June 21, 2011 § Leave a comment
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.
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.
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.
April 22, 2011 § Leave a comment
April 22, 2011
We don’t always stop the presses to celebrate the artist collaborations at the Gemini workshop, except for the occasional Baskin Robbins ice cream cake from our friend Abel Eljam, because the printers hardly skip a beat when one artist departs, furiously working to print an edition before another artist arrives. For example, by the end of this month Gemini will have hosted four out of town artists this spring – James Rosenquist, Sophie Calle, Daniel Buren and Joel Shapiro.
Gemini GEL at Joni Moisant Weyl is proud to display new and recent Gemini publications by John Baldessari, Jonathan Borofsky, Ann Hamilton and Richard Serra. Each artist’s project at Gemini could not be more different – from lithography and screenprinting to etching to constructions that combine printmaking with fabric and bamboo. These four artists are a perfect representation of the Gemini ‘can-do’ spirit and the diverse specialties of our printing staff.
John Baldessari’s Nose/Silhouette series began with a party! The Gemini workshop printed a photographed nose on fields of color which were made into masks and used as place settings for a dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant Cut. The dinner followed the opening of Baldessari’s spectacular exhibition at LACMA, Pure Beauty, and guests, along with the artist, had great fun posing with the masks. Gemini and the artist resolved to make the images into a series of editioned prints.
Jonathan Borofsky visited the Gemini workshop back in 2008, working with text on Mylar. In 2010 his lithograph God is a Feeling was finally resolved, as was a screenprint of words from his mother:
“Several days before my mother died, I was sitting at her bedside – just talking about things. At one point I casually asked her if she had any words she wanted to leave behind. Without taking any time to think about it, she answered ‘Be Happy, Do the Best You Can, Be Good and Kind’.” – Borofsky
Ann Hamilton made a batch of party hats in honor of Sidney Felsen’s 85th birthday in September of 2009. These small lithographs with collaged fabric to be used as string were just the beginning of her juxtaposition of printmaking and fabric. The sheets of lithography became larger and the process of collaging fabric more complex as ciliary was formed.
Each ciliary begins with lithography on eight sheets of a creamy Japanese paper, Mitsumata. Added to the paper panels is a strip of fabric, adhered to one edge. A narrow accordion fold is applied, and bamboo ribs and hardwood dowels reinforce the folds on the verso.
It is impossible to visit the Gemini workshop without noticing the presence of Richard Serra. Serra has tirelessly pushed the boundaries of printmaking beyond the scale even the Gemini printers might have thought possible, conveying the weight and monumentality of his celebrated sculptural works onto a thin sheet of paper. In recent years Serra’s etching have grown to upwards of 85 inches, but these latest collaborations present a classic Serra study of the curve on an intimate scale. The series of 13 Junction prints, each measuring 16 x 18 inches, render various torque ellipse forms in concentrated, untidy etchings.
(Photographs by Sidney B. Felsen © 2011)