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  1. 06.30.14
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    Morgan Peck at Jancar Jones Gallery

    When we first took notice of Los Angeles ceramicist Morgan Peck in 2012, it was because she had suddenly become ubiquitous in the concept-shop scene, with her vessels and abstract mini-sculptures popping up at all of our favorite places (Mociun, Totokaelo, Iko Iko). Now that she’s moved into an entirely new territory — the art world — with the opening of her solo show at LA’s Jancar Jones Gallery last week, we figured it was the perfect time to revisit her work. We asked Peck for her thoughts on her change of scenery, and how her sculptures have made the transition from shelf to plinth. “When Ava and Eric offered me the opportunity to have a show at Jancar Jones last February the first thing I thought was: Are you sure?” she says.

  2. 06.18.14
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    Platform at Almine Rech Gallery

    File under so simple it’s genius: This month, the Brussels gallery Almine Rech launched an exhibition, curated by Parisian art critic Nicolas Trembley, that mostly repurposes work from the gallery’s own collection. Called Platform, its primary conceit is a single, 55-foot-long white plinth running the length of the exhibition space, where all of the works on view joust for space, including Gavin Turk’s vinyl-painted Turkey Foil Box, Alex Israel’s marble and Styrofoam fro-yo cup, Andy Warhol’s Brillo box, Ettore Sottsass’s Casablanca bookshelf, and an array of Steuler vases we’re guessing might have come from Trembley’s own collection. Besides highlighting the three-dimensional aspect of the pieces — and making viewers reconsider items they might have passed over if displayed alone — Platform also “establishes a dialogue between the notions of design and contemporary art, objects of consumption, mass culture and subjects of contemplation” and asks the question: “What is an art object and what is the place of the object in art?” We’ve excerpted a few of our favorite images here.

  3. 06.13.14
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    No Name Design at the Triennale Design Museum

    The collecting of anonymous objects — and the subsequent use of those objects in creating a perfectly styled interior — has become such a staple of modern life that it’s hard to remember a time when not everyone loaded up their vans twice a year at places like Brimfield. But Franco Clivio, a former industrial designer and a lecturer at Zurich’s Schule für Gestaltung, has been amassing such objects for more than four decades. His collection — which numbers into the thousands — is on view starting next week at Milan’s Triennale Design Museum in an exhibition called “No Name Design.”

  4. 06.04.14
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    Norwegian by Nature

    When it comes to contemporary Scandinavian design, the furniture love tends to go to Denmark (Hay, Muuto, Normann Copenhagen) while Finland gets all the attention for its graphic design (Tsto, Lotta Niemenen, Kokoro & Moi). But Norway’s design identity was always a bit more elusive — that is, until recently. This month in New York saw an onslaught of celebrations of Norwegian design, including Norwegian Icons — which celebrated the Nordic country’s contribution to midcentury — and Norwegian by Nature, a survey of emerging talent curated by our friend Paul Makovsky of Metropolis, who criss-crossed the small Nordic country visiting schools, studios, and design fairs to gather a group of 23 design shops on the cusp of stardom. Norwegian by Nature was part of the Inside Norway booth at ICFF, and it was one of our favorite concepts for an exhibition in a long time. Prototypes by the up-and-coming studios (like Silje Nesdal, whose Granit bookends are shown above) were mixed with vintage pieces curated by Oslo-based Fuglen as well as works by more established companies like Roros Tweed and Mandal Veveri. All of the prototypes were having their North American debuts, but we can only hope some brave, deep-pocketed soul will soon put these beauties into production so we can see a whole lot more of them.

  5. 05.13.14
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    OBJECTS, Curated by Joel Evey

    This week, we’re featuring a series of designers, brands, and exhibitions participating in Sight Unseen OFFSITE, our brand new design fair taking place in New York City this weekend, May 16-20. Click here for more information.

