Exhibition Archive

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    Designing for the Design Museum’s Designs of the Year must be in many ways a dream project, in many ways a nightmare. Creating graphics that can seamlessly place disciplines as disparate as graphic design, furniture, product and architecture comfortably next to one another takes skill and an eye for leaving said projects to speak for themselves. Ok-RM’s graphics did just that, sitting back to let the viewer to make their own decisions about each project on its own merit, regardless of how it was made or by whom. Clean, well-spaced and scant typography work with clever colour-coding to form an overall aesthetic that more than deserves its place alongside the best designs of the past 12 months.

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    Listen up digital art types! If you’ve got great idea for a project that you haven’t been able to make happen, The Space may just be able to help. The not-for-profit venue has launched an open call to help a creative make that one crazy idea a reality, with funding and mentoring on offer. They say: “Nothing’s off limits; this is about pushing the boundaries and the project can take their point of departure from any artistic discipline, from music and film to visual arts and gaming.”

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    Victoria Siddall has worked at Frieze for just over a decade and two years ago was made Director of Frieze Masters. Excitingly, just a few weeks ago she was appointed Director of Frieze Masters, Frieze New York and Frieze London. As well as being one of the most powerful women in the art world, Victoria is also my sister, so I was curious to find out how she’s feeling on the dawn of her new career.

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    Imagine a dream world in which the heavy task of town planning was given over to the artists and creatives whose visions could ignite the city and bring out its most defining features. Some cities in the world are known for their cultural heritage: Nantes wasn’t one of these until 15 years ago, and since then it’s been a slow burn fuelled by the imagination of a group of risk-takers coralled by French public art impressario Jean Blaise and his curator David Moinard.

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    For years I ventured no further than the hallowed halls of the lower floors of the V&A. And then, one day, like Lucy and Edmund tiptoeing upstairs to discover Narnia, I crept into the Theatre and Performance Galleries and found another magical wardrobe.

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    There are several cool job titles found in British history and Constable of the Tower of London is right up there. The Duke of Wellington took the office on route to becoming Prime Minister and made several major innovations including draining the moat, closing the Royal Menagerie and shutting down the taverns within its walls. All of which makes him sound like a prize spoilsport, but in fact after his tenure the Tower was both better-equipped for its military purposes and drawing more visitors than ever.

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    The South London Gallery describes Lawrence Weiner, whose new exhibition All in Due Course opened there last Friday, as a “reluctant pioneer of conceptual art,” which must be one of the coolest epithets going. The American artist has been creating his typographic wall sculptures since the 1970s when he first pioneered his unique medium which he maintains is not conceptualism but a kind of sculpture made using “language + the materials referred to.”

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    Once upon a time, the church spires of New York offered an unrivalled view of the city. But in photographer Berenice Abbott’s Manhattan of the 1930s, skyscrapers shot up on every side and suddenly there were windows and back streets, balconies, construction sites and advertising billboards all crying out for a camera to capture their unique perspective of the metropolis. Changing New York is Abbott’s anatomy of the town, dissecting it, discovering its dramatic angles, dappled shadows and dilapidated dwellings. Her work is a fitting opening for the Barbican Art Gallery’s Constructing Worlds exhibition, exploring architecture and its relationship to the world through more than 250 images from 18 artists.

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    Even if you haven’t seen it, you’ll have heard of it, because Gone With The Wind is still, 75 years after its release, the most successful blockbuster of all time. David O. Selznick’s multi-Oscar winning film has weevilled its way deep into the American – and the world’s – subconscious, creating so vivid a cultural memory we’re almost tricked into believing we lived through it all too. Even a lass like me, “southern” only in the east London sense of the word.

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    Edwin Smith’s England is a faraway place, and yet a familiar one. It’s a land inhabited by long-skirted ladies with perms, where brass cash registers are used on high streets fronted by butchers and bakers and grocers. No surprise then that the people’s poet Sir John Betjeman dubbed Smith a “genius at photography” because he has, in his vast collection of photographs of city and countryside, inside and outside, captured the essence of the now-distant England portrayed in the writer’s verse.

