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Akari: Sculpture by Other Means

Akari: Sculpture by Other Means, a new exhibition at New York’s Noguchi Museum, examines and celebrates Isamu Noguchi’s iconic, collapsible paper lanterns.

One of the most important sculptors of the last century, Isamu Noguchi (1904–88) was born in Los Angeles, California, to a Scottish-American mother, and Japanese father, he moved to Japan shortly after, where he remained until the age of thirteen, when he returned to the US.

He was interested in art and sculpture from an early age, but initially studied pre-medicine at Columbia, whilst also taking evening classes with sculptor Onorio Ruotolo. However, in 1926, after witnessing revolutionary sculptor Constantin Brancusi’s exhibition at the Brummer Gallery, he was inspired to focus entirely on his art, and in doing so, achieved the Guggenheim Fellowship allowing him to work as an assistant to Brancusi, at his Paris studio.

“Great good fortune such as this has something of the divine and inevitable,” said Noguchi, of this opportunity, the pair forming a constructive and reciprocal relationship, with Noguchi, much like Brancusi, going on to work across a range of disciplines, using a multitude of materials, exploring the pureness of their texture and form.

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During his career he became increasingly interested in making a socially relevant and accessible form of sculpture, which he detailed in his 1936 essay What’s the matter with Sculpture for Art Form. The essay appealed to artists to create sculpture that dealt with current problems, “drawing on science, industry and contemporary life in order to engage with the viewers everyday lives”

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He applied this both to his public works of art, and to his functional designs, a number of which were mass-produced, including the Bakelite intercom for the Zenith Radio Corporation in 1937, and the Herman Miller produced glass-topped table, ten years later.

However, his most iconic mass-produced design, and his best example of integrating art into daily life, is undoubtedly the Akari lantern. It’s invention occurred during a 1951 visit to a post-war and economically struggling Japan, where Noguchi was asked by the major of Gifu (a small city with a long history of traditional lantern manufacturing), to help revitalize the industry by designing a lamp for export, made using the traditional combination of bamboo and handmade washi paper (made from the bark of the mulberry tree).

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Inspired by the traditional lanterns used to illuminate night fishing on the Nagari river; Noguchi collaborated with local design firm Ozeki & Co, to create a contemporary electrified take on these, in a range of shapes and sizes.

A perfect consolidation both of form and function, and of traditional craft, with modern technology, Noguchi felt the ‘magic of the paper’ filtered the harsh electric light, so it appeared warmer; more like natural sunlight.

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He went on to create over 200 different versions of the Akari, a number of which are on display at the exhibition, including the largest, the 200D, built for the American Pavilion at the 1986 Venice Biennale. In addition, there are a range of installations aimed at displaying both the functional and aesthetic qualities of the Akari, illustrating Noguchi’s concept of light as both place and object.

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The accompanying exhibition, Akari Unfolded: A Collection by YMER & MALTA, presents a selection of the 26 lamps, designed by five contemporary designers, and created using new materials and processes by the leading French design studio.

Exhibition curator Dakin Hart, (Senior Curator at the Museum), explains,

“It is with the affordable, lightweight, collapsible, and now ubiquitous, Akari—which solve virtually all of the problems associated with sculpture—that Noguchi achieved his high ambition to positively alter the built environment. Sculpture by Other Means aims to show Akari as Noguchi intended it: as a flexible, open-ended, modular ecosystem of light sculptures, rather than a fixed product line, and to demonstrate some of the unusual ways in which they shape, transform, and create space.

The new lamps presented in Akari Unfolded: a collection by YMER&MALTA, parallel the development of Akari by synthesizing various craft traditions with new technology, pushing the basic alchemy of Noguchi’s light sculptures into the future. We are grateful to Valérie Maltaverne and YMER&MALTA for demonstrating the ongoing power of Akari to inspire.”

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Akari Sculpture by Other Means, and Akari Unfolded: a collection by YMER&MALTA, are on view at the Noguchi Museum in New York until January 27 2019. For more information visit their website.

Photography by Nicholas Knight, courtesy of the Noguchi Museum. 

AMOMENTO 18 Summer Resort Collection

Seoul label and boutique, amomento, have been garnering  the attention of discerning womenswear enthusiasts recently, both with their contemporary and understated silhouettes, and their carefully curated selection of international brands.

Their latest collection features essential summer items in nature inspired tonal cotton and linen, whilst the rugged backdrop accentuates the elegant simplicity that has become their trademark.

Visit their website for more information and to purchase items from this collection.

 

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All photos courtesy of amomento.

 

 

 

Ventura/Foreman

 

Ventura/Foreman is a design and manufacturing studio made up of Ventura Clothing and Foreman Accessories.

