Search Results for: diane simpson

Diane Simpson – Portrait by Topical Cream

DIANE SIMPSON, FEMALE GENIUS

INTRODUCTION
Nobody minds being called a genius. But the addition of “female” certainly complicates things. If you’re a genius, you’re a genius, no matter your gender. In his 1994 book Profiles of Female Genius, Gene L. Landrum portrayed 13 “creative women who changed the world,” including Estée Lauder, Oprah Winfrey, and Margaret Thatcher. While two decades later Landrum’s tone — he spoke of women’s “tendency to take abnormal risks,” their “visionary perspective,” “intuitive operating style,” and “boundless energy” — may come off as patronizing, it is still a fact that the worlds of art and architecture remain predominantly male. In this special feature, of which this is the first post, we portray seven female artists from different generations, two of whom gained fame late in life after being ignored or marginalized in a milieu that was long exclusively male. While the individual bodies of work by Lena Henke, Carmen Herrera, Sahra Motalebi, Diane Simpson, Avery Singer, Mickalene Thomas, and Kaari Upson are very diverse, and involve different media, what they have in common is in an interest in or connection to architecture, be it through their treatment of space, their choice of subject matter, or their handling of materials. While some of them have an architectural background, none of them are practicing architects. But each artist, in her own way, redefines our conception of space. And that, in and of itself, is a sure sign of genius, no matter what gender. — Julie Klein

DIANE SIMPSON
At a recent opening of a New York art fair, someone was overheard describing the 80-year-old sculptor Diane Simpson as “just so badass!” The description couldn’t be more apt. But why exactly? Because she’s still making her beguiling works to this day? Because she’s been making bold work for decades during which female artists were marginalized? Because the skill and construction of her sculptures is so perfect they almost seem industrially fabricated? The answer, of course, is all of the above and more.

Simpson’s sculptures and drawings gain their conceptual traction from the slippage between perception and representation. They are at once familiar but abstracted, anthropomorphic but unfeasible, entreating but hermetic, three-dimensional but flattened. Her oeuvre involves complex amalgamations of historically-sourced subject matter — predominantly clothing and architecture — that she meticulously reconstructs out of carefully considered materials. The sculptures read as nuanced takes on the subjects that ispired them, as well as highly original structures in their own right, but also, of course, contain something of the personal history of the artist herself.

Diane Simpson was born Diane Klafter in 1935 in Joliet, Illinois. She received both her Bachelor’s and Master’s in Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (in 1971 and 1978, respectively), and her artistic education was dominated by the visual milieu of Art Deco and Modernist architecture in Chicago — geometric lines and surface ornamentation. In the late 1960s, a group of artists known as the Chicago Imagists, who combined Surrealism, Art Brut, personal narrative, and comic art, began to exhibit work at the Hyde Park Art Center in response to New York’s Pop Art. Claiming the oft-ghettoized aesthetic world of vernacular art, the Chicago Imagists redefined the Postmodern subjectivity of Pop Art. There’s currently a renewed interest in the Chicago Imagists, and more specifically in the work of Simpson, who was always somewhat on the periphery of the movement.

Simpson’s art centers around a three-step process: take a subject, create a unique two-dimensional isometric drawing of that subject, and render this drawing into a three-dimensional sculpture. (Each sculpture is intended to be sold with its drawing, which can also be used as an installation manual.) Her seminal 1983 exhibition Samurai, at Phyllis Kind Gallery in Chicago, featured nine sculptures inspired by Japanese samurai armor and kimonos made from medium-density fiberboard. Since then her exploration has expanded, among others, to symbols of domesticity, Elizabethan excess, and ecclesiastical vestments, and yet her sculptures always feel atemporal and polyvalent, eschewing easy classification. Take Apron X (2005), for example, where she used leather wrapped around a metal armature to conjure up a frilly 1940s apron, producing a monumental composition that has something of the Mesoamerican pyramid or the Art Deco skyscraper about it. In Formal Wear (1998), two rigid black polyester sleeves hang from a bare poplar bar, drawing upon the exaggerated clothing in The Three Princesses of Saxony (Lucas Cranach the Elder, c. 1530), the painting that inspired it, while also suggesting the simple gesture of someone praying. And similarly Doublet (1985) borrows form and line from the eponymous male waistcoat, but is transformed through Simpson’s deft hand and oil-stained redwood into an elaborate pagoda.

