Correspondence Art

Jeff Berner, a FLUXUS Member and Correspondence Artist

Jeff Berner

Although there are many more individuals we could inform you about; the correspondence series is going to wrap up with Jeff Berner, an artist that is currently alive and letting his creativity shine. He is known for various styles of art including photography, portraits, and illustrations for books and magazines. Berner even published some books which can be purchased through Amazon.com. He also created a diorama series which was exhibited at galleries in Los Angeles and two additional locations in Paris. Berner has won awards and has taught at three different institutions including Rudolph Schaeffer School of Design in San Francisco. Berner currently lives in Paris with his wife Azar who does painting.

Now let’s take a stroll back in time, Berner became involved with the FLUXUS group back in 1965. What exactly is FLUXUS? Well, it is an international group of conceptual/performance artists. According to Henry Flynt, “Fluxus embraced many of the concepts and practices associated with the post-war avant-garde of western Europe and North America” and incorporated poetry, random music, art, and lettrism. The term fluxus actually comes from the Latin word for “flow” and was conceived by a gentleman by the name of George Maciunas who was a writer, performer, and composer. The first grouping of FLUXUS festivals took place in Germany. Furthermore, it was this movement that united artists throughout the world and many of those involved with FLUXUS took part in Correspondence Art. :)

Click on these links for some interesting information regarding this neat group/movement:

http://www.fluxus.org/

http://www.moma.org/collection/theme.php?theme_id=10457

 

For more about Jeff Berner:

http://www.jeffberner.com/

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Correspondence Art

Correspondence Artist Cavellini Births Self-Historicization

Guglielmo Achille Cavellini was born 1914 in Brescia, Italy. He is known for contributing to many things such as the mail art movement, Experimentation period in Italian art, and combining Italian art with the American Pop Art style. Like many correspondent artists, Cavellini was also known for breaking out of boundaries that constrained artists from full expression. In addition, he was interested in making creations that used images from other artists. One of the most fascinating things about Cavellini would have to be his involvement in the development of the term historicization, which refers to the writing of oneself into history, both past and future.

Cavellini worked alongside well-known artists such as Andy Warhol and Ray Johnson. During a performance with an artist by the name of Higgins III, Cavellini’s body was painted with the colors of the Italian flag: red, white, and green. These colors became his trademark represented on envelopes that were sent out to fellow artists such as Arthur Secunda.

Rather than limit himself to paper, Cavellini felt inspired to move on to fabric and people.

Cavellini passed in 1990, but for almost 20 years he planned the San Francisco exhibit that took place this year. His son, Piero was at the opening reception.

Take a look at a video biography found on Youtube:

 

http://www.lynchtham.com/panel-discussion-self-historicization-and-its-current-impact.html

http://www.sfaqonline.com/2014/03/guglielmo-achille-cavellini-1914-2014-at-the-italian-cultural-institute-gallery-san-francisco/

 

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Correspondence Art

The Movements of a Controversial Italian Artist

An artist known for breaking out of the boundaries…Enrico Baj was born 1924 in Milan. In addition to being involved in the Correspondence Art Movement, Baj also played a role in shaping the avant-garde scene of the 50’s which contributed to the formation of what is referred to as Nuclear Art. Through COBRA and the International Movement for an Imaginist Bauhaus, this style flourished as a result of the close interaction between artists that shared the passion to create something that broke down the “ism” stereotypes that academia attaches to art. Baj was interested in politics, writing, and radical surrealism. Therefore, it makes sense that he also served as both an attorney and critic during his life. A common theme reflected in his art is his anarchist attitude. Baj passed away in 2003, but his work lives on. The Friedrich Petzel Gallery presented an exhibit in 2007 of Baj’s works, some of which had never been displayed within the United States until that time.

For further reading, check out the following: http://www.petzel.com/exhibitions/2007-05-04_enrico-baj/ http://artlark.org/2014/06/15/enrico-baj-anarchist-at-heart/

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Correspondence Art

Correspondence Friendship with an Assemblagist

Another one of Arthur Secunda’s correspondence art friends was Gordon Wagner, born in Redondo Beach, California in 1915. Wagner became known as an assemblagist, an artist who creates art by assembly a variety of parts. He also did paintings and poetry to express his creativity. A painter by the name of Norman Chamberlain was his mentor; he helped Wagner connect with artists that inspired him. It was on a trip to France that he met other great artists, including Picasso! Over time, Wagner realized he was more interested in art that contained elements of mysticism and fantasy and was drawn to a different type of artist, like Dali, for example.

Gordon Wagner 1

image from: blogs.getty.edu

Wagner first studied engineering, but like many artists, he followed his heart and ended up at the Chouinard Art Institute. His engineering skills were an art-related craft that he used for design purposes. It wasn’t until 1958 that Wagner became an art instructor. His engineering background was evident in his artwork especially the mobiles and other assemblages. Supposedly, many of his first assemblages were made from objects he found on the beach, and in later years, from railroad tracks. Wagner was interested in learning about other cultures and felt drawn to “carnival” themed scenery. He wanted his work to symbolize some component of society. Like Arthur Secunda, Wagner also played a role in the world of space, but rather than being a color consultant for NASA, he was involved in the engineering component during World War II. It was said that this influenced his style, making structure a bigger focus for Wagner.

