A.R. Penck, a man of openness

A.R. Penck passed away while the Fondation Maeght’s major retrospective on him was underway. A few days after the sad news, Suzanne Tarasiève gallery also opened an exhibition on the artist. Two paths for tracing the complexity of the work of A.R. Penck. A homage. A.R. Penck left this world on 2 May in Zurich at the age of 77 years. Symbolically, the exhibition being held on him at the Fondation Maeght is titled “A.R. Penck. Rites de passage”. This will therefore be the last retrospective to be organised on the artist during his lifetime, and also the first homage to be paid to him. Homage accompanied by the exhibition “À travers A.R. Penck” at Suzanne Tarasiève (Paris), which represents several big figures from German painting: Georg Baselitz, Markus Lüpertz, Jörg Immendorff. Only Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter are absent from the list. A tumultuous life Ralf Winkler – this was the name he was born under – had a tumultuous life. He was born on 5 October 1939 in Dresden, in a Germany that would be designated as part of the “East” in 1949. Between 1956 and 1966, Ralf tried, unsuccessfully four times, to enter fine-arts schools in Dresden and East Berlin, even if he was not particularly troubled by this failure. He preferred contact with the “renegades” rather than the institutional painters – he would also be denied access to the Society of Artists of the German Democratic Republic. Already, in the middle of the 1960s, he adopted the pseudonym A.R. Penck for various reasons. Firstly, to pay homage to Albrecht Penck, a geologist specialising in the Ice Age. But above all, to get his works across the border more easily and to avoid censorship problems. The artist would take on other aliases: Tancred Michel or Théodor...

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Death of Tunga (1952-2016)

Brazilian sculptor Tunga has died at the age of 64 years on June, 6th. Tunga was born in 1952 in Palmares, Brazil. An architect by training, his approach to sculpture combines a conceptual dimension associated with an aesthetic reminiscent of certain aspects of Baroque, producing a certain zaniness that contrasts with the sobriety of his concept. Including a range of references to literature, as well as to videos and performance, Tunga contributed to pushing back the limits of sculpture. With a passion for alchemy, his works reflect a timeless desire to overcome the physical structure of things. His work explores “the duel between the cerebral and the biological impulse”, producing forms borrowed from different artistic practices such as installation, architecture, sculpture and...

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Death of Bill Cunningham (1929-2016)

The photographer Bill Cunningham passed away on Saturday 25th of June, at the age of 87. First and foremost, a fashion photographer, he was also a sort of ”cultural anthropologist”, according to Jacob Bernstein. Born in Boston in 1929, very early he was passionate about fashion. He confessed with humor: ”I could never concentrate on mass in church on Sunday because I was obsessed by the women’s hats.” The hat, an object of focus for this artist who abandoned his studies at Harvard to open a hat shop named ”William J”, on Park Avenue. An attentive observer of society, Bill Cunningham was able to capture the essence of a society through the changing and transitory phenomenon that is fashion. Bill Cunningham was the subject of a documentary at MoMA in 2010, in which Anna Wintour commented: ”I’ve said many times that we all get dressed for...

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Death of François Morrelet (1926-2016)

François Morrelet passed away on 10 May 2016 at the age of 90 years. Born in Cholet into an aristocratic family in 1926, he quickly developed a passion for puns before starting to train in painting at the age of 16 years. Concrete art as well as primitive arts inspired him, especially Oceanian tapa cloths with their repetition of shapes. The OuLiPo group also played a role in his creation, and he saw himself as an heir to Georges Perec. He was also fascinated by Bavarian baroque that he considered “the most precious and decadent form of art”. He was at the head of a family toy factory when the war ended and he produced his first paintings. He wore these two hats throughout his career, acknowledging that he did not paint to live, but saw this activity as a form of liberty. In 1951, he embarked on geometric abstraction before meeting Ellsworth Kelly with whom he became friends. In 1961, he and other artists set up the Grav, a visual research group in which he experimented with neon lights, significantly at the same time as Dan Flavin. The 1970s brought him recognition in Europe, especially Germany. He received the Grand Prix at the Sao Paolo Biennial in 1975, in collaboration with Leo Castelli in New York. It was only in 1986 that the Centre Pompidou marked his importance with an exhibition. An inventor of self-referential systems based on implacable and sometimes absurd logics, François Morrelet was a major French and international contemporary...

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Death of Malick Sidibé (1935-2016)

Malick Sidibé is a Malian photographer known for his portraits of Mali nightlife in the 1960s. Born in 1935 to a family of shepherds in what was formerly French Sudan, he was offered, in 1952, a place in the Ecole des Artisans Soudanais in Bamako. He acquired his first studio in 1962. Very popular, he was nicknamed “the eye of Bamako”. He is well known for his photographs of discos that capture the spirit of youth in the 1960s-1970s, a period of deep political changes following Mali’s independence in 1960. He has been exhibited in various institutions including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Centre d’Art Contemporain in Geneva, and the CAV Coimbra Visual Arts Centre in Coimbra. In 2007, he was the first African artist to be awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale, in recognition of his entire career. Robert Storr, artist, critic and curator, has said the following about him: “No African artist has done more to enhance photography’s stature in the region, contribute to its history, enrich its image archive or increase our awareness of the textures and transformations of African culture in the second half of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first than Malick...

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