Monday, January 10, 2011

Metal & Paint

Sperone Westwater
Heinz Mack & Old Masters

My favorite opening this weekend happened at the Sperone Westwater Gallery with a combination of the old versus the new. The first three floors were filled with an elegant fizz of metal and glass work covering the high ceilinged walls from bottom to top. Heinz Mack's work actually looks like it was made for the Gallery´s new building, but the work presented "Early Metal Reliefs" was from the ten years between 1957 - 1967. This is also the era of the German Zero group that he founded together with Otto Piene in 1956. The groups mission was to sign off the past and start again at Zero. A post-war art movement that was like a European version of the minimalism so popular in America.

Mack’s metal reliefs are characterized by their shimmering industrial surfaces, made from aluminum, Plexiglas, wood, glass and stainless steel: all materials that were radically unfamiliar for sculpture at the time. His aim was to abandon the traditional idea of pictorial space and focus instead on an overall surface play of light, reflection and vibration, in the process creating immaterial effects from material form.

In his essay for the brochure which accompanied Mack’s first show in Paris in 1959 at the Galerie Iris Clert, Yves Klein wrote: “the reliefs in aluminum of Mack […] come from the delicate, discrete and timid love he has always felt for color though always refusing to approach it.”

          - Sperone Westwater (Press Release)

We were fortunate enough to meet the illuminating master, who continues to work in a small town called Monchengladbach outside Dusseldorf (Germany).

On the 4th floor were the elevator is being used as an extension of the room, were a sacred exhibit of old masters. I am intrigued by their initiative to bring in the old together with the Contemporary. A collaboration with the Robilant + Voena Gallery (Milan/London). It hit me that this could be beginning of a new "Renaissance" for old paintings. The most known masters are all taken by Museums or private collections so there is very little left on the market. But, there were so many other great painters during this time like Caraviggio's teacher Casini, here with his version of "David with the Head of Goliath". 

Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1653)
Portrait of an Unidentified Man
*Photo courtesy of Sperone Westwater Gallery

Artemisia Gentileschi was one of the few but highly regarded FEMALE artists of the Baroque. Her life has also been portrayed in the movie Artemisia. A great well-acted film I watched a few years ago, about her struggles to be allowed to paint in a male dominated world and a rape trial where she was the plaintiff.

Tiberio Titi 
Portrait of Ferdinando Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua
(C. 1617)

Others represented in this exhibit is Canaletto, Caracciolo, Caroselli, Cavalier d'Arpino, Cerano, Ceruti, Dolci, Guardi, Joli, Marieschi, Panini and Titi.

All artists from an area that was important for the beginning of modern art. With new findings, re-discoveries and new importance attributed to lesser known but not less important artist from the 17th and 18th Century is (I think) going to bring the old masters into the Contemporary House.

Casini "David with the head of Goliath"

It will be exciting to see if other Contemporary Galleries will follow the lead.

It is interesting what a breeze it was to go from "Metal to Paint" like each exhibit induced a stronger message to the other because of it.

With Love 


  1. I"m so on bored with those cool pieces in the beginning...I could use one of those in my house. It's pry not expensive is it :p

  2. I love the metal and mirror work- there is something about the texture and uniformity of color that makes me enjoy looking at it!

  3. The metallic pieces are stark and powerful.
    I like the juxtaposition of the contemporary and old masters. I'm sure it made for a fascinating view.
    Thanks for the art lesson too. I think you teach wonderfully!

  4. I would look at those metal pieces for ages!! Love them! :)SarahD

  5. You're a treasure Kristin, honestly, what a great post! Love it! Thanks for the lesson- was oh sooo enjoyable!:))

  6. I agree with're indeed a treasure!

    I love the metal's so powerful and makes such a strong statement. wondering how it would look inside my home...

  7. I've been obsessed with hammered steel lately (for home decor). You're reminding me I want to look for more metal pieces!

  8. You girls make my day! Off to my last day at the Galleries in Chelsea before I leave for London on Saturday!

  9. i love the metal ones... amazing what you can do with the material... love too the way they used to paint people's fabric, amazing!

  10. Those first pieces are amazing! I have to say, I'm a fan of minimalism. I love work that's more challenging to explain- and more open to interpretation. I think these piece do read very much like American Minimalism in that they are about the way the environment reacts to their surfaces and beyond. I love art that can transcend it's own space- be it physical or emotional. Lovely. Also, don't you just love when the curators do such a great job installing that the work just looks like it was made specifically for that space?

  11. The metal and mirror pieces are really cool and totally creative. I like how minimalistic they feel! Btw; I bet you will love biking in London. They are having a lovely warm weather right now..So perfect time for moving:) Kisses and hugs

  12. gosh I really wish I had more time to browse through your posts and look into the art and artists you post about. You always introduce us to such interesting things! :o)

  13. Those metal pieces are spell casting!

  14. I love that first one...what a statement piece!!

  15. interesting shows, I've never seen before ... wow really amazing, and the first even dangerous!

  16. That reminds me, I must find a new mirror.

    Irene will be releasing her first album in a couple of months time. Might be of interest to you, Ms. Kristin?

    Alexandre FABBRI