Wagner passed away in 1987 after losing a battle with cancer at the age of 72. His funeral was adorned with various assemblages that were made up of wood and parts of office machines representing his passion to represent a story via aesthetic recycling. Perhaps it was Wagner that initiated the Steampunk style before it developed into what exists today.

Click on the links below for additional reading:

http://tobeycmossgallery.com/gordon_wagner_bio.html

https://blogs.library.ucla.edu/special/tag/gordon-wagner/

http://articles.latimes.com/1987-12-09/news/mn-18259_1_gordon-wagner

Gordon Wagner art 1-Railroad Man gordon wagner art 2-The Mexican Night Clerk

 

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Correspondence Art

The Serious Artist with a Silly Name: A Unique Correspondent

Some of you may have heard of Futzie Nutzle and even seen some of his illustrations that were published in newspapers. Despite his interesting humor and unique style, Futzie is actually a serious man and artist and this is represented by the fact that he was considered to be one of the top visual artists in Santa Cruz County in the 1970s and ’80s. Even though his name is bizarre and calls attention to itself, Futzie prefers privacy when thinking about and creating art. For years Futzie has been pretty much absent from the art scene and has recently rejoined in the celebration of expression.

A 2011 show contained mostly paintings; which makes sense because Futzie had always wanted to be a painter. Some of us had become accustomed to Futzie’s style containing fine lines in black and a white background, but he has the habit of surprising you- for instance, with architectural and more traditional pieces. After reading the following article, it’s easy to feel connected to Futzie even though most of us have never met him. It’s fascinating that he said he preferred not to get too involved in what he was creating and that it was quite alright to figure out why it was made years later. The goal of his art, is self discovery. One last thing to add, is the fact that Futzie has another talent-writing and this is demonstrated by a humorous letter that he wrote titled “Conversation with a Painting” in which he is talking with a painting that he has yet to finish.

Waiting for Dad’

Waiting for Dad image from: http://www.santacruzsentinel.com

A poster that Futzie made and sent to Arthur

A poster that Futzie made and sent to Arthur-with a button for one eye

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More information on Futzie Nutzle is available at:

http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/visitsantacruz/ci_17632562

http://www.metroactive.com/metro/09.05.07/cover-nutzel-0736.html

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Correspondence Art

When did Correspondence Art Really Begin?

Who was Otto Schneid, and how did he contribute to the correspondence art movement?

Otto Schneid was born in Jablunkova, Czechoslovakia in 1900. His family moved to Bielitz, Silesa and soon after his passion for art became apparent. At a young age, Otto was drawing and making clay sculptures. When he was old enough to attend college, Otto took a variety of classes including art history, philosophy, anatomy, and history. Like Arthur, Otto had many interests and had to choose which path to take. Otto followed his heart and thus, ended up earning a doctorate in art history. After obtaining his degree he traveled the world sharing his love of art with others. He even established a museum with artwork from a variety of artists including Marc Chagall and Yankl Adler. The artwork was donated by the artists themselves, distinguished citizens, and community groups. Otto and Arthur had something else in common, Jewish roots. Unfortunately, as a result, Otto had to deal with persecution and many setbacks. One such example involves the collection at the museum being confiscated and never returned.

It was this occurrence that inspired Otto even more to complete his book that he was writing to persuade Hitler and the Nazis to see the value of Jewish artwork. Through correspondence with fellow artists, he compiled biographies and samples of their work- some of which were sent on the postcards themselves. I believe it was here, that correspondence art truly began. The book was completed, but before it could be published, it too was confiscated. Once the Nazis heard what he had to say, they tried to track him down. Otto was a wanted man and had to move quickly in order to escape their grasp-which he managed to do just in the nick of time in 1939.

He was free. In 1945 he got married to a lady by the name of Miriam Goldshmid. Not long after, he was finally able to publish a book on Jewish art. From 1947-1960 he taught art history at Technion. Then in 1960 he moved to the United States and lived there until 1964. Here is an image of a postcard sent to Arthur Secunda by Otto Schneid in 1962 when at the prime of his career.

Otto Postcard FrontOtto Postcard Back

During those years he had six one-man shows and then had one when he moved to Toronto later that year. It was here he remained painting and writing until 1974.

In addition, a book was written about Otto as a collaborative effort by Andre Banach, Arthur Secunda, and a few others.

Otto Book

More information can be found by viewing the article in The Halcyon Newsletter from 2003 by clicking on the link below:

http://www.haifa-israel.info/OttoSchneid1.pdf

For additional information on the Otto Schneid archives, take a look at the article in The Varsity, which is The University of Toronto’s Student Newspaper:

http://thevarsity.ca/2013/11/04/a-needle-in-the-stacks/

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Correspondence Art

More on Mail Art

Our next few posts are going to look a little bit closer at mail art and the artists whom Arthur corresponded with. We are hoping to provide more awareness about this movement as well as offer an inside look into the creativity involved in the process of making such pieces as well as the emotion that became attached to the postcards, notes, envelopes and more that were sent between Arthur and his friends. Please stay tuned for our continuation in the correspondence art series and see what new thing you’ll learn about this interesting form of communication and friendship.

Painted envelope and card from the Sunshine Kid

Painted envelope and card from the Sunshine Kid

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