Saturday, April 28, 2012

Textiles of the Bauhaus
Art Review

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

The German word “Bauhaus” can be translated as the “house of construction”. It is now synonymous with a style of architecture and textiles. The impact and the life span of the Bauhaus and later movements that emanated from its body of work have been well documented. Its founder, Walter Gropius initiated the transformation of architecture, design and design education in the modern world. Therefore it is not my intention to reproduce what a simple Google search would reveal.

Walter Gropius In 1920.

There are some great books written about one aspect of the Bauhaus – its textiles. There is none better than “Bauhaus Textiles: Women Artists And The Weaving Workshop”, S.W. Weltge, Thames and Hudson, London (1993). It contains some 220 illustrations (122 in color) and gives an overview of the Bauhaus' on-going impact in this area. It is a great buy! All of the images below (bar Klimt's) have been procured from this book.

A Brief History Of the Bauhaus
The Bauhaus' first home was in Weimer, the capital of Thuringia (Germany), where it succeeded the van de Velde’s School of Art and Crafts. A Belgium, Walter Gropius was well known within the Judenstil (Art Nouveau) movement.

Art Nouveau - Gustav Klimt: The Kiss.

Walter Gropius was also one of the founders of the Deutscher Werkbund (German work group), which were composed of a group of artists, architects and manufacturers, whose goal was to improve the design of man-made products. Branded as an enemy alien, van de Veld was forced to resign in 1914, but he recommended Walter Gropius as a successor, before leaving Germany. The school closed in 1915 and remained so during the duration of the war. Gropius negotiated with the Grand Duke Of Saxe-Weimer to be appointed the director of the School of Arts and Crafts, which was realized after the first world war.

Henry van de Velde’s building of 1904, housed The Bauhaus from 1919 to 1925.

The appointment of Gropius was thought to continue the legacy of van de Veld. However, after uniting the School of Arts and Crafts with the Academy of Fine Arts, the new institution took the name of “Staatliches Bauhaus, Weimer” (State’s Bauhaus, Weimer) and as such he made a radical break with tradition. Years of tension with the host town led to Gropius' decision to close the school on the 26th December 1924 – just five years in its tenure.

In 1926 the city of Dessau became its new host city and the Gropius designed Dessau Bauhaus opened its doors as a landmark of modern architecture. As an international Faculty and student body, with radical teaching practices, the Bauhaus continued to be at the vanguard of design, but in doing so, was the target for hostilities. The Nazi’s caused its final closure in 1933.

Walter Gropius’ building for Dessau Bauhaus.

Gropius' tenet was the arts renewal could only be progressed from the co-operation of artists and craftsmen. By elevating the crafts to the status of fine-arts he called for the desecration of the barrier between the two and so his teaching practice rested heavily on skills development in order that with the acquired skills, conceptual development would then have a basis for development. In placing this tenet into practice, art could not be taught in lectures, but needed to develop in workshops. Gropius would state: “The School is the servant of the workshop and will one day be absorbed by it”. Of all the workshops, only one extended across the life span of the School from its foundation in 1919 to its closure in 1933 and that was the Bauhaus weaving workshop.

Students in the Weaving Workshops could be placed in roughly three categories. First, there were those who were marginal and left without trace of further professional involvement. Second, there were those who completed most or all of the prescribed courses, but because of other artistic aspirations, did not make weaving their artistic mode of expression. Third, were those who approached weaving as a life-long career and not only excelled as designers, but also excelled as educators and disseminators of the Bauhaus “idea”. The latter group was responsible for Bauhaus textile designs spreading throughout the world after the Second World War and moreover, heavily influencing the designers of the manufacturers of textiles.

This can be exemplified by Anni Albers' career. Black Mountain College was a liberal arts college, founded in 1933 in Black Mountain, North Carolina. The opportunity to teach and direct the Weaving Workshop at that college launched Anni Albers' career in the USA. After she graduated from the Bauhaus, she had continued to weave at home, unlike her peer group - such as Margaret Leischner and Bennita Otte - who ensconced either in industry or teaching positions. Anni Albers was initially not involved in in either.

She began her teaching career at Black Mountain College where she assigned preliminary weaving studies made from found objects. Albers encouraged playful exploration - the kind she enjoyed during her own student days, but she also believed in teaching sound technical skills. She emphasised weave construction, fiber identification and incorporation, but not the superimposition of plastics, metals, and other material and finishes. Although her students wove and sold functional items (e.g. table cloths etc.) the Weaving Workshop at Black Mountain also involved formal projects, projecting the use of textiles on the stage and in public spaces etc. Under her guidance the handloom became a designers tool.

