Tag Archives: exhibits

Happy Birthday Andy’s Soups!

Warhol's Soup Cans

Andy Warhol is definitely an icon of popular culture – after all, he and his artist contemporaries spawned the era of pop art in the 1960’s. He redefined the nature of art, specifically painting, and became an icon who would be celebrated and revisted generations later. Today, at contemporary art auctions, Warhol’s works still fetch hefty price tags and are sought out by collectors worldwide.

Portrait of Andy Warhol

Image via Fireplace Chats

Pop art was revolutionary in that it brought the contemporary reality of the 1960’s to the forefront and made it the subject of art. It was, in a way, a representation of what real life was like, and not an idealized picture conjured from imagination.

Warhol’s art was profoundly influenced by his experience of reality. He didn’t want to escape it, and instead put it on the canvas, repeating the images as if to mimic the notions of what it meant to live life the way he experienced it.

The paintings, which are part of the Museum of Modern Art’s collection, are usually displayed stacked covering an entire wall. The first time they were exhibited at Ferus Gallery however, Warhol lined them in single file, as if they were sitting on the supermarket shelves.

Soup cans on exhibit

Image via The 60's at 50

Today the cans are an almost ubiquitous symbol of popular counterculture and can be seen on any imaginable type of merchandise.

Campbell's Tomato Soup as Pendant

Image via Ephemeraology

Campbell's canvas tote

Image via Privatewerken

Campbell's soup tee

Image via The Masked Gorilla

Campbell's Andy Warhol 50th Anniversary Cans

Via Hypebest

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the soup paintings, Target released limited-edition cans featuring labels designed to mimic Warhol’s iconic screenprinting technique. This wasn’t the first time they’d done it – another run of cans was previously produced in 2006.

Image via IDS News

Needless to say, Warhol’s fame has exceeded his predicted 15-minute run, and from the looks of it, it will be safe to assume that it will continue to stretch on for a while more.

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Charlotte Dumas: Anima
(Exhibition Review)

Image by Renee Alfonso

Dutch photographer Charlotte Dumas’ series of animal portraits is on view at the Corcoran Gallery of Art as part of its Now exhibition series. The Now series showcases the work of living, emerging or mid-career artists, who are invited to create new work for installation in the gallery’s rotunda.

Image by Renee Alfonso

For this installation, Dumas captured portraits of burial horses in Arlington Cemetery, who carry the bodies of fallen soldiers to their final resting place. For most of her work, Dumas usually creates animal portraits, attempting to provide intimate glimpses of the animals’ lives.

Courtesy Charlotte Dumas via the Corcoran Gallery of Art

The horses at Arlington Cemetery have very noble and important work; they are responsible in giving fallen servicemen and women their final honors in military burials. Dumas photographed the horses in their stables at night, between their waking and sleeping hours.

"Babe" by Charlotte Dumas

Courtesy Charlotte Dumas via the Corcoran Gallery of Art

Dumas claims her inspiration from the portrait painting of Dutch Golden Age in the 17th century. This influence is clearly shown in the way she composes her photographs. Shadows and light surround her subjects, giving a soft, illuminated atmosphere to the photographs that create a sense of intimacy. The warm colors in the portraits welcome the viewer into these intimate moments with the horses. Dumas invites us to consider our relationship to animals and their roles in our lives beyond the tasks they perform or the places they inhabit.

Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Paul Andriesse, Amsterdam/Julie Saul Gallery, New York. Via Le Journal de la Photographie.

Apart from the horse portraits, the exhibition also shows some of Dumas’ previous work, which include portraits of dogs and wolves. The exhibition is her first solo show in a US museum.

Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Paul Andriesse, Amsterdam/Julie Saul Gallery, New York. Via Le Journal de la Photographie.

Portraiture is an intimate art form that creates a bond between the artist and the subject, allowing the subject’s inner personality and essence to come forth in the representation. While her medium is classical, Dumas’ methods and her choice of subject give her work relevance and brevity. Through her photographs we see the raw, majestic beauty of the animals she photographs. We see them at the same perspective as we see ourselves, as living creatures that inhabit the world and give the earth is soul.
Learn more about the exhibition and hear Dumas speak about her work in this video:

Anima is on View at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC until October 2012.

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Exhibition Spaces and Public Issues
(MANIFEST: Armed, Exhibition)

Original image by Renee Alfonso

Whether they are part of a museum, commercial gallery, or specific to an event, exhibition spaces have started to have an increasingly important role in discussing current issues in the public sphere through thought-provoking yet visually intriguing methods.

More and more exhibitions these days, particularly in the realm of contemporary art, provide an avenue for dialogue, discussion and examination of the very real issues that are present in society today. Most of the time certain issues are overshadowed by other concerns that are given emphasis by the government or activist groups. For some artists, especially those in the realm of contemporary installation art, these topics can be discussed openly and considered carefully with art as a medium and vehicle for active consideration.

Image by Renee Alfonso

The inaugural show of Corcoran Gallery of Art’s new exhibition series entitled MANIFEST seems to take off where conventional political discussion leaves, and continues the discussion where common political discourse has left off. The exhibition series’ description says that it “investigates art, technology, and the role of exhibition spaces.” While this is a broad description, the first exhibit in this new series certainly highlights the intersection of political issues, technology, and art, which creates a unique, resonating voice in the traditional political landscape of the US’s capital.

The exhibition consists of a series of installations of art objects derived from weapons. Each of the three installations is by a different artist or group, and discusses themes surrounding weapons culture in the United States as well as the role technology plays in it.

