The Magnificent Obsession

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The Magnificent Obsession Gallery

*Images of artworks attached below are derived from the internet websites such as Google, as photograph was not allowed at the inside of Barbican Gallery. 

*Instead, my own hand notes of the artist/artworks/display of artworks from my visit to Barbican gallery can be found along with the secondary images.

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Arman

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Arman Pierre Fernandez (1928-2005) is a French-born American artist. Armand is well known for his collection of found objects which was influenced by his father whom was an antique dealer in Nice.

His style of artworks involves such a rich variety ranging from 2 dimensional drawings, prints, 3 dimensional monumental sculptures, all which perhaps led to the creation of his infamous accumulations of found objects like Home Sweet Home III. 

Home Sweet Home III is composed by Arman because he was drawn to the “latent power of sculptures.” The collection is exhibited at the Barbican Centre, through out the whole room including walls and the floors. Most of the objects are installed in shelves or tables but the most interesting ones are the African masks or gas masks that were hung in the middle of the wall right across the entrance. The many masks with scary faces (African wore those masks to scare away their enemies at war) look like a group of warriors and their position high up on the wall are as if they are trying to scare the audience away. My first impression of them was to feel threatened as well.

Apart from the collection of the masks, I was also interested as to why the artist decided to install a carpet on the floor. I liked how the carpet made the whole room look rather holy, as if it was directing the audience the way to their holy warriors.

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Pae White

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Page White is a Los Angeles based artist born in 1963.She is a multimedia artist who enjoys reinterpreting familiar items like animals, books, advertisements and shopping bags, revealing what the “artfulness” of the natural and everyday objects. Nature is a recurring theme in her work, and the transformation of space to engage an audience. An example of this is her exhibition at the Magnificent Obsession gallery at Barbican. There were a room filled with numerous pieces of fabric of different transparencies hanging on the ceiling, creating an endless view. It invited the audience the interact with the textiles with their whole body by walking into them, passing them by, and looking at each other through the transparent and opaque fabrics.

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Peter Blake

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Peter blake is an English artist born in 25 June 1932 at Dartford, Kent. Influenced by American realist painters such as Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns,  most of his artworks are always modern and contemporary. He is best known for his prints and the design of the sleeve for The Beatles’ album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

At the magnificent Obsession gallery I have visited above features Peter Blake’s doll collection and elephant figures collection. "Peter Blake attributes his obsession to a craving for ownership after the displacement he suffered as a World War Two evacuee. His vast hoardings of bric-a-brac have played an intrinsic part in his creative output, and have also led to a fanatical approach to cataloguing – his archive contains countless plan chests painstakingly organised with material pre-cut and ready to use in his collage works.” (Barbican centre) The collection started small but grew because it meant that he could focus on getting something "modest" when he was browsing at a market and not indulge in the desire to buy large or costly items. One of the qualities I like the most about his work is that this is purely focused on Blake’s own pleasure; I like how he did not have to set a sophisticated theme to start the collection because then this collection would not have the history or bonds with the collector. Instead, he was able to start from a small pleasure and then built up to a big powerful collection.

I think this collection of Blake's shares the closest quality with what I suppose to create in my artwork which is an artwork that is made for my own pleasure, not anyone else's or not to 'show off' at anyone else. 

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Martin Wong/Danh Vo

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  • Looks like a messy (domestic) room
  • Friendly atmosphere
  • Dolls are displayed on wooden shelves
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Damien Hirst

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Damien Hirst born in 1965 grew up in Leeds and graduated Fine Art at Goldsmiths college. He is also a award winner for the Turner Prize in 1995. He often questions contemporary belief systems through variety of forms such as installation, sculpture, painting and drawing. It is said that his interest in exploring the “unacceptable idea” of death or the general idea of death in life began early as a teenager in Leeds. He has always been interesting in the anatomy and he enjoyed making life drawings of it.

His most famous series of artwork is the Natural History 1991. "Through preserving creatures in minimalist steel and glass tanks filled with formaldehyde solution, he intended to create a “zoo of dead animals”.” I love how the glass boxes act not only as a way to define the artwork’s space but also as a part of the artwork to comment on the ‘fragility of existence’.

The theme of his collection at the Magnificent Obsession gallery though, was about the 'Affirmation of life and a reminder of its brevity’ inspired by Natural History Artworks. It explores the understanding what it feels like to explore the psyche of the collector over maker, and the obsession with stopping time in its tracks by creating an immortal body questioning physical decay.  I liked how the objects were displayed in heavily decorated glass boxes as it created the heavy and serious atmosphere of a museum instead of a light walking gallery. 

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Sol Lewitt

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  • This collection acted as a form of dialogue of Lewitt's with other artists. 
  • Interesting how the objects are displayed like chess pieces, all facing one direction, as if they are threatening the opponent of the chess game.
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Andy Warhol

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  • First room:
    • Atmosphere of a kid's room or a cabinet
    • display of small toys and cardboard boxes on wooden shelves.
  • Second room:
    • an empty room with colourful wallpapers.
    • Wallpapers of repetitive graphics of a fish and a row of several artworks in frame, mainly comical painting of an animal.
    • Again, the repetitive graphics of an object shows off Andy Warhol's signature theme of mass production.
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