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Jean Tinguely

Today’s Artist Birthday: Jean Tinguely

Jean Tinguely (22 May 1925 – 30 August 1991) was an artist who worked in the Dada tradition, best known for his mechanical sculpture work, also known as kinetic art. He called his creations “Metamechanics,” which playfully mocked mass consumerism and the overproduction of material goods.

Jean Tinguely, 1976, in Basel. [Photo by: Helen Sager]
Jean Tinguely, 1976, in Basel. [Photo by: Helen Sager]
Born in Fribourg, Switzerland, Tinguely grew up in Basel. He attended the School of Arts and Crafts, though records indicate that he was not terribly fond of consistent attendance. He later had an apprenticeship as a decorator, until 1947 when he begins to spend a lot of time in the circle of the Basel anarchist Heiner Koechlin.

Heiner Koechlin, c.1960

In 1952 he moved to France with his first wife, Swiss artist Eva Aeppli, to pursue a career in art. They immersed themselves in the Parisian avant garde scene throughout the mid-twentieth century, and there he developed his distinctive, mischievous, and whimsical style.

Images of Eva Aeppli and Jean Tinguely, 1958 in Paris
Images of Eva Aeppli and Jean Tinguely, 1958 in Paris

At the beginning of 1955,  he moved into a studio in the Impasse Ronsin where one of his neighbors was the sculptor Constantin Brancusi. Later that same year, Tinguely takes part in the exhibition Le Mouvement at the Galerie Denise René in Paris, together with Pol Bury, Soto, Calder, Vasarely, Duchamp and other artists, where the concept of kinetic art plays a major role for the first time.

mouvement

In 1956, through his network of connections in the Parisian art scene, he meets the brilliant young artist Yves Klein, and the two quickly became great friends. In November of 1958, Tinguely and Klein collaborated on a joint exhibition entitled Vitesse pure et stabilité monochrome, at the Galerie Iris Clert.

 

Jean Tinguely and Yves Klein, 1958
Jean Tinguely and Yves Klein, 1958
Tinguely and Klein, 1958

In 1959 in grand style, he scatters copies of his manifesto “Für Statik (For statics)” from an airplane over Düsseldorf, promoting the idea “Everything moves. Standstill does not exist …”.

Jean Tinguely, above the skies of Düsseldorf, about to scatter copies of his manifesto on the city below.
Jean Tinguely, above the skies of Düsseldorf, about to scatter copies of his manifesto on the city below. 1959

In October of 1960, he is one of the founders of the group “Nouveaux Réalistes” in Paris. Headed up by Klein, the group sets its goal as exploring new ways of perceiving reality. Aside Tinguely and Klein, the initial members were Arman, Martial Raysse, Pierre Restany, Daniel Spoerri, Francois Dufrêne, Raymond Hains, Jacques de la Villeglé. The following year, they were joined by César, Mimmo Rotella, Niki de Saint Phalle, and Gérard Deschamps.

Jean Tinguely (far left) Niki and unidentified man, shooting paint at a nearly finished work, 1961 [photo: Shunk-Kender; © 2008 Niki Charitable Art Foundation, all rights reserved / VG Bild-Kunst Bonn 2012; photo © Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, Shunk-Kender]
Jean Tinguely (far left) Niki de Saint Phalle, and unidentified man, shooting paint at a nearly finished work, 1961 [photo: Shunk-Kender; © 2008 Niki Charitable Art Foundation, all rights reserved / VG Bild-Kunst Bonn 2012; photo © Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, Shunk-Kender]
In 1962 he completes his spectacular Study for an End of the World No. 2, a sculptural ensemble that completely self-destructs before an audience in the desert of Nevada, outside Las Vegas, USA. Earlier in 1960, he had attempted his first self destructing sculpture, Homage to New York, but the work did not completely self-destruct. What remains of that sculpture now resides in the garden of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

1963-64, he created the monumental sculpture Heureka for the Expo 64 in Lausanne, Switzerland.

"Heureka," by Jean Tinguely, Basel, Switzerland. Created 19
“Heureka,” by Jean Tinguely, Basel, Switzerland. Created 1963-4

In 1966, Tinguely, along with Niki de Saint-Phalle and Per Olof Ultvedt, created the Hon-en-Katedrall (sometimes spelled “Hon-en-Katedral“) art installation exhibited at Moderna Museet in Stockholm. The work was a large scale sculpture of a colorful pregnant woman lying on her back with her legs wide apart. The sculpture was 25–26 meters long, about 6 meters high and 11 meters wide. It was constructed of scaffolding and chicken wire, covered with fabric and fiberglass, then painted with brightly-colored poster paint. Visitors would enter the work through an opening in the location of the woman’s vagina, returning to the womb, as it were. Once inside, they were to find a screen showing Greta Garbo films, a goldfish pond and a soft drink vending machine, all the while being entertained by the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, played through hidden speakers. The piece was exhibited from June 4 to September 9 in 1966, and during that time had over 80,000 visitors.

Installation of "Hon-en-Katedrall," Tinguely
Installation of “Hon-en-Katedrall,” created by Jean Tinguely, with Niki de Saint-Phalle, and Per Olof Ultvedt (pictured right to left).

