Alejandra de Argos by Elena Cué

London's Tate Modern is currently hosting a visit from a very different Van Gogh. The exhibition comes courtesy of the Pushkin Museum in Moscow and includes a painting that seemingly brings with it the air of a Soviet billboard, a kind of propaganda, a punishment, a coldness. It is a far cry from Van Gogh's most iconic sun-soaked canvasses - no lilies, no sunflowers in vases, no wheatfields.

Colaborating author: Marina Valcárcel
 
 Marina

 

 

 

 Van gogh 

Vincent Van Gogh, Self-portrait dedicated to Gaugin (1888), Fogg Art Museum, USA 

 

London's Tate Modern is currently hosting a visit from a very different Van Gogh. The exhibition comes courtesy of the Pushkin Museum in Moscow and includes a painting that seemingly brings with it the air of a Soviet billboard, a kind of propaganda, a punishment, a coldness. It is a far cry from Van Gogh's most iconic sun-soaked canvasses - no lilies, no sunflowers in vases, no wheatfields. This is his most tragic painting and features a prison courtyard. Painted in February 1890, by which time Van Gogh was an inpatient at St Rémy asylum, rarely venturing outdoors to paint the countryside around him, instead feverishly reproducing the postcards his brother Theo sent him. This painting, based on an engraving by Gustave Doré, is a scream in the dark. It is his terror of madness and confinement. A group of 33 prisoners, heads down, drag their feet around a circle of oppressive and alienating exercise, enclosed inside a  wall without end, two symbolic butterflies hiding between its bricks. A feeling of the absence of freedom permeates it. Only a small ray of light trickles down from an unseen sky to illuminate the face of one of the prisoners, the only one to lift his head and look at us. A blond-haired man, white-skinned. Vincent Van Gogh. On 27 July 1890, five months after completing this painting, he would go out into the wheatfields surrounding Auvers with a revolver and shoot a bullet into his stomach.

 

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Vincent Van Gogh, Prison Courtyard (1890), Pushkin Museum, Moscow


A meditation on painting

Van Gogh died at the age of 37. Other visionaries who revolutionized the art of their time also died young - Basquiat at the age of 27, Egon Schiele 28, Modigliani 35, Raphael 36, Caravaggio 38 ...


Unlike them, however, Van Gogh's biography (1853–1890) stands out for something unusual - the bulk of his output came in the last two years of his life. Just over 700 days and 900 works that would blow the roof off Western painting. Two years in and out of hospital, devouring oil paint of the colour that obsessed him - yellow lead chromate. Making the most of any periods of calm for frantic painting, sometimes a picture a day, sometimes two, and battling the dazed stupor produced by the potassium bromide injected into his veins to prevent seizures. Painting so as not to go mad, painting every lily and every ear of wheat until his senses absorbed them, painting the sun and the moonlight, painting so as not to die, painting whilst dying.

In addition to his paintings, the Dutchman also left a key legacy - his correspondence, which has survived essentially intact to the present day. From August 1872 until his death, Van Gogh wrote over 800 letters, of which 668 were sent to Theo his younger brother, his confidant, accomplice, double. All of them begin "My dear Theo" and are written in Dutch, English or French.

This spring of 2019, all roads lead to Van Gogh: the Tate Modern has inaugurated its first exhibition dedicated to him since 1947 - Van Gogh in Britain - whilst the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is delighting visitors with a beautiful exhibition in which his landscapes dialogue with those of David Hockney. In Barcelona, there are long queues for the interactive Meet Van Gogh exhibition and Julian Schnabel's biopic - At Eternity's Gate - is still showing in cinemas. 

 

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Vincent Van Gogh, Almond Blossoms (1890), Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Holland


Long before Vincent picked a brush with the intention of learning to be a painter, he was already looking at the world through the eyes of an artist. As a child, he became practised at observing Nature during his long walks in the Brabant countryside: he examined birds' nests and wondered at the Dutch flatlands broken up only by the sharp spire of some church or by the red strip of sunset on the skyline. 

Through his father, a Calvinist pastor from the Dutch town of Zundert, he was immersed in a traditional learning method then prevalent in northern Europe, namely, that everything we observe is full of metaphorical and symbolic meanings. Much of this teaching to children was done through the holy prints that surrounded them in their homes. In his father's studio hung three engravings that impacted Vincent as a child: The Return of the Prodigal Son, The Harvest and a baby in his cradle by Rembrandt; simple scenes that lit the flame of a profound religious sensitivity in Van Gogh from a very early age.

The search for salvation

Behind those blue eyes, Vincent's life revolved around the inner workings of his own mind. Long before art made its appearance, there  was not only  the need to seek his salvation but also a voracious amount of reading - the Bible first and foremost, along with Shakespeare,  Dickens,  Hugo, Homer and Balzac, to name but a few. Between the ages of 16 and 30, he and his brother Theo worked as assistants at the Goupil Art Gallery and travelled throughout Holland, London and Paris. It was in these cities that Van Gogh immersed himself in museums and galleries, deciphering the works of the painters he most admired: Rubens, Frans Hals, Delacroix and, of course, Rembrandt. In Paris, he encountered the Impressionists, Japanese prints with their bright colors and lack of perspective or shadow and the dotted brushstrokes of the Pointillists. And everything learnt from museums and books served to expand the treasure trove of images and memories he would carry with him like baggage.

A los 30 años y en menos de una década, este joven frágil y confundido decide aprender a pintar; asimiló toda la innovación contemporánea y emergió como el pionero de la pintura más moderna y expresiva. Y así, en febrero de 1888, Vincent llega a la estación de Arlés, donde su pintura adquirirá la madurez al tiempo que su vida comenzará a desintegrarse. Instalado en la Casa Amarilla y obsesionado por la llegada de Gaugin, remata, a un ritmo a veces de seis lienzos al día, sus cuadros míticos: la serie de Los girasoles, sus Botas, La silla, su Dormitorio... Pero también en ese mismo cuarto le encontrarán casi muerto. En Van Gogh Prometeo, Georges Bataille afirma que es precisamente, a partir de la noche de diciembre de 1888, cuando entrega en un burdel su oreja cortada a golpe de navaja: “Cuando su pintura se convierte en rayo, en explosión y llama; al tiempo que él se extinguía en un éxtasis frente a un haz de luz radiante, explotando, en llamas."

