“interview”

Germaine Krull, from industry to aesthetics

The German photographer Germaine Krull owes her reputation as an avant-garde artist to her work Metal. Until 10 June, Munich’s Pinakothek der Moderne is devoting a huge exhibition to her. An interview with Simone Förster, curator for the Ann and Jürgen Wilde Foundation behind this exhibition.   Over her life, almost 90 years long, Germaine Krull lived on four continents. Could you retrace the different stages of her life? Germaine Krull was born in Poznan, Poland, in 1897, and moved many times during her childhood. Her family lived in Italy, France, Switzerland and Austria. She arrived in Germany when she was a teenager, where she studied photography, and then she opened a studio in Munich. Because of her political stance during the Bavarian revolution, she was expelled from Germany in 1920. After, she went to Russia, where she stood up alongside the Communists. But she was deemed a counter-revolutionary there, and was imprisoned and expelled from the USSR. After stints in Berlin and Amsterdam, she settled in Paris, where she opened a portrait and fashion photography studio. It was also during this period that she produced her work Metal. Next, she worked as a war reporter, declared her opposition to the Vichy regime, and became a journalist-photographer in Congo-Brazzaville. Germaine Krull then left for Thailand where she managed a hotel for around twenty years. When she was already getting on in years, she moved to India to support Tibetan refugees, before returning to be with her sister in Germany, where she died in 1985.   What role did France play in this artist’s career? It was in Paris that Germaine Krull made a name for herself as an avant-garde artist and photographer, with her Metal portfolio, produced in 1928. The part of her work for which she is appreciated...

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Miguel Chevalier: bits & cells

He’s one of the pioneers in virtual and digital art. He tackles the question of intangibility and computer-led logic. Hybridity, generativeness and networking are at the heart of his research… An hour in the company of Miguel Chevalier, an observer of the flows dear to our contemporary society.   It’s at La Fabrika, his big studio in Ivry-sur-Seine (and so named in homage to another famous studio), that Miguel Chevalier designs his works. All around, you’ll see prototypes, 3D prints, projectors and projections…  This spring, his studio is a hive of activity as he gets set for several solo shows (at the submarine base in Bordeaux and a double event in London, at the Mayor and Wilmotte Galleries). Miguel Chevalier is also taking part in major group exhibitions, namely “Artistes & Robots” at the Grand Palais, and “AI Musiqa” at the Philharmonie de Paris.   The exhibition “Digital Abysses”, recently launched at the submarine base in Bordeaux, with ten installations and a hundred or so works spread out over 3500 square metres, is one of your largest to date… That’s right, this is my biggest exhibition to date. The submarine base is an unusual site, constructed at the end of World War II. I didn’t want to illustrate the memories of the place, but rather, work on the relationship with water and the great depths and abysses in which U-boats plunged. The large printed fabric Atlantide (25 x 9 metres) opens the exhibition, emerging as the floor of the base’s first pool. Then, we arrive at the bunker’s entrance – a spot that’s all the more interesting as it immerses visitors in darkness and comprises numerous spaces on different scales. I drew inspiration from plankton and all sorts of aquatic microorganisms, such as radiolarians and protozoa that are observable...

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Naomi Beckwith, a curator to watch

At barely 41 years old, Naomi Beckwith is an African-American curator who is taking the other side of the Atlantic by storm thanks to her refreshing, all-embracing vision of today’s art. In Chicago, an interview with a woman whose social awareness underlines her inspiring take on her profession.   When the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago recently celebrated its 50th year, Naomi Beckwith was part of the team that organised its three-part “We are Here” birthday exhibition. A jury member of the 2015 Venice Biennale, this young curator at the MCA Chicago since 2011 is the inaugural winner of the VIA Art Fund Curatorial Fellowship grant, aimed at promoting promising artistic projects. And let’s not forget that in March 2017, she chaired the first curatorial leadership summit at New York’s Armory Show. An opportunity for AMA to shed light on her current role at the MCA and to discover her singular perspective on curatorship.   Naomi Beckwith, what did you do before becoming curator at the MCA Chicago? I was in New York, at the Studio Museum in Harlem. I managed the artist-residency programme and I worked on cultural projects relating to African-American identity, aesthetic minorities, but also current practices on a global scale.   The MCA Chicago is considered to be one of the most influential museums in the United States, with an extensive “historic” collection of contemporary art, ever since its creation in 1967.  What were your goals when you arrived there in 2011? I was coming home so to speak, because I was born and raised in the Windy City! I wanted to develop solo shows with established artists, but above all, to set up exhibitions on young emerging artists who have never been shown. But my current exhibition, “Howardena Pindell: What remains to be...

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Olafur Eliasson, beyond appearances

His works can be seen in Geneva, but also Los Angeles, and in the near future, Beijing, before Munich for a summer festival, then Massachusetts. But what makes Olafur Eliasson tick? An interview in Geneva with a widely shown artist who nevertheless remains discreet.   In Geneva, Olafur Eliasson took care to greet every journalist present at the launch of his exhibition “Objets définés par l’activité” (Objects defined by activity) designed by Laurence Dreyfus, curator and adviser at the Espace Muraille. This private mansion, founded by collectors Caroline and Éric Freymond, is an ideal setting for Eliasson’s human-sized works. With restrained and sober elegance, the artist goes over the key points in his professional life: the environment, light, his projects, his proclivity for social contact…   What is the subject of your new exhibition “Objects defined by activity” at the Espace Muraille? This rather intimate exhibition presents sixteen pieces, some of which are preparatory works – and not models – for future, larger projects. Others were produced for the occasion. My works bear ties with science and allude, through geometric systems, light, movement, and flows, to our way of perceiving objects, space, our environment, and others.   Indeed, many pieces play on optical illusions and the way we see things, such as The We Mirror, Colour Window or Day and Night Lava… These works translate our skill for grasping the world, and the way our senses can help us to change it. These are, in some way, “instruments” that exacerbate our way of perceiving the world. Let’s take, for example, The We mirror. This three-dimensional dodecagon plays with its image in the mirror, superposed over its material reality… But does this reflection really express what we see? The way we see things isn’t always the one that we trust. Is...

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Rens Lipsius’ Ideal Artist Houses

New York, Paris, Amsterdam… Rens Lipsius laid down the foundations of his Ideal Artist Houses concept by meeting up with artists like John Coplans and Dennis Oppenheim, collectors, or else simple art lovers. Lipsius, or the art of seeing art differently.   Since the 1980s, he’s come up with his Ideal Artist Houses, spread out over the United States, the Netherlands and France, each conceived as a “complete work” in itself. A one-time artistic director of the Fondation Icar in Paris, Rens Lipsius has a global vision of the art world, the market, and his influences. We retrace the story of this globetrotting painter who has followed an original itinerary.   How was your Ideal Artist Houses concept born? Rembrandt once said about the act of painting: “All it takes is to pick up a brush and to paint.” I partly agree with this idea, but there’s nothing straightforward about starting a painting! You have to get hold of the tools to stimulate yourself. And for me, this is about creating an environment, a context that promotes the creative act. Setting up a space that is physiologically adapted to one’s needs acts as encouragement to the eyes. And of course, the Ideal Artist Houses didn’t suddenly pop up.   Before devoting yourself to painting, you started out as a photographer. How did you make the transition from one form to the other? I embarked on a photography career at the age of 20, but painting was always present. Very early on, I felt that the subject that interested me most of all was light. Because both in photography and in painting, everything is about light. In photography, this is translated fairly directly by chemical sensitivity, whereas in painting, it’s a matter of interpreting this light. As a teenager, I already...

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