    OBJECTS began, as so many great things do, with Philadelphia-based graphic designer Joel Evey playing around with tool dip: A series of plastic-splattered lamps he made from grappling hooks gave way to an ambiguous dipped “kitchen tool” and, eventually, the curiosity as to how other genre-bending artists and designers he knew and admired were approaching issues of functionality. Last year, he reached out to half a dozen of those peers — ROLU, Chen Chen and Kai Williams, Eric Timothy Carlson, Brendan Timmins, and Alex da Corte — and invited each of them to present him with a piece that redefined or recontextualized the idea of a utilitarian object for the home. “It was loose and broad, but intentionally so,” he says. “The point was to ask people who already existed within this playing field to do something that danced around the idea. The results are all very different.”

  6. 03.19.14
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    Renate Müller at R & Company

    Renate Müller is 68 years old and has been designing children’s toys for half a century, some of which she created for her family’s toy factory in Sonneberg, Germany, in the ’60s and ’70s, and the rest of which she still makes by hand in her nearby studio, as part of the personal line she began in 1978. The materials she uses for that line have stayed exactly the same ever since (jute, wood, leather), as has her process and her policy of working alone, save for the occasional hand lent by her daughter. Many of her animal typologies have remained perennial, too. Yet when it came time to create 26 new pieces for her second solo show at New York design gallery R & Company, which opened yesterday, Müller decided to bust out a pretty major — and amusing — twist: Surrealist creatures with two heads, or no heads, that only someone with a very vivid, childlike sense of imagination could possibly dream up.

  7. 03.12.14
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    Shannon Finley at Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld

    Usually we don’t mind having to share our discoveries in only two dimensions. But here is the rare case when it’s almost a shame we all have to look at these images on the Internet. Canadian-born, Berlin-based artist Shannon Finley, who opened a solo show at Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld’s New York project space last Friday, creates paintings that in person look like some other medium entirely — gleaming metal, stained glass, plastic, etc.

  8. 02.21.14
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    Cray Collective at Stockholm Design Week

    You can sometimes guess at the greatness of an exhibition based purely on its location (a little off-the-beaten track, naturally), or when its roster lists nothing short of five talented up-and-coming designers. With that in mind, it seemed only right to plow the bitter, wintry streets of Stockholm earlier this month to find out more about the new, colorful Cray Collective.

  9. 02.14.14
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    François Halard at Demisch Danant

    When we think of the legendary Chelsea gallery Demisch Danant, we picture insanely luxurious fur-covered daybeds by Maria Pergay, or foofy round Pumpkin chairs by Pierre Paulin. We think of furniture — not photography. And yet somehow the exhibition on view there now through March 1 makes a perfect kind of sense. The French-born, New York–based photographer François Halard is showing a series of portraits he’s made over the last 20 years of architecture and interiors created by some of the last century’s most significant artists and designers — the Palm Springs house by Albert Frey (top image), the Italian studio of Cy Twombly, the Villa-Noialles by Robert Mallet-Stevens, and, one of our favorites, the Captiva Island home of Robert Rauschenberg.

  10. 02.05.14
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    Ornsbergsauktionen 2014

    If you’re a longtime reader of our site, you might remember that February, despite being utterly gross in the weather department, is one of our favorite months if only for the Ornsbergsauktionen, an artist-run auction house that’s taken place during each of the past three Stockholm Design Weeks. Started by Fredrik Paulsen, Simon Klenell, and Kristoffer Sundin, the auction gathers together limited editions and one-offs from designers we already know and love — Katja Pettersson, Uglycute, Silo Studio, Hilda Hillström — and always introduces us to a handful we can’t wait to Google. This year, in addition to furniture and objects, the three also managed to wrangle works on paper from the Memphis Group’s still-prolific Peter Shire and Nathalie du Pasquier. We’ve included a selection of our favorites below, but for the full catalogue, visit the (gorgeously designed) catalog website or see the objects in person if you’re in Stockholm, on view through Friday!

  11. 02.04.14
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    Kueng Caputo: Never Too Much at Salon 94

    Kueng Caputo’s first moment of fame came a few years ago from a series called “Copy,” where the two design-school friends would purposefully mimic a recently released work from a major talent by creating an exaggerated or distilled fakery of that piece. The process was meant to be a tongue-in-cheek homage to the original artists as well as a way for Sarah Kueng and Lovis Caputo to explore how those pieces had acquired their specific character or value. Whatever lessons they learned from that experiment must have stuck, for in the last two years, the Swiss design duo have released two collections that seem predestined for design greatness.