One of his most celebrated works was created in 1970, when he and a group of friends create La Vittoria in front of the Milan Cathedral, in Milan, Italy. It was a giant golden phallus which, with much pomp and circumstance, burns to the ground as part of the festival celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Nouveaux Réalistes.

la vittoria 1
Phase 1 of “La Vittoria,” by Jean Tinguely, celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the Nouveaux Réalistes, a group he founded in 1960 with the delightful Yves Klein, and others.
la vittoria 2
Phase 2 & 3 of “La Vittoria,” by Jean Tinguely. The sculpture is revealed and then set on fire. The event was to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the Nouveaux Réalistes, a group he founded in 1960 with the delightful Yves Klein, and others.
la vittoria 3
Phase 4 of “La Vittoria,” by Jean Tinguely. The sculpture had been set on fire and now remains only the frame. The event was to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the Nouveaux Réalistes, a group he founded in 1960 with the delightful Yves Klein, and others.

In 1971, Tinguely married his second wife, his long time creative partner, Niki de Saint Phalle.

Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely, 1966
Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely, 1966

From the 1970’s until 1991, Tinguely worked continuously on his complicated and fantastical sculptures and exhibitions. His creative flow was intense and prolific, however the near-frantic pace of his creation may have taken its toll however.

Jean Tinguely in his studio, 1981
Jean Tinguely in his studio, 1981

On August 18, 1991 Jean Tinguely suffered a stroke and was taken to the Inselspital Hospital in Berne. He resisted death for nearly two weeks, but unfortunately never recovered. He would succumb to the complications of the stroke and passed away on August 30, at the young age of 66 years.Tinguely01

His funeral was held on September 4, 1991 in Basel. His 1979 tractor-like and drivable sculpture entitled “Klamauk,” was part of his funeral procession. That same sculpture still makes the rounds of Basel on “Tinguely Tag,” or “Tinguely Day,” a annual celebration of his life, remembering him each year on the anniversary of his death.


tinguely by vera isler, 1990
“Playing is art. So I am playing.”

Jean Tinguely

digital collage portrait created by 
Terri Maxfield Lipp
May 22, 2017


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Originally posted May 22, 2016
Updated on May 22, 2017 

Richard Avedon

Today’s Artist Birthday: Richard Avedon

Richard Avedon (May 15, 1923 – October 1, 2004) was an American fashion and portrait photographer. His celebrity, fashion, and portrait photographs helped define America’s image of style, beauty and culture for the last half of the twentieth century.


Avedon was born in New York City, NY, in 1923. His father, Jacob Israel Avedon, was a Russian-born immigrant who advanced from menial work to starting his own successful retail dress business on Fifth Avenue, called Avedon’s Fifth Avenue. His mother, Anna, whose family owned a dress-manufacturing business, encouraged Richard’s love of fashion and art. Avedon’s interest in photography emerged when, at age 12, he joined a Young Men’s Hebrew Association (YMHA) Camera Club. He would use his family’s Kodak Box Brownie not only to feed his curiosity about the world, but also to retreat from his personal life. His father was a critical and remote disciplinarian who insisted that physical strength, education and money prepared one for life. Avedon would later cause a degree of controversy with his “Father Series;” a series of images of his father over a period of time as the elder Avedon was dying.

Jacob Isreal Avedon, photographed by his son Richard Avedon for the "Father Series" produced in 197
Jacob Isreal Avedon, photographed by his son Richard Avedon for the “Father Series” produced in 1974. The series  was controversial as it was a deep, visual examination and revelation of the process of death.
death
Jacob Isreal Avedon, sleeping just months before his death, photographed by his son Richard Avedon for the “Father Series” produced in 1974. The series was controversial as it was a deep, visual examination and revelation of the process of death.

The photographer’s first muse was his younger sister, Louise. During her teen years she struggled through psychiatric treatment. And, eventually, becoming increasingly withdrawn from reality, was diagnosed with schizophrenia. She was later institutionalized and died at the age of 42. His love for his sister often expressed itself in his desire to capture tragic beauty in his photos.

Richard's adored sister, Louis Avedon, c. 194
Richard’s adored sister, Louis Avedon, c. 1945

Avedon attended DeWitt Clinton High School in Bedford Park, Bronx, where he worked on the school paper, The Magpie, with James Baldwin from 1937 until 1940. After graduating from DeWitt, he enrolled at Columbia University to study philosophy and poetry but dropped out after one year. He then started as a photographer for the Merchant Marines, taking ID shots of the crewmen with the Rolleiflex camera his father had given him as a gift. From 1944 to 1950, Avedon studied photography with Alexey Brodovitch at his Design Laboratory at The New School for Social Research.

avedon marine chest measure
Photograph of a Marine getting his chest measured, by Richard Avedon, when he was the assistant editor for “The Helm,” from 1942 to 1944

In 1944, Avedon began working as an advertising photographer for a department store, but was quickly endorsed by Alexey Brodovitch, who was art director for the fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar. Lillian Bassman also promoted Avedon’s career at Harper’s. In 1945 his photographs began appearing in Junior Bazaar and, a year later, in Harper’s Bazaar.

