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Big Ideas

The Design Culture Calendar: October 2017

Cool events taking place around the world this month.

V&A Exhibition Road Quarter

Not since the Louvre’s pyramid has there been a more impressive European museum addition than the Victoria & Albert Museum’s Exhibition Road expansion, a project designed by the Stirling Prize–winning British architect Amanda Levete’s AL_A that debuted at the end of June. It has created a new, open public courtyard, covered in 11,000 handmade porcelain tiles and sporting a new café with AL_A-designed custom seating, that reveals three facades of the 1852-founded institution for the first time; provided the museum with a new entry portal; and, not least, carved out a huge, column-free subterranean hall, the Sainsbury Gallery, and two posh new skylit staircases (both are lined with polished tulipwood balustrades, and both are one way – one being designated for descent and the other for ascent) with which to get there from the original building. Altogether the Exhibition Road Quarter adds about 69,000 square feet to V&A’s total exhibition space, but what really matters is that the grande dame of London’s museums lives squarely in the 21st century, like the rest of us.

Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Goin’ to Kansas City

Looking to explore a new art scene outside the world culture capitals? A great choice would be…Kansas City, Missouri! It has a wealth of top-notch museums –Nelson-Atkins, the American Jazz Museum, the Money Museum, the Museum of World War I – and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, which has scheduled its fall shows around the theme of art meets science. Its fourth annual “Science to Art” exhibit features photographs taken by medical researchers – their extraordinary creations allow them a chance to share their findings as well as wow photography aficionados – while “Magnetic Fields: Expanding American Abstraction from the 1960s to the Present” showcases the work of 20 contemporary American artists who have taken highly individual nonrepresentational paths, correcting anyone who’s thought abstraction is over. You may well finding yourself booking your next ticket back sooner than you thought.

Ring of Remembrance

With stirrings of nationalism, combative rhetoric, and actual annexation piercing Europe’s recent, relatively peaceful status quo, there seems no better time to visit L’Anneau de la mémoire, the World World I memorial in Ablain-Saint-Nazaire, at France’s northern tip, designed by architect Philippe Prost. The striking concrete ellipse, set into the slope below the neo-Byzantine chapel of the National Necropolis, France’s largest military cemetery, is lined with 500 vertical bronze sheets bearing the engraved names of 579,606 men and women who perished on the battlefields of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais in the Great War. Those names—largely French, British, and German—are listed in alphabetical order, regardless of the country the combatants served. “Grief has given way to calm,” Prost said of the memorial. “Through our project we wished to give a shape to brotherhood, to give expression to peace, and to unite art and nature and put them at the service of memory.”

L’Anneau de la mémoire, Ablain-Saint-Nazaire, France 

Museum Barbarini

Only an art collector with the vision, financial prowess, and largesse to match their passion for art could have brought about the creation of Potsdam’s Museum Barbarini, among the most significant new museums to open in Germany in decades. And that is just what German software company SAP cofounder Hasso Plattner brought to the table when he sought permission to restore the baroque Prussian Barbarini Palace in Potsdam’s Alter Markt square, which was originally modeled after Rome’s Palazzo Barberini and all but destroyed in a WWII air raid, and turn it into a world-class art destination.

After recreating the building—including replicating the sandstone facade to the exact specifications Frederick the Great ordered in 1771, a requirement imposed by city—Plattner finally has a 17-gallery home for his vast art collection. Its two kickoff exhibitions are “Impressionism: The Art of Landscape,” which showcases works by Monet, Sisley, Renoir and Pissarro, and “Modern Art Classics: Liebermann, Munch, Nolde, Kandinsky,” whose undoubted star is Edvard Munch’s Girls on the Bridge (1899), which Plattner is believed to have bought at Sotheby’s last November for $54.5 million (both shows run through May 28). Now you know where you have to go on your visit the German capital; the royal city on the Havel River is just an hour away from Berlin.

Museum Barbarini, Potsdam, Germany 

Tippet Rise Art Center

The coupling of art and stunning outdoor scenery is nothing new (witness sculpture gardens and summer music festivals), but the Tippet Rise Art Center, which kicks off season two this summer, takes it to a whole new level. Set on a 10,000-plus-acre working sheep and cattle ranch in a corner of Montana where snow-capped mountains intercept the meeting of verdant pastureland and azure sky, Tippet is an idea as much as it is a place. Founders Peter and Cathy Halstead, both of whom are artists and art benefactors, say they were inspired by New York’s Storm King to bring music, art, architecture, and nature together.

Site-specific sculpture and land art works by Alexander Calder, Mark di Suvero, Patrick Dougherty, Stephen Talasnik, and the group Ensamble Studio are scattered throughout the expansive landscape and can be viewed solo, on foot or by bike, or via scheduled tours in a carbon-neutral van (Fridays through Sundays), while intimate concerts with contemporary classical music luminaries like Yevgeny Sudbin, Jenny Chen, and the Ariel String Quartet take place in the Olivier Music Barn or out in the open alongside an outdoor sculpture. If you’re heading west in September, step off the beaten path and book tickets for Tippet’s Architecture & Design Film Festival (Sept 22–24), the center’s last event of the year.

