Saturday, May 4, 2013

Awe-Inspiring Architecture around the World - V.2

As we continue to celebrate the awe-inspiring architecture of the last 20 years, this month our second pick is the Red Ribbon in the Chinese city of Qinhuangdao.

The Red Ribbon, China

Designed in 2006 principally by Kongjian Yu of Turenscape, the Red Ribbon is a kind of scarlet snake that spans about five hundred metres through the Tanghe River Park, a reclaimed green space in the city of Qinhuangdao in China. The Red Ribbon is made of steel and fibre glass and has four pavilions which are dotted along its length. They consist of white canopies in irregular, ink-blot shapes, where you can sit and contemplate the strip of the adjacent river. But the Red Ribbon is more than a place to sit: it is also a children’s climbing frame and a walkers’ path. It is perhaps at its most attractive and spectacular at night, when it glows like a tightly packed string of Chinese lanterns.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Awe-Inspiring Architecture around the World - V.1

In the last 20 years architecture has been making a dramatic and sometimes surreal impression on the world’s landscape. Over the next few months our blog will celebrate some of the most inspiring creations from hotels for enotourism lovers to incredible modern-art museums. Here is our first pick:

Der Neue Zollhof

Considered one of Düsseldorf’s landmarks, Der Neue Zollhof (The New Zollhof) is situated in the Media Harbour, part of the redeveloped port of Düsseldorf, Germany. The building complex, consisting of three separate buildings, was designed by Canadian-American architect Frank O. Gehry and completed in 1998.

Floorplans and facades of all three buildings curve and lean. The tallest building is 14 stories high and just under 50m tall and each building has a different type of cladding - the outer two in white plaster and red brick respectively; the central building's stainless steel facade reflects material and shapes of its two neighbour buildings.

Culturally, Düsseldorf is known for its Academy of Fine Arts (notable artists who attended include Joseph Beuys, Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, August Macke and Andreas Gursky). It is also known for its pioneering influence on electronic music (Kraftwerk), and its large Japanese community.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Expressionismus & Expressionismi

Pinacothèque de Paris‏ presents "Expressionismus & Expressionismi" this title is a neologism, in reference to the major exhibition on Futurism that was held in the Palazzo Grassi in Venice in 1986 which the late Pontus Hutten had entitled Futurismo & Futurismi to show the diversity of movements that made up Italian Futurism. This neologism also illustrates the diversity of German Expressionism’s origins. Often perceived as monolithic, or, at the very least, grouped together under a single name, this movement was nonetheless made up of two diametrically opposite approaches.

The exhibition shown in the Pinacothèque de Paris is interested solely in the two founding currents of German Expressionism, very distinct, very opposite, but also very representative of that movement. Principally around Kirchner, Nolde, Schmitt-Rottluff as well as Kandinsky, Marc and Jawlensky, the exhibition will bring together about one hundred and fifty works.

Such a study has never before been put together in the many exhibitions shown on the subject in Germany. As always interested in dialogue and confrontation between the arts, the Pinacothèque de Paris invites you to discover the important and diametrically opposed nuances, by confronting the artists and the works, instead of showing them, as was the case up till now, artist by artist.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Istanbul Art: Galeri Manâ

The inaugural exhibition, Nereden Nereye, a Turkish phrase that translates “From Where to Where,” includes sixteen works by eleven artists, and explores the function of images and the nature of representation. Nereden Nereye features paintings, drawings, photographs and video works by a number of internationally recognized artists such as Murat Akagundüz, John Baldessari, Lewis Baltz, Mel Bochner, Diana Al-Hadid, Tamar Halpern, Sol LeWitt, Albert Oehlen, Robin Rhode and Charles Sandison, many of wom are showing their work in Istanbul for the first time. The exhibition runs through July 23, 2011.

How we perceive images and their underlying meaning is explored by many artists in the show. John Baldessari, for example, incorporates found images such as film stills, which he alters to tease out multiple meanings contained in the image. In doing so, he exposes how images work in our culture and the assumptions that we make on a daily basis.

Galeri Manâ, located in the Tophane district of Istanbul, is a converted wheat mill that dates to the 19th century and features 400 square meters of exhibition space. The gallery takes its name from the Turkish word mana (concept or meaning in Turkish) and was founded by Mehves Ariburnu and Suzanne Egeran in 2011.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Vindolanda - A Must See!

A £6.3m revamp to the fascinating Vindolanda fort in Northumberland, has created a modern Museum where visitors gain unprecedented access to Roman psyche. Nowhere else can one feel so close to the personal lives of the men and women of the Northern frontier.

