Tuttle tries his hand at clay

June 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

Richard Tuttle at Gemini artists' workshop

(Photographs by Sidney B. Felsen © 2011)

 June 29, 2011

After a successful etching collaboration in 2009, Gemini welcomed Richard Tuttle’s return to the Los Angeles workshop this month with open arms.  Inspired to study the dynamics of clay in Southern California, Tuttle was interested in fabricating editioned tiles.  The project, and Tuttle himself, was certainly influenced by the work of Peter Voulkos and Ken Price, founder and student of the ceramics department at Otis College, respectively.  Also an inspiration to Tuttle was Sidney, as he spent years laboring over a potter’s wheel in night school and was a classmate of Elsa Rady’s at Chouinard Art Institute, now known as Cal Arts.  Much of the important and vibrant history of clay in Los Angeles will be explored as part of the Getty Center’s Pacific Standard Time, at an exhibition called Clay’s Tectonic Shift at Scripps College opening in early January 2012.

During Tuttle’s visit to Los Angeles, celebrated photographer and LA native Jim McHugh stopped by the workshop and conversed with the artist while snapping a few portraits, and Tuttle also met with Print Curator Louis Marchesano while exploring the exhibition, Luminous Paper: British Watercolors and Drawings, at the Getty Museum.  Understandably, Tuttle was intent on seeing this terrific show, as watercolor is regarded as one of the most challenging artistic techniques and certainly one that Tuttle has tackled in his unique works.  Its liquid nature is capable of extraordinary effects of luminosity, but is often challenging for an artist to control.  The exhibition presents works of the 1700s and 1800s by some of the greatest British masters of the medium, including Thomas Gainsborough, J.M.W. Turner, and William Blake, as well as an installation of three Yorkshire countryside watercolors by contemporary British artist David Hockney, bringing the tradition of the watercolor into the present day.

Tuttle’s clay project at Gemini should be resolved shortly and will likely consist of six series of tiles, each with black slip glazing, hand painted by the artist.  It is with great anticipation that we look forward to presenting this work in New York later this year.

Dorothy said it best

June 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

Sidney Felsen, Joni Weyl and Busso Bartels in Frank Gehry designed DZ Bank

 June 21, 2011

There is no place like home.  We have just touched down in Los Angeles after 3 exhausting but thrilling weeks in Europe.  Skipping the madness of the opening days of the Venice Biennale, Sidney and I, accompanied by our daughter, the much-admired jewelry designer Suzanne Felsen, and her long-time companion Kevin Swanson, instead began our trip in Berlin.  We were eager to explore the city’s extraordinary art and architecture and take in a few fabulous meals, following the recommendations of some dear friends.

One of our first activities was to meet up with art collectors Hilde and Busso Bartels, Berlin natives who were able to help us prioritize the many things to see by giving us an extensive driving tour throughout the city.  They also introduced us to the extraordinary library at Humboldt University, designed by architect Max Dudler.   Low-key on the outside and eye-popping on the inside, it is something that we certainly would have missed without their introduction.

We visited lots of museums, including a stop at the Berggruen Museum, repository of the magnificent collection of Heinz Berggruen, legendary art dealer and father of San Francisco galleriest John Berggruen.  While there, we had the good fortune to encounter Olivier Berggruen, the youngest of the Berggruen sons, who took us into a private office to share with us his latest acquisition, an astonishingly fully-rendered Picasso sketchbook.

Sidney and Joni in front of Borofsky sculpture (Photograph by Kevin Swanson)

Beyond the memorable artworks we were privileged to view in the many museums and galleries we visited, we found a number of works by Gemini artists throughout the city.  On our daily walk to coffee, we’d see Richard Serra’s Line of the Curve prints in the Westin Hotel, and we made an excursion with a cooperative taxi-driver to the Jonathan Borofsky Molecule Man sculpture in the Spree river (photo).  We attended a reception for Andrea Zittel, with whom Gemini has been discussing a project, and saw her fantastic Pattern of Habit exhibition at Spruth Magers.   We also attended the opening for Bruce Nauman’s For Children/For Beginners exhibition at the Konrad Fischer Galerie, and unexpectedly found the artist in attendance!  It was a wonderful surprise to spend some time with Bruce.  After the opening, we wandered around the corner to the lively artworld restaurant Sale e Tabacchi which Gemini artist Julie Mehretu had introduced us to two years ago while she was living in Berlin to complete her Goldman Sachs mural.

