Art Brussels 2016: colourful rugs and vintage furniture

Was it going to be canceled? Will the galleries come? And what about the collectors? This year Art Brussels 2016 was surrounded by a lot of question marks. The recent terrorist attacks had changed a lot. However Brussel is resilient and the fair was one of the most interesting ones i’ve seen. Here is my review of Art Brussels with Belgian beer, cheerful art and vintage furniture (nothing beats that combination).

Brussels is a city of unity, of togetherness. As a capital of the european Union, it brings together 28 countries. The attacks shook the city on its foundations, but it won’t get the city and it’s inhabitants down. Art Brussels 2016 is a very clear statement: 140 galleries from all over the world come to Brussels to show their works, to celebrate art. The fair had a relaxed atmosphere and business was being done, although a bit less then expected, according to some dealers.

art brussels spacecurator.com 7

Casual Art
This pleasant atmosphere was stimulated by it’s surroundings. This year the fair moved to a new location: in the industrial factory halls of Tour&Taxis. The layout is very spacious and every booth has rather large dimensions, allowing the dealers to present their works in the best possible way. A huge difference in comparison with ART ROTTERDAM where the booths looked cramped, almost cluttered. The industrial atmosphere, with the concrete floors, metal beams and bright daylight gives the fair and the art on display, a casual look. The building has a natural charm and the art just added to the whole experience. This charm lacks a building like the MECC, home of TEFAF, and it has to make up for it by adding large quantities of flowers, carpets and lowered ceilings. Nothing like that in Brussel. Art Brussels gives you the idea it’s about enjoying the art, not about selling and making profit. The foodcourt, with trendy food-trucs selling Belgian Fries, Beer and hamburgers, has a stage for karaoke and local music were playing. It was almost an art-festival rather then an art-fair.

IMG_4324

Vintage furniture and art
The contemporary loft-like style continues in the decoration of Art Brussels. No sleek furniture like in other fairs, but design classics. And it wasn’t your basic thrift-shop vintage, no, they are true iconic pieces of furniture, designed by Friso Kramer, Rietveld and many others. The Repose chair by Friso Kramer, pictured, is designed in 1960 and made by De Cirkel. It won the
prestigious Signe D’Or award in 1960. As you probably guessed, I’m a big fan of this chair, still on my wish list.. (they are for sale at 1stdibs)

IMG_4312

The fair
So what was actually being shown at Art Brussels? To me the art was the biggest and very pleasant surprise. The fair is divided in 3 sections: DISCOVERY where the focus is on young, emerging and lesser-known artists with recent work, PRIME where the focus is on established artists from modern to contemporary, and REDISCOVERY, dedicated to art from 1917 to 1987, which presents living or deceased artists that are under-recognised, under-estimated or forgotten. And finally there is a section called SOLO dedicated to the work of one artist, a one man show in the entire stand or in extension of the main stand. Quite an interesting way of grouping the galleries, which worked well. In a separate building was a curated part, showing works from the collection of collector en-masse Jan Hoet.

art brussels spacecurator.com 5

Miami Vice
After digesting all the things I saw, I feel like there are some ‘trends’ to be discovered. First the huge of colour was quite striking. Sounds like kicking in an open door, but a lot of artworks were just bursting with colour. A lot of pastel and neon colours: a combination of Miami Vice and mid-century modern. This is aesthetically related to the current trend in interior and furniture design were pastels are very en vogue as are references to the 1980’s Memphis style.

art brussels spacecurator.com 13
Spacecurator.com at Art Brussels 2016

Wool rules
An other thing that caught my eye was the use of textile as a medium for art, and especially the wall rug. At TEFAF I noticed a interest in the work by Shiela Hicks. This grand Dame of textile art has currently a major retrospective in the TextielMuseum in Tilburg. Following her footsteps, a generation of young artists explores the possibilities of this interesting medium, on the edge of painting, installation and sculpture. Throughout the fair there were multiple examples of this rug-revival to be found. My personal favorite was the piece by Caroline Achaintre. This artist, Toulouse born but living and working in London, makes mesmerizing wall sculptures in hand tufted wool. (and beautiful ceramics!). She is represented by Arcade Gallery London.