The remains of the fort are impressive and the experimental reconstruction leaves nothing to the imagination. However, the real adventure begins in the Museum building where the lives of the site’s inhabitants are told in the most lucid way, aided by a multitude of personal objects from the camp commandant’s wife’s shoes to remains of the soldiers’ leather tents.

The Museum’s crowing glory is the incredibly unique Vindolanda Tablets display, where visitors can enjoy a selection of precious letters unearthed on site and only recently returned here on loan from the British Museum in London. This sophisticated gallery opens with a well-edited video showing the way they were unearthed (1800 of them have been found since 1973), studied and interpreted. The journey continues to a vault-like, environmentally controlled room where a selection of 9 tablets is shown along with their translation and a full interpretation of the contents. These range from a letter from the camp commandant inviting someone into camp for a probable census to a seemingly banal shopping list showing the array of products available to Roman soldiers at Vindolanda.

These tablets are the oldest surviving handwritten tablets in Britain and show the official and private correspondence of the men and women who lived at Vindolanda nearly 2000 years ago. They all date to the year immediately before the construction of Hadrian's Wall and form the earliest archive of written material in British history. This is a breathtaking and utterly irreplaceable account of Roman Britain shown in the most approachable manner and should not be missed by anyone travelling through the region.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

United Arab Emirates: A New Silk Road

It is an audacious experiment: two small, oil-rich countries in the Middle East are using architecture and art to reshape their national identities virtually overnight.

On the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, workers have dug the foundations for three colossal museums: an $800 million Frank Gehry-designed branch of the Guggenheim 12, times the size of its New York flagship; a half-billion-dollar outpost of the Louvre by Jean Nouvel; and the Zayed National Museum to be built by Foster & Partners, the design for which was recently unveiled. And plans are moving ahead for yet another museum about maritime history, to be designed by Tadao Ando.

These cultural megaprojects will be joined by a campus of New York University on Saadiyat Island’s southern shore and, in a location to be determined, a four-million-square-foot development for media companies and film studios meant partly to provide job training and opportunities for young Emiratis.

Nearly 200 miles across the Persian Gulf, Doha, the capital of Qatar, has been mapping out its own extravagant cultural vision. A Museum of Islamic Art, a bone-white I. M. Pei-designed temple, opened in 2008 and dazzled the international museum establishment.

Last December the government opened a museum of modern Arab art with a collection that spans the mid-19th-century to the present. Construction has just begun on a museum of Qatari history, also by Mr. Nouvel, and the design for a museum of Orientalist art by the Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron is to be made public next year.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Maxxi Museum, Rome

The MAXXI museum designed by Iraqi-born architect Zaha Hadid is the latest and most ambitious project to try to refresh the Italian capital's image of a decadent city bent on its glorious past. MAXXI, officially called the National Museum of the XXI Century Arts, houses not only important works by Anish Kapoor, Sol Lewitt and Andy Warhol but also an auditorium, libraries, workshops and spaces for live events and commercial activities.

The euro150 million ($223 million) MAXXI is made of white curving cement walls, intricate black stairways that connect halls and pathways, and floor-to-ceiling windows that give the museum natural light and visitors a look out onto the neighborhood. From the outside, the museum looks like a wide structure that expands horizontally rather than vertically. Built on the grounds of a former military barracks — of which a facade is still recognizable — MAXXI is located in a residential neighbourhood outside the city's historic center.

Officials unveiling the opening exhibit stressed the link between old and new, their belief that a city and nation that have been on the avant-garde of art and architecture for centuries should be promoting contemporary arts.

For Hadid, who became the first woman to win the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004, the challenge was to work with the "layers" of Rome's artistic past and bring a new space for art in the city. She recalled visiting Rome in the 1960s and posing in front of the Trevi Fountain, a masterpiece of Baroque art. "Rome has fantastic light," Hadid said. "The idea of this project is about layering and bringing in light to the space so that you have a naturally lit space — and to give the curators tremendous freedom in the way they can organize exhibits."

Rome is visited by some 12 million people each year, mostly attracted to the artistic glories of its past — the ancient ruins, the Colosseum, the fountains designed by Bernini or Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. In recent years, officials have tried to expand Rome's culture offerings with some cutting-edge works, but these efforts have met mixed responses. Romans have been hostile to some new buildings, apparently not convinced that a modern structure can successfully stand beside the marvels of the past. As for the MAXXI, the jury is still out.