THE POSTER KING: LONDON CELEBRATES EDWARD MCKNIGHT KAUFFER’S VISUAL ART

 A fascinating exhibition taking place in London up to December 18, 2011, at The Estorick Collection of modern italian art.

 

My “Lacer/actions” art project is based on torn posters details. During my research I collected so far more than 30.000 images of ripped publicity posters. I work on them, making canvas, lithographs, textile designs, videoclip a.s.o; I explained my activity on a booklet-portfolio, published in 2009 (Lacer/actions – Pics of torn (publi)city). Yes, I like the world of posters, billboards and urban “signs” (this blog is here to demonstrate it). So, I must to dedicate a post to the interesting and fascinating exhibition taking place in London, at The Estorick Collection of modern italian art ( 39a Canonbury Square, entrance in Canonbury Road). The show – opened till December 18, 2011 – pays a tribute to Edward McKnight Kauffer, the “Poster King” (this is also the exhibition theme).

Focusing on Kauffer’s time in England , The Poster King is a celebration of the ways in which this remarkable artistic émigré enriched the visual culture. And all the design expressions of our times. In addition to the renowned graphic work it includes a fascinating nucleus of lesser-known paintings and prints as well as a selection of photographs, working drawings and original designs.

Edward Mcknight Kauffer produced some of the most iconic and influential commercial imagery of the early twentieth century. A remarkably versatile artist, his work drew inspiration from a wide variety of styles ranging from Japanese art to Fauvism, Vorticism and Constructivism, and encompassed painting, applied art, interior design and scenography. Yet it remains his celebrated posters created for clients such as London Underground and Shell during the inter-war years for which he remains most famous. Kauffer’s pioneering work in the field of graphic design ranks alongside the achievements of fellow avant-garde figures such as T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound and Wyndham Lewis, all of whom – like Kauffer- had roots in the United States yet established their careers in London.

 Born in Montana in 1890, Kauffer’s precocious artistic talents were first employed painting stage scenery at his local opera house. They were also recognised by an acquaintance named Joseph E. Mcknight, a professor at the University of Utah, who in 1912 paid for Kauffer ton pursue his studies in Paris. As a mark of gratitude, Kauffer subsequently incorporated his benefactor’s surname into his own. Upon the outbreak of the First World War Kauffer fled to England where in 1915 he received a commission to design publicity posters for the Underground.

 

The originality and vibrancy of these images led Kauffer to receive commissions from a variety of companies and publishing houses over the following two decades,including Fortnum & Mason, Lund Humphries and Chrysler Motors. With a finger on the pulse of the latest artistic trends, Kauffer’s special genius lay in his ability to adapt the language of the avant-garde to the needs of advertising, creating works that were not simply visually striking but also rich in artistic merit. With commissions increasingly scarce following the declaration of war in 1939 Kauffer made the painful decision to return to America, where he continued to work for a number of years prior to his death in 1954.

Estorick Collection promoted meetings, education evenings and talks about Edward McKnight Kauffer; the next talk is planned for December 10, 2011 (“Kauffer’s England”, Dr. Jonathan Black, Kingston University).

 www.estorickcollection.com

 

 

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STREETS OF LONDON, “OPEN AIR” ART GALLERY

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In the very heart of London catchin’ images of torn posters and signs from the walls… For my “Lacer/actions” art.

During my recent participation at Parallax AF at La Galleria, I had the way to have a look around in the very heart of London trying to catch some images of torn and decomposed posters (yes, I can’t resist!) The British metropolis offered me again so many signs layed on its walls. As an open air gallery, London revealed itself through incredible colors and shapes. In every street I walked along I noticed particulars and details all linked by a sort of a common language and dye.

In Haymarket, not so distant from La Galleria, I captured blue oriented images. In High Holborn Street the dominat color was green. In St. Giles Street some ripped posters presented details in which I had no difficulties to see pop-art elements. And again: I catched black and white images in Leicester Square, red and blue in Yorkway. Along Moor Street, outside a dockyard, I saw (and impressed on my camera) images that mixed up ripped papers, glue castings, spontaneous drawings left by some anonymous hands. Such incredible colored effects!

ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI LACER/ACTIONS ART – 2011

As usually, in ripped and decomposed publicity posters I find a lot of styles and art streams: from modernism to cubism, from abstractionism to post-modernism, from vorticism to impressionism… Yes, so lot of “ism”, but I prefer to call all those images with my favourite term: “Lacer/actionism”… London is really an “open air” art museum that you may visit every day, without paying an entrance ticket. It’s enough to walk along the streets, open your eyes wide an let your perception flow.

