The Glass House Blog

Six Panels: Al Taylor (May 31 – July 15, 2014)

6Panels_AlTaylore_Cover

Six Panels: Al Taylor May 31 to July 15, 2014

Six Panels is a new series of exhibitions organized by guest curators in the Glass House Painting Gallery. When the Glass House was the private residence of Philip Johnson and David Whitney, the gallery had an active life as new works were acquired and displayed. Building upon this legacy, Six Panels — named for the gallery’s unique display system — inaugurates the Painting Gallery as a site of temporary exhibitions for the public.
The first exhibition in this series presents Al Taylor (1948 – 1999), an artist whose work Johnson and Whitney collected and knew well. Six Panels: Al Taylor is organized by Robert Storr, a former Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art who worked closely with Johnson and Whitney. 

Taylorism: Lyrical Loopiness and Canny Uncanniness

Al Taylor had a singular knack for making something out of nothing. Of course “nothing” doesn’t exist. Everything is something, and the best artists can take the most meager of means and give them form while imbuing them with substance. But only the best are capable of performing such alchemical feats — and, in the present context, we should consider underlining the prefix “al” while capitalizing the “A”— that is to say, the magic of transforming base matter into aesthetic gold.

Taylor’s mentor Robert Rauschenberg was a past master at the same sort of conjury, and much of the power of his work emanates from the fact that Rauschenberg never gilded a lily, much less a package wrapper, torn magazine photo, shoe, hat, stuffed bird, or any of the found objects and images he incorporated into his work. Rather, he let twentieth-century culture speak in its own vernacular and taught the public to find beauty in the 24-karat “thingness” of the least of things.

Whereas Rauschenberg was an omnivorous scavenger and hoarder, Taylor was the most discriminating and formally economical of recyclers. As exemplified by the works in this exhibition, the ready-made predicates of Taylor’s art range from cardboard tubes to tin cans (Warhol went for the graphics of Campbell’s Soup, Taylor for the ridged shape of its containers), to broom handles, to fishing net floats, to novelty shop collectibles such as plastic shrunken heads. Those heads are among the comparatively rare instances of explicitly figurative, much less overtly Pop elements to be found in his palette of materials. And I use the term “palette” intentionally, since the color of a painted broom handle or the given tones of the scrap lumber Taylor redeployed and sometimes repainted were all factors in the carefully considered spectrum of his sculptures.

Trained as a painter at the Kansas City Art Institute in the late 1960s before moving to New York in 1970, Taylor contributed to a long tradition of painterly innovation in sculpture that started at the beginning of the twentieth century with Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and the Russian Constructivists, notably Vladimir Tatlin, with whose wall reliefs Taylor’s own resonate sympathetically. By contrast, though, Taylor was unconcerned with revolutionizing the world by means of art, but concentrated instead on shifting our vantage point on the commonplaces of the world as it is so as to gently destabilize everything we are inclined to take for granted, including gravity.

Innate whimsicality and formal wit, so Taylor shows us, can be just as metamorphic as programmatic single-mindedness. Likewise, “bricolage” — a French word for making things up as you go along from the resources at hand or, in simple English, “tinkering” — is as fertile a basis for engendering fresh art as the “will -to-form” expressed in “media-specific” terms long advocated by “mainstream” modernism. Moreover, impish charm can be as subversive as argument — often more so — just as the self-effacing trickster is at times a more reliable guide to existential absurdity than the grimly determined hero or antihero — and often more so.

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Al Taylor. [no title], 1987

Taylor was both a deft tinkerer and a sly trickster. Take his untitled relief of 1987 that when confronted head-on from a distance appears to be a conventional abstract construction mounted on a relatively small support but, when approached up close or seen from an angle, reveals itself to be a zigzagging amalgam of various lengths, widths, and colors of wooden dowel that jut far out into the room from its simple plywood backboard like a sprung Jack-in the-Box eager to “get in the face” of the unsuspecting viewer, or, without there being anything overtly representational about the piece, like the very long arm of a party guest waving a lighted cigarette.

Taylor’s floor-bound, hence differently invasive “Pet Stain Removal Devices” (1989 – 1992) — of which Black Piece (for Étienne-Jules Marey) (1990) is a puddling cousin — are similarly unhousebroken. Dedicated to the French scientist who, along with English inventor Eadweard James Muybridge, pioneered the techniques and uses of sequential photography, this stepped or terraced sculpture seems to record a splash in cascading stages. And, given the spontaneity of its structural elaboration and the apparently unstoppable spread of the black enamel, one is tempted to hike up one’s trouser cuffs or the hem of one’s skirt to avoid contamination.

