I used the phrase “Collage Artist Extraordinaire” to describe Ivan Chermayeff in my review of the exhibition ABOUT FACES (March 20-April 19, 2014) at the Pavel Zoubok Gallery at 531 West 26 Street, in NYC. Read it here.

Pavel Zoubok says: no art form expresses the character of the twentieth century and the contemporary moment with greater clarity and immediacy than the art of collage. The Gallery is the place to go if you are a fan. The exhibition calendar includes both historic and contemporary collage artists. Read more here.

I’ve been a fan of Ivan Chermayeff’s collages for years and years, but only saw reproduction in art magazines. ABOUT FACES included collage and assemblage (sculpture). Each wood assemblage included found wood and objects like toys, tools, river stones, sandpaper, and/or brushes.  Two works included a found glove that became a face portrait.

 

Ivan Chermayeff sculpture at the Pavel Zoubok Gallery

Ivan Chermayeff sculpture at Pavel Zoubok Gallery

My photo (above) shows the gallery installation with 3 wood assemblages by Ivan Chermayeff. Titles are: (left) Janus Head with Canoe Hat, (center) Portrait with Pincushion Cap, and (right) Young Person with Hairless Brush Head. I’ve included solo images (two views) for each sculpture below. All images are courtesy the Pavel Zoubok Gallery. Sculpture should be seen in person, where you can walk around and see different views. The front and back are sometimes very different in Chermayeff’s assemblage.

 

Ivan Chermayeff, Janus Head with Canoe Hat, mixed media assemblage

Ivan Chermayeff, Janus Head with Canoe Hat, mixed media assemblage

The image (above) is titled Janus Head with Canoe Hat (2000-2005), mixed-media assemblage, 23 ½ x 8 ½ x 8 ½ inches.  Click on the image and enlarge it to see more detail. Look at the nose. I think it looks like the handle on a coffee mug, big enough for you to put your hand through. Notice the hat is actually a little carved wood canoe. Notice the lips on the mouth are wood and painted red. Look at his expression. I think he looks grumpy or is sulking. Read whatever you like into his expression.

 

The image (below) is a profile view of the same sculpture, and, when you look up, you see the bottom of the canoe on his head. I think the wavy blue painted wood on the side is shaped like a child’s drawing of waves in the ocean. You don’t see the waves in the image above, but you can see the shape better in the image below.

Ivan Chermayeff, profile view of Janus Head with Canoe Hat, mixed media assemblage

Ivan Chermayeff, profile view of Janus Head with Canoe Hat, mixed media assemblage

 

What’s in a name?

 

I checked Wikipedia for information about Janus – the ancient Roman god of doors, passages, endings and times (representing war and peace). FYI: The month of January is named for Janus. Janus is usually represented with two faces. I wonder if Chermayeff named his wood sculpture Janus because the sculpture includes part of an old wood door. Read more about the god Janus here.

 

Ivan Chermayeff, Red Talker, collage

Ivan Chermayeff, Red Talker, collage

He collects garbage like crazy.

I include a collage (above) titled Red Talker, 15×11 inches (1995). Chermayeff says he collects garbage like crazy. According to the Gallery press release, his collages include the stuff of everyday life: scraps of paper, stamped envelopes, tickets, photographs and other discarded oddments that become juxtaposed compositions of color and form. Chermayeff says: “A little spot, whether a postage stamp, a graphic mark, a letter of the alphabet, a splash of color becomes a nose, an eye or a mouth. In the right place, more or less, it becomes a face…that is both recognizable and rewarding. When a face is there, it has its own reality, whether recognized or not, much like strangers passing in the street.”  Read Gallery comments here.

 

Notice the colors in Red Talker: black, white, red and a peachy-tan. The portrait is all torn and cut papers in geometric shapes: squares, rectangles, circles and triangles. He’s facing right, and wears a hat. He has a large white dot for an eye. His mouth is a torn red and white address sticker. See more gallery images here.

 

The image (below) is a front-facing view of Chermayeff’s mixed media assemblage titled Portrait with Pincushion Cap (2000-2005), 13 x 8 ½ x 3 inches. Notice the deep grain in the wood and how the artist used smooth round white river stones for eyes. The stones are different sizes.  The larger one faces vertical and the smaller one faces horizontal. The mouth is wood painted red. Ears appear on the side of the rectangular head as semi circles painted black. The pincushion cap (painted silver and blue) is another toy wood canoe sitting across the top of his head.

