Musings on Material & the Presentation of Art by Carol Bove

The first time I encountered Brooklyn-based artist Carol Bove’s works was at David Zwirner Gallery almost 6 years ago.

She was making a very different kind of sculpture art then (see Polka Dots), but was still working with transforming steel and using paint to facilitate a part of its manipulation.

What follows are photos from her recent exhibition, Chimes at Midnight, at David Zwirner Gallery, W20th Street (running through June 18, 2021) and excerpts from her conversations with art historian Johanna Burton and art curator Phillip Kaiser:

Johanna: Again, pervasive narratives around large-scale metal sculpture usually foreground a kind of battle of wills behind the maker and the material, with, in the end, the maker wrangling the material into a certain configuration. It seems that what you’re talking about is more of a discursive or dialogic dance, where you’re showing an innate quality of the material in a form that is not usually seen. And this negotiation enables different ways of thinking about that process. You do leave certain subtle hints about the process that I think are interesting, such as the use fo bolts and the seams that are produced from welding. There’s a very different logic or purpose in deciding whether to put things together with a bolt or through welding.

Carol: Yes, you can see the decision-making most in the connections. There’s some sort of narrative to either decision too. When parts are welded, it is an instance of two pieces of the same type of material being melted together along a seam. When parts are bolted together, it is a temporary and reversible connection. Bolting is a more erotic relationship because one discrete entity penetrates the other. I tend to choose the mechanical connection when I’m bringing two different materials together. There are reasons for breaking this rule, but in general, if I’m connecting a highly polished, fabricated element to a matte, manipulated tube element, then I could use a bolt. The bolt underscores the way these two elements sit uneasily together, that they can’t be reconciled. 

Johanna: So you’re allowing the distinction but forcing the union.

Carol: Yes, and these connections are very erotic. Just as two people can be fully sympathetic and sexually engaged, they are never going become a single person. There will always be difference.

Johanna: And there’s a kind of violence to it?

Carol: There’s violence to it, and desire. The connections have all the pull for me.

Phillip: Are you talking about the fictional nature of any presentation of art?

Carol: Right. That’s how we know something is a sculpture, because in the context of art it’s bracketed out of the world of regular objects. But, because I’m putting a lot of work into this dimension of display, it’s like putting a bracket around the bracket, so you can look directly at the framing devices.

Phillip: This makes me think of your MoMA exhibition a few years ago titled The Equinox, where you included a large riser that elevated and unified various sculptures. Does this presentation form elevate them in a different state? 

Carol: I think when something is on a pedestal, especially a big pedestal, we imagine that it’s in a different type of space. It’s qualitatively different, as if it were a live broadcast on television. There’s a belief that the pedestal space isn’t real in the same way that something in “our” space is. Part of my ongoing play with pedestals and display strategies is to understand how that language works and what it means. How much of its meaning is from convention and how much from physical poetry? It seems very much to be about ontology: is this thing on display real? If it’s real, in what way is it real, and to what degree?

Johanna:… How do you listen to the material in a way that feels more like a dialogue and less an exertion of will? Or maybe you disagree with that.

Carol: No, I agree. I want to find out what stainless steel does, what its qualities are. We think stainless steel is hard and strong, and I’m wondering if this is really the case. Is there a gentle and persistent way to act on it so that it will behave differently? Can it be tricked into showing a different side? Under what conditions is it soft and supple? I never force the material to do something it doesn’t want to do. I let it lead me as much as I lead it. I’m invested in an improvisational process where I’m making and solving a puzzle simultaneously.

I also imagine a mirror effect on perception, where the material’s plasticity acts on the imagination. What we know about the material is contradicted, so maybe our grip on reality should be a little lighter, too, enabling us to see what is in front of us rather than only what we think we see. 

Johanna: what are the conditions that render the material supple?

Carol: It has to do with the way I prepare the tubes, by pressing them with a series of differently shaped tools that we make specifically for this purpose. 

JB: Can you say more about that? In the resulting works, the material looks so distinct from how we ordinarily conceive it, rendering the process a mystery. In discussions with you, you don’t take the pains to hide the process, but if a viewer simply encounters the finished object, how it is produced can feel kind of magical.