Cover of "Junior Bazaar, 1947 with model Anne Theophane Graham photographed by Richard Avedon
Cover of “Junior Bazaar, July 1947, with model Anne Theophane Graham photographed by Richard Avedon

In 1946, Avedon had set up his own studio and began providing images for magazines including Vogue and Life. He soon became the chief photographer for Harper’s Bazaar. From 1950 he also contributed photographs to Life, Look and Graphis and in 1952 became Staff Editor and photographer for Theatre Arts Magazine.

dovima
The legendary model Dovima, photographed by Avedon in 1950

Avedon did not conform to the standard technique of taking studio fashion photographs, where models stood emotionless and seemingly indifferent to the camera. Instead, he showed models full of emotion, smiling, laughing, and, many times, in action in outdoor settings which was revolutionary at the time. However, towards the end of the 1950s he became dissatisfied with daylight photography and open air locations and so turned to studio photography, using strobe lighting.

swansdown avedon 1955
Models wearing Swansdown Suits, 1955 by Richard Avedon

When Diana Vreeland left Harper’s Bazaar for Vogue in 1962, Avedon joined her as a staff photographer. He proceeded to become the lead photographer at Vogue and photographed most of the covers from 1973 until Anna Wintour became editor in chief in late 1988. Notable among his fashion advertisement series are the recurring assignments for Gianni Versace, beginning with the spring/summer campaign 1980.

avedon carangi 1980
Supermodel before the word “supermodel” even existed, Gia Carangi, photographed for Versace by Richard Avedon in 1980. (In the late 70’s and early 80’s “heroin chic” was quite-so chic in the fashion world and the beautiful Carangi was a dedicated user. She contracted the AIDS virus from sharing needles and tragically died at the young age of 26 in 1986.)

He also photographed the Calvin Klein Jeans campaign featuring a fifteen-year-old Brooke Shields, as well as directing her in the accompanying television commercials. He first worked with Shields in 1974 for a Colgate toothpaste ad. He shot her for Versace, 12 American Vogue covers and Revlon’s Most Unforgettable Women campaign. In the February 9, 1981, issue of Newsweek, Avedon said that “Brooke is a lightning rod. She focuses the inarticulate rage people feel about the decline in contemporary morality and destruction of innocence in the world.”

1974 Colgate toothpaste ad, model Brooke Shields, photograph by Richard Avedon
1974 Colgate toothpaste ad, model Brooke Shields, photograph by Richard Avedon
Brooke Shields for Calvin Klein, photographed by Richard Avedon in 1981
Brooke Shields for Calvin Klein, photographed by Richard Avedon in 1981
Brooke Shields photographed by Richard Avedon, January 26, 1988
Brooke Shields photographed by Richard Avedon, January 26, 1988

On working with Avedon, Shields told Interview magazine in May 1992 “When Dick walks into the room, a lot of people are intimidated. But when he works, he’s so acutely creative, so sensitive. And he doesn’t like it if anyone else is around or speaking. There is a mutual vulnerability, and a moment of fusion when he clicks the shutter. You either get it or you don’t”.

Richard Avedon and Brooke Shields attend the presentation of Yves Saint Laurent's Fall Winter Collection, 1980
Richard Avedon and Brooke Shields attend the presentation of Yves Saint Laurent’s Fall Winter Collection, 1980

In addition to his continuing fashion work, by the 1960s Avedon was making studio portraits of civil rights workers, politicians and cultural dissidents of various stripes in an America fissured by discord and violence. He branched out into photographing patients of mental hospitals, the Civil Rights Movement in 1963, protesters of the Vietnam War, and later the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The Berlin Wall, November 9, 1989, by Richard Avedon
The Berlin Wall, November 9, 1989, by Richard Avedon

A personal book called “Nothing Personal,” with a text by his high school classmate James Baldwin appeared in 1964. During this period, Avedon also created two well known sets of portraits of The Beatles. The first, taken in mid to late 1967, became one of the first major rock poster series, and consisted of five psychedelic portraits of the group — four heavily solarized individual color portraits and a black-and-white group portrait taken with a Rolleiflex camera and a normal Planar lens.

The iconic Beatles poster, by Richard Avedon, 1967...long before Photoshop.
The iconic Beatles poster, by Richard Avedon, 1967…long before Photoshop.

The next year he photographed the much more restrained portraits that were included with The Beatles LP in 1968. Among the many other rock bands photographed by Avedon, in 1973 he shot Electric Light Orchestra with all the members exposing their bellybuttons for recording, On the Third Day.

Cover photo for Electric Light Orchestra's "On The Third Day" album, by Richard Avedon, 1973
Cover photo for Electric Light Orchestra’s “On The Third Day” album, by Richard Avedon, 1973

Avedon was always interested in how portraiture captures the personality and soul of its subject. As his reputation as a photographer became widely known, he photographed many noted people in his studio with a large-format 8×10 view camera. His subjects include Buster Keaton, Marian Anderson, Marilyn Monroe, Ezra Pound, Isak Dinesen, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Andy Warhol, and the Chicago Seven. His portraits are distinguished by their minimalist style, where the person is looking squarely at the camera, posed in front of a sheer white background. By eliminating the use of soft lights and props, Avedon was able to focus on the inner worlds of his subjects evoking emotions and reactions. He would at times evoke reactions from his portrait subjects by guiding them into uncomfortable areas of discussion or asking them psychologically probing questions. Through these means he would produce images revealing aspects of his subject’s character and personality that were not typically captured by others.

