Looking back, a holiday pastime: the art scene of the 50s and 60s with Gagosian’s book expert, Doug Flamm
THE ARTIST AND HIS STUDIO IS A SUBJECT DOCUMENTED AND CELEBRATED IN THE VISUAL ARTS THROUGHOUT THE CENTURIES. IN VERMEER’S MASTERPIECE, THE ALLEGORY OF PAINTING (1665-70), THE ARTIST DEPICTS HIMSELF AT HIS EASEL WORKING FROM THE MODEL. THE INTRODUCTION OF THE MAP ON THE WALL SETS UP A MORE COMPLEX MEANING, REFERENCING THE DEVELOPMENT OF INTEREST IN SCIENTIFIC AND RATIONAL THINKING DURING THIS PERIOD, AND SPECIFICALLY, VERMEER’S STUDIES OF THE PROPERTIES OF VISION AND HIS INTRODUCTION OF THE CAMERA OBSCURA AS A VISUAL TOOL, AN INFLUENCE EVEN ON ARTISTS OF TODAY.
FROM 1927 TO 1929, PICASSO CONCENTRATED ON THE SUBJECT OF THE ARTIST IN THE STUDIO, A THEME HE FREQUENTLY REVISITED AS PART OF HIS LIFELONG INVESTIGATION INTO THE ARTIST’S PERCEPTION OF HIMSELF AND HIS SUBJECTS. AS MICHAEL FITZGERALD WRITES IN PICASSO: THE ARTIST’S STUDIO, (2001), “The studio was the center of Picasso’s world, the crossroads of all that was occurring in his life and in contemporary society”.
RECENTLY, IN SEPTEMBER 2016, IN AN EXQUISITE EXHIBITION ENTITLED REMEMBERED LIGHT: CY TWOMBLY IN LEXINGTON AT GAGOSIAN GALLERY, 980 MADISON AVENUE, NEW YORK, PHOTOGRAPHER SALLY MANN DOCUMENTED THE STUDIO, IN THEIR MUTUAL HOMETOWN OF LEXINGTON VIRGINIA. OF HER CLOSE FRIEND AND CONFIDANT, MODERN MASTER CY TWOMBLY.
THE PHOTOS OF TWOMBLY’S STUDIO FROM 1999 TO THE PRESENT REVEAL THE SYNERGISTIC DIALOGUE BETWEEN AN ARTIST’S WORK AND HIS WORKING SPACE. JUST AS TWOMBLY’S CALLIGRAPHIC MASTERPIECES ARE VISUAL POETRY, SO SALLY MANN’S PHOTOGRAPHS OF HIS STUDIO REVEAL A QUIET CALM AND SILENCE THAT EXEMPLIFIES TWOMBLY’S WORKING HABITS, MEMORIALIZES THE OBJECTS THAT INSPIRED HIM AND CAPTURES THE ELUSIVE NATURE OF THE LIGHT IN HIS STUDIO THAT FOUND ITS WAY INTO HIS PAINTINGS.
IN 1967, THE CELEBRATED ITALIAN PHOTOGRAPHER, UGO MULAS, KNOWN FOR HIS PORTRAITS OF ARTISTS AND STREET PHOTOGRAPHY, DOCUMENTED THE LIVES OF ARTISTS IN THE EXPLOSIVE NEW YORK ART SCENE OF THE 60s.
TODAY’S LRFA BLOG WELCOMES BACK OUR RESIDENT SANTA, DOUG FLAMM, WHO RECENTLY JOINED GAGOSIAN GALLERY TO EXPAND ITS ART BOOK PUBLISHING DIVISION AND AND BOOKSHOP AT 976 MADISON AVENUE, NEW YORK ACROSS FROM THE CARLYLE HOTEL ON 76th STREET, WITH GIFT SUGGESTIONS TO BRIGHTEN THE HOLIDAY SEASON.
New York: The New Art Scene (1967)
A true classic of the time, this book is a must-have for anyone seriously interested in the New York art scene of the 1960s. Illustrated with approximately five hundred photogravure plates by Ugo Mulas, this publication includes a text by Alan Solomon and offers an impressive look inside artists’ studios, including those of John Chamberlain, Marcel Duchamp, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, and Andy Warhol.
INTRODUCTION by Alan Solomon
This book is a photographic record of a long moment in the history of contemporary American art. It is a record of the state of painting and sculpture in New York City among the members of the younger generation as they were seen by Ugo Mulas in the course of three extended visits within one year to New York from Milan, where he lives.
As an observer on many occasions, I found it an extraordinary itinerary. For Mulas, it was a voyage of discovery, stimulated by his contact with the New American art during the Venice Biennale of 1964. There he began to discover the younger artists; he already knew a lot about the older generation, as we can see from his photographs Alexander Calder and Davod Smit, perhaps the best known of his work to readers in the United States. I cannot really convey my own pleasure and excitement at watching Mulas discover what was already familiar to me.For a number of reasons. In most cases he met the artists for the first time. He spoke no English, most of them spoke no Italian or a little French. But he brought something they understood: an uncanny quickness of eye and a trenchant sensibility, unequaled in my experience, to things that were absolutely unfamiliar to him. He understood everything at once, the intention of the artists, the meaning of the work, the mind and temperatement of the artists (once in a while the latter took a little more time). Unlike many other photographers, he never makes you feel the presence of his own temperament or his craft. He may be the most invisible living photographer, seemingly passive, charming in a diffident way, yet working with a terrible intensity, with total preoccupation.
A REMARKABLE GIFT, AVAILABLE AT THE GAGOSIAN BOOKSHOP, AN OASIS IN THE MAD HOLIDAY RUSH, IS A UNIQUE MULTI-MEDIA PUBLICATION THAT CELEBRATES POET JOHN ASHBERY AND HIS PULITZER PRIZE WINNING POEM, “SELF-PORTRAIT IN A CONVEX MIRROR” AND HIS ILLUSTRIOUS CIRCLE OF ARTIST FRIENDS.
John Ashbery’s Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (1984)
Containing signed prints by Richard Avedon, Elaine de Kooning, Willem de Kooning, Jim Dine, Jane Freilicher, Alex Katz, R.B. Kitaj, and Larry Rivers, SelfPortrait in a Convex Mirror includes a 331/3 rpm vinyl recording of John Ashbery reading the Pulitzer Prize–winning poem of the same name in 1983. Designed as a tribute to the poet, the book is accompanied by signed prints from artists and friends invited to participate in what became an extraordinary project. Each artist created an original print inspired by the poem, and Avedon contributed a photographic portrait of Ashbery.
From a limited edition of 150, prints and record are housed in a stainless steel Hollywood movie canister with a convex mirror on the lid. This copy has been preserved in the original Arion Press cardboard shipping crate. This book challenges the traditional format of a book: when you open it, you see your own self-portrait. The prints and poem inside are printed on individual sheets with the poem typeset as lines that radiate from spokes on a hub: you hold the page number and literally turn the pages in order to read. This is an extraordinary and unconventional production in every sense.
IN OUR NEXT LRFA POST, DOUG RECOMMENDS A SELECTION OF BOOKS SO SPECTACULAR YOU’LL BE TEMPTED TO KEEP THEM FOR YOURSELF.
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