They focus on non-seasonal, conceptual projects, with utilitarian design, informed by the low-tech industrial sewing machinery they use to manufacture their products at their South East London studio.

They also have a series of collaborative collections planned for the near future.

See a selection of their products below, and for more information or to buy items from this collection go to the Ventura/Foreman website or visit London store Swim XYZ.

 

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All photos courtesy of Ventura/Foreman, Photography by Alexander Mcluckie. 

 

ANTIFASHION

2012 Documentary Antifashion, explores the fashion revolution that occurred during the global socio – economic instability of the late 80’s and early 90s, a rejection of the trend-driven, hyper-glamorous and sometimes pompous style, that had defined the industry throughout the previous decade.

Triggered by the early 80s emergence of the now legendary Japanese designers, Rei Kawukubo and Yohji Yamomoto, who rebelled against corporate industry rules, with their radical approach, focusing on disproportion and deconstruction. This paved the way for a wave of free-thinking young designers in the 1990s, like the Antwerp Six, Alexander Mcqueen, Helmut Lang, and Jil Sander, whose combined talent has comprehensively shaped the landscape of contemporary fashion.

© Arte France 2012 

Directed by OLIVIER NICKLAUS Producers ARTE FRANCE, LALALA PRODUCTIONS 

Seydou Keïta – Bamako Portraits

“It’s easy to take a photo, but what really made a difference was that I always knew how to find the right position, and I was never wrong. Their head slightly turned, a serious face, the position of the hands … I was capable of making someone look really good.”

Seydou Keïta

 

Born in 1921 in Bamako, the capital of Mali (then French Sudan), Keïta was a completely self-taught photographer. Initially training as a carpenter’s apprentice, he started taking photos during his early teens after receiving a gift of a Kodak Brownie from his uncle. Some time later, he purchased a large format camera, and in 1948 opened his own studio in Bamako, furnishing it with a regularly updated selection of props to enhance and contextualize the images.

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A master of the portrait, Keïta worked economically, primarily using natural light and taking only a single shot per picture, often against a fabric backdrop. His images are understated, yet intimate and engaging as befits photographic portraits, perfectly capturing the young subjects and their sartorial elegance; the women invariably attired in intricately printed dresses, the men usually donned western style suits. The contrasting styles encapsulate the hybridism of Malian culture.

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Despite his success, both in Mali and across western Africa, it wasn’t until much later that Keïta achieved recognition further afield; this perhaps due to the tendency of European galleries to underrepresent African artists. The catalyst was the 1992 discovery by André Magnin (the then curator of the Contemporary African Art Collection) of over 10,000 of Keïta’s negatives, from which the pair collaboratively produced modern prints.

International exhibitions followed, including at Ginza Shiseido Art Space in Tokyo, the Helsingin Taidehalli Helsingfors Konsthall in Helsinki, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, and Paris’ Fondation Cartier in 1994.

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The exhibition at Foam consists of both signed modern, and unique vintage prints, and is part of their series of exhibitions on photo studios in recent years; exploring the growing interest, and socio-historical and artistic relevance of,  ‘Vernacular photography’.

Seydou Keïta – Bamako Portraits is showing at Foam Amsterdam until June 20 2018

 

By Josh Bright

All photos courtesy of Seydou Keïta official website www.seydoukeitaphotographer.com © Seydou Keïta / SKPEAC 

 

 

Hiroshi Yoshimura – Music for Nine Postcards

“Images of the movement of clouds, the shade of a tree in summer time, the sound of rain, the snow in a town, with those rather quiet sound images, I sought to add the tone of ink painting to the pieces.”

 Hiroshi Yoshimura on Music for Nine Postcards

 

A cult figure within Japanese ambient music, Hiroshi Yoshimura originally worked as a conceptual artist, with his musical explorations designed to exist within physical spaces; an extension of the surroundings and not as a means to escape them.

Music for nine Postcards, his debut release was no different. Produced using only a keyboard and a Fender Rhodes, and upon completion given to Tokyo’s Hara museum of Contemporary Art to be played within the space, the decision to release it was only made after the museum was inundated with requests as to where it could be purchased.

It was released in 1982 as the inaugural piece of like-minded producer Satoshi Ashikawa‘s Wave Notation Series; an ‘environmental music’ series described by Ashikawa as ‘Not music which excites or leads the listener into another world, it should drift like smoke and become part of the environment surrounding the listener’s activity. In other words, it is music which creates an intimate relationship with people in everyday life’

Despite his unquestionable talent, and the global relevance of his work, Yoshimura remains relatively unknown outside his home country. This reissue on Maxwell August Croy and Spencer Doran’s Empire of Signs imprint, in collaboration with Yoshimura’s widow Yoko, is the first outside Japan, and serves as a perfect introduction to his work, which continues to be as carefully moving and evocative as it was in 1982.