Eugène Delacroix, The Women of Algiers, 1834. Collection of the Louvre.
Image courtesy of artsy via Wikimedia Commons.
Eugene Delacroix is one of the most famous artists infatuated with Orientalist subject matter, perhaps due to his large output of more than 80 completed oil paintings in his lifetime with this focus.
His 1834 painting (now in the collection of the Louvre, Paris) Femmes d’Alger dans leur appartement, offers the artist’s presentation of a lush women’s quarters in a Muslim residence in Algeria. This painting has been held in the highest regard by artists in subsequent generations, most notably Pablo Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein, and more recently by Jose Dávila.
As a collection it becomes apparent that Delacroix’s inspired and exotic memories are memorialized as artworks, yet abstracted, reimagined, reinterpreted and viewed again through each modern lens, today most notable as entire areas are removed from our collective memory entirely, re-presented to the viewer as the absence reminds us not to forget our past.
Enjoy a presentation of these artworks here, and for further reading, enjoy Abigail Cain’s informative recount of each work here on artsy.
Roy Lichtenstein, Femme d’Alger, 1963.
The Eli and Edythe Broad Collection. © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein; Image courtesy of The Broad
Pablo Picasso, Les femmes d'Alger (Version 'O'), 1955
Photographed by AFP/Andrew Burton. Image via Christie's and NRC.nl
Jose Dávila, Untitled (Femme d’Alger) IV, 2016. Archival pigment print, edition of 1 with 1 AP, 68 1/8” X 59 1/16” (paper)
© Jose Dávila. Courtesy of Sean Kelly Gallery, New York.
We're big fans of Paolo Ventura, the Brooklyn-based, Italian born artist who creates hand-painted photographs using objects found in flea markets and on eBay, among others, to create dreamlike pieces. Sometimes in the form of dioramas, the smallest details play off each other and appear life-sized.
Not surprisingly, Ventura has been inspired his entire lifetime; Born to a famous Italian children's book illustrator and author from the 1960's and 1970's who created worlds of creativity and imagination for his sons..."invented worlds" became a part of the everyday. Adding to the fun childhood, Ventura's free-spirited grandmother resided with the family and often took the children on field trips to the circus.
Usually cloudy and surreal, the works are set in indescribable places but usually take place around the time of World War II. This master of reinvention is one we give a big "two thumbs up to"!
Paolo Ventura, Andrea E Paolo, Exhibition: L’Homme à la valise until July 27, 2014. Studio Fotokino | 33, allée Gambetta Marseille, France.
Image courtesy of: tyylit
We love "Man with Suitcase" which was specifically created for an exhibition at Studio Fotokino.
Image courtesy of: Tyylit
It's the tiniest details that make Ventura's work unique. ”It’s my obsession,” he says. The intricate sets he creates are made from clay, cardboard, foam board and plastic. In this diorama, we can see that Ventura delicately scratched away the paint to convey worn floorboards of a cafe. In another, patches of wallpaper hang from worn plaster. And finally, the gear attached to the dead soldier is all historically accurate.
Image courtesy of: The F Stop
It isn't Surrealist because his work makes it feel as though it can come to life at any moment.
Primo Giorno del Carnevale , 2016. Unique hand-painted photograph and collage.
Image courtesy of: Artsy
Artists have created a space for the contemplation of the viewer in both the physical and metaphysical realms throughout history. Enjoy a few examples as inspired by this piece from Widewalls.
Gian Lorenzo Bernini, The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa, 1652 in Rome, Italy
Image courtesy of Artble
Bernini’s Ecstasy of St. Teresa is a religious ecstasy visualized in the figure of an angel, the arrow that is about to pierce the nun’s heart, and the golden shower of God’s love. All nicely situated in an elevated aedicule (a shrine designed into the form of a building). Space in this Baroque masterpiece transcends the immediacy of the palpable area to include the metaphysical one, materialized in concrete and recognizable forms. Two spaces and realities merge, but relations that guide our sense of space are preserved here. Even the aedicule is engaged in the final effect of the piece where a small window in the upper part of the architectural element allows light to fall down onto Bernini’s composition.
In painting, one of the best-known examples is Rothko. Space is flattened as areas of color are presented side-by-side that should provoke contemplation and induce metaphysical peace.
The Rothko Chapel, in Houston, Texas
Rothko never saw this space; he died in 1970, a few months before it opened, just before installers lowered in his paintings through the ceiling since they didn’t fit through the doorway. The paintings are the only adornment in this building that from the outside looks like an electrical substation, all bricks and no windows. But inside… “Inside, it’s a space that makes you feel like you’re living in one of Rothko’s paintings. It’s a place that captures opposites: It’s large yet intimate. Dark yet bright. Spare yet rich. The chapel is infinity captured. Vastness contained.”
Image courtesy of GQ
Troika, Arcades, 2015
Image courtesy of the artists via Ignant.com
Troika (Eva Rucki, Conny Freyer and Sebastien Noel) created a site-specific architectural installation, Arcades (2012), comprised of light pillars which rays refracted by a fresnel lens created the illusion of gothic arches. As the artists stated: “creating a spatial suspension of disbelief, Arcades encourages an analysis of our relationship with the metaphysical in a world increasingly governed by practical, rational and scientific principles.”
Troika’s representation of Arcades in watercolor
Image courtesy of the artists via Ignant.com
Anish Kapoor- Leviathan, 2011.
Image courtesy of designboom
Space exists only in relation to something, or someone. Position and even direction in art may have some currency in previous ages when art had its strictly defined purpose of representing the living or metaphysical world. However, even the metaphysical one relied heavily on our perception and imagination, and was made similar to the palpable reality. As artistic styles developed and avant garde movements became mainstay, space started to dissolve and forms that filled artworks were defined along a much simpler differentiation between positive (space occupied by form) and negative space.
Examining space in art must always take into account the complex social and cultural standings of a given time, thus influencing the way space is experienced. To follow are a few examples to stimulate further thinking about spatial relations in art.
Inside view of Anish Kapoor’s Leviathan, 2011.
Image courtesy of designboom
Chiharu Shiota’s The Key in the Hand installation was achieved through the use of red yarn, keys and boats, and said to create a melancholic atmosphere of loss, but also of opportunity and hope.
Chiharu Shiota, The Key in Hand from The Venice Biennale, 2015 in the Japanese Pavilion, Giardini.
Image courtesy of Le Paradox
Henrique Oliveira, Tapumes, 2009, Rice Gallery, Houston. Plywood and pigment. Photo: Nash Baker.
Image courtesy of the artist via Feather of Me
Anselm Kiefer at The Margulies Collection at The Warehouse, Miami, Florida.
Here is Kiefer’s critically acclaimed seventeen foot high Die Erdzeitalter (Ages of the World)(2014). The sculpture, consisting of a pile of unfinished canvases, dried sunflowers, lead books and rubble and flanked by two paintings, previously formed the centrepiece of the artist’s retrospective at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.
We have experienced this piece twice at Marguilies, when it opened in 2015 and again in 2016 around Art Basel Miami. The experience of this piece and large installations coming off of walls and filling rooms here is memorable and moving.
Image courtesy of White Cube