Saturday, 23 April 2016

Dan Flavin - Ikon Gallery

Dan Flavin, untitled (in honor of Harold Joachim) 3, 1977
Dan Flavin’s artworks were made by arranging commercially available, industrial, fluorescent light tubes: they are amongst the most sensually beautiful artworks of the twentieth century.
Alongside his Minimalist peers – notably Donald Judd, Carl Andre, Robert Morris and Sol Lewitt – Flavin’s art is bracingly free of representation, illusion, expression, symbolism and spirituality: It is what it is and it ain’t nothing else. And what it is, is gorgeous.
In an article about the forthcoming re-opening (14 May 2016) of the San Francisco MOMA with its newly, and hugely, expanded collection (“We expect our colleagues in other museums to be green with envy” - Neal Benezra, director) it was interesting to read that when asked to name her favourite works from that remarkable collection, associate curator Sarah Roberts, cited Dan Flavin’s untitled (to Barnett Newman) two. Thrillingly, this very piece is (apparently) currently on show in Birmingham’s Ikon, where it is also accompanied by numbers one, three and four of that same series. 
This promises to be a spectacular exhibition.
Dan Flavin, "monument" for V. Tatlin 1966
Dan Flavin, pink out of a corner (to Jasper Johns), 1963
Dan Flavin, untitled (in memory of "Sandy" Calder) V, 1977
Dan Flavin, untitled (to Barnett Newman) two, 1971
Dan Flavin, untitled (to Don Judd, colorist) 1–5, 1987
Dan Flavin, installation view, Ikon Gallery 2016 (Photo. by Stuart Whipps)

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Richard Smith, 1931 - 2016

Richard Smith, Panatella, 1961
Richard Smith died 16 April 2016.
British Pop and abstract painter Richard Smith enjoyed early success and celebrity but, latterly, was less well known than he deserved to be. Smith graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1957 and had a one-man show in New York in 1961. In 1970 he represented Britain at the Venice Biennale and had a retrospective at the Tate in 1975. As the late Gordon Burn put it in an article for the Guardian in 2000:  In the 50s he helped invent pop art. In the 60s his huge, advert-inspired canvases were the talk of the London art scene. In the 70s oil millionaires were queuing up to buy them. Then, in the 80s, he vanished. What happened to Richard Smith?
The Tate’s online biography simply stops at 1976.
Smith moved to America in 1978 – it seems that for a while he ‘lost focus’, but in due course and through subsequent decades continued to make his bold and distinctive abstractions.
Read The Invisible Man by Gordon Burn.
Read obituaries in the Guardian (by Chris Stephens), Artforum (by Barbara Rose) and The Telegraph
Richard Smith, MM, 1959
Richard Smith, Piano, 1963
Richard Smith, Untitled, 1971-2
Richard Smith, Early Reply, 1972
Richard Smith, Untitled (Yellow), 1996
Richard Smith, Untitled, 2002
Richard Smith, Avedisiane, nd

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Malick Sidibé, 1936 - 2016

Malick Sidibé, Combat des amis avec pierres, 1976
Malick Sidibé died on 14 April 2016.
Malian photographer Malick Sidibé began taking photographs in the 1950s and soon established Studio Malick in Bamako. From the 1960s on he photographed the youth culture of newly independent Mali at parties and dances and in the calmer environment of his studio – a small cement room with a backdrop and a rug – 
Jehad Nga, Inside Malick Sidibé's Bamako studio
where his subjects would pose on motor bikes and Vespas and dress to the nines in a spectacular fusion of fashion styles.
Sidibe’s meticulous record keeping and hoarding of negatives and old cameras meant that when, after 30 years of work in Bamako, he was ‘discovered’ by the West there was a rich archive of his joyful pictures to publish.
Jehad Nga, Inside Malick Sidibé's Bamako studio
Read obituaries by Sean O’Hagan and Fayemi Shakur; read a fascinating interview with Sidibé from 2008, published in Lens Culture; see photo essay by Jehad Nga from which the pictures, above, of Sidibé's studio are taken.
(Click on images to enlarge.)

Malick Sidibé, Toute la famille en moto, 1962

Malick Sidibé,Portrait d une Femme Attougee, 1969
Malick Sidibé

Malick Sidibé,Jeune homme avec pattes d’éléphant, sacoche et montre, 1977.

Malick Sidibé,Nuit de Noël, 1963

Malick Sidibé,Les jeunes bergers peulhs, 1972
Malick Sidibé
Malick Sidibé, Standing Ladies, 1975

Malick Sidibé,Vues de dos — Juin. 2003-4.