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Al Taylor. Black Piece (for Étienne-Jules Marey), 1990

Other works are more sober in their abstraction, but the essence of their articulation is no less a product of visual play. The untitled cardboard tube variations of 1987 with which this show opens are a marvelous demonstration of some of the many permutations to which an ordinary manufactured form can lend itself. Who has not, at one time or another, toyed with a toilet paper roll after the last sheet is gone, bending it or pulling apart its coiled laminates? But who, other than Taylor, has thought to create such wonderfully syncopated volumes by “deconstructing” such a throwaway item. The Spanish Cubist Juan Gris famously said that while Cézanne had made a cylinder out of a bottle, he aimed to make a bottle out of a cylinder — or words to that effect. Taylor takes a cylinder, slices it like a sausage, unravels it like a rope, and juxtaposing the fragments, utterly reconfigures it like a jeweler working in perishable pulp rather than precious metals.

Taylor was expert at freeing mundane objects from their given identities and settings — tin cans from the pantry shelf, bicycle wheels from the pavement — and suspending or cantilevering them into weightlessness, like so many untethered bits of flotsam and jetsam floating free inside a space capsule. Distill (1988) has this quality, as does Untitled (Night Lessons) (1993), though the wooden armature of the latter is partially anchored to the wall. Exactly where on the wall other reliefs are placed becomes their defining characteristic. Low Fat (1995) sticks out such that it could trip an oblivious passerby, or at least bark at their ankles or calves. Upper Case (Bern) (1992) tips down from on high like a surveillance mirror, except that the plain plywood face of the relief reflects nothing and no one besides the gallery goer is watching. Station of the Cross (1990), Untitled (Mapplethorpe Pc.) (1986), and related pieces hew more closely to traditional modernist concerns but display an improvisatory verve and linear animation that is unique to Taylor’s work.

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Al Taylor. Odd/Even, 1989

For their part, Untitled (Mapplethorpe Pc.) and Station of the Cross redraw, reconfigure, and remodel ambient space, even as the pressure plates of the austere Upper Case (Bern) and kindred pieces such as Untitled (1987) reshape it, and the long arm of the work with no title and the festive Layson a Stick (1989) probe and enliven it. For its part, Shrunken Heads with X-Ray Vision III (1993) hovers disturbingly, but also comically, just above eye level, metaphorically miniaturizing the spectator’s head while calling into question the relative intensity of his or her gaze—is he, is she, or are we gifted with X-ray vision? It also links Taylor to the Funk sensibility that has long thrived West of the Hudson even as it obliquely, teasingly evokes Bruce Nauman’s many beleaguered hanging heads. To be in the company of all these ambiguously assertive presences is to be enveloped in a linear, planar, and chromatic “happening” that prompts participation via one’s own forward, backward, and sideways movement.

Taylor’s prodigious talents with a pencil and a brush have much the same effect in two dimensions as his sculptures have in three. To enter into his drawings — for that is what looking at them entails — is to be caught up in an antic conjugation of charged strokes, bold marks, and subtle delineations that coalesce in the suggestion of expanding and contracting volumes frequently shadowed by rich washes and variously broad or attenuated currents of dilute ink or watercolor. These graphic forces attract and hold the stationary glance only to throw it off-balance. The experience of such pleasurable tipsiness and the equally pleasurable effort it requires to re-establish an elusive compositional equilibrium is what makes his work so memorable. In Taylor’s pictorial universe there is no standing still, indeed no fixed contour without latent flux, no void without the potential for a sudden infusion of palpable form. Everything about his works on paper, like everything about his sculpture, converges on the tipping point between eidetic coherence and dissolution, knitting and unspooling, becoming and coming apart. Scrutinizing Taylor’s drawings is like watching a card shark in action perform serial feats of prestidigitation, dealing at will from the top, bottom, and middle of the draftsman’s deck with such dexterity that one is convinced his every spontaneous move, his every trick must have been rehearsed a thousand times, and yet, one after the other, they remain mesmerizingly impromptu.

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Installation view of Six Panels: Al Taylor.

Finally, it must be stipulated that this selection of Taylor’s work should not be regarded as a systematic survey or art historical summary of his prolific output. After all, the venue was not designed by Philip Johnson — its resident architect — as a museum but rather as a site for intimate delectation. Accordingly, this presentation should be approached as a sampler whose sole purpose other than providing immediate delight is to tantalize those familiar or unfamiliar with Taylor’s achievement and to inspire them to want more. Nevertheless, as the first exhibition in this uniquely conceived private viewing room since Johnson’s death, it is also a tribute to his partner David Whitney, who was an early and steadfast fan of the artist. To that extent, choosing Taylor as the initial focus of the exhibition series “Six Panels” is a salute to both men.

