A Modern Vision at the Kimbell

Phillips Director Dorothy Kosinski admires the newly installed A Modern Vision. From left to right: George Rouault’s Verlaine (1939), Alberto Giacometti’s Monumental Head (1960), Georges Braque’s The Round Table (1929), and Nicolas de Staël’s Le Parc de Sceaux (1952). Photo: Susan Behrends Frank

My first two weeks of May were spent with the terrific staff at Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. Together, we condition checked and installed the travelling exhibition A Modern Vision: European Masterworks from The Phillips Collection. Highlighting Duncan Phillips’s collecting approach, the exhibition presents a stunning array of iconic European paintings and sculptures. It features the artists Phillips revered who achieved the mastery of color, the power of great emotion, and the balance of representation and abstraction. Works by Jean-Siméon-Baptiste Chardin, Gustave Courbet, Eugene Delacroix, and Édouard Manet are placed in dialogue with Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces by Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, and Claude Monet. The great masters of the 20th century including Wassily Kandinsky, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso are shown with units of work by Pierre Bonnard, Georges Braque, Paul Cézanne, Honoré Daumier, and Paul Klee. On May 11, Phillips Director Dorothy Kosinski and curator Susan Behrends Frank joined me at the exhibition opening; on May 13, Frank gave a lecture on the exhibition to 400 visitors. See this exhibition in the Kimbell’s Renzo Piano Pavilion through August 13.

Renée Maurer, Associate Curator

Oskar Kokoschka’s Portrait of Lotte Franzos (1909) next to a maquette before the placement of the sculpture Head of a Woman (1950) by Pablo Picasso. Photo: Renée Maurer

Installation of Ingres’s The Seated Bather (1826) beside Corot’s View from the Farnese Gardens, Rome (1826) and Genzano (1843). Photo: Renée Maurer

Installation view of A Modern Vision at the Kimbell Art Museum

Installation view of A Modern Vision at the Kimbell Art Museum

Installation view of A Modern Vision at the Kimbell Art Museum

Installation view of A Modern Vision at the Kimbell Art Museum

Installation view of A Modern Vision at the Kimbell Art Museum

Installation view of A Modern Vision at the Kimbell Art Museum

 

A Soundtrack for Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party

Gallery Educator Donna Jonte leads a school tour with Pierre-August Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party. Photo: Britta Galanis

One of my favorite things about working at the Phillips is catching a group of young kids on a school tour. Just the other day, as I was taking notes in the galleries, a small stampede of children all donning the same bright yellow t-shirt came in and sat down in front of Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party.

As they discussed this work, I was taken to places I had never been with it before. First they spent some time talking about the subjects of the work. The children noticed the people, the setting, and different elements such as what food was on the table. But then they went “inside” the painting. Each child demonstrated what sounds they thought they would hear if they were actually in the painting. One said a bee buzzing; another mentioned the dog and how it might be barking, while the woman holding it made “kissy” noises. Others suggested whooshing of the wind, rustling leaves, and the trickling of the water far in the distance. Then, when directed, they all together made these sounds, creating a soundtrack for the work.

Before this encounter, I looked at Luncheon of the Boating Party in a totally different way. I spent time noticing the artist’s talent in making the glass and liquid in the foreground shimmer. I noticed the composition, or the painterly style so common with the impressionists of this time. These kids (and Gallery Educator Donna Jonte, who led the exercise) helped me take a step back and stop obsessing over the pictorial. They helped me to appreciate this work for what it is: a captured moment in time.

Britta Galanis, Marketing & Communications Intern

Interview with Philipp Artus, Part 2

Berlin-based artist Philipp Artus speaks at the Phillips on May 11, and his work will be featured at the 2017 Contemporaries Bash: Berlin Underground. We asked the artist a few questions about his process and his work at large.

Philipp Artus, Snail Trail

I read that you take inspiration from Miles Davis. How do you go about deciding how to incorporate sound in your work? Do you have a background in music?
I learned to play some instruments as a kid, but I was generally more interested in drawing and photography. However, when I started studying art, I was immediately fascinated by the creative possibilities that open up through time-based art forms, like playing with rhythm, repetition, and variation. My first experiments in animation were purely intuitive, but at some point I felt the need to really understand the underlying principles I was using. Therefore, I studied Newton’s laws of motion, and also got interested in music theory, since I found that many principles of music can be applied to animation.

You mentioned Miles Davis, so let’s take him as an example. While a lot of Jazz musicians of his time were into the Bebop style, which was characterized by fast tempo and complex chord progressions, Davis was going in the opposite direction: he slowed down the pacing and concentrated more on the horizontal flow of the melody, which eventually became known as Cool Jazz.

I found that most educational books about animation give the advice to concentrate on “poses.” You would start with a particular position of a figure, then think about the next positions some frames later and so on. This “vertical” thinking about time usually leads to quick successions of character poses—which is similar to the fast chord progressions in Bebop Jazz. Miles Davis inspired me to develop a form of animation that focuses more on the horizontal flow of the movement and also to trust in the beauty of simplicity.

This example is a bit technical, but it gives you an impression of how my interest for music inspires my work. Music is essentially the art of structuring movement, which is very similar to animation.

Your current work is primarily film and animation. Have you spent any time in other mediums? If so, how does this influence your work?
During the last two years I developed a new series of light drawings, which is the first time since the beginning of my art studies that I have worked on a “static” medium. In this series I take snapshots of the moving lines generated by the FLORA algorithm, and choose some images that become part of the light drawings series. To create these images I developed a unique printing method that combines analog photography and a laser projector. The resulting images show the traces of abstract movement frozen in time.

The photographic chemicals I am using are heavily influenced by the weather and the paper. So, in a way, this series of light drawings puts me back into the material world, which is beautiful.

Light drawings by Philipp Artus

Are there any artists, art historical or otherwise, who inform your work?
There are tons of artists who inspire my work, and it is always difficult for me to choose just a few.  Two important inspirations for the FLORA light drawings I just mentioned were the plants by Karl Blossfeldt as well as the lightning fields by Hiroshi Sugimoto. Both of these photographic works are an observation of nature that avoids any kind of self-expression. This approach to art is quite far away from the selfie-obsessed society we are living in and is therefore refreshing.

However, the initial inspiration for FLORA was not a particular artist, but rather the movement of my cat’s tale. It made me realize that a simple chain of rotating joints can create a fascinating and elegant motion.

Artus’s artistic process

Your works are heavily digital. As younger generations that grew up with technology enter into the art world, what do you think is the future of digital tools as medium?
I would not say that my works are heavily digital. If you take my FLORA light drawings as an example, the shapes are generated by an algorithm in a purely digital way. But to create these images I am using an analog laser projector in combination with the chemicals of analog photography. So it is rather the interplay between digital and analog technology that I am interested in.

I think that there are quite a few artists in my generation who are interested in this dialogue between old and new media. It seems that the more we are surrounded by digital images and sound, the more we value the materiality and “aura” in analog media.

Also, digital technology makes us rediscover old technologies in new ways: The photographic process that I am using in my light drawings is called Platinotype and was invented in the 1870s. Many artists of the Pictorialist movement used it at that time, but obviously back then they neither had computer algorithms nor laser projectors.

Philipp Artus, FLORA