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  • Jannis Kounellis, Arte Povera’s leading figure, passed away

    The Greek-Italian artist Jannis Kounellis, one of the leading figures of the Arte Povera movement, died in Rome’s Villa Mafalda hospital, aged 80, according to Italian media reports.

    Born in Piraeus, Greece in 1936, the artist moved to Rome at the age of 20 to study at the Academy of Fine Arts and since then has considered the Eternal City his adopted home, where he continued to live and work. He had his first solo exhibition in 1960 at La Tartaruga gallery, a regular stomping ground for the city’s artists and intellectuals, but perhaps his most famous early show was in 1969, when he displayed 12 live horses in Rome’s Attic Gallery. (The work was recently recreated by New York’s Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in June 2015.)

    “Kounellis was known for his use of lowly, often earthy materials in his work—coal, jute bags, steel, piles of stones—which tied him to the Arte Povera artists who used similarly “poor” media. The artist took part in the Venice Biennale for the first time in 1972 and became a regular contributor to the international exhibition” reports The Art Newspaper.

    The Art Newspaper interviewed the artist in April 2010, soon after it was announced that he would be taking part in the Vatican’s first pavilion at the 2011 Venice Biennale. When we asked him what he thought of Pope Benedict XVI’s call for artists to embark on a “quest for beauty”, Kounellis told us this:

    “The Greeks used to say that beauty is like time; it changes: a person can be beautiful in the morning and not be so in the afternoon. A ‘form’ of beauty does not exist. Formalisation or clarity, on the other hand, are part of the family of beauty. Loving, too, is part of this family. If the Church says this, if it speaks of beauty in this sense, I am in favour of the Church. But if by beauty it means something else, I am opposed to it.”

    Over the years, he has exhibited several solo shows at international museums including the Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens (2012), Tate Modern, London (2009), the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (2007), the Albertina, Vienna (2005), the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (1996), the Castello di Rivoli, Turin (1988), the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (1982) and the Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (1981).

    White Cube’s exhibition on Kounellis’ very first works, the “Alfabeto” series of works on paper and paintings, reminded the importance of symbols in his work. The exhibition offered a review of Kounellis’ artistic development through a reconsideration of these early masterpieces.

    The ‘Alfabeto’ series, works on paper and canvas, begun around 1958 while he was still a student in Rome. Using black tempera, ink, enamel or acrylic paint on a white ground of paper, cardboard or canvas – either singly or combined – they feature black stenciled numbers, letters, mathematical symbols and arrows. The first exhibition of these works, described later by Kounellis as ‘a hermetic rhythmic writing in space’, was titled L’alfabeto di Kounellis, and was held at Galleria La Tartaruga, the first gallery for contemporary art set-up in Rome. This was followed by two further shows in 1964, 1966, and a third, also in 1966, at Galleria Arco D’Alibert, Rome.

    The letters, signs and numbers in these paintings are repeated, overlaid, fragmented or inverted, creating a new visual language. Always impersonal and regularized, the result of their stencilled application, they are painted in a textural and imperfect manner, reflecting both the hand-made quality of these and also the smooth industrial production methods used in the signs and advertising of the street. Kounellis has analogized these works to frescoes, saying that: ‘They were not pictures as such, all the canvases derived from the measurements of the house, in which I lived. They referred to the wall. In fact, I used to stretch the canvas or the sheet, right up to the limits of the corners of the wall, the painting ended there […] it was like taking off a fresco, since the canvases or sheets had the form and breadth of the walls of the room […]. The letters or painted signs, they came however from forms which I prepared out of hard cardboard. They were printed, not calligraphic but structural’. Jannis Kounellis, Works, Writings 1958-2000, Ediciones Poligrafa S.A.(2001), p.71

    With these works, Kounellis moved his painting away from abstract formalism and towards a more conceptual discourse. Moreover, like other works from the period, they register a transformation occurring in Italy during the time, with the influence of American culture and specifically a culture of consumption; what the Italian art historian Giuliano Briganti has defined as ‘a break with the past, a provocative action’. Following this series, Kounellis began to introduce found objects into his works, including actual street signs, creating a convergence of painting, sculpture and performance.

    “My sights were focussed on Informalism at that point, on [Jean] Fautrier in particular, as a protraction of traditional painting. I still saw the survival of an illusion, of a … centrality in those works: a centrality of the universe, of painting, even of the role of the artist, which doesn’t seem particularly relevant to our era. That’s what these paintings of mine with recognizable and significant characters and letters meant to the viewer, nothing beyond what they see. But not to me. They indicated the names of my favorites at the time” he said in Codognato and d’Argenzio 2002, p.237.

