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Donald Judd Foundation. New York.


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                                                  Judd Foundation. Photo Paul Katz/ © Paul Katz/Courtesy; Judd Foundation Archive

A few years ago I discovered New York’s Judd Foundation, the residence and studio of minimalism’s most important exponent, Donald Judd, since 1968. My desire to visit it was frustrated due to it being closed for refurbishment. Its doors finally reopened three years later, in June 2013, and I was allowed a visit a few days before the official reopening.

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The impressive 19th-century cast-iron building is located on 101 Spring Street in the heart of SoHo. It’s made up of five loft-style floors - one for each activity, as Judd once wrote. He used the top floor as a bedroom, and it now includes works by some of his close friends: Dan Flavin created a spectacular sculpture out of fluorescent lights in the shape of a series of windows, and Chamberlain had a sculpture made of pressed scrap metal hung from a wall. The next floor from the top had a two-fold purpose: as a games room and dining-room. The next floor was a studio and exhibition area, which today contains a large piece by Frank Stella and designer furniture.

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On the second floor Judd placed the kitchen and a closet for the children, including a theatre where guests were entertained. And the entrance doubles as a second exhibition space and features a Carl André sculpture and some of Judd’s own works.


Behind this permanent exhibition of works in his own home was Judd’s idea that to understand an artist’s work, one has to see the place in which he works. He asked his sons Flavin and Rainer, current co-presidents of the Foundation, to leave the house exactly as he had left it, to ensure that future visitors to the studio would continue to appreciate this relationship. Other works of note in the Foundation, apart from Judd’s own pieces, are those by Larry Bell, Claes Oldenburg, a fresco by David Novros and furniture designed by Alvar Aalto.

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More examples of Judd’s installation work can be found in Marfa, Texas, where he moved to in 1971. There, in the middle of an open field, he was able to materialize his project of a permanent installation, creating a large-scale art piece consisting of 15 gigantic hollow boxes placed outside on a desert-like landscape. Also in Marfa is the Chinati Foundation, which he created with the purpose of housing his own work as well as that of his peers (Chamberlain, Flavin, Oldenburg, Roni Horn) and which echoes his artistic aesthetic and principles on permanence.

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Although not content with the “minimalist” label, Donald Judd was certainly interested in simplicity of form, as well as the relationship between objects and space. His work, when taken as a whole, is a reminder to the viewer that often the simpler the art, the more complex its meaning.

His primary field of work was sculpture; he once wrote: “Actual space is intrinsically more powerful and specific than paint on a flat surface. Anything in three dimensions can be any shape, regular or irregular, and can have any relation to the wall, floor, ceiling, room, rooms or exterior or none at all.”

The Donald Judd Foundation is a tall, magnificent studio, with great ceiling-to-floor windows that allow the interior to be bathed in sunlight, and with a decadent touch added by the floor and old wooden stairs. Its architecture and interior design, and the sculptures and paintings it houses, all come together in one unique space that transports the visitor to time long gone. It begs repeated visits, not least to fully capture the full range of ideas and aesthetic principles the artist wanted to leave us with.





Vitra Campus.


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Architecture and design lovers should not miss a visit to Weil am Rhein, a town in the German region of Freiburg as well as a suburb of the Swiss city of Basel. Here we find the Vitra Campus, Vitra being the Swiss furniture producer founded in 1950 by Willi Fehlbaum. In 1981 a major fire destroyed parts of the original Campus factory and Nicholas Grimshaw, a British architect, was commissioned to design a new production building, which started a series of contributions by architects adding more and more buildings and constructions on the Campus premises, today a world-class destination for all architecture enthusiasts.

Where else can you enjoy the works of so many prestigious architects in one place? Zaha Hadid, Herzog & de Meuron, Tadao Ando, Renzo Piano, Frank Gehry, Nicholas Grimshaw, Jasper Morrison, Alvaro Siza, Richard Buckminster Fuller and Jean Prouvé have all left their mark on the Campus through the years.


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As well as the architecture, the factory also exhibits a wide selection of designer furniture from recent history, all of which have helped define the design of their time: in-house items are on display together with works by Verner Panton, Philippe Starck, Ron Arad, Charles and Ray Eames, Jean Prouvé and more.





I visited the Campus in 2011 and I was fascinated by the sight of these very different architectural styles all sitting together on a wide open plateau, vineyards glistening in the distance. Sadly, Renzo Piano’s Diogene had not been completed at the time of my visit, a minuscule living space measuring just eight square metres and named after the Greek philosopher Diogenes of Sinope, whose self-imposed poverty-ridden lifestyle led him to live inside an earthenware jar.





I could well have benefited from more time on my visit, as one day is not enough to see the extensive collection of furniture on display - urban, office and domestic - at a leisurely pace, taking in all the spectacular sights around you.

