a photo of a cylindrical artwork

Goshka Mackuga, Deutsche Volk – Deutsche Arbeit. Photo © Tara Booth / Culture24

Tara Booth takes an objective look at this year’s Turner Prize – at Tate Britain until January 18 2009.

The work by this year’s shortlisted artists in the running for the 2008 Turner Prize has gone on display at London’s Tate Britain and it’s the usual heady mix of mild shock and puzzling abstraction.

Runa Islam, Mark Lecky, Goshka Macuga and Cathy Wilkes are competing for the £25,000 prize, which is awarded to a British artist under the age of 50 for an outstanding exhibition or presentation in the 12 months before May 6.

The winner will be announced on December 1 during a live broadcast on Channel 4 and the runners-up will receive a sum of £5,000.

Widely recognised as one of the most important and prestigious awards for the visual arts in Europe the Turner Prize is, whatever you think of it, very effective in encouraging debate and seems to revel in controversial or bizarre pieces.

Previous winners of the Turner Prize include Grayson Perry, Chris Ofili and last year’s winner, the man in a bear suit, Mark Wallington.

Heading up the pack this year, Goshka Macuga is an artist who engages with the construction of histories and is best known for her distinctive installations and environments that explore conventions of archiving, exhibition making and museum display.

Her installation for the Turner Prize attempts to fuse the romantic relationships of artists Paul Nash and Eileen Agar with that of designer Lilly Reich and architect and designer Mies van der Rohe.

To achieve this she juxtaposes meanings and materials by reconciling photographs and paper templates from the Nash and Agar archives into dynamic, single images.

Cathy Wilkes, I Give You All My Money – Photo © Tara Booth / Culture 24

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“She breaths new life into them, encouraging new narratives and meanings,” said Curator Helen Little. “It is an ongoing fascination and exploration of Nash and the relationship between the two.”

What results is a concoction of old and new with collages that not only bring together ideas from two people but also unites the relationship.

The sculptural ensemble Haus der Frau I, Haus der Frau II and Deutsche Volk – Deutsche Arbeit (all 2008) are reconstructed from drawings with the help of an engineer. They delve into the forgotten history of Lilly Reich, Mie’s long-term professional and personal partner, who developed revolutionary approaches to exhibition design.

The ensemble was also shown at the fifth Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art in which she was shortlisted for.

Cathy Wilkes’ room-sized installation, I Give You All My Money, presents a highly charged arrangement of consumer readymades, such as prams and televisions, combined with sculptures, found objects and manipulated images.

Describing her installations as confessional and diaristic, Wilkes’ work lies in the examination of the language of objects and is a characterisation of the direct charm of daily human experience.

Two supermarket checkouts and two mannequins stand in the centre of the room with objects and fragments scattered around. Hair, leftover food, glass bowls, burnt wood, scraps of clothing and discarded toys lie on the gallery floor.

“Cathy has chosen everyday objects plus things from her own domestic realm,” explained curator Sophie O’Brian. “Everything has been delicately and precisely placed, to encourage people to relook at objects with a refreshed eye. She makes the familiar unfamiliar.”

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Mark Leckey, Resident Poster. © Mark Leckey

Often using found images, footage and sound, Mark Leckey’s work engages in a dynamic questioning of the connections between surface and dimension, appearance and self-determination, location and presence.

He specifically celebrates the imagination and our potential to inhabit, reclaim or animate an idea, a space, or an object.

His group of works here focusses on a series of sculptural animals including Felix gets Broadcasted 2007, Made in ‘Eaven 2004 and Search Engine.

Cinema-in-the-Round 2006-2008 is a short lecture that presents the artist’s collection of film, television and video extracts as a subjective lecture-style performance.

Split into chapters, the talk considers the proposition of matter, the transformation from still to moving image, the development of images from flat to voluminous and the life of images on-screen.

He discusses Felix, the animated cat, popular in the 1920s and 1930s and the development of the CGI Garfield. The 1997 blockbuster Titanic is also discussed in terms of the director James Cameron’s attempt to showcase the relationship between man and technology.

He also approaches the ability to transform an object from 2D to 3D and finally to reality using the recognisable Homer from The Simpsons as an example.

Interested in the transformation of flat to still to moving image to 3D, Leckey’s interest is drawn from the Internet, books, adverts, Hitchcockian films and magic. He uses his own identity as a filter for a wide variety of found material.