At 30 and in less than a decade, this fragile and confused young man decides to learn to paint, assimilating all contemporary innovation and emerging as the pioneer of the most modern, expressive forms of painting. And so, in February 1888, Vincent boards the train to Arles where his painting would reach maturity while his life begins to fall apart. Living in the Yellow House and obsessed with Gaugin's arrival, he churns out, at the rate of sometimes six canvasses a day, his legendary paintings: the Sunflowers series, A Pair of Boots, Gaugin's Chair, his Bedroom in Arles ... the same room where he would soon be found dying. In Van Gogh As Prometheus, Georges Bataille asserts that  it is precisely on the night in December 1888 that he handed over his severed ear at a brothel "... [w]hen his painting turns into lightning, explosion and flame; while at the same time he himself disintegrated in ecstasy before a beam of radiant light, exploding, on fire."

 

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Vincent Van Gogh, Gaugin's Chair (1888). Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Holland

 

Dawn of the collapsible paint tube

In Provence, he embraced the landscape, turning its abundant indigenous bamboo and reeds into brushes and pencils. He was also able to benefit from advances in the chemical industry as new colours appeared in the form of coal tar pigments, mauve and magenta aniline dyes and synthetic lacquer tints. But, more importantly, came the invention of the squeezable paint tube, which made painting with oil outdoors possible for the first time. 

When he took his easel out into the countryside, he would turn his head like sunflowers in search of sunlight and colours, sensing nature in all its glory: temperatures, sounds, mistrals, scents ... and then falling into a state of hypnosis. The last snows had just washed the fruit trees in the orchards clean. There were paths and yet more paths lined with trees of all kinds and everything was starting to shine with an intensity that Vincent painted in short, stenographic lines. It was then that he discovered the motivation for his painting: in nature he found the power of suggestion in the colours he used to convey poetic ideas and to express feelings or moods. In his film, Julian Schnabel enables us to experience Van Gogh's catharsis through optical illusions. He recounts how one day, in a second-hand shop, he came across a pair of bifocal glasses. While wearing them, he realized that his field of vision was altered, blurred or expanded and believed he had hit upon how to convey on screen the artist's trancelike way of seeing the world.

 

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Vincent Van Gogh, A Wheatfield with Cypresses (1889). Metropolitan Museum, New York, USA


In Amsterdam recently, Hockney spoke with devotion: "I think my debt to Van Gogh is obvious here. For me, he's a contemporary artist. He still speaks to me today, like Brueghel." Van Gogh and Hockney lived a century apart but their landscapes, on display side by side, are like stars colliding: "Although it's obvious we both have a fascination with nature, what links me most to Van Gogh is not his colours, brushstrokes or landscapes, it's the clarity of his spaces." Insisting on their similarity of brushstroke, he replied with a smile: "Well, sometimes I steal things from Van Gogh. Great artists don't borrow, they steal." He added, seriously: "With a photograph, the whole surface is uniformly flat. Between a photo taken of a Van Gogh painting and the actual canvas, the difference is the brushstrokes. We can't look at a photo for long, no more than a fraction of a second, because we don't see the subject in layers. The portrait Lucian Freud painted of me required me to pose for 120 hours and that can all be seen in the layers of the painting. That's why it's of infinitely higher interest than a photo."

The London exhibition, the one in Amsterdam and Schnabel's film converge miraculously in one standout picture currently at the Tate Modern. It is At Eternity's Gate, the selfsame title as Schnabel's film. Along with The Prison Courtyard, Van Gogh painted it in April 1890 during his days of isolation at the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum and this time it is based on a drawing of his from the Dutch period. It depicts a man sitting in a chair with his head buried in his hands. A symbol of despair and, more likely, of Van Gogh's own anguish. Two weeks before starting it, his doctor, Théophile Peyron, wrote to Theo: "He usually sits with his head in his hands and whenever someone comes to talk to him, it seems as if it causes him immense pain."

Conversely, for Hockney, At Eternity's Gate signifies a rebirth. In March 2013, one of his assistants, Dominique Elliot, committed suicide at the artist's house while he was painting the Yorkshire landscapes that are currently on display in Amsterdam. For several months, Hockney was unable to paint. In July of that same year, Hockney sent a drawing to his friend and curator Edith Devaney. It was a portrait of his friend Jean-Pierre Goncalves de Lima, sitting in his studio with his head in his hands. Devaney instantly spotted the similarities with Van Gogh's painting. Hockney acknowledged that this was not only a portrait of his friend but was also a kind of self-portrait in the face of tragedy. After that portrait came many more, which, in 2016, would become  an exhibition at the Royal Academy: 82 Portraits and 1 Still Life. Van Gogh had persuaded Hockney to take up painting again.

 

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Vincent Van Gogh, At Eternity’s Gate (1889). Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, Holland

 

Silent contemplation

In 1890, during his confinement, Van Gogh found himself even more deeply affected by everything than before. He breathed every breath behind the bars and felt his spirit vibrate behind the window panes, letting it merge with the changing landscapes, light and seasons through his brushes. In the monastery's walled garden, he became a silent contemplator. Sitting under the trees, his eyes captured everything he saw. He would lie next to the lilies, face to face, and paint them, as if one of them, at one with them. When we look at his paintings today, we can almost feel the air, the freshness under the shade, the grass and lavender moving. Vincent wrote at the time that he was in his heaven.

 

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Vincent Van Gogh, Irises (1889). J.Paul Getty Museum, California, USA


However, towards the end of his life, the struggle inside his head between art and madness took on heroic proportions. The recurrence of crises was terrifying. In moments of calm, he painted furiously as if trying to ward off the next attack that would inevitably come the following day. For Van Gogh at this time, painting was both his destruction and at the same time his salvation, because it was precisely between episodes that he could see with greater intensity and lucidity and when his pictorial faculties seemed to be totally under control. These were works of wild abandon, painted on the edge of the abyss. Over and again, he painted barley-sugar cypresses like Solomon's columns, wheatfields with never-ending paths, starry night skies speckled as if by glistening gas lamps, cloud chains moving like ship sails tossed by the wind.

 

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Vincent Van Gogh, Starry Night (1889). MoMA, New York, USA


In May 1890, Theo knew that his brother was going through the most terrible time. He could see that Vincent was about to pull off a miracle and turn his mental disorder into a revolution. Theo feared that all of the internal intensity tormenting van Gogh was sure to explode inside his head once and for all. And he found a place for the explosion to be a controlled one - the village of Auvers-sur-Oise, 20 kilometres north of Paris. There, accompanied by Dr. Gachet, Van Gogh found the strength to unleash his final creative fury. Over the 70 days his spell in Auvers lasted, he produced 90 paintings. Many of them are his most exceptional works, almost always landscapes - solitary, disturbing and absolutely novel. His last painting, Three Roots, featured at the Amsterdam exhibition, is a manifesto to abstraction..