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    Imagine for a moment that the shoebox under your bed was filled not with photos of your Great Aunt June snoozing on the sofa last Christmas, but with photographs taken in space by astronauts on Apollo 14. For a lucky few at NASA this is (almost) true, and fortunately they’re more than happy to share their treasures with us proles in the form of a new exhibition at London’s BREESE Little Gallery.

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    20 years ago in 1994, little known designer Eike König set up his “graphic design playground” Hort, creating a community in the centre of Berlin where creatives could collaborate on ideas and client briefs side by side. Nowadays, the playground is slightly bigger, undertaking work for Nike, The New York Times and Walt Disney among others, but the underlying emphasis on collaboration and experimentation remains exactly the same.

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    “Riverbed is running.” So tweeted Studio Olafur Eliasson yesterday – a poetic press release if ever I heard one – to announce the opening of the Danish-Icelandic artist’s latest epic installation. Something of a titan in the art world, having already created moon, he’s now built riverbed in the south wing of the Louisiana Musuem of Modern Art in Denmark.

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    If, while walking down the street, flicking through a magazine or sitting on a bus recently you’ve found yourself looking at a movie poster, you’re probably in some way come into contact with the influence of Hans Hillmann. When the German graphic artist began producing film posters in 1953 at the height of the Modernist era, few realised he’d have such a profound effect on the industry, but his bold, Minimalist-inspired creations set a new standard for .

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    I’ll be honest and say that usually when I see the words “exquisite corps” in relation to a creative project, I immediately lose interest. So often this collaborative idea – used by the surrealists as a liberating drawing exercise – is used without imagination or flair. But a current exhibition at Walls Gallery in Amsterdam looks like a fantastic exception to my rule.

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    Dutch illustrator Stefan Glerum is one of the most accomplished image-makers working today. His latest show at London’s Kemistry Gallery is a whirlwind of references; from Art Deco to Bauhaus, Italian Futurism to Russian Constructivism; criss-crossing time and space with enviable style. Called simply Five Years of Work By Stefan Glerum, the exhibition features work with which even casual observers may be familiar, but that doesn’t in any way lessen its impact. In fact it’s exhilarating to go back to, say, the Bayern State Opera posters he made with Mirko Borsche and consider them anew in the wider context of his portfolio. Quite simply see this show if at all possible.

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    It’s not a flawless guide, but you can often tell how significant the subject of an exhibition is based on who writes the foreword in the show’s catalogue. That Milton Glaser contributed an essay for Ivan Chermayeff: Cut and Paste at The De La Warr Pavilion is a good guide that if you’re interested in graphic design, he’s a name with which you should be familiar.

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    It’s so great to see the Nous Vous lads continuing with their quest to bring a gentle spark of inspiration to the general public. Their latest venture is an exhibition in the enormous old factory-turned-cultural centre, The Tetley in Leeds. A Watery Line will exhibit “drawings, prints, paintings and objects, producing new artwork in on-site open studios and working with a selection of other artists to deliver a programme of performances and workshops.” Ahead of the opening of this exciting, friendly show, we asked Nicolas Burrows to tell us a little more about the planning of the exhibition and what they hope the public gets out of it.

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    Bold printing, toying with scale, subverting nature and confounding the senses seem to be the defining elements of Richard Woods’ work. The artist and designer made a name for himself mimicking wooden patterns in bright colours on the surface of furniture, but his skills extend beyond simple tables and chairs. In his latest show at Albion Barn he’s been given free reign to customise every inch of his exhibition space; the walls, floors and furnishings of an area in which he’s exhibiting a selection of original prints. It’s a pretty bold move to allow an artist to reinvent the entire gallery, but Richard has undertaken the task with characteristic flair, turning the whole environment into a vibrant, cartoonish set in which his work seems entirely at home.

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    I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking; “How on earth did that priest train a dolphin to carry him like that?” Or maybe you’re thinking; “Where did the photographer have to stand to capture that image?” Or perhaps, in fact, you’re thinking; “This HAS to be fake.” But all of these lines of inquiry are valid in the world of Joan Fontcuberta, the Spanish artist and photographer who’s latest exhibition has just landed at The Science Museum’s Media Space.