In 1930 the Czech magazine Red devoted an entire issue to the Bauhaus.
Note: It carried the Otti Berger’s article “Stoffe im Raum” (meaning - materials in a room) in which she examined the role of textiles in interiors.

A Few Textile Outputs From The Bauhaus

Student Output: Silk Applique (1920).
Note: Johannes Itten’s teaching of color theory profoundly influenced his students, one of whom translated it into a color exercise.

Ida Kerkovious Designed Applique (early 1920s).
Note: She had been Itten’s teacher when he was an art student in 1913-1914.

American-born Florence Henri Abstract Composition (1926).
Note: She was a member of the Paris avant-garde and her composition was executed a year before she came to the Bauhaus by her friend the weaver Margarete Willers. Henri did not enter the weaving workshop but did photography instead.

Paul Klee’s Water Color Red-Green Steps In Weimar (1923).
Note: Klee in Dessau taught special design classes just for textile students.

Ida Kerkovious’ Rug (1923).

Benita Otte’s Wall Hanging (1923).

Gunta Stolzl Collage (1924).
Note: Designs for weavings were often executed in mixed media.

Josef Albers Upward (1926).
Note: Josef Albers experimented with sandblasted flash glass.

Annie Alber’s Triple Weave Hanging (1926).
Note: Critics have commented on the similarity between Josef and Anni Alber’s work. Comparison of these works shows her skill as a designer and weaver that bear her own individual stamp.

Anni Albers’ Black-White-Gold I (1950).

Otti Berger’s Rug (1930).

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Louvre
Resource Review

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

In Spring of 2000 I went to Paris (France not Texas!) We stayed at a small hotel not far from the University of Paris – the Sorbonne - and a stone’s throw away from the Louvre.

Universites De Paris.

A bottled blonde Marie-Therese at the Eiffel Tower!

Marie-Therese at the Arc de Triomphe.

Walking from the hotel, along the banks of the Seine, to the Louvre on a sunny but mild first day of Spring was just magic and of course, romantic. There was no music in the air, just the gentle hustle and bustle – the life hum - of a large city at peace with its own pace.

Marie-Therese along the banks of the Seine.

I remember going through the pyramid entrance of the Louvre and then meandering to the cloakroom. I knew I had to hand in my camera (as you do in all galleries and museums) only for the cloak clerk to ask - in a rather disappointed manner - “You don’t want to take photos?” Within one millisecond I snatched my camera from his hand and beamed a smile so wide it started to hurt!

Marie-Therese at the main entrance of the Louvre.

The Place
The government of the French revolution opened the doors of he Louvre to the public - in the same year Marie Antoinette was guillotined, 1793. The museum was the old Royal Palace of the Louvre in which French Kings resided from time to time since Phillippe Auguste II (1223) until Louis XVI.

The main entrance into the Louvre.

An exterior of the Louvre.

The greatest expansion was constructed under the auspices of Napoleon I (1815) and Napoleon III (1870). In 1993, the Richelieu wing of the museum was unveiled making the Louvre the largest museum in the world, with an exhibition area of nearly 60,000 square meters or 15 acres or 645,800 square feet. The main entrance was completely relocated and crowned with the glass pyramid designed by architect Mr. I.M. Pei.

Architectural history of the Louvre[1].

From its vast and comprehensive collection, the Louvre Museum displays consistently over 30,000 works of art, with three times that number being cataloged in its collection. The collection spans centuries of artistic excellence. The oldest artifact in the museum is 9,000 years old. It was discovered in Jordan in 1985. It is known as the "Statue from Ain Ghawn".

Statue from Ain Ghawn.

The annual running cost of the Louvre is in excess of 100 million euros. Whilst on the day that it opened admission was free, now a small fee for admission is charged (ca. 14 euros).

The People
The Louvre has had in excess of 50 million visitors since 2000 with ca. 5 million visitors annually. The museum tours in six languages for the international public. Its auditorium, since opening in 1989, has had over 1000 conferences and colloquia and has had well over 700,000 visitors.

French President Mitterand and Mr. Ieoh Ming Pei at the opening of the Glass Pyramid[1].

There are ca. 2000 employees involving ca. 40 different professions, including administrative staff, academic staff, museum education officers, security staff and others.

Ecole du Louvre is the higher teaching institution of the Ministry of Culture and Communication. It was founded in 1882 and today is situated in the Louvre’s Flore wing. It has ca. 2000 students and delivers seminars on art history, archeology, history of civilization and museology. It gives a variety of day and evening courses, conferences, and lectures for the general public.