 

Ivan Chermayeff, Portrait with Pincushion Cap, mixed media assemblage

Ivan Chermayeff, Portrait with Pincushion Cap, mixed media assemblage

 

The image (below) is the rear view of Portrait with Pincushion Cap. Click on the image to enlarge it. Notice the rough surface texture in the wood in this view. There’s a deep recess gouged into the wood. I see a different face. The eyes are still white river stones, but they look tiny. The mouth is part of a negative space so it looks like his mouth is open. The “nose” is a rosy red blobby shape stuck into the gouged surface. The ears are gone, replaced with a solid black band of wood with rounded ends and now looks like a hat. The toy wood canoe (pincushion) sits on top.  I think he looks like a drunken Russian sailor or an old Viking. It’s another Janus with two faces.

 

Ivan Chermayeff, another view, Portrait with Pincushion Cap, mixed media assemblage

Ivan Chermayeff, another view, Portrait with Pincushion Cap, mixed media assemblage

 

Two images (below) are front and side views of the mixed media assemblage titled Young Person with Hairless Brush Head, 24 x 15 ½ x 4 ½ inches (2000-2005). Notice Chermayeff added wood dowels for this portrait’s 2 arms.  The Head is an irregular shaped rectangle. It’s an old hairless brush with 27 holes in 3 vertical rows.  There’s a painted red wood dowel planted across the top of his head and a painted red block projecting between his legs. The wood figure looks like he’s wearing cut-off pants. His feet are thin black metal rods that run down to a square metal base. What do you see? I see a portrait of a young boy. Do you think the sculpture is innocent and childlike?  I think maybe not.

 

Ivan Chermayeff, Young Person with Hairless Brush Head, mixed media assemblage

Ivan Chermayeff, Young Person with Hairless Brush Head, mixed media assemblage

 

Ivan Chermayeff, side view of Young Person with Hairless Brush Head, mixed media assemblage

Ivan Chermayeff, side view of Young Person with Hairless Brush Head, mixed media assemblage

 

Ivan Chermayeff’s fine art collages and assemblage sculptures have been exhibited throughout the United States and internationally. His next exhibition will be in the UK. He is best known as a designer and illustrator. With Tom Geismar, he founded the design firm Chermayeff & Geismar (1957), and the logos they’ve designed are recognized worldwide.

FINAL THOUGHTS: See it in Person

 

In my previous post, I wrote you have to see Chermayeff’s assemblage sculpture in person and walk around to view the work from every angle.  I hope the additional images here gave you more information. Please add your comments below. Do you like this artist’s mixed media assemblage? Do you prefer the collages? Do you think assemblage is 3D collage?

 

 

Advertisements

About Ivan Chermayeff

April 30, 2014

 

ABOUT FACE – Amazing Unique Collage and Assemblage Sculpture

 

Collage enthusiasts – if you want to see important contemporary and historic collage, and also want to see assemblage and mixed media installation, go to the Pavel Zoubok Gallery in Chelsea, 531 West 26 Street, NYC. . Every month the gallery showcases artists who explore and extend the boundaries of these media.  See more information about the gallery here.

Ivan Chermayeff sculpture installation

Ivan Chermayeff sculpture installation

I went to the gallery to see collages by Ivan Chermayeff. I’ve been a fan of this artist’s work for years.  The exhibition (March 20-April 19, 2014) also included his wood assemblage. My image above shows the gallery installation of 3 Chermayeff wood sculptures on white pedestals. It also shows framed collage portraits installed on the rear wall.

 

This is collage sculpture. Notice the work is assembled with pieces of found, carved and painted wood. Chermayeff juxtaposes old materials and objects like toys, tools, river stones, sandpaper, and brushes to create heads and torsos. Each sculpture (like each collage) has a unique personality. Notice the 2 figures and face are embellished with painted wood in red, white and blue for eyes, noses, lips, ears, hats and anatomical parts. Sorry you can’t walk around the sculpture to see them in person.

