic, mauve was originally more of a royal purple. “The Mauve Decade” will address themes of transition and time, danger and protection, occupying the centre of the house with several works.
Launch Pad was established January 2014 to offer a platform to emerging artists who have not yet exhibited their work in the UK. Up to three artists a year will be invited to respond to and exhibit within the domestic environment of the collector’s home. The programme endeavours to open and expose the commissioning process to the public, and as such, is a unique proposition for patron and artist alike. In an era of increasing hybridity between public and private art collections, the Launch Pad series explores this paradigm, operating as a laboratory for newly commissioned work..
Play What is Not There
Curated by Michael Bracewell
56 Artillery Lane
London E1 7LS
+44 (0)20 7374 4300
until June 22
Works by Steven Campbell, Edward Krasinski, Linder, Bruce Nauman, Robert Whitman, Katharina Wulff and Cerith Wyn Evans
open Wednesdays to Sundays
till June 22
Taking its title from an exhortation made by Miles Davis to his musicians, this exhibition identifies occasions in art when the seductions of consummate style or cleverness are sacrificed to gain access to a greater artistic, philosophical or spiritual reality. Such attainment may be achieved in varied ways: by invoking states of invisibility or self-negation, by the assumption of a mythic identity, by transforming repetition into incantation, or through the conversion of aphoristic elegance into gestures of transcendence.
Raven Row is a non-profit contemporary art exhibition centre in Spitalfields that is open free to the public, It has been constructed within eighteenth century domestic rooms, onto which two contemporary galleries have been added, it stands on the part of Artillery Lane that was known as Raven Row until 1895. Raven Row is programmed and funded by its founding director Alex Sainsbury.
Frank’s Café in collaboration with Bold Tendencies
James Bridle’s The Right to Fly
10th Floor, Peckam Multi-Storey Car park
95a Rye Lane
London SE15 4ST
+44 (0)7532 177232
June 19 – September 21(Tuesday – Friday 6pm – 11pm and Saturday – Sunday 11am – 11pm).
Artist James Bridle will be flying a balloon from the roof of Bold Tendencies, a multi-storey car park and art space in Peckham, South London. Attached to the balloon will be a variety of payloads, from darknet routers to aerial cameras, with the results of its experiments shared publicly and online. The project takes its name from a treatise written by the Parisian photographer and balloonist Nadar in 1866. He proclaimed that mankind had a right, even a duty, to ascend to heaven. Nadar was the first photographer to take aerial photographs.
Romanian Culture Institute
Architecture and Memory: GM Cantacuzino – a Hybrid Modernist
1 Belgrave Square
London SW1X 8PH
020 7752 0134
till August 29
To coincide with London Festival of Architecture (LFA), a cityscape of architectural experimentation and innovation, with an exhibition dedicated to one of the least known polymaths of the 20th century – George Matei Cantacuzino (1899-1966).
The first monographic travelling exhibition on a Romanian architect ever to be staged outside Romania, ‘GM Cantacuzino – A Hybrid Modernist’ is a tribute to Cantacuzino’s extraordinary artistic legacy, offering a cross-section through his momentous life and work and presenting original books and paintings along with a tripartite chronological display of architectural works, quotations and contexts.
G.M. Cantacuzino (1899-1960) was an artist, architect, writer, thinker, and university professor of architecture and drawing, born into a family tree which goes back a thousand years. He was born in Vienna to aristocratic parents, and was educated in Switzerland, Bucharest, and Paris. Back in Bucharest, he was to become the unchallenged integrative figure of the moderate Modernism in Romania; he remains to this day the most prolific architectural theorist of that country. He was also professor of architectural history and theory in Bucharest, painter and curator, the first Romanian correspondent of ‘L´Architecture d´Aujourd´hui’, chief-architect of the Romanian Railways, inspector of historical monuments, and much more. With his liberal political attitude being disapproved of by both fascists and communists, he experienced imprisonment, social exclusion and an untimely death, with no opportunity to see his wife and two children again, after they established themselves in England in 1939/40.
Bernstein’s expressive practice embodies the psychological amalgamation of sex, violence and feminism, in varying orders and priorities. Birth of the Universe is a recent series of expressive paintings made using oil and fluorescent paint exploring the chaos, violence, and the nuclear explosion that was The Big Bang. She probes the origin of space, time, and infinity, using the rage of the “active cunt” as the primal source in the expanding universe. These paintings delve into issues regarding relationships and gender with a literal dialogue between the “active cunt” and the phallus.
Studio Voltaire is a registered charity, it has a dedicated gallery space in a Victorian former chapel, adjacent to their studios were about 45 artists are in residence. It is supported by a long list of benefactors.