 

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Vincent Van Gogh, Three Roots (1890). Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Holland


In one of his last letters to Theo, Vincent lamented the fact that in the absence of any children of his own, his paintings would be his legacy. But Van Gogh did have a descendant - Expressionism. And along with it, many heirs - Kokoschka, De Kooning, Jackson Pollock ...
Within a few months, Theo, exhausted and ill, had lost his mind and also died. In 1914, his remains were moved to the cemetery in Auvers where he rests beside Vincent, with a matching headstone. From there, the two brothers observe Van Gogh's triumph - "Flowers die, mine will live on."

 

Van Gogh and Britain

Tate Modern, Millbank London SW1P 4RG

Curator: Carol Jacobi

27 March - 11 August 2019

 

Hockney - Van Gogh: The Joy of Nature

Museo Van Gogh, Museumplein 6 1071 DJ Amsterdam

Curator: Edwin Becker

1 March - 26 May 2019

(Translated from the Spanish by Shauna Devlin)

 

- Van Gogh, painting from hell -                        - Alejandra de Argos -

Two lives parallel in time, two like-minded ways of understanding the world and a piece of drawing paper that would forever bring together two of the great creatives of the first half of the 20th century. I refer to Paul Klee (1879-1940), Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) and "Angelus Novus", a small work of art measuring just 32x24 cm and monoprinted in 1920.

Collaborating Author: Maira Herrero, 

Maira

 

 

 

 

Paul Klee

Angelus Novus

 

"Since Homer’s time, the greatest narratives have followed in the wake of great wars, and the greatest narrators have emerged from the ruins of devastated cities and landscapes.”  H. Arendt

Two lives parallel in time, two like-minded ways of understanding the world and a piece of drawing paper that would forever bring together two of the great creatives of the first half of the 20th century. I refer to Paul Klee (1879-1940), Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) and "Angelus Novus", a small work of art measuring just 32x24 cm and monoprinted in 1920.

During a June 1921 visit to Munich, Walter Benjamin, accompanied by his long-time friend Gerschom Scholem, visited Hans Goltz's gallery on Odeonplatz to buy the "Angelus Novus", a painting that had had such a profound impact on him a year earlier in Berlin.

 

Paul Klee1

 

Klee had for some time been seeking out new ways to portray reality and new figurative possibilities. In his book "Creative Confession" of 1920, he begins by saying, "Art does not reproduce the visible, rather, it makes visible [what is invisible]." A tendency towards the abstract is inherent in linear expression and rightly so: graphic imagery confined to outlines has a fairytale quality whilst at the same time achieving great precision.

For Klee, form would become the catalyst element deriving naturally and directly from the imagination to unleash a new creative freedom aimed at expressiveness and immediacy. The figurative should blend with one’s conception of the world (1916). It is through the artist that Nature creates.

Angels, by definition of an uncorrupted nature, are a form of direct expression and an attempt to balance out the progressive, technological world with the spiritual world, of which Benjamin would later speak. They constitute a symbolic resource that captured the outrage he felt for all that was happening at a time of immense uncertainty in which certainties had lost their value. He needed to fantasize and angels were a means by which to go beyond a reality that was too prosaic. "To extricate myself from the ruins, I had to fly. And so I flew. In this shattered world, I only live in remembrance, just as sometimes one thinks of something from the past. That's why I'm abstract with memories" (1915). The same ruins that would later pile up at the feet of the 'angel of history'.

"The more terrible this world becomes, as is now the case, the more abstract art becomes." (1915). That year, his friend and fellow artist Franz Marc died on the Western Front at the Battle of Verdun. Klee and Benjamin shared a turbulent world that made its mark on their lives and work. They were both looking for a way to shape their thinking. For Klee, what we perceive is a proposition, a possibility, the authentic truth at its base, albeit invisible (1916). For Benjamin, the truth is in the most insignificant representations of reality.

“Something new is announced, the diabolical is inextricably linked with the celestial, dualism will not be treated as such but in its complementary unity. Conviction already exists. The diabolical is already peeking out here and there again, and it is impossible to suppress it. For truth demands the presence of all the elements as a whole." (10 June 1916). Again the image of the angel is conjured.

Benjamin gives us an account of his own interpretation of Klee's painting, without in any way compromising the artist's intentions regarding these images of contemporary angels that interested him so much and harboured so many ideas.

The "Angelus Novus" image became a recurring obsession in Benjamin's thinking. It always took pride of place in his studio and it seems he positioned it next to a reproduction of the Isenheim altarpiece by the German painter Mathias Grünewald, a work of tremendous drama that strips human misery bare. Might he have seen parallels between the two images?

 

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The Crucifixion. Central panel of the Isenheim altarpiece. Matthias Grünewald. Museum of Unterlinden, Colmar, France

 

The head of the "Angelus Novus" is covered with strylised, curly hair and disproportionate to the size of its body. The feet resemble bird's claws and the wings are attached to the hands. The body houses a pendulum inside a tower ~ that harmonious and silent element marking movement and time that so intrigued Klee and so tormented Benjamin. Huge, wide-open eyes stare past us, to somewhere outside our field of vision. His mouth is half-open and it looks like he is about to say something. The "Angelus Novus"  is bringing a message and awaits an answer through his outsize ears. Everything seems to fit for Benjamin ~ this is the Angel of History. Things reveal their significance to him in secret.

There is a painting by Klee called "Angelus Novus" depicting an angel contemplated and fixated on an object, slowly moving away from it. His eyes are opened wide, his mouth hangs open and his wings are outstretched. This is exactly how the Angel of History must look. His face is turned towards the past. Where we see the appearance of a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe, which unceasingly piles rubble on top of rubble and hurls it at his feet. Much as he would like to pause for a moment, to awaken the dead and piece together what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing in from Heaven, it has caught itself up in his wings and is so strong that the Angel can no longer close them. The storm drives him irresistibly into the future, to which he turns his back, while the heap  of rubble in front grows sky-high. What we call progress is this storm. 

This is the full text of thesis IX from "On the Concept of History", an essay comprising eighteen theses that constitute a reflection on the idea of progress and its consequences within the concept of history. This was a cornerstone of Walter Benjamin's thinking wherein he questions the era of modernity and the idea of progress it underpins, through one’s ability to give material form to the invisible. Written during his last months in Paris, on the eve of its German occupation, and concluded days before he left the city for a failed exile. His plan was to cross Spain into Portugal and there embark on route to the United States where his friends, Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno and the Institute of Social Studies awaited him.

