Three cities, three exhibitions, (at least) three strange flowers.
So just for a moment I am going to imagine that Strange Flowers readers have funds as limitless as their curiosity and suggest a trio of attractions in different European locations. You know, kind of like Wallpaper* used to do. Remember the late ‘90s, when everyone was flush with cash and all Wallpaper* had to do was write “Sofia is the new La Paz” and we’d be setting off in our titanium private jets, desperate to be seen there before the buzz of temporary modishness wore off? Actually is Wallpaper* still going? (I could Google it, but…y’know, busy busy busy). Do you think they’d be open to a merger? “Wallflower*: For Weird People Who Don’t Get Out Much”. Catchy.
OK, I’m rambling. On with the information.
After the excellent 2007 exhibition Surreal Things at the V&A, London is once again host to a show of applied Surrealism in The Surreal House, running until 12 September at the Barbican. The curators promise “haunted rooms, delirious forms, blasted architecture and cinematic dreamscapes”, with an accompanying film programme offering rare showings of works by Strange Flowers favourites Maya Deren and Joseph Cornell.
Until 19 December, Kartause Ittingen in the Swiss canton of Thurgau offers the exhibition Steps into the Arcane, which will incorporate material related to pugilist poet Arthur Cravan. I’m not sure what form this contribution takes, but curator Adrian Notz has been travelling in Cravan’s footsteps in recent months, sending SMS-length updates and photos from Mexico to the blog rebell.tv. It’s just occurred to me that, having seen dozens of photographs of Arthur Cravan, I’ve never seen him smiling. Just like Queen Victoria.
Cravan’s compatriot Annemarie Schwarzenbach is one of the stars of an exhibition I caught on the weekend at the Berlinische Galerie, dedicated to Berlin-born photographer Marianne Breslauer. Among the works is Breslauer’s classic portrait of gamine beauty Schwarzenbach (main image, above). Both photographer and subject were perfect examples of the “New Woman” who arose in the 1920s – independent, forward-thinking, dynamic (incidentally, if you speak German there is a new book of Schwarzenbach’s reports from the Middle East). They travelled to Spain together in 1933, but the resulting reportage was never published, banned by the Nazis due to Breslauer’s Jewish heritage. Also included are portraits of her mentor Man Ray as well as artist Oskar Kokoschka and photographer George Hoyningen-Huene, along with fascinating sidelong glimpses of Picasso and Braque at an art auction. Until 6 September.