Category Archives: Painting and Sculpture

The Woman Who Says No: Françoise Gilot on her life with and without Picasso by Malte Herwig

Image result for the woman who says no

While reflecting on the past year, I received The Woman Who Says No: Françoise Gilot on her life with and without Picasso by Malte Herwig from a dear friend of mine. I immediately read the book and found much of what the artist said to ring true. I found many shared philosophies between Gilot and my artist friends, which reaffirmed what I learned and accomplished in New York City and gave me renewed motivation for the new year.

The Woman Who Says No reads like an extended interview where there is a process of discovery made by the author through first-hand accounts of his meetings, analysis of the artist’s remarkable life, and insight into her positive yet pragmatic outlook on life. The book reveals the wisdom Gilot has earned throughout her lifetime.

Image result for the woman who says no

First off, she recommends being open and pushing oneself. Gilot states, “If you want to really live, you must risk living on the edge; otherwise, life isn’t worth it. When you open yourself to risk, you will also experience bad things, but mostly you will learn a lot and live and understand more and more. Most importantly, you will not be bored. The very worst thing is to be bored.”

Gilot believes that nothing can be accomplished without discipline. “Discipline is essential. Without it, even intuition won’t help you. And you must practice. Always practice.” She also stresses that, “We must work with our skills as we work with our mistakes.”

With that discipline, Gilot notes that there comes an understanding that one must not be too hard on oneself. “You shouldn’t expect too much of yourself. Don’t begin with an enormous canvas when you are just starting to paint.”

Finally, Gilot expresses the need for a sense of self and the search for the truth. “I am only interested in people who are searching for the truth. Most things in life are like a stage set, an illusion behind which hides another and another and so on. The vast majority of people gave up on the search for truth long ago. There are very few who really want to glimpse behind the façade and it all comes down to those people. Truth is always what is most important to me, even if it is unpleasant.”

I found inspiration in what Gilot had to say but, I was most struck by the way in which Gilot spoke about her life. She was very centered, never bitter, and passionate about her art, her past, and her future. I enjoyed learning about her experiences and the advice she had to offer. I also love how she hasn’t conformed to what people would expect of her and how she continues to push herself in her 90s.

All in all, The Woman Who Says No is a refreshing yet grounded reprieve from the chaos and negativity in the world today. I recommend it to those looking for insight and encouragement.

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Thomas Lendvai

An image from the show "Thomas Lendvai 10" at Odetta Gallery in Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY.

Thomas Lendvai: 10 at Odetta Gallery in Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY. (c) John Muggenborg.

Thomas Lendvai is a meticulous, thoughtful, and talented artist who transforms everyday construction materials into large-scale sculptural experiences. His works celebrate the intrinsic and elemental value of the materials he utilizes while simultaneously exploring the notion of self. Through his work, he explores modernist and post-modernist theory of sculpture that is informed by a knowledge of carpentry, taught to him by his father at an early age.

Lendvai’s site-responsive installations make use of fundamental geometric forms to address concepts of space and time, and to engage audiences through experiential installations that break down the boundary between the art object and the subject and question the notions art, design, and architecture. His work encourages movement and a continuous awareness of a series of nows, allowing for audiences to experience a more tactile engagement with space and self.

His exhibition, 10 at Odetta Gallery in Brooklyn, exemplifies his artistic practice and is the culmination of years of study, exploration, and contemplation. It is also an impressive, monumental sculpture that is surreptitiously balanced, forcing the viewer to accept and at the same time question the idea of here and now. The sculpture transcends gravity by breaking the plane of the floor while the crux is simultaneously elevated. A feat that some might call “magic.” I would call it artistic mastery.

no distibution of images

(c) John Muggenborg

An image from the show "Thomas Lendvai 10" at Odetta Gallery in Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY.

(c) John Muggenborg

An image from the show "Thomas Lendvai 10" at Odetta Gallery in Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY.

(c) John Muggenborg

An image from the show "Thomas Lendvai 10" at Odetta Gallery in Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY.

(c) John Muggenborg

no distibution of images

(c) John Muggenborg

An image from the show "Thomas Lendvai 10" at Odetta Gallery in Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY.

Thomas Lendvai at Odetta Gallery, August 2015. (c) John Muggenborg.

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Alejo Musich

Working in a contemporary art gallery in New York, I have the opportunity to meet many artists. Each artist is unique, but there is no one quite like Alejo Musich.

Alejo MusichI met Alejo serendipitously at the PINTA NY art fair in November 2013 through my other artist friend, Tomas Rivas. The unassuming, slight, and Argentinian Alejo would become a great friend instantly.

A native Spanish speaker with perfect English grammar and a penchant for idioms and colloquialisms, Alejo has the desire to utilize and stretch language to the maximum. Each thought is exquisitely executed through syntax, intonation and conciseness.

