Lockdown Reading #1

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Edward Hopper, ‘Second Story Sunlight’, 1960

Having recently spent some time with the  Fondation Beyeler Edward Hopper exhibition, this piece in the Guardian caught my attention – the artist of the coronavirus age?

Oliver Basciano at the TLS on Europe’s last leprosarium.

The Guardian reviews Diana Souhami’s new book No Modernism Without Lesbians.

Listening to this interview with curator David Campany alongside a virtual tour of Walker Evans Revisited at Kunsthalle Mannheim – both here.

And Bob Dylan’s new track … (an elegy for the counterculture at Pitchfork).

 

 

 

 

Len Lye’s ‘Sky Snakes’

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This weekend the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery celebrated its 50th birthday with a party and the debut of Len Lye’s Sky Snakes. There’s a fair bit of coverage in the New Zealand media, including this from the NZ Herald and this from Radio NZ.

Sky Snakes is not so familiar to most of Lye’s audience. The original, single, Sky Snake featured in the 1965 Buffalo Festival of the Arts and also at the Howard Wise Gallery in NY (also in 1965). The original work is in the Len Lye Foundation Collection but never exhibited. A single Sky Snake was recently reconstructed by the Len Lye Foundation and featured in the recent Len Lye: Motion Composer exhibition at Museum Tinguely in Basel.

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‘Sky Snake’ in ‘Len Lye: Motion Composer’, Museum Tinguely, Oct 2019 – Jan 2020. Credit: Paul Brobbel

The presentation of the work at the Govett-Brewster is a seven-piece ensemble of Sky Snakes and one of the largest if most gentle of Lye’s kinetic sculptures. Here’s a slow-motion clip of the work performing.

 

 

Australian Bushfires

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Auckland Domain, 5 January 2020 (credit: Paul Brobbel)

This was the view outside Auckland Museum on 5 January 2020, the Australian Bushfires making themselves felt across the Tasman.

This link outlines how you can make a financial donation in support of people affected by the fires. Also check out responses from the art community, including the Australian Bushfire Appeal Print Sale where proceeds from buying a print from over 50 photographers will go towards victims of the fires.

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Auckland Domain, 5 January 2020 (credit: Paul Brobbel)

 

 

Motion Composer

I’ve been waiting to cover the Len Lye: Motion Composer exhibition at Museum Tinguely in Basel in detail closer to the end of the project; however, above is a quick look through the catalogue published by Kehrer Verlag and Museum Tinguely and here is a review of the catalogue by John Hurrell at EyeContact.

The publication features writing by Scott Anthony, Tyler Cann, Wystan Curnow, Roger Horrocks, Andres Pardey, Janine Randerson, Barry Schwabsky, Ann Stephen, Megan Tamati-Quennell, Roland Wetzel, as well as myself.

You can order from Kehrer Verlag here or from Museum Tinguely here.

Waking Up Slowly

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Elizabeth Thomson, ‘Waking Up Slowly’ 2019. Photo: Bryan James

New exhibitions open on Saturday at the Govett-Brewster so a quick post concerning the exhibition that has just ended, Waking Up Slowly: Elizabeth Thomson and Len Lye. We commissioned this project from curator Greg O’Brien.

You can read a copy of the catalogue here.

Len Lye on the Home Front

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Kill or Be Killed (1942)

This week I’ll be introducing a programme of Len Lye’s films at Stadtkino Basel accompanying the symposium hosted by Museum Tinguely and the University of Basel. Len Lye on the Home Front presents eight of Lye’s films made during the Second World War and a work from his early days in New York, the March of Time newsreel, Night Club Boom.

Many of these films are rarely screened. Musical Poster #1 (1942) and Kill or Be Killed (1942) tend to be represented in summaries of Lye’s filmmaking; however, Newspaper Train (1942), When the Pie was Opened (1941) and Work Party (1942) in particular deserve more attention.

Len Lye at Museum Tinguely #1

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I’m just coming to the end of three days in Basel assisting with some preparation for Museum Tinguely’s upcoming exhibition Len Lye – Motion Composer. Opening in October, this will be the most substantial exhibition of Lye’s work ever seen in Europe. Previous surveys at the Pompidou Centre and Ikon Gallery, Birmingham were large exhibitions but Motion Composer is a very deep dig into the Len Lye Foundation collections at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery.

More info on the exhibition is here.

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Working with a view of the Rhine

One of the highlights of being in Basel again is seeing Jean Tinguely’s restored Méta-Harmonie II.  Likewise, with Motion Composer, Museum Tinguely will be including a number of recently restored Len Lye works from the Art Institute of Chicago and the Albright-Knox Art Museum.

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Jean Tinguely, MétaHarmonie II, 1979

 

Sub Rosa / Sex in the Art Gallery

Getting back to last season’s exhibitions, here’s some coverage of Shannon Novak’s Sub Rosa. The exhibition occupied the Open Window space of the Govett-Brewster and interior spaces leading to the public bathrooms in the gallery.

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Courtesy of Shannon Novak

Documentation of the exhibition can be seen at Novak’s website.

Pantograph Punch published a great essay by Francis McWhannell on Sub Rosa which you read here. McWhannell will be speaking soon at the Govett-Brewster as part of our Monica Brewster Evening series with the talk In search of intimacy – a photograph by Paul Johns. Details here.

Here’s one of the tracks that Novak used in the installation.

Moonhead

In a week focused on the moon…

I caught up with Pink Floyd’s Moonhead, their live improv broadcast by BBC’s Apollo 11–themed episode of Omnibus. The Atlantic published a closer look at this performance this week. And like Pink Floyd, Robert Rauschenberg was invited to be part of the Apollo 11 celebrations.

The Guardian considers the photography that came back from the mission (and others) as art which takes us to Geoffrey Batchen’s exhibition in Wellington this year, Live from the Moon.

Another exhibition here looks at the history of mapping the moon.

A longer interview with Batchen here at Radio NZ.

Tony Milligan at the TLS wonders if returning to the moon is a good thing.

And we shouldn’t leave the Russians out. Here’s the New Yorker from 2017 on Laika, the dog that started it all.

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New season’s exhibitions

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Introducing Mikala Dwyer’s Earthcraft, credit Alessandra Keighley

On 6 April the Govett-Brewster launched a new season of exhibitions including Mikala Dwyer’s Earthcraft (curated by Sarah Wall), Nicolás Paris’ what connects us (curated by Sarah Wall), Suspended Agency: An installation by Peter Wareing (curated by Mark Williams, Circuit), He Rere Ke – Different Pathways (curated by Gabrielle Belz) and several projects under my curation – Shannon Novak’s Sub Rosa and two Len Lye exhibitions, No Trouble and Art That Moves (co-curated with Emma Glucina).

I’ll follow up on each of these in more detail in the coming weeks. For now, here are a couple this week’s radio interviews concerning two projects. First, artist and curator Gabrielle Belz talking about her Open Collection project with us, He Rere Ke – Different Pathways. Second, Peter Wareing in conversation with Lynn Freeman around his new installation Suspended Agency.

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Peter Wareing Suspended Agency 2019, courtesy the artist