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Maserclass ‘Visual Identity’ by Evelien Bracke - part 1
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Maserclass ‘Visual Identity’ by Evelien Bracke - part 1

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About different aspects of artistic presentations by Evelien Bracke, a Belgian art historian.

About different aspects of artistic presentations by Evelien Bracke, a Belgian art historian.


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  • 1. Aspects of PresentationSometimes doing something leads to nothingSometimes doing nothing leads to something (F. Alÿs)Pierre Huyghe, Timekeeper, Viennese Secession, 1999
  • 2. “ There is no such thing as a neutral installation. A work of art is so much like aperson - the same work of art reacts differently at different phases of history.Installation is a very complicated exciting subject.”René d’Harnoncourt, 1960“The unconscious of exhibitions: that which is present and powerful, but oftenunseen, overlooked and unacknowledged”- Creating a critical view on presentation / exhibiting- Discovering the invisible ‘scripts’/’discourses’ within an exhibition/presentation- Offering a possible (theoretical) framework
  • 3. • Week 1: A brief outline of the history of presentation / exhibitionsPerspective: art history + visual culture studies• Week 2: Context, meaning, critical exhibitionsPerspective: linguistics + material culture studiesAspects of presentationArt history Visual Culture StudiesLinguistics (‘context’)Material culture studies
  • 4. Art historical perspective + visual culture studies- Historical shifts in presentation > shifts in visual culture> shifts in art history> shifts in the concept of art- Using some exhibition case-studies(subjective + historical determined; relative choice!)- Creating a historical framework, for contemporary assimilation
  • 5. 1. The museum’s transition from the private to the public sphere• The transition reflects an overarching shift in visual culture around 1800 (cf.shopping)
  • 6. 2. 19th century, salon style• Salon style:- masterpieces as ‘wallpaper’ (cf.visual culture of the 19th cent.:showing everything)- symmetrical installations + mostimportant work central- decorative hanging- chronological + by schools(the 19th century mind was taxonomic)- evolution of the arts: the tradition ofWestern easel painting + creating awindow on the world (=illusionism) (cf.Framing)
  • 7. 3. German displayshifts (beginning 20th century)• Paradigm shift:- Isolation of the work- Historical / original context(cf. J. Burckhard) = atmosphererooms (‘Stijlkamers’). The wallreflects a historical context• Vb. Alexander Dorner;Landesmuseum, Hannover, ca.1920• Vb. Wilhelm von Bode;Kaiser-Friedrich -Museum, Berlin,ca. 1910
  • 8. 4. The international Avant-Gardes: display experiments• Interest of the Avant-Gardes inspace and viewer-interactiveinstallations.‘The International Avant-Garde of thefirst half of the century were mademanifest in their exhibitions’• Frederick Kiesler, InternationalExhibition of new theatertechnique, Vienna, 1924• Kiesler invented a new method ofinstallation design
  • 9. • A new language of form composed offreestanding, demountable displayunits (L and T elements)• The emphasis in art history shifts fromthe historical context to the empathy ofthe observer• --> Viewer interaction; Kiesler broughtthe works into the space and time ofthe viewer• Flatness and objecthood: before apicture is subject matter it is first of alla surface covered with lines andcolours• Actual context / space• The wall, the context of the art, hadbecome rich in content
  • 10. • Frederick Kiesler, Art of ThisCentury, Peggy GuggenheimGallery, N.Y., 1942
  • 11. • El Lissitzky, Abstract Cabinet,Landesmuseum, Hanover, 1927• Similar concerns as Kiesler• Viewer interaction (visual play)
  • 12. • Marcel Duchamp, 1200 Bags ofcoal, installation view at theInternational Exhibition ofSurrealism, 1938, NY• Exposing the effect of context onart (context as content)• Reflections on the gallery/museumspace; to investigate andproblematize the medium of theexhibition itself
