Saturday, 17 December 2011

Cut above the rest...

Christian Tagliavini's show Cut Out & Keep has proved fascinating on many levels not least from the comments we receive at the gallery including the following daily questions: 

Q1: How does he lengthen the necks? 

Q2: Are they poking their heads through something?


1.Through an optical illusion without Photoshop using a 5x4 camera.

2. No

Donna Clotilde by Christian Tagliavini

Lunia Czechovska by Amedeo Modigliani

These questions interest me as if the artist had used any other medium like painting, etching, drawing etc. the lengthening of the neck would accepted & the meaning behind it would be more prevalent, not the way in which it was done. Why is this? Well in my humble opinion it is the faCt that people expect a 'truth' from photography although the distortion of the human body has been used time & time again throughout its history.

Eaton Place by Bill Brandt

Micheldever, Hampshire, 1948, November by Bill Brandt

Bill Brandt's distorted nudes cam about when a friend advised him to use a camera with a wide angle lens so that he could capture an entire room including the ceiling. When he used it & found that it distorted due to the lens, his most celebrated work took shape. The distortions although not originally intended were explored with amazing results to become icons of the genre. 

Distortion Number 40, Paris, 1933 by André Kertész 

André Kertész did it with mirrors.

And with swimming pools...

Víz alatti úszó, Esztergom, 1917 by André Kertész

Marilyn Monroe (plastic lens), c. 1960 by Weegee

Weegee did it with various methods initially with a lens he had devised for Weegee's New York, 1948. Then through further experimentation using translucent materials such as  textured transparent material or curved glass to create quite monstrous imagery in some cases as displayed here with the  beautiful goddess that was Marilyn Monroe.   

Seated woman in blue dress by Amedeo Modigliani

Back to the neck...
Modigliani did it to enhance a notion of elegance as is aspired to by many a woman, be their necks long or short...
It's all about the line. The grace that comes with accentuating the line of the body as a dancer would, extending each limb to create a flowing silhouette.

 Margot Fonteyn in Swan Lake, Sadlers Wells Ballet company, black and white photograph, about 1945

This demonstration of line is a classical pose by one of the worlds late great prima ballerina's, Margot Fonteyn (before she became a Dame).

More recent interpretations & efforts to modernise dance has led some companies to alter the ways in which they gesture in order to distance from the classic 'established' or 'establishment' or even 'old fashioned' or 'dated' posturing. This may take the form of more athletic styles, modern costumes & bare feet. 

However, the classical remains as it is embroiled in our notions of beauty & aesthetically pleasing forms of the body throughout art in all of its forms.

So back to the neck...

A prime example of a contemporary woman, often celebrated for her androgyny is the actress Tilda Swinton. Her chameleon-like appearance is utilised to the full by understanding how her body & features work in unison when certain attributes are focused upon. She can appear both masculine - due to her boyish yet tall physique (5' 10 1/2") - 7 feminine - with pale skin like marble & long lines - thus transforming into each role renewed  with a confidence that seems to come from the inside no matter what her role.  In these images her neck although lengthy naturally is emphasised through lighting her intensely, so as to make the tone of her skin match the simple blouse (unfussy & plain) with her hand pulling at the neck (again placing the notion of elongation in the viewers mind) & slight tilt of the head (to presume bending & stretching the neckline) & hair teased up skyward (again to add height) to great effect.   

Model: Tilda Swinton
                                                                Photographer: Glen Luchford

Sometimes the clothes do the exaggeration for you...

She revels in the 'oddness' of her appearance. Although not a pinup beauty, a beauty all the same with traditional healthy & wholesome, fresh faced appeal like that of a painting by..... Bronzino for example.

Agnolo Tori, detto il Bronzino
(Monticelli, Firenze 1503-Firenze 1572)
Ritratto di Eleonora di Toledo, 1543

The use of illusion in painting as well as photography is well documented. One of my first experiences of seeing painted illusion was at the Dali museum in Spain when I was 11. I couldn't believe that this work was created without more advanced technology than was available at the time.

Firstly look closely at the detailed painting, see many compositions within the square blocks & subtle pallette & Turner-like rendering of the background & sky. The religious iconography & Catalan patterns which can be seen all over Figures where he resided at the time. As Gala looks  out to the Mediterranean Sea, framed by a crucifix shaped portal, the notion of something else is ever present...  

Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea which at Twenty Meters Becomes the Portrait of Abraham Lincoln (Homage to Rothko) by Salvador Dali, 1976.

Now stand about 2m away (yes but you are not viewing it full size so we can cheat a bit) from this & see how it becomes clearer as a portrait. In real life the finish & brushstrokes, (softness not visible here of course, backlit images on screens do have their limitations) of the paint breathes life into both images most spectacularly.