 

I love the tall sculpture on the left in the photo. He has a protruding wood nose that reminds me of a handle on a big coffee mug. His lips are pressed together, and almost touching his nose. You can read whatever you like into his expression. That’s what makes the sculpture so interesting.

 

DowntownMagazineNYC reviewed the exhibition that showcased works by Ivan Chermayeff (b 1931, London, UK) and photocollage by Witold Gordon (b. Warsaw, Poland, 1885-1968). In the review, Xavi Ocana wrote (March 20, 2014): Chermayeff has the ability to take the ordinary and turn it into the extraordinary, a perfect equation of the playful plus the poetic. Read the exhibition review here.

 

Ivan Chermayeff, Boy with Sam's Hand

Ivan Chermayeff, Boy with Sam’s Hand

The image above is titled BOY WITH SAM’S HAND, collage, 30×22 (1999). Notice the figure is made from an old corrugated cardboard box that is opened flat. Chermayeff kept the original cancelled stamps and brown tape on the cardboard. The red stamps are now Sam’s eyes.  One of the blue mailing labels is his nose. There’s a black line in exactly the right place for a mouth. Chermayeff added cut black paper for shoulders, and pink semi-circles for ears. Notice the painted child’s handprint. That must be Sam’s “signature.”

 

SMILE and LOOK CLOSE

 

Ivan Chermayeff, Girl

Ivan Chermayeff, Girl

The image above is titled GIRL (2000), collage, 14 x 11 inches.  It’s so simple and so very clever and witty. The shapes are dots, semi-circles and rectangles. The girl’s face is a grey paper rectangle and her eyes are round grey dots. See the gold and blue cut papers – semi-circles that are ears and a hat.

 

Notice her blue dress. It’s the same crayon blue paper as the “hat” and reveals a photo of deep cleavage showing through the V neckline in the dress. What a girl! The best part – her “mouth” is actually a photo of an eyelash. At first glance, you see a curved black line. It’s a happy-face smile. Then you notice it’s a fringe of eyelash in a closed eye. Very demure. How witty! My reaction: it’s a Mona Lisa smile. What is she hiding?

 

He collects garbage like crazy

 

In interviews, Chermayeff admits he has drawers full of old envelopes and postage stamps, and recycles gloves people drop and leave behind. His approach to collage is spontaneous. He says. “What I’m playing with is making new visual connections. That’s what my collages are all about.” Chermayeff’s people are made from letterheads and labels, pebbles and Polaroid prints and stuff from the office recycling bin. The craftsmanship is meticulous, pristine and clean. They are not garbage.

 

Ivan Chermayeff, Red Talker

Ivan Chermayeff, Red Talker

The image above is titled Red Talker, collage, 15×11 inches, 1995. Notice the colors: black, white, red and a peachy-tan. The portrait is all torn and cut papers in geometric shapes: squares, rectangles, circles and triangles. The portrait is facing right, and wears a hat. He has a large white dot for an eye.

 

Notice some papers have tiny punched holes and show the white through. One collage paper is a printed bullseye with black concentric circles on a peachy tan background. There are multiple tiny holes punched in a horizontal line marching across the bullseye to meet a larger white dot in the outer black circle. See more punched holes in the red paper rectangle touching the bullseye paper. Notice the mouth is a torn red and white business form – probably a mailing label.

 

Did You Know?

Ivan Chermayeff is world famous as a designer and cofounder (1957) of the firm Chermayeff & Geismar, that produced the iconic logos we all know: NBC, PBS, CBS, Mobile Oil, Chase Manhattan Bank, National Geographic, the Museum of Modern Art and more. He graduated from Yale University and began his career designing book covers and album covers. He is most famous for his logos, but also does collage and has exhibited in museums and galleries all over the world.

 

PBS Brand logo designed in 1983 by Chermayeff & Geismar, Inc.

PBS Brand logo designed in 1983 by Chermayeff & Geismar, Inc.

The image above is the PBS logo (Public Broadcasting System) the firm designed in 1983. Image: courtesy Pinterest

 

According to artsy.net, Chermayeff (born 1932, London, UK) is an artist who rotates through multiple media. His strength as a designer and illustrator are equally present in his collage and printmaking media. They say, the works are ingenious and complex even though they look simple. Read more here.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Ivan Chermayeff says “collages make it possible for everything to be something else.” That’s the essence of our contemporary lives.