Deeply worried about an overly uncertain future and before leaving the French capital, Klee entrusted his friend George Bataille with a suitcase containing his most treasured possessions, the "Angelus Novus" and his latest writings, among them the manuscript of "Theses on the Philosophy of History", with instructions that, should anything happen to him, he would ensure they reached Theodor W. Adorno. The essay was published by Adorno in a special issue of the Institute of Social Studies in 1942, thanks to the copy that Benjamin had given to Hanna Arendt and which she, albeit reluctantly, passed on to Adorno. The painting ended up in the hands of Gerschom Scholem, at Benjamin's express wish. Scholem's book, "Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism", had been a fundamental inspiration for his work and is currently part of the Jerusalem Museum collection.

The "Angelus Novus" is an exceptional representation of the importance of movement in transformation and evolution and of the importance of looking to the past to build the future. The passage of time has only served to increase its powerfulness and seal its immortality. 

 

Klee Benjamin

 Walter Benjamin and Paul Klee 

 

(Translated from the Spanish by Shauna Devlin) 

 

- Paul Klee -Angelus Novus- Walter Benjam -                        - Alejandra de Argos -

Until 18th October, Berlin's Museum of German History will be hosting the exhibition "Hannah Arendt and the 20th Century" which provides the perfect pretext to focus attention on one of the finest minds to have cut a swathe through the history of modern thought. The value of testimony from one of the freest thinkers in the field of political theory is all the greater since it comes from Arendt's own lived experience and is based on an absolute independence of reasoning over and above conventionalism of any kind.

 Author: Elena Cué

 

las lecciones de hannah arendt sobre el trabajo en un mundo poscovid 19 

Hannah Arendt

 

Until 18th October, Berlin's Museum of German History will be hosting the exhibition "Hannah Arendt and the 20th Century" which provides the perfect pretext to focus attention on one of the finest minds to have cut a swathe through the history of modern thought. The value of testimony from one of the freest thinkers in the field of political theory is all the greater since it comes from Arendt's own lived experience and is based on an absolute independence of reasoning over and above conventionalism of any kind.

It was this freedom of thought that led to the critical questioning of Arendt throughout a 20th century in turmoil. But it was also due to her thinking being a timeless, open discourse that lays no claim to being conclusive. Reluctant to see history as a continuous line of progress culminating in a conclusion, she thinks with critical vision from the present moment in time.

Hannah Arendt (1906–1975), a German philosopher of Jewish origin, was the victim of anti-Semitism and the repression of a political totalitarianism that made her, first, stateless and later in the United States, a refugee deprived of legal or moral rights, a condition that made Jews, wherever they went, in her own words - "the scum of the earth".

The thinking of this leading figure in political theory is very difficult to label. She reflected in depth on the great, dauntingly complex issues of the 20th century such as anti-Semitism, the status of refugees, totalitarianism, Zionism, racial segregation in the US, student protests and feminism, all of which are analysed not only from what might have been the heights of an intellectual ivory tower but also from her own personal experience. Through objects, documents, articles, letters and family mementoes  and even a section dedicated to her friends, this exhibition is an invitation to think for oneself, outside the box of any dominant discourse.

 

 csm SH DHM HannahArendt Website Header 191220 ohneLaufzeit 04 3403e419f4

Hannah Arendt

 

 

- Hannah Arendt and the 20th Century -                        - Alejandra de Argos -

A little over a month ago, on 20th April 2020, one of the greatest photographers of the last three decades died aged 92. Gilbert Garcin, whose artistic career began on his retirement from the job he had devoted his whole life to - a small lighting manufacturer in Marseille - was 65 years old when a whole other world opened up before him ... that of photography.

Contributing Author: Maira Herrero, 

Maira

 

 

 

 

Gilbert Garcin unnamed 

 

A little over a month ago, on 20th April 2020, one of the greatest photographers of the last three decades died aged 92. Gilbert Garcin, whose artistic career began on his retirement from the job he had devoted his whole life to - a small lighting manufacturer in Marseille - was 65 years old when a whole other world opened up before him ... that of photography. What kickstarted his new lease of life was a course he enrolled on at the 1995 "Les Rencontres d'Arles" Festival and from then on, nothing would ever be the same again for this budding sexagenarian artist. The recently-opened Paris Photo Salon of 1998 afforded him the opportunity to get his work known internationally and take him, in a very short space of time, to the highest heights of success at photography. 

 

 Gilbert Garbin

 

Through his images, we see a new world where simplicity and complexity walk hand in hand, creating new realities and turning the absurd into the commonplace. His way of looking at things transforms objects into something different, placing them 'through the looking glass'. It is perhaps  this that linked him, by his own acknowledgement, to the filmmaker Jacques Tati and the Belgian painter René Magritte. Like them, Garcin shows us how to see a new world between the visible and the invisible, the real and the imagined, the borderline between the conscious and the unconscious. The photo montages, or staged photos as he called them, are the ideal means by which to create those mysterious images with elements of surprise that run throughout his work and manage to say the unsayable. He had great trouble choosing titles for his photos and he himself often found no explanation at all for his own creations. I am quite sure André Breton would have been fascinated by the compositions Garcin created and captured with his analog camera, optical inventions that never lose their naivety and humour, and where everything is false and real at the same time. His photos also have something of the metaphysical, those geometric representations that intertwine with the human figure in search of a change of relationship and meaning in order to build new associations.

 

Tati Gilbert Garcin 1 

 

Behind every snapshot creation is a craftsmanship that took between 20 and 30 hours of studio work. On the table of his modest workshop in Ciotat, Garcin would stage the different scenarios, sometimes skies borrowed from 19th-century painters, other times small sandy surfaces or linear compositions inspired by Paul Klee's drawings or even vintage film reels on which he would overlay his image, laid out on a stand. The viewer, on approaching any of his photos, will discover their play on scale, their imperfections and the naturalness and uniqueness that encapsulates each of them. 

Garcin's work is so personal that he himself models for his own photos. It is he who functions as a working part of his creation, he is the actor playing the leading role and he who directs and calls the shots at will, according to circumstance. He has said: "It's not me, it might be my double, but essentially you have to see him as a character."

 

Gilbert Garcin La perseverance 2 1030x683

 Perseverance

 

He made his first appearances wearing a hat that he soon abandoned in favour of an overcoat he had inherited from his father-in-law, a family heirloom which he kept as his hallmark until the end of his career. On occasion, he includes his wife as an indispensable complement to his storytelling.

