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Umbrella Online - Current Issue

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ISSN 0160-0699

Volume 29, No. 1, Mar 2006

Art People

Awards

Hillary Spurling won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award in London in January for “Matisse the Master” (Alfred A. Knopf), the second volume of her biography of that artist.

Lynne Rae Perkins won the Newbery Medal for children’s literature for “Criss Cross”, a book about small decisions that can change a person’s life (Greenwillow Books/HarperColins). The most distinguished picture book for chilren went to Chris Raschka for “The Hello, Goodby Window” illustrated by Raschka and written by Norton Juster.

Lawrence Weschler has been named the new artistic director of the Chicago Humanities Festival, which each fall brings dozens of artists, writers and musicians to the city to take part in 16 days of performances, discussions and exhibits. He is also the director of the New York Institute for the Humanities at New York Unviersity.

Pierre Pinoncelli, the 77-year-old man who took a hammer to one of eight copies of Duchamp’s famous urinal was ordered in Paris to pay the equivalent of $262,000 to the Pompidou Center and given a suspended three-month prison term. He had attacked the same work, “Fountain” in 1993 at an exhibition in southern France. He chipped the urinal this time and scrawled the word Dada on it in Jauary at the Pmpidou Center during the final days of the “Dada” exhibiton.

Alexandra Munroe, recently director of the Japan Society’s gallery, has been hired by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum as its first senior curator of Asian art.

Claude Closky, multimedia artist, has won the Marcel Duchamp Prize 1005. He will receive $42,000 or 35,000 euros, and will have an exhibition on view at Pompidu Center in Paris from 16 May through 31 August.

Mowry Baden, the American-born sculptor, Vera Frenkel, video, installation and Web0based artist, photographer Arnaud Maggs and contemporary art curator Peggy Gale have won Canada’s Governor-General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts for 2006.

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Passings

Gordon Parks, social crusader, photojournalist, filmmaker, piano player, image-maker, storyteller, African American polymath, died in March at the age of 93. Life photographer, he also worked for the Federal Security Administration until 1943, then spending 3 years working with Roy Stryker on the Standard Oil of New Jersey Photography Project. He also was a filmmaker, making The Learning Tree and Shaft.

Allan Temko, a former architecture critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, who won a Pulitzer Prize for criticism in 1990 and wrote a definitie profile of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, died in January at the age of 81.

Barbara Guest, a Modernist poet inspired by Abstract Expressionist artists Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning who was the only woman included in the New York School of poets that emerged in the late 1950s, died in March at the age of 85. Author of more than 20 books of poetry, plays, fiction and biography, Guest wrote in unrhymed verses. To create a particular visual effect and to emphasize certain words in her verses, she made liberal use of white space on the page. She, like other members of the New York School, brought poetry and art toegether. Her first book of verse, “The Location of Things” (1960) was published under the imprint of Tibor de Nagy, a prominent art gallery in New York City.

Dave Tatsuno, a Japanese-American businessman and amateur filmmaker whose home movies, shot in secret in the 1940s, offer a rare documentary portrait of life in an American internment camp during World War II, died in January at the age of 92. Tatsuno and his family in 1942 were interned at the Topaz Relocation Center in the Utah desert. Over the next three years, shooting covertly with a contraband camera, he recorded everyday life in his dustblown barrcks community, which at its height was home to more than 8,000 Americans of Japanese descent. “Topaz” was the result of his footage, a 48-minute silent film and a very pronounced document capturing the history of a group of American citizens incarcerated because of their heritage.

Western Union died in late January–after 150 years or so of being the most immediate way of distributing news or sending a message.

Jim Gary, an internationally noted sculptor in metal whose best-known work transformed the skeletons of derelict cars into the hulking, playful and surprisingly graceful skeletons of dinosaurs, died in January at the age of 66. He used salvaged auto parts. He also built special equipment to assemble and move the pieces, because of the scale.

Charles Newman, a novelist, critic and founding editor of TriQuarterly, one of the country’s preeminent literary magazines, featuring writers such as Sylvia Plath and John Barth, Borges and Milosz, as well as poetry, essays and graphic art. The experimental nature of the journal featured William Gass’s “Willie Masters’ Lonesome Wife”, which incorporatees photographs and typographical inventions. This was before computers, so the complexity of the text and hypertexts was expensive.

Myron Waldman, an animator and illustrator who worked on such celebrated characers as Betty boop, Popeye, Superman and Casper the Friendly Ghost during his long career, died in February at the age of 97.

Peter Halasz, a Hungarian-born avant-garde playwright, actor and director, who founded the Squat/Love Theater collective, an Off Off Broadway ensemble of the 1980s, died in March in Brooklyn at the age of 62. He died only a onth after staging his own funeral on 6 February at an art museum in Budapest, where he was born. He had himself enclosed in a glass coffin for a final farewell to friends and hundreds of theater fans. From a background of freewheeling performance in Communist Hungary, which forced him to do underground performances, finally in 1976 he left Hungary, and after a stopover in Western Europe, settled in Manhattan, associated for a time with Andy Warhol and taking cues from happenings and conceptual performance art of the time.

Squat became the collective’s name famed for “Mr. Dead and Mrs. Free” and “Pig, Child, Fire!” and “Andy Warhol’s Last Love.” After the fall of Comunism in Hungary, he returned to his native country, winning prizes in independent European film productions.