 

I talked to Pavel Zoubok at the gallery and learned so much about the artist and the art works. It was a great opportunity to speak with an expert. Zoubok is a passionate advocate for collage and has devoted his career to promoting this genre. Here’s a quote: Zoubok says we live in a cut and paste world. Isn’t that the essence of contemporary life? That is the essence of collage. Zoubok also believes collage is manifest in the digital culture that is transforming our society. I absolutely agree.

 

Tell me what you think.

 

 

 

 

In my last post, I wrote about the opening reception and an upcoming event (annual benefit) Signed Sealed and Delivered (Saturday, October 5, 2013) – all at the Silvermine Arts Center in New Canaan, CT.

The current galleries have 2 solo shows and 2 group shows (September 15-October 26, 2013) with a lot of installation art. It’s so contemporary. The works are exquisitely presented – so typical for Silvermine gallery exhibitions. My last post included images at the gallery receptions.

Silvermine Arts Center is located at 1037 Silvermine Road, New Canaan, CT.  The exhibits run from September 15, 2013 through October 26, 2013.  Gallery hours: Wednesday-Saturday: 12pm-5pm, Sunday: 1pm-5pm. For more information about exhibitions, call 203.966.9700 or visit the Silvermine Art Center website.

Gallery view, 10"x10" art

Gallery view, 10″x10″ art

I think installation is contemporary art –  and what makes it most contemporary is that, whether we know it or not, we are all part of the show.  If the installation is participatory, we are encouraged to walk into the space, even touch and move elements in the exhibition.

The image nearby shows a contemporary installation with 10″x10″ works on wood panels, hung in parallel horizontal rows around the gallery space. It’s a preview for Signed Sealed and Delivered at Silvermine Art Center on Saturday evening October 5, 2013 (5:00-7:00 pm).

Question: Is my photo about the people looking at the art – or is the photo about the art? I think the former. In any case, the viewers were engaged. There were a lot of people looking at the art during the reception. This photo shows only two. If I took the photo with more people looking at the art, you wouldn’t even see the art. That’s what happens at a crowded reception. It’s exciting to be there, but you don’t see the art well, so you have to return for a better view at a quieter time.

Here’s a pitch to support the arts: Purchase tickets online for the October 5th Silvermine Arts Center wine & hors d’oeuvres party. Tickets are $35 per person – and new this year – the show and sale includes 10″x10″ original works on panel in addition to 100s of 4”x6” works of 2D and 3D art. Buy smaller 4″x6″ art for $50 each. Buy 3 small works, you get the 4th free.

Add $100 to your $35 ticket and choose a 10”x10” original work of art, average value is $300 that will be raffled during the evening. Preview the raffle collection at Silvermine (thru October 3). See works online.  The Saturday evening gala event is always well attended. Order your tickets before they are sold out.

I donated artwork: one work (titled Cellblock) is part of the 10″x10″ raffle. It’s a white and black collage, made with papers wrapped and glued over recycled 35 mm transparencies. See it at the gallery preview (thru October 3rd). Four of my 4″x6″ collages will be for sale (see images below).

Installation Art Makes Us See in a New Way

Beyond the Book installation view

Beyond the Book installation view

The image nearby is a view of  Beyond the Book I took at Silvermine Art Center a few days after the opening receptions. I went back to get images of the art without people. I wanted to show you how I see the art installed. Notice the horizontals and diagonals in the photo. Notice the forms projecting in space and the angles between.

That’s the way we see the whole picture. We think we are looking at one work, but in reality (the way the brain works) we are looking at everything at the same time. It all has to work together or the installation will look wrong.

Looking involves moving. As we move to get closer, and as we step back, the whole picture changes based on “sight lines.” Objects that have a direct line of sight with one another are said to be inter-visible.

We don’t just look straight ahead or move our eyes across and around the site. We may look up (how high are the works placed in relation to the floor and the ceiling?). Some installation works literally climb up the wall. In fact, that’s the way we see the exquisite installation by Amy Bilden in her current Silvermine solo exhibition titled Inheritance.

In the image above (the installation shows works by Sheila Hale and Stephanie Joyce), Sheila’s book sculpture is viewed by looking up and down. You have to see it in motion. But, your eyes are doing the moving.

