Beautiful Snarkitecture

10 Years of Snarkitecture
SNARKITECTURE PROJECT IS ABOUT OPENING UP THE POSSIBILITY, LEAVING THINGS AS OPEN QUESTIONS FOR PEOPLE THAT ARE COMING TO VISIT IT. THERE’S NOT NECESSARILY ANY PRESCRIBED MEANING — TO SAY IT’S ABOUT THIS OR ABOUT THAT — BUT HOPEFULLY, IT ALLOWS YOU TO WONDER.

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Perched on a quartz topped column, beneath the crumbling, paint peeled dome of an 18th Century palazzo in Milan, Alex Mustonen is thinking about his legacy. Or rather, the legacy of his design firm, Snarkitecture, whose 2018 has been a banner year. They’ve celebrated their 10 year anniversary, published their first monograph with Phaidon, and have plans to mount a career spanning retrospective at Washington DC’s National Building Museum, opening this Fourth of July.

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The moody Italian palace doesn’t just serve as a dramatic backdrop for ponderous self reflection. The trio, Mustonen, Daniel Arsham, and Benjamin Porto, have just installed their latest Salone del Mobile project there, a collaboration with quartz manufacturer Caesarstone, that explores water in its various states. It takes the shape of an ethereal amphitheater circling a terraced fountain of quartz. On top, planetary spheres of ice drift and creak, melting into the running water only to rise again as steam. It’s the latest in a sprawling roster of projects — 75 of which are detailed in the book — that Snarkitecture have dreamed into life during their decade-long tenure. They’ve morphed museums into massive, giggling ball pits (The Beach, ongoing), choreographed a ballet of over sized balloons during a gala at the New Museum, and filled the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York entirely with pure white styrofoam, which they then invited viewers to watch as they excavated it with chisels and icepicks

 

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It’s often said the core genius of Snarkitecture’s projects are their simplicity. For a union that formed in the cerebral confines of New York’s Cooper Union (Mustonen, in architecture and Arsham, art, attended at the same time, while Porto joined the firm later on), their installations and interiors strike straight to the heart of what brings us the purest kinds of joy. There’s an unabashedly innocent jubilation involved in doing a cannonball into a ball pit, marvelling at pirouetting balloons, or digging an endless hole to nowhere. In conceiving their much celebrated work, Snarkitecture are like children, having been gifted with the most expensive and high-tech of toys, instead choosing to make a fort from the box. Or, in their case, the packing foam.

Cereal sat down with partner Alex Mustonen to talk about the past ten years, plans for the future, and what’s inspiring them now.

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From Cereal

Beautiful Color Red

Being Valentine’s Day I have the color red on my mind. On Valentine’s Day, red is everywhere.

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If any color can stake a claim to be the oldest, it is red. We’ve been seeing red since our neolithic days. It is the most primary of primary colors – the very blood in our veins is red.

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So how did red become the color of love? 400 years ago in 17th-century France, red was a color of power. Red was always a color associated with palaces, with Versailles, in fact Louis XIV put a little red into every step he took. He was a man who was very proud of his legs. Known as having gorgeous legs and he wore all kinds of fashion that would show them off. Louis wore knee-length tight pants and beautiful silk stockings. His heels — which were quite high for a man — were not just red, but scarlet.

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Red was an expensive color in 17th-century France because at the time, the dye was made from a little bug found in Mexican cactus, the cochineal. Soon nobles all over Europe were painting their heels red. Red was chic, flashy… and expensive.

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Nilda and Acopia women dying yarn red

These white bugs produced a potent red dye so sought-after by artists and patrons that it quickly became the third greatest import out of the “New World” (after gold and silver), as explains Victoria Finlay in A Brilliant History of Color in ArtRaphaelRembrandt, and Rubens all used cochineal as a glaze, layering the pigment atop other reds to increase their intensity. A non-toxic source for red pigment, the cochineal bug is still used to color lipsticks and blush today.

The bottom fell out of the bug market in the middle of the 1800s, when synthetic dyes were invented. Previously, red was only for the rich who could afford the expensive insect dye. In some cultures, the privilege of wearing red was reserved exclusively for the powerful. When you saw someone wearing red in Japan or Italy, the person was of high status.

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Toulouse-Lautrec – The Box with the Golden Mask

Today Red has many faces and is the color of extremes. It’s the color of passionate love, seduction, violence, danger, anger, and adventure. Our prehistoric ancestors saw red as the color of fire and blood – energy and primal life forces – and most of red’s symbolism today arises from its powerful associations in the past.

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Felix Vallotton – La Chambre Rouge

Red can be a naughty color — red-light districts and bordellos. It is both the color of Satan and the color of the Roman Catholic Church. Red is often associated with divinity; medieval and renaissance paintings show Jesus and the Virgin Mary in red robes. Red is for happiness — Indian brides get married in red saris. Red for good luck — the one-month birthday of a Chinese baby is celebrated with red eggs.

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I’ll leave it with this though. In 1888, Vincent Van Gogh wrote that he “sought to express with red and green the terrible human passions”. Ancient, complex and representing extremes – red is nothing if not passionate. Perhaps Van Gogh would have seen red, should he have lived long enough to see the reds in his paintings starting to fade away.

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Vincent Van Gogh – Field of Poppies

 

 

 

Beautiful Drone Photography

With an increasing number of drones in the sky, professional photographers and enthusiasts alike can now access perspectives that are typically seen from the seat of an airplane. Image-sharing site Dronestagram, a drone-specific social network with 600 million users, brings us some of the best aerial photography. Dronists continue to deliver unbelievably stunning shots, ensuring us that the future has definitely arrived—and that it’s worth celebrating. As the Dronestagram Team writes on their website, “On behalf of the whole team, we would like to thank you for showing the world the power of drones! …Now take a deep breath and enjoy.”