As feminist art historians Helen Molesworth, Lisa Tickner, and Mignon Nixon have pointed out, the history of art made by women is a history of omission. A more fecund approach may be to look at artistic allies and predecessors in a horizontal fashion — not mothers and fathers, but brothers, sisters and cousins — to elucidate the discourse around different art practices. Simpson may be chronologically and geographically associated with the Chicago Imagists, but her work is perhaps better understood as being in dialogue with artists like Eva Hesse and Martin Puryear, as well as Vincent Fecteau and Tauba Auerbach. The public will soon be given a chance to make up its own mind at a 30-year survey exhibition — Simpson’s first solo show at an art museum — opening at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston in December 2015.

Diane Simpson is currently exhibiting with Lesley Vance at Herald St. in London until January, 2016

Text by John Arthur Peetz. Portrait by Topical Cream.
Taken from Female Genius, a special feature in PIN–UP 19, Fall Winter 2015 in collaboration with Topical Cream. Special thanks Eva Kenny.

 

Sahra Motalebi – Portrait by Topical Cream

SAHRA MOTALEBI, FEMALE GENIUS

INTRODUCTION
Nobody minds being called a genius. But the addition of “female” certainly complicates things. If you’re a genius, you’re a genius, no matter your gender. In his 1994 book Profiles of Female Genius, Gene L. Landrum portrayed 13 “creative women who changed the world,” including Estée Lauder, Oprah Winfrey, and Margaret Thatcher. While two decades later Landrum’s tone — he spoke of women’s “tendency to take abnormal risks,” their “visionary perspective,” “intuitive operating style,” and “boundless energy” — may come off as patronizing, it is still a fact that the worlds of art and architecture remain predominantly male. In this special feature, of which this is the first post, we portray seven female artists from different generations, two of whom gained fame late in life after being ignored or marginalized in a milieu that was long exclusively male. While the individual bodies of work by Lena Henke, Carmen Herrera, Sahra Motalebi, Diane Simpson, Avery Singer, Mickalene Thomas, and Kaari Upson are very diverse, and involve different media, what they have in common is in an interest in or connection to architecture, be it through their treatment of space, their choice of subject matter, or their handling of materials. While some of them have an architectural background, none of them are practicing architects. But each artist, in her own way, redefines our conception of space. And that, in and of itself, is a sure sign of genius, no matter what gender. — Julie Klein

In a recent article on the art of perfume, the British musician and artist Brian Eno highlighted the subjective and ever-shifting sensory cues that are inherent in the world of smell as a metaphor for how technology might influence the future of art and culture. It’s a fitting analogy for multidisciplinary artist Sahra Motalebi, whose work explores the intangible intersections of architecture, music, and performance, combining them into striking audiovisual bouquets.

Born into a Persian family in Birmingham, Alabama, Motalebi first studied classical vocal performance and visual art before attending Columbia’s graduate School of Architecture. Such a diverse education left her keen to explore the relationship between the built world and the ephemerality of performance. “I’m influenced by ideas of early 20th-century experimental theater in which disciplines of art, performance, and architecture converge,” explains the 36-year-old during a stroll in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene Park, near her studio. “I trained classically as a singer, so the convergence of the visual and music in opera always drew me in. But so did the actual spaces of the concert halls themselves. Maybe it was the potential I saw in them. Wherever performance — musical or otherwise — is on the scale of ‘relationality,’ architectural space is always presiding, in a way.”

