Cathy Breslaw's Installation

Cathy Breslaw's Installation
Cathy Breslaw's Installation:Dreamscape

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

100 Year Survey of Fashion Photography at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center LA

Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography 1911-2011
J.Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center, Los Angeles
Curated by Paul Martineau, Associate Curator of Photography

Through October 21st

Written by Cathy Breslaw

Herb Ritts
American, 1952–2002
Stephanie, Cindy, Christy, Tatjana, Naomi, Hollywood, 1989
Gelatin silver print
46.8 x 50.3 cm (18 7/16 x 19 13/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Herb Ritts
© Herb Ritts Foundation  211.18.28

Why would one of the most well endowed and highly regarded museums on the globe launch a 100 year survey exhibition of fashion photography? That is exactly the question Paul Martineau, Associate Curator of Photography at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center in Los Angeles wants to answer.  Martineau points out that historically, photography and especially fashion photography has been marginalized. He quotes famous photographer Richard Avedon who said: “Fashion is the f-word, the dirtiest word in the art world.”  Because fashion photography is underrepresented in museum collections, Martineau believed it was time to change that, and in 2010 began to add to the Getty’s collection and launched a long-term plan of putting on a 100 year survey (1911 – 2011)  to help illustrate how fashion absorbed and reflected social, cultural and historical changes over time.  Underlying the exhibition is the position that fashion photography often transcends its’ commercial function, elevating it to works of fine art. Epitomizing this idea of fashion photographs being an art form, is a dye imbibition print by Hiro, an American born Chinese photographer titled: Black Evening Dress in Flight, NewYork(1994). This photo was shot from above, capturing a woman walking with billowing black “wings” of fabric flowing from behind her. Interestingly, the photographer’s assignment was to shoot a shoe.

Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography 1911-2011 includes 89 photographers, 15 of which are women, and some who are relatively unknown photographers. There are over 160 photographs derived from a combination of the Getty collection, loans from galleries, and estates and foundations.  Martineau also collaborated with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to include their costume collection of designer dresses and outfits, including a Chanel flapper dress and an Alexander McQueen skirt suit. The exhibition that also encompasses illustrations, magazine covers, videos and advertising takes us from 1911, when the French publisher Lucien Vogel challenged Edward Steichen to create the first artistic, rather than merely documentary fashion photographs up tp 2011. Viewers are guided through the history of fashion from the first two decades of the 20thcentury where there was a shift from tightly corseted dresses to more comfortable loose fitting clothing, with early photos by Steichen and Baron Adolf de Meyer, who were responsible for creating the foundations of modern fashion photography to those produced during the Depression and World War II revealing how political and economic changes influenced fashion, to the 1950’s considered to be the Golden Age of fashion photography. Well known photographers Richard Avedon and Irving Penn brought the designs of Christian Dior and others to life, while in the 1960’s and 1970’s the youth culture dominated, as well as the sexual revolution, and the women’s liberation movement and photographers like William Klein and Dianne Newman captured the hippie, mod, gypsy styles of mini dresses and patterned tights, all shot from a low angle to give images an unbalanced psychedelic feel. The photographs of the 1970’s from photographers like Arthur Elgort portrayed women entering the workforce, including ideas of work-life balance, and questioning traditional gender stereotypes through shooting the designs of Halston, Anne Klein and Yves Saint Laurent. Fashion photography of the 1980’s and 1990’s embraced the athletic female body, and displays of male sexuality. Photographers Herb Ritt and Bruce Weber portrayed buff male models emphasizing sexuality, forever changing how men were represented in fashion and advertising. In the 1990’s, economic downturns, increases in drug use, and the grunge movement presented sickly thin looking models photographed in shabby environments.  The exhibition ends with a selection of contemporary photographs highlighting the digital tools, technical and conceptual ideas influencing current fashion photography. Today’s fashion photographers identify themselves as “image makers” as their use of fashion blogs, and internet picture-sharing applications like Instagram(2010) and Snapchat(2011) are reshaping and rapidly expanding outlets for their work. 

