Art in Print

Ai Weiwei’s Triumphant Return

In 2011, the controversial artist was detained in Beijing and his passport was confiscated for four years by the Chinese government. This fall marks his triumphant return to New York City with two new gallery shows.
Since the unexpected return of his passport in July 2015, Ai has been making up for lost time, mixing visits to exhibitions of his work with journeys to investigate the refugee crisis. It’s a new, peripatetic phase in his life, which he feels blurs his art with politics to advocate against injustice. The project seems on the surface a change of direction for Ai, but he regards it as part of a continuum with his life and art. His childhood exile in China was a similar experience of dislocation, he explains, as was his decade trying to adjust to life in New York.
His return to New York this month will mark another new phase, as he becomes more comfortable with his former home. He was unable to return to see his well-reviewed 2014 retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum, yet after years of feeling remote from the city, he made a short visit this past June, which began to dissolve his unease. Now a wildly successful artists, he is in talks for a major show at the Park Avenue Armory as well as a project with the Public Art Fund. “Maybe it’s because my situation has changed,” he says. “I’m much more relaxed now. I have started to see the best part of the city. It’s so passionate about creativity and new ideas, more than anyplace else in the world.”
Via: Wall Street Journal

British Library explores 20th century maps in new exhibition

Few, if any, cold war historians believe Soviet Russia was ever actively planning to invade Brighton, Hove and Shoreham, but a remarkable map suggests the country’s leaders had been prepared should the opportunity have arisen. The British Library is putting the detailed Soviet military map of Brighton and its surrounding area in Sussex on display as part of an exhibition that opens to the public on Friday.
The library has more than 4m maps in its collection but the exhibition will feature 200 and will aim to tell, for the first time, the history of the 20th century through maps.
The exhibition also shows literature’s Middle-earth maps, drawn by JRR Tolkien and his son, Christopher, to help guide readers of Lord of the Rings through Rohan, Gondor and Mordor. There is also EH Shepard’s pencil-drawn map of the Hundred Acre Wood, complete with Eeyore’s “gloomy place” and the Pooh “trap for heffalumps”, which was first published on the endpapers of AA Milne’s Winnie the Pooh in 1926 and is on loan from the V&A Museum.
From the Second World War there is a map produced by the Nazis showing the distribution, by state, of first and second generation immigrants to America. The information would have helped Joseph Goebbels’ propaganda ministry to direct adverts urging the US to stay out of the war.
Show’s lead curator, Tom Harper said the aim was to illustrate the variety of maps and the technology behind them, which in the 20th century, for the first time, were at people’s fingertips. “Maps became important, powerful, objective tools to help navigate the strange, brave new world,” he said.

Via: The Guardian


Ed Ruscha Continues His Worldplay

The desert landscape seems to serve as a backdrop to many of the new Ed Ruscha’s canvases on display at Gagosian Gallery in London.
Many of the new canvases hanging in London are the color of sand, and — as is the Ruscha trademark — covered with words. The novelty is that the words are presented in logical sequences and in diminishing or augmenting typeface. On one canvas, for example, the word “Galaxy” is inscribed in large letters at the top, followed in a pyramid of diminishing characters by “Earth,” “U.S.A.,” “State,” “City,” “Block,” “Lot” and “Dot.”
At the Gagosian last month, the 78-year-old artist himself was reluctant, as he has been all his life, to ascribe meaning to the words in his paintings. Looking youthful in a navy blue windbreaker and running shoes, the mild-mannered Mr. Ruscha — who was ranked among the 10 most expensive living American artists by Artnet last year — discussed his career in carefully chosen words. “I’m not trying to wrap things up or make final statements or capture anything in a big way,” he said. “It’s more like, whatever the voyage is, that’s where I am. I’m just traveling along the tops of things, not trying to bring an answer to anything, necessarily, but just to keep making pictures.”
Mr. Ruscha may be on the threshold of his eighth decade, yet his art continues to be uplifting. Though the new paintings touch on potentially somber themes, they are rendered in luminous colors and letters; the new mountain paintings feature beautiful blue skies. “I like things on the bright side, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the dark side, either,” he said. “There’s a blackness to the universe that is incomprehensible. It never really appealed to me to try to cover that or try to investigate it. There are so many other artists in the world who do that well that we’ll let them tell the story.”
Via: NY Times