I spent most of my time in the Vitra Haus, a 2010 building designed by Herzog & de Meuron. It consists of a series of houses all of the same basic shape, stacked on top of one another, reminiscent of Switzerland’s Actelion Business Center. Light plays a key role in the appreciation of the building, and the view from outside at sunset is quite stunning. The Vitra Haus building also contains the Vitra Home Collection, where visitors can see, touch and purchase different items representing the latest design trends, across various floors and exhibition halls.




Herzog & de Meuron are the Swiss architects responsible for some of the world’s most diverse and iconic constructions, including London’s Tate Modern gallery, the CaixaForum in Madrid, Beijing’s spectacular Bird’s Nest Olympic stadium and the Prada building in Tokyo. They’re all fascinating structures, my personal favourite being the Bird’s Nest due to its sheer size and scale.


Another architect whose work I greatly admire is Jean Prouvé. At the Vitra Campus one can see his petrol station originally designed in 1953 and relocated to the Campus in 2003. It brings together all the qualities that define Prouvé’s work: functionality, careful selection of materials and resourcefulness. These were the guiding principles of his work, and they would prove particularly relevant during the harsh post-war period, considering the uses his buildings would be put to.







Another gem to be found in the Campus is Richard Buckminster Fuller’s Dome, a geodesic structure currently used as an exhibition space. Fuller, like Prouvé before him, was also interested in achieving maximum functionality with minimum expense, both in terms of materials and energy consumption.

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The minimalist simplicity of Jasper Morrison’s bus stationZaha Hadid’s fire station or Frank Gehry’s buildings, archetypes of deconstructivism, complete the visit to this unique location, an absolute must for anyone interested in architecture and design, or indeed art of any kind.









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Greek civilization laid the foundations of our contemporary Western culture - it is in Ancient Greece, specifically in Miletus, where the origins of philosophy are to be found.
The book begins with the Seven Sages of Greece and with Thales of Miletus, the first man to attempt to explain natural phenomena through science rather than myth.

Among other things, he earned his fame for having predicted a solar eclipse, discovering Ursa Major and its importance in circumnavigation, and for his theory on the existence of a primordial entity from which all things originate. Until Thales’ findings, all phenomena that could not be readily understood by man were attributed to the Greek gods who, although they exhibited physical attributes far superior to mortals, were nevertheless imagined in the shape of man with their same mortal needs.

For most readers, philosophy is a very dense discipline, and that is true for some parts of it. Hence this book’s appeal: written in an engaging and accessible style, it takes the reader on an exciting journey through the history of thought.

Philosophy, meaning “love of knowledge”, began in Ancient Greece and it is the attempt to find rational answers to the fundamental questions in life. Studying the history of philosophy is important not only for the factual knowledge we learn in the process, but also because it teaches us about the need to develop independent thought.

Philosophy is our guide in the difficult task of daring to think for ourselves. Kant - and many others before him - reminds us of this with his well-known “Sapere aude”, or “Dare to know”. We are so conditioned in our thinking that we don’t even realize it’s happening. Our family, teachers, our spiritual guides, the State, mass media, our consumerist society, etc.: everything and everyone around us, in some way, directs us towards a certain way of thinking and living. This is actually very easy for us to submit to, since we spend a lot less effort delegating our thinking to those we consider better able at doing it for us. According to Immanuel Kant in his 1784 essay, “Answering the Question: What is Enlightenment?”, we act like this either out of laziness - it’s easier for us to have others think on our behalf - or out of cowardice - for fear of being wrong. In either case, he thinks it’s down to immaturity.

The idea of “daring to know” is as timeless as the history of thought; the great contributions made to the evolution of thought by these philosophers can be applied to any time in the history of humanity. And this is precisely why philosophy is a highly relevant subject in all our lives. This book is just the first step.


Rudolf Stingel at the Palazzo Grassi, Venice.




One of this year’s Venice Biennale’s most remarkable exhibitions was undoubtedly Italian artist Rudolf Stingel, held in the Palazzo Grassi.

His first exhibition in the United States, which I still remember vividly, took place at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago in 2007. The artist had covered the walls of a room with Styrofoam coated in aluminium, and visitors were invited to physically interact with the installation by scratching parts of the aluminium coating off the wall, thereby leaving their marks on the piece with writings, drawings or scribbles. I’ve tried and failed to remember what mark I left on the wall: probably nothing of note.




Stingel’s work is characterized by an interest in having the viewer actively participate in the creative process. On this occasion, Stingel’s large exhibition takes place in the 18th century Palazzo Grassi, where the artist has created a fascinating installation in which the palace’s floors and walls have been entirely covered by an enormous carpet (a reference to Freud). Also on display are his monochromatic paintings and paintings of Gothic and Baroque saints, which when juxtaposed with the reference to psychoanalysis helps to create a bizarre and unexpected viewing experience. The paintings and their connotations, with their idea of looking back at a past moment in time, may be implying an analogy with Freudian therapy. I was particularly struck by a side-view image of Christ’s crucifixion: the angle chosen by the artist to represent this iconic image is uncommon and one that I had not seen before. I found it a very disturbing piece.