 

04 Gilbert Garcin

 

It would seem that the only references to actually influence his work are found in films of the 1920s and 1930s. His grandfather, Auguste Garcin, ran a small cinema where, in the 1890s, the Lumiere Brothers films were screened and where he lost himself in the silent films of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin.

The deep sense of loneliness and atemporality that permeate his work make him an artist of great intuition, sensitivity and awareness of the unsettling world we have to live in, always leaving the interpretation up to each observer. Conveying without imposing. 

An atypical artist and modern-day craftsman who created, with simplicity and an unbounded poeticism, a disjointed unity that made him a genius. And quite simply, moving. 

 

Nocturne 2 1030x715

Gilbert Garcin Photography

 

Organised by the photographer José Ferrero in the spring of 2017, the Niemeyer de Avilés Centre held the exhibition “The utopias of Gilbert Garcin” showcasing over 80 works by the French photographer.

 

                                                                                                        (Translated from the Spanish by Shauna Devlin) 

 

- Gilbert Garcin - Making the Meaningless Meaningful -                        - Alejandra de Argos -

On 7th March 1500, Emperor Charles V was baptized at St Bavo's Cathedral in Ghent, a fortnight after his birth. The verticality of the central nave, with its very subtly pointed arches shooting up into the sky, was draped in gold and silver-threaded Flemish tapestries; the Gothic stained glass windows, with their heavenly entourage, fulfilled the symbolic function of transforming the interior illumination into an other-worldly light distinct from that outside.

Colaborating author: Marina Valcárcel
 Marina

 

 

 

 

Van Eyck

 

On 7th March 1500, Emperor Charles V was baptized at St Bavo's Cathedral in Ghent, a fortnight after his birth. The verticality of the central nave, with its very subtly pointed arches shooting up into the sky, was draped in gold and silver-threaded Flemish tapestries; the Gothic stained glass windows, with their heavenly entourage, fulfilled the symbolic function of transforming the interior illumination into an other-worldly light distinct from that outside. A walkway with forty arches was built, each one representing the future states of the newborn and one of the godmothers, Margaret of York seated on a throne, carried the baby, preceded by a lavish royal entourage. This baptism was conducted in the manner of a coronation, leaving behind the simpler medieval ceremonies of the past and instituting this Burgundian ritual in the Spanish crown. But all the pomp and solemnity failed to prevent the eyes of those entering the cathedral being drawn towards the Vijd chapel. There, on 6 May 1432, The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb altarpiece, the Polyptych of Ghent, painted by Hubert and Jan van Eyck, had been inaugurated, offering its awestruck audience a surprisingly new way of viewing art.

 

Cortejo ceremonial
Ceremonial cortege, German engraving, 16th century.


In 2012, a team from the Royal Belgian Institute for Artistic Heritage began restoration of the Polyptych in a laboratory at the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent (MKS). During the first phase, when lifting the different layers of varnish, large areas of overpainting were discovered that - probably since the 16th century - had kept van Eyck's work hidden. For the first time, it became possible to see the outer panels of the Polyptych in their original state: the colours of skies and cities, fabric folds and pins hidden in headdresses, light bathing the skin of its subjects and the illusory feel of simulated marble in the statues of the two Saint Johns. These were findings that allowed for us to intuit and piece together many of the mysteries surrounding the paintings of Jan Van Eyck (Maaseik? c. 1390 - Bruges, 1441). This was what sowed the seed of this unrepeatable exhibition displaying all of the eight panels before they return, forever, to the Cathedral of St. Bavo. They form the backbone of the thirteen mysterious, dark rooms of the exhibition, their walls alternately painted the red and ultramarine of the Virgin Mary's robes and their lighting that seems to emanate from inside the paintings: almost 100 works comprising Masaccio, Pisanello and Fra Angelico, his Italian contemporaries, some of his Flemish contemporaries and, above all ,13 of the 20 known Jan van Eyck paintings in the world, constituting a never-before seen collection.

 

Restauracion
Laboratory at the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent (MKS). Restoration of the Polyptich

 

The traveler visiting Bruges will see the small enclosed gardens with their espalier fruit trees and the high pointed arrows of the bell towers emerge around the canals and will be seeing the same streets and their houses and the same churches on the other side of a bridge as Van Eyck. Little seems to have changed since 1430. Similarly, when we stand facing a 15th-century Flemish painting, we believe that we are infltrating the intimacy of life of another time.

 


adoracion cordero
Adoration of the Mystic Lamb (detail). Ghent Altarpiece, 1432, Cathedral of St Bavon, Ghent.

Silks and Patrons


The birth of Flemish painting was occasioned by the French defeat at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 which spelt the collapse of France for decades. Far removed from the ongoing Anglo-French Hundred Years War, Flanders devotes itself to its vocation of commerce. The 1419 assassination of the Duke of Burgundy, John the Fearless, convinces his son, Philip the Good, to sever ties with the Valois and move the capital of Dijon to that protected and free city of Bruges into which goods from the Mediterranean, the Baltic and all the luxury ships of the East flowed: spices and pearls, Turkish rugs, silk brocades from Syria ... objects that will inundate the spaces between Van Eyck's Virgin Marys, altars and donors. Bruges was already the well-established centre of a thriving school of illuminators, among whom and under the influence of the greatest sculptor of the time, Claus Sluter, Van Eyck begins to paint the folds of robes as voluminous as portico sculptures and saints' faces contorted by expressions of pain and to let his painting take on the preciosity and colors of the jewelled and enamelled cover of a Book Of Hours. The Duke of Burgundy's court was a paradise for fortunes such as those of the Italian banker Tommaso Portinari or that of Chancellor Nicolás Rolin, who favoured the arts and generated much patronage.  In this environment,  May 1425 saw Jan van Eyck's appointment as court painter to Philip the Good, for whom he undertakes numerous long and secret journeys of which only one destination is known: the Iberian Peninsula. 

 

poliptico

Limbourg Brothers: "May", calendar page from the "Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry" (1411-1416). Condé Museum, Chantilly, France

 

Subdjugating the light

So who was Jan van Eyck? What was his optical revolution in response to? What was it that made him paint that way?
One could say that, as a painter, he enslaved subjugated and conquered light, subduing and taming it until he was able to illuminate every corner of his paintings with it. To achieve this, he made use of the well-established tools of antiquity which he mastered and made his own. The most recent scientific analysis, after the restoration of the Polyptych, shows that van Eyck mastered all oil techniques and took them to their limits, reproducing every possible texture from silk to hair, from stained glass to Valencian tiled floors, crowns, the light from a child's skin or the matte tone of an old man's hand, books, bindings with their gold lettering, the sky and the pale brightness of the setting sun. Likewise, he portrayed a forest breeze, rays shining through the Gothic windows of a church and the whole reflection of a city on a stretch of lake in the background of a Saint Francis whose stigmata glowed with the precise amount of sheen in every drop of congealed blood.
Everything he saw in nature he conveyed with his brush: different types of rocks, variations of clouds and even depictions of skin diseases and no one, except Leonardo da Vinci, managed to paint the human eye with such precision, the eyelids, the veins and the steadiness of a fixed gaze.

