ORGAN PREVIEW: First UK exhibition of Bruce Conner’s ‘The White Rose’ Showing at Thomas Dane Gallery this month. There’s a crash course in Bruce Conner here including the film for Brian Eno and David Byrne’s ‘Mea Culpa’…

Image credit: © Conner Family Trust, San Francisco © 2021 The Jay DeFeo Foundation / Artists Right Society (ARS), New York.

Now this does rather like it should be worth a visit, if you don’t know the film work of the late Bruce Conner, there’s a couple of short films about him at the foot of the page. his film The White Rose is to be shown at Thomas Dane Gallery here in London later in September. The Private view is on Saturday 17th September (2 – 6pm.) The exhibition dates are 20th September until 12th November 2022. More gallery details, there where and such, further down the page.

“Thomas Dane Gallery is pleased to announce the first UK exhibition of Bruce Conner’s film THE WHITE ROSE (1967), following on from the Gallery’s presentations of BREAKAWAY in 2019-2020, A MOVIE in 2017 and CROSSROADS in 2015. 
 
A work born of Conner’s profound friendship with artist Jay DeFeo (1929–1989), THE WHITE ROSE captures the deposition and removal of DeFeo’s eponymous painting from her first-floor San Francisco apartment in 1965, a monumental work that she began in the late 1950s and worked on obsessively for eight years, eventually layering over two thousand pounds of paint onto the canvas. 
 
The intimate black and white film captures the fabled painting’s last moments in the apartment’s bay window recess, a space covered in chunks of paint as though an extension of the work, which Conner likened to a site-specific environment and “a temple”. Sutured by Conner’s sharp, rhythmic editing and set to music from Miles Davis’s album Sketches of SpainTHE WHITE ROSE is a tender document of artistic friendship, and an affectionate record of a key moment in Beat Generation art history. 
 
Bruce Conner (b. 1933 McPherson, KS, d. San Francisco, CA, 2008) was one of the foremost American artists of the twentieth century, whose transformative work touched on themes of post-war American society, from a rising consumer culture to the dread of nuclear apocalypse. Working in a range of mediums, Conner created hybrids of painting and sculpture, film and performance, drawing and printing, including works on paper utilising drawing and collage. Conner came to San Francisco on the wave of the Beat Generation of the late 1950s, becoming an active member of the music scene during the late 1960s. In San Francisco, Conner became a singular practitioner within the underground film community and the flourishing San Francisco art world, achieving international status early in his career. Conner received his BFA from Nebraska University before studying at the Brooklyn Museum Art School and the University of Colorado.
 
Recent solo exhibitions include: Bruce Conner: Light Out Of Darkness, Museum Tinguely, Basel (2021); Please Enjoy and Return: Bruce Conner Films from the Sixties, University of New Mexico Art Museum, Albuquerque NM (2018); Bruce Conner: Untitled Prints, Henry Art Gallery, Seattle WA (2018); Forever and Ever, Speed Art Museum, Louisville KT (2017); A MOVIE, Thomas Dane Gallery, London, England (2017); Bruce Conner: It’s All True, Museum of Modern Art, New York NY; travelled to: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco CA, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain (2016/17), among many others.
 
Selected public collections include: Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago IL; National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles CA; Museum of Modern Art, New York NY; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco CA; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis MN; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York NY; Glenstone Museum, Potomac MD”.
 
Thomas Dane Gallery  is at 11 Duke Street St James’s, London SW1. Gallery Hours: Tuesday to Friday 10am–6pm, Saturday 12pm–6pm, or by appointment. Admission: Free. Nearest Tube: Green Park or Piccadilly Circus. The Private view is on Saturday 17th September (2 – 6pm.) The exhibition dates are 20th September until 12th November 2022.

Here’s some more, a crash course in Bruce Conner film making if you like, three films directed by Chris Green including something on the legendary films Bruce Conner made for Brian Eno and David Byrne’s My Life in the Bush of Ghosts

“It’s been said that MTV owes Bruce Conner a paycheck. Decades before music videos were part of popular culture, the experimental filmmaker pioneered techniques of non-narrative montage and high-speed editing, cutting thousands of images to a pop music soundtrack. THREE SCREEN RAY (2006) is a reimagined and expanded version of his seminal COSMIC RAY (1961), a literal cinematic slot machine where three reels of images meet and diverge and meet again. Influenced as much by the methodologies of assemblage as the kineticism of abstract expressionism, Conner cuts together images of sex, war, dancing, and cinema itself, before abrading and abusing the reel. The result is an explosive collage and a reflexive comment on the power of film and media”.

“Dennis Hopper has described the experience of seeing Bruce Conner’s A MOVIE (1958) like lifting the veil from his eyes, an associative blur of images that would go on to influence the infamous acid trip scene in his film Easy Rider. Years later, Hopper recalls, he and Dean Stockwell held the lights for Conner as he filmed Toni Basil dancing for BREAKAWAY (1966), the short film set to her song of the same name. A rare example of a Bruce Conner musical film containing all original photography, what makes the film unquestionably Conner is his frenetic editing and the evanescence of his subject, a spirit flickering in celluloid. The flashes of figure would reappear in Conner’s sculptural photograms such as “Sound of Two Hand Angel” (1974)”.

“One of two short films Bruce Conner made for Brian Eno and David Byrne’s My Life in the Bush of Ghosts—a defining work of musical assemblage—MEA CULPA (1981) comes near the end of Conner’s active filmmaking career. Compared to his earlier works, the film is slower and more considered, perhaps even tranquil, as Conner transforms elements of industrial and scientific footage into graphic abstractions before setting them adrift in space, gliding to the song’s sinister, percolating beat. In their purity of form, and in Conner’s contentedness to let the objects be, the film recalls the rhythmic compositions of Hans Richter from a generation earlier”.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s