The Stories: Art Theft Of The Century?
In August 23rd 1911 (a Monday when the Louvre was closed) Vincenzo Peruggia locked himself in the Louvre. He removed the Mona Lisa from its frame (which he disposed) and then carried the painting through the Grande Galerie and the Salle des Sept-Metres and down a small staircase that led to the courtyard containing the sphinx to the quayside on the Seine. Peruggia was a mirror maker, who worked in the museum and therefore knew his way around the Grande Galerie with its numerous mirrors. There was no trace of the painting for some time as Peruggia kept it in his lodgings at 5, rue de I’Hopital St.-Louis, in the false bottom of a suitcase.

Fictional illustration of Vincenzo Peruggia’s theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre[1].

In a naive response to an advertisement by Geri (a Florentine art dealer) Perguggia wrote offering the Mona Lisa, which was handed over to him in Florence on December 11th 1913. In the following weeks it was exhibited in Florence and then in Rome and Milan, before being return to Paris on January 1st 1914, where it was first exhibited at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts to raise funds for charitable works in Italy. It was finally returned to the Louvre on the 5th of January 1914. In the following year legal proceedings began against the thief, who claimed that as an Italian patriot, he wanted Mona Lisa to be returned to its birthplace.

During the Second World War the Louvre took the Mona Lisa from its frame, packed and stored it in a secret location.

Mona Lisa without its frame being packed in September of 1939[1].

The Collection
The collection of the Louvre is far too vast to do it any justice in this blog. Hence, one can only give at best a glimpse of some of the works on each floor. The selection of works was quite arbitrary (in fact random) with one proviso - I purposely avoided presenting here the more notable works. Nevertheless, no matter how you slice a profile of its collected works, each slice just whets your appetite for more. That is what a great collection does - it yields a never-ending education in art.

The basement houses the following: Oriental Antiques; Islamic Art; French Sculpture; Egyptian Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities; History of the Louvre; Medieval Louvre; Italian and Spanish Sculpture; North European Sculpture.

Titles glazed with floral patterns, Iznik, 16th Century, Basement Room A.

The carpet of Mantas, North Western Iran, end of 16th Century, Wool, 783 x 379 cm.

Plate with peacock decoration from Iznik, mid 16th century, fired clay with transparent glaze, diameter 22 cm, Basement Room 12.

The first floor contains: Oriental Antiquities; Egyptian Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities; French Sculpture; Italian and Spanish Sculpture; Northern European Sculpture; African, Asian, Oceanic and Native American Art.

Ginak, Prince of Edin-E. Sumerian, Northern Mesopotamia, 3rd Millenium B.C. Limestone, height 26 cm, First Floor Room 1.

Winged bull with human head, Chorsabad, ca. 706 B.C., Alabaster with plaster, height: 440 cm.

Statue of the Toury, 18th Dynasty (1550-1292 B.C.) Red ebony on a karite base, 33 x 7 x 17 cm.

The second floor exhibits: Decorative Arts; Egyptian Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities; French Painting, Italian Painting; Spanish Painting, Italian Drawings.

Antonella da Messina, Portrait of A Man, “II condottiere,” 1475, oil on wood, 35 x 28 cm.

Titian (Tiziano Vecellio) (1488/1490 – 1576). The Man With The Glove. ca. 1520-1522. Oil on canvas, 100 x 89 cm.

Lambert Sustris (ca. 1520 - after 1591), Venus And Cupid ca. 1554, oil on canvas, 132 x 184 cm.

Finally, the third floor contains: French painting; German, Finnish, and Dutch Painting; French Drawings; German, Flemish, and Dutch Drawings.

Frans Hals (ca. 1581-1666), The Gypsy Girl, 1626, oil on wood, 57.8 x 52.1 cm.
Note: There are very few portraits with the subject smiling.

Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678) The Four Evangelists, ca. 1620, oil on canvas, 134 x 118 cm.

Hendrick Terbrugghen (1588-1629) The Duet, 1628, oil on canvas, 106 x 82 cm.

[1] Art & Architecture, The Louvre, G. Bartz and E. Konig, Konemann, Cambridge (2005).