Reluctantly, we eventually had to leave Berlin behind, but fortunately our next stop was Switzerland, with its familiar cities, restaurants and routine activities.  We landed in Basel on a Friday night, just in time for our first of several dinners at Chez Donati, the artworld darling during Art Basel, and arrived at the convention center the following morning in our blue jeans and tennis shoes, fortified and ready for the labors of installing the Gemini booth.  We made enormous progress on our first day, so we felt relaxed on Sunday as we headed to Zurich in order to attend the annual reception for new paintings by John Baldessari at Mai 36 Galerie.  In this exhibition, titled Double Vision, Baldessari couples iconic images by great artists such as Cezanne, Lewitt, Matisse and Warhol with the printed name of another artist, written out in his classic formal type.  This deliberate false attribution is a classic Baldessari tongue-and-cheek puzzle on art history.  He also removes iconic motifs from their traditional context, subjecting them to radical intervention and placing them in an unusual perspective. In all, Baldessari effectively has altered the images’ historical recognition and familiar meaning, while still allowing viewers to identify formal similarities between the originals and his versions.

John Baldessari and Sidney at Art Basel 42 (Photograph by Kevin Swanson)

Back to work on Monday, we completed our efforts in setting up the booth and were ready as the doors to Art Basel opened to enormous crowds on Tuesday.  Amongst the many opening day visitors to the Gemini booth was British Museum curator Stephen Coppel, collectors Margrit and Paul Hahnloser and, relaxed and happy with his Zurich exhibition, Baldessari.

Brancusi and Serra, together at Fondation Beyeler

June 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

(Photograph by Sidney B. Felsen © 2011)

Richard Serra sculpture at Fondation Beyeler

June 18, 2011

Last night, Sidney and I attended the reception that the Beyeler Museum hosts annually for the gallery exhibitors and VIP visitors to Art | Basel.   The light rainfall couldn’t dampen the attendance of the crowd nor its reaction to the stunning exhibition of sculptures by Constantin Brancus and Richard Serra.  There were numerous works by both artists that I and many other viewers had never seen before.  Multiple variants of Brancusi’s “Kiss” surprised us, and a magnificent room of Serra’s enormous Paintstik “Weights and Levels” drawings warmed our hearts, as we had related prints hanging in our booth at the fair.

Serra became familiar with the sculptures of Brancusi while living in Paris on a Yale Traveling Fellowship, and was deeply moved.  Serra returned to New York and a few years later presented his own work in three dimensions – pieces of molten lead splashed into junctures between floor and wall – in his first exhibition at Leo Castelli Warehouse.  Decades later, Serra’s sculptures and drawings have traveled to Basel, Switzerland, to converse with the legacy of Brancusi at the Fondation Beyeler.

The exhibition selects 40 breathtakingly elegant works by Brancusi that amount to nearly a retrospective of their own, showing the artist’s career as a cornerstone of the birth of abstraction through a mastery of various materials and presence in space.  Ten sculptures by Serra, ranging from an early piece in rubber to his characteristic steel curves, reveal how the artist once deeply inspired by Brancusi has succeeded in creating his own handbook of possibilities.

Serra was unable to return to Basel for this reception, however after overcoming the tremendous challenge of guiding the installation of seventy tons of steel, he sat down for a conversation with Martin Schwander, and it is available on VernissageTV (Artist Talk with Richard Serra at Fondation Beyeler).  While explaining how he came to work in three dimensions, Serra commented that it was the only way “to be the subject of the experience of something in space.”  He also told of his coming into possession of a massive quantity of rubber, thanks to a local store going out of business, and admitted to writing down a long verb list of activities to do with all the material sitting in his workspace.  As a result, Serra’s expansive oeuvre has shattered the vocabulary of sculpture.

The exhibition is on view in Basel through August 21st.  If you don’t have the opportunity to visit the exhibition in person, you can take a virtual tour: Constantin Brancusi and Richard Serra.

Gemini Artists Exhibiting in Europe

June 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

If you find yourself at Art Basel or if your summer plans include travel to Europe, below are a few gallery and museum exhibitions featuring Gemini artists to consider:

GERMANY
Bruce Nauman: Für Kinder / Beschriebene Kombinationen
Konrad Fischer Galerie – Berlin, Germany

9 June – 30 July 2011

ITALY
Julie Mehretu: In Praise of Doubt
Di Palazzo Grassi – Punta Della Dogana, Venice

9 April 2011 – 31 December 2012

Larry Bell, Vija Celmins, Ed Kienholz, Kenneth Price, Ed Ruscha, and James Turrell
Venice in Venice, Glow & Reflection – Venice California Art from 1960

4 June – 31 July 2011

SWITZERLAND
John Baldessari, Daniel Buren, Dan Flavin, and Robert Rauschenberg
Art Unlimited, Art Basel

Richard Serra: Constantin Brancusi & Richard Serra
Fondation Beyeler, Switzerland
22 May – 21 August 2011

John Baldessari: Your Name in Lights
Stedelijk Museum and Holland Festival, Amsterdam

1 – 26 June 2011

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