Thursday, February 21, 2019

Venice: PGC - From Gesture to Form. Postwar European and American Art from the Schulhof Collection

Peggy Guggenheim Collection
From Gesture to Form. Postwar European and American Art from the Schulhof Collection

At the Peggy Guggeneheim Collection, until March 18, From Gesture to Form. Postwar European and American Art from the Schulhof Collection is curated by Grazina Subelyte and Karole P. B. Vail. In 2012, the late Rudolph B. and Hannelore B. Schulhof bequeathed eighty works of their postwar European and American art collection to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation to be housed at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. This exhibition is a unique opportunity to view the Schulhof Collection nearly in its entirety. 

Carl Andre - The Way West (Uncarved Blocks) – 1975

  Copyright Estate of Joan Mitchell – courtesy PGC - Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, Hannelore B. and Rudolph B. Schulhof Collection, bequest of Hannelore B. Schulhof, 2012

Peggy Guggenheim Collection
From Gesture to Form. Postwar European and American Art from the Schulhof Collection

Privileging formal artistic developments, this presentation provides insights into the art movements and styles that evolved and matured towards the end of World War II through to the 1980s. Abstract imagery, as a quest into issues of color, form and space as well as their interrelationships, characterized the postwar decades, becoming the foundation of the Schulhof Collection.

Joan Mitchell – Composition – 1962
oil on canvas

 Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini-Collezione Burri, Città di Castello - copyright SIAE 2019 – courtesy PGC - Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, Hannelore B. and Rudolph B. Schulhof Collection, bequest of Hannelore B. Schulhof, 2012
Alberto Burri – White B – 1965
plastic, acrylic paint, vinavil, “combustione” on cellotex

“Art is almost like a religion for me. It is what I believe in. It is what gives my life a dimension beyond the material world we live in. I look for the work and the commitment of the artist, someone who speaks for me, or expresses and interprets something of our time that reaches me”.
Hannelore B. Schulhof

Hannelore and Rudolph Schulhof with Alberto Burri - Rome 1965 

Karole P. B. Vail
co-curator and director of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection

Marino Marini – Gertrude – 1952
Afro Basaldella – Yellow Country – 1957

Tidbit – Afro: The Schulhofs first met Afro at the Venice Biennale in 1956, when he received the Grand Prize for best Italian painter. Afro deployed post-Cubist aesthetics, indebted to collage compositions. The forms in Yellow Country (1957) linger on the border between pure abstraction and traces of figuration. Its underlying luminosity and title were probably inspired by the radiant atmosphere and pictorial tradition of Venice, where he studied art and later taught mosaic.
Tidbit – Marini: The triumphant horse in Gertrude (1952) symbolizes an uncontrollable life force, stronger than humanity itself. It was named after the art collector Gertrude Bernoudy, a friend of Marini and an ardent supporter of his work.

  Photograph and copyright - Manfredi Bellati

“What is picturesque disturbs me. It is where the picturesque is absent that I am in a state of constant amazement.”
Jean Dubuffet - 1945

Jean Dubuffett – Logogriph of Blades – March 31 – 1969

Tidbit – Dubuffet: For Dubuffet, such altered images of commonplace items stands for how they appeared in one’s mind. He experimented with this decorative style in architectural projects and sculpture, as in Logogriph of Blades (1969). As in a word puzzle (logogriph), the ‘blades’ in this sculpture are scrambled, resembling proliferating cells.

Jasper Johns – Three Flags – 1960

Tidbit – Johns: In 1990, J. Carter Brown, Director of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., wrote to Hannelore and Rudolph Schulhof: “Your drawing is exceptional for both its unique composition and calligraphic beauty. It is, perhaps, Johns’ most exquisite ‘portrait’ of our flag.” Before entering the Schulhof Collection, Three Flags belonged to the art dealer and collector Ileana Sonnabend

Agnes Martin – Untitled #16 – 1960 ca.
Agnes Martin – Untitled #31 – 1960

Tidbits – Martin: Once at a reception, Martin approached Mrs. Schulhof and asked her whether she owned any of her works. Mrs. Schulhof replied: “Yes, ten of them.” “Then you must be Mrs. Schulhof,” responded Martin, attesting that the Schulhofs were well known for their admiration of Martin’s works. They visited Martin in Cuba, New Mexico, where she had settled for the remainder of her life. “You understand her paintings when you go down there, because of the flatness,” Mrs. Schulhof once remarked.