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Making of the “Cultural Graffiti” Series
Post Graffiti on Mixed Media

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

One of my passions is to create Post-Graffiti artwork on cloth. A series of posts on this blogspot have addressed issues in Graffiti and Post Graffiti Art as well as presenting images of such art. I have listed some of these below for your enjoyment.
Time Dimension in Art
Unleashed: The Rise of Australian Street Art
Act of Engagement
New York Spray-Can Memorials
Another Brick
Beyond the Fear of Freedom
Oh, Oh Marilyn and Mona@Spoonflower
Neu Kunst: Mona & Marilyn
Paste Modernism 4

The following works are examples of a technique I have developed and termed “matrix formatting”. It involves splicing together a number of images to form a matrix. The base unit is overlaid by the components of the matrix. This gives the works an underlining symmetry, which projects a real sense of vibrancy that is the hallmark of some of my Post Graffiti ArtCloths. I hope you enjoy these artworks.

On another note - I wish to thank Lisa Kerpoe for her kind words about this blog spot. Lisa's blog spot has also attracted awards. Lisa's new book "Visual Texture on Fabric - Create Stunning Art Cloth with Water-Based Resists" will be available in July 2012. A must buy for any ArtCloth library!

The Making of my “Cultural Graffiti” ArtCloth series
The Post Graffiti ArtCloth movement is still a novel movement. Graffiti has been with us since the dawn of time, from the huntsman marks made on cave walls to the election slogans, drawings and obscenities carved on clay found in excavations of Pompeii[1]. The word itself stems from the Italian word “sgraffio”, which means “scratch”[1] and so "Graffiti" artworks can be thought of poetically as scratches on walls, fences, paths and doors.

In 1904 – Anthropophyteia – was the first magazine that focussed on graffiti and more precisely on toilet graffiti[1]. Graffiti was used during the 1920s - 1940s by the Nazi’s to engender race hatred toward the Jews. In 1942 - 1943, the - “White Rose” - a group of German non-conformists, spoke out against Hitler and his regime by painting slogans on walls before they were captured and dealt with[1]. Graffiti has been vilified as “criminal” art and at the same time it has been heralded as a new form of stencil or spray-can art.

Graffiti Art as can be seen in Melbourne’s CBD in Hosier Lane (Australia).

Its art origins began in typography and its distortions since socio-political messages needed to be conveyed in a youth sub-culture code. Most of its works were tagged. Like any living and breathing entity it has evolved and sub-divided. Characters have been supplemented with symbols, abstractions and distorted images.

Dave Chino (New York, USA)[1].
Note: Artistic distortion of typography that spells out his name.

Heavyweight (Crew: Dane Buller, Tyler Gibney and Gene Pendon) Montreal, Canada[1].
Note: Sophisticated fine-art images.

Post Graffiti movements have emerged to distance itself from “criminal art” and so it has morphed into such sub-divisions as aerosol art, street murals, stencil art, street art, hip-hop art and neo graffiti art. These are labels that do not necessarily umbrella similar style sheets, as was the case in such art movements as Impressionism or Cubism, but rather symbolizes art genres and/or art implements and/or legitimate art forms etc.

Banksy’s Stencil Art[1].

Another well-known Graffiti Artist is Tsang Tsou-Choi (who passed away in July of 2007 aged 86). He had been writing Chinese characters in Hong Kong for most of his life on public installations such as electricity boxes, lampposts, walls, etc. He proclaimed himself as the “King of Kowloon” and had been arrested and sent to police stations many times.

His works have become an identity of Hong Kong sub-culture and he has inspired fashion designers, art directors and movie directors. He was probably the oldest Graffiti Artist in the world. His works have been exhibited in many international exhibitions and biennales. For example, he was represented at the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003.

Hong Kong's Graffiti King Tsang Tsou-Choi.
Note: He is seen here posing with a Daihatsu car he decorated with his calligraphy during the "Japan@Cool Expo" show in Hong Kong in August 2002.

The Post Graffiti movement on cloth is its most recent evolved form. Cloth is a legitimate medium supplanting the need for walls, fences, paths and doors. It was not a common art practice when I created the art installations "Codes" and “Another Brick” (see past blogs) which were aimed at uniting the huntsmen’s art marks (rural survival) with the art marks of the Graffitists (urban survival). The purpose was not to mimic huntsman or Graffitists’ art marks, but rather to take elements of their art and re-constitute it in a deconstructed form. It was a pre-meditated, wilful process arising from thought and not from impulse.

Just like Monet's "Water Lillies" suite, I wanted to investigate over and over again one single visual theme, hence my "Cultural Graffiti" suite on ArtCloth and prints on paper. In this suite I wanted images to be paired down to the original modern Graffitists use of typographical mark making. I was influenced by the approach taken by Tsang Tsou-Choi's calligraphy, although it was my intention that my art marks should not be discernible, and so I did not want to base it on an alphabet or symbolic images (like pictograms) etc. I wanted my images to have the “feel” of typographical and image marks. I wanted my images to be vibrant but have a mystery to them, as if they were indecipherable messages from unknown urban peoples. I searched deep and decided to use my “matrix formatting” screen printing technique, which involves splicing together a number of images to form a matrix. As this ArtCloth and prints on paper suite was strategically planned, I called it my “Cultural Graffiti” suite, in order to lampoon these efforts of mine that did not involve an impulse of any sort (the latter being a hallmark of most Graffitists).