Runa Islam, Be The First To See What You See As You See It. 2004, Courtesy Jay Jopling (London). © the artist

a photo showing a film still of a woman peering at a teapot

Runa Islam presents a selection of three film works including ‘Be The First To See What You See As You See It’ 2004, ‘First Day of Spring’ 2005 and CINEMATOGRAPHY 2007.

Islam’s open-ended pieces are closely choreographed allowing her to innovatively use the apparatus and illusion of film to question and re-imagine contemporary visual culture.

Be The First To See What You See As You See It is a collage of sequences of a woman in a gallery of chintzy china crockery on plinths. As she wanders through the gallery in a dreamlike state, she gently taps the china, which falls and shatters on the floor.

The moment of fracture is exaggerated with slow motion as Islam explores the ability of objects existing.

First Day of Spring is a short silent film of Bangladeshi rickshaw drivers at rest. It is a sympathetic portrait of everyday life and is very lyrical in places. Slow tracking shots scan the scene which then develop into close-ups, revealing texture and life.

CINEMATOGRAPHY investigates the concept and technical foundation of the medium to an extreme, tracking letters of the film’s title as the film progresses. She applies close detail to composition and again favours the tracking shot as the camera swoops around a film apparatus workshop.

Although densely layered, her films reconfigure the conventional structure of the film image to reveal isolated elements of its construction.

“Her films are very carefully choreographed and deliberately open-ended,” said Curator Carolyn Kerr. “Runa is fascinated with the illusion of film, location, plot, familiarity, light and dark and camera apparatuses.”

By Tara Booth

The Turner Prize 2008 Exhibition is open September 30 2008 – January 18 2009 at the Linbury Galleries, Tate Britain. The winner will be announced on December 1 2008


Richard Armstrong appointed director of the Guggenheim

Richard Armstrong, a specialist in American 20th century art and the former director of the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, was named the director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the Guggenheim Museum on Tuesday 23 September. On the eve of his appointment he gave an interview to The Art Newspaper outlining his vision for the New York museum and its overseas branches.

Mr Armstrong will head a global network of museums in Venice, Bilbao and Berlin, and will direct the organisation’s flagship museum in New York, filling the posts long held by Thomas Krens who stepped down in February after two decades. Mr Armstrong, 59, had led the Carnegie since 1996, and in June announced that he would retire by the end of the year. He takes up his new post at the Guggenheim on 4 November.

He told The Art Newspaper that the vision he presented to the search committee consisted of adding intellectual heft to the Guggenheim, empowering the curators, and finding new ways to make the museum relevant, especially to younger audiences. “My concern was that all the museums, and New York maybe foremost, be seen as exemplars of great intellectual enterprise. The search committee felt the same way and responded.”

While the board remains committed to enhancing the museum’s connection with Asia and Latin America, there does not seem to be “a big appetite at present to keep adding sites to the operation,” Mr Armstrong says. Getting a handle on Abu Dhabi, where a new Guggenheim branch is scheduled to open in 2013, will be a challenge, he says. There is, he adds, interest in improving the focus on the programme in New York, where most of the Guggenheim’s board members live.

Mr Armstrong says he intends to more fully integrate the branches and increase their ability to generate and share exhibitions. He also intends to develop partnerships with major museums outside the Guggenheim network. “To me, Tate looks like the most logical long-term partner,” he says, citing the current Louise Bourgeois retrospective co-organised with Tate and Pompidou (at the Guggenheim New York until 28 September). He will meet with Tate director Nicholas Serota in London in October.

Richard Armstrong joined the Carnegie as a curator in 1992 after 12 years at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York where he co-organised four of that museum’s influential biennials. Mild-mannered and known for his fiscal prudence, his appointment marks a return to more traditional museum leadership after Thomas Krens’s revolutionary and often controversial expansionism.

William Mack, chairman of the foundation board, says that “Richard Armstrong has the wisdom and demeanor—as well as the knowledge, stature, and status—we sought in a new leader for the Foundation.” President Jennifer Stockman, who co-chaired the search committee with Mr. Mack, says that his leadership is based on “artistic vision, diplomacy, and inspiration.”

Mr Krens transformed the Guggenheim from a “boutique institution” into one of the world’s most recognised museum brands, but attracted sharp criticism for the franchise-like partnerships he established around the world. He clashed with former chairman Peter Lewis, the largest donor in the Guggenheim’s history (he had given $77m), who left in 2005 after the board failed to heed his advice that the museum should shore up its finances and operations in New York rather than continue to expand overseas.

