Remembering Walasse Ting

In 1964 Roy Lichtenstein was joined by 27 of his contemporaries in contributing lithographic illustrations to One Cent Life, a volume of poems by Walasse Ting. Visitors to Roy Lichtenstein: Pop remix have the rare opportunity to view sections of this significant publication, in which Ting’s ‘raunchy Pidgin English’[1] is united with the work of key artists including Joan Mitchell, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol and Claes Oldenburg. Ting, a Chinese-American poet, printer and painter, produced several illustrated portfolios over the course of his career; however One Cent Life stands apart for bringing together European and American artists working within disparate frameworks, effectively signposting the seismic shift occurring at the time from the dominance of Abstract Expressionism to Pop Art.

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Pages from “1 Cent Life” by Walasse Ting, 1964, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, purchased 1983. Top left: Roy Lichtenstein. Top right: Robert Rauschenberg
Bottom left: Jim Dine. Bottom right: Claes Oldenburg

Born in 1929, Ting was raised in Shanghai where he studied briefly at the Shanghai Art Academy. The young artist left China in 1949 before settling in Paris for a six year period, during which he met members of the avant-garde group COBRA. When Ting arrived in New York in 1958, Abstract Expressionism was in full swing and he quickly immersed himself in the buzzing American art scene, painting large gestural canvases and meeting artists who would come to have a great influence on his work, such as Sam Francis.

Following a recommendation by Francis, Ting worked at Tamarind Lithography Workshop as an Artist-fellow from September to October 1964, producing two lithographic suites, Fortune Kookie and Hollywood Honeymoon. It was during this period that Ting met Kenneth Tyler, Tamarind’s then Technical Director. Tyler recalls that Ting ‘showed me his poetry publications and gave me a verbal window to Paris printmaking. This was my first exposure to contemporary artists from NYC and Europe. I gleamed a great deal from all of them when we met outside of work.[2] A lasting friendship formed between the two, with Ting one of a number of artists who encouraged Tyler to open his own workshop.[3]

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Tamarind’s Technical Director Kenneth Tyler, with Artist-fellow Walasse Ting, in front of Ting’s lithographic suite, 1964. Image courtesy Tamarind Institute Collection, Center for Southwest Research, General Library, University of New Mexico.

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James Rosenquist and Walasse Ting at Wetterling Teo Gallery, Singapore, at the opening of ‘James Rosenquist: Paintings,’ 1994. Photo: Marabeth Cohen-Tyler

In memory of Ting, who sadly passed away in 2010, and inspired by the inclusion of One Cent Life in Roy Lichtenstein: Pop remix, Ken and Marabeth Tyler have kindly gifted three of his unique publications to the Tyler collection: My Shit and My Love (1961), Hot and Sour Soup (1969) and Fresh Air School (1972-73).

Within the pages of the latter – an exhibition catalogue of paintings by Ting, Francis and Mitchell – Ting condensed his remarkable life into the following autobiographical passage:

WALASSE TING by WALASSE TING

Born in Shanghai, China, 1929
4 years old paint in sidewalk. 10 years
old draw on wall. 20 years old left
China to traveling after reading the
book of I-Ching. In 1953 arrived in
Paris. Six months later meet Pierre
Alechinsky. Six months later meet
Asger Jorn. Six months later meet
Karel Appel; drink coffee with them
in Paris-Café. Working all kinds of job
to making a very simple living. Living
in a six inches window room. Paint
there, eat there. In 1963 arrived in
New York City. Six months later meet
Sam Francis. Six months later meet
Tom Wesselmann. Six months later
meet Claes Oldenburg. Eat hot & sour
soup with them in Chinese restaurant.
Not working any kinds job. Sleeping
all day living in a sixty feet window
loft. Eat there, paint there. Self-
taught. Individual. Not belong to any
group.


[1] Riva Castleman, A century of artists books, New York : Museum of Modern Art, 1994, p.40.

[2]  Ken Tyler, in correspondence with Jane Kinsman 21 September 2004.

[3] Ken Tyler, in correspondence with Jane Kinsman 21 September 2004.

