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Archive for the ‘Spaces: Photographs by Candida Höfer and Thomas Struth’ Category

By Norma, guest blogger
 
Last week, my quilting buddies and I visited the Clark to see the El Anatsui installation at Stone Hill Center. El Anatsui was born in Ghana and now lives in Nigeria, where he makes monumental sculptures from discarded liquor tops. He wires them together and makes a sort of metal fabric, which he then drapes, pleats, and places them on the wall.
Did I say they are enormous? It’s hard to tell from this picture of Delta, although I guess you can see the floor and the ceiling and get an idea of the scale.
Strips of Earth’s Skin is even bigger. I really wanted to touch it, but I didn’t.
This one, Intermittent Signals made me gasp as I entered the room. The golden colors took on a glow that reminded me of Egyptian splendor. It wrapped around two walls and ended up draping on the floor.
Barbara and Nike getting a close-up view.
Some of the tops were folded and spiraled around into circles that were joined together by wire.
In these last two you can read some of the names of the liquor companies.

There are only three pieces in the installation, but it was well worth the trip just to see them. El Anatsuiwas in Stone Hill Center, the newer section of the museum, which is a whole separate building. We could have taken shuttles up to the main building , but we opted to walk on the path through the woods. It was a lovely walk on a beautiful day.

At the main building we saw Pissaro’s People, the work of Camille Pissarro (1830–1903). This was a large exhibition with many rooms of his paintings. Although Pissarro was best known as a landscape painter, he had a lifelong interest in the human figure and painted people from many walks of life. We enjoyed this and the other special exhibit, Spaces, which were large-scale photographs by Candida Höfer and Thomas Struth.
 
It truly was a wonderful trip, and our heads were spinning with ideas.
 
[This post originally appeared on the blog News from Norma, and has been reprinted with permission.] 

Image credits:

All photos courtesy of Norma.

El Anatsui (Ghanaian, born 1944), Delta, 2010. Found aluminum and copper wire, 15 ft. 3 in. x 11 ft. 3 in. (464.8 x 342.9 cm). Private collection [Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, NY]

El Anatsui (Ghanaian, born 1944), Strips of Earth’s Skin, 2008. Found aluminum and copper wire, 12 ft. 10 in. x 22 ft. 10 in. (330.2 x 696 cm). The Broad Art Foundation, Santa Monica [Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, NY]

El Anatsui (Ghanaian, born 1944), Intermittent Signals, 2009. Found aluminum and copper wire, 11 x 35 ft. (335.3 x 1066.8 cm). The Broad Art Foundation, Santa Monica [Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, NY]

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By Nancy O’Connor, Williams College M.A. 2011

Working in the Clark Art Institute’s Manton Center for Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, I would often pull out photographs for visiting scholars or classes.  This entails sifting through a box of photographs and, upon finding the one needed, placing it on the easel for viewing.  Though the works hanging on the walls in the Spaces exhibition are photographs too, they require several hands to maneuver. 

Looking at some of the larger pictures such as Höfer’s Igreja da Ordem Terceira Secular de São Francisco Salvador Bahia II, it seems that these works are wholly different from the smaller-sized, nineteenth-century photographs featured in the Clark’s collection.  Thomas Struth’s Audience 7 fills an entire wall!

I draw attention to their size, perhaps an overly obvious feature, because it is precisely this that affects how we interact with these works.  When walking across the bridge to the main galleries, even before opening the glass doors, we are greeted by one large work (Struth’s San Zaccaria). The details are not immediately decipherable but, nonetheless, the photograph commands our attention from afar. 

It is this ability to observe from a distance that these photographs permit, much like we are able to do with William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s Nymphs and Satyr in the room adjacent to the Spaces exhibition.  We can appreciate them from multiple distances—whether standing a pace away or across the room.  Indeed, we think of them not only in terms of the space within the photographs but also the space of the Clark’s galleries.

In preparing for this exhibition, I worked with the curator to research not only the photographs themselves but also the spaces depicted.  This inquiry included Google searches on the Viking ship pictured in Candida Höfer’s Wikingmuseum Oslo I as well as looking through publications on the Venetian church of San Zaccaria. 

The search to uncover information on one image even entailed a call to the Oslo Public Library to identify the mural shown in Höfer’s Deichmanske Bibliotek Oslo II (a painting by Norwegian artist Axel Revold).  Researching everything from when Michelangelo created the famous statue David (in 1503) to the history of the cloister in Höfer’s Kloster Mehrerau Bregenz, it was clear that this project was different from my usual work as a graduate assistant.

After visiting Pissarro’s People be sure to make your way to the main galleries and find the photographs nestled amidst the Clark’s permanent collection. 

Image credits:

The Clark Art Institute’s Manton Center for Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

Thomas Struth (German, born 1954), Audience 7 Florence, 2004. Chromogenic print, edition of 10, 6.07 x 9.65 ft. (185 x 294 cm). Private collection  [© Thomas Struth]

Spaces exhibition

Candida Höfer (German, born 1944),  Wikingmuseum Oslo I 2000. Chromogenic print, edition of 6, 3.28 x 3.28 ft. (100 x 100 cm). Private collection [© Candida Höfer/VG-Bildkunst, Bonn 2000]

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By Jay A. Clarke, Manton Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, and curator of Spaces: Photographs by Candida Höfer and Thomas Struth

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There’s nothing quite like a set  of “before” and “after” photos to tell a story.  As curator of the Spaces show, it is a rare treat to be able to work with a room like this (we call it Gallery 2) for an installation of large-scale photographs. 

This room has a special history in the annals of the Clark.  As the central space of the original white marble building, it is usually filled with natural light and populated with paintings by Renoir, Monet, and Morisot, sculptures by nineteenth-century artists, Francine Clark’s piano, and a sumptuous carpet.  But, with many of our French paintings currently on an international tour, this room was recently emptied of its usual contents. 

What to do?  Close it down?  Lock the doors?  How about using the room for an installation of contemporary art? 

We decided on the latter, specifically to juxtapose the work of Candida Höfer and Thomas Struth.  Their photographs are all about absence and presence and, much like the Clark’s dual mission, they often focus on the experience of the museum visitor and the contemplative atmosphere of libraries and research centers. 

Featuring Höfer and Struth’s work in this historic space at the Clark is a provocative pairing.  Gone are the furnishings, the walls are freshly painted, the spacing is generous, and two benches designed by Tadao Ando take the place of Degas’s sculpture Little Dancer Aged Fourteen

I hope you will come see for yourself the before and after of Gallery 2.  It was just as much fun to conceptualize this transformation “before” as it is to see the final product “after.”

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