For her recent Sounds from Untitled Skies, a 40-minute performance which Motalebi describes as a series of “six landscape portraits for the stage,” the artist created a hermetic world that flits delicately between the temporal realms of music and video and the solid permanence of architecture — albeit that of the dreamiest kind. For each of the six “poems” (as she calls them) that make up the performance, Motalebi built small-scale architectural maquettes using everyday materials such as clay, cardboard, glitter, paper, plastic, and even cat litter. The maquettes and their simple surroundings transformed into objects that nodded towards the scaleless geometries and curvilinear forms of Surrealism. Motalebi then filmed the resulting “landscapes” and projected them onto a scrim during the performance. Transformed by this radical shift in scale, the projected maquettes suggest an odd and beguiling built environment that sets the tone for the oblique narratives in the six poems, which she delivers in a haunting contralto. “Obviously the experience of a performance is ephemeral or impermanent. But often the material I’ve worked with in the stage sets, while it may read as monumental or weighty, is actually just light-weight paper products. In these cases the video that constitutes the scenography is the only evidence of a short-lived three-dimensional set.” Songs from Untitled Skies debuted in April 2015 at the Crowley Theater in Marfa, Texas, then traveled to Hydra, Greece, and finally to The Kitchen, in New York City, in September. It will also be broadcast by Clocktower Radio.

Motalebi is currently preparing Rendering What Remains, a “durational artwork and experimental opera” that promises to bring the bud of Sounds from Untitled Skies into full flower. The piece focuses on the interaction between two characters, “one woman projecting into the future imagining architecture and landscapes distorted in scale, the other reflecting backwards in time, contemplating an alternative, ‘offline’ childhood overgrown in nature.” Motalebi’s approach to abstraction is ultimately about the distillation of experience, refracted through a sort of glistening filter. Variations on personal spatial perception gleam through her work as though through the facets of a crystal. Architecture exists somewhere between mind, body, and senses but, despite the digital age’s screens and clouds, the physical world must still be reckoned with, Motalebi’s work suggests. “It comes down to materiality,” she muses. “It seems as though we’re moving toward total dematerialization, but the physical fact of bodies, buildings, and objects in space persists.”

Text by Kevin Greenberg. Portrait by Topical Cream.
Taken from Female Genius, a special feature in PIN–UP 19, Fall Winter 2015 in collaboration with Topical Cream. Special thanks Eva Kenny.

PU19 Cover – Photographed by Lukas Wassman

PIN–UP 19

Featuring:

JEAN NOUVEL
The French national architectural treasure shows no signs of slowing down
Interview by Andrew Ayers
Portraits by Katja Rahlwes

IPPOLITO PESTELLINI
The youngest partner of architectural powerhouse OMA is ready for his close up
Interview by Felix Burrichter
Portraits by Anuschka Blommers and Niels Schumm

WENDY GOODMAN
The New York design editor supreme on the dos and don’ts of home décor
Interview by Pierre Alexandre de Looz
Portraits by Bruno Staub

PEDRO FRIEDEBERG
The septuagenarian wild child from Mexico City loves history, astrology, and butterflies
Interview by Michael Bullock
Portraits by Daniel Trese

FEATURE SPECIAL
Female Genius, a special feature dedicated to seven contemporary artists who challenge our perception of space. Including Carmen Herrera, Avery Singer, Mickalene Thomas, Kaari Upson, Sahra Motalebi, Lena Henke, and Diane Simpson.

ALSO IN THE ISSUE: Architect Luca Cipelletti’s endless conversation between art, architecture, and design; the image-making savvy of London design duo Soft Baroque; the unique work by sculptor Jessi Reaves; Matchy Matchy Mom Christina Kruse, who takes color coordination to the next level; Bureau V’s trailblazing new music academy in Brooklyn; promoting preservationism in Japan with the help of Toshiko Mori and Tomas Maier; Candida Höfer’s ode to the city of Düsseldorf; l’art de la table, as interpreted by photographer Bela Borsodi.

PLUS: A glorious 48-page photographic portfolio celebrating The Great Indoors, featuring Trix and Robert Haussmann’s new Zürich apartment, Ugo Rondinone’s country hideaway on the foothills of the Alps, Yrjö Kukkapuro’s paraboloid pad in the Finnish countryside, and the stunning Ambassador Grill in the middle of Manhattan; and an extensive visit of the Pavillon de l’Esprit Nouveau, a show home for the 21st century.

