An extraordinary collection of globe-spanning contemporary art for members to enjoy.

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William Kentridge (South African, b. 1955)
‘Birds in Flight’ (from Notes Towards a Model Opera), 2015 Indian ink on paper, 44 7/8 x 77 7/8 in.

William Kentridge was born in 1955 in Johannesburg, South Africa, the son of two prominent anti-apartheid lawyers.  He grew up with a high awareness of social and political injustice, and his drawings, prints, sculptures, films, and other artworks are infused with themes of oppression and liberation.

Birds are a recurring motif in Kentridge’s work, employed to both symbolic and technical effect.  In his stop-motion animations they illustrate movement as the positions of their wings are altered from drawing to drawing, from frame to frame.  Birds depicted in flight are also a universal symbol of freedom; they move between realms of land and sea and air. By titling this series of drawings ‘Birds in Flight’ (from Notes Towards a Model Opera), Kentridge has evoked both the concept of freedom, and a specific time when a country’s creative life was dominated by propaganda and confined by censorship.

HIROSHI SUGIMOTO (Japanese b. 1948 Tokyo)
Tasman Sea, Table Cape, 2016, 47 x 58 3/4 in.

Hiroshi Sugimoto’s interest in photography developed during his early teenage years in Tokyo.  His father had bought an expensive and complicated camera, but soon tiring of trying to master it, gave it to his son.  One of young Sugimoto’s earliest subjects was Audrey Hepburn – a still image from a film, captured inside a movie theatre.  In order to capture a single frame, the artist employed a very fast shutter speed of one thirtieth of a second, the beginning of his experiments in manipulating time with his camera.

Sugimoto has been photographing the ocean since 1980, inspired by the awe he felt when first traveling to the coast with his family as a young boy.  His Seascapes are always composed so that the horizon line between ocean and sky bifurcates the image into two equal parts, perfectly balanced.  He has shot Seascapes all over the world, occasionally staying on location for several weeks until he feels that he has become part of that particular environment.  He shoots both in daytime and at night, sometimes allowing his shutter to remain open for hours, and sometimes only for a few seconds.  The longer the shot lasts, the more abstracted the movements of sky and water become, blurring and changing, expanding the specific time of the photographer’s presence into a universal experience of the life-giving elements of air and water.  For the artist the sea represents the origin of life on earth, and he is moved by the idea that the view of the ocean he sees when he photographs is the same one that ancient humans saw tens of thousands of years ago.  Table Cape is both a geological feature (a volcanic plug) and an area on the North West of Tasmania.

 

HIROSHI SUGIMOTO (Japanese b. 1948 Tokyo)
Teatro Comunale di Ferrara, Ferrara, 2015, 72 7/8 x 61 1/8 in.

Sugimoto went on to photograph movie theaters, drive in theaters, abandoned theaters, and in his most recent series, opera houses.  In every theater series, the photographs are illuminated by the light from a movie screen with the film’s running time determining the length of the exposure.  Though sometimes the opera houses were equipped with screens, in many theatres Sugimoto brought in projectors and built screens to project classic Italian films.  In Teatro Comunale di Ferrara, Ferrara, he chose to show “Il Conformista” (The Conformist), 1970, directed by Bernardo Bertolucci.  The running time, and therefore the length of the exposure, was 1 hour and 51 minutes.  For the first time, in four decades of shooting theaters, Sugimoto photographed both stage and auditorium in the Opera House series, situating the viewer somewhere in between; both onstage looking at the audience, and in the audience, watching the glowing movie screen.  The viewer is placed in a space that doesn’t really exist, in a moment that lasts for almost two hours.

 

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