Including designer dresses and outfits from the LACMA costume collection, videos, magazine covers and ads from various decades, brings this exhibition alive – together with many of the best historical images of no-doubt “fine art” photographs.  For some of us this exhibition brings back by-gone days and for others it provides a glimpse of life before our“time”. From whatever eyes you see the world through, the context of the Getty Museum is a fun, surprising and educational way of engaging with the history of fashion photography. 

American, born China, 1930
Black Evening Dress in Flight, New York, negative, 1963; print, 1994
Dye imbibition print
48.9 x 38.1 cm (19 1/4 x 15 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Purchased with funds
provided by the Photographs Council
© Hiro

Herb Ritts
American, 1952–2002
Fred with Tires, Hollywood, 1984
From the Body Shop series
Gelatin silver print
47.1 x 38.6 cm (18 9/16 x 15 3/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Herb Ritts
© Herb Ritts Foundation

                                                   Victor Skrebneski   American, born 1929   Givenchy Red, Paris, negative, 1990; print, about 1995    Silver-dye bleach print
     51 x 40.4 cm (20 1/16 x 15 7/8 in.)     The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Purchased with funds provided by the Photographs Council copyright   Victor Skrebneski    2016.92

David Sims
British, born 1966
Yohji Yamamoto, Autumn/Winter 1995, 1995
Chromogenic print
88.9 x 71.1 cm (35 x 28 in.)
Courtesy of and © David Sims    EX 2018.7.1 

Richard Avedon
American, 1923–2004
Renée, the New Look of Dior, Place de la Concorde, Paris, August 1947,
negative, 1947; print, 1978
Gelatin silver print
45.7 x 35.5 cm (18 x 14 in.)
The Richard Avedon Foundation, New York
Copyright © The Richard Avedon Foundation     EX.2018.7.94

Richard Burbridge
British, born 1965
In Silhouette, 2007
Chromogenic print
55.9 x 71.1 cm (22 x 28 in.)
Courtesy of the artist  EX.2018.7.170   

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Good Vibrations Meet Geometry - Mary Heilmann at Hauser & Wirth, Los Angeles

Mary Heilmann: Memory Remix
Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles
Through September 23 2018

Written by Cathy Breslaw

Ming      1986                   Acrylic and watercolour on canvas                 152.4 x 106.7 x 3.8 cm / 60 x 42 x 1 1/2 in
 Selected paintings, ceramics and furniture representing several decades of Mary Heilmann’s practice grace  expansive rooms of Hauser and Wirth, Los Angeles.  And while many artists either don’t name their works at all or if they do, do so as an after-thought, Heilmann’s titles are carefully created and intimately tied to the works – and are as poetic, musical and evocative as the works themselves. 
Neo Noir, Pro Tools Remix, Rio Nido, Last Dance Remix #2, Pink Ocean, The First Vent andPal Joey are some of the titles that entertain, and amplify an already energizing display of visual candy giving viewers an added invitation to smile.  A child of the beat generation, her works are also influenced by the hippie generation and pop culture of the 1960’s, and the fashion, music, and cartoons of contemporary culture. Having grown up in California as a swimmer and surfer, and then living and working many years in New York, Heilmann’s art combines both ends of these life experiences and embody the development of her particular aesthetic. Her compositions, though influenced by minimalism and geometric abstraction, are belied by the fuzzy, wobbly edges of many of the geometric shapes contained within her paintings.  Additionally, drips and drabs of paint that seem to be organically and spontaneously dropped in shapes and backgrounds, are left intact rather than “cleaned up” as other artists might have been driven to do. Heilmann’s works are unpretentious and loosy-goosy compared to her artist counterparts who pay homage to the “straight lines” and pristine edges of geometric shapes often found in geometric abstraction. By studying her paintings carefully, the viewer finds paintings that are not composed intuitively, but rather are deliberate and focused constructions with close attention to space, scale, and shape.  Heilmann’s affinity to very bright colors - oranges, pinks, greens, blues and purples sometimes combine with shaped canvases.  Fan #7(1988)and Ray(2017), acrylics on canvas, are examples of these sculptural paintings. Series #1(1984) andSeries #2(1984), Hellfire Cup #1(1985) and Shadow Cup #2(1985) are ceramic red and black geometric dynamic sculptures that appear to have motion, and echo the geometric shapes seen within various paintings.  Also included in the exhibition are a combination of 8 multi-colored and solid colored chairs constructed from wood and some with polypropelene or nylon webbing allowing viewers an opportunity to sit and contemplate the works. Heilmann makes creating paintings look fun and easy – and, as in most things that “look easy”, it isn’t. Memory Remix is an exhibition of composed orchestrations of color, shape and form and Heilmann is the conductor.