Marilyn Monroe by Richard Avedon, May 1957
Marilyn Monroe by Richard Avedon, May 1957

In 1982 Avedon produced a playfully inventive series of advertisements for fashion label Christian Dior, based on the idea of film stills. Featuring director Andre Gregory, photographer Vincent Vallarino and model/actress Kelly Le Brock, the color photographs purported to show the wild antics of a fictional “Dior family” living ménage à trois while wearing elegant fashions.

Kelly Lebrock, and two fine gentlemen, for Christian Dior, October 1982, photographed by Richard Avedon
Kelly Lebrock, and two fine gentlemen, for Christian Dior, October 1982, photographed by Richard Avedon

Avedon became the first staff photographer for The New Yorker in 1992, where his post-apocalyptic, wild fashion fable “In Memory of the Late Mr. and Mrs. Comfort,” featuring model Nadja Auermann and a skeleton, was published in 1995. Other pictures for the magazine, ranging from the first publication, in 1994, of previously unpublished photos of Marilyn Monroe to a resonant rendering of Christopher Reeve in his wheelchair and nude photographs of Charlize Theron in 2004, were topics of wide discussion. Some of his less controversial New Yorker portraits include those of Saul Bellow, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Toni Morrison, Derek Walcott, John Kerry, and Stephen Sondheim. In his later years, he continued to contribute to Egoïste, where his photographs appeared from 1984 through 2000. In 1999, Avedon shot the cover photos for Japanese-American singer Hikaru Utada’s Addicted to You.

Nadja Auermann by Richard Avedon,
Nadja Auermann by Richard Avedon, 1995
RICHARD-AVEDON_3190007b
Nastassja Kinski by Richard Avedon, 1981

One of the things Avedon is distinguished by as a photographer is his large prints, sometimes measuring over three feet in height. His large-format portrait work of drifters, miners, cowboys and others from the western United States became a best-selling book and traveling exhibit entitled In the American West, and is regarded as an important hallmark in 20th century portrait photography, and by some as Avedon’s magnum opus.

avedon_beekeeper
From “The American West” series by Richard Avedon

Serious heart inflammations hindered Avedon’s health in 1974. The troubling time inspired him to create a compelling collection from a new perspective. In 1979, he was commissioned by Mitchell A. Wilder (1913–1979), the director of the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, to complete the “Western Project.” Wilder envisioned the project to portray Avedon’s take on the American West. It became a turning point in Avedon’s career when he focused on everyday working class subjects such as miners soiled in their work clothes, housewives, farmers and drifters on larger-than-life prints, instead of the more traditional options of focusing upon noted public figures or the openness and grandeur of the West. The project lasted five years concluding with an exhibition and a catalogue. It allowed Avedon and his crew to photograph 762 people and expose approximately 17,000 sheets of 8×10 Kodak Tri-X Pan film.

in-america-west5

The collection identified a story within his subjects of their innermost self, a connection Avedon admits would not have happened if his new sense of mortality through severe heart conditions and aging hadn’t occurred. Avedon visited and traveled through state fair rodeos, carnivals, coal mines, oil fields, slaughter houses and prisons to find subjects. In 1994, Avedon revisited his subjects who would later speak about In the American West aftermath and its direct effects. Billy Mudd, a trucker, went long periods of time on his own away from his family. He was a depressed, disconnected and lonely man before Avedon offered him the chance to be photographed. When he saw his portrait for the first time, Mudd saw that Avedon was able to reveal something about Mudd that allowed him to recognize the need for change in his life. The portrait transformed Mudd, and led him to quit his job and return to his family.

Billy Mudd, trucker, from "The American West" series by Richard Avedon
Billy Mudd, trucker, from “The American West” series by Richard Avedon

Helen Whitney’s 1996 American Masters documentary episode, Avedon: Darkness and Light, depicts an aging Avedon identifying In the American West as his best body of work. The project was embedded with Avedon’s goal to discover new dimensions within himself, from a Jewish photographer from the East who celebrated the lives of noted public figures, to an aging man at one of the last chapters of his life, to discovering the inner-worlds, and untold stories of his Western rural subjects.

During the production period Avedon encountered problems with size availability for quality printing paper. While he experimented with platinum printing he eventually settled on Portriga Rapid, a double-weight, fiber-based gelatin silver paper manufactured by Agfa-Gevaert. Each print required meticulous work, with an average of thirty to forty manipulations. Two exhibition sets of In the American West were printed as artist proofs, one set to remain at the Carter after the exhibition there, and the other, property of the artist, to travel to the subsequent six venues. Overall, the printing took nine months, consuming about 68,000 square feet of paper.