Here Dali creates a duality of works in one, a nude of his wife coupled with Abraham Lincoln's face, not to mention miniature works within both without computers, using his own brain not just Photoshop.  

So clothes back on & here we have another painting whose clothes inspired Tagliavini when creating another of his great Dame Di Cartone's. 

Series:Dame di Cartone, 
Title: 17th Century I
Christian Tagliavini

In particular the way in which the waist seemed to cut into the dress with a sharp point, each layer & line purposefully accenting the structure & weight of the expensive regalia. Whilst he was in London we went to see this painting amongst others in a wonderful display at The National Portrait Gallery. To read more about this painting please read here

Queen Elizabeth I
by Unknown artist
oil on panel, late 16th - early 17th century (circa 1559)
50 1/8 in. x 39 1/4 in. (1273 mm x 997 mm)
Purchased, 1978 
© National Portrait Gallery, London
Well I must return to my festive frivoliities...

So before I go, I would like to wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays to you. Thanks for reading. More blogs soon I promise. Please post comments as I am always interested if my posts are capturing anyones imagination or informative, lacking or just plain amazing (I jest of course) as it you I write for. Eat, think & be Merry!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Crazy for collage, paper reigns!

Collage has long been a part of my life due to a very rude tutor at college in Australia having a strop (only 5 of us had turned up again - same 5 people who always showed to the class) throwing a pile of magazines on the floor & shouting, "DO A COLLAGE! I'LL BE BACK IN 3 HOURS.'' With that he stormed out.

In the mean time I made my collage after thinking to myself 'I'll show you a collage you rude swine' despite at the time hating making collages....

3 hours later..... Bruce (yes honest) returns.

The conversation went as follows:

Me: Here's your b$%@*y collage. If you have a problem shout at the people who don't turn up to your class tomorrow, don't shout at the ones who do. If you want to have a tantrum aim it at the ones your angry with.

Bruce: .....

He had no time to respond as I walked out of the room.

So the next day came & as I sat waiting to go inside my life drawing class Bruce appeared on the horizon & headed diagonally across the quad making a beeline for yours truly.

I braced myself, indignantly for the diatribe I expected would follow, ready to fight my corner.

As he approached his right hand came out in offer of a handshake, followed by a broad smile.

Bruce: It's about time someone put me in my place. I apologise. By the way your collage was bloody brilliant.

And with that, our friendship began. He turned out to be one of my greatest teachers, with a very supportive approach to teaching & a truly fascinating man.

So my love affair with collage began....

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

A Perfect Paris Photo 2011???

Ladies & gentlemen, presenting the Star of the fair....

Don't take my word for it, see Wayne Ford's opinion here!

Don't forget to 'Cut Out & Keep' all the numerous articles, including Télérama & Le Figaro magazines. If you have any enquiries about his work please contact the gallery. 

Series: Dame di Cartone, Cubism II
©Christian Tagliavini

For those of you not on our mailing list we will be sending out more information on the limited edition portfolios of 1503 & Dame di Cartone & our forthcoming Collecting course amongst any other news.

It has been a big weekend for photography as well as Paris Photo, including the huge record breaking sale of Andreas Gursky's Rhine II photograph selling for $4.3 million at a Christies auction in New York. See the Guardian's coverage for a giggle.

My trip began with a visit to Sotheby's for a few glasses of champagne whilst viewing the work on display before heading to a party hosted by the wonderful Chantal Sanglier. Calling at one of my favourite places in Paris to pick up some macaroons to take to the party. Ladurée was as usual full of patient customers queuing (at 7.30pm) for their famous culinary delights. It is a lovely store that is well worth a visit. 

I even had time to take some blog pictures whilst I waited with my good friend Silvia. 

These are the cakes that got away... or not. They do say that you 'eat with your eyes' after all.

That night the Eiffel Tower was more beautiful than ever, with the top submerged in the clouds & a misty night completed the romantic spectacle.

I couldn't help but go outside & peek at it several times during the course of the evening.
One of the other guest insisted that she take a photo (with my phone) of me to remember the moment.

I'm so glad she did as this is the result!

Spooky, but it expresses how I felt perfectly blissful...
With such stunning views of the Eiffel Tower, you would have felt the same.

(Mary, this one's for you) 

So then Friday rolled around, with a bright brisk, sunny day to lift the spirits. Once breakfast had been consumed it was time to head off to the fair. 

Paris Photo 2011 has now moved from the Carousel to the Grand Palais. To get an idea of the size of the place watch the video on this link. I much prefer the space, with more room & much easier to navigate. (Make sure you eat well before going though as there aren't masses of eats to choose from.) 