  12. 01.31.14
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    Thaddeus Wolfe: Unsurfacing at Volume Gallery

    Thaddeus Wolfe’s Assemblage vases looked mysterious enough when he debuted them in 2011, first for sale with Matter and then with a special edition for Chicago’s Volume Gallery — we’d never seen glass before that paired the shape and surface texture of rocks and minerals with amazing fades of opaque color. When we asked him to describe his process to us, it turned out that it was relatively easy to grasp, if not execute: He blew the vessels into faceted plaster-and-silicon molds. His newest take on the series — the Unsurfacing collection for Volume, on view as of tonight — looks even more complicated, layered with fragmented geometric patterns and contrasting colors.

  13. 01.30.14
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    Constantin Boym at UrbanGlass

    For anyone like us who “grew up,” professionally speaking, in the New York design world in the last few decades, it was always with a sense of awareness of and deference to the scene’s elder statesmen. Constantin and Laurene Boym, for example, set up Boym Partners back in 1986, and by the time we started circulating in 2005, they still felt markedly omnipresent, both critically and physically speaking. We suppose that’s why it felt so surprising when these New York stalwarts up and left town in 2010, after Constantin accepted a two-year tenure as director of graduate design studies at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar. They disappeared from New York design events, parties, exhibitions, and talks, only occasionally sending dispatches to their mailing list about life on the other side of the globe. They returned to New York a year ago, but we hadn’t really heard from them until now — with the launch of Constantin’s new exhibition at Brooklyn’s UrbanGlass, “Learning From the East,” which opens this Saturday.

  14. 12.23.13
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    Come All Ye Faithful, Curated by Carson Chan

    In our most recent Saturday selects post, we pointed out a recent mini-trend of design exhibitions being staged in residential contexts, including the subject of this post: Come, All Ye Faithful, a show in which Berlin-based curator Carson Chan has replaced all of the objects in Zürich curator Florian Christopher Seedorf’s home with works by his favorite European artists and designers. Opening last month and running through January 12, the exhibition was timed to coincide with the holiday shopping season, when consumerism runs rampant and people are in a state of frenzied acquisition. With Come, All Ye Faithful — which also functioned as a kind of tongue-in-cheek holiday pop-up shop, since everything in it is for sale — Chan wanted to examine the consequences of all that acquiring. “When purchased objects enter the home, they assume new roles, entangling themselves with the lives and emotions of their new owners,” he explains in his curators’ statement. “Come, All Ye Faithful is an exhibition that observes our relationship with the objects we live with.” Chan took time out of his busy holiday schedule to answer a few questions about the project for Sight Unseen.

  15. 12.09.13
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    Martino Gamper’s “Tu Casa, Mi Casa” at The Modern Institute

    I can think of plenty of designers whose works I’ve never even seen, or those I’ve only seen from afar, either raised on some plinth or sheltered under a vitrine. I’ve had the lucky opportunity, though, to not only see but experience the work of London designer Martino Gamper: walking under his colorful Chair Arch in the courtyard of London’s V&A museum, or digging my feet into the hand-knotted wool Houseplan Carpet he designed for Nilufar gallery in 2009. It’s especially nice to experience a designer like Gamper’s work in person because there’s always the possibility that the piece you’re seeing is the only one of its kind that will ever exist. Gamper has always maintained that he prefers to create either pieces for unlimited production, like his lopsided Arnold Circus stool, or one-offs — with no middle ground between the two. Most of the work on view at Gamper’s new exhibition, “Tu Casa, Mi Casa” at Glasgow’s Modern Institute, falls into the latter category. The majority of the 69 designs created for the exhibition are wholly unique:

  16. 10.30.13
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    Salone Satellite at La Rinascente

    From now until Christmas, pieces by 11 standout stars from this year’s Salone Satellite young designers’ showcase in Milan will be on view and for sale at La Rinascente. Considering that the Milan-based department store is basically Italy’s version of Barneys, this is kind of a Big Deal for those young designers on the verge of stardom. And if the pieces look like they could actually be part of the same collection, perhaps it’s because they all tackle the same theme from last year’s Satellite: “Design and Craftsmanship: Together for Industry,” a typically Italian name that just means that the designers were tasked with figuring out how to retain traditional craftsmanship techniques and processes while still producing for a mass audience. It’s also because many of the items draw from a similar materials palette: “This is a compendium of “poor” materials, ranging from wood to glass, to iron to terracotta, reinterpreted and worked in a surprising fusion of craftsmanship and industrial techniques.” We’ve picked some of our favorites to share with you today.