Arsenal by Sarah Frost. Photograph by Renee Alfonso.

Immediately grabbing your attention from the minute you walk by the entrance is an installation of paper firearms entitled Arsenal by Sarah Frost, which were handmade using instructional videos from YouTube posted by adolescents. Still frames of the videos flank the installation from one side, with paper maquettes of bullets shells on the other.

Original image by Renee Alfonso

Original image by Renee Alfonso

The second installation is by Julian Oliver, called Transparency Grenade. The grenade itself is an allegorical bomb, collecting fragments of data and network traffic and “detonates” it on a digital map, exploding the information from the site and exploring the breadth of connectivity today.

Transparency Grenade by Julian Oliver. Photograph by Renee Alfonso.

Artist group SmithBeatty created the third installation in two parts, which explores constitutional rights, digital fabrication, and the decisions we make when confronted with issues that could quite frankly be a matter of life and death for some.

Installation by artist group SmithBeatty. Photograph by Renee Alfonso.

Aside from the loaded imagery and themes in the exhibition, its impact also came from the fact that there was hardly any color in the objects or space. The starkness of the white walls and the dominantly white objects in the space created a sense of uneasiness that communicated the overall atmosphere and tone of the show.

Even if exhibitions such as Armed are on view for only a short period of time, they have the opportunity to create awareness and to make an impact on the issues that sometimes are difficult to discuss publicly. As the role of art, exhibitions, and creative spaces continues to evolve, they also continue to challenge our perceptions and provide dimensionality – literally and figuratively, to the issues that affect our lives today.

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Yayoi Kusama Retrospective
Whitney Museum of Art, NYC

Image by Renee Alfonso

This past weekend I had the opportunity to see the retrospective exhibition of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. The exhibit traveled from the Tate Museum in the UK, which curated and organized the show. It is on display now and will run until the end of September this year.

Image courtesy Yayoi Kusama Studio Inc. Via Whitney Museum.

Kusama might very well be Japan’s foremost and most prominent contemporary artist. Her career took off in the 1960’s parallel to modern movements in Western art, and she boasts being contemporaries with the likes of Andy Warhol and Donald Judd. While many people around the world might know Warhol and Judd, there will certainly be a number of people who might be encountering Kusama for the first time during this show.

Photograph by Tom Powel, courtesy Whitney Museum

This is not surprising, considering that Kusama’ entire life and career seems to have been affected and literally dotted with her struggles. She came from a conservative, traditional Japanese family, that looked down on her creativity and shunned her desire to make art. As a woman, she was definitely considered as minority in her homeland– as well as in the United States of the 1960’s. As she struggled to promote her art overseas, her Asian heritage set her apart from the rest of her western contemporaries.

These struggles however are what enrich her art and give it a unique voice unlike any other. Her art allows you to take a glimpse into her mind, and showcases how it copes with the challenges it encounters. Each of her pieces is a rich composition that combines experience, imagination, and environment.

Image courtesy Whitney Museum via Huffington Post

As an art history student I was introduced to Kusama’s work from a very specific period in her career, beginning with her breakthrough in the 1960’s. It was a rare opportunity to see her development as an artist as well as the struggles she encountered in order for her unique perspective and voice to be recognized.

Image courtesy Yayoi Kusama Studio, Inc. via Huffington Post

What makes Kusama so unique is that she constantly, innately challenges boundaries, and these ideas and concepts all come from her fantastic imagination. She says in a documentary about her work, “I painted patterns from day to night. As I painted I suddenly would see the patterns spill out of the canvas and into the surrounding spaces. This is how I became an environmental artist.”

Photo by Jason Schmidt, courtesy Whitney Museum

I unfortunately didn’t get the chance to see the famed Fireflies on the Water piece, one of Kusama’s immersive environmental pieces. Thankfully though the piece is on display longer than the exhibition as it is in the Whitney’s permanent collection, so I think I will definitely make an effort to go back and try to see it before it is put away again.

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Atmospheric Front

Last weekend I attended the opening of an exhibition at Flashpoint entitled Atmospheric Front. The show was an art installation that attempted to bridge the mechanical and the handmade and provide an immersive, atmospheric experience for visitors to the gallery.

The installation comprised of a series of hand-knit textiles suspended from the gallery ceiling and walls and linked to a series of microcontrollers. As people move through the gallery, the microcontrollers are triggered and in turn move the textiles using wooden pulleys.

The artists, Hana and Shana Kim, are two sisters from the Washington DC metro area who have an interdisciplinary approach to their work. Both of them have diverse backgrounds and and have work experience in fields that inform their work and process. I learned about the exhibition thanks to Hana, who is my coworker.

Flashpoint Gallery is a part of the Cultural DC, an organization that provides a location for contemporary artists to showcase their work in installation, new media, and performance art in the city of Washington.

The space is very industrial and sufficiently sized for a site-specific installation and definitely lent itself to the ideas and material behind the installation. The blank white walls and concrete floor were a contrasting backdrop for the lightness of the knitted textiles, and complemented the mechanical components of the pieces.

During the opening, the gallery had a few more people than expected so the pieces’ movement wasn’t as obvious, but when you did approach the pieces and saw them move, it created a unique sensation that combined organic shapes and material with technical and precise movements.

Exhibitions like Atmospheric Front challenge our conventional perceptions and experiences through a unique presentation of well-crafted pieces and thought out creative process. It was also a learning process for the artists, as the combination of handmade and mechanics was something they continued to learn about through the realization of the exhibition.

Learn more about the installation at the artists’ blog at Atmospheric Front.

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