SHUNK-KENDER: HIGHLIGHTS FROM A TRAVEL BACK IN ART HISTORY

Recently, Andy meets Warhol visited an exhibition dedicated to German photographer Harry Shunk and Hungarian photographer János Kender at the MASI Palazzo Reali in Lugano. The artistic duo began working together in the 1950s. Their long-term collaboration included the documentation of art openings, biennials and artists working in their studios or during public performances. Here are Andy meets Warhol’s personal highlights from a tour through the exhibition:

1. Raw art history & pre-social media documentation

While nowadays social media is a contemporary form of documentation, back in the days, Shunk-Kender used their camera equipment to document events and moments they were part of. The artistic duo captured artists such as Andy Warhol, Christo and Robert Rauschenberg in their private moments, while painting, playing with their pet or a piece of performance art. The photographic material shown feels quite raw, leading to the spectator “travelling back in time” to these years and being part of these moments. Characteristic examples are Shunk-Kender’s captions of Robert Rauschenberg in his studio, Warhol visiting Paris in in 1965 or Christo, travelling to One Million Square Feet Little Bay, Australia in 1968 – 1969, to wrap an entire coast. The use of video projectors, slides, posters and personal items such as notes or gallery opening invitations in the exhibition adds up to the vividness of the show.

2. Performance art which changed history: Christo and Niki de Saint Phalle

In recent years, Christo has received massive media attention on covering significant public buildings throughout the world. Probably lesser known is his performance art work named Wrapped woman” from the year 1963. Another highlight is the documentation of Niki de Saint Phalles shooting sessions in 1961. The artist built large white plaster coated wall paintings, incorporating objects from everyday use such as toilet pipes, axes, wheels and brooms, and then hiding colourful paint underneath. While firing  a pellet gun, the colour splashes and explodes, creating a polychromatic field of intensity and new forms of abstract art.

3. A room dedicated to Andy Warhol & Paris in the 60s

The exhibition is curated by Julie Jones, Chloé Goualch, Stéphanie Rivoire, and takes up the entire third floor of the recently reopened Palazzo Reali. One of the rooms is dedicated to Warhol. Shunk-Kender documented Warhols first visit to Paris in 1965 on the occasion of an exhibition of his work at the Galleria Sonnabend, and showing the pop artist in private moments such as brushing his teeth or drinking coffee – a very well-known portrait of the artist.

Characteristic here is the trust artists such as Warhol or Robert Rauschenberg had in the duo, letting them document these private moments, without the fear of these being leaked to press. Moreover, the artistic duo collaborated with Warhol on portraits of numerous Factory superstars for Warhols 1971 publication The Autobiography & Sex Life Of Andy Warhol.” 

4. Yves Klein & Nouveaux Réalistes

A part of the exhibition not to miss, is the documentation of Yves Klein’s work “Leap into the Void”. Several captions and from different angles are presented. It is also a good example of the important role, Shunk-Kender played in the documentation of the  Nouveaux Réalistes group’s work. This happened after they met the gallerist Iris Clert, who was a point of reference for the group, in 1957.

5. An exhibition place of historic significance

The exhibition takes place on the 3rd floor of the historic Palazzo Reali of MASI, formerly the Museo Cantonale dArte. The building, which was not initially planned to be used as a museum, invites its visitors for exploration of its collection curated by Cristina Sonderegger. Apart from the Shunk-Kender exhibition, the museums permanent collection features significant art from Ticino, religious art, as well as art from well-known Swiss artists such as Ferdinand Hodler. A surprise of the Renaissance building are Felice Varinis murals on hidden corners of the building as well as a juxtaposition between a statue named Spartaco by Swiss-Italian sculptor Vincenzo Vela and a wall mural by Niele Toroni.

Thanks for reading.

Until next time!

Andy_Signature


Shunk-Kender – Art Through the Eye of the Camera (1957-1983)

An exhibition conceived and realised by Centre Pompidou, Paris, in collaboration with Museo d’arte della Svizzera italiana

Runs until 20 September 2020

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