You Say You Want A Revolution: Remembering the 60s

Any excuse to visit the New York Public Library is a good excuse. And this exhibition featuring material exclusively from the Library’s collections, on show on the ground floor of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, the main Library branch in Bryant Park, was also an excellent lunch-time break. It was summertime and the livin’ was easy (in retrospect).

Terry Southern
The novelist, screenwriter and essayist Terry Southern was one of postwar America’s foremost satirists. Tom Wolfe credits him with having pioneered the New Journalism with the publication of ”Twirling at Ole Miss” in the February 1963 issue of Esquire. In addition to his satirical novels Candy (1958), based on Voltaire’s Candide, and The Magic Christian (1959), Southern is best known for his screenplays for the Counterculture classics Dr. Strangelove (1964) and Easy Rider (1969), the latter co-written with actors Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda. Candy, published by Olympia Press, was banned by the Paris vice squad. Its republication in the U.S., in 1965, made Southern both a mainstream and a Counterculture celebrity.


Selections from the United States Social Political Button Collection, dating from 1958 to the late 1970s.


Jay Belloli
Amerika is Devouring Its Children, 1970

Jay Belloli, a student at the University of California, Berkeley, created this poster for the school’s 1970 student strike protesting President Richard Nixon’s bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War. The image is based on painter Francisco de Goya’s Saturn Devouring His Son (ca. 1820) and was silkscreened on computer listing paper.


The Stop Our Ship Movement, Oakland, CA, November 1971

On November 6, 1971, more than 300 sailors from the aircraft carrier Coral Sea marched in an antiwar demonstration in San Francisco. Six days later, from 600 to 1200 protesters demonstrated outside the naval air station in Alameda, California, encouraging servicemen to desert the ship before its departure for duty in the Vietnam War. The Berkeley City Council and 10 area churches offered sanctuary to any who did. Thirty-five sailors failed to report for duty prior to the sailing. This broadside calls for a show of unity with those servicemen, ”who have asked for a display of public support. Bring Flags. Bring friends.”


Anton Refregier
Napalm/Made in USA, 1968

Napalm was a chemical used heavily by the U.S. in the Vietnam War. It is a mixture of plastic polystyrene, hydrocarbon benzene and gazoline, which creates a jelly-like substance that, when ignited, adheres to virtually any surface and burns for as long as ten minutes, generating temperatures of 1,500 °F to 2,200 °F. Its effects on the human body are excruciating and almost always cause death. It was first used by U.S. troops with flamethrowers, to burn down sections of forest that provided cover for Viet Cong guerillas. Later, it was dropped as bombs, as were other incendiary devices. Images of civilians, including children, who had been burned by napalm fueled American revulsion against the war.


Arnold Skolnick
Woodstock, 1969


John Judkins
Bob Dylan
London: I Was Lord Kitchener’s Valet, 1969

I Was Lord Kitchener’s Valet was a Notting Hill clothing boutique that achieved fame in 1966, the heyday of ”Swinging London”, by promoting vintage military uniforms as fashion. Among its customers were The Beatles, Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger, and The Who. Jimi Hendrix bought his well-known hussar-style coat there. Peter Blake, who designed the album sleeve for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, reportedly got the idea for The Beatles’ outfits while passing by the shop, which also issued promotional posters, several by John Judkins.


Gay Liberation Front
Peter Hujar, photographer

Come Out!! Join the Sisters and Brothers of the Gay Liberation Front, New York ca. 1972-73


Reproduction of Jutta Werner’s Artwork in Fire, no. 2 (March 1968)  – detail


Reproduction from: Oracle/City of Los Angeles 1, no. 5 (August 1967)


Martin Sharp
Vincent


Joe Petagno
Ain’t Gonna Work on Dizzy’s Farm No More (1970)

This poster, the title of which play on Bob Dylan’s anti-establishment song ”Ain’t Gonna Work on Maggie’s Farm No More”, depicts three of Disney’s most famous characters – Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse and Goofy – seated around a smoke-billowing hookah, filled, presumably, with hashish. Each smoker holds a mouthpiece, his eyelids drooping over bloodshot eyes and mouth agape. Disney Studios responded with a copyright-infringement lawsuit, resulting in the destruction of most of the print run. The poster is signed ”Petagno III”, the early signature of artist Joe Petagno, best known for his album covers for psychedelic and heavy-metal bands, including Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Motörhead and Nazareth.