PIN–UP 19 Fall Winter 2015/16

A BRAND NEW ISSUE

“All the world’s a stage!” The famous line from Shakespeare’s As You Like It introduces the seven ages of man, from infancy to death, likening life’s ineluctable transformations to the narrative arc of a play. The fundamental things haven’t changed since the great bard penned those words over 400 years ago, least of all the fact that the stage upon which most of our lives unfold isn’t the great expanse of nature. Rather, it’s indoors, inside built space, public as well as private, in offices, restaurants, nightclubs, and of course our homes. These are the places where we congregate, socialize, and celebrate, where we reflect, relax, and come to rest. Against these backdrops, where the drama that is our lives unfolds, art and design have historically played the necessary extras. If there is one thing, however, that has changed since the Elizabethan era, it’s the introduction of the digital dimension. Not only is our built environment conceived with the help of digital technology — from modeling software to computer-assisted construction drawings to the photo-realistic renderings used to sell real estate — but large parts of our lives now take place digitally, from online retail services to video games to social media, increasingly blurring the lines between what is real and what is virtual. The 240 pages of PIN–UP 19, which was designed by our new Art Director Erin Knutson, are a paean to the infinite variety of sets and stages that architecture and design provide for the performance of our lives — whether digital or IRL — and to the objects that fill them. From remote country refuges to buoyant urban cathedrals of culture, commerce, or consumption, from repositories of our fondest memories to utopian visions of the future, it’s all in the great indoors.

Featuring:
JEAN NOUVEL

The French national architectural treasure shows no signs of slowing down

Jean Nouvel photographed by Katja Rahlwes

Jean Nouvel photographed by Katja Rahlwes


IPPOLITO PESTELLINI LAPARELLI
The youngest partner of architectural powerhouse OMA is ready for his close up

Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli photographed by Anuschka Blommers and Niels Schumm


WENDY GOODMAN
The New York design editor supreme on the dos and don’ts of home décor

Wendy Goodman photographed by Bruno Staub


PEDRO FRIEDEBERG

The septuagenarian wild child from Mexico City loves history, astrology, and butterflies

Pedro Friedeberg photographed by Daniel Trese

Pedro Friedeberg photographed by Daniel Trese


FEATURE SPECIAL: FEMALE GENIUS

A special feature in collaboration with Topical Cream dedicated to seven contemporary artists who challenge our perception of space. Including Carmen Herrera, Avery Singer, Mickalene Thomas, Kaari Upson, Sahra Motalebi, Lena Henke, and Diane Simpson.

Mickalene Thomas photographed by Topical Cream

Mickalene Thomas photographed by Topical Cream


ALSO IN THE ISSUE: Architect Luca Cipelletti’s endless conversation between art, architecture, and design; the image-making savvy of London design duo Soft Baroque; the unique work by sculptor Jessi Reaves; Matchy Matchy Mom Christina Kruse, who takes color coordination to the next level; Bureau V’s trailblazing new music academy in Brooklyn; promoting preservationism in Japan with the help of Toshiko Mori and Tomas Maier; Candida Höfer’s ode to the city of Düsseldorf; and l’art de la table, as interpreted by photographer Bela Borsodi.

The Art of the Table photographed by Bela Borsodi

The Art of the Table photographed by Bela Borsodi


PLUS: A glorious 48-page photographic portfolio  featuring Trix and Robert Haussmann’s new Zürich apartment, Ugo Rondinone’s country hideaway on the foothills of the Alps, Yrjö Kukkapuro’s paraboloid pad in the Finnish countryside, and the stunning Ambassador Grill in the middle of Manhattan; not to mention an extensive tour of the Pavillon de l’Esprit Nouveau, a show home for the 21st century at the Swiss Institute in New York.

Show Home photographed by Naho Kubota

Show Home photographed by Naho Kubota

For more information about the issue, click here