  17. 10.28.13
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    AmDC x Outpost Journal: Hometown Homage

    Last week, we introduced you to Outpost Journal, a magazine founded by Pete Oyler and Manya Rubinstein that investigates American creative scenes outside the likes of L.A. and New York, focusing on a different secondary city each year. This week, we’re showing you the results of the magazine’s recent collaboration with the American Design Club, which invited young designers to reflect on their own hometowns across the country, no matter how large or small. Exhibited earlier this month at the ever-changing New York boutique Story, as part of its Made in America showcase, the project — Hometown Homage — included a dozen or so objects intended to celebrate “the origins of our creative identities,” as AmDC co-founder Kiel Mead put it in the call for entries. “As creative professionals, the environments from which we come – whether a farm, small town, or large metropolis – help to shape our worldview. The AmDC challenged designers to look retrospectively at their hometown experiences to design an object that reflects their heritage, paying homage to their past with skill sets honed in the present.” The show itself closed on Friday, but Sight Unseen picked our favorite pieces to share with anyone who didn’t have the pleasure of seeing them in person.

  18. 10.15.13
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    Oscar Wanless for Riess, at Vienna Design Week

    Oscar Wanless is one half of Silo Studio, the London twosome whose unorthodox investigations into industrial materials have graced Sight Unseen more than a few times. But when I met up with him during last month’s London Design Festival, I found that his latest solo project was also more than worth a mention. For this year’s Vienna Design Week, Wanless worked with Riess, a ninth-generation enamelware company based in Ybbsitz, a small town in southern Austria. The factory has been knocking out metal pots and pans since 1550, and enamelling them at its Austrian headquarters for nearly a hundred years as well. Wanless came on board to disrupt the company’s tried, tested, and perfected process.

  19. 09.06.13
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    Jonathan Muecke for Volume Gallery

    Jonathan Muecke makes me anxious. I love his work so much, but I don’t entirely know what it means. I love his work so much, but he barely makes any of it. I love his work so much, but I don’t understand what he’s doing up there in Minneapolis, keeping mostly to himself. However I suppose it’s appropriate that he would cultivate the same cool, detached, mysterious air as his pieces, which — when I interviewed him for W magazine back in 2011, the first time he launched a collection with Volume Gallery — he described as “relational objects,” things with unfamiliar but contextual functions like “scrambling everything in a room” or “behaving like a mass — something you don’t really want to think about.” To that end it may be equally appropriate (if not semi-amusing) that on the occasion of Muecke’s second show with Volume, opening tonight in Chicago, curators Sam Vinz and Claire Warner asked a psychiatrist rather than a writer to interview him for the catalog, who probed him about equalizing and collapsing before concluding that “I find everything we’ve discussed completely logical, yet strange … in the true sense of something not yet encountered, or still unknown.” We’ve excerpted a few key moments from the conversation between Muecke and Dr. Brian Stonehocker after the jump, alongside images of all six pieces from the new series.

  20. 07.01.13
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    Jesse Moretti at Mondo Cane

    A few weeks ago, someone on our Facebook page coined the term “zigzag expressionism” to describe the current prevailing aesthetic in art and graphic design. At the time, we laughed, gave the comment a thumbs up, and moved on. But in the weeks since, the phrase has stuck with us — and never more so than when we caught a glimpse on Instagram of the work of recent Cranbrook MFA grad Jesse Moretti, on view now at Mondo Cane gallery in New York. What we like about this phrase in general is its laughable obviousness, but in the context of Moretti’s work it actually does describe not only a visual language but a thematic one as well.