– Robert Storr, 2014

Robert Storr is the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Dean of the Yale School of Art. He was formerly Senior Curator in the Department of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, where in 1996 he co-organized From Bauhaus to Pop: Masterworks Given by Philip Johnson. In 2002 he was named the first Rosalie Solow Professor of Modern Art at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. He has also taught at the CUNY Graduate Center, the Bard Center for Curatorial Studies, the Rhode Island School of Design, Tyler School of Art, New York Studio School, and Harvard University. He has been a frequent lecturer in this country and abroad. From 2005 to 2007 he was Director of Visual Art for the Venice Biennale, the first American invited to assume that position. The exhibition he organized at David Zwirner in the Fall of 2013 to celebrate the centenary of Ad Reinhardt was voted “Best Show in a New York Commercial Space” by the American Section of the AICA (Association Internationale des Critiques d’Art).

Photographs by Ron Amstutz.

Filed under: Exhibitions, , , , , , , , ,

Summer Party at the Glass House

 

FINAL_EVITE_1The Glass House Summer Party will take place on Saturday, June 14 from 12 noon to 4 p.m. With support from Swarovski, the Summer Party will feature a festive picnic lunch, lawn games, music, and a silent auction along with opportunities to experience Fujiko Nakaya: Veil and the entire Glass House campus.
$10,000 Table Host* (Includes ten VIP seats and two signed benefit edition prints by Candida Höfer).

$5,000 VIP Friend* (Includes one signed benefit edition print by Candida Höfer)

$1,000 VIP Individual Ticket

$500 Individual Ticket

*This level will be acknowledged on the Glass House donor wall as well as all printed and online materials.

For more information, please contact events@theglasshouse.org or call 203.594.9884 x33335.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Spring 2014 Programs at the Glass House

 

Photo by Sandra Hamburg

Daniel Mendelsohn reading at The Glass House

 

Glass House Presents

Glass House Presents is an ongoing series of public programs – including conversations, performances, and gatherings – that sustains the site’s historic role as a meeting place for artists, architects, and other creative minds. Before each event, visitors will enjoy the opportunity to explore the Glass House campus and view current exhibitions, including Fujiko Nakaya: Veil. The program concludes with light refreshments. Public programs take place from 3:00 to 5:30 p.m. on Sundays, and 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays.

May 18, 2014 – Maya Lin + Edwina von Gal

June 8, 2014 – David Adjaye + Thelma Golden

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Glass House Presents is generously supported by an anonymous donor.

by Tom Hall

Lucky Dragons

Night Sounds #4
Featuring lucky dragons
A musical performance + reception
at the Glass House
May 4, 2014, 3:00 – 5:30 p.m.

lucky dragons is an ongoing collaboration between Los Angeles-based artists Sarah Rara and Luke Fischbeck. Active since 2000, lucky dragons is known for an open and participatory approach to making music, radically inclusive live shows, and playful, humanistic use of digital tools. Photo by Tom Hall.

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Night Sounds #4 is generously supported by a grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.

 

courtesy Fujiko Nakaya and The Glass House

Rendering photo of Fujika Nakaya: Veil

Into the Fog with Fujiko Nakaya
Panel discussion at the Japan Society, New York
May 13, 2014, 6:30 p.m.

Renowned artist Fujiko Nakaya, known for her pioneering use of fog as a sculptural medium, is joined by Henry Urbach, Director of the Glass House, to discuss the artist’s current project, Fujiko Nakaya: Veil, on view at the Glass House through November 30.

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Fujiko Nakaya: Veil is generously supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, The Japan Foundation, and Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope®. Additional support is provided by Mee Industries, Inc.

The Glass House

The Glass House

Self-Guided Tours

Self-guided tours of the Glass House offer visitors a unique opportunity to experience the Glass House campus at their own pace. In addition to the permanent art collection and temporary exhibitions, visitors enjoy access to seven structures designed by Philip Johnson, including: the Glass House, the Painting Gallery, the Sculpture Gallery, Da Monsta, and the Library, as well as the lower landscape’s Pond Pavilion and Lincoln Kirstein Tower. Photo by Carol Highsmith.

BUY TICKETS

 

photo by Sandra Hamburg

The Glass House Summer Party

Glass House Summer Party, June 14, 2014

The Glass House Summer Party will take place on Saturday, June 14 from 12 noon to 4 p.m. With support from Swarovski, the Summer Party will feature a festive picnic lunch, lawn games, music, and a silent auction along with opportunities to experience Fujiko Nakaya: Veil and the entire Glass House campus.

