Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Martine Franck, 1938 - 2012

Martine Franck, Michel Foucault, 1978
Martine Franck died on 16 August 2012.
Born in 1938 Franck took up photography in the 1960s; she co-founded the Viva agency in 1972 and joined Magnum in 1980.
“I think I was shy as a young woman and realized that photography was an ideal way of expressing myself, of telling people what was going on without having to talk.”                     - Martine Franck
Martine Franck, Pool designed by Alain Capeilleres in Le Brusc, Provence, 1976
Martine Franck, Graveyard for stolen cars, Darndale, Ireland, 1993
Martine Franck, Ile de FranceI, 1978
Martine Franck, Pilgrims at Lourdes, 1958
Henri Cartier-Bresson, portrait of Martine Franck, 1972

Friday, 10 August 2012

My new favourite works of art...@ Tate Modern

Cory Arcangel, still from Colors (2005) currently on show in Tate Modern (Installation shot by maaikelauwaert taken at NIMK Amsterdam)
My new favourite works of art found on a recent visit to Tate Modern are: Colors (2005), by Cory Arcangel, an installation by Pedro Cabrita Reis: The Unnamed Word #1 (2005), The Moscow Piece (2006), Unframed #3 (2008), and Light Music (1975) by Lis Rhodes

Cory Arcangel’s Colors, is a reworking of Dennis Hopper’s 1988 film of that name; Arcangel’s version projects it one horizontal line of pixels at a time (stretched vertically to fill the entire screen); the film plays through in real time, (the soundtrack is unchanged), but it takes 33 days to work through screenings of all the 404  horizontal lines! I thought it was mesmerising. (Watch a very brief clip, here.)

I am a sucker for for work using fluorescent light tubes, so Pedro Cabrita Reis' installation was right up my street. Watch a short video of the charming Pedro Cabrita Reis describing the work.
Pedro Cabrita Reis, The Unnamed Word #1, 2005 (detail)
Pedro Cabrita Reis, Unframed #3, 2008 (with reflections of The Unnamed Word #1 (2005), and The Moscow Piece (2006)
The pieces by Arcangel and Reis are both part of the Tate Modern's new(ish) themed suite of rooms, "Structure and Clarity". This features many great works by, among others, Carl Andre, Lewis Baltz, Constantin Brancusi, Georges Braque, Juan Gris, Barbara Hepworth, Don Judd, Agnes Martin, Henri Matisse, Piet Mondrian, Ben Nicholson, Pablo Picasso and Bridget Riley. (The Bridget Riley, on my visit, featured the unfortunate addition of 2 large, dozy flies - presumably refugees from Damien Hirst's A Thousand YearsI)
Bridget Riley,  Deny II, 1967 (detail, with fly)
Lis Rhodes, Light Music, 1975
One of the installations in Tate Modern's newly opened Tank spaces is Light Music by Lis Rhodes.
"[Light Music] is formed from two projections facing one another on opposite screens... [Rhodes] composed a ‘score’ comprised of drawings that form abstract patterns of black and white lines onscreen. The drawings are printed onto the optical edge of the filmstrip. As the bands of light and dark pass through the projector they are ‘read’ as audio, creating an intense soundtrack, forming a direct, indexical relationship between the sonic and the visual. What one hears is the aural equivalent to the flickering patterns on the screens.
Light Music is projected into a hazy room – the beams that traverse one another in the space between the two projections become ethereal sculptural forms comprised of light, shadow and theatrical smoke. This format is designed to encourage viewers to move between the screens, directly engaging with the projection beams..." (From Tate Modern website)
The photograph above doesn't do justice to the experience - see Tracey Fahy's website for much better images.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Robert Hughes, 1938 - 2012

Robert Hughes, photographed in 1972, by Trevor Dallen
Robert Hughes died on 6 August 2012.
While I did not always agree with his aesthetic judgements, the art critic Robert Hughes was always a good read. He was a strongly opinionated writer (his excellent collection of articles is called Nothing if Not Critical) who could turn a good phrase - I particularly relished his comment to the effect that 'while Julian Schnabel couldn't draw, David Salle couldn't even trace'.
Damien Hirst, The Virgin Mother, 2005
 He was withering in reference to Damien Hirst's Virgin Mother (left):
Isn’t it a miracle what so much money and so little ability can produce?... When I look at a thing like this, I realise, so much art… has just become a kind of cruddy game for the self-aggrandisement for the rich and ignorant.
His television films and books, in particular The Shock of the New, will be a lasting memorial. 
Read obituaries in The Guardian, The Telegraph,  and a compliation of quotes in The Guardian. Watch The Shock of the New (also here) and American Visions.

The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is given to the less talented as a consolation prize. - Robert Hughes.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Chris Marker, 1921 - 2012

Chris Marker died 30 July 2012.
Chris Marker's 1962 film La Jetée ('un film-roman') is, I think, one of the masterpieces of cinema. This 28 minute film is composed entirely from still photographs - almost entrely: there is one brief moving shot of a woman blinking and seeming to smile. A selection of the stills is reproduced above and below.

J.G. Ballard wrote of the film in 1966:
This strange and poetic film, directed by Chris Marker, is a fusion of science fiction, psychological fable and photomontage, and creates in its unique way a series of potent images of the inner landscapes of time. Apart from a brief three-second sequence — a young woman’s hesitant smile, a moment of extraordinary poignancy, like a fragment of a child’s dream — the thirty-minute film is composed entirely of still photographs. Yet this succession of disconnected images is a perfect means of projecting the quantified memories and movements through time that are the film’s subject matter.

This familiar theme [time travel] is treated with remarkable finesse and imagination, its symbols and perspectives continually reinforcing the subject matter. Not once does it make use of the time-honoured conventions of traditional science fiction. Creating its own conventions from scratch, it triumphantly succeeds where science fiction invariably fails.
(J.G. Ballard ‘La Jetée: Academy One’, New Worlds, 1966, quoted here from Simon Sellars, Chris Marker: Imperfect Memory in The Ballardian)
Read obituaries in The Guardian (by Ronald Bergman), The Telegraph and the New York Times.
Watch La Jetée here.