Installation for a Lot of Small Works

Signed Sealed and Delivered, 2012

Signed Sealed and Delivered, 2012

The image nearby is the installation for Signed Sealed and Delivered (2012). You can see how many works are included. When you arrive, your eyes scan the entire arrangement of 2D and 3D works installed in rows.

The images below are my 4 small collages created for the gala fundraiser this October. Each is a unique work, made with tiny pieces of cut and pasted magazine papers and over-layered tiny pieces of thin, translucent white Japanese rice paper. The layered rice papers created geometric shapes and outlines in different shades of white, depending on how many paper layers I used.

I hope you can come see them in person on October 5th. They will be placed in different locations in the exhibition space, included with small works by many other Silvermine artists.The images below show how I Iayered the collage papers. Layering is an expression of how I see.

nikkal, collage 1, 2013

Nikkal, collage, 2013

Nikkal, collage, 2013

Nikkal, collage, 2013

Nikkal, collage, 2013

Nikkal, collage, 2013

Nikkal, collage 2013

Nikkal, collage 2013

Thank you for reading. As always, I welcome your comments. I like to think about how we see art, and about how we see everything.  The picture is always moving – it’s a view from a moving object: you in the car, train or plane; a view of moving people and ojbects: people on cars, bicycles, skates. It’s a moving image: a movie, TV, a video online, you at a sports event (in the stands, on the field), you at the  theater, or people moving as we take in the view.

We live in a super-saturated visual environment. Images are non-stop. I say it’s a cut and paste world filled with images. We put all the images together. We complete the image. It’s all a collage.

Please tell me your thoughts. Do you have a special insight about how we see? I hope you will share.

Maps in Collage

October 11, 2012

On Sunday afternoon, Sept. 23, 2012 I led a multi-age workshop at the Pelham Art Center. It was map-themed art-making for kids, teens and adults held in connection with the current exhibition titled Anywhere But Here.

The exhibition (September 14-October 27, 2012) includes 15 artists whose works interpret their world through maps and cartography.

Below is an image of a work in the exhibition by Dahlia Elsayed, titled Conjuring, Willing, Napping, 2011, acrylic on paper, 29×40 inches (image, courtesy the Pelham Art Center).

Dahlia Elsayed, Conjuring, Willing, Napping

Read more and see more images of works in the exhibition.

I am always pleased when I’m asked to lead a workshop in connection with an exhibition. I try to develop a project that relates to the exhibition theme that can be completed by kids and adults in the time allotted.

Sample Collage

I create a sample work that is meant to inspire the kids and adults in the workshop. I don’t expect them to duplicate the sample, and most times they create unique works, once they get engaged in their own art-making.

The image below was taken in the early part of the workshop (the numbers grew as more adults and children arrived). You can see the sample collage I made for the kids – A Map of My Day – on the table in front of everyone.

The collage workshop

I supplied all the dot papers and colored construction papers.  I cut the papers into strips before the workshop so everyone could begin to place papers and glue quickly.  The children loved the colored papers with dots and played with different ways to join the dot strips into unique dot patterns. They added cut magazine papers and drawing.

Collage Using Maps

In the image (below), a woman is cutting into a map (The Pelham Art Center supplied maps). I am standing in the rear at the end of the table. Many of the adults wanted to create a collage with an actual map.

map cutting at the workshop

In the photo, the boy next to me is drawing a map on brown paper. He and his brother wanted to draw maps – the older one wanted to draw a map of the world; his younger brother wanted to draw a map of Belgium. They were born in Belgium. Their father, not seen in the image, wanted to design a map of the American flag.

You see how independent everyone is.

Another adult in the workshop, an architect, was inspired by a work in the exhibition and wanted to cut a delicate pattern into a map. She created a fretwork pattern – a lacy design – that I believe was inspired by one of the works in the exhibition.

Below is one image that probably inspired her work. Its by Robbin Ami Silverberg and is titled Manhattan in Gold, 2012, MTA map, 25 karat gold leaf, 11×34 inches, edition of 5 (image courtesy the Pelham Art Center).

Robbin Ami Silverberg, Manhattan in Gold

The image below, by Cal Lane, is titled Topo Map #5, 2011, Plasm-cut oil cans, 3.6 x 3.5 feet, courtesy of Art Mur, a gallery in Montreal.

