Thursday, 11 February 2016

Interview with Norman Rosenthal re Andy Warhol: Works from the Hall Collection at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

Interview with Norman Rosenthal
Andy Warhol: Works from the Hall Collection
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
4 February – 15 May 2016

With a figure as well known as Andy Warhol (1928-87), whose works are so instantly recognisable, it might seem an impossible task to put on an exhibition and keep it fresh and interesting for the public. The current exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum, however, which features more than 100 previously unseen works, spanning the whole of Warhol’s career, contains many surprises. Curated by Sir Norman Rosenthal, from the collection of Andrew and Christine Hall, it – in the words of the Ashmolean’s director, Xa Sturgis – more than “puts paid to the idea of Warhol as a spent force in the 70s and 80s”.

In stark contrast to the stunning, high-reaching wall in the central gallery, hung with Warhol’s more recognisable commissioned screen prints of celebrities (including Joseph Beuys, Paul Anka and Maria Shriver), the final room focuses on his last year of life, showing only black-and-white prints, many with religious and existential themes. Another section features drawings, proving that Warhol was a talented draughtsman: “He had a natural line, which was every bit as beautiful as Matisse,” says Rosenthal, for whom these late drawings were a “revelation”. Highlights of the first room include a group of artists’ portraits and a series of prints of Watson Powell, a successful but unknown businessman, who came to be known as “the American Man”. Alongside this, a small side room acts as a screening room, showing looped excerpts from Empire (1964) and Sleep (1963) alongside Eat (1963), Kiss (1963) and Screen Tests (1964-65). Every corner of space has been used and the exhibition feels representative without being crowded.

“Andy took the world as it was and, in his own way, described it with amazing accuracy,” says Rosenthal, who talks about trying “to tell a story through the pack of cards that is the [Hall] collection”. Studio International spoke to him at the opening of the exhibition.

Watch the interview here

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Review of Art into Society – Society into Art: Seven German Artists at the ICA

Art into Society – Society into Art: Seven German Artists
ICA Fox Reading Room, London
19 January – 6 March 2016

Can art bring about reform? Maybe even revolution? How might it be used as a politically motivated tool? These questions were at the forefront of seven key German artists’ minds in the early 1970s, and an exhibition of their work, held at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in 1974, opened them out to a wider international audience.

In its series of archival exhibitions, displayed in the Fox Reading Room, the ICA has currently mounted a grand review of the exhibition Art into Society – Society into Art: Seven German Artists, which took place from 29 October – 24 November 1974 and was organised by the then ICA curator, Norman Rosenthal, and the writer and curator Christos M Joachimides. The research and display have been jointly – and thoroughly – pulled together by Lucy Bayley and Juliette Desorgues. On show are photographs of the installation and surrounding events; vitrines with the catalogue and printed material relating to the exhibition; photocopied press coverage from the time; and select audio and video material, including extracts from a general discussion on politics in Germany that took place at the ICA on 19 November 1974.

Read the review here

Interviews with Bella Easton, John Stark and Trisant at Collateral Drawing, Waterfront Gallery, UCS, Ipswich

Collateral Drawing 
Waterfront Gallery, UCS, Ipswich
4 January – 19 February 2016

There’s more to an artwork than its finished state. During the creative process, there are sketches and models made, photographs taken, paint spilled, notes scribbled. Sometimes the wall and floor around the work become companions to the work itself and, once the work is removed, severed umbilical traces remain, showing where lines continued, how thoughts developed, and where lost ideas went to hibernate.

Two years ago, BEASTON projects, a curatorial platform run by the artist, curator and teacher Bella Easton, began a project called Collateral Drawing, with the intention of showing just such “by-products”, with a view to revealing something of the hidden – and sometimes subconscious – artistic process. The project, launched at Plymouth College of Art, is now in its fourth iteration, having also exhibited in Athens (Beton7, 2014) and Berlin (rosalux, 2015). The current version, showing at the Waterfront Gallery, UCS, includes installations by 16 artists with an East Anglian connection, each revealing something unique about their methods and exploring the relationship between the finished works (also on display) and the collateral elements.

Studio International spoke to Easton and her co-curator John Stark, both of whom are also exhibiting, as well as to a third participating artist, Trisant, about the ideas behind the project, their working methods, and how being involved has impacted on their thinking about their own practices.