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Bogata Forest, Romania by Calin Stan

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Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, Umbria, Italy by Fcatutto

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Niagara Falls by Ryanjones

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Copacabana, Rio de janeiro, Brazil by Ulysses Padilha

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Cable Beach, Australia by Todd Kennedy

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Summer Camp, Amadores, Gran Canaria, Spain by Karolis Janulis

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Wedding in Huahine, French Polynesia by Helene Havard

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Swarm of sheep, Romania by Thedon

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Red Chili Farmer, Guntur, India by Aurobird

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Huia dam New Zealand by Brendon Dixon

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Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy by jcourtial

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Fields of Lavender in Valensole, Provence, France by jcourtial

Beautiful Art Exhibits

Cool Events taking place around the world.

Tatsuo Mayajima’s “Connect with Everything” installation at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia

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Few contemporary artists grapple with what it means to be human as profoundly as Japanese-born Tatsuo Miyajima, whose signature works are high-tech, immersive light installations that border on the mystical. “Tatsuo Miyajima―Connect with Everything,” the artist’s first solo show in the Southern Hemisphere, is on view at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art, and is as comprehensive a retrospective as the works deserve.

Museum of Contemporary Art, 140 George St, The Rocks NSW 2000, Sydney, Australia; mca.com.au/miyajima. Through March 5.  

A Robert Rauschenberg Retrospective at the Tate Modern Switch House, London

Your excuse for a visit across the pond to inaugurate the Switch House – the Tate Modern’s new brick pyramid-tower extension designed by the same Swiss firm, Herzog & de Meuron, that transformed the massive Bankside Power Station into the enormously popular hub of modern and contemporary art – has arrived in the form of the first major retrospective of Robert Rauschenberg since the American artist’s death in 2008.

Organized chronologically and in collaboration with New York’s MoMA, where it heads next spring, the show unfolds as a riveting narrative, journeying through the maverick’s many seminal creative moments, from his striking blue monoprints and his extraordinary Combines.

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Tate Modern, Bankside, London; tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/robert-rauschenberg. Through April 2.

Cy Twombly’s Retrospective at the Centre Pompidou, Paris

Cy Twombly, an artist who was born in Lexington, Virginia in 1928 and moved to Italy in the 1950s, is in many ways very French. In the Salle des Bronzes Antiques at the Louvre museum in Paris, where ancient Greek armour waits silently for wars that will never come again, the room’s vast ceilingis painted by Twombly with a bright expanse of blue, its intensity illuminated by silver and gold suns and moons as if the light of the Mediterranean were infusing the museum with desire and danger. So it is fitting that France is staging the first Cy Twomblyretrospective since his death. On the top floor of the Centre Pompidou, the helmeted Greek heroes have returned. Gore, love and revenge stain the walls.

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Centre Pompidou, Place Georges-Pompidou, Paris; centrepompidou.fr/en. Through April 24.

R.H. Quaytman’s “Morning: Chapter 30″ exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

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MOCA presents R. H. Quaytman, Morning: Chapter 30, the first major museum survey of work by New York–based artist R. H. Quaytman. The poetic, hypnotic, and singular work of R.H. Quaytman is on display in full splendor at “R.H. Quaytman, Morning: Chapter 30” at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the first major museum survey of the NYC-based artist. Made up of 22 gesso-and-silkscreen paintings, the series “30 Chapters” is, like the 29 “chapters” that preceded it, a site-specific project that in this case takes inspiration from another site-specific work, Michael Heizer’s earthwork Double Negative, an excavation on the eastern side of Mormon Mesa in southern Nevada that resulted in two massive trenches. Museum of Contemporary Art, 250 South Grand Ave, Los Angeles; moca.org/exhibition/r-h-quaytman-morning. Through February 6. 

The Opening of the Sumida Hokusai Museum, Tokyo

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Despite the rich history of art in Japan, it is ukiyo-e (“pictures of the floating world”) — woodblock prints from the 18th and 19th centuries depicting everything from kimono-clad courtesans and kabuki actors to animals, plants, and dramatic, often romantic landscapes — that first comes to mind when one thinks of Japanese art, and that has had the most lasting influence on artists of every nationality (including 19th-century masters James Whistler, Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt, among others).

Now there’s a museum devoted entirely to the country’s best-known practitioner, Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), whose formal, masterfully composed works have, alongside those of rival Hiroshige (1797-1858), come to define the genre. Designed by Pritzker Prize–winning architect Kazuyo Sejima, the angular Sumida Hokusai Museum just opened in Tokyo’s Sumida Ward, where the legendary master lived and produced the bulk of his work in the mid 19th century. Don’t miss Great Wave off Kanazawa from his seminal “36 Views of Mt. Fuji” series.

Sumida Hokusai Museum, 2-7-2 Kamezawa, Sumida-ku, Tokyo; hokusai-museum.jp

Louise Bourgeois’s “Structures of Existence: The Cells” at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen

Louisiana’s big autumn exhibition Louise Bourgeois. Structures of Existence: The Cells, presents one of the most striking and influential visual artists of the twentieth century. Over a period of some 70 years Louise Bourgeois (1911, Paris – 2010, New York) created a comprehensive oeuvre spanning a wide range of materials and forms, emotions and moods.

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Beautiful Sketchbook

For 36 weeks in 04, Oliver Jeffers and three other artists sent a sketchbook back and forth across the Atlantic between them, each artist responding to the spread that proceeded the one before. When it was finished, the book had traveled over 60,000 miles. WOW, what a great idea with amazing results is all I can say.

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