Carol: Right. We use a hydraulic press to start bending and massaging the tubes, and then we pull the bends closed using a chain-hoist system. Through this process of manipulations, the geometry of the steel becomes very complex, making the tube seem more like fabric, or something with a softer texture. It takes some patience, and my ability to manipulate the tubes has developed over a few years.  

I think it’s interesting how incidental the illusionism is. I leave a lot of evidence of the work’s construction, and you can even come to the studio to see the tubes being manipulated. But in the end the labor is invisible, and in some way the tubes don’t look fully real.

Seeing Lee Krasner’s Collage Paintings & Other Works from 1938-1982

A notification from Kasmin Gallery alerted me to an exhibit that I was very excited to see: Lee Krasner: Collage Paintings 1938-1981

Lee Krasner is better known by some as the famed abstract expressionist painter Jackson Pollock‘s wife.

The exhibition was a tightly curated ensemble of works from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation and private collections.

I admit I was initially interested in seeing Krasner’s works as

1. I’ve read about more than experienced her,

2. I was intrigued by her relationship with Jackson Pollock as an artist and as a partner in life

and

3. I was interested in exploring how her works have influenced the style of Jackson Pollock and vice versa.

She is also known for her large canvas and Neo-cubist works, and while the exhibition primarily displays Lee Krasner’s collage paintings, I was able to see one or two paintings that reflected her other “periods” of style:

Both collage and cubist elements

Things to note if you have have the chance to visit Kasmin before it closes

A couple things caught the attention of my friend Georgia and I:

  • The way some had glass/plexi-glass on top and others didn’t. We wondered whether it had something to do with who owned the work that is being displayed; from what I’ve learned so far through self-teaching and asking peers in the art business, owners’ and collectors’ preferences sometimes have a lot of sway in regards to curatorial decisions.

Curious, I went up to the gallery assistant and asked him whether this work belonged to someone else and did not belong to the Pollock-Krasner Foundation

Verdict: It was in fact from the private collection of another!

  • Her changing artistic styles from monochrome to stark color contrasts.
  • Her heavy handed use of various materials; her interesting use of something that looks a lot like blue tape.
  • That she seemed to prefer more jagged, angular shapes vs Pollock’s round style of paint application. We did see some marks reminiscent of Pollock’s trademark shapes and textures in a couple of Lee Krasner’s paintings on display.

Bisous,

Soo

Best Works of Josef Albers at David Zwirner’s Albers and Morandi: Never Finished Exhibit

Josef Albers is a German artist I am a great fan of, him along with his German-American partner and fellow artist, Anni Albers. Both were students and teachers at the Bauhaus, with Josef specializing in abstract painting and Anni in textiles.

I can only dream of the kind of youth they had, studying under Johannes Itten (Swiss abstractionist painter, color theorist and part of the Weimar Bauhaus), brushing shoulders with Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky– becoming masters of crafts.

Thoughts:

Most of the painted layers for the square paintings were layered on from center to outwards. There were some where Albers changed up his layering process for, which was very interesting– occasionally he’ll make the smallest center square as the final (top) layer.

If anyone could help me get Josef Albers’ Midnight and Noon book (it’s sold out), I would be extremely grateful.

Very interesting in person:

morning day-dream

There’s a small part of me that always wonders if I pursued the creative route.. what would life have been like?

What would life be like with a partner who is equally or more in love with art? What it’d be like for us to chase visions and beauty

together.

Harold Ancart at David Zwirner Gallery

Earlier this week, I went to see Belgian Brooklyn-based painter and sculptor Harold Ancart’s exhibit at the @davidzwirner gallery.

The gallery was exhibiting Ancart’s series of tree paintings he made during the pandemic.

The painting with a green tree and pink skies made me feel like I was looking at a tree in a Japanese animé.

This naturescape made me feel like I was looking at a tree in a Japanese animé.

This red and blue painted piece reminded me of René Magritte’s hand. My photo doesn’t capture the blue color well, but Ancart paints the sky in the Surrealist master’s trademark blue.