392 Caledonian Road
London N1 1DN
+44 (0)20 7609 9345
June 27 – Sept 26
– Susan Hiller has commented on the origin of her ‘Dirty Paintings: Homage to Georges Bataille’: “In Blue of Noon, the character Dirty (short for Dorothea) stands for ‘the sovereign orgy of expenditure.’ When the book opens, she is ‘utterly’ drunk in a London dive bar, ‘the most squalid of unlikely places,’ and wearing ‘a sumptuous evening gown.’ ‘Freedom through transgression was what interested me, even by transgressing my own annual burning of paintings; I wanted to make some paintings that transgressed against the ideal of painting and also transgressed against my own ritualistic habit.”
– German artist Asta Gröting’s work ‘Potatoes’ consists of one hundred “life” casts in nickel of carefully peeled potatoes, which she’s then silver plated and which reveal in their association and in the fact of them, “an ambivalence of beauty in a common thing”.
– Belgium artist Michel François’ lace-like wall sculptures ‘Instant Gratification’, are the result of the thermic shock provoked by pouring molten bronze and aluminium onto a cold floor.
Large Glass was founded by Charlotte Schepke, as a commercial space for new encounters. Guided by the spirit of Marcel Duchamp, it aims to show contemporary art through a particular and uncommon lens, presenting individually conceived and curated exhibitions on a diversity of themes, it makes itself home to a variety of objects, practices and artists, and intertwines visual arts with talks, music, films, events, and tastings. It aims to establish a new model of the creative commercial space, combining elements of the shop, gallery, museum and laboratory.
The Artliner Wind Tunnel Project (+ read entry 292)
Hampshire GU14 7EP
till July 20
Through site specific installations by a selection of international artists, the exhibition, which is housed in and around the wind tunnel in Farnborough, aims to revive and resurrect these 1917 and 1935 Grade I and II Listed buildings, open to the public for the first time.
Curator Salma Tuqan has invited artists to create site specific installations that respond to the space, as well as archival material from the FAST museum and the Royal Aeronautical Library. “We aim to create a sensory experience for
visitors through subtle interventions using sound and light ” Tuqan explains.
The artist, writer and technologist James Bridle draws inspiration from one of the aircraft tested in Farnborough to create his Rainbow Plane installation series, based on satellite mapping, which he sets in the Portable Airship Hangar that spans 1400 sq M. Meanwhile, sound artist Thor McIntyre-Burnie re- awakens Q121 and R52 wind tunnels, as apparatus to physically explore, via three new sculptural and sonic interventions.
Le Stanze del Vetro (+ read entry #292)
Glass Tea House Mondrian
Island of San Giorgio Maggiore
Venice The “Glass Tea House Mondrian” by Hiroshi Sugimoto is inspired by pre-modern abstraction, as perfected by Sen no Rikyû, in the Japanese tradition of the tea ceremony, “I decided that a Japanese transliteration of the name “Mondrian” would be an ideal name. I combined three characters – – that betoken “a modest house where one can hear the birds sing.” I like to think that this tea house was designed by Mondrian after he heard Sen no Rikyû speaking to him through the singing of the birds”, says artist Hiroshi Sugimoto.The Pavilion consists of two main elements, an open-air landscape courtyard and an enclosed glass cube.
Inspired by the Ise-shrine, the exterior fence around the pavilion is made entirely of cedar wood Sugimoto chose the cedar wood from the Tōhoku region for their commitment in helping to reconstruct areas which were devastated by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.
The long reflecting pool made of the glass mosaics at the centre of the landscape courtyard represents the other main feature of the installation; it leads the visitor to the key area of the pavilion, i.e. the glass tea house.
Tres Aguas, A Project for Toledo (various locations in Toledo, Spain)
This latest international commission is the most ambitious work to date by sculptor Cristina Iglesias. Tres Aguas is a constellation of sculptures connecting three historic sites in the city of Toledo, near Madrid.
Cristina Iglesias drew from the cultural history of the city, its mingling and layering of Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities who lived alongside each other for centuries in the period known as “La Convivencia” or The Co-existence. The three sculptural works that make up the project bring water to the fore; it courses through channels and travels back into the ground after animating the surfaces of the works so they come to resemble the overgrown bed of some ancient river. Visitors are taken on a journey through the city as they visit each work, from a mudéjar water tower to the city’s main public space and then onto a hidden location within a convent, a place not normally open for visitors.
Conceived as a journey into the heart of the city, Iglesias’ project aligns the hard materials of architecture and the fluidity of water to deliver a sequence of large-scale sculptural works that bring the river back into the body of this historic city.
Artangel is based in London but working across Britain and beyond, Artangel commissions and produces exceptional projects by outstanding contemporary artists. Over the past two decades, the projects have materialised in a range of different sites and situations and in countless forms of media.
Each new project evolves from a singular commissioning process, born from an open-ended conversation with an artist offered the opportunity to imagine something extraordinary. Artangel’s work is powered by the belief that artists are capable of creating visionary works which impact upon the way we view our world, our times and ourselves in unusual and enduring ways.