    17Feb
  • Daft Punk’s archive on full display on their new pop-up shop

    Just a couple of days ago Daft Punk shared a video of the impressive space which hosts the band’s new LA pop-up shop. In the West Hollywood space that “glitters with all manner of Daft Punk artefacts”, including robot helmets, artwork, posters and instruments the French duo are sharing a part of their history just in time for their USA invasion - last night Daft Punk made their live comeback at the 2017 Grammy Awards with The Weeknd.

    The store hosts an archival retrospective including the duo’s old set pieces, props, wardrobe, artwork, photography, and helmets.

    In terms of product the pop-up stocks a ton of merchandising, including New Era caps, Medicom Toy vinyl figures, KWay Jackets, Wham-O Frisbees, Russell Yo-Yos and Fisher space pens. Furthermore Daft Punk teamed up with Virgil Abloh, Gosha Rubchinskiy and Enfant Riches Déprimés on collaborative products.

    The store will be open from February 11-19 at 8818 Melrose Ave. in West Hollywood.

    13Feb
  • True Print explores the printing techniques in all their glory

    Dafi Kühne is a Swiss designer who works with analogue and digital techniques to produce fresh and unique letterpress-printed posters.

    This craft of his, is displayed in all its glory in the brand new monograph of his work. True Print, published by Lars Müller, contains 152 pages that show the diverse work of the designer, who uses very different kinds of tools — from a computer to a pantograph — for his compositions, as he pushes the boundaries of design.

    “Never afraid of getting his hands dirty in his creative workshop”, Kühne embraces the labor involved in the entire process of creating a poster, from initial idea to finished product. Fusing modern means with the century-old tradition of letterpress, he forms a new vocabulary for how to communicate through type and form in a truly contemporary way.

    “Never retro” his work is a clever response to the search for new possibilities of graphic expression.

    True Print is available here.

    TRUE PRINT – Things I keep telling myself – Poster

    10Feb
  • The amazing Peter Saville redesigns Calvin Klein’s iconic logo

    “A return to the spirit of the original. An acknowledgement of the founder and foundations of the fashion house. In collaboration with the art director and graphic designer Peter Saville”. With this quote Calvin Klein unveiled it’s newest logo on Instagram and this is big news for both the fashion industry and the graphic design scene.
    With Raf Simons’ aesthetic all about innovation and uncovering newness, the latest master of style in charge of the iconic American label after his departure from Dior back in 2015, the renowned designer Peter Saville came with a new visual identity. Simons enlisted his long-time friend and British master of design, best known for creating the album art for important bands such as Joy Division and New Order.

    Subtle and sleek, the Calvin Klein new logo isn’t a major departure although there are some notable differences such as the choice of all caps and some (slight) differences in spacing and font style. Continuing the iconic Calvin Klein logo which is part of America’s pop culture for almost 40 years and still going strong, the new logo has been masterfully tweaked by Peter Saville, always staying true to its black colour and sans-serif logotype.

    Calvin Klein’s in-house creative team, headed up by chief creative officer Raf Simons, worked on the new logo, collaborating with Saville. Simons is a Belgian designer who joined Calvin Klein in August last year. Peter Saville, originally from Manchester, is best known for his record sleeve designs for Factory Records.

    The new design has caused some debate online  – “there doesn’t seem to me like there is a legitimate reason to make such a lateral (yet distant) change. It is literally the same thing, just uppercase… It does nothing to move the brand forward… This feels like change for change’s sake to satisfy someone’s whims, more than a strategic move to set up the brand for the next 50 years” comments Underconsideration - yet this is Simons and Saville capitalizing on the brand’s iconic legacy. After all Saville is no stranger to the fashion industry, listing brands such as Lacoste and Y-3 among his collaborators.

    09Feb
  • Self-taught designer Amine Ghorab says no to minimalism

    Independent and very, very reluctant to expose himself in the social media hubs, Amine Ghorab is a graphic designer based in Paris who deserves our attention. Having studied communications at the Ecole Supérieure de Publicité in his hometown, the self-taught designer has always been passionate “about images and aesthetics”.

    “I had the chance to live and work in an environment where there was space to develop my artistic skills. Then when I got my first computer I started to dig into it and install every software I could get, starting to design things for my friends and me” he says to It’s Nice That. As for his inspirations, they are made of notes. “The self-taught designer enjoys working on music-related projects creating 3D illustrations, typography and identities” reports Rebecca Fulleylove.

    “I find my inspirations from artists in different fields of work, like Koichi Sato, Peter Lloyd’s airbrush illustrations, typography from Karl Gerstner or the sculptor Jacob Epstein” he explains.

    Check more of his super slick world here.

    07Feb