In a coal mining valley on the western slope of Colorado, beautiful area of fruit orchards and streams, Avedon photographed at four tunnel mines. Most of the miners came from the small towns of Paonia and Somerset. Their families had lived in the valley for several generations. Brian Justice, a foreman at the Somerset Mine, said, ìMiners pit themselves against the earth, like sailors going out to sea. They arenít loyal to the company, theyíre loyal to the coal.î The Tribble brothers were strong young miners in their twenties. They liked the challenge of mining, the dangers and the money. Only the week before, Dave Tibble told them, he had been buried alive for nineteen hours. He had been working a mile underground when the cave-in occurred. He was at the end of the tunnel; big machines cut the ìfaceî where coal is cut. He clung to the cutting machine, finding pockets of air in and around it and waited until rescuers dug him out.
Miners photographed by Richard Avedon for the “In The American West” series. The Tribble brothers were strong young miners, and only the week before the shoot, Dave Tibble told Avedon that he had been buried alive for nineteen hours. He had been working a mile underground when the cave-in occurred. He was at the end of the tunnel where coal is cut. He clung to a cutting machine, finding pockets of air in and around it and waited until rescuers dug him out.

In September, 2004, Avedon suffered a stroke in San Antonio, Texas, while working on a new project titled Democracy to focus on the run-up to the 2004 U.S. presidential election. He never was to recover, and on October 1, he quietly passed away at Methodist Hospital in San Antonio. There is no municipal record of a funeral, and the site of his burial, if there was one, has never been made public.

One of the last portraits Avedon would do, was that of a young man who only four years later would become President of The United States. Barack Obama by Richard Avedon, 2004
One of the last portraits Avedon would do, was that of a young man who only four years later would become President of The United States. Barack Obama by Richard Avedon, 2004

Text edited from:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Avedon


Richard Avedon

Digital portrait
by Terri Maxfield Lipp, May 2015

(click image for full resolution)


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Joseph Beuys

Joseph Beuys: Fluxus artist

Joseph Beuys (1921-1986) was a German Fluxus artist, one of the first to organize “happenings” through performance art, who also worked as a sculptor, installation artist, graphic artist, art theorist, and pedagogue. The concepts of humanism, social philosophy and anthroposophy were central to his work and life. He developed his own “extended definition of art,” seeing the artist not as a craftsman but instead as fulfilling the role of modern shaman. Though not a common household name, Beuys is considered by many scholars of art history, as one of the most influential artists of the second half of the twentieth century.

Joseph Beuys was born in Krefeld, Germany to his father Josef Jakob Beuys and his mother Johanna Maria Margarete Beuys. The family moved to Kleve, an industrial town in the Lower Rhine region of Germany, close to the Dutch border, shortly after Beuys was born. He attended primary school at the Katholische Volksschule and secondary school at the Staatliches Gymnasium Kleve, now known as the Freiherr-vom-Stein-Gymnasium. Even from a young age, Beuys demonstrated a talent for drawing, but he also exhibited a penchant for piano and cello.

Portrait of Joseph Beuys by Andy Warhol (located now at The National Galleries of Scotland)
Portrait of Joseph Beuys by Andy Warhol (located now at The National Galleries of Scotland)

Beuys approached his art and his life from an intellectual and conceptual perspective, creating for himself a backstory and legacy that were to later undergo great scrutiny and criticism. During the second world war, he had served military service as part of the Luftwaffe. On March 16, 1944, the plane he was in crashed near the Crimean Front, and the story of his rescue and recovery was of his own invention, but contained theme elements, such as fat and felt, that would recur again and again in his later work.

As Beuys told it, “Had it not been for the Tartars I would not be alive today. They were the nomads of the Crimea, in what was then no man’s land between the Russian and German fronts, and favoured neither side. I had already struck up a good relationship with them, and often wandered off to sit with them. ‘Du nix njemcky’ they would say, ‘du Tartar,’ and try to persuade me to join their clan. Their nomadic ways attracted me of course, although by that time their movements had been restricted. Yet, it was they who discovered me in the snow after the crash, when the German search parties had given up. I was still unconscious then and only came round completely after twelve days or so, and by then I was back in a German field hospital. So the memories I have of that time are images that penetrated my consciousness. The last thing I remember was that it was too late to jump, too late for the parachutes to open. That must have been a couple of seconds before hitting the ground. Luckily I was not strapped in – I always preferred free movement to safety belts… My friend was strapped in and he was atomized on impact – there was almost nothing to be found of him afterwards. But I must have shot through the windscreen as it flew back at the same speed as the plane hit the ground and that saved me, though I had bad skull and jaw injuries. Then the tail flipped over and I was completely buried in the snow. That’s how the Tartars found me days later. I remember voices saying ‘Voda’ (Water), then the felt of their tents, and the dense pungent smell of cheese, fat and milk. They covered my body in fat to help it regenerate warmth, and wrapped it in felt as an insulator to keep warmth in.”

However, records from the time tell the story as Beuys being conscious, recovered by a German search commando, and that there were no Tatars in the area who would have come to his aid. He was taken to a military hospital and was in recovery from March 17 to April 7. Despite the actual series of events, Beuys’ story served as a powerful myth of origins for his own artistic identity, and the foundation of his future creative endeavors.