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    It’s not a revelation that festivals of today are not what they used to be. Flower garlands have been replaced with plastic ones that you can buy at Topshop, barely adolescent bands mime where once musicians gave career-changing performances and free loving, all-night dancing sun drenched affairs have morphed into a race to see who can snog a semi-famous TV presenter first. We’re not bitter about it though, especially not when we’ve got photographs like this to remind us of the golden age.

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    This week assistant editor Maisie Skidmore asks what makes a good group show. Are they really all they’re cracked up to be, or are they poised for failure? Tell us what you think of them and which you’ve been to that were especially brilliant or terrible in the comments section below.

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    I love how Ryan McGinley will just burst on to the scene with a bunch of new work every now and again to remind everyone of his utter greatness. As soon as you see the new shots you realise that while you’ve been peddling backwards at a nine-to-five, Ryan’s been photographing kids jumping into phosphorescence-filled bays, streaking wildly through prairies or lying in meadows of fluff given off by procreating trees. Some people call him a one-trick pony, sure, but it’s pretty obvious that they’re just jealous. At the moment, Ryan’s work is on show at the high-rise Galerie Perrotin in Hong Kong where it seems to hover, hundreds of storeys up, looking down over the city, so go check it out if you’re in the area.

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    There’s a simple, iconic power to the work of Magnus Voll Mathiassen whether he’s immortalising Krautrock legends Kraftwerk or sultry pop princess Rihanna with his trademark crisp lines. His reductive approach to image-making means he’s ideally suited to creating bold work for album covers, but to really appreciate his work it’s best to blow it up MASSSIVE. Which is more or less what he’s done for his new show Hybridio in Oslo, enlarging some of his most iconic work to the size of an actually human man so you can appreciate his skill up close. He’s also showing a selection of hand-drawn work and some incredible watercolours, thereby proving that there’s even more strings to his bow than we’d first thought.

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    With the amount of press attention he’s been getting over the last couple of weeks in the run up to his debut exhibition at London’s Howard Griffin Gallery, you’d think photographer Bob Mazzer would be somewhat overwhelmed. This is not the case. Over the past 45 years he’s been taking photographs of the people he meets on the London Underground, but it wasn’t until Spitalfields Life starting posting them on their blog last year that it all kicked off.

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    The second year graphic design students on Central Saint Martins’ BA course are about a year ahead of anyone else when it comes to their degree show planning. They’ve already put the wheels in motion to raise vast sums to help launch themselves professionally when they graduate. In order to do so they’ve got a pop-up shop in progress that aims to be the most expensive concept store the world has ever seen. In it they’ll be selling one-off pieces for up to one million pounds, although the more their website is shared through social media channels, the lower the price will get.

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    Arriving at Paradise Row to see the new show by the iconoclastic Eric Yahnker provides a spectacular antidote to the madness of Oxford Street experienced only moments before. Greeted by a sign that reads “We the Peephole,” Eric’s solo UK debut and exhibition of new work boldly critiques the plasticity of pop and the contemporary political landscape: a wonderful relief after walking through a street rife with neon shops like Anne Summers and places that sell plastic fridge magnets of Diana and Robbie Williams.

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    When you search for “Ian Stevenson” Google suggests that you might be looking for a Canadian psychiatrist who specialised in reincarnation. I wasn’t – I was after the British artist of the same name – but I can’t help wonder what the former might have made of the latter’s work.

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    I’m always interested by the paradox which means that small exhibitions are often the most impactful, and the new show at the Design Museum, entitled Time Machines: Daniel Weil and the Art of Design is a prime example. Though it occupies a relatively small space, tucked in on the top floor next to the expansive Designs of the Year show, it seems to catalogue Daniel’s original approach to design perfectly.His new series of clocks demand attention first; finely made with all of their parts exposed, they maintain the dematerialisation that he first established with his Bag Radios, exploring new means of conductivity, but they seem to have progressed to a more finely-tuned, beautiful state.

