It seems sometimes that artists have a prophetical gift, describing the future so accurate that it is frightening. A well known example is Paul Klee's Angelus Novus who got famous through Walter Benjamin's essay. A more recent example, even though it was written more than thirty years ago, is the documentary I Am Not Your Negro.
The said documentary was released in 2016 to much acclaim. The movie is directed by Raoul Peck, who besides a short period as Haiti's Minister of Culture is an awarded director, mostly of documentary feature films. Additionally the movie is narrated by Samuel L. Jackson.
Those alone are standout facts, but it is James Baldwin's unfinished script Remember This House, on which the documentary is, that makes it so compelling. The story follows the lives and deaths of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., which he all knew personally well, that makes the subject of the movie so contemporary.
As the writer and poet Baldwin was an outspoken and eloquent observer of his time, his words, which are compared to recent developments like Ferguson and Black Lives Matter ring truer today than ever. In a little above 90 minutes the movie captures more depth than a lot of series, it is of course not an easy watch, but definitely worth it.
It is interesting to see how often forgotten designers become the interest of collectors and decorators and how those change. This was the case for a lot of French mid-century designers, which are the key interest at the moment. Another long forgotten pioneer, an unsung hero, is the furniture and interior designer and architect Greta Magnusson-Grossman.
Born in 1906 in Helsingborg, she did a one-year woodworking apprenticeship in her hometown, before studying Furniture design at the Högre Konstindustriella Skolan. In 1933 she opened up Studio with her classmate Erik Ullrich and she received a second place for furniture design from the Stockholm Craft Association, making her the first woman to ever being awarded. The same year she also married the British jazz musician and band leader Billy Grossman.
Hurley Residence, Wonder View Plaza, Hollywood, 1958
In 1940, in the middle of the Second World War, she and her husband moved to California, where they opened Magnussen-Grossman Studio on Rodeo Drive. Focussing on furniture and lightning design, she stylistically blended European modernism with Californian lifestyle. Among her clients were stars like Greta Garbo, Joan Fontaine and Gracie Allen.
Technical drawing for a table lamp, for the Ralph O. Smith Company, 1948
Led to collaborations with well-known manufacturers like Barker Brothers or Ralph O. Smith for her lamps or Glenn of California for her furniture. Her unique mix of materials, such as colorful textiles, California walnut, black plastic laminate and wrought iron, and her slender proportions made her stand out. It also make her designs recognizable to this day.
Photograph © Sherry Griffin/R 20th Century.
But not only did she design furniture and lightning, she also worked as an architect. Her own split level house in Beverly Hills was her breakthrough, where she did the architecture and the interior design. The house was featured in the magazine Arts & Architecture and admired by its editor John Entenza, as it was in the vein of Case Study House project, they supported. Approximately ten of her designed houses still exist.
In 1966 she retired from the Design world and moved with her husband to Encinitas to a house she designed. In this time she mainly painted landscapes and died in 1999 in quite obscurity. In the last ten years, an interest in her designs arose and now reach high prices at auctions.
Door number 5, time for our first Christmas special this season. It is a modern twist on a classic wardrobe piece, blending two styles of scarfs and thereby breathing new life in a standard accessory. The scarf is made from a high quality 50% cashmere and 50% Virgin wool fabric.
Recently the interest in Brutalist architecture skyrocketed and found a new, younger fanbase. Associated with are normally large eponymous, most of the time public buildings, but that it also works subtly on smaller scales and private properties is often forgotten.
House Van Wassenhove
A pioneer in this sense was the Belgian architect Juliaan Lampens, who died this year aged 93. He was born in 1926 to a carpenter father in De Pinte. Before opening his own studio in 1950 in Enke, he studied architecture at the Higher Institute for Art and Vocational Training of the Sint-Lucas School in Gent.
A huge impact on his architectural practice had the World Fair 1958 in Brussels, where he was exposed to Modern architects like Le Corbusier, who showed his Philipps pavilion there. This inspired him to build his own house in 1960, where for the first time he applied his avant-garde style of living without barriers.
House Vandenhaute-Kiebooms 1967 Zingem, Belgium © Jan KempenaersFrom this turning point on, he focused on three main materials, concrete, wood and glass, which became his signature. His houses were built to be in harmony with the environment, often closed off from the public on the one side, and completely open towards nature on the other side. He is famous for private residencies, next to his own, like the Vandenhaute-Kiebooms House (1967), the Van Wassenhove House (1974) and public buildings like the Kerselare Chapel (1966) in Edelare or Eke's Library (1970).
Kerselare Chapel, Edelare, Belgium © Jessy van der Werff
Next to Le Corbusier, he was also inspired by Mies Van der Rohe, Oscar Niemayer and the bunkers along the Atlantic coast. As so often, it took decades for him to be appreciated and only got his international recognition in recent years, but throughout all of his career he stayed true to his architectural style and vision.
Artists, who force you to look twice and work on multiple levels, are the most compelling ones. A perfect example is the German artist Rosemarie Trockel and her success proves her right. At first it is very often her humor that grabs your attention, but in the end it challenges your point of view.