After the war, he began his career as an artist full-time, continuing his education, and co-founding the Donnerstag-Gesellschaft (in English, the “Thursday Group”). Between 1947 and 1950, the group organized discussions, exhibitions, events and concerts in the Alfter Castle, near Bonn.

Alfter Castle

Throughout the 1950’s, he produced thousands of drawings, but struggled physically, emotionally, and financially. In 1956 he suffered his first breakdown, a severe depression, the result of artistic self-doubt and the physical and psychological trauma of his experiences in the war. He was taken in by his first patrons, the van der Grinten brothers, where he was to spend time on his recovery. By 1958 he began exhibiting his work, and in 1959 he married Eva Wurmbach. They had two children together, Wenzel (born 1961) and Jessyka (born 1964).

Eva and Joseph Beuys, 1960
Joseph and Eva Beuys, 1966
Bueys with his son Wenzel, 1968
Beuys with his children, Wenzel and Jessyka, 1970

In 1961, he became professor of ‘monumental sculpture’ at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. In 1964, Beuys was brought into the public consciousness after his performance piece at the Technical College Aachen. As part of a festival of new art coinciding with the 20th anniversary of an assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler, Beuys created a performance or Aktion. The performance was interrupted when one of a group of radical students punched Beuys in the face, breaking his nose. The photograph of the bloodied Beuys with his arm raised, circulated in media around the world.

Joseph Beuys, bloodied after being punched in the face

Beuys’ extensive oeuvre was composed primarily of traditional works (painting, drawing, sculpture and installations), performance, contributions to the theory of art and academic teaching, and sociopolitical activities. One example is the over 10 hour long “Ja Ja Ja Ne Ne Ne” performance. Beuys sat on a stage for over 10 hours saying only the words “Ja ja ja, ne ne ne” (in English “Yes yes yes, no no no”), and was joined by friends who came and went, joining him in his long performance. He said that the idea was based on his overhearing some very old women sitting on a bench one day, their conversation sounding as if it only consisted of the words “ja ja ja, ne ne ne.” A short snippet of that audio here:

Some of his most notable performances are The Chief (1964), How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare (1965), and  I Like America and America Likes Me (1974). Protection of the environment was of great importance to him, and with that fundamentally in his mind, he created numerous sculptural works based on a philosophy of art and nature coexisting with the purpose of eliciting environmental and social change.

Still from “The Chief,” performance

 

How To Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare:

 

Clip from I Like America and America Likes Me

In 1982, Beuys experimented with the newly developing art of music video, and created a piece for a song he had written entitled “Sonne statt Reagan” which translates to “Sun, not Rain/Reagan,” a play on the word for rain, “Regen,” pronounced the same as the former president’s name. This political piece,  which cleverly played with puns in German, was founded on the objective of reinforcing some his personal key messages, such as his extremely liberal, pacifist political attitude, his desire to perpetuate open discourse on art and politics, his rejection of creating work that critics expected he would do, and most importantly being open to exploring different media forms as a means of artistic communication.

Beuys made it clear that he considered this song as a work of art, not the “pop” product it appears to be. This becomes clear when one looks at the lyrics, and sees Beuys’ juxtapostioning of superficially lighthearted medium and realistically dark subject matter. (Lyrics in German and English are at the bottom of this page)

As a political influence,  Beuys founded (or co-founded) the following organizations: German Student Party (1967), Organization for Direct Democracy Through Referendum (1971), Free International University for Creativity and Interdisciplinary Research (1974), and German Green Party Die Grünen (1980). After his experiences during the war, Beuys became a devout pacifist and was a vocal opponent of nuclear weapons. He was also a dedicated environmentalist, and was even elected a Green Party (Die Grünen) candidate for the European Parliament.

In May 1985, Beuys was diagnosed with a rare condition that caused painful inflammation of the lungs. On January 23 the following year, he suffered a sudden and fatal heart attack at his home. He was cremated and his ashes scattered in the North Sea. He was 64 years old.


References:

Joseph Beuys

Joseph Beuys, 1972

Digital portrait
by Terri Maxfield Lipp, May 2015

(click image for full resolution)


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Lyrics to Sonne Statt Reagan:

German:

Aus dem Land
Das sich selbst zerstört
Und uns den "way of life" diktiert
Da kommt Reagan und bringt Waffen und Tod
Und hört er Frieden
Sieht er rot
Er sagt als Präsident von USA
Atomkrieg? - Ja
Bitte
Dort und da

Ob Polen
Mittler Osten
Nicaragua

Er will den Endsieg
Das ist doch klar

Doch wir wollen Sonne statt Reagan
Ohne Rüstung leben!
Ob West
Ob Ost
Auf Raketen muss Rost!
Wir wollen Sonne statt Reagan
Ohne Rüstung leben!
Ob West
Ob Ost
Auf Raketen muss Rost!

Er will die Säcke im Osten reizen
Die auch nicht mit Atomen geizen
Doch dein Krieg um hirnverbrannte Ziele
Der läuft nicht Reagan - wir sind viele!
Hau ab mit deinen Nuklearstrategen

Deinen Russenhassern
Deinem Strahlenregen

Mensch Knitterface
Der Film ist aus

Nimm' die Raketen mit nach Haus!