Combining the full-space carpet installation with the paintings on the walls leads to a feeling of unease. It’s disorienting to be looking at the paintings on a carpet background which should really belong to the floor one is standing on, and one’s perception of the painting is certainly affected. Viewers tend to feel somewhat confused.


Stingel is interested in the viewer’s perception of art, something clearly seen in this exhibition. Conceptual art, installations and hyperrealism are the tools he uses in his mission to explore the creative process. A provocative, compelling artist whose prolific and heterogeneous output is well worth taking the time to study in depth.














Jeff Koons. Gazing Balls.


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That’s one way of describing Jeff Koons’ latest work, currently on show at the brilliant David Zwirner gallery in Chelsea, New York City.

As I walked into the white-walled gallery, I was overwhelmed by the unexpected sight: numerous life-sized Greco-Roman sculptures surrounded me in a lively, curious dance. Hercules, Aphrodite, Narcissus, Dionysius… they were all there, torn from their world of antiquity and relocated to modernity, where the concept of time simply fades away. All the sculptures are made out of pure white plaster, and each of them is holding a perfect sphere made of electric blue glass, giving each sculpture an incredible sense of balance. The stark chromatic contrast between the blue and the white, as well as the impact from the sheer size of the figures, lends the works a very contemporary look and feel.





The idea of the glass balls, which are painted from the inside, comes from the artist’s childhood in York, Pennsylvania, where middle-class families would place them in their gardens. They would gradually become status symbols: the balls’ glassy, mirror-like surface entrancing their owners with their all-seeing power.


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Jeff Koons, figurative sculptor and artist, has created a collage of pop culture and art history. Here is the artist speaking of Gazing Balls:

“I had the idea for Gazing Balls for decades. I wanted to show the affirmation, the generosity, the sense of place and the pleasure of the senses that the Gazing Balls represent. The Gazing Balls series is based on the idea of transcendence. Our realization of our own mortality is an abstract thought - from there, we can reach an understanding of the outside world, our family, our community, we can engage in an open dialogue with humanity at large beyond the present moment. The Gazing Balls series is about the philosopher’s vision; starting from the senses, and directing our gaze out towards the eternal through pure form and ideas.”





The New York Times calls Koons the most important American artist since Warhol. I believe he is a significant artist of our time: he seems to possess an extraordinary ability to capture and express the values and desires of the modern age. The visions of our contemporary artists allow us to see our own societies and their woes reflected back at us; societies infected by complacency, consumerism, immediacy, new technology, utilitarianism. By understanding them, or at least acknowledging them, we are empowered to create a different future for ourselves.




Man's Search for Meaning.




The big question : What is the meaning of life for humans ?

According to Viktor Frankl , author of the book "Man 's Search for Meaning " , the answer would be that there is no meaning of life , but many , as many as people inhabit the Earth. No need to look for an abstract meaning of life , but the meaning that you give to life in every stage of your personal development ; These will be determined by a mission, a mission to carry out at all times.

The author tries to help answer these and other existential questions through their knowledge and experience in Nazi concentration camps . The reader causes a continuous and deep reflection .

Viktor Frankl (1905-1997) was Jewish Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist , founder of logotherapy , which is a meaning -centered psychotherapy . Unlike psychoanalysis is more introspective and retrospective , logotherapy least look at our past and to our future , values ​​and the meaning of life trying to discover ourselves.

Viktor Frankl, "being a man means directed toward something or someone other than oneself , performing either a value , achieve a sense or find another human being "

Another interesting facet pragmatics of speech therapy is a technique that develops, and it calls "paradoxical intention." Through this technique , the author helps patients fight their fears as they may cause in some cases, what we fear . It also seeks to control the hyperintention , which is precisely the opposite, excessive desire for something which impacts its performance . The " paradoxical intention " would be to induce the patient to do what you fear as a method of healing.

All these skills are implicit his ordeal in four Nazi concentration camps , Viktor Frankl shares experience with us in the first part of the book, where we make an analysis.First , how to be psychologically affected human being subjected to such extreme situations and were dramatic as those experienced by him.

This is a very exciting time we live with great existential emptiness and nihilism that attacks part of the society of our time. Especially the loss of values, traditions and religious dogmas skepticism toward everything and preset .

I hope that reading "Man 's Search for Meaning " will be as useful as it has been for me. Contributing to introspect about your own life experience , your skills , your hopes, your desires, your limitations ... and projecting a positive and pragmatic , directed to a process of personal development future. And with the same procedure as regards our fears and insecurities , after a estiológico process and acceptance, one can better cope with them, minimizing them , controlling and transforming them into individual growth .



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