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Johann Knopf: a machine with whirling birds by Paul Spooner

November 24, 2016 by  

Johann Knopf by Paul Spooner
A new edition by Paul Spooner.

Twelve wooden birds rotate on four axes in imitation of one of Johann Knopf’s drawings. Knopf, also known as Knüpfer, died in Wiesloch asylum in 1910. He was a patient of Dr Hans Prinzhorn, one of the first psychiatrists to become interested in, and respectful of, the creative works of his patients. Prinzhorn studied these works and preserved them in what is now one of the most significant collections of the art of the emotionally disordered.

The collection has over the years attracted the attention of many artists, most noticeably the Surrealists whose interest in the unconscious mind as a reservoir of new and refreshing thought processes drew them to the works of Prinzhorn’s patients. His book, which is translated as “ The Artistry of the Mentally ill ” sold very well in the Paris of the 1920s and 30s.
It often happens that people who are unable or unwilling to apply conventional reason in their everyday lives have a remarkable ability to produce highly organised artifacts. People such as Knopf make drawings of great beauty and precision, evincing insights and imagery that are often inaccessible to ordinary artists.
Ordinary artists (and even extraordinary artists like Max Ernst) have shamelessly appropriated these works for their own purposes. Unencumbered by considerations of art history and fashion, the products of the Geisteskranken appeal to these art robbers who,
hidebound by their own education, seek to assume the appearance of naturalness and spontaneity.

This mechanical homage to Knopf’s work lacks some of the elegance of his drawings but I hope to improve with practice.

Further reading:
Bildnerei der Geisteskranken, H. Prinzhorn 1922
The Discovery of the Art of the Insane, John M MacGregor 1989
Beyond Reason, Hayward Gallery (catalogue) 1996

Dimensions: H 330mm x W250mm X D250mm

Limited edition of 6.


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“Die Herrlichkeiten das Schrot dem Jagdgewehr” Johann Knopf

Johann Knopf by Paul Spooner Johann Knopf by Paul Spooner Johann Knopf by Paul Spooner

Curious Contraptions at the Exploratorium

November 15, 2016 by  

ExploratoriumOur latest touring exhibition, Curious Contraptions will be at the Exploratorium, San Francisco, from 17th November to Jan 29th 2017.
The exhibition features work from 15 different artists, both from the UK and USA and a series of automata making workshops will accompany the exhibition.

To learn more about this exciting event, visit the Curious Contraptions Website

Pier 15 (Embarcadero at Green St)
San Francisco,
CA 94111, USA

17th Nov 2016 to 29th Jan 2017. Admissions charges apply.

Paul Spooner by Carlos Zapata Exploratorium

Peter Markey 1930-2016

November 3, 2016 by  

We are very sad to announce the death yesterday, November 2nd, of Peter Markey, aged 86.

Peter was the first automata artist to start making work for us in 1979 and he continued to make automata for almost 50 years. His deceptively simple style and insistence on using the most basic materials belied his ingenuity as a maker.

Peter’s creations continue to inspire new audiences and we will always remember his exuberance and vitality.

Image: Peter Markey on his 75th Birthday, (2005) with a gift from and made by Paul Spooner.

A Curious Turn

August 10, 2016 by  

The Crafts Council’s new touring exhibition, A Curious Turn: Moving Mechanical Sculpture will celebrate 40 years of British automata and a preview of the exhibition will open 15 September at Habitat’s King’s Road Platform Gallery as part of London Design Festival before the full exhibition with 40 automata embarks on a two-year nationwide tour.

This timely exhibition explores the resurgence in automata making in the UK and features works by leading makers, including Sam Smith, Paul Spooner, Peter Markey, Ron Fuller, Melanie Tomlinson, and Andy Hazell.
(Image: Egg and Beans by Andy Hazell – photo: Heini Schneebeli).
The exhibition also recognises the pivotal role played by Sue Jackson and Cabaret in the revival of automata in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

There will be a free family-friendly workshop with Fire the Inventor on Saturday 24 September from 2-5pm at the Platform Gallery. Visitors will be able to create their own automata then connect it with others to create a long snaking line of cams, colours and shapes.

We are delighted to be working in association with Crafts Council as exhibition consultants for this show.

Preview Exhibition Dates: 15 September – 2 October
Open during store opening hours (closed Mondays & Tuesdays)

Platform at Habitat,
208 Kings Road,
London SW3 5XP

Entrance Free

Summer by Paul Spooner

July 21, 2016 by  

Summer by Paul Spooner We are delighted to offer this seasonal one-off piece from Paul Spooner.

Size (mm) 250H x 200W x 80W

Price £1680

Click here for more images.

Summer by Paul Spooner Summer by Paul Spooner

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