Lichtenstein opening party

After weeks of anticipation, Roy Lichtenstein: Pop remix opened at the National Gallery of Australia with a BANG! (or should we say POP!?) on 19 July.

Ken Tyler opened the exhibition with a quirky speech channelling Walasse Ting’s poetry, while NGA Director Ron Radford cheekily drew our attention to the catalogue’s centrefold of the gorgeous Nude with yellow pillow.

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Vodka POPtails were flowing as guests jumped into a photo booth to create their own Lichtenstein mashups, with props such as feather boas and speech bubbles on hand to liven things up.

Tasty treats like WHAAM burgers, POW dogs and French fries kept everyone going, as did the overflowing Lolly Bar. Champagne was never short thanks to attentive waiters wearing brightly coloured wigs and fluoro Ray Bans.

ImageKenneth Tyler AO and Jane Kinsman, Senior Curator, International Prints, Drawings & Illustrated Books

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Positioned at the heart of the pulsating party was an original performance piece by Sydney-based artists Penelope Benton and Alexandra Clapham. Seeing Dots performers Penelope Benton, Jasmina Black and Marni Jackson sat solemnly at a Pop-inspired structure bejewelled with stacks of lollies, which they slowly turned this way and that over the course of the night. Intrigued guests couldn’t help but wonder as they observed the three ladies in canary yellow spotted dresses and sculptural wigs.

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For those not quite ready to go home, an after party held at Palace Electric Cinema in New Acton (courtesy of our sponsors the Molonglo Group) was a welcome addition to the night’s festivities…

‘Roy Lichtenstein: Pop remix’ media launch

Media and staff gathered last Friday at the National Gallery of Australia for the media preview of ‘Roy Lichtenstein: Pop remix’, which opened to the public on Saturday 20 July.

The excitement was palpable as Ken Tyler– who travelled to Canberra specially to open the show–recounted some of his unique experiences of working with Roy Lichtenstein. Thank you to both Ken and Marabeth Tyler for making the long trip from the U.S. to be here.

ImageMarabeth Cohen-Tyler, NGA Director Ron Radford AM, Kenneth Tyler AO

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Exhibition Curator Jaklyn Babington in conversation with ABC reporter Anna Morozow

ImageLouise Maher from 666 ABC Canberra interviews Ken Tyler

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Ken Tyler discusses a series close to his heart: the Entablatures of 1976.

Did you know?

  • Curator Jaklyn Babington spent over 12 months selecting the works that would form the Lichtenstein exhibition; considerations included the period of the artist’s career to be covered, followed by an in-depth analysis of each work and series.
  • The first room of the exhibition features a group of rare 1950s woodcut prints by Lichtenstein, displaying his transition from an expressionistic style into Pop Art. Originally forming part of the artist’s personal collection, these works have never before been displayed in Australia.
  • The works in the exhibition make reference to and remix no less than nine different art movements or styles: Impressionism, Pointillism, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Op Art, Cubism, Art Deco, Classicism and Constructivism.
  • Roy Lichtenstein: Pop remix returns to the National Gallery of Australia after touring for over 12 months and covering 8,800 kilometres across three states as part of the Gallery’s Travelling Exhibitions Program.  A total of 21,084 people saw the exhibition at three venues: Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, Mornington (VIC), QUT Art Museum, Brisbane (QLD) and Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs (NT).

Media coverage:

Frank Stella: Recent work

Wetterling Gallery, Stockholm

June 4 – July 5 2013

http://www.wetterlinggallery.com/

On June 4 the Wetterling Gallery in Stockholm opened a new exhibition of Frank Stella’s recent sculptures. The large brightly coloured works are a continuation of the Scarlatti Sonata Kilpatric series that Stella began in 2006, which explores the dynamic sense of movement achieved in music. You can read more about the sculptures and the exhibition here: http://www.wetterlinggallery.com/exhibitions/frank-stella-recent-work

Ken and Marabeth Tyler joined Stella in Stockholm for the opening of the exhibition, and took the images below to share with us:

Frank Stella at the opening of his exhibition in Stockholm

Frank Stella at the opening of his ‘Recent work’ exhibition in Stockholm on June 4