Hellfire Series #2      1984         Glazed ceramic             14 x 27.3 x 27.3 cm / 5 1/2 x 10 3/4 x 10 3/4 in

Spider's Stratagem       1995        Oil on canvas          137.2 x 91.4 cm / 54 x 36 in

Green Kiss     1990       Oil and graphite on canvas        198.1 x 147.3 x 3 cm / 78 x 58 x 1 1/8 in

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Many Faces of Humanity Revealed - A Thousand Splendid Suns at the Old Globe Theater

A Thousand Splendid Suns
Old Globe Theater, San Diego
Through June  17th

Article by  Cathy Breslaw

The cast and musician and composer David Coulter              Photo by Jim Cox

Clamorous cheers and clapping erupted from the audience, when Rasheed, the shoemaker husband was killed by his first wife Mariam.  And, for good reason - Rasheed had been beating and often starving both Mariam and Laila, his second wife for years.  This poignant drama, highlighting the complex conditions of their untenable lives mostly takes place within the tight confines of their modest home and is what brought main characters Mariam(Denmo Ibrahim) and Laila(Nadine Malouf) together. It is also where their unlikely friendship grew into respect, love and loyalty to one another and from where the center of the story of A Thousand Splendid Suns unfolds.

The play is mostly set in Kabul Afghanistan during the Afghan Civil War(1989-1996) . After the Soviets left the country, militant groups turned against each other - while one group shelled Kabul from the surrounding hills, others fought to control neighborhoods.  Deadly roadblocks, disappearing neighbors and decaying bodies on the streets were common and it’s where the Taliban emerged to take control of most of the county. The Taliban issued edicts banning women from working, attending school and leaving home without male escort. Their bodies had to be covered head to toe or they would be brutally treated – public arenas became places of stoning, amputations, murders, and beheadings. This is the backdrop from which this play, directed by Carey Perloff, adapted by playwright Ursula Rani Sarma (originating from the novel A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini ) evolved.

(from left) Nadine Malouf as Laila, Denmo Ibrahim as Mariam, and Nikita Tewani as Aziza
Photo by Jim Cox
Set against three generations of Afghan women in war torn Afghanistan , the themes of friendship, marriage, family, death, destruction, violence, loyalty, survival and hope are explored.  This is a play that can be difficult to digest due to its strong emotional and violent content. Expressing the many faces of humanity, it can also educate and inspire us.  The cast gave compelling and evocative performances. Equally important are the Set Designer (Ken Macdonald) , Lighting Designer(Robert Wierzel), Sound Designer(Jake Rodriguez) and Musical Composer (David Coulter), who performed his original music live, as they created a beautiful, enchanting and stimulating visual and sound space for audiences to experience a sometimes heartrending, haunting and horrific tale that we all realize has played out in ‘real life’  in many Afghan lives thousands of miles away.
(from left) Denmo Ibrahim as Mariam, Nadine Malouf as Laila, and Haysam Kadri as Rasheed  
Photo by Jim Cox

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Art and Alchemy Merge in Nancy Lorenz's Exhibition at San Diego Museum of Art

Nancy Lorenz: Moon Gold
San Diego Museum of Art
Thru September 3rd

Article by Cathy Breslaw

Nancy Lorenz     Palladium Relief 2017     Palladium leaf, clay, on burlap    2017