 

van eyck san francisco

Jan Van Eyck, Saint Francis receiving the stigmata (c.1440), Philadelphia Museum of Art


Erwin Panofsky demonstrated how, unlike his Florentine contemporaries, Van Eyck had no interest in applying the mathematical laws of perspective. In The Annunciation scene from the Ghent Altarpiece, the floor and ceiling beams not only do not converge, they do not even come close. In the Washington Annunciation, far from a single vanishing point inside the church depicted, there are several. Van Eyck found an empirical solution for the representation of a compelling space based on direct observation. With it, he came to create twofold perspectives, suggesting distances both panoramic with horizons as real as they are implausible and meticulously detailed - what Panofsky defined as the juxtaposition of his microscopic and telescopic gaze. And so, in the foreground are the interiors his characters inhabit, that intimacy that today fascinates us because we recognize in it our own world, the modern world of the individual and their things: gloves and carpets, musical instruments, lilies and easels and reading stands. That eagerness to portray everything, even what it is not necessary to show, is overwhelming. It is that same domestic and modern intimacy that will later be painted by the likes of Vermeer and De Hooch and Chardin, while in the background or somewhat higher up, another scene unfolds behind a window or on a balcony: a view of a Flemish city, its towers, belfries and streets lost in a horizon of lakes, blue mountains and tranquil skies. Landscapes both infinite and of pinpoint accuracy that in turn, centuries later, a young Ingres would paint in his 1806 "Portrait of Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière".

 

anunciacion detalle

Jan van Eyck , Annunciation (detail)

 

Anunciacion

Jan van Eyck, Annunciation (c.1430-35). National Gallery of Art, Washington.

 

riviere
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Mademoiselle Rivière (c.1793-1807). Louvre Museum, Paris


Van Eyck suffered from an obsessive fixation with the way light covers and forms images from reflection and refraction. The mirror must have permeated his world not only as an object, but also as a metaphor. Some of his knowledge came from observation, but in his time he was considered the first pictor doctus (illustrated painter) north of the Alps. He was familiar with classical authors, had read Pliny the Elder, was an expert in geometry, in archaeology, but above all, he knew optics, that Late Medieval science based on the discoveries of Arab mathematicians, such as Alhazen. Van Eyck used and perfected it in the development of an optical revolution that still impacts us emotionally today. The lighting of the Ghent Altarpiece corresponds to the natural incidence of light through the southern windows of the Vijd chapel. Throughout the altarpiece, the light falls from the upper right corner, like sunlight in the chapel on a sunny afternoon in late spring or early summer. The degree of consistency in the lighting of the entire altarpiece is exceptional. In the central God the Father figure, the jewels in his mitre, the focal point of the sceptre's quartz rock crystal and all the points of light in the gold brocade fabric show a high degree of photographic accuracy.


Marc De Mey, who explored Alhazen's influence on Van Eyck, was the first to point out the painter's tour de force conceiving of the alternating rows of pearls and crystal beads hanging from God the Father's gold brocade sash inscribed Sabaut (Lord Sabbaoth His Name): while the former absorb the light from the window, the glass ones project wide reflections of it.
There are hundreds of examples, from the metallic reflection of the red banners on the breast armour of St. Michael and St. George, to the reflection of an entire window in the huge central sapphire of the principal angel's brooch in the Angels Singing panel. The tracery of that window was scratched out with the very tip of his brush, saturated with white paint, using the sgraffito technique.

Angeles cantores detalle

Angels Singing (detail), Ghent Altarpiece (1432), Saint Bavo's Cathedral, Ghent

What is also magical is the mastery the Flemish painter brings to painting the water flowing and splashing in the Altarpiece's fountain, as well as in The Virgin of the Fountain. Lighting plays a central role in its realism, but so does movement in the leap of every drop. The water flowing from the mouths of both sources is painted in fine, white, irregular and intermittent lines. It's as if Van Eyck had spent an afternoon with Bill Viola watching the water in his videos suspended in motion. 

virgen de la fuente
Jan van Eyck, Virgin of the Fountain (detail), 1439, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp


Flanders versus Italy, 1430


The exhibition pits Flemish paintings against their Italian contemporaries in a dialogue that reaffirms our question: What is it that makes Van Eyck seem like a comet flying over the 1430s in the European artistic firmament? Jacques Lassaigne and Giulio Carlo Argan have stated that the Renaissance was not a typical Italian movement that spread through other countries in a kind of progressive conquest, but rather a European phenomenon even though it happened differently in Flanders, Italy, France and Germany.


The beginning of the 15th century was witness to one of the greatest revolutions ever known in the history of painting. While Van Eyck paints the Altarpiece in Ghent between 1426 and 1432, Masaccio in Florence between 1426 and 1427 paints the Brancacci chapel, in the Carmine church. Italy favours form over concept; Flanders over experience. These two major works, created almost simultaneously by men so different in origin and tradition, are the pillars of a new painting.

 

Expulsion del paraiso
Masaccio, The Expulsion From The Garden Of Eden (c. 1426-1427). Brancacci Chapel, Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence


Masaccio continued to paint the walls of the Brancacci chapel al fresco with his Adam and Eve ejected and with anguished expressions in his Expulsion from Paradise but they cannot today touch their more serene, more disturbing namesakes in Ghent. There are, however, other revolutionaries in Italian optics: Gentile da Fabiano, Fra Angelico, Filippo Lippi ... with whom stylistic comparisons are inevitable, interesting: in Virgin and Child with Angels by Benozzo Gozzoli (1449-50) compared with van Eyck's Virgin of the Fountain (1439) the results from the same ultramarine pigment for the color of the Virgins' robes is very different: the tempera more opaque in the Italian and the crystalline glazes, much more intense in van Eyck. Also the enduring Italian penchant for gold leaf as opposed to the naturalistic focus of Eyck's painting which replaces the old-fashioned golden backgrounds with landscapes; the halos which cease to be large discs surrounding holy heads in favor of lighter golden rays; and gold objects which are no longer depicted with real gold but with yellow and brown paint to simulate light, form and texture.

