exhibition, Paris, photography

Ugo Mulas, or the Verification of Art

1 Ugo Mulas, Autoritratto Nini

Ugo Mulas, Autoritratto con Nini [Self-portrait with Nini], 1970, Verifica n°13 [not featured at the HCB Foundation]

The complete series of Verifiche [Verifications], Ugo Mulas’ last work before his death in 1973 at the age of 45, was recently on display at the Centre Pompidou. Another exhibition on the great Italian photographer just opened at the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation, but its value lies in that it presents us with another facet of his production, focused on artists and the art world in New York (between 1964 and 1967) and across Italy. I had the opportunity to see part of this work in Naples, five years ago, but this exhibition benefits greatly from the joint publication of the French translation of Ugo Mulas’ book La photographie, thanks to Le Point du Jour Editions (who also already presented this exhibition in Cherbourg). Continue reading

contemporary art, Paris, photography, Porto

Helena Almeida, Artist Incarnate

1 Helena Almeida, A casa (la

Helena Almeida, A casa [The House], 1979, 40x29cm. Coll. Mario Sequeira

Helena Almeida’s exhibition, shown in Porto at the Serralves Foundation (October 17, 2015 – January 10, 2016) under the name “My work is my body, my body is my work”, is travelling to Paris: it will be presented at the Jeu de Paume, titled “Corpus” (February 9 – May 22, 2016). Finally, the body is addressed by the contemporary Portuguese art scene, which almost never does so, focusing instead on the concept, on humor, on history, and thus neglecting embodiment, and the (very few) artists who have made the body the focal point of their work (Helena Almeida, Jorge Molder also, and the occasional young artist, including Brazilians living in Portugal, like Lizi Menezes…). And this goes beyond contemporary art: I visited the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga with a friend a few days ago, which obviously features bodies in its collections of classical paintings and sculptures –but are those bodies naked? No way! In searching dutifully every nook and cranny of the Museum, I found one and only one female breast outrageously naked (save for a few Virgins breastfeeding, a few damned souls in hell, and a tiny allegory on ivory), by a Dutch painter. No Venuses, no Graces. Granted, this beautiful museum features, on the other hand, some Bosch, and more daring temporary exhibitions, but what a strange national puritanism in visual arts, not only concerning nudes but more simply the reluctance to give prominence to bodies (but this is not true for dance or film –if anyone can clue me in…). Continue reading

exhibition, Paris, photography

Some Dust in my Mind

1 Man Ray - Marcel Duchamp,

Man Ray / Marcel Duchamp, Élevage de poussière [Dust Breeding], 1920 (1964), 24×30.5cm

There are two ways to visit the exhibition A Handful of Dust at Le Bal in Paris (until January 31, 2016). The most serious option entails having read beforehand the lengthy essay (70 pages) by the curator, David Campany (or bringing it along in the exhibition, as it seems designed for such an use, printed on a leaflet which is detachable from the almost exclusively iconographic catalogue), and then observing each photograph in display with Campany’s argumentation in mind. His essay is substantial, scholarly, smart and rather well written; after reading it, you’ll be almost completely convinced that this photograph, the famous Élevage de poussière [Dust Breeding] (by then, you’ll know everything about it: about all the prints, all the publications, all the disputes in attributing its authorship to Man Ray or Duchamp), is not only the cornerstone of the whole exhibition, but also of the whole history of photography, and even of history of art as a whole, all the way down to Hemingway and Cage, positively. And so you will not wonder why this or that image is featured in the exhibition and how it is linked with the Man Ray / Duchamp one, for you will know the answers: everything is explained, analyzed, elucidated, demonstrated in this catalogue. You will come out feeling a bit groggy, a bit flabbergasted, not necessarily convinced by (sometimes blatantly) far-fetching assertions, maybe not much more intelligent, but certainly more knowledgeable. Continue reading