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Posts Tagged ‘Bauhaus’

“An Egoless Practice”: Tantric Art

April 3, 2012 | by

Bikaner, 2002, 14

It could be a cult classic: the debut edition of Siglio Press’s Tantra Song—one of the only books to survey the elusive tradition of abstract Tantric painting from Rajasthan, India—sold out in a swift six weeks. Rendered by hand on found pieces of paper and used primarily for meditation, the works depict deities as geometric, vividly hued shapes and mark a clear departure from Tantric art’s better-known figurative styles. They also resonate uncannily with lineages of twentieth-century art—from the Bauhaus and Russian Constructivism to Minimalism—as well as with much painting today. Rarely have the ancient and the modern come together so fluidly.

For nearly three decades, the renowned French poet Franck André Jamme has collected these visual communiqués, and it hasn’t been easy: in 1985 he survived a fatal bus accident while traveling to visit Hindu tantrikas in Jaipur. In Tantra Song, Jamme assembles some of the most pulsating works he’s acquired, while unpacking his experiential knowledge of Tantra’s cosmology.

Western views of Tantra tend toward hyperbole. (The New York Times recently published an article, “Yoga and Sex Scandals: No Surprise Here,” noting, “Early in the twentieth century, the founders of modern yoga worked hard to remove the Tantric stain.”) Jamme’s book serves as a corrective to this slant and sheds significant light on the deep historical roots—and fruits—of the practice. Siglio will release a second edition of the book on April 19. Jamme and I recently discussed these anonymously made paintings, the altered states they induce, and their timeless aesthetics.

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Design for Living

January 19, 2012 | by

If you’ve been a tourist in Russia you’ve probably visited a “house museum,” one of those great, daft halls of pedantry that strive to preserve the former homes of Russian writers and other luminaries exactly as the luftmenschen kept them. Fidelity to the writer’s own domestic arrangement is broken only by the addition of the writer’s death mask, typically hanging on a wall. So, for instance, the poet Aleksandr Blok’s white ceramic statuette of a dachshund still sits on his desk next to his inkwell. The docents who give tours of Blok’s St. Petersburg apartment emphasize his interest in the latest furniture designs and interior arrangements of the 1910s. But one has to work to see the novelty: Blok’s apartment, like Bloomsbury rooms, no longer strikes viewers as “modern” at first glance.

Not so with the Charles and Ray Eames living room, a full-scale steel-and-glass replica of which is now on view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art as a part of their giant survey of California design, “California Design 1930–1965: Living in a Modern Way.” (“California Modern” is itself part of the multi-institution California art exhibition called “Pacific Standard Time”). The museum has reassembled the contents of the designer couple’s living room precisely as they kept it circa 1958, down to the arrangement of sculptures and shells and little vases of fresh flowers and piles of woolen blankets and magazines. Though its contents are old, the room somehow looks new: mid-century modern is still what we think of as modern. Read More »

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Bauhaus by Night

January 28, 2011 | by

Untitled (Night View of Trees and Streetlamp, Burgkühnauer Allee, Dessau), 1928.

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