Friday, 30 October 2015

ALBERTO BURRI 1915-1995.

ALBERTO BURRI 1915-1995. 

The Trauma of PaintingGUGGENHEIM, New York

Italian, born in Umbria, Burri trained as a doctor, served in WW 2, was captured 1943 & sent as a POW to Texas. 
Returning to Italy after the war, he gave up medicine & began a long career of utilising humble, ordinary materials - burlap sacks, tar, plaster, pumice stone, rags, newspaper - to create large scale, monumental pictures whose rough collaged surfaces are literally battered or torn, injured, ripped, eviscerated. 
His first series 1948-52 Black Tars, shown in Rome were followed by Hunchbacks (Gobbi), Molds (Muffe) and - by 1956, Whites. 
Later, in the 1960s, he burnt wood and melted plastic, then metal, with dramatic effect.

This new method of creation with its monochrome palette of charred debris & congealed surfaces inevitably reminded viewers of flesh wounds threatening pain & gore. 
In the pristine Guggenheim Burri's series (ten in all) are displayed chronologically along the serene spiral slope. 
The setting removes some of their war-torn  grandeur, but curator Emily Braun's superb explanations - neither too long nor too short - establish his position as a European master of surface & drama, of texture & feel, of innovative black-on-black & white-on-white. 
Burri rarely used a brush, preferring a stick or tool, his fingers & thumb to make these works, neither painting nor sculpture, but something new in form & material. 
Most memorable is a film of his work from 1985. 
In 1968 an entire town in Sicily was devastated by earthquake. Hundreds died; thousands left homeless. 
The mayor  asked Burri to create a memorial. Burri decided to cloak the entire hillside in an enormous shroud of blocks of white concrete over 20 acres.
Eventually finished in 1989, this film commissioned by the Guggenheim, records the heartbreak. 

Friday, 23 October 2015


Where to start? So many new exhibitions opening right now, but no surprise, PICASSO at MoMA is my first stop. 
First Picasso SCULPTURE show in 40 years.
Key loans worldwide but especially from Paris & the Picasso Museum. 

What freedom, what inventive playfulness! 

An amazing show from start to finish. If u only see 1 exh in NY this year - go Picasso! 
Beautifully installed on the 4th floor in smallish rooms, it has rightly got RAVE reviews. Arranged chronologically, it flows easily, naturally, from 1902 right up to 1964. 
girl skipping 1950
MoMA has provided all visitors with a wonderful pamphlet which lists each section with titles etc on the right hand page & outline drawings on the left. Brilliant! 
Early wks; then CUBIST years 1912-15  cardboard guitar, all 6 Absinthe Glasses, 
right up to late sheet metal pieces from 1964  ... well for once I point u to Arts Art & design Pablo Picasso, a great, punchy ecstactic review.  
1931 plaster



Clare Henry

Sunday, 4 October 2015


What would Paolozzi say to the new minimal sculpture?
Glasgow Sculpture Studios now occupy the ground, first and second floors of TWB (The Whiskey Bond), a huge building overlooking Glasgow.) It has a variety of artists studios & great facilities including metal wood workshops, ceramics, project spaces
It's a far cry from the damp squalid space where it began life in 1988.
The new gallery is large, white, clean & clinical & the current site specific show, from RCA trained, Frenchman Nicolas Deshayes, barely impinges on, or affects the pristine space.  
Working with an industrial process called Jesmonite, (popular gypsum-based material in an acrylic resinwhich normally provides warm cosy underfloor heating, he has squirted loops and bumps of shiny off white glutinous fibreglass-style foam onto a couple of walls & some pipes. 
These act as functional radiators making the normally frigid space quite comfortable. His concept is to suggest bodily circulation via this circulatory pipe & foam sculpture.  
The gallery is already well endowed with pipes so Deshayes'scontribution has a look of  'here to stay.'
It makes for an arid, minimalist presentation. Despite its intriguing title, Darling, Gutter, it's nothing very exciting.  
Artistic director of GSS is Kyla McDonald, former Tate curator, currently one of the 4 Turner Prize judges. On this showing, she will go for the most minimal Turner contribution. 


Across town & the other side of the River Clyde, Kate Thomson has created " River Spirit" a permanent public artwork uniquely site-specific to Oatlands Square.
Oatlands is a new neighbourhood of around 1500 houses (81% private & 19% for social rentalbeing built by Bett Homes. It comes after a long process of demolition. There will be a park for kids and the entire design evolved in consultation with local people through a series of public exhibitions, meetings and workshops. 
Kate Thomson was commissioned to create an open-air community hub - a focal point for events as well as a place for people to sit, meet, & relax together. She has a long track record of working with the community in Glasgow going back as far as 1987 & the Gorbals Fair Project, plus was Organiser & a participant in the 1988 “College Lands Sandstone Sculpture Project” Glasgow.
She tells me, "It started because Katagiri & I saw a huge pile of sandstone blocks from the demolished railway arches on the Miller Homes building I managed to persuade Millers to sponsor a project for about 18 or 20 sculptors from Glasgow to work on site to reclaim the demolition stone Into sculptures.
I was initiator, & producer for the project. Katagiri was Technical Director - having him there meant that most of the sculptors who had never worked In stone before had a real chance to learn from him in order to be able to work with the sandstone, resulting In a wonderful range of work. Several of the sculptors continued to work in stone afterwards. We all worked on site, then exhibited the work there before Millers started the new building work."
Now, taking her inspiration from the meandering nearby Clyde & Celtic patterns, she has created 3 sculptures & a circular paved area made from Portuguese, African, Indian, Chinese & Scottish stone, each a different colour. 

The 3 pieces are carved from a 25 ton block of granite, working at Aberdeen's Fyfe Glenrock with " solid blocks of Portuguese Norden Grey granite, set on bases made from African Bon Accord granite, & connected by rings of Scottish Corrennie pink, Indian Butterfly blue, and Chinese red granite paving."
Facebook was used to provide an exemplary account + pictures, of the processes, trials & tribulations involved. Have a look on Fb at Oatlands Square Art. Terrific. Kate is based in Scotland & Japan. With her husband Katagiri, they set up the Ukishima Sculpture Studio 

Last but not least a great book PAOLOZZI REVEALED, by Ann Shaw

In 1996 Ann joined Paolozzi's Masterclass at Edinburgh College of Art. He asked all 18 students to keep a diary. 
As a longtime journalist of the Herald, Ann documented her days and recorded the events, warts and all. Her unabridged account is a lively read indeed!