Watch the film here

Friday, 5 February 2016

Interview with Alice Anderson

Interview with Alice Anderson

An oversized bobbin and needle, a two-metre wide resplendent sphere radiating a warm copper glow – these stunning, alluring and yet uncanny objects are the work of Alice Anderson (b1972), a French-English artist, whose hair gleams in the same coppery tones as the wire in which these objects are wrapped. Although “wrapped”, I learn, is the wrong term to use. For Anderson, this process of entwining an object, mummifying it, securing it for posterity, is just that: an act of “memorising” and a means of understanding the world around her, keeping hold of the physicality of objects, as more and more of our life becomes subsumed by digital technology.

Currently one of the 14 artists in the Saatchi Gallery’s first all-women exhibition, Champagne Life, Anderson spoke to Studio International about her obsessive practice and her inner drive.

Read this interview here

Friday, 29 January 2016

Essay on Julia Margaret Cameron

Julia Margaret Cameron
Victoria and Albert Museum
28 November 2015 – 21 February 2016


Julia Margaret Cameron: Influence and Intimacy
Media Space, Science Museum
24 September 2015 – 28 March 2016

The aspects of her photography for which Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-79) is most celebrated are – and indeed always have been – those for which she is also most criticised, namely her imprecision, lack of focus, and deliberately vague, artistic subject matter. Regardless of one’s opinion on her style, however, Cameron’s impact on the development of the medium and its acceptance as an art form cannot be denied. She was the first photographer who took repeated advantage of the Copyright Bill of 1862, paying one shilling per picture to register some 505 of her photographs, and, in 1868, she became the first “artist in residence” at the South Kensington Museum (now the Victoria and Albert Museum), when its then director, Sir Henry Cole, allowed her to use two rooms as a studio. Her experimental techniques and penchant for scratching or drawing on to the negative, as well as her deliberate use of smudges and swirls, from applying an excess of collodion, render her resultant imagery poetic and alluring, far removed from documentary style. Indeed, Cameron herself acknowledged in a letter to her friend and mentor, Sir John Herschel, at the end of 1864: “My aspirations are to ennoble Photography and to secure for it the character and uses of High Art by combining the real and Ideal and sacrificing nothing of the Truth by all possible devotion to Poetry and beauty.”

Read the rest of this essay here

Interview with Rose English at Camden Arts Centre

Interview with Rose English

Rose English: A Premonition of the Act
Camden Arts Centre
12 December 2015 – 6 March 2016

Camden Arts Centre
11 and 12 March 2016

Rose English (b1950) came to the fore on the 1970s feminist art scene, in particular with her 1975 performance Quadrille, a ballet for six horses and hoofed dancers presented at a dressage show – and her work crosses boundaries between performed installation, vaudeville, film, spoken drama and opera. She has appeared on stage and in films and has been writing, directing and performing for 35 years.

English has been working with Chinese acrobats for more than a decade now and her collaboration with them has evolved through various performances and exhibitions, including Ornamental Happiness – a show in song and circus – at the Liverpool Biennial in 2006 and Flagrant Wisdom commissioned by the National Glass Centre in 2009. Her current exhibition at Camden Arts Centre, A Premonition of the Act, is described as “reconfiguring elements of a major yet-to-be-realised performance”, hinting towards two live performances that will take place after the show has been taken down, on 11 and 12 March 2016.

The centrepiece of the exhibition is the sound work, Lost in Music, an operatic piece for 10 voices and percussion, scored by Luke Stoneham for English’s libretto. It plays in a darkened room, on the walls of which extracts from the score and English’s notes, as well as images of the acrobats at rehearsal, and glassware being blown, are displayed in lightboxes: image juxtaposed against word; sight against sound. Next door, three screens show breathtaking footage of the acrobats, performing complex and almost unimaginable feats with the specially made glass vessels – a selection of which are displayed on a table nearby. A girl carries a tiered tray of champagne flutes on her feet; a boy tosses a seemingly weightless vase lightly into the air. One slip and disaster would ensue.

The work as a whole has been described as “a meditation on the temporality of ephemeral work” and “a meditation on the correlation between word and image, inspired by the Sister Sledge hit Lost in Music and a resonant line from the writings of Walter Benjamin”. Studio International spoke to English about her inspirations, aspirations and the practicalities of producing such complex and enduring – if ephemeral – performance pieces.

Watch this interview here