Tippet Rise Art Center, Fishtail, Montana








For an immersion into the visual worlds of four postwar German artists grappling with questions of form and space, it’s worth a trip to Munich’s Sammlung Goetz. The exhibition FarbRaumKörper, named after a term coined by the artist Gotthard Graubner (1930-2013) to describe his dense paintings on fabric (it means, roughly, “color/space/forms”), brings together the work of Graubner, whose work mined the tension between the ethereal and the material; Blinky Palermo (1943-1977), the artist who borrowed the name of an American mafioso and who, in his short but prolific life, experimented with the dynamics of sequential line, color, and negative space; Imi Knoebel (b. 1940), who explores shape and color through machine-cut works exhibited in series (you may have seen his 24 Colors – For Blinky at Dia: Beacon between 2008 and 2014);  and Reiner Ruthenbeck (1937-2016), whose sculptures often made use of everyday objects to take on the likes of gravity. All four share a connection with the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, the renowned art school whose alums include painters Gerhard Richter and photographers Thomas Struth and Andreas Gursky.

Sammlung Goetz, Munich, Germany. Through October 14.

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden/Walker Art Center

After a $10 million makeover and an almost two-year wait, Minneapolis’ beloved sculpture garden reopens to the public in June. The 29-year-old public green space, on the expansive campus of the lauded contemporary art–focused Walker Art Center and perhaps best known for its Spoonbridge and Cherry fountain by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, has added 18 sculptures to the 42 works in its collection. Among them are Robert Indiana’s Love sculpture and six new works commissioned for the site, among them Hahn/Cock by German-born sculptor Katharina Fritsch, a 20-foot-tall ultramarine blue rooster that recalls the Midwestern weathervane while also poking fun at the notion of monumental sculpture. Yet the main stars are the park itself, which was upgraded with state-of-the-art irrigation and stormwater drainage systems, a new native plant meadow, and the addition of 300 new trees, and the Walker Art Center, which is undergoing massive renovations of its own; during the garden’s closure it added a new entry pavilion, a green roof, and an outdoor plaza designed by the late Sol LeWitt. “Katharina Fritsch: Multiples,” a solo show of the artist’s monochromatic work, is on view at the Walker through October 15.

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden/Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Calder: Hypermobility

The last exhibition curated by the Whitney’s Jay Sanders is far more than a gathering of some of the museum’s—and the Calder Foundation’s—most beloved possessions. That’s because the works it showcases are appearing, for the first time in decades, just as their maker, Alexander Calder, intended them to: in active motion, whether motorized with a switch, as is the case with eight rare mechanized works, or simply set in motion by the careful hands of Whitney staffers. (Preservation edicts until now had dictated that the works be kept still to keep them safe.) 

Though Calder invented the mobile, he did not, in fact, invent the term; mobile was coined to describe Calder’s work by none other than his friend Marcel Duchamp, who clearly recognized that the form’s genius – and, by incorporating movement, a kind of fourth dimension, its uniqueness – rendered the word sculpture, and every other word, for that matter, insufficient. The wonder that is Calder’s work may well hit you anew on the Whitney’s expansive eighth floor when the mobiles begin to flutter and spin. Plan to stay a while, as you won’t want to miss these rare pieces in action (the motorized pieces are activated just three times a day on weekdays, six on weekends). After all, you never know if you’ll get to see them dance again.  

Whitney Museum of American Art. Through October 23.

The Great Graphic Boom

Organized in conjunction with Oslo’s National Museum, this ambitious show gives center stage to American printmaking, an often overlooked art form, created between 1960 and 1990. The panoply of American artists featured, from Ellsworth Kelly and Cy Twombly to Louise Bourgois and Ed Ruscha, is a who’s who of American art of the time that includes Abstract Expressionists and minimalists – many of whom had already made a name for themselves as painters before turning to the medium – alongside Pop art practitioners for whom printmaking was central, including Andy Warhol and Roy LIchtenstein. It looks at the role several print-centric publishing houses played in the rise of graphic arts, in particular New York’s Universal Limited Art Editions and Los Angeles’ Gemini G.E.L, with a stellar collection of single sheets, portfolios, and artist’s books. Among the show’s noteworthy highlights, most of which are lithographs and screen prints, are Barnett Newman’s Cantos series (1964), Agnes Martin’s On a Clear Day (1973), woodcuts by Donald Judd and Helen Frankenthaler, a selection of Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s soup and celebrity series, and Roy LIchtenstein’s Brushstroke (1965). You may find yourself wondering why printmaking doesn’t always get the attention it deserves.

Staatsgalerie Stuttgart. Stuttgart, Germany. Through November 5.

More Posts by Lee Magill

Lee Magill is a writer and editor based in New York City who has contributed to Travel + Leisure and Time Out. She previously served as the editor of Time Out New York Kids

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