  • 13. • Elaine Sturtevant, Duchamp 1200Coal Bags, 1973, 1992; Museumfur Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt,2005
  • 14. • Marcel Duchamp, First Papers ofSurrealism, New York, 1942
  • 15. • Herbert Bayer, DeutscherWerkbund installation: furnitureand architecture, 1930• ‘Exhibition design’ as part of theeducational program at theBauhaus• Diagram of Field of Vision• Relationship between viewer andobject / viewer interaction• The exhibition is not conceived asa timeless, idealized space, butexperienced by an observer at aspecific time and place.
  • 16. • Mies van der Rohe & Lilly Reich,The Velvet and Silk Café,Women’s Fashion Exhibition,Berlijn, 1927• The content of the exhibitioncreated the installation (silk,velvet)• Colourful!
  • 17. 4. Alfred Barr and the Museum of Modern Art / MOMA (New York)• Inspired by the experiments of theIntern. Avant-Gardes & Germandisplayshifts (MOMA,1929, Alfred Barr,founding director)• Introduction of a type of installationthat has come to dominate museumpractices + evolution to ‘White Cube’• New installation method:-works stand on their own /relation with viewer-neutral background (beige)-not symmetrically-didactic labels• Seemingy autonomous installations inneutral interiors (timeless) for whatwas conceived as an ideal,standardized viewer
  • 18. • ‘This conventional manner ofdisplaying modern culture and artis itself far from neutral; itproduces a powerful andcontinually repeated socialexperience that enhances theviewer’s sense of autonomy andindependence’• Visualising ‘The American Dream’.
  • 19. • Visual culture in the first half of the20th Century• The installation methods both in thedepartment store and the museumpromoted interaction between theobjects and the viewers.
  • 20. • Herbert Bayer, Bauhaus, 1919-1938,MOMA, 1938• MOMA: presenting the practical,commercial and popular arts as well asthe so-called fine arts (cf. Barr)• Staging a dialogue with the viewer (cf.Field of Vision)• The American museum audiencescould not ‘read’ this show; chaotic,didactic, confused,...
  • 21. • The Useful Objects Shows, 1938-1950, MOMA• Modern design was an integrated partof Barr’s plan for the MOMA• Visual culture: script of the shop andthe museum come together• Objects had a price and manufacturinglabel; handled and tested by theviewer
  • 22. 5. The post-war exhibition spacej ’60-’70: ‘The White Cube’• The ‘invisible’ / transparent / neutralscript gives the works a ‘timeless’appearance• No explanatory labels• The White Cube under attack:Vb: Brian O’Doherty ‘Inside the WhiteCube, 1976’- Exclusive and misleading character(not neutral)- ‘Everything you see here is importantart’- Elimination of time and space
  • 23. • Many artists have made the critique ofthe post-war museum the subject oftheir art.• Critically questioning the authoritativevoice of the modernist museum(‘master narrative’)• Vb. ART/Artifact, Susan Vogel, Centerfor African Art, NY, 1988 (criticalexhibition making)
  • 24. • Yves Klein, The Void, Galerie IrisClert, Paris, 1958• The gallery as site and gesture: criticalview• By exhibiting an exhibition, Klein calledattention to the often intangiblestructuring medium of the exhibitionand its ideological effects.
  • 25. • Arman, Le Plein, Gallery Iris Clert,Paris, 1960• For the first time, the viewer is outsidethe gallery• The gallery as a metaphorical engine
  • 26. • Andy Warhol, Silver Pillows, NYCastelli Gallery, 1966• The exhibition space also became asubject for discussion amongconceptual artists• Iconographical relationship withDuchamp’s ceiling installation• Focus on the experience of the galleryspace + joyful elements
  • 27. • Museummodules, Van Abbemuseum,Eindhoven, 2010• Presenting an inspiring view on thehistory of presentation and questioningfuture presentation possibilities• Vb. The Berlin Museum of AmericanArt brings an installation on the MOMA
  • 28. 6. The ‘experience economy’ in the museum• Vb. Peter Greenaway, ThePhysical Self, Museum BoijmansVan Beuningen, Rotterdam, 1990• The experience of the exhibitionas an ‘event’ (cf. Visual culture)