Martin Sharp
Blowin’ in the Mind/Mister Tambourine Man


The New York Public Library

August 16th, 2018

To Be Looked At (from the Other Side of the Glass) with One Eye, Close to, for Almost an Hour

Thus spoke Marcel, and we obliged (for five minutes).

Looking for ”almost an hour” would have a hallucinatory effect similar to Marc Chagall’s experience, some years earlier.

Marcel Duchamp
To Be Looked At (from the Other Side of the Glass) with One Eye, Close to, for Almost an Hour, 1918
Oil, silver leaf, lead wire, magnifying lens on glass (cracked) mounted between panes of glass in a standing metal frame, on painted wood base

”The title of this work, which Duchamp said he ”intended to sound like an oculist’s prescription” tells the viewer exactly how to look at it. But peering through the convex lens embedded in the work’s glass ”for almost an hour” would have a hallucinatory effect, the view being dwarfed, flipped and otherwise distorted. Meanwhile the viewer patiently following the title’s instructions is him-or herself put on display for anyone else walking by. 

Duchamp called this his ”small glass”, to distinguish it from his famous Large Glass of 1915-23. He made the work in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he had fled earlier in 1918 to escape the oppressive atmosphere of the United States during World War I. When he shipped it back to New York, the glass cracked in transit, en effect that delighted him.”

Marc Chagall
I and the Village, 1911
Oil on canvas

@MoMA

August 8th, 2018

Bodys Isek Kingelez || City Dreams @MoMA

I first became aware of the work of Bodys Isek Kingelez, captivated by his intricate, colourful maquettes, at the retrospective that was presented at MoMA during the second half of 2018. There is a joyous, optimistic quality about these toy-like cities that brought a smile to the child in me; but make no mistake – these tiny sculptures, made from modest materials like glue and paper, straws and bottles, soda cans and bottle caps, are no toys. They are a delicate body of artwork, visions of utopian cities, images of a better world. Like, for example, the U.N. (1995), made in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the United Nations, reflecting the artist’s belief in a world of democracy, peace, and cooperation. Or his Ville Fantôme (1996), a peaceful city in which doctors and police are unecessary.

An extract from the artist’s bio (for more info click on his name):

”Visionary artist Bodys Isek Kingelez created dazzling, intricate architectural sculptures that he called “extreme maquettes.” Born in the agricultural village of Kimbembele Ihunga in the Belgian Congo (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) in 1948, he came of age in a period of enormous political and social transformation. In 1970, he relocated to Kinshasa—the capital of the newly independent nation renamed Zaire—to pursue a university education. After his studies, motivated by a desire to make a civic contribution to his country, Kingelez worked briefly as a secondary school teacher. However, he soon became “obsessed with the idea of getting my hands on some scissors, a Gillette razor, and some glue and paper…” and began to create sculptures that took the form of buildings, constructed from modest materials like paper, cardboard, and repurposed commercial packaging, and embellished with push-pins, straws, elaborate hand-applied designs, and more. It was through these sculptures that he felt he could help shape “a better, more peaceful world.” The technical excellence of Kingelez’s early work led to his hiring as a restorer at the National Museums Institute of Zaire, where he repaired traditional objects in the collection until he devoted himself to art making full-time in the early 1980s.”


“Art is the grandest adventure of them all…art is a high form of knowledge, a vehicle for individual renewal that contributes to a better collective future.” – Bodys Isek Kingelez (1948–2015)

MoMA, New York

July 28th, 2018

Postcards from the past

Life seemed so much simpler then.

Slobodan Milićević || Hotel Croatia, Cavtat, 1971-73
Slobodan Milićević || Hotel Croatia, Cavtat, 1971-73
Andrija Čičin-Šain & Žarko Vincek || Libertas Hotel, Dubrovnik, Croatia, 1968-74
Bogoljub Kurpjel || Hotel Astarea, Mlini, Croatia, 1969-70
Boris Magaš || Haludovo Hotel complex, Malinska, Krk, Croatia, 1969-72
Andrija Čičin-Šain & Žarko Vincek || Libertas Hotel, Dubrovnik, Croatia, 1968-74
Branko Žnidarec || Hotel Adriatic II, Opatija, Croatia, 1970-71
Slobodan Milićević || Hotel Croatia, Cavtat, 1971-73

 

From ”Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948–1980”,  an exhibition that ran between July 2018–January 2019 @MoMA.

July 24th, 2018