Per Inge and Ask Bjorlo with Ken Tyler

Ken Tyler with Per Inge and Ask Bjørlo at the opening of ‘Frank Stella: Recent work’ on June 4. Like Stella, Per Inge Bjørlo created prints with Tyler, which you can read about here: http://bit.ly/112M7PU

Kenneth Tyler honoured at IPCNY

The IPCNY's spring benefit

Each year the International Print Center New York (IPCNY), an institution ‘dedicated to the appreciation and understanding of fine art prints’ holds a spring benefit honouring luminaries of the print world. This year art writer Faye Hirsch, artist Robert Mangold and master-printer Ken Tyler were the honourees celebrated at a function on May 15.

Frank Stella, Tyler’s long-time friend and collaborator, presented Tyler with his award and gave a presentation discussing Tyler’s unique printmaking career. These images were taken during the evening by  Liam Alexander for IPCNY.

Frank Stella talking about Ken Tyler's career at the IPCNY's spring benefit

Frank Stella discussing Ken Tyler’s career at the IPCNY’s spring benefit. On the screen is an image of Tyler at the Gemini Ltd studios in the 1960s.

Frank Stella & Ken Tyler embrace at IPCNY's spring benefit

Frank Stella and Ken Tyler embrace as Stella presents Tyler with his award.

Kenneth Tyler at IPCNY's spring benefit

Ken Tyler giving his acceptance speech at the IPCNY’s spring benefit. On screen is an image of an impression of Robert Motherwell’s Elegy study I lithograph being pulled at the Tyler Graphics Ltd studio in Mount Kisco.

You can read about Tyler and Stella’s working relationship here http://bit.ly/16XqoR0 in a lecture that Tyler gave last year when Stella was awarded the International Sculpture Center’s ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’.

Behind the scenes: treatment of Robert Motherwell’s ‘El negro’

Robert Motherwell’s El negro recently made a trip to the National Gallery of Australia’s paper conservation department for some preventative treatment. We paid a visit to conservator Fiona Kemp to bring you these special behind-the-scenes shots of conservation in action!

You can read more about the making of El negro in the Tyler Graphics Ltd. print documentation here: http://nga.gov.au/internationalprints/tyler/pamphlets/TylerTGL/MotherwellNegro.pdf For more information on Motherwell and his work with Tyler, visit our website: http://nga.gov.au/internationalprints/tyler/DEFAULT.cfm?MnuID=2&ArtistIRN=22859&List=True

A page from the book at rest on the paper press Wearing gloves, Fiona moves the page from the press Spraying the pages to relax the paper fibres The pages looking pristine!

Ellsworth Kelly’s ‘Colored paper images’

Ellsworth Kelly Colored paper images II, V and X 1976, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

The National Gallery of Art in Washington DC is currently showing Ellsworth Kelly’s Colored paper images, created with Kenneth Tyler at the Tyler Graphics workshop in Bedford Village in 1976. We thought this was an excellent reason to take a look at the series ourselves and to bring you some images from the candid photography collection. You can find out more about the National Gallery of Art’s exhibition here: http://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/kelly.shtm.

The Colored paper images project spanned eight months and resulted in 23 works made from coloured paper pulp, shaped using metal molds. The coloured shapes on white grounds are typical of Kelly’s abstract works; however the nature of paper pulp has created a blurring that is quite different to the sharp outlines seen in his paintings and other prints. The images below illustrate the investigative process involved in creating the series.

Ellsworth Kelly, Kenneth Tyler and John Koller working on the Colored paper images series at Tyler Graphics Ltd., Bedford Village, New York, 1976. Photographs by Betty Fiske

Tyler and Kelly worked with John and Kathleen Koller at the HMP paper mill to create over 50 different colours of paper pulp using numerous methods including powdered pigments, vinyl paint and water-based dyes. Kelly was interested in varying the colour fields in the final works and so deliberately adjusted the amount of colour bleeding and the consistency of pigment in several of the images. He also experimented with the development of the molds for his shapes using pliable metal. The resultant Colored paper images are sophisticated studies in colour and form; their mottled colour fields and blurred edges epitomise the subtleties of paper pulp.

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