When I asked him about the impending ArteBA fair in Buenos Aires in which his paintings would be shown by Miau Miau Gallery, this was his response:

right now they may be in another galaxy, setting everything up and with their minds flirting with breakdown. today’s the pre opening and it has been raining mad for two days now. anticlimatic. I live something like ten blocks away from the pavilion where all takes place, and in this rain I won’t go walking. imagine if to attend you have to leave your house in a leisure set of mind, you are a vip and you can just stay home with netflix, vogue italia, your afghan dogs, and just wait, maybe for tomorrow or next year. “We’ll always have Basel”, and ask someone for another coffee, and another someone to take de dogs about for a pipi.

In addition to the his language skills, Alejo is a very talented painter. He paints scenes from nature, some informed from Russian fairy tales, and others from his imagination. His brush strokes are textural and intentional. His color palette is deep with accents of pastel and neon integrating beautifully into the canvas. His paintings are full of mystery and tension.

Alejo Musich Sin Titulo (Zorro I)

Alejo Musich All your glory

Alejo Musich Melville, or, The Whale

Alejo Musich Sin título (Bosque 2014)

All in all, I am happy to be able to call this talented and spirited artist my friend.

Alejo Musich Maria Kucinski

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LADY GAGA artRAVE

Lady Gaga ArtraveIn a very last minute, last ditch opportunity, I found myself sailing for Lady Gaga’s artRAVE concert extravaganza to celebrate her album, ARTPOP at the Brooklyn Navy Yards.

Lady Gaga Jeff Koons Maria KucinskiArtist Jeff Koons co-hosted the event, showing off his larger-than-life sculpture of Lady Gaga – a breathtaking and hypnotizing piece of art. You can sense Lady Gaga’s aura through the work.

Lady Gaga ArtravePrior to the concert, there were extremely polished video projections of her new music video, her studies at the Marina Abramovic Insitute, and a 3-channel video projection of herself being tortured. Although difficult to watch, especially surrounded by the merriest “Little Monsters” in the world, it was very well done.

Art world royalty was also in attendance including Yoko Ono, Simon de Pury, and Klaus Biesenbach.

7 IMAG3961What I came away with from the event is that Lady Gaga is a true artist. She has surrounded herself with great artists and she has learned their craft. The most noticeable influence is that of Marina Abramovic, with whom Lady Gaga has been studying. There is a new focus, a new concentration to her. I also saw references to the Fluxus Movement and to Robert Wilson with his iconic gestures. She is wholly devoting herself to her craft, to her art, exposing her body and giving herself to the audience.

Lady Gaga ArtraveBut aside from the flawlessness of the evening, there was also an overall sense of peace and happiness and acceptance. Strangers were telling me that I was beautiful and I made friends with a few people around me.

How could you not be happy in Gaga’s world? And it is her world. She sits atop a throne, legs apart, commanding attention.

Jeff Koons Lady Gaga ArtraveAfter the concert ended, I shook Jeff Koons’ hand and told him that the sculpture was stunning.

And then I locked eyes with Darren Criss. A beautiful end to my memorable night.

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Executing a site-specific “intervention” in New York City

Jennifer Marman Daniel Borins Maria Kucinski Photo: Joe Leavenworth

Final adjustments to Pavilion of the Blind with Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins. Photo: Joe Leavenworth.

I recently had the amazing opportunity to work with two very talented artists, Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins on their debut New York exhibition, Pavilion of the Blind on view at the Tierney Gardarin Gallery through October 26th. In addition to working with the artists to prepare and install their stellar exhibition, I was tasked with executing a site-specific intervention.

Tenth Ave and 29th Street ChelseaAmongst all the development going on in West Chelsea and Hudson Yards, there are businesses that continue to operate. The gallery is one of those storefront businesses with demolition and construction affecting daily life. In talks to beautify the block and perhaps subtly notify the passersby of our existence in the outpost that is 29th Street, we decided to do an intervention on the construction hoarding.

Tenth Avenue and 29th StreetWet posters to be wheat pasted proved to be too costly. Next best option? Painting vertical stripes in the style of of Marman + Borins latest works, utilizing the color palette they have developed for the past five years. Daniel and I picked out the exact colors and finish. We thought “Daredevil” red was a suitable choice. There were five colors in total with one vertical stripe to be left blank – a commentary on the site and its existing artwork.

Nick Hugh Schmidt

Malcolm BarrettI hired two fantastic artists, Nick Hugh Schmidt and Malcolm Barrett to execute the stripes. They began at 10th Avenue between 28th and 29th Street and wrapped around the corner of 29th Street towards 11th Avenue. In a couple hours, they had made an unsightly construction site into something worth looking at, something worth noticing.

Nick Hugh Schmidt Malcolm Barret 10th Ave and 29th St

Jennifer Marman Daniel Borins 10th Ave 29th StreetAll in all, I think the piece is a stunning tribute to what a little paint and a sharp aesthetic can add to a city block.Tenth Ave 29th Street

Jennifer Marman Daniel Borins

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