In 2005 Mr Krens announced that chief curator Lisa Dennison would be his successor as director of the New York museum, but she left after less than two years to become vice-president of Sotheby’s North and South America. The Guggenheim had difficulty recruiting a successor to serve under Mr Krens, who stepped down earlier this year as head of the foundation to act as the consultant overseeing development of the Guggenheim branch in Abu Dhabi, designed by Frank Gehry. Mr Armstrong says the trustees decided to recombine the positions of director and foundation head, “but getting a director at Fifth Avenue [in the future] is a possibility. That is not a closed proposition,” he adds.

The schedule of exhibitions now in place includes retrospectives of Catherine Opie, Kandinsky and Frank Lloyd Wright to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the newly-renovated landmark. (The announcement of Mr. Armstrong’s appointment came the day after the unveiling of the $26m renovation. Speaking at the ceremony, Mayor Michael Bloomberg quipped: “It’s one of the best facelifts I’ve seen on Fifth Avenue, but it’s probably not the most expensive.”)

Next, Mr Armstrong plans to find ways of exhibiting the little-seen permanent collection. He believes museums should show their treasures, and if a solution cannot be found within the restrictive Guggenheim, then he may seek other means of getting the works out of storage.

He says the museum has collected well in contemporary art, but the strategic plan calls for filling gaps in the early modern collection, such as Matisse, Malevich and others, and the museum also needs to improve its holdings of art from 1940 to 1975. Mr Armstrong notes that the only way to expand in these areas is by attracting gifts from patrons. The board also has identified Asian and Latin American art as areas to explore. But what distinguishes the Guggenheim from many other museums, he says, is its ties to early modern non-objective art. “That quest for utopia that so distinguishes the best political and aesthetic aspects of Europe from 1880 or 1890 onwards is really very deep in the psyche of the institution. And that has power today, as well,” he adds.

Most of all Mr Armstrong says he wants to add “gravitas of purpose” to the institution. He told the search committee that “through the curators, the institution will reassert itself as a place of high intellectual ambition, and they responded to that. That’s an intangible that is absolutely essential because that’s the credibility factor,” he says.

Gagik Manoukian

Gagik Manoukian was born on April 20, 1952 in Yerevan, Armenia. In 1976 he finished his studies at the Terlemezyan Art Institute. Since 1982, a member of the Association of Artists of Armenia.

The art of the painter Gagik Manoukian originates from the roots of Armenian art and culture, but his independent creative activities also reflects best traditions of Armenian avant-garde, especially Martiros Sarjan’s dramatic sense form and colors. Manoukian adopted with virtuosity the experience of

Abstract art   Modern art Theatre    Gagik Manoukian

Abstract art   Modern art Mystic woman    Gagik Manoukian

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Abstract Greetings Card and Things

I had a bit of a brainstorm on doing something with the rolls of old paintings I have under my bed and I decided I would use some of them to make greetings cards out of and here is the results.

Also, I have done a new painting, which I haven’t done for a while.  Last weekend I had some people over for a little art evening and of course ended up giving away a painting.

Number 4: The Masked Owl

That’s me in the dark glasses, looking too happy, because I didn’t spend the weekend alone. 🙂

Peggy Guggenheim: The Life of an Art Addict

Just bought this, it is awesome. wayward life (1898-1979) of the voracious art collector and great female patron of world-famous artists. Peggy Guggenheim was an American millionairess art collector and legendary lover, whose father died on the Titanic returning from installing the lift machinery in the Eiffel Tower. She lived in Paris in the 1930s and got to know all the major artists – especially the Surrealists. (Later she bullied Max Ernst into marrying her, but was snubbed by Picasso.) When World War II broke out, she bought great numbers of paintings from artists fleeing to America; as a Jew she escaped from Vichy France and set up in New York, where in the 1940s and 50s she befriended and encouraged the New York School (Jackson Pollock, Rothko, and others). Her emotional life was in constant turmoil. Her favourite husband was a drunken English dilettante writer called Lawrence Vail, but she had affairs with many others, including Samuel Beckett. Later she moved to Venice, where her memory is enshrined in the world-famous palazzo that houses her Guggenheim Collection.