Anselm Keifer – Thy Golden Hair – Margarethe – 1981
painted gelatin silver print with straw
acrylic -emulsion – charcoal and straw on burlap

Tidbits – Keifer: Kiefer, based his painting Thy Golden Hair Margarethe (1981) on a poem entitled Death Fugue by the Romanian Paul Celan, written in 1945 while he was imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp. In this work, he contrasts two women: Margarethe, an Aryan mistress of the presiding Gestapo officer, with her cascade of “golden hair,” and Shulamith, a Jewish worker whose black hair has turned ashen from burning. He evokes their spirits by alluding to their hair through straw, set like jail-bars, and black charcoal respectively. Yet, straw eventually disintegrates, or, when set on fire, turns to ashes. By suggesting that Margarethe and Shulamith will become the same substance in the end, Kiefer seems to question Margarethe’s Aryan superiority and purity. The two women become inextricably and eternally linked. The straw is set against a bleak German landscape, as if scarring it and obliterating its grandeur. Kiefer believed that Germany wounded its civilization by destroying its Jewish population. He considered art a healing process, and, by alluding to both women, he sought to make the country united again. With this painting, therefore, Kiefer draws on Celan’s poem as a means to explore the complex relationships between German self-identity and world history.

  Photograph and copyright - Manfredi Bellati

Peggy Guggenheim Collection
From Gesture to Form. Postwar European and American Art from the Schulhof Collection

The Schulhof Collection celebrates how, crossing continents and traversing cultures, reflects a multitude of postwar artistic tendencies and a polyphony of voices. In addition to examining the art of postwar decades, the display also shed light on the Schulhofs’ collecting vision and history. 

Co-curator Grazina Subelyte

Eduardo Chillida – Meeting Place – 1964
Carl Andre - The Way West (Uncarved Blocks) – 1975

Tidbits – Chillida:   Chillida’s training as an architect informed his artistic practice, as he translated spatial possibilities into lyrical abstract forms, both primordial and modern. In Meeting Place (1964) several oak columns meet. The emphasis on their surface, volume and structural complexity reveal Chillida’s architectural sensitivity. For him, instead of occupying space, each sculpture constitutes a space of its own, challenging the notions of void and solid and where the two intersect, which is another likely interpretation of Meeting Place.
Tidbit – Andre: The Way West - Uncarved Block (1975) by the American artist challenges the traditional nature of sculpture: it has the fundamental components of mass, volume and gravity, but it is reduced to two identical cuboids. Any trace of the artist’s creative hand is missing. Its banality and the absence of a base negate the monumentality that has historically been one of the vocations of sculpture. The title reminds us of the epic American western novel by A. B. Guthrie, Jr., turned into a film. The supine trunk of wood in fact ‘points’ westwards.

John Chamberlain – Tiny Piece #1 – 1961

Tidbits – Chamberlain: The artist assembled, bent and compacted colored sheets of steel and other metals from automobiles or, as seems to be the case here, from a manufactured domestic object. Tiny Piece #1 represents or narrates nothing; it is inherently poetic—the artist’s personal choice in selecting the parts he felt “fit” together, determining the aesthetically carefully balanced outcome.

Alexander Calder – Red Disc – White Dots on Black – 1960

Ellsworth Kelly – Black Curve IV – 1972

Tidbits – Kelly: The initial stimulus for the clearly defined abstract forms of the paintings of the American artist Ellsworth Kelly stemmed from the primitive, convex and concave, polished shapes of archaic banner stones and bird stones from the American Midwest. Their distilled design and their sacred meaning for Native Americans impressed Kelly, who wanted his art to emanate a comparable mystery and spirituality for the modern world. Sensitive to his surroundings, Kelly caught visual fragments and condensed them to pure colors and forms.

Bridget Riley – Untitled Study for Loss – 1964

Bernd Becher – Hilla Becher – Framework Houses – Siegen District  Germany – 1988

Tidbits - Becher: The husband-and-wife-team strove to highlight the individuality and sculptural qualities of the buildings they photographed. They made systematic photographic images, or typologies, of old, often industrial, architecture and constructions, and referred to them as “anonymous sculptures.” The houses in Framework Houses Siegen District, Germany (1988) are from the Siegen district in South Westphalia, where Bernd Becher was born. The frontality of the image instills it with minimalism and clarity akin to diagrams and engineer’s drawings. 

