Ideas into Sight

Ars Nova
15.11.2019−22.3.2020

Facts and trivia behind the art collection. Ideas into Sight is an exhibition of works from Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova’s art collection accompanied by stories and minutiae behind their creation. The exhibition explores the variety of experiences, observations and emotions that can give birth to art. Photos, film and text reveal the inspiration, ideas and methods behind each piece.

The text that guides you through this exhibition is not meant to focus on traditional aspects of the artists’ histories, techniques or style. They offer an alternative perspective based on knowledge accumulated through years of maintaining the museum’s art collection. Ideas into Sight explores the creation these works through individual details as well a view on history at large.

One of these works, Against the Wind by the Belgian artist Pierre Alechinsky (born 1927) is supplemented by Calligraphie japonaise (Japanese Calligraphy), a film that the artist himself shot in Japan and released in 1958. The film is a showcase of the artist’s interest in Japanese culture and the traditions of calligraphy. The influences of calligraphy are evident on Tuulta päin as well.

Andy Warhol (1928–1987) is an artist from the United States known for his serialized works built on photographed images. The museum’s collection includes Warhol’s 10-part serigraph series Electric Chair (1971). The vibrant colours and serialized pattern of the work serve to dilute our reaction to the death-dealing machine shown front and centre. The series is presented here in its entirety, accompanied by the story of the photograph that inspired it all and was then left on the sidelines.

The collection include many works by the collective known as the New Artists. The collective was formed in  Leningrad in the 1980s by a group of local avant-garde artists. The exhibition offers a glimpse into the ways in which these intersectional artists came together in Soviet Leningrad and eked out their own underground circuit and subculture. The works of the exhibition are offered in conjunction with the music of the New Composers, another collective that worked closely with the New Artists.

The exhibition includes works by the following artists: Pierre Alechinsky, Sam Francis, David Hockney, Jevgeni Juffit, Deborah Kass, Jevgeni Kozlov, Timur Norikov, Eric Orr, James Rosenquist, Antonia Saura, Manolo Valdés and Andy Warhol.

Warhol’s Electric Chair series is based on a newspaper photograph taken in January 13th, 1953 by an unknown photographer. The photo was taken the execution chamber of the Sing Sing Prison in New York. This was the year that the prison became the centre of media attention as the site where two alleged Soviet spies, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, were executed.
Leningrad in 1980 was home to a budding underground community of artists in search of new frontiers. A collective was formed and named the New Artists. This room shows works from members of the group.
One of Orr’s principal works was Zero Mass (1927–1973). This was a dark space constructed out of paper. Once you entered it, you could not perceive its size nor its surfaces. The name of the work was also used as the title of a book that Orr published in 1990, collecting his works up to that point. The book is bound in covers made out of steel and comes with a ceramic ball made by James Lee Byars, a friend of Orr’s.
Andy Warhol: Electric Chair, 1971. Serigraphy, detail. Photograph Jari Nieminen.
Pierre Alechinsky: Against the Wind, 1964, ink and varnish on paper, 153 x 199 cm