Cal Lane, Topo Map #5

Many contemporary collages are open-work, cut papers that look like fretwork. Many are installed as 3D assemblages. Fretwork is typically done in wood and metal, and is often  used to decorate architecture.

How I develop ideas for a workshop

I always visit the exhibition before the workshop, and see the works and notice what is also collage.  I am inspired by bold colors, texture and layering.

I liked the colors I saw in the galleries and was reminded of an image in a book I have. It’s titled You Are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination (by Katharine Harmon, Princeton Architectural Press, New York).

I prepared a sample collage to bring to the workshop, based on an image in that book.

I used papers I prepared in advance for the workshop – strips of colorful construction paper and photocopied polka-dot paper that I cut into several different widths that the kids could organize and embellish and glue down with glue sticks.

I assumed most of the participants at the workshop would be kids. I prepared papers that would appeal to kids. I hoped they would add their own drawing to the construction papers and be inspired by the drawings in the exhibition.

Below is an image by George Ferrandi, titled Recalibration Drawing #5 (poorly handled) 2012, pen on paper, masking tape, 20×25.5 inches, image courtesy the Pelham Art Center.

George Ferrandi, Recalibration Drawing #5

Below is another image taken at the workshop that shows the adults and kids and the table covered with papers and magazines. Everyone is busy cutting and pasting.

Colors, stripes and dots

Below is one of my favorite works in the show – titled Beneath the Rain, it’s by Tomoko Abe. It’s an installation, of handmade burnt Abaca paper, cast porcelain and resin hanging from the ceiling with light and imagery projected through to the back wall, that creates amazing light patterns. The installation is 68×46 inches (image courtesy the Pelham Art Center).

The exhibition Anywhere But Here is worth a trip to the Pelham Art Center if you are in New York. The works in the show are bold and beautiful, intriguing and elegant.

Tomoko Abe, Beneath the Rain II, 2011

It was an interesting experience for me to have a workshop with such a range of ages and focus going on – all at the same time during the 2 hour session. I hope everyone felt they were actively engaged in their own  map-making process.

Collage Exploded

September 6, 2012

I walked into the last gallery at the Whitney Museum by mistake. I was there to see the Yayoi Kusama exhibition. So I saw the last works first – large flat acrylic polymer paintings in flourescent colors – instead of the early small, intimate collages.

Kusama, Encounter with a Flowering Season

Yayoi Kusama is well known for her use of dense patterns of polka dots and nets. She is known for her work in various media, including painting, drawing, sculpture, film, performance and immersive installation. The image above, seen at the Whitney Museum of American Art, is synthetic polymer on canvas, 51×52 inches. Image, courtesy the Internet.

I have never seen Yayoi Kusama’s works before. She was born in Japan in 1929 and came to the United States in 1957. She quickly became involved in avant-garde “happenings” and rose to prominence in the art world. She is considered a precursor of the pop art, minimalist and feminist art movements and influenced contemporary artists like Andy Warhol and Claes Oldenburg. Read about her life and work

Yayoi Kusama in a red wig

Many of her early works were installation, performance, and ephemeral. Many disappeared.

She left the United States and returned to Japan in the early 1970s. Kusama is now acknowledged as one of the most important artists alive in Japan today.

Kusama, Late Night Chat is Filled with Dreams

My first impression of the dense painting installation was: Too many. Too busy. Too close – OVERLOAD.

The image above, titled Late Night Chat is Filled with Dreams, was in the first gallery I entered with all the recent paintings. It’s synthetic polymer on canvas, 64×64 inches and was completed in 2009. Image courtesy the Internet. The artist said she would like to finish 2000 paintings before she dies. This painting was about number 196.

 

Kusama, Mirror Room Pumpkin

The image above, titled Mirror Room-Pumpkin is an installation Kusama completed in 1991. It is made with mirrors wood and paint to create a dizzying effect. Kusama wanted the dots to appear to go on and on into infinity. The room is orange, like a pumpkin. It’s 69x69x69 inches. The work is now part of the permanent collection of the Hara Museum in Tokyo, Japan.

