Just before Christmas I ran a Hundertwasser-themed workshop as a fundraiser for 101 Social Club. (If you are not familiar with Austrian artist, architect, environmentalist and cranky old hippy Friedensreich Hundertwasser, I have written about him quite a few times- you can find the entries here) People had food and drink, learnt about Hundertwasser’s work and philosophies, and did three different casual art activities- collaborative line making, resist painting, and creating architectural models of Hundertwasser-style buildings out of recycled materials. All while listening to the fine selection of Can, Neu, Fennesz, Cluster, Faust and other artists from the playlist below (I had it on shuffle on the night)
Benesse House on Naoshima doesn’t allow photos of their modern art collection, so here is a selection of works I like by some artists I saw there. I though the space of the museum was wonderful, but the fact that there was no information about the artworks was a letdown. If you didn’t know much about modern art already, you might not have got much out of the visit, which is a bad thing for a museum, seeing as one of the main reasons to go is to learn new things.
Basquiat was a rags-to-riches super-star in 80s New York, (including dating Madonna) until he sadly died of a heroin overdose. His paintings are definitely even better appreciated in real life than in photographs. They’re absolutely huge, and have all kinds of layers, different texture and hidden tiny images and texts hidden in them when seen in person.
Cy Twombly also makes huge canvases, but is instead the world’s premium scribbler. It’s definitely the kind of modern art that people scoff at and claim they could do themselves in five minutes (but never actually do). Some of his works are huge surfaces covered in hundreds of tiny scribbles, but the essential thing is that he makes exactly the right scribbles that are expressive but also somehow soothing to the eye, which is far harder than it looks.
When I was in Liechtenstein, I went to the Modern Art museum there. I was really impressed with the quality of the museum, especially in such a small country. They had a special exhibition about Swiss artist André Thomkins (whose estate had donated his works to the museum). I hadn’t come across him before, but I really enjoyed what I saw (and his large array of German puns), especially the short film where he was talking and demonstrating how he made marbled paintings by floating lacquer on top of water, something he started experimenting with after washing a brush he’d been painting furniture with.
Watching a man dropping oil paint onto a bathfull of water accompanied by space noises is strangely relaxing- you can see a video here, the website wouldn’t let me embed it. He seemed to turn his hands to anything that took his fancy, from palindrome surrealist poems to homemade instruments to intricate ink drawings. I imagine he was having lots of fun. I really enjoyed the bad German puns in the written work, but obviously they won’t do anything for you if you don’t speak the language.
The gallery has this video where they show you some of the exhibition. Strangely they don’t show that much of the artwork though. The video’s in German too. You do see some of the “Bureaucratic Drawings” made of rubber bands though.
(All images from Hauser & Wirth)
I went to an art/music event this week organised by painter/illustrator Stefanos Rokos. He’s an artist friend of Ellina’s from back in Athens who is currently holding an exhibition in London. The idea was that every Thursday, there would be music performances in the gallery. The musicians are all friends of Stef’s, and they each created a piece of music that related to the paintings. The paintings are large and full of fine details ideal for creating stories from. First up was Matt Friedberger of the Fiery Furnaces, who was going to perform some spoken word pieces over a background track. Next week is Stef Carlens, ex of dEUS.
Every so often I like to write on here about things I like, and why I like them. I’ve (finally) been finishing my zine about Vienna, and there’s a section about Hundertwasser in there, but I didn’t really have enough space to say everything that I wanted to say, and in a b&w zine obviously you totally miss out on the colours, which are a major part of his work, so here is a longer thing about him and his work. I’ve visited the Kunsthaus/Hundertwasserhaus in Vienna quite a few times, and I wrote about one of my visits here. I first came across his work in 2001, when I was 16/17, and bought a £3 book from a discount shop because it looked interesting from a quick flick through. I’m glad I did! All the pictures in this entry are either taken by me, or come from hundertwasser.at. I don’t feel like I’ve really caught my exact favourites here, but collecting images from lots of different sources and making sure they were all credited properly would have taken a long, long time. Here’s an overview of some things.
I’m a big Syd Barrett fan, but I really can’t stand any of the stuff Pink Floyd did after he left (ironic, considering that my MA project supervisor is the guy who designed the cover for Dark Side of the Moon). Recently I went to an exhibition of his paintings, photos and letters. The gallery wasn’t the most welcoming place, but I enjoyed the exhibition. I particularly liked the way he would just give his paintings to anyone who liked them. There were some pictures I really liked, but they didn’t allow photographs, didn’t sell postcards (only prints costing several hundred pounds) and the pictures on the website are covered in ugly watermarks. It’s the same as when I went to the Hundertwasser museum in Vienna- an exhibition dedicated to an artist who when they were alive lived in an anti-commercial, diy way, is run after their death in the most snobby manner of the commercial art world available. (I’m not a fan of the atmosphere a lot of commercial galleries create, art is for everyone)
There was also a film playing on a tv that looked really interesting. You couldn’t hear it though, because it was really quiet and next to the air con, and there were no subtitles. I asked at the desk if there was some other way to see it, and they said it would be on the website. I couldn’t find it on there though, I guess I’ll have to email them.