Denn wir wollen Sonne statt Reagan
Ohne Rüstung leben!
Ob Ost
Ob West
Kalten Kriegern die Pest!
Wir wollen Sonne statt Reagan
Ohne Rüstung leben!
Ob Ost
Ob West
Kalten Kriegern die Pest!

Dieser Reagan kommt als Mann der Rüstungsindustrie
But the peoples of the States don't want it - nie!
Und den wahren Frieden wird's erst geben
Wenn alle Menschen ohne Waffen leben

Wir wollen Sonne statt Reagan
Ohne Rüstung leben!
Ob West
Ob Ost
Auf Raketen muss Rost!
Sonne statt Reagan
Ohne Rüstung leben!
Ob Ost
Ob West
Kalten Kriegern die Pest! …

English:
(translated from Google Translate. Click here to help improve this translation)

In the country
That destroys itself
And dictated to us the "way of life"
Reagan comes and brings weapons and death
And he hears peace
Looks red
He says as President of the USA
Nuclear war? - Yes
You're welcome
Here and there

Whether Poland
Middle East
Nicaragua

He wants the final victory
That's obvious

But we want sun instead of Reagan
Live without armor!
West
Whether East
On missiles must rust!
We want sun instead of Reagan
Live without armor!
West
Whether East
On missiles must rust!

He wants to irritate the bags in the east
They also do not sting with atoms
But your war for brain-burned targets
He's not running Reagan - we're many!
Get rid of your nuclear power gene

Your Russians
Your radiation

Human Knitterface
The movie is off

Take the rockets home with you!

For we want sun instead of Reagan
Live without armor!
Whether East
West
Cold warriors the plague!
We want sun instead of Reagan
Live without armor!
Whether East
West
Cold warriors the plague!

This Reagan comes as a man of the armaments industry
But the people of the States do not want it - never!
And true peace will come first
When all people live without weapons

We want sun instead of Reagan
Live without armor!
West
Whether East
On missiles must rust!
Sun instead of Reagan
Live without armor!
Whether East
West
Cold warriors the plague! ...

Salvador Dalì

Salvador Dalì: creative genius

 

This year, as always, we celebrate the anniversary of the birth of Salvador Dalì (1904-1989). The surrealist painter, sculptor, philosopher, chef, author, filmmaker (to name a few of his strong points), is thought by many to be one of the most creative and brilliant minds of the twentieth century.

Dalí’s mustache was already famous, but was made legendary by the vision and foresight of the great photographer, Philippe Halsman.

To read more and see many of the great artist’s works, please click here to see the full article on the maestro, posted on his birthday in 2016.


Salvador Dalì

Digital collage portrait
by Terri Maxfield Lipp
Created for
TML Arts: The Artist Birthday Series
(click image for full resolution)


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Keith Haring

Keith Haring, visual artist and activist

 

Keith Haring (1958-1990), was a painter and visual artist, who later in his short life became a social activist. Though his imagery is lighthearted at first glance, his work is deeply imbued with political and sociological commentary, and has become accepted by many as one of the twentieth century’s definitive visual languages.

Foto©Roby Schirer

Haring was born to Allen and Joan Haring on May 4, 1958 in Reading, Pennsylvania. His father had been an amateur cartoonist, instilling a particular artistic vision in his son. Haring considered his earliest influences to be the work of Walt Disney, Dr. Seuss, and the Peanuts characters by Charles Schultz. Like many children raised in 1960’s America, he couldn’t help but be influenced by the wacky ensemble created by Warner Brothers Studios known as Looney Tunes, headed up by the inimitable Bugs Bunny.

As a teenager, Haring hitchhiked around the country, selling vintage T-shirts and exploring the counter-culture of the 1970’s. During this time he experimented with various drugs, as was part-and-parcel of the “hippie” lifestyle at the time. He returned to Pennsylvania, and attended the Ivy League School of Professional Art in Pittsburgh, but after having experienced the freedom of his previous years, found the prospect of becoming a commercial artist disheartening, and quit the school two semesters in, after reading “The Art Spirit” by Robert Henri. Henri published the book in 1929, but his teachings and inspiration are timeless, expounding that the happiness and wisdom to be gained through the arts are of critical importance to all, artists and otherwise. Henri’s concepts struck a deep chord with the young Haring who then started off on a path of his own making which soon led him to his first solo exhibition in 1978 at the Pittsburgh Arts and Crafts Center.

Keith Haring (center), 1978
Keith Haring (center), 1978

Later in 1978, Haring moved to New York City and enrolled in the School of Visual Arts, a creative center that fed the growing community of “alternative” artists. This new genre of art and artist developed outside the traditional museum/gallery context and came to blossom in the streets, subways, and underground clubs of New York. Through this tribe of creative minds, Haring became friends with visual artists such as Kenny Sharf and Jean-Michel Basquiat, as well as many other people in various fields, including performance art, graffiti, music. Haring had found this new arena exhilarating, embraced it wholeheartedly, and began organizing and participating in exciting exhibitions and performances at places like the famed Club 57 and other non-traditional venues.