Art Brussels 2016 was a pleasant surprise. A beautiful statement of positivity, resilience and togetherness. We need more of that. That is my only critique on the fair: 3 days is way too short!

The Trend of FuoriSalone 2016: Labour of Love

An idea becomes a prototype, a prototype becomes an object. an objects is shown at the Salone, ends in a designs hob and finally is bought by you. That’s the normal order of things. This year at the Salone del Mobile I sequenced a new trend: the process becomes the product.

The Salone del Mobile in Milan is like a design temple. From all over the world people make the pelgrimage to the City of Milan. They come to work on their network, to do business, but foremost they come to worship design. what have the design gods created this year? What is the newest chair by Marcel Wanders, kitchen tap by Phillipe Starck or lamp by Ingo Maurer?

WORK IN PROGRESS

TOP 3 Salone del Mobile by spacecurator

 So, what was the best thing you saw? ‘ That’s is the inevitable question after a visit to the Salone del Mobile. Easily asked, but difficult to answer. I challenged myself find a proper answer for you, my readers. If you were in Milan, you probably would (dis-agree) if not, feel inspired! I have picked two presentations and one product. Read my other blogposts for a trend forecast and a summary in pictures.

WORK IN PROGRESS

1 Boring Collection by Space-encounters & Lensvelt

2. COS x Sou Fuijmoto

 

3. Still Water by Ineke Hans for Thomas Eyck

 

 

Highlights of the Salone Del Mobile

Every year Milan becomes the design capital of the world. A source of inspiration, an update of the newest design or a showcase for upcoming designers, the Salone and its sister-locations are the place-to-be for every designer, architect, interior designer and design fetishist. Here is a short overview of some of the things I’ve spotted. Enjoy!

 

The photo’s feature works by Wieki Somers, Nick Ross, Muller van Severen, Studio Job, Thomas Eyck, Formafantasma, Joa Herrenknecht, Lex Pott and Mae Engelgeer etc.

Infinite perfection: Loop Chair by Willy Guhl

 

Try to draw a chair in one continuous line. Changes are big you will end up with a chair in a kind off blob/organic shape. Being a chair collector for years now, I have seen quite a fair amount chairs. Very few I remember so clearly as this chair. Meet the Loop chair by Swiss architect Willy Guhl.
The first time I saw this chair, I was still an architecture student at the TUDelft. I just starting assisting Charlotte van Wijk, the conservator of the chair collection of the Faculty of Architecture with the preparations of the Exhibtion ‘Hoe zit dat’ in the City museum of Kampen. We were making the selection for the pieces and we instantly agreed on including this one.
To me this chair was just perfect: seen from the side it has an elegant shape, thin like a pencil line. Seen from the front the chairs shows it rough Eternit surface. The chair is perfect blend of elegance and roughness, male and female. I wished I could own one myself…
Years later, I spotted one at the Design Börse Dusseldorf, unfortunately above my budget at the time (I was still a student). But regardless, I went on the internet trying to find one on marktplaats.nl, the Dutch Craigslist. And still the car on my way home I found a set listed. As soon I arrived home, I called the seller, what a surprise they were still available! A few weeks later I was the proud owner of an early set of two original Loop Chairs.
But the story continues, remember this is one of my all-time favorite chairs. So a couple of years later, again at the Design Börse Dusseldorf, I found another set. They were in slightly lesser condition then the first set, but I didn’t think twice and just bought them. At home I discovered something interesting:
although the two sets look alike, they have a slightly different design in the angle of the back.  One is a low chair (H 53 cm x W 55 cm x D 80 cm), the other a lounge chair (H 53 cm x W 55 cm x D 90 cm). It’s a minor detail you won’t recognize unless you see them next to each other, or unless you sit on them.
So what is this Loop Chair? The Loop chair or Garden Chair is designed by Willy Guhl, one of the most important pioneers of Swiss industrial design. The chair (both versions) is part of whole collection of garden furniture Guhl designed for the company Eternit AG in Niederurnen. In 1951 this company was looking for new ways of promoting their new sheet material eternit. This fiber enforced concrete is thin, easy to pleat, fold and bend, allowing a large freedom in shape. They asked Guhl and his students at the Kunstgewerbeschule to work with this material to create some new planters. After that Guhl worked for Eternit, creating several chairs and planters, like diabolo and Oreille d’Éléphant (elephants ear), using the extrodinarry qualities of the material. There is only one slight disadvantage: eternit fibers contain asbestos and are toxic when inhaled. So it’s best to use these pieces outside or just keep them as decorative items.
But it’s such a shame to just look at this wonderful chair and not use it! Eternit must have thought the same. In 2015 they launched a new version of the Loop Chair, using non-toxic recyclable fibers. Unfortunately, that’s not all they changed. To make production and use a bit easier, they changed the surface of the chair, giving it some extra pleats.  The chairs looses it’s powerful one-line shape. However this new version is a lot cheaper then the original vintage ones and can be used on a daily basis. Everyday I look out my window and see this sculptural chair sitting in the garden, there is no better way of starting my day.