BUY TICKETS

 

Filed under: Exhibitions, Glass House Presents, Night Sounds, Summer Party, Tours + Programs, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Photography Students at the Glass House

View of the lower landscape from the Glass House promontory.  Photo: C. Muller, New Canaan High School.

View of the lower landscape from the Glass House promontory. Photo: C. Muller, New Canaan High School.

The Glass House site with its 49-acre landscape, endless vistas, and geometric-shaped buildings can be a photographer’s paradise.  Julius Shulman, Pedro Guerrero, James Welling, Todd Eberle, Hiroshi Sugimoto and other luminaries have made the place their own.

Photography students at the high school and college levels have also roamed the paths and hillsides with their cameras, and the results—gorgeous, textured, eccentric—always surprise us.  New Canaan High School Digital Media teacher Jeanne McDonagh teaches her students to pay attention to composition and to explore line, color, texture, space, and form.  “Since many of the buildings resemble abstract sculptures,” she says, “our students approach the structures with an inquisitive eye, finding interesting and thoughtful angles that challenge the viewer to think when they view the photos.”

McDonagh also emphasizes that “the Glass House compound is a history lesson for my students.  Because it is located in their town and represents the best of 20th-century design, for us not to embrace it as an outstanding art recourse would be a crime.”

 Autumn branch.  Photo:   C. Burch, New Canaan High School


Autumn branch. Photo: C. Burch, New Canaan High School

“I have visited this site with students a dozen times,” McDonagh adds, “and it always surprises me that the students manage to find new and fresh points of view. This year the assignment was a color shoot and I was surprised to see how full of life the images were. Our timing was perfect, the last week in October when the landscape was alive with color. The students were taught how to enhance their shots in post-production to create more visually interesting compositions.”

In past years, McDonagh’s students have contributed to our media wall (three of our introductory videos involved student filmmakers and photographers) and the students themselves have won highest honors from the Scholastic Art Awards and the AP Breath Portfolios for bodies of work that included photographs from their trips to the Glass House.  Works submitted to the College Board in the form of the AP Studio Art 2D Design Course have also earned the accolades from judges who look for mastery of art elements in photographic composition.

“Most students,” says McDonagh, “are really surprised at the size and shapes of the structures. They do not have any problems exploring their creative spirit as they enter this environment. They are always happy when they are there, moving from structure to structure experiencing them with a childlike curiosity. When we return to school, I often hear them saying, “That was really cool, Mrs. McDonagh.”

–Gwen North Reiss

The Glass House welcomes student groups, and teachers interested in a group tour can go to theglasshouse.org  or contact Program Manager Kate Lichota any time during the year.

Filed under: Educational Partnership, , ,

The Glass House presents Fujiko Nakaya: Veil on view May 1 to November 30, 2014

Fujiko Nakaya - Veil

Coinciding with the 65th anniversary of the Glass House and its 2014 tour season, the Glass House will present Fujiko Nakaya: Veil, the first site-specific artist project to engage the iconic Glass House itself, designed by Philip Johnson and completed in 1949. Veil will be included on all tours of the Glass House during the 2014 tour season. Tickets are available now.

Nakaya, a Japanese artist who has produced fog sculptures and environments internationally, will wrap the Glass House in a veil of dense mist that comes and goes. For approximately 10 to 15 minutes each hour, the Glass House will appear to vanish, only to return as the fog dissipates. Inside the structure, the sense of being outdoors will be temporarily suspended during the misty spells.

Veil will stage a potent dialogue with the Glass House, producing an opaque atmosphere to meet the building’s extreme transparency and temporal effects that complement its timelessness. According to Glass House Director Henry Urbach, “Johnson’s interest in the balance of opposites is evident throughout the Glass House campus. With Nakaya’s temporary installation, we carry this sensibility to its endpoint while allowing the unique magic of the Glass House – the dream of transparency, an architecture that vanishes – to return again and again as the fog rises and falls.”

Organized by Henry Urbach, Director and Chief Curator, and Irene Shum Allen, Curator and Collections Manager, Fujiko Nakaya: Veil is generously supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. Additional support is provided by Mee Industries, Inc.

Filed under: Exhibitions, Tours + Programs, ,

Modern Love: Gifts for your Valentine from the Glass House Design Store

Alvar Aalto vase

Alvar Aalto vases in saturated hues for effortless flower arranging
and sensuous soaps by Sarah Schwartz.