Moon Gold, organized by curator Ariel Plotek,  is a mid-career retrospective and first solo museum show for New York artist Nancy Lorenz. Her mostly large-scale paintings, installations, panel screens, drawings, sculptures and boxes include over 85 works, some of which were inspired by the San Diego Museum of Art Asian collection.  Having spent several years living in Japan as a young teen, Lorenz has been heavily influenced by the Japanese aesthetic. To earn a living, she was trained as a restorer of antique lacquer objects and simultaneously began using some of these same techniques in her art including the creation of large folding screens adorned with water-gilding and mother of pearl inlay, applying the gilding technique using palladium, platinum, yellow gold and silver. Lorenz also draws from her time studying in Italy from the traditional gilt artists and the influence of the 1960s’ Italian arte povera movement. Moon Gold Mountain (2018) for which the title of the exhibition originates, is a large vertical moon gold leaf, clay, cardboard painting on wood panel.  This abstract expressionistic work is typical of the themes and style of most of the works in the exhibition – suggestive gestural landscapes with various combinations of mountains, hills, skies, rain, wind and water elements.  Some of her works combine the use of accessible materials including cardboard, burlap, glass, wood, and jute string. Lorenz makes her own lacquer using shellac and pigment and uses a sculpting resin to transform packing cardboard into a ground for gilding and on these semi-corrugated surfaces, abstract scratches and patterns merge into landscape-like compositions . Her series called Pours is reminiscent of artist Lynda Benglis’s poured latex sculptures. Pours is a group of small works that include a mix of sumptuous, sensual gestures of water gilding gesso and blackened silver and red-gold on glass and cedar wood. One highlight of this exhibition is Rock Garden Room (2004) a twelve wood panel “room” using silver leaf, mother-of-pearl inlay, pigment, gesso and lacquer. Lorenz’s work has a connection to late Medieval and Renaissance gold ground panel painting. The works are part art, part alchemy – while altogether engaging and compelling, and well worth a visit.

History of Israel Seen Through Crafts and Design at the Mingei Museum at Balboa Park San Diego

Israel: 70 Years of Craft and Design
Mingei Museum, San Diego CA
Through September 3rd

Article by Cathy Breslaw
Alon Gill           Garden of Eden            ceramic            2014

Marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of Israel curator Smadar Samson provides viewers with the story of Israel with an exhibition of craft and design objects.  The show includes over 125 objects, with a combination of works on loan from three museums, private collectors and over 80 artists. The exhibit begins and ends with the theme of light, a major element in Israeli culture, from Hannukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights to Haskalah, a 19th century Jewish Enlightenment that focused on secular learning and modern philosophy. Reflecting the diversity of a population heavily influenced by European and Arab cultures and old and new world sensibilities, these objects of everyday use range from the artifacts from the pre-state period with rare religious pieces to Yemenite jewelry, Bedouin textiles, contemporary garments, sustainable and industrial designs, and adornment incorporating ancient materials, furniture and ceramics. As a whole the exhibition highlights the wide range of ethnicities, races and cultural backgrounds that make up the country of Israel and the innovative artists whose works give a glimpse of Israeli life characterized by their collective and personal memory, restlessness, resourcefulness and the influences of globalization. Beginning with The Scroll of Esther, known as the Megillah, Finials(1882), Torah cases(1914), the Bezalel School Rug (1910) from an arts and crafts school created in the early 1900s’and other religious objects, the exhibit opens into a bright and colorful space with secular objects, many of which were created in the last five years. Rich colors exude from garments and textiles, clay and porcelain pieces, wood, 3-D printed objects and those using recycled materials. Some metal and ceramic works are influenced by the simplicity of the Bauhaus school while others include gestural and abstract patterning.  There is no particular Israeli style, rather a celebration of the creativity and skill of contemporary artists working and living in a country constantly challenged politically, socially, and economically and by the precariousness of its very existence.