Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Word from the editor: relaunch and move to artisalive.co.uk

Dear all,

Ahead of Art is Alive's ten-year anniversary, I have decided to relaunch the platform, modernize it and migrate the content to artisalive.co.uk. I can't believe it's nearly been 10 years! Art is Alive has opened so many doors and led the way to so many fantastic collaborations and friendships. 

While this polishing phase takes time, please stay tuned as the re-launch will happen soon. In the meantime, if you'd like to contribute please don't hesitate to drop me an email: nicolas.smirnoff@gmail.com

See you soon on artisalive.co.uk 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

2016 SS PRADA Real Fantasies by OMA

Architecture firm OMA's research and design studio, AMO has, for the past few seasons, produced a short film in place of Prada’s conventional look book. Their new, two and a half minute clip for Prada, entitled Real Fantasies, places real models in a near-abstract setting, which morphs from a sleek apartment to a highway to a train station, all while showcasing the muted, geometric new spring/summer 2016 Prada collection for men and women.

At Max Mara, A Bauhaus-Inspired Twist by The New York Times

Credit Alfredo Piola for the New York Times

Galerie Jeanne Bucher Jaeger presents Vieira da Silva, L'Espace de Jeu

Vieira da Silva, one of the most important artists of the XXth, contributed to the reinvention of "space", distorting the concept according to her imagination and giving it a new intellectual and spiritual dimension. The legacy of cubism is clearly present in her work through recompositions of her subjects which follow multiple viewpoints. 

The exhibition "Vieira da Silva, l'Espace de Jeu" presented at the Galerie Jeanne Bucher in Paris, gives the opportunity to discover an artist little rarely exhibited in France. Her last exhibition took place at the Musée Fabre in Montpellier in 1994. The show traces the exceptional journey of the artist exploring more than half a century of creation with very rare works on view.

The exhibition is curated in close collaboration with the Foundation Árpád Szenes - Vieira da Silva Lisbon. 

ICA presents Public Image Ltd

Image credit: Album cover image from PiL’s first album Public Image: First Issue (1978). © Dennis Morris – all rights reserved.

The ICA presents rarely seen photographs and ephemera relating to the early stages of the band Public Image Ltd’s (PiL) design from 1978-79 with a focus on the design of the album Metal Box. Original band members included John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten - vocals), Keith Levene (lead guitar), Jah Wobble (bass) and Jim Walker (drums). Working closely with photographer and designer Dennis Morris, the display explores the evolution of the band’s identity, from their influential journey to Jamaica in 1978 to the design of the iconic Metal Box.

Set against a backdrop of political and social upheaval in the UK, the years 1978-79 marked a period that hailed the end of the Sex Pistols and the subsequent shift from Punk to New Wave. Morris sought to capture this era by creating a strong visual identity for the band. His subsequent designs further aligned PiL with a style and attitude that announced a new chapter in music history.

For PiL’s debut single Public Image, Morris designed a record sleeve in the format of a single folded sheet of tabloid newspaper featuring fictional content about the band. His unique approach to design was further illustrated by the debut PiL album, Public Image: First Issue (1978). In a very un-Punk manner, its cover and sleeve design imitated the layout of popular glossy magazines.

The band’s second album – the critically acclaimed Post-Punk classic Metal Box (1979) – further reinforced Morris’ approach to branding and promoting the PiL experience. While the album’s title was conceived by Lydon, it was Morris who designed the cover – a metal 16mm celluloid film canister – embossed with the band’s new PiL logo reminiscent of a breakable medicine tablet. The album’s distinctive packaging was produced at the Metal Box Factory in Hackney, prior to its closure, revealing a bygone age of local manufacturing within London.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Exclusive interview with photographer Richard Young on the occasion of Let's Dance: a Tribute to David Bowie

On the occasion of Let's Dance: a tribute to David Bowie, an exhibition of twenty-five photographs by Richard Young at his eponymous gallery in London, 4 Holland Street, I caught up with Richard himself about his friendship and work with my hero. If you haven't seen the show, don't wait! 