She was born in 1952 in Schwerte and initially started to study anthropology, mathematics, sociology and theology in 1971 before changing to art at the Werkkunstschule (Cologne University of Applied Sciences). She studied there from 1974 until 1978 under Werner Schriefers.
The upcoming scene in Cologne at the beginning of the 80s proved to be a fertile ground for her, especially her work with the artist group Müllheimer Freiheit and the gallerist Monika Sprüth. During that time she also traveled to the United States of America and was in contact with Cindy Sherman and Jenny Holzer.
She got international attention for her knitted drawings, taking a material seen as female and challenged the Male dominated art world. Similar was her use of hot-plates, which she put on large canvases, similar to the dots seen in the pop art movement. But her art can not only be described as Feminist, as her approach is broader, dealing with societal themes, which makes her art quite political. As she does not want to be categorized subject-wise, she also does not limit her to a few materials. She works with film, photography, wool, and found objects, among others.
Her position in the art world got fastened through her participation at documenta in 1997, where she together with Carsten Höller showed the Haus für Schweine und Menschen. Also she was the first female solo artist to so show at the German Pavillon at the Venice Biennale in 1999. Since 1998 she teaches at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. Despite her success she is rather elusive, rarely gives interviews and lets her art do the talking.
Rosemarie Trockel, Cluster – One Eye Too Many, 2018. Installation view, Moderna Museet Malmö, 2018. Photo: Helene Toresdotter/Moderna Museet.
Artists have an urge to create, a drive that keeps them going, but often it is sad to see, that during their lifetimes they do not get the attention they deserved. Therefore it is even more interesting to see them in the spotlight at later years. This is the case for Beverly Glenn-Copeland, who has been creating beautiful music for nearly 40 years.
Born in 1944 in Philadephia, but raised in Canada, he learned to play the piano in young years and studied classical music at McGill University in Montreal. He performed at Montreal’s world’s fair in 1967. In the years after, his focus shifted more towards Folk music, releasing his debut album Beverly Copeland as Beverly Copeland in 1970.
In the same year he also released his second album Beverly Glenn-Copeland in the same musical vein as the first. At that time he also started to compose music for Kids Television shows like Sesame Street and the Canadian show Mr. Dressup, where he also acted.
He continued to work on personal music and as he was not a possibly to make personal statements, he recorded his third album Keyboard Fantasies. Musically it was inspired by the serene environment of Huntsville, Canada, where he was living at that time. The album was self produced, using only a Roland TR-707 drum machine and a Yamaha DX7 synthesizer.
It was this album, which drew the interest of audiophiles, especially a Japanese Gentleman, who bought all remaining tapes of the album. The album then got its first Vinyl release on Brandon Hocura's Invisible City Editions in 2016 and brought it to the attention of a broader audience. This interest kept on growing, and Beverly Glenn Copeland has been performing the album live and in 2019 released a new album entitled Primal Prayer.
Watching Wim Wenders' 1984 film Paris, Texas one is captured by the performance of the actors, the quality of the director, the sublime soundtrack by Ry Cooder, but also questions who shot these amazing pictures. The man behind the camera is Wim Wender's longtime collaborator, the Dutch cinematographer Roby Müller.
Born in 1940 in the Netherlands Antilles, now Curaçao, he moved a lot during his childhood as his father was working in the oil industry. His interest in filming and photography started early. His father was an avid hobby photographer and he regularly took his camera.
After moving to Amsterdam, he studied at the Netherlands Film Academy from 1960 until 1964. While working on a film in 1968 he met the young film student Wim Wenders, who later asked him to work with him on his final University assignment. This led to a long and fruitful collaboration with films like Alice in the Cities (1974), Kings of the Road (1976), The American Friend (1977) and the aforementioned Paris, Texas.
This work brought him international attention and led him to work with directors like Jim Jarmusch, William Friedkind, Peter Bogdanovich, Barbet Schroeder, Lars von Trier and also Steve McQueen. Despite his success and increased interest from Hollywood, he never completely gave in to its industry, always looking to work with directors that challenged the status quo.
His work is defined by his use of light, using mostly natural light. Thereby he also appreciated and cherished the flaws, that others tried to avoid, and made them his own. His work with light led to comparisons with Dutch master painters such as Vermeer. His work was defined by spontaneity, adapting to the situation on the set. For him it was possible to work on a set never have read the script.
Kensington Motel, Santa Monica, L.A, 1985 Polaroid 600 © Robby Müller Estate Courtesy Robby Müller Estate
Robby Müller died in 2018 after having suffered from vascular dementia for several years. Recently his Polaroid-photographs, taken between 1970 and 1990 of daily life situations were shown. These pictures also show his keen eye and his sensibility of light that he is known for.
Christmas is less than a month away, so time for a little update from us.
There will be of course our traditional Christmas calendar starting this Sunday. As every year we feature each day something interesting of the fields of Music, Art, Photography, Architecture, Design, Film, and of course our Christmas specials. All on view here, on Instagram and on Facebook.
For all the people stopping by our brick and mortar store in Hallein, the following Saturdays, 30.11., 7.12., 14.12. and 21.12., we are open until 5pm and serve you hot Punch. Would be lovely to see you there!