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:

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

9 June – 30 July 2011

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

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

Hot off the Gemini Press

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.

John Baldessari with Joni Weyl and Sidney Felsen at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant Cut, 2010.

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

(Photograph by Sidney B. Felsen © 2010)

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.

(Photograph by Sidney B. Felsen © 2010)

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.

(Photograph by Sidney B. Felsen  © 2010)

(Photograph by Chris Santa Maria)

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.

Printer Isaac Osher editioning Serra Junction #2 at Gemini workshop

(Photographs by Sidney B. Felsen © 2011)

Richard Serra at The Met

April 15, 2011 § 1 Comment

Photo: Metropolitan Museum curators Magdalena Dabrowski and Gary Tinterow flanking Richard Serra, in his Union (2011), a work specially commissioned for the exhibition

On a very cold and rainy Monday night, Sidney and I attended the opening reception for Richard Serra’s retrospective of drawings at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.  On view from April 13 – August 28, 2011, the retrospective will travel to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art from October 15 – January 16, 2012 and ends its tour at its organizing institution, the Menil Collection from March 2 – June 10, 2012.

Beginning with early drawings that are very much about process, and progressing to large-scale works, one of which is drawn directly onto the museum’s walls, the exhibition is a comprehensive and powerful presentation of Serra’s drawings – an art form independent (yet very much linked) to his sculptural practice.  The rough, raised surfaces of his Paintstik drawings compel viewers to experience them in a very physical, almost three-dimensional manner – a sensation familiar to those acquainted with Serra’s editioned prints.  There is an immediacy and confrontational presence in these works that underscores Serra’s interest in weight and gravity.

After the reception, Serra’s dealer, the Gagosian Gallery, hosted a dinner at The Mark for close friends of the artists, including Paul Schupf, whose nearly complete collection of Serra prints has been shown extensively, most prominently at Colby College in Maine.

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