It was very interesting to see throughout his paintings how he would sometimes choose to layer on the sky atop the tree instead of keeping the sky behind it– adding to the surrealist element of the naturescape.

and sometimes one would find a painting with a trunk that is not even part of the tree.

Bises,

Soo

Tea & Bites, Art Hopping & The Fantastic Mind that is Mark Manders

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Two of the greatest fruits of my first job.

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Examining intellectual men.

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I implore my girlfriends for the memory stocked #selfie

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This too for memories.

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A joyful trick of the eye. This is cast bronze, not clay.

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A close view at the faces and you’ll see they are all the same. A simple view of self-potraiture

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Lips

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A body, un-indentified. The pen/pencil, a door of entry to the mind.

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The floor itself acts as a canvas, like a painting as it’s been stretched and staples onto a wooden board acting as perimeter to the room. Thoughtful! Process oriented.

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Mark Manders: Writing Yellow on view at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, 521 W. 21st St. On view until May 24, 2019

David Zwirner Gallery: Endless Enigma: 8 Centuries of Fantastic Art

Chris and I go on a lengthy art gallery hop through Chelsea, and I’d have to say this was our favorite pit-stop: David Zwirner Gallery, a stellar power house.
We had to gulp down our cappuccinos.
So happy to see works I’ve never seen before in person from artist like Max Ernst and Rene Magritte. I have a particular attachment to the Dada and Surrealist movements.

René Magritte

A rather tempered work of Hieronymus Bosch:

Hieronymus Bosch

Siren-like beauties– very much like the Valentino SS 2015 Campaign. I’d say almost identical in interpretation. I’m not sure about the strength of Leonor Fini’s other works, but my goodness, to have this in my home:

Leonor Fini

Things that make my childlike soul go hop!:

Amazing mastery of painting, and the chemistry between the movement of the waves vs. the wood like whorls of the levitating mass:

Max Ernst

The power of women:

The detailing and lifework on this was superior:

Richard Humphry

Birds and wood:

Herri met de Bles

Running until October 27 @ David Zwirner Gallery

Fernando Botero: Recent Paintings

Being in your 80s and painting with such vitality and storytelling….

nothing but applause for this Columbian artist.

The Bedroom, 2018 – oil on canvas

Still Life with Bowl of Fruits, 2018 – oil on canvas

Dancers, 2017 – oil on canvas

Pierrot, 2007 – oil on canvas

Eva, 2017 – oil on canvas

Jean Jullien at Studio Concrete

 

 

For more details of the studio gallery, check it out here.

To follow Jean Jullien’s artwork, check out his Instagram

I’ve written about my admiration for this artist here in a post extolling him as the Houdini of Illustrators and again here, featuring a kinky erotic illustration video created in collaboration with his brother!

September 2017: Art Shows to See

Here are some shows to be excited about and below is a view of my favorite works from the referenced artists. Look out for them if you go!

Suzan Frecon’s Oil Paintings, David Zwirner Gallery, 525 West 19th Street, New York (9/15)

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Campana Brothers: Hybridism, Friedman Benda Gallery, 515 West 26th St, New York

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Noah’s Chair, Noah’s Bench, 2017

 

 

Ad Reinhardt’s Blue Paintings, David Zwirner Gallery, 537 West 20th Street, New York

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Number 88 (Blue), 1950

 

 

Rodin at the Met, Metropolitan Museum of Art (9/16)

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The Age of Bronze, 1876

 

Julian Schnabel: New Plate Paintings

Launched to fame in the 1980’s, Julian Schnabel‘s broken ceramic plate experiments heralded in a refreshing kind of art for the contemporary art world– cutting, reminiscent, and modern via a rough handling and bondage of paint and ceramic on wood.

While Schnabel created this rose series from the inspiration he received upon one of his visits to Van Gogh’s grave in Auvers-sur-Oise, France, he has worked also with portraiture, painting and immortalizing American names like Stephanie Seymour and William Gaddis.

Closing on March 25: Catch the rose works in their entirety at the Pace Gallery, 510 W. 25th St., before it’s too late!

Bises,

Soo