When and how did you meet David Bowie?
In 1964 when I was 16 I used to hang out in the Bataclan Club on Princes Street near Oxford Circus - a very cool place to socialise in the day. Occasionally, a guy called David Jones would come and hang out. On several occasions through David's mate Geoff MacCormack, we would all meet up at Geoff's house in Black Heath to listen to Jazz and Soul, and David would often be there, just hanging and drinking and smoking. David was good pals with my old schoolmate Marc Bolan. Little did I know then who David would become...

What’s your fondest memory?
My fondest memory of David is when we saw each other at the Tribeca film festival in 2007. When he saw me, he came over and gave me a big hug, we started chatting and I was winding him up about the suit he was wearing, we were deep in conversation and I noticed out of the corner of my eye that Graydon Carter, Editor of Vanity Fair, was looking a bit irrritated that we were chatting so long, I said “David, you’ve got to go, everyone's waiting for you!". Hunky Dory remains my favourite album!

Did you manage to stay in touch with him?
I stayed in touch with David throughout his career, I first shot him professionally in 1976 right up until the last time I saw him and Iman in New York at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY in 2008.

One of your photographs was used on the cover of the Times – can you tell us about this photo please?
This iconic photo was taken at The Cannes Film Festival in 1983 for a photocall for a movie he made with Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon called The Hunger.

Which one is your favourite photo?
My favourite photo I took of Bowie was him in Elephant man taken on Broadway in NYC. I bought a matinee performance ticket and managed to get a seat in the second row, David came out on stage, I waited until he came out to centre stage, and took a few shots of him without flash on my Leica  M4. After a short period of time I got a tap on my shoulder and was asked to leave the theatre!

All images: Copyrights Richard Young.

Philip Glass's mesmerising opera Akhnaten at ENO in March

Don't miss 'a once-in-a-generation chance' (The Guardian) to experience Philip Glass's mesmerising opera Akhnaten. Its UK premiere was at ENO in 1985, and it has not been seen in London for almost 30 years. This exciting new production is directed by Improbable theatre company's Phelim McDermott, following his spectacular stagings of Glass's Satyagraha and The Perfect American at ENO.

POP! The World of Pop Art by John Finlay and Carlton Books is a fantastic experience

Available next March and published by Goodman, POP! The World of Pop Art is a solid and innovative book which uncovers Pop Art's origins in early-1950s London with The Independent Group and their fascination with American popular culture - leading to the name 'Pop'. It's very interesting to realise that Pop Art was actually coined in the UK and not in the US, the movement being associated so often to Andy Warhol. British art dealer Robert Fraser was probably responsible was introducing Warhol to the UK...

Inside Pop! there are also several pouches containing removable items of fascimile memorabilia from the artists' studios such as stencils used by Andy Warhol to create his Campbell's Soup paintings, Warhol's Cow Wallpaper first exhibited in 1966, early drawings by Roy Lichtenstein, poster for Claes Oldenburg's first solo exhibition at the Green Gallery and a comic strip created by Peter Blake amongst many other amazing objects! These removable items make the book very special and entertaining!

Finlay explains how The Indenpendent Group within the ICA in London where Pop emerged in the early 1950s, was formed as a think-tank and cabinet for artists and intellectuals discussing topics of popular culture - including artists Eduardo Paolozzi, Richard Hamilton, and Nigel Henderson; how artists such as Rauschenberg, Lichtenstein and Oldenburg introduced parody, wit and enthusiasm into their work. 

"Pop art seeks not only to define its place within culture and society, but also to investigate the world at large and to view itself as a major artistic and theoretical discipline. Falsifying, aping, misappropriating and replicating, Pop artists will continue to debate concepts of originality, authenticity and the high and low in art and culture in ways that evidence the lasting power of the Pop art movement half a century after it's inauguration." says John Finlay.

Finally, POP! considers the influence of Pop art on other genres, in particular as the precursor to post-modernism and contemporary forms of art including the influence of Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons. 

POP! The World of Pop Art by John Finlay, published by Goodman, March 2016, hardback with removable memorabilia, £30. www.carltonbooks.co.uk.
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