 

Virgen y nino

Benozzo Gozzoli, Virgin and Child with Angels (c.1449-1450), Fondazione Accademia Carrara, Bergamo

 

 

Cordero mistico

Adoration of the Mystic Lamb (detail), Ghent Altarpiece

 

Absences


The penultimate room of the exhibition, dedicated to portraiture, is perhaps the most underwhelming. Tzvetan Todorov has said that when you walk through the halls of a large European museum, a radical change in the very nature of the paintings is visible as we pass, say, from 1350 to 1450. He explained that in northern Europe there was no Renaissance in the sense of a rediscovery of Greek and Roman civilization as a means of doing something new. Rather, the search for a new way to account for equally new experiences is what one observes. The common denominator in these changes is not the rediscovery of antiquity, but the discovery of individuality. Therefore, at that time, the individual portrait was invented, and has remained an art staple ever since. Men have taken the place of God in the system of universal symbolism.

 

Jan van eyck

Jan van Eyck, Baudouin de Lannoy (c.1435), Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museum, Berlin.


And so ends the exhibition, after the Crucifixions and the Annunciations, with the heroes of more recent times. There are six portraits of Jan van Eyck along with those of his Italian contemporaries Pisanello, Michele Giambono ...
Then, in the middle of the room, the only doubt about this extraordinary exhibition occurs to us: Where is Antonello da Messina with his delicate oils on wood? Moreover, where are the great Venetian Renaissance artists Vittore Carpaccio, Gentile and Giovanni Bellini?
We half-close our eyes and imagine ourselves in another room, solitary, painted blue, empty except for Man In A Red Turban (1433) by Jan Van Eyck facing Vittore Carpaccio's Man in a Red Beret (1485). Wouldn't that be a fight between Titans: a duel of two portraits gazing out at us, face to face.
As Jan van Eyck signed his motto: "Als ich can" (I did the best I could).

 

tocado rojo

Left: Jan van Eyck, Man in a Red Turban, 1433. National Gallery, London. Right: Vittore Carpaccio, Man in A Red Beret, 1485, Correr Museum, Venice
  

 

Van Eyck. An Optical Revolution
Museum of Fine Art Ghent

Curators: Till-Holger Borchert, Maximiliaan Martens and Jan Dumolyn

Click here for a 360º Virtual tour of the exhibition

 

 

Virtual Live Tour conducted by Van Eyck expert and co-curator Till-Holger Borchert

 

(Translated from the Spanish by Shauna Devlin)

 

 

- Van Eyck: An optical revolution -                        - Alejandra de Argos -

French artist Christian Boltanski is an old acquaintance of the Spanish public. His 1988 Madrid exhibition – “El Caso” (The Case) - was a curious and disturbing suite of works expressly conceived of for the Reina Sofia Museum as a follow-up to his “Detective” exhibition of 1972. From articles in El Caso, a weekly journal of crimes and misdemeanors (1952-1997), and the Reina Sofia building’s origins as a hospital, the artist sought to create a world that would unnerve viewers finding themselves surrounded by portraits of the murderers and victims featured on newspaper pages alongside starched white sheets, folded and piled up as if by nurses.

Contributing Author: Maira Herrero, 

Maira

 

 

 

 

Boltanski  

Christian Boltanski. Photo: Maira Herrero

 

French artist Christian Boltanski is an old acquaintance of the Spanish public. His 1988 Madrid exhibition – “El Caso” (The Case) - was a curious and disturbing suite of works expressly conceived of for the Reina Sofia Museum as a follow-up to his “Detective” exhibition of 1972. From articles in El Caso, a weekly journal of crimes and misdemeanors (1952-1997), and the Reina Sofia building’s origins as a hospital, the artist sought to create a world that would unnerve viewers finding themselves surrounded by portraits of the murderers and victims featured on newspaper pages alongside starched white sheets, folded and piled up as if by nurses. He created a symbolic and metaphorical world from his own particular understanding of existence where subjectivity is a blurred line between erased , anonymous images and the horror or the evil that can be concealed.

 

Boltanski 1 

Christian Boltanski. Photo: Maira Herrero

 

With that exhibition and many others, both before and after, Boltanski has become an artist of note and now, thirty-five years after his first retrospective at the Museé National d'Art Moderne in Paris, the Centre Pompidou pays him homage with a large exhibition featuring the themes that have been his constant companions since 1967: collective memory, the passage of time, loss, oblivion, forgetting, chance and, above all, the human condition.

In his work, Boltanski projects new light onto all that is known, giving the historical fact of the Holocaust a new interpretation by framing it within his quest to interrogate everything, from feelings about existence to an existence that does not respond.

 

Boltanski 2

Christian Boltanski. Photo: Maira Herrero

 

He reminds us of the ephemerality of life versus the definitiveness of death and does so using photographs, videos, tin boxes stacked or embedded in walls like cremation urns in niches, some of them with small portraits, mostly of children. But also with display cases, newspaper clippings, notes, family photos, black monoliths that recall funerals, curtains enclosing tiny spaces, black clothes forming a morbid mountain of death. All this within a labyrinthine journey around the museum that never stops asking questions. Spirits lost in a forest of souls.

Dim lighting, disturbing noises that at times sound human and challenge the silence of the viewer in the face of so much desolation. The staging corroborates and enriches the artist's intention with each of the exhibits, all of which become channels of communication.

 

Boltanski 5

Christian Boltanski. Photo: Maira Herrero

 

“Nothing answers us, but that silence, the voice of that silence, we hear it, and it terrifies us, 'the eternal silence of these infinite spaces' that Pascal speaks of.” Emmanuel Levinas

Boltanski once said that his exhibitions create experiences, seek to move the visitor and let them come to their own conclusions. Never a truer word was spoken.

 

Christian Boltanski: Faire son temps
Centre Pompidou
13 November 2019 - 16 March 2020

 

 

(Translated from the Spanish by Shauna Devlin)

 

 

- Christian Boltanski: Doing One's Time -                        - Alejandra de Argos -

Art is in everything, art is in life and it expresses itself on every occasion and in every country. Charlotte Perriand, iconic figure of twentieth century design, demonstrates yet again the importance and influence of her work in a grand exhibition on display until February 24 at the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris. Perriand changed the way we inhabit domestic spaces, creating a world full of possibilities unfettered by traditional notions of what a home should be.

