London’s Annely Juda Fine Art travels to Basel this week, taking with them a representative sampling of their roster, an international and intergenerational mélange of contemporary artists and masters of the 20th-century avant-garde. In addition to David Hockney, David Nash, and Anthony Caro, their Art Basel presentation includes Constructivist works by Naum Gabo, Alexandra Exter, and Kasimir Malevich. Ranging from Perspex and steel sculpture to gouache or pencil-on-paper, the works on view represent a variety of artistic vocabularies, yet all organize the viewer’s perspective through tightly angular compositions.
Gabo’s stainless steel and spring wire sculpture Torsion is an aesthetically pleasing, abstract construction of competing planes stretched through and toward open voids, echoing the visual rhythms found in nearby two-dimensional works like Exter’s Construction de lignes and Malevich’s White Square and plan for dissolution. Gabo penned his Realistic Manifesto in Moscow in 1920 (his older brother, sculptor Antoine Pevsner, was a signatory), describing the logical aesthetic limits of Cubism and Futurism: “The realization of our perceptions of the world in the forms of space and time is the only aim of our pictorial and plastic art.”
Torsion beautifully encapsulates this notion for a machine age, and it corresponds to—and maybe even anticipates—the late Anthony Caro’s formally deconstructed assemblage River Run. In pale green tinted Perspex and post-industrial oxidized steel, Caro’s stacked forms and tilted ground allude, in part, to bucolic British landscapes—particularly evident when seen alongside David Hockney’s Woldgate Woods, 7 & 8 November 2006. Across six canvases, Hockney’s loosely handled forking paths lead quietly through a grove of slender young trees, rendering the desirable perspective of contemporary life as something beyond the frame of painting, which can only contain certain particulars of space and time. As Gabo wrote in his Manifesto: “ideas crumble, under the strain of ages…but life is strong and grows and time goes on in its real continuity.”
Visit Annely Juda Fine Art at Art Basel 2014, Galleries, Booth B16, June 19th–22nd.