Where form meets function

August is typically associated with summer holidays and uninterrupted scorching hot sunshine (in the Northern Hemisphere, at least). Aside from the barbecues and beaches, this is the time of year for guilt-free naps, the irrefutable ability to do things at your own pace and the quadrupling in usage of the word “tomorrow”. Hello August, we’ve missed you.

However, not everyone wants to wile away their days doing nothing. For those in need of an extra bit of culture at this time of year, we’ve put together a list of exhibitions to check out across the globe. From Warhol to Basquiat, and from curiosity pieces to works of art 1,000 feet long, there’s something here for everyone.

If you’ve just woken up from your third nap of the day and are feeling suitably refreshed, we suggest you go and visit at least one of these excellent shows.

Andy Warhol, “Shadows,” Bilbao

Bill Jacobson

In 1978, Andy Warhol, with the assistance of his entourage at the Factory, embarked on the production of “Shadows.” The series was conceived as one painting in 102 parts, with the dimensions of the exhibition space determining the final number of canvases.

At the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, all 102 panels are shown, alternating between positive and negative imprints as they march along the gallery wall.

The first installation of “Shadows” was used as a backdrop for a fashion editorial in the April 1979 issue of Warhol’s magazine, Interview. When questioned about whether the paintings were art, Warhol self-deprecatingly answered, “No. You see, the opening party had disco. I guess that makes them disco décor.”

Guggenheim Museum, running until October 2

Nancy Shaver, “Dress the Form,” NYC

In a move that would make any hoarder proud, Nancy Shaver has gathered together a slew of thinkers and makers whose tastes reflect her own, to curate a room-sized assemblage of madness and beauty with “Dress the Form.”

In a career that has spanned four decades, the painter-cum-sculptor-cum-curiosity-shop-proprietor has consistently worked to challenge expectations on the aesthetic hierarchies found in visual culture. Her practice, which involves finding, making and re-contextualizing objects, has been informed by a critical eye and an attitude approaching that of an anthropologist.

Derek Eller, running until August 19

Robert Rauschenberg, “Rauschenberg in China,” Beijing

© 2016 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

“Rauschenberg in China” centers on Robert Rauschenberg’s magnum opus The ¼ Mile or 2 Furlong Piece, its 191 parts stretching 305 meters and exhibited for the first time since 2000.

A masterwork often read as a self-contained retrospective, The ¼ Mile was completed over a seventeen year period from 1981 to 1998. Reflecting major themes from throughout Rauschenberg’s oeuvre, it consists of his White Paintings, collages composed with found images and the artists own documentary photography.

The earliest inspiration for the piece is said to have come from a winning colt in the Maryland Day Purse of 1981 named Rauschenberg. The furlong is a unit of measurement used in horse racing, with two furlongs equally the distance between Rauschenberg’s home and studio. A detail reiterating the artist’s constant theme of the connection between art and life.

UCCA, running until August 21

Henri Deparade, “Ancient Dispostions,” Berlin

Galerie Lehner

In “Ancient Dispositions,” Henri Deparade uses stories and sagas of folklore poetry, based on ancient gods and heroes, as a vehicle to ask fundamental questions of human existence. Are our actions autonomous or are we bound to fate?

The titles of his artworks are taken directly from European mythology, but are open for everyone to interpret their own story. Multilayered, almost transparent figures depict interpersonal relationships and their potential for conflict, tragedy like only the Ancient Greeks know how.

Artfein, running until August 27

Group Show, “PUNK. It’s Traces in Contemporary Art,” Barcelona

Courtesy of the Contemporary Art Collection “la Caixa” © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat

“PUNK. Its Traces in Contemporary Art” is not an exhibition about punk. It is an exhibition that reveals its defining elements through the footprints the movement left in contemporary art.

Between 1976 and 1978, the punk attitude emerged in London and New York as an expression of complete rejection of the system. It captured the “no future” slogan of previous movements like Dadaism and Situationism, but, in contrast to them, emerged in the midst of mass culture.

MACBA has brought together over one hundred works by 60 international artists, including Basquiat, echoing the importance of its presence as an attitude and outlet. Through installations, documentary excerpts, photographs, videos and paintings, together with a section documenting the origins of punk and its vestiges in the present day, the themes of noise, denial, violence, nihilism and sexuality are addressed.

MACBA, running until September 25

Evren Tekinoktay, “Bermuda,” Copanhagen

David Risley Gallery

Bermuda can be seen as a place where everything and all elements disappear, but also as a graphic form that refers to both the sexual and sensual.

Evren Tekinoktay’s work is an expression that is based on a memory or feeling that dissolves in time and place. She goes to extremes with everything from expression to construction, both fascinating and seducing the viewer.

With collage as a base, the artist presents neon wall objects portraying graceful figures with caricatured cheekbones, an installation of mirror works and three monochrome quilted works, all referencing the strength of the female gender.

David Risley Gallery, running until October 1

Georgia O’Keefe Retrospective, London

Georgia O'Keefe

Making her debut a century ago in 1916, Georgia O’Keeffe was immediately recognized as a trailblazing artist, while today her legacy as an American art icon and a pioneer of twentieth-century art is widely recognized.

Best known for her paintings of magnified flowers, animal skulls and New Mexico desert landscapes, her art holds sway across generations. This exhibition brings together some of her most important works that float between the real and the abstract, including Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 1932, the most expensive painting by a female artist ever sold at auction.

Tate Modern, running until October 30

Antony Gormley, “Host,” Beijing

Courtesy of Galleria Continua

Antony Gormley, known best for his Angel of the North sculpture that stands outside Gateshead, has transformed Galleriacontinua. Flooding the central spaces of the gallery with 95 cubic meters of local clay and seawater, the experience is not only visual but sensate.

Gormley describes “Host” as “the elemental world, a primal soup brought within the frame of a museum as a changing painting that you can sense, as well as see. The point is to heal the division between inside and outside, and bring the elemental world into a cultural frame.”

In addition, a series of five sculptures in mild steel, collectively called Stations, will be exhibited for the first time.

Galleriacontinua, running until August 20

For more art content, check out the visual artist killing it in hip-hop, FRKO.

  • Words: Tom Giddins
  • Lead image: Bill Jacobson
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