Henry George Fischer, the Metropolitan useum of Art curtor who helped the Temple of Dendur find a new life in New York as a focal point of the museum, died in December at the age of 82.

John Wilde, an American surrealist associated with the Magic Realist school of painting, whose fantastic, darkly humorous images brought him fame far beyond his native Wisconsin, died in March at the age of 86. He was known for his grotesque, doll-like people in otherworldly situations, inspired partly by Dali and partly by Northern Renaissance masters like Bosch and Grunewald.

C. Gregory Stapko, a portrait painter, painting restorer and the nation’s foremost copyist of famous works of art, died of cancer in March at the age of 92. His copies of famous works, many from the National Gallery of Art, hang in the White House, Blair House, Arlington House, U.S. embassies and government agencies, as well as the walls of businesses and private homes around the world. His copying talents led the National Gallery to create a rule requiring that all copies had to be done at least two inches smaller than the original and labeled on the back with paint that would stand out under X-rays long after the color had faded. He excelled in portrait painting, restoring damaged paintings, teaching oil painting, gold-leaf work for churches, building furniture and crafting copies of old frames to go with copied paintings.

Stephen Procuniar, a painter, photographer and master printmaker who became a familiar presence in SoHo after arriving there in 1970 died in March. He raun Procuniar Workshop, a print shop, collaboratng with artists like Louise Bourgeois, Lester Johnson, Nancy Spero and Melvin Edwards. His paintings and prints were “informed by Abstrct Expressionism” and “jazz”.

Walerian Borowczyk, an internationally known Surrealist filmmaker described variously by critics as a genius, a pornographer and a genius who also happened to be a pornographer, died in February in Paris, where had resided since the late 1950s. He was 82. He was known in Poland as one of the most eminent animators in the world in the 1950s and 60s. Then he moved into live-action work and sexual tensions smoldering beneath claustrophobic social proprietyl He is said to have been a great influence on contemporary filmmakers such as Terry Gillian, Jan Svankmajer and the Brothers Quay.

Ian Hamilton Finlay, 80, one of Scotland’s best-known artists whose work included sculpture, poetry and philosophy, died in March at a nursing home in Scotland after a long illness. The artist’s relationship with nature lay at the heart of his work, and his most famous “Little Spart” is the garden of his garmhouse at Stonypath in Dunsyre, southwest of Edinburgh.

Born in 1925 in Nassau, Bahamas, Finlay moved to Edinburgh in 1950. In 1966 he moved to Stonypath and set about transforming the plat into a neoclassical sculpture garden, which is now a protected environment. Every surface, from benches to headstones and obelisks, is inscribed with his words. Stonypath was recently voted Scotland’s greatest artwork.

In the U.S. his first permanent outdoor installation was constructed at UC San Diego in 1987. Large stones are inscribed with a one-word poem, UNDA, the Latin word for wave, along with the typographer’s wavy notation indicating the transposing of letters. And from the installation site on an open, grassy field atop a bluff, the viewer can look out at the Pacific Ocean’s waves. He was in my seminal artist book show “Artwords & Bookworks” in which one could find tank toys, bookworks for children and for adults, alike.

Thomas Stuart Mills, poet and small press publisher, co-founder of Tarasque, the little magazine that made big waves which Mills co-founded in 1966. Simon Cutts, in the course of its first year, began to assist with the publishing agenda of the magazine, and soon his poetic voice began to alternate with that of Mills. The community of poets in the journal were such names as J.M. Synge, T.E. Hulme, Georg Trakl and Ezra Pound, along with Jonathan Williams and Ian Hamilton Finlay. How ironic that two friends died within days of each other. Mills and Cutts published in 1969 one of Ian Hamilton Finlay’s most significant poem booklets, Ocean Strip 5, with its inspired juxtaposition of avant-garde poetic texts by Kurt Schwitters and evocative photographs of fishing-boats.

In addition, they published poem cards, postcards and poem prints. Eventually Simon Cutts moved to London and founded his own press . Mills’ close friendship with Ian Hamilton Finlay created a publication of Finlay’s early poems from 1964 - 1972. He also had a publication called Aggie Weston’s, that ran to 21 editions over the period 1973 to 1984.

Allan Kaprow, a most influential artist in the 20th century, th artist who combined painting, sculpture and tehater in flamboyant events that he staged in unexpected locations and referred to as “happenings” died in April at the age of 79. He was a founding member of the visual arts department at UC San Diego, but he was renowned as one of those Abstract Expressionist painters who moved around vast canvases to pour and drip paint. Then he eliminated the canvas and display walls entirely and led the viewers directly into the artwork. Staging his happenings in industrial lofts, empty storefronts and other unlikely places, he wrote abut the events and ideas behind them in magazine articles and in his seminal 1993 book, “Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life.” He broke the boundary between art and life. Early in his career he created “environments” with his colleagues Claes Oldenburg and Jim Dine. One of his best-known works, “Yard” (1961) was a jumble of spare tires heaped in a small room open to foot traffic. He traveled the world disseminating his ideas and his environments, happenings and ideas.He then turned to various other projects whittling down the events to two people and then to just oneself. He influenced several generations of not only artists but students in other departments who took his courses and would never be the same afterwards.

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