Kusama was the featured artist for the Japanese Pavilion at the 1993 Venice Bienniale. She produced a mirror room filled with pumpkin sculptures.

I walked through the galleries and saw a variety of different media, including an exploding chair sculpture (see below). The sculpture communicated a visceral, phallic, raw energy. It was soft and also sly. I liked it. It made me uneasy. It made me think of soft sculptures by Louise Bourgeois. Naughty.

Kusama, Accumulations

Continuing through the galleries, I saw psychedelic dotty installations. Kusama’s work is about dots.

Kusama, Air Mail Stickers

The image above is titled Air Mail Stickers (1962). It’s a large collage on canvas, 71×67 inches, in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art. The entire surface of the canvas is covered with hundreds of air mail stickers. Kusama had to lick each sticker to get it to stick to the canvas. When the collage was created, stamps were not self-adhesive like today. This work is included in the current exhibition. Photo courtesy the Internet.

Continuing on to the early works, I saw paintings, photo collage and collage. Everything was getting smaller and more intimate. The collages and photo collages were really wonderful. The image below is a small collage, titled Self Obliteration. There were many other collages and photo collages. Each one was a unique work, and was more narrative and less abstract that the later works.

Kusama, Self Obliteration

I didn’t get to see the installation Fireflies on the Water on the first level at the Whitney Museum (I was too late to get a ticket into the space). Fireflies (owned by the Whitney and included in the 2004 Whitney Biennial) uses water and mirrors to reflect 150 tiny hanging lights. Only one person is admitted into the installation at a time.

The exhibition will continue through September 30, 2012.

HOW DOES COLLAGE EXPLODE?

I titled this blog Collage Exploded. That was a reaction I had when I saw the exhibition.

Collage is about putting lots of things together and that’s the experience I got when I walked though the galleries. The exhibition was a collage. Probably because the artist worked in so many different media and everything is included.


I  teach an 8 week collage class – Embellish An Image: Play with Collage at the Pelham Art Center (Pelham, NY), scheduled for June 28-August 16, 2012. Each time I lead the classes, I think about how to create the best collage class experience for each person.

Some people will be new this session. Some people are returning a second time. For the new people, I need to find out what their skill level is and what they want to learn. For the people who are returning. I need to expand what we cover.

I thought about how to make the repeat (basic) projects fresh and how to introduce new projects, techniques and information.

Take My Survey

I have a survey with 38 questions about classes and workshops (see the survey nearby) I ask people to answer  yes or no to statements like: I like  classes where projects are unique every week. I like workshops that introduce experimental techniques. I like workshops that include portrait collage/landscape collage/narrative collage. I like workshops that include geometric abstraction…

The survey asks if people like to work with imported, exotic papers, if they like to work with natural materials, if they like to work with recycled and repurposed materials. Do they like workshops that focus on drawing and collage? Do they want to make collage with acrylic or water media? And more.

I get the responses and get a picture of what different people want to do.

At the first class I will ask everyone to talk about themselves and their experience with art and collage. I want to learn what they want to learn.

I want to teach the collage classes so that each person has collage success.

I’ll tell them what I planned for the classes. I’ll ask what they want to add or subtract.

A Quickie Collage Project for the 1st Class

I’ll bring papers for a quickie collage project and I’ll do a demonstration on how to glue papers. Everyone will make a collage.

The project will be based on the work of Jean Arp, a geometric collage titled Rectangles Arranged According to the Laws of Chance. See an earlier post about Arp’s collage and the laws of chance. I think chance in Arp’s collage is about the way the papers were selected (and not the way the papers were placed).

Jean Arp

Arp’s collage (above) includes papers in black, white and grey. He like to work in black and white.

I hope nobody in the class hates abstraction.

This collage project asks people to notice the way the papers are organized and the spaces within. The project is really about learning to see. It’s a good challenge. See an earlier post for more about this project.

I will propose projects for future weeks that include gluing techniques (fabric and paper collage), expressive drawing (to add a personal touch), learning to mix paints to achieve the colors you want, working with different paint brushes (we’ll create decorated papers), and pin press printmaking (printmaking without a press) to explore mixed media in collage. Each week will include a different technique and explore a range of media.