Some of the delightful people at Club 57, including Keith Haring (second from left, top row)
Some of the delightful people at Club 57, including Keith Haring (second from left, top row)
Scharf and Haring (n/d)
Jean-Michel Basquiat playfully kisses Keith Haring on the forehead (n/d)
Haring and Basquiat (n/d)

Haring dabbled in every kind of artistic expression he was exposed to, like video, performance, installations, and collage, but his foremost passion was drawing. Inspired by Jean Dubuffet, Pierre Alechinsky, William Burroughs, Brion Gysin and the aforementioned Robert Henri, Haring came to embody the concept of the independent artist. His art refined itself over and over, eventually coming to fruition with his primary focus on the elegance and simplicity of line. He was also heavily influenced by Christo and Andy Warhol, in their fusing of art and life that resulted in not only a viewing public but a participatory one, and this too became an integral part of Haring’s artistic goals.


In 1980, he discovered a medium that served his purposes perfectly, that being unused advertising panels in New York subways. These panels were a matte surfaced black paper, which were exceptional grounds to work on in chalk. Despite having been arrested a number of times for “criminal mischief,” from 1980 to 1985, he created hundreds of his white chalk public drawings, at times creating up to 40 a day. After a time, regular subway commuters were very familiar with his easily identifiable creations as well as with the artist himself. This familiarity broke down the “us-them” barrier between artist and viewer, and Haring was regularly approached by subway riders who would engage the artist in conversation regarding his work and his life. The New York subway system proved to be a type of “laboratory,” as Haring called it, for working out his unique style and ideas.


Throughout the 1980’s his recognition grew and he participated in numerous exhibitions including a one-man show at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery, as well as international shows such as the Documenta 7 in Kassel, the Sao Paolo Biennial, and the Whitney Biennial. He was also the creator of numerous public projects that ranged from an animation for the Spectacular billboard in Times Square, set design for theaters and clubs, Swatch watch design, an ad campaign for Absolut Vodka, and many murals around the globe.


In April of 1986, Haring opened a retail store in Soho, called the Pop Shop. There he sold T-shirts, toys, buttons, posters, magnets and other items which bore his designs. Though there were those in the “art world” that belittled this endeavor, it was Haring’s mission to stay true to his public art mission, and through this shop was able to allow people a greater access to his work, and allowing for a much larger audience than would have been available through the traditional gallery system. The pushback from the academic side of art was far outweighed however by his friends, fans, and art world luminaries of the time, including Andy Warhol who was a great supporter of Haring’s work.


Warhol and Haring (1986, photo by Ron Galella)
Warhol and Haring (1986, photo by Ron Galella)

Using his artistic public forum, Haring created work of social and political commentary, such as his more than 50 murals constructed between 1982 and 1989, which were created for charities, hospitals, children’s day care centers and orphanages. In 1986 he created one of his most famous murals, “Crack Is Wack,” now a landmark on the FDR Drive in New York. Also in 1986, he created a mural marking the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty, a delightful project in which approximately 900 children also participated. He held several drawing workshops for children in New York, Amsterdam, London, Tokyo and Bordeaux, and produced the images for public service campaigns for literacy programs and other worthwhile programs.

In 1989 he established the Keith Haring Foundation, after he was diagnosed with AIDS in 1988. The Foundation’s mission was to provide funding and imagery to AIDS organizations with the goal of bringing awareness and education to the public regarding the disease that was not very well understood at the time. The Foundation also was focused on assisting various children’s programs which had been such an important and joyous focus during his life. In his final years, he used his iconic imagery to speak about his own illness and to assist in generating activism and awareness, assisting in the quest to reverse the demonization of those afflicted by the disease and to help initiate a public demand for a cure.

At the age of 31, Keith Haring passed away at his home on February 16, 1990 as a result of complications brought on by his illness. His ashes were scattered in a field near his childhood home.

A memorial service was held on May 4 of that year, what would have been his 32nd birthday, at the Cathedral of St. John the Devine in New York City. Over a thousand people attended, including New York Mayor David N. Dinkins, actor Dennis Hopper, his younger sister Kay Haring, Yoko Ono (who claimed that Haring’s spirit had told her to steal his ashes and take them to Paris…for some reason…), performance artist Ann Magnuson, and his friend and fellow artist Tony Shafrazi. Amidst the somber memorial however, Magnuson and Shafrazi invoked the playfulness of their friend, improvising a mock award ceremony, nominating Haring for such things as “best poet,” “best video artist,” and “best go-go dancer.” They concluded by saying, “And the winner is….everyone who knew Keith Haring.”



 


References:

Bio


Keith Haring

Digital collage portrait by Terri Maxfield Lipp
Created for The Artist Birthday Series:
May 4, 2017
(click image for full resolution)


TML Arts aims for accuracy in content and functionality in posts.
Click the button below to let us know about typos, incorrect information, broken links, erroneous attribution,
or additional relative information.

See something? Say something.



Special thanks to: Daily Artfixx, On This Day, WikipediaFind-A-Grave, A&E Bio, The Smithsonian American Art Museum Renwick Gallery, Famous Birthdays, Encyclopedia Brittanica, and all the art history buffs that keep the internet full of wonderful information and images.