Donald Judd – Untitled – 1976

Tidbits – Judd: Judd’s progressions’ develop according to mathematical sequences. The Fibonacci series, embodied in Untitled (1976), occurs in natural processes, such as the branching of trees or leaf patterns. Each number is the sum of the preceding two. When translated into volume here, the small yellow forms increase rapidly in size. The interstices follow the same pattern in the opposite direction. Each element has a symbiotic relationship with other parts and with the whole. While a progression can develop infinitely, the physical limitations of sculpture define and complete it. Although Judd’s works are considered Minimalist, he disliked this label, describing his work as “the simple expression of complex thought.”

Tony Cragg – Bottles on a Shelf – 1981

“The thing is color, the thing in painting is to find a way to get color down, to float it, without bogging the painting down in surrealism, cubism, or systems of structure.... In the best color painting, structure is nowhere evident, or nowhere self-declaring.”
Kenneth Noland

Kenneth Noland – Birth – 1961

Tidbits – Noland: With controlled use of color, Noland conveyed a sense of physical space on a flat surface in Birth (1961). He gave this work to art critic Clement Greenberg upon the birth of Greenberg’s child.

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Thursday, February 07, 2019

Venice: Palazzo Giustian Lolin – Fondazione Ugo e Olga Levi – Corrado Balest – 1923-2016

Palazzo Giustian Lolin – Fondazione Ugo e Olga Levi
Corrado Balest – 1923-2016

In the beautiful rooms of the Palazzo Giustian Lolin, seat of the Fondazione Ugo e Olga Levi, overlooking the Canal Grande, the retrospective exhibition Corrado Balest – 1923-2016, curated by Cristina Beltrami, Martina Massaro and Chiara Romanelli, is on until March 24. Through a selection of over seventy works including paintings, sculptures and ceramics from public and private collections, the exhibition reconstructs Balest's career, from the first figurative beginnings up to his last works of a predominantly abstract imprint.
 Corrado Balest – La Terrazza - 1971


The Painter’s Studio

Photograph courtesy Fondazione Ugo e Olga Levi

Corrado Balest – Ritratto di Giovanna – 1977

Through the lens of an original classicism, Corrado Balest, a humanist, interpreted the culture of the Twentieth Century, in which he sinks his roots. The exhibition reconstructs his career, from his figurative debut, established by his first solo show at Bevilacqua La Masa in 1950, until his last abstract works, which takes into account the dialogue with sculpture and ceramics. The exhibition opens with Ritratto di Giovanna: not only a tribute to an indispensable bond, but also a link to his pictorial language. It is a sort of junction between his oils and his figurative works of the 1950s and the dissolutions in the wide monochrome backgrounds of his mature phase.

  Photograph courtesy Fondazione Ugo e Olga Levi

 Corrado Balest
Venice - 1960s

In the exhibition catalogue, Corrado Balest - (1923-2016), published by Marsilio, the Belluno born, Venetian by adoption artist’s singular artistic story, intertwines the narration of the - life path of the man - with the evolution of his pictorial language: from his figurative works referable to 1950-1960s in Venice, to a progressive Abstractionism that never becomes extreme, yet, never completely betrays the figure. At the end of the seventies he developed a personal pictorial alphabet that takes into account Nicolas De Stael, Rothko and Matisse, as well as the landscapes and culture of the Mediterranean.

Corrado Balest – Autoritratto – 1947
Corrado Balest – Ritratto della Madre – Ines Pagnacco - 1947c.

Corrado Balest
Sterlizia – 1974
La Muse – Villa Sagredo – 1974 - Il Divano – Villa Sagredo – 1974

La Pittura Prende la Forma


 Corrado Balest – Stanza per La Musica - 1995

A section of the exhibition is dedicated to the specific relationship between the paintings of Balest and the themes of muses, of poetry and of music. Music is sometimes the direct subject, when harps, lecterns, mythological musicians appear and it is also in the abstract experimentations of the nineties that Balest entitles, not by chance, motets, using a lexicon that openly underlines the relationship between form and color - in another words - rhythm.


Corrado Balest
Musicista Arcaico – 1999
Spiraglio – Motetto -1985
Il Musicista – Ritratto di Lorenzo – 1981

Cristina Beltrami  
Co-Curator with Martina Massaro and Chiara Romanelli

 Corrado Balest - Zattere – Venezia - 1952

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