Contributing Author: Maira Herrero, 

Maira

 

 

 

 

FLV Perriand bandeau site 1280x595

Left: Charlotte Perriand at La Vallée, circa 1930 © ADAGP, Paris 2019 © AChP. Right: Charlotte Perriand reclines on « Chaise longue basculante, B306 » (1928-1929) – Le Corbusier, P. Jeanneret, C. Perriand, circa 1928 © F.L.C. / ADAGP, Paris 2019 © AChP

 

“Art is in everything, art is in life and it expresses itself on every occasion and in every country.” Charlotte Perriand

Charlotte Perriand, iconic figure of twentieth century design, demonstrates yet again the importance and influence of her work in a grand exhibition on display until February 24 at the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris. Perriand changed the way we inhabit domestic spaces, creating a world full of possibilities unfettered by traditional notions of what a home should be. She made use of technical skill, industry and the most advanced materials for her designs. Parts from bicycles, cars and even airplanes were a source of inspiration that would lead to her becoming, over time, a pioneer in the mass production of her own designs.

Almost the entirety of the Frank Gehry-designed gallery has been given over to the exhibition on a chronologically arranged route that welcomes the visitor with a large painting by Fernando Leger, “Le transport des Forces”, and two of Perriand's most iconic pieces, the Chaise Longue basculante LC4 and the B302 Swivel Chair, long and erroneously thought to have been designed by Le Corbusier alone. 

 

Charlotte periand

 

As well as Leger, other artists features alongside Perriand throughout the whole tour are, Picasso, Laurens and Delauney.

 

Charlotte perriad 1

 

Building modernity, exploring Nature and engaging with other cultures are just a few of the highlights of the Exhibition that define the work of an intelligent woman devoted to her ideas and profession and whose unwavering dynamic vitality endeared her to everyone she met. A tireless traveller, she absorbed life with such intensity that it is sometimes difficult to keep pace with her.

 

Charlotte perried 2

 

In 1926, a recent graduate and excited by Le Corbusier's theoretical work on new cities and alternative ways of living, she knocked on the door of the studio that the renowned Swiss architect shared with Pierre Jeanneret, the outcome of which was that infamous quote: “Miss, we don’t embroider cushions here”. A year later, Le Corbusier recanted and offered her a contract, having seen, at the Salon of Decorative Artists, her piece Le Bar sous le toit, a cocktail bar that Perriand had designed for her own apartment. Thus began an intense collaboration that would endure throughout the lives of these two innovators. Perriand writes in her memoirs that her role in Le Corbusier and Jeanneret’s studio was to bring the ideas of the two great architects to fruition. She was a practical woman and one capable of solving any problem with her vivid imagination, filling what Le Corbusier called “machines for living” with humanity. In 1952, Le Corbusier called her to design the interiors of what are known as his Unité d’habitation housing developments in Marseille and Berlin. The result can be seen in the Exhibition and illustrates that she knew precisely how to convert those minimal spaces into cosy places, incorporating the first ever compact modular kitchen prototype.

One of the key pieces in the Exhibition is a recreation of the interiors project for the 1929 Autumn Salon,  L'Équipement Interieur d’une Habitation, which she created in collaboration with Le Corbusier and Jeanneret. Here, the visitor can interact with the furniture and understand how the arrangement of objects in a space creates the ambience that turns a home into a comfortable one.

 

Charlotte Perriand 3

 

In 1929, the pricking of her social conscience led her to participate in the creation of the Union of Modern Artists (UAM), in which Mallet-Stevens, Miró, Calder, Delauney and Chareau also participated. What they sought was the coming together of all arts to respond to the political and societal problems of their time. The Republic of Spain pavilion at the 1937 Paris exhibition was a perfect reflection of the aims of UAM - architecture, sculpture, painting and photography together in a joint portrayal of the tragedy of war. Its curator was the architect José Luis Sert, a great friend and collaborator of Perriand’s, who is remembered in the exhibition with a display of his photographs taken during the Spanish Civil War and a reproduction of Picasso’s Guernica, among other items. Both architects shared the same social concerns and collaborated on the design of minimalist housing. In 1933, they participated in the International Congress of Modern Architecture (CIAM) where the Athens Charter was drawn up, the widely-known manifesto on optimal conditions for urban living.

 

Charlotte Perried 4

 

A full-scale model of another of Perriand’s iconic works, 1934’s The House On The Edge of the Water, rests on stilts outside the Foundation on and beside a water feature so that visitors can visualise the meaning of the project, intended as a holiday home for families with little money to spare. A kind of self-assembly cabin than can be dismantled, supported on stilts and divided into two symmetrical spaces: one, the living area and the other to sleep in, both with sliding doors opening onto a terrace protected by a canopy collecting rainwater. Again, Perriand is thinking about functionality and aiming to reach the most needy by building a world that is simpler, more humane and closer to nature.

She was also an accomplished photographer who scrutinized Nature through her camera lens, finding solutions for many of her creative ideas there. The sea and the mountains were recurring themes in her snapshots and the inspiration for a series of projects on mountain shelters. In 1938, her Tanneau Mountain Refuge, measuring eight square metres and sleeping six people, was built. “I love the mountains deeply,” she said. “I love them because I need them. They have always been the barometer of my physical and mental equilibrium.”

 

 Charlotte Perried 5

 

Her time in Japan and Indochina are very well illustrated in the Exhibition with designs incorporating elements from the East such as indigenous types of wood, bamboo, lacquer and fabrics that reinforced the links between creation and tradition. Brazil, where she got to know other renowned architects and the exuberance of their designs, was another turning point in her career.

 

Charlotte Perried 6

 

The crowning moment of her career would come with the Les Arcs project, a huge apartment complex in the French Alps, with a sleeping capacity of 30,000. Perriand, in a display of ingenuity, developed what has been called minimalist compartments or cells. The interiors were mostly built from prefabricated pieces and boasted large windows with stunning views that brought nature in from outside. A large model serves to help the viewer understand Les Arcs as the culmination of the whole repertoire of Charlotte Perriand’s ideas.

 

 Charlotte Perried.7jpg

 

The tour ends with Perriand's last ever commission – 1993’s Maison de Thé for UNESCO’s Paris headquarters: a wooden circle supporting eighteen bamboo canes creating a 4.5 metre high space covered with a domed canopy of leaf silhouettes. A delicate, organic work to celebrate the Tea Ceremony.

 

Charlotte Perried 8

 

 Charlotte Perriand: Inventing a New World

Louis Vuitton Foundation

Paris

2 October 2019 - 24 February 2020

 

(Translated form the Spanish by Shauna Devlin)

 

 

 

 

 

- Le Monde Nouveau de Charlotte Perriand -                        - Alejandra de Argos -

 
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