A view from the top

Having a roof of glass also has it's obvious problems, with UV light flooding in (albeit from a great height) some galleries did take the necessary precautions. 

In this poor photograph you can just about see a wonderful bit of curation in the JP Morgan "Collection Privée". On the left are Bernd & Hilla Becher's Gas Tanks, then to the right J.D. Okhai Ojeikere's hairstyles. (A grid of Blossfeldt's work would have been a wonderful hat trick) 

© Bernd & Hilla Becher
Gas Tanks (spheric), 1963 - 1983
9 black & white photographs

© J.D. Okhai Ojeikere
9 Gelatin-silver prints
60 x 50 cm each
Untitled, 1970 - 1979

Georges Rousse

Another highlight was seeing the latest work from a photographer I have long admired, Georges Rousse. He has inverted his own technique. I think a blog dedicated to him alone is in order at some point in the near future... 

Of course there was a Japanese photographer whose work made an impression, Miyako Ishiuchi. I couldn't find my favourite image online, but here is an installation shot from the Third Gallery stand. 

Miyako Ishiuchi

It is hard to avoid mentioning Irving Penn with works like this on display:

Irving Penn
14 Cigarettes

The print is exquisite & the strength is in its simplicity, with every detail beautifully rendered.  

Erich Mirozek

This beautiful photo montage was another favourite with a red spot, so alas this is where the info on the photographer ends as I have not found anything else about them online. If any of you out there know of their work please post a comment. The Guillermo de Osmo gallery based in Madrid who sold the work was a new one to me, but an interesting find nonetheless.

Here is all the info from the label I have

Saturday morning I spent doing reviews at the Nofound Photofair. A very enjoyable start to the day, before an amazing lunch with Mark from Genesis Imaging, photography agent David Birkitt & others at the best place in town (I keep my lips sealed on this one or I will never get a table next year). 

The parties continued Saturday night. This was a very French affair with friends old & new in attendance. 

As usual the work came out, with many discussions & of course plenty of wine & fabulous food!

I had arrived with the artist Lisa Creagh, staying late then onto a newfound friends apartment to see her fabulous work & stunning jazz archive. (More about this in the future I am sure)

Then after going to bed at 6am breakfast & a lovely sunny morning greeted me. It was sad to leave Paris on such a gorgeous day...

However, it does encourage you to go back before too long.

Where else could a view like this be had. The architecture is thrilling & even better in the sun.

If only we had wide avenues like this to enjoy every day. Till then I must be content with photos...

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Spending time with 'them'...

Having just hung the new exhibition which opens tomorrow at Diemar/Noble Photography I am not only excited to see the public's response to the show, but also looking forward to spending time with the incredible images on display. 

Being in the same room as Christian Tagliavini's work is an experience in itself. Once the work was hung on the wall, myself, our fabulous interns - Olivia, Natalja & Gabie were all in awe of the 'presence' that his portraits possess. You feel as if you are in the room with a group of individuals, who wield the power to hold your attention beyond the mere pictorial function that art can deliver & communicate to you when addressing them. 

Even behind the bubble wrap before unpacking them we had an inkling that this would be the case. I came home in the evening literally 'buzzing' with excitement at the prospect of going back to visit them again. As the time progresses I am sure my relationship with the works will develop also. Casting an emotive, poetic & serene ambience to the gallery, I'm sure visitors will respond as well. (If the numerous passers by who are stopped in their tracks is anything to go by.)

As you can see I have only teased you with the upper floor of the gallery displaying the 1503 series. 

The lower floor features works from his Dame Di Cartone series (literally translated as 'Cardboard Ladies') which I will talk about in my next blog. 

As you can see here the size of the large works are impressive. The 2 large works on display upstairs are the last in the series available in this size, so don't miss out on them!

The press has really been captured by his work also. The British Journal of Photography (BJP) has Christian's work on the cover of the current November issue, with an 8 page feature out now.

There was also a double page in the Times Spectrum section 2 weeks ago.

And last Sunday The Independent on Sunday Magazine also did a double page feature, see below:

What more can I say other than come & see for yourself!

Cecelia pictured above is mesmerising. Her symmetrical features coupled with immaculate styling & lighting picks out every detail of the clothes & her porcelain skin exquisitely. Looking at them in the 'flesh' so to speak is a very different experience (as with all great works of art) & I urge you to prove mw wrong. 

I had to add this one at the end taken by the inimitable Oliver Spooner with her iphone. I had no idea my position mirrored the scene so well until she showed me. Quite a fab shot I think. What am I doing? Measuring the depth of the screw sticking out from the wall for accuracy, poised with the drill for any needed adjustments. So with this I bid you farewell till my next blog. Thanks for reading...