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    Like many famous combinations – fish and chips, gin and tonic – type and design are inextricably linked but rarely do we explore that relationship in any depth. A new exhibition in New York does just that though, bringing together a host of rare works and unique artefacts to examine the centuries-old way in which these two entities have developed in partnership.

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    As May begins and we start to edge towards some semblance of summer, galleries across London start to wheel out a host of exciting and engaging exhibitions. Today sees the opening of one such show, with artist Von’s new work on display at KK Outlet. To truly appreciate the skill that goes into Von’s painstaking pencil drawings you really need to get up close and personal with them and Elsewhere shows off his skills at their finest.

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    As mainstream publishers go, few enjoy a design standing as respected as Penguin, and that is largely down to David Pearson. His brilliance will be given due prominence at a show at London’s Kemistry Gallery next month with his bold and communicative book jacket design for Penguin taking centre stage, alongside work for Éditions Zulma and a few other clients.

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    It’s laudable that designers are working on worthy projects that will have a practical impact on building a better future, but we’re big believers that creatives should be engaged in making tomorrow a bit more fun too. Luckily for us, there are institutions like the Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL).

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    In 2011 San Franciscan artist Tauba Auerbach held a solo show at the Bergen Kunsthall in Norway that cemented her reputation as a fine artist with heavyweight conceptual clout as well as being a maker of extraordinarily beautiful objects. Tetrachromat suggested that there was a fourth colour spectrum only perceptible to women and Tauba created a selection of objects that experimented with this theory – including vast books printed with rainbow gradients that are still some of the most beautiful objects I’ve ever laid eyes on.

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    Okay so before we begin let’s set the story straight here and lay down the fact that I know very little about fashion. That’s kind of the reason why I was so curious about going along to the Barbican to see the preview of their latest show that everyone is talking about: The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk.

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    Hey Studio always impress us with their consistently superb work. Their evolution over the past few years from die-hard champions of Swiss Modernism to creators of truly versatile work has delighted us, and it’s wonderful to see them grow into their creative potential. That said, we still really love their modernist posters, which is good for us as they’re about to go on display at Mad Shop in Barcelona from 11 April until 5 June 2014. There you’ll be able to see a huge variety of Hey’s poster projects, from their dynamic work for Film Commission Chile to recent pieces for ESPN Barcelona. Nice!

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    “There are three types of artist,” Thierry Noir tells me, “difficult, very difficult and impossible.” Which one is he? “I do not want to know.” The unassuming French artist is in London for the opening of his first ever solo show at the Howard Griffin Gallery in Shoreditch, and has been working flat out for two weeks to get everything finished. As well as 15 large canvases which are going on display (alongside rarely seen photographs and films), Thierry has been busy painting various walls around east London and likes the combination of gallery and al fresco work; street painting he says gives him “a different type of energy.” It’s fair to say that Thierry Noir has some experience in this.

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    We’ve all got a pile of forgotten junk hidden away somewhere in the depths of our homes – that’s what the empty space is for, right? Well, my fellow hoarders, it seems the Bank of England has the same problem, but where we have attics and locked cupboards they have a museum, so it’s all been put on display in an exhibition called Curiosities from the Vaults. Luckily for us, theirs isn’t so much junk as it is rare artefacts steeped in history, and it’s all been free to see since Monday.

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    The Grand Palais, one of Paris’ largest and most spectacular art galleries, is paying tribute to artist and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in a huge exhibition of his work. Famous for his incredibly stylised black and white photographs, Robert rose to fame in the late 60s and early 70s for his images of New York’s underground bondage and sadomasochism scenes, introducing a form of image-making which embraced homoeroticism in a way that very few, if any, photographers had managed to do before him. The exhibition will show 200 of these controversial and ground-breaking images, making it the most complete show of his work to date.

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    The main poster for this year’s Designs of the Year show at London’s Design Museum features a stark white slogan on a sheer black background which reads: “Someday the other museums will be showing this stuff.” It sums up perfectly what this programme aims to do: champion and showcase the best contemporary design and put a marker down for that which will come to define the coming decades. And this year’s extravaganza succeeds in doing that in spectacular fashion.