I’ll bring a variety of lead pencils to the class when we explore drawing. Basic drawing pencils are graded by the softness or hardness of their lead. The softer the lead, the darker the mark you make. The harder the lead, the lighter the mark will be.  I’ll bring pastels to add soft color. I’ll bring a variety of paint brushes so people can determine what they like.

I will write about the class projects in the coming weeks.

Please take my survey.

While walking through the 2012 International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in NYC (May 2012), I discovered work by the artist Peter Glassford.

I went to see contemporary rugs and talk with people in the trade about how rugs are made, because people tell me my collage paintings can be interpreted as rugs. Take a look at the geometric images at my website and tell me if you agree they can be room size rugs.

WALL INSTALLATION and THE COLOR GREEN

I was amazed to see a dramatic wall installation in wood and paint and learn about works by an artist who calls himself a collage artist in wood.

Peter Glassford installation wall collage

The image above shows the installation and the artist’s mother and the scale of the wall collage.

I noticed the color from a distance, then walked closer to see the texture in the natural wood. The paint is a strong crayon green color. The artist is not afraid of color.

Peter Glassford has fine arts degrees (BFA, 1986, 1991) from the University of Texas at Austin.

Peter Glassford at the ICFF 2012

The image above shows the artist  sitting in front of a wood collage that is a folding screen painted white.

Peter Glassford says his wood collage is a fusion of his sculptural past and his business present. He makes unique furniture and he makes art.

He says he uses wood cuttings from his fine furniture factory in Mexico and creates wall installation art.

He says the repurposing closes the creative cycle and brings him back to the studio.

Sometimes he adds color.

Peter Glassford installation in progress

The work above is titled Picadillo Gems (2010). The artists is on the ladder, which shows you how large this work is. It’s installed at the Watts Law Collection, San Antonio, TX.

Peter Glassford

The above image is titled Collage Tiles

Glassford works with exotic woods – one is called parota and the other is rosa morada.

Rosa Morada comes from India, Mexico, Honduras and Asia. It is sometimes called rosewood. Parota is similar to teak wood and grows in jungles in Mexico. Read more…

A LITTLE BIT OF ART HISTORY

I spoke with the artist and mentioned the sculptor Louise Nevelson (1899 – 1988, American, born in Czarist Russia).

Because he works in wood, I thought about her work in wood. Wood was the basis for the comparison. But they work in different woods.

Louise Nevelson

Nevelson is famous for wood relief sculpture consisting of multiple boxes and compartments that include found objects from chair legs to staircase handrails, spindles, etc. Read more

The image above is Nevelson’s wall assemblage in wood, painted black.

Some of Nevelson’s works are room size. She described her sculpture as “environments.” She is considered one of the most important figures in 20th-century American sculpture.

Louise Nevelson, City Sunscape

The image above by Louise Nevelson is titled City Sunscape.

FOUND ELEMENTS vs DISCARDED ELEMENTS vs. CHOSEN ELEMENTS

Peter Glassford assumed I was comparing what he calls wall collage to Louise Nevelson’s relief sculpture. He didn’t agree with the comparison or the premise.

He said Nevelson’s sculptures included found elements that she assembled.

He said his sculptures didn’t include found elements like Nevelson’s, but were made with discarded elements – cut-offs left over from the furniture he manufactures in Mexico.

He said Nevelson typically painted her sculptures in an all-over monochromatic white or black.

He said he adds painted color (selectively) in the process as the work is installed.

Artists are so specific in the ways they describe their studio practice.

In my last post, titled Choice Collage, I wrote about the artist John Chamberlain who created metal sculpture and said he was a collage artist in metal. His retrospective exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in NYC closed May 13, 2012.

Chamberlain said he chose the pieces for his metal collages. Susan Davidson, who curated the Guggenheim Museum show, emphasized choice in Chamberlain’s work.

What is the difference between selecting and choosing and finding? I think everything is about choice.

I wonder if Louise Nevelson ever called herself a collage artist.

Next year the International Contemporary Furniture Fair will be held Saturday – Tuesday, May 18-21, 2013. Exhibition booths include contemporary furniture, seating, carpet and flooring, lighting, outdoor furniture, wall coverings, accessories, textiles and more. Read more

All image of work by Peter Glassford are from his website (Projects).

All images of work by Louise Nevelson are courtesy the Internet.