Celebrating ‘life and all its myriad forms’, Antony Gormley’s Christmas Tree is a western red cedar with its trunk wrapped in a tapering column of light.
The Connaught Christmas Tree, Mount Street, London W1. Image by owl’s house london.
One of the highlights of summer in London for me is the annual launch of the Serpentine pavilion. Every year, an internationally renowned architect is invited by the Serpentine galleries to create their first built structure in the UK. My personal favourite of the pavilions over the years was the pavilion of Oscar Niemeyer, not least because I managed to score an invitation to the opening night party that year.
Bjarke Ingels’ 2016 pavilion is a beautifully sculpted mass of slender, fibreglass boxes, stacked to form a twisting, tent-like structure. But also this year, four Summer Houses have been added to the program. These architectural follies offer a contemporary interpretation of an adjacent, 18th century Neoclassical summerhouse, Queen Caroline’s Temple. They are on show until October 9th, after which they will be sold off and disassembled. They are for sale, here, with prices ranging from £95,000 to £125,000.
The Summer House of Berlin studio Barkow Leibinger is designed ‘in the round’ and out of plywood, conceived as a series of structural bands. It’s fun to traverse and sit amongst, with its curving ribbon of wood hovering overhead and twisting back around forming places to rest.
Nigerian architect Kunlé Adeyemi’s summer house is the most literal interpretation of the neo-classical summer house, offering an inverse replica of the original temple in form and proportion. Using prefabricated building blocks of rough sandstone, the composition takes the basic elements of architecture – a room, a doorway and a window – and forms a simple, elegant shelter.
The summer house of Yona Friedman comprises a series of metal rings of differing diameters that can be disassembled and re-assembled to form various compositions. Some of the voids are filled with transparent polycarbonate, most are open. It’s not so much a shelter as a backdrop for display.
Asif Khan has designed his Summer House as a series of undulating vertical posts, whose forms appear to enclose and open up to reveal the view beyond as one passes through. The ground is conceived as a continuous gravel landscape, punctuated by stepping stones. The sound of the gravel offers another dimension to this summer house, which has a wonderful fluidity and to me is the most successful of the four. Though don’t expect it to offer any shelter from this country’s inclement weather.
Serpentine Summer Houses, Hyde Park, until October 9th, 2016.
‘There’s something totally joyous and unpretentious about the work which communicates to people,’ she added. ‘He’s one of the few artists who can sit in both camps: the public and the elite world.’ Farah Nayeri, NY Times
For those who have not lost their childish fascination with colours and shapes, movement and balance, Calder’s work remains a delight and inspiration. There is little darkness in his work, only a restless, fascinated mind, immersed in a journey of delight.
Calder plays it straight. Calder’s work is exactly what it appears to be. The strength of his work is this directness, without subtext; a refreshing lack of hidden meaning. We see Calder’s delicate mercury sculpture sitting with the vast canvas of Guernica in the background; Picasso’s dark genius and Calder’s lightness working brilliantly together. Picasso’s primary themes are those of humanity; Calder’s are of nature; he plays with lines, mass, force and momentum.
Calder emerged in an era when art was still catching up with the discoveries of 19th Century science and the technology of the 20th – not least the moving image. Calder’s work brings movement centre stage into art in a way that surpasses other artists often unsatisfactory attempts of that era to incorporate time (I’m thinking of cubism). Apart, of course, from the most successful new art form of the 20th Century, the movie itself.
Human visual aesthetics is derived from a highly developed appreciation of the body in both movement and poise. Calder’s unflinching preoccupation with mechanics; his exploration of the fine line between balance and movement, his testing of how far a rod or sinew can be stretched and still hold, resonates with what we naturally find beautiful and satisfying.
Calder does all this, and brings it into delicate and playful fusion with the rawness of his materials, the formal language of late Matisse and a touch of the surreality of Miro. I’m going back for more.
You can read Farah Nayeri’s article, here:
Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture, Tate Modern, until 3 April, 2016
Guest post by Jeremy Walker, architect and cardboard sculptor (HeathWalker Studio). Photos: owl’s house london using iPhone 6.
I discovered Louis Reith through Instagram, his images all bold graphics and modernist undertones. Dutch born, Reith has a background in graphic design which is clearly evident in his work, along with his fascination with book design and printed matter.
Crossing media from ink drawing to collage to three-dimensional installations, all works are nevertheless strongly connected, with monochromatic palettes and bold forms. I love the modernist quality, the images and typography from an earlier era abstracted in a new, contemporary way. I can imagine them in a very modern context – big spaces and white walls, or set against a more traditional interior of wood panelling and intimate spaces.
More Louis Reith, here.
All images courtesy of the artist.
A review of James Turrell at Houghton Hall
The role of an artist is to show us the world in a new light. To open our eyes to what we already see.
Turrell is a connoisseur of light and as a pilot is intimate with the sky in all its variance. Here in Norfolk he reveals the subtlety and variety of our maritime sky, the moisture in the air softening the light in a way that would never be seen in Arizona.
Turrell believes our eyes are most suited to seeing at dusk when there is very little light. St Elmo’s Breath is his most ephemeral piece at Houghton and reveals to us that we can see much more than we ever thought possible. The effect is so subtle that at first it is hard to believe you are really seeing anything, but gradually the photons start to accumulate and a silken carpet of red light reveals the space to us.
The poetic rationalism of his work has a strong resonance with the Palladian architecture of Houghton. Models of his work inside a crater in Pasadena reveal platonic volumes hollowed out from the earth which frame the nebulous phenomena of the sky so we might see them afresh.
James Turrell at Houghton Hall until 24th October 2015.
Guest review by Jeremy Walker, HeathWalker Studio, with thanks. Photographs, owl’s house london.
Seldom Seen, 2002, James Turrell. Photograph: Peter Huggins
I can’t wait to visit the James Turrell exhibition in Norfolk next weekend. Jonathan Jones calls it ‘a psychedelic legal high in the English countryside’ (read his review, here)
Houghton hall, a beautiful Palladian house on the North Norfolk coast, already has an impressive art collection, with works by Richard Long, Jeppe Hein and Rachel Whiteread. There is a previously commissioned piece by Turrell, called Skyspace, from 2000 (image above). This current exhibition includes the illumination of the Hall’s facade into a light show, which begins at dusk on Friday and Saturday evenings.
LightScape, James Turrell at Houghton Hall, North Norfolk until 24th October 2015.
More James Turrell, here
The Floating Piers (Project for Lake Iseo, Italy)
Collage 2014 in two parts. Pencil, charcoal, pastel, wax crayon, fabric, enamel paint, cut-out photographs by Wolfgang Volz and map
Photo: André Grossmann
He’s back, and I’m thrilled, being a huge fan. The Floating Piers is Christo’s first work since the death of his wife and collaborator Jeanne-Claude in 2009 (they were also born on the same day in 1935).
For 16 days in June 2016, Christo will reimagine Italy’s Lake Iseo. The work will consist of swathes of shimmering yellow fabric, carried by a modular dock system of polyethylene cubes floating on the surface of the water. The walkways will continue on land, connecting the mainland to the island of San Paolo. More, here