  21. 06.25.13
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    Brent Wadden: About Time at Peres Projects Berlin

    Until three years ago, the Canadian-born, Berlin-based artist Brent Wadden had never touched a weaving loom. He was mostly making paintings and drawings, but because so many of them featured complex repeating geometric patterns, he was constantly told by friends and observers that they’d make amazing textiles. Most fine artists would have shrugged off a suggestion like that, preferring to hew closer to their own oeuvre, but not Wadden — he asked a friend for lessons on a laser-cut loom, and then stuck with it until he was making full-scale tapestries on his own and showing them alongside his other work. The pieces pictured here are part of his new Alignment series, on view starting this Friday at Peres Projects in Berlin. Wadden was kind enough to take some time out of his weekend to answer a few questions for us about the show, and about his explorations into the realm of craft in general.

  22. 06.12.13
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    New Abstract at The Printhouse Gallery

    Is it possible, in this day and age, to have a new movement in design, à la Art Deco, or Memphis? That was the question we posed to our panel of emerging designers a few weeks ago at the Collective Design Fair here in New York City, and the consensus appeared to be no. (As one participant claimed, “Everything just looks like the internet now.”) But this week, a new group show opened in London, curated by Printhouse Gallery’s Ruth Hanahoe and illustrator Saskia Pomeroy, that claimed one such new movement. They call it the New Abstract, and they’ve brought together different media in the visual arts — primarily prints, paintings, and ceramics — all united by a certain aesthetic and informed in some way by the process of making. (To be fair, a lot of the work does look like the internet; perhaps Tumblr is this generation’s aesthetic movement.) We’re still on the fence about whether the name will stick, but the curators do make an excellent case for the commonalities that tie the work together.

  23. 06.07.13
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    The Campana Brothers at Friedman Benda

    If you’re a longtime reader of Sight Unseen, you know it’s rare that we write about a big-name designer. In part, it’s a question of access — it’s far easier to get an RCA grad on the phone than, say, Hella Jongerius. But it’s also a question of ubiquity: If you read a bunch of design blogs, you’re going to hear about something like Yves Behar’s new Smart Lock until your face falls off. But the Campana Brothers — despite being one of the biggest names in design — have somehow always eluded that extreme ubiquity.

  24. 05.07.13
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    Furniture 2013 at Johnson Trading Gallery

    We suppose a lot could be made of the fact that Paul Johnson’s usually private Johnson Trading Gallery is finally opening its doors for an exhibition at the same time that both the Collective Design Fair and the Frieze Art Fair descend on New York City — and of the fact that Johnson’s former cinema­–turned–gallery space is located in Nowheresville, Queens, pretty much smack in the middle between Collective’s Chelsea pier and Frieze’s takeover of Roosevelt Island. After all, the gallery has always been on the fringes of both design and art, what with its carefully groomed roster of young talent making things that sometimes count as furniture in name only (Aranda/Lasch’s industrial rubber–sprayed Modern Primitives chair comes to mind). But to tell the truth, we’re pretty tired of the whole design vs. art debate at this point. It’s been nearly two years since Johnson hosted an exhibition in New York, and considering this one’s meant to celebrate four young designers who’ve barely yet made a blip on the scene, we were more interested to see what exactly Johnson’s been up to in his far-out lair and who he’s been scouting in the interim.

  25. 03.12.13
    Excerpt: Exhibition
    5 Platonic Objects by Christian Wassmann at R 20th Century

    Swiss architect Christian Wassmann is quite the chameleon: Not only does he seem to float effortlessly between every important New York fashion party, design talk, and art opening, equally at home in every crowd, his work also spans myriad scenes and disciplines — from the interior of a scrappy East Village radio station, to a massive installation with fashion darlings threeASFOUR at the Arnhem Mode Biennale, to his latest project, a suite of transformable furniture for the high-end Tribeca design gallery R20th Century. While we’re not sure how to explain his social gifts, his professional versatility comes down to something we here at Sight Unseen can certainly appreciate: Wassmann’s longtime appreciation for geometric forms permeates everything he does, and those shapes by their very nature happen to work just as well on a small scale as they do on a larger one. In honor of his first small-scale effort, we did a little interview with him, which we’ve posted after the jump.