Garden Chair / Loop Chair
Willy Guhl (1915-2004)
Design: 1954
Production: 1954 – 1980 (production continued in 2015)
Manufacturer: Eternit AG, Niederurnen, Switzerland
Size: 55 x 55 x 80 cm / seat height 11cm
Material: fibrated concrete, with a surface seal (painted white)

You can find pieces by Willy Guhl on 1stdibs and Retrostart.
Loop Chair on the streets of New York
Loop Chair on the streets of New York.

Fierce, arrogant and scared: Selbstporträt by Egon Schiele

 
Prostitutes, naked children, masturbating women, not quite the art you show to your mother-in-law. These subjects are still as provocative now as they were at the beginning of the 20th century when they were depicted by one of the greatest artists of all times: Egon Schiele.
Schiele depictes his subjects with twisted, tormented body shapes and expressive, powerful lines, marking him an early exponent of expressionism. Once you have seen one of his drawings or painting, you will recognize his style from afar. Their powerful presence together with the tragic life story of their creator, will make them haunt you in the most beautiful way, at least that what they did with me. In fact, when I come home or when I wake up, his face is the first thing I see.
Egon Schiele’s “ Selbstporträt” came into my life with quite a detour. I was looking at an online auction for something, I forgot what, when I discovered this piece. I was able to bid on it and by a stroke of luck I won! There was only one minor problem: I was in New York at that time and not able to pick it up or to receive the package. Far away from home, I arranged it to be delivered at my parents home. Timediffrence and busy schedules delayed my acquaintance with Schiele even further. Then finally I was able to have a Skype meeting with my parents. The moment of truth: they had to open the package, with me watching form the other side of the ocean. Long live modern technology!
Altough I still couldn’t see it in real life, judging at my parents faces unwrapping  the sculpture, it was a good buy. But that was it, I still had to wait for several weeks in order to see it for my self. And when I saw it, I was deeply impressed. The work is remarkably powerful: the hasty modeling gives it an tangible introspection. The angular face is slightly lifted so his open eyes can look straight at you, his mouth slightly parted.
Depending on the angle of view, his expression changes. Ranging from fierce, arrogant, scared to patient. The latter makes me think he knew his future and he was peace with that. One year after he created the model for this sculpture, his wife Edith died, six months pregnant Schiele died only three days after his wife. He was 28 years old.
Selbstporträt is a cast in bronze after a earthenware model Egon Schiele (austrian, 1890-1918) conceived in 1917. In 1956  there was a first posthumously cast in bronze by Guss Schmäke Dusseldorf with only 6 examples. This particular work is in bronze with patina is cast by the Collectors’ Club, Vienna,  in 1980 in an edition of 300 + XXX h.c. It is cast by the Italian foundry Venturi Arte in Bologna. It bears the Egon Schiele Estate foundry stamp, numbered edition …/300 and dated Copyright symbol 1980. It measures 11.1 × 6.6 × 9.0 inches. The work is published in the Catalogue Raisonnée, Kallir 4F.

