Kurt Kranz: Programming of beauty, Exhibition marking the 100th birthday of Kurt Kranz
19th November 2010 to 29th May 2011.
"Inspired by a lecture by László Moholy-Nagy, Kurt Kranz came to the Bauhaus Dessau in April 1930. In Walter Peterhans's photography class, Kranz began to experiment with photographic techniques and created some of the most striking abstract picture series to emerge from the Bauhaus. Alienated and abstracted faces and hands appear repeatedly in his dynamic picture series. These show Kranz’s early affinity for film as, page for page, the abstract forms interact with one another. Kranz drafted his first concepts for abstract films at the Bauhaus, although he was first able to realise these decades later in 1972.
The exhibition to mark the artist's 100th birthday shows works from Kranz's Bauhaus years and his later work as an advertising graphic designer, and focuses on a selection of his large picture cycles. Strikingly diverse leporellos dating from the 1960s onwards take centre stage, as do the so-called 'Matrix- und Schiebebilder'."
(Bauhaus Dessau Foundation)
Fig.1 Kurt Kranz, Versinkende (Sinking one), 1931, Ingrid Kranz / Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau [http://artblart.com/2011/05/18/exhibition-kurt-kranz-programming-of-beauty-at-the-bauhaus-dessau/].
"With this project I intend to concentrate purely on taking close up photographs of faces of people from my hometown of Sheffield. I will photograph 100 people, one person for every year of age, each of whom will be asked to provide the clearest photograph they can find taken when they were younger. This picture, along with the photograph I take, will be placed together to form the final version of each piece showing how the subject's face has changed over the intervening years."
Fig.1 Chris Saunders (2012) "Danny aged 3 and 54", One to One Hundred Project.
"Lukasa, or memory boards, are hand-held wooden objects that present a conceptual map of fundamental aspects of Luba culture. They are at once illustrations of the Luba political system, historical chronicles of the Luba state, and territorial diagrams of local chiefdoms. Each board's design is unique and represents the divine revelations of a spirit medium expressed in sculptural form. While many lukasa utilize a system of denotation based on masses of shells and beads affixed to their wooden surfaces, this example communicates its content through incised designs and images carved in relief."
(The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Fig.1 "Memory Board (Lukasa) [Democratic Republic of Congo; Luba] (1977.467.3)". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/1977.467.3 (October 2006).
"Maurizio Anzeri makes his portraits by sewing directly into found vintage photographs. His embroidered patterns garnish the figures like elaborate costumes, but also suggest a psychological aura, as if revealing the person's thoughts or feelings. The antique appearance of the photographs is often at odds with the sharp lines and silky shimmer of the threads. The combined media gives the effect of a dimension where history and future converge. The image used in Round Midnight is an early 20th century ‘glamour shot' that at the time would have been considered titillating for both the girl's nudity and ethnicity. Anzeri's delicately stitched veil recasts the figure with an uncomfortable modesty, overlaying a past generation's cross-cultural anxieties with an allusion to our own.
'I've been collecting old photographs for a long time. A few years ago I was doing ink drawings with them and out of curiosity I stitched into one. I work a lot with threads and hand stitching, and the link to photography was a natural progression. I put tracing paper over the photo and draw on the face until it develops. Sometimes the image comes straight away, suggested by a detail on a dress or in the background, but with the majority of them I spend a lot of time drawing. Once the drawing is done, I pierce the photo with a set of needle-like tools I invented and take the paper away; the holes are obsessively paced at the same distance to convey an idea of geometry. When I begin the stitching something else happens, drawing will never do what thread will – the light changes, and at some points you can lose the face, and at others you can still see under it.'
'There's a dynamic in what happens between the photograph, the embroidery on top, and you standing in front looking at it. I try never to completely cover a face, you can always still see the face underneath. There are no rules other than I always leave one or both eyes open. Nothing is bigger in my head than a face, it's the best landscape we can look at. It's all to do with the centre, the body. Like a costume or other identity, my work reveals something that is behind the face that suddenly becomes in front. It's like a mask – not a mask you put on, but something that grows out of you. It's what the photo is telling you and what you want to read in the photos. I get my ideas from many different sources: it could be theatre, or someone dressed up on the tube, a tribe in Papua New Guinea, or Versace. It's never one specific thing.'
'Photographs from the 40s and 50s have a totally different quality from photos we're used to today. We don't recognise them as photographs now, they really look like watercolours or drawings. The images I use are anonymous, I find them everywhere; I'm really into flea markets and car boot sales, when you enter you have no idea what you're going to encounter. In everything I see there is something I am interested in, but I try to look at them as plain canvas. Art history is very important to me, it's all been done before but it's never been done by you: if you don't look into the past there is no chance to go into the future. The surrealist movement is important to my work, but I don't become obsessed by it, it's not dictating rules. I understand history in a formal respect, and think of past artists like travelling companions – making work is like going for a walk with them. At the end of the day it's about humanity.'"
Fig.1 Maurizio Anzeri, "Rita", 2011, Embroidery on photograph, 23.5 x 17.5 cm.