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Revolt of the Sage 

Book out now

Edited by Simon Moretti and Craig Burnett, the book features a compilation of texts and artworks that expands the show’s themes of time, ruptures in history, and Giorgio de Chirico’s ‘Metaphysical aesthetics’. Historical artists Alfred Böcklin and Nicolas Poussin complement the artists in Revolt of the Sage, with images of work both from the show and exclusively in the book, extending the exhibition into the space of the publication. Poems and texts by Guillaume Apollinaire, John Ashbery, William Blake, Adolfo Bioy Casares, Giorgio de Chirico, Lydia Davis, Emily Dickinson, John Donne, A.W. Moore, Carol Rumens, Wallace Stevens and Alfred, Lord Tennyson contribute to the conversation about, in de Chirico’s words, ‘the great curve of eternity’.

The book also features a newly commissioned text on de Chirico’s painting The Revolt of the Sage (1916) by art historian Ara H. Merjian, as well as a lively, wide-ranging dialogue between Merjian and philosopher Jesse Prinz on de Chirico’s relevance to contemporary artists.

Artists and writers:
Horst Ademeit, Guillaume Apollinaire, John Ashbery, William Blake, Arnold Böcklin, Adolfo Bioy Casares, Lynn Chadwick, Giorgio de Chirico, Hanne Darboven, Lydia Davis, Emily Dickinson, John Donne, Haris Epaminonda, Geoffrey Farmer, Jannis Kounellis, Mark Lewis, Goshka Macuga, Christian Marclay, Ara H. Merjian, A.W. Moore, Simon Moretti, David Noonan, Sigmar Polke, Nicolas Poussin,  Jesse Prinz, Carol Rumens,  Erin Shirref, Michael Simpson, Wallace Stevens, John Stezaker, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Paloma Varga Weisz.

Designed by A Practice for Everyday Life, London the book is available via Cornerhouse Publications and the Blain Southern bookshop.


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Revolt of the Sage

Curated by Simon Moretti and Craig Burnett

24 November 2016- 21 January 2017

Blain Southern
4 Hannover Square
London W1S 1BP

Revolt of the Sage is an exhibition featuring sixteen artists that takes its title from a work by Giorgio de Chirico painted in 1916. The Revolt of the SageThe Revolt of the Sage1 is an example of what the artist would call a ‘metaphysical interior’, and yet its crowded pictorial space overflows with ephemeral things: frames, measuring devices and biscuits. Objects pile up and overlap, while a strange perspective recedes into an irresolvable background. What did the artist mean by a ‘metaphysical interior’? In a letter to Apollinaire, written around the time he painted , de Chirico describes two realms: our finite condition, and its loss and longing, and a metaphysical realm where time does not exist.

It has been almost two years now since I’ve seen you. The Ephesian teaches us that time does not exist and that on the great curve of eternity the past is the same as the future. This might be what the Romans meant with their image of Janus, the god with two faces; and every night in dream, in the deepest hours of rest, the past and future appear to us as equal, memory blends with prophecy in a mysterious union.

Giorgio de Chirico to Apollinaire, July 1916

Picking up on de Chirico’s vision of a ‘metaphysical interior’, Revolt of the Sage gathers a range of artists who use collage, juxtaposition, fragments, framing devices and layered imagery to explore ruptures in time and the alluring mysteries of the everyday. The exhibition features new and existing work by contemporary artists alongside late post-War artists such as Lynn Chadwick, Hanne Darboven and Sigmar Polke.

Curated by artist-curator Simon Moretti and Craig Burnett, Blain|Southern’s Director of Exhibitions, the exhibition emerged from their shared interest in de Chirico and the thought that The Revolt of the Sage would resonate with artists whose work inhabits that chasm between the here and now and a dream of ‘the great curve of eternity’ that we might perceive in a small, measurable work of art.

On the occasion of the exhibition, Blain|Southern will publish a book that features a newly commissioned interview between art historian Ara H. Merjian and philosopher Jesse Prinz, alongside existing texts by Giorgio de Chirico, John Ashbery, Lydia Davis, Apollinaire and others.


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The Camera Exposed, Victoria & Albert Museum, London curated by Marta Weiss 23/07/16 to 05/03/17

In the age of the mobile phone, the camera as a stand-alone device is disappearing from sight. Yet generations of photographers have captured the tools of their trade, sometimes inadvertantly as reflections or shadows, and sometimes as objects in their own right. Throughout the history of photography the camera has often made an appearance in its own image, from the glint of Eugène Atget’s camera in a Parisian shop window from the 1900s, to the camera that serves as an eye in Calum Colvin’s 1980s photograph of a painted assemblage of objects. Many images of cameras exploit the instrument’s anthropomorphic qualities. Held up to the face, as in Richard Sadler's portrait of Weegee, it becomes a mask, the lens a mechanical eye. It conceals the photographer’s features yet reinforces his or her identity. Set on a tripod, it can take on human form, appearing like a body supported by legs, and can stand in for the photographer. Photographs that include cameras often draw attention to the inherent voyeurism of the medium by turning the instrument towards the viewer. Such images confront the viewer’s gaze, returning it with the cool, mechanical look of the lens. The viewer cannot help but be aware not only of seeing, but of being seen. This display focuses on the instrument itself with 120 photographs spanning the 19th century to the present day.