The art of collecting: Michelle Oka Doner at PAMM Miami

Miami’s beach is amazing. Aside from all those glamorous hotels, fancy cars and bouncy club music, there is a lot more to discover. At the beachside, there is a surprisingly large amount of nature to be found. No, I’m not talking about the tanned beach bodies, but about actual nature: pieces of coral, seashells, branches of seaweed. Even sea turtles make their nests in the grey sand of Miami South Beach.
After a day of sun at the beach, it’s time for some much needed culture! And where better to go than the wonderful Pérez Art Museum. This amazing building with its hanging planters, was built in 2013 by starchitects Herzog & De Meuron. Rather  unprepared I stumbled into one of the exhibition spaces and what I saw was impressive.
On view is the wonderfully titled exhibition, “How I caught a swallow in midair’ by Michele Oka Doner. Born in 1945 in Miami Beach, it comes as no surprise her work is largely influenced by the surrounding nature. Her sculptures, drawings, porcelain objects and paintings investigate the complexity of that bizarre nature. Her works evoke visions of animals, bones, plants, minerals and corals.
Walking into the exhibition, I was struck by the dark colors and dimmed light. It gives a sense of mystery, like I am going to be part of something special. Displayed are sculptures, drawings and her collections of her ceramic, bronze and silver pieces, mimicking nature, surrounded by shells, bones, seeds and stones. The more I saw, the more I was moved. Her work brought me back to my earliest childhood memories, a young boy sitting on a Dutch Beach. My little hands couldn’t stop exploring the sand, eagerly looking for that one special treasure of the sea. Those strangely shaped shells and stones caught my eye. They were picked up and treated in the most delicate way, as if these were precious gems. At my parents home, I still got a large collection of stones, insects, gems, shells, shards and bones – a result of a childhood of collecting.
This fascination for nature never left me. It only grew deeper. I simply cannot resist the urge to pick up interesting things. Coming to think about it, this habit even has become a very important part of my professional life. What difference is there between going to a thriftshop to search for that one special object and collecting seashells in the sand. I guess I’m still that little boy on the beach.
Michele Oka Doner: How I Caught a Swallow in Midair
March 24 – Sept. 11, 2016
Perez Art Museum Miami

Look at those legs! Grand prix chair by Arne Jacobsen

Butterfly, swan, ant, egg, seagull, tongue: Arne Jacobsen has his way with names. With a beautiful landscape on his mind Jacobsen designed furniture with organic curves. Like Oskar Niemeyer created architecture with shapes like a female body, Jacobsen looked at the surrounding landscape to find inspiration. Especially his chair designs are an exploration of curvy lines, referring to insects and birds. However my personal favorite has a more geometric shape. The Grand Prix, originally known as the model 4130 (the model with the metal legs is 3130) has the same seating part as the Butterfly, its back is shaped in an Y-shape. Ok, truth being said, the corners are round and smooth, it still has straight lines.

Continue reading

blog RefineArt: voetbal, Gagosian en het museum

Tweeëntwintig spelers, twee keepers en een bal. Langs de kant staan de reservespelers te wachten tot het moment dat ze in actie mogen komen. Het publiek in het stadion kijkt vol spanning toe wat er op het veld gebeurt. Thuis op de bank wordt de wedstrijd door nog meer ogen gevolgd. Op het avondjournaal een verslag, de volgende dag in de krant een artikel.

Wat dit met kunst te maken heeft? Op het eerste gezicht misschien niet veel. Toch is er een interessante parallel te trekken tussen de kunstwereld en jawel, de voetbalwereld. En dan doel ik niet op kunstgras.

Continue reading