Roberto Alborghetti

 WATCH THE CLIP…

YouTube

http://youtu.be/ShJ_j-s06Go

Animoto

http://animoto.com/play/WBPxxng94YhTOhtaq1nu3g

SUMMER EXHIBITIONS IN LONDON: FROM VORTICISM TO AESTHETIC MOVEMENT

 Small Guide to artistic events in London: from Tate Britain and Victoria & Albert Museum to National Portrait Gallery. Without forgetting the new Brancolini Grimaldi gallery dedicated to photography.

 

London offers great opportunities to people who like to plan a “full immersion” in the art world. During my recent travel to the capital of the United Kingdom, I visited some of the most important exhibitions currently in progress.

My “artour” starts at Tate Gallery and Tate Britain, unmissable location on Millbank for those who want to approach the most varied expressions of contemporary art, and not only that. I found two “special exhibitions” particularly interesting: the 150 works – paintings, drawings and sculptures – that describe the extraordinary adventure of Joan Miró and the complexity of his avant-garde art, with a strong political impact and a “revolutionary” meaning. The exhibition is open until September 11.

Another big and impressive exhibition is dedicated to the phenomenon of “The Vorticists”and “Vorticism”(name invented by the American poet Ezra Pound). Its exponents – Wyndham Lewis, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Jacob Epstein, William Roberts, Helen Saunders, Edward Wadsworth – were the protagonists of an avant-garde movement which was influenced by the tensions of the early twentieth century, with desires and expectations of renewal. The subtitle of the exhibitions is: “Manifesto for a modern world”. It’s worth while visiting it; open until September 4. I noticed, in the works showed, several nuances and textures that I often find in the pictures of my “lacer/actions” artworks which are actually “whirls” paper raised by modern advertising.

Once more in Tate, I suggest making one “Walk through the Twentieth Century”where, in a series of rooms, it is possible to follow the development of British art in the 20th century. Exposed, among others, works by Whistler, Barbara Hepworth, David Hockney. If there is some time left, two exhibitions are interesting to visit: the Clore Gallery, to have a look at the art of “Romantics” (works by Turner, Constable, Blake) and the exhibition “Watercolour” (open until August 21 ) that shows the development of the water-colourist technique in its expression of versatility.

From Tate to National Portrait Gallery where, until September 18 (admission free), it’s possible to see the artists who have triumphed in “BP Portrait Award 2011”. It is the most prestigious artistic competition dedicated to portraitists (this year 2 thousand 300 authors have joined it). The same National Portrait Gallery, founded in 1856 contains the world’s largest collection of portraits, dating from the Middle Age to nowadays. It’s advisable to see the spectacular work by Paul Beel, winner of 2010 who has portrayed scenes of naturist beaches in Corfu (Greece). The “National” promotes actively subject-portraits with workshops for young peopole, family events, meetings and shows as the “Late shifts” on Thursday and Friday (18 o’ clock, free admittance).

Black and white colours in the photographic exhibition of Clare Strand, which is taking place at the beautiful space of Brancolini Grimaldi, in the central area of Mayfair (Albemarle Street 43-44). Although, during my morning visit, it was still a work in progress, I could admire photographs and video installations of an artist who works on the details of things and everyday reality. Actually, the bi-chromatic language is efficacious to transfigure objects that usually surround us whose meaning slips away or objects that are not considered since they are “usual”.

Gallery Brancolini Grimaldi has been recently opened. It represents different artists that operate in the field of photography. This “english branch” joins the experience that has been acquired in Italy by ladies Brancolini and Grimaldi with similar spaces in Rome and Florence (www.brancolinigrimaldi.com)

Finally – to show how London has always been the centre of innovative trends and cultural phenomenon of global importance – here is another interesting proposal that comes from Victoria & Albert Museum, historic complex in the area of Brompton: “The Cult of Beauty” artistic celebration of the Aesthetic Movement,active in London from 1860 to 1900. Open until July 17, the exhibition is a reproposal of reflections on one of the most original and surprising phenomenon of “a world that was changing”, which was concerned with art, literature and costume. Disparagingly defined as an expression of “decadence”, Aestheticism is now conceived as a force that preserves its power of innovation. The rebellion against capitalism and utilitarianism, and the conception of Art as a value, are concepts still present in modern debates.

Through its tribute to Leighton, Rossetti, Burne-Jones, Whistler and, obviously, Oscar Wilde, “The Cult of Beauty” proposes the message of the philosopher Hume: beauty exists only in the eyes of those who contemplates it and it’s established by a “personal taste” that becomes more and more precise “enjoying” things of beauty. In London in summer 2011, where the winds of Vorticism and Aestheticism are blowing, there are possibilities of being educated by the beauty of art.

ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI

 

 

In the pic: facade of Tate Britain, with the promotional canvas dedicated to “the Vorticists”.