Many Artangel projects are given shape by a particular place and time. They can involve journeys to unfamiliar locations, from underground hangars to abandoned libraries. Or sometimes they can offer unfamiliar experiences in more familiar environments – a terraced house, a department store or daytime television.
GRAD (Gallery for Russian Arts and Design)
Work and Play Behind the Iron Curtain
3-4a Little Portland Street
London W1W 7JB
+44 (0) 207 637 7274
June 20 – August 24
Work and Play Behind the Iron Curtain, an exhibition examining the changing face of Soviet design from the 1917 Revolution to Perestroika. Curated by GRAD’s Elena Sudakova and Alexandra Chiriac, the exhibition is produced in collaboration with the Moscow Design Museum and ZIL.
The exhibition brings together over fifty key objects featuring the quirky, colourful and often charming design style that emerged from the 1950s in the Soviet Union. Work and Play Behind the Iron Curtain presents the preceding period, bound by more severe, functional principles, through models and photographs from the famous ZIL factory, which produced both armoured trucks and domestic appliances.
For decades the ZIL factory (so named in 1956, but in existence since 1916) was one of the most prestigious industrial enterprises in the country. Mainly devoted to the production of motor vehicles, it manufactured trucks and military vehicles alongside the exclusive limousines favoured by party officials. For the masses, the factory began producing the ZIL refrigerator in 1950, which became ubiquitous in Soviet homes, even if it often stood empty. Through motor vehicle prototypes and never-before-seen period photographs, GRAD’s display reveals the history of the factory, the changing lives of its workers, and why being a ZIL employee was seen as an enviable position.
Mathew Barney, screening of The Cremaster Cycle
followed by a conversation between Mathew Barney and Artangel’s James Lingwood
Aerodynamics, even at its most primitive, conspires to make aeroplanes art. Engineering and art share a spectrum, even if some manifestations of each are at opposite ends. TAG Aviation (the acronym for Techniques d’Avant Garde), not satisfied with having created the world’s coolest terminal at Britain’s oldest aerodrome (Farnborough), it has temporarily transformed the venue for an exhibition of contemporary art. Tatiana Ojjeh founder of new venture’s Artliner wants to ”explores ways of marrying art and aviation” as a way of enriching the business aviation travel experience. Artliner launches at Farnborough’s recently restored wind tunnel complex. Once a unique testing facility for aircraft, including the world famous Hurricane, the site was used into the 1990s for Grand Prix vehicle wind tunnel tests. The wind tunnels and the hangar were restored by Julian Harrap Architects, who were awarded the RIBA Awards in 2007 and 2008 for their work on both buildings by converting the tunnels into an exciting arts venue every two years to coincide with the Farnborough International Airshow.
Curator Salma Tuqan has commissioned artists Thor McIntyre-Burnie and James Bridle, to produce site-specific responses to the space to bring its past history to life. Their sound and visual installations highlights hauntingly the cathedral-like space into a near-spiritual experience.
Q121 and R52 are two of the most iconic examples of flight testing technology anywhere in the world. Both buildings were designed to help push the boundaries of British aviation in the race for dominance of the skies and homeland protection. The two buildings are opened to the public for the first time in history.
Opened in April 1935, the grade 1 listed Q121 is the largest wind tunnel in Great Britain and the largest return type tunnel in Europe. It remains very much in its original condition. The level of skill and precision employed in its construction to minimize wind-flow disturbance was outstanding, even by today’s standard. The massive 24ft diameter fan, vast 40ft high return air duct and cathedral-like test preparation area permitted complete complete aircraft as well as large models, wing and fuselage section and engines to be tested. This ares remains an awe-inspiring sight, normally completely hidden from public view.
Built in 1917, the R52 building housed the first wind tunnels at Farnborough and is one of the world’s earliest aerodynamic testing facilities, an extremely rare example of a purpose-built aviation structure from this era. Described by the Fast Museum as “craftsmanship of the first order, all handmade, both the wooden wind tunnel and the building itself are unique. Much important twentieth century aeronautical research and development was carried out there, right up until the 1990’s. R52 achieved English heritage grade II listed protection in February 2002.
designed in 1910, the airship hangar was one of only six airship sheds in the UK at the outset of the first world war. It had a very short life and was permanently dismantled in 1916 and reused to construct two other buildings on the factory site. The straight lower leg of the frame were used as the main structure of the fabric and balloon workshop, while the arched upper section was incorporated in a forge and foundry building. In 2006, a survey of the two listed buildings revealed that these buildings were listed as they contained the dismantled hangar. Both buildings were demolished in order to extract the structural components of the arch. Archival research indicates that it took 50 men five weeks to dismantle and rebuild the hangar in 2006.