ArtCloth and Limited Edition Prints on Paper: Suite of "Cultural Graffiti" Works

Cultural Graffiti (Full View) - Prints on Paper.
Technique: Black and white matrix formatted silkscreen print on Stonehenge employing pigment paint.
Edition: Edition of 10.
Size: 76 cm (width) x 56 cm (length).
First Exhibited: In 2004 as part of the "2004 Awaba House Exhibition", Awaba House, Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery, Lake Macquarie, NSW, Australia.

Cultural Graffiti I (Full View) - ArtCloth.
Technique: Dyed, overdyed, stamped, matrix formatted silkscreened prints using dyes, metallic foils and transparent, opaque and metallic paints on cotton.
Size: 250 cm (width) x 125 cm (length).
First Exhibited: In 2004 I was invited to participate in the "ArtCloth 2004 : Committed to Cloth", exhibition at the "Festival of Quilts and the Knit & Stitch Conference", Birmingham, England. See above image.

Cultural Graffiti I - General view of the "ArtCloth 2004 : Committed to Cloth", exhibition at the "Festival of Quilts and the Knit & Stitch Conference", Birmingham, England.

Cultural Graffiti I (Section View).

Cultural Graffiti I (Detail View).

Cultural Graffiti III (Full View) - ArtCloth.
Technique: Dyed, overdyed, matrix formatted silkscreened prints using dyes, metallic foils, transparent, opaque and metallic paints on rayon.
Size: 280 cm (width) x 115 cm (length).
First Exhibited: In 2004 as part of the "Another Brick - Artcloth Installation", Watt Space Galleries, Newcastle, NSW, Australia.

Cultural Graffiti III (Detail View).

Cultural Graffiti III (Close Up Detail View).

Cultural Graffiti VI (Full View) - ArtCloth.
Technique: Dyed, overdyed, matrix formatted silkscreened prints using dyes, metallic foils, transparent, opaque and metallic paints on rayon.
Size: 250 cm (width) x 115 cm (length).
First Exhibited: In 2006 the piece was selected to participate in the "QSDS Fabric Show", 2006 Quilt Surface Design Symposium Exhibition, University Plaza Hotel and Conference Center, Columbus, Ohio, USA.

Cultural Graffiti VI (Detail View).

Cultural Graffiti VI (Close Up Detail View).

Cultural Graffiti VII (Close Up Detail View) - ArtCloth.
Technique: MultiSperse Dye Sublimation and matrix formatted silkscreened prints employing disperse dyes and pigment paint on satin.
Size: 30 cm (width) x 200 cm (length).
Sold on Inspection, Private Collection, Canberra, Australia.

Cultural Graffiti VIII (Full View) - Prints On Paper.
Technique: Matrix formatted silkscreen prints employing dyes and metallic foil on Pescia.
Edition: Edition of 3.
Size: 76 cm (width) x 56 cm (length).
First Exhibited: Selected in 2006 to participate in the "2006 Swan Hill Print and Drawing Acquisitive Awards", Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery, Swan Hill, Victoria, Australia.
Sold on Inspection, Private Collection, New South Wales, Australia.

Cultural Graffiti IX (Full View) - ArtCloth.
Technique: MultiSperse Dye Sublimation and matrix formatted silkscreened prints employing disperse dyes and pigment paint on satin.
Size: 23 cm (width) x 13 cm (length).
First Exhibited: In 2007 I was invited to participate in the "9 x 5", 2007 Walker Street Gallery Exhibition, Walker Street Gallery, Dandenong, Victoria, Australia.

With Intent X: Cultural Graffiti - Print On Paper.
Technique: Black and white version of a digital monoprint.
The image was published in the following journal:
Eds. Benitez, E.E. and Christie, W. ‘Not in My Name’ Wisniowski, M.-T. ‘Literature and Aesthetics’, The Journal of the Sydney Society of Literature and Aesthetics, The University of Sydney, Vol.13, No. 2 pp. 83 - 88, December 2003.

Editions of printed works on paper, Cultural Graffiti and Cultural Graffiti VIII are available for purchase.

[1] N. Ganz, Ed. T. Manco, Graffiti World, Harry N. Abrams Inc., New York (2004).