Visit us in New Canaan, CT or shop online:
designstore.theglasshouse.org

soaps by Sarah SchwartzAlvar Aalto vase

Photos by Andy Romer Photography

THE GLASS HOUSE DESIGN STORE
199 ELM STREET, NEW CANAAN, CT, USA
DESIGNSTORE.THEGLASSHOUSE.ORG

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The Glass House in the Snow

The Glass House. Photo by Michael Hall.

The Glass House. Photo by Michael Hall.

Few visitors ever have the opportunity to see the Glass House in the snow as the site is closed to the public from the end of November to the beginning of May every year. Glass House staff member, Michael Hall, took these lovely photos of the Glass House during and after a recent snowfall. We hope you enjoy them!

Reserve your tickets for the 2014 tour season, May 1 – November 30, online at: http://theglasshouse.org/visit

The Glass House. Photo by Michael Hall.

The Glass House. Photo by Michael Hall.

The Glass House. Photo by Michael Hall.

The Glass House. Photo by Michael Hall.

Filed under: Tours + Programs, , , ,

SUPER BOWLS AT THE GLASS HOUSE DESIGN STORE

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Bring some color to the countertop with a classic Krenit Bowl. Designed by Herbert Krenchel, these enameled steel bowls debuted in 1954 at the Milan Triennale. Today they are perfect for fruit, salads or popcorn!

Visit us in New Canaan, CT, USA, or shop online:

THE GLASS HOUSE DESIGN STORE
199 ELM STREET, NEW CANAAN, CT, USA
DESIGNSTORE.THEGLASSHOUSE.ORG

Filed under: Glass House Design Store, , , , , ,

2014 Glass House tour tickets available now! New this season: self-guided tours

2014 Glass House Tour Tickets Now Available

The Glass House, Photo by Robin Hill

Photo by Robin Hill

Tours of the Glass House will run between May 1 – November 30, 2014
2014 program and exhibition announcements coming soon.

New this season: self-guided tours

Self-guided tours at the Glass House will be available on select dates and offer visitors a unique opportunity to experience the Glass House campus and its pastoral landscape at their own pace. In addition to the permanent art collection and temporary exhibitions, visitors enjoy access to seven structures designed by Philip Johnson, including the Glass House, the Painting Gallery, the Sculpture Gallery, Da Monsta, and the Library, as well as the lower landscape’s Pond Pavilion and Lincoln Kirstein Tower. Glass House guides will be available to provide historical background and answer questions.

Buy Tickets

Filed under: Tours + Programs, , , , ,

Night Sounds #3, featuring a performance by Liz Harris + Jefre Cantu-Ledesma alongside Jason Dodge’s sculpture A tourmaline and a ruby inside of an owl, The Glass House, Oct 4th 2013

Liz Harris and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma first performed together at 2012’s Transmediale Festival in Berlin, where they debuted Harris’ Circular Veil — an 8-hour composition designed for performance-goers to sleep to. Their first collaborative release under the moniker Raum, Event of Your Leaving, will be released by Glass, house on Friday, November 15th 2013.

http://glasscommahouse.org/project/w-grouper-jefre-cantu-ledesma/

Liz Harris has been recording, performing, and releasing solo material under the name Grouper since 2005 on various imprints including Kranky, Type, and her own YELLOWELECTRIC. She lives and works on the Oregon Coast.

Jefre Cantu-Ledesma is a Brooklyn-based musician who has performed in bands and under his own name since 1996. He is a founding member of the groups Tarentel, The Alps, Portraits, and Moholy-Nagy as well as the Root Strata record label. His solo work is often generated from the electric guitar and orbits the gravity of memory, melancholia, excess, and restraint.

About Night Sounds at the Glass House:

The Glass House presents Night Sounds, a new performance series that parallels the Night (1947 – 2015) on-site sculpture-in-residence program. Guests will join the performer, Night guest-curator Jordan Stein, and Glass House Director Henry Urbach for a live on-site performance and reception. A new artist whose work engages with the current sculpture will be selected to perform with each of the seven iterations of the Night (1947–2015) exhibition, a series of works by contemporary artists that contend with the legacy of Alberto Giacometti’s absent sculpture Night and Johnson’s architectural opus. Night (1947 – 2015) and Night Sounds contribute to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s larger goal of re-imaging historic sites for the 21st century by bringing catalytic change to its sites around the country.  The guiding principles of this initiative are that historic sites must be dynamic, relevant, and evolving and that they must foster an understanding and appreciation of history and culture that is critical, layered, and sensory. Night Sounds is coordinated by Jordan Stein. Each performance is documented by Derrick Belcham, who will produce a short film that will be made available online free of charge.

http://philipjohnsonglasshouse.org/programs/nightsounds/

Filed under: Exhibitions, Glass House Films, Night Sounds, , , , , , ,

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