Monday, November 22, 2010

MARCO BREUER | Nature of the Pencil - Snapshots review

Sugimoto and Breuer in Chelsea
Posted by Jean Dykstra on November 19, 2010

"Two of the most interesting photography shows in Chelsea at the moment have as much to do with drawing as they do with photography. Hiroshi Sugimoto at Pace Gallery and Marco Breuer at Von Lintel are both showing cameraless images made by 'drawing" on photographic paper. Yet both bodies of work also have direct roots back to Henry Fox Talbot, inventor, polymath, and pioneer in the medium of photography. ...

Von Lintel Gallery terms Marco Breuer's show, Nature of the Pencil, on view through December 4, "a drawing installation," but his title is a play on Fox Talbot’s seminal book, The Pencil of Nature, and it explores the intersection of drawing and photography. This has been Breuer’s longtime subject and he continues to explore the idea of mark-making, without camera or film, through destruction and decay, using various chemical or physical processes. In previous works, Breuer, who has been called a "process photographer," has shot at photographic paper and set off small explosions over it, among other things. Here, too, the chromogenic paper, or color reversal paper, has been scraped and scratched, leaving weirdly luminous abstractions. The individual works are mounted on walls that appear to be blackboards, with titles notated in chalk as well as erased remnants of notes left barely visible, suggesting an experimenter at work. Experimentation, in fact, is the driving force behind both of these shows by artists who are not constrained by definitions of what photography should be."

Read full review @ Snapshots

Friday, November 19, 2010

'Marco Breuer’s Nature of the Pencil at Von Lintel Gallery' review @ The Drawing Center

By Kaegan Sparks

"Marco Breuer’s current exhibition, Nature of the Pencil, at Von Lintel Gallery pitches his hybridized practice into the purview of drawing. The title, an anagram of pioneering photographer William Henry Fox Talbot’s mid-nineteenth century treatise The Pencil of Nature, sifts dual modalities of Breuer’s work to the fore. Working primarily with photosensitive materials in the darkroom, Breuer engages photography obliquely through manual mark-making; he almost never uses a camera. Moreover, seeking to activate inherent chemical properties of photographic paper through constrained interventions, Breuer’s approach is both exacting and laissez-faire, circumscribed and organic, provoking generative tensions at the contact point of stylus and substrate.

Breuer says in an interview with Carter Foster, curator of drawings at the Whitney Museum of American Art, that his goal is “getting photography, ideally, to the immediacy of a drawing.” Driven by a formalist deference to his materials, Breuer’s work preempts photography’s traditional mimetic modes to favor its capacity as a more literal index of the physical mark. His hallmarked scratching, searing, scoring, perforating and other abrasive, subtractive processes, alongside controlled explosions, gunfire, and applied chemicals ranging from saliva to alcohol, are corporeal and often violent, yet at the same time carefully controlled. Breuer tends to commit the lifetime of a specific material or instrument to a single piece; he avoids the potential of reworking. For instance, many scratch pieces are limited to the use of a single blade in one working period, after which the work is completed and the tool destroyed. In others an object is set ablaze, exposing the paper by both emitting light and obstructing it; the product documents the duration of the event before the object is consumed.

Breuer’s recent installations at Von Lintel Gallery and earlier this year at the Minneapolis Institute of Art deviate from this unembellished self-determination, introducing subjective processes through chalked annotations on the gallery walls. The Von Lintel press release text suggests that “[t]he altered gallery, painted with a band of chalkboard black, refers to the photographic darkroom as well as the classroom.” Breuer has described his practice in the darkroom as performative, but private. The final state of the material is always paramount; the process behind his individual photographs is rarely legible to a viewer. This relationship is somewhat dismantled in his present installations, exposing the artist’s working process more transparently through handwriting (and traces of erasure) left on the wall.

Whereas at MIA Breuer integrated the chalkboard midway through the exhibition, footnoting his work with process notes and interjecting an Asher-esque institutional critique by indicating the gallery’s architectural and logistical apparatus with tick marks and arrows, at Von Lintel his voice is subdued and introspective. Unlike at MIA, there is no performative transformation stressing his pieces to react to their context; instead of explicating their methodologies to the extreme of optical diagrams, here Breuer defers to sparse musings. Inscribed on the south wall of the Von Lintel installation is an adage excerpted from the Tagebucher (Sketchbooks) of Swiss writer Max Frisch: What is important is what cannot be said, the white space between the words."

Read full review @ The Drawing Center

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

MARCO BREUER | Nature of the Pencil - DLK COLLECTION review

Marco Breuer's last show at Von Lintel (roughly a year and a half ago, here) was hung in a generally conventional manner: framed images were placed at eye level against the white walls of the gallery. The installation focused the viewer's attention on the finished product, object quality of the artworks, and on the underlying physical processes that were used to create their abstract colors and patterns. 
Fast forward to Breuer's newest show, and something altogether different is going on. The artist is still hard at work in the darkroom, taking light sensitive papers and experimenting with a dizzying array of loosely controlled scrapes, scratches, and cuts, searching for new visual outcomes. What's new this time around is that Breuer has installed the recent pictures in a way that invites us into his brain, to watch as he improvises and iterates on ideas. In many ways, it is almost an exhibition of the remnants of a cerebral performance piece more than it is an exhibition of photographs.

Each image or set of images has a series of cryptic annotations written in chalk near the framed works. The analytical, puzzle solver in me felt challenged to figure out what each one meant. Were they dimensions? Or commentary? Or symbolic references? 4.6.6 is scrawled above one of the pastel, geometric abstractions. I stood for a few moments before I figured it out: 4 lines, 6 colors, 6 shapes. Under a spider web of scratchings are images of a light bulbs with strike through slashes. Aha, these works were made by scratching the paper with a piece of glass, trying to find the approximate center of the paper, completely in the dark. As you walk around the room, there is a distinct sense of intellectual art in progress, of process being figured out along the way, with a little help from both chance and craft. 
I found the images of vibrant blue and yellow, almost like folded, interrupted waves across the surface of the paper, to be the most visually compelling; they really stick out from far away. The others require a more intimate look: tiny lines that shuttle and wiggle across the image as though they were raked by an array of manic seismograph needles. What I liked best, however, was the exposition of Breuer's thoughts, the ability to see how he makes aesthetic connections. The unconventional installation gives the artworks a more personal grounding and backstory, opening up an unusual opportunity for the viewer to appreciate the thinking that has gone on.

Read full review @ DLK COLLECTION

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Marco Breuer in conversation with Brett Littman

Marco Breuer, Nature of the Pencil, Von Lintel Gallery, New York, October 14 - December 4, 2010 (installation)
In concurrence with his exhibition at Von Lintel Gallery, Marco Breuer will sit down with Brett Littman, Executive Director of the Drawing Center, to talk about his new show and his work leading up to this point. Breuer's show, "Nature of the Pencil" is on exhibit at Von Lintel Gallery from October 14 – December 4, 2010.

The event is free and open to the public, though seating is limited. To RSVP for the event, please contact the gallery at (212) 242-0599 or email at gallery@vonlintel.com.

Von Lintel Gallery will hold a public reception at the gallery prior to the event at 6 pm. Join us for wine and a look at the exhibition before walking over to the theatre. The gallery is located at 520 W. 23rd Street, New York. 

Marco Breuer received his academic training at the Fachhochschule Darmstadt (1988-92) and the Lette-Verein Berlin (1986-88) in Germany. He has exhibited widely throughout the United States and Europe and his work is in numerous collections, including the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University in Cambridge; the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston; the Museum of Modern Art in New York; the New York Public Library; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart, Germany.

Breuer is the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2006), a Japan-US Friendship Commission/NEA Creative Artists Exchange Fellowship (2005), a Carriage House Residency at the Islip Art Museum (2004), a Peter S. Reed Foundation Grant (2000) and three MacDowell Colony residencies (2003, 2001, 2000). His publication SMTWTFS received wide critical acclaim and a photo-eye Award for Best Photography Book of 2002. In 2007 Aperture published a monograph of Breuer's work titled Early Recordings. Breuer lives in Upstate New York.

Brett Littman
(B.A., Philosophy, UC San Diego) is currently the Executive Director of The Drawing Center, New York. Previously he was the Deputy Director at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center; Co-Executive Director of Dieu Donné Papermill, SoHo; Associate Director of UrbanGlass, Brooklyn; and Chair of the Brooklyn Arts Council Visual Arts Panel. Littman is a member of the International Art Critic Association and has written for numerous publications, including GLASS Quarterly, Craft Arts, Object, Sculpture, *surface, modo, Art on Paper, and Pulp.

Littman has curated several exhibitions, including Civic Matters, an exchange project at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, 2006; and Happy Campers, New York, 2006. For the Drawing Center, Littman has recently curated Yüksel Arslan: Visual Interpretations; Greta Magnuson Grossman: Furniture and Lighting; and Leon Golub: Live & Die Like a Lion? Future projects include Drawing and its Double: Selections from the Istituto Nazionale per la Grafica, Rome; Sean Scully: Changes and Horizontals and Eugene Von Bruenchenhein at The American Folk Art Museum, NY.

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

MARCO BREUER | Nature of the Pencil - Installations shots

Marco Breuer in Conversation with Brett Littman @ SVA

Marco Breuer in Conversation with Brett Littman
Photographer Marco Breuer will speak about his body of work and his current exhibition at Von Lintel Gallery in New York with curator and critic Brett Littman. Breuer's solo exhibition, "Nature of the Pencil," will be on view through December 4, 2010.  Born in Germany, Breuer has work in numerous museum collections including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the New York Public Library; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Brett Littman is the executive director of The Drawing Center in New York and the former deputy director at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center. Presented by the BFA Photography Department and Dear Dave, magazine.

Tuesday, November 16, 7pm
SVA Theatre, 333 West 23 Street
Free and open to the public

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

MARCO BREUER | Nature of the Pencil - New Yorker review

Although it may not be exactly accurate to call Breuer a photographer—he uses photographic paper but no camera—it's still surprising to see his excellent new show described as a "drawing installation." His work, like Vik Muniz's, has a strong graphic element, but the effect of Breuer's mark-making relies on the unique properties of photosensitive paper exposed to light. For the work here, he's scraped, scratched, and incised color papers to produce a series of unique, compact abstractions that buzz with energy. They’re hung on a thick band of blackboard paint full of chalk erasures and notations (e.g. "